What's Ed Witten up to?

  • Thread starter petergreat
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  • #26
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What's your take on Mozart? Did he have lots of sketches he threw away? :tongue2:
My take is that he could very well have been doing the entire calculation in his head before finding the general argument. The rest of us need softwares to do it, without ever thinking there could be a general argument. Most of the time anyway. Just like we never found Mozart's head sketches :tongue2:
 
  • #27
tom.stoer
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What's your take on Mozart? Did he have lots of sketches he threw away? :tongue2:
No

(I have to add this remark because the SW does not allow posts with less then 4 characters :-))
 
  • #28
Haelfix
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In my experience with large HEP theory groups, of course people talk about the future direction and long term goals of string theory or of any other paradigm (lets call that the foundational questions).. The problem is that it doesn't necessarily translate into quick results or necessarily make for original or correct papers, and first you have to learn how to drive before tackling say nonpertubative string theory or I don't know, the hierarchy problem. So many young researchers work on whatever it is that they think they can get results in, even if that may be less grandiose than tackling a foundational question head on. Sometimes that comes in the form of toy problems, sometimes it comes in application to a completely different sector of physics.

Currently a lot of that fad seems to be holographic superconducters (something that I am utterly ignorant off) which just tells me that there are probably easy papers that people can write there, b/c its relatively fertile unexplored land.

Anyway at research factories like Princeton, theory group seminars typically are very quickly reviewing current material and throwing out ideas or dismissing possibilities, and the grad students/postdocs/fellows are encouraged to pick up on ideas or calculations that they can do and ultimately get published. The point being that its highly collaborative, and the senior guys are at the center of the mix and exposed to the research in perpetuity. Which is why it is absurd to say that Witten has suddenly left string theory research.
 
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  • #29
atyy
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  • #30
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Most of what is written here is so mindboggling wrong and off, it's every time I visit here a mixture between amusement and grief, sorry guys just grab a few string papers and see yourself whether there are decent calculations in them or not... and keep on pondering whether the hundreds of people in the field are able to think about long term goals...and whether they work in the field because Witten has told them so, or whether they got brains enough to decide for themselves....oh man. I need to show this my colleagues!
 
  • #31
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Most of what is written here is so mindboggling wrong and off, it's every time I visit here a mixture between amusement and grief, sorry guys just grab a few string papers and see yourself whether there are decent calculations in them or not... and keep on pondering whether the hundreds of people in the field are able to think about long term goals...and whether they work in the field because Witten has told them so, or whether they got brains enough to decide for themselves....oh man. I need to show this my colleagues!
I think you are a bit exaggerating here suprised. Not everybody in this thread agreed that there are no calculations in string theory. Also, others may also express their opinions, right ? For instance, I think your advice for people who made suspicious claims to read string theory papers : I would advise them to read (for instance) Zwiebach's introductory book. They will find calculations which they even may understand !
 
  • #32
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Look, just the collection of views as a whole, either on calculations "without numbers" by one person, or on the sociology by another, or on the achievements of the field by a third, or on just how science supposedly works... all this taken together is just sooo wrong! As if string theorists would be stupid! How do get people such kind of silly ideas ...??? This is not just a matter of opinions that everyone is allowed to state.... many statements hee are just plainly wrong! I am working since 20 years in string theory and hardly ever have seen such a concentration of nonsense!
 
  • #33
atyy
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Look, just the collection of views as a whole, either on calculations "without numbers" by one person, or on the sociology by another, or on the achievements of the field by a third, or on just how science supposedly works... all this taken together is just sooo wrong! As if string theorists would be stupid! How do get people such kind of silly ideas ...??? This is not just a matter of opinions that everyone is allowed to state.... many statements hee are just plainly wrong! I am working since 20 years in string theory and hardly ever have seen such a concentration of nonsense!
This demonstrates that string theorists have completely lost touch with reality! No one said you have to take this thread seriously! :smile:
 
  • #34
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I am working since 20 years in string theory and hardly ever have seen such a concentration of nonsense!
It is very valuable for the rest of us who do not work in string theory to have an experienced string theorist to share his views here. I was just trying to convince you that PF is not all that bad. I guess I should not have tried :frown:
 
  • #35
tom.stoer
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Please calm down!

I just want to stress what I had in mind:
- let's compile a (short) list of interesting, long-term and critical (!) questions
- let's find some string theorists here in this forum willing and able to answer
- let's give them a kind of homework: address authorities (*) and come back with their assessment

(*) I do not mean that we do not have authorities here, but I would appreciate to read some (short) answers from Witten, Polchinski, Vafa, ...

Not questions like "do think ST is reasonable?" or "is it possible to calculate the transition rate between different F-theory vacua using perturbative methods. Something like "when and how can string theory provide calculational tools to study low-energy properties of the standard model (e.g. fermion masses and coupling constants)?".

What do you think?
 
  • #36
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Please calm down!

I just want to stress what I had in mind:
- let's compile a (short) list of interesting, long-term and critical (!) questions
- let's find some string theorists here in this forum willing and able to answer
- let's give them a kind of homework: address authorities (*) and come back with their assessment

(*) I do not mean that we do not have authorities here, but I would appreciate to read some (short) answers from Witten, Polchinski, Vafa, ...

Not questions like "do think ST is reasonable?" or "is it possible to calculate the transition rate between different F-theory vacua using perturbative methods. Something like "when and how can string theory provide calculational tools to study low-energy properties of the standard model (e.g. fermion masses and coupling constants)?".

What do you think?
Does string theory offer detailed predictions of Hawking radiation, given it gives correct entropy for extremel BH?
 
  • #37
tom.stoer
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Is this one of the first questions we should ask?
 
  • #38
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Something like "when and how can string theory provide calculational tools to study low-energy properties of the standard model (e.g. fermion masses and coupling constants)?".
Isn't the answer to this one "when the right vacuum is found"?

Another question: Assuming the models predicting naked singularities are correct in the sense that either a singularity happens or quantum gravity effects prevent it from happening, without an event horizon obscuring the object/event, can string theory make any predictions on what we would see, without having to know which exact vacuum is ours?
 
  • #39
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(...)either on calculations "without numbers" by one person(...) I am working since 20 years in string theory and hardly ever have seen such a concentration of nonsense!
Here are some dictionary definitions of the word "calculation":

- problem solving that involves numbers or quantities

- determining something by mathematical or logical methods [syn: computation, computing]

- to determine by mathematical processes [ex: calculate the rate of acceleration]

- to ascertain by computation; reckon [ex: calculating the area of a circle; calculated their probable time of arrival]

Now, since you mention "by one person", not naming whom you refer to, and since I was one of the people here mentioning the word "calculation" in order to contribute with preciseness (although I did not write anything about "calculations without numbers"), I thought it would be appropriate to clarify the term.

There is one thing however, that bothers me more than anything else. I have already read a lot of "nonsense" in forums, but you cannot expect anything else, since in principle people come here to learn, ask, etc. The thing that bothers me is not "reading nonsense" but hiding behind anonymity. You claim to be working on string theory, but just come here as anonymous apparently to make fun of people in this forum?

I am not afraid to show my name and who I am, my refereed publications can be found online [http://arxiv.org/a/dantas_c_1] [Broken]. I am a professional scientist who knows very well the meaning of the word "calculation" in a daily working basis. Also, if you read carefully my previous statements, I did not say that "string theorist do not calculate". The main developments are nevertheless towards mathematical structures and proofs. Yes, I know that there are applications in string theory, specially now, more concretely in condensed matter. I am not expert in string theory, but have been following that area (as well as LQG and other quantum gravity approaches) since 2001, when I happened to participate in the M-Theory Cosmology in Cambridge, UK.

Sorry to appear rude, but if you are bothered with "nonsense" and effectively is not ready to really contribute here with your wisdom and knowledge, I suggest that you just go back to your work and make better use of your time.
 
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  • #40
atyy
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Here are some dictionary definitions of the word "calculation":

- problem solving that involves numbers or quantities

- determining something by mathematical or logical methods [syn: computation, computing]

- to determine by mathematical processes [ex: calculate the rate of acceleration]

- to ascertain by computation; reckon [ex: calculating the area of a circle; calculated their probable time of arrival]
To get a feel for what you mean - do these papers have calculations or not?

http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0106112
http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0405231
http://arxiv.org/abs/0711.0387
http://arxiv.org/abs/0904.3932
http://arxiv.org/abs/1006.1352
 
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  • #41
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Hi atyy,

I cannot tell from the more recent papers (the last two), but I'd say that, yes, the first three examples above involve model building and calculations on it, at varying degrees. The last one appears to use computations from other works, but I'd have to read it some time.

Best,
Christine
 

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