Sociology of Physics: comment and indices

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  • #1
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Theoretical physics presents what I think is potentially an interesting bunch of sociology-of-science case studies and examples.

There is one guy (a string PhD named Ozzy Zapata) who is blogging specifically about this, has some fascinating comment:
http://spinningthesuperweb.blogspot.com/

There was also a kind of groundbreaking talk by Roger Penrose in 2006 called
Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in Physical Theory
The video is online and the slides are downloadable too, at Berkeley's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute:
http://www.msri.org/communications/vmath/VMathVideosSpecial/VideoSpecialInfo/3005/show_video

Basically Penrose and Zapata both discuss how intellectual fashions such as string theory function as expert fads. Penrose does this in an entertaining and illuminating manner, with a lot of hand-drawn cartoons.

Although Zapata got his PhD in string theory I am apprehensively curious about what his postdoc job prospects are, given the nature his comments. The guy is a kind of Feyer(brand)abend. Maybe he will move into the Philosophy of Science, or maybe there is a Sociology of Science research field opening up.
Here is one of his essays on the arxiv:
http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.1439

I keep track of how things are going with various objective indices (publication rates, citation counts by category, popular book salesranks) as well as subjective impressions.

Here are a couple of indices to watch.
The drop-off in citations to recent string papers:
2002: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/topcites/2002/annual.shtml
Recent (1998-2002) string papers in top 30 of the 2002 citations ranking: 11
2008: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/topcites/2008/annual.shtml
Recent (2004-2008) string papers in top 30 of the 2008 citations ranking: 0

The idea is that every year the Spires database lists the papers most highly cited in that year, and one can look to see how many recent (published in the past five years) string papers made the top 30. Eleven of the 30 papers cited most often in 2002 were recent (1998-2002) string publications. Cites are a measure of how important/valuable research appears to the researchers themselves. Eleven out of thirty is a good showing. This measure of value or importance (as seen by the experts themselves) has dropped off.

People still have to write papers, regardless of how useful the results are, so there has not been such a marked decline in the gross publication rate.
However there may have been some slight decline. Here's publications (keywords: superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic) for the first four months of three successive years:
2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1
2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1
2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1
1881, 1769, 1452 (preliminary numbers, publications with keywords superstring, M-theory, brane, heterotic, or compactification)

Here too is one possible window on the popularized physics (or wide-audience) book market:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/227399/&tag=pfamazon01-20
 
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  • #2
Chaos' lil bro Order
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Interesting marc,

So you gauge the popularity of a niche of science based on how many of its papers are in the top citations list. This could be a good indicator of whether the niche (string theory) is gaining peer acceptance or losing it.

I must say there are some criticisms readily available of this technique's accuracy, as I'm sure you are well aware. It would be interesting to see a behavioral psychologists analysis of this technique. One results skewing effect would be the tendency of peers to cite papers written by physics 'celebrities', like Penrose, Wolfram, etc. This looks good for their own paper when they've quoted a top gun, and it adds credence to their paper. The less popular the niche is, the less cites it will naturally garner. String Theory has been relatively stale in the last 5 years and many physicists wonder if its reached an experimental impass, which means it is losing favor, even amongst some theoretical physicists. This could clearly effect citations, but it does nothing to prove whether the underlying theories in string theory are true or false.

So while you citation rankings, is a decent indicator of what papers are important, it may also be just as good an indicator of what niches are popular.


Theoretical physics presents what I think is potentially an interesting bunch of sociology-of-science case studies and examples.

There is one guy (a string PhD named Ozzy Zapata) who is blogging specifically about this, has some fascinating comment:
http://spinningthesuperweb.blogspot.com/

There was also a kind of groundbreaking talk by Roger Penrose in 2006 called
Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in Physical Theory
The video is online and the slides are downloadable too, at Berkeley's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute:
http://www.msri.org/communications/vmath/VMathVideosSpecial/VideoSpecialInfo/3005/show_video

Basically Penrose and Zapata both discuss how intellectual fashions such as string theory function as expert fads. Penrose does this in an entertaining and illuminating manner, with a lot of hand-drawn cartoons.

Although Zapata got his PhD in string theory I am apprehensively curious about what his postdoc job prospects are, given the nature his comments. The guy is a kind of Feyer(brand)abend. Maybe he will move into the Philosophy of Science, or maybe there is a Sociology of Science research field opening up.
Here is one of his essays on the arxiv:
http://arxiv.org/abs/0905.1439

I keep track of how things are going with various objective indices (publication rates, citation counts by category, popular book salesranks) as well as subjective impressions.

Here are a couple of indices to watch.
The drop-off in citations to recent string papers:
2002: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/topcites/2002/annual.shtml
Recent (1998-2002) string papers in top 30 of the 2002 citations ranking: 11
2008: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/topcites/2008/annual.shtml
Recent (2004-2008) string papers in top 30 of the 2008 citations ranking: 0

The idea is that every year the Spires database lists the papers most highly cited in that year, and one can look to see how many recent (published in the past five years) string papers made the top 30. Eleven of the 30 papers cited most often in 2002 were recent (1998-2002) string publications. Cites are a measure of how important/valuable research appears to the researchers themselves. Eleven out of thirty is a good showing. This measure of value or importance (as seen by the experts themselves) has dropped off.

People still have to write papers, regardless of how useful the results are, so there has not been such a marked decline in the gross publication rate.
However there may have been some slight decline. Here's publications (keywords: superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic) for the first four months of three successive years:
2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1
2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1
2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1
1881, 1769, 1452 (preliminary numbers, publications with keywords superstring, M-theory, brane, heterotic, or compactification)

Here too is one possible window on the popularized physics (or wide-audience) book market:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/227399/&tag=pfamazon01-20
 
  • #3
marcus
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It is still early but we can get an idea of how string publication looks for the first five months of 2009, by comparison with the first five months of previous years:

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2307, 2225, 1715 (as of May 30, expected to increase with late entries)
Six keywords were used (superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic.)

As of noon Pacific, May 31 the sales rank ratio for Smolin's book was 0.678. This compares its sales performance with that of the five most popular stringy books averaged to provide a benchmark for comparison. Trouble's amazon-wide salesrank was 6204 and the stringy average was 4206.2
 
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  • #4
marcus
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As of noon June 1 the successive publication numbers were 2307, 2225, 1727.
As expected the last number (for 2009) is still building up some with late May entries, though my guess is that it will end up showing a downtrend.

The usual salesrank ratio for Trouble with Physics was 0.583. I intend to take a three-day average (31st, 1st, 2nd) to smooth out some of the random fluctuation. Gokul suggested this some time back and it makes very good sense. TwP came on the market in September 2006. Here, to give some perspective on the present numbers, is its salesrank history, sampling the first of each month.

EDIT:
The three-day average for 1 June is finished.
31 May 0.678
1 June 0.583
2 June 0.934

average salesrank ratio around 1 June = 0.732

The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7

It seems to be performing rather steadily (against the string benchmark). Recent numbers don't suggest any pronounced upswing or downturn.

Trouble salesrank was 6544
Stringy top five were 1905, 2596, 3810, 8011, 14244, averaging 6113.2
 
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  • #5
marcus
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At noon 8 June, Smolin's Trouble with Physics ranked on par with the stringy topfive average.


The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
8 June 1.0


Trouble salesrank was 7182
Stringy top five were 1876, 2211, 2631, 4934, 25393 averaging 7409.0

String research publication the first five months of 2009, by comparison with the first five months of previous years:

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2307, 2225, 1886 as of 8 June, expected to increase with late entries.
Six keywords were used (superstring, M-theory, brane, AdS/CFT, compactification, heterotic.)
 
  • #6
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We can begin to gauge the stringy publication rate for the first six months, compared with other years:

For the first six months:

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

So far the publication for the first half of 2007, 2008, and 2009 are 2657, 2526, 2194 continuing a slight downtrend. The 2009 number can be expected to increase (the month isn't even over and it takes Harvard abstracts people some time to catch up.)

========

I hadn't checked the salesrank of Smolin's Trouble with Physics for some weeks and happened to do so today 27 June. It ranked on par with the stringy topfive average.


The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
8 June 1.0
...
27 June 1.0 (1 pm instead of usual noon reading)
 
  • #7
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To track the stringy publication rate for the first six months, compared with other years, 6 keywords are used (superstring, M-theory, brane, compactification, AdS/CFT, and heterotic).

2007: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2008: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

2009: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/n...txt_wgt=YES&ttl_sco=YES&txt_sco=YES&version=1

So far the string publication numbers for the first half of 2007, 2008, and 2009 are 2657, 2526, 2230 continuing a slight downtrend. The 2009 number can be expected to increase somewhat as the Harvard abstracts people catch up with their cataloging.

=======


The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
30 June 0.628
1 July 1.366

I aim to make a 3-day average around July 1, to get rid of some random fluctuation. Today June 30 at noon TwP salesrank was 8959 and the five most popular stringy books (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 3846, 3965, 4485, 6584, 9247 for an average of 5625.4.
EDIT: At noon on July 1 TwP rank was 4515 and stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 2868, 4041, 4823, 5808, 13287 averaging 6165.4 making the ratio 1.366.
 
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  • #8
marcus
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The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
...
30 June 0.628
1 July 1.366
2 July 3.782

I aim to make a 3-day average around July 1, to get rid of some random fluctuation. Today June 30 at noon TwP salesrank was 8959 and the five most popular stringy books (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 3846, 3965, 4485, 6584, 9247 for an average of 5625.4 making the ratio 0.628.
EDIT: At noon on July 1 TwP rank was 4515 and stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 2868, 4041, 4823, 5808, 13287 averaging 6165.4 making the ratio 1.366.
EDIT: At noon on July 2, TwP rank was 1545 and stringy top five (elegant, parallel, hyperspace, fabric, warped) ranked 3324, 3545, 5531, 6662, 10155 averaging 5843 making the ratio 3.782.
The average ratio for the three days (our smoothed value for the first of the month) is therefore 1.93 and I retabulate as usual:

The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

The TwP index has been behaving in an unusual way recently. Afternoon and evening of 1 July it spent a lot of time in the 4-5 range. Also for part of the morning of 2 July, although it was down around 3.8 right at noon (pacific) my regular time to record. At 1:00 PM it was back up at 5.2.
Smolin has not made any public appearances or been on broadcast media lately (radio TV) as far as I know. However he did have a piece in a professional physicist magazine back in the first half of June. (The Institute of Physics--IOP--online Physics World) It could be readers with more of a science education buying the book that caused this spike. Or some other event that I'm not aware of. Here is the June issue Physics World link:
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/39306
His article is interesting and has a catchy title The Unique Universe.
It was picked up by a science/technology blog called X-Journals which commented favorably in a post titled "Forget the So-Called Multiverse: One Universe is Enough".
http://x-journals.com/2009/lee-smolin-forget-the-so-called-multiverse-one-universe-is-enough/
It could be the string landscape/multiverse idea has gotten into bad odor---enough science people may dislike it that by coming out against it, Smolin cause a jump in his booksales. I noticed a simultaneous jump in sales of the hardcover edition as well as the paperback.

At any rate for whatever reason Trouble with Physics has been recently selling around 4 or 5 times better than the stringy topfive average I use for comparison.
I checked several more times on 2 July. The ratio at 1 PM was 5.16, at 4 PM it was 5.34, at 5 PM it was 5.48, and at 9 PM it was 5.81.

At 11 PM on 2 July the ratio was 8.14. Trouble with Physics was doing 8 times better than the stringy topfive average Ive been using as benchmark for several years. It's odd. TwP rank was 852 and the top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 2539, 3817, 7414, 8335, 12575 for an average of 6936.0.
 
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  • #9
marcus
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Something just happened which greatly increased sales of TwP. I'm not sure what it is yet. Here's a table of noon readings. Those for the first of each month are smoothed by averaging over a 3-day window.

The Trouble with Physics (came out September 2006)

1 October 0.4 (2008)
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11

The TwP index was in the 4-6 range for much of 2 July though briefly down below 4 at noon that day. At 1:00 PM it was back up over 5 and it stayed there for the rest of the day, being over 8 at 11 PM. I checked several times on 2 July. The ratio at 1 PM was 5.16, at 4 PM it was 5.34, at 5 PM it was 5.48, at 9 PM it was 5.81, at 11 PM on 2 July the ratio was 8.14.

Smolin has not made any public appearances or been on broadcast media lately (radio TV) as far as I know, but did publish an interesting piece in the June issue Physics World:
http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/print/39306
It was picked up by a science/technology blog called X-Journals which commented favorably in a post titled "Forget the So-Called Multiverse: One Universe is Enough".
http://x-journals.com/2009/lee-smolin-forget-the-so-called-multiverse-one-universe-is-enough/
Other than this, what could have caused a jump in Smolin booksales?

At any rate at noon 3 July Trouble with Physics was doing 5.88 times better than the stringy topfive average Ive been using as benchmark for several years. TwP rank was 1003 and the top five ( fabric, elegant, parallel, hyperspace, idiot guide) ranked 2944, 3605, 5844, 6093, 1100 for an average of 5898.0.
At noon 4 July TwP was doing 5.11 better than benchmark. TwP ranked 1034 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, idiot guide) ranked 2774, 3527, 5715, 6526, 7858, for an average of 5280.0.

Haven't seen this kind of thing since the first 3 weeks or so after the paperback edition came out in 2007. It's quite strange.

===================
VandeCarr, I just saw your post #10 and will reply here because the time-limit has not run out and I can still edit this post. I believe there is a great latitude of stringy models of physics, you get a different physics, a different vacuum, for each way you pick to compactify or roll up the extra dimensions.
So there are many versions of physics leading to no unique prediction that would falsify the string approach. There is, in effect, a String Landscape.
The term was popularized in a 2003 paper by Leonard Susskind, one of the fathers of string. You may know about all this already. Individual versions undoubtably do make testable predictions.

I don't know of any version which actually reproduces what actually is known (the Standard Model) and in addition predicts some new phenomena at available energies which would make it testable. Someone else may hopefully correct me on this if I'm wrong. You could also start a thread in the Beyond Standard forum and ask that very question!
 
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  • #10
SW VandeCarr
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I'm not sure, but I think this question is appropriate to this thread. Are there any "stringy" theories that make testable predictions that cannot be predicted and tested under the Standard Model?
 
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  • #11
marcus
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Just checked at 10AM this morning (5 July) and the Smolin book was doing more than 10 times better than the topfive stringy average. I don't know why this remarkable surge in sales has happened.

Could it be a "Twitter" phenomenon? I don't follow Twitter and some of these other web network things, Digg etc. I've heard of them but I don't how they work or what their potential is. All I know is that in the standard media (radio TV blogs discussion-boards) nothing much has happened that could explain this. Can you suggest something?

A few little things, I mentioned some already:
Smolin has a new book written with Robert Unger which is in preparation. It will delve into the nature of physical law and how the laws could have evolved the way they are, and argue that time is realer than we have been thinking based on vintage 1915 General Relativity. And that conventional string landscape multiverse notions are ready for the discard pile. I think that's the message. They have come up with new arguments. You get an early taste of this in The Unique Universe which he just published in Physics World. The book is probably about a year off (guess: latter part of 2010) but Smolin always prepares the ground. He did that with Trouble with Physics, began magazining a year or so before the book itself appeared. I think Robert Unger is very smart and the new book may have an impact.

The annual string conference just concluded---Strings 2009 in Rome. It was lackluster. They got Witten to talk (he did not participate in Strings 2008) so that was a plus. But he chose not to talk about string--talked about all sorts of other interesting physics instead. So far the conference talks are not on line and little has been heard about it. Strings conference used to have a lot of media hoopla---interviews and science writers reportage etc.

Could the surge in Smolin book sales be related to a sense of let-down, or even flop?
But who is paying attention? What's the audience and the bookmarket we are talking about?
This morning TwP was number 499 in amazon book sales as a whole. That is competing against diet books and trash novels and who-dunnits and celebrity as-told-to memoirs. How did it get to be #499 in storewide sales?

If anybody has a clue, please post. Even if a very tenuous idea.
==============
Hi VandeCarr, I responded to you on the tail of my previous post, yesterday noon.
If anyone wants the salesrank details. at 10 AM today pacific time 5 July, Smolin's standing was 477 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, idiot guide) ranked 1760, 2657, 4068, 6490, 11640 for an benchmark average of 5323.0, making the ratio 10.67
At 12 noon Smolin's rank was even higher: 352, while the stringy top five (the same titles as at 10AM) were at 1283, 2086, 5119, 5628, 14222 for an average of 5667.6 making the ratio 16.10.


I have never seen such a high noon reading, even for a short spike.

====================
Fra! Nice to see you. I am glad you are interested in this kind of sideline index or gauge too. Sociology can reveal and raise questions I think. Good to include that kind of information in the mix. I will go look up numbers from last summer. As I recall, just from memory, last summer was around 0.4 - 0.6 similar to April May June of this year, but I will retrieve the record.
 
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  • #12
Fra
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Could the surge in Smolin book sales be related to a sense of let-down, or even flop?
But who is paying attention? What's the audience and the bookmarket we are talking about?
This morning TwP was number 499 in amazon book sales as a whole. That is competing against diet books and trash novels and who-dunnits and celebrity as-told-to memoirs. How did it get to be #499 in storewide sales?

If anybody has a clue, please post. Even if a very tenuous idea.

Interesting rise indeed. I really don't have much of a serious clue but maybe the global crisis slightly setting people back and forcing them to reconsider what they are doing. Maybe the crisis makes look upon all the established structures with doubt and critisism, not only in society but also in science. since it becomes more clear that in times of limited resources, some extra thought may be needed and we can not afford to invest in the wrong questions.

Perhaps the critics, and questioning of - how have all the investments in ST made us more fit? - is even more relevent in the crisis days when it becomes more obvious that time and money is limited. We have to question how be choose to invest every single dollar. Ultimately it's self-preservation.

In think that type of reasoning is more likely to appear during bad times.

How was the pattern last summer? ie. could there be some summer/vacation phenomenon?

/Fredrik
 
  • #13
marcus
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How was the pattern last summer? ie. could there be some summer/vacation phenomenon?

/Fredrik

Fra, here is the record back from when the paperback edition came out (September 2007)
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?p=1986028#post1986028
You can see that the ratio was high in September October November which is understandable because there were a lot of book reviews and science writers discussing the book the year before when the hardcover came out (September 2006) and then later all that controversy. So then when the inexpensive paperback came out in September 2007 the sales shot up for a couple of months. That I think is understandable.

But then by Summer 2008, which you asked about, the sales were down.
There was not much of a summer reading effect. I thought I saw a little mild rush around May June when students graduate from highschool and college and their relatives buy them science-books as a graduation gift. And perhaps summer reading is included there too.
But by July August it was slack, like 0.4 and 0.5.

I think your economic crunch idea is interesting. I think it could work both ways---in very bad times people might go for escape literature, like Brian Greene and Lord of the Rings.
Fantasy, to take your mind off the bleak reality.
But it could also drive people to be more critical. And Smolin's book is critical. It says Why are we spending our science money so badly? Why are we putting all our brains in one basket? Why this bad and improvident strategy? What is wrong with the science establishment that makes it act out of touch with reality? What is the root of the Trouble.

Maybe the concept of trouble is a key lever. When there is trouble in a system (like banking or string) people want to know what is the reason. They were relying on it to work as usual, how could it unexpectedly go off the railroad tracks?

It's a thought. I don't say I am convinced by what you say. Right now I am eager to get any possible clue or suggestion. Because this surge in sales has no clear identifiable trigger that I know of.

I will copy the record from that other post and add on the later months:
1 September 6.4 (2007)
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5 (2008)
1 February 1.3
1 March 0.4
1 April 0.6
1 May 1.0
1 June 1.0
1 July 0.5
1 August 0.4
1 September 0.8
1 October 0.4
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10

BTW it is pretty clear the European science establishment is more on the tracks than the US one. Did you look at the Planck Scale conference that just ended. I mean the website where there are online PDF files of the talks. This was a successful conference. New findings brought in by various different tribes converging from various different directions with their offerings to the great Sky Mother :biggrin: or whatever. Really first rate conference. Nothing like it in the US this year. That shows the ESF leadership quality. (the European Science Foundation) they have a little modest clarity of vision compared with the US NSF (national sci. found)
 
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  • #14
SW VandeCarr
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===================
VandeCarr, Individual versions undoubtably do make testable predictions.

Thanks marcus. You've answered by question.
 
  • #15
marcus
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Thanks marcus. You've answered by question.
You are welcome! Actually you took part of what I said out of context, so let me continue quoting what I said back there so as to complete the idea. I think the hard part must be to construct a model that has no disagreement with what is already known.
I don't know of any version which...reproduces what...is known (the Standard Model) and in addition predicts some new phenomena at available energies which would make it testable...

To continue recording the noon readings for this interesting spike in sales of Smolin's book:
2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81

Trouble with Physics was number one on the Amazon list of physics books (ahead of Hawking, Greene, whoever). At noon on 6 July it ranked 395 and the string topfive average was 6286.2, making the ratio 15.81.
The five most popular string books that day (fabric, elegant, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 1507, 1782, 5330, 7309, 15503.
 
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  • #16
Fra
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like Brian Greene and Lord of the Rings.
Fantasy, to take your mind off the bleak reality.

Hehe funny to put them in the same scentence - Lord of the Strings

In the Landscape where the Shadows lie.
One String to rule them all, One String to find them,
One String to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Landscape where the Shadows lie.

/Fredrik
 
  • #17
Fra
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Yes, there are probably other causes I have not clue about.

Fantasy, to take your mind off the bleak reality.
But it could also drive people to be more critical.

I like to think there is a common motivation for what you call criticism and fantasy.

Somehow the disappointment of reality, or current paradigms, is what motivates looking for an alternative reality. This is in effect a form of critics. I don't think going to your fantasy and imagination, necessarily means letting go of ALL rationality.

After all, in the evolutionary perspective, there is a good rationality in diversity.

So I think considering ALL fantasies are actually rational. But the rationality also requires that we do not put all eggs in one random fantasy. Each fantasy will be considered, but in proportion to it's potential and constrained by resources we have to invest. Somewhere I think the feedback mechanism from investments to securing that we're on the right track went beserk. Perhaps it does take a crisis to open our eyes. Look at the unconstrained bonus system. It took a crisis to convince the masses that this is doubtful.

/Fredrik
 
  • #18
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To continue recording this strange unexplained blip in TwP performance.
Noon pacific time, Smolin book's amazon salesrank performance ratio to stringy topfive average as benchmark for comparison:

1 September 6.4 (2007)
1 October 6.5
1 November 5.2
1 December 2.4
1 January 1.5 (2008)
1 February 1.3
1 March 0.4
1 April 0.6
1 May 1.0
1 June 1.0
1 July 0.5
1 August 0.4
1 September 0.8
1 October 0.4
1 November 0.6
1 December 0.6
1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98

At noon pacific on 8 July TwP ranked 1144 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, hyperspace, parallel, idiot guide) ranked 2843, 4467, 5189, 5340, 16380 for an average of 6843.8 making the ratio 5.98
 
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  • #19
marcus
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I like to think there is a common motivation for what you call criticism and fantasy.

That true! And it's a fairly deep insight. I think in the United States it has been difficult to do social criticism because of a widespread fatuous complacency---an unquestioned conviction that our society is so good it should be the model for democracy all over the world. Bush-heads and Palin-drones think this. Maybe now that belief is not so widespread but in the 40s and 50s there was a pious creed that America was special, a land of freedom and fairness etc etc etc., example to the world.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very patriotic and always read the Declaration of Independence out loud on the 4th of July. Or encourage the young people to do it. I'm proud of some things about my country. But there has been excessive self-satisfaction.

And so because of this deafness to explicit social crit, I think that some of the energy of social criticism was channeled into SCIENCE FICTION. Which often, in the 1950s anyway, would really be exploring alternate forms of social and political organization. The imaginative exploration of technology was actually masking what was really going on in the genre. It was not science fantasy, it was social fantasy.
The invention of social alternatives was so to say enabled by the technological alternatives.

But we are not talking about American Exceptionalism, we are talking about String Exceptionalism: "The Only Game In Town".
 
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  • #20
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At this point I have to say the sudden July 2 rise in Smolin book's sales is looking less like a random unexplained blip and more like something significant. Could be a shift in the physicbook market reflecting a possible shift in public perception.
The spike in sales is too persistent to dismiss.

1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98
9 July 5.58
10 July 3.87

At noon pacific on 9 July TwP ranked 1216 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, warped, hyperspace) ranked 2139, 3234. 5971, 9577, 12984 for an average of 6781 making the ratio 5.58.

At noon 10 July TwP was 1730 and string top five (hyperspace, fabric, elegant, parallel, idiot guide) were 3461, 3565, 3615, 11301, 11547 for average of 6697.8.



I wonder how much longer this will last.
 
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  • #21
John Creighto
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At this point I have to say the sudden July 2 rise in Smolin book's sales is looking less like a random unexplained blip and more like something significant. Could be a shift in the physicbook market reflecting a possible shift in public perception.
The spike in sales is too persistent to dismiss.

1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98
9 July 5.58

At noon pacific on 9 July TwP ranked 1216 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, warped, hyperspace) ranked 2139, 3234. 5971, 9577, 12984 for an average of 6781 making the ratio 5.58.

I wonder how much longer this will last.

It will stop when enough of the market as read it. I thought about buying it before. The title sounded interesting. It is certainly a unique title. I don't see how if I bought the book it would say anything about my confidence in any particular paradigm in physics.
 
  • #22
marcus
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It will stop when enough of the market as read it.
Of course---I definitely agree! And one question is what is "enough" and when will that be, that "enough" is reached.

To give you perspective, the book came out in September 2006 and has had excellent sales for a good bit of that time, for the first 3-4 months but also including starting September 2007 when the paperback edition went on sale.

Most other stringrelated books that came out around or after September 2006 have disappeared, dropped out of sight. This one is still occasionally high up there. Why? What keeps fueling interest?

I thought about buying it before. The title sounded interesting. It is certainly a unique title. I don't see how if I bought the book it would say anything about my confidence in any particular paradigm in physics.

Like you, I don't see how it would relate to your confidence. If I were confident in some model then probably I would not be so interested in the quest for a quantum theory of geometry. I look at the leading approaches (dynamic triangulations, asymptotic safety, loop, spinfoam...) as steps along the way, gradual advances, work in progress.


1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98
9 July 5.58
10 July 3.87
11 July 2.92
12 July 2.67 (11:31 AM, had to be out at noon)

At noon pacific on 9 July TwP ranked 1216 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, warped, hyperspace) ranked 2139, 3234. 5971, 9577, 12984 for an average of 6781 making the ratio 5.58.

At noon 10 July TwP was 1730 and string top five (hyperspace, fabric, elegant, parallel, idiot guide) were 3461, 3565, 3615, 11301, 11547 for average of 6697.8.

At noon 11 July TwP was 1831 and the current stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, idiot guide) ranked 1970, 4497, 5879, 6399, 8016 for an average of 5352.2. In other words judging by salesrank the Smolin book was doing about 3 times better than the string topfive average that we use for benchmark.

Had to be out at noon on 12 July so took reading at 11:31 AM, Smolin 1973 and the benchmark (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, blackholewar) 2250, 3255, 3884, 7139, 9842 for average 5274.0 and ratio 2.67.

I still haven't learned of anything having been done to advertise or publicize the book, so the sudden spurt of sales, to levels like September-November 2007, is unexplained.
Anyone see anything or hear anything that could explain? The fact that the Strings 2009 conference in Rome was such a bust? Any straws in the wind?
 
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  • #23
Fra
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I don't see how if I bought the book it would say anything about my confidence in any particular paradigm in physics.

I think different people may read the book for different reasons. I've read Smolins 3 books, trouble with physics, 3 roads to QG, and the life of the cosmos and my reason for reading it is that wanted to learn about smolins reasoning. In particular his quest for new logic and evolving law.

The critique against string theory was not my reason for reading it. I somehow share alot of his views, and did so before hearing the name Smolin.

Maybe to some people, his books could be an eye opener. If so, why not. In particular might this apply to people who make decisions about funding.

However having read all 3 of his books, there is a decent amount of redundandy and overlap between the three books, and I think 3 roards was possily the best one, but maybe it's because that's the one i read first.

I think the message is clear in smolins books. The primary goal is NOT to just bash string theory and be done with it, it is to try to open the readers eyes and widern their reasoning in the quest for a better understanding that will benefit all of us. The note on string theory, is just (as I read it at least) an illustration that the past strategy has been moderately successful, further increasing the motivation for truly new and creative ideas. Maybe part of the diffuculty of the problems, isn't just that the problem is hard, it may be partly thay we're stuck in an old mode of analysing the problem. The way we ask questions in order to defined the problem may be part of the problem.

/Fredrik
 
  • #24
marcus
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I think different people may read the book for different reasons. I've read Smolins 3 books, trouble with physics, 3 roads to QG, and the life of the cosmos and my reason for reading it is that wanted to learn about smolins reasoning. In particular his quest for new logic and evolving law...
/Fredrik

Fra, perceptive comment and interesting point of view on Smolin's books!
You might be interested in the FQXi Azores conference which just finished. They may be putting up some video and/or pdf on the talks.
home:
http://www.fqxi.org/conference/home
sample list of questions considered at the previous FQXi conference:
http://www.fqxi.org/conference/questions
Sabine's blog report on it:
http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2009/07/fqxi-on-azores.html
Lee Smolin was of course one of the participants (on scientific advisory board of FQXi, along with Frank Wilczek as I recall) and since the questions they home in on are often fairly deep ones it should be interesting to learn what he had to say, if they do post notes or video from the discussion.
 
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  • #25
Fra
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Thanks for those links Marcus! I noticed the talks aren't up yet, but hopefully they will be.

/Fredrik
 
  • #26
Fra
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sample list of questions considered at the previous FQXi conference:
http://www.fqxi.org/conference/questions

Almost needless to say, they are listing excellent deep and highly motivated questions.

Just to quote a few from that list...

"
- Are there reasons to believe that standard QM is insufficient?
- Can we apply QM to the entire universe?
- How much information is really there in a quantum state?
- an one define probabilities in an eternally inflating spacetime?
- Is nature fundamentally analog or digital (continuous or discrete)?
- Is nature completely mathematical?
- What is dark energy?
"
Questions so good, that NOT insisting on asking them is to be considered as speculative in the sense of the ostrich putting his head in the sand. In that sense, "speculating" about these questions is rather LESS "speculative" in the sense or risk assessment. How far DARE we walk before we ask ourselves wether we got the direction right?

/Fredrik
 
  • #27
marcus
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Trouble with Physics salesrank compared with string benchmark:

1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98
9 July 5.58
10 July 3.87
11 July 2.92
12 July 2.67
13 July 6.42

At noon pacific on 13 July TwP ranked 1036 and the stringy top five (elegant, parallel, fabric, idiotguide, hyperspace) ranked 2677, 3873, 7634, 9522, 9538 for an average of 6648.8 making the ratio 6.42.

So judging by salesranks, the Smolin book was doing about six times better than the five most popular string-oriented books.
================

Fra, your last post is incisive. How I read it is that sometimes in physics people can waste their time by lacking philosophical smarts and depth.
Sometimes you have to analyze your concepts and if you don't, and if you just "shut up and calculate" or "shut up and accelerate" more and more particles, you run into cul de sac sterile deadend and waste everybody's time. So the "speculative" shoe is on the other foot, I think you are saying. It is NOT thinking about the meaning of the concepts that then becomes the careless and wasteful gamble, the speculation.
And that is really what Smolin is all about. The ideas he comes up with can be wrong sometimes and he's not afraid of that, but right or wrong, he is not shallow. He doesn't simply follow whatever herd of cattle or flock of sheep. The TwP book is interesting partly because of that.
Almost needless to say, they are listing excellent deep and highly motivated questions.

Just to quote a few from that list...

"
- Are there reasons to believe that standard QM is insufficient?
- Can we apply QM to the entire universe?
- How much information is really there in a quantum state?
- an one define probabilities in an eternally inflating spacetime?
- Is nature fundamentally analog or digital (continuous or discrete)?
- Is nature completely mathematical?
- What is dark energy?
"
Questions so good, that NOT insisting on asking them is to be considered as speculative in the sense of the ostrich putting his head in the sand. In that sense, "speculating" about these questions is rather LESS "speculative" in the sense or risk assessment. How far DARE we walk before we ask ourselves wether we got the direction right?

/Fredrik

But Smolin's next book, that he is writing with Robert Unger about time and the evolution of the laws of physics should actually be more philosophically interesting. The FQXi question "Can we apply QM to the entire universe?" Could have been taken right out of the Smolin-Unger book. The answer is probably No, we cannot, because we are not an outside observer performing repeated universe experiments.
 
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  • #28
John Creighto
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So judging by salesranks, the Smolin book was doing about six times better than the five most popular string-oriented books.
================

I'm still thinking "So". If two books cover topic A and one book covers topic B then the fact that the book which covers topic B is more popular then the two books that cover topic A says nothing about weather topic B is more popular then topic A. Also if a lot has been written about one topic and little of merit has been written about the second topic then of course the first book written about the second topic is going to show a surge in popularity at first.

Shouldn't there be a much better measure of public opinion then book sales or tweets for that matter. It reminds me of people who try to gauge danger by how much they hear about something on the news when in fact the more you hear something on the news the less common an occurrence it is.
 
  • #29
Fra
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Fra, your last post is incisive. How I read it is that sometimes in physics people can waste their time by lacking philosophical smarts and depth.
Sometimes you have to analyze your concepts and if you don't, and if you just "shut up and calculate" or "shut up and accelerate" more and more particles, you run into cul de sac sterile deadend and waste everybody's time. So the "speculative" shoe is on the other foot, I think you are saying. It is NOT thinking about the meaning of the concepts that then becomes the careless and wasteful gamble, the speculation.
While it might not be right to claim that a specific someone body is wasting THEIR time from their point of view (it's somehow part of the evolutionary game, that each player has not other choice but to play THEIR game and gamble with their own existence and also has to rat their OWN risk, this I the inside-view perspective, it applies to the scientific process and (my personal conjecture) also to physical processes) - but what you rephrase is precisely what I'm saying!
But Smolin's next book, that he is writing with Robert Unger about time and the evolution of the laws of physics should actually be more philosophically interesting. The FQXi question "Can we apply QM to the entire universe?" Could have been taken right out of the Smolin-Unger book. The answer is probably No, we cannot, because we are not an outside observer performing repeated universe experiments.
Yes, I very much look forward to that book. Some of thoese ideas are already present, if perhaps less elaborated in smolins other books. At least I see it when I read his books.

So far the talk from perimeter on the reality of law, where he mentions his collaboration with unger, where he tries to make a philosophical argument against the notion of timeless law is probably a good indicator of what to expect from the book. I have listened to that talk several times because I had it with me on a trip last year on a mp3 player and it was the only thing I had to listen to. And I think at least to judge from that talk, there are still many open wires even for smolin. In particular on the objection of some that wether replacing timeless law, would again need a timeless metalaw or now. On this point his reasoning was not very clear. I hope that in the book he is more explicit and may come with ideas on howto formalise this, I think it can be done.

So I think his questioning of the notion of timless law, and replacing the ensemble or completely unphysical statistics of IMHO silly "multiverses" with instead the idea of ONE evolving universe is in the right direction. Also, this fairly deep suggestions has implications for the notion of the reality of physical law and our undertanding of science as a process. The scientific process almost becomes one with the physical processes. Just in my taste.

If I had to mention from the top of my head one person I'm aware of from media that insists on a change, smolins ideas are one of the top most interesting.

It's true that some of these ideas shake many of the foundations of science, especially the new notion of evolving law, but all circustances motivating questioning in this direction give me more confidence than weak argument that there is nothing wrong with the old logic judged on past success. there is also a good reason for this, which smolin explains when talking about how closed subsystems is a different story than an open environment. The logic that works for closed subsystems does not work for open environments.

/Fredrik
 
  • #30
marcus
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Trouble with Physics salesrank compared with string benchmark:

1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98
9 July 5.58
10 July 3.87
11 July 2.92
12 July 2.67
13 July 6.42
14 July 4.88

At noon pacific on 13 July TwP ranked 1036 and the stringy top five (elegant, parallel, fabric, idiotguide, hyperspace) ranked 2677, 3873, 7634, 9522, 9538 for an average of 6648.8 making the ratio 6.42.

At noon 14 July TwP ranked 1854 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, parallel, hyperspace, warped) ranked 3547, 7032, 7049, 10628, 16962 for an average of 9043.6 and a ratio of 4.88

John and Fra, I appreciate both your comments but have to rush to make an appointment, will reply later this afternoon.
 
  • #31
marcus
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If two books cover topic A and one book covers topic B then the fact that the book which covers topic B is more popular then the two books that cover topic A says nothing about weather topic B is more popular then topic A...

Yes definitely. What interests me is how this index changes over time. I have kept track of it since September 2006. Doing a reading at or around the first of the month, always at noon pacific so as to avoid any accidental "cherrypicking"

For much of 2008 the index was down around 0.5 and 0.6. Also for much of 2009. And now it is up, often over 2 or 3.

This is a big change. Does it signal a longterm shift in the way the physics-fans in the general public are thinking? Or is it just a brief temporary spike? And if it is purely temporary, why did it happen now?

I think the public is capable of being fooled by science hype. Indeed it probably has been fooled quite a bit including by media specials (eg even with Hawking, Brian Greene,...) that you'd hope would be solid and not misleading. So you can't take booksales as an indicator of what is valid research or good science policy. It could even sometimes be a contrary indicator!

I don't need to keep track of wideaudience booksales to tell me what is valid science and what isn't. Neither do you. We have other ways---our critical faculties, citation counts, reading informed inside opinion.

What indices like this can tell us is about public perceptions and especially alert us to change---shifts in perception.

Smolin's book essentially advocates a more inclusive, broad front of attack on the quantum geometry/gravity problem. Not just string, but also spinfoam, causal sets, dynamic triangulations, loop quantum gravity...
And the book gives the reasons why you need to allow for string being a dead-end. A fundamental weakness in the string approach. No approach can you say from the outset that it is right. Every approach can turn out to be flawed some way, and it may turn out to be possible to work around the flaw or it may NOT. So the mature strategy is to develop along a variety of paths and support several research lines.

Well in 2006 there was a serious problem of overconcentration on string with an entrenched establishment protecting its own prestige, especially in the US.
Now that monopoly has broken somewhat in Europe, and the Europeans are being rewarded by exciting advances along the non-string lines. Most recently the socalled Asymptotic Safe approach that nobelist Steven Weinberg talked about at Cern (July 7) just this past week. But actually a lot of nonstring QG research action.
So the situation that Smolin assessed in the book has proven to be in some sense self-correcting. It is as if at least the European Scientific Establishment paid attention to what Smolin was saying. Or knew it already. So more funding HAS gone into the nonstring lines that Smolin was talking about, and also allied approaches that he didnt even mention.
Now it remains for the USA scientific establishment (DOE research, NSF, national science foundation,...) to get the message.
Smolin's book can be a helpful PART of this shift in perception and policy, but it can't do the job all by itself.

Still, I think it is an interesting index and I am waiting to see where it goes next.

BTW Smolin's next book (about Time and the Laws of Physics) is likely to be very controversial. In its day TwP was considered a dark horse and not likely to be as persistent and influential as it seems now to be. The new one could be like that too.
 
  • #32
marcus
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Fra, on reflection I have nothing to add to your post #29. I concur completely with what you say there. (including about the open wires :biggrin:) details still to be filled in. missing connections that still have to be made.

Good idea to make an MP3 of a lecture that you can then take on a train trip.
In case anyone wants to copy your example I will post links to smolin perimeter lectures.
Here is one:
http://pirsa.org/08100049/

15 July 2.37
At noon, the regular time, Trouble ranked 2566 and the stringy benchmark was 6081.4 making the ratio 2.37.
 
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  • #33
marcus
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Kaboom! The big sales spike is over and TwP is back in the normal range. The unexplained excursion lasted just over 2 weeks.

Trouble with Physics salesrank compared with string benchmark:

1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98
9 July 5.58
10 July 3.87
11 July 2.92
12 July 2.67
13 July 6.42
14 July 4.88
15 July 2.37
16 July 0.81

At noon pacific on 16 July TwP ranked 5350 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, blackhole, parallel, hyperspace) ranked 2079, 3252, 4395, 4413, 7516 for an average of 4331.0 making the ratio 0.81.
 
  • #34
John Creighto
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Well in 2006 there was a serious problem of overconcentration on string with an entrenched establishment protecting its own prestige, especially in the US.
Now that monopoly has broken somewhat in Europe, and the Europeans are being rewarded by exciting advances along the non-string lines. Most recently the socalled Asymptotic Safe approach that nobelist Steven Weinberg talked about at Cern (July 7) just this past week. But actually a lot of nonstring QG research action.

So the situation that Smolin assessed in the book has proven to be in some sense self-correcting. It is as if at least the European Scientific Establishment paid attention to what Smolin was saying. Or knew it already. So more funding HAS gone into the nonstring lines that Smolin was talking about, and also allied approaches that he didnt even mention.
Now it remains for the USA scientific establishment (DOE research, NSF, national science foundation,...) to get the message.
I think in any field of research governments should avoid picking winners as much as possible. I'm curious as to why there were would be a disproportionate amount of research in string theory because in my mind the only justification would be if there were key predictions to test that required a large amount of research dollars to test. Otherwise, I think they should let the academics decide on their own which fields of research are most relevant for them to pursue. Perhaps funding preference could be given to people who write papers which are highly referenced and read.
 
  • #35
Fra
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Kaboom! The big sales spike is over and TwP is back in the normal range. The unexplained excursion lasted just over 2 weeks.

Trouble with Physics salesrank compared with string benchmark:

1 January 0.6 (2009)
1 February 0.7
1 March 0.5
1 April 0.6
1 May 0.6
1 June 0.7
1 July 1.9

2 July 3.78
3 July 5.88
4 July 5.11
5 July 16.10
6 July 15.81
7 July 7.09
8 July 5.98
9 July 5.58
10 July 3.87
11 July 2.92
12 July 2.67
13 July 6.42
14 July 4.88
15 July 2.37
16 July 0.81

At noon pacific on 16 July TwP ranked 5350 and the stringy top five (elegant, fabric, blackhole, parallel, hyperspace) ranked 2079, 3252, 4395, 4413, 7516 for an average of 4331.0 making the ratio 0.81.

Fascinating.

Do you know how those sales ranks are actually calculated?
Take for example the number 15.81 from 6 July, how is it calculated?

How many individual books are these individual numbers based upon?

/Fredrik
 

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