Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Horava Theory

Those of you with any interest in astrophysics will be acquainted with the quantum mechanics/general relativity problem. It basically means that Einstein's theories and quantum mechanics don't fit with each other. In other words, while both sets of theories seem to make sense on their own, when you put them together there's a problem. This is sometimes referred to as the search for the "Theory of Everything", i.e. the theory that ties all the other theories together. Personally I hate the term "Theory of Everything" but that's another story.

Petr Hořava, a physicist at the University of California, thinks he may have the answer. Of course so do lots of physicists and even more armchair scientists, but sadly few of their theories have any merit. That's why the scientific community is wary of radical new theories. It's also why I took a bit more notice of Hořava - he announced his theory back in January (2009) and instead of being steadily debunked like most of them, his theory seems to be gaining traction. That's rare.

In essence he's proposing that at very high energies, time and space become separate instead of being part of the same fabric (as stated by Einstein). The details can be found at scientificamerican.com.

But perhaps my favourite part of the theory is that is offers alternate explanations for dark energy and dark matter. I've never liked them and I feel they stink of the fudge-factor. I know that actual scientists (as opposed to the amateur armchair variety such as myself) feel quite comfortable with dark energy and matter, but I want to go on record now as predicting their demise. In my opinion some other explanation will emerge that removes any need for these fudges. Maybe it will be Hořava's, maybe not, but whatever it is I look forward to it.

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