How to look for new Laws (Designs, Concepts, or Principles)…
First we Guess; then…
We Compute the Consequences of the Guess to see what it would imply; then…
We Compare the Computation results to Nature, or Compare to Experiment, or Compare to Experience… of direct observation; to see if it works.
If it Disagrees with Experiment, it is Wrong; this simple Statement is the “Key to Science;” it does not matter how beautiful the Computation, or Who expressed it, it is Wrong.
So the simple concept sequence is…
Guess → Compute Consequences → Compare to Nature, Experiment, and Experience.
How to debunk irrelevance, superstition, and presumption; With a phrase, then a question, then the answer.
First require the subject of the "Debunking" to; Throw out everything that he or she has been ASKED TO BELEIVE.
Second and most importantly ask; What is left?
The answer to the question is; "Experience." Yes it is just that simple, all that one may count on is direct experience, which does not require any words to know what that experience actually is. Words sometimes cause problems because different people use different meanings for the same words. Two example words are "Faith" and "Belief." These words mean different things to different people. If the Primary Investigator of "Truth-in-Experience" is to be understood without confusion or doubt by all, that person must rely of the authentic definitions of the words used in the written and spoken conclusion of the facts of experience, most of which may be found in "Webster's Dictionary."
The investigator may receive considerable difficulty from the subject who is asked to dispel belief. Many, if not most, people do not poses the discipline to separate their beliefs from their experiences. This task which never ends requires significant reflection on ones recollections. Many people live their lives in complete darkness, shrouded by the veil of belief and superstition which consumes their every activity and clouds their thoughts. The subject of the debunking must learn to be discriminatory in all things outside the self which comes from all books, other people, and communication devices like television and recordings. Only after this dichotomy of "Belief versus Experience" is accomplished within the self may one understand one's own experience. This is the essence of Science and Truth. After all, the most difficult lie to overcome is the lie you tell yourself.
Feynman: It has to do with curiosity, it has do with people wondering what makes something do something? And then to discover that if you try to get answers that they're related to each other. That things that make the wind, make the waves, and the motion of water, is like the motion air, is like the motion of sand. The fact that things have common features turns out more and more universal.
What we're looking for is how everything works and how everything is what makes everything work. But it's curiosity as to where we are what we are. It is very much more exciting to discover we're on a ball, half of it’s sticking upside down, it's spinning around in space, it’s a mysterious force which holds us on it, it’s going around a great big glob of gas that’s burning fueled by a fire that's completely different in than any fire any fire we can make but now we can make that fire; nuclear fire. That's a much more exciting story to many people, than the tales which other people use to make up who worried about the universe that we were living on the back of a turtle or something like that. They were wonderful stories, but the truth is so much more remarkable. And so, what's the pleasure in physics is that, to me, is that as it's revealed, the truth is so remarkable; so amazing. And I can't; I have this disease, and many other people who have studied far enough, to begin to understand a little of how things work, are fascinated by it. And this fascination drives them on to such an extent that they've been able to convince Governments and so on to keep supporting them in this investigation that the (human) race is making into its own environment.
There are lots of things that people did; for example, Maxwell put the equations together with Faraday formulated the equation mathematically with some model in his head. Dirac got his answer by just writing in and guessing at (the) equation. And other people got there answers like in relativity got the idea by looking at principles of symmetry. Now all these methods; Heisenberg got his quantum mechanics by thinking; “only talk about the things that you can measure”. Now all these ideas, that we should only “talk about things that we can measure”, “try to define things in terms that you can measure”, or let's “formulate the equations mathematically”, or “let's guess the equation”, or all these things are tried all the time; look for symmetries, all that stuff is tried all that stuff; when we going against the problem we do all out that's very useful, but we all know that, that's what we learned in the physics classes, how to do that. But the new problem, where we’re stuck; we’re stuck, because all those methods don't work. If any of those methods would have worked, we would have gone through there. So when we get stuck in a certain place; it’s a place where history will not repeat herself. And that's what makes it even more exciting, because whatever we're going to look at the other; the method and the trick, and the way it's going to look, is going to be very different than anything that we've seen before, because, we've used all the methods from before. Therefore; a thing like the history of the idea is an accident of how things actually happen. And if I want to turn the history around, to try to get in a new way of looking at it, it doesn't make any difference; if, I don't care, the only thing, is that the real test in physics is experiment. History is fundamentally irrelevant.
Want today do we not consider part of physics, which may ultimately be part of physics? And I realize immediately something. We consider, at the present moment, most people consider, that we study the laws of physics, that is, how things go, given a certain condition; how the things behave after that. But how did they get into that condition? It’s considered another problem. We are given the conditions circumstances; and then it evolves from there according to physical laws; we studying the laws. It’s as though we’re doing a chess game again. And we're working on the rules but we’re not worrying about how that pieces are suppose to be set up on the board the first place, that's not our business that's the business of history; “how the world revolved”. Astronomical History, History of Cosmology; how the universe exploded, or the steady state, or whatever is was. It’s not our business. It's interesting that, in many of other sciences, there's a historical question; like in geology, the question of how did the earth evolve to the present condition. In Biology; how did the various species evolve to get to be the way they are? But the one field that has not admitted any evolutionary question, is physics. Here are the laws we say, here are the laws today. How did they get that way in time? We don't even think of it that way; we think of it, well, it’s been that way forever. It's always been like that the same laws, and we try to explain the universe that way, so it might turn out that they're not the same all the time and that there is a historical-evolutionary question.
Interviewer: But how do you see going? It's hard to speculate. Is it a continuous change, or is it something that depends on big...
Feynman: You're the speculator. You and I think differently. I think of the possibilities but I'm afraid to put things in. What I see; about the dark. I always think of the dark as too big for me to guess at. If it’s a guess, it's not much use in guessing particular things. But you’re different than; I would like to discuss with you sometime how did you do that because I'm a little afraid to make specific guesses.
Interviewer: It’s your background. It’s the way you kinda grow up.
Feynman: I'm afraid to make specific guesses because the moment I'm making that guess, I can see 7 other alternatives. And so, since I see these other alternatives, I don't know which one to piddle with well I know I spend a lot of energy on one
Interviewer: My choice is very simple, I I I don't set any requirement the answer be right. It's just what I interest to call different.
Feynman: That's the difference. I'm interested, not how nature could be, but how nature is. To see how what’s right.
Interviewer: Well I don't in think you’re going to find it you see, I don’t think you’re ever going to find it.
Feynman: Your idea is to find out how Nature could be.
Interviewer: No, No, No, what I think is interesting, Yeah
Feynman: Even if it's wrong...
What you're looking at in a very large mass of Atoms, when you look at a particle that you can see because a particle you can see even in the microscope is a billion atoms are so, it's a great big thing. But it doesn't stay put, because it's bombarded, all this time, by the little atoms and it is therefore jingles a little bit, and that's called Brownian motion. It was discovered by Robert Brown, a biologist, that when he looked through a microscope he saw this jiggling motion, thinking, being a biologist, you would think that he would decide that this motion that he saw must be a form of life. But he was a good biologist and made the necessary experiments and ultimately discovered that the motion even existed in the water that was enclosed in a quartz crystal that you could get from the ground that been there for millions and millions of years and he looked at it was still jiggling inside the faster he concluded that couldn’t be life, but that was a universal phenomenon of nature. And it is that we look very calmly look at things if they're permanent this stationary but as a matter of fact course they're made out of piles of atoms which always giggling. Our eyes can’t see that, the delicate jiggling, but that is a way that you could make a random generator you could amplify such jiggle. Electrons in wires jiggle too, everything's jiggling.
A Picture of Atoms is a beautiful one that you can keep looking at all kinds of things this way. See a little drop of water; a tiny drop. The atoms attract each other, they like to be next to each other. They want as many partners as they can get. Now the guys that are at the surface have only partners on one side here in the air any other sites of the trying to get in. And you can imagine this team of people these teaming people all moving very fast, all trying to get to have as many partners as possible and the guys at the edge of very unhappy and nervous and they keep pounding in trying to get in and that makes that tight ball instead of a flat. And that's what surface tension, where, when you realize you see how when, sometimes, a water drop sits like this on the table. Then you start to imagine why it's like that because everybody's trying to get into the water. At the same time all this is happening, there are these Atoms that are leaving the surface and the water drops slowly disappearing.
I find myself trying to imagine what kind of things all the time. And I get a kick out of it just like a runner gets a kick out a sweating. Out of thinking about these things. I can't stop, I mean, I could talk forever. Cool off the water so the jiggling is less and less and the jiggle is slower and slower. Then the atoms get stuck in place, they like to be with their friends. There's a force of attraction and they get packed together; they’re not rolling over each other, they're in a nice pattern like oranges in a crate. In a nice organized pattern all just jiggling in place but not having enough motion to get loose of their own place and to break the structure down. And that's what I'm describing is a solid, it’s Ice; it has a structure. If you held the atoms at one end and a certain position all the rest are lined up in a position, sticking out and it's solid at the end. Where is it the heat that hotter, then they begin to get loose and roll over each other and that's the liquid and if you heat that still hotter and they bounce harder. Then they simply bounce apart from each other and they’re just individual; I say atoms, it’s really little groups of atoms-molecules. Which come flying and hit and although they have a tendency to stick, they’re moving too fast. Their hands don’t grab, so to speak, as they pass, and they fly apart again, and this is the gas called steam.
When I was a kid I invented a problem for myself to some of the powers of the integers. And in trying to get the formula for it, I developed a certain set of numbers that I for which I couldn't get. And I discovered later those were known as the Bernoulli numbers discovered in 1739. So I was up to 1739 when I was about 14 you see. And then a little later I discovered something I find I just made invented the thing called; which we now call Operator Calculus and that was invented in 1890 something you see I was gradually I was inventing things that came later and later. But the moment when I began to realize that I was now working on something, “New” was what I read about quantum electrodynamics at the time and I read a book I learned about it for example I read Dirac's book. And they had these problems that nobody knew how to solve it was described there. I couldn't understand the book very well because I really wasn't up to. But there in the last paragraph of the book it said, “Some new ideas are here needed”. And so there I was some new ideas were needed. OK so I start to think of new ideas.
The kid said to me; “say what's that bird, what's the name; you know the name of that bird?” I said; “I haven’t the slightest idea.” “He said; “Well it’s a Brown-throated Thrush.” He said; “Your father doesn't teach you anything.” But my father had already taught me about the names of birds. He, once we walked, and says; “That's a Brown-throated Thrush.” He Says; “You know what they mean that bird Brown-throated Thrush. In German is called a ??????????????????. In Chinese is called a ?????????????, in Japanese a ???????????????. And so on. When you know all the names in every language of that very you know nothing but absolutely nothing about the bird. Then we would go on to talk about the pecking and the feathers. So I had learned already that names don’t constitute knowledge. But then knowing the name of something; that's caused me a certain trouble since because I refuse to learn the name of anything so if someone comes and says uhh; “You got any explanation for the Fitch-Cronin experiment?” I says; “What's, what's that?” “You know that the long-lived K-mason disintegrates into two pions.” “Ah, Ah, yes now I know” But I never know the names of things. What he forgot to tell me was that the knowing the names of things is useful if you want to talk to somebody else. So you tell her what to talk about.
The best way to progress, I always think maybe, is to try to be as conservative, that's what (John) Wheeler always said. And try to be as conservative about the physical laws as possible in explaining the phenomenon if you continuously fail. Then you gradually realize you gotta change something. But we start out by saying how to change something; there's so many ways of change, and you don't know how the; It's most likely you don't have to change anything. Most of the time we succeed ultimately and explaining these damn things in terms of the known Laws. But it's the cases that fail are the interesting ones.
Exploring were trying to find out as much as we can about the world. People say to me; “Are you looking for the ultimate the laws of physics?” “No; I'm not, I'm just looking to find out more about the world. And if it turns out there was a simple ultimate Law that explains everything, so be it. That would be very nice discover. If it turns out it's like an onion, with millions of layers, and we’re just sick and tired of looking at the layers, then that's the way it is. But whatever way it comes out it's nature is that she's going to come out the way she is. And therefore when we go to investigate it we shouldn't pre-decide what it is we're trying to do except to find out more about it.” And so all together I can't believe the special stories that have been made-up about our relationship to the Universe at Large. Because, they seem to be too local, to provincial. The Earth; he came to the Earth. One of the aspects of god came to the earth mind you. And look at what's out there how can it be, it isn't in proportion. And also another thing; has to do with the question of “how do you find out if something is true?” and if you have all these theories of the different religions of all different theories about the thing, then you begin to wonder, once you start doubting, which I think is to me is a very fundamental part of my soul, is to Doubt, and to Ask. When you Doubt and Ask, it gets a little harder to believe.
I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything. And there are many things I don't know anything about. But I don't have to know in an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing by not knowing things. By being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose which is the way it really is, as far as I can tell, possibly, it doesn't frighten me.
You have to learn; these are kind of disciplines in the field of science that you have to learn; that to know when you know, and when you don't know, and what it is you know, what it is you don't know. It’s uhh; you got to be very careful not to confuse yourself.