Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The big AdS/CFT fad

Physicist Sabine Hossenfelder writes:
As to experimental evidence. This isn’t an issue specific to string theory. ...

My point of view has always been that quantum gravity isn’t science as long as one doesn’t at least try to find experimental evidence. ...

Why are there so few people working on finding experimental evidence for quantum gravity? I can tell you it’s not for lack of interest, at least not among the young people, it’s for lack of funding. ...

At some point I concluded that quantum gravity phenomenology is a bad, bad field to work on because it flops through peer review, which is almost certainly conducted by people who in the majority think that funding should go into further mathematical speculations. Seeing that my colleagues who work on AdS/CFT have funds thrown after them, I applied for funding in that field too. Nevermind that I have basically zero prior experience and the field is entirely overpopulated already.
Peter Woit replies:
The AdS/CFT phenomenon is quite remarkable and deserving of its own book. I see that the Maldacena paper is up above 10,000 citations, way off scale anything that has ever happened in the history of physics. What I’ve heard time and again from young theorists is that they go into AdS/CFT because it’s something that seems to be not understood, seems to be both a new deep idea about quantum gravity, and to have other applications, and, of course, it’s where most of the jobs are.
Of course there is no experimental evidence for AdS/CFT, and there never will be any, as it has no relation to the real world. It is all just some hypothetical boundary value problem on a black hole in some alternate cosmology unlike what we know of the universe.

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