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What are the principles of our time?

  1. Jan 3, 2008 #1
    The equivalence principle was a fundamental foundation for GR, but there seems to be no similarly powerful principle of our time -- right? I don't count the anthropic principle, which seems to me not to be mathematically powerful, but should I?

    Perhaps we can say that there was such a thing as Planck's "principle", the equivalence of energy and frequency, momentum and wavelength, etc., which drove the development of the old quantum theory in the 1900s, but that doesn't seem to account well for developments in the new quantum theory in the 1920s.

    The correspondence principle was used as a powerful tool in the early days of the new quantum theory, but it seems not to have quite the same status as the principle of equivalence or Planck's principle.

    It seems worthwhile to point out that the principle of equivalence is commonly described as a "empirical" principle, whereas Planck's "principle" seems rather more subtle than just empirical.

    So, what principles are currently driving people's thinking?

    An additional question is: where are there empirical needs that might require a theory that is driven by a new principle?
    One big question seems to be dark matter and energy. Is this a signature of a new theory, or is it just dark matter and energy. Is this the body in the outer solar system that modifies the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn, or is it the body in the inner solar system that was supposed to modify the precession of the perihelion of Mercury? The standard model of particle physics has its empirical doubts and its theoretical difficulties, but am I right that nothing is so glaring as dark matter and energy?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 3, 2008 #2


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    Interesting question.

    To speak for myself, some a broad scientific (non-physics specific) guiding principles for me is the equivalence between expectations and the verifiable truths - both to which for me are subjective(=relative), which I see as a natural extension of bohrs mantra

    "It is wrong to think that the task of physics is to find out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we say about Nature"

    I'd strengten this to say that the is in fact no distinguishable difference between what nature is and what we can say about nature. So apparently nature is all about relative expectations. And thus exploring nature, seems to be nothing but exploring the logic of what we can say, and what questions we can formulate. Basically the essence of scientific method.

    Needless to say this demolished classical realism, if it wasn't done yet but what's the possible implications?

    As I see it. One "implication" is that my chosen actions are determined to an expected probability by my own expectations. However, my expectations are updated in ways that are not predictable (which toasts unitaritry; I think unitarity will be recovered nicely near "equilibrium"). But since this is supposedly mutual, the entire universe is subject to a very strange self-interaction, and possibly emergent self-stabilised structures.

    This seems to have implications for "information processing" and "learning". I think interactions and learning are closely related. Of course, when the learning capacity is saturated, one can't learn anymore, and there is equilibrium.

    I'm not sure if this makes sense, but it's one of my guiding principles and I'm working on figure out it's implications, and try to understand the foundations of both QM and GR in terms of this. If you look at feymanns thinking, I think you can smell this, but I think there are missing ingredients in the fundamental level that would complete the formalism and reveal what is also up with gravity. I think of the path integral formalism as a simplified version of something we don't yet understand but will com to understand.

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