The trouble with physics

Many years ago I gave evidence at the Old Bailey. It was a fraud trial, and I was an expert witness for the prosecution. During the case I got to know DI Frank Cooper of Holborn nick. He told me about his "copper's nose", and what bank robbers and the like are really like. He said I shouldn’t think of them as lovable rogues like in the old movies. He said “They’re career criminals, they’re contemptuous of people like you”. Or words to that effect. Along…

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Propaganda and censorship in physics

Last time, I was talking about propaganda and censorship in politics. As most people know, things have been getting rather Orwellian recently. Free speech is under attack. People have lost their jobs because “all lives matter” is somehow racist. Left-wing activists are pushing for censorship on the pretence that all opposing views are hate crimes. On top of that certain so-called journalists are peddling fake news and doublespeak “fact checks” in a patent blatant fashion. I’d say Bari Weiss’s resignation letter is a sign of the…

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How to tell science from pseudoscience

I have to wait for something at the moment, so I thought I’d have a read of Sabine Hossenfelder’s latest blog post. Then I thought I’d say something about it. Hossenfelder is green: Is the earth flat? Is G5 is a mind-control experiment by the Russian government? What about the idea that COVID was engineered by the vaccine industry? How can we tell apart science from pseudoscience? This is what we will talk about today. Well, it isn’t the Russians trying to track me on my…

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Something is rotten in the state of QED

Check out something is rotten in the state of QED. It’s a paper by Oliver Consa, who has done some excellent detective work on the history of quantum electrodynamics (QED). He has delved deep into the claims that QED is the most precise theory ever, and what he’s come up with is grim: Consa says the much-touted precision of QED is based on measurements of the electron g-factor, but that “this value was obtained using illegitimate mathematical traps, manipulations and tricks”. I think he’s right. I…

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The theory of everything

I think when you’ve absorbed a lot of material, especially the old material, you get a handle on the theory of everything. The Einstein digital papers are important for this. That’s where you learn how gravity works. You learn that light curves because the speed of light is spatially variable. Not because it follows the curvature of spacetime. You learn that a gravitational field is a place where a space is neither homogeneous nor isotropic in a non-linear fashion. Hence when you plot your metrical measurements…

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Even physicists don’t understand quantum mechanics

Check out Sean Carroll’s New York Times article Even Physicists Don’t Understand Quantum Mechanics. I thought it was great. And I just loved that subtitle: Worse, they don’t seem to want to understand it. Carroll started by quoting Feynman, who said this: “I think I can safely say that nobody really understands quantum mechanics”. That’s a good start. Feynman was known as the great explainer, but he couldn’t explain how a magnet works. Or how gravity works. Moreover he was a major contributor to quantum electrodynamics,…

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Misconceptions in particle physics

Physics is said to be the king of the sciences, and particle physics is said to be the most important branch of physics. As per the Wikipedia particle physics article, it’s the branch of physics that studies the nature of the particles that constitute matter and radiation. The article tells us that elementary particles are excitations of the quantum fields, and says this: “the currently dominant theory explaining these fundamental particles and fields, along with their dynamics, is called the Standard Model”. Glenn Starkman gives a…

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You can lead a horse to water

I thought I ought to say something about some of the conversations I have with some physicists. A recent example concerned gravity, and why light curves. I found myself talking to a guy doing a PhD called Erik Anson. At the end, I thought of the old adage: you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. I am reminded of some of the conversations I had years ago with Young Earth Creationists. You can show them the strata, the fossils, and…

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Quantum physics is cargo cult science

Ethan Siegel wrote a blog post this week called This Is Why Quantum Field Theory Is More Fundamental Than Quantum Mechanics. I read it and sighed, because so much of it is misleading. This sort of thing has been in the air recently, because Lee Smolin gave a lecture on Einstein's unfinished revolution. Smolin said quantum mechanics was incomplete, then doubled down and said it was wrong. I think he's right, only more than he knows. So I thought I'd use Siegel's post to show just…

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Einstein’s unfinished revolution

Lee Smolin gave a lecture at the Perimeter Institute this week. Here’s the blurb: “On April 17, in a special webcast talk based on his latest book, Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution, Perimeter’s Lee Smolin will argue that the problems that have bedeviled quantum physics since its inception are unsolved and unsolvable for the simple reason that the theory is incomplete. There is more to quantum physics waiting to be discovered”. This sounds interesting. It's definitely my kind of thing. Let’s take a look. 00:49 Greg Dick starts…

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