Link: Are physicists barking up the wrong tree?

1 minute read

Sabine Hossenfelder has a book coming out next month, Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray. She pursues the question of why physicists today follow research paths toward “beautiful” or “natural” theories, and critically examines past theories, noting that successful ones were rarely viewed as “beautiful” at the time they were proposed.

The implication is that today’s efforts to develop new theories may be barking up the wrong tree.

She has done an interview with on her work: “Looking in the Wrong Places”, which is both thoughtful and provocative:

The problems that I see in my own community worry me a lot. Not so much because I’m so terribly worried about quantum gravity. On a certain level, even though it’s my personal interest, I realize that for most of the people on the planet making progress in quantum gravity is not that terribly important. It worries me because I have to question how well science itself is working.
The problems that I was speaking about in my own community—that people work on certain topics just because the money is there, because it’s something that is popular and that their colleagues appreciate—are problems that almost certainly exist in most scientific communities. My extrapolation from my own field would tell me that I should be very skeptical about whatever comes out of the scientific community. And that’s not good. Clearly that’s not good.

I’m looking forward to this book.