Why Does It Matter If Physicists Are Wrong About Physics?
Ultimately, It Affects All Of Civilization, Scientist Says
Most people in the global physics community are fundamentally misguided by their understanding of their own branch of science, says German physicist and science writer Alexander Unzicker.
“Modern physics is so different from the science that stood for humanity’s greatest achievements 100 years ago,” he says. “Today’s scientists have highly developed technical skills and almost unlimited resources, but they lack Albert Einstein’s deep reflections on the laws of nature, his passion and his intellectual honesty.”
Unzicker argues that modern physics is on the wrong track and he likens it to medieval astronomy. Most people may have trouble understanding all the reasons for skepticism about today’s physics, but Unzicker says one thing should be clear – we may be stunting our progress as a species by missing the mark on physics.
“As a taxpayer, you might be interested to know whether the billions of dollars spent on real or alleged fundamental research is well invested,” he says. “Yet, the problem is a more basic one. Our understanding of the laws of nature will decisively contribute to how our civilization will be able to adapt to a cosmos that is rather hostile to life.”
Unzicker, author of “Einstein’s Lost Key – How We Overlooked the Best Idea of the 20th Century” (alexander-unzicker.com), briefly reviews some points about today’s state of physics.
• There is a telltale sign. Good physics is simple. Contemporary physics, in contrast, is complicated. This state is reflected by many so-called free parameters – unjustified numbers invented for no other purpose than to fit the data, he says. It’s a physicist’s business to not only describe the observations, but also to adequately understandthem, he says.
• Einstein would have disliked the current standard model of cosmology. Einstein explicitly stated that a physical theory has poor chances of being true unless it’s very simple. It’s not that he preferred simplicity for simplicity’s sake, Unzicker says. Rather, history provides evidence that correct theories are simple. All revolutions in physics are simplified – that is, they got rid of unexplained numbers.
• Einstein’s example is not followed today. The man who revolutionized physics had a unique way of thinking. He endured a sincere struggle to understand the laws of nature, and his passionate search for truth is not echoed by today’s researchers, Unzicker says.
• Yes, it’s possible that thousands of scientists are wrong.Believing that science produces pure facts is naïve, he says. Scientists observe, and then they interpret the results. If an interpretation is dominated by a consensus of scientists, it is accepted as at least tentatively true – or not untrue. Many mistake this process as yielding solid fact, he says. It has happened many times throughout history, including overlooking continental drift. Today, he says, there is a kind of groupthink that is weakening the important field of physics.
About Alexander Unzicker
Alexander Unzicker (alexander-unzicker.com) is a German physicist and science writer. He has degrees in both physics and law and a PhD in neuroscience from Munich University (summa cum laude). His first book, “Vom Urknall zum Durchknall,” won the award for “most controversial science book of the year” by the journal Bild der Wissenschaft. The English edition of “Bankrupting physics – How Today’s Scientists are Gambling Away their Credibility,” was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013. Another controversial book of his is “The Higgs Fake – How Particle Physicists Fooled the Nobel Committee.” While working as a high school teacher of math, physics and astronomy, Unzicker publishes scholarly papers on fundamental physics and cosmology. He lives in Munich, is married and has three children.