Why We Don’t Yet Live in the “World of Tomorrow”

physicsThe following is a quote from a digital currency mailing list, posted at some time in the late 90s or early 2000s:

Consider that up to say 1970, people invented and developed Major Shit left, right and center. Jets, spacecraft, fiber, chips, laser… plastic… satellites… it goes on and on.

In contrast, the world’s done Absolutely Nothing for a good 20 years – at best, refinement. (“TV now has OVER 100 channels! and MORE PIXELS.”)

Indeed we presently live in a time of sort of… fantasy inventions. “Nanotech!” “Robots!” etc — all fantastic on paper, but totally nonexistent.

However flamboyant, this statement is true. Since 1970, there have been very few primary inventions. What we do have are mere improvements.

The Laws of Physics Are Old

Physics has gone almost nowhere since the 1960s. Here’s a short list of developments in physics:

Gravity: The laws were defined by Galileo and Newton in the 17thcentury.

Planetary motion: Defined by Kepler in 1609 and 1619.

Mechanics: The base laws were defined by Newton in the 17th century. Other specific laws were understood as far back as ancient times.

Gasses: Boyle defined his law of gasses in 1662.

Hydraulics: The laws and uses were developed between the 17th and 19th centuries.

Electromagnetism: James Clerk Maxwell defined these laws in 1865.

Relativity: Galileo defined the first laws of relativity in the 17th century; then Einstein defined new ones in 1905 and 1915.

Quantum mechanics: Einstein expanded upon the work of Max Planck and defined the quantum effect in 1905.

Atomic theory: The modern model of the atom was clarified by Neils Bohr in 1913.

Superconductors: Superconductivity was discovered by Heike Kamerlingh Onnes in 1911 and clarified by Fritz and Heinz London in 1935.

Quantum electrodynamics: Defined by Feynman, Tomonaga, and Schwinger in about 1962.

And what has physics done since then? Not a lot. Most visibly, physicists argue about theories that require twenty six dimensions and smash subatomic particles together.

In other words, physics has turned into a major yawn. Even the few exciting developments we have seen, such as cold fusion and high temperature superconductors, have gone nowhere. And exciting inventions like 3D printing, public cryptography, and cryptocurrencies have not only come from outsiders, but have been attacked by institutions.

Consider the major inventions that erupted between 1870 and 1970: railroads, telegraph, telephones, electricity, radio, TV, airplanes, cars, rockets, spacecraft, plastics, fiber optics, etc., etc., etc.

In the forty three years since – nearly half that time-span – what did we get?

That’s right: louder speakers, more pixels, and smaller screens.

So… either science has been hobbled or we’ve already discovered almost everything.

The Prison of Science

Since I don’t for a moment believe that we’ve discovered all that can be known, the obvious conclusion is that physics is being held in a sort of stasis.

My argument has been this:

Institutions are oppositional to individual will, and individual will is the only thing that creates breakthroughs in science.

Albert Einstein agrees with me, by the way. See this:

Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.

And this:

It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.

And this:

Great spirits have always been violently oppressed by mediocre minds.

Within an institution, a scientist must either please the authorities or see his work jettisoned. And scientific grants always have to please authorities.

So, who are these “authorities”? They would certainly include government bureaucrats, but the authorities that really matter here are older scientists who have given themselves over to institutional politics. These are the more common oppressors of new and different ideas.

There’s an old joke that reflects this:

Q: How does physics progress?

A: One funeral at a time.

The oppressors of new scientific theories are entrenched in scientific institutions. From there, they either allow or disallow almost every research project. And anyone who is not part of those institutions is ridiculed, excluded, and ignored.

It was farm boys, outsiders, and self-educated people who invented radio, television, the airplane, the electric light, the telegraph, the phonograph, the automobile, radar, and much more.

The creations of institutional science have been considerably less impressive. And those advances generally required the inventors to suffer along the way. Young Albert Einstein, after all, was rejected by all the institutions of his time. He made his great discoveries while working as a mere patent clerk.

God only knows how many wonderful things have been lost to institutional politics.

All of this is not because of “certain bad people” – institutional power turns good people into bad people. (Ask a grad student.)

Is There an Answer?

Sure there is! The same thing that worked in the 19th century: the separation of science and institution.

If you believe the line coming from today’s universities, you’d think that nothing scientific could exist without them. But to believe that, you’ll have to pretend that the previous, non-institutional era never happened.

But it did happen, and the pre-institution era of science produced far more basic discoveries than the institutional era.

We may have been indoctrinated by these institutions, but that has nothing to do with truth.

Paul Rosenberg

22 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Yet Live in the “World of Tomorrow””

  1. well done. I disagree on one point, though, and it’s not minor. The phrase should be the separation of science and state, bc it’s the fed gov’t that has taken over scientific research through the universities and further corrupted science with the evil patent laws. You think physics is bad, just take a hard look at medicine. Geez, years from now people will look back at the cut/burn/poison model and shake their heads at the stupidity.

    1. Yeah, you’re probably right, Mary. “Separation of science and state” may be better.

    2. You mean years from now people will embrace the quackery model herbs/”all natural”/magic water() for medicine?

  2. Wow, I usually agree with your wonderful articles Paul but I’ll have to
    differ on this. Your arguments make no sense. You are trying to fit
    “science” into our mental box of ‘perception’ of the science. Science is
    actually nothing more that a realization of the natural laws already in
    place. It (science) doesn’t need your or my approval. It exists in and
    of itself. Science itself has its own set of rules to qualify it as
    science. We call it the scientific method. These rules are powerful
    tools for solving crimes and predicting events. For example, once you
    ‘realize’ say Newton’s Laws then you can APPLY the law to observed
    phenomenons and reproduce the ‘truthness’ of this law. You are not
    making the law true instead you are simply allowing the manifestation of
    the law to be expressed in a predictable and controlled manner. Perhaps
    you are correct in that the institutionalization of the teaching of the
    method is where the problem lies. Not sure if this is your true
    argument. Reproducibility, I hold is the key and when it comes to
    reproducing predictable results science (and mathematics) wins. Not sure
    what more predictable discipline you had in mind when you refer to
    “non-institutional” era disciplines. The innovations you sited earlier
    are still part of science since these innovations are part of electrical
    charges/currents/impulses (ones and zeroes) and the artificial
    intelligence application of these charges…

    1. Hi True Blue.

      Yes, you’re right, I was using the term “science” loosely. Properly, science is a process of invalidating hypothesese. And I agree, those that stand up to the process are extremely useful.

      My point was really that the scientific process has been choked in recent decades.

      1. I see. I sensed that I was possibly misreading the context of what you were saying. Thanks for clarifying.

  3. Maybe it is because the best and brightest earn failing grades. The compliant get promoted.
    Maybe it is because capital has been horribly deformed.
    Maybe it is because taxes take all the spark out of the economy.

  4. What magic of private science? Private spacecraft companies are doing what has been achieved by gubmint by the 1960’s. The space probes around Earth and throughout the solar system are made possible by gubmint. How much technology comes from public grants and public research? Pretty much most of it.

  5. Aren’t you in effect defining tyranny, Mr. Rosenberg. It comes in many forms and in many institutions, all characterized by uniform peer group thinking?

  6. would like to add to this. there are many examples of outright (and very wrong, imho) containment or worse. Complete demonstrations of power over inventiveness to disallow the development of transformational technologies.
    Two examples: Nickola Tesla: wireless power transmission which was documented to have succeeded from the Wydencliff structure, later torn down after JP Morgan pulled funding; and a man who was a scientist in the way that is described in this article. A man with a curious nature like Tesla.
    His curiosity led to his discovery of the Rife Instrument, his name was Royal Rife. He discovered that by use of prism structures he could magnify at a level where he could identify pathogens. Using the concept of resonant frequency, he tuned to the RF of the pathogen and demonstrated complete ridding of the disease, the same way as the opera singer shatters the crystal glass with a sustained, strong note (frequency). There was a dinner held in his honor in 1934 titled ‘the end of all disease’ attended by influential AMA notables. In 1938, his ‘machines’ had been confiscated, records destroyed.
    The work of Eustace Mullins tracks the development of what Orwell and Huxley described in their ‘fiction’. Mullins’ work was mostly based on information from the Library of Congress, where he was a researcher until he published his expose’ on the origins of the Federal Reserve, all documented by testimony before congress.

    Like Bob Dylan in ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’..”look out kid, they keep it all hid”.

  7. You seem to have forgotten one massive scientific development that has taken place since 1970 and now affects all of our lives on a daily basis: the internet.

    1. The internet is not a scientific discovery. It is a formation of capital.
      All the science required had been invented/discovered much earlier.

      1. Fair enough but I was referring more to the opening quote about the lack of inventions in recent decades, although Paul does say that there have been ‘very few’ (the internet could be one he counts).

        1. Joch and Gary: Good points.

          I see the Internet as right on the edge of our criteria. Is it an invention, or just a formulation of previous things? Then, was it before 1970, or after?

          The answer to both questions, it seems to me, is “kind of both.”

          1. Yes but the missing link was the formation of capital.

            Capitalism has been defined as everything other than what it really is. Capitalism is simply when money and material things are organized voluntarily, in a manner that benefits a large amount of people with little to no collateral damage.

            So the internet was here all along. It just needed to happen.

            Ecclesiastes 1:9
            9 What has been will be again,
            what has been done will be done again;
            there is nothing new under the sun

  8. I think science, like any cultural phenomenon goes through cycles of expansion and consolidation. Its in the consolidation phase where the probability of freak observation rises until a new expansion phase is created by breakthrough otherwise not imagined.

    A few things I can think of with potential are:
    Deeper understanding of gravity and its manipulation.
    Deeper understanding of the wave like properties of matter and how it can reveal unknown or malunderstood resonance phenomena.
    Quantum Computing and AI
    Better understanding the Brain and subconscious.
    Rebuilding body parts from scratch. (Pseudo-Immortality)
    What is responsible for electric charge.
    Harnessing Quantum energy fluctuations (also associated with understanding the standing wave properties of matter)
    Exotic matter including the temporarily named Dark Matter and Energy.
    Deciphering the puzzle of neutrinos (similar to the discovery of light’s properties)
    Deconstruction and Transmission of wave functions through quantum enganglement on a macro scale for actual applications

    There’s a lot more. It’s just getting harder and harder because of the requirement of very specialized and expensive equipment such as cryogenics, atomic scale measurements and manipulation and other supporting apparatus that require the use of exotic and largely highly toxic materials like Mercury, highly complex superconductivity. Because of this, the rate of probabilstic eureka moments has gone way down. Also the extremely complex math required has grown rather cumbersome and is only available to the most abstract minds to toss aside dogma and divine deeper meanings and connections.

  9. One ‘interesting’ application, if not a ‘discovery’ is the Interplanetary Transport Network.

    “The Interplanetary Transport Network (ITN) is a collection of gravitationally determined pathways through the Solar System that require very little energy for an object to follow. The ITN makes particular use of Lagrange points as locations where trajectories through space are redirected using little or no energy. These points have the peculiar property of allowing objects to orbit around them, despite lacking an object to orbit. While they use little energy, the transport can take a very long time.
    (From Wikipedia)

    The transfers are so low-energy that they make travel to almost any point in the Solar System possible.”

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