[ExI] Discontent with the path physics is taking
dennislmay at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 20 14:18:43 UTC 2011
Stefano Vaj wrote:
"Let us say that I am in principle wary of orthodoxies, of
byzantinisms and of putting all one's eggs in one basket,
and more confident in breakthroughs generated by grand
visions and revolutionary approaches."
Minor piecemeal innovation is the province of orthodoxies,
significant breakthroughs occur when individuals or small
groups generate "grand visions and revolutionary approaches."
This history of this is clear but orthodoxies have the tools
to gather funding far out of proportion to their value.
From: Stefano Vaj <stefano.vaj at gmail.com>
To: ExI chat list <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Saturday, August 20, 2011 7:13 AM
Subject: Re: [ExI] Discontent with the path physics is taking
2011/8/20 Sophia Rose <sen.otaku at googlemail.com>
Even if science is a cultural product, there are lots of subcultures within all countries that have scientific research. What effect do you feel these subcultures have on the pursuit of science in general, or Physics in specific?
>I know that it is a general trend in dominant culture to grab the limelight for one's self (I think that is easily drawn from the Reality Star trend). So we are saying that this is the motivation behind this race for String Theory? The desire to be the next Einstein/Newton/Maxwell?
I do not claim to have a final word to say on the subject, but I suspect that the contemporary international physics community has cultural traits of its own, which in turn reflect to some extent those of the societies which are (still?) predominantly represented in its ranks.
Now, it appears at least very debatable that such societies are currently going through any kind of cultural Renaissance... :-)
Moreover, globalisation itself may lead to a loss of wealth and diversity - just think of uniformisation of very different educational traditions - that would not bode well even for the development of hard sciences. One need not resort to postmodern or critical theory here, see what, eg, Oswald Spengler or Stephen Wolfram have to say on how much mathematics itself appears to reflect a civilisation's interests and biases or Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics on the sociological reasons for string theory's current dominance in the academia.
And if so, how is that different from past trends? What was the previous motivation for scientific discoveries? Is it possible, or even desirable to return to that?
Let us say that I am in principle wary of orthodoxies, of byzantinisms and of putting all one's eggs in one basket, and more confident in breakthroughs generated by grand visions and revolutionary approaches.
How do we produce all that? I do not have any magic recipe, but historical experience suggests that such things usually take place in places and ages less conservative than our existing context... --
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