Jim Baggott

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Jim Baggott addressing "Crossing the Line: The Challenge of Post-Empirical Science" at The Amaz!ng Meeting 13 (TAM 13), Friday 17 July 2015 at Tropicana, Las Vegas, Nevada.

James Edward (Jim) Baggott (born 2 March 1957 in Southampton) is a British science writer.


  • The last century was defined by physics. From the minds of the world’s leading physicists there flowed a river of ideas that would transport man kind to the very pinnacle of wonder and to the very depths of despair. This was a century that began with the certainties of absolute knowledge and ended with the knowledge of absolute uncertainty. It was a century in which physicists developed theories that would deny us the possibility that we can ever properly comprehend the nature of physical reality. It was also a century in which they built weapons with the capacity utterly to destroy this reality.
    • The Quantum Story: A History In 40 Moments (2011), Preface

Beyond Measure (2004)[edit]

  • A scientist in the late nineteenth century could be forgiven for thinking that the major elements of physics were built on unshakeable foundations and effectively established for all time. The efforts of generations of scientists, philosophers, and mathematicians had culminated in Isaac Newton's grand synthesis in the late seventeenth century.
    • Ch. 1 : An act of desperation
  • It seems incredible that we should willingly trade certainty for quantum confusion and doubt. But, make no mistake, despite its simplicity, its appealing visual images and its resonance with our common understanding, classical physics failed. The quantum description was built amidst the ruins of the structure that preceded it, and it is therefore appropriate that we begin our journey from within this classical landscape.
    • Ch. 1 : An act of desperation
  • I am reasonably certain of one thing. The unquestioning acceptance of the Copenhagen interpretation has served to hold back progress on the development of alternative approaches. Blind acceptance of the orthodox position cannot produce the challenges needed to push the theory eventually to its breaking point. And break it will, probably in a way nobody can predict, to produce a theory nobody can imagine. The arguments about reality will undoubtedly persist, but at least we will have a better theory.
    I have tried to argue that quantum theory is a difficult subject for modern students of physical science because its interpretation is so firmly rooted in philosophy. If, in arguing the case, I have only made the subject seem even more confusing, then I apologize. However, my most important message is a relatively simple one: quantum theory is rife with conceptual problems and contradictions, and its most common interpretation is anti-realist in nature. If you fine the theory difficult to understand, this is the theory's fault—not yours.
    • Closing remarks

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