I just read that John Archibald Wheeler passed away this past day.
With Wheeler’s passing, we have lost a giant in the world of physics. Those who have followed my work know that I have been very heavily influenced by Wheeler’s view that all of nature must have a geometrodynamic foundation. While his dream has not yet been realized, and many have abandoned his dream in favor of other avenues, there remain a few of us quixotic die-hards who will not give up the ghost on Wheeler’s approach, because it is difficult to see how God might have done anything other than to rest nature upon geometry. In fact, if I were to sum up in one sentence the central thrust of my research, it is to show that Wheeler was right, and that his dream of realizing a geometrodynamic foundation for all of nature has been prematurely abandoned.
Quantum field theory must certainly be credited for its astounding success in describing nature. But, that does not mean that geometrodynamics cannot work. It just means we have not yet been able to find out the way in which QFT and geometrodynamics are compatible and, indeed, inseparable. One day, we will have a recognized theory of quantum geometrodynamics, and when we do, Wheeler will be recognized as the visionary who laid out the program, and who kept Einstein’s dream of a geometric foundation of nature alive for successive generations of physicists, even as many went their separate ways.
Though Wheeler was the third name on Misner, Thorne & Wheeler (and all one needs to say is MTW, and every student of physics knows exactly what book that means), he was the visionary author. With all the encyclopedic calculation developed in MTW, it is Wheeler who wrote the “perspective” pieces, and always kept a forward eye on where physics should, and will, one day end up.
Wheeler can teach many lessons to those who become so bogged down in physics calculation or dogma or pedagogy, that they miss or forget that the central aim of physics study is to understand how God created nature, and that the process of uncovering this understanding, fundamentally, is creative, and human. All else is secondary.
Farewell to one of the great souls of physics, who in this past day, has returned to his creator, and is now undoubtedly asking that creator directly, all of the questions he asked when he walked among us on this earth. In his memory, let us rededicate ourselves to keeping alive Wheeler’s geometrodynamic program.
Another WordPress author paid his own triubute at http://mogadalai.wordpress.com/2008/04/13/john-archibald-wheeler-rip/. I am sure there will be more in the coming days from all over the scientific world.