Theoretical physics has problems and confusions at a number of levels. It is because there are so many that physics has come to accept them as simply the way things are, and implicitly to blame it all on the capricious and confused nature of reality.
Physicists are not short of new and often bizarre ideas to make progress.
Others have tried to help out, and we look at alternative theories and alternative theorists in this section.
The central confusion in physics is the belief that physics theory requires new ways of thinking (and permits more casual methods of analysis) because the stricter methodology used before 1900 has permanently failed. The origins of modern theory are re-examined in detail here.
There are two areas of confusion that are well known to observers of physics. These are the incompatibility between its two main strands of thought, and the difficulty in comprehending the duality model of light and matter. Each of these requires a more careful examination.
All physics watchers know that the theories of general relativity and quantum mechanics are ‘incompatible’, but how many know what that means.
We all know that the nature of light is a mystery, with some of the properties of a particle and some of those of a wave. The origin of this conflict is detailed here and here. If we consider the essence of what is a particle and what is a wave, then the contradiction comes into clearer focus:
A wave is spread out. This is the only way we know of to produce interference effects and diffraction.
A particle is localised, with a certain size and energy, such as we believe we observe when light is emitted or absorbed.
Within special relativity, there are a number of concepts that are bound together in the theory. These are the principle of relativity, the Lorentz transformation, the observed constancy of the speed of light, and the observation that physical laws are the same in different inertial frames.
Observations in the 1970s throw doubt on one of these, so we need to ask which of them are properly supported by evidence, and whether it is feasible to keep what works while ditching what does not.
Within quantum mechanics there is a central assumption, namely that light must be considered as a particle, and a set of difficult mathematics. What is not made clear to outsiders is that these two can be separated, and evaluated individually.
Within general relativity, there are two layers of mathematics, and no central physical assumptions. When we examine these, it is only the simpler layer of the mathematics that has been validated by observation, and then only partially. When this is clarified, certain questions arise.
Lack of clarity
There is a problem within theoretical physics of behaviour that is highly unscientific . Part of this is a disturbing lack of clarity that serves the purpose of covering up other failings.
Did you know:
That there is no clear statement in the duality model of light as to when the wave aspect applies and when the particle aspect is appropriate
That changes in the timekeeping of clocks with motion are not apparent but real, and can be agreed by all observers
That changes in the timekeeping of clocks with gravity are very simply calculated
That although the general theory of relativity treats light as travelling in straight lines, almost all relativists talk of the bending of light
That we know that the Earth is travelling at about a million miles per hour in a direction just south of the constellation Leo
That much of this information is not available on other sites, and so references to peer-reviewed papers are provided so that the reader may have confidence in what is being stated
That if you want clear information about all these points, you just have to follow the links.
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