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August 01, 2006

String Theory Online

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I'm not sure my lame brain is capable of imagining 10 dimensions even after watching this. But I sure enjoyed the nifty little Flash presentation.

String theory: anything to it? Or just something a certain kind of hyper-brilliant mind is prone to dreaming up?



posted by Michael at August 1, 2006


Since your link just takes me back to your site, I am tempted to think it illustrates Godel's incompleteness theorem rather than string theory, but maybe I'm missing something.

Posted by: Max Goss on August 1, 2006 8:59 PM

Whoops, I Moebius-stripped you, if inadvertently. Link now fixed, thanks.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 1, 2006 9:14 PM

String theory deals with (theoretical) elements so miniscule that we have no way to verify whether its true or not. It just makes the equations work out somewhat better for the description of the wave/particle duality of matter that has stumped the thoeoretical physicists now for generations. Trying to bring all "field theories" together into one coherent theory of matter/energy has proved impossible up to now. It is a grasp at straws, because all theories need to be verified by experiment to prove their validity.

All the scientists want to come up with the great Answer, and string theory provides the road of the moment. We shall see how it all works out, but I would not hold my breath.

Posted by: s on August 1, 2006 11:45 PM

It's a fascinating subject, and my interest has been renewed after seeing the PBS special recently. I have a book on it and had watched the link you have here previously, but you really have to focus on it to comprehend the possibilities. Since it's just theory, I don't have the drive to put the time into it right now--with so much else to read and learn about.

Posted by: susan on August 2, 2006 5:34 AM

This book describes the progress in particle physics in the twentieth-century. Interestingly, he spends a decent amount of time talking about incorrect models that were later overturned by experimental evidance. The vortex ring model of the atom, in particular, sounded pretty cool, but it had to go.

Unfortunately, there probably isn't any experimental evidance that will test string theory (or lead to different models) comming anytime soon.

Posted by: joeo on August 2, 2006 4:20 PM

Yeah, that bit about "no evidence" and/or "no way to prove it right or wrong" is a little ... peculiar, isn't it?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 2, 2006 4:32 PM

The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next (Hardcover, 416 pages) by Lee Smolin, Houghton Mifflin (September 19, 2006), ISBN: 0618551050

Editorial Reviews:

From Publishers Weekly:
String theory—the hot topic in physics for the past 20 years—is a dead-end, says Smolin, one of the founders of Canada's Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics and himself a lapsed string theorist. In fact, he (and others) argue convincingly, string theory isn't even a fully formed theory—it's just a "conjecture." As Smolin reminds his readers, string theorists haven't been able to prove any of their exotic ideas, and he says there isn't much chance that they will in the foreseeable future. The discovery of "dark energy," which seems to be pushing the universe apart faster and faster, isn't explained by string theory and is proving troublesome for that theory's advocates. Smolin (The Life of the Cosmos) believes that physicists are making the mistake of searching for a theory that is "beautiful" and "elegant" instead of one that's actually backed up by experiments. He encourages physicists to investigate new alternatives and highlights several young physicists whose work he finds promising. This isn't easy reading, but it will appeal to dedicated science buffs interested in where physics may be headed in the next decade. 30 b&w illus. (Sept. 19)

Book Description:
In this groundbreaking book, the renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin argues that physics—the basis for all other science—has lost its way. The problem is string theory, an ambitious attempt to formulate "a theory of everything" that explains all the forces and particles of nature and how the universe came to be. With its exotic new particles and parallel universes, string theory has captured the public"s imagination and seduced many physicists. But as Smolin reveals, there"s a deep flaw in the theory: no part of it has been proven, and no one knows how to prove it. As a scientific theory, it has been a colossal failure. And because it has soaked up the lion's share of funding, attracted some of the best minds, and penalized young physicists for pursuing other avenues, it is dragging the rest of physics down with it. With clarity, passion, and authority, Smolin charts the rise and fall of string theory and takes a fascinating look at what will replace it. A group of young theorists has begun to develop exciting new ideas that are, unlike string theory, testable. Smolin tells us who and what to watch for in the coming years and how we can find the next Einstein. This is a wake-up call, and Lee Smolin—a former string theorist himself— is the perfect person to deliver it.

About the Author:
Lee Smolin earned his Ph.D. in physics at Harvard, then went on to teach at Yale and Pennsylvania State before helping to found the innovative Perimeter Institute. He is the author of The Life of the Cosmos and Three Roads to Quantum Gravity.

Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory And the Search for Unity in Physical Law by Peter Woit, Basic Books (September 30, 2006), Hardcover: 304 pages, ISBN: 0465092756:

Editorial Reviews:
From Publishers Weekly:
String theory is the only game in town in physics departments these days. But echoing Lee Smolin's forthcoming The Trouble with Physics (Reviews, July 24), Woit, a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and a lecturer in mathematics at Columbia, points out—again and again—that string theory, despite its two decades of dominance, is just a hunch aspiring to be a theory. It hasn't predicted anything, as theories are required to do, and its practitioners have become so desperate, says Woit, that they're willing to redefine what doing science means in order to justify their labors. The first half of Woit's book is a tightly argued, beautifully written account of the development of the standard model and includes a history of particle accelerators that will interest science buffs. When he gets into the history of string theory, however, his pace accelerates alarmingly, with highly sketchy chapters. Reading this in conjunction with Smolin's more comprehensive critique of string theory, readers will be able to make up their own minds about whether string theory lives up to the hype. (Sept.)

Book Description:
Has physics gone off in the wrong direction? Peter Woit presents the other side of the growing debate on string theory--arguing that it's not even science. At what point does theory depart the realm of testable hypothesis and come to resemble something like aesthetic speculation, or even theology? The legendary physicist Wolfgang Pauli had a phrase for such ideas: He would describe them as "not even wrong," meaning that they were so incomplete that they could not even be used to make predictions to compare with observations to see whether they were wrong or not.

In Peter Woit's view, superstring theory is just such an idea. In Not Even Wrong, he shows that what many physicists call superstring "theory" is not a theory at all. It makes no predictions, even wrong ones, and this very lack of falsifiability is what has allowed the subject to survive and flourish. Not Even Wrong explains why the mathematical conditions for progress in physics are entirely absent from superstring theory today and shows that judgments about scientific statements, which should be based on the logical consistency of argument and experimental evidence, are instead based on the eminence of those claiming to know the truth. In the face of many books from enthusiasts for string theory, this book presents the other side of the story.

About the Author
Peter Woit is a lecturer in the Mathematics Department of Columbia University. He graduated from Harvard University in 1979 and has a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Princeton University. His anti-string-theory weblog, Not Even Wrong, has been featured in Discover, Seed, and New Scientist. He lives in New York.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz on August 2, 2006 7:29 PM

Dear Sir,
I agree with you the string theory is not even wrong, I have elaborated a falsifiable approach, I have now solved the pioneer anomaly and also other 5 cosmological blunders of the last 85 years, see the summary page 8, new Newton law page 1,
Joseph Nduriri ++33(0)6-31-13-61-55

Posted by: nduriri on August 12, 2006 9:27 AM

Allais Effect has been solved

1) The pioneer anomaly (hidden matter)
2) The Allais Effect (gravity shield)
3) The galaxy disk shape flatness (no explanation).
4) The spiral form aspiration of matter by the accretion disk (frame dragging, science fiction).
5) The matter bipolar jets trajectory (magneto hydrodynamics theory, incoherent theory since the magnetic field cannot deflect neutral matter = circumstantial theory = confusion).
6) Galaxy rotation curve flatness (dark matter, MOND theory).
7) The source of matter bipolar jets (contradicts event horizon theory, science fiction)
See summary page 9 and page 1 for new Newton law

Posted by: nduriri on August 24, 2006 2:02 AM

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