The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin Discussion

Length: 3-5 pages (about 1,000-1,700 words)

Prompt: Lee Smolin believes that theoretical physics faces five great problems. However, as was suggested in lecture, not all of them are necessarily problems, depending on how we look at them. I want you to argue against Smolin; that is, I want you to analyze and critique two or more of the five problems and make the case that what seems to be a problem really isn’t. To do this, you need to (a) clearly explain what Smolin thinks is problematic, and (b) discuss what seem to be some of the unstated assumptions that Smolin is making. You don’t need to provide a conclusive argument against Smolin. It is enough if you are able to provide an analysis that shows that Smolin has not provided a sufficiently strong argument to establish his own view. If you want (this is optional), you can consider how Smolin might respond to your critique.

Grading criteria:

  1. The individual sentences of your paper must be grammatical.
  2. Your train of thought should be clear; that is, the reader should be able to follow the flow of your ideas.
  3. You should support your ideas with reasons.

What to avoid:

  1. No fluff, filler, or wasted words, e.g., don’t start the paper with: “From the dawn of humanity philosophers have debated the nature of science…” Make your words count.
  2. Don’t make unsupported assertions, e.g., “Physics is the best science.”
  3. Watch our for repetitive writing as it is often a sign of disorganized thinking.

Writing advice: Do more than one draft of the paper. Revise your work to improve clarity.

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