Antiblog: The Current vs the Relevant

Blogging is largely against my own convictions. Fundamental physics has a slow pace, and there is no need to comment on its progress on a daily basis. Rather I believe that overestimating the news of the day, a habit that was called “arrogance of the presentˮ by the Swiss writer Max Frisch, is a serious problem in physics, if not in all sciences. The danger is that important questions may fall into oblivion, rather than that something fundamental will be overloooked in the stream of news. You probably won’t miss very much if you don’t scan the arXiv for a couple of months.

Secondly, and probably owing to the fact I’ve written three books now, I believe that blogs are on average a superficial kind of text. By definition, they miss the maturation of ideas that comes after several rounds of rewriting and correcting. A book is a much more elaborate and refined piece of work. Somebody has invested to maximize the ouput for you, the reader. The bestselling author Nassim Taleb (The Black Swan, Antifragile) doesn’t read any newspapers or journals (and I infer, no blogs either), just books. He says that the job of a scholar is to ignore insignificant current affairs. So, you may ask, why this blog?

The purpose is to focus on the relevant, not on the current, to dig out the forgotten gems of physics, rather than commenting on fashionable events. Physics is no sport where we have to rush about. Einstein, in his memoir The world as I see it, wrote on the development of general relativity:

“The years of anxious searching in the dark, with their intense longing, alternating between confidence and fatigue, and their eventual breakthrough to truth – only those who have experienced it can understand that.”

Maxwell, Newton and Kepler needed decades to arrive at their revolutional findings. It’s worth looking at how they got there. The history of physics is not boring stuff, you need to deal with if you want to evaluate the current state of affairs. Thus there will be a lot of history, intriguing problems, and hopefully stuff that will get you to reflect on the fundamental questions of physics.

One thought on “Antiblog: The Current vs the Relevant

  1. Have you seen any openings for lighthouse keepers recently?
    You may very well be right about blogs. It seems that even in business one ends up doing what has to be done to stay afloat and can find little time for thinking. There are many in the physics community that have been dissatisfied with developments in physics for many decades and the discussions, thinking or just plain reminders generated by a blog posting, might lead to something.
    In his book on Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity(1981), A.I. Miller presented some insightful views regarding Einstein’s paper that are not usually highlighted by others. E.g. the projectile view of light appearing in section 8 with a linear relation between the energy and frequency of the light.

    I encourage you to continue your blogging.

    “In other words, the mathematical system of present quantum theory is, like that of epicycles, unconstrained by any physical principles. Those who have not perceived this have pointed to its empirical success to justify a claim that all phenomena must be described in terms of Hilbert spaces, energy levels, etc. This claim (and the gratuitous addition that it must be interpreted physically
    in a particular manner) have captured the minds of physicists for over sixty years. And for those same sixty years, all efforts to get at the nonlinear ‘chromosomes and DNA’ underlying that linear
    mathematics have been deprecated and opposed by those practical men who, being concerned only with phenomenology, find in the present formalism all they need.” – Edwin T. Jaynes

    Dr. Mendel Sachs

    Geometric Calculus R & D

    Electromagnetism and the Structure of Matter
    by Daniele Funaro

    Topological origin of Planck’s constant

    Topological characterization of charge quantization

    SO(3) fiber bundles and spinors

    Crystals and the Future of Physics
    The World of Mathematics

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