Session H14: History and Philosophy of Science

10:45 AM–12:21 PM, Sunday, May 3, 2009
Room: Plaza Court 4

Sponsoring Unit: FHP
Chair: Dan Kleppner, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract ID: BAPS.2009.APR.H14.3

Abstract: H14.00003 : Unification Accomplished and Forgotten: The story of H.T. Flint

11:21 AM–11:33 AM

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  James Beichler

Since the 1970s, an ever growing number of theoretical physicists have become interested in unifying the quantum and relativity upon a quantum basis. Before the 1970s, only Einstein and a select few sought unification, but their theoretical work was based upon the continuity of relativity rather than quantum's discrete nature of reality. To date neither paradigm has developed anything that would appear to unify physics, except for the work of one physicist and a few of his colleagues. H.T. Flint published more than thirty-five articles in well-known peer-reviewed journals over a period of four decades, extending relativity to include electromagnetism and the quantum. Yet his work and that of his close associates is almost completely unknown today. Flint published his complete unified field theory in the 1960s, well before most quantum theorists even began thinking along the lines of unification. Strangely enough, Flint's unification theory has been completely forgotten by a scientific community that has become enamored enough with the idea of unification that it would accept the most outrageous and non-intuitive ideas as long as they are based on the quantum, but then Kaluza's five-dimensional unification of relativity and electromagnetism supposedly was not known until it was rediscovered by the superstring theorists, or so they claim. In reality, these ideas were lost in plain sight for decades simply because the physics community was unwilling to recognize accomplishments based on relativity theory.

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