The Modern Crisis in Theoretical Physics

This is the first area of the general category of courses, forming the LRC’s core curriculum. It currently consists of three courses, which are designed to give students the ability to understand and to appreciate the issues involved in the current crisis facing modern theorists. For the syllabus of each course, please click on the appropriate link below:

1) Newton’s Program of Research - Classical and Quantum Mechanics
2) The Standard Model of Particle Physics and General Relativity
3) String Theory and Modern Theoretical Physics

These courses are not designed to teach students how to use vectorial physics to solve problems of physics, but rather to explain how concepts of vectorial physics are employed to solve problems of physics. The difference lies in the contrast between the philosopher and the physicist. Whereas the physicists must have the skill to formulate the appropriate equation for a given application and find its solution, a skill which only comes through years of practice and determination, the philosopher needs only to understand how and why the concepts used by the physicist apply to a given application, an understanding that we believe can be achieved without developing the highly specialized skills of the practicing physicist.

Of course, the reason for taking the philosophical approach is only pragmatic.  On the one hand, the student who already has developed considerable skills in applying vectorial physics will be much better prepared to understand the course material, but, on the other hand, the student that doesn’t have these skills, and likely never will acquire them, is not placed at a disadvantage.

The root cause of the fundamental crisis in theoretical physics is the duality of the point and the line, or the duality of the discrete and the continuum.  The troubles facing modern physicists in explaining the nature of the world in their terms have evolved from the issues stemming from these two simple, but perplexing, concepts.  Our purpose is to understand how they have come home to roost in the theoretical physics of today, and how much of the problem is due to the mathematical language physicists have developed for vectorial physics, the language of the differential equation.

What this means is that we will be much more interested in how these concepts developed over time, than in mastering their applications.  Hence, the history of the development of these physics and mathematics concepts will be much more important than it is in typical university courses and in the textbooks that they typically employ, because it is the history of these developments that illuminates the change in thinking required to master the science of scalar physics.

Hence, for those seeking the LRC Certificate of Graduation (CG), these courses must be completed, but even for those not interested in the CG, these courses are highly recommended. Ideally, they should be completed before taking the courses in the second area of the general category, forming the core curriculum of the LRC.