Saturday, March 17, 2007

Physics 4.0

Light -- is it a particle, or is it a wave? The answer, of course, is that it is neither, or both, depending on your point of view. But it's not one or the other.

I was looking forward to starting a new career in physics someday, probably two or three careers from now, and resolving the particle vs. wave discrepancy. Alas, it looks like I'm too late, as Xiao-Gang Wen (MIT) and Michael Levin (Harvard) have come up with what may be just that resolution. Here's a summary explanation in New Scientist magazine.

String-nets. It's elegant. Its covers a lot of concepts. It appears to be validated by the existence of a mineral named Herbertsmithite. (No kidding, it's discoverers named it after a man they admired.) And I'm betting it will even lead directly to a quantum theory of gravity.

If Newtonian physics was Physics 1.0, then Relativity could be Physics version 2, and Quantum Mechanics could be Physics 3. String-nets could be the beginning of Physics 4.0. Pretty cool!

But... so far it doesn't seem to resolve my dilema of entanglement vs. relativity, so maybe there's still room for me to make a contribution to physics by redirecting my efforts. Eventually...

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