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Problem solved: There are no laws of physics, says prominent string theorist

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Calabi yau formatted.svg And Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray, can just suck it up. From IAS director Robbert Dijkgraaf at Quanta:

Scientists seek a single description of reality. But modern physics allows for many different descriptions, many equivalent to one another, connected through a vast landscape of mathematical possibility.

The current Standard Model of particle physics is indeed a tightly constructed mechanism with only a handful of ingredients. Yet instead of being unique, the universe seems to be one of an infinitude of possible worlds. We have no clue why this particular combination of particles and forces underlies nature’s structure. Why are there six “flavors” of quarks, three “generations” of neutrinos, and one Higgs particle? Furthermore, the Standard Model comes with 19 constants of nature — numbers like the mass and charge of the electron — that have to be measured in experiments. The values of these “free parameters” seem to be without any deeper meaning. On the one hand, particle physics is a wonder of elegance; on the other hand, it is a just-so story.

If our world is but one of many, how do we deal with the alternatives? The current point of view can be seen as the polar opposite of Einstein’s dream of a unique cosmos. Modern physicists embrace the vast space of possibilities and try to understand its overarching logic and interconnectedness. From gold diggers they have turned into geographers and geologists, mapping the landscape in detail and studying the forces that have shaped it.

The game changer that led to this switch of perspective has been string theory. More.

What a surprise.

Mathematician and string theory skeptic Peter Woit comments at Not Even Wrong:

While giving the usual 1995 justification for the “M-theory” conjecture of a unique string theory, Dijkgraaf neglects to mention that, 23 years later, no one has a viable proposal for what this unique theory might be. He mentions none of the problems of moduli stabilization, or that the theorists “mapping the landscape in detail” don’t actually know what equations govern this supposed landscape and thus have hit a dead-end, unable to predict anything about anything.

The argument seems to be that we need to throw out our highly successful quantum field theories, replacing them with a “radical new framework” describing “impenetrable complexity”. But what is this “radical new framework”? As best I can tell, what’s now popular at the IAS is the “it from qubit” idea that is the topic of this summer’s PITP program. More.

Well, throwing things out, whether those things are ideas or biology profs, is now Cool. Rationality is on the run everywhere. Check out the invasion of the sciences by post-modernism and the feeble response from Big Science.

See also: Well, physics probably HAS gone off the rails if NBC is reporting it. They used to be a regular stop for news of crackpot cosmology.


How string theory can be a theory of everything. That’s so typical. It’s either a theory of everything or a theory of nothing. Such grandeur can easily do without much evidence.

6 Replies to “Problem solved: There are no laws of physics, says prominent string theorist

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Poor Allan Keith. No laws of physics for God to violate. How will he ever be able to believe.

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Mute testimony to the power of the fine tuning challenge.

  3. 3

    One can only smile and shrug at such a/mat nonsense.

  4. 4
    ScuzzaMan says:

    the universe seems to be one of an infinitude of possible worlds

    What makes it seem so?

    This claim just hangs there, in that Wile E Coyote moment before it plummets, utterly unsupported by fact or logic, to the cold hard rocky depths of stupid canyon …

    Mute testimony to the power of the fine tuning challenge.

    Indeed it has driven them MAD (Materialist-Atheist-Darwinian).

    There certainly are laws of physics.

    One of them is that physicists are not immune from idiocy.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    The Christian presupposition that there should even be universal laws governing the universe lay at the founding of modern science.

    Psalm 119:89-91
    Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven. Your faithfulness extends to every generation, as enduring as the earth you created. Your regulations remain true to this day, for everything serves your plans.

    “Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator. In most modern scientists this belief has died: it will be interesting to see how long their confidence in uniformity survives it.”
    Lewis, C.S., Miracles: a preliminary study, Collins, London, p. 110, 1947.

    In fact, the first major unification in physics, indeed the founding of modern physics, was Sir Isaac Newton’s realization that “the same force that caused an apple to fall at the Earth’s surface—gravity—was also responsible for holding the Moon in orbit about the Earth”,,

    Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation
    Excerpt: The first major unification in physics was Sir Isaac Newton’s realization that the same force that caused an apple to fall at the Earth’s surface—gravity—was also responsible for holding the Moon in orbit about the Earth. This universal force would also act between the planets and the Sun, providing a common explanation for both terrestrial and astronomical phenomena.

    In regards to this first unification, Sir Isaac Newton stated: “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One;,,,”

    “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being. And if the fixed stars are the centres of other like systems, these, being formed by the like wise counsel, must be all subject to the dominion of One; especially since the light of the fixed stars is of the same nature with the light of the sun, and from every system light passes into all the other systems: and lest the systems of the fixed stars should, by their gravity, fall on each other mutually, he hath placed those systems at immense distances one from another. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called Lord God pantokrator, or Universal Ruler;,,, The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, absolutely perfect;,,, from his true dominion it follows that the true God is a living, intelligent, and powerful Being; and, from his other perfections, that he is supreme, or most perfect. He is eternal and infinite, omnipotent and omniscient; that is, his duration reaches from eternity to eternity; his presence from infinity to infinity; he governs all things, and knows all things that are or can be done. He is not eternity or infinity, but eternal and infinite; he is not duration or space, but he endures and is present. He endures for ever, and is every where present”:
    – Sir Isaac Newton – “Principia”

    Atheists simply do not now have, nor have they ever had, a coherent reason why the universal laws should remain constant, Moreover, if the universal laws did not remain constant, modern science would not be possible.

    Scientists Question Nature’s Fundamental Laws – Michael Schirber – 2006
    Excerpt: “There is absolutely no reason these constants should be constant,” says astronomer Michael Murphy of the University of Cambridge. “These are famous numbers in physics, but we have no real reason for why they are what they are.”,,,
    The observed differences are small-roughly a few parts in a million-but the implications are huge (if they hold up): The laws of physics would have to be rewritten, not to mention we might need to make room for six more spatial dimensions than the three that we are used to.”,,,
    The speed of light, for instance, might be measured one day with a ruler and a clock. If the next day the same measurement gave a different answer, no one could tell if the speed of light changed, the ruler length changed, or the clock ticking changed.

    The unchanging nature of the universal laws have now been measured, in many cases, to extraordinary degrees of precision:

    Stronger and More Comprehensive Tests Affirm the Universe’s Unchanging Physics – July 1, 2013 By Dr. Hugh Ross
    Excerpt: For thousands of years, the Bible has been on record stating that the physical laws governing the universe do not vary. For example, Jeremiah 33:25, God declares that he “established the fixed laws of heaven and earth” (NIV, 1984).,,,
    Laboratory measurements have established that variations any greater than four parts per hundred quadrillion (less than 4 x 10-17) per year cannot exist in the fine structure constant, which undergirds several of the physical laws.,,,
    ,,they confirmed with 99 percent certainty that possible variations in the fine structure must be less than two parts per 10 quadrillion per year over the past 10 billion years. This limit is about a thousand times more constraining than the one I described in More Than a Theory.

    Distant quasar spectrum reveals no sign of changes in mass ratio of proton and electron over 12 billion years – Feb 25, 2015
    Excerpt: A team of space researchers working with data from the VLT in Chile has found via measuring the spectrum of a distant quasar by analyzing absorption lines in a galaxy in front of it, that there was no measurable change in the mass ratio of protons and electrons over a span of 12 billion years.,,,
    Some theories suggest that dark energy, the mysterious force that has the universe continuing to expand, might be a field that evolves over time—if so, that might mean that some of the constants we take for granted, such as gravity, the speed of light, etc., might actually evolve as well. In this new effort, the researchers sought to test that idea by looking to see if the mass of protons or electrons (both of which are considered to be fundamental constants) and the ratio that describes their mass difference, changed over the course of billions of years.,,,
    Their measurements showed no deviation (with a precision of 10^–6) from the current constant, suggesting that the ratio has remained constant for at least 12 billon years. And this, the researchers claim, suggests that if dark energy is evolving, it has not done so over that time span.

    Stephen Hawking Says Nothing Existed Before Big Bang; Christian Astrophysicist Hugh Ross Responds – By Michael Gryboski – Mar 5, 2018
    Excerpt: Ross responded that while Hawking was correct that “time has a beginning,” nevertheless “the beginning of time demands a Causal Agent capable of creating time independent of time. It is not enough to simply speculate that imaginary time also exists.”,,,
    ,,,the (quantum fluctuation) model that Hawking is proposing for the origins of the Universe is problematic in light of modern astronomical observations.,,,
    “Recent observations showing that the images of distant quasars and blazars are not blurry, but rather are sharp, constrain the size of these quantum space-time fluctuations. The fluctuations are not large enough to escape the need for a Creator who creates space and time or for the universe to have a finite age.”

    How do we know the universe is flat? Discovering the topology of the universe – June 7, 2017 by Fraser Cain
    Excerpt: With the most sensitive space-based telescopes they have available, astronomers are able to detect tiny variations in the temperature of this background radiation.
    And here’s the part that blows my mind every time I think about it. These tiny temperature variations correspond to the largest scale structures of the observable universe. A region that was a fraction of a degree warmer become a vast galaxy cluster, hundreds of millions of light-years across.
    The cosmic microwave background radiation just gives and gives, and when it comes to figuring out the topology of the universe, it has the answer we need. If the universe was curved in any way, these temperature variations would appear distorted compared to the actual size that we see these structures today.,,,
    But they’re not. To best of its ability, ESA’s Planck space telescope, can’t detect any distortion at all. The universe is flat.,,,
    Since the universe is flat now, it must have been flat in the past, when the universe was an incredibly dense singularity. And for it to maintain this level of flatness over 13.8 billion years of expansion, in kind of amazing.
    In fact, astronomers estimate that the universe must have been flat to 1 part within 1×10^57 parts.
    Which seems like an insane coincidence.


    Job 38:4-5
    “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
    Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?

  6. 6
    aarceng says:

    It wouldn’t be the first time people have mistaken the problem for the solution.

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