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nikol


Total Posts: 1231
Joined: Jun 2005
 
Posted: 2020-05-07 11:50
Wolfram announced his baby out of his free time hobby (who hasn't) and named it no less than
"Theory of everything"

Of course there are critics
https://gizmodo.com/the-trouble-with-stephen-wolfram-s-new-fundamental-theo-1842985419

I think it is good corner of research especially noticing recent progress on quantum general relativity and casuality...

chiral3
Founding Member

Total Posts: 5178
Joined: Mar 2004
 
Posted: 2020-05-10 14:59
I’ll admit, I haven’t spent much time trying to understand it. I am not hugely put off by the end running of peer review since the direction of research has become increasingly self-referential since the 1970’s (it would seem it’s almost lost... and there’s really no mechanism to “go back” and try another path). Unless there’s some deep phenomenological thing going on that I am not aware of, I am not sure what he’s trying to do. Predict? Unify what? It’s not a GUT or something that relies on the SM. I just really don’t understand what he’s trying to do when he calls it physics. It’s something else.

Nonius is Satoshi Nakamoto. 物の哀れ

nikol


Total Posts: 1231
Joined: Jun 2005
 
Posted: 2020-05-10 15:39
I saw link to this
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_dynamical_triangulation

Indeed, Wolfram seems to waste the resources for a hobby, but might come occasionally to the understanding of CDT.

chiral3
Founding Member

Total Posts: 5178
Joined: Mar 2004
 
Posted: 2020-05-10 23:13
The only people I know that are into it are on the fringe, like Rudy Rucker or Eric W. Yet, they don't really develop or expose his theory, or explain it; they just talk about Wolfram. So even though I like Eric and Rudy, even consider them quasi- friend / acquaintances, it seems that it's more of an identity thing like "yeah, we're all outcast".

There's some graduated conditioning from the inside to the outside, something like Nima Arkani-Hamed --> Shinichi Mochizuki --> Stephen Wolfram that describes someone's proximity to reliance on, or inclusion in, the community. Grisha Perelman and Andrew Wiles lived in the space between the first two, with Nima > Andrew > Grisha, but they were able to get people to take up the work, whereas Shinichi seems fucked with his Inter-universal Teichmüller theory. Wolfram seems to care more about martyrdom. I'd call Eric out too: if you really had conviction you'd work to get it to a point. Knowing that it'll take the community, like procreation is the only sure-fire way to achieve some kind of immortality, a person with conviction would be also focused on passing the baton.

BTW, if we're going to talk about a background independent theory, that'll take a serious rewind and restart. There was a ton of experimental verification between 1900 and 1950 that propagated a system that really looked nuts by the time non-abelian gauge theory was inserted into the foundation. Not that Yang-Mills isn't beautiful, but things never felt fully baked once we started to get comfy with all the effective theories.

Nonius is Satoshi Nakamoto. 物の哀れ

jslade


Total Posts: 1226
Joined: Feb 2007
 
Posted: 2020-05-12 16:37
Physics, realistically, has been a dead subject since the 60s. A lot of smart, optimistic, ambitious people continue to go into this dead subject, in particular the deadest part of a dead subject; high energy physics (which has pretty much divorced itself from physics as pertaining to the world of matter, oddball phenomenologists like Nima aside).

Further "unifications" of physics are probably more along the lines of perpetual motion machines or the philosopher's stone of previous generations. Aka futile, meaningless and the intellectual refuse of the confusion of previous generations of thinkers, but still attractive to big thinkers who want to top Einstein or are bitter about their post-doc experience or whatever. Remember, Newton spent more time on Alchemy than he did inventing Calculus and physics; maybe he wanted to outdo Paracelsus. He eventually did!

Wolfram's nonsense is basically the result of staring at cellular automata screen savers for the last 40 years since his wunderkind years at Caltech. There's a tradition of this; most theories of electromagnetism in the 1800s were mechanical gearwork things, because that was the high technology of the day. Eventually we got Maxwell's equations. Of course, Newton's mechanics came straight from Euclid.

But Wolfram's stuff is nonsense. He's more or less absconded with wacky ideas of Ed Fredkin, Alain Connes, Gerard t'Hooft and others, as far as can be told, without any attribution. Really if I wanted to know about this, I'd follow t'Hooft, who is an actual physicist of some repute, rather than a goofus who thought it would be a good idea to reimplement Macsyma in C++. The fact that Wolfram can avail himself of a powerful PR firm and t'Hooft only has his reputation more or less tells me you should pay attention to t'Hooft, not the guy with the PR firm.

Really though, the most interesting thinkers of current year, as far as I can tell, are all statisticians and probabilists.

"Learning, n. The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious."

Jurassic


Total Posts: 379
Joined: Mar 2018
 
Posted: 2020-05-12 18:27
@jslade
This is hilarious..."Newton spent more time on Alchemy"

How did this guy become a billionaire with wolfram alpha?

"Really though, the most interesting thinkers of current year, as far as I can tell, are all statisticians and probabilists." What are you talking about here?

chiral3
Founding Member

Total Posts: 5178
Joined: Mar 2004
 
Posted: 2020-05-12 19:49
t'Hooft was good at producing string theorists no doubt due to Veltman's influence!

It's super weird watching physics. It's been ruined by blogs and identity politics. Why would a thinker in their prime want to spend time arguing on their blogs or writing popular books?

The problem with all these effective theories is the size of the corpus. Newton could spend time on Alchemy because you didn't need to be spread so thin back then (and because he wasn't trying to get laid). I think it was the Chocktaw tribe that had this person called a bone picker. When someone died they had this whole ritual of reducing he body to bones. After so many generations their migratory orbits converged to settlements because they couldn't drag all their dead relatives around. That's the story as I remember it, but it reminds me of physics. Unless you're a gazelle and a mathematical freak, you can't start doing any real theory work until you learn all this mathematical wizardry at the limit of understanding. In 1950 you learn some linear algebra, some PDE methods, some representation theory, and you're ready to tackle some hard problems if you can think hard enough. Today the mentality is no different than buying supplements and skipping the reps in the gym and then posturing in a blog.

Yeah, physics is fucked.


Nonius is Satoshi Nakamoto. 物の哀れ

Jurassic


Total Posts: 379
Joined: Mar 2018
 
Posted: 2020-05-13 20:35
@chiral3 what would say is the minimum knowledge nowadays?

chiral3
Founding Member

Total Posts: 5178
Joined: Mar 2004
 
Posted: 2020-05-13 23:04
I am not qualified to say. Depending on the sub-speciality the answer may be finite. For fundamental physics, at least along the thread pulled by Witten et al, I'd say everything, in some weird Baudrillard, Borges way: you must learn everything to start. Maybe if lifespans were prolonged 100 years, overnight, and most everyone decided to think about physics, the course would correct.

Nonius is Satoshi Nakamoto. 物の哀れ

nikol


Total Posts: 1231
Joined: Jun 2005
 
Posted: 2020-05-14 07:56
Wolfram's game is a complex version of Convey's Life. Why not?


@Jurassic

"This is hilarious..."Newton spent more time on Alchemy""

Isaac was known more as Theologist, rather than physicist (as there was no such a thing at a time). Interest and expertise in alchemy led him to become head of FED of his time - Royal coin printing machine.

gax


Total Posts: 25
Joined: Apr 2011
 
Posted: 2020-05-14 19:16
I always thought the best way to fix half the problems in academia would be for universities to only hire postdocs who do research in an area disjoint from their advisors main research interest. Especially in pure mathematics, most of the PhD students specialize in a narrow sub field of their advisor's interests, so as time progresses breadth -> 0.
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