Sunday, August 20, 2006

The Bumpy White String

Yesterday I bought new running shoes. Herewith I present the first confirmed application of string theory: the bumpy white string.

These shoestrings are absolutely ingenious. Not only do the ties hold better, they also don't slide through the holes and change the binding while running. If you are into mountain climbing, you might find them really useful.

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  1. REPLY To Lubos Motl:
    Lubos, you are a smart theorist, and yet not so brilliant academic.

    Let me explain:
    1) Would you say logically supersonic flight superceded previous slower transatlantic air travel. Yet concorde has been retired and civil aircraft engineering is about Boeing & Airbus, larger passenger aircraft, about more powerful, more efficient, more silent & 'greener' rolls royce & boeing propulsion systems. Are they not 'advances' in science too. Physics & Engineering.
    2) Would you say logically maglev and bullet trains have superceded diesel engines. Yet we continue to train students and future engineers in diesel engines, as well as electric motors and maglev systems. we make progress & advances in all these fields of Physics & Engineering. Of course steam is defunct as an economic option, but even so is of interest to steam enthusiasts clubs.

    You would have us say that nothing other than supersonic concorde flights and maglev bullet trains should be studied experimented on or built. Mind you, you would probably also say people should not buy anything other than microsoft.

    Well in this case let me throw your own capitalistic beliefs and ideollogy back at you. It is competition or alternative ideas keep you Lubos Motl, Lisa Randall & Leonard Susskind on your toes, otherwise you'd become complacent.

    It is competition that keeps microsoft at the cutting edge of software packages and pc communications - often integrating into its system ideas and concepts from outside the box (or mountain climbing in a different mountain range to use your analogy).

    It is competition that keeps Boeing, Airbus, Rolls Royce & maglev bullet trains at the cutting edge of science, engineering and Physics.

    It is competing ideas and theories push the boundaries of knowledge in Physics and all the Sciences in a constantly evolving universe where the only constant is change.

  2. Dear Quasar9, indeed, I am far from a brilliant academic if this word is supposed to mean something very different from a theorist - such as the academics who fired Summers. ;-)

    1) I don't think that Concorde superseded anyone because it was an unsafe, oil-consuming technology to show the power of a technology and to focus on very rich consumers who like adventures. It was not a way to go for commercial airlines. Airbus recently has some troubles - but if you think that Boeing is equivalent to loop quantum gravity, you will need to add some additional formulae to justify your point. ;-)

    2) The same thing. I am not an expert in trains but because I believe in self-regulation of the industry, my opinion is probably that whatever technology survives after decades is more likely to be superior over the technologies that disappear. In your childish analogies, I think that string theory is Boeing (plus parts of Airbus), it has future. String theory will become whatever company will take over after Boeing (and Airbus), and the main progress in quantum gravity obviously comes from the competition of the ideas inside string theory (and inside Boeing's and Airbus' labs).

    The real progress of the aircraft industry does not really need the engineers who work in the North Korean and Cuban labs which are the counterparts of the discrete gravity theories. Best Lubos

    (Copy paste is a good thing.)

    P.S.: Bee, you would only deserve applause for your original research if the shoes differed more substantially from the cover of a book whose reading I just finished while bravely avoiding any kind of vomitting. ;-)

  3. Hi Quasar, hi Lubos,

    without going into the details of your aircraft games, I'd like to point out again that even though competition is the probably most important factor for progress, it requires regulation to function smoothly. Capitalism without regulating laws is likely to lead to monopoles which hinder progress, or vacuum bubbles whose collapse can be disastrous on global level.

    Lubos, I congratulate you for not vomiting. Similarity to the book cover was intended. I hope you can tie your shoes without feeling sick these days.



  4. Dear Bee,

    let me answer your last question: for security and health reasons, I have switched to sandals. ;-)



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