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For more about the ideas in the book, rborn video of a talk hereand an interview here. While I mostly lse agreed with what Smolin had to say in his last book, The Trouble With PhysicsI find myself equally vehemently in disagreement with this one. Many of the ideas Smolin is arguing for are clearly labeled as what they are: Unfortunately, parts of his argument that are most problematic are ones which are in danger of becoming the new received wisdom of the subject.
For his own reasons, Smolin signs on to a version of this point of view, writing:. A large part of the elegance of general relativity and the Standard Model is explained by understanding them as effective theories. The beauty is a consequence of their being effective and approximate.
Simplicity and beauty, then, are the signs not of truth, but of a well-constructed approximate model of a limited domain of phenomena. The notion of an effective theory represents a maturing of the profession of elementary-particle theory. Our young, romantic selves dreamed we had the fundamental laws of nature in our hands. This has been put together with our modern understanding of renormalization, according to which non-renormalizable theories make perfect sense as effective theories.
The argument is then made that this is all there is to the SM, neglecting to note that to a large degree the SM couplings are asymptotically free, meaning that most of the quantized geometric degrees of freedom make perfectly good sense at all energy scales.
Symmetries are common in all the physical theories we know. Again, mathematical simplicity is seen as an artifact of approximation, not indication of something fundamental. Smolin ends with a vision that is pretty much the exact opposite of mine, one with a vastly diminished role for mathematics in understanding the nature of reality:. The most radical suggestion arising from this direction of thought is the insistence on the reality of the present moment and, beyond that, the principle that all that is real is so in the present moment.
To the extent that this is a fruitful idea, physics can no longer be understood as the search for a precisely identical mathematical double of the universe.
That dream must be seen now as a metaphysical fantasy that may have inspired generations of theorists but is now blocking the path to further progress.
Mathematics will continue to be a handmaiden to science, but she can no longer be the Queen. In a footnote he explicitly argues that the problem with string theory was too much symmetry:. Indeed, we see from the example of string theory that the more symmetry a theory has, the less its explanatory power. Smolin has been quite right to point out in recent years that fundamental physical theory is in a state of crisis, but I think his diagnosis in this book is the wrong one.
Abandoning the search for a more powerful mathematical understanding of the world because the huge success of this in the past has made further progress more difficult is the wrong lesson to draw from recent failures the nature of which he lucidly described in his previous book. My own interpretation of the history of the Standard Model is that progress came not from finding more, larger symmetries, but from a deeper appreciation of the various ways in which gauge symmetry could be realized spontaneous symmetry breaking, confinement, asymptotic freedom.
The arrival of string theory pushed the study of gauge symmetry into the background, and these days one often hears arguments against its fundamental nature, such as this one from Arkani-Hamed. Abel said, study the words written by the masters themselves, not their pupils. I have read that book a gazillion times. Now Smolin has a whole book on time! Well, it is not available at Indian online stores so have just ordered from Amazon, where they really loot you on international shipping.
Jeff Bezos ships free in the USA, rips-off the rest of the world. Maybe I could have saved some money by searching places like Ebay etc but that takes time. What I admire most about Smolin is that he one of the two professors who gets special mention on my favorite site about special relativity: It does go the the main problem of time.
Whether the events are the denominator and the present the numerator, with this eternally existing fabric of spacetime, or it is the present as the denominator and the events the numerator, so that it is just one constantly changing present. Many thanks, that is an excellent question. The importance of shape dynamics, the development I describe in Chapter 14 of Time Reborn, is exactly that it explains how time dilation and other phenomena of special relativity can be made consistent with a real global time.
To put this briefly, shape dynamics has a gauge symmetry under local scalings of volume. But if you shrink the volume a clock occupies you make it tick faster because clocks are physical devices and their size affects their rates. This is evident in models of clocks called light clocks in which what ticks is a photon bouncing back and forth between two mirrors. Hence you can trade a relativity of time with fixed sizes for a relativity of size with fixed times.
This leads to an equivalence with general relativity and, as Barbour and collaborators have shown in detail, there emerges all the phenomena of special and general relativity. How this works in detail requires of course a bit more technicalities. Thanks for your thoughts on irreversibility. This issue is the subject of work in progress with Marina Cortes, so please look for papers to appear. Many thanks for those references. But these make me hopeful that soon a NS may be discovered with a mass definitively above 2 solar masses.
I would not be unhappy to be able to write a paper saying that a prediction of cosmological natural selection has been falsified because this supports my key point that it is more scientific to posit evolving laws than timeless laws. I understand that you are concerned that by discussing philosophical and methodological issues in public we may mislead laypeople to confuse ideas in progress with settled facts.
Except that Barbour et al are compelled to trade the geometry of spacetime GR for a geometry of space without temporal causality. I think that would preserve spacetime as physically real, as well as the physical evolution of time itself.
I am skeptical of assigning a causal role to geometries and symmetries — however dynamic we imagine them to be — independent of a guiding physical principle. There is real time with temporal causality in shape dynamics, at least at the classical level, and there is a beautiful recent paper about this by Barbour, Koslowski and Mercati, http: BTW, anyone who claims that he has read the book in these few days — should reconsider.
Peter included, although I suspect that he like Bee had access to the volume beforehand.
Time Reborn – Lee Smolin
This is not a book to be read in four days. Be patient and give it the time and thought it deserves. I noticed the early rime of your post. I wish my brain worked in any capacity before 6: Relaxed conversation at a Yorkshire pub. If you start around minute 8: But the main thing is in the last 35 seconds of the clip.
A Caltech archive has the text of what Feynman says there: In biology — how did the various species evolve to get to be the way they are? But the one field which has not admitted any evolutionary question is physics. Tiem are the laws, we say. Here are the laws today.
Time Reborn by Lee Smolin – review
How did they get that way? It has always been like that, the same laws — and we try to explain the universe that way.
So it might turn out that they are not the same all the time and that there is a historical, evolutionary question. There seem to be two problems being addressed: How did they come about? The Barbour Koslowski Mercati paper Lee mentioned solves the first—the problem of time—in the shape dynamics context, but does not address the second. I have a few questions: But, mathematical laws need not be physically lying outside of the universe — they are mental products, and thus of a different category from the physical universe.
It is wrong to say that they are outside of the universe. For an observer inside the universe, using tools defined entirely from inside, kee can be shown as real. You rightly point out that mathematical truths are of a different sort.
Mathematics is an evolving human language within which true statements are deduced non-empirically from sets of axioms. You can download the slides PDF and review the logical outline of the talk after watching the video. Slide 5 gives a couple of concise principles that the rest of the talk and I believe the core argument in the book is based on. The first principle shown labeled PSR is carefully worded so that it applies to laws of physics and not to pure math.
My kibitzing like this is not meant to detract. Hopefully Lee will provide a more complete authoritative response later. A dimensionless time is dimensionless spacetime. Surely they are constructed in entirely different ways. Can you clue me in to your thought process? What Lee said earlier in these comments was: The point seems to be that there exists at least one global time which is consistent with such and such phenomena. Alain Connes and Carlo Rovelli have zmolin proposed a global time, based on the Tomita flow on star algebras—theirs seems quite different from either of the others although agreement is possible where applicable in special cases: Anyway a global preferred time is not such a rare beast that whenever you see two of them you must assume they are the same.
Sorry to add confusion, Marcus. Chris Kennedy said it. I thought Lee was a relativist, albeit with an enhanced physical role for time and the possible inclusion of nonlocal hidden variables the class smolinn theories in rebron, to which string theory belongs. I think global time is a pretty slippery concept. The more I look at these causal structure theories, the more convinced I become that physically real spacetime and general relativity still hold the key to theoretical completeness.
This would of course conserve probability but might not be expressed as unitary evolution on a Hilbert space. I claim that mathematics can provide excellent models of the records of past observations of subsystems of the universe.
But all such models, describing subsystems, involve truncations and are hence incomplete. I however argue in the book that they cannot be completed by extending the model to encompass the universe as a whole.