Horgan: Why did you become a physicist?How many physicists wasted their lives with such a delusion?
Smolin: I decided to become a physicist one spring evening when I was 17, as a result of reading Einstein’s autobiographical notes. He wrote that quantum mechanics needed a completion, which must include its unification with general relativity. At that moment I was a high school dropout planning to study architecture; but suddenly I was seized with the idea that I could follow Einstein, become a theoretical physicist and work on those two problems. That has defined my life.
Most of what Einstein said on this topic was nonsense. He did not accept quantum mechanics, and there is no practical conflict between quantum mechanics and relativity. He induced a couple of generations of theorists to pursue untestable ideas according to a warped idea of what science is all about. This is largely why I wrote my book, How Einstein Ruined Physics. Smolin once gave this definition of science:
Science is not about what's true, or what might be true. Science is about what people with originally diverse viewpoints can be forced to believe by the weight of public evidence.So if they convince the experts that we live in an 11-dimensional multiverse, then that is science whether it is true or not, according to Lee Smolin.
People think that Smolin has a reasonable view of science because he wrote a book critical of string theory. But if you read his book to the end, his beef is that he is much more radically anti-science than the string theorists. He and the multiverse proponents almost make the string theorists sound reasonable.
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