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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
It hasn’t produced the multiverse that shows there is no design in nature. It actually hasn’t produced much of anything after all these decades. At what point will people begin to wonder if this is really science?
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).
Ethan Siegel has a genius for encapsulating what is wrong in science today.
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)
“ infinitely far from having any connection to conventional science”? Wow.
“In the real world?” So string theory is not about the real world? Even the author of the article, Mike McRae, does not sound hopeful for the theory.
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 Read More…
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 Read More…
Rob Sheldon mentioned a story going the rounds earlier today, about whether dark energy was “even allowed.” Here’s the story, from ScienceDaily: In string theory, a paradigm shift could be imminent. In June, a team of string theorists from Harvard and Caltech published a conjecture which sounded revolutionary: String theory is said to be fundamentally Read More…