Greatest scientists who were bad at math

Willempie

Ad Honorem
Jul 2015
4,372
Netherlands
#11
Thank goodness it "wasn't that simple", yes. It even took a long time to figure out a broadband TV antenna that could be made at consumer-friendly wholesale cost. (Deschamps, Mayes, Dyson et al at Illinois-Urbana)
Very true. Maxwell and the quantum guys really screwed op physics with their math.
 
Mar 2018
379
UK
#12
The Standard Model is not naive reductionism. It is incomplete in that it doesn't include gravity. I do agree just memorizing this Lagrangian doesn't make one a physicist. That was a bit of tongue in cheek.;)
Firstly, that Lagrangian is terribly written. The standard model can be written in much better ways by summing over (anti)symmetric elements of the various groups.

But my main point is that even if you do remember and understand that Lagrangian perfectly, you do *not* know all of modern physics, even excluding everything to do with gravity. You know field theory and can calculate what happens when a single electron interacts with a single photon, or a neutrino with higgs boson or the like. But you will have no insight into just about any other area of things; that Lagrangian doesn't tell you anything about the energy spectrum of carbon, quantum entanglement, the fraction hall effect, negative refractive index materials, Hooke's Law, and a billion other things. The naivety is in thinking that those "non-foundational" things can be derived from the "fundamental" Lagrangian. That's impossible for practical purposes (nobody knows how to calculate it, or will ever a computer powerful enough to do it) and for deep theoretical ones (the standard model has non-renormalisable components, and calculating many body applications requires additional knowledge about what can be neglected). The fact that 99.9% of physicists do not study that Lagrangian is clear proof that there is a lot of physics that can be discovered/learned without it.

/rant.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,565
Las Vegas, NV USA
#13
Firstly, that Lagrangian is terribly written. The standard model can be written in much better ways by summing over (anti)symmetric elements of the various groups.
I know. I wanted it to be ugly and menacing to scare the biologists and others with math phobia even more. o_O

But my main point is that even if you do remember and understand that Lagrangian perfectly, you do *not* know all of modern physics, even excluding everything to do with gravity. You know field theory and can calculate what happens when a single electron interacts with a single photon, or a neutrino with higgs boson or the like. But you will have no insight into just about any other area of things; that Lagrangian doesn't tell you anything about the energy spectrum of carbon, quantum entanglement, the fraction hall effect, negative refractive index materials, Hooke's Law, and a billion other things. The naivety is in thinking that those "non-foundational" things can be derived from the "fundamental" Lagrangian. That's impossible for practical purposes (nobody knows how to calculate it, or will ever a computer powerful enough to do it) and for deep theoretical ones (the standard model has non-renormalisable components, and calculating many body applications requires additional knowledge about what can be neglected). The fact that 99.9% of physicists do not study that Lagrangian is clear proof that there is a lot of physics that can be discovered/learned without it.
Thank you. BTW I'm a physics drop out. Biology and life sciences is where the action is today.:cool:
 
Likes: Olleus
Aug 2011
4,881
#14
Lagrangian mechanics was part of our first year undergraduate syllabus. At exam time, not a single student opted to attempt any of the questions using this method, preferring to tackle any of the others.
 
#16
Lagrangian mechanics was part of our first year undergraduate syllabus. At exam time, not a single student opted to attempt any of the questions using this method, preferring to tackle any of the others.
Your loss. Lagrangian mechanics is the most elegant, and often the simplest way of doing classical mechanics. Of course, Lagrangian mechanics is a wholely different beast to quantum field theory. They also use Lagrangian, but apart from the name it is a completely different mathematical object.
 
Likes: Kotromanic
Aug 2011
4,881
#17
Lagrangian mechanics is the most elegant, and often the simplest way of doing classical mechanics.
Yes, that's what the Prof said at the beginning of the first lecture. I do remember him saying that the problem with Lagrangian mechanics is that once you start using the method, you would want to tackle all problems with it. Not a single student out of a class of 60 agreed with him :) Could have been his lectures mind either boring everyone to tears or confusing the hell out of them.
 

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