Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lee Smolin and the Gentlemans Approach to Exposing String Theory...

So you're calling bullshit on a big chunk of modern physics...

-Adam Rogers

Lee Smolin is an extremely non-combative dissenter to the modern approach to quantum gravity, but he also has a certain degree of fame as a respectable groundbreaking physicist, and he has written previous books on quantum gravity. So it's no suprise that his feet are being put to the coals when he says that String Theory is in a LOT of trouble.

This is Lee's new book:

The Trouble With Physics: "The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next"

The following is the introduction to an interview with Lee, by Adam Rogers of "WIRED Magazine", one of many interviews that are sure to take place now that Lee's new book has finally hit the market:

Physics Wars
By Adam Rogers
String theory was supposed to reconcile the subatomic world with the vast reaches of spacetime. Now Lee Smolin wants to unravel it.

The universe has a problem. The math that describes gravity and the structure of spacetime – general relativity – conflicts with the math that describes the interactions of subatomic particles – quantum mechanics. For the past two decades, the dominant approach to unifying the two has been string theory, which basically says that the universe is made of infinitesimally small, vibrating filaments of energy moving through multiple dimensions. It's wacky stuff, but no weirder than a lot of other science. Yet in his new book, The Trouble With Physics, theoretician Lee Smolin argues that string theory is not only weird, it might be wrong. A founding scientist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario, Smolin says that string theory is unconvincing – maybe even nonscientific – and that physicists have embraced it at the expense of other promising research. At home in Toronto, Smolin talked about physicist cliques and the true nature of the universe


Ms. Anthropic said...

Hey - what happened to you?

Pentcho Valev said...


In "Beyond String Theory" in his book "The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Thory, the Fall of a Science, And What Comes Next" Lee Smolin asks:

". . . I believe there is something basic we are all missing, some wrong assumption we are all making. If this is so, then we need to isolate the wrong assumption and replace it with a new idea. What could this wrong assumption be?"

The answer: :
"...light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body."

See also:
"Shatter this postulate [of constancy of the speed of light], and modern physics becomes an elaborate farce!"
Einstein: "If the speed of light is the least bit affected by the speed of the light source, then my whole theory of relativity and theory of gravity is false."
Einstein: "I consider it quite possible that physics cannot be based on the field concept,i.e., on continuous structures. In that case, nothing remains of my entire castle in the air, gravitation theory included, [and of] the rest of modern physics."

See also the discussion in

Pentcho Valev

Neil' said...
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Neil' said...

There was a great post by Gregg Easterbrook (who usually writes about politics, AFAIK) about the implications of Smolin's book at the Slate site. Easterbrook did rather well swiping at some stringian pretentions with his own thinking I presume. I'm not sure he gets the theory quite right, but it is perhaps appropriate for him to say that stringians consider the strings to be "made" of other dimensions, not just embedded within them. Check it out at Easterbrook and then look at the discussion thread at Discussion.

I've got a post in there and made some counter-replies. Sadly, one responder thought my explanation for three large dimensions of space was a parady.

Title block:

science: The state of the universe.
The Trouble With String Theory
It's claptrap, a new book argues.
By Gregg Easterbrook
Posted Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006, at 11:51 AM ET