PBS - How Physics Will Change—and Change the World—in 100 Years
Frank Wilczek on the future of physics, and what we might find out in the next hundred years.
One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein had only just published his revolutionary new theory of gravity, atomic nuclei were entirely mysterious, and quantum “theory” was a tissue of guesswork. Superconductivity, the nature of the chemical bond, and the energy source of stars were riddles that baffled physics.
And then there were the unknown unknowns: Big Bang cosmology, black holes, quarks, gluons, the triumph of symmetry and its breaking, radio, television, masers, lasers, transistors, nuclear magnetic resonance, the eruption of microelectronics and telecommunications…and, of course, nuclear bombs. We’ve come a long way. It is safe to say that 100 years ago no one could remotely have anticipated modern physics, and certainly no one did.
Today we have much deeper understanding of the physical world, providing (I think) a much more stable platform from which to launch futuristic speculations. Indeed, a physicist transported from 50 years ago to today would not be nearly so clueless, and one transported from 25 years ago could get up to speed in short order. So today, thinking 100 years ahead may not be entirely silly.