“If Newtonian mechanics is at the bottom of everything, then one should be able to derive the second law of thermodynamics from Newtonian physics. But this has never been accomplished satisfactorily: the incompatibility of the second law with the other fundamental laws is perhaps the greatest paradox in all of physics.
Still, we brazenly drop this enigma into the first days of a first-year course without batting an eye. We write down equations that show how friction slows the motion of sliding objects or dampens the vibrations in springs, but, ultimately, the math merely reproduces our observations while disguising our ignorance of what underlies them.”
” …physicists invented modern field theories, with impressive names such as quantum electrodynamics. But these theories turned out to be as riddled with infinities as their grandparents, and elaborate ad hoc schemes were invented to deal with the new problems encountered.
And so, despite headline-grabbing advances such as string theory, it goes to this very day. One can hardly challenge the predictive success of modern physics, but one should remember that one is describing nature, and not always understanding it.”
by Tony Rothman
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