Hace pocos días recordaba una conferencia en Trieste, de Dirac, que encuentro en un volumen junto con un texto de Adbus Salam y Heisenberg (ver Inconsistencias en teorías físicas). Es interesante que en esa conferencia, titulada Métodos en Física Teórica, Dirac plantea que hay dos métodos:
I shall attempt to give you some idea of how a theoretical physicist works - how he sets about trying to get a better understanding of the laws of nature.
One can look back over the work that has been done in the past. In doing so one has the underlying hope at the back of one's mind that one may get some hints or learn some lessons that will be of value in dealing with present-day problems. The problems that we had to deal with in the past had fundamentally much in common with the present day ones, and reviewing the successful methods of the past may give us some help for the present.
One can distinguish between two main procedures for a theoretical physicist. One of them is to work from the experimental basis. For this, one must keep in close touch with the experimental physicists. One reads about all the results they obtain and tries to fit them into a comprehensive and satisfying scheme.
The other procedure is to work from the mathematical basis. One examines and criticizes the
existing theory. One tries to pin-point the faults in it and then tries to remove them. The difficulty here is to remove the faults without destroying the very great successes of the existing theory.
There are these two general procedures, but of course the distinction between them is not hard-and-fast. There are all grades of procedures between the extremes.
Es interesante discutir esta distinción de Dirac. El trabajar desde lo matemático no es sencillo, y no siempre es posible. En próximo post, mencionaré cuándo Dirac recomienda uno u otro métodos.
Angel "Java" Lopez