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Thread: Nightmare Scenario

  1. #1 Nightmare Scenario 
    Forum Freshman TAMB0's Avatar
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    I've heard talk recently that Physics is approaching the Nightmare Scenario, aka, we can no longer break down the subatomic elementary particles. This represents a dead-end in our search for the basic building blocks of the universe. What do you guys think?

    I think we have plenty more to work on then trying to see what's inside the 16 elementary particles.


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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    There is plenty more to understand without assuming that the fundamental particles are not fundamental. Most mainstream theories are based on the idea they are fundamental because there is no evidence they are not. Even string theory, which explains the nature of the fundamental particles at a lower level and in a unified way, doesn't break them down any further.

    Some of the main areas of research are: how to unify quantum mechanics and relativity, and the nature of dark matter.


    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    I'm not a physicist, but I have heard some lectures performed by physicists and I've yet to hear one say, "Yeah, we pretty much know everything." Seems like every time these guys figure one thing out, they come up with a dozen questions about it. Sounds like a very exciting field for people who are vastly more intelligent than me.

    I suppose string theorists still have plenty of work in the near future since I have yet to hear about the LHC opening up portals to the multiverse.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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    Brassica oleracea Strange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Sounds like a very exciting field for people who are vastly more intelligent than me.
    I'll second that!

    I have yet to hear about the LHC opening up portals to the multiverse.
    I thought that was what your avatar pic was
    Without wishing to overstate my case, everything in the observable universe definitely has its origins in Northamptonshire -- Alan Moore
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    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I thought that was what your avatar pic was
    If I were looking through a portal to another universe, I imagine I would do so with the same expression as Dr. Forrester in that picture.
    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  7. #6  
    Forum Freshman TAMB0's Avatar
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    Thanks for the responses guys.



    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Strange View Post
    I thought that was what your avatar pic was
    If I were looking through a portal to another universe, I imagine I would do so with the same expression as Dr. Forrester in that picture.
    Is that the bad guy from MST3K?
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  8. #7  
    Life-Size Nanoputian Flick Montana's Avatar
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    Yes, and you're automatically good in my book if you know the term MST3K.
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    "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." -Calvin
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  9. #8  
    Forum Bachelors Degree Kerling's Avatar
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    No, there is no such thing as a dead-end in physics. This is what is popularly attributed alike the mistakes once made in the 19th century.
    Maybe there are things below the quarks. It would however require a new theory. And that seems unlikely as the assumptions at the start of the standard model are rather profound and very simple. But as technology advances we will discover new effects, are able to model new problems. Even at this rate I don't see the science die out anywhere near the end of this century. But is there a limit to the fundemental understanding of nature?
    Yes, of course. There is only so much you can know, and a lot of things are just simplifying the knowledge we have. One could for instance look at 'dead fields' like nuclear physics. Hardly any research there anymore. But who knows, new fields will follow. And if we have to believe the astrophysicist, we only understand the visisble non dark energy and matter. So, plenty of stuff to be done! Even if we understand everything on this world, it would still only be 20 percent of physics (based on the dark energy stuff)
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    I work in the less glamorous but important field of Detector Physics (basically a subset of Solid State Physics). The reality of modern physics is that most people work in some kind of condensed matter physics, or atomic and optical physics etc, i.e. not in the "fundamental physics" areas that the High Energy guys work on.Whether we discover that the "fundamental particles" we currently have are fundamental or not, and whether or not we ever discover a theory of everything, it makes not the slightest bit of difference to physics overall. Most of us physicists work on complex systems where our day to day tools are still classical electromagnetism and non-relativistic quantum mechanics. Having a theory of everything would affect my work not a jot, except perhaps I would no longer be designing detectors for new particle accelerators! Not all physicists are working on the fundamentals. And i'm sure that even if the fundamentals research dries up, those guys are clever enough to find something to do :-) Dan
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