21 March 2011

The end of gr-qc? The end of gravitation research?

As a follower of arxiv, I am more and more astonished by the small number of preprints in the gr-qc category. Not only is the number small; on top of this, the topics are uninteresting and the ideas hollow or unrealistic.

Everybody into gravitation research says that the main problem of the field is to find a quantum theory of gravitation. But no attempts to solve the problem are appearing in gr-qc since years.

The researchers in the field collectively refuse to go for the biggest prize in the field! Gravity researchers seem to think that they have nothing to contribute.

Why have all these people given up? How can it be that there are no attempts to solve a problem that is clearly stated since almost a century? Here are some possibilities.

  1. The problem is not important. After all, there is a million dollars for solving the mass gap problem, but not for this problem. So there is a - possibly hidden - consensus that the problem is not important. (But what do you care what others think?)
  2. People are not eager to solve the problem. There is no way to advance your career if you solve it. After all, what is this little Nobel Prize nowadays? You will never be as rich and famous as Lady Gaga. (So what?)
  3. Researchers fear working on the problem. After all, you might fail and everybody may laugh at you for years. (So what?)
  4. The solution cannot be checked. Indeed, no prediction on quantum gravity has ever been confirmed or has a chance to be confirmed. (Of course not - those were the wrong attempts!)
  5. People in the field have no clue. Really. (What? You're smart enough to understand general relativity and believe you are too stupid to solve the problem? Who told you this nonsense?)
But all this boil down to only one statement: "many past attempts failed - so will I".


For every past attempt that fails, the next attempt gets easier. Researchers, get your act together!

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