# Is String Theory A Waste Of Time?

by Juan R.
Tags: string, theory, time, waste
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P: 1,204
 Quote by RandallB But the classical was unable to depict how gravity worked. So we have the first really significant application of Riemannian geometry (from mid 1800’s I think) in order to build General Relativity. As 4D thinking to create “Warped space-time” was needed.
This is outside my area, but there are a few physicists who are convinced that gravity can be done on a Euclidean basis. I think the best explanation is that of David Hestenes:

 Lasenby, Doran and Gull have recently created a powerful coordinate-free reformulation, re¯nement, and extension of general relativity [1,2]. It is a gauge theory on °at spacetime, but it retains the attractive geometric structure of Einstein's theory. ... Indeed, the method amounts to a new approach to differential geometry which could fairly be called gauge geometry. ... Part II develops gauge covariant Riemannian geometry on flat spacetime. The main objective is to clarify the fundamental ideas and provide a systematic account of the definitions, theorems, proofs, and computational techniques needed to apply the spacetime calculus efficiently to any physical problem. Specific physical applications are not addressedhere; excellent examples, which amply demonstrate the computational power of the calculus, have been worked out in [1,2] and [9-13]. ...
http://modelingnts.la.asu.edu/pdf/NEW_GRAVITY.pdf

Unfortunately, understanding the above paper requires a certain amount of understanding of "geometric algebra", which is a type of Clifford algebra where the basis vectors are associated with the tangent vectors at a given point of the manifold of space-time.

Carl
P: 416
 Quote by CarlB This is outside my area, but there are a few physicists who are convinced that gravity can be done on a Euclidean basis. Carl
Well, the popular understanding of GR is that gravity is spacetime curvature, but this is rather difficult to believe by several motives.

1) Nobody has measured spacetime curvature directly.

2) Spacetime curvature does not imply curved space. Usual popular image of curved space around Sun is pictorial only.

3) The curved spacetime view is not exclusive. E.g. torsion formulations, Cartan-Ehelers reformulation, etc.

4) The curved spacetime view is problematic on the Newtonian limit. Far from common understanding, nobody has derived the Newtonian limit from GR. This is easy to understand. In the limit c -> infinite the curvature of spacetime may be zero like correspond to the Newtonian approach but then, if gravity is curvature, gravity may be zero. Textbook’s derivation of Newton second law is a derivation valid only when c is finite and the approximation is non linear. c finite contradicts Newtonian theory. Ehlers reformulation of GR does not obtain the Newtonian limit (even if Ehlers claims the contrary). His formulation on flat spacetime has problems: I) the splitting of curved derivatives is not unique and additional equations does not contained in GR are needed, ii) the compatibility with Newtonian limit is done invoking “asymptotic flatness”, which is experimentally unsustainable.

5) The geometric approach breaks the unification with rest of forces.

6) Far from standard claims the geometric approach of GR does not explain the misterium of gravity. This is easy to understand. In Newtonian theory, one has an equation for computing the force, but none explaining of underlying mechanism of it. In Einstein (really Hilbert-Einstein-Grossmann) theory, one has equations for computing spacetime curvature, but none explaining of underlying mechanism of it. GR substitutes the question "How does Earth know that force that Sun does" by "How does Earth know the curvature that Sun does". Far from common statements in GR literature, GR does not explain gravity.

The solution is not a geometric approach to quantum gravity. The solution is a force-like approach to GR that can be quantized more a demonstration of that GR is, strictly speaking, wrong.

Regarding your link, not only the choosing of Minkoskian spacetime metric is not correct (related to imposibility for obtaining correct Newtonian limit, that was the source for the search of alternatives like NCG and similar), moreover, i see fundamental difficulties with the "gauge" line element (7.7) that appears to be the basis of all the "gauge" approach.
 P: 1,308 At best String Theory can only be an effective theory, not a TOE. This is because there seems to be nothing in String/M-theory itself that explains where the strings or membranes came from to begin with. What process creates these membranes/strings from the background? I suppose that there was a background without strings when the universe was very, very small, and then at some later time some process gave rise to strings and/or other membranes. How did that happen? I suspect that if we knew the process by which strings/membranes come into existence, then this might give us constraints on which strings/branes can exist and allow a choice from the landscape.
P: 1,544
 Quote by CarlB there are a few physicists who are convinced that gravity can be done on a Euclidean basis. I think the best explanation is that of David Hestenes: http://modelingnts.la.asu.edu/pdf/NEW_GRAVITY.pdf
If you know of one, I’d love to see where someone makes a serious attempt at a Euclidean explanation, I’ve never seen one.

I have to disagree on David Hestenes. He cannot be talking about a Euclidean basis while using GR and Riemannian geometry. That is 4D and Euclidean is 3D where time is just a variable. GR/Riemannian is also “Background Independent” as I understand it, and Euclidean would be Background Dependent.
While the successful current theories GR and QM are not.
At least I think QM is background independent.

The ideas that wish to replace or correct GR and/or QM, all seem to get more complex in both their concept and mathematics. Maybe that’s because reality is complex.

I still feel that String theory has been successful in showing that 11 dimensions “appear” to be required. Therefore, in my opinion any proposed new theory needs to explain why that appeared to be true. That includes variations on Strings, canonical science, and even Euclidean explanations.

RB
P: 416
 Quote by Mike2 At best String Theory can only be an effective theory, not a TOE. This is because there seems to be nothing in String/M-theory itself that explains where the strings or membranes came from to begin with. What process creates these membranes/strings from the background? I suppose that there was a background without strings when the universe was very, very small, and then at some later time some process gave rise to strings and/or other membranes. How did that happen? I suspect that if we knew the process by which strings/membranes come into existence, then this might give us constraints on which strings/branes can exist and allow a choice from the landscape.
An effective theory for that? From ST one can compute absolutely nothing and nothing can be explained on a sound basis. ST is mathematical gulash with no link with nothing of this world.

The strings of string M theory -really one would talk of the p-branes- are really inmortal on the formulation proposed. In fact some brane inspired cosmology models claim that the big bang was (of course is just a especulation) the outcome of a collision of two 5D branes.
P: 416
 Quote by RandallB If you know of one, I’d love to see where someone makes a serious attempt at a Euclidean explanation, I’ve never seen one. I have to disagree on David Hestenes. He cannot be talking about a Euclidean basis while using GR and Riemannian geometry. That is 4D and Euclidean is 3D where time is just a variable. GR/Riemannian is also “Background Independent” as I understand it, and Euclidean would be Background Dependent. While the successful current theories GR and QM are not. At least I think QM is background independent. RB
I will say nothing on your claim that QM is BI.

Regarding above link you would read it first before disagree . Already in the abstract you can see that are talking of a flat spacetime not a flat space. See also my post #131.

 Quote by RandallB The ideas that wish to replace or correct GR and/or QM, all seem to get more complex in both their concept and mathematics. Maybe that’s because reality is complex. RB
One may simply explain world. Often this is done by the use of more complex formulations and novel mathematical tools. All attempt to quantize gravity rely on new math and concepts do not included on GR + QM.

But whereas many of others approaches focus on physical insight, ST is just a mathematical goulash around an initially "beatiful" idea that was discarded in accelerator experiments many decades ago.

 Quote by RandallB I still feel that String theory has been successful in showing that 11 dimensions “appear” to be required. Therefore, in my opinion any proposed new theory needs to explain why that appeared to be true. That includes variations on Strings, canonical science, and even Euclidean explanations. RB
Required for what? for fulfilling ArXiv with dozens of ineffective preprints? After of more than 30 years, string theory is even poor that when began.

Things are much more simple: any proposed new theory needs to explain the world like it appears to us. Today we know that the world is 4D and non supersymmetric, therefore the first quantum theory of gravity may be a formulation for 4D and without supersimmetry. Precisely this is the point of LQG and other approaches.

If at 2007, supersimmetry is experimentally observed. No problem!! your theory will continue to be correct (as Newtonian mechanics is in Formula 1), simply you will need generalize to supersimmetry.

The problem of ST and M theory is that 11D and supersymmetry, and the rest of mathematical gulash, are just a mathematical gulash added to the theory because was internally inconsistent or violated experimental data. For example supersymmetry was added ad hoc in the 80s because string theory without it predicted tachions which were newer observed

The aim of physics is to explain universe as it is, is not to develop a theory of "like world would be for me".

All on string theory is about things that are not about our universe. Nothing of standard model or of GR is obtained from ST. At the best, one obtains certain models (after of tricks and ad hoc asumptions) that look like but are not equivalent.

Almost any young student knows the myth that ST predicts gravity or that GR is recovered in the low energy limit but both of those claims are not true.

In fact, causality in ST is defined in a flat metric whereas causality in GR is not. Then what? In the past they say like ST is not 100% compatible with GR and ST is mathematically "beatiful" then the problem may be with GR.

In fact, you appears to ignore that only some years ago string theorists claimed that one would do not take GR "too seriously" . Even today some guys claim that one would ignore experimental data of GR in favor of string theory!!!

All of this is a nonsense, ST is outside of physics.

Those "details" are do that ST was a waste of time or in the words of P.W. Anderson

 a futile exercise like physics
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PF Gold
P: 23,270
 Quote by RandallB ... I still feel that String theory has been successful in showing that 11 dimensions “appear” to be required. Therefore, in my opinion any proposed new theory needs to explain why that appeared to be true. That includes variations on Strings, canonical science, and even Euclidean explanations.
strange thought, Randall

to the ancient alchemists, it appeared that all matter could be explained by combining 4 elements

shall we require of all future theories of matter that they explain why that appeared true to the alchemists?
P: 416
 Quote by marcus strange thought, Randall to the ancient alchemists, it appeared that all matter could be explained by combiniing 4 elements shall we require of all future theories of matter that they explain why that appeared true to the alchemists?

You explained better and shorter (= two time better) than my
Astronomy
PF Gold
P: 23,270
 Quote by Juan R. Nice reply!!! You explained better and shorter (= two time better) than my
I owe this entirely to your inspiring example, Juan
thank you kindly

however on another matter, I feel a deep attachment to the geometric explanation of gravity and, although I am disinclined to argue with you, I wish you would not so often castigate it with your disapproval

but if you must, by your very nature as Juan, then I guess you must
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P: 1,204
 Quote by RandallB If you know of one, I’d love to see where someone makes a serious attempt at a Euclidean explanation, I’ve never seen one. I have to disagree on David Hestenes. He cannot be talking about a Euclidean basis while using GR and Riemannian geometry. That is 4D and Euclidean is 3D where time is just a variable.
Look at chapter IV of this link, which is from Foundations of Physics, 35: 1-67 (2005):
http://modelingnts.la.asu.edu/pdf/GTG.w.GC.FP.pdf
http://modelingnts.la.asu.edu/html/GCgravity.html

I think the above link is a better article in its explanation of the theory than the one I originally posted.

 Quote by RandallB GR/Riemannian is also “Background Independent” as I understand it, and Euclidean would be Background Dependent. While the successful current theories GR and QM are not. At least I think QM is background independent.
I believe that the standard model of QM is background dependent. Or more precisely, that it can be cast in a background dependent interpretation. Here's an arxiv article on the subject that explains it pretty much the way I see it, except that I think that background dependence is a good thing, not something to be gotten rid of:
http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0409/0409048.pdf

A typical QFT textbook will deal with the background dependence of the theory by showing that while the calculations do assume a background (in the form of a particular metric), the results of the calculations are compatible with Lorentz / Poincare symmetry. That is, if you assume a different reference frame, your calculation will be different but the final result will be the same. The fact that they have to show this is an indication that the theory is not in itself inherently background independent. From my point of view, this is evidence that the universe does have a "background". It's just that since we're a part of the universe, we have great difficulty figuring out exactly what that background is.

 Quote by RandallB The ideas that wish to replace or correct GR and/or QM, all seem to get more complex in both their concept and mathematics. Maybe that’s because reality is complex.
Even simple equations can have very complex solutions. If one were to look at the table of the elements, one might conclude that Schroedinger's wave equation, which pretty much explains the thing, must also be complex. My guess is that simplicity should be at the core.

 Quote by RandallB I still feel that String theory has been successful in showing that 11 dimensions “appear” to be required. Therefore, in my opinion any proposed new theory needs to explain why that appeared to be true. That includes variations on Strings, canonical science, and even Euclidean explanations.
I only bought one string theory text book. Different chapters in the book purport to prove why N dimensions are necessary for a consistent theory. The only problem is that N is not a constant but changes from chapter to chapter.

My guess is that quarks and leptons are the results of a two stage condensation. The second stage is the combination of left and right handed massless chiral particles to form fermions. This is almost a part of the standard model, the difference being that the standard model requires a Higgs particle to be absorbed (or emitted) at the vertices where left and right handed chiral fermions convert to each other. The first stage of the condensation is one that produces the massless chiral fermions and is beyond the scope of this discussion. But this sort of concept does get back to string theory, or at least to the concept of hidden dimensions, by the fact that if one ignores a condensation of subparticles, (that is, if one only looks at the interactions of the combined system), one will end up with unexplained degrees of freedom. These extra degrees of freedom can be naturally explained through the notion of hidden dimensions.

As an example, if two subparticles combine to form a tightly bound composite particle, we will use center of mass coordinates for the composite particle. But there will still be a set of relative coordinates for the two subparticles. Since it is a bound state, the relative coordinates will be compact and therefore will look (mathematically) like a space of compactified dimensions. This gives some hope of determining the topology of string theory from the mechanics of the subparticles.

Carl
P: 1,544
 Quote by marcus strange thought, Randall to the ancient alchemists, it appeared that all matter could be explained by combiniing 4 elements shall we require of all future theories of matter that they explain why that appeared true to the alchemists?
Excellent point and
YES WE SHOULD
BUT - “ancient alchemists” ideas have been explained as wrong, based on current science. And we do understand how their old view of reality; lead them to think they way they did.
So that job has been done.
I also understand need for a New Theory to show the old wrong theories to be wrong to make way for a new one.
However, loudly proclaiming that GR and QM are wrong is far short of showing them to be wrong.

True enough not every idea that falls off the truck should qualifies to set yet another standard that must be disproved of proved by any future new theory. That will always be an individual judgment call. But where rigorous scientific interpretation of observations and rigorous math has been applied to build a view of a theory - some explanation as to why the theory was constructed incorrectly should be proved by a replacing better theory. Just as has been done with Alchemists Theories. If it cannot do so what makes the new theory better?
In the worst case view of both GR and QM they have certainly met that standard.
But, for all those that have better answers than GR or QM, I've never seen a reasoned explanation as to why GR and QM work so well and are yet wrong.

Now I’m no String or M theory expert, in fact I don’t see how they could be correct. But based the quality of the people and the work they have done, I trust and I believe the ideas were rigorously formed. And for me the idea of 10 or 11 dimensions was reasonable reached in this case. So for me I feel they have met the standard. Even though I do not believe in extra dimensions myself I feel it’s only responsible to accept the higher standard. Therefore if I want to show strings to be wrong, and there is something better, I must understand how they made the mistake of assuming the extra dimensions. If I can’t take the responsibility to do that, then why should anyone take a new idea seriously?

I just find this a more reasoned and logic approach to the issue rather than just cobbling a bunch of ideas together with no proofs, and no explanations of how the others made the wrong conclusions.

Is that easy to do – of course not it's harder, nobody promised easy.

RB
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PF Gold
P: 8,147
 Quote by RandallB I have to disagree on David Hestenes. He cannot be talking about a Euclidean basis while using GR and Riemannian geometry. That is 4D and Euclidean is 3D where time is just a variable. GR/Riemannian is also “Background Independent” as I understand it, and Euclidean would be Background Dependent.
"Euclidean" in this context refers to any geometry where the line element $$ds^2 = g_{ab}dx^adx^b$$ is positive definite. So you can have Riemannian geometry that is Euclidean. The line element of GR is not positive definite, because the "time" term is a different sign from the "space" terms.

And "background independent" is a property of the physics together with the geometry, not the kind of geometry alone. If the physics acts on the geometry, and the geometry determines the physics, so there is self-interaction, then you have background indpendence.
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PF Gold
P: 23,270
 Quote by selfAdjoint ...And "background independent" is a property of the physics together with the geometry, not the kind of geometry alone. If the physics acts on the geometry, and the geometry determines the physics, so there is self-interaction, then you have background independence.
nice way to put it. points up a positive quality instead of the negative quality of not being dependent on something like a prior fixed choice of background metric. different ways of saying the same thing but more intuitive/evocative to say it in this positive way
P: 416
 Quote by marcus however on another matter, I feel a deep attachment to the geometric explanation of gravity and, although I am disinclined to argue with you, I wish you would not so often castigate it with your disapproval
At the best, i think that you would only find difficulty with point 4) of post #131, since rest is standard or almost standard. And, of course, with my own solution to the problem.

I think that once the paper was published you could study it carefully and write a public comment if you consider that GR is still a good approach after of reading my work.

If i am wrong you will help to me to understand correctly gravitation .

If i am not wrong then I will help to you to understand correctly gravitation.
P: 416
 Quote by CarlB I only bought one string theory text book. Different chapters in the book purport to prove why N dimensions are necessary for a consistent theory. The only problem is that N is not a constant but changes from chapter to chapter. Carl
Very good point!!

In fact the history of dimensions is

4D, 5D, 26D, 10D, 11D, ...

According to B. Greene some string theorists are now working in the posibility of more than one time dimension whereas others claim that the fail of compactification may indicate that there are still unknown 4D-versions of "string" theory.

Also the size of strings changes from "chapter to chapter" from "infinitely" small (Planck) to mm range to again "infinitely" small to infinitely large. There is a version that says that compactified dimension are the usual 4D ones, etc.

The rest of "theory" is also chapter-dependant and even book-dependant or author-dependant!!
P: 416
 Quote by RandallB Now I’m no String or M theory expert, in fact I don’t see how they could be correct. But based the quality of the people and the work they have done, I trust and I believe the ideas were rigorously formed. And for me the idea of 10 or 11 dimensions was reasonable reached in this case. So for me I feel they have met the standard. Even though I do not believe in extra dimensions myself I feel it’s only responsible to accept the higher standard. Therefore if I want to show strings to be wrong, and there is something better, I must understand how they made the mistake of assuming the extra dimensions. If I can’t take the responsibility to do that, then why should anyone take a new idea seriously? I just find this a more reasoned and logic approach to the issue rather than just cobbling a bunch of ideas together with no proofs, and no explanations of how the others made the wrong conclusions. Is that easy to do – of course not it's harder, nobody promised easy. RB
This sounds like the main argument for studying string theory that some string theorists use: "Because Witten believes on it".

That is not a scientific argument.

The "quality" of people is a subjective concept and, moreover, is not guarantee of a good work. Look for example the history of QFT, almost all great guys Schrödinger, Dirac, etc. did the wrong work and a new generation of young people did QFT. In fact, this argument against string theory has been recently used by Dyson.

Regarding the "quality" of the work they have done, i could say that the quality is very low, with lot of wrong details that are corrected after of decades. Material known in other fields is introduced decades after in string theory. In concrete points, I can assure that the quality of Seiberg's work on NC geomstry is low, the quality of Schwartz's work on unitarity is low, the quality of Witten's work on QM foundations is low, the quality of Nanopoulos' work on the arrow of time problem is low, etc.

 Quote by RandallB So for me I feel they have met the standard.
Curiosly the standard in quantum gravity research is not that.

 Quote by RandallB Therefore if I want to show strings to be wrong, and there is something better, I must understand how they made the mistake of assuming the extra dimensions.
Curiously science does not work on that way. Are string theorists who may show that universe is 11D!! Curiously string theorists have shown nothing and none of their initial promises has been done after of more than 30 years!

It is time for exploring other alternatives.
P: 1,544
 Quote by Juan R. It is time for exploring other alternatives.
Well at least that's one point we completly agree on.
I just hope and even expect that a good alternative will prove strings wrong by show how/why it appeared to them there should be multi D's. I'd even expect proving so can be helpful.
RB
P: 1,544
 Quote by selfAdjoint "Euclidean" in this context refers to any geometry where the line element $$ds^2 = g_{ab}dx^adx^b$$ is positive definite. So you can have Riemannian geometry that is Euclidean. The line element of GR is not positive definite, because the "time" term is a different sign from the "space" terms. And "background independent" is a property of the physics together with the geometry, not the kind of geometry alone. If the physics acts on the geometry, and the geometry determines the physics, so there is self-interaction, then you have background indpendence.
So is GR consided background indpendent ??
Does "The line element of GR is not positive definite" address this issue?

The Lee Smolin link (Thanks for finding Marcus)
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0507235
Provides a firm argument the GR is “relational” or background independent.
At least where “warping” is concerned.
Is this generally accepted as the case or is this a “debated point” ?

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