Monday, October 11, 2010

The Five Problems of Modern Physics

I'm sure everybody who reads this blog will sooner or later get thoroughly tired of me talking about Lee Smolin. Nevertheless, in the hope that it's "later" rather than "sooner," here's yet another thing inspired by Smolin: my list of Five Problems of Today's Physics. The general outline of the problems is his; some of them are taken almost exactly from his book The Trouble with Physics (speaking of which, read it), and some, especially the last one, I have changed to reflect my worldview and my beliefs about cosmology.

Enough preface already!

    The Five Problems of Today's Physics

    largely taken from Lee Smolin, The Trouble with Physics

  1. The problem of quantum gravity: Combine general relativity and quantum theory into a single theory, preferably with no infinities, singularities, or universe-eating monsters.

  2. The foundational problems of quantum mechanics: Resolve the philosophical problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics, either by making sense of the theory or by inventing a new theory that does make sense.

  3. The problem of the unification of particles and forces: Determine whether or not the various particles and forces can be unified in a theory that explains them all as manifestations of a single, fundamental entity.

  4. The problem of the adjustable constants: Explain how the values of the free constants in the standard model of particle physics are chosen in nature. [I think this one is not such an issue, because I believe that God could have set the constants to whatever He pleased. However, it does seem possible that He might instead have chosen a scheme for nature that sets its own constants; we can see from the universe and from His Word that He loves beauty and order.]

  5. The problem of cosmology: Describe what the universe used to be like and how it got to what it is like now. [Smolin has this as “Explain the dark matter and dark energy.” I have adjusted it to reflect the need to offer a biblically-consistent alternative to the big bang model.]

Physics forever,

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