I will take the liberty of dividing my readers into two categories: physicists and non-physicists. If I don’t make this distinction I risk confusing everyone.
The physicists among you are of three sub-categories: the physics cynicist, the physics practicalist, and the physics seeker. The physics cynicist is wondering where the crackpot b.s. begins. Anyone who is not properly indoctrinated in physics (like me) must be a crackpot. The physics practicalist is looking for a leisurely ripple of inspiration because the field (like any) can be stagnant at times. The physics seeker is, like my brother, looking for a rudder in stormy waters. The current state of theoretical physics in particular can lead to an off balance feeling in such seekers who lack (or eschew) other grounding.
Physics is near and dear to my heart, and something I gripe about just about every day. A few very simple facts keep me from dropping this love-hate relationship like a bad boyfriend.
1) Theoretical physics is called theoretical for a reason. Plenty of researchers are trying for ways to see smaller and smaller phenomena, but it remains the case that even the most commonly accepted notions, especially those related to the atomic and subatomic realms, remain unobservable and thus are not directly provable. Anyone who thinks brushing this under the rug is a necessary evil has an ego problem, and I hate ego problems even worse than I hate griping about things that are broken.
2) Nothing in the scientific method says it is not open to all. Anyone who thinks it should be has not only an ego problem but a moral problem.
3) Two incredible human beings of unsurpassed understanding in theoretical physics left this world expressing doubts and hopes that have since all but been forgotten. I am referring to Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger. Actually, there was a third – my brother. (For that matter, I am sure there are more.)
Below are scanned pages (16 total) from one of my brother’s favorite books, Letters on Wave Mechanics. All of the correspondences in it include Erwin Schrodinger, who developed wave mechanics. The letters John read over and over were those between Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrodinger. Those are the ones I have included here. The highlighting and red comments are John’s.
The non-physicists among you, take heart. There is room in this big dark expanse of nothingness for all of us. And lots of good drama that anyone can appreciate!
There’s even find a bit of historical drama in these physics-laden Letters. Schrodinger (a non-Jew) and Einstein (a Jew) were great friends in Germany. Each won the Nobel prize in physics within 10 years of each other. Both uprooted themselves to cut ties with Nazi Germany, to remain friends and to continue their lifetime concerns with intellectual integrity with physics as its underpinning.