Friday, December 7, 2012

Physics essay winners announced

The 2012 Questioning the Foundations Winning Essays were just announced. The winning essay presents a distinction between kinematics and dynamics, with the main difference being that a dynamical theory tries to explain change under time. It argues that this distinction is not so important, and that it is better to think about the causal structure for how variables are influenced by variables at earlier times. Its preferred examples involve strange interpretations of quantum mechanics that violate local causality.

General relativity is an example of a theory that has a causal structure but does not really distinguish between kinematics and dynamics. But the paper says:
While proponents of diff erent interpretations of quantum theory and proponents of diff erent approaches to quan-tizing gravity may disagree about the correct kinematics and dynamics, they typically agree that any proposal must
be described in these terms.
No, I very much doubt that any proponents of quantum gravity agree that the kinematics and dynamics must be separated, because everyone has said for a century that they are not separate for gravity.

The object of the essay contest was to answer the question: "Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?" I was disappointed that most of the essays do not really answer the question.

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