In a review of two new physics books “Fields Apart” (The American Scholar, Winter 2012), Sam Kean writes, re Physics on the Fringe by Margaret Wertheim,
Indeed, Wertheim believes that mainstream physicists today have more in common with fringers than they acknowledge. Most obviously, she notes that string theory, while dazzling, has outrun any conceivable experiment that could verify it—there’s zero proof that it describes how nature works. Yet, like some outsiders, string theorists labor away year after year, happily unencumbered by reality. What’s more, the grumbling of other scientists about the shortcomings of string theory sounds more and more like the complaints of other fringers about physics losing its way.
and re The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close, Basic Books,
… the book is tough going at some points, fairly technical. But when the science does click in your brain—when you catch a glimpse of the deep nature of reality—it’s so elegant and somehow harmonious that you can forgive any hand waving necessary to achieve it. At times I almost felt sorry for the outsiders who cannot see how lovely theoretical physics can be. It made me question whether, beyond their divergent appetites for mathematics and willingness to shut up and calculate, physicists and fringers might be separated by something else quite basic—a different appreciation for what counts as beautiful.