Right now could be considered one of the best — and most uncertain — times in theoretical physics. That’s what Symmetry heard in interviews with 10 junior faculty in the field. They talk about what keeps them up at night, their favorite places to think and how they explain their jobs to nonscientists.
From Live Science, June 4, 2019: Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln discusses why it could take millennia to find a theory of everything. It would answer all questions, leaving nothing unanswered. Why is the sky blue? Covered. Why does gravity exist? That’s covered, too. Stated in a more scientific way, a theory of everything would ideally explain all phenomena with a single theory, a single building block and a single force.
From Exascale Computing Project, May 28, 2019: Fermilab scientist Andreas Kronfeld is featured in this piece on the Excascale Computing Project, quantum chromodynamics and lattice QCD. Kronfeld, the principal investigator of ECP’s LatticeQCD project, explains how exascale computing will be essential to extending the work of precision calculations in particle physics to nuclear physics. The calculations are central for interpreting all experiments in particle physics and nuclear physics.
Can a theory that isn’t completely testable still be useful to physics? What determines if an idea is legitimately scientific or not? This question has been debated by philosophers and historians of science, working scientists, and lawyers in courts of law. That’s because it’s not merely an abstract notion: What makes something scientific or not determines if it should be taught in classrooms or supported by government grant money.
Some theorists have taken to designing their own experiments to broaden the search for dark matter. The trend of theorists proposing experiments has become so common that it’s almost expected of new students entering the field. The hope is that flooding the field with new ideas could finally lead to the discovery of dark matter.