Friday, June 15, 2007

Necessary But Not Sufficient Part III

I don't want to give the impression that any theoretical physicist is doomed to failure rather I wanted to give an explanation as to why progress in science is not linear and why only a couple of physicists make breakthroughs. Also I wanted to make clear that it has nothing to do with competency, simply because you ended up working on a theory that turned out to be false doesn't mean you are an incompetent physicist.

Once again I must reiterate the probability of making a breakthrough is higher if you try than if you don't try. In lieu of future knowledge as to which ideas or theories will turn out to be correct the best we can do is use critical thinking to determine which theories or directions have a higher probability of being correct. In the very least we can determine which theories or directions that we think will be fruitful. Not every paper will lead to a breakthrough but it will clarify some point of contention or simply show what can be done with certain starting assumptions. On the positive side, someone may have already published a paper with an idea that one day will work.

I take Edison's philosophy to heart after failing nearly 10,000 times to find a light bulb filament that won't burn some news reporter asked him, "how does it feel to fail 10,000 times" Edison said "I haven't failed 10,000 times, I have successfully found 10,000 ways that won't work". Later on he found a way to not burn the filament and yet have the filament glow. We have many physicists who have successfully found ways that either won't work, have trouble working, or one day will work. All in all each paper serves a purpose and each is our best effort to find the truth, or an approximation thereof.


Post a Comment

<< Home