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Evidence Against String Theory? Paper

  1. Apr 15, 2015 #1
    I'm not sure where to post this but it is technically homework but it doesn't follow the template and its less of a math question and more of a conceptual thing anyways. I have to write an English paper on a problem in a future career and it has to be big. I'm thinking about physics so I wanted to write a paper on why String Theory shouldn't be researched anymore not necessarily because I believe that but for the sake of broadening my knowledge (which is apparently the reason we're doing this paper). I wanted to know if anyone knew of a source specifically a web article or web document that I could cite for my arguments. The main points I want to put would be: its a waste of money and time, it takes away focus from other theories, and evidence being built against supersymmetry. I mostly need to find articles that support points in my argument and I have so far found none about funding so I'm thinking about throwing that point out. So if anyone knows of any webpages that support my argument could you link them and if not I was hoping that maybe someone would suggest another point that is easier to find evidence and articles for.
     
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  3. Apr 15, 2015 #2
  4. Apr 16, 2015 #3

    atyy

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    There simply are no other theories that have achieved a plausible formulation of quantum gravity in some universe. That universe is not necessarily ours, but recall that Einstein applied his tools first to another consistent relativistic theory of gravity that was wrong, as a step towards general relativity. If you stop researching string theory, you may be taking away things that would in fact help other theories.

    Secondly, at best evidence is against low-energy supersymmetry. String theory is about high energy supersymmetry.
     
  5. Apr 16, 2015 #4

    haushofer

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    How would you make people not to research anything anymore?

    Maybe you like Smolin's "The problem with physics". That could be useful for your purposes.
     
  6. Apr 16, 2015 #5

    martinbn

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    What exactly are your arguments? I see statement, but no argumantation, no reasons given as to why you think so. You might be right, but it seems as you have decided on conlusions and now you are looking for evidence to support them. It should be the other way around, your statemnets should have some basis.
     
  7. Apr 16, 2015 #6

    ZapperZ

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    I completely agree with martinbn. It appears that you had already made up your mind, and are now doing a "witch hunt" to find evidence that fit into your conclusion. This is a serious flaw for anyone seeking knowledge, and definitely an undesirable trait for anyone doing science.

    I also agree that you made only statements, not arguments or any evidence to support such a stand. For example, what is meant by "waste of money and time"? Look at the total budget of, say, NSF and DOE in the US. What percentage of science funding from those two funding agency do you think went towards funding work related to String theory? If you spend less than 1% towards something whereas the rest goes elsewhere, how big of a "waste money and time" do you think that is?

    But this is also assuming that work in String theory has contributed nothing at all in other areas, even when String theory has not been able to be empirically verified. I can falsify that fallacy here:

    http://www.nature.com/news/2011/111019/full/478302a.html

    {Notice that I disagreed with you and THEN showed you supporting evidence for it! This is something you need to start doing, especially if you wish to engage in a rational discussion in this forum}.

    So already there is one clear argument to show the usefulness of doing String Theory. And I feel dirty for saying that considering that I've been a constant critic of the over-zealousness and over-selling of String Theory that seduced a lot of the general public and young students towards it. Yet, I just can't stand by and see false and erroneous impression without challenging it.

    Zz.
     
  8. Apr 16, 2015 #7

    bapowell

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    It sounds like he's just trying to see how to go about arguing that side. Like when you are in a debate class and you are told what side you are on.
     
  9. Apr 16, 2015 #8

    ZapperZ

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    This is what the OP wrote:

    If what you said is true, then this is even more of a puzzling behavior, because it then appears that the OP selected a topic BEFORE he/she has any sense of the validity of it. It is like saying that I'm going to write on a topic on why and when you stop beating your wife, all before I even figured out that (i) you have a wife (ii) that you had been beating her, and (iii) you stopped beating her.

    Zz.
     
  10. Apr 16, 2015 #9

    bapowell

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    No, it's like when your teacher says "we're going to have a debate about water pollution. Billy, you are going to argue on the side of the polluters in an attempt to justify their actions; Joe, you are going to argue on the side of the environmentalists, finding reasons for why water pollution is bad." It's a pretty standard occurrence in debate forums, and something we should do ourselves in order to challenge why we hold the beliefs we do.
     
  11. Apr 16, 2015 #10

    martinbn

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    That's a good point, but he should make that clear. And then would it satisfy the forum rules?
     
  12. Apr 16, 2015 #11

    bapowell

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    I think he does make that clear. He says "I'm thinking about physics so I wanted to write a paper on why String Theory shouldn't be researched anymore not necessarily because I believe that but for the sake of broadening my knowledge (which is apparently the reason we're doing this paper)." (emphasis mine).
     
  13. Apr 16, 2015 #12
    Sorry I took some time to reply to this forum but I was at school. I didn't expect to get this many responses and I want to thank everyone that replied to me. I was originally going to do my paper on something easier but my english teacher absolutely insisted that I do it on something that would deepen my understanding of a topic in my future career. Someone else actually happens to have similar interests and is basically writing on how string theory is important and shouldn't be thrown out ( which my english teacher finds really exciting). As for the actual paper I do have a sense of validity in my arguments because I have read up a little on the problems with string theory and I'm going to throw out the point on funding because there seems to be no backing evidence. As for replacement arguments I'm thinking on it right now. I am also glad that ZapperZ brought up a good counterargument (which is practically a requirement for this and any good paper). Generally I wanted to stay away from making the paper too complicated for someone to understand because I also have to present my findings to the class so I'm going to try and explain things more simply. Also, thanks Spinnor for providing some insightful links.
     
  14. Apr 16, 2015 #13

    ZapperZ

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    Btw, the title of this thread is inaccurate per the intent of the discussion. You want arguments to stop doing String Theory, NOT finding evidence against it. These are two entirely different arguments.

    I hope THAT is not the title of your paper, because it will be highly misleading.

    But even after all that, I still don't see how you, or anyone, can make any rational argument to stop doing String Theory, unless you don't care about presenting arguments that are full of holes.

    Zz.
     
  15. Apr 16, 2015 #14
    String theory is a theory which is scientific in that it proposes a model which is possibly testable, although it is accepted that right now there is no technology available which can enable testing.
    Until such technology becomes available we can only say it's a possibility
     
  16. Apr 19, 2015 #15
    A naive perspective. I had sort of chalked up the "Smolin hates String Theory" to the media looking for interesting combat to stare at, but that it was a gross mis-statement of his perspective, which I thought was an insiders critical view - which I think is always important. Then I read an interview with him (trying to find it) where I thought I heard him say, reasonably, that LQG and String Theory were likely onto the same essential notion and reconciliation between them would be essential.

    To his complaint I thought it was reasonable to decry the "infinite universes" conclusion - as a failure of explanation at the limit, relabeled as a "definitively illogical success", but it was a baby and bathwater type complaint.

    I'm still bushwacking my way through his book with Unger on "The Singular Universe". Unger takes a pretty critical tone with/respect to Many Worlds - but it seems hard not to do that... I mean it does sort of say, "Aaah, what's the use...".
     
  17. Apr 19, 2015 #16
    But this success is not a success of string theory as string theory, but a success of string mathematics. String mathematics is a fine part of abstract mathematics, and as such worth to be considered by mathematics, useful to solve mathematical problems.

    Roughly speaking, if one puts thousands of intelligent people on a certain domain of interesting mathematics, after some years of work there will be some application of the result in some domain of physics. Which domain it will be is unpredictable - but some domain of physics.
     
  18. Apr 19, 2015 #17

    ZapperZ

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    I never claim that this is a success of string theory. I was trying to impress upon the "side effects" of it, which has huge benefits in other fields. To me, this is still a beneficial aspect of it, because I've seen many different parts of physics influencing each other. This is what the OP has missed.

    Zz.
     
  19. Apr 19, 2015 #18
    My point is that such side effects can be ignored. They will always happen, in some way or another, as long as there remains some freedom of thought for scientists, but doing what has been done in string theory - having one game in the town and spending all the money on fundamental physics in this game - minimizes such side effects. With, say, 5 different directions there will be 5 times more possibilities of connections with other fields, and 10 possible connections between these fields themself.
     
  20. Apr 19, 2015 #19

    ZapperZ

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    I don't get it. What you are saying here exactly strengthens the point that I've been making, other than the claim that the side effects can be ignored. That's like saying the side effects of Anderson's work on superconductivity resulting in the idea of the Higgs field can be ignored.

    There has been, and always will be different connections and different types of connections between fields of physics. String Theory will be no different. How this somehow diminishes it, based on your argument, I have no idea.

    Zz.
     
  21. Apr 20, 2015 #20
    There is agreement that there will be connections. As between different approaches to physics, as between pure math and physics. String theory will be not different.

    But it is fact that string theorists use this side effect to justify string theory. For example Duff in arxiv:1112.0788. This is wrong, and should be rejected. And not only because with other distributions of research money one could have expected similar side effects. But, and this is my point, one can expect even more of them if research is more distributed. Simply because there would be more domains of research combined with more candidates for connections (because each domain studied would be such a candidate).

    And what can be found in a given domain is not proportional to the number of people doing the research - an idea which could be used to justify that more string research also gives more side effects. But more people doing the same thing will not necessarily find different things. If we take the side effects into account, this would justify even more diversity than is justified by a simple search for the best theory, because if only the best theory matters, all spend on false attempts is lost, but with side effects even false reseach (like string theory) can give positive side effects.
     
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