Sunday, March 18, 2007

Postmodern Physics and Manifold Destiny

At present, humans remain baffled regarding the key aspects of physics that could if understood trigger a step function of manipulability of physical reality. In the Trouble with Physics, Lee Smolin notes a dearth of progress in physics over the last 30 years mainly due to an undiversified groupthink myopic focus on string theory which has yet to show any results or falsifiable constructs.

The physics progress juggernaut has triggered a surprising meta level of questioning including the invariability of the speed of light, quantum mechanics, general and special relativity and what is science. Smolin calls for a Leibnizian interpretation of time/space that is a dynamical network of shifting relationships rather than an assumed fixed background upon which most of physics reasoning has been done to date. If we were not relying on gravity and the speed of light, would it be easier to understand dark matter and dark energy?

We have no idea...

  • Why there are so many elementary particles with different sizes and masses
  • What and how the 96% of the universe that is dark matter and dark energy is and behaves
  • How to describe in words and math where large and small scales intersect like black holes and the big bang
  • How quantum mechanics really works
  • What really happens at very small scales such as the Planck length
Luckily, there are some experiments on the way, most importantly the GLAST NASA satellite due to launch in August 2007 which will probe the Planck scale; also gamma ray projects at the Auger Observatory in Argentina and at other facilities and the building of quantum computers. The big hope of the Large Hadron Collider, the detection of the Higgs boson, would help confirm some long-held theories but probably not shift thinking as much as the Planck scale research could.

What - No Singularity?
Interestingly, some scientists' models including Smolin's are suggesting that time goes backwards from the big bang and in black holes, essentially meaning that there is no Singularity. No Singularity?! Technological Singularity paradigmers might have to rethink their metaphor.