Ten Percent Myth

Matt Jones jonesmat at physiology.wisc.edu
Wed Feb 13 19:03:36 EST 2002

"John H." <John at overhere> wrote in message news:<oDsa8.18223$N31.918770 at ozemail.com.au>...
> "Matt Jones" <jonesmat at physiology.wisc.edu> wrote in message >
> You are absolutely correct, relativity and cosmology are in deep trouble!
> Consider that at the turn of the century Michelson of M & Morley fame said
> something to the effect that the end of physics is near. 

I think the most famous quote like that was by Lord Kelvin, who said
that all that was left for physics to do was to keep adding decimal
places to estimates for the universal constants. And that was
pre-relativity and pre-quantum mechanics (can't you just -hear- the
sound of his shade's hand slapping it's forehead in 1905: "DOH!").

But anyway, your point is well-taken. It's shocking that Michelson,
Born and Hawking (Hawking for God's sake!) would make statements like
that. You would expect them to know better.


> The speed of light aint so constant.
> The physical laws of the universe may very well change over time, not just
> the speed of light. 
> The recent experiments that should have found the Higgs Boson didn't, and
> one physicist has just published a paper to the effect that there is nothing
> wrong with the experiment, it is the standard model that is wrong.
> Renormalisation, physicists have been having doubts about that for decades.
> I think it is a contrivance.

I honestly think it's premature to accept these reports as if they
carry the same weight as 100 years of the solid observations, repeated
thousands of times now,  that led up to the standard model (which
after all, took a long time to convince people in the first place).
I'm -not- saying that they're wrong. But something that overturns the
foundations of our collective understanding of  "reality" -needs- to
be bloody well inspected before we all go for it, don't you think?  If
you take a gander at sci.physics.relativity, for example, not a day
goes by without -somebody- proposing a new theory that turns
everything we know on its head (and, if the author has his way,
'exposes Einstein and Feynman for the pedestrian morons, fabricators
and frauds that they truly are').

Happens in neuroscience too (I have to say that to keep the usenet
police from busting me for off-topic posts). There's at least one
scientist whose presentation I look forward to attending every year at
the meetings, just to see which of the fundamental dogmas he's
overturned -this time-. Every year it's something different, but
always terribly dramatic and paradigm-breaking (at least i imagine
that's how he sees it).

Anyway, the standard model may well be in trouble, and in my book, QM
has always been in trouble (anything that just keeps getting more and
more complicated and -never-  gets simpler is preparing to topple
under its own weight - Maybe -this- is why I don't like things that
assault relativity: relativity is the ultimate esthetically-pleasing
concise theory. Nothing else so 'simple' has ever been so useful.).
But I'm reserving judgement about these superluminal effects and
evolving laws of physics until further notice.

Thought experiment:
If the universe is changing its laws, that means all our rulers,
calipers, interferometers, etc are changing along with it. So how
exactly are we able to measure these changes accurately (or even know
that they are happening)? i guess i should have a serious read at some
of the articles you suggested....



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