WILLIAM & DEBORAH HILLYARD

Physics -

Introduction

All the scientific sections of this website are essentially William's, and express my views and opinions alone.  This part of the site looks at Physics from the very early days, through classical physics and relativity right up to modern particle physics and the Standard Model.  We look at gravity, and how scientists are trying to incorporate it into a theory of Quantum Gravity, and also discuss many of the myriad of more exotic composite particles have been found.  What I aim to do here is to give some basic introductions to the listed topics, try to dispel some misconceptions, and provide links for those interested in following up at more detailed levels.  I plan to keep the information as up to date as possible; but, inevitably, I will miss some new ideas and theories as well as include some content that has been refuted.  Hopefully, I will catch all these quickly. 


I am very passionate about science, and believe that without more effort to promote scientific study and research, we will stagnate as a race.  I am not blind to the shortcomings of science, but pseudo-science and mystical nonsense is not the answer.  Some of the theories discussed here may seem outlandish, and appear to have no relevance to everyday life.  This is true.  At the same time, unless we push the boundaries our knowledge and understanding, we will never progress.  String theory, and its various related areas of research like branes, is a perfect example of research that runs counter-intuitively with common sense.  But there is so much elegance in the theory, and in the mathematics behind it, that it may prove to be the way the world works.  Or not.  Certainly, the world around us is a very strange and counter-intuitive place, as evidenced by Quantum Physics. 


One important point I want to make is the use by non-scientists of the phrase "it's just a theory".  Within the scientific community, what is a Theory?  Or a Hypothesis?  Essentially, a hypothesis is an educated guess, generally resulting from observing phenomena.  This is probably the rough equivalent of "a theory" to a lay-person.  Over time, additional observations or experiments could support or disprove it.  A theory generally derives from a hypothesis, or series of hypotheses, that has been supported by experiment or repeated observation or solid mathematical analysis by a number of people independently.  If evidence is found to disprove a theory, it is no longer considered a valid theory, or it may be altered to define the limits within which it applies.  Thus, saying, for example, that Quantum Physics is "just a theory" implies a lack of credibility whereas Quantum Physics is supported by a huge body of experimental verification.  Without it, you would not have flat screen Tvs, cell 'phones, computers etc.  The same is true for Relativity; without it, your GPS will drift several kilometers, or miles, every day.   In both these examples, limits are placed around the degree of applicability of the theory; for example, it is generally understood that general relativity breaks down around the Planck energy and Planck length scales.  BUT; theories are NOT guesses or fanciful notions plucked from the air. 


 
Please feel free to let me have comments, suggestions and corrections, to any part of this section, but please keep it scientific.  While I respect peoples religious, or any other, beliefs, here I have a zero tolerance policy towards any form of pseudo-science including creationism, intelligent design, quantum mysticism, and just about every other "ism".  The Earth was NOT created 6,000 years ago, or 10,000 but 4.54 billion years ago ±1%.  Also, humans were not created spontaneously, nor did they evolve from apes, monkeys, chimpanzees or wombats.  The human species and chimpanzees had a common ancestor somewhere around 5 to 8 million years ago from which both species evolved separately.  (Note that wombats, and other marsupials, had diverged from placental mammals by at least 110 million years ago.) 
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