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The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next (2006)

de Lee Smolin

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MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaMencions
1,3542813,635 (3.89)50
"A splendid, edifying report from the front lines of theorectical physics" (San Francisco Chronicle).   In this illuminating book, renowned physicist Lee Smolin argues that fundamental physics--the search for the laws of nature--is losing its way.   Ambitious ideas about extra dimensions, exotic particles, multiple universes, and strings have captured the public's imagination--and the imagination of experts. But these ideas have not been tested experimentally, and some, like string theory, seem to offer no possibility of being tested. Even still, these speculations dominate the field, attracting the best talent and much of the funding, while creating a climate in which emerging physicists are often penalized for pursuing other avenues. The situation threatens to impede the very progress of science.   With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin offers an unblinking assessment of the troubles that face modern physics, and an encouraging view of where the search for the next big idea may lead.   "The best book about contemporary science written for the layman that I have ever read." --The Times (London)  … (més)
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From my perspective as an engineer with a PhD who never found a place in the "establishment" (R1 university, national lab), any critical take on academic science is sorely necessary. I know this isn't an ivory tower takedown as much as a critique on physics research in general, but I found it great, even though it's 16 years old.

While I'm not sure exactly how physics research has advanced in those 16 years (other than the experimental evidence of the Higgs Boson, which I feel like most people are aware of), my intuition leads me to believe that the beauty and elegance of string theory / theories have not advanced our understanding of the universe any more than it had when the book was first published. An updated edition with an additional chapter would be great for those of us not keeping up with scientific advances in the field.

Generally a great look into a theory I've always been deeply skeptical of, and a scientific system that is deeply flawed. You definitely do not need any physics background to read this book, although basic physics knowledge would likely make it much more approachable. I appreciated Smolin's ability to make the topic accessible.

Bonus: if you want to make this book into a drinking game, take a shot every time the author says something to the effect of "I have nothing but the utmost respect for my colleagues in string theory, but..." (At one point I laughed out loud when the version of this statement was along the lines of "but some of my best friends are string theorists!") ( )
  lemontwist | Mar 28, 2022 |
2/28/22
  laplantelibrary | Feb 28, 2022 |
This book changed my perception of the field of physics forever. Smolin excellently criticizes the most toxic elements of the academic physics community. He demonstrates how the power held by older physicists squashes the creativity of younger physicists, and how the consequence of that is heavy investment in the most likely dead-end of string theory. His unique personal experience brings invaluable insight. My only criticism is that Smolin repeats himself; this book would be stronger at 1/2 its length. ( )
  geodesic_eagle | Oct 24, 2020 |
Here's a book that is good but could be better.
It has the general aim of explaining the current state of fundamental physics, first in terms of the physics itself and second in terms of how it is practised (with particular reference to the USA).

THIS REVIEW HAS BEEN CURTAILED IN PROTEST AT GOODREADS' CENSORSHIP POLICY

See the complete review here:

http://arbieroo.booklikes.com/post/334959/post ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
If you are looking for an uptodate discussion of the controversy of string theory and whether it's a cult or just a hoax, The Multidisciplinarian has posted a nice essay complete with lots of further reading: The Trouble with Strings. One of the things Smolin discusses is the sociology of string theory. The Multidisciplinarian comments:

A telling example of the tendency for string theory to exclude rivals comes from a 2004 exchange on the sci.physics.strings Google group between Luboš Motl and Wolfgang Lerche of CERN, who does a lot of work on strings and branes. Motl pointed to Leonard Susskind’s then recent embrace of “landscapes,” a concept Susskind had dismissed before it became useful to string theory. To this Lerche replied:

“what I find irritating is that these ideas are out since the mid-80s… this work had been ignored (because it didn’t fit into the philosophy at the time) by the same people who now re-“invent” the landscape, appear in journals in this context and even seem to write books about it. There had always been proponents of this idea, which is not new by any means.. . . the whole discussion could (and in fact should) have been taken place in 1986/87. The main thing what has changed since then is the mind of certain people, and what you now see is the Stanford propaganda machine working at its fullest.”


You can find it here: http://themultidisciplinarian.com/2016/02/01/the-trouble-with-strings/


I'm afraid that what follows here is what came out of my pen after I read Smolin's very interesting book. It has nothing to do with the book, but I had fun writing it. The book is worthy of another sort of review altogether, and if I'd been in another sort of mood altogether, I dare say that's what would have come out.

A review written in the straightforward three dimensions.
The dimensions God intended us to have.

What I have learned about string theory from this book.

http://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2014/03/08/the-trouble-with-physics-t... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
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Lee Smolinautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Frediani, SimonettaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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Wikipedia en anglès (6)

"A splendid, edifying report from the front lines of theorectical physics" (San Francisco Chronicle).   In this illuminating book, renowned physicist Lee Smolin argues that fundamental physics--the search for the laws of nature--is losing its way.   Ambitious ideas about extra dimensions, exotic particles, multiple universes, and strings have captured the public's imagination--and the imagination of experts. But these ideas have not been tested experimentally, and some, like string theory, seem to offer no possibility of being tested. Even still, these speculations dominate the field, attracting the best talent and much of the funding, while creating a climate in which emerging physicists are often penalized for pursuing other avenues. The situation threatens to impede the very progress of science.   With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin offers an unblinking assessment of the troubles that face modern physics, and an encouraging view of where the search for the next big idea may lead.   "The best book about contemporary science written for the layman that I have ever read." --The Times (London)  

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