Has physics become too abstract, and does complex mathematics prevent ordinary people from comprehending it?
High school physics teacher Jamahl A. Peavey seems to think so. He’s hoping for an early end to “the mathematization of physics”. He predicts that physics may wind up as a branch of engineering. Why? “Engineers get results.” And they look at physical reality and what is actually happening; engineers don’t “give up their eyeballs.”
On the other hand, he’s heard the message from physicists that when they unify physics it won’t bring anything new to the world. (Such as new energy technologies, clean power systems?)
I assume he is making the point that engineers create useful solutions and technologies for the everyday world but mathematicians are less likely to be down-to-earth practical. “They should stop talking about multiple universes and maybe they’ll start loving science again.” Peavey said he can’t encourage his students to go into physics because the students realize that if they do and then later fall out of favor with the reigning clique, their physics career would be ruined.
Takes courage to say things like that while particle physicists are still claiming that every wave and fragment of an atom belongs to their well-funded domain.
Peavey says someone like himself who loves physics passionately has a right to criticize physics. Further, as an engineer he can share his own insights. He had been teaching and studying physics more than seven years before he finally had a moment of clarity in which “all the ideas of past generations could be brought into a testable gravitational and electromagnetic interface.”
Today I listened/watched the World Science Database video conference that documentary filmmaker (Einstein Wrong: The Miracle Year) David de Hilster has been hosting for the past couple of years. Dissident scientists from around the world share their thoughts on these Saturday chats. Today’s presenter, Jamahl Peavey, says he fell in love with physics in high school and later got a degree in mechanical engineering. While studying at the university level he worked on something called “The Einstein Papers Project”, rediscovered his love for physics and began to investigate its history.
His conclusion? That much of what he studied experimentally was valid, but the interpretation wasn’t.
He says that to teach effectively, he wants to not only show how things happen but why things happen. In 2000, Jamahl graduated from Cambridge College, Cambridge MA with a Masters’ degree in Education. When he got out and taught physics, he says, he rediscovered questions that were never really answered during his time as an undergraduate — many of the same questions that plagued Einstein to his dying day. In order to answer these questions he needed a new perspective.
His master’s studies specialized in Special Education. Jamahl realized that people who have disabilities are sometimes just learning differently. Mechanical Engineering, the visual art of understanding how machines work, played an essential role in his ability to teach them. He says that teaching with simple models to those who understand the least sharped his logic.
“Humans have a closer connection to mechanics than they do to math.”