• tim wood
    A Youtube video:

    The Doom of Space Time: Why It Must Dissolve Into More Fundamental Structures|Arkani-Hamed


    Nima Arkani-Hamed is apparently the real deal. I've listened/watched. The argument seems to be that if you assume space-time (ST) and quantum mechanics (QM) as fundamental, then there are fairly simple problems that cannot, even in principle, be solved. The talk describes some of these problems.

    If they are to be solved it must be by reference to things more fundamental than either ST or QM and out of which both SP and QT emerge simultaneously. Arkani-Hamed describes some methods of approaching such problems and offers new techniques for solving Feynman diagrams as examples of how such approaches work. The talk is non-technical. But obviously interesting.

    By coincidence, I've just finished a book titled The Universe Speaks in Numbers, Graham Farmelo, the theme of which is that modern physics seems to find a home-away-from home in mathematics. And this is subtle. Not Galileo's claim, but rather that at very fundamental levels, the structures of physics seem to correspond to mathematical/geometrical descriptions that have no need of reference to either ST or QT.
  • leo

    The concept of space-time is not necessary to make the same observable predictions that Einstein's relativity does, it is a concept that was introduced for mathematical elegance rather than because it was a necessity, so it is already dubious to treat space-time as fundamental. Probability waves from quantum mechanics are not necessary either to make the same observable predictions that quantum mechanics does, so again it is dubious to treat probability waves as fundamental.

    Rather, physicists have chosen to treat space-time and probability waves as fundamental, and then they find that they cannot mix the two elegantly, so they look for something else. But in looking for something fundamental from which emerge space-time and probability waves, they are constraining themselves to look into a direction that is again not a necessity, so they are creating their own problems.

    Another potential direction would be to do away with space-time and probability waves entirely, but since physicists spend years and years learning these concepts and how to apply them, and since they receive funding to carry out research that makes use of these concepts, they have little incentive to look elsewhere.
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.