# How would one publish a groundbreaking scientific idea?

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How would an average person, without connections in the science community, publish a new idea? How could someone get help with things like the math, the terminology used, etc? Or, help with evaluating the validity or novelty of the idea? What is the best way to balance "not being a crackpot" if the idea is bad, with getting due credit if the idea is good? And how to balance openly sharing the idea, with keeping it secret enough until you can greedily claim credit for as much work as you can do with it?

I recently took on the challenge of understanding physics as a hobby, and have been blogging about it. As far as I know, no one reads the blog. My hope was that at some point, my understanding and writing would be competent and novel enough that it would be worth promoting the blog to some actual readers.

Now I think I've stumbled upon an idea that could be, well, "huge". It seems to make sense, and it seems to work (at least so far). And, I strongly believe in it even though it's not yet mature. So I realize there is a good possibility of my being a crackpot. As well, I'm surprised to not find evidence that the idea has been considered before.

I'm slowly working on the math, the explanations, and some non-rigorous proofs. Should I keep blogging about it? Or hide what I've already posted until I can take the idea as far as I can?

m

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You could post your idea on this forum to at least get some feedback. No one here will steal your ideas, and claim them for there own. If it turns out your findings are ground breaking.

Here is a good resource to consider, as you go about creating and sharing your idea.

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Dammit, so I'm not the first to think he's toppled relativity?

> No one here will steal your ideas

I'm worried that the basic idea is simple but the consequences are complex, so someone smarter than I could do all the math much quicker, and express the idea in the proper terminology, and discover all the relates ideas, before I have a chance to. :\$

Yet it would be nice to work with someone who could "deretardify" my writing.

>> 1. You have to back your statements up with evidence.

Then I think I will wait until I've examined and written up the evidence. I'll post again, either with "nevermind, it didn't work", or "it did!" or "does this make sense? I don't get it".

According to "are you a quack?", I seem to be hovering the line. I have a new theory that is being constructed to fit with the old, so it agrees with all the experimental evidence. So far I haven't found any phenomenon that is explained by the old but not the new, nor any new predictions that differ from the old. Does that make it an "interpretation", and less valuable than a theory that describes new phenomenon?

Thanks for the suggestion,

m

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If there's no way to differentiate between the two, there's no particular reason to choose one theory over another. But if some of your model's predictions vary from the accepted theory, it can be validated.

A new idea's really only "groundbreaking" if it explains something that was previously unexplained, or makes more accurate predictions about reality. Otherwise, it is indeed an "interpretation." Different interpretations can be useful though -- sometimes they make reasoning about strange situations easier, even if the end result is the same.

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I'm intrigued to know what this idea is.

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I'm intrigued to know what this idea is.

Haha, you may have fallen into the trap of a quack, because I have to say "I still want to work on it for a few days or however long it takes, to figure out the handful of ideas I have in my head."

And then will I post the idea, and follow up with replies to criticism like "But it does make sense! You just don't get it! It makes sense to me but I just don't know how to write it clearly!"...?

http://insti.physics...egel/quack.html (from DJBruce's link) sounds more like me the more I think about it. "paranoids with delusions of grandeur"... like perhaps worrying about people stealing my 'ground-breaking' idea??? In other words, I'll keep talking about it but I can't give any evidence cuz that's a secret. "Their theory could never be wrong"... and though I haven't proved it, it just 'feels right.'

I'll post about the idea some time. I hope I'm not just a quack.

m

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How would an average person, without connections in the science community, publish a new idea? How could someone get help with things like the math, the terminology used, etc? Or, help with evaluating the validity or novelty of the idea? What is the best way to balance "not being a crackpot" if the idea is bad, with getting due credit if the idea is good? And how to balance openly sharing the idea, with keeping it secret enough until you can greedily claim credit for as much work as you can do with it?

I recently took on the challenge of understanding physics as a hobby, and have been blogging about it. As far as I know, no one reads the blog. My hope was that at some point, my understanding and writing would be competent and novel enough that it would be worth promoting the blog to some actual readers.

There are websites that allow you to publish things and they are time-stamped, so that people can publish and point there saying when exactly they published it. Post your idea to one such site, and then ask a scientist friend, or a forum, or just anyone, to help you work it out.

Remember though, ideas are a dime a dozen. Working out the maths of a problem is the real science, and if you intend to hog all the credit to yourself you are unlikely to find any help. While an idea may seem like it is valuable, without the maths it is too vague to be of any use to anyone, and also it is likely that there are infinitely many equations that could be fitted to said idea. Though I think there are some ideas that can be directly translated into math, but I've only seen that sort of thing with geometry-maths.

Now I think I've stumbled upon an idea that could be, well, "huge". It seems to make sense, and it seems to work (at least so far). And, I strongly believe in it even though it's not yet mature. So I realize there is a good possibility of my being a crackpot. As well, I'm surprised to not find evidence that the idea has been considered before.

I'm slowly working on the math, the explanations, and some non-rigorous proofs. Should I keep blogging about it? Or hide what I've already posted until I can take the idea as far as I can?

Ah, well, turns out this sort of thing happens all the time. Not sure I've ever heard of someone who revolutionized physics without being very good at either math or experimentation. But plenty of people think they have. I've had plenty of great ideas myself; some were wrong and others correct but already discovered. Like you, I did realize how unlikely it is that I got a revolutionary idea, and yet feel compelled to work it out just in case.

So far I haven't found any phenomenon that is explained by the old but not the new, nor any new predictions that differ from the old. Does that make it an "interpretation", and less valuable than a theory that describes new phenomenon?

If the predictions are exactly identical, then you do have the maths (same as the other maths), and yes it makes it an interpretation/model. Models are nice but not necessarily useful, although they can be inspiration for future progress and they do feel nice. Quantum mechanics could definitely do with a nice model, and some people would like a different model of relativity too.

To expand on the time-stamp idea, for 40 cents this website will provide a time-stamped signature of a file. So long as you retain the original file without edits, this signature is proof that you had the file as-is at that time. Well, unless people believe that a website who's only source of income is being reliable lied about it.

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I went ahead and posted about the theory and the blog.

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/50979-theory-of-time-distance-relativity/

I worked on this all day and I feel driven insane, and I don't want to make myself sick obsessing over a pet theory.

Thanks for all the advice!

m

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How would an average person, without connections in the science community, publish a new idea?

Write a paper and send it to a reputable journal that covers the subject you have worked on.

If it is mathematics or physics you could submit a preprint for the arXiv. This would require you to get an endorser. That is someone who is willing to say that your work is of interest to the community. However, the endorser will not referee your preprint, nor will he/she necessarily be supporting the conclusions or details of the work.

How could someone get help with things like the math, the terminology used, etc? Or, help with evaluating the validity or novelty of the idea?

Sending preprints to people I have found to be the best way to do this. You will have to do this before you get a preprint on the arXiv, if you go down that route.

Also invite comments if you put a preprint on the arXiv.

What is the best way to balance "not being a crackpot" if the idea is bad, with getting due credit if the idea is good? And how to balance openly sharing the idea, with keeping it secret enough until you can greedily claim credit for as much work as you can do with it?

Well, we all have "bad ideas" that go nowhere or for some reason are just wrong or useless. That is part of science. Getting a preprint on the arXiv and/or a paper accepted for publication would give you credit. When you email work to other people, send it to more than one at a time. Keep good records of what you send.

You want other people to pick up your idea and work on it. However, you also want proper credit.

I recently took on the challenge of understanding physics as a hobby, and have been blogging about it. As far as I know, no one reads the blog. My hope was that at some point, my understanding and writing would be competent and novel enough that it would be worth promoting the blog to some actual readers.

I am glad you are reading upon physics. Blogging can be useful if you are already established. I cannot see many people reading bloggs by people they don't know. My own personal blogg I expect a few people on these forums to have a look but that is about it.

Now I think I've stumbled upon an idea that could be, well, "huge". It seems to make sense, and it seems to work (at least so far). And, I strongly believe in it even though it's not yet mature. So I realize there is a good possibility of my being a crackpot. As well, I'm surprised to not find evidence that the idea has been considered before.

Look up my blog. I have posted on there asking about the possibility of "amateurs" contributing to mathematics and theoretical physics. It may help you, or at least give you a better idea of what is expected.

I'm slowly working on the math, the explanations, and some non-rigorous proofs.

Doing physics, non-rigorous proofs maybe ok depending on if you mean calculations or really do mean proofs of theorems. It will depend on exactly what you are doing.

Should I keep blogging about it? Or hide what I've already posted until I can take the idea as far as I can?

This is up to you. Don't be afraid to talk to people.

Anyway good luck with it.

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Write a paper and send it to a reputable journal that covers the subject you have worked on.

...

You want other people to pick up your idea and work on it. However, you also want proper credit.

Yes, I want to share the idea but also hoard it. To write a proper paper would take too much effort at this point... I would have to go back to school and learn the proper way to write, the proper terminology, the proper references, research, etc. I tried for one day to write "professionally", and it was far too draining.

Perhaps the theory will evolve or die. Perhaps I'll learn the right way to do science, over time, and write a paper in the future.

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Yes, I want to share the idea but also hoard it. To write a proper paper would take too much effort at this point... I would have to go back to school and learn the proper way to write, the proper terminology, the proper references, research, etc. I tried for one day to write "professionally", and it was far too draining.

I have found writing preprints and papers takes a lot of time and effort. I'd rather be doing the mathematics. Communicating ones work is simply fundamental to science.

Perhaps the theory will evolve or die. Perhaps I'll learn the right way to do science, over time, and write a paper in the future.

Whatever happens, I hope you work hard and enjoy it. All the best.

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Thanks for the advice everyone! I forced myself to rush through a paper. The theory is called "Time Relativity", and it should be up on vixra shortly.

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I doubt many people will read it in viXra. I occasionally look there for fun, there is the odd reasonable paper but most are junk. I would not advice posting there.

However, it is your choice and I hope that it works out well for you.

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I'd also advice spending more time on the writing. Professionals (i.e. people with more experience than you) spend weeks writing a publication - after having finished the work. Someone is going to read what you wrote (in the best case, at least) and you should not waste other people's time because you felt that working over your publication for the fourth time is boring.

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I'd also advice spending more time on the writing. Professionals (i.e. people with more experience than you) spend weeks writing a publication - after having finished the work. Someone is going to read what you wrote (in the best case, at least) and you should not waste other people's time because you felt that working over your publication for the fourth time is boring.

My writing sucks. I spend quite a while on it but I am never happy and never spot all the typos!

Scientific writing I find difficult, but it is necessary. I hope with more and more experience it shall get a little easier.

So to anyone thinking about writing papers, it is hard and takes a long time.

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I doubt many people will read it in viXra. I occasionally look there for fun, there is the odd reasonable paper but most are junk. I would not advice posting there.

However, it is your choice and I hope that it works out well for you.

No, you're right, posting there alone will not guarantee anything. And ranting that people should read it won't help, either.

I chose arXiv but couldn't even create a login without an institutional affiliation (let alone needing an endorsement). My e-mail to a prof at the local university, who specializes in relativity, has gone unanswered. I want to tell people, "Read this thing! It's important!" but I also want to say, "Please ignore my poor writing... it's only because I have no experience with this."

I must face it... Until I can get even a single influential person to agree with me, and to have their work influenced by mine, I am almost by definition a quack. It doesn't matter how big I think the idea is, or how right I think I am... if I'm the only one who thinks so.

I'd also advice spending more time on the writing. Professionals (i.e. people with more experience than you) spend weeks writing a publication - after having finished the work. Someone is going to read what you wrote (in the best case, at least) and you should not waste other people's time because you felt that working over your publication for the fourth time is boring.

Good advice. There's a LOT I could do to improve the current paper. I might as well keep working on it.

Perhaps I'll continue working on it (not as obsessively as this past week) and look into other suitable places to publish.

PS. http://vixra.org/abs/1008.0012 if you're curious

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On the paper

There are several fundamental things that are not very clear to me. But this is what I got out of the paper.

We start from assuming space is Euclidean (this is not stated at all, in fact I am not sure if this is what is being assumed ), $(\mathbb{R}^{3}, \delta)$. The time is "added" to this via

$||t_{1}-t_{2}||^{2} = \frac{1}{c} |x_{1}-x_{2}|^{2}$,

for two distinct points with coordinates $x_{1}$ and $x_{2}$ (suppress the space indices). This to me looks just like a rescaling of the Euclidean inner product. Here $c$ is some universal constant with units of velocity, it can be chosen to the the speed of light in vacua.

This does start to look a little bit like special relativity, but I see no way of mixing space and time as is required for all the phenomenological aspects of SR. The above rescaling of the inner product does look like the definition of a null path. In fact this was used as the definition of "time".

Specifically, the theory looks to be invariant under the Euclidean group. A claim is made that the Lorentz transformations can be recovered from this formulation, but it is not presented. Only the gamma factor is show to play a role here.

There are several notions of time introduced in the paper. Also it is not always clear to what frame the time measurements are referring to.

There is a lack of references.

I cannot see that the paper will be of much interest.

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• 5 weeks later...

Thanks for reading my paper and commenting on it. I'm in the process of rewriting it, because it's full of errors (misinterpretation of time dilation, a '+' instead of '-' in the Lorentz factor, oops! ) and unclear language, including much of the description of time.

On the paper

There are several fundamental things that are not very clear to me. But this is what I got out of the paper.

We start from assuming space is Euclidean (this is not stated at all, in fact I am not sure if this is what is being assumed ),

$(\mathbb{R}^{3}, \delta)$. The time is "added" to this via

$||t_{1}-t_{2}||^{2} = \frac{1}{c} |x_{1}-x_{2}|^{2}$,

I suppose I start assuming space is Euclidean, but it becomes clear that space can be distorted by length contraction, differently for different observers. Is space still Euclidean after that? In the end I would assume that the curved space described by general relativity is correct, however that (and any treatment of gravity) is beyond the scope of the paper.

You've lost me on the math. Where do the squares on each side of the equation come from?

for two distinct points with coordinates $x_{1}$ and $x_{2}$ (suppress the space indices). This to me looks just like a rescaling of the Euclidean inner product. Here $c$ is some universal constant with units of velocity, it can be chosen to the the speed of light in vacua.

This does start to look a little bit like special relativity, but I see no way of mixing space and time as is required for all the phenomenological aspects of SR. The above rescaling of the inner product does look like the definition of a null path. In fact this was used as the definition of "time".

The paper says that time and distance are proportional. It might be possible to claim that time and distance are equivalent. What is an example of a phenomenological aspect of SR that requires space and time to be "mixed" in another way?

Specifically, the theory looks to be invariant under the Euclidean group. A claim is made that the Lorentz transformations can be recovered from this formulation, but it is not presented. Only the gamma factor is show to play a role here.

There are several notions of time introduced in the paper. Also it is not always clear to what frame the time measurements are referring to.

There is a lack of references.

I cannot see that the paper will be of much interest.

I'm doing a derivation of the full Lorentz transformation in the rewrite, but it still needs work. Earlier I thought that just the Lorentz factor itself was enough to show time dilation that matches special relativity.

Yes, ambiguity in the language used to describe time and which frame is referred to, is a major flaw in the paper and needs much revision.

It lacks references because I've never read a science paper! The theory follows from "general" information or high-school level stuff found on wikipedia. Would it be useful to put individual references to wikipedia pages in the reference section, and refer to them individually through the paper?

I have to admit that I'm disappointed that you think the paper is not of much interest. I feel like I've figured out the nature of time better than anyone ever before me (the reality of it, but not the math). I'll try to drum up some more interest, in the Relativity forum, after I have a satisfactory rewrite. If I'm relegated to the pseudoscience forum after that, then I'll just have to continue the work on my own, as a crackpot. That's unfortunate, because this branches off into so many different topics that I have completely inadequate understanding of, and it'd be easier for others to figure out.

Thanks for the comments,

md

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It lacks references because I've never read a science paper!

I have to admit that I'm disappointed that you think the paper is not of much interest.

I don't want to sound mean-spirited here, because it is not my intention at all, but I strongly suspect that these two quotes are related. Your having not read any other scientific papers, it is easy to understand why your paper would be of little interest to the other people who write these papers. It is also pretty bold claiming that you think you've "figured out the nature of time better than anyone ever before me" when you admit an ignorance of all the literature before you.

Science is an iterative process. "On the shoulders of giants" is a typical motto. In short, it means that you learn the work that has come before you, and build upon it. Even if you are correcting or changing previous work, you are still building on it. No one person can develop all the ideas on their own, certainly not anymore, and not for quite some time. Even Einstein's papers are heavily referenced to work done before he published.

So, I guess what I am suggesting is to read the previous literature -- I am sure that there are many things you can learn from it. At the very least, you need to know what current understanding is so that you can adequately explain how your idea is different.

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I don't want to sound mean-spirited here, because it is not my intention at all, but I strongly suspect that these two quotes are related. Your having not read any other scientific papers, it is easy to understand why your paper would be of little interest to the other people who write these papers. It is also pretty bold claiming that you think you've "figured out the nature of time better than anyone ever before me" when you admit an ignorance of all the literature before you.

I mostly agree with you. My ignorance is definitely holding me back and making things difficult. I only "feel" like I've figured out how time works, I don't know it. I definitely feel like a crackpot. Every few days I think of something that completely changes the meaning of my theory, and there's no reason to believe that the current iteration is going to get it right.

Okay so I'm a crackpot. I admit it!

On the plus side: The more I read about existing work on relativity, the easier it is to make sense of things, and the less "new" my ideas seem. But this is a good thing for crackpots; it means there's hope! The feeling of wanting to do it all yourself and take on the world because "everybody else is wrong" is a trap!

The feeling that I've figured out time comes from this: IF I'm right, then it makes much more sense to explain relativity at an introductory level in terms of time, and not in terms of "the speed of light". But, I'll take another page from Book of Advice for Crackpots, and stop talking about "my theory", until the evidence is ready.

Science is an iterative process. "On the shoulders of giants" is a typical motto. In short, it means that you learn the work that has come before you, and build upon it. Even if you are correcting or changing previous work, you are still building on it. No one person can develop all the ideas on their own, certainly not anymore, and not for quite some time. Even Einstein's papers are heavily referenced to work done before he published.

Science is also revolutionary. Many of the greatest discoveries build upon previous work but turn it completely on its head. One new idea can open a floodgate for a lot of new ideas, from a lot of different people. Galileo, Newton, Einstein... they must have all experienced resistance to their ideas, which improved previous understanding but could be seen as a denial of established knowledge. I know this isn't true of everyone or all fields, but it seems like scientists don't expect any revolutionary ideas in some fields, and they close their minds to them. The generation that accepts the previous revolutionary idea becomes the next to say "it's only iterative from here on."

But I think that the days of revolutionary ideas will only be over when scientists are quitting their jobs because there's nothing new left to do, and I don't foresee that happening any time soon.

Uh... sorry I kinda went off topic there. My work iterates on Einstein's work

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md, I think that this is a pretty darn good attitude to have. I hope that you stick with the work, and continue to follow the tenants of good science at the same time.

We had a good discussion on this forum a while back about whether an amateur could contribute something meaningful to the scientific community. In short, we all agreed that while it was unlikely, it wasn't impossible. The investment of time and resources to catch up to state of the art is a major cost to most people, but it isn't impossible for an amateur to accomplish. Just unlikely.

I do wish you the best of luck.

Edited by Bignose

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