Lee is a founding faculty member of the Perimeter institute for Theoretical Physics. Focusing on quantum gravity, which is the unification of Einstein's general theory of relativity with quantum theory, he is the author of The Life of the Cosmos, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, and, most recently, his controversial The Trouble with Physics. Lee's main contributions to research are to the field of quantum gravity, where he was a founder of the approach known as loop quantum gravity, but he has contributed to other approaches including string theory. He is also known for proposing the notion of the landscape of theories, based on his application of Darwinian methods to Cosmology. He has contributed also to the foundations of quantum mechanics, elementary particle physics, and theoretical biology. He advocates that the two primary approaches to quantum gravity, loop quantum gravity and string theory can be reconciled as different aspects of the same underlying theory. Lee has expressed the opinion that quantum mechanics is not a "final theory," writing, “I am convinced that quantum mechanics is not a final theory. I believe this because I have never encountered an interpretation of the present formulation of quantum mechanics that makes sense to me. I have studied most of them in depth and thought hard about them, and in the end I still can't make real sense of quantum theory as it stands.” He also has a strong interest in philosophy and his three books are in part philosophical explorations of issues raised by contemporary physics. His 2006 book, The Trouble with Physics, is broadly concerned with the role of controversy and diversity of approaches in the ethics and process of science. It is strongly critical of string theory and of its prominence in contemporary theoretical physics. He suggests both that there appear to be serious deficiencies in string theory and that string theory has an unhealthy near-monopoly in U.S. fundamental physics, and that a diversity of approaches is needed. Following are Lee’s claims, all of which are contested vigorously by his critics: that string theory makes no new testable predictions; that there is no coherent mathematical formulation of string theory; that it has not been mathematically proven to be finite; that the proposal of a landscape of up to 10500 string vacuum solutions is tantamount to abandoning accepted science. Lee states, “The scenario of many unobserved universes plays the same logical role as the scenario of an intelligent designer. Each provides an untestable hypothesis that, if true, makes something improbable seem quite probable.”
- Complexity from Simplicity? (Lee Smolin)
- Where Do the Laws of Nature Come From? (Lee Smolin)
- Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Life and Mind? (Lee Smolin)
- What do Black Holes and Dark Matter Reveal? (Lee Smolin)
- Why is the Quantum So Strange? (Lee Smolin)
- How Can Space and Time be the Same Thing? (Lee Smolin)
- Why do we Search for Symmetry? (Lee Smolin)
- What's Fundamental in the Cosmos? (Lee Smolin)
- Why does Dark Matter Really Matter? (Lee Smolin)
- How are Multiple Universes Generated? (Lee Smolin)
- Are the Laws of Nature Always Constant? (Lee Smolin)
- What is a Theory of Everything? (Lee Smolin)
- Why is the Quantum So Mysterious? (Lee Smolin)
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