Sunday, April 22, 2012

No final theory in sight

Famous physicist Steven Weinberg writes The Crisis of Big Science:
So now we are waiting for results from a new accelerator at CERN that we hope will let us make the next step beyond the Standard Model. This is the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC. ...

The discovery of the Higgs boson would be a gratifying verification of present theory, but it will not point the way to a more comprehensive future theory. We can hope, as was the case with the Bevatron, that the most exciting thing to be discovered at the LHC will be something quite unexpected. Whatever it is, it’s hard to see how it could take us all the way to a final theory, including gravitation.
That is his plea to build a new particle accelerator. This is the first article like this that I have seen that does not mention Einstein. There are more comments here.

I suspect that Weinberg does not mention Einstein because Einstein is famous for revolutionizing physics while working at a day job. Weinberg wants $100B of funding for a project to find the Einsteinian final theory, but it doesn't help to mention Einstein because people might say that it would be better to wait for some genius like Einstein to solve the theory in his spare time.

No amount of money is going to “take us all the way to a final theory”, as Weinberg advocates. As long as he states his goals in terms of these unachievable fantasies, the congressman is right to say “No”.

He concludes:
It seems to me that what is really needed is not more special pleading for one or another particular public good, but for all the people who care about these things to unite in restoring higher and more progressive tax rates, especially on investment income. I am not an economist, but I talk to economists, and I gather that dollar for dollar, government spending stimulates the economy more than tax cuts. It is simply a fallacy to say that we cannot afford increased government spending.
This is crazy left-wing nonsense. The USA has vastly increased govt spending in the last 3 years, with stimulus bills, bail-outs, war escalations, new social programs, expanded food stamps, and quantitative easing, and the result has been the longest recession that anyone can remember. Government spending does not stimulate the economy. The Great Depression proved that.

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