Sir Michael Atiyah oct 2008 in Mind, Matter and Mathematics. The Royal Society of Edinburgh Presidential Address.
I once sat next to the famous Austrian logician and friend of Einstein, Kurt Gödel, who said to me that the trouble with modern physicists is that they no longer aim to ‘explain’, they just ‘describe’. That in a nutshell is the lost battle of the philosophers. Moreover, mathematicians appear as the villains in the play. They have taken the place of the philosophers and equations become the ultimate reality.
And from his paper together with Gregory W.Moore. sept. 2010. A Shifted View of Fundamental Physics.
But, if we need new ideas, where will they come from? Youth is the traditional source of radical thoughts, but only a genius or a fool would risk their whole future career on the gamble of some revolutionary new point of view. The weight of orthodoxy is too heavy to be challenged by a PhD student.
So it is left to the older generation like me to speculate. The same friend who likened string theory to poetry encouraged me to have wild ideas, saying ”you have nothing to lose!” That is true, I have my PhD. I do not need employment and all I can lose is a bit of my reputation. But then allowances are made for old-age, as in the case of Einstein when he persistently refused to concede defeat in his battle with Niels Bohr.
How many of those old guys think as him? If they only would talk maybe the situation would be better.
Remarkably so his conclusion is a shift, a speculative new idea. The idea is to introduce in a natural geometric way operators which shift (i.e. retard or advance) the basic operators of mathematical physics. This includes the Dirac, Maxwell and Ricci operators (occurring in the Einstein equations of GR). The shifting involves just two key physical parameters; r >/about 10^−5cm, and k/hbar, about 10^−28cm^−1, where r measures the timeshift and k measures the magnitude of the shift. There is a natural quantization condition where λc is the Compton wavelength of a stable fermion. Of course, this has a quantum- mechanical aspect and involves Planck’s constant hbar. The constant k is at first sight arbitrary (except that it clearly must be very small). However once we introduce our shifted Ricci operator we find that k2/hbar^2 is related to the cosmological constant. Thus the two key constants r, k are determined by physical observations at the atomic and cosmological scales respectively. This is a satisfactory situation. It is also reminiscent of some of the ideas of T. Banks.
Where has T Banks got it from? It sounds to me a lot like a hierarchy of Plancks constants, and yet nobody else than Matti Pitkänen has talked of it, in TGD, as far as I know.
T. Banks, “TASI Lectures on Holographic Space-Time, SUSY and Gravitational Effective Field Theory,” arXiv:1007.4001 [hep-th].