Harry Potterology meets Physics theories…

July 30, 2008
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Dynamics of Cats : Physics Made Magical strangely makes this all sensible.

0. Newtonian gravity is Ron.
Solid, dependable, good long heritage.
It has its limits, but is surprisingly powerful.

1. Electromagnetism is Snape.
You must master E&M, but so many have irrational fear or hatred of it.
It leads to deep unification and glimpses of fundamental symmetries, and is strangely beautiful yet powerful.

2. Special Relativity is Ginny.
Transcends classical mechanics, but in touch with its heritage.
Practical, explosive, generally high energy.
Underappreciated.

3. Quantum Mechanics is Dumbledore.
No one really understands QM, though many think they do.
QM has its roots in classical mechanics but goes a step beyond convention to deal with levels not imagined classically.
Steeped in contradiction and contains the seed of its destruction.
Quantum electrodynamics are both the end of QM and the beginning of what comes next.

4. General Relativity is Harry.
The culmination of classic physics, enormously powerful, providing deep insights but also intractable and limited in application. Rooted in special relativity.
Apparently orthogonal to EM, yet incomplete without it, GR provides a direction for the future and a deep insight that must be reconciled.
Where GR and QM meet is the paradox that must ultimately be resolved.

5. Quantum Field Theory is Draco.
The heritage is classical, and is the powerful but hideous mess you get when EM is forced to be reconciled with QM.
QFT looks indomitable at times, but fails just when it is needed most, leaving the field open to new solutions and better approaches.
Still there at the end, doing its thing within the limits of its applicability, in eternal opposition with GR yet always avoiding direct conflict.

6. Quantum Gravity is Neville.
It is whacky, full of missteps, but brings surprising insight when least expected and possesses hidden power.
And, deep down, you always have to think that maybe really QG is the ultimate answer.

7. Cosmology is Luna.
Ignored and mocked for so long, comes into its own as the other fields have matured.
Interesting, but a magnet for whacky ideas of all kind, but, hey you never know if maybe some of these crazy notions are really the way things are…

8. String theory is Hermione.
Beautiful, powerful, the signpost for future directions.
Tries to encompass all classical and quantum phenomena, and to develop master all the most powerful techniques.
May contain all the other fields within it.
But, curiously directionless without classical direction, needs external input to be prodded into applying itself to real world issues.

Voldemort is Aryan physics – claims classical heritage, and the power and applicability of QM while rejecting GR.
Never really gets QM, although EM is classically contained within it.
QM could have put him right, but failed and a generation was lost.
Totally wrong about Relativity, misses the key insight and never gets the ultimate power.

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