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Problems with modern High Energy Theory?

  1. Nov 21, 2005 #1
    I read a comment posted here last night (I'll search around for it) that said something to the effect of a large part of the physics community is unsatisfied with the way current high energy theory is conducted. I am curious if anyone can expound upon this statement for me. In what general way is theory being conducted, and why is it considered unsatisfactory?

    Incidentally, I'm currently getting my feet wet in the area, writing a paper on the thermodynamics of the quark gluon plasma (in an extremely simplified model), so some perspective on this issue would be very valuable.

    Cheers,
    Kevin
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 21, 2005 #2
    Found the thread! It was from what is the next big thing?
    And I quote:
     
  4. Nov 21, 2005 #3
    I think that MalleusScientiarum might have been alluding to the amount of funding being put into String Theory in all of its forms. I don't really know for sure, so your best bet would be to send him/her a private message and ask him/her to expand on what they meant by that.

    Some people feel that there is a lot of effort and funding being put into a field that will not in the likely future be falseafiable- it is a lot of conjecture right now- atleast some people believe that. They feel other parts of HEP could benefit from some of these talented minds cranking away at it- rather than being neglected. I really don't know enough about it to make a good argument one way or another.

    Maybe some one else here can put their two cents worth in the mix.
     
  5. Nov 21, 2005 #4

    ZapperZ

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    Note that HEP theory is not the same as String/Branes/etc. While there are connections, HEP theory usually has to be grounded with some form of phenomenology and experiment. Be VERY careful not to confuse the two.

    Zz.
     
  6. Nov 21, 2005 #5

    Physics Monkey

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    I happen to know Malleus in real life, and I think he was indeed talking about string theory, etc. Certainly a lot theoretical work is being done in "ordinary" high energy theory that is directly relevant to experiment (QCD effective field theories, lattice QCD, etc). We've talked long about this topic, and I think his point (and my own feelings) can be summarized in a question. How long are going to continue to fund string theory and friends under the auspices of physics when they continue to not predict any experimental results. In a world with limited resources, perhaps that money is better spent on "ordinary" high energy physics, or condensed matter physics, or plasma physics, or any other branch of physics that is actually related to experiment. It's been more than 30 years now, and string theory continues to promise a lot and deliver very little. Do we wait 50 or 60 years with no experimental progress before we tell string theorists to start getting their funding from math departments? Don't get me wrong though, the quantum gravity problem is absolutely fascinating, and hopefully such thinking is unnecessary and real physical results can soon be obtained.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2005
  7. Nov 21, 2005 #6
    I agree with your point but do you have any data that shows us how much of the total funding (in Europe, USA) in research goes to string theory ??? I think it is actually not that much and far greater funds goto high energy physics (NOT string theory). I mean, look at the Large Hadron Collider, entire CERN organization, SLAC, FermiLab,... How big are the budgets there ? They exceed the string theory budgets by faaaaaar; Besides, keep in mind that strings, LQG, etc... are theoretical research branches, so...they cost...less

    marlon
     
  8. Nov 21, 2005 #7

    ZapperZ

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    Then this was posted in the wrong section of PF. It will be moved to the correct sub-forum, where people who are "working" in String, superstring, etc. can rebutt attempt to justify the funding of their work.

    Zz.
     
  9. Nov 21, 2005 #8
    Ok well, I was working on a reply but it just disappeared due to an unruly backspace, when I get a chance I will sit down and rewrite it. I did attempt to send Malleus a PM and a message by email but apparently he has those features turned off. Physics Monkey, care to give him a heads up about this thread?

    And if this was indeed about String Theory, rather than HEP, this was indeed my misunderstanding...
     
  10. Nov 21, 2005 #9

    Physics Monkey

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    Hi marlon,

    Unfortunately, I don't have any any data on the relative amounts of funding for string theory, etc., but I tend to agree with you that whatever it is, it can't compare to the billions being spent on various high energy colliders. That being said, I do think that there is a nontrivial number of tenured postions in many physics departments that are currently occupied by string theorists, etc. Again, I am only going on my general impressions and I have no concrete data so I could be wrong about that. What this may mean is that while string theory doesn't take up much money overall, it does take a significant amount of the money available for theoretical research. I don't think this draw on funding is overwhelming by any means, but it may be nontrivial.

    I don't think now is the time to think about reducing funding to string theory and company, especially with the LHC so close (plus I'm really curious). Moreover, even if nothing continues to come of string theory and other quantum gravity theories, I don't think there is any problem with maintaining some "dreamers" around. Perhaps a more focused question to ask would be how long are physics departments going to maintain significant theoretical divisions devoted to quantum gravity research if progress continues to be lacking.

    acme37,

    I'll let him know when I talk to him.
     
  11. Dec 6, 2005 #10
    For one, comparing experiment to theory is totally depressing. I only need to think about the electron microscope some floors below, which costs at least 10^4 times what my whole office equipment was once worth (must have been several decades ago). And the coffee creamer is out. :cry:

    Also, the situation in Europe is clearly completely different from that in the US. Europe is much more conservative (nuclear physics) -- string theory is US dominated. In both cases there a those who like that and those who don't. I think the situation will change in the next decade. At some point people will start to notice that string theory is not that promising any more. The US government just wants to be at the front of research. If that front shifts towards, say LQG, funds will shift as well. And people go where money goes. But that is my (maybe over-optimistic) opinon.

    Anyway, I suspect the main question is: what is HIGH energy? I used to talk about high energy, meaning LHC-physics at, say, 10 TeV. Until I had to talk to some QCD guys. For which 10 GeV is HIGH energy. Now, if you forget about large extra dimensions, then the Planck scale is 10^16 TeV - REALLY HIGH ENERGY!

    My expectation is that QGP will be an important issue for at least the next 5 years. Whatever you do, don't maneuver yourself into a corner, stay open minded.

    If nothing else, HIGH ENERGY is suspicios: it is written as research field in my visa documents and has caused me several :yuck: :yuck: :yuck: discussions with border posts.
     
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