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Featured A No metastable type IIB de Sitter vacua

  1. Aug 8, 2018 at 6:28 AM #61


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    I agree.

    As we know already I think what's lost is more than 15 years, it may unfortunately be the ideas and contribution of a whole generation of physicists.

    I remeber well 20 years ago in Danielssons office how he adviced me against pursuing any future in theoretical physics research unless it was in string theory! and he also didnt seem open to even reflect upon different ideas. So it was clear that either you had to fight research political battles or join the mentality.

    For me the integrity of the intellectual quest was far more important than academic route so the choice was easy.

  2. Aug 9, 2018 at 8:17 AM #62

    Ken G

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    This is why it is so important to maintain a clear view of what differentiates science from other things, including mathematics. This thread makes the key point that in mathematical physics, as anywhere in formal mathematics, following non-rigorous ideas too far can lead to false turns and wasted time. Obviously mathematics is important in science. But it does raise the question, what is different about mathematics and science? In mathematics, it is important to know what is proven, what must be true. In science, it is also important to know that one does not prove, one explores. Are we seeing a kind of collision of these mindsets when people think a theory is so beautiful it doesn't need testing, and doesn't need an observation to be obtained that no other theory can explain? That mindset is pretty close to forgetting what differentiates science from just about everything else, because science is the only place where the gold standard is "look for such-and-such, and if this theory is good, you will see it."
  3. Aug 9, 2018 at 12:52 PM #63


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    I largely agree.

    But I think one should distinguish between standards in scientific community and the motivation of individual researchers.

    I have absolutely no problem with wether some potential genius follows guidelines and intuition in the search for something that could later be either "proved in math" or "corroboorated in physics". It is actually not surprising that even the most briliant idea, can initially be met by scepsism from the scientific community as there are yet not hard proof and only fuzzy subjective motivations. If these nutcases (or geniuses if you prefer) arent "allowed" then the creativity required for the evolution of science is severely crippled. One essential mechanism of evolution is variation, but the wildness must be "tamed".

    So in this sense, i have no problems with that we "evaluate" the paradigm of string theory, or that some passionate brave theorists commit to exploring its implications. Because who knows if they find something noone expected.

    But I have an objection with how it becomes a self-inforcing mechanism that risk intellectual inbreeding, because the same persons that are supposed to guide students and future physicists. This is where the problem for scientific community and wasting resources comes in.

    But Danielsson himself has said several times (I recall one panel discussion where he argues for a popular audience against Max Tegmark) that if it is found that string theory ends up beeing "only" mathematics he will be dissapointed. So I do not think he thinkhe is doing mathematics, he is doing physics. As far as I understand, his perspective is that string theory in his perspective is the most promising candidate to unify GR and QFT, in despited of all its issues and problems. This is the rational reason why you keep developing it.

    If I agreed with this, i would also be looking at string theory. But my analysis has found too many problems, in the premises of QFT and GR that are carried overy completely to string theory, which i think are the where the problems are hidden. This is why i find string theory to actually in a sense be too conservative (Danielsson has himself used this word, he thinks string theory is a "natural extrapolation" in some way from QFT, that he calls "conservative"). And in a way i agree its conservative in one way(the wrong way), but crazy in other way (also the wrong way).

    And in a way i think it is the most promising, DEVELOPED idea, but the problem is that that is almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, as you discourage variation.

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