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Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons and Alternative Theories of Everything

16 Dec 2011, 21:28 UTC
Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons and Alternative Theories of Everything
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There’s a new very thought-provoking book out from Margaret Wertheim, entitled Physics on the Fringe: Smoke Rings, Circlons and Alternative Theories of Everything. Much of the book is the beautifully told story of “outsider” physicist Jim Carter, who has spent much of his life developing an alternative fundamental physics theory based on objects he calls “circlons”.
I have to confess that, while respecting the impetus that leads people to develop such theories, I have essentially zero sympathy for this kind of thing as science. As Wertheim explains
In Jim’s theory of the universe, everything is mechanical; like INCOBO [an internal combustion boiler he designed], the world he imagines is made up of simple mechanically interlocking parts. As with his engine, none of the parts are complicated and you don’t need much mathematics to understand how it works…
One way to think about what Jim Carter is doing is that he insists on a universe he can comprehend. As with the old Chryslers and Cadillacs that grace his front yard, Jim demands a cosmos he can figure out for himself.
One way in which I’m very different than Jim Carter is that I’ve never been one for insisting on ideas that ...

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