Sociology of Physics: comment and indices


by marcus
Tags: comment, indices, physics, sociology
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May24-09, 12:16 PM
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Theoretical physics presents what I think is potentially an interesting bunch of sociology-of-science case studies and examples.

There is one guy (a string PhD named Ozzy Zapata) who is blogging specifically about this, has some fascinating comment:
http://spinningthesuperweb.blogspot.com/

There was also a kind of groundbreaking talk by Roger Penrose in 2006 called
Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in Physical Theory
The video is online and the slides are downloadable too, at Berkeley's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute:
http://www.msri.org/communications/v...005/show_video

Basically Penrose and Zapata both discuss how intellectual fashions such as string theory function as expert fads. Penrose does this in an entertaining and illuminating manner, with a lot of hand-drawn cartoons.

Although Zapata got his PhD in string theory I am apprehensively curious about what his postdoc job prospects are, given the nature his comments. The guy is a kind of Feyer(brand)abend. Maybe he will move into the Philosophy of Science, or maybe there is a Sociology of Science research field opening up.
Here is one of his essays on the arxiv:
http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.1439

I keep track of how things are going with various objective indices (publication rates, citation counts by category, popular book salesranks) as well as subjective impressions.

Here are a couple of indices to watch.
The drop-off in citations to recent string papers:
2002: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/...2/annual.shtml
Recent (1998-2002) string papers in top 30 of the 2002 citations ranking: 11
2008: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/...8/annual.shtml
Recent (2004-2008) string papers in top 30 of the 2008 citations ranking: 0

The idea is that every year the Spires database lists the papers most highly cited in that year, and one can look to see how many recent (published in the past five years) string papers made the top 30. Eleven of the 30 papers cited most often in 2002 were recent (1998-2002) string publications. Cites are a measure of how important/valuable research appears to the researchers themselves. Eleven out of thirty is a good showing. This measure of value or importance (as seen by the experts themselves) has dropped off.

People still have to write papers, regardless of how useful the results are, so there has not been such a marked decline in the gross publication rate.
However there may have been some slight decline. Here's publications (keywords: superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic) for the first four months of three successive years:
2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1
2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1
2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1
1881, 1769, 1452 (preliminary numbers, publications with keywords superstring, M-theory, brane, heterotic, or compactification)

Here too is one possible window on the popularized physics (or wide-audience) book market:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/227399/
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May27-09, 03:35 PM
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Interesting marc,

So you gauge the popularity of a niche of science based on how many of its papers are in the top citations list. This could be a good indicator of whether the niche (string theory) is gaining peer acceptance or losing it.

I must say there are some criticisms readily available of this technique's accuracy, as I'm sure you are well aware. It would be interesting to see a behavioral psychologists analysis of this technique. One results skewing effect would be the tendency of peers to cite papers written by physics 'celebrities', like Penrose, Wolfram, etc. This looks good for their own paper when they've quoted a top gun, and it adds credence to their paper. The less popular the niche is, the less cites it will naturally garner. String Theory has been relatively stale in the last 5 years and many physicists wonder if its reached an experimental impass, which means it is losing favor, even amongst some theoretical physicists. This could clearly effect citations, but it does nothing to prove whether the underlying theories in string theory are true or false.

So while you citation rankings, is a decent indicator of what papers are important, it may also be just as good an indicator of what niches are popular.


Quote Quote by marcus View Post
Theoretical physics presents what I think is potentially an interesting bunch of sociology-of-science case studies and examples.

There is one guy (a string PhD named Ozzy Zapata) who is blogging specifically about this, has some fascinating comment:
http://spinningthesuperweb.blogspot.com/

There was also a kind of groundbreaking talk by Roger Penrose in 2006 called
Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in Physical Theory
The video is online and the slides are downloadable too, at Berkeley's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute:
http://www.msri.org/communications/v...005/show_video

Basically Penrose and Zapata both discuss how intellectual fashions such as string theory function as expert fads. Penrose does this in an entertaining and illuminating manner, with a lot of hand-drawn cartoons.

Although Zapata got his PhD in string theory I am apprehensively curious about what his postdoc job prospects are, given the nature his comments. The guy is a kind of Feyer(brand)abend. Maybe he will move into the Philosophy of Science, or maybe there is a Sociology of Science research field opening up.
Here is one of his essays on the arxiv:
http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.1439

I keep track of how things are going with various objective indices (publication rates, citation counts by category, popular book salesranks) as well as subjective impressions.

Here are a couple of indices to watch.
The drop-off in citations to recent string papers:
2002: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/...2/annual.shtml
Recent (1998-2002) string papers in top 30 of the 2002 citations ranking: 11
2008: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/...8/annual.shtml
Recent (2004-2008) string papers in top 30 of the 2008 citations ranking: 0

The idea is that every year the Spires database lists the papers most highly cited in that year, and one can look to see how many recent (published in the past five years) string papers made the top 30. Eleven of the 30 papers cited most often in 2002 were recent (1998-2002) string publications. Cites are a measure of how important/valuable research appears to the researchers themselves. Eleven out of thirty is a good showing. This measure of value or importance (as seen by the experts themselves) has dropped off.

People still have to write papers, regardless of how useful the results are, so there has not been such a marked decline in the gross publication rate.
However there may have been some slight decline. Here's publications (keywords: superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic) for the first four months of three successive years:
2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1
2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1
2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1
1881, 1769, 1452 (preliminary numbers, publications with keywords superstring, M-theory, brane, heterotic, or compactification)

Here too is one possible window on the popularized physics (or wide-audience) book market:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/227399/
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May30-09, 09:13 PM
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It is still early but we can get an idea of how string publication looks for the first five months of 2009, by comparison with the first five months of previous years:

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2307, 2225, 1715 (as of May 30, expected to increase with late entries)
Six keywords were used (superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic.)

As of noon Pacific, May 31 the sales rank ratio for Smolin's book was 0.678. This compares its sales performance with that of the five most popular stringy books averaged to provide a benchmark for comparison. Trouble's amazon-wide salesrank was 6204 and the stringy average was 4206.2

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Jun1-09, 02:18 PM
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Sociology of Physics: comment and indices


As of noon June 1 the successive publication numbers were 2307, 2225, 1727.
As expected the last number (for 2009) is still building up some with late May entries, though my guess is that it will end up showing a downtrend.

The usual salesrank ratio for Trouble with Physics was 0.583. I intend to take a three-day average (31st, 1st, 2nd) to smooth out some of the random fluctuation. Gokul suggested this some time back and it makes very good sense. TwP came on the market in September 2006. Here, to give some perspective on the present numbers, is its salesrank history, sampling the first of each month.

EDIT:
The three-day average for 1 June is finished.
31 May 0.678
1 June 0.583
2 June 0.934

average salesrank ratio around 1 June = 0.732

The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7

It seems to be performing rather steadily (against the string benchmark). Recent numbers don't suggest any pronounced upswing or downturn.

Trouble salesrank was 6544
Stringy top five were 1905, 2596, 3810, 8011, 14244, averaging 6113.2
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Jun8-09, 02:39 PM
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At noon 8 June, Smolin's Trouble with Physics ranked on par with the stringy topfive average.


The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
8 June 1.0


Trouble salesrank was 7182
Stringy top five were 1876, 2211, 2631, 4934, 25393 averaging 7409.0

String research publication the first five months of 2009, by comparison with the first five months of previous years:

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2307, 2225, 1886 as of 8 June, expected to increase with late entries.
Six keywords were used (superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic.)
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Jun27-09, 06:06 PM
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We can begin to gauge the stringy publication rate for the first six months, compared with other years:

For the first six months:

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

So far the publication for the first half of 2007, 2008, and 2009 are 2657, 2526, 2194 continuing a slight downtrend. The 2009 number can be expected to increase (the month isn't even over and it takes Harvard abstracts people some time to catch up.)

========

I hadn't checked the salesrank of Smolin's Trouble with Physics for some weeks and happened to do so today 27 June. It ranked on par with the stringy topfive average.


The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
8 June 1.0
...
27 June 1.0 (1 pm instead of usual noon reading)
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To track the stringy publication rate for the first six months, compared with other years, 6 keywords are used (superstring, M-theory, brane, compactification, AdS/CFT, and heterotic).

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/np...=YES&version=1

So far the string publication numbers for the first half of 2007, 2008, and 2009 are 2657, 2526, 2230 continuing a slight downtrend. The 2009 number can be expected to increase somewhat as the Harvard abstracts people catch up with their cataloging.

=======


The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
30 June 0.628
1 July 1.366

I aim to make a 3-day average around July 1, to get rid of some random fluctuation. Today June 30 at noon TwP salesrank was 8959 and the five most popular stringy books (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 3846, 3965, 4485, 6584, 9247 for an average of 5625.4.
EDIT: At noon on July 1 TwP rank was 4515 and stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 2868, 4041, 4823, 5808, 13287 averaging 6165.4 making the ratio 1.366.
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Jul2-09, 12:28 PM
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The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
30 June 0.628
1 July 1.366
2 July 3.782

I aim to make a 3-day average around July 1, to get rid of some random fluctuation. Today June 30 at noon TwP salesrank was 8959 and the five most popular stringy books (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 3846, 3965, 4485, 6584, 9247 for an average of 5625.4 making the ratio 0.628.
EDIT: At noon on July 1 TwP rank was 4515 and stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 2868, 4041, 4823, 5808, 13287 averaging 6165.4 making the ratio 1.366.
EDIT: At noon on July 2, TwP rank was 1545 and stringy top five (elegant, parallel, hyperspace, fabric, warped) ranked 3324, 3545, 5531, 6662, 10155 averaging 5843 making the ratio 3.782.
The average ratio for the three days (our smoothed value for the first of the month) is therefore 1.93 and I retabulate as usual:

The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

The TwP index has been behaving in an unusual way recently. Afternoon and evening of 1 July it spent a lot of time in the 4-5 range. Also for part of the morning of 2 July, although it was down around 3.8 right at noon (pacific) my regular time to record. At 1:00 PM it was back up at 5.2.
Smolin has not made any public appearances or been on broadcast media lately (radio TV) as far as I know. However he did have a piece in a professional physicist magazine back in the first half of June. (The Institute of Physics--IOP--online Physics World) It could be readers with more of a science education buying the book that caused this spike. Or some other event that I'm not aware of. Here is the June issue Physics World link:
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/39306
His article is interesting and has a catchy title The Unique Universe.
It was picked up by a science/technology blog called X-Journals which commented favorably in a post titled "Forget the So-Called Multiverse: One Universe is Enough".
http://x-journals.com/2009/lee-smoli...rse-is-enough/
It could be the string landscape/multiverse idea has gotten into bad odor---enough science people may dislike it that by coming out against it, Smolin cause a jump in his booksales. I noticed a simultaneous jump in sales of the hardcover edition as well as the paperback.

At any rate for whatever reason Trouble with Physics has been recently selling around 4 or 5 times better than the stringy topfive average I use for comparison.
I checked several more times on 2 July. The ratio at 1 PM was 5.16, at 4 PM it was 5.34, at 5 PM it was 5.48, and at 9 PM it was 5.81.

At 11 PM on 2 July the ratio was 8.14. Trouble with Physics was doing 8 times better than the stringy topfive average Ive been using as benchmark for several years. It's odd. TwP rank was 852 and the top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 2539, 3817, 7414, 8335, 12575 for an average of 6936.0.
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Jul3-09, 02:44 PM
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Something just happened which greatly increased sales of TwP. I'm not sure what it is yet. Here's a table of noon readings. Those for the first of each month are smoothed by averaging over a 3-day window.

The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11

The TwP index was in the 4-6 range for much of 2 July though briefly down below 4 at noon that day. At 1:00 PM it was back up over 5 and it stayed there for the rest of the day, being over 8 at 11 PM. I checked several times on 2 July. The ratio at 1 PM was 5.16, at 4 PM it was 5.34, at 5 PM it was 5.48, at 9 PM it was 5.81, at 11 PM on 2 July the ratio was 8.14.

Smolin has not made any public appearances or been on broadcast media lately (radio TV) as far as I know, but did publish an interesting piece in the June issue Physics World:
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/39306
It was picked up by a science/technology blog called X-Journals which commented favorably in a post titled "Forget the So-Called Multiverse: One Universe is Enough".
http://x-journals.com/2009/lee-smoli...rse-is-enough/
Other than this, what could have caused a jump in Smolin booksales?

At any rate at noon 3 July Trouble with Physics was doing 5.88 times better than the stringy topfive average Ive been using as benchmark for several years. TwP rank was 1003 and the top five ( fabric, elegant, parallel, hyperspace, idiot guide) ranked 2944, 3605, 5844, 6093, 1100 for an average of 5898.0.
At noon 4 July TwP was doing 5.11 better than benchmark. TwP ranked 1034 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, idiot guide) ranked 2774, 3527, 5715, 6526, 7858, for an average of 5280.0.

Haven't seen this kind of thing since the first 3 weeks or so after the paperback edition came out in 2007. It's quite strange.

===================
VandeCarr, I just saw your post #10 and will reply here because the time-limit has not run out and I can still edit this post. I believe there is a great latitude of stringy models of physics, you get a different physics, a different vacuum, for each way you pick to compactify or roll up the extra dimensions.
So there are many versions of physics leading to no unique prediction that would falsify the string approach. There is, in effect, a String Landscape.
The term was popularized in a 2003 paper by Leonard Susskind, one of the fathers of string. You may know about all this already. Individual versions undoubtably do make testable predictions.

I don't know of any version which actually reproduces what actually is known (the Standard Model) and in addition predicts some new phenomena at available energies which would make it testable. Someone else may hopefully correct me on this if I'm wrong. You could also start a thread in the Beyond Standard forum and ask that very question!
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I'm not sure, but I think this question is appropriate to this thread. Are there any "stringy" theories that make testable predictions that cannot be predicted and tested under the Standard Model?
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Jul5-09, 12:48 PM
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Just checked at 10AM this morning (5 July) and the Smolin book was doing more than 10 times better than the topfive stringy average. I don't know why this remarkable surge in sales has happened.

Could it be a "Twitter" phenomenon? I don't follow Twitter and some of these other web network things, Digg etc. I've heard of them but I don't how they work or what their potential is. All I know is that in the standard media (radio TV blogs discussion-boards) nothing much has happened that could explain this. Can you suggest something?

A few little things, I mentioned some already:
Smolin has a new book written with Robert Unger which is in preparation. It will delve into the nature of physical law and how the laws could have evolved the way they are, and argue that time is realer than we have been thinking based on vintage 1915 General Relativity. And that conventional string landscape multiverse notions are ready for the discard pile. I think that's the message. They have come up with new arguments. You get an early taste of this in The Unique Universe which he just published in Physics World. The book is probably about a year off (guess: latter part of 2010) but Smolin always prepares the ground. He did that with Trouble with Physics, began magazining a year or so before the book itself appeared. I think Robert Unger is very smart and the new book may have an impact.

The annual string conference just concluded---Strings 2009 in Rome. It was lackluster. They got Witten to talk (he did not participate in Strings 2008) so that was a plus. But he chose not to talk about string--talked about all sorts of other interesting physics instead. So far the conference talks are not on line and little has been heard about it. Strings conference used to have a lot of media hoopla---interviews and science writers reportage etc.

Could the surge in Smolin book sales be related to a sense of let-down, or even flop?
But who is paying attention? What's the audience and the bookmarket we are talking about?
This morning TwP was number 499 in amazon book sales as a whole. That is competing against diet books and trash novels and who-dunnits and celebrity as-told-to memoirs. How did it get to be #499 in storewide sales?

If anybody has a clue, please post. Even if a very tenuous idea.
==============
Hi VandeCarr, I responded to you on the tail of my previous post, yesterday noon.
If anyone wants the salesrank details. at 10 AM today pacific time 5 July, Smolin's standing was 477 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, idiot guide) ranked 1760, 2657, 4068, 6490, 11640 for an benchmark average of 5323.0, making the ratio 10.67
At 12 noon Smolin's rank was even higher: 352, while the stringy top five (the same titles as at 10AM) were at 1283, 2086, 5119, 5628, 14222 for an average of 5667.6 making the ratio 16.10.


I have never seen such a high noon reading, even for a short spike.

====================
Fra! Nice to see you. I am glad you are interested in this kind of sideline index or gauge too. Sociology can reveal and raise questions I think. Good to include that kind of information in the mix. I will go look up numbers from last summer. As I recall, just from memory, last summer was around 0.4 - 0.6 similar to April May June of this year, but I will retrieve the record.
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Quote Quote by marcus View Post
Could the surge in Smolin book sales be related to a sense of let-down, or even flop?
But who is paying attention? What's the audience and the bookmarket we are talking about?
This morning TwP was number 499 in amazon book sales as a whole. That is competing against diet books and trash novels and who-dunnits and celebrity as-told-to memoirs. How did it get to be #499 in storewide sales?

If anybody has a clue, please post. Even if a very tenuous idea.
Interesting rise indeed. I really don't have much of a serious clue but maybe the global crisis slightly setting people back and forcing them to reconsider what they are doing. Maybe the crisis makes look upon all the established structures with doubt and critisism, not only in society but also in science. since it becomes more clear that in times of limited resources, some extra thought may be needed and we can not afford to invest in the wrong questions.

Perhaps the critics, and questioning of - how have all the investments in ST made us more fit? - is even more relevent in the crisis days when it becomes more obvious that time and money is limited. We have to question how be choose to invest every single dollar. Ultimately it's self-preservation.

In think that type of reasoning is more likely to appear during bad times.

How was the pattern last summer? ie. could there be some summer/vacation phenomenon?

/Fredrik
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Jul5-09, 01:50 PM
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Quote Quote by Fra View Post
How was the pattern last summer? ie. could there be some summer/vacation phenomenon?

/Fredrik
Fra, here is the record back from when the paperback edition came out (September 2007)
http://physicsforums.com/showthread....28#post1986028
You can see that the ratio was high in September October November which is understandable because there were a lot of book reviews and science writers discussing the book the year before when the hardcover came out (September 2006) and then later all that controversy. So then when the inexpensive paperback came out in September 2007 the sales shot up for a couple of months. That I think is understandable.

But then by Summer 2008, which you asked about, the sales were down.
There was not much of a summer reading effect. I thought I saw a little mild rush around May June when students graduate from highschool and college and their relatives buy them science-books as a graduation gift. And perhaps summer reading is included there too.
But by July August it was slack, like 0.4 and 0.5.

I think your economic crunch idea is interesting. I think it could work both ways---in very bad times people might go for escape literature, like Brian Greene and Lord of the Rings.
Fantasy, to take your mind off the bleak reality.
But it could also drive people to be more critical. And Smolin's book is critical. It says Why are we spending our science money so badly? Why are we putting all our brains in one basket? Why this bad and improvident strategy? What is wrong with the science establishment that makes it act out of touch with reality? What is the root of the Trouble.

Maybe the concept of trouble is a key lever. When there is trouble in a system (like banking or string) people want to know what is the reason. They were relying on it to work as usual, how could it unexpectedly go off the railroad tracks?

It's a thought. I don't say I am convinced by what you say. Right now I am eager to get any possible clue or suggestion. Because this surge in sales has no clear identifiable trigger that I know of.

I will copy the record from that other post and add on the later months:
1 September 6.4 (2007)
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5 (2008)
1 February 1.3
1 March 0.4
1 April 0.6
1 May 1.0
1 June 1.0
1 July 0.5
1 August 0.4
1 September 0.8
1 October 0.4
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10

BTW it is pretty clear the European science establishment is more on the tracks than the US one. Did you look at the Planck Scale conference that just ended. I mean the website where there are online PDF files of the talks. This was a successful conference. New findings brought in by various different tribes converging from various different directions with their offerings to the great Sky Mother or whatever. Really first rate conference. Nothing like it in the US this year. That shows the ESF leadership quality. (the European Science Foundation) they have a little modest clarity of vision compared with the US NSF (national sci. found)
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Quote Quote by marcus View Post
===================
VandeCarr, Individual versions undoubtably do make testable predictions.
Thanks marcus. You've answered by question.
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Quote Quote by SW VandeCarr View Post
Thanks marcus. You've answered by question.
You are welcome! Actually you took part of what I said out of context, so let me continue quoting what I said back there so as to complete the idea. I think the hard part must be to construct a model that has no disagreement with what is already known.
Quote Quote by marcus View Post
I don't know of any version which...reproduces what...is known (the Standard Model) and in addition predicts some new phenomena at available energies which would make it testable...
To continue recording the noon readings for this interesting spike in sales of Smolin's book:
2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81

Trouble with Physics was number one on the Amazon list of physics books (ahead of Hawking, Greene, whoever). At noon on 6 July it ranked 395 and the string topfive average was 6286.2, making the ratio 15.81.
The five most popular string books that day (fabric, elegant, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 1507, 1782, 5330, 7309, 15503.
Fra
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#16
Jul6-09, 12:26 AM
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Quote Quote by marcus View Post
like Brian Greene and Lord of the Rings.
Fantasy, to take your mind off the bleak reality.
Hehe funny to put them in the same scentence - Lord of the Strings

In the Landscape where the Shadows lie.
One String to rule them all, One String to find them,
One String to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Landscape where the Shadows lie.

/Fredrik
Fra
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#17
Jul6-09, 12:39 AM
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Yes, there are probably other causes I have not clue about.

Quote Quote by marcus View Post
Fantasy, to take your mind off the bleak reality.
But it could also drive people to be more critical.
I like to think there is a common motivation for what you call criticism and fantasy.

Somehow the disappointment of reality, or current paradigms, is what motivates looking for an alternative reality. This is in effect a form of critics. I don't think going to your fantasy and imagination, necessarily means letting go of ALL rationality.

After all, in the evolutionary perspective, there is a good rationality in diversity.

So I think considering ALL fantasies are actually rational. But the rationality also requires that we do not put all eggs in one random fantasy. Each fantasy will be considered, but in proportion to it's potential and constrained by resources we have to invest. Somewhere I think the feedback mechanism from investments to securing that we're on the right track went beserk. Perhaps it does take a crisis to open our eyes. Look at the unconstrained bonus system. It took a crisis to convince the masses that this is doubtful.

/Fredrik
marcus
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#18
Jul7-09, 03:45 PM
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To continue recording this strange unexplained blip in TwP performance.
Noon pacific time, Smolin book's amazon salesrank performance ratio to stringy topfive average as benchmark for comparison:

1 September 6.4 (2007)
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5 (2008)
1 February 1.3
1 March 0.4
1 April 0.6
1 May 1.0
1 June 1.0
1 July 0.5
1 August 0.4
1 September 0.8
1 October 0.4
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98

At noon pacific on 8 July TwP ranked 1144 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, hyperspace, parallel, idiot guide) ranked 2843, 4467, 5189, 5340, 16380 for an average of 6843.8 making the ratio 5.98


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