Bloggingheads conversation re string-think

In summary: This type of thinking is unworthy of anyone who considers themselves to be a serious scientist. The reason that the mathematical universe hypothesis (M-theory) is considered a serious contender to the theory of everything is not because there are experimental data to constrain the theory, but precisely because there are no experimental data to constrain it!In summary, the superiority of string theory is clear and evidenced by its lack of need for experimental data.
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this has a (to me) really interesting conversation between two science journalists or science writers with special interest in physics

the reason it is interesting to me, is that one half of it is George Johnson, and he is IMHO the most or one of the most influential physics journalists in the US (apologies to GJ who is the soul of modesty, but its true)

and the reason he's influential clearly not because he's good-looking (!). the reason is that he is good at his job.

when the KITP people were worried and upset by the appearance of Smolin's book and the favorable reaction in the press, it was George Johnson they hired to come and help them understand and figure out what if anything to do. He has a very calming sympathetic manner. He used to write very favorable articles about string in the NY Times in the 1990s and early 2000s---he's balanced, and wise to the ways of media. so he was the perfect choice---and he has a long association with KITP as well.

He gave two or three talks to KITP people about what was going on, back in November 2006 when the main media reaction was occurring. These talks are on video----the first one is especially informative because the KITP audience gets kind of excited to an extent that surprises even old George Johnson who has seen everything. It is really wonderful.

Well this Bloggingheads conversation between Johnson and John Horgan is not quite up to the video of Johnson's KITP seminar talk, but it could serve as a kind of "tracker" follow-up. It brings us up to date on where things have been going in the 4 months since November 2006.
The conversation was filmed the day after the Krauss-Greene debate at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.
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Thanks to Peter Woit for noticing the Bloggingheads conversation and the fact that it has started a lively discussion over at Cosmic Variance, where quite a few prominent physics-internet personages have joined in

here's the Cosmic Variance link

The discussion at Cosmic Variance was generally sympathetic and defensive of string and was titled
String theory is losing the public debate.
Sean Carroll, CV blogger, is staunchly supportive of string and expressed concern that it might be losing the public debate. He offered suggestions for how not to lose the debate. Apparently some of the commenters found it deplorable that there was any debate at all. Others said it is a good idea to have public debate.

The headline at the Bloggingheads site was
String theory deemed a load of crap?
You can see that the crew at Bloggingheads are not necessarily anti-string because they put a question mark in the title of their video sequence.
That can be taken to mean that it is NOT so deemed, in the judgment of some.
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Here is a great music video in which a Harvard string thinker, Lubos Motl, dances and sings. [Broken]

Unfortunately we cannot understand because he is singing in Czech language, but his basic attitude is conveyed graphically by gestures and comes across clearly.

Thanks to Mondrian for sharing:

The poster "rho" who apparently understands Czech, has this to say:

He says that the performer in question is singing the title song to the "Tom and Jerry" cartoon series, and that it is "seriously irritating" to watch.
Others may, of course, differ in their appreciation of the performance.
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  • #4
marcus said:
Here is a great music video in which a Harvard string thinker, Lubos Motl, dances and sings.

Bravo! What a gifted boy!
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On the superiority of string theory (by physicist Chad Orzel) [Broken]

On the Superiority of String Theory

As we look at science in general, and physics in particular, a clear pattern emerges: the scientific endeavours most worthy of praise and acclaim are the most abstract and mathematical sciences. Physics is of greater worth than biology, theoretical physics is more worthy than experimental physics, and high-energy particle theory is the most fundamental and important field in the history of human thought.

Rather than deriding string theory as an excessively mathematical dead end, as many anti-science America-hating Bush-bashing politically correct feminist shrub-hugging liberal communist dupes do, we should celebrate it as the greatest achievement in the history of human thought.
It is, in fact, far more inherently interesting than the vulgar mechanical products of experimental science, such as the laser, the transistor, fire, and the wheel. Let us be clear: the entire history of human culture has been nothing more than a steady progression from liberalism and crude experimental science to the twin pinnacles of George Bush and string theory.

Far from being an essential check on the validity of theory, experimental work is a mere distraction from the highest scientific calling, namely the manipulation of totally abstract mathematical constructs in arbitrary numbers of dimensions.

Often, you will hear miguided negative nihilistic foolish crackpots say that without some experimental data to constrain the 10300 possible string vacuaa, string theory cannot be considered science, but this is misguided, for experimental observations are nothing but plural anecdotes demonstrating nothing (see, for example, the mass of "evidence" claiming to show global warming). Only when theoretical physics is completely cut free of piddling concerns about matching physical reality can it reach its fullest flowering, as a pure product of unfettered intellect.
Let go of your petty objections, drink this Kool-Aid, and revel in the eleven-dimensional glory of what is undoubtedly the greatest creation in the history of human culture.

April 1, 2007 10:07 AM, by Chad Orzel
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As you may have noticed that was Chad's 1 April post. More recently he has done a straight version [Broken]

Chad describes himself as a physicist on the tenure track at a small Liberal Arts college.

It's been a popular blog for a long time and was absorbed by "Science Blogs" when that aggregate emerged from the swamp. I expect Chad's view of string is shared by a lot of physicists, but my contacts are mostly limited to casual contact with UC Berkeley physics folks, old friends, and rare encounters with Stanford connections. Maybe I should do an informal poll?
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