Sunday, June 25, 2006

science (?)

Physics Fizzler
The once trendy String Theory has begun to fray. Like Marxism, it's far beyond its use-by-date, yet somehow lingers stubbornly on in University Science Depts, that really should know better. The barmiest notion since post-modernism, it goes someting like this:
elementary particles such as electrons are not points [but] vibrations of one-dimensional strings 1/100 billion billionth the size of an atomic nucleus. Different vibrations.. produce all subatomic particles from quarks to gluons.. & strings exist in a space of 10 or 11 dimensions
Now, I'm no particle physicist, but 11 dimensions? Come on! The roar of nonsense alarm bells must be deafening! String Theory sounds like a cult. Mental abstraction eating itself; a hypothetical model that's become so convoluted and speculative that it now requires mystical, unprovable elements in order to prop it up. Strange, counter-intuitive ideas that can never be properly tested in the 'real world' - and thus satisfactorily proved or disproved - sound more like religion than science to me.

3 comments:

Antarctic Lemur said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calabi-Yau

barvasfiend said...

Shroedingers cat doesn't really pass the inuitively true test either, but then a couple of Neuton's bigger ideas did, and they turned out to be bunkum. Beautiful, and therefore appealing in that they ascribed to an observable order - but still bunkum. The Aaron Spelling of physics, if you like.

The test of these theories is not so much their relevance to observable reality but their 'fit' with other, equally beautiful theories. This is illogical, yes, but I like to think of them as hypotheses - to one day be tested when there's enough money for the big whizz bang machine.

In short, it's like saying: all the other theories we can test and prove looked kinda like this, so let's dream up some variations.

Clearly I am no physicist either, (for me, strong theory exists only in regards to those confoundingly tricky bikinis) but then technically,neither are they.

phil said...

Thanks Al, do you have the English translation page to that site? :-)

Barva - "The Aaron Spelling of Physics" LOL, I like it!

The test of these theories is not so much their relevance to observable reality but their 'fit' with other, equally beautiful theories.

Aha! I think I understand now. As long as new theories (like String Theory) are reasonably consistent with prevailing ideas, then they can claim to possess some sort of intellectual validity.
In that case, let's hope the currently accepted "equally beautiful theories" are completely sound and correct, otherwise the entire intellectual framework built up around String Theory will eventually collapse. Either that, or physicists might be forever doomed to chasing false leads and phantom ideas - or at least until the big whizz bang machine comes along and we can test them with (more) certainty.