At first sight the purpose of this blog might seem too ambitious. However, there are two main reasons for discussing what it means to do physics right:
For several decades there has been no breakthrough in fundamental physics as revolutionary as the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics despite the efforts of many brilliant physicists and the unprecedented advancements in applied physics and technology, which enormously increased the precision of experiments. This situation seems to indicate that those efforts might not have always been in the right direction. In an effort to eliminate such a possibility and to ensure that there is a consensus among physicists on what the firmly established foundational knowledge about the world is (which will serve as the foundation on which adequate views of the world will be based and future theories will be built), the Minkowski Institute launched the initiative Identifying Foundational Knowledge.
- In recent years there has been a growing dissatisfaction among physicists with the attempts to regard theories (such as string theory and the multiverse cosmology), which have not been experimentally confirmed, on equal footing with the already accepted physical theories. A year ago (in December 2014) George Ellis and Joe Silk published in Nature the article Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics, whose beginning openly expressed that dissatisfaction and alarm: “This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done. They began to argue – explicitly – that if a theory is sufficiently elegant and explanatory, it need not be tested experimentally, breaking with centuries of philosophical tradition of defining scientific knowledge as empirical.”
We hope that this blog will start a constructive and helpful exchange of ideas to support the efforts of the Minkowski Institute whose major raison d’être is to address and help break the present impasse in fundamental physics by employing a research strategy, which identifies, synthesizes and develops the successful methods behind the greatest discoveries in physics. The main components of this research strategy are summarized on the Minkowski Institute site:
We employ this innovative research strategy to ensure that no implicit assumptions are smuggled into the work on any of the research projects at the Minkowski Institute; that is why we begin a given research project by rigorously examining all explicit and especially implicit assumptions involved in it; some examples are briefly formulated here on our blog.