Theory of Everything

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It's always a battle between the young and old, the new ideas and the accepted ones, the whipper snappers and the dinosaurs, the crackpots and the academicians, ----in every field from art to physics.

I think I remember, reading or hearing, that even Einstein having a few choice words describing the 'establishment'. Does Newton's or Einstein's ideas work in all and every situation at all levels for every sub-sub-particle to galaxies? Does that mean they're 'right'? Does that mean they're 'wrong'? Does that mean that there's still something 'unknown' out there to be discovered? --and who's going to do it?

Another young physicist, maybe, who couldn't get a job in the field because his ideas and attitude weren't 'correct' and followed the ideas of the 'establishment', and had to take a job as a clerk?

who knows, who really knows----
 
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I haven't read alot into string theory, and know very close to nothing. I just have a few points that I would like to bring up on it.

1.I have read that there are [tex]1\times10^{500}[/tex] possible variations in the theory.

2.As far as I am aware, there is no way to prove that it is correct through experiment, and as there are so many variations, will it not be possible to always adjust the theory to match any scientific discovery.


The source of my information is a book called:

The Trouble with Physics
By: Lee Smolin


_Mayday_
 
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<nothing to do in GD>
The Trouble with Physics
By: Lee Smolin
Excellent book.
2.As far as I am aware, there is no way to prove that it is correct through experiment, and as there are so many variations, will it not be possible to always adjust the theory to match any scientific discovery.
This should be taken with caution. There are means to test some general features of some classes of string-models. There are even specific predictions of deviations from the standard model for specific string models, and from time to time you see claims of some specific observation fitting such predictions. So far, all such claims have finally turn out to be too preliminary and observations have been corrected and agree with the standard model. Anybody wants to discuss here possible recent observations beyond the standard model in beauty-strange transitions ? :biggrin:
1.I have read that there are [tex]1\times10^{500}[/tex] possible variations in the theory.
This indeed, a possible lower bound on the number of vacua in string theorie(s), is a fantasticly huge number, and it is hard to represent oneself such a hugeness. That number would be much more than the number of particles in the known universe for instance. For each of those vacua, you will presumably get different predictions. It is argued, therefore, that no matter what is observed, one will always find one specific vacuum agreeing with it. String theory would thus not be refutable, i.e. scientific.

The mere fact that you use figure 1 in [tex]1\times10^{500}[/tex] indicates however that the complexity of the situation might confuse you. There would be a point in using such a figure if we had the slightest clue that it should be one and not two. However, the uncertainty in this number is not in the significant digits, it is in the exponent ! And this uncertainty is huge. If you tell me that this lower bound is in fact [tex]10^{1500}[/tex], I will not be able to prove you wrong by providing an upper bound (less than your number) myself... And this [tex]10^{1500}[/tex] is not a crazy estimate...
</nothing to do in GD>
 
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Thanks Humano, I've read the first section of it, now I am getting into the brief history of string theory. I am finding it goes nicely with a Brief History of time, thought Lee Smolins seem alot more interesting to read. I know this isn't related, but I had to get my head around it. Thanks again!

_Mayday_
 
I'm reading Smolin's book now, it is a classic. What is interesting is his statement on page 16 that 70 percent of the universe's matter density is dark energy, 26 percent is dark matter, which leaves 4 percent as ordinary matter. Thus, we know nothing about 96 percent of the universe, and of the 4 percent we have been studying, we're still looking for the Higgs boson to help us understand it.
I recommend Smolin's book as he is smart enough to "see the forest" in spite of the trees, and he is also smart enough to "think outside of the box."
On a similar note, another book I recently read is "A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Gödel and Einstein," by Yourgrau, Palle, interesting concept almost put forth by Godel, that time is really non-existent, our brains just are wired to experience time as a dimension which only moves forward. Brian Greene gets into this a little in "Fabric of the Cosmos." Another book on the non-existence of time is "The End of Time," by Julian Barbour.
It would be interesting to see what happens to the 'force' called gravity, which general relativity states is due to the curvature of space-time, if it turns out that in fact time is not a dimension per se. The fact that one of the four fundamental forces is currently believed to be arising from a geometric construct rather than a particle exchange like a photon or gluon, strikes me as a 'wrench' in the works, not to mention the infinities encountered at singularities...
 

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