Wednesday, May 05, 2004

A thought...

Continuing my reading of The Elegant Universe, I was struck by this passage, where the author describes entering grad school at the time when the first papers on string theory were about to be presented.

There was a pervasive feeling among the older graduate students that there was little or no future for particle physics.The standard model was in place and its remarkable success at predicting experimental outcomes indicated that its verification was merely a matter of time and details. Going beyond its limits to include gravity and possibly to explain the experimental input upon which it relies [... snip ...] was so daunting a task that all but the most courageous of physicists recoiled at the challenge. But six months later the mood had completely swung around

Makes me wonder if we are in the same holding pattern regarding the big problems like P != NP etc, solving all kinds of interesting problems, but staying away from the big Kahuna, waiting for the big breakthrough to happen....

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