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This one is gonna sound absoultely nuts, but as far as I know this here is the best site to discuss and develop mainstream physics had there been some facility to remotely do experiments on good equipment science would be developing and progressing right here.

My questions is that even though we have developed such a fantastic community for researchers, teachers and students why aren't some really famous scientists "the mainstream scientists" here among us ? Are we doing something wrong ? I know that they have a community of highly qualified people in actual life but why aren't these great communities merging already ? We also have many reasearch students and scientists here, but the names of people with actual fame does not shine along some good question here and there, Is it lack of publicity or lack of standard, decorum or what ?

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    $\begingroup$ Note that in most physics forums it is possible to discuss new theories, but there a few researchers there (I think there are more here). And I doubt they would like to discuss their theories in public (the Physics.SE level goes from high-school to research, so only 0.01% percent of the audencie would have some value to them). $\endgroup$ – jinawee Oct 26 '13 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ But those who would like to discuss can lay down strong foundations for their theories because of repeated discussions and arguments over various involved factors, as of now the sites policy discourages self made theories, maybe our community can bring forward the theory for the next generation as several minds from all over the globe may work on its developement instead of a small group $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 18:59
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to add the fact that some nasa researchers believe that we might already be in a post biological universe where if aliens exist they might have traded their biological bodies for mechanical systems just because ( hypothesis from those researchers ) better communication. Think of all the possible things a community can do where an individual might fail. Only if we are not greedy for getting names attached to some theory ( as some few are ) we might bring the most revolutionising stuff in the world. $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ You have to convince them, not the Physics.SE community. Anyhow, are we going to discuss researchers decisions? $\endgroup$ – jinawee Oct 26 '13 at 19:10
  • $\begingroup$ Most certainly not , we are going to be discussing the research itself, new as well as well established. I read somewhere that when many people poke at the foundations of established theories then either fhe theories fall apart or get stronger as theh accumulate more proves on various fronts. As a scientific community shoudnt we do that ? Also we should just stop discouraging self made hypothesis/theories to be posted , bad theories could be downvoted and good ones could be upvoted, selected, poked at , researched and then maybe published at Research.SE or publications.SE etc $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 19:16
  • $\begingroup$ I meant that in this post we've been discussing why researchers don't participate here (and I think this is not what meta is for). And what type of self made hypotesis do you want? Graduate researchers (arXiv like) or people who don't even know what Newton's laws are. In the latter case, the 99.99999% would be just junk. $\endgroup$ – jinawee Oct 26 '13 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Well if the renowned makers of the junk were actually able to create something like that, the sites guidelines are not stopping them I.e. they would have been doing it already, and for the rest we already down votes the horribly put up questions which are totally lost cases ( I have postes such and I know ) so that shouls neither be a problem, good theories would be obviously upvote magnets but only if theg were not off topic right now they are one hell of a way to reduce your repu. So yeah maybe we should tweak the guidelines just a little bit like an expansion of the site $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ Good theories are very rare, and at the level theoretical physics is at these days, the ones producing these theories would be experienced enough to prefer to publish them in a journal rather than on some site. The Q&A format is not at all conducive to discussing and developing a new theory (how would that work?). Besides, it opens a can of worms -- if the development of theories is allowed, we basically give free rein to crackpot theorists and the rest. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 26 '13 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ So @Manishearth you are basically saying that if a community like ours with lets say just the pople who commented on this post took a crack at a theory maybe proving something or disproving something, that would be a wastage of time ? $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ @rijulgupta More or less. Creating a new theory (or any sort of research) requires specialization, and while many of us individually have specialization, it would be hard to find someone of the same specialization to work with. Even if we did have enough people for that, why would they do it here? They can already use their own channels; the ones which they have been using for years (email and physical presence), with a better signal-to-noise ratio. Besides, research doesn't work that way, you don't just sit down one fine day and declare "I'm going to make a new theory!" $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 26 '13 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ Please do not say that you need a particular specialisation for doing research as we know ( I knw only one I.e. faraday) people without even formal education have developed theories, just saying that physics is now a much more complicated subject for normal people is not a solution, it was started to explain the phenomenons that we observe not to obscure them with others. And as I said I get it that we are not upto the point where we could be developing things over internet, but I hope that day would come. $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @rijulgupta You have ideals, which is good! But your ideals do not mesh with how the world actually works. No one has contributed to cutting edge physics research in the last 3 centuries without an intense education; the field is simply too advanced. You need to be surrounded by people researching the same sub-sub field as you, every day, all day long, for many years, before you can make some small contribution to physics. Every conversation with a non-expert takes away from time spent researching, as does every conversation with an expert in an unrelated field. $\endgroup$ – user10851 Oct 26 '13 at 22:00
  • $\begingroup$ @ChrisWhite I would say 3 centuries is a bit much, because we have people like Galois and all out there when you get to the 1800s. But current research is as you say :) $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 28 '13 at 10:20
  • $\begingroup$ @rijul gupta, if you want speculative development of new physics ideas, I suggest the Theoretical Physics group on LinkedIn.com; and then post any resulting papers at vixra.org. $\endgroup$ – Mitchell Porter Oct 30 '13 at 14:22
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discuss and develop mainstream physics

Firstly, no, we do not develop physics here. We deal with established physics. Nor do we discuss too much (except for in chat); the main site is not for discussion.

why aren't some really famous scientists "the mainstream scientists" here among us ?

Well, we do have 't Hooft, Shor, and Motl, to name a few major scientists in their respective fields. I have seen a couple others, though I can't recall which ones off the top of my head.

However, most established scientists probably do not have the time to participate in a site like this. Plus, many may find the concept of answering questions unappealing — they have better things to do with their time. When one is an expert in their field, a site like this doesn't help them as much. As a student, I find the site helpful as there are many things to learn and answering questions leads to a clarification of my own confusions. But all this requires there to be people better at physics than me to be around. From an expert's POV, there is less motivation to participate here as there are fewer people of similar knowledge and calibre.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the time issue. Even as a non-major, unestablished person in my field I hardly have any time to contribute. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 26 '13 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ I would negate your point of lack of incentive for an expert and I believe even if there is lack of incentive for them then that must be due to discouragement of topics which deal with making theories and testing hypothesis. Also , If we are not discussing physics then what are we doing, I ask a question somebody answers now even if the answer is well established it may not be correct due to problems in underlying concepts for which the said Q/A has to be termed discussion only certainly not an exam going on here $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ Well it is a matter of believe only but as I believe any subject grows and develops by discussion and argumentation on the ups and downs of the subject only as long as I have been a part of the site, I believe the discussions I have had made me think more and possibly this could lead to making doscoveries if not by me but by somebody else. $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @rijulgupta If the answer is not correct you can downvote or comment. The Q/A format of SE has worked for five years and it's not going to change (I hope). And please try to make your posts more readable. You only used two dots in your previous comments! $\endgroup$ – jinawee Oct 26 '13 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ My sincere apologies for the unformatted text, I am operating from mobile and have limited options. And I do not want anything to change I prefer the site as it is and like it better than all other forums. I was just trying to figure out why we are not having major scientists here. In accordance with Manishearth's answer the only thing I even remotely disproved was the discouragement of formulation of new theories $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ We're not here to grow the subject, @rijul. We're here to grow our own understanding of the current establishment of the subject and to make the same more accessible to others in the form of good posts. These are two very different purposes. Growing the subject on a site like this is not really feasible; as research topics these days are pretty narrow and you'd rarely find someone working on the same thing. Researchers (and aspiring researchers) already have great support groups where they can discuss stuff, no site on the Internet can hope to take the place of that. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 26 '13 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Even if you look at MathOverflow (which has many experts), they don't develop theories there, they just focus on higher level topics that crop up a lot in research. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 26 '13 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Well I do understand your point, I was thinking that this would be a great way to improve things before publishing like I could propose my reasearch idea, others could add up to it and the theory may grow to be something beautiful. I guess we are not ready for it at present. $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ @rijulgupta That already happens. Researchers have their own academic circles full of others of similar specializations. (and then colleagues of different specializations). Nothing to do with the site or the community, why would they do something on a place that inherently will always have a lower signal to noise ratio as a result of being open to the public. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 26 '13 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ Well different perspectives could be one reason, though you would have a tough time to scavenge the useful ones from the bulk. $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ @rijulgupta Exactly my point. Different perspectives can already be offered by colleagues working in different fields, other friends, and reviewers. (Also from people reading arXiv preprints, I've heard of that happening at least once). But developing a theory online -- well, there would be more unwanted noise (i.e., it's harder to scavenge useful stuff from the bulk) than the current system. Why switch? $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 26 '13 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ Well this is edging on off topic but I suppose that we could make a switch in accordance with a plant analogy I have, a single rubber plant is able to produce rubber at normal conditions while we humans have to waste so much money for doing the same, simply because in plants every part works in harmony and together, I known its idealistic but in my view if our entire community works as a single unit the results can be mind-blowing $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 21:51
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    $\begingroup$ @rijulgupta You may have a misconception of how modern theoretical science is. A wide community like ours (with all sorts of interests) cannot hope to work coherently on something like this. Specialization is required to understand a subfield even in part. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 26 '13 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ Guess you are right, I was living in dream land (not flat land :) ) $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 21:59
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If I may say so, it is easy to see why you would like to have field leading experts participate in our little community, it is not clear what we have to offer those folks.

I've been (professionally) close enough to enough narrow gauge experts to get a sense of what their lives are like. What they want to do research; talk to their peers---by which I mean people who know as much or more than them in some subject that interests them---and read papers that might be related to what they are interested in. A few of them also like to teach, but they want to teach people who will become their peers, not just anyone off the street. Competing with that are the things that they have to do: raise money for research, talk to a lot of colleagues who might have something to offer them, provide patronage for former students, weigh in on "where do we want the field to go" discussions1, give talks and so on. There are a lot of demands on their time, and they barely have time to do the stuff they love.

A lot of these people are the kind of hyper-capable, super-productive people we all want to be, but their lives are packed to the gills, so you have to offer them something substantive---something they value---to get their attention to an enterprise like ours.


1 There has just been a big one of these in particle physics and the sheer number of expert-person hours that went into it was staggering.

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  • $\begingroup$ I say this a lot and I am saying it again, as far as my thinking reaches speculation leads to developement so what we need is to atleast not discourage questions that lead to developement of new theories. If we could just simply discuss some hypothesis lay down our views accept others and then formulate a theory I believe it would be capable of standing in a major scientific community, this and others like it maybe for disproving well established theories by discussion and arguments could be a good incentive for experts to participate $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to be assuming that these folks what to talk to people in some wide-open, general sense. They have lots of opportunities to do that: they are surrounded by physicists and aspiring physicists who would like to talk to them. In the end they want to bounce ideas off of a much smaller set of people and they do get the chance to find them among the crowds the way they conduct their lives now (all those conferences). $\endgroup$ – dmckee Oct 26 '13 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, then maybe if we promote discussions of new theories or disproving established theories we ourselves can bring forward the greatest scientists of all time. I strongly believe that if a community establishes a theory or disproves it then 1. The theory is going to start on solid foundations and have already discussrd various pros and cons which individuals cannot think, 2. The community benefits highly $\endgroup$ – Rijul Gupta Oct 26 '13 at 18:55

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