Advice on Not Coming Off as a Crackpot
If you are truly interested in pursuing your physics idea in a way that
is palatable to the mainstream, try these bits of advice. This is close to
how "professional" physicists approach new, exciting ideas.
- Adopt the approach to start that there is a substantial chance that you are wrong.
- Treat the idea as a curiosity worthy of exploration: not a passionate
driver that you must prove to be right.
- Familiarize yourself with textbooks and articles. They are not to be
considered junk rendered meaningless by your idea. Lots of careful thought
and a vast body of experimental evidence back them up.
- If you don't truly understand what you are reading in texts/articles,
don't forge ahead: that's a sign to back up until you fully understand.
- What would Einstein do? Get a degree in physics. Really. If you're
that interested, pursue it. Just be ready to take in information in
disagreement with your idea. If you don't understand the mainstream foundation
(and deeply), then you can't effectively challenge it.
- If you get feedback from a physicist or journal referee, don't just
react. Take it very seriously and educate yourself on anything you don't
understand. Chances are, the authority is rightnot simply because of
the authority, but because the person probably knows a lot of physics and
has a thoughtful (rather than reactionary) response. One caveat: if your
idea is quickly seen to ignore powerful tenets of physics (e.g.,
conservation laws), the reaction may be unfortunately impatient.
- Familiarize yourself with the vast body of experimental evidence that
bears on your idea. We don't keep the ideas we do because we like the
sound of them: often physicists hated the sound of them initially, but
experimental evidence wins in the end. Many of our ideas are crammed down
our throats by results of experiments. Almost none of the ideas I receive
from non-scientists are aware of existing experimental constraints that
rule out their ideas. Often they do not want to learn of these
experiments, even. Don't be one of these.
- If you are not emotionally prepared to accept solid physical arguments
why your idea does not pan outif being right/revolutionary is more
important to you than understanding a deeper truththen a physicist is
not the sort of professional you need to talk to.