What made you want to become a physicist

Preface


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In the NewsGroup de.sci.physik, readers have recently come to the fore who try to refute common physical principles or explain them to be nonsense. Mostly they target theoretical physics, which they accuse of giving illogical explanations for nature. At the same time, they demand a "true" description of phenomena. Apparently, these demands stem from the fact that many do not even know what physics "is" or what a physicist "does". This is not least due to the growing number of popular science programs, which, under the pressure of the ratings, place more and more emphasis on spectacular computer animations, but neglect the scientific facts. Of course, not all science programs are fundamentally bad, and neither is it your place to judge the programs. The crucial point, however, is that even `` serious '' magazines try to make complex physical facts understandable for the layperson, mostly on the basis of comparisons with macroscopic, comprehensible facts. This is possible to a limited extent, but for the most part these comparisons are simply wrong. Unfortunately, this is only mentioned too seldom in these programs, which in turn leads the viewer to believe that e.g. an electron is a small rotating sphere, or that the uncertainty relation is of a metrological, not of a principle nature.

With this text, I am trying to remedy this by showing what physics actually is, what is called "theory," and how to really look at some popular science explanations. Since this text is primarily intended for the interested layman, I will avoid using mathematical formulas as far as possible. And where they need to be, I'll try to explain exactly what they each mean.



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