New Scientst: Why the laws of physics don't actually exist

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Why the laws of physics don't actually exist

Sankar Das Sarma

Quote:What we call laws of physics are often just mathematical descriptions of some part of nature. Ultimate physical laws probably don't exist and physics is all the better for it, says theoretical physicist Sankar Das Sarma

Quote:I know from my 40 years of experience in working on real-life physical phenomena that the whole idea of an ultimate law based on an equation using just the building blocks and fundamental forces is unworkable and essentially a fantasy. We never know precisely which equation describes a particular laboratory situation. Instead, we always have to build models and approximations to describe each phenomenon even when we know that the equation controlling it is ultimately some form of the Schrödinger equation!

“What about quantum mechanics?” you might ask. It has been hugely successful for close to 100 years at matching all our experiments at the quantum scale. But quantum mechanics is actually more like a set of rules that we use to express our laws rather than being an ultimate law itself. For example, the standard model of particle physics, the theory of superconductivity and the theory of atomic spectra are all built using the rules of quantum mechanics, but they have little to do with each other. In addition, space and time are variables that have to be put in by hand into the theory, when space and time should come out naturally from any ultimate law of physics. This has remained perhaps the greatest mystery in fundamental physics with no solution in sight.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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