Friday, September 23, 2011


"We'd be thrilled if it's right because we love something that shakes the foundation of what we believe," said famed Columbia University physicist Brian Greene. "That's what we live for."  — AP article, "Roll Over Einstein: Pillar of Physics Challenged"

What a strange thing to live for.  On the other hand, I hope the foundation of what physicists believe is challenged, too.


  1. They say that Lord Kelvin said, sometime around the turn of the last century, that there was nothing new to be discovered in physics, and all that remained was the task of more precise measurement. In a discipline that has strictly forbidden itself to think about the things that matter, and become resigned to an understanding of its greatest conclusions as mere plausible conjecture, nothing could be more depressing.

    Of course they want the foundations to be shaken! Once you've lost your taste for eternal verities, a doctrine that hasn't changed for a generation is simply boring.

  2. If the foundations of 20th century physics were wrong, it would be a total free-for-all as everyone tried to figure out how to rewrite the textbooks. I can definitely understand how excited physicists would be.

    Incidentally, I almost asked Brian Greene a question about string theory at a lecture when I was seven. I will forever regret chickening out.

  3. Haha, infinite new possibilities for papers. Physics Ph.D.'s are probably dying with excitement at the new chances to distinguish themselves academically.

    I had a Brian Greene phase. Being a decent writer has allowed him to turn string theory into something the average amateur considers scientific fact.

    I really hope the results are verified. This would mean that fundamental phenomena in astronomy (the expansion of the universe and "dark energy"), cosmology (the mechanics of the big bang), particle physics and relativity theory were are unexplained by current models.