Here is an extract from my Hypography thread Is Newtonian Mechanics an advantage or a limitation in astrophysics?
Quote from The Virtue of Heresy:
“There are no Black Holes, no Dark Matter and Dark Energy, no curved spacetime, no ultimate speed limits, no beginning and no end. By simply accepting infinity as a fact of life, we avoid all these desperate contortions that scientists subject themselves to. The real universe does not run on black magic, yet it is immeasurably more entertaining than the one invented for us by unconstrained mathematical daydreams. In reality physics we explain a far smaller chunk of the universe than mathematical theories do, but we understand it in a fundamentally better way.”
Question from Barcelona: “Would you not say that our understanding of natural laws is at present incomplete?”
Skywalker: Oh yes, I do say that, most emphatically! In fact, the sum of our knowledge is infinitesimal.
Barcelona: “And, that a prerequisite to fully coming to terms with those laws is precisely through mathematical constructs? If not, then why can they not all be deduced from empirical facts? Or conversely, why, if all the laws are known, has it not been possible to formulate a standard world model (a theory of everything?) that encompasses all observations, without exception?”
Skywalker: The hunt for the Theory of Everything is an arrogance worn only by mathematical theorists. Empiricists do not do such things. Stephen Hawking alludes to ToE. Roger Penrose called his >1000 page door-stopper “The Road to Reality – A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe”. Both are mathematical theorists. Isaac Newton, for all his personality problems, was given to far less boastfulness in his publications.
Barcelona: “Ilya Prigigine wrote, ‘We need a new formulation of the fundamental laws of physics.’ Do you agree?”
Skywalker: No I don’t. My thesis is that we have in classical physics the laws to describe what we can observe and verify by measurement, given that the laws are incomplete, and that we have in remoteness greater uncertainty, due to, 1. Exponentially increasing variables; 2. Inability to measure locally; and 3. Invisible (normal) stuff.
Barcelona: “If so, how, within the scope of classical mechanics, are the current problems in astrophysics, or physics in general, reconcilable. (Note: some of the problems eluded to here are arguably the fine-tuning problem, missing mass, the direction of time, symmetry, black holes, wormholes, non-linear redshift-distance relations, the discrepancy between mechanics at large and small scale, to name a few.)”
Skywalker: Well, I guess you’ve gathered by now that I say that classical physics and empiricism are slower but better. With maths we can have a theory about the beginning or the end of everything, whereas empirically, we go only as far as we can measure. The problems you mention specifically:
- Fine-tuning – imagined problem.
- Missing mass – is slowly being observed, bit by bit.
- Direction of time – imagined problem.
- Symmetry – don’t know what you mean.
- Black Holes, Wormholes, Strings, Green Elephants, etc – imaginary monsters for our zoo of ideas.
- Redshift/distance – being refuted by observation.
- Mechanics applies mechanically. Like galaxies, atoms are so far out of scale that we cannot know enough about initial (physical) conditions to reliably apply mechanical laws. But we are making progress. I think we will be able to give classical descriptions to everything close enough to measure as soon as our instruments are sensitive enough.
Barcelona: “What is missing in our understanding of nature, of physics, of the physical universe and it’s evolution in time?
Skywalker: Tough question. I would say that we really need to learn a lot more about electrical field dynamics in the cosmos. Is it really scale invariant? How much of lab results can we extrapolate to the wider universe, and what formulae can we use to measure electrical effects? Given rotational effects in electromagnetic fields, and the physical influence of plasma in z-pinch, and further that there are vast swathes of plasma everywhere we look, this should surely be top of the list in astrophysics. We should strive for a better, more generalised quantification of spin. N-bodies are another interesting research opportunity. A greater understanding of force (not geometry) would help us a great deal. But first we must revert to Euclidean geometry. S & G Relativity have given us some amazing results (but so did epicycles!). What we can never know is where science would have gone had there been no revolt against Euclid.
Barcelona: “In my opinion, the question of rigidness or flexibility of the co-ordinate system is at stake.”
Skywalker: Yes, I agree.