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(Discover)   Rogue physicist spills the beans, admits that the "the laws underlying the physics of everyday life are completely understood." Departments of everyday physics shuttered across the land   (blogs.discovermagazine.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, evolutionary biology, quantum mechanics, theory of everything, superconductivity, general relativity, electromagnetic forces, quarks, fundamental research  
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4117 clicks; posted to Fandom » on 24 Sep 2010 at 4:25 AM (11 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



65 Comments     (+0 »)
 
2010-09-23 11:59:44 PM  
Welcome to 1901.
 
2010-09-24 1:15:37 AM  

Mentat: Welcome to 1901.


1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.
 
2010-09-24 2:11:21 AM  
What, exactly, was the point of that article?
 
2010-09-24 3:41:57 AM  

impaler: Mentat: Welcome to 1901.

1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.


I'm pretty sure that was his point; It was a somewhat common sentiment at that time that most of physics had already been figured out.
 
2010-09-24 4:36:52 AM  
Aw man. I'm gonna have to apologize to all those people I've called douchebags for saying that anything more than 1% of our universe is figured out.
 
2010-09-24 4:42:00 AM  
Lol. After reading the article, it was clear that the author was referring to interactions taking place within the human experience.

So...he highlighted the fact that as far as we've come in that arena, we have no way of reconciling it with the actual environment we find ourselves in (ten dimensional brane theory, etc).

Great work.
 
2010-09-24 4:43:42 AM  
img534.imageshack.usView Full Size
 
2010-09-24 4:58:14 AM  
Gridlock
weird ginger kid.jpg

I have no idea what you just posted or why, but I am weeping with laughter here.
 
2010-09-24 5:56:43 AM  

Mentat: Welcome to 1901.


Came here to say this. Nice.

To explain: some particularly arrogant and unimaginative physicists around the turn of the last century thought that classical mechanics pretty much covered everything. Einstein, along with a few other cats who followed him, came along directly and buttf*cked that whole train of thought...up, apparently, until now.
 
2010-09-24 6:44:58 AM  
Suppose I have a cup of coffee that is hot and I just finished stirring, and I put cream into it. Physics still would have a remarkably hard time telling me how that cream will diffuse into the coffee.
 
2010-09-24 6:52:04 AM  
Everyday life would be Newtonian in nature. So yes, 1901.
 
2010-09-24 7:05:03 AM  
halflife2rs.altervista.orgView Full Size


"Well, Dr. Freeman, under other circumstances I like to think we might have been able to work together in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. Certainly, judging from your brief tenure at Black Mesa while I was its Administrator, you showed every promise of becoming a valuable and productive contributor to the scientific process. And yet... I'm not sure what spurred you to it... but there is really no place in this enterprise for a rogue physicist."
 
2010-09-24 7:38:55 AM  
"We don't know how to quantize gravity, or what the dark matter is, or what breaks electroweak symmetry. But we don't need to know any of those things to account for the world that is immediately apparent to us."

So, let's go back to observational science as the only thing taught and you get to eliminate a lot of science and math classes. Is this a recommendation for more recess or gym classes?
 
2010-09-24 8:22:27 AM  
I dunno...I can do Young's classic double-slit experiment in everyday life, and they've only kinda/sorta explained that one. Didn't Michael Chrichton write an entire book based on one of the more lunatic fringe interpretations of it?
 
2010-09-24 8:32:42 AM  

Guardian996: Suppose I have a cup of coffee that is hot and I just finished stirring, and I put cream into it. Physics still would have a remarkably hard time telling me how that cream will diffuse into the coffee.


longtermtourists.comView Full Size
 
2010-09-24 8:44:40 AM  
There's knowing things like Maxwell's or Schrodinger's equations, and there's being able to apply it to a given problem involving something larger than a single hydrogen atom.
 
2010-09-24 9:06:27 AM  

Guardian996: Suppose I have a cup of coffee that is hot and I just finished stirring, and I put cream into it. Physics still would have a remarkably hard time telling me how that cream will diffuse into the coffee.


Actually, given the proper information (ie initial conditions) fluid dynamics has come a long way. I think you'd be surprised what a good computer simulator could do with the right input.
 
2010-09-24 9:07:50 AM  
Whatever "physicist" made this declaration is delusional or dumb. We don't even fully understand the physics of photosynthesis, and possibly other human systems which may involve quantum biology. As fushigi pointed out, we can't solve the schrodinger equation exactly for anything more complicated than 2 interacting particles. We don't understand dark matter, without which our galaxy would be disrupted and stars would be thrown about into deep space, possibly by careening through our solar system, which would effect everyday life rather significantly.

In conclusion, the author is a tool.
 
2010-09-24 9:08:17 AM  
Rogue physicist?


EVERYONE RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!@!! IT'S A ROGUE PHYSICIST!!!!~
 
2010-09-24 9:10:23 AM  

nunoyo: Guardian996: Suppose I have a cup of coffee that is hot and I just finished stirring, and I put cream into it. Physics still would have a remarkably hard time telling me how that cream will diffuse into the coffee.

Actually, given the proper information (ie initial conditions) fluid dynamics has come a long way. I think you'd be surprised what a good computer simulator could do with the right input.


Getting the general solutions is still a big question, though. Thus the 1 million bucks for Navier-Stokes solutions.

/maybe your coffee is viscid and compressible!
 
2010-09-24 9:36:53 AM  

impaler: Mentat: Welcome to 1901.

1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.


Why not? Maxwell's equations (for the radio and electronic parts) and the physics of orbiting bodies were both well known in 1901.

It might not be quite as accurate (maybe along the lines of the Transit system, 200 yard accuracy), but certainly good enough for many applications.
 
2010-09-24 9:42:54 AM  
ecmoRandomNumbers 2010-09-24 02:11:21 AM

What, exactly, was the point of that article?


i think we are reentering the age where it is assumed/claimed that we know all we need or want to know and have seen all we care to see and that any of that other stuff is a waste of time.

i dont agree
 
2010-09-24 9:49:55 AM  

DiscoSuperfly: /maybe your coffee is viscid and compressible!


I doctor according to taste. Sue me.
 
2010-09-24 9:52:26 AM  
By the way, Subby, it doesn't say anywhere that the guy who wrote this article is a physicist, let alone a rogue one. It doesn't say that he isn't, so I'm not ruling out that it's known from other source that "Sean" is actually "Dr. Sean Ph.D.," but I get the idea that this is actually, "Some guy who likes physics a lot claims that 'the laws underlying the physics of everyday life are completely understood.'" A bit different.
 
2010-09-24 9:55:55 AM  

Pochas: We don't even fully understand the physics of photosynthesis


LOLWUT?
 
2010-09-24 10:02:53 AM  

nunoyo: By the way, Subby, it doesn't say anywhere that the guy who wrote this article is a physicist, let alone a rogue one. It doesn't say that he isn't, so I'm not ruling out that it's known from other source that "Sean" is actually "Dr. Sean Ph.D.," but I get the idea that this is actually, "Some guy who likes physics a lot claims that 'the laws underlying the physics of everyday life are completely understood.'" A bit different.



From his profile page at Discover:
Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. He is the author of a graduate-level textbook, Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity, as well as a set of Teaching Company lectures on dark matter and dark energy.

His new book, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, explores the relationship between entropy, cosmology, and the arrow of time.
 
2010-09-24 10:07:36 AM  

GilRuiz1: nunoyo: By the way, Subby, it doesn't say anywhere that the guy who wrote this article is a physicist, let alone a rogue one. It doesn't say that he isn't, so I'm not ruling out that it's known from other source that "Sean" is actually "Dr. Sean Ph.D.," but I get the idea that this is actually, "Some guy who likes physics a lot claims that 'the laws underlying the physics of everyday life are completely understood.'" A bit different.


From his profile page at Discover:
Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. He is the author of a graduate-level textbook, Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity, as well as a set of Teaching Company lectures on dark matter and dark energy.

His new book, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, explores the relationship between entropy, cosmology, and the arrow of time.


Well ok then. Thank you sir.
 
2010-09-24 10:14:01 AM  

nunoyo: Well ok then. Thank you sir.



No worries. Although I do agree with you that, given the history of trumpeting "the end of science," it seems a tad bold for anyone to want to do so again.
 
2010-09-24 10:22:31 AM  
Burr:

First thing I thought of, too.

/Is it sad that I seem to recognize that photo from inside the garage you have to go through to get to the I-beam that knocks the locks open, instead of inside the Citadel where he actually says that?
 
2010-09-24 10:26:44 AM  

NightSteel: Burr:

First thing I thought of, too.

/Is it sad that I seem to recognize that photo from inside the garage you have to go through to get to the I-beam that knocks the locks open, instead of inside the Citadel where he actually says that?


Yeah, it was was one of the first ones I could find where he is on a combine console. (I wasn't going to look too hard)
 
2010-09-24 10:43:11 AM  
Can anyone in here recommend a book for laymen (such as myself) that helps explain basic (and not so basic) concepts of physics? I know that's a broad subject, but I am reading some of these posts and I'm really fascinated and humbled because, well, I'm not understanding a ton of it. It's been a while since 10th grade when I was really into it. Suggestions? Potshots?
 
2010-09-24 10:45:46 AM  

impaler: Mentat: Welcome to 1901.

1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.


I believe the physics of 1901 wouldn't allow photosynthesis either.

//Quantum entanglement
 
2010-09-24 10:54:22 AM  

whistleridge: I dunno...I can do Young's classic double-slit experiment in everyday life, and they've only kinda/sorta explained that one. Didn't Michael Chrichton write an entire book based on one of the more lunatic fringe interpretations of it?


upload.wikimedia.orgView Full Size


In looking this up, I found out the author died in 2008. Sad face
 
2010-09-24 10:59:01 AM  

dittybopper: impaler: Mentat: Welcome to 1901.

1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.

Why not? Maxwell's equations (for the radio and electronic parts) and the physics of orbiting bodies were both well known in 1901.

It might not be quite as accurate (maybe along the lines of the Transit system, 200 yard accuracy), but certainly good enough for many applications.


Accurate timekeeping for one. You need atomic clocks to provide a decent enough timebase. I suspect that the physics required for microchips wasn't around either.
 
2010-09-24 11:09:22 AM  

Pinko_Commie: dittybopper: impaler: Mentat: Welcome to 1901.

1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.

Why not? Maxwell's equations (for the radio and electronic parts) and the physics of orbiting bodies were both well known in 1901.

It might not be quite as accurate (maybe along the lines of the Transit system, 200 yard accuracy), but certainly good enough for many applications.

Accurate timekeeping for one. You need atomic clocks to provide a decent enough timebase. I suspect that the physics required for microchips wasn't around either.


This. Even with a radio receiver capable of listening in on the GPS satellites as they call out their location, AND you could translate, you'd be in for about 5 minutes of pencil-and-paper calculations to triangulate your location. Once. Astrolabes and sextants are faster.
 
2010-09-24 11:12:26 AM  
What a retarded article.

How can he claim this, when even the simplest Newtontian equations of motion (which are approximations of Einsteins Theories of Relativity) cannot be solved for a motion of three simple bodies interacting due to gravity (or more accurately spacetime curvature)

Link

We clearly have some useful scientific tools and mathematical models to help understand and quantify our surroundings, many of which have practical applications (the abilty to build semiconductors, or build microwaves, or fly planes, or put a satellite in space).

This in no way means we 'understand' the current phenomena which constitutes the universe.

We have some useful models with some practical applications. Had the articles premise been that alone, then he would have looked a lot less of a twat.
 
2010-09-24 11:26:33 AM  
obligatory,
imgs.xkcd.comView Full Size
, inevitable.
 
2010-09-24 11:32:01 AM  

sminkypinky: when even the simplest Newtontian equations of motion (which are approximations of Einsteins Theories of Relativity) cannot be solved for a motion of three simple bodies interacting due to gravity


Well, that's not true. It's hard and computationally intensive. There are some initial conditions that mean there will never be a periodic orbit or repeating phase, but you can do it.

In general, we won't simulate n-body interactions computationally, simply because it's really really expensive, and there are cheaper ways to get a "good" enough solution. I'm particularly fond of the Barnes-Hut method, which divides space into an oct-tree. Since any group of masses has a center of gravity and can be treated as a point-mass, you only need to simulate the interactions of particles in the same branch of the tree (near to each other) with high fidelity. Then you can take the center of mass of that group of particles (moving one level up the tree) and simulate how it interacts with nearby groups. And so on. It's very clever and certainly "accurate enough".
 
2010-09-24 11:37:15 AM  
Quite the turdish article....the author is the definitive example of a douche bag
 
2010-09-24 11:38:40 AM  

JohnKimble63: Can anyone in here recommend a book for laymen (such as myself) that helps explain basic (and not so basic) concepts of physics? I know that's a broad subject, but I am reading some of these posts and I'm really fascinated and humbled because, well, I'm not understanding a ton of it. It's been a while since 10th grade when I was really into it. Suggestions? Potshots?


"The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene is a good starter. It helps explain quantum mechanics and relativity for the layman.

Please take the stuff in the last chapter (the String Theory chapter) with a grain of salt, we can't really prove any of that stuff yet. "String Conjecture" would probably be a more accurate name.
 
2010-09-24 11:39:15 AM  

kingoomieiii: Pinko_Commie:I suspect that the physics required for microchips wasn't around either.

This. Even with a radio receiver capable of listening in on the GPS satellites as they call out their location, AND you could translate, you'd be in for about 5 minutes of pencil-and-paper calculations to triangulate your location. Once. Astrolabes and sextants are faster.


NOT this. Even the way you're describing it, the physics were understood, if only on a theoretical basis. The technologies based on those physics didn't exist yet. It's the difference between "The Photoelectric Effect" and a laser printer, or between E=mc2 and Hiroshima.

Point of TFA: We've got the mundane pretty well knocked, from a macroscopic point of view. Maybe we don't understand every single underlying action going on from each individual particle or force, but the whole created by the sum of these uncountable individual parts can be described to a degree of accuracy so incredibly sufficient as to call it complete for all practical meanings.
 
2010-09-24 11:44:04 AM  

Pinko_Commie: Accurate timekeeping for one. You need atomic clocks to provide a decent enough timebase. I suspect that the physics required for microchips wasn't around either.


Up until a few years ago (65nm or so), accurate understanding of electron tunneling and electron spin weren't really necessary for producing microchips. It helped to have tunneling microscopes of course but it wasn't necessary; it just saves time in development.

Microelectronics is surprisingly void of advanced physics. For the most part, it's still using Maxwell's equations.
 
2010-09-24 11:45:51 AM  

Pinko_Commie: dittybopper: impaler: Mentat: Welcome to 1901.

1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.

Why not? Maxwell's equations (for the radio and electronic parts) and the physics of orbiting bodies were both well known in 1901.

It might not be quite as accurate (maybe along the lines of the Transit system, 200 yard accuracy), but certainly good enough for many applications.

Accurate timekeeping for one. You need atomic clocks to provide a decent enough timebase. I suspect that the physics required for microchips wasn't around either.


I mentioned the Transit system for a reason: It relied on Doppler shift. You could replicate most of the functions of GPS using a system that relied on Doppler shift and it could be relatively accurate without the need for a hyper-accurate time source.
 
2010-09-24 11:49:27 AM  

BKITU: Point of TFA: We've got the mundane pretty well knocked, from a macroscopic point of view. Maybe we don't understand every single underlying action going on from each individual particle or force, but the whole created by the sum of these uncountable individual parts can be described to a degree of accuracy so incredibly sufficient as to call it complete for all practical meanings.


Except, not necessarily.

Because there's a lot of (really exciting) work going on where the microscopic effects are really important. For instance, nanophysics/engineering/tech: The reason it's interesting in the *first* place is that the materials have different properties than they would when in bulk.

Also, I don't think we have a very good theory explaining what the hell is going on with non-metallic superconductors. A lot of them have, I'm dead serious, just been discovered via 'guess and check.' Or, at least, for a time we didn't have a good theory, I may be misremembering here, though.

That said, your statement reminded me of this:

zs1.smbc-comics.comView Full Size
 
2010-09-24 11:53:01 AM  
Either fark is full of a bunch of idiots with very little or no reading comprehension skills or everyone is trolling.

I think it's pretty obvious that the point of the article was to point out the fact that so much attention is given to what we don't know that we sometimes fail to recognize how much we do know and the amazing things that we have built based on that knowledge.

I mean, think about it, we know the laws of physics so well that we can launch a spacecraft and let it fly, knowing how it will interact with the gravitational fields of other bodies and crash it into an asteroid, knowing the exact time and place that that event will occur.

Do we know everything? Absolutely not, and he pointed out as much in the article, but we really do know a lot and it's pretty amazing so maybe we should step back once in a while and admire the human intellect.
 
2010-09-24 12:25:33 PM  
Mysterious force hinders NASA spacecraft


"During my work at NASA, I have encountered so many surprises," he said.

He cites the example of one of the astronauts on Apollo 13, launched by NASA in 1971, and who spotted a three-meter long metal body that traveled in a direction apposite to the spacecraft despite being close to it.

"This is in contradiction with all known space theories since this body was supposed to travel in the same direction as the spacecraft. Till now, we haven't found an explanation for that."

When asked about the possible reasons for hindering pioneer 10, Baaz replied that it could be a problem with the computer program that tracks the trajectory of the spacecraft.

"Otherwise, it is a force that defies all laws of nature. In this case, all the information we have about the universe and gravity laws need to be changed."
 
2010-09-24 1:40:24 PM  

Felgraf: JohnKimble63: Can anyone in here recommend a book for laymen (such as myself) that helps explain basic (and not so basic) concepts of physics? I know that's a broad subject, but I am reading some of these posts and I'm really fascinated and humbled because, well, I'm not understanding a ton of it. It's been a while since 10th grade when I was really into it. Suggestions? Potshots?

"The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene is a good starter. It helps explain quantum mechanics and relativity for the layman.

Please take the stuff in the last chapter (the String Theory chapter) with a grain of salt, we can't really prove any of that stuff yet. "String Conjecture" would probably be a more accurate name.


Headed to Amazon now... thanks!
 
2010-09-24 1:46:14 PM  

Pochas: Whatever "physicist" made this declaration is delusional or dumb. We don't even fully understand the physics of photosynthesis, and possibly other human systems which may involve quantum biology. As fushigi pointed out, we can't solve the schrodinger equation exactly for anything more complicated than 2 interacting particles. We don't understand dark matter, without which our galaxy would be disrupted and stars would be thrown about into deep space, possibly by careening through our solar system, which would effect everyday life rather significantly.

In conclusion, the author is a tool.


Dark matter is part of your everyday life?

This might surprise you, but most people are born and die without having a clue what the schrodinger equation is.

There is a vast difference between understand all of the physics one needs to apply to live on a day to day basis, and pretending that because the universe requires some pretty complex shiat to exist that all of that complex shiat is a part of everyday life.

Stepping back from physics, I don't need to know how life evolved from raw materials into human beings to get up, eat some cereal, and wish I'd left for the gym 26 minutes ago.
 
2010-09-24 1:50:38 PM  
Felgraf: So science is a process by which conjectures are proved to be theories?
 
2010-09-24 2:38:48 PM  
I was just explaining that to the delivery guy from multiverse NRF289-k34^r when he delivered the grav plates to my new force-field-walled orbital home this morning before I folded space to work.
 
2010-09-24 3:02:14 PM  

Lernaeus: I was just explaining that to the delivery guy from multiverse NRF289-k34^r when he delivered the grav plates to my new force-field-walled orbital home this morning before I folded space to work.


Well done.

And good point - we don't know shiat yet. 20 years ago, a handheld video phone was science fiction. 10 years ago, a 333mHz computer in my office was 4 feet tall. Now my car tells ME where to go.

Yeah, anecdotal applications of known science, but still, as our ability to process information increases, our knowledge increases. And our processing power is growing pretty damned quickly.
 
2010-09-24 3:22:51 PM  
So basically we have explained what we can detect w/o equipment.
 
2010-09-24 3:33:44 PM  

Nurglitch: Felgraf: So science is a process by which conjectures are proved to be theories?


Well, it's more I'm not sure we should call something a 'theory' yet, in that we normally call 'theories' things that are actually pretty well tested (Theory of Gravity, Theory of Relativity). Perhaps 'String Hypothesis' would have been better for me to say (as there are some hypothetical tests to be done, I think, but we currently lack the abilities to do so). I admitI could be wrong, my focus is on nanophysics, not.. well, string theory.
 
2010-09-24 3:46:48 PM  

JohnKimble63: Can anyone in here recommend a book for laymen (such as myself) that helps explain basic (and not so basic) concepts of physics? I know that's a broad subject, but I am reading some of these posts and I'm really fascinated and humbled because, well, I'm not understanding a ton of it. It's been a while since 10th grade when I was really into it. Suggestions? Potshots?


A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav (quantum physics)
Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries by Neil DeGrasse Tyson
 
2010-09-24 4:17:59 PM  
To take this in a slightly different direction, it can also be said that the author's whole argument can be translated into philosophy of science terms as, "The paradigm is mature, and we've answered the majority of the relevant questions we can within it."

Which means that we're ripe for a major paradigm shift where some new understanding will permit social and technological advances at the everyday level we simply had not imagined before.

There's a bunch of work in the early basic research stages that has the possibility to be vastly transformative if we ever get it from the lab to the production line, like QM and nanotech.

Thomas Kuhn's work is a good place to start if you want to learn more about the concepts I am referring to here.
 
2010-09-24 5:57:13 PM  

DECMATH: obligatory, , inevitable.


The punch line - how often does a physicist actually encounter a "new" subject?
 
2010-09-24 6:17:55 PM  

dittybopper: impaler: Mentat: Welcome to 1901.

1901 physics wouldn't allow GPS to work.

Why not? Maxwell's equations (for the radio and electronic parts) and the physics of orbiting bodies were both well known in 1901.

It might not be quite as accurate (maybe along the lines of the Transit system, 200 yard accuracy), but certainly good enough for many applications.


Without an understanding of relativity, the system would be inaccurate by about 10 km per day:

http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~pogge/Ast162/Unit5/gps.html

So you'd have to recalibrate the whole system every hour or so--which you wouldn't be able to do without an understanding of relativistic simultaneity.

(And looking at your later post, no, the Doppler shift is also affected by relativity.)

Meanwhile, in 1901, the nuclear model of the atom was not yet understood, and so the band-gap theories that allow us to understand semiconductors (and dope them p- or n- for our uses) could not have been developed earlier than about 1920. No transistors, so no microprocessors.
 
2010-09-24 7:01:16 PM  
I don't know how I managed to troll this thread, but I'm very impressed with myself.

SUCK IT PHYSICS BIOATCHES! BIOLOGY 4 LIFE YO!
 
2010-09-24 8:20:56 PM  
Now guys, lay off. Even Discover has to make money selling stories to lobbyists against scientific funding. Right? Who cares if the benefits of blue sky research are never forseeable, but always supergoddamned amazing. Take the money away! Who needs it!?

/ I don't want to live on this planet anymore.
 
2010-09-25 2:48:34 AM  

sminkypinky: What a retarded article.How can he claim this, when even the simplest Newtontian equations of motion (which are approximations of Einsteins Theories of Relativity) cannot be solved for a motion of three simple bodies interacting due to gravity (or more accurately spacetime curvature)Link

We clearly have some useful scientific tools and mathematical models to help understand and quantify our surroundings, many of which have practical applications (the abilty to build semiconductors, or build microwaves, or fly planes, or put a satellite in space).This in no way means we 'understand' the current phenomena which constitutes the universe.We have some useful models with some practical applications. Had the articles premise been that alone, then he would have looked a lot less of a twat.


The physics of the 3 body problem are understood essentially perfectly (for reasonable, everybody 3 body type problems). You just can't write down an analytic solution due to the nature of such a problem. That doesnt do anything to invalidate the quote "The Laws Underlying The Physics of Everyday Life Are Completely Understood" because that statement can't be paraphrased as "we can write down an analytic solution for all everybody life situations".

Or to put it in a different way: the reason we can't write down an analytic solution isnt that we dont understand the physics - its because you can't solve such problems analytically no matter how good your understanding is.

And as somebody said, you can make whatever predictions you want of such systems numerically to an arbitrary degree of precision (its just that the more precision, the more computing power you need).

I also think that you vastly underestimate just how much we understand our universe.

Also, a lot of the things that people are listing are hardly everyday phenomena. Dark matter, strange forces on spacecraft...those hardly count.
 
2010-09-25 3:36:36 AM  
It's amazing how many people missed the point of the article.

The point the author is making (whether you agree with it or not) is that there are holes in our understanding of "fundamental" physics (e.g., quantum gravity, dark energy, etc.) But none of those are likely to have much impact on "everyday" phenomena (e.g., condensed matter physics and things which depend on it, or other "human scale" physics). Even though some condensed matter phenomena are not understood (high-Tc superconductivity), this is almost certainly due to our inability to practically apply the known laws of physics (in this case, basically quantum electrodynamics), and not due to missing "fundamental" physics (like the existence of a new particle or force).
 
2010-09-25 4:49:58 AM  

t3knomanser: sminkypinky: when even the simplest Newtontian equations of motion (which are approximations of Einsteins Theories of Relativity) cannot be solved for a motion of three simple bodies interacting due to gravity

Well, that's not true. It's hard and computationally intensive. There are some initial conditions that mean there will never be a periodic orbit or repeating phase, but you can do it.

In general, we won't simulate n-body interactions computationally, simply because it's really really expensive, and there are cheaper ways to get a "good" enough solution. I'm particularly fond of the Barnes-Hut method, which divides space into an oct-tree. Since any group of masses has a center of gravity and can be treated as a point-mass, you only need to simulate the interactions of particles in the same branch of the tree (near to each other) with high fidelity. Then you can take the center of mass of that group of particles (moving one level up the tree) and simulate how it interacts with nearby groups. And so on. It's very clever and certainly "accurate enough".


Very interesting, hadn't heard of that method before.
 
2010-09-25 4:53:44 AM  

Krazikarl: That doesnt do anything to invalidate the quote "The Laws Underlying The Physics of Everyday Life Are Completely Understood" because that statement can't be paraphrased as "we can write down an analytic solution for all everybody life situations".


This

and

Ambitwistor: It's amazing how many people missed the point of the article.

The point the author is making (whether you agree with it or not) is that there are holes in our understanding of "fundamental" physics (e.g., quantum gravity, dark energy, etc.) But none of those are likely to have much impact on "everyday" phenomena (e.g., condensed matter physics and things which depend on it, or other "human scale" physics). Even though some condensed matter phenomena are not understood (high-Tc superconductivity), this is almost certainly due to our inability to practically apply the known laws of physics (in this case, basically quantum electrodynamics), and not due to missing "fundamental" physics (like the existence of a new particle or force).



this
 
2010-09-25 11:55:33 AM  

Baryogenesis: Krazikarl: That doesnt do anything to invalidate the quote "The Laws Underlying The Physics of Everyday Life Are Completely Understood" because that statement can't be paraphrased as "we can write down an analytic solution for all everybody life situations".

This

and

Ambitwistor: It's amazing how many people missed the point of the article.

The point the author is making (whether you agree with it or not) is that there are holes in our understanding of "fundamental" physics (e.g., quantum gravity, dark energy, etc.) But none of those are likely to have much impact on "everyday" phenomena (e.g., condensed matter physics and things which depend on it, or other "human scale" physics). Even though some condensed matter phenomena are not understood (high-Tc superconductivity), this is almost certainly due to our inability to practically apply the known laws of physics (in this case, basically quantum electrodynamics), and not due to missing "fundamental" physics (like the existence of a new particle or force).


this


NOT even close.

Why does someone always claim this?? Every generation.
And of course, many believe it.

Perspective is often tunnel-vision.

/call me in a hundred years for comparison...
 
2010-09-26 1:33:30 AM  
Came for the Gordon Freeman reference, leaving satisfied.
 
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