Has any Prominent Physicist Ever Admitted to Not Understanding Magnetism?

Discussion in 'Physics & Math' started by Eugene Shubert, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    I think that the best answer is just to say that electromagnetism is a mysterious force that acts magically at a distance for all we know. Why couldn't Feynman say that?
     
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    It is no more mysterious than the electric force is and both are well know by calculation if charge distribution and its flow are well known.

    Physicist build models, often mathematical now days, to predict these forces - They let philosophers speculate about "how " and "why."
     
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    No. Electromagnetism is a mysterious force that acts magically at a distance for all YOU know. Many of us understand it and indeed use it every day in our professional lives.
     
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  7. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

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    Sure, then you can ask WHY does mass curve space time. I guess if scientists are not omnipotent then they don't know anything? What a buffoon.
     
  8. Eugene Shubert Valued Senior Member

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    That is correct. So why couldn't Feynman say that?
     
  9. Maxila Registered Senior Member

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    See:


    Pay attention to the reasoning about the woman falling on ice, he makes the answer to your question very clear.
     
  10. rpenner Fully Wired Registered Senior Member

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    (emphasis added)
    Because since at least 1865 we knew a lot more than that and the question was asked of a professional scientist not a stone-age shaman.

    Also, "electromagnetism" is not synonymous with reality nor is it simply a "force". Electromagnetism is the name given to the behavior of reality which is distinct from the null hypothesis that electrons and light have nothing to do with each other.
     
  11. rpenner Fully Wired Registered Senior Member

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    Is this an accurate summary of how these respective posts are read in context?
    †For further reading: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jgrav/2015/901870/
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  12. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

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  13. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    Yes.
    Great Minds: Richard Feynman - The Uncertainty Of Knowledge

    Richard Feynman - Names Don't Constitute Knowledge
     
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  14. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Excellent video!!!
    Feynman is certainly among the greater of minds of the 20th century.
    I certainly hope out friend Eugene watches this 8 minute video in its entirety.
     
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  15. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Likewise.
     
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  16. rpenner Fully Wired Registered Senior Member

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    Your hope is noted, but unfortunately it is the same video as in the OP, so he already either missed out on that opportunity or wasn't able to derive as much education from it as did you.
     
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  17. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    It's amazing how people with agendas, which I often harp on, can be so blind to what is in front of them, and how they so vehemently twist and misinterpret that message from what is so blatantly obvious to others.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  18. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

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    i'm still smiling from your post 28
     
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  19. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Has any pseudoscientist ever admitted to not understanding magnetism?
     
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  20. krash661 [MK6] transitioning scifi to reality Valued Senior Member

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    usually they have the only understanding.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    shrugs.
    as eugene is leading too.
     
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  21. Daecon Kiwi fruit Valued Senior Member

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    Ah yes, of course. They alone know that it's all some great conspiracy (usually a "liberal" one at that) and that only they know the true truth.

    There is no spoon.
     
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  22. Kristoffer Giant Hyrax Valued Senior Member

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    There may be a spork, though.
     
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  23. danshawen Valued Senior Member

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    Because the interviewer asked Feynman 'WHY?" Feynman is the Nobel Prize winning creator of a graphical method of solving problems in quantum electrodynamics. It is safe to say, he probably understood more about the question than anyone else ever has on this planet. But it is manifestly not a simple thing to explain, and even if he told the interviewer everything he knew about the subject, it still would not explain the question of "Why?" to the complete satisfaction of either Feynman himself, or anyone else.

    Edward Purcell, another Nobel Prize winning physicist associated with the development of the MRI technique now used everywhere for medical diagnostic imaging, once tried to explain the relativistic origin of the magnetic field from moving charges in long runs of parallel electrical current-carrying wires. The discussion appears in the first chapters of 'Berkeley Physics volume II- Electricity and Magnetism', a physics textbook from the 1970s. The discussion falls flat in many respects because Purcell's model of charge transport in an electrically conducting wire was very simple, and the model breaks down any number of ways when students get technical about what is really going on.

    When I tried using this example to explain how special relativity applied to moving electric charges gives rise to magnetic fields in a forum on another website, rpenner was kind enough to point out to me the various reasons the simple model Purcell gave has so many shortcomings, and I don't believe it is used to teach the physics of EM on any level any more. One strength that the discussion did have that I have not been able to find elsewhere, is that conventions such as the "right hand rule" are not really necessary if you know for certain that the charge carriers in the parallel conductors are electrons. In other words, you can quickly work out whether the wires will attract or repel each other by a consideration of the relative charge densities seen "or felt" by observers riding the electrons in an assumed transparent set of wires. Charge densities may increase by means of Lorentz contraction of the spaces between electrons. When they do, the effect is exactly the same as if it was an electric field that caused the wires to attract or repel each other, isn't it? Still, does this really answer the question: "Why?" in a satisfactory manner? You would need to explain relativity first, wouldn't you?

    The question "Why?" is pretty much the bane of scientific understanding because all scientists know that at some point, a model or a scientific theory that works on one scale will break down completely in another. On the one hand, tiny atomic magnets in iron can be lined up so that their magnetic fields reinforce the effects of nearby fields until the attraction or repulsion of another magnet "feels' as though it is an invisible extension of the more compact physical shape of the magnet. In the Standard, Model, the boson responsible for transferring electric or magnetic force is the humble photon; the same one that allows us to illuminate and make sense of the rest of the world. But you don't "see" any photons happening between two magnets as they attract or repel each other, do you? The photons responsible for that particular interaction are not ones you are likely to actually be able to see, and the same experiment with magnets works just as well to attract or repel each other in the dark too, doesn't it?

    This is the reason Feynman was reticent to start explaining a phenomenon on which he was no doubt expert to a layman he knew had nowhere near the lifetime of training he had amassed in order to explain such things. The question to Feynman was pretty much the equivalent of: "I have five minutes to spare; can you tell me all you know?"
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015

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