The relativists are applied mathematicians who dedicated their careers to gravitation and especially to cosmology as being the least understood branch of physics, and having the least (if any) applications. Therefore seemingly not requiring much work since any paper supporting mainstream ideas (as the Big Bang hypothesis) is most likely to be published and then being a proof of their "scientific activity".
The relativists, called by themselves "gravity physicists" or more recently "mathematical physicists," are scientists who in words of Feynman are "neither good physicists nor good mathematicians." Feynman described:
- I am not getting anything out of the meeting. I am learning nothing. Because there are no experiments this field is not an active one, so few of the best men are doing work in it. The result is that there are hosts of dopes here (126) and it is not good for my blood pressure: such inane things are said and seriously discussed here that I get into arguments outside the formal sessions (say, at lunch) whenever anyone asks me a question or starts to tell me about his "work". The "work" is always: (1) completely un-understandable, (2) vague and indefinite, (3) something correct that is obvious and self evident, but a worked out by a long and difficult analysis, and presented as an important discovery, or, a (4) claim based on the stupidity of the author that some obvious and correct fact, accepted and checked for years, is, in fact, false (these are the worst: no argument will convince the idiot), (5) an attempt to do something probably impossible, but certainly of no utility, which it is finally revealed at the end, fails (dessert arrives and is eaten), or (6) just plain wrong. There is great deal of "activity in the field" these days, but this "activity" is mainly in showing that the previous "activity" of somebody else resulted in an error or in nothing useful or in nothing promising. It is like a lot of worms trying to get out of a bottle by crawling all over each other. Remind me not to come to any more gravity conferences!
- Richard P. Feynman, "Feynman lectures on physics"
- Quoted from Feynman's letter to his wife while attending Gravity Conference in 1962 in Warsaw, Poland published in book "What Do You Care What Other People Think", page 91