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Maybe it's just me, but in the last weeks or so I noticed a small increas of the number of more theoretical question on this site. I consider myself on this side and I wondered how many, if this is quantifiable, of the physical models are eventually "put to use" (under quotation marks, see below).

Of course, the aim is to eventually find a physical theory, maybe the physical theory, but in reality, nobody in high energy physics can expect to land the big hit in less than quite some years. The thing is that whenever I concern myself with some set of models, privately, then I don't really care if what I do would be labeled "physics" or "the study of some sections over some manifold and it's associated algebraic structures." All these things are beautiful to work with. And so often I'm not sure if people really want to make physics or if that's just what they have to say to be able to keep doing it. I guess this paragraph basically seeks for a theoretical physicists apology.

So I think especially of the different field and lattice models in this case. Clearly, theories like electromagnetism, semi-conductor models or microscopic theories for reaction rates are transformed to money in the industy. Considering only models which involve, say, some Lagrangian or Hamiltonian, can it be estimated how many of them see the day of light in the above sense? I'm fairly young and I don't have any overview. Are these kind of theories always only born in universities? (I guess maybe goverment funded theory departments are somewhere in between.)

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closed as not constructive by Qmechanic Jun 6 '13 at 14:37

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On May 5th was closed and the questions were migrated to – Catherine Holloway May 31 '12 at 21:20
Hm, I`m somehow not so happy reading this question. Theoretical physicists try to find out how nature works and the language nature uses is mathematics. So why should people need an apology to busy themselfs with mathematical structures that are (potentially) important to explain and describe things ? Many people do much less useful or nice things in their lives without ever justifying it ... ;-) – Dilaton May 31 '12 at 21:22
BTW, I think the level of the questions has improved which is a good thing. – Dilaton May 31 '12 at 21:23
@Dilaton: Well, yeah the word apology is a little critical here, although the wikipedia article explains that Hardy doesn't mean it as an excuse. In any way, you shouldn't be unhappy reading any question imho. – NikolajK May 31 '12 at 21:24
Well, The US, Japan and many European nations maintain nationally funded labs which also employ theorists... – dmckee May 31 '12 at 22:12

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