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string theory

Has string theory really fallen this time?

Paul Sutter: "They argue that all possible configurations of compact dimensions are realized, each one with its own unique universe and set of physical laws, and we happen to live in this one because life would be impossible in most or all of the others. That’s not the strongest argument to come out of physics, but I’ll save a dissection of the idea for another day." Read More ›

String theory again: Will a correction to Einstein save it?

At times, the advocacy for string theory begins to sound a bit like a religion. But, in an important sense, it IS a religion. They’re trying to make sense of the universe and eventually, that shades into metaphysics. Read More ›

Sabine Hossenfelder: Does the universe have higher dimensions?

Hossenfelder: If one adds 7 dimensions of space to our normal three dimensions, then one can describe all of the fundamental forces of nature geometrically. And that sounds like a really promising idea for a unified theory of physics. Indeed, in the early 1980s, the string theorist Edward Witten thought it was intriguing that seven additional dimensions of space is also the maximum for supergravity. However, that numerical coincidence turned out to not lead anywhere. This geometric construction of fundamental forces which is called Kaluza-Klein theory, suffers from several problems that no one has managed to solved. Read More ›

Peter Woit, whom we sometimes follow because he is fun, looks back on string theory

He doesn’t seem to get the fact that string theory was a religious movement that was bound to end badly. The most distressing victim is science. But then that was well before the war on math, wasn’t it? Read More ›

At Quanta: Are we looking at the end of physics?

Ah yes, the problem of dead-endedness that Sabine Hossenfelder often writes about. As does Columbia mathematician Peter Woit, on the subject of string theory. But surely much of the nonsense around string theory and the multiverse is in part due to a practical failure—the inability to find even a single particle of dark matter or similar evidence for dark energy. Read More ›

Researcher: We need a new Theory of Everything, one with no “things”

We’d have to guess that Stephen Wolfram’s attempt at a Theory of Everything didn’t solve all the problems. At any rate, by the time we get down to “a theory of every thing requires that one not start with a thing,” it’s not easy to distinguish science from Zen. But then maybe that’s the idea. Read More ›

Physicists: Life forms could flourish in the interior of stars

This would seem to be string theory’s contribution to biology: At a time when we haven’t yet located fossil bacteria on Mars (of which there is at least a plausible hope), we are asked to accept that there might be formations within stars that we would not identify as life but really are. String theory is then about as fruitful in biology as it is in cosmology. Read More ›

Has a way been found to test string theory? Rob Sheldon responds

Sheldon: “This article explains precisely why thousands of theoretical physicists have not made any progress in 40 years. One hopelessly ad hoc and unsupported theory (inflation) conflicts with another hopelessly unphysical theory (string theory) and then others purport to resolve the difficulty by resorting to highly questionable phenomena (gravity waves). Read More ›

String theorist’s philosophy of life – Time’s reviewer laps it up

Some reviewers almost make us forget that string theory was supposed to be science, not religion. Get a load of this review of string theorist Brian Greene’s new book, Until the End of Time: Mind, Matter, and Our Search for Meaning in an Evolving Universe (Penguin 2020) Read More ›

PBS Video: Why String Theory Is Wrong

Hmmm. We don’t often see serious skepticism of Cool ideas like string theory except from brave souls like Sabine Hossenfelder.  With luck, if this pans out to be a serious discussion, it will begin a trend. Note: Some of us would be okay with “Why String Theory Is Right,” provided it is a response to skepticism taken seriously and the theory is treated as a theory with serious problems—not a sort of foregone conclusion, upholding a multiverse. Hat tip: RealClearScience See also:  Sabine Hossenfelder: Black holes do not behave as string theorists say they should “Perhaps physics has slipped into a post-empirical era…” (from a review of Hossenfelder’s book at Physics World) Post-modern physics: String theory gets over the need for evidence and Read More ›

If quantum mechanics were a researcher, she’d be fired

And have to leave academic science. Factually correct answers do not matter now if they are not politically correct. In a review of Adam Becker’s What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics (Basic Books, 2018), mathematician and physicist Sheldon Lee Glashow tells us No one can doubt that quantum mechanics is strange. Who could believe that particles can briefly violate energy conservation so as to pass through otherwise impenetrable barriers?1 Who could believe that a body’s position and velocity could not both be known to an arbitrary degree of precision, yet this is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Who could believe that not more than one electron can occupy the same quantum state, yet this is Pauli’s exclusion Read More ›