Difference between revisions of "Talk:String theory"

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== Witten, the History Major ==
 
== Witten, the History Major ==
 
I believe this fact is true, but how relevant is its inclusion here? As written, it almost makes it sound like Witten is lacking in qualifications. Obviously nothing could be further from the truth. His insights from string theory have contributed to revolutions in mathematics. Almost every topic of research in geometry bears his name: Seiberg-Witten theory, the Witten complex, the Witten index, Gromov-Witten theory, it just goes on and on. According to Nature, he has the highest h-index of any living physicist. AND, he's won the Fields Medal. So possibly he deserves a little respect.--[[User:Lemonpeel|Lemonpeel]] 17:37, 16 June 2009 (EDT)
 
I believe this fact is true, but how relevant is its inclusion here? As written, it almost makes it sound like Witten is lacking in qualifications. Obviously nothing could be further from the truth. His insights from string theory have contributed to revolutions in mathematics. Almost every topic of research in geometry bears his name: Seiberg-Witten theory, the Witten complex, the Witten index, Gromov-Witten theory, it just goes on and on. According to Nature, he has the highest h-index of any living physicist. AND, he's won the Fields Medal. So possibly he deserves a little respect.--[[User:Lemonpeel|Lemonpeel]] 17:37, 16 June 2009 (EDT)
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:Witten may be a fabulous mathematician.  He may be a great historian also.  But it's a common flaw of [[liberal]] thinking to insist that because someone is good in one academic field, he must be an expert in another. 
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:In fact, great literary writers, for example, are usually not great physicists.  Physics, I hope you'd agree, is the study of physical world and that usually requires an interest and skill at conducting experiments.--[[User:Aschlafly|Andy Schlafly]] 17:41, 16 June 2009 (EDT)
  
 
== String theory "unrelated" to known forces in nature? ==
 
== String theory "unrelated" to known forces in nature? ==

Revision as of 16:41, 16 June 2009

Witten, the History Major

I believe this fact is true, but how relevant is its inclusion here? As written, it almost makes it sound like Witten is lacking in qualifications. Obviously nothing could be further from the truth. His insights from string theory have contributed to revolutions in mathematics. Almost every topic of research in geometry bears his name: Seiberg-Witten theory, the Witten complex, the Witten index, Gromov-Witten theory, it just goes on and on. According to Nature, he has the highest h-index of any living physicist. AND, he's won the Fields Medal. So possibly he deserves a little respect.--Lemonpeel 17:37, 16 June 2009 (EDT)

Witten may be a fabulous mathematician. He may be a great historian also. But it's a common flaw of liberal thinking to insist that because someone is good in one academic field, he must be an expert in another.
In fact, great literary writers, for example, are usually not great physicists. Physics, I hope you'd agree, is the study of physical world and that usually requires an interest and skill at conducting experiments.--Andy Schlafly 17:41, 16 June 2009 (EDT)

String theory "unrelated" to known forces in nature?

In the article introduction, the claim is made that it has been proven that string theory is unrelated to any known forces in nature. This sounds manifestly untrue. For example, in bosonic string theory, a massless vector boson appears in a natural way. Those familiar with quantum field theory will recognize this particle as a photon, which mediates the electrodynamic force. So how about we amend that comment?--Lemonpeel 12:47, 16 June 2009 (EDT)

I went ahead and amended statements saying that string theory cannot predict any real particles in nature (since it predicts the photon at the very least). I did, however, make sure there was a statement saying that the status of string theory as a genuine theory of everything remained uncertain.--Lemonpeel 12:56, 16 June 2009 (EDT)

No, string theory does not predict the photon. Saying that it can accommodate a massless vector boson means nothing. It does not tell us anything about photons. I also disagree with saying that there is uncertainty about string theory being a genuine theory of everything. It is a settled matter. String theory is not a theory of anything (in the physical world). RSchlafly 15:01, 16 June 2009 (EDT)

Out of curiousity, what makes you so certain of this? Do you have any background in string theory? I mean, consider this: suppose you have a theory with a massless vector boson, A. There's really only one gauge-invariant kinetic term you can construct out of it, namely dA^*dA. Well, as soon as you have that kinetic term in a Lagrangian, then boom, you have Maxwell's equations. So, um, yeah, accommodating a vector boson does indeed predict things like photons and electromagnetic fields. If you still disagree I am interested to know what your source is.--Lemonpeel 16:13, 16 June 2009 (EDT)

Falsifiability is from Pragmatism, not Positivism

Advocates of logical positivism such as Wittgenstein, Carnap, et. al. held that scientific propositions should be verifiable, thus the name "positivism". The question became what, exactly, it meant for something to be verifiable, so the logical positivists developed a theory of logic & language to be put to use in the course of empirical investigations.

Karl Popper and W.V. Quine were the pragmatists who took issue with the positivist position of verifiability and required a falsifiability condition from empirical claims on the grounds that one could never actually verify a claim through empirical investigation, but one could most assuredly prove it wrong through experimentation.

Because of the strong mathematical content of String Theory, a positivist would be more likely to accept it as a scientific theory than a pragmatist.

Your comments here make sense to me, and were consistent with my original entry until someone else changed it. How about fixing up the entry itself with your improvements?--Aschlafly 21:20, 25 February 2007 (EST)

Completeness and Computability

This:

"However it is not yet demonstrated that the theory is insoluble (see the Incompleteness theorem): that is, while string theory is not yet provable, it has not been shown to be unprovable. As an analogy, it can be suggested that all objects become green when they are not being observed: this is a model which is unprovable in principle, and therefore unscientific."

Makes no sense whatsoever. This is confusing the mathematical notions of completeness and independence with the ability to disprove something through empirical means. One does not show by mathematical means that a potentially empirical claim is indeed falsifiable, that must be done by considering the claims of the theory and the manner in which they are phrased. If string theory were to predict certain particles in certain abundances, or something similar, then the theory would be falsifiable, in the same way that quantum field theory is rendered falsifiable by the Higgs mechanism. What's more, only the mathematics may be subjected to the incompleteness theorem. As all of physics relies on extremely rich mathematics that are, under Godel's theorem, incomplete while, at the same time, remaining falsifiable, it seems ridiculous to suggest that the completeness or incompleteness of the mathematics should have any bearing on the falsifiability of the claims in question.

I agree. I also found senseless the reference to the incompleteness theorem. It almost looks like vandalism. --Aschlafly 21:30, 25 February 2007 (EST)

What's more, it is extremely unlikely that incompleteness has any bearing on any physics anywhere in any way -- the ties between computability and completeness prevent this from happening. A physically realizable state is always computable, in any context. The system giving rise to that realization is doing the computation! Invoking Incompleteness here is pure hogwash.

Right.--Aschlafly 21:30, 25 February 2007 (EST)

In the last sentence, we've gotten confused again. The first part of the article made appeal to falsifiability, and now in the last sentence we're requiring positive establishment. For consistency with the first part of the article, the author should have said "The claim that all objects become green when they are not observed is not falsifiable". (And I doubt that even this is true, since a lack of the required mechanism to render objects green falsifies the statement).

Finally, String Theory's central claims are put in a way that are falsifiable, as long as we have the ability to probe the energies and scales required. The fact that we don't have the technology does not have any bearing on the lingual structure of the claims.

Well ... will there be any way to falsify it in the foreseeable future? If not, then it's not science.--Aschlafly 21:30, 25 February 2007 (EST)

It is enough to note that, to date, no evidence has been found to support string theory. That's it.

The criticism should be a bit stronger. There is "no evidence" found to support claims that Atlas isn't holding up the earth in a new dimension either. The stronger point that String theory isn't really science should be made.
Also, please sign your discussion at some point, or else it becomes hard to see who said what. The signature box is the second from the right above.--Aschlafly 21:30, 25 February 2007 (EST)
There will be a way (or ways) to falsify it in the future - if the particles predicted/required by the various string theories don't actually show up when we have particle accelerators big enough to generate the energies required for those particles to form. Yes it is not testable now but should be in the future. I don't see why we should disregard something purely because right now we don't have the technology to test it. Are we luddites or can we accept the possible validity of a theory which does seem to imply a huge amount of underlying structure in the way the universe is made. I am not saying that we should consider string theory as fact, but do not discount the possibility of it being validated in the future.Airdish 16:37, 21 March 2007 (EDT)