Nature | Comment

The second Renaissance

Ian Goldin calls on scientists to help society to weather the disruptive transformations afoot.

Article tools

Subject terms:

Jay Shaw Baker/NurPhoto/Getty

Workers protest in London in February.

The Renaissance that began in Europe in the mid-1400s and ended in the early 1500s brought a radical transformation of the sciences, the humanities and politics. Building on the invention of the printing press and cheap paper, information was democratized, there was a hunger for literacy and the Catholic Church's near-monopoly on knowledge was challenged. The resulting breakthroughs took Europe from being one of the more backward regions of the world to being the most advanced by far, within just 80 years.

But it ended in tears. Extremists, pointing to growing inequalities and the corruption of the elite, called for a return to spiritual values. In Italy, thousands of artworks and books were burned, branded as irreverent. Across Europe, rising intolerance of scientists, intellectuals, foreigners and ethnic minorities became the norm, with religious wars and inquisitions playing out over the following centuries.

In my view, many parts of the world are now in the middle of a second Renaissance. This one is seeing even faster change than the last, and across the entire globe. History tells us that it will be disruptive. It will bring immense benefits and it will be highly destabilizing. We should expect more extremism and the rise of potentially catastrophic risks.

Innovation today is happening faster than ever, driven by the unlocking of individual and collective abilities in a booming population. On average, literacy levels, life expectancy and incomes have soared. Flows of goods, services, money, people and, most importantly, ideas across national borders — globalization — has unleashed unprecedented progress and a scientific and broader renaissance. They have also brought growing interdependence and new risks1, 2.

The Internet helps to harness the global capacity for connectivity and innovation, but also brings us malware, cybercrime and the sacrifice of privacy. Airports are crucial to international integration of science and commerce, but they can also be super-spreaders of pandemics — just as explorers to the new world brought with them fatal diseases. Financial hubs create fresh opportunities for economies to prosper, but they simultaneously allow a financial crisis in one country to destroy jobs and pensions in distant parts of the world3.

The tension between individual success and collective collapse is growing. As more people escape poverty and climb the energy curve, climate change and biodiversity loss accelerate. As more people benefit from better nutrition, ocean fisheries are at risk of collapse and forests are destroyed for cattle. Improvements in global health could soon be threatened by rapidly rising antibiotic resistance.

Accelerating technological change will provide solutions for many challenges, from cancer to cleaner sources of energy. But our politics and our institutions are locked in past models that are increasingly unfit for purpose. Deep ethical issues arising from genomics research and the potential dangers of biological pathogens are not being adequately addressed. Improvements in computing and artificial intelligence will kill off many jobs. Breakthroughs in nanotechnology and materials science, augmented and virtual reality, 3D printing and other applications will also radically disrupt society. All are barely understood by politicians and most citizens.

Growing gap

Inequality is rising in almost all countries that are experiencing rapid change. The faster the pace of change, the more rapidly people are being left behind. The share of wealth enjoyed by the top 1% of citizens in the advanced economies has risen from an average of 17% in the late 1980s to more than 23% today (it is 39% in the United States). Countries starting from a more equal distribution of wealth, such as China and the nations of the former Soviet Union, have seen the most rapid rise in inequality4.

John MacDougall/AFP/Getty

A robot sweeps food towards two dairy cows at an 'automated farm' exhibit at a food and agriculture fair.

Far from levelling the playing field and making the world more 'flat', as is alleged, globalization is making it more mountainous. Place matters more than ever. Cities hold a growing share of wealth and job opportunities, but it is increasingly difficult to afford to live in them. In dynamic ones, such as London, San Francisco, Paris, Berlin, Shanghai and Mumbai, house prices relative to average incomes are at an all-time high.

Technological change is already a key contributor to the growing inequality5. This is likely to be exacerbated as machine intelligence and automation take over a growing share of routine tasks in manufacturing and services, including retail, administration and call centres. Over the next 20 years, up to half of US jobs, one-third of jobs in the United Kingdom and the European Union and two-thirds of jobs in China and Mexico may be replaced by computers and robotics6.

The future will bring new jobs, but their number will be small relative to those lost. And the quality of many of these new jobs will be inferior, in terms of the conditions of work and pay. Although it is tempting to imagine a world in which machines do dangerous and routine jobs, leaving more creative, stimulating and well-paid jobs for humans, this may not come to pass. The pace and scale of technological disruption, which far exceeds that of any previous industrial revolution, raises doubts about our capacity to keep up. We may not be able to redistribute enough funds from the wealthy, or come up with sufficiently creative changes to our systems of work and social safety, to prevent a further rise in inequality6, 7. Although this is a major issue for advanced economies, it is even more so for developing countries, because automation may remove key rungs of semi-skilled tasks from the development ladder.

Growing interdependence and complexity also mean that our politicians are increasingly unable to protect or shape our futures. Rather than pursue more cooperative politics, which enhance the benefits of connectivity and mitigate the risks, politicians increasingly blame foreigners and immigrants for the ills. This is profoundly misguided. Immigrants contribute disproportionately to the dynamism of our societies, as can be seen in the talent pool of leading universities, Silicon Valley firms, Nobel prizewinners and patent holders8.

Those living in the fast-changing cosmopolitan cities of the world are embracing globalization and change: most Londoners did not support Britain's decision to exit from the European Union; people living in dynamic cities tended not to support US President Trump. The populist call for protectionism is driven by those in the United States who fear being left behind. This is not an irrational fear: as is evident from inequality, unemployment and health data, some people are being left behind. There is a correlation, for example, between those who voted for Trump and those whose jobs are vulnerable to having machines take over their jobs9.

Alongside their anxieties about being left behind by globalization comes a deep mistrust of the 'experts' in charge of the global systems, and a rejection of evidence. Paradoxically, although we know more than ever, rising complexity and speed of change mean that experts are likely to be wrong more often. The financial system, for example, is home to numerous highly qualified experts, housed in a formidable array of powerful institutions, who are handsomely paid to secure economic stability. Yet, as the 2008 financial crisis demonstrated, they have proved dismally unequal to the task. Similarly, experts in the European Commission seem to have failed to control reporting of emissions from leading car manufacturers. Little wonder that trust in authority has been severely eroded. When the evidence threatens entrenched elites, scepticism regarding expertise becomes particularly poisonous. Trump's dismissal of the science of climate change is an egregious example of this trend.

“We should nurture a greater respect and pay for creative, caring and home-based activities.”

The flourishing of science was contested in the original Renaissance, too. Printing presses provided the means for experts and intellects to share knowledge, but also allowed fake news to flourish. In Medici Florence, fundamentalist Italian preacher Girolamo Savonarola circumvented the authority of popes and princes with the mass production of one-page pamphlets — the equivalent of today's tweets. Both Savonarola and the clergy denied that Earth went around the Sun, and that the heart was a pump.

Although history does not repeat itself, it does rhyme. In the United Kingdom, campaigners successfully used social media to convince people to support Brexit even when it was against their interests, as in the case of farmers who receive subsidies from the European Union. In the United States, social media that propagated fears rather than facts played a key part in shaping the outcome of the 2016 presidential election10.

Rapid response

As societies change more rapidly, flexibility becomes more important. For individuals, it becomes more necessary to move to where the jobs are and to reskill. For governments, it is crucial to renew infrastructure and social safety nets. Regulatory frameworks also need to evolve rapidly, to address a widening range of risks — from the genetic enhancement of humans to geoengineering.

Unfortunately, at a time when the need to renew and invest in the future is rising, the ability of governments to keep pace with change is being undermined. The use of off-shore tax havens — notably by companies at the frontier of technological change — as well as competition by governments to attract increasingly mobile individuals and companies by reducing taxes, together with austerity policies, have reduced the capacity of governments to invest in health, education, infrastructure, social security, research and other expenditures11. Lower investment leads to lower growth and political gridlock, as politicians fight over the allocation of fixed or diminishing resources.

Stronger safety nets are necessary to prevent poor and vulnerable individuals and families from being undermined by technological and other changes. If not, social cohesion will be eroded, fanning the flames of populist push-back against change and all things foreign.

Some Silicon Valley billionaires, fearing revolt against the growing wage gap, along with some social activists, have called for the introduction of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) for people working and not. But a UBI is not a panacea. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has shown that the policy could, perversely, increase inequality and poverty. And, because jobs are so important to our status and self-worth, having money alone does not protect against the increases in morbidity, criminal activity, opioid and alcohol abuse that have been associated with unemployment12.

Instead, we need a broader change in attitudes towards work. We need to remove the stigmas associated with part-time employment, retirement and volunteer work. We should nurture a greater respect and pay for creative, caring and home-based activities.

There are reasons for optimism. There are more scientists alive today than all those who previously lived; citizen science adds millions more. As well as more minds at work, there are more-diverse collaborations, thanks to greater gender equality and the participation of more nations and peoples. The probability of unlocking mysteries and finding solutions to great challenges is rising, as is the global dissemination of the benefits. Cross-border collaborative projects, from the CERN particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, to the Human Genome Project, highlight the benefits of cooperative activity, in stark contrast to isolationist politics.

Now, more than ever, scientists must engage and communicate, to ensure that science is not overrun by politics. Renaissance moments are associated with an intensifying battle of ideas. Scientists need to engage in this struggle over the development and application of their expertise and inventions.

In the first Renaissance, extremists won; reason and evidence did not prevail. In our second Renaissance, knowledge and enquiry must find a way to conquer prejudice and ignorance. Scientists know that they can never progress through isolationism or ignorance. Nor can our societies.

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
550,
Pages:
327–329
Date published:
()
DOI:
doi:10.1038/550327a

References

  1. Goldin, I. The Pursuit of Development: Economic Growth, Social Change and Ideas (Oxford Univ. Press, 2016).

  2. Goldin, I. & Kutarna, C. Age of Discovery: Navigating the Storms of Our Second Renaissance (Bloomsbury, 2017).

  3. Goldin, I. & Mariathasan, M. The Butterfly Defect: Why Globalization Creates Systemic Risks, and What to Do About It (Princeton Univ. Press, 2014).

  4. Nolan, B. et al. Inequality and Prosperity in the Industrialized World: Addressing a Growing Challenge (Citigroup, 2017); available at http://go.nature.com/2xm5hpy

  5. Dao, M. C., Das, M., Koczan, Z. and Lian, W. In World Economic Outlook, April 2017: Gaining Momentum? Ch. 3 (IMF, 2017); available at http://go.nature.com/2y52mxch

  6. Frey, C. B. et al. Technology at Work v2.0: The Future Is Not What It Used to Be (Citi GPS, 2016); available at http://go.nature.com/2xvaukm

  7. Wilkie, M. et al. Technology at Work v3.0: Automating e-Commerce from Click to Pick to Door (Citi GPS, 2017); available at http://go.nature.com/2y4q717

  8. Goldin, I., Cameron, G. & Balarajan, M. Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future (Princeton Univ. Press, 2011).

  9. Frey, C. B., Berger, T. & Chen, C. Political Machinery: Automation Anxiety and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election (Oxford Martin School, 2017); available at http://go.nature.com/2hporgq

  10. Allcott, H. & Gentzkow, M. J. Econ. Perspect. 31, 211236 (2017).

  11. Crivelli, E., De Mooij, R. & Keen, M. Base Erosion, Profit Shifting and Developing Countries IMF Working Paper WP/15/118 (IMF, 2015); available at http://go.nature.com/2kp944q

  12. Case, A. & Deaton, A. Mortality and Morbidity in the 21st Century Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (Brookings Institution, 2017); available at http://go.nature.com/2hfjx6r

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Ian Goldin is professor of globalization and development at the University of Oxford, UK. His website is at iangoldin.org, and he tweets @ian_goldin

Author details

For the best commenting experience, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will see comments updating in real-time and have the ability to recommend comments to other users.

Comments for this thread are now closed.

Comments

8 comments Subscribe to comments

  1. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    The Fundamental Nonsense of Theoretical Physics John Stachel: "But here he ran into the most blatant-seeming contradiction, which I mentioned earlier when first discussing the two principles. As noted then, the Maxwell-Lorentz equations imply that there exists (at least) one inertial frame in which the speed of light is a constant regardless of the motion of the light source. Einstein's version of the relativity principle (minus the ether) requires that, if this is true for one inertial frame, it must be true for all inertial frames. But this seems to be nonsense. How can it happen that the speed of light relative to an observer cannot be increased or decreased if that observer moves towards or away from a light beam? Einstein states that he wrestled with this problem over a lengthy period of time, to the point of despair." https://history.aip.org/history/exhibits/einstein/essay-einstein-relativity.htm Actually the independence of the speed of light from the speed of the observer IS nonsense. When you start moving towards the light source, the wavecrests start hitting you more frequently - the frequency you measure increases. This can only mean that the speed of the light relative to you increases as well - there is no other reasonable cause for the increased frequency: "Doppler effect - when an observer moves towards a stationary source. ...the velocity of the wave relative to the observer is faster than that when it is still." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg7O4rtlwEE "Let's say you, the observer, now move toward the source with velocity Vo. You encounter more waves per unit time than you did before. Relative to you, the waves travel at a higher speed: V' = V+Vo. The frequency of the waves you detect is higher, and is given by: f' = V'/λ = (V+Vo)/λ." http://physics.bu.edu/~redner/211-sp06/class19/class19_doppler.html "Vo is the velocity of an observer moving towards the source. This velocity is independent of the motion of the source. Hence, the velocity of waves relative to the observer is c + Vo. [...] The motion of an observer does not alter the wavelength. The increase in frequency is a result of the observer encountering more wavelengths in a given time." http://a-levelphysicstutor.com/wav-doppler.php Theoretical physics is almost entirely based on Einstein's nonsense: "The speaker Joao Magueijo, is a Reader in Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London and author of Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation. He opened by explaining how Einstein's theory of relativity is the foundation of every other theory in modern physics and that the assumption that the speed of light is constant is the foundation of that theory. Thus a constant speed of light is embedded in all of modern physics and to propose a varying speed of light (VSL) is worse than swearing! It is like proposing a language without vowels." http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/VSLRevPrnt.html "...Dr. Magueijo said. "We need to drop a postulate, perhaps the constancy of the speed of light." http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/31/science/e-and-mc2-equality-it-seems-is-relative.html "But the researchers said they spent a lot of time working on a theory that wouldn't destabilise our understanding of physics. "The whole of physics is predicated on the constancy of the speed of light," Joao Magueijo told Motherboard. "So we had to find ways to change the speed of light without wrecking the whole thing too much." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/12/06/speed-light-discovered/ Joao Magueijo, Faster Than the Speed of Light, p. 250: "Lee [Smolin] and I discussed these paradoxes at great length for many months, starting in January 2001. We would meet in cafés in South Kensington or Holland Park to mull over the problem. THE ROOT OF ALL THE EVIL WAS CLEARLY SPECIAL RELATIVITY. All these paradoxes resulted from well known effects such as length contraction, time dilation, or E=mc^2, all basic predictions of special relativity. And all denied the possibility of establishing a well-defined border, common to all observers, capable of containing new quantum gravitational effects." http://www.amazon.com/Faster-Than-Speed-Light-Speculation/dp/0738205257 Pentcho Valev
  2. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    The fact that the speed of light VARIES with the speed of the observer is as obvious as 2+2=4 (Einstein's nonsensical conclusion that it doesn't is equivalent to Big Brother's 2+2=5): Albert Einstein Institute: "The frequency of a wave-like signal - such as sound or light - depends on the movement of the sender and of the receiver. This is known as the Doppler effect. [...] Here is an animation of the receiver moving towards the source: Stationary receiver: http://www.einstein-online.info/images/spotlights/doppler/doppler_static.gif Moving receiver: http://www.einstein-online.info/images/spotlights/doppler/doppler_detector_blue.gif By observing the two indicator lights, you can see for yourself that, once more, there is a blue-shift - the pulse frequency measured at the receiver is somewhat higher than the frequency with which the pulses are sent out. This time, the distances between subsequent pulses are not affected, but still there is a frequency shift: As the receiver moves towards each pulse, the time until pulse and receiver meet up is shortened. In this particular animation, which has the receiver moving towards the source at one third the speed of the pulses themselves, four pulses are received in the time it takes the source to emit three pulses." [END OF QUOTATION] http://www.einstein-online.info/spotlights/doppler "Four pulses are received in the time it takes the source to emit three pulses" means that the speed of the pulses relative to the moving receiver is greater than their speed relative to the source, in violation of Einstein's relativity. Pentcho Valev
  3. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    Up until recently there was still hope that physics might be resurrected. Scientists had decided to abandon Einstein's absurd spacetime: Nima Arkani-Hamed (06:09): "Almost all of us believe that space-time doesn't really exist, space-time is doomed and has to be replaced by some more primitive building blocks." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U47kyV4TMnE Nobel Laureate David Gross observed, "Everyone in string theory is convinced...that spacetime is doomed. But we don't know what it's replaced by." https://www.edge.org/response-detail/26563 What scientific idea is ready for retirement? Steve Giddings: "Spacetime. Physics has always been regarded as playing out on an underlying stage of space and time. Special relativity joined these into spacetime... [...] The apparent need to retire classical spacetime as a fundamental concept is profound..." https://www.edge.org/response-detail/25477 "Splitting Time from Space - New Quantum Theory Topples Einstein's Spacetime. Buzz about a quantum gravity theory that sends space and time back to their Newtonian roots." https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/splitting-time-from-space/ "And by making the clock's tick relative - what happens simultaneously for one observer might seem sequential to another - Einstein's theory of special relativity not only destroyed any notion of absolute time but made time equivalent to a dimension in space: the future is already out there waiting for us; we just can't see it until we get there. This view is a logical and metaphysical dead end, says Smolin." http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jun/10/time-reborn-farewell-reality-review Spacetime is a consequence of Einstein's constant-speed-of-light postulate, and since the combination "true postulate, wrong consequence" is forbidden by logic, scientists were actually moving towards the conclusion that the postulate, the "root of all the evil" in fundamental physics, is false: "Special relativity is based on the observation that the speed of light is always the same, independently of who measures it, or how fast the source of the light is moving with respect to the observer. Einstein demonstrated that as an immediate consequence, space and time can no longer be independent, but should rather be considered a new joint entity called "spacetime." http://community.bowdoin.edu/news/2015/04/professor-baumgarte-describes-100-years-of-gravity/ Then extremely dishonest people called LIGO came to power in physics, "discovered" (actually, faked) gravitational waves (ripples in spacetime), and all hope for resurrection of physics died. If you have ripples in spacetime, you cannot claim anymore that "space-time doesn't really exist, space-time is doomed and has to be replaced", can you? Pentcho Valev
  4. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    Towards a uniform LIGO science (any theory that in some way contradicts LIGO fakes is doomed): "The simultaneous detection of gravitational waves and light from a cosmic collision has left a few theories of dark matter and dark energy dead in its wake. These theories require gravitational waves - ripples in the fabric of space-time - to travel slower or even faster than the speed of light. But recent observations have proved otherwise. [...] The signals from the smash-up, now named GW170817, show that gravitational waves do indeed travel at the speed of light, to an accuracy of about one in 1 million billion. This seriously undermines some theories that modify Einstein's general relativity to explain the mysterious dark energy thought to be driving the accelerated expansion of our universe, and the invisible dark matter that we detect only through its gravitational pull on ordinary matter." https://www.newscientist.com/article/2151020-dark-energy-survives-neutron-star-crash-test-while-rivals-fail/ Pentcho Valev
  5. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    "Look, my lad, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQhVLHu8HRk Physicists know a dead science when they see one, and they've been looking at one since January 2001: Joao Magueijo, Faster Than the Speed of Light, p. 250: "Lee [Smolin] and I discussed these paradoxes at great length for many months, starting in January 2001. We would meet in cafés in South Kensington or Holland Park to mull over the problem. THE ROOT OF ALL THE EVIL WAS CLEARLY SPECIAL RELATIVITY. All these paradoxes resulted from well known effects such as length contraction, time dilation, or E=mc^2, all basic predictions of special relativity. And all denied the possibility of establishing a well-defined border, common to all observers, capable of containing new quantum gravitational effects." http://www.amazon.com/Faster-Than-Speed-Light-Speculation/dp/0738205257 Neil Turok: "It's the ultimate catastrophe: that theoretical physics has led to this crazy situation where the physicists are utterly confused and seem not to have any predictions at all." http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/09/05/perimeter-institute-and-the-crisis-in-modern-physics/ Frank Close: "In recent years, however, many physicists have developed theories of great mathematical elegance, but which are beyond the reach of empirical falsification, even in principle. The uncomfortable question that arises is whether they can still be regarded as science. Some scientists are proposing that the definition of what is "scientific" be loosened, while others fear that to do so could open the door for pseudo-scientists or charlatans to mislead the public and claim equal space for their views." http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/what-happens-when-we-cant-test-scientific-theories Sabine Hossenfelder: "Many of my colleagues believe this forest of theories will eventually be chopped down by data. But in the foundations of physics it has become extremely rare for any model to be ruled out. The accepted practice is instead to adjust the model so that it continues to agree with the lack of empirical support." http://www.nature.com.proxy.readcube.com/nphys/journal/v13/n4/full/nphys4079.html Sabine Hossenfelder (Bee): "The criticism you raise that there are lots of speculative models that have no known relevance for the description of nature has very little to do with string theory but is a general disease of the research area. Lots of theorists produce lots of models that have no chance of ever being tested or ruled out because that's how they earn a living. The smaller the probability of the model being ruled out in their lifetime, the better. It's basic economics. Survival of the 'fittest' resulting in the natural selection of invincible models that can forever be amended." http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=9375 Peter Woit: "As far as this stuff goes, we're now not only at John Horgan's "End of Science", but gone past it already and deep into something different." http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=7266 "But instead of celebrating, physicists are in mourning after a report showed a dramatic decline in the number of pupils studying physics at school. The number taking A-level physics has dropped by 38% over the past 15 years, a catastrophic meltdown that is set to continue over the next few years. The report warns that a shortage of physics teachers and a lack of interest from pupils could mean the end of physics in state schools. Thereafter, physics would be restricted to only those students who could afford to go to posh schools. Britain was the home of Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday and Paul Dirac, and Brits made world-class contributions to understanding gravity, quantum physics and electromagnetism - and yet the British physicist is now facing extinction. But so what? Physicists are not as cuddly as pandas, so who cares if we disappear?" http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2005/nov/22/schools.g2 Peter Woit: "If, as seems increasingly all too possible, we're now at an endpoint of fundamental physics, with the field killed off by a pseudo-scientific argument..." http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=9444 Peter Woit: "I think the worst thing that has happened to theoretical physics over the past 25 years is this descent into ideology, something that has accelerated with the multiverse mania of the last 10-15 years." http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=9375 The last quotation is correct, except for the number 25 - it should be replaced by 112 (note the "embarrassing question" that will have to be answered soon): "This paper investigates an alternative possibility: that the critics were right and that the success of Einstein's theory in overcoming them was due to its strengths as an ideology rather than as a science. The clock paradox illustrates how relativity theory does indeed contain inconsistencies that make it scientifically problematic. These same inconsistencies, however, make the theory ideologically powerful. [...] The gatekeepers of professional physics in the universities and research institutes are disinclined to support or employ anyone who raises problems over the elementary inconsistencies of relativity. A winnowing out process has made it very difficult for critics of Einstein to achieve or maintain professional status. Relativists are then able to use the argument of authority to discredit these critics. Were relativists to admit that Einstein may have made a series of elementary logical errors, they would be faced with the embarrassing question of why this had not been noticed earlier. Under these circumstances the marginalisation of antirelativists, unjustified on scientific grounds, is eminently justifiable on grounds of realpolitik. Supporters of relativity theory have protected both the theory and their own reputations by shutting their opponents out of professional discourse. [...] The triumph of relativity theory represents the triumph of ideology not only in the profession of physics bur also in the philosophy of science." Peter Hayes, The Ideology of Relativity: The Case of the Clock Paradox http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a909857880 And when ideology replaces science, bureaucrats replace scientists of course: Mike Alder: "It is easy to see the consequences of the takeover by the bureaucrats. Bureaucrats favour uniformity, it simplifies their lives. They want rules to follow. They prefer the dead to the living. They have taken over religions, the universities and now they are taking over Science. And they are killing it in the process. The forms and rituals remain, but the spirit is dead. The cold frozen corpse is so much more appealing to the bureaucratic mind-set than the living spirit of the quest for insight. Bureaucracies put a premium on the old being in charge, which puts a stop to innovation. Something perhaps will remain, but it will no longer attract the best minds. This, essentially, is the Smolin position. He gives details and examples of the death of Physics, although he, being American, is optimistic that it can be reversed. I am not. [...] Developing ideas and applying them is done by a certain kind of temperament in a certain kind of setting, one where there is a good deal of personal freedom and a willingness to take risks. No doubt we still have the people. But the setting is gone and will not come back. Science is a product of the renaissance and an entrepreneurial spirit. It will not survive the triumph of bureacracy. Despite having the infrastructure, China never developed Science. And soon the West won't have it either." https://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-172684821.html Pentcho Valev
  6. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    Fundamental physics is paralyzed, even killed, by blind faith in false principles. The falsehood of Einstein's constant-speed-of-light postulate is easy to prove but I'm not going to do this here. Let me just call the attention, by quoting Joao Magueijo, to the validity of the following conditional: If Einstein's constant-speed-of-light postulate is false, fundamental physics is dead. "The speaker Joao Magueijo, is a Reader in Theoretical Physics at Imperial College, London and author of Faster Than the Speed of Light: The Story of a Scientific Speculation. He opened by explaining how Einstein's theory of relativity is the foundation of every other theory in modern physics and that the assumption that the speed of light is constant is the foundation of that theory. Thus a constant speed of light is embedded in all of modern physics and to propose a varying speed of light (VSL) is worse than swearing! It is like proposing a language without vowels." http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/VSLRevPrnt.html "...Dr. Magueijo said. "We need to drop a postulate, perhaps the constancy of the speed of light." http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/31/science/e-and-mc2-equality-it-seems-is-relative.html "But the researchers said they spent a lot of time working on a theory that wouldn't destabilise our understanding of physics. "The whole of physics is predicated on the constancy of the speed of light," Joao Magueijo told Motherboard. "So we had to find ways to change the speed of light without wrecking the whole thing too much." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/12/06/speed-light-discovered/ Joao Magueijo, Faster Than the Speed of Light, p. 250: "Lee [Smolin] and I discussed these paradoxes at great length for many months, starting in January 2001. We would meet in cafés in South Kensington or Holland Park to mull over the problem. THE ROOT OF ALL THE EVIL WAS CLEARLY SPECIAL RELATIVITY. All these paradoxes resulted from well known effects such as length contraction, time dilation, or E=mc^2, all basic predictions of special relativity. And all denied the possibility of establishing a well-defined border, common to all observers, capable of containing new quantum gravitational effects." http://www.amazon.com/Faster-Than-Speed-Light-Speculation/dp/0738205257 Pentcho Valev
  7. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    Another science killer is the false second law of thermodynamics. Systems violating the second law are commonplace but scientists always turn the blind spot of the eye to them. Here is vigorous motion of water in an electric field, obviously able to produce work - e.g. by rotating a waterwheel: "The Formation of the Floating Water Bridge including electric breakdowns" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17UD1goTFhQ "The water movement is bidirectional, i.e., it simultaneously flows in both directions." https://www.wetsus.nl/home/wetsus-news/more-than-just-a-party-trick-the-floating-water-bridge-holds-insight-into-nature-and-human-innovation/1 The work (rotating a waterwheel) will be done at the expense of what energy? The first hypothesis that comes to mind is: At the expense of electric energy. The system is, essentially, an electric motor. However close inspection would suggest that the hypothesis is untenable. Scientists use triply distilled water to reduce the conductivity and the electric current passing through the system to minimum. If, for some reason, the current is increased, the motion stops - such system cannot be an electric motor. If the system is not an electric motor, then it is a heat engine violating the second law of thermodynamics. Here arguments describing such heat engines as impossible, idiotic, etc. are irrelevant - the following conditional is valid: IF THE SYSTEM IS NOT AN ELECTRIC MOTOR, then it is a a heat engine violating the second law of thermodynamics. In other words, if the work is not done at the expense of electric energy, it is done at the expense of ambient heat. No third source of energy is conceivable. In the electric field between the plates of a capacitor, the same turbulent motion can be seen: " Liquid Dielectric Capacitor" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6KAH1JpdPg In the capacitor system the rising water can repeatedly do work, e.g. by lifting floating weights. The crucial question is: The work (lifting floating weights) will be done at the expense of what energy? Obviously "electric energy" is not the correct answer - the capacitor is not an electric motor. Then the only possible answer remains "ambient heat". The system is a heat engine violating the second law of thermodynamics! Pentcho Valev
  8. Avatar for Pentcho Valev
    Pentcho Valev
    Why scientists are unable to see the obvious violations of the second law of thermodynamics: Clifford Truesdell, The Tragicomical History of Thermodynamics, 1822-1854, p. 6: "Finally, I confess to a heartfelt hope - very slender but tough - that even some thermodynamicists of the old tribe will study this book, master the contents, and so share in my discovery: Thermodynamics need never have been the Dismal Swamp of Obscurity that from the first it was and that today in common instruction it is; in consequence, it need not so remain." [...] p. 333: "Clausius' verbal statement of the "Second Law" makes no sense, for "some other change connected therewith" introduces two new and unexplained concepts: "other change" and "connection" of changes. Neither of these finds any place in Clausius' formal structure. All that remains is a Mosaic prohibition. A century of philosophers and journalists have acclaimed this commandment; a century of mathematicians have shuddered and averted their eyes from the unclean." https://www.amazon.com/Tragicomical-Thermodynamics-1822-1854-Mathematics-Physical/dp/1461394465 Jos Uffink, Bluff your way in the Second Law of Thermodynamics: "I therefore argue for the view that the second law has nothing to do with the arrow of time. [...] Before one can claim that acquaintance with the Second Law is as indispensable to a cultural education as Macbeth or Hamlet, it should obviously be clear what this law states. This question is surprisingly difficult. The Second Law made its appearance in physics around 1850, but a half century later it was already surrounded by so much confusion that the British Association for the Advancement of Science decided to appoint a special committee with the task of providing clarity about the meaning of this law. However, its final report (Bryan 1891) did not settle the issue. Half a century later, the physicist/philosopher Bridgman still complained that there are almost as many formulations of the second law as there have been discussions of it. And even today, the Second Law remains so obscure that it continues to attract new efforts at clarification." http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/313/1/engtot.pdf Pentcho Valev
sign up to Nature briefing

What matters in science — and why — free in your inbox every weekday.

Sign up

Listen

new-pod-red

Nature Podcast

Our award-winning show features highlights from the week's edition of Nature, interviews with the people behind the science, and in-depth commentary and analysis from journalists around the world.