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causes:who_understands [2017/10/31 09:19]
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causes:who_understands [2017/11/01 13:24] (current)
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-====== ​Who Understands What We Understand? ​======+====== ​Specialization ​======
  
  
  
-<​blockquote>​It has now become difficult to be a generalist even in theoretic physics. You could be a particle theorist, cosmologist,​ or condensed matter theorist, but rarelyall ​three! Even in particle theory, you would specialize in QCD, or electroweak theory, and in QCD you might specialize in confinement,​ lattice QCD, or quark-gluon plasma. Nature, however, does not know about our subdivisions,​ and exhibits phenomena that cut across all our specialities.+<​blockquote>​It has now become difficult to be a generalist even in theoretic physics. You could be a particle theorist, cosmologist,​ or condensed matter theorist, but rarely all three! Even in particle theory, you would specialize in QCD, or electroweak theory, and in QCD you might specialize in confinement,​ lattice QCD, or quark-gluon plasma. Nature, however, does not know about our subdivisions,​ and exhibits phenomena that cut across all our specialities.
  
 <​cite>​from Superfluid Universe by K. Huang</​cite></​blockquote>​ <​cite>​from Superfluid Universe by K. Huang</​cite></​blockquote>​
  
-<​blockquote>​About today'​s topic, the meaning of the renormalization 
-group, I have heard in the past any possible disagreement between physicists; in 
-condensed matter and much more in field theory. It is or it is not fundamental. 
-In spite of the empirical success of today'​s theories, which lead to Nobel prizes 
-and all that, physicists are confused about the meaning of some aspects of these 
-theories. More often than not, different physicists hold contradictory views on 
-the actual meaning of the renormalization group. **I would simply like to correct 
-the impression that might have emerged from yesterday and today'​s discussion, 
-that physicists know exactly what is going on in their theories, or that everybody 
-agrees. And I want to tell physicists: if we are interested in knowledge, wouldn'​t 
-it be more productive to fully display our confusion and our disagreements?​** 
  
-<​cite>​C. Rovelli in a discussion at the "​Conceptual Foundations of Quantum Field Theory"​ Conference</​cite></​blockquote>​ 
  
-<​blockquote>"​It is well known that people working at the frontiers of physics often don't know what 
-they are talking about. This statement has at least two meanings. First, the experi- 
-mental evidence available may be incomplete or ambiguous and confusing. Second, 
-the theoretical concepts employed may not have received a precise formulation. 
-In this talk, I will give arguments for the position that it can be useful to refine a 
-theoretical framework to the point at which it is a mathematically precise and consis- 
-tent scheme, even if, as is sometimes the case, the resulting conceptual frame has 
-physical deficiencies. I will offer several examples to illustrate the point. Of course, 
-it is only occasionally that this sort of enterprise can help in the hunt for the Green 
-Lion, the ultimate Lagrangian of the world."​ <​cite>​A. Wightman in "The usefulness of a general theory of quantized fields"</​cite></​blockquote>​ 
  
-<​blockquote>​Despite all this evidence that the reductionist paradigm in physics is in trouble, subnuclear experiments are still generally described in reductionist terms. This is especially curious considering that much of the thinking built into the standard model reflects the idea that the vacuum is a phase and that the laws of physics are reasonably simple and straightforward at the nuclear scale-but not beyond-because they are universal properties of that phase. Nonetheless,​ instead of low-energy universality,​ physicists speak of effective field theory. Instead of phases, we speak of symmetry-breaking. Instead of phase transitions,​ the unification of forces. The situation reminds me of a hospital where no one ever dies but instead experiences "​negative patient care outcome"​ or "​failure to achieve wellness potential."​14 In either case the confusion is ideological. The death of a patient is an unthinkable failure of the hospital'​s mission to preserve life. The subordination of understanding to principles of phase organization is a similarly unthinkable failure of one's mission to master the universe with mathematics. **In situations that matter, mythologies are immensely powerful things, and sometimes we humans go to enormous lengths to see the world as we think it should be, even when the evidence says we are mistaken.** 
  
-<​cite>​from A Different Universe by R. Laughlin</​cite></​blockquote>​+
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