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Re: [Phys-l] "Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of ..."

On 06/23/2009 07:29 PM, Krishna Chowdary wrote:

I am interested to know if a similarly broad and powerful statement
could be proposed for physics, and what kinds of productive
conversations a similarly bold claim might provoke among us:

"Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of ___________."

My answer is no, there is no single proposition that pervades
all of physics.

I see physics as a big fluffy cloud, with no definite center
and certainly no well-delimited edges.

I expect that no matter what proposition is alleged to be the
"center" of physics, it is easy to find something that is good
physics but does not overlap the alleged "center". For example:

On 06/23/2009 09:04 PM, curtis osterhoudt wrote:

But if
your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I
can give you no hope;

I wouldn't want to go directly "against" the second law, but
there are large parts of physics where the second law can be
ignored. For example, Galileo was a physicist, and Newton was
a physicist, and neither knew anything about the second law ...
which tells me it is *sometimes* possible to do good physics
without invoking the second law.

Other counterexamples are easy to find.

On 06/24/2009 05:52 AM, David Bowman wrote:

"Nothing in physics makes sense except in the light of _geometry & superposition_."

Thermodynamics has no geometry, only topology.

It turns out that many of our tools (including the notation for
partial derivatives) were optimized under the assumption that
there would be a definite geometry ... which makes such tools
inconvenient and/or seriously misleading when applied to