Quantum Mechanics

Peter Woit, 2006, Not Even Wrong, The failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law

After the Elegant Universe I have started Not Even Wrong by Peter Woit to see what opponents of the superstring theory say.  In the Preface, there is a nice statement about quantum mechanics, p. xvi

Part of the appeal of quantum mechanics to me was its peculiar character of being a kind of esoteric practice. Through long study and deep thought, one could hope to arrive at an understanding of the hidden nature of the universe. Unlike other popular exotic religions or mind-altering activities of the time, this sort of search for enlightenment appeared to be both much more solid and something for which I actually had some talent.

chapter String Theory, p. 143:

The S-matrix program continued to be pursued by Chew and others into the 1970s. Just as the political left in Berkley fell apart, with many turning to Eastern and New Age religions, followers of the S-matrix also stopped talking about democracy, and some began to look to the East. The physicist Fritjof Capra received a PhD in 1966, working with Walter Thirring in Vienna, but the early 1970s had turned to Eastern religion, finding there deep connections to S-matrix theory. His book The Tao of Physics was first published in 1975. It extensively contrasts Western notation of symmetry with what he sees as Eastern ideas about the dynamic interrelationship of all things.

Chapter On Beauty and Difficulty, p. 201:

 Mathematicians don’t make things any easier, since readable expository material about much of modern mathematics is sorely lacking. The culture of mathematics values highly precision, rigor, and abstraction, not the sort of imprecise motivational material and carefully worked out examples that make a subject accessible to someone from the outside trying to get some idea of what is going on. This makes the research literature often impenetrable to all but those already expert in a field. There is often a somewhat intellectually macho attitude among some mathematicians, an attitude that since they overcome great hurdles to understand something, there’s no reason to make it easier and encourage others less talented and dedicated than themselves.

On Beauty und Difficulty, p. 195:

During periods in which experiments are providing unexpected new results, the primary task of theorists is to come up with some sort of explanatory model of what the experiments are revealing, one that agrees with those already performed and that predicts what result new once will produce. Considerations of beauty and elegance are then secondary, functioning through the principle of Occam’s razor: given the many possible models that might agree with experiment, one should focus on the simplest one.