sábado, setembro 16, 2017

All Much Ado about Nothing: “The Trouble with Physics” by Lee Smolin



“The Weinberg-Salam model requires that the Higgs field exist and that it manifest itself as the new elementary particle called the Higgs boson, which carries the force associated with the Higgs field. Of all the predictions required by the unification of the electromagnetic and weak forces, only this one has not yet been verified.”

In “The Trouble with Physics” by Lee Smolin


Hello physicists and Lee Smolin in particular,

I can't say I agree with such a hard stance against string theory personally like Smolin does, but I’m what’s known as a stupid person, so it doesn’t really matter what I think. However, I do feel it is healthy for science to have people that challenge ideas from all sides. All this will do is galvanise people to work harder to provide evidence to prove or disprove any theory that tries to describe reality. Science thrives in areas of confliction.

Life is the memory of what happened before you died, i.e. we cannot extricate ourselves from the universe in any way shape or form, including our "objective," apparently repeatable theoretical notions. By definition, there is only one UNI-verse. If you want to call it a universe of multiverses or a multiverse of universes, or balls of string with no limits, no problem, but there is only one of everything that is and isn't. This assemblage of atoms, no different from any other atoms, called the human body, has a life and death, as do the stars; it also has an internal resonance we like to call the consciousness of self-awareness of existence. We all too often, de facto, accept that there is a universe outside our "selfs", our bodies, i.e. it’s just me, my-self, and I, and the universe that surrounds my body, as if there were a molecular separation of some sort. This starting point for science, i.e., this assumed separation from a universe that surrounds our (apparent) bodies is the first thing that has to go. By definition there is only one UNI-verse that includes Heisenberg, I, the photos and videos of flying objects that make apparently perfect right angle turns at thousands of miles per hour, which we casual observers are not able to identify, black holes, white holes, pink holes, blue holes, our memories, our records, not to mention everything else. It's all much ado about nothing. As someone else used to say, "This IS the cosmic drama," we are living at the interface of the Sun's outgoing light and the apparent incoming light from the universe that appears to surround the Sun. Ah, but, what if we live in a black hole and don't realize it? That would mean the night sky, which most of us consider to exist outside the sun would actually be all the light of the sun after doing a 180, except, and here's the kicker, daylight, i.e., the light of the sun that we experience as sunshine. Maybe we need to revise the old coin that says yin and yang, black holes and white holes, matter and anti-matter, light energy and dark energy, night and day, black and white, etc. ad nauseum, are two APPARENT sides of the same coin as perceived by bunches of atoms they (we) are observing other atoms in a universe that is completely outside their (our) own "personal universe" as defined by their (our) sensory input. In other words, the interface between black and white colors our apparent existence. That sophistry and $2.25 will get you a ride on the tube.

I am not a string theorist but back in the day I considered myself a physicist who knew a few physicists doing physics for a living. Something that might surprise people to hear is that many (perhaps the majority?) of string theorists did not spend any time thinking of ways the idea could make observable predictions. The reason for this was that the typical energy scale of string theory is much higher than even scales we try to probe in the early universe in cosmology. They argue that getting string theory to say something specific about physics 'beyond the standard model' would be like trying to describe friction of a carpet in terms of quarks and leptons i.e. theoretically conceivable but practically impossible. Seen in these terms though, string theory itself is a generalization of the 'theory of carpets' i.e., it is built as an extension of ideas we know are very successful at familiar energy scales: quantum mechanics and relativity.  Indeed, the reason the 'typical' energy scales of stringy stuff are thought to be so "unreachably" high is due to an extrapolation about the strength of gravity based on the value of Newton's gravitational constant you can measure on a table-top on earth.

In my opinion this huge extrapolation is a dangerous one as there are reasons to believe that they are things going on in physics before this high-energy scale which may change our understanding of things very much (e.g. the observed value of the 'cosmological constant'). These things could render any of the assumptions about string theory invalid. This represents a rather peculiar situation. Due to their assumptions, the string theory community is likely incapable of making any predictions about anything in our universe. Progress regarding the 'truth' of string theory therefore will not come from string theorists doing string theory calculations but from other physicists experimentally probing the assumptions that string theory relies on.

The question remains whether string theory has advanced understanding of the physical world. They had like one vague prediction for the LHC and when it didn't come true there were all like "ah, it only emerges at much higher energies!". LMAO! String theory is religion at this point. On the other hand, I side with Smolin when he says he’s interested in a testable theory. It just so goes that Smolin's ideas are not fatalist, which turns many militant atheist types off because it means life is not an accident; what that says about God, his position is completely agnostic. Considering the symbiosis we find in nature, his views make a lot of sense and unify well with a lot of biology and ecology.

I'm told string theory is great mathematics though, so great one String Theorist ended up winning the highest price in mathematics, the Fields Medal. I’m talking about Edward Witten who has also lots of references in Smolin’s book.

Between 2006 (when this book came out; see quote above regarding the yet still to be discovered Higgs’ particle), 2012 (when the Higgs boson was “discovered”), and 2017 (when I’m writing this review), what have we to show for String Theory? Not much. And since physicists have spent a lifetime ignoring observational data, they don't feel in the least bit accountable for (1) the plain truth (2) being wrong or (3) all the lives that they destroyed along the way when they mocked the people who were trying to tell them that they were wrong. Over the next few years you will see them lay claim to a beautiful theory of Quantum Gravity, even capable of making contact with experiment. They will even tell themselves that they were really working on this theory of Quantum Gravity all along.

Well, bottom-line: I hope someone kills String Theory, it's getting to the stage where physics is starting to resemble pseudoscience, and lots of pretty and convoluted theories that are essentially untestable.


NB: I don’t care about String Theory; what I really want is FTL travel. I want what the Tomorrow’s People had: flicking long distances in time and space in the blink of an eye; I want the Star Trek replicator that makes my dinner when I want it and how I like it; I want my phaser at stun; I want all of this. If the String Theory gets me there asap then spend, spend, spend...

2 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

"Scyence" is the new god and its priests are just as cruel and arrogant as any witch doctor who ever squatted in a hut.
And when they are wrong, they simply forget that they were wrong and tell everyone else that they weren't actually wrong.

A little objective truth should would be nice, right about now...

Manuel Antão disse...

*digs shelter and starts stockpiling food and water*