"No one has a plausible idea about how string theory can explain anything"

dvo's picture
Submitted by dvo on Fri, 2006-01-20 04:48

I saw two interesting articles in Discover magazine today. (Feb. 2006 issue.)

One is an interview with Peter Woit, a math professor at Columbia University, who has a blog called Not Even Wrong that attacks string theory. Here's a quote: "Science Writer John Horgan has a nice line about this. He calls it science fiction in mathematical form. String theorists are certainly using mathematics, and they are building models and writing down equations for them, but the models they are working with just aren't connected to the real world. There isn't even any plausible way you could imagine that they are going to be able to use these models to explain some experiment we are seeing."

(I'm not necessarily that worried about this...I think figuring out the laws of physics is a very hard thing to do. It's easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize, but I couldn't come up with anything better. If there's no better idea to pursue, may as well work on string theory, even if some people think it's not very good. When you're stuck on a very hard problem, anything that leads to further investigation is good.)

The other article is by Amory Lovins, who is "a physicist, economist, inventor, automobile designer, consultant to 18 heads of state, author of 29 books, and cofounder of Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental think tank." (Don't get too scared by that last part.) It has a lot of interesting ideas about solving America's (and the world's) energy problems. Here's a quote:

"If I could do just one thing to solve our energy problems, I would allow energy to compete fairly at honest prices regardless of which kind it is, what technology it uses, how big it is, or who owns it. If we did that, we wouldn't have an oil problem, a climate problem, or a nuclear proliferation problem. Those are all artifacts of public policies that have distorted the market into buying things it wouldn't otherwise have bought because they were turkeys."


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