Brilliant new theory

Have you discovered that quantum mechanics or thermodynamics is wrong? Probably not.


Eleanor C Sayre


May 3, 2020

As a physics faculty member, I regularly receive email (and sometimes snail mail) from enthusiastic members of the public who have developed something that they perceive as a brilliant new theory that will either solve some of the grand mysteries of the universe or mend/tear major holes in physics canon. Usually, but not always, these brilliant new theories involve quantum mechanics, field theory, and/or thermodynamics.

If you have developed a brilliant new theory, before you send it to me (or any other physics prof), please ask yourself the following questions.

What do you want me to do with this information?

Oftentimes, these emails come with a request to “consider” the attached papers. Let’s imagine that I read them. What do you want me to do with this information?

Remember that profs do best when your emails are short and contain an easily performed ask. If your email arrives without an ask, you’re implying that you don’t want me to do anything with it, and it will always go to the bottom of the priority pile. If your email is long (or has a long attachment), then it’s unlikely that I will read it without clear indication of what you’re looking for.

If you cannot articulate what you want your recipient to do with this information, then you should not send it to them.

Am I really the right person to receive it?

My research is in physics education, primarily university faculty development.

I don’t teach any courses in (or do any research in the areas of) general relativity, special relativity, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, field theory, or cosmology. If your paper requires, refines, or refutes any of those physics topics, then sending it to me is outside of my professional scope I will not be able to advise you on further publication venues, nor will I have time to read it and offer substantive feedback.

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