Oh and, Budget, meet Rationalization. But you two can talk later. The meeting is starting…
From physicsworld.com, we hear that the Perimeter Institute at MIT North (University of Waterloo, Canada) is starting to ask some questions about crackpot cosmology. As Louise Mayor tells us, on site:
Right now, top physicists from around the world are arriving in Waterloo, Canada, to attend a unique conference. Christened Convergence, the meeting is the brainchild of Neil Turok, director of thePerimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI) in Waterloo, where the event will be based. I spoke to Turok to find out what motivated him to set up this conference, what makes it so special, and what he hopes it will achieve.
Turok was fairly straightforward:
Turok explains that the “large bandwagon” of the last 30 years has not found experimental support. The bandwagon in question is the Standard Model of particle physics established in the 1970s, which, he says, people have been elaborating ever since. “Grand unified theories, supersymmetry, string theory, M-theory, multiverse theory,” he lists. “Each is not particularly radical, but is becoming ever more complex and arbitrary.”
To illustrate the lack of experimental support for these ideas, Turok describes how many people were hoping string theory would represent a radical development; but since string theory – as currently interpreted – leads to the multiverse, Turok describes it as the “least predictive theory ever”.
Which amounts to saying that falsifiability should remain a criterion in science.
I asked Turok what had changed between then and now – what had eventually made the conference happen? “The biggest thing that helped was the BICEP measurement,” he says. “Inflationists came out of the woodwork and said, yay, we were right…then they realised they’d forgotten about dust.” This led people to the realisation, he says, that even though hundreds or thousands of people are working on an idea, it may still be wrong. This episode “made people aware we need to be more objective about what we’re doing,” he says. More.
Yes, because there is only so far one can get just by accusing all skeptics and critics of being creationists.
Now, here is a completely unscientific speculation: Perimeter was founded in large part from the Blackberry smart phone fortune (a Canadian origin product).
Perimeter currently relies on a variety of funding sources. That said, things are tough all over, and especially for Blackberry, mainly because Silicon Valley briefly put out the bong pipes and narrowed the achievement gap.
An old saying: “A rising tide floats all boats.” At one time, Perimeter could have hung a Crackpots, Welcome! sign on the front entrance. Maybe not now.
A corollary to the old saying might be: A receding tide strands dullards’ boats, but not those piloted by people with enough sense to either moor or put out to deeper water at low tide.
So this Perimeter Institute conference could be a party’s over signal; time to sweep up the streamers and bust balloons, and get back to evidence-based science. We’ll see.
How it got so crazy
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