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Well, physics probably HAS gone off the rails if NBC is reporting it

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Lost in MathThey used to be a regular stop for news of crackpot cosmology. From Dan Falk at NBC, discussing Sabine Hossenfelder`s new book, Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray (June, 2018):

But the new century brought a rough patch. Yes, there have been some remarkable findings, including the 2012 discovery of the Higgs Boson and the discovery of gravitational waves four years later. But those triumphs were based on theories developed decades earlier — a full century earlier in the case of gravitational waves. And new ideas like string theory (which holds that matter is made up of tiny vibrating loops of energy) remain unverified. “All of the theoretical work that’s been done since the 1970s has not produced a single successful prediction,” says Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada. “That’s a very shocking state of affairs.”


The “shocking” state of affairs is that string theory is hailed in serious publications as the best bet.

And if string theory so far has resisted experimental verification, the so-called multiverse — the idea that our universe is but one of many and perhaps an infinite number of universes — seems to some scientists more like science fiction than a description of reality.

Actually, it turns science into science fiction because it is evidence-free cosmology, like Star Wars.

Hossenfelder gets how serious the problem is:

“I can’t believe what this once-venerable profession has become,” she writes. “Theoretical physicists used to explain what was observed. Now they try to explain why they can’t explain what was not observed. And they’re not even good at that.” More.

See also: How string theory can be a theory of everything

Astrophysicist as advice columnist: Question, should I study string theory? (Sabine Hossenfelder)


Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence

6 Replies to “Well, physics probably HAS gone off the rails if NBC is reporting it

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    It seems that science just can’t win. If it sticks too closely to observable physical reality, it’s accused of rank materialism. If it gives imagination a freer rein, it’s accused of being too speculative. If it’s not coming up with groundbreaking new theories every few years it’s in a shocking state of stagnation. Sounds like we should all just give up and wait helplessly for the Day of Judgment to arrive.

  2. 2
    ET says:


    It seems that science just can’t win.

    You don’t know what science is.

  3. 3
    News says:

    Seversky at 1, many, including Sabine Hossenfelder, would like to return to evidence-based cosmology. Some of us agree that that is a step in the right direction. After all, it worked in the past.

  4. 4 says:

    As demonstrated,

    Science = Observation + Religion

    …so it makes perfect sense that only the materialistic religion shows up in the “science” promoted by a-mats, especially when there’s no observation to counterbalance the wild claims.

  5. 5
    LocalMinimum says:

    String theory is more about math than physics. It may be a useful step in finding a good theory; if it can sufficiently describe what we observe, it gives us a space to search for that which is necessary.

    Think of the bone healing process, where bone expands the damaged section, then reduces to proper shape in a remodeling process.

  6. 6
    OLV says:


    Apparently Copernicus did exactly that: evidence-based astronomy.
    Observed, then inferred.

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