I’ve always been interested in math and physics but, unfortunately, few of us have the privilege of being able to study it on a full-time basis. However, about 15 years ago, I started to study in earnest—using Feynman’s three volumes of Lectures on Physics as a guide. The learning process was sometimes frustrating, and I found it useful to blog about it: I wrapped it up in the meanwhile – its title was Reading Feynman – but it still gets thousands of views every month, and the experience was, therefore, encouraging.
Over the years, I organized and re-organized my thoughts several times: I found many of the arguments in mainstream physics perpetuate myths and mysteries that can be explained classically. I therefore published a bunch of papers on Phil Gibbs’ alternative e-print archive site, on Academia and, more recently, as pre-prints on ResearchGate.
Theses papers amount to a full-blown realist interpretation of quantum mechanics. They got a fair amount of downloads, which encouraged me to bundle them in a manuscript which I sent to IOP Science Publishing and to World Scientific Publishing about a year ago. Both publishing houses issued a contract but came back on it because the draft did not get through the review process. None of the reviews focused on substance: one reviewer glanced at one chapter only and thought I was just “casually connecting formulas”, while also duly noting a lack of academic credentials (my degrees are in economics and philosophy—not in physics).
I now enjoy the freedom of not having to write for an academic audience but for people like you and me: smart and enthusiastic people who try to understand modern physics and do not accept they will never be able to “understand it the way they would like to”, as Feynman famously wrote (III-1-1). I find that the discourse of modern physics is effectively being dominated by a very limited number of mystery wallahs who, all too often, are more interesting in selling hyped-up theories than providing sensible common-sense explanations. I started another site to write about this problem but, while it is good to vent from time to time, doing actual research is, of course, much better, and that is why I am starting this site.
Indeed, I am pretty much done with the QED sector (quantum electrodynamics or low-energy physics): (1) oscillator math (Euler’s function (oscillations in two dimensions) and easy trigonometric functions to model the periodicity of probabilities), (2) Maxwell’s equations, (3) the (relativistically correct) force law, (4) Planck’s law, (5) Einstein’s mass-energy equivalence relation (which also represents a two-dimensional relativistic oscillator), and (6) the energy/momentum conservation principles can explain everything I have looked at. Hence, it is now time to move to the QCD sector—read: high-energy physics. That’s an entirely different ballgame, involving non-equilibrium states (think of all the transient and resonant ‘non-particles’ between two stable system states).
While I am not a firm believer in quantum field theories, I note that some of the mathematical techniques that are used there are also used in what is referred to as effective field theories—which I find intriguing. I therefore bought a new bunch of books, including Lähde and Meissner’s Nuclear Lattice Effective Field Theory and Aitchison and Hey’s Gauge Theories in Particle Physics, whose latest edition includes all of the fashionable new material I am so skeptical about. Some of it might make sense, however, and so I should try to grind myself a way through it—somehow.
In short, this is a new intellectual adventure I am embarking on, and I will blog about it here. It all looks very daunting and that is why I think the blog may effectively end up reading like some kind of Survivor’s Guide, which explains the subtitle of this blog. 🙂
I should now, of course, also explain its Reading Einstein title. So I read Feynman already, and I also went back to Einstein’s original 1905 and 1915 papers—and learned an awful lot from reading those originals (most of Einstein’s papers have now been published online).I also read some of the original papers from the 1921 and 1927 Solvay Conferences, which I found to be even more instructive. While I do not think I will have the time and the resources to read a lot of original material, I do intend to go back in time while reading because I found that I am, effectively, most interested in the genealogy of ideas when exploring the foundations of physics. So the Reading Einstein title reflects that intention, but let us see how far I will actually get. 🙂
Jean Louis Van Belle, Drs, MAEc, BAEc, BPhil, 1 July 2020