Venturing onto thin ground for me, and giving the stringy folk a chance to patronise me in return. So… I’ve been reading Kuhn, the structure of scientific revolutions. An interesting book, which I shall blog about in a bit. In some ways its a bit like reading Leviathan, but in reverse.
So: the basic point is: that scientists do “normal” science for most of the time, until enough observations pile up that simply cannot be explained under the current theory, or until complications in the theory needed to explain obs piles up, and eventually someone comes up with a blindingly novel viewpoint, the “paradigm” shifts, and everyone hares off down a new track, except for the old fogeys stuck in their ways.
And the obvious examples are Newtonian gravity/mechanics; SR/GR; and QM. Fair enough.
Now, stop me if you’ve heard this before, but are we, today, with String Theory for the very first time desperately *searching* for a paradigm shift? Its as if they’ve all read the book, said “sod all this normal science, we’re off on a new track” and deliberately set off to do so, *despite* a total lack of observations that contradict relativity or QM. Although of course ST is by now normal science. But ignore that.
The catalyst for this post is “The List” by Steinn; which again supports my contention that the current attempt-at-shift is unusual in being not driven by *any* inexplicable obs (let alone lots of them piling up; OK there is a possible pioneer effect but thats pretty marginal). Of course, what it is driven by is GR and QM not being compatible as theories; however this is really a rather different thing.