What is Science?



Reading this Lubos’ post about a very good site (this one) I entered into the comment area and I have found the following declaration by him:

Science is a meritocracy where answers are determined by objective criteria, and for most of the difficult questions, only one or a few people know the right answer and the scientific method exists to isolate this special right answer…

Of course, I subscribe this that is widely known to people doing research. I would just change the word “meritocracy” by “dictatorship of truth”. But there is an intermediate age where the truth takes time to become acclaimed and this is time for opinions and before to become aware of the people that firstly reached the goal, there is a struggle for the truth to be acquired. I would like to remember here the status of quantum field theory in the sixties when bootstrap and similar failures appeared as a paradigm and very few brave people were doing research in the right directions taking us to the triumph of today. In this kind of dynamics, at a first stage it is very difficult to be able to tell, also for very well trained people, where the right track is lying. In physics our luck resides in experiments. This makes things simpler when technology helps us to perform them otherwise time to decide for the best are increasingly longer. So, merit as claimed by Lubos is something that sets in at the very end of the process.

In my specific field of activity, QCD, we are in a better situation as a lot of laboratories around the World have facilities to perform important measurements to reach the goal. And this situation is even better as we can use powerful computers to solve the theory. My view as a physicist is that, without a sound comparison of the spectrum of the theory with experiments, nobody can claim to have properly solved the mass gap problem. All my present effort is going into this direction because there is nothing more exciting than having hit the right behavior of Nature (our mother not the bitch…). I take this chance to remember here the effort in this direction of Silvio Sorella, that with the help of other fine colleagues, is going to show how his approach indeed fulfill these expectations of glueball masses (see here). These authors give a correct idea about what is the  right approach to be followed for the problem of low-energy QCD.

Finally, I would like to emphasize the relevance of sites like the one pointed out by Lubos. This site has also been posted by Sean Carroll (see here) in his blog. I have pointers to my blog there and in the more successful Mathoverflow. Unfortunately, I have no much time to spend on contributing to these sites but these are very good places to know about science and the right one. So, this is also my invitation for my readers to contribute to them actively.

D. Dudal, M. S. Guimaraes, & S. P. Sorella (2010). Glueball masses from an infrared moment problem and nonperturbative
Landau gauge arxiv arXiv: 1010.3638v3


Kao, Boyle and Smith


Charles K. KaoWillard S. Boyle and George E. Smith are the winners of the 2009 Nobel prize in physics. Kao will take 1/2 of the prize and 1/4 for the others. You can find a press release here. Kao was instrumental in the development of the optical fiber technology for communications while Boyle and Smith invented a widely used device, the CCD.  CCD are everywhere today: your camera or TV camera has one. Boyle and Smith work at Bell Labs and here we see again a technological revolution coming out from there. This prize is quite similar to others awarding breakthroughs that changed our everyday life. Quite recently, on 2007, Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg got a similar recognition. These are living proofs that research can change our life in an unexpected and significant way.

Nambu, Kobayashi and Maskawa


It is appeared the announcement of the Royal Swedish Academy for the 2008 Nobel prize in physics (see here).  The prize has been awarded to Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa. Yoichiro Nambu has been awarded for his discovery of spontaneous breaking of simmetry in particle physics. A pair of fundamental papers about this fundational issue were written in collaboration with Giovanni Jona-Lasinio. These were the starting point of an idea that permeates the standard model. Kobayashi and Maskawa extended the idea due to Nicola Cabibbo of a quark mixing. Together with the Higgs mechanism this generated the idea that, in order to reproduce the observed pattern of CP violation, one should have at least three quark families. This prediction was confirmed with the observation of bottom and top quarks.



I want to take to the attention of the readers of the blog the new born online journal of American Physical Society simply called Physics. The idea is smart and consists in selecting certain papers published on APS journals, the well-known Physical Review series, and present them in a way to let the content usable by any physicist with the intent to cross-seminate ideas. The articles are written by experts of the field but aimed to a broad audience and so easy to be understood by whoever is doing active research in any area of physics. Papers are selected by editors of the Physical Review journals both by referees’ reports and internal discussions.

Personally I consider this a very successful idea. When I read journals like Nature, before entering into the reading of the article I am interested to, I read the corresponding “News and Views” article  written by some well-known expert of the field that makes clear to everybody its content. So, I think that this journal by APS was long overdue.

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