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Questions unanswered

  1. Oct 15, 2003 #1
    Hi all,

    As I lack the formal training I thought I'd ask this question.

    It may seem a bit ahhh....shallow.....but really I am looking for some really deep answers here if you can.

    What questions of fundamental physics ARE NOT fully answered by all the current theories?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2003 #2


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    The single largest unknown is this: How does gravity play in the sandbox with quantum mechanics?

    Quantum mechanics includes the quantum electrodynamics, the quantum chromodynamics, and the electroweak unification, which together govern the three fundamental forces other than gravity. This model, excluding gravity, is called the Standard Model of physics.

    - Warren
  4. Oct 15, 2003 #3
    What would happen do you think if the truth about gravity was such that it invalidated all current theories?
  5. Oct 15, 2003 #4


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    If the (experimental) truth about gravity goes against existing theories, we will be forced to abandon those theories.

    - Warren
  6. Oct 15, 2003 #5


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    How could it?

    Do you think that the universe will suddenly change if a new theory of gravity is developed? Our current theories do a very nice job in their respective realms. Any new theories will bind them together or or perhaps make them seem clunky but they will be every bit as valid then as they are now. Einsteins theories did not replace Newton, they extended them, most likely something similar will happen with the TOE.
  7. Oct 15, 2003 #6
    Integral and Choot,

    I think you are both correct, the existing theories would have to be abandoned in part and modified to suit.

    But I think that if the very premise of all these theories proves to be incorrect then the truth of gravity will be very hard to prove.

    But of course whether we prove it or not is of no consequence to the physical truth in that it stands free of the need to prove it. hey?

    So I suppose an explanation of graviity as a truth would probably have to challenge every premise currently held which is probably why we can't find it.
  8. Oct 15, 2003 #7


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    I don't know if it was here or in another forum, but I've had this discussion before.

    As a general rule, chroot is right - thats how the scientific method works: if a piece of evidence is found that shows what we know is clearly wrong, then the theory has to be abandoned.

    But as Integral said, the basic points of our 'big' theories are so heavily tested and thoroughly understood, thats extremely unlikely. There certainly are remaining flaws (QM vs SR and GR for example) but the magnitude of those flaws with respect to the current utilty of the theories is miniscule.
    Are you saying that our current understanding of gravity is wrong and that the current theories are so popular scientists are blinded to the flaws? If so, on what do you base that?

    The fact is, the current model of the universe serves scientists very very well.
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2003
  9. Oct 15, 2003 #8


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    I apologize -- I didn't intend "abandon" to mean "throw away and never look back upon." I meant simply that any new theory would have to supplant (and extend) the old.

    - Warren
  10. Oct 15, 2003 #9
    I suppose I feel that current theories are failing because I look around and I see a planet that is dying, people starving to death and a planet that is over heating with a life expectancy of a maybe fifty years or more. I see physical and mental health problems growing at an exponential rate. I see babies dying of SIDS and adults dying of SADS. I see an increase in ADHH but mostly I see the potential for no future.

    and I mean no future (universally)

    And maybe in my own frustration I am also searching for an answer. And I know that it will only be found if people are prepared to look a fresh and open there minds to all possibilities.

    I make no apollogies for seeming so dramatic. For surely the object of science is to solve our problems. And well I have to ask ...Are We?

    So far we seem to have only made things worse.
  11. Oct 15, 2003 #10
    You say that the theories "serves science very very well."

    Theories are not to serve science they are to serve mankind.

    Surely a theory is not written just to prove a mathamatic reality. The theory is written to prove the physical reality.
  12. Oct 15, 2003 #11


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    Unfortunatly the best theories Physics can produce will not modifiy human nature. Much of that falls into the catagory of metaphysics and is not approachable by physical measurments. Measurements are the basis of our theories if we cannot make relilable and reproduciable measurements we cannot do physics. Such as you mention are out of our realm.
  13. Oct 15, 2003 #12


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    Perhaps you should consider Prozac.

    1) The planet is not dying. Can you provide some example of this?

    2) People have always starved to death. Fewer starve to death every year.

    3) There is no reliable evidence the planet is overheating.

    4) Where did you come up with this figure of 50 years?

    5) Where did you find the research supporting the notion that health problems are growing "exponentially?"

    6) Babies have always died suddenly. Naming the phenomena and categorizing infant deaths as examples of that phenomena have the potential to reduce those deaths. Most human diseases have been around since antiquity -- giving them names helps us get a handle on their tolls, but it doesn't make the diseases any more virulent. Besides, you seem to be missing the point that worldwide infant mortality is going down. Do some research.

    7) Your malaise and unsuppported paranoia about the fate of the world have absolutely nothing to do with physical theories about quantum gravity.

    - Warren
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2003
  14. Oct 15, 2003 #13
    I wont labor this point after this post....

    An example of what I am posing is

    It was human nature that wanted refrigeration. Some scientist came up with a method of cooling and freezing food that was affordable. He used a gas called I think HFC Hydroflurocarbon (????)

    100 years later we discover the gas destroys the ozone layer. I live in Australia and when I go out side in summer I would get cancer if not protected.

    So science had provided a solution to preserving food but at the same time destroyed the ozone layer over the south pole.

    Human nature true.

    Science true.

    Has science worked out how to repair the ozone layer


    The result is skin cancer is our biggest killer in australia and well I can't go out side in the sun any more like I used to. And naturally I am a little upset about this. also human nature
  15. Oct 15, 2003 #14


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    No one's really sure if mankind has done any damage or not. We didn't have the technology to monitor the hole until after there already was one. The hole grows and shrinks apparently without much regard to human activity. No one is sure that we've actually done -anything- to the ozone, and it's going to take quite a bit of time before we can see enough of a trend to make any sense of it. My general take on it is that few people understand just how much volume the ozone layer contains, and how little CFC actually got outside the home and into the ozone layer.

    My take on you is that you shouldn't be spouting doomsday predictions about mankind's use of "HCF" unless you actually know what a CFC is, and actually have some evidence of what they've done.
    CFCs are not used anymore, anywhere, for refrigeration or for aerosol propellants. Is this not a solution?
    Are you sure it's not heart disease?

    - Warren
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2003
  16. Oct 16, 2003 #15
    Back to the main topic, let us not forget the fact that classical electrodynamics was formulated before they proved that there is no ether. They still teach the math to EE students in spite of the fact that we've known for a hundred years that the basis for the theory is wrong. Granted, the math still holds, but the theory doesn't and needs a complete overhaul if you ask me.
  17. Oct 16, 2003 #16
    Sorry, I don't see the connection between problems in the world and the failure of current fundamental theories.

    While it is true that certain diseases do increase exponentially, science and mathematics serve to reduce these numbers.

    For instance, the aids virus infection increased at an exponential rate. It was believed that this rate could be graphed as a cubic function, but it was found to only be a quadradic equation.

    This mathematic discovery led to the discovery that the disease was found mostly in a certain group of people who practiced high risk behavior.

    From this knowledge the scientific community was able to warn those at risk to the dangers, which in turn lowered the curve of this disease which probably would have climbed to a polynomial function if left unchecked.

    Cheer up. Things aren't as bad as they seem, it's just more news worthy to claim that they are.
  18. Oct 16, 2003 #17

    Don't misuderstand me I have enourmous respect for our ability to solve these problems eventually and I have faith that they will be. But only if we keep the big picture in mind.

    Mental health issues are a perfect example of our problem.

    Today I think the estimates are that One in ten people develope Schizophrenia and one in five develope other forms of mental illness.

    It has been suggested that there is very strong evidence to suggest that these mental health issues are hereditry.

    Ok..so what?

    Well we are all living longer and people with hereditry mental health problems are breeding. ( oh no he gasps!) The human genome is very quickly being corrupted because we have people breeding when they probably wouldn't have..(Too sick to find a mate but now we have medications to treat the condition and finding a mate is less of a problem. so on one hand we have been able to achieve a greater life expectancy and at the same time run the risk of DNA corruption.

    IN the next two or three generations we may very well find that there are more people clinically mentally ill than not.

    Obviously we can't not treat people with illness and also I think any reproductive restriction is also inhumane.
    So our problem exists and a solution has to be found. This is were the scientist especially the physicists are needed.

    The statistics are there for any one to see. But the ramifications are not always so clear.

    Quantum physics and all the other branches have a really important role to play in finding the solutions needed.

    Maybe you can describe better what I am attempting to convey?

    I'm not suggesting any doomsday or armegedon or any thing because i have faith that we will solve it, just simply applying an observation.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 16, 2003
  19. Oct 16, 2003 #18

    Tom Mattson

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    I have an idea. Let's get back to the topic!

    The initial question was:

    And before we got off on this touchy-feeley kick, chroot had started to supply the answer:

    I would make a small correction. The problem is how to get gravity and quantum field theory together. Quantum mechanics and gravity play together just fine. That is, the Dirac equation can be solved in curved spacetime sans probleme. In fact, lethe once told me that you can even do quantum field theory in curved spacetime, which I did not know. The problem arises when you try to quantize the metric itself.
  20. Oct 16, 2003 #19

    Thanks and sorry for the rambling....just responding to something said earlier.
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