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September 20, 2006

Hill climbers vs explorers

Let's say you have a landscape with a bunch of hills,
and you want to find the highest mountain. String
theory is a hill, and loop quantum gravity is a hill,
and so are spin foam models and twistor theory
and causal sets and brane worlds.

So some scientists are good hill climbers. You set
them on a slope, and they incrementally advance
the science upward. Other scientists are good
explorers – valley crossers – who find new slopes.

The problem we have now is that science is dominated
by hill climbers. They've found the tops of the hills,
and they're just defending the hill.

And meanwhile, the truth is somewhere over there.

-- Lee Smolin

September 11, 2006

Right track is an insufficient condition

Even if you’re on the right track,
you’ll get run over if you just
sit there.

-- Will Rogers