Neil Turok about recent depressing situation in theoretical physics
Neil Turok is one of the very few theoreticians, whose existence raises hopes that we might get over the stagnation period of theoretical physics lasted for four decades now. It relies basically on sloppy thinking initiated with the advent of GUTs and amplified via the emergence of SUSY, superstring models and eventually M-theory. Loop gravity starting from naive canonical quantization attempt of general relativity is also a representative example of this sloppy thinking and naive belief that it is possible to understand Nature without considering deep metaphysical questions.
The outcome is endless variety of extremely contrived "models" and "effective theories" creating the illusion of understanding and most importantly: huge amounts of curriculum vitae is generated. Academic theoretical physics has become very much like playing the market.
The standard excuse for the failure of the theories is that there is no data, we need a bigger accelerator, gravitation is so extremely weak interaction, we cannot detect dark matter, etc... The fact is that there is more than enough refined experimental data challenging existing physics in all length scales - condensed matter, biology,..., even astrophysics in solar system.
The problems are on the theory side and due to reductionistic dogmatism and the refusal to see physics from a wider perspective including also biology and consciousness. The extremely narrow professional specialization optimal for the career building is one stumbling block. The professional arrogance of theoreticians enjoying monthly salary combined with unforeseen conformism is second problem. Typical theoretician simply refuses to touch in anything not published in so called respected journal and is even proud of this narrow mindedness and calls it professionalism!
Turok does not hesitate to articulate the truth known by many people in the field.
"Our existing theories are too contrived, arbitrary, ad hoc,” Turok complains. “I think we could be on the verge of the next big revolution in theory. It will be inspired by the data, by the failure of traditional paradigms. It will change our view of the universe.”"
I cannot but agree (and even have some rather detailed ideas about what this revolution might be;-)). But we must patiently wait until the lost generations get retired.
See the article To Explain the Universe, Physics Needs a Revolution in Scientific American.
For a summary of earlier postings see Links to the latest progress in TGD.