Is String Theory really a theory?

  • #36
Tom McCurdy
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As far as evidence goes for String theory-- there is some evidence for it just not as solid as we would like. For example as Ed Witten points out one of the biggest pieces of evidence for String Theory is gravity-- a postdiction that String theory requires. I am not talking about the graviton which would provide much more "proof" (especially if it were at the moment of disapearence into the extra dimensions) but there seems to be some evidence. Also as many people feel is the weakness is string theory but many people feel the evidence is in the beauty of the equations... they have to be right there just too elegant to be wrong.
 
  • #37
marcus
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Tom McCurdy said:
... 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"

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/blog/archives/000064.html

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.
 
  • #38
selfAdjoint
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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).
 
  • #39
meteor
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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.
 
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  • #40
Eh
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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.
 
  • #41
Tom McCurdy
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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.
 
  • #42
selfAdjoint
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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.
 
  • #43
Nyxie
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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 backwards...it'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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