“When the answer is simple God is speaking.”
One of the tragedies of modern physics is the sad thought that gone are the days when the deep mysteries of the universe could be captured by simple mathematical equations.
It now seems as though as we delve deeper to uncover the mysteries of universe, we require complex math to capture or represent what we are trying to find. This is the current situation of physics, such that one may even wonder if physicists are not really lost in their own math.
And historically, when you look back at physics, you will find that the complexity of physics began with Einstein’s general relativity.
While I do not wish to criticize Einstein personally as he proposed the theory with the most honest of intentions, however, it can be said that today’s complexity of physics is one of the legacies of general relativity.
But can we undo the situation? Can we return to the great time in physics when things were a lot simple and the deep mysteries of the universe could be captured by simple mathematical equations?
Well, I think so, and it is why I have decided to write this article. And you can just take a look at physics today and you will see what I am talking about.
The increasing complexity of modern physics without any profound discovery of any principle or phenomenon in nature to accompany it is one of the sad situations of modern physics.
And till today, some of the most fundamental equations of physics are profoundly simple, like Newton’s force equation, the beautiful set of Maxwell’s equations, even Einstein’s photoelectric and energy equations, etc.
But now, what we have are madly complex equations, and I am aware that some physicists justify them because they feel that as we dig deeper into the nature of the universe, the math should necessarily become complex.
This is not true, even as I am aware that this thinking is one of the sad legacies of general relativity. The success of the theory paved the way for the complexities that now bedevils physics. It is what set this scientific tradition or view that embraces mathematical complexity as a good thing.
And it seems as though the good old era when physics was simple yet enlightening has gone. But I want to inform you that the good old era when physics was simple is back, and this is to be one of the great legacies of post-modern physics.I want to inform you that the good old era when physics was simple is back, and this is to be one of the great legacies of post-modern physics.Click To Tweet
We need to return to when physics was simple yet penetrating. I’m not in any way advocating for mediocrity or a somewhat compromised simplicity of physics, rather I am advocating for a real and befitting return to the simplicity of physics.
Nature is not wrapped in complex math no matter how seemingly complicated her appearances might be. When we reduce the problems of physics to their basic essence, it always turns out that they can be represented by simple math.Nature is not wrapped in complex math no matter how seemingly complicated her appearances might be.Click To Tweet
This goes further to say that the current complexity of physics is because we have not reduced the problems of physics to their basic essence, or we are not properly guided by the right principle.
The latter point is very important, and I think Lee Smolin had pointed this out in his classic book, “The Trouble With Physics”. Today’s physics is blindly lost in math without that basic guiding principle to determine the form the math will take and the boundaries it must preserve.
So, this article is a noble call for us to simplify physics once again as it once was in the beginning. The truth is not only enlightening, but it is also profoundly simple. And this simplicity can only be testified by the mathematical framework we adopt.
We must, therefore, make a u-turn in the current path and tradition of physics. The only hope of physics ever discovering the truth about the universe is for us to embrace simplicity once again and not see the current complexity of today’s physics as a measure of progress or as a thing of pride that proves our mettle.
What should rather give us joy as physicists is that the truth of the universe is simple and that anyone can understand it. What should rather give us joy is that the deep mysteries of the universe can be captured by simple math.
This is true progress and it is actually what proves our mettle and the mastery of our craft. These complicated math equations do not.
Also, I am aware that today’s physics is complex because of how hard it has been to unify physics as the two theories to be unified, general relativity and quantum mechanics, are complex in themselves, especially general relativity which I have earlier pointed out.
And to accomplish this task of unification, many physicists feel that we need an extra dimension of space. And another physicist, Itzhak Bars, feels that it is another dimension of time that we need to resolve this problem.
However, though with good intentions, these extra dimensions of space and of time which are the suggestions of string theory have only further complicated modern physics, and it is natural that they do.
But as post-modern physics shows, the right approach is not for us to extend the dimensions of space and time, but to extend the forms of space and time.
We are learning from post-modern physics that dimension and form are the two aspects of reality, but physics since the classical era has relied on only one aspect, which is dimension.
And in this sole reliance, we have sought wrongly to expand the dimensions of space instead of making the profound discovery of the aspect of form. This is where we missed it and proceeded further to complicate physics building on the legacy of general relativity.
And of course, this is the situation because the first attempt to expand the dimension of space was carried out on Einstein’s general relativity by Kaluza-Klein, but the whole attempt failed at experimental observation and even Einstein who was at first excited by the idea became disillusioned by it.
So, the right approach that preserves the simplicity of physics or that rather takes us to the good old days when physics was simple is to extend the forms of space and time while preserving our natural sense of dimensions.
This is exactly what post-modern physics has done. And in a broad view, one can see it as a qualitative approach to the problem of unifying physics, the latter which has led to the current complexity of physics.
So, if we can unify physics using a simple approach, why wouldn’t anyone of us love it? Therefore, this article is not an unjustifiable call for us to simplify physics once again. It is rather an announcement of what has been accomplished by post-modern physics.
Post-modern physics is bringing us back to the old classical style of dealing with the fundamental problems of physics which we lost at the birth of modern physics.Post-modern physics is bringing us back to the old classical style of dealing with the fundamental problems of physics which we lost at the birth of modern physics.Click To Tweet
So, this article is as a result of my deep recognition of the scientific community and the fact that we all have a role to play in the growing new physics. Thus, we all have to see the need to simplify physics once again.
This is what this timely article is all about and I hope that you get it, my friend!
Until next time,
I will be here.
– M. V. Echa