Rogue Science
Brewis (Roger)
Source: Sent for review by the author, July 2012
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Preface1

  1. The grand science of physics verges on the majestic. Having chosen to focus on the deep unknowns of the physical universe – the nature of force and matter, space and time – it believes it has grand answers, philosophically demanding solutions to difficult questions.
  2. These answers in turn create a variety of problems, and it is the essential task of this book to examine these in detail. Physics seeks to address these with more of the same, a mixture of mathematical modelling and metaphysical supposition, and has concluded that the underlying nature of the universe that it studies is slippery, contradictory and essentially unreal, and that there are limits to its enquiry grounded in a fundamental uncertainty. This, it believes, is why its grand theories have been so resistant to reconciliation and why a clear description of the nature of light has proved so elusive.
  3. I would like to suggest that this is wrong, that the basic problem of fundamental physics lies not in the nature of the universe but in the nature of the scientist studying it, that it is a human problem; that in theorising about the deeper nature of the universe and the substances it contains, Man’s capacity for error and hubris has been given full rein.
  4. When we look at the different facets of this one unique area of physics, we will find that, over and over again, theoretical physicists do physics badly. This is not to say that there are coherent, intelligible scientific answers in full sight, but rather that there is a serious problem in physics of wild supposition based on careless and casual analysis, that this problem is blatant and endemic, that this can be demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt through clear analysis and repeated examples, and that this is progressively bringing the noble science of physics into disrepute.
  5. This has been a peculiar task, fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. I come to it as a scientist by instinct, passion and training, a mathematician by ability, and, by nature, an iconoclast, an educator, and a problem solver. When we tackle a substantial problem, it is important to understand its details, and this is something that physicists have in important respects failed to do, as we shall see. This has had the effect of encouraging mysticism and confusion rather than clarifying the science.
  6. It is also a fundamental requirement that we do not bypass an inconvenient observation. In science, more so than anywhere else, one awkward observational fact is one too many.
    When I first discovered the casual way that many theoretical physicists do science and mathematics, I was shocked and horrified. These subjects are essential to our miraculous technological society. They may not be universally loved, but when done properly they can be things of beauty. When they are done carelessly, as has been the case in fundamental physics for over a century, they become ugly – and very wasteful.
  7. Physicists hate bad criticism and uninformed comment, and the vast majority of its critics are badly informed and think even less clearly about the subject than do the theoretical physicists themselves. This is not surprising, as the subject is like an onion, with each new layer offering no greater clarity than the one above. What I will promise is that this critique is coherent, consistent and as clear as I can make it, and of that the Reader will be the judge.
  8. The subject is also vast, as it always is when science lacks a proper understanding. I have tried to cover it all accurately in what follows, but there will inevitably be errors of detail, hopefully few. The evidence is nevertheless consistent and relentless and the conclusion – I believe – undeniable, that the theories of modern physics that grew up in the early twentieth century, and are today taught uncritically, are riven with confusion, obfuscation and error. Regardless of my own inadequacies, which I acknowledge, I hope this contribution will make the basis of modern physics much clearer for those with an interest in the subject. It has taken me a very long time to find my way through a maze of muddle and misinformation, and I hope this will make the path easier for those that follow.
  9. I have also sought to make my arguments accessible to all readers, of whatever level of mathematical and scientific literacy. Science is for everyone; each of us is both benefactor and consumer. To this end, I have identified the more detailed scientific reasoning as ‘case studies’ and the examination of the equations as ‘mathematics’. It is possible to follow the arguments of this book while bypassing some, most or all of these chapters, though the real failure of physics lies in that detail, and every chapter is designed to be accessible.
  10. I do not expect that the physicist will find it pleasant to discover that his subject is badly flawed and that no one has had the decency to tell him, but for everyone else, as far as you can, enjoy.

Table of Contents
    Preface – 3
  1. Not quite right – 4
  2. A brief history – 6
  3. Whither physics? – 9
  4. Case study I: The principle of relativity – 10
  5. Case study II: The basis of relativity – 11
  6. Case study III: The timekeeping of moving clocks – 13
  7. Other problems – 15
  8. The need for modern theory – 16
  9. Principles of science – 17
  10. Subsidiary principles – 18
  11. Gravitational relativity – 20
  12. Quantum mechanics2 – 21
  13. Case study IV: General relativity versus quantum mechanics3 – 22
  14. Patterns of failure – 23
  15. Case study V: Wave versus particle – 24
  16. Case study VI: Duality – 25
  17. Case study VII: The reasoning of quantum mechanics4 – 26
  18. Case study VIII: The Copenhagen Interpretation – 28
  19. Case study IX: Quantum bits – 29
  20. Taking stock – 30
  21. Applying mathematics – 31
  22. Seeking clarity – 32
  23. From Maxwell … – 33
  24. … a model – 36
  25. Objections – 37
  26. Case study X: Hidden variables – 38
  27. Case study XI: The indivisible photon – 40
  28. Implications – 42
  29. Noise – 43
  30. Electromagnetism post Maxwell – 44
  31. Particles – 46
  32. More stocktaking – 48
  33. Case study XII: Polarisation – 49
  34. Case study XIII: Wave-particle interaction – 51
  35. Case study XIV: The particle photon – 52
  36. The iconography of physics – 53
  37. Case study XV: The general theory of relativity – 54
  38. Case study XVI: Four-dimensional curvature – 56
  39. Case study XVII: The key predictions – 58
  40. Case study XVIII: The Schwarzschild metric – 59
  41. Case study XIX: The unified metric – 60
  42. The categorical failure of physical science? – 62
  43. Mathematics: Pythagoras and the Lorentz transformation – 63
  44. Mathematics: Maxwell’s electromagnetism – 64
  45. Mathematics: The Schrödinger equation – 66
  46. Mathematics: Hamilton, Hestenes and Geometric Algebra – 68
  47. Mathematics: The Schwarzschild metric – 69
  48. What the maths tells us – 71
  49. Cosmology: Black holes – 72
  50. Cosmology: Big bang theory – 74
  51. Cosmology: Past & future – 77
  52. Twenty-first century physics: part I – 79
  53. The philosophy of determinism – 81
  54. Science and the psychology of determinism – 83
  55. The sociology of rogue science – 85
  56. Iconic Einstein – 86
  57. Twenty-first century physics: part II – 89
  58. Aether and gravity – 91
  59. Special relativity revisited – 93
  60. Quantum theory5 revisited – 94
  61. General relativity revisited – 95
  62. Electromagnetism revisited – 97
  63. Cosmology revisited – 98
  64. Into the theoretical abyss – 99
  65. A century of bad physics – 101
  66. The futility of resistance – 102
  67. Off the shelf – 104
  68. Physics and the physical – 106
  69. Predictions – 109
  70. Conclusion – 111
    Footnotes – 112

Comments
  1. There are obviously lots of books on the Philosophy of Science that ought to discuss the sorts of issues Roger Brewis raises. I have some of these general books, but the ones that I ought to address more specifically include:-
  2. I do, however, suspect that Roger’s objections are scientific rather than philosophical – though he does have a lot of methodological complaints, so reading these books – while also intrinsically more valuable – might be good background to the issues likely to arise.



In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: See further on for my general comments.


Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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