Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Crisis

Joerg told me yesterday that Los Alamos now has a Starbucks. That is progress in physics!

Last week, I stumbled across this paper

String theory and the crisis in particle physics
Authors: Bert Schroer

which I still haven't finished but I would recommend it anyway. Not so much because I like it - its pretty agressive, something that I don't think is going to help in any regard. But because its good that there are people openly discussing their problems with string theory. It might sound silly, but when you are a grad stud and you try to decide which way to go, string theory looks like a save bet. At least it used to. It's promising and promising and promising.

Anyway, when you have gone far enough to actually understand the not so promising sides, it's most often too late, or at least inconvenient, to change field. And, probably, you are hooked by the community.

Yeah, I confess, I wanted to become a string theorist at some point. Didn't work out though. I probably wasn't promising enough myself. And the community wasn't really so thrilling.

The more critical voices there are, the more people will discuss it, the more opinions the ongoing physicist will hear. Even if every string theorist will stand up and argue against it, the impression that will last is that there is doubt. And that is better than nothing.

For the Germans, see also the article in the SZ (thanks to Stefan for scanning).

Schleifen statt Faeden

The translation of the last sentences is roughly

However, Hofmann sees his commitment more in fundamental physics than in one of the fields. "When they beat each other up, one has to mediate between them and say: go out and play, then we will see which tower falls."

Best,

B.

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