String Theory


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String Theory

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des. 30, 2015, 4:14 pm

There is a growing anti-String Theory movement, that it is noticed by the huffingtonpost shows that this opposition is growing. See here:

If anyone is interested, there are two books that attack string theory:

The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next, Lee Smolin, 2006
Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law, Peter Woit, 2007

Basically, they argue that without experimental verification String Theory is a mathematical hallucination. I agree with these authors. Without experimental verification, physics is in danger of becoming theology.

des. 30, 2015, 9:41 pm

Peter Woit also writes a blog called, surprisingly enough, Not Even Wrong that can be found here:

It's s pretty good source for news and info on the subject.

Editat: des. 31, 2015, 1:41 am

I too was going to point to Woit's excellent blog, an informative and entertaining source on things about which I am clearly only an interested dilettante. (I should add that to me dilettantism is a worthy pursuit, as life is too short and the universe too large to gain mastery over more than a tiny iota. The large remainder fills much of my time with awe.)

I applaud the trend you mention, Joe. On the subject of theology, it's probably a matter of faith to me that physics is too dynamic to devolve into a permanent argument over angels and heads of pins. I believe there are too many bright people committed to what we can know for that to be the ultimate fate of the enterprise. But even were we headed for that worst-case theocratic physics, I imagine future scientists born into such an orthodoxy doing what young scientists are always doing: killing their fathers.

des. 31, 2015, 4:15 am

Guys, I was unaware of the blog, thanks!

A theological physics is definitely "worse case scenario" and I don't want to leave the impression that Smolin and Woit think we have reached that point. They typically refer to string theory as a mathematical aesthetics, conceding the beauty of the maths involved, but insisting that beauty too (in physics, at any rate) be subject to facts (i.e., experimental verification).

But this beauty has hypnotized some of the best minds of two generations...

While I am not as optimistic as you are, stellar, I do note that the idiot scientistic superstitions of uniformitarianism and gradualism seem to be on the run, and - insofar as they were the ultimate source of much contented blindness within the scientific community regarding 'theories of everything' - there is reason to be hopeful.

For instance, probing the edge of our solar system has thrown many old assumptions regarding same into doubt. Science, real science, lies not in the defense of established theories, but in their overturning. The way to the future (i.e., to a more comprehensive scientific understanding) always goes through the anomalies that each theory inevitably sets aside.


des. 31, 2015, 1:10 pm

Yes, and maybe we're only really talking about the time scale along which the field might remain stuck?

This reminds me of a question I was once asked in an interview for school. I was younger, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Interviewer: "Do you believe science is getting at some kind of ultimate truth?

Me: "No, we are just engaged in making models that better fit the available evidence."

Interviewer: " Ah. A modern man."

I didn't get in. Maybe that's incidental.

Editat: des. 31, 2015, 8:30 pm

>5 stellarexplorer: I do like your answer. I have always believed there is an important difference between Mathematics & Physics :-)

gen. 1, 2016, 9:44 am

Well, that 'movement' peaked about a decade ago, and was always more concerned with the sociology (in particular the way string theory was over-hyped in the popular press of the nineties and naughties) than with the science. The fact that it has finally made it to HuffPo may tell us more about that site than about the topic.

Woit's blog remains a good resource for that kind of sociological discussion. In particular, let me point out his recent review of Joseph Conlon’s Why String Theory? as a "quite good" and "generally sensible" defense of string theory as a scientific endeavor. I do have some concern that Woit's review may confuse non-experts by mixing in more critical comments on recent articles by Ethan Siegel (criticizing string theory) and Daniel Harlow (promoting string theory), so read it carefully if you do read it. Let me also point out Woit's most recent comment in the discussion of that blog post, which begins: "More or less identical arguments over string theory have now been going on for a decade or so, without a lot of change."

On the subject of the science, Matt Strassler's series of posts on Quantum Field Theory, String Theory, and Predictions (starting here) is a better introduction.

PS. I just checked that Woit's blog and the books by Smolin and by Woit were discussed on this very message board 9 years ago:

juny 2, 2016, 4:09 am

I like Lee Smolin. I should read more of him... thank you for this.

Editat: març 1, 2018, 2:25 pm

Millennia ago on Earth, a group known as "the teachers" explained to a small African tribe in Mali (the Dogon) many fundamental facts about science, including string theory, and the actual total number of elementary particles (266) in existence. In the 21st century, a number of astrophysicists have voiced their support for the continued exploration of these hypotheses and the attributed home solar system of those teachers.

Books that further explain these teachings include The science of the Dogon, which is introduced on YouTube as well:

One such recent cable TV episode is on the History channel:

A copyrighted excerpt on that topic from the above book:

Note to LT staff: I hope the above long search string does not create an LT formatting problem ... if it does, is it fixable, or should I go ahead and eventually delete this long search string after a few hours or days? Thanks for reading.

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