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Why study theories beyond quantum mechanics and general relativity at this point?

  1. Dec 7, 2007 #1
    This is my first post ever so please forgive me if it seems a bit clumsy!

    I have recently been reading some popular literature about string theory and other stuff, as well as been studying some more advanced technical books on quantum mechanics, general relativity and particle physics. I know that researchers right now have been running into serious problems when trying to combine quantum mechanics with general relativity. My question is, why even take that step at this point?

    I remember in my quantum course first learning about the collapse of the wave function in a 1 dimensional square well: that upon measurement, outside factors interfere with the distribution. One student in class then brought up this point: what about the confinements of the well (finite or infinite)? The potential energy at the borders is itself an outside factor (independent of the particle), so how is it that this alone does not collapse the wave function? Our professor sent an email about this to Dr David Griffiths (author of the introductory quantum book used at our college). He replied that it was a good argument and proof that the theory is still new and mostly incomplete. This is one example of a possible flaw, as well as other more known problems such as the EPR paradox and Belle's Theorem.

    Admittedly, I'm not that far into my understanding of general relativity (yes, I am currently reading and learning about it), but I suspect that this theory has its flaws as well. So why are researchers putting so much time, energy, and money into trying to merge 2 theories that can't really stand much pressure on their own?

    We have so, so many incredibly intelligent, clever, and resourceful scientists all over the world (probably all of whom are better than I am). Why don't we instead focus ALL of our energies into revamping and improving both theories before trying to interlock them to go even further?

    I believe we may in fact speed up our progress by regressing and cleaning up before proceeding onward. Anyone who has anything to say about this I would love to hear from you, I could very well be mistaken.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 8, 2007 #2
    Basics vs exotica

    Yes things are becoming a bit exotic; just look at the arXiv.org sometime. Just sticking to basics, QM and GRT are plenty interesting. Also thermodynamics, one pillar that survived the GRT and QM revolutions, is worthwhile. And there is almost unlimited mathematical conceptualizations. For example, topology can apply to a scenario of torn Calabi-Yau rolled up manifolds for final evaporation of BH, if I remember exotica a little. So a good conceptual mathematical base, is an additional asset.
  4. Dec 8, 2007 #3
    Thanks for the website, this will provide hours of interesting reading.
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