Thursday, March 10, 2011
Not Much Progress at the Frontiers of Physics
There's a brief summary here of the yesterday's debate/panel discussion at the New York Museum of Natural History on the question, "Is there a Unified Theory of the Universe?" It seems that many physicists are so discouraged by the lack of progress in theoretical physics over the past few decades that they no longer believe a complete mathematical exposition of the laws of physics is even possible. Enthusiasm for string theory continues to fade, because no one can think of how to test it, and nothing else is showing any more promise. Some of the speakers held out hope that either the Large Hadron Collider at CERN or detailed measurements of the cosmic microwave background might provide crucial new evidence, but none of them really seemed to believe it. I wonder if any of these physicists secretly wish they had gone into microbiology, where major discoveries are announced every week?