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causes:hiding_behind_abstraction [2017/11/03 09:22]
jakobadmin [Hiding Behind Abstractions and Terminology]
causes:hiding_behind_abstraction [2017/12/16 06:01] (current)
jakobadmin [Further Reading]
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 ====== Hiding Behind Abstractions and Terminology ====== ====== Hiding Behind Abstractions and Terminology ======
 +
 +<​blockquote>​Characteristically,​ modern physicists do not try to visualize the objects they discuss.<​cite>​from "Field Theory"​ by F.
 + Dyson </​cite></​blockquote>​
  
 <​blockquote>​As mathematical formalisms become more and more beautiful, it is increasingly easy to be trapped by the formalism and to become a ‘slave’ to the formalism. We used to be ‘slaves’ to Newton’s laws when we regarded everything as a collection of particles. After the discovery of quantum theory,4 we become ‘slaves’ to quantum field theory. At the moment, we want to use quantum field theory to explain everything and our education does not encourage us to look beyond quantum field theory. However, to make revolutionary advances in physics, we cannot allow our imagination to be trapped by the formalism. We cannot allow the formalism to define the boundary of our imagination. The mathematical formalism is simply a tool or a language that allows us to describe and communicate our imagination. Sometimes, when you have a new idea or a new thought, you might find that you cannot say anything. Whatever you say is wrong because the proper mathematics or the proper language with which to describe the new idea or the new thought have yet to be invented. Indeed, really new physical ideas usually require a new mathematical formalism with which to describe them. This reminds me of a story about a tribe. The tribe only has four words for counting: one, two, three, and many-many. Imagine that a tribe member has an idea about two apples plus two apples and three apples plus three apples. He will have a hard time explaining his theory to other tribe members. This should be your feeling when you have a truly new idea. Although this book is entitled Quantum field theory of many-body systems, I hope that after reading the book the reader will see that quantum field theory is not everything. Nature’s richness is not bounded by quantum field theory <​blockquote>​As mathematical formalisms become more and more beautiful, it is increasingly easy to be trapped by the formalism and to become a ‘slave’ to the formalism. We used to be ‘slaves’ to Newton’s laws when we regarded everything as a collection of particles. After the discovery of quantum theory,4 we become ‘slaves’ to quantum field theory. At the moment, we want to use quantum field theory to explain everything and our education does not encourage us to look beyond quantum field theory. However, to make revolutionary advances in physics, we cannot allow our imagination to be trapped by the formalism. We cannot allow the formalism to define the boundary of our imagination. The mathematical formalism is simply a tool or a language that allows us to describe and communicate our imagination. Sometimes, when you have a new idea or a new thought, you might find that you cannot say anything. Whatever you say is wrong because the proper mathematics or the proper language with which to describe the new idea or the new thought have yet to be invented. Indeed, really new physical ideas usually require a new mathematical formalism with which to describe them. This reminds me of a story about a tribe. The tribe only has four words for counting: one, two, three, and many-many. Imagine that a tribe member has an idea about two apples plus two apples and three apples plus three apples. He will have a hard time explaining his theory to other tribe members. This should be your feeling when you have a truly new idea. Although this book is entitled Quantum field theory of many-body systems, I hope that after reading the book the reader will see that quantum field theory is not everything. Nature’s richness is not bounded by quantum field theory
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 ===== Further Reading ===== ===== Further Reading =====
  
 +  * [[http://​www.dan.sperber.fr/​wp-content/​uploads/​guru-effect.pdf|The Guru Effect]] by Dan Sperber: "​Obscurity of expression is considered a flaw. Not so, however, in the speech or writing of intellectual gurus. All too often, what readers do is judge profound what they have failed to grasp."​
   * [[http://​bayes.wustl.edu/​etj/​articles/​cmystery.pdf|Clearing up Mysteries — The Original Goal]] by E. T. Jaynes   * [[http://​bayes.wustl.edu/​etj/​articles/​cmystery.pdf|Clearing up Mysteries — The Original Goal]] by E. T. Jaynes
   * https://​academia.stackexchange.com/​questions/​72244/​why-dont-more-academics-write-textbooks   * https://​academia.stackexchange.com/​questions/​72244/​why-dont-more-academics-write-textbooks
 +  * https://​mathoverflow.net/​questions/​38639/​thinking-and-explaining
causes/hiding_behind_abstraction.1509700975.txt.gz · Last modified: 2017/11/03 10:22 (external edit)