From Adam Frank at NPR:
To begin with, it’s important to understand how much cosmology and physics has gotten right. Our ability to map out the history of the universe back to a fraction of an instant after its inception is a triumph of the human intellect and imagination. And because that history could not be told without a detailed description of matter and forces at a fundamental level, it’s clear we’ve done something remarkable — and remarkably correct.
It’s the next steps down into reality’s basement, however, where the trouble seems to begin. Some researchers now see popular ideas like string theory and the multiverse as highly suspect. These physicists feel our study of the cosmos has been taken too far from what data can constrain with the extra “hidden” dimensions of string theory and the unobservable other universes of the multiverse. Of course, there are many scientists who continue to see great promise in string theory and the multiverse. But, as Marcelo and I wrote in The New York Times last year, it all adds up to muddied waters and something some researchers see as a “crisis in physics.”
Smolin and Unger believe this crisis is real — and it’s acute. They pull no punches in their sense that the lack of empirical data has led the field astray. As they put it:More.
Every pressure group in science will want the same accommodations for its non-evidence-based (but doubtless highly correct) beliefs. Accommodating beliefs will be more important than discovering facts.
Maybe science was just a cultural phase anyway. Who knows?
See also: In search of a road to reality
The bill arrives for cosmology’s free lunch
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