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If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at forums@fqxi.org with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Akinbo Ojo: on 8/3/15 at 14:03pm UTC, wrote A very nice suggestion. This was how Physics used to be done when it was...

Steve Agnew: on 8/2/15 at 21:32pm UTC, wrote Contention should be the goal, not acquiescence... "In our new special...

Steve Dufourny: on 7/18/15 at 17:01pm UTC, wrote Hello , The most important is the determinism, the rationalism and the...

Robert McEachern: on 7/17/15 at 23:39pm UTC, wrote The greatest physicist of them all, Isaac Newton, famously "feigned no...

Steve Agnew: on 7/17/15 at 21:55pm UTC, wrote It is interesting that even the question, which focuses on physics and not...

Eckard Blumschein: on 7/17/15 at 7:15am UTC, wrote Don't be deterred by distracting styles. The video contest offers not just...

Eckard Blumschein: on 7/14/15 at 14:16pm UTC, wrote Rick, In a discussion on your 2012 essay you wrote: "the dull, boring and...

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FQXi BLOGS
September 16, 2019

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Action and Excitement and Science! - Podcast Special Edition [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Jun. 19, 2015 @ 16:23 GMT
Seeing Without Looking
In our new special edition of the FQXi podcast, we ask, what is the best way to interest and excite the public about physics, especially foundational physics? Do we just stick to the facts, or do we need slogans, explosions, and, ahem, essay and video contests?

The podcast features attendees at the New Directions in the Foundations of Physics meeting, held annually in Washington, DC. This meeting is one of the only recurring meetings that brings together physicists and philosophers in the same room to discuss the state of the art in their fields.

Free Podcast

How do we communicate foundational physics to the public? Panel discussion with physicists and communicators Sabine Hossenfelder, Matt Leifer, Dagomir Kaszlikowski & Brendan Foster, from the New Directions meeting in Washington, DC.



LISTEN:







Go to full podcast

On the podcast, you’ll hear from three physicists who also direct their energy into presenting physics ideas to the public — Sabine Hossenfelder, from Nordita, a blogger, videographer, and winner of our previous essay contest How to Steer Humanity; Matt Leifer, from Perimeter Institute, a blogger and winner of our contest It From Bit or Bit From It (and runner up in the most recent Trick or Truth); and Dagomir Kaszlikowski from the Center for Quantum Technologies in Singapore, a filmmaker who jointly won our first ever video contest Show Me the Physics.

Following Sabine, Matt, and Dag, the group at large turned to Star Trek, tiny books, physics slogans, and more. On the recording, you’ll hear from Michael Fisher, Alexei Grinbaum, Jos Uffink, Alex Wilce, David Wallace, Melissa Jacquert, and Mile Gu.

Visit the podcast page to listen and find links to much more, including Sabine and Matt’s blogs.

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Anonymous wrote on Jun. 19, 2015 @ 19:17 GMT
"we ask, what is the best way to interest and excite the public about physics, especially foundational physics?"

Why would one suppose that is even desirable? Decades ago, the public (that later became the current generation of physicists) became overly excited, by the greatly expanded emphasis, placed on the most "fun", highly speculative, and even unprovable notions, yet conceived. This...

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Robert H McEachern replied on Jun. 19, 2015 @ 19:22 GMT
"Anonymous" forgot to add my name to the above, in the event that the system logged me out, for taking too long.

Rob McEachern

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jun. 22, 2015 @ 00:52 GMT
Hi Robert,

I think you are right that the public should not be mislead in to thinking that new theories or conclusions of single papers is known fact. However asking 'what if?' is fine, and then exploring the consequences with trial and error or logical steps. Which may result in something promising or 'its probably not like that'. Either of which is progress. Thomas Edison is famous for his many 'failed' experiments which he considered useful progress. I find the exploration itself whether fruitful or not is interesting, if presented in an accessible way. Though it is difficult to sell exploration without tangible outcomes. Perhaps if the research is likened to other kinds of exploration of the unknown and the enthusiasm of the explorers is conveyed it might enthuse the public.

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Robert H McEachern replied on Jun. 23, 2015 @ 17:02 GMT
I'm all for trial and error. The problem comes from hypothesizes for which there can never be any error, because no trial (observation) can be performed. No one has ever observed a multiverse or even any effect such a thing might have on our universe, and no one ever will. Where there can be no trial, there can be no error, and hence, no way to curtail endless "fun" speculations.

Rob McEachern

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Roger Granet wrote on Jun. 20, 2015 @ 03:48 GMT
1 Tell people some basic things that aren't known about the universe so they can think about them. For instance:

A. Why do opposite charges attract and like charges repel each other? For me, the exchange of force particles, like photons, between two charged particles doesn't really provide a physical, or mechanical, mechanism. It seems as if physicists don't care about this, but it gives people things to think about.

B. Physically, what does it mean that space is curved? It doesn't look curved. Let people think about that?

C. What is the physical mechanism behind the ability to have "spooky action at a distance" or entanglement. While mathematics is nice, something physical is happening. As far as I know, the mechanism isn't known, but it will get people thinking.

D. Why is there something rather than nothing?

2. Stop emphasizing the mathematical gobbledygook so much and start emphasizing the physical mechanisms of things. People can relate to this, but not so much to the math.

3. Stop making fun of and belittling amateurs/"crackpots". Many are crazy, I admit, but at least they're thinking about bigger questions.

Thanks.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Jul. 18, 2015 @ 17:01 GMT
Hello ,

The most important is the determinism, the rationalism and the SPHERIZATION

Regards

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Jun. 20, 2015 @ 05:22 GMT
What really turned me off of new physics in my twenties was reading too many sizable articles about speculative new physics theories that were far too complicated for me to follow or persevere with. I used to read the New Scientist physics articles, from my teens till early twenties but then gave up. That might not sound daunting but it was too much new information and too complex for me to...

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Jun. 20, 2015 @ 16:17 GMT
I think that art, in the general way, can transmit interest in the people that have not knowledge of the science (for example children and laymen); if I see artwork this give me unattainable knowledge with the usual methods.

The use of seventh art, the cinema or the video contest, is a method to transferring knowledge, but there are many others: why don't you use an art contests, to take each multimedia artworks?

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jun. 26, 2015 @ 02:03 GMT
Infographics too are a way of conferring knowledge that is appealing and easy to assimilate. Wikipedia Infographic

Quote" Infographics have evolved in recent years to be for mass communication, and thus are designed with fewer assumptions about the readers knowledge base than other types of visualizations" Wikipedia Inforgraphic

Quote "Infographics are effective because of their visual element. Humans receive input from all five of their senses (sight, touch, hearing, smell, taste), but they receive significantly more information from vision than any of the other four.[27] Fifty percent of the human brain is dedicated to visual functions, and images are processed faster than text. The brain processes pictures all at once, but processes text in a linear fashion, meaning it takes much longer to obtain information from text.[2]"Wikipedia Inforgraphic

[2] Mark Smiciklas (2012). The Power of Infographics: Using Pictures to Communicate and Connect with Your Audience.[27] David McCandless (2010). The Beauty of Data Visualization. TED Talk

Maybe this is something FQXi could consider as another kind of contest.

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John R. Cox wrote on Jun. 22, 2015 @ 16:22 GMT
Dag, Matt and Sabine,

I think what really should be addressed is the huge salvage operation that has become necessary due to the *discipline* in any scientific discipline being deliberately obscured by the mass marketing of techno-gagetry. You all have the experience of going to class, and sitting there among many others whom you didn't know personally, and being confronted time and again with the fact that what you had thought coming into class was not only nothing new, but largely incomplete or ill informed. And you and all others learned that at the same time in the same circumstance, and that there are certain things common to the human experience that were well understood before you personally discovered them. That is the essential difference between higher education, and the School of Hard Knocks.

Unconventional ideas are only unconventional if they are capable of being shown as departures from accepted conventions, but in the convention of proper definition of terms both epistemological and mathematically. Being unwilling to study what those conventions are, is the societal norm. There is nothing 'unconventional' about that. Onward! through the fog! jrc

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Jun. 24, 2015 @ 05:44 GMT
The FQXi competitions are great. The growing number of entrants each time is a double edged sword. An indication of their success in inspiring thought about foundational issues and participation but also a burden on the administrators and judges. I don't know how large the number of competitors could grow before the competitions becomes unmanageable in their current open format. Having so many essays to possibly read is daunting for would be readers too. Like too many varieties of olive on the supermarket shelves : ) I think satisfied people are always less likely to express their feelings than people are to share their dissatisfaction. The prizes too are a double edged sword, both incentive and cause of animosity. I don't know the answer to that. Slogans? (sorry I didn't get it ), Memes?, I don't know. Should foundational physics be popularized with gimmicks or be more reserved as "seriously (fun) physics"? (Sounds like a slogan.)

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Jun. 25, 2015 @ 15:43 GMT
Thanks everyone for the many excellent suggestions -- keep them coming.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Jun. 25, 2015 @ 16:44 GMT
The only way to excite the public about physics is to inform it about the REAL problems. For instance, the question "How does the speed of falling (towards the source of gravity) light varies?" has five or six different answers in the relativistic literature. So far only people like me have been discussing the problem, but we are, by definition, cranks, crackpots, trolls etc. so the public couldn't care less about what we say. Professional scientists don't even think about such problems:

"Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."

Pentcho Valev

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Jun. 25, 2015 @ 17:51 GMT
" ... the question 'How does the speed of falling (towards the source of gravity) light varies?" has five or six different answers in the relativistic literature ...' "

No it doesn't. There is no horizontal acceleration relative to the plane.

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John R. Cox replied on Jun. 25, 2015 @ 18:06 GMT
BINGO!

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John R. Cox replied on Jun. 25, 2015 @ 19:50 GMT
What is the problem with using Euclidean Geometry and the inverse square law, to account for gravity? Okay? Explain. jrc

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Jun. 25, 2015 @ 22:42 GMT
Another problem that could excite the public: Does the following discovery, published in Science, both violate Einstein's relativity and confirm Halton Arp's "intrinsic redshift":

"Physicists manage to slow down light inside vacuum (...) ...even now the light is no longer in the mask, it's just the propagating in free space - the speed is still slow. (...) "This finding shows unambiguously that the propagation of light can be slowed below the commonly accepted figure of 299,792,458 metres per second, even when travelling in air or vacuum," co-author Romero explains in the University of Glasgow press release."

"The speed of light is a limit, not a constant - that's what researchers in Glasgow, Scotland, say. A group of them just proved that light can be slowed down, permanently."

Glasgow researchers slow the speed of light

Needless to say, the question should be asked by famous people, such as Max Tegmark. Infamous people should be silent - I raised the problem countless times a few months ago and, as a result, the discovery is now long forgotten.

Pentcho Valev

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jun. 26, 2015 @ 01:33 GMT
Quote "Needless to say, the question should be asked by famous people, such as Max Tegmark. Infamous people should be silent - I raised the problem countless times a few months ago and, as a result, the discovery is now long forgotten."Pentcho Valev.

Pentcho, are you saying celebrity is a necessary prerequisite for gaining public attention? (I don't think you meant infamous but not famous.) Do you mean the not famous should not express their opinions on the questions you ask, so the question remains unaddressed waiting for a celebrity to pick up on it and bring it to wider public attention? If so is an open public discussion space the best place to ask your questions? The video contests might be a way of presenting your viewpoint or question without it being swamped by, what are from your your perspective, unwanted replies. I think FQXi intends to hold another one.

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a l replied on Jun. 26, 2015 @ 10:11 GMT
"are you saying celebrity is a necessary prerequisite for gaining public attention?" The Matthew effect is a well documented and widely commented...

Habermas has pointed that in a rational public discussion statements should be judged by their content not by their authors. Unfortunately, as Valev has repeatedly seen it, the authority of Einstein seems to be supreme. A lot of rhetoric and hair-splitting has been invested in saving his honor while admitting that he has been proved wrong in the EPR case.

My conviction is that the public should be reminded more often that science is presented with the unstated caveat "as far as we know". For instance, as far as we know, no effect propagates faster than light.

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John R. Cox replied on Jun. 26, 2015 @ 21:44 GMT
Georgina,

In observation of the exchange about celebrity status, don't you think that the distinction lies in that while some might wish to adorn their arguments by alluding to the contrary, that the credentials of the aforementioned luminaries rest not on dogma of doctrine but in a logical progressive consistency which is apparent by their mathematical fluency, evident to their peers whom otherwise would only be bored by what they write? Was it Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer who defended himself, saying that he had learned to say his sums? :-) jrc

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Jun. 26, 2015 @ 15:36 GMT
"are you saying celebrity is a necessary prerequisite for gaining public attention?"

Of course. When Joao Magueijo, Lee Smolin, Paul Davies say that the speed of light is not constant, than special relativity is the root of all the evil, that Einstein's spacetime is dead wrong, they become even more famous and bestsellers make them a lot of money. When Jos Uffink mercilessly denounces thermodynamics in this way:

Jos Uffink, Bluff your Way in the Second Law of Thermodynamics

he becomes professor at the University of Minnesota.

In contrast, when I say similar things, I become "Pentcho Valev FAQ", crank, crackpot, anti-Semite etc:

Pentcho Valev FAQ

Pentcho Valev

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Jun. 27, 2015 @ 13:32 GMT
The difference is that they understand relativity, and you don't.

Relativity says that on the average, the world is Euclidean. Only at the extreme of speed and distance, do relativistic effects apply. The limiting speed of light of light has always left a hole in the theory, and the solution has been to normalize the constant to 1 in that quantum domain.

Instead of regarding the normalization as a product of our ignorance, some theorists have taken it literally, and proposed variations in the speed of light to account for effects that are not relativistic, but quantum, and then applied the mysticism of quantum physics to encompass the whole universe, so that the speed of light is an illusion.

Except that it isn't an illusion -- the measured value of the speed of light is empirical. The inability of objects to exchange information at faster speeds is empirical.

So the speculation that a mystical "something else", is required, is just that. The union of space and time is always before us. And after us.

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John R. Cox replied on Jun. 27, 2015 @ 15:00 GMT
"The difference is that they understand relativity,... ...."

and that, kids, is why you can't take the electrodynamics out of SR.

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Jun. 29, 2015 @ 03:03 GMT
John C,

I agree with Robert: Excite the public must not be the primary aim. I recall Nimtz claiming having measured signal propagation with a velocity in excess of c. Why was the interest overwhelming but only until people didn't find their doubts confirmed. FQXi has perhaps the best chance to permanently survive if it understandably to everybody addresses truly foundational questions instead of promoting servile mathematics that takes chains of speculations for granted.

To me a topic outside physics led to a most important insight: At least as foundational as are human rights is the human obligation to defend voluntary population control against religious and commercial doctrines.

I disagree with you John: Teaching electrodynamics should be kept clear from SR as long as Relativity should be capitalized because it isn't purged from some related logical inconsistencies. Likewise mathematics should be purged from Georg Cantor's naive set theory. Mistakes are anyway futile.

Of course, I agree with Tom: "the measured value of the speed of light is empirical. The inability of objects to exchange information at faster speeds is empirical."

I would like to add: It is a demanding and therefore entertaining to intelligent people task to reveal fallacies.

Eckard

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Jul. 13, 2015 @ 05:25 GMT
Hi Brendan ,

why is there no link to your presentation "Seeing Without Looking: How to Teach Physics Foundations"?

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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali replied on Jul. 13, 2015 @ 16:15 GMT
Hi Georgina,

We don't have any video footage to link to for the panel discussion, but the podcast contains the full audio from the "Seeing Without Looking: How to Teach Physics Foundations?" session. There aren't any slides from Brendan or anything else to link to either -- I don't believe either Brendan or the panellists used them. (But Brendan can correct me if I am wrong.)

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jul. 14, 2015 @ 00:00 GMT
Hi Zeeya,

thank you for explaining. I have already listened to the pod cast.

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Jul. 17, 2015 @ 07:15 GMT
Don't be deterred by distracting styles. The video contest offers not just a plurality of rather boring to me advertisements. There are also lots of links located at the right that promised some more interesting topics.

I looked for instance at Dirac Delta (not) Function - for Dani. The only thing I didn't understand was Dani. The rest was neither new not fully convincing to me.

Another link led me to a longish speech by a Gates. I was not patient enough as to wait until he referred as promised to the music of Arnold Schoenberg. So I cannot comment on it.

By the way, I was hoping in vain to learn from Lee Smolin how he reconciles his realism with block time. He merely advertised his book.

While many videos offered to much more or less professional attempts to sell simplifications of mandatory tenets, I recall a video from Vienna (Zeilinger) where I missed explanations.

In all, did I just not find belonging discussions?

Eckard

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Steve Agnew wrote on Jul. 17, 2015 @ 21:55 GMT
It is interesting that even the question, which focuses on physics and not the more generic science, is so narrow and restrictive. People in general do not differentiate between physics and science, nor even between applied versus basic science, nor even between engineering and applied science.

Reading between the lines there seems to be a motive to keep certain specialties of science funded...which of course means those resources will not be available for other human needs, like leisure or food or hunger.

Anyway, there is nothing like a good healthy and rancorous disagreement to keep people's attention focused on an issue and to keep it funded. Popular science should deliver more contention and less consensus, especially when it comes to the big bang and black holes and dark matter.

There are so many things that simply do not make sense about these notions and yet they are usually stated as facts instead of the unfounded and unconditioned beliefs that they are. And there seem to be many articulate advocates for alternate notions that do not seem to get any notice.

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Robert H McEachern replied on Jul. 17, 2015 @ 23:39 GMT
The greatest physicist of them all, Isaac Newton, famously "feigned no hypothesis". He realized that it is not possible for science, to determine the causes of observed effects. The only thing that science can actually verify/falsify, is that predicted theoretical behaviors either do, or do not, match observed behaviors. Why any theory works, what is the "cause", remains unknown. But those unknowns invite endless speculation about how to "interpret" what is going on.

Rob McEachern

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Steve Agnew wrote on Aug. 2, 2015 @ 21:32 GMT
Contention should be the goal, not acquiescence...

"In our new special edition of the FQXi podcast, we ask, what is the best way to interest and excite the public about physics, especially foundational physics? Do we just stick to the facts, or do we need slogans, explosions, and, ahem, essay and video contests?"

So, it the spirit of contention, not acquiescence, why not include a fringe theory du jour for all others to pile on for a while and pull it apart? What civilians really want to hear about science is what is new and different and not what is old and accepted. Of course, keep the discourse civil and avoid personal attacks as always.

If you cannot decide which fringe theory should suffer the flames of troll fire, do a fringe theory of the month by drawing straws. The fringe stuff tends to draw the trolls of the mainstream out of the woodwork and it is likely that some FXQi'ers will resign in utter disgust and that alone would be worth a piece in NYT for goodness sake.

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Akinbo Ojo replied on Aug. 3, 2015 @ 14:03 GMT
A very nice suggestion. This was how Physics used to be done when it was called Natural Philosophy in the days of Newton and Leibniz.

And before then I can imagine Aristotle, Plato, Euclid, etc forming a circle around a Parmenides and Zeno at the centre. The purpose of which is to grind their fringe theory to either absurdity (reductio ad absurdum) or approval and acclaim.

Akinbo

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