Friday, December 04, 2009

Whatshallmacallit?

The other day we were discussing how unfortunate it is that the "quantum gravity" group at Perimeter Institute is called quantum gravity, even though it excludes string theory, which is another group. However, I couldn't really come up with a better name. The actual problem seems to me that string theory is part of quantum gravity, condensed matter, particle physics, and mathematical physics, so maybe it's them who shouldn't be name-givers for a group? What do you think?

109 comments:

PhilG said...

How about "Quantum Gravity Without String Theory"?

The zeal with which "quantum gravitists" exclude string theory from their research is only matched by the fanatical disinterest from string theorists in any independent attempts to understand the quantization of gravity. Or so it seems, any evidence to the contrary?

By the way. How big is the string theory group at PI compared to the quantum gravity group? Do they ever work together?

Do you really find that Quantum Gravity Without String Theory is more disconnected from condensed matter, particle physics and mathematical physics, than String Theory? I thought there were equally strong connections.

Bee said...

Well, while fitting, that's not a name anybody realistically would chose.

I don't think that was a deliberate exclusion, it's just the way things happened. The grouping (not only at PI) is pretty much an example of self-organization rather than a result of design.

How big? I suggest you count yourself? My impression was they are about the same size. Regarding working together, I don't know if there's any commonly authored papers, but then I'm not keeping track of that.

I didn't say that QG w/o ST is more disconnected from cond mat, hep-th, etc than ST. What I was saying is that string theory, in contrast to quantum gravity, is less a research direction, as a particular theoretical framework. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

It's tricky. Strictly speaking String theory does not quantizize gravity and space-time in general in the sense that there is no classical dynamical field that is quantizized nor it merges the general principles of QM and GR. On the other hand Quantum Gravity is an entire field on its own and I don't think the term should be monopolized by the people working on the Canonical quantization. String theory after all does reconcile QM and Gravity and I've heard many string theorists saying that String theory is a theory of Quantum Gravity. So overall I pick the first choice.

Anonymous said...

Well, there is no approach other than string theory that allows to eg. compute quantum corrections by gravitons, count microstates in black holes, etc. Loop quantum gravity, for example, has not yet been shown, after decades of research, to lead in the IR to gravity in 4d.

So to call those other approaches "quantum gravity" and exclude string theory, is quite a delusion. One should perhaps call those "Attempts at Quantum Gravity" at best.

Bee said...

Isn't it funny that the dismissive comment about Loop Quantum Gravity once again comes from a coward hiding behind anonymity? There's two things to be said about this comment: First, quantum gravity doesn't necessarily mean quantizing gravity. Second, for all I know the LQGlers are happily counting their black hole microstates and I recall having heard several talks about the graviton propagator (though I'm afraid I'm too much an old-fashioned particle physicist to be able to make much sense out of it). Third, why does it matter whether an approach to QG counts bh microstates or computes graviton contributions if we have no evidence either decribes reality? Best,

B.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

Unstrung quantum gravity group?

(from another anonymous coward)

These kinds of names are always monuments to tradition. It's not profitable to worry about the precise descriptivity of the name until it becomes a serious sorce of confusion.

More worrisome is the kind of tribal warfare between groups that you can already see in your comment threads. The best cure for that is real and relevant data. Unfortunately, that might not be available anytime soon.

Bee said...

Well, it is a source of confusion (though I wouldn't call it serious). If I talk about phenomenology of quantum gravity, most people wrongly seem to assume that excludes string phenomenology. Best,

B.

Frank said...

String Theory, at least originally, was more ambitious than just a theory of Quantum Gravity. It was also a theory of particle physics, a GUT, beyond the standard model.

Quantum Gravity for a group that is for "small" QG theories, that is theories that don't try to find a unified theory but just try to makes sense of Quantum Gravity is an appropriate name.

Bee said...

Hi Frank,
Yes, but the GUT aspects I would say fall under particle physics. Best,

B.

Arrow said...

The string theory group should be disbanded.

String theory people have wasted enough of public money already, if they want to pursue string theory they are free to do so privately.

At this point it should be obvious to any sensible person with enough understanding of physics that string theory is a dead end.

The very foundations of string theory make absolutely no sense - the idea that fundamental particles are excitations of one dimensional strings is as absurd and contrived as the idea that they are point particles. The multitude of compact extra dimensions only adds to it's problems. There is no deep, philosophically sound underlying principle behind any of this mess.

Yes, it might have been worth a try but if anything were to come out of it it would have long ago considering the immense amount of menhours invested. Not one testable prediction! If that is not enough to drop string theory then what is?

So as I said string theory group should be disbanded but if it is not possible for political reasons it's better to have them separate so their nonsense doesn't taint legitimate quantum gravity research.

Giotis said...

"Isn't it funny that the dismissive comment about Loop Quantum Gravity once again comes from a coward hiding behind anonymity?"

That was a quite aggressive response. The guy was just expressing his opinion without offending anybody. Anyway If you think anonymous commentators are cowards then you should not accept their comments. If you feel that way then this is the only fair thing to do.

Bryan said...

I'm with Giotis's comment that "Quantum Gravity" suggests the more general field. The current names sound analogous to having a "Science" department, and then a separate "Physics" department.

Maybe "Quantized Gravity Group" would be more descriptive?

Anonymous said...

As for dismissive statements: the most dismissive statments are those made against string theory, and this mostly by people who don't have the slightest idea about it. That this provokes a bit of a counter movement shouldn't come as a surprise, or?



Actually I consider the whole thread as misleading -- as if string theory would not be at the core of quantum gravity (and yes, I consider quantizing gravity, graviton scattering, counting states in black holes, etc at the core of quantum gravity). All other theories consist mostly of hype, having no useful results or are just plainly inconsistent; in particular BH microstate counting comes out wrong in LQG.



There is not even a single "alternative" quantum gravity framework to speak of; all what is there is a mess of half-baked proposals, wish lists, exaggerated claims that contradict each other, and none of this works convincingly. See eg here: http://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=338150 for grotesque but typical internet hype.


One could say that the only common unifying theme is that is not string theory. It's a bit like religions; they are mostly not compatible with each other, as only one can be right, but as an unifying theme they have a common ground in that they aren't, and don't want to be, science by all means.

So in this sense this thread is useful, namely to make people think what "non string quantum gravity" actually is, in comparison to what it claims to be.

Steven Colyer said...

Three should be 3 buildings at Perimeter, which is easy for me to say since it's not my money. As so:

Building 1) Quantum mechanical Quantum Gravitationists (Supertring Theorists)

Building 3) (I'll get to Building 2 in a sec) 4D Spacetime Quantum Gravitationists (pretty much all the others, LQG and CDT in particular)

Building 2, a new building. The mediators. This would include those who like extra dimensions but unlike Oscar Klein et. al. DO NOT think the extras are teeny tiny rolled up things but rather just the opposite. They would begin with a base of only one extra dimension of space, and a very large one at that, one so large the entire universe may be considered but a point. That should attract Alan Guth, Randall, Sundrum, et al. Call it the 5D building. Our motto is: "We refuse to think small.

Bee said...

Hi Giotis:

I think we've discussed this several times already. If I disable anonymous comments, I also disable pseudoanonymous comments, which I don't want to. As to me being agressive, yes, possibly. Calling it a "delusion" that there are other approaches to quantum gravity than string theory kind of ticked me off. I apologize.

Hi Anonymous:

the most dismissive statments are those made against string theory, and this mostly by people who don't have the slightest idea about it. That this provokes a bit of a counter movement shouldn't come as a surprise, or?

It does come as a surprise because I am not aware to have made any dismissive statements. So what exactly proved you? If you just want to rant because somebody else somewhere sometime made a dismissive statement about string theory, please go and complain there. Best,

B.

Arrow said...

Anonymous: "...All other theories consist mostly of hype..."
The irony! And what does string theory consist of? A lot of math and even more hype.

If someone calculated graviton scattering and microstates of blackholes by counting vovels in the Bible he would have just as good a claim to quantum gravity as string theorists have - none whatsoever.

Physics is about reality and despite all those years and effort there is still not a single experimental evidence that string theory has anything to do with reality. Doesn't it bother you?

The difference between all the other approaches and string theory is that those other approaches are relatively new and unexplored and although I personally don't find them very promising they deserve to be investigated. String theory on the other hand has been explored in great detail and we know very well where it leads - nowhere. This is why it is high time to cut public funding for it, those who believe it is right can always pursue it privately.

Do you realize how many better ways there are to spend public research money? It's actually unethical to keep funding string theory when that money could be spent on molecular biology with immediate and obvious benefits for all of humanity.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

" The Unstrung Heroes" for what is now the Quantum Gravity Group and "The TOA theory researchers" rather then String Theory, with TOA representing Theories of Anything :-)

Best,

Phil

Anonymous said...

I just thought I would add that those previous comment of mine (about string theory) made no sense and I must have been drunk. Very sorry. Loop quantum gravity rules!

(Next time I'll be careful not to post anonymously or people could twist my comments against me!)

Anonymous said...

Please ignore that previous anonymous poster who was an imposter. I am the real anonymous (just ask anyone who knows me!)

Uncle Al said...

1) metric
2) teleparallel
3) speckle (nee quantum)
4) string

All but (2) unite the effects of a massive body with those of an accelerated inertial frame to validate the Equivalence Principle. (2) allows measurable EP violation by enantiomorphic atomic mass distributions. All but (2) can be selectively falsified in 90 days in existing apparatus, or not. Wouldn't you like to know?

http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/erotor1.jpg
Somebody should look.

Bee said...

Hi Arrow,

I think your point of view is too extreme. I find the recent developments using string theory for heavy ion physics or condensed matter applications very interesting. So maybe there is no "deep philosophical" principle, but who cares? It's not that string theory has lead nowhere, it just hasn't lead to where one hoped it would. It is also not a good idea to dismiss an approach before a better one has been found, just because it hasn't succeeded within a certain time. Best,

B.

Arun said...

A quote from a book I'm reading:

"One of the greatest disservices of formal education lies in the fact that students are induced to believe that every problem can be placed in an academic discipline such as the physical, chemical, biological, psychological, sociological, political and ethical. In business schools, problems are placed in such categories as financial, personnel, public relations, production, marketing, distribution, and purchasing. However, the world is not organized like universities, colleges and schools, by disciplines. Disciplinary categories reveal nothing about either the nature of the problems placed in them or the best way to deal with them, but they do tell us something about the nature of those who categorize them.

(emphasis added).

It seems rather appropriate here, given the comments so far :)

Bee said...

Yes, Arun. And that's why it's so sad PI has these groups to begin with. It tells you a story about the try to be different, and the failure of doing so.

Giotis said...

This sounds nice indeed but I wonder how a String and an LQG theorist could work together and with what goal exactly. Their philosophies and the languages they speak are completely different. Now if you want to reconcile the two approaches and possibly discover new physics then this is a perfectly legitimate task but you must do it by putting together a group with that specific target exclusively. But anyway it's a strategic decision to follow that path and you need experts from both fields to confirm that such an attempt really has a meaning. You can't waste resources, money and time on futile tasks.

Anonymous said...

New name: Quantum GR.

Christine said...

String theory is a generalization of quantum field theory and has been mainly developed by the particle physics community; loop quantum gravity, canonical quantum gravity, CDT, and other approaches have been mainly developed by the general relativity community. As far as I perceive.

It would be great if both communities started sharing and learning each other methods; I see no reason for any division since both lines have (or should have) some common fields of knowledge and aims.

But if I had to make such a division, I would put string theory as a subdiscipline of particle physics; and LQG etc as a subdiscipline of general relativity. When these approaches eventually reach a high level of scientific maturity, then one could think of what direction to take.

I know that some will find my position absurd, though.

Anonymous said...

String theory is the only true theory of quantum gravity, so the other guys should just stop fooling themselves.

Zephir said...

From AWT perspective both strings, both quantum loops are conceptually the same thing (density fluctuations of Aether) - so it doesn't matter. LQG just describes them like quantum foam whereas string theory describes isolated strings, but both these theories converge mutually in string field theory, both they're having the same problems with consistency, etc.. Well - and both groups of physicists don't understand, what they're really trying to describe - so they're fighting mutually.

Zephir said...

/*...their philosophies and the languages they speak are completely different...*/
Both theories are based on combination of quantum gravity and relativity under assumption of some low dimensional structures, which are expected to reconcile these dual perspectives.

So conceptually the philosophies of QG and ST remains very similar due the quite limited space for maneuvering in context of QM and GR.

ErkDemon said...

I don't see the problem with the current approach. It makes sense to have a "general" quantum gravity group, and it makes sense to have a separate offshoot group for string theory. It also makes sense that, if there's not too strong a connection between the two sets of research, that string theory work be done by the string theory group, not the QG group.

Keep things "correctly vague" for the QG group until a better name starts to emerge naturally from the work. One of the worst things you can do with blue-sky research is to predefine and overcategorise what the subject divisions ought to be, when the actual relationships won't be known until the project's complete. It kinda prejudges the outcome and forces preconceptions onto the project as to how it's supposed to play out. If there's a breakthrough that makes a need for a new title obvious in 18 months time, then make the decision then.

'Til then, don't over-administrate. Let it flooooooow! :)

Anonymous said...

I was the 100th vote.

The results so far are
Who cares/ don't you have better things to worry about. 38% 38

Yes, that's fine. 33% 33

No, if it doesn't include string theory it shouldn't be called quantum gravity. 11% 11

The "quantum gravity" group should be named differently (leave suggestion in comments) 8% 8

The string theory group should be subsumed in other groups. 8% 8

I don't like polls. 2% 2

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

I vote to separate the two.

1. Unstrung Quantum Gravity

2. High-strung TON [theory of nothing]

I am with Arrow. Imagine if even half of all the funds and effort that has been wasted on the "TON" had instead been devoted to traditional science that demands actual predictions and subjects itself to definitive testing.

RLO

Anonymous said...

It would be more open-minded to describe Quantum Gravity as a more general category and "Stringum Gravity" as a special version.

Plato said...

By definition of Quantum Gravity you come quickly to the realization of where you are working? What it entails. Areas of research, and that you have to bring them together.

Organizing in terms of a flow chart is always an interesting perspective on how one may allot specific groups to specific areas of research.

IN outreach one has to be clear about these things?

Best,

Bee said...

Hi Giotis,

"I wonder how a String and an LQG theorist could work together and with what goal exactly. Their philosophies and the languages they speak are completely different."

I am not entirely sure why you say that because it doesn't very well agree with my experience. I have the impression that this is a rather crude extrapolation from some prominent figures (eg the both LS) to thousands of people, all of which have their own motivations, philosophies, or absence thereof. The reason why string theorists don't work together with LQGlers more often is simply a consequence of overspecialization. They've spent many years of their life learning the techniques, now they have to produce outcomes. The people who take the time to learn several approaches are just very rare. That's sad but not specific to this area of science. Needless to say, the way the game is played, you then don't walk around and say I do what I do because it's what somebody sometime suggested to me and I continued doing it, but you tell everybody your line of research is the only way to truth, and the most promising research direction whatsoever, blabla. And that, incidentally, is not specific to string theorists either. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

It’s interesting what you said to Giotis about specialization as it relates to being convinced a certain approach being the road to truth. The thing that has always had me wonder about all this specialization is how well many of the researchers are familiar and concerned with the fundamentals and foundations of the theories they’re attempting to supersede. I guess what I’m alluding to is what aspects of those current theories they see as the most puzzling conceptually in respects to the phenomena and action not well accounted for which begs for a deeper understanding . From my own perspective it appears little is being accomplished with the current approaches to extend much understanding in such directions.

With QM you have natures non local action, along with the measurement problem and with GR you have the puzzle as to what the space-time fabric actually is, beyond a mathematical description of its behaviour in regards to what is contained within it. For me it all boils down to have answered how the discreetness of our world can be reconciled with its demonstrated holistic nature. Perhaps it’s just that I haven’t been paying close enough attention, yet I don’t find any of the current approaches to be concerned much as to how they serve to address the most fundamentally important mysteries that still remain unaswered.

Best,

Phil

Zephir said...

/* to describe Quantum Gravity as a more general category and "Stringum Gravity" as a special version..*/

String theory is special relativity based, whereas quantum gravity is based on general relativity, so it's really a bit more general approach. Nevertheless both theories are leading into landscapes of many solutions, so they're both virtually undistinguishable each other and untestable from formal reasons.

http://link.aps.org/doi/10.1103/PhysRevLett.103.081301

In AWT the fuzziness of quantum gravity solution is dual to landscape of 10E 500 possible solutions as predicted by string theories due the AdS-CFT correspondence (Maldacena duality). From this point of view, both theoriesrevealed finally, they cannot supply an exact, unambitious formal solution of Universe at their very end. The development of QG theory has started later then ST, so such understdanding has come somewhat later as well.

Both theories are dead bussiness for me, neverthelles theorists of both groups are alive and full of energy, they want to travel and lecture about their research, so that dogs are barking, but research continues. This is what contemporary science means for me.

Arun said...

To amplify what Bee said, The people who take the time to learn several approaches are just very rare.

It is difficult, time-consuming, and also involves an act of faith that it will be useful.

Arun said...

Zephir,

Pushing an idea till it is clear it does not work, and the cataloging of the ideas that do not work, is also a part of the practice of science. It is thankless and unglamorous, but is often necessary.

-Arun

Kay zum Felde said...

Hi Bee,

every attempt which tries to understand gravity on a quantum level should be called normally: "quantum gravity". Although String Theory has developed its own name historically. I think it would confuse people, if you call string theory by the name quantum gravity. If you say string theory is a quantum gravity theory everything should be fine.

Best Kay

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Kay,

Personally I think it somewhat erroneous its called string theory at all as one aspect of anything to being considered as a theory is it should be falsifiable, which in the realm of current practical experimentation isn’t possible. This of course could be said of many of the other models for which I also don’t think the title theory to be something deserved. Perhaps all such things should be known as Hypothesis groups if for no other reason so that the populous at large not mistake them in terms of their power and utility with the current long standing ones.

Best,

Phil

ErkDemon said...

@ PhilW:
String theory is arguably not "a theory" in the conventional sense (yet?), but it represents a body of theoretical research, so it's still "theory" in that sense, where "theory" is used as an umbrella term for a broader collection of work (like "gravitational theory" or "atomic theory", or "aether theory").

It can be a subject even if there's not (yet?) a specific theory in the crosshairs.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Erik,

If you would argue that such things are theories from strictly a philosophical perspective I would accept that, yet by the rules of science they are still at best only hypothesis. That’s not to say they should not be studied, only meant to give the populous at large an idea as to how seriously they should be taken from a practical perspective as it relates to what is true.

Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

Phil said: "Personally I think it somewhat erroneous its called string theory at all as one aspect of anything to being considered as a theory is it should be falsifiable, which in the realm of current practical experimentation isn’t possible."

If it's the case that a theory can't be falsified just because we're not technologically advanced to be able to run experiments to test it, that's no problem - it's still a scientific theory. If we're going to have the technology to test string theory in 20,000 years from now, then that's no problem - that's still a scientific theory.

The problem only arises when a theory is unfalsifiable in principle, i.e., it is irrelevant whether or not we can test it using the current state of our technology. And (I seem to remember) people accuse string theory of being unfalsifiable in principle because of all the millions of different ways the dimensions can curl up, but we can never test (in principle) which is correct.

It's something like that, I seem to remember. But the state of our current experimental ability certainly has nothing to do with it.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

So we are to continue to fund the study of theories even if it takes millennia to have reason to have them to be taken seriously, let alone be able to have any practical significance? We are then headed down a slippery slop to where it for all practical purposed find phyics to be no more significant then philosophy in terms of practical value. I thought it was the job of science to dispel belief, rather than serve to establish more schools where it may be practiced :-)


Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

As I say, the current state of our experimental ability (whether we are in a technological position to falsify it) has no bearing on whether a theory is "unscientific" or not. Otherwise, Einstein's theory of relativity would have to be regarded as an unscientific theory in 1650, and only became a scientific theory in 1910 - obviously not the case.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

You forget about the orbit of Mercury which lends support to GR in terms of explanation for what can be seen. In the scientific perspective in as they failed to find a Vulcan then Einstein’s theory then serves as a better explanation then Newtonian mechanics. I would agree if it didn’t or relied upon future discovery of phenomena or mathematics then I would consider it being at the time hypothisis at best or perhaps merely conjecture.

“But if there be any man who, not content to rest in and use the knowledge which has already been discovered, aspires to penetrate further; to overcome, not an adversary in argument, but nature in action; to seek, not pretty and probable conjectures, but certain and demonstrable knowledge — I invite all such to join themselves, as true sons of knowledge, with me, that passing by the outer courts of nature, which numbers have trodden, we may find a way at length into her inner chambers.”

- Francis Bacon- Novum Organum-1620

Oh yes by the way I didn’t make uo these rules yet rather science has, and they have been established and accepted for some time.

Best,

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

So as to be fair the standard model which is held in such high regard is actually more consistent with the makings of a patchwork quilt, rather than the product of any single mandate of reason. It has therefore always been my hope that future theory would have this quilt become more seamless, as to be mandated by principles based on some inescapable logic to which it had to conform. The fact is most of if not all the current proposals not only appear to increase the number of patches, yet worse the number of quilts for which it is reasonable to be assumed they might assemble. In the face of such consequences if Einstein was still with us today and healthy I’ve often thought he might have forsaken science to pursue his other cherished passion being music.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

At a AAAS session on Sunday, physicists said string theory is making important contributions to the study of two extreme forms of matter –one heated to trillions of degrees, the other chilled to near-absolute zero. In both cases the matter became a “perfect liquid” that ripples and flows freely, like water. String theorists analyzed the results by applying what they had learned from pondering how a black hole might behave in five dimensions. Then they went on to calculate just how free-flowing these liquids might be, predictions that the experimenters are using to guide the next stage of their work.A first: String theory predicts an experimental result

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

I think you are referring to the exploration of quark plasma, as finding in experiment it be more consistent with sharing qualities of a liquid nature (loose definition) rather than a gaseous one which was the consensus at the time being more than three years ago. The fact is this serves as being only a post-diction, rather than a prediction which is consistant with my complaint that string theory is a TAO rather than a TOE, as serving as being a theory of anything, rather then one of everything.. I say bring on the predictions and let them be tested, so that the method of science can be applied, rather than those of reading the tea leaves.

Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

Hi Phil: "You forget about the orbit of Mercury which lends support to GR in terms of explanation for what can be seen." Yes, don't take my specific example too literally. I'm just trying to clarify on what basis a theory might be considered "unscientific". If string theory makes a prediction by which we could falsify it with the technology of 20,000 (or a billion) years from now then it would be scientific theory - no problem. But if it is only capable of making predictions which can never be falsified - no matter how advanced our technology - then it should be considered unscientific. My understanding is that it currently falls in the latter category.

But it's not correct to call string theory "unscientific" on the basis that our current experimental technology can't falsify it if it potentially could be falsified by future technology. Sometimes we just have to wait for the technology to arrive (but physicists are a notoriously impatient bunch).

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

Yes I understand your point(a), yet as both QM and GR leave so much unanswered which one would imagine more advanced theories would provide some explanation for. As for instance what does string theory tell us as what stands as being the physical mechanism behind the non local action predicted by QM and confirmed, yet left largely unexplained as to be understood. On the other hand how does it serve to explain how nature has invariance as being apparently fundamental?

These are but a few of the underlying principles mandated by each theory as to have them be consistent with nature as it presents itself, yet left unaccounted for by string theory as it is either incapable of yielding self consistent explanations for or simply adopt them as part of their own set of axioms.
\
Perhaps you are right in saying some may expect to much of advanced theories as counting on them to have us understand as to be able to explain more with perhaps one day having it also lend practical application. Newton’s, Maxwell’s , Einstein’s and even quantum theory offered this and in relative short order, while the only excuse cited by String Theorist’s is the theory being ahead of its time. Perhaps this could be so, as Atomic Theory was for the ancient Greek philosophers, yet perhaps this suggests that at least for now it should be considered at best only as a mathematical inspired philosophy and in the meantime we would be bettered served in having more effort spent on exploring things that present as having a greater chance of bearing fruit in the short term.

I would say like it or not one of the perhaps subtle truths, yet truths none the less about science is its both inspired and driven by being able to achieve meaningful results, each of which are to be achieved in the span of a single lifetime with any time spans greater then this requiring a faith which is simply not part of the method as currently conceived.

Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

Hi Phil, I've got to be honest, string theory is the area of physics I know least about, and I would suggest that is probably the case for most of the people who post on that blog (the maths is horrendous, and it looks like serious hard work to get into it). However, I do have concerns that some amateur physicists (appears to be the majority of posters on this blog - myself included) try to cover their lack of in-depth knowledge by knee-jerk criticism of a subject about which they know very little (hence my point about the very lazy use of the "unscientific" label). I think we have to keep a very open mind about things. I'm not jumping to conclusions yes or no about string theory until I know much more about it. On this subject, I just keep quiet.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

I think I’ve also have made it quite clear that I’m not a scientist, yet simply one that finds the subject both fascinating and relevant. That however doesn’t serve to disqualify me as not able to lend meaningful criticism qualified by having gained both some level of understanding as well as having carefully listened to the arguments of those most qualified.

I would compare this to those who while not being artists themselves still capable of having an appreciation for and a level of understanding regarding the arts, even so much as to be able to decide what constitutes being true art and that which is only as to have it appear as being so.

If nothing else I’ve learned that good science by way of its method when adhered to by its practitioners can never be long denied and has been demonstrated able to withstand and overcome not simply the critic of individuals, yet earthly powers much greater than this. So if string theory or any other model contains even a kernel of truth, it certainly has no reason to fear what I might say or think as in the end it’s not a matter of consensus yet rather that of proof whose arbitrator is nature itself.

Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

Hi Phil, nice answer, my comment certainly wasn't directed at you, it was just a general comment that we all have to be careful not to make our own minds up about a subject about which we are not experts,, jumping to our own conclusions, and dismiss the opinions of eminent scientists. After all, that approach is just the same as happens climate change denial! (actually, that's maybe a bad example at the moment!)

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Phil and Andrew,

But nature can only arbitrate if the relevant theory has made a definitive prediction, or better yet several.

No definitive predictions - no science!

Why are people having so much trouble understanding the basics of the scientific method?

Answer: Because it has been short-circuited for decades in certain branches of theoretical physics.

RLO

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Robert,

I see no long term stifling of science any greater then which has not happened in the most recent past. In fact with the existence of those like Smolin, Woit and others I think it safe to say that science is still alive and kicking. Further, more recently it has become more then clear that many of the natives are restless, with String Theory and other approaches being asked as those two elderly ladies did in a once popular commercial to be shown the beef :-)

Also like I related to Andrew that one of the perhaps more subtle truths about science, is it is only sustainable when shown capable of yielding meaningful result, which in time also is demonstrated to yeild practical value. Like Bee has reminded in the past, while most philosophies are driven and maintained through belief, science’s strength is founded upon and therefore only assured through the proper consideration and use of doubt.

That being the case I find no lack of doubt as far as science is concerned by way of its practice. The one thing I do however fear is the rising level of doubt in the general populous, that science forms no longer as being relevant, when in truth it serves to be of the greatest relevance to our species continued success and ultimate survival.

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

Andrew: "I just keep quiet."

I agree. As the great Josh Billings once said "silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute".

Andrew Thomas said...

As a neutral in the argument, the anti-string theory brigade does makes me feel very uneasy sometimes. Apparently, it appears to be the case that elementary particles behave more as if they are vibrations of a particular frequency - which seems quite a plausible and attractive suggestion. The alternative - that particles are infintiely small points in space - never sounded particularly attractive to me, never quite sounded right. Now, to my mind, suggesting that particles are actually vibrations of some medium (a string?) sounds like a fairly specific statement about the structure of matter which we could potentially test at some point. Ok, so we're not in a position to test it yet with our current technology, but maybe in 200 years (or 20,000 years) we will be in a position to see these strings and play about with them. But I don't see how a theory which makes such a specific statement (prediction?) about the structure of matter could be labelled "unscientific". It's perhaps overly-ambitious for this stage of our technological development, but the "vibrations" idea doesn't sound like an unreasonable theory - in fact it sounds quite attractive. (It's only the 11 dimensions thing which turns me off).

Like I say, I'm not here to either praise string theory or to attack it. I don't have the knowledge, and the scientific community as a whole is not in a position to either accept it or reject it at the moment. All we can do is stick it in a box labelled "has potential" until the situation becomes clearer.

But I don't quite understand why this potential explanatory theory appears to raise such anger in people. OK, you could say that too much research effort and money is being directed at a theory which we will not be able to properly examine for maybe thousands of years. And I would probably agree with you there. But that's an entirely different argument from attacking the basics of the theory itself. It just sounds like a theory with some promise. But to go around trying to shout it down seems to me to be vaguely anti-intellectual and makes me feel uneasy. And I think some of the people trying to shout it down just aren't equipped to do so. We should keep an open mind about all potential theories until we can say yay or nay about them.

(This is my last post on this off-topic subject).

Arrow said...

Plato: "A first: String theory predicts an experimental result"

While this is an interesting result it is also a good example of the usual dishonest hype propagated by string theorists. It is nothing more then a successful application of math developed for string theory to a different problem and therefore has nothing to do with string theory as a TOE or a theory of quantum gravity. Yet despite this it is being sold to general public as a successful "experimental prediction of string theory" with a clear intention to mislead the public into thinking that the main criticism of string theory has now been refuted.

It is as if someone took some math from GR, say pseudo-Riemannian manifold and metric tensor and ignoring all the rest, used it to successfully calculate electron mobility in a semiconductor. While the result would be interesting it would of course not be an experimental validation of general relativity.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Well, there is no approach other than string theory that allows to eg. compute quantum corrections by gravitons, count microstates in black holes, etc. Loop quantum gravity, for example, has not yet been shown, after decades of research, to lead in the IR to gravity in 4d.

Well, from one anonymous poster to another:

LQG DOES correctly count canonical BH microstates - you are extremely uninformed.

String Theory cannot even get the dimensionality of spacetime correct. So why should we listen to string theorists? Now, what is that dimensionality? 10,11,26? No, it's FOUR. Say it with me: F-O-U-R. The extraneous dimensions ST requires precludes it from the candidate space of possibly correct theories. Mr Occam, get out your razor, it's time to shave off those extraneous assumptions!

ST also requires the existence of supersymmetry - another unproven idea. Look, pure SUSY already doesn't exist as a symmetry of nature. If it's a broken symmetry, it must be VERY broken - the electron has a rest mass energy of 0.511 MeV. Well, we can now produce center-of-mass energies on the TeV range, that's 2 miilion times the electron rest mass energy! And guess what - no
"s-electrons" have been found. You know why? It's because they don't exist, that's why... duh......

After YEARS of fruitless research, hype about a "theory of everything" that has failed to produce ANY tangible results, and way too much WASTED grant money, string theory is a dud, a failed approach.
Even Warren Siegel, one of the founders of string field theory , acknowledges some of these problems, so why can't you?

You claim LQG hasn't lead to 4D gravity in the IR - at least loop theorists know that spacetime is 4D, something string theorists haven't learned yet. BTW, the very idea that all particles are just excitations of one-dimensional strings floating around in some Calabi-Yau manifold hyperspace is ridiculous! That's not even science, it's just science fiction. Oh, excuse me, I forgot, stringers don't use CY manifolds anymore - not since mathematicians pointed out to them that CY manifolds have singularities :) SO, I guess the little wiggly worms float around in G2 manifolds these days :)

String theory is crap - deal with it .

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Giotis,

” As the great Josh Billings once said "silence is one of the hardest arguments to refute".

Interesting, I wonder if this formed to be the source of advice Tiger Woods accepted as being wise:-) I would say he should have taken his cues from science where things can have good outcome only when subject to proper scrutiny demanding total transparency. That is as far as I’m aware the Fifth Amendment has no utility in science.

Best,

Phil

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

” Like I say, I'm not here to either praise string theory or to attack it. ”

Shades of Shakespeare when he had Mark Antony say:

” Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;....."
:-)

-William Shakespeare-Julius Caesar-Act 3, Scene 2


Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Hi all,

It is not my intent to hijack Bee's posting but to hold in mind the issues around quantum gravity issue that she has about the grouping as I see it.

Many of the people assigned to the specialization groups while related to their subject field "are related" to the issues of quantum gravity.

I gave a link earlier that shows these specializations as they are blended together to give an descriptive result from the top down. This is the way I see it too.

Now how such diversity of thinking multidisciplinary be applied to these groups be seen as resulting in such an avenue of pursuance to reveal "the essence of the explorations of the institute?" Information.

An organizational nightmare, or somebody who sees where each of these specializations are necessary attributes and needed to be organized according too?

Indeed, that takes a special oversight.


Both string theorists and condensed matter physicists - those studying the properties of complex matter phases such as solids and liquids - are enthused by the development. "I am flabbergasted," says Jan Zaanen, a condensed matter theorist from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. "The theory is calculating precisely what we are seeing in experiments." See:What is String Theory Really Good For?

Now far be it from myself as Andrew relays in terms of our expertise, and of course, not without opinion, even Bee is reserved as she asks a fundamental question about the quantum gravity group.

Because of the level with which she is asking in terms of organization, is what is exactly the correlative of asking how String Theory is related.

Ask yourself what indeed constitues the string theory field and then come back and give your perspective about what have you got to show for it in opinion.

You do have to be well versed.

Best,

Plato said...

Many leaders are questioning themself about the use of, and it always come back to the essence of the area to which they are devoting time and the purpose used for that time.

Edward Witten-Reflections on the Fate of Spacetime

Unravelling String Theory

But what is string theory?

It may well be the only way to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics, but what is the core idea behind it? Einstein understood the central concepts of general relativity years before he developed the detailed equations. By contrast, string theory has been discovered in bits and pieces — over a period that has stretched for nearly four decades — without anyone really understanding what is behind it. As a result, every bit that is unearthed comes as a surprise. We still don’t know where all these ideas are coming from — or heading to


Clifford:

I’ve found that different people have different takes on what it means to have a “theory of everything”. There is a popular idea (perhaps the most common) that this somehow means that this theory will describe (at least in principle) all known basic physical phenomena (constituents and their interactions, if you like) once and for all. Others mean something less ambitious, a theory that consistently describes the four fundamental forces and the things that interact with them, achieving a unification of all the forces and phenomena that we currently understand. I personally think that the first idea of a theory of everything is rather naive, and my personal hunch (and bias from what I’ve learned about the history of science) is that there is simply no such thing.


LEONARD SUSSKIND:

And I fiddled with it, I monkeyed with it. I sat in my attic, I think for two months on and off. But the first thing I could see in it, it was describing some kind of particles which had internal structure which could vibrate, which could do things, which wasn't just a point particle. And I began to realize that what was being described here was a string, an elastic string, like a rubber band, or like a rubber band cut in half. And this rubber band could not only stretch and contract, but wiggle. And marvel of marvels, it exactly agreed with this formula.
I was pretty sure at that time that I was the only one in the world who knew this.


It is not without effort that such condensate features arrived from a wide and diverse thinking that it can be reduced too?

Your see?

Best,

Arrow said...

Andrew: "If string theory makes a prediction by which we could falsify it with the technology of 20,000 (or a billion) years from now then it would be scientific theory - no problem."

Such definition is not practical since it allows anything to claim being scientific theory by simply including some random clause testable in a distant future.

For example the theory of angels can be made "scientific" by claiming that smashing protons at 10^10 TeV makes angels manifest themselves in the material world.

Only a theory which makes predictions verifiable now or in the near future should be considered scientific.

Andrew: "But I don't quite understand why this potential explanatory theory appears to raise such anger in people. OK, you could say that too much research effort and money is being directed at a theory which we will not be able to properly examine for maybe thousands of years. And I would probably agree with you there."

Good, since this is the crucial point. Keep in mind that vast majority of theories turn out to be wrong, of course we rarely hear about those failed attempts but they outnumber correct theories by far. This means that any potential theory such as string theory which has never made contact with experiment is most likely wrong. This is also why it is so important for any novel theory candidate to provide experimental verification as soon as possible - to limit resources invested in it which will most likely turn out to be wasted. Finally this is why it is unacceptable to keep funding a theory which has failed to produce even a single experimental prediction after 40 years of funding and intense research.

Continuous funding of a theory in hopes that it might be tested in 1000 years is out of the question, the proper thing to do is to cut funding now and resume it when testing comes within reach.

Andrew: "Apparently, it appears to be the case that elementary particles behave more as if they are vibrations of a particular frequency - which seems quite a plausible and attractive suggestion."

This is not a suggestion, this is an experimentally verified fact which was first proposed by de'Broglie.

That you think it is an advantage of string theory or somehow differentiates it from other theories just shows how successful their campaign of disinformation really is.

Every serious TOE candidate has to assign some kind of vibrations to particles, what differentiates string theory is the claims that those are vibrations of 1 dimensional strings in 10/11 dimensions which to me at least is as unattractive as it gets, vibrations of extended 3D fields in 4D spacetime make a whole lot more sense.

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Plato,

Einstein was famous for and at the same time often misunderstood when he said “"I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details". From what you offer here from Witten, Clifford and Susskind they appear to describe what string theory represents being largely as an assembly of intriguing guesses. I would argue then Einstein wouldn’t have recognized this as being theory, as I don’t think he was interested in knowing his guesses, yet only his demonstrated conclusions.

Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

Hi Arrow, you said: "Such definition is not practical since it allows anything to claim being scientific theory by simply including some random clause testable in a distant future.

For example the theory of angels can be made "scientific" by claiming that smashing protons at 10^10 TeV makes angels manifest themselves in the material world."


No, we would dismiss the theory of angels long before we ever get to the experimental testing phase. David Deutsh describes this very well in his book "The Fabric of Reality": "This is the source of the misconception that there is nothing more to a scientific theory than its predictions. But experimental testing is by no means the only process involved in the growth of scientific knowledge. The overwhelming majority of theories are rejected because they contain bad explanations, not because they fail experimental tests. We reject them without ever bothering to test them. For example, consider the theory that eating a kilogram of grass is a cure for the common cold. That theory makes experimentally testable predictions: if people tried the grass cure and found it ineffective, the theory would be proved false. But it has never been tested and probably never will be, because it contains no explanation - either of how the cure would work, or of anything else. We rightly presume it to be false." Same for the angels theory. String theory, however, attempts to provide an explantion for the struture of matter - totally different situation to the angels example.

You said: "Only a theory which makes predictions verifiable now or in the near future should be considered scientific." Absolutely not the case. Whether a theory is scientific or not is a property of the theory, and has nothing to do with how good our particle accelerators are. If a theory is scientific now, then it was still a scientific theory 2,000 years ago when there was no technology. The quality of a theory is a property of the theory alone, and is totally independent of technology. Otherwise, like I said earlier, the theory of relativity would have to be regarded as an unscientific theory in 1650.

I very much want to emphasise the difference between a theory which might be testable in theory but which cannot be currently tested using our technology (possibly string theory in that category), and a theory which can never be tested in principle, no matter how advanced the technology (e.g., parallel universes. If a theory can never be tested - even in a billion years time - then and only then should we consider it to be unscientific.

You said: "Finally this is why it is unacceptable to keep funding a theory which has failed to produce even a single experimental prediction after 40 years of funding and intense research." Yeah, I think it becomes hard to justify spending so much money on a theory which we are unable to test due to our current technological restrictions. But like I say, you can never say a theory is wrong using that criteria. All you can do is put the theory in mothballs for a couple of thousand years (which is perhaps what we should do with string theory).

continued ...

Andrew Thomas said...

... continued

You said: "Andrew: "Apparently, it appears to be the case that elementary particles behave more as if they are vibrations of a particular frequency - which seems quite a plausible and attractive suggestion." This is not a suggestion, this is an experimentally verified fact which was first proposed by de'Broglie." Eek, you're getting your theories mixed-up here in a way which is going to cause horrible confusion. Quantum mechanics deals with the behaviour of particles, and predicts - as you say - the well-established wave/particle dual behaviour of de Broglie (lambda = h/p). But string theory attempts to describe the structure of particles - it's a completely different theory. It imagines paticles as vibrations on these incredibly tiny strings. They shouldn't be confused with a quantum wavefunction describing particle behaviour.

Like I say, I'm not here to praise or criticise string theory. It's just that some of the criticisms levelled against it just aren't very well thought through.

(I am so outta here now!)

Bee said...

Arrow:

"For example the theory of angels can be made "scientific" by claiming that smashing protons at 10^10 TeV makes angels manifest themselves in the material world."

It takes more to make a theory "scientific" than writing down a sentence like the one above. It might have occurred to you that theoretical physics is formulated in the language of mathematics, and mathematical consistency is a very strict requirement. You'd have severe problems expressing your above "theory" in mathematical terms (though that of course depends on how you define "angel"). There are reasons to dislike string theory, you name some of them, but there are also good reasons why this theory has attracted many researchers that shouldn't be dismissed either. The point I was trying to make above is that in the absence of experimental guidance it is foolish to abandon either approach as long as they fulfill the quality standards, read: they should be expressed in consistent maths. Of course for such a theory to be physics not math, one should aim for phenomenology. These efforts are being made, more vigorously now than ever before, and I think this is a good development.

Best,

B.

Arrow said...

Andrew: Whether a theory is scientific or not is a property of the theory, and has nothing to do with how good our particle accelerators are.

We clearly disagree here, the problem with your definition is that it opens the door for a lot of pseudoscience which can be easily recast in such a way so as to meet all the other requirements including mathematical consistency mentioned by Bee. (It's quite easy to build a mathematically consistent theory when you don't have to worry about experimental results).
But this is mostly an issue of semantics and I don't find it particularly important, so probably won't argue about it any longer.

Andrew: Yeah, I think it becomes hard to justify spending so much money on a theory which we are unable to test due to our current technological restrictions. But like I say, you can never say a theory is wrong using that criteria. All you can do is put the theory in mothballs for a couple of thousand years (which is perhaps what we should do with string theory).

Here we are in full agreement as I've never claimed it makes the theory wrong, only that it should be shelved until the time comes when it can be experimentally tested. This is the issue of optimal allocation of limited funds.

Andrew: Eek, you're getting your theories mixed-up here in a way which is going to cause horrible confusion. Quantum mechanics deals with the behaviour of particles, and predicts - as you say - the well-established wave/particle dual behaviour of de Broglie (lambda = h/p). But string theory attempts to describe the structure of particles - it's a completely different theory.

I am not confusing them, your original comment didn't mention the structure, it mentioned behavior:

Andrew: Apparently, it appears to be the case that elementary particles behave more as if they are vibrations of a particular frequency - which seems quite a plausible and attractive suggestion.

This is why I pointed out it's already a part of QM. But even particle structure is to some extent part of QM if you accept zitterbewegung interpretation of it.

Bee: There are reasons to dislike string theory, you name some of them, but there are also good reasons why this theory has attracted many researchers that shouldn't be dismissed either.

I am not dismissing them while I personally don't find them very appealing I agree it was worth a try. But 40 years passed and nothing came out of it despite thousands of papers published. Enough is enough, the funds are limited and should be reallocated to other approaches or just general exploration.

Bee: "The point I was trying to make above is that in the absence of experimental guidance it is foolish to abandon either approach as long as they fulfill the quality standards, read: they should be expressed in consistent maths.

Yes, it should not be completely abandoned, it should be shelved or at least greatly scaled back until time comes when it can be tested. No one advocates burning of papers and books, the studies can always be resumed if there are valid reasons to do so. In the meantime however funding should be redirected to exploration of different known approaches and search for completely novel ones.

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

I have a suggestion.

1. Reduce the funding for theoretical physics by about one half. There is too much deadwood and redundancy there.

2. Fund only theoretical physics research that has a proven track record of making definitive predictions.

3. Give the "un-wasted" funds to experimemtal physics/astronomy.

I will bet that if we were to try this for a 10-year trial period, we would never go back to the present fiasco, which often seems to encourage pseudoscience.

RLO

Bee said...

A consequence of your proposal would be that there were absolutely zero young researchers in the field. Best,

B.

Plato said...

Using the anti–de Sitter/conformal field theory correspondence to relate fermionic quantum critical fields to a gravitational problem, we computed the spectral functions of fermions in the field theory. By increasing the fermion density away from the relativistic quantum critical point, a state emerges with all the features of the Fermi liquid. See:String Theory, Quantum Phase Transitions, and the Emergent Fermi Liquid

I might wonder about the application of Navier Stokes in regard, as to push forward perspective under a "mathematical principle."

"If" it cannot seem correlated to the real world then there is nothing permissible with which to explore those unknown regions?

"You," are in status quo.

"If" one is to see the completion of the "computerize notion" of the supernova in continued geometric expressive results, it needed to encapsulate what is projected outward in those jets. "What happens at the same time" in correlative function at the cooling end as well.


Arrow:While this is an interesting result it is also a good example of the usual dishonest hype propagated by string theorists. It is nothing more then a successful application of math developed for string theory to a different problem and therefore has nothing to do with string theory as a TOE or a theory of quantum gravity. Yet despite this it is being sold to general public as a successful "experimental prediction of string theory" with a clear intention to mislead the public into thinking that the main criticism of string theory has now been refuted.

What is dishonest about seeking application...and then you go on into rhetoric.

A "clear intention" for string theorists to mislead?

So your saying then, that this is what string theorists have done purposely? For the record now, it's there for people to see.

Not only a "top down" approach, but a "Bottom up?"

Did you not ever wonder why?

Best,

Plato said...

Did you ever wonder why string theorists stop responding? Far be it from my own layman perspective to understand why?:) Is it not obvious.

But "hopefully" this will change as to your posit Bee, as I am certainly no spokesperson for them.

Just another layman point of view.

Best,

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Dr. H,

It is ridiculous to say:

"A consequence of your proposal would be that there were absolutely zero young researchers in the field."

You mean to say that the numbers of people going into theoretical physics would be cut in proportion to the funding cut.

A good thing in my opinion. Fewer people, better people, people not in it for money or celebrity.

Yours in testable science,
RLO
'pseudo-predictions lead to pseudoscience'

Arrow said...

Plato: What is dishonest about seeking application...and then you go on into rhetoric.
Seeking application is commendable and those results are interesting and warrant further study but reporting is dishonest for reasons I've already explained - it is not string theory the TOE which is being used here, it is just a portion of it's math, strings themselves don't even enter the picture. The reporting is dishonest because it implies string theory passed an experimental test which is not the case.

Plato said...

Arrow,

Hopefully you read the Wigner quote on the other thread.

Only one part of the entirety of all the maths. How much "more" is applicable? Your exploring unknown regions don't forget.

Sometimes such configuration sets the mind to advance in areas that were unserviceable as related to the status quo. Nothing is dishonorable about slapping the mind out of it's positioning.

Abstractly gotten, it provides a new framework for considering the sciences and it's applications.

In Lagrangian views any graviton-ic condensation is helping the mind to recognize the fluctuations of "gravity in space." The three body problem of course helps here as well. Helps one to recognize the trajectories and ease with which travel can be propelled, so as to use less expenditure of energy.

Where else do such tunnels exist? :)Not wormhole.

Best,

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

No doubt Plato, in conjunction with M. Kaku and Louis Crane, will soon be jetting off into parallel universes in their black hole driven starship.*

*At present they are still using a cardboard and duct tape mock-up, but soon, very soon... .

Bon Voyage Pseudoscientists,
RLO

Bee said...

Robert: What I was saying is the idea of funding only who has a track record would not allow anybody new to enter the field. Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

Arrow.. Quantum gravity in general will most likely never be tested exactly. Brief outlines from cosmological and other experiments can falsify some claims, but in general you won't ever be able to pin things down exactly, unless we get very very lucky.

Forget about string theory. The regime of semiclassical gravity, say in the vicinity of a blackhole suffers from the same exact problem. So eg Hawking radiation, which almost everyone accepts to be true, has never and probably will never be tested exactly.

It could in principle, if we had big enough accelerators, but we don't. C'est la vie!

It is still a right or wrong answer though, and general theoretical consistency strongly puts it in the 'highly favored' category.

Plato said...

Well lets start chopping those mathematical applications that seem irrelevant in relation to quantum gravity?

Imagine using the horizon to think about spacetime(a tomato soup can)? Just so you know(I'm always open to corrections)Lee and Bekenstein and others thought to position themselves, to look at a particular region of space, why would one think that this did not lead to results either?

Best,

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Dr. H,

The "track record" was specifically linked to the making of definitive predictions, not to making big [or small] discoveries.

Basically, funding agencies should all have a specific section in their grant applications entitled: Definitive Predictions. In it the potential grantee should be required to "show exactly how their proposed idea, model, theory, fantasy, whatever can be scientifically tested in a definitive manner. If it can't - REJECT without further ado.

I want theoretical physics to move away from effectively untestable pseudoscience towards definitively testable science.

In the words of Maurice the Maitre d': "It couldn't be more clearer!"

;)
RLO

Plato said...

Imagine making a "definitive prediction" concerning a microscopic theory?:)

Steven Colyer said...

@ Anonymous - I was under the impression it's easier to prove a theory than falsify it. In any event, Vafa et. al. claim to have "proved" Hawking radiation via string theory, or at least others have regarded their mathematics as proof. I'm very skeptical, but listening. Your points re Quantum Gravity NEVER being provable will not be received well by string theorists. I'm fairly certain that if SUSY particles are detected at LHC, many stringers will say this is proof (which will be wrong AGAIN, stringers, although the lack of SUSYs won't falsify ST). But if not ....

@PLO - Interesting thoughts as always, Robert. I'm interested in how many grants you've received, and what testable definitive predictions there are in your theory, or is it more of a comparative description of atoms, solar systems, and galaxies?

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Steve,

You said you would look at my website, but obviously you have not kept your word.

Grants received = 0
Salary received = 0
Freedom = max![priceless!]

For definitive predictions, see

1. Astrophysical Journal 322, 34-36, 1987 [main definitive prediction, and perhaps the most definitive set of physics predictions made since the 1940s].

2. Fractals 10, 27-38, 2002 [update on the set of dark matter predictions and initial supportive EMPIRICAL results].

3. Search arxiv.org ["All sections]for Robert L. Oldershaw. Pay special attention to "Critical Test of the Self-Similar Cosmological Paradigm:...", which has just been accepted for publication.

4. The website, which I am apparently not allowed to refererence directly, has enough to keep anyone busy for months and has a huge potential for research projects [I did not pick all the low-hanging fruit].

Stop fantasizing about female physicists and "show me the effort!".

. .
L
W

RLO
Just say "No!" to pseudoscience.

Steven Colyer said...

Female physicist fantasy ... what?! I'm married to a female scientist, I don't have to fantasize.

But if I did, it would be Marie Curie. :-)

OK then, back on topic (and thanks for the links, RLO, anyone can call up your site by clicking on your name):

Has it occurred to anyone that separating String Theory as a group from Quantum Gravity as a group just adds to even MORE attention FOR string theory?

What is this, like ... a PLOT or something?

I guess calling ST "ancient discredited backing up into pure mathematical uber-generalization quantum gravity" would be a bit much, and cheeky, not to mention wordy, but, I don't know.

No matter how the groups are divided, there will be hurt feelings.

I got back into MathPhys because I thought the world's top minds would agree on how best to categorize subjects with minimal diagreement, but, um, oops.

Bee said...

Robert: You suggestion is a sure way to stifle innovation. It is bad enough funding agencies want a three year plan to begin with because one just can't do this in theoretical physics. You might have an idea, look into it, and find after a month it doesn't work. There goes your three year plan. If you require people in advance to know how a model that they haven't even worked out makes predictions for observations, that's just not feasible. The only result would be that they invent something (if they don't already do that anyway). Frankly, your comment lets me think you have little idea of how research in physics actually works. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

Good points, Bee.

"It is bad enough funding agencies want a three year plan to begin with because one just can't do this in theoretical physics. You might have an idea, look into it, and find after a month it doesn't work."

Yes, but I sometimes get the impression that government funding agencies love paperwork to the point that one wonders if they don't just weigh funding requests (literally, put them on a weight scale).

My point is that one can advance a theoretical idea from one year to three years by adding many pages based on various contingencies, such that if Plan A doesn't look promising, there's Plan B, maybe Plan B.1 or B.2, possibly Plan B.1.a, B.1.b., etc., etc., ad infinitum.

I'm fairly certain that the government decision-makers who stamp the funding requests as APPROVED don't know what the heck they're reading, relying instead on the opinion of the expert mentor of the author submitting said request, yes?

Bee said...

Yes. The sad truth is actually that many people submit proposals for topics they have already almost finished, so it is very predictable what the outcome will be. As you can easily guess, this creates somewhat of a chicken and egg problem. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Anonymous: You write

"Quantum gravity in general will most likely never be tested exactly. Brief outlines from cosmological and other experiments can falsify some claims, but in general you won't ever be able to pin things down exactly, "

The same can be said about every theory. What you mean to say, I think, is that the precision to which quantum gravity can be measurable will never reach the precision to which we have measured other theories. That might be. But who knows what the future will bring? I don't. Best,

B.

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

Sigh, such a slow study!

The really innovative people do not waste time with grant writing and other careerist encumberments.

They are people with a calling who are driven by a passion for figuring things out and/or creating things. They would perservere in their quest no matter what the situation [well, unless the government forces them to work the rice paddies, but even then their minds would be actively working on their quest].

At present the careerists and pseudoscientists largely control the day-to-day operation of theoretical physics. They control the funding. They control the journals.

Their paper-only pseudoscience creates such a Tower of Babel that truly innovative ideas are drowned out in the cacophony.

But the pseudoscience center will not hold. Already one can see it starting to fray at the seams. The whole tower of playing card assumptions and untestable glass bead games is coming down in our lifetimes.

And that's a testable prediction.

RLO

Bee said...

Robert:

"They are people with a calling who are driven by a passion for figuring things out and/or creating things. They would perservere in their quest no matter what the situation "

Indeed, and that's why, despite the effort it takes to write grant proposals the dedicated scientists who love their job are still dedicated scientists and working on unraveling the secrets of Nature. I personally wish they would be less willing to eat shit, but fact is, for most of them their research is the only thing that counts and the academic system is just accepted for what it is. I find this quite shortsighted though. What you tolerate today will bite you in the ass tomorrow. This is the reason why I keep writing about the shortcomings of the academic system. Anyway, your suggestions for improvement are for the reasons I explained above not well thought through and would only worsen the situation. Best,

B.

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

First rule of academia:
NEVER admit you are wrong.

To demonstrate my lack of academic bona fides, I hereby admit that my Old Testament rant this morning was a bit much, even for me.

There is an issue that deserves attention, however.

If one checks out all the theoretical physics papers submitted to arxiv each day, and I do, then you know that it is several 100s of papers every day!

It is a cacophony. Trying to keep up with the worthwhile stuff is like trying to take a drink from a fire hose pumping at full blast.

Most of these 100s of papers/day are untestable pseudoscience of very dubious utility. Do we really need to generate all this trash just to burnish our egos and resumes? Are we drowning important ideas in the tidal wave of mediocrity?

Something appears to be seriously amiss with the way things are going [experimental physics very much excepted]. I think all physicists should be concerned and actively thinking about how we might improve the way theoretical physics is done.

RLO (in New Testament form)

Nirmalya said...

Background Independent Quantum Gravity ?

Robert L. Oldershaw said...

I think it is very possible that Quantum Gravity is a solved problem.

Basic theory: arxiv physics/0701132

Proof of Concept Retrodictions: arxiv astro-ph/0701006

Definitive tests are underway, initial supportive empirical results: arxiv astro-ph/0002363

Basically, GR at stellar scale, GR at atomic scale, GR at subatomic scale. Key change is questioning the assumption of a non-scaling value for G, and instead trying a discrete scaling for G.

No Charge,
RLO

Anonymous said...

Obviously people at this blog would rather talk endlessly and unproductively about sexual politics than use their minds and empirical evidence to consider new ideas about gravitation in the subatomic realm.

Same as it ever was,
General Omar Windbottom

Anonymous said...

Constructions that fail to reproduce Einstein's equations should not be called gravity.

Plato said...

So much for your pseudoscience Robert.

While String theorists may seem apart from the Quantum Gravity group at the PI institution they are to me, the "overseers of this topic."

Lee might have contended that the valleys were and had come to an end(hill climbers and valley seekers), but on the contrary, it takes vision in order to pierce a given space. This is the beauty of it, and not the ugliness with which one has been looking at a bumpy surface.

String theorists have given an interesting story to follow, that is if you knew how to folow. Don't feel so bad either as many scientists could not figure it out themself.

To be vociferous in critical acclaim against the string theorists in no ways makes it seem you belong to that "choir of dissent," but one really rather that did not know how to piece together all this interesting science.:)

Anonymous said...

Hello Anonymous,

But you err when you say that Discrete Scale Relativity does not recover General Relativity as an approximation valid within apropriate limits, just as in the case of General Relativity and Special Relativity. Get a grip on reality, man!


Hi Plato,

Your tangled logic is always a source of mirth. "Do not gently into that good night"

RLO

Plato said...

Hi Robert,

and unto you forlorn...

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.:)

Best,

Anonymous said...

Hi Plato,

Take a look at this and see how science is done. And I mean the real kind of scientific discovery, not mouthing something some prof. told you, or reciting from a book by some short-hitter like Kaku , Carroll and Davies.
---------------------

The problem set up yesterday has been taken one step further and has a much improved set of solutions.

We propose that the masses of subatomic particles can be retrodicted approximatey [1st approx.] using a Kerr solution of GR.

Basic equation is: J = aGm^2/c

Rearrange, assume a = 1/n, assume unit J = 1/2 hbar.

You get M(n) = [n]^1/2 [constant]. Think it through.

The [constant] = the corrected Planck mass [= 674 Mev], which I have showed you how to calculate several times.
Or see: http://arxiv.org/ftp/astro-ph/papers/0701/0701006.pdf

Then:
Planck mass: n=1
proton : n=2
Xi: n=4
Omega(-): n=6
D: n=8
D(s): n=10
Lambda(c); n=12
KAON: n=1/2
PION: n=1/25

I think we are now uniformly at the 90-95% level after two 45 minute efforts.

Is nature not the most magnificent perfection!

Big fun for any scientist who wants to join in,
RLO

Plato said...

Hi Robert,

Your contempt is not very appealing:)

WMAP cosmic microwave fluctuations over the full sky with 5 years of data. WMAP cosmic microwave fluctuations over the full sky with 5-years of data. Colors represent the tiny temperature fluctuations of the remnant glow from the infant universe: red regions are warmer and blue are cooler.

* New evidence that a sea of cosmic neutrinos permeates the universe
* Clear evidence the first stars took more than a half-billion years to create a cosmic fog
* Tight new constraints on the burst of expansion in the universe's first trillionth of a second

"We are living in an extraordinary time," said Gary Hinshaw of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "Ours is the first generation in human history to make such detailed and far-reaching measurements of our universe."


If I belong to the ranks of Kaku, Carroll or Davies, so be it.

You are stuck in the mud like Darwin. This is "not" necessarily a bad thing, because one day you will surface.:)

Kaku knew to look toward the surface.

Best,

Plato said...

Oh and one more.

The Cosmological Parameters

Anonymous said...

RLO, ты заебал уже тут всех! Пойди расслабься!

Anonymous said...

Plato,

I am not going for the Miss Congeniality Prize.

How things look depend on your reference frame.

You have never seen how things look from my reference frame, and you may not have that capacity.

The reverse is probably true also.
-----------------------------

ANON: I don't know how the read cyrilic or whatever that other message was in.
-----------------------------

Now I really have got to get to work!

RLO

Anonymous said...

I did a more careful comparison of the theoretically "predicted" masses and the empirically measured mass values for 11 of the most well-known particles.

The retrodictive agreement ranges from 94% to 99.9%, with an average agreement of 97.1%

For a 1st approximation test with the Kerr solution that is probably as good as it gets. When the full Kerr-Newman solution is tested in this way I expect even more remarkable results.

I also expect to get almost no encouragement from the physics community. To be realistic, I can predict substantial hostility. This will not stop me, or the coming of the new paradigm.

RLO