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By P. W Bridgman

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Their problem is that for decades particle physicists have become comfortable describing nature with arbitrary numbers instead of relying on basic principles, as Einstein always did. Those who have forgotten to wonder are easily satisfied by superficial concepts such as dark matter and dark energy. Still worse, on the Internet almost every week you can see similar “fields” conjured up in order to “explain” some new contradictory cosmological observation. ” At the risk of annoying more than a few people, I would say that our understanding of the universe has not advanced due to this guest performance by particle accountants.

This offers a cushy niche for theories that would not survive in the harsh climate of experimental measurements. And high-energy physicists are increasingly aware that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva is likely to be their last big taxpayer-funded toy. They then plan to seek refuge at a less expensive accelerator: the Big Bang, a unique laboratory for phenomena that are unobservable on Earth. It’s just too bad that you can’t observe what happens at the Big Bang either. However, this serves only to inflate the imagination.

It is a big responsibility. That is why I wrote this book. While completing my German manuscript, I discovered Sheilla Jones’s The Quantum Ten, an excellent history of quantum mechanics. What really impressed me was how persuasively she explained the way modern theoretical physics has gone astray since the late 1920s. I am happy that we could write this book with such a common view, and I am grateful that her investigative mind as a journalist and her profound knowledge about history contributed to this restructured English edition.

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A sophisticate's primer of relativity by P. W Bridgman


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