I went to this scientific opinion piece because of my interest in scientific insights. Awed as I was with the outline of the opinion, it was the elegance and conciseness of the opinion that struck me most.
The problem with physics, says physics lecturer, Tony Rothman, is that even Newton’s Law doesn’t tell us why things happen, and, for infinite values, the law falls apart. The Second Law of thermodynamics can’t be derived from Newtonian Laws. Under some values, motion becomes chaotic and unpredictable. And, finally, physicists worked out ways to formulate a working quantum theory by bandaiding over laws that predicted impossibility.
“Rather than a shimmering cathedral”, says Rothman, “physics is more like a shanty town.”
Well, this might lead some people to say, “I told you it was all bunk.” However, Tony Rothman has, in one short article, created a real sense of the challenge before physics in building a model of everything: that there will need to be a whole new way to look at all the laws of physics, including Newtonian Laws, before we are able to understand how the universe works. That will require a new way of looking at the universe itself, a revolution in our basic perspective, perhaps even more revolutionary than Galileo, Newton, and Einstein. It is not clear where that insight will come from. Will there be yet another individual who can have just the right perspective. Or could it be a collective genius that realises the insight, the patterns, that revolutionises our whole paradigm of the work of the universe.
Tony Rothman: 10 out of 10 for inspiring me.