Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Oxford theoretical physicist laments discipline’s stalemate

Ferreira: We’re no closer to answering the big questions about dark matter, dark energy and the origins of the Universe than when I started out. This isn’t for lack of trying, and a titanic effort is now underway to try and figure out all these mysterious aspects of the Universe. But there’s no guarantee we’ll succeed, and we might end up never really grasping how the Universe works.

Books of interest Cosmology Culture Intelligent Design Naturalism Physics popular science and science education

String theory skeptic Peter Woit reflects on Stephen Hawking

Peter Woit on Hawking’s 2010 The Grand Design, co-written with Leonard Mlodinow: ” I wrote about this book in some detail here. Put bluntly, it was an atrocious rehash of the worst nonsense about M-theory and the string theory landscape, with an argument for atheism thrown in to get more public attention. This is the sort of thing that has done a huge amount of damage to both the public understanding of fundamental physics, and even to the field itself.”

Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Sabine Hossenfelder: Does the universe have higher dimensions?

Hossenfelder: If one adds 7 dimensions of space to our normal three dimensions, then one can describe all of the fundamental forces of nature geometrically. And that sounds like a really promising idea for a unified theory of physics. Indeed, in the early 1980s, the string theorist Edward Witten thought it was intriguing that seven additional dimensions of space is also the maximum for supergravity. However, that numerical coincidence turned out to not lead anywhere. This geometric construction of fundamental forces which is called Kaluza-Klein theory, suffers from several problems that no one has managed to solved.

Cosmology Intelligent Design Physics

Is a new “muon” finding evidence for a fifth force of nature? Rob Sheldon weighs in

Sheldon: I hate to disappoint you, but most of my gut reaction is negative… In fact, this 40-year stasis in particle physics has meant that two generations of graduate students have never had a successful breakthrough experiment, or confirmed a new theory. The field, as Sabine Hossenfelder reminds everyone, is littered with wrong papers.

Culture Intelligent Design Naturalism Physics

Is this the beginning of deplatforming Stephen Hawking or of an honest evaluation?

Seife: Hawking managed to convince the public that his opinion always mattered. “[H]is comments attracted exaggerated attention even on topics where he had no special expertise,” wrote Martin Rees, a close friend and colleague of his, “for instance philosophy, or the dangers from aliens or from intelligent machines.” His overweening confidence—and his stubbornness—cost him respect from many of his colleagues, especially late in his career.

Cosmology Culture Intelligent Design Physics

Stan Robertson’s paper on black holes is free for download

One factor that one needn’t be a physicist to see is that black holes became a “thing” in popular culture, in a way that “red dwarfs” and “white dwarfs” never did. No one says that red dwarfs, for example, are a gateway to another universe. That sort of thing may affect people’s willingness to evaluate the evidence base critically. Cf Darwinism.