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On the unexpected fate of scientific ideas. An archeology of the Carroll group

by Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond

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Submission summary

Authors (as registered SciPost users): Jean-Marc Lévy-Leblond
Submission information
Preprint Link: scipost_202212_00064v1  (pdf)
Date accepted: 2023-08-11
Date submitted: 2022-12-22 20:31
Submitted by: Lévy-Leblond, Jean-Marc
Submitted to: SciPost Physics Proceedings
Proceedings issue: 34th International Colloquium on Group Theoretical Methods in Physics (GROUP2022)
Ontological classification
Academic field: Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
Approach: Theoretical


In 1965, I published a paper, exhibiting a hitherto unknown limit of the Lorentz group, which I christened “Carroll group” because of its seemingly paradoxical physical contents. Since I saw it as more curious than relevant, I published it in French in a journal somewhat afar from the mainstream of theoretical physics at that time. It was most gratifying to witness the quite unexpected favour this paper started to enjoy half a century later, so much that a so-called “Carrollian physics” is now developing, with applications in various domains of forefront theoretical physics, such as quantum gravitation, supersymmetry, string theory, etc. I offer this narrative as an example of the very diverse time scales with which scientific ideas may develop — or not.

Published as SciPost Phys. Proc. 14, 006 (2023)

Submission & Refereeing History

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Submission scipost_202212_00064v1 on 22 December 2022

Reports on this Submission

Anonymous Report 1 on 2023-1-5 (Invited Report)

  • Cite as: Anonymous, Report on arXiv:scipost_202212_00064v1, delivered 2023-01-05, doi: 10.21468/SciPost.Report.6460


1. Pleasant to read, very well written and captivating.
2. Interesting mixture of physics, mathematics and epistemology. The author was in a unique position to present this.
3. The ideas presented should have some impact within the community.


None really. It was an invited special presentation of epistemological nature, and it fit its role perfectly.


The manuscript "On the unexpected fate of scientific ideas - An archeology of the Carroll group" by J.M. Lévy-Leblond is more than appropriate for publication in these proceedings. Very well written and captivating, with a perfect mixture of physics, mathematics and epistemology. Although it is very doubtful that many physics instructors will switch to "chronogeometry" from "relativiy", I expect that the proposals put forward by the author should nevertheless have some impact within the community. In addition, various aspects of the conclusion should be of interest to researchers and students.

  • validity: high
  • significance: good
  • originality: high
  • clarity: high
  • formatting: excellent
  • grammar: excellent

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