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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sidney Coleman and Lee Smolin



I was lucky to be in the Cambridge area for the 1982- 1983 academic year. I was visiting Hung Cheng on a postdoctoral capacity. My PhD thesis, under Robert Sugar from UCSB,  is based on his work with T.T. Wu on the Expanding Proton. During that year I heard Coleman talk, on the principle of physical constants selection. I did not meet Smolin, but he has kept the flame burning. I read his book "The Life of the Cosmos", and now I am reading his newest book, "Time Reborn".

Independently of them, I have been thinking for a long time, that physical laws have to evolve. I believe that an absolute time is incompatible with most of modern scientific thought in physics. To avoid an infinite regress, Smolin, asks if black holes produce new sets of fundamental constants each time around, thus giving birth to a new universe, countless times. Some kind of universal adiabatical principle would separate time scales, like the Longue durée of the French Annals group. Just like geologist had trouble coming to terms with a rapidly changing plate tectonics, physicists have had trouble with the concept of changing laws of physics.

Finally, I recently read "The Physics of Wall Street", by James Owen Weatherall, where he explains the use of Gauge Theories in Economics.

It is reassuring that more and more people, are coming along to this set of ideas, if nothing else, I do not feel so much as an odd ball.

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