Friday, January 24, 2020

RIP, Tony Smith, a kindest and most prolific of crackpots

I learned from the GA Net, Geoffrey Dixon's blog, and Not Even Wrong that Tony Smith died on October 11th, 2019. He was one of the Internet's most famous... "alternative physicists"... and I've had some communication with him over the years. shows that he has posted an incredible 102 preprints over there. They're mostly about the Clifford algebras and exceptional groups as unification dreams; and some philosophy of physics and its relationship with other disciplines.

As the long-term readers know, this blog was primarily founded in 2004 as a weapon to fight against crackpots. But some aspects of personalities and personal chemistry always play a role and from my viewpoint, he was a pleasant chap. He was born as Frank Dodd (Tony added later) Smith on March 13, 1941 in Cartersville, Georgia (it's between Atlanta and... Rome... you know, Florence is 200 extra kilometers further away). When he died, he was over 78 years old.

He had an undergraduate degree from Princeton and a PhD from the Emory University School of Law – and he has worked as an attorney in Georgia for decades.

I've never realized he was an old man when I communicated with him. His name isn't terribly widespread on this website. He appears in a dozen of blog posts and most of the time, he is just an entry in a list of crackpots. And he was really a canonical example of a crackpot, with all the creative personality traits and wrongness about physics you can imagine.

But he just wasn't aggressive. When I search for his "letters-and-digits at" e-mail address in my inbox, I find 13 conversations just between 2017 and 2019 – about bets, SUSY, strings, Czech towns, Bogdanoff brothers, Chinese firewall, and his climate skepticism with some proofs, among other things. I don't have time to investigate but unlike many others, he didn't ever drive me up the wall. He wasn't malicious.

He has pushed many things involving the Clifford algebras and exceptional groups that others mostly copied from him (and Geoffrey Dixon) many years later (this whole research program – including the graviweak unification, Clifford algebras as the foundation of the Standard Model, and the exceptional groups seen in the Standard Model – is completely misguided, as I have explained many times).

He was much smarter and more creative than many other crackpots who pretend to be real scientists (and who often get real jobs as if they were real scientists!) and who are really aggressive. As you know, I can't stand pompous fools, crackpots who pretend to be full-blown scientists if not the superiors of me or the world's best physicists. But Tony Smith wasn't one of them. This peacefulness may also be the reason why he didn't get a job at Oxford or other places, as others, less creative crackpots doing very similar things. And he was also a man who appreciated the general concept of beauty in physics and its importance.

RIP, Tony.

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