The author of this new philosophical approach to physics, Viv Pope (Neville Vivian Pope), a native of Swansea, U.K., is a former telephone engineer and a mature-age Philosophy Honours graduate of the University of Wales. He has been a lecturer in Adult Education and a Tutor, Counsellor and Study-Centre Coordinator for the Open University. Specialising in the conceptual problems of modern physics, his published papers (see RELEVANT PUBLICATIONS) deal specifically with fundamental problems of space, time and motion, hence with relativity and quantum theory and the continuing conceptual conflict between those two theories.
Pope approaches these science problems by the method of philosophical analysis (see PHILOSOPHICAL BACKGROUND). His aim is, by this means, to seek out and remove from theoretical physics its traditional accumulation of sheer conceptual clutter and to discourage the associated misuses of language which generate what the philosopher Wittgenstein called Scheinprobleme, a prime example of which, as Pope sees it, is the notorious, so-called 'EPR paradox'.
For some time, Pope was Secretary and Newsletter Editor of the Alternative Natural Philosophy Association (ANPA), based at Cambridge, England, from which he resigned to concentrate on his researches. He has also been nominated philosophical consultant to various physics groups, in which capacity he was chosen to edit the Philosophical section of a book entitled 'Instantaneous Action-at-a-Distance in Modern Physics: Pro and Contra (publ. by Nova Science, NY, 475 pages, ISBN 1-56072-698-9, http://www.nexusworld.com/nova ). As a long-time associate of Keele University, Staffordshire, England, he is engaged in an ongoing Maths/Philosophy research project with Dr. Anthony D. Osborne of the Mathematics Department of that university. He is also a member of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS) and a regular contributor to the biennial conferences on Physical Interpretations of Relativity Theory (PIRT) at Imperial College, London. He has also participated in many other physics conferences, both in Britain and internationally
Pope's interest in the Philosophy of Science began in 1954 when, as a 23-year-old telephone engineer and amateur astronomer, he had a brief and encouraging correspondence with Albert Einstein, just prior to the great man's death. Pope was also, in the early 'sixties, a member of the Swansea University College Philosophical Society presided over by Rush-Rhees, the well-known associate and follower of Ludwig Wittgenstein. His ideas were honed in extensive correspondence with the philosophers Gilbert Ryle, Sir Karl Popper and Sir Alfred Ayer. These dialogues, also involved scientists and mathematicians such as Prof. Hermann Bondi (Cambridge), Prof. P.M. Davidson (Physics, Swansea), Drs. Gareth Evans and J.R. Jones (Maths, Swansea), Dr. Ted Bastin. Prof. Pierre Noyes (SLAC California, USA), Prof. Clive Kilmister (ANPA, Cambridge) and many others, over a period of more than forty years, Pope has evolved a simplified and de-jargonised, commonsense version of relativity (See SPECIAL RELATIVITY: THE CINEMATIC DEDUCTION). Mathematically and practically, this is identical to the relativity of Einstein, Conceptually, however, it is very different. For instance, in an approach which it shares with Bondi, it avoids the problematic references to 'light-velocity' and 'Einstein separation' which has bedevilled Einsteinian relativity since its inception. It also has philosophical implications widely divergent from those of the Einsteinian theory and more in line with the relativism of Einstein's philosophical mentor, Mach, whose view of the shortcomings of Einstein's theory are well known to philosophers of science.
The philosophical implications of this conceptual flipover from the classical 'analog' perception of physics into an informational, 'quantum-digital' mode is, as some commentators have judged, 'truly Copernican'. It challenges none of the observational data but only our traditional interpretations of that data. However, it is well-known that Copernicus and his followers went in fear of their lives for even suggesting his 'lateral thinking' alternative to traditional theory. Pope's suggestion of a similarly radical, 'lateral' option has not (so far) got him into that depth of trouble. However, his theory was effectively suppressed by the university authorities both at its inception and as a postgraduate thesis, which was advised against and twice rejected on the grounds that 'a philosopher should not even seem to be teaching scientists their job'. This contrasts ironically with what John Bell (of 'Bell's Inequalities' fame) said to Pope, at CERN in 1975: 'Why aren't you philosophers here in droves helping us?'
Nevertheless, the theory has continued its course of development, albeit mostly extramurally, with the help and encouragement of the scientists and philosophers already mentioned. At Popper's home in Buckinghamshire, in the presence of Pope and his wife Mary, Popper stated that in his judgement it was not Pope's thesis that had failed but its examiners. He suggested to them both that if proved correct, Pope would get into deep trouble with the establishment.* And, as Popper predicted, with deeper and deeper penetration of the thesis into what Popper called 'the Magic Circle', resistance to it has shifted from simply ignoring it to attacking it. This is not on the logical/mathematical basis of falsification but on the purely ad hominem basis that, as some have seriously complained, it is 'immoral' and 'socially corruptive'. However, as someone has remarked: 'What better recommendation of the effectiveness of a radical idea could there be than to have the establishment so implacably set against it!'
* The record of correspondence showing how true was Popper's assessment now runs to seventeen two-inch-thick bound volumes (now over ten thousand pages) entitled Philosophical Glimpses. (There are also two Xerox copies of these volumes, one bound and one loose-leaf.) The originals are now stored in the Archives, at County Hall, Swansea (Ref. D/D NVP/1-17). The County Hall website is http://www.swansea.gov.uk