String theory

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FRA posted:
I personally think there is one major overall message in all smolins books which I consider to the main point, and that is to encourage the reader to be critical of current frameworks and open for possibilities, and not put all eggs in one basket because the scientific progress needs both a selection and variation
I agree: but for a slightly different reason. Never has consensus "main stream" science been completely correct...(Science is difficult stuff!!) Not Ptolomey, Not Erastothenes, not Newton, not relativity, that protons and neutrons are "fundamental", hydrogen peroxide is antiseptic, Vitamin C prevents colds, the universe consists of only "common" matter, atomic weights are just a curosity, black holes are impossible, there are only three plus one dimensions, the universe is static, we can know everything, and on and on.... anyone mired in ONLY traditional beliefs and science is unlikely to garner new fundamental insights.
 
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Is there anyone one out there who can give me a simple explanation of it?
If you start from the premise that instead of infinitesimal point particles, the basic constitutents of matter are actually one dimensional vibrating strings of energy ...extended objects, that is a start. Vibrational patterns of the strings create the particle properties we observe, like mass, energy,spin. Because they are extended entities not point particles, infinites are avoided.

The only way those strings can be constrained to vibrate in such a way as to produce mathematical characteristics which include experimentally observed properties around us is to constrain their vibrations via the shape and size of extra curled up dimensions.

That's the "good news"; the "bad news" is after maybe 20 years of prodigious effort there are still many bugs to work out....string theory is still unfinished and untested. For example, the best understood string theories operate in a fixed spacetime background...so they can't reconcile QM, gravity and particle physics which was the hoped for result of string theory.
 

DaveC426913

Gold Member
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Because they are extended entities not point particles, infinites are avoided.
I'll elaborate on this. The avoidance of infinities allows the reconciliation of SR and QM, which is one of the Holy Grails of our time.
 

Fra

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Never has consensus "main stream" science been completely correct...
That's true. But if you, like I do, see strong connections between physical processes, and scientific informational inference processes, then there is a somewhat deeper implications of Smolins ideas, that does not end with historical curiosity of human science. He has in several places and books elaborated on this and what it has to say about the notion of physical law. For example he notes that inferrable state spaces, are bound to be dynamical and the idea of timeless state spaces and laws are problematic if you insist on the abstractions to be inferred from real interactions. His CNS is one realisation of this, but the general idea behind is reasoning does not end where his specific CNS might.

This is the perspective I think makes most of his books worth the most.

The other stuff about personal things, politics is also interesting and entertaining but it's not the strongest points of the books.

/Fredrik
 
It seems this thread has turned into a book discussion ;-)

I agree with Fra and Naty1 about Smolin's book. I think he tries to encourage readers to think for themselves and not just agree with everything without at least knowing why they're agreeing. I also like the point Smolin makes about, as Fra put it, not putting all your eggs in one basket.


I tried to read Randall's book Warped Passages. I made it through about 4 chapters before putting it down. One of these days I'll get around to finishing it.
 
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Is Randall's book difficult or unpleasant ? I'm surprised, I found it excellent.
 
Is Randall's book difficult or unpleasant ? I'm surprised, I found it excellent.
It just didn't hold my attention and keep me interested. So I guess in a sense I found it difficult and it felt less like a hobby than a task to read it. Then again, maybe I was just being lazy...
 
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I haven't read Randall's book yet, but it may be worth noting that Amazon shows 152 customer reviews and averages 4.5 stars (out of 5). Coincidentally, one of the reviews was from Lee Smolin himself who gave the book 5 stars and said why he liked it. There were several other reviews by professionals in the field, although I only read maybe 10 of the reviews. BTW, one reviewer thought the second half was better than the first, but that was just one person.

So, even if some may find it a difficult read, it may be worth slogging through it anyway. I should be getting my copy from the library in a few days but I can't guarantee how long it will take me to get through it. I need to finish Greene's book first also.

Ron
 
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Fra

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Is Randall's book difficult or unpleasant ? I'm surprised, I found it excellent.
I haven't read this book and I don't even know what book it is, but all the talke made the curious. What book of hers are we talking about?

Can someone briefly describe the books main topics and points? Is it constrained to string theory or does it review other ideas as well?

/Fredrik
 
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Fra, Lisa Randall's book is called "Warped Passages" and is supposed to be a pretty comprehensive review of cutting edge physics leading mostly toward string theory. I'm hoping that she is a good writer and can get into the extra dimension business and Calabi-Yau spaces which seems to be at the heart of string theory. There is a quite a bit of info on it on the web. It's been out since about 2005.

Ron
 

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