An article in the recent July 2007 issue of Physics World by Robert P Crease invokes some nostalgia of the recent work I was involved in the past 2 months – “no-way” physics as embodied by such famous laws as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, the principles of causality and relativity, the uncertainty principle and the principle of least action, and of course such famous hypotheses as the cosmic censorship hypothesis. Quoting from Sir Edmund Whittaker, Crease writes:

A postulate of impotence (the impossibility of achieving something, even though there may be an infinite number of ways of trying to achieve it) is not the direct result of an experiment, or of any finite number of experiments; it does not mention any measurement, or any numerical relation or analytical equation; it is the assertion of conviction, that all attempts to do a certain thing, however made, are bound to fail.

It’s amazing that some deep fundamentals in physics find their characterization in such postulates of impotence, but it does boggle my mind to be faced with the fact that such postulates are not formulated from measurements and mathematical analysis. It is as if things just are, and the more physicists try to find loopholes in such “no-way” physics, the more we come smack on our faces against the “no-way” sign. The history of physics present many such instances – Pascual Jordan, James Maxwell among them who try to challenge “no-way” physics. However, we have yet to know whether present-day contrarian physicists such as Joao Maguiejo, with his varying-speed-of-light theory, for example, would win over their own science to assert the necessity of giving up dearly held conceptions to move forward in the quest of understanding nature.


~ by musafiremes on August 25, 2007.

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