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Lee Smolin: Can Physics Save Economics?

It was actually "physics envy" that got us in trouble in the first place. 

When the theoretical physicist Lee Smolin was asked to join a research group to work on economics his first response was "I don't know anything about economics." That's okay, said Mike Brown, the former CFO of Microsoft, "because nobody does and the whole system is about to collapse." 


That was 2007, and the rest is history. And yet, according to Smolin, he found that it is very easy for a physicist to understand economics "because it’s very mathematical." Moreover, it was actually "physics envy" that got us in trouble in the first place. 

Smolin, the author of Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe, tells Big Think that economists were seduced by physics because it made their arguments for deregulation seem scientific. They believed, for instance, that an equilibrium was possible. In other words, an equilibrium was supposed to make it impossible "to profit from trading around a circle of goods or a circle of currencies without actually producing anything." Of course, that is possible, and that did happen, and that's because, as Smolin tells us, "you’re never really at equilibrium." 

This video is part of the series of the most popular videos of Summer 2013. 

Watch the video here:

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Image source: Pixabay
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  • The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
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A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.

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  • This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
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Your emotions are the new hot commodity — and there’s an app for that

Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.

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Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.

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