28 September 2011 Experiment versus theory: do physicists still know the difference?
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Abstract
Physics as an experimental science has two facets. It plays an essential and indisputable role in the development of modern technologies, providing quantitative bases in the form of operational definitions of interactions and interactants. Physics also attempts to provide a coherent and concise description of the dynamics of physical universe at macroscopic and microscopic scales. While its accomplishments for technological enterprises is a source of envy for other disciplines, physics has much less to celebrate in conceptual clarity as it attempts to describe the physical universe. As physicists intensely engage in their pursuits of fundamental discoveries in experiment and to propound all-encompassing theories/models, the boundaries between experiment and theory become blurred. In modern times, theoretical assumptions are very much part of the preparation of experiments and interpretation of results of measurements. One must question the very meaning of test of an experiment against theoretical predictions. In this paper, we reason this with illustrative examples from foundations of physics, cosmology and particle physics.
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C. Rangacharyulu, C. Rangacharyulu, } "Experiment versus theory: do physicists still know the difference?", Proc. SPIE 8121, The Nature of Light: What are Photons? IV, 81211N (28 September 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.895147; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.895147
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