Friday, August 9, 2019

$3M prize for dead-end physics idea

Dr. Bee reports:
The Breakthrough Prize is an initiative founded by billionaire Yuri Milner, now funded by a group of rich people which includes, next to Milner himself, Sergey Brin, Anne Wojcicki, and Mark Zuckerberg. The Prize is awarded in three different categories, Mathematics, Fundamental Physics, and Life Sciences. Today, a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics has been awarded to Sergio Ferrara, Dan Freedman, and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen for the invention of supergravity in 1976. The Prize of 3 million US$ will be split among the winners.
What you never heard of this work? That is because it was a dead-end, and never led to anything.

For a couple of years in the 1970s, supersymmetry gravity was an exciting idea, because it was thought that it would make quantum gravity renormalizable. However that turned out to be false, and the theory is worthless.

Like string theory, it has no connection to any observational science. But even work, it doesn't even make sense as a physical theory.

Update: Lumo writes:
Nature, Prospect Magazine, and Physics World wrote something completely different. The relevant pages of these media have been hijacked by vitriolic, one-dimensional, repetitive, scientifically clueless, deceitful, and self-serving anti-science activists and they tried to sling as much mud on theoretical physics as possible – which seems to be the primary job description of many of these writers and the society seems to enthusiastically fund this harmful parasitism.
Check them yourself. The Nature article says:
A lack of evidence should also not detract from supergravity’s achievements, argues Strominger, because the theory has already been used to solve mysteries about gravity. For instance, general relativity apparently allows particles to have negative masses and energies, in theory.
No, that is a big lie. Supergravity has nothing to do with positive mass. For details, see the comments on Woit's blog. Briefly, Witten published an outline for a proposed spinor proof of the Schoen-Yau positive mass theorem, and the paper ended with a short section starting with "a few speculative remarks will be made about the not altogether clear relation between the previous argument and supergravity." That's all.

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