Theory of Everything? Or Snake Oil?
Just yesterday, an attachment student in our institute showed me a book that he was reading. He seemed quite convinced by it.
The title of this book is: The Final Theory - Rethinking Our Scientific Legacy. Written by Mark McCutcheon.
Sounds important. It even has its own website.
The student told me that the author of this book claimed to have proven Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein to be wrong.
Now that may sound real impressive, but to us science geeks this isn't news. Geniuses they may be, Newton and Einstein weren't always right, of course.
Newtonian mechanics cannot be applied to fast objects approaching the speed of light. You need Einstein's Special Relativity for that.
Einstein has no explanation for the probabilistic behavior of tiny sub-atomic particles. You need Quantum Mechanics (work of Heisenberg, Schroedinger and others) for that.
Every scientist contributes one piece of the puzzle to constitute our current view of the Universe. Science is always a work in progess. So there is nothing special about a scientist being correct in some areas and wrong in others.
To my shock, the author claims that they are all fundamentally wrong!
What? Only this author is correct? Only he has the Theory of Everything?
I smell a rat.
Here's an exerpt from the first chapter of his book, provided free at his website.
Therefore, as it stands today, our current body of scientific knowledge is not merely lacking some answers, but is actually a fatally flawed " theory of everything."
And guess who holds the key? Surprise surprise.
It is suggested that the new theory presented in the following chapters does not merely provide an entirely alternate way of viewing our universe, but that it is the only one to meet the criteria of the Theory of Everything for which science has been searching for centuries.
I love the third person voice. It sounds so... impartial.
Now that's a massive claim. What is the basis of his Theory of Everything?
Actually it's also called the Expansion "Theory" (more correctly a hypothesis). This is to take Einstein's equivalence principle literally.
In a nutshell, he claims that gravity appears to exist because matter is expanding in an accelerating rate. When you leap off a building, you don't fall towards the Earth; the Earth is actually expanding upwards to meet you. You don't notice this expansion because everything else in the Universe, including you and any type of measuring instrument, is also expanding at the same rate.
A rather curious idea, but not a novel one. I remember that Scott Adams (who draws Dilbert cartoons) had this idea years before.
So it's old, but more importantly, it's wrong.
How does Expansion theory explain why things bend or change their shape due to gravity? Or pendulums? Or orbital motion? Is there a difference in the gravity-like effects when comparing two bodies of equal size but different density?
Will a donut expand and fill its hole?
It has numerous other internal problems.
I won't do a blow-by-blow rebuttal of his book since I didn't read the whole thing and I am not a physicist.
Besides this is not that "sort" of blog. We only do fluff.
So if you really want to know all the icky details, here are a few interesting links to read.
Expansion Theory point-by-point analysis
Physics Forums discussion
Advanced Physics Forums discussion
Hypography Science Forum discussion (Warning: Lots of stuff!)
Discussing "The Final Theory" with Mark McCutcheon
Conclusion? Definitely snake oil.
Yet snake oil that sells quite well in Amazon. I think this reflects the poor effectiveness of science communication to the general public. Or that people just prefer a good read with a bold claim, whether it is scientifically accurate or not.
Now excuse me as I go start on my magnus opus refuting everyone in biology including such dolts as Fleming, Darwin, Pasteur, Ramon y Cajal, Watson, Crick, Dawkins and Jim Davis.
Fuck talking cats.
Wodehouse and Rilke - Read Wodehouse’s Uncle dynamite and he is as entertaining as ever; also read Rilke’s Letter to a young poet — may be, worth reading once.
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