French mathematician offers fast initiation to theoretical
physics and needs help to change the world by IT
Hello. My name is Sylvain Poirier. I am from France. There I
followed the official curriculum for the best future scientists,
ending in a PhD of mathematics, and I deeply regret it.
Since teenage I really loved science and wanted to
dedicate my life to it. In my free time in the years of secondary
and high school I learned Special Relativity, electromagnetism and
general relativity, using some books but also by my own reseach, as
I did not like the way they were presented in books. Without enough
teachers or books to bring me further, I kept meditating the same
theories, and in fact it was great, as I understood them clearer and
clearer. After this, I found the science teaching I kept following
very boring and worthless.
Let's be clear : unlike many fringe physicists who claim to
criticize theories of modern physics which they do not really
understand but find too abstract for them, I like abstractions, I
deeply understand these theories and I agree they are correct.
The problem is how they are usually formulated in teaching: usually,
teachers passively repeat things the way they were written when initially
discovered, even if better ways could be found since then. They are
too quickly satisfied to know that a theory is correct, and do not
care that the same theory can be formulated in better ways for
intuition and pedagogical aspects. A theory can appear much clearer,
easier to learn and more amazing to understand by directly
expressing it in, I would say, its own language.
I was well in this research in the little free time I had outside
the very boring school duties, and it was okay, I just wished so much
to have more free time for this. But people around
felt it very bad, because of the clandestine nature of this activity
: they claimed I was wasting my time, they were so worried to see me
doing all this without letting the authorities know about it.
Because, while I was enthusiastic to tell it around and
everybody knew it was true, still the authorities could not know it
unless I followed official courses and passed exams
for this. And people insisted that getting an official job as a
scientist would be much more valuable than being one in secret, as,
which job could I find then ? They insisted I needed to dedicate my
life to academic duties for the great ambition of becoming
officially recognized and paid for who I was. I would not agree but under
social pressure, my parents did not let me free of my life anyway.
But, I doubt the people advising this really figure out what
kind of sacrifice it is, for a science lover to give up one's
research and remain slave of the academic nonsense for many years.
I have no time to explain here how it finally spoiled my life
and divided my scientific productivity by 3 or 4. But it did not
even give me any suitable job: I tried teaching math at university
but it made no sense as the system has no room for the kind of
curriculum innovation I wanted to provide. So I left all official
teaching and developed my work for free on my own, in the form
of my web site settheory.net.
There I started to explain how some of the most fundamental theories should be
expressed at the undergraduate level: in pure mathematics (a new
axiomatization of set theory, Gödel's completeness and
incompleteness theorems, geometry), and
in physics (relativity, statistical thermodynamics and quantum
physics). In such ways, skilled and motivated students
could learn some of the most interesting topics of math and physics
in something like one trimester, while usual teaching takes years to
study part of these (with other maybe less interesting topics).
I also clarified the philosophical aspects: how the world of pure
maths is subject to a flow of its own time, and how quantum physics
explains the interaction between mind and matter.
Now I wish to offer free physics lessons to groups of interested
students, assuming they understand English. Hopefully I can start this summer. I would come back to Ukraine and try to follow the demand,
maybe at different places, for short periods from one session to few
weeks, limited by my right to stay in
Ukraine (3 months every 6 months). I would
focus on topics still less developed in my site : geometry, relativity, quantum physics, linear algebra and tensors.
I believe it can be very interesting for people really motivated by science, outside any preparation
for exams, though I guess these are probably not large numbers.
I also don't expect such a curriculum to become official as it would be both too long and too short. It is too long to understand for people in institutions to care about it if the institions do not recognize it yet, that's a chicken-and-egg problem. Usually, institutional deciders have no creative spirit, no
boldness of putting aside the old ways and trying to really better
understand how amazing are the mathematical structures of the
universe. And if ever some considered it, they
may find it too short a curriculum to fill a year and become what
science students would have to learn and pass exams for, especially
as I did not develop any list of problems to test students for
It may be bad news for teachers fearing a reduction of their
teaching hours, if what they are now taking years to teach could be
explained faster, even if more interesting topics usually absent
from teaching can be added to fill some time.
Also, the philosophical results coming from this
clarification, could be bad news for philosophers, as it would
refute some of the traditional forms of their metaphysical
speculations, and deprive them of some excuses to endlessly
No matter the intellectual interest, most students won't care if they don't need it to pass an exam, which they need to find a job. But let us explain what it really means.
By "finding a job", people usually mean being employed by some
big institution or company, for a long time, maybe all life long, fulfilling a role fixed
by someone else's plans, which needs to be greater than one's own, to be
useful to the world.
Now what did I undertook for society:
my main work is to clarify the foundations of maths
and physics. I do it for rather artistic reasons, to show the wonders of the universe. I do not directly care for people without the ability or taste to enjoy it, though some may still benefit this clarification since math and physics are needed for technology. This does not bring me any salary since it is not official, but I strongly doubt many mathematicians or physicists officially paid for their work are as useful to the world as this.
But that is not all: I'm not sure what other people could do, but
by similar inspirations as for pure sciences, I discovered other ideas
that can be very useful
to the world. Because, the search for perfect mathematical
theories, combining logical rigor with the quest for perfection, is
not so different from the work of analysing global problems and
reinventing the world as it should be: not only dreaming it to be
very different and much better than now like utopias, but also doing
it logically, to ensure from theory that a
solution would really work best.
This way I happened to find a plan to make the
world better by a new decentralized online social network, including solutions to
a few logical puzzles such as: providing an online voting system rather simple
to understand and without cost so it can be used at anyone's
initiative, and even the organizers of a vote cannot know who voted
what but participants can easily check and understand that the
result is correct; optimal functions for diverse online markets: a job market
together with reliable information on people's real qualifications
independently of our old system of diplomas; the best online dating system to
let millions of people find love with the smallest searching effort
(I also have a plan of real world solution for the same purpose); new structures of a
decentralized online justice directly effective on a decentralized online
money with no need of force or recogition from the old powers. This online
money would be much better than Bitcoin, in particular its value would
be much more stable.
So the development of such ideas could very useful, but there are no jobs open for
this in the present world.
Inside the system, which is not hurried to undermine itself, special
discoveries only need to be made once, and no administrator can
predict that one kind of discovery is possible, nor who would make it. Indeed, if
anyone could predict a specific discovery then he could probably
make it himself instead of delegating the task. And the task of
designing a master plan cannot easily come as a secondary repetitive
task ordered by some higher manager.
But even outside the system, where many people seem to wish so much
the world to switch to a better system, harldly anyone is ready to seriously
think how it can be done. Do they expect someone else to think about it in
their place ? But when they meet such a person, they usually run
away or just stay on their little daily topics. It is so hard for me to
find anyone with whom I can have a meaningful conversation.
But following their favorite religions or ideologies, most people don't expect social problems to be resolved by mathematicians like logical enigmas. They rather expect solutions to be either impossible or individual, or to consist in gathering crowds of people where it is forbidden for anyone to think better than others, and mixing their many incoherent ideas together in hope they will form good combinations. No wonder that the results are limited.
But if institutions cannot order this as a job,
of course I can try to manage myself. In fact to change the world I don't need much, but it is just a litte too hard for me to do it alone. I don't need power. I probably have enough money if I don't waste it. I don't even need popularity at first as this will naturally come after the work is done, when the system will be available. The problem is to make it. Something like a startup, where I can give jobs to others but still it is not easy to find them. Because the optimal online network for people to find partners
is not made yet.
To promote my online scientific courses I just need motivated people, for example to translate texts into different languages. To renew my motivation in this field I also need to really meet some interested students. For the software project I had the plan for years, the headlines are presented at trust-forum.net,
but only found few web programmers recently and I need more.
It is hard to catch the attention of programmers because they usually do not expect
this plan, whose understanding requires hours of thinking efforts outside their habits and
specialized training. This effort is already too much for most people
if they do not need it to pass any exams. The few people, mostly economics students who made
that effort usually became convinced, but couldn't
repeat the news, for the same reason. Information about reputation is hard to spread,
because reputation is often circular, where
many people tell about something just because they heard others
talking about it already, without any real effort to check its
worthiness when it isn't obvious. This problem with
reputation is also something for which my project would
help, but of course only after implementation. And
again, while many people suffer this lack of reliable information on
what to trust, they usually do not expect such a solution.
I had a look at
communities of hackathons and startup. They may seem to welcome great ideas but this is usually
quite superficial. Their projects may involve a lot of work and
skills in the implementation but only for narrow purposes,
specialized solutions addressing small aspects of problems, without
a global coherent vision of the new economic structures that the
world really needs. They are either too conventional or not thinking
deeply enough before implementation. Generally, who is able to do
something is too busy to have any time left for
So to change the world I mainly need motivated web programmers and also people interested in science.
A longer speech on similar issues can be found in my site: "Why learn Physics by yourself" (settheory.net/learnphysics).
Thanks for your attention.