Scientific Revolution

The term scientific revolution was coined by the influential philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn. As he documented in his work, there is always tremendous resistance to a new scientific worldview. The key concept is that major scientific discoveries that contradict the current worldview are automatically rejected. The great upheaval of the new physics is no exception. The radical solutions to the great paradoxes have mostly been studiously ignored. The great scientific revolution of our time has been on hold for a hundred years.

Great Revolutions

500 years ago Nicolaus Copernicus set in motion the first great scientific revolution. He established that the Sun is the centre of the solar system, and thus the Earth was never the centre of the universe. The charming idea that we humans are of central importance was shown to be quite false.

300 years ago Isaac Newton brought about another radical shift in people’s understanding of the world. With just three fundamental equations he showed that the universe operates in a completely predictable and rational manner, like a giant clockwork. This is ‘classical physics’. Scientific infancy was over.

200 years ago Charles Darwin demonstrated the evolution of species. He showed us we are very ordinary creatures with extraordinary minds. Not privileged, just lucky. The random result of 4.3 billion years of evolution.

100 years ago the new physics, quantum theory and relativity, ushered in a further new challenge to our understanding. But to date, although the science is superb, no one knows exactly what quantum theory means. The compromise assumption is the ‘quasi-classical’ world. This means as if Newtonian. It operates as an ordinary world at everyday levels of scale. But it is actually made of something quite different, something we have never really understood. Relativity also contains a deep anomaly that is unresolved. In both these pillars of the new physics the latest scientific revolution is incomplete.

Planck’s Principle

Kuhn coined the term scientific revolution because these major transitions are always hugely resisted. Copernicus faced tremendous opposition to his ideas, as did Darwin. Recent breakthroughs, such as Max Planck’s discovery of the quantum, and Hugh Everett’s explanation of the quantum dynamics, are vivid examples. Both were too confronting, and were automatically rejected.

Eventually a new worldview is achieved, and a new epoch begins. But the process can be very challenging for the pioneer. Planck was a theoretical physicist who received the Nobel prize in 1918 for this fundamental contribution to the brand new branch of physics. But he became increasingly infuriated by the endless non-acceptance of his results. His frustration boiled over in what is now known as Planck’s principle:

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. (1949)

This happens every time. Everett’s famous Many-Worlds theory resolved the great paradox of the quantum theory, the ‘measurement problem’. But half a century later the full meaning is still not accepted. It is radical, but this solves the problems. As he clearly states, the physical reality of the conscious subject is defined by experience. And as described here, this means personal parallel realities, the breakthrough concept of our time. But this is simply too alien to the current worldview. Although the purely physical explanation of reality is acknowledged to be incomplete, the idea that experience is relevant has proven an impossible step.

Too Weird to Matter

All too many people think that the meaning of the new physics does not greatly matter. As the prominent physicist Hans von Baeyer states:

Flawlessly accounting for the behavior of matter on scales from the subatomic to the astronomical, quantum mechanics is the most successful theory in all the physical sciences. It is also the weirdest. … Physicists have grappled with the quantum world’s apparent paradoxes for nine decades, with little to show for their struggles. The deep confusion about the meaning of quantum theory will continue to add fuel to the perception that the deep things it is so urgently trying to tell us about our world are irrelevant to everyday life and too weird to matter. (2013, 47)

But it matters enormously. The things it is trying to tell us are vital information. In our parallel realities, the things we do are reflected back to us in the way things turn out. It means that the karma described in many traditional religions is a real phenomenon, with a scientific and rational explanation. But there is no dogma. It is a cultural revolution as well as a scientific revolution.

This is now an urgent matter. Understanding and accepting the new worldview is the great new hope for our culture, even our race. Selfishness and egoism are rampant. This is nothing new, but modern technology and vast numbers of people mean the effects are devastating. Understanding the new physics would transform our human societies.

In the absence of religion, it seems selfishness is just the rational choice. But each unkind act poisons the personal world a little bit more. To be truly successful we need to be good to others, just as the major religions have always held. So the only rational position is enlightened self-interest, doing well be doing good. This is described in detail in the following sections. A new age of cooperation and productivity is there for the asking.

Kuhn’s concept of scientific revolution is described in more detail in Paradigm Shift.

The next main section is The Personal World.