Snap! The light has gone on in your head, and you have a brilliant and revolutionary new theory of physics. But you’re not a professional physicist, you’re just an amateur who may or may not have any physics training at all. How will you get your ideas recognized?
Here’s the problem. There’s thousands and thousands of people thinking the same thing, and the vast majority of them range somewhere between simply incorrect and outright crazy. Fortunately, there’s some easy ways to tell where you fall on that scale or if indeed you might be on to something - it does happen, after all.
1. Is your theory mathematically specific? In other words, if your idea is not expressed mathematically you need to work on it until it is. If you don’t know the math, try learning it. That advice is perfectly serious; mathematics is not easy but it can be learned by any reasonably intelligent person willing to devote real time to it. Local libraries and colleges will be of great help. But until your theory can be described mathematically, it has no hope of making clear predictions about the results of experiments. You must be able to get actual numerical answers to problems using your theory. This is an ironclad requirement.
2. Does the theory make clear predictions? Any mathematical theory from Newton’s laws of motion to quantum mechanics to relativity necessarily makes predictions. Plug numbers into the equations and see what numbers come out. Do they make sense and do they reflect what we actually observe?
3. Are the predictions different from the predictions of current theory? If you think your theory can explain everything that accepted theory can, great! But if there’s no difference from accepted theory anywhere then you’ve not actually made any forward progress. What numbers do your equations produce that are different from the numbers standard equations produce? Can these differences be detected experimentally?
And that’s it. If you satisfy those three requirements you may well be on your way to a real discovery. If not, you have to keep thinking until you do. This is what professional physicists do pretty much all day!