Ways of Arguing Physics

From: Tim May <tcmay.domain.name.hidden>
Date: Tue, 14 Jan 2003 10:19:14 -0800

This is the first of probably (the future is not yet known!) articles
I'll do today for this list, responding to the comments of several of

Yesterday I was reading from a new book, "Faster Than the Speed of
Light," Joao Magueijo, about his theory that the speed of light may
vary from place to place and, especially, over time.

One thing he reminded me of is the culture of sitting in crowded
offices doing physics by arguing, drawing pictures, arguing, yelling,
laughing, drawing more pictures, shaking heads in despair, and arguing
some more. Of the arguments go on until one side gives up, or falls
asleep, or leaves in disgust, unconvinced.

(Things are no so orderly as in the "decision duels" described by Marc
Stiegler in "David's Sling.")

He also mentions the late night drinking, the arguments where each side
is mumbling and sleepy. Lee Smolin has called this the "Russian way to
do math and physics."

Well, we don't have this kind of bandwidth, or time. We write our
little articles, sans drawings and equations, and we just don't have
the time or energy to spend hours debating and arguing and resolving
intermediate issues. So it is not surprising that we see even _less_
convergence of views than the office arguers above probably see.

So, onward to those replies I need to write.

--Tim May
Received on Tue Jan 14 2003 - 13:22:48 PST

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