Replying in a longstanding discussion with Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, Chad Orzel, author of Breakfast with Einstein: The Exotic Physics of Everyday Objects, thinks she could be making too big a fuss about the current crisis in theoretical physics. Hossenfelder doubts the value of billion-dollar colliders, given the current mess.
Hossenfelder’s view regarding the beauty paradigm, as much as I find it congenial, is not by any means the consensus. There are plenty of eminent theorists out there who will argue with equal passion that current theoretical approaches are on the right track, and will eventually pay off. Those people tend to argue the opposite moral imperative— that other fields should bend their efforts toward new kinds of exotic physics searches.
To me, then, the current situation in theoretical physics isn’t clear enough to provide the kind of moral imperative Hossenfelder is arguing for. I agree that they have problems, and I am sympathetic to her view of the origin of those problems, but at the present moment the problems of particle theory are for particle theorists to sort out …
So, as I said above, it’s a classic agree-to-disagree situation. If I shared Hossenfelder’s belief that the problems of fundamental particle theory are the most important issue in physics, I would likely agree that these experiments should not be done. I don’t share that belief, though, so I find these kinds of experiments a perfectly reasonable avenue to pursue while we wait for particle theory to get its collective act together.Chad Orzel, “The Crisis In Theoretical Particle Physics Is Not A Moral Imperative” at Forbes
Hmmm. He’s not giving them much of an incentive to sort out the mess. On the other hand, civilized theoretical physicists fight so politely that you can learn a lot by listening.
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