I am an academic, author and physics student. Currently on the long road to a PhD in physics, I am not quite at the point yet where I must narrow my focus and choose a particular field and sub-field, but my main interest is beginning to crystalize in and around the area of theoretical particle physics. I also have an ongoing and deep-seated enthusiasm for astrophysics, especially theoretical astrophysics. I’m also very passionate about science in general and also mathematics. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring various mathematical concepts, proofs, and first principles, as well as studying and writing in many other specialist fields across the natural and social sciences.
I have a high-functioning form Asperger’s. Of the various difficulties I experience, communication is one. This includes writing, which for me is quite a painstaking process. I created this website and my different blogs as a space for me to explore and share some of my thoughts and interests, as well as document my scholarship in a range of areas. The content is a mixture of formal publications and informal essays as well as personal notes, with my new blog offering a selection of some older writings mixed in with more recent articles.
A little more about me
Interested in Science and Philosophy (Social and Natural) at a young age, I remember first falling in love with physics the moment I observed as a young child the image of a professor, covered in chalk, etching masterful lines of equations. At the time, I was too young to understand it; but there was something magical about the sight of even the most basic calculus. And so from childhood dreams of being an astronaut, floating through an infinite universe, to the stirring inspiration I felt as a teenager when I learned of the story of the rocket boys, through to the seemingly magical properties of calculus, science and the awe-inspiring world of physics has been a core interest of mine for a very long time.
Growing up in and out of poverty, my childhood and adolescent years were incredibly difficult, characterized by neglect, abuse, periods of homelessness and many other horrible things. Due to personal reasons, I also had to leave school early. Circumstances unfortunately rarely permitted the pursuit of one’s interests and intellectual passions. Growing up was a time largely of survival. For years I also struggled with depression and anxiety disorder, and with simply trying to cope with everything going on around me. It was debilitating. Years later, in early adulthood, I was also diagnosed with a high-functioning form of Asperger’s, and so one can only imagine how a lack of proper support in this regard compounded matters when growing up.
But in this time of great difficulty and hardship which defined so much of my early years, there was the exception – the odd moment which, whether inspired by a teacher or a guidance counsellor or a handful of Professors I was fortunate enough to befriend, the wondrous fruits and passion of learning and education and science could be fully realized. I owe a great deal to those who continued to inspire me in the face of the worst: such as my first science teacher who supported me in my research and studies on aerodynamics at age 13; or different counsellors, individuals and families who offered me a safe place throughout the years; or people who encouraged me to continue to pursue my interests in physics and in a broad course of study that comprised of everything under the sun.
I still carry many of my notes with me, including some of the thoughts I began to develop in physics. From the natural sciences to psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, epistemology and everything in-between, I spent my younger days ensconced at the public library, hidden in south-east corner of the 5th floor, or sitting at the back of university lecture halls that I had sneaked into, carrying with me each day only my notes and some pocket change. They were not only a safe place, but also the environments in which I thrived. So much in my development is owed to this stretch of time, where, thanks to the kindheartedness of a few individuals, I was given a place to sleep or even in certain periods a basic allowance to live on, where I could spend my days at the library, working late nights on my notes, or sneaking into university classes.
When it comes to science, I researched everything in these early periods. Physics was of course always front and center, inspiring me to teach myself things like geometry and basic calculus and eventually also higher maths. In my spare time, however, I would research anything I could get my hands on: from chemistry, biology, ecology, environmental studies and geography to particular points of focus in terms of established theories of evolution or even different species of fish.
In terms of general philosophy, I started mostly with the Enlightenment philosophes and expanded outward from there. It laid a foundation. Devouring everything that I possibly could, I then also found inspiration in existential humanism, anglo-American (analytical) philosophy and finally also the normative foundations of critical theory. I spent a few years in my early twenties laying out everything that I had read, developing a research programme that concerned the pursuit of first principles in understanding the fundamental intersections of human society, human behaviour, subjectivity, theories of knowledge, and ethical practice. With science as my background, my principle focus was pursuing a number of interdisciplinary philosophical questions related particularly to social development, subjectivity and epistemology, the relation between science and society, and issues of social irrationality including the notion of the “deficit of reason” in contemporary society. Eventually expanding outward, I also studied and wrote on issues across geography, anthropology and sociology, as well as on many intersecting topics ranging from linguistics to philosophy of psychology, cognitive science, philosophy of mind, theories of knowledge and philosophy of history (to name a few).
These studies eventually led to more formally to the development and practice of a comprehensive cross-disciplinary and cross-field research program spanning the many intersections of natural science, social science, humanities and history that eventually also inspired the formal organization of an independent research institute and press. I was also fortunate in early adulthood to have also received the support of various Professors and to have been offered various positions of recognition and to work at university level in interdisciplinary research (having been invited to lecture and undertaking a teaching position) across a mixture of academic specialisms (from epistemology to philosophy of science). My early studies also led to the development of core social research documents such as one on ‘methodological innovation’, as well as the publication of over 100 articles and several books ranging diversely in subject matter, culminating finally in Society and Social Pathology: A Framework for Progress (Palgrave, 2017). This book represents my final publication in interdisciplinary social research, summarizing the project I started thinking about as a youth.
Today, my focus is entirely on my studies in science and my formal pursuit of a PhD in physics; but I continue to maintain a side interest in advanced scholarship in a number of areas and specialisms throughout the sciences. I also continue to study and write in many other disciplines in my spare time. This includes an ongoing interest in the enlightenment, epistemology and in philosophy of science, which aims to explore the foundations, methods, and implications of science, as well as a number of core theses concerning the relation between science and society. Other intersecting issues include theories of knowledge, reason and subjectivity as well as philosophy of history, ethics and social development.
Most importantly, though, I am just excited to be a formal student again – it’s like a return home – and I am doubly excited for the years ahead at university where I can continue to dedicate myself to physics. Where will it lead? Only time will tell.
Outside of school, in my leisure time, I enjoy keeping up with technology and in building my own computers. An assortment of other pastimes, such as computing and gaming, number and logic puzzles, and home chemistry never cease to keep me occupied. One of the deep interests that currently occupies whatever free time I have is scholarship on the history of science and mathematics. From Newton’s Principia to Euclid’s Elements, I am enjoying learning the why of mathematics and modern physics in the context of a broader evolution of thinking. One idea is that, in the future, I may turn all of my notes into a book.
I created this website and my different blogs as a space for me to share some of my studies and interests, and document different points of my scholarship. The content is a mixture of formal publications and informal essays as well as personal notes.
You can also find me on Twitter: @_rc_smith_
* Please note that this website is slowly being updated over time to include all of my work.