An interesting article in Edge where a large number of intellectual luminaries of various sorts – scientists, businessmen, literary people, and so on – were asked to think of interesting universal laws that they’ve observed in the course of their endeavours, and then naming those laws after the people. Some of them are good, some not so good, but by and large it’s a pretty interesting article.

(From what I’ve read so far – about a third of it, it’s long – Pollack’s First Law is the one that’s caught my eye the most, although there has certainly been competition. And Smolin’s Third is the one I most disagree with, but on that one it’s clearly necessary to wait for the experimental and theoretical results to be in before making any conclusions)

Published in: on January 4, 2004 at 23:24  Comments (5)  


  1. How much sense does it make for Smolin’s Third Law to be stated in present tense?

  2. Are you serious about Smolin’s?

  3. Absolutely. Although it occurred to me when I read your comment that what he was talking about, and what I meant by disagreeing, probably wasn’t entirely obvious.
    I also just discovered that the short answer to this is a bit too long for the LJ comment size limit, so I’ll stick it in a separate post in a moment.

  4. Are Barbour’s First Law and Rovelli’s First Principle expressive of the way in which you disagree with Smolin’s Third Law?
    This Law format is fun!

  5. I think what Barbour is saying is at least a version of the time-free structure, but it’s going to require a more careful phrasing. He talks about “the values of all other physical fields at the same point;” one of the damned confounding things about dealing with breakdowns in spacetime is that the whole notion of point is precisely what one is missing. I do have a more precise conjecture which is similar in spirit, and possibly in details as well, to what he’s thinking, but without sitting down and discussing it with him for a while it’s hard to tell.

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