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Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons, and Alternative Theories of…

de Margaret Wertheim

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Centuries ago, natural philosophers puzzled out the laws of nature using the tools of observation and experimentation. Today, theoretical physics has become mathematically inscrutable, accessible only to an elite few. In rejecting this abstraction, outsider theorists insist that nature speaks a language we can all understand. Through a profoundly human profile of Jim Carter, Wertheim's exploration of the bizarre world of fringe physics challenges our conception of what science is, how it works, and who it is for. Jim Carter, the Einstein of outsiders, has developed his own complete theory of matter and energy and gravity that he demonstrates with experiments in his backyard'-with garbage cans and a disco fog machine he makes smoke rings to test his ideas about atoms.… (més)
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There were several good points the pros and cons of being an outsider to the field of physics.The author pointed out the reasons why most "outsider" physicist ideas and theories are rejected by the "insider" physicists. I especially enjoyed reading about Jim Carter and his experiments to test his theories. He did have a lot of creative ideas, give credit for that. His only problem was his unwillingness to read up on the history of physics and what was done in the past and what actually might need more researching and testing. It is a waste of time and energy to try to refute established theories that most insider scientist regards as scientific "truths". It is also interesting to note the author comments about artists and writers having credentials and that trend will continue which also is resulting in the explosions of artist and writers who are outside the mainstreams as is happening with the physics community. If one wants to pursue physics as a hobby I think they should at least read up on the subjects their interested in first and then learn to do the mathematics. There are used college textbooks at all levels that one could buy and study on their own. I think a lot more could be accomplished in the field if both groups of insiders and outsiders could design programs, and projects that would contribute to the advancement of the sciences rather than be the exclusive elite of one group over the other. Another idea would be to have an "insider" physicist become a mentor for those individuals who are genuinely interested in doing physic that would be useful to the scientific community. For the most part the book is a helpful understanding the difference between the two groups. Something to think more about. ( )
  MadMattReader | Sep 11, 2022 |
I'm reminded very strongly of Yoon's "Naming Nature," in which the author proposes that scientific taxonomy is not only useless to but possibly actively harmful toward ordinary people in their everyday lives. The frontiers of science are no longer even marginally comprehensible to the average human; what does that mean for science and for our understanding of the universe? A fascinating case-study, even though I think the author has gotten a little too enamored of her subject. ( )
1 vota jen.e.moore | Sep 19, 2016 |
Jim Carter doesn't support field theory and so called his system "the Fieldless Universal Circlon Theory, or 'the FUCT explanation of reality.'" :) ( )
  Rob3rt | Mar 3, 2016 |
4 for clarity and subject matter, ideas it provoked, 3.5 for conclusions she derived about the significance and practice of modern physics. Could have used Kuhn or Feyerabend's help maybe... I'll know more about that after reading them. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
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Or perhaps both circlon theory and string theory will go the way of phlogiston and phrenology on the scrapheap of science history. Time and observation will tell, for as the great astrophysicist who confirmed Einstein’s theory of relativity, Arthur Stanley Eddington, noted: “For the truth of the conclusions of science, observation is the supreme court of appeal.” In the meantime, let’s not dismiss outsiders before giving them their day in court. Margaret Wertheim has done just that in this splendid book.
afegit per jimroberts | editaeSkeptic, Michael Shermer (Dec 10, 2011)
 
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Centuries ago, natural philosophers puzzled out the laws of nature using the tools of observation and experimentation. Today, theoretical physics has become mathematically inscrutable, accessible only to an elite few. In rejecting this abstraction, outsider theorists insist that nature speaks a language we can all understand. Through a profoundly human profile of Jim Carter, Wertheim's exploration of the bizarre world of fringe physics challenges our conception of what science is, how it works, and who it is for. Jim Carter, the Einstein of outsiders, has developed his own complete theory of matter and energy and gravity that he demonstrates with experiments in his backyard'-with garbage cans and a disco fog machine he makes smoke rings to test his ideas about atoms.

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530.1 — Natural sciences and mathematics Physics Physics Theoretical Physics

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