Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review of Thomas Kuhn's Theory of Scientific Revolution

Thomas Kuhn, in his book 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions' he describes the reactions of scientists to new discoveries and hard it is for them to make changes in their basic beliefs.

Kuhn noticed that scientists would go to any lengths to deny the validity of new theories or the need to change their minds. He describes the symptoms associated with fundamental change:

1. Persistent denial
2. Refusal to consider evidence
3. Reluctance to criticize old ideas
4. Slander of new-thinking colleagues
5. Anger at having to give up cherished dogmas

Kuhn begins by formulating some assumptions that lay the foundation for subsequent discussion and by briefly outlining the key contentions of the book.

A. A scientific community cannot practice its trade without some set of received beliefs (p. 4).

1. These beliefs form the foundation of the "educational initiation that prepares and licenses the student for professional practice".
2. The nature of the "rigorous and rigid" preparation helps ensure that the received beliefs exert a "deep hold" on the student's mind.

B. Normal science "is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like" —scientists take great pains to defend that assumption.

C. To this end, "normal science often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments".

D. Research is "a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by professional education".

E. A shift in professional commitments to shared assumptions takes place when an anomaly "subverts the existing tradition of scientific practice". These shifts are what Kuhn describes as scientific revolutions—"the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science".

1. New assumptions (paradigms/theories) require the reconstruction of prior assumptions and the reevaluation of prior facts. This is difficult and time consuming. It is also strongly resisted by the established community.

2. When a shift takes place, "a scientist's world is qualitatively transformed [and] quantitatively enriched by fundamental novelties of either fact or theory".

Looking back, Kuhn's insight is astoundingly accurate and penetrating. Some people should feel like they are looking into the mirror of themselves. They can disprove neither the theory nor the physical evidence yet trying to hold onto the old paradigm that no longer helps enhance our understanding of the universe.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Simplicity of the Mechanics of the Universe

I believe the general mechanics of the universe is wonderfully simple. God created the universe in a most efficient way possible. While the symmetry of the nature can be traced to the ultimate level, the way the symmetry is broken in the details of the mechanics of the universe is profoundly mysterious and fruitful when it is found.

In fact, it must be noted that the most of the secret of the universe is hidden in the manner the various symmetries of the universe are broken. What we have believed to be an ultimate truth turns out to be a partial picture of the entire universe because of the way the specific symmetry is broken. For an example, while the speed of light is the ultimate speed that can be reached by the material body in Newtonian physics as was faithfully adopted by Einstein, there was no mention of the possible existence of the tachyonic particles.

Within the conventional paradigm, all the physics described by Newtonian mechanics is correct. However, as soon as we cross over to relativity, which originally conformed to the notion of Newtonian mechanics as an approximation for the case of the slow motion of the particles compared to the speed of light, it must be noted that the quadratic nature of the mass and momentum relation enters into the equation. While not many people in the field have suspected in the early days, there were researchers like E.C.G. Sudarshan and others who proposed the notion that there may be particles traveling faster than the speed of light. This notion, while plausible, did not attract much attention.

The fascinating aspect of this conjecture is that the quadratic nature of the Einstein's mass momentum relations did not absolutely excluded the possibility of the existence of the faster than the speed of light particles. Now the question is which known particle can be a candidate for this particle. In this respect, the field of experimental particle physics has been struggling to measure the mass of the neutrinos for decades and in most of the well known experiments, the results were leaning toward the negative mass squared value of the neutrinos which means that the neutrinos can be tachyons. Even the visual(light) detection of the 1987 Supernova was preceded by the detection of the burst of the high energy neutrinos at least by a day.

In the manner of the book keeping of the particles known in the universe, the neutron decays always with an emission of a neutrino, as a form of a mysteriously missing momentum, and into an electron and a proton as a by product of the beta decay. If the neutrinos have real mass, they can not travel faster than the speed of light and they should gravitate toward heavy massive sources of gravity. But we do not have evidences for this. As a matter of fact, we have no book keeping for these massive number of neutrinos in the universe. If they can be counted, the number of the neutrinos in the universes will be the same as the number of the electrons in the universe.

Conventional wisdom tells us that we do not know where they are and what they do and we simply do not care.

I mentioned above about the book keeping of the particles in the universe. If a financial accountant has done the auditing of the present day particle physics for the inventory, he/she would be frowning upon the apparent deficiency of the knowledge of the whereabouts of the neutrinos. The energy and the momentum they carry away from the beta decay simply have disappeared from the scene and no one seems to be bothered by the very fact. If our three dimensional space is a closed surface of the four dimensional space, the neutrinos, if they are tachyons, can not escape the spatial universe and they should be with us every moment of our lives.

In fact, they are the masters of the universe and we(all the material objects) are just transients, as the matters come and go and form many different shapes and colors. Neutrinos dictate matters to gravitate and carry all the electromagnetic waves for our daily communications, including the visible lights for us to see and observe. We can not imagine the universe without the neutrinos. They are like air molecules we breath everyday but we rarely contemplate their benefit in our daily lives.

We now travel in our air space using the aerodynamical principles. In the future, we will be traveling the unviverse using the tachyonic principles of the neutrinos.

The space is filled with tachyonic neutrinos and the future of our civilization, if there is any such thing as the future of our civilization, depends on how we develop this technology and use it for the benefit of our future generation.