Not Even Wrong. The Failure of String Theory and the Continuing. Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics. Peter Woit. JONATHAN CAPE. LONDON. Not Even Wrong, ten years later: a view from mathematics on prospects for fundamental I've decided to follow some more of the advice I have been getting, and have started up a Not Even Wrong Facebook site. No longer will you have to navigate to.

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History Blog Illustrating 30 years of the Web. Woit: Yes. My book on the subject was written in and I think that its point of view about string theory has been vindicated by what has happened since then. Experimental results from the Large Hadron Collider show no evidence of the extra dimensions or supersymmetry that string theorists had argued for as "predictions" of string theory. The internal problems of the theory are even more serious after another decade of research.

These include the complexity, ugliness and lack of explanatory power of models designed to connect string theory with known phenomena, as well as the continuing failure to come up with a consistent formulation of the theory. Woit: I think the conjectural picture of how string theory would unite gravity and the standard model that Witten came up with in in collaboration with others had a huge influence on him, and he's reluctant to accept the idea that the models developed back then were a red herring.

Like many prominent string theorists, for a long time now he no longer actively has worked on such models but, absent a convincing alternative, he is unlikely to give up on the hope that the vision of this period points the way forward, even as progress has stalled.

Horgan: Are multiverse theories not even wrong? Woit: Yes, but that's not the main problem with them. Many ideas that are "not even wrong", in the sense of having no way to test them, can still be fruitful, for instance by opening up avenues of investigation that will lead to something conventionally testable. Most good ideas start off "not even wrong", with their implications too poorly understood to know where they will lead.

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Instead of opening up scientific progress in a new direction, such theories are designed to shut down scientific progress by justifying a failed research program. What else do those omnipotent gods do, eat pizza?

Your response? Woit: No one thinks that the subtle "demarcation problem" of deciding what is science and what isn't can simply be dealt with by invoking falsifiability. Carroll's critique of naive ideas about falsifiability should be seen in context: he's trying to justify multiverse research programs whose models fail naive criteria of direct testability since you can't see other universes.

This is however a straw man argument: the problem with such research programs isn't that of direct testability, but that there is no indirect evidence for them, nor any plausible way of getting any. Carroll and others with similar interests have a serious problem on their hands: they appear to be making empty claims and engaging in pseudo-science, with "the multiverse did it" no more of a testable explanation than "the Jolly Green Giant did it".

To convince people this is science they need to start showing that such claims have non-empty testable consequences, and I don't see that happening. Horgan: Is it possible that the whole push for unification of physics is misguided? Woit: In principle it's of course possible that the sort of unification present in our best current theory is all there is.

There are however no good arguments for why this should be, other than that it's proving hard to do better. The lesson of history is not to give up, that seemingly hard problems of this sort often find solutions. Looking in depth into the technical issues, I don't see anything inherently intractable, rather a set of puzzling problems with a lot of structure, where it looks like we're missing one or two good ideas about how things should fit together. Horgan: Is physics in danger of ending , as Harry Cliff has warned?

Woit: One should be wary of claims about "physics" in general since it has many subfields, facing different issues. High-energy particle physics is a subfield that is in danger of ending.

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On the experimental front, it faces fundamental technological obstacles. Any next generation accelerator able to explore even modestly higher energies than the LHC will be far off in the future and very expensive. Whether there's the will to finance and build such a thing is now unclear. On the theoretical front, the field is now in crisis, due to the absence of experimental results that point to a better theory, as well as a refusal to abandon failed theoretical ideas.

Horgan: Is mathematics healthier than theoretical physics? Woit: Mathematics is in a much healthier state than theoretical physics.And when you step back and out of the line of your peer group, the landscape discussion might rank somewhere close by the question whether aliens encoded a message in our DNA.

We are extremely fortunate to live in the era when human beings first get to meaningfully attack these questions. It could be that there's enough branches that most things that could have reasonably happened by chance do happen in some branch. Your response? downloader's Guide Jobs Sign in Register.

If such a person had been consulted, he or she might have pointed out: Even if you add that in, there's nothing to suggest which branch the agent will experience Don't you get that same problem with other interpretations that instead assume interactions can have a truly random result on some probability distribution? Those most to blame for this are the physicists involved, who should know better and be aware that the way they are promoting their work is going to mislead people.

A few more links to material about the Munich conference: Even if you add that in, there's nothing to suggest which branch the agent will experience this is roughly the preferred basis problem.