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The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin

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This is a book in three parts. The first part gives an overview of how theoretical physics has progressed over the past hundred years or so with key focus on things like relativity, quantum mechanics, gauge theories, string theory, and loop quantum gravity. This is put against the backdrop of the key problems facing theoretical physics at the time of writing so that we get an understanding of the current challenges and why they are challenging. Secondly the book looks at how the social structures of the physics research community is hampering progress on these topics through fostering a) a very large focus on string theory, and b) by encouraging the production of a physics research class who tend to follow similar career trajectories and think in similar fashion. The third thrust of the book is suggestions that the author thinks can make for a more diverse and fruitful physics research community, such as deliberate encouragement of other research ideas than string theory, cross project collaboration, and the cultivation of 'deep thinkers' to produce other avenues to explore.

The prose is easy to follow and the technical topics addressed are expressed simply and in a manner that was accessible to this reader without need for higher mathematics. The ideas for improvement are laid out well and feature some discussion of the projects that the author has already undertaken to allow some set of physicists to move in directions which he hopes will allow for a more productive near future in theoretical physics.

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