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Is String Theory really a theory?

by whydoyouwanttoknow
Tags: string, theory
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Aug8-04, 02:28 PM
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Quote Quote by Tom McCurdy
... many people feel the evidence is in the beauty of the equations... they have to be right there just too elegant to be wrong.
entertaining blog about this-----a mathematician's view of alleged mathematical beauty

"Beauty, Fashion, and Emperors"

comments contain a classic impertinence from Murray Gellmann:
"If I have seen farther than other it is because I am surrounded by dwarves."

IMO it is too easy to imagine that many people thought the Ptolemaic system was beautiful.

so I am dubious of the "elegance" argument. I suspect if next year unexpectedly some real experimental corroboration appeared everybody would instantly stop the "elegance" talk and get down to business.
Aug8-04, 03:26 PM
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Woit's blog is good, but just for a little equal time here, try Jacques Distler's blog (the occasional math is set up for Mozilla).
Aug8-04, 06:33 PM
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Well, I think that is not correct to say that string theory does not make testable predictions,for example predicts particles with exotic values of electric charge, for example (1/5)*e or (1/13)*e, particles that have not been yet detected, but it's not less true that is a theory with more than 30 years of development, it's like a never-ending path, while the quantum revolution took place practically in 5 years, and special and general relativity were worked in 10 years. I don't like the barroque picture that string theory offers of the world, it seems to me much intrincated, but I have very much to learn, and maybe the theory can grow on me. Don't know.
Aug9-04, 04:32 PM
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The definition of a scientific "theory" usually means a model that has been very successful with testible predictions. Examples: Special Relativity, the theory of evolution, the big bang theory, etc. With that definition, the answer is no and isn't debatable.
Tom McCurdy
Aug10-04, 11:18 PM
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Does anywone know if there has been any news supporting strings since fabric or even elgant universe that could explain it or link it to a non mathmatical based site. I haven't had calc yet.
Aug11-04, 09:51 AM
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I am pretty sure there aren't any newer popularizations of string theory than the books you mention. It's really tough to do even simple quantum mechanics without calculus. You read ten different books (or web sites) and they give you ten different verbal descriptions, and you can't tell if the differences are real or just stylistic.
May20-11, 01:39 AM
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Quote Quote by whydoyouwanttoknow View Post
So, um, the answer is that it's not a theory?
LOL! Depends who you ask. Hm, kind of kidding.

No, it is a hypothesis (potential explanation) and not a theory if, as is most common, you define a theory as needing to be able to make testable predictions. After an experiment, we collect and analyze the results and then compare the results to the prediction made by the hypothesis. If this happens "enough" times (when enough people are convinced), the hypothesis is instead called a theory. String "theory" makes no predictions we can put to the test as of now, but so many people worked so much on it that it seemed unfair to call it a mere hypothesis.

The most favored/accepted hypotheses and theories are established by "consensus." Unfortunately at any time most big theoretical ideas in physics are unlikely to be correct. This has been the case for most of scientific history, except for when someone makes a large leap of progress, leaving behind plenty of details to be worked out by others and keep them busy.

String theory went's an inside-out abomination. (lol)

Short answer: No, it's not a real theory as of now, anyway. (But it could be.)

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