Short comments by Peter Jakubowski
(June 2018; www.naturics.info)
to the book by Sabine Hossenfelder
"Lost in Math; How Beauty leads Physics astray"
(Basic Books, NY, June 2018)
The book by Sabine Hossenfelder ends with two simple sentences:
"The next breakthrough in physics will occur in this century.
It will be beautiful."
I am writing my comments here because the "next" breakthrough in physics does occur just now. And it is really beautiful.
But let us start at the beginning. Who is she? I cite from the book envelope. Chris Quigg, distinguished scientist emeritus from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory says: "Born too late to savor the heady era when the standard model of particle physics came together, Sabine Hossenfelder is impatient for new waves of discovery. Might the pace of insights be slowing because illusions of mathematical beauty have beguiled her fellow theorists? Lost in Math chronicles her quest - - through interviews and conversations - - to set her own course for exploration." All important has been said with that.
My own two simple sentences concerning the book Lost in Math are following.
* The book is invaluable.
* The book is coming at the right time from the right person, a member of the right generation of scientists.
My own generation was also "born too late to savor the heady era" of the 20th-century physics. But already in my generation there were (though not many) scientists intuitively feeling that the then emerging standard model is leading physics astray from Nature. It is hard to say, but Sabine's generation was a necessary human "sacrificial lamb" on the altar of the "temple of knowledge". As Stephan Schwartz (compare my website) said in one of his texts: "Paradigm crisis is the last stage in a process of scientific death."
Sabine Hossenfelder writes in page 1: "I am one of some ten thousand researches whose task is to improve our theories of particle physics. ... But my generation has been stunningly unsuccessful." I am sorry for Sabine and her generation (the generation of my children), but their lack of success in theoretical physics (not only particle physics) was the only convincing way to demonstrate to the (scientific and financial) world that the way down to subatomic elementary particles was a blind alley of science. So the lost decades of life of Sabine's generation are not entirely lost for science. They were necessary to force the actually running paradigm change in science. And now this (seemingly lost) generation is the first (and the best) one who can change their frustration into a new excitement along the new-paradigm Unified Physics. Though this Unified Physics is completely different from the "traditional" particle physics of the second half of 20th century, it should be no problem to study it for those scientists who are really "impatient for new waves of discovery", as Sabine Hossenfelder does.
What is an especially valuable aspect of the book "Lost in Math", it gives us (in Appendix C) many hints how one can help to reach the new knowledge. I quote those most interesting from my point of view.
* Don't forget to discuss "known problems".
* Don't discount research just because it's not presented excitingly enough or because few people work on it.
* Read other researchers' work and make your criticism publicly available.
* You can either produce loads of papers that nobody will care about ten years from now, or you can be the seed of ideas that will still be talked about in a thousand years.
* Offer reeducation support, one- to two-year grants that allow scientists to learn the basics of a new field and to establish contacts.
* Criticism of other people's work or negative results are presently underappreciated. But these contributions are absolutely essential for the scientific method of work.
Thank you Sabine for this book.