Time for a change of pace, some outside ideas to keep our minds limber.

First, "What’s Wrong With E=MC^2?"

So what is the problem with Einstein’s mass-energy relation?

Well, to put it bluntly, there is no such thing as a mass-energy relation. What does exist is a mass-energy-momentum relation. The equation Einstein came up with more than a century ago can be considered a degenerate form of the mass-energy-momentum relation for vanishing momentum. Einstein was very well aware of this, and in later papers repetitively stressed that his mass-energy equation is strictly limited to observers co-moving with the object under study. However, very, very few people seem to have paid attention to Einstein’s warnings, nor to any of the more recent warnings. Even worse, the vast majority of authors of popular science books take great liberty in applying E=mc2 to objects moving at speeds close to the speed of light, and then declare mass to increase with velocity in an attempt to recover consistency in what has become an incoherent mix of relativistic and Newtonian dynamics. Theoretical physicist Lev Okun refers to this practice as a “pedagogical virus”.

Second, "Why No New Einstein?"

Pretty much every knowledgeable particle theorist that I talk to these days, string theorist and non-string theorist, agrees that current ideas about how to go beyond the standard model are not working very well. Everyone hopes that some big new idea will come along and show the way forward, with people often wistfully speaking about how maybe some bright post-doc out there may be at this very moment working on the needed new idea. The problem with this is that what is needed is probably something quite different than any of the current popular research programs, and finding it may be difficult enough to require someone’s concerted effort over quite a few years. If this is so, it’s very hard to see how anyone on the standard career path in the US is going to be able to do this. A young post-doc here generally only has a couple years in between needing to apply for new jobs, and if he or she were to devote those years to working hard on a very speculative new idea, this would most likely be suicidal for their career.

Food for thought.