QR2.5.1 The Trouble With Physics

A century ago, physics left the safe haven of classical mechanics seeking the promised lands of relativity and quantum theory. It found equations based on quantum waves, time dilation, curved space and other wonders that worked brilliantly but did so in ways that couldn’t be physical. Rather than consider a non-physical reality, physics settled down in the semantic desert of physical realism, where it has remained ever since.

The Trouble with Physics (Smolin, 2006b) today is that no new knowledge is being generated, so what puzzled Feynman fifty years ago still puzzles us today. Hawking calls this impasse “The End of Physics”, recalling nineteenth century claims to know everything there is to be known about reality. How wrong that was, but the result this time is starvation not revolution, as physics finds ever more ephemeral “particles” and speculates on theories that can never be tested. Some produce books and TV shows to “explain” what they don’t understand themselves while experts rally the troops with papers on strings, multiverses and supersymmetry that are Not Even Wrong (Woit, 2007). Even the weeds of error don’t grow in this desert!

For decades now, physics “breakthroughs” have been speculations on possible advances that turned out to be mirages. We read stories of white holes, eleven dimensions, closed time loops, WIMPs, wormholes, heavy sterile neutrinos, super-particles and more all hinting at the next revolution in physics that never comes. Theoretical physics today is stagnating and given past performance, the next fifty years are likely to be as barren as the last. For example, after speculating that hypothetical axion particles from a hypothetical flavon field, or axiflavons, are the key to solving many physics problems, the authors write:

Its thrilling stuff, if for the moment it is only conjecture”  New Scientist cover story, August, 2018, p31

Instead of building castles in the air, why not grow theories from the data ground up?

The data suggests that the cosmos is mostly made of something we cannot see, and quantum realism says that something is quantum reality. So the trouble with physics is that it is looking in the wrong place, like the man who lost his keys and when asked why he was looking under a lamp post said “I lost them in the forest but the light is better here.” Physics has turned its back on perhaps the greatest discovery of mankind, that the physical world is generated by something beyond itself, because it assumes that science can’t look beyond the physical. In contrast, quantum realism suggests that one can scientifically investigate quantum reality using information theory. All one has to do is look at reality in a new way. It is time to develop a new vision of reality from the ground-up.