Monday, November 5, 2018

Leaving true physics to wither

Bee quotes this NY Times article:
“Unable to mount experiments that would require energies comparable to that of the Big Bang genesis event, Dr. Chodos believes, growing numbers of physicists will be tempted to embrace grandiose but untestable theories, a practice that has more than once led science into blind alleys, dogma and mysticism.

In particular, Dr. Chodos worries that “faddish” particle physicists have begun to flock all too uncritically to a notion called “superstring theory.” […] Deprived of the lifeblood of tangible experiment, physicists will “wander off into uncharted regions of philosophy and pure mathematics,'' says Dr. Chodos, leaving true physics to wither.””
This was conventional wisdom among a lot of physicists in the 1970s. I remember hearing a lecture in the late 1970s explaining the exponentially increasing cost of particle accelerators, and how they will never get to the energies that they need to resolve the questions that they are really interested in. Finding some unified field theory would be a miracle of good luck.

It was known back then that even if susy had merit, there would be dozens of free parameters that would be hopeless to determine experimentally. The string theorists decided that they determine them by pure theory instead. By the year 2000 or so, it was established that the plan would never work.

Bee just wrote a book on how theoretical physics has lost its way, but it has been lost for 40 years


  1. Long before Sabine wrote 'Lost in Math',
    Peter Woit wrote 'Not Even Wrong', and Lee Smolin wrote 'The Trouble With Physics'. Both of these books really scandalized the HEP community because they were willing to challenge the status quo of 'do not discuss our uncertainties and failures in front of the lay public...ya'know, the rubes being stiffed with paying our bills'.

    It has become painfully clear that those inside the HEP community who are on the receiving end of grants and government cash do no feel strongly compelled to be honest (or coherent) and thus risking their political standing, careers, and government funding in academia. Only those who are retired or already are protected by tenure (out of harm's way) seem remotely willing to risk challenging the pseudo-science public relations propaganda that pretends things are going well.

    BICEP was an unmitigated mess of sloppy make-work and hype that even an elementary student could poke a hole through "...gee Mr. Scientist, how do you know what polarized your dust billions of years ago when we know every star in the cosmos can already do that?...DERP!".

    The Higgs particle fiasco (al la Monte Carlo simulated baloney) is not going to last much longer, only the sheer size and cost of reproducing this 'discovery' protects it.

    The LIGO 'gravity wave' discovery is already beginning to fray. Anyone notice how all the marvelous 'black holes colliding' hype was quickly replaced with 'colliding neutron stars' hype to be replaced with 'well, we have lot's of data, so there!'. Complicated math and data processing can't do magic, or allow a device to be sensitive enough to measure a distance smaller than a proton over a two mile stretch, as it changes constantly at that scale for as many reasons as there are vibrations on the earth, Sorry, but no. You can also match fit a made up signal in any piece of noise given enough time and data tweaking. The signal to noise ratio is also way beyond ridiculous by many magnitudes (despite what Bee says), claiming you found a processed pattern far smaller than the width of the very vibrations of the particles your two mile long detector is made of is fantasy, the probability of such an event occurring just as you switched the damn thing on is beyond the pale statistically as well. Lo and behold, a miracle... I think not.

    The requests to build every larger accelerators that have been pouring in from the HEP community have no real merit outside of the financial desires of physicists in that community who realize their funding is coming to a screeching halt.

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    2. I'm not really questioning LIGO but questioning the actual significance of anything they're finding. It's really boring stuff.

  2. The asshole media keeps giving these idiots so much attention. Stop covering physics and we can start to defund it.