A History of Discovery: How Carnot found his cycle and its subsequent abuses

Usually it is the times that makes the discoverer and not the discoverer that makes the times. However, there are at least three exceptions to this rule that represented watersheds in the history of physics. The first was Sadi Carnot’s construction of his cycle, the second Max Planck’s discovery of quantum mechanics through his theory of black body radiation, and the third is Erwin Schroedinger’s formulation of his equation. In each of these cases there was no competitor, no urgency, and no contestation. Carnot didn’t live to get the recognition he deserved.

From a Bag Model of Strings to Regge Trajectories as the Hyperbolic Manifestation of the Conservation of Angular Momentum

By their absence in free space, quarks are thought to be confined to hadrons, like a bag containing marbles. It is therefore not surprising that a bag model was invented by a group at MIT to explain the masses and other static characteristics of both low and high energy hadrons. In the simplest case of mesons, the quark and anti-quark pairs are assumed to be placed at the opposite ends of a tube which confines the color lines of force, which are analogous to electric lines of force between oppositely charged particles.

Can Particles Travel Faster than Light?

With the flaw in the faster-than-light neutrino experiment ruled out, it appears that certain groups are beginning to have second thoughts about the limits of relativity. Yet, it is the foundation of relativity, or what should have been the foundation of relativity, that has experimental evidence. The hyperbolic geometry of velocity space is rooted in the Fizeau experiment which measures the speed of light in a moving medium, and the astronomical phenomenon of aberration that was discovered by Bradley back in 1725.

Theories without Divergences: From Brownian Motion to Quantum Mechanics and Relativity

  Treating particles as points and inverse square laws of attraction have led to divergences in classical and quantum theories.  However, taking into account the finite size of particles would result in a loss of causality for we could say nothing about what goes on during the transmission of a disturbance across the particle. All this has to do with the universal constants of Nature, and how they can be combined into a length, and, hence, a mass, which is inversely proportional to it. The earliest known universal constant was that of the speed of light.

Faster than the Speed of Light? A Window on a Hyperbolic Measure?

  According to the BBC, the news that  researchers at Cern noticed “that the particles showed up 60 billionths of a second sooner than light would over the same distance-- a tiny fractional change, but a consistent one"--" threatens to upend a century of physics.” Such news brings to mind the words of Carl Friedrich Gauss: “in jest I have sometimes expressed the wish that the Euclidean Geometry were not true, since then we would have a priori absolute standard of measure.”


Not Even Good Science Fiction

In what appears as an even-handed appraisal of the state of modern physics, Lee Smolin in The Trouble with Physics offers us a personal list of likes and dislikes in modern fads in physics. Although extremely critical of string theory, he do not use the same acumen when it comes to other areas of physics. Let me list just a few topics:

Has the history of relativity been rewritten?

Physical theories are born without fanfare and take time to incubate. For instance, the science of thermodynamics was born with the publication of a small  monograph written by a French engineer named Sadi Carnot in 1824. In less than twenty years hardly a copy of the book could be found by the young William Thomson scouring the Paris book shops. Even after its publication, Carnot advised his friends not to read it because he came to the realization that heat could not be conserved, and it could undergo conversion into work.