Monday, June 11, 2018

Denying laws of physics in a multiverse

Einstein spent the last 20 years of his life at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, attacking quantum mechanics and pursuing unified field theory. None of that work amounted to anything.

The current director there is physicist and string theorist Robbert Dijkgraaf. He writes a Quanta mag article:
There Are No Laws of Physics. There’s Only the Landscape.

Scientists seek a single description of reality. But modern physics allows for many different descriptions, many equivalent to one another, connected through a vast landscape of mathematical possibility. ...

Did nature have any choice in picking its fundamental laws? Albert Einstein famously believed that, given some general principles, there is essentially a unique way to construct a consistent, functioning universe. In Einstein’s view, if we probed the essence of physics deeply enough, there would be one and only one way in which all the components — matter, radiation, forces, space and time — would fit together to make reality work, just as the gears, springs, dials and wheels of a mechanical clock uniquely combine to keep time.

The current Standard Model of particle physics is indeed a tightly constructed mechanism with only a handful of ingredients. ...

If our world is but one of many, how do we deal with the alternatives? The current point of view can be seen as the polar opposite of Einstein’s dream of a unique cosmos. Modern physicists embrace the vast space of possibilities and try to understand its overarching logic and interconnectedness. From gold diggers they have turned into geographers and geologists, mapping the landscape in detail and studying the forces that have shaped it.

The game changer that led to this switch of perspective has been string theory. At this moment it is the only viable candidate for a theory of nature able to describe all particles and forces, including gravity, while obeying the strict logical rules of quantum mechanics and relativity. The good news is that string theory has no free parameters. It has no dials that can be turned. ...

Why is this all so exciting for physics? First of all, the conclusion that many, if not all, models are part of one huge interconnected space is among the most astonishing results of modern quantum physics. It is a change of perspective worthy of the term “paradigm shift.”
If I did not see the source, I would say that this is the babbling of a crackpot. But this is a top physicist at a top institution publishing in a respected magazine. See also critical comments by Woit.

This is a good example anti-positivist thinking that is the opposite of good science.

Science is all about observing the universe, and developing theories for predicting experiments. Dijkgraaf's approach is to ignore observations, and develop a theory from non-empirical principles.

Some philosophers claim that Einstein discovered relativity with Dijkgraaf-like anti-positivist thinking, but I disprove that in my book and on this blog.

Then Dijkgraaf argues that the exciting part is that theory has no predictive power at all, and is really just a framework for discussing all possible models.

The proponents of many-worlds theory similarly argue that the exciting part of their theory is that all possibilities can happen, and the theory has no predictive power. Their reasoning is different, but the worthlessness of the result is the same.

So why study something that is so transparently worthless? Because it is a paradigm shift, of course, and philosophers assure us that paradigm shifts are not rational.

This article is an even better example of why I wrote a book on How Einstein Ruined Physics. The whole Physics profession has been infected by the most anti-science thinking imaginable.

LuMo's response to defend string theory:
There's no reason to think that the total number of spacetime dimensions is 4, there is nothing wrong mathematically about the numbers 10 and 11, they're in fact preferred by more detailed calculations, and there's nothing unnatural about the compactification to microscopic radii.

But the main point I wanted to convey is that Dijkgraaf seems to deny the reality in these media altogether. He wrote the text as if no "string wars" have ever taken place. But the string wars did take place more than a decade ago. Dijkgraaf was among those who preferred his convenience and didn't do anything at all to help me and others to defeat the enemy – so the enemy has won the battle for the space in the mainstream media.

If you ever want articles written for the popular magazines – including the Quanta Magazine – about modern theoretical physics to be meaningful again, you will first have to restart the string wars and win them. I am afraid that the society has sufficiently deteriorated over those 10+ years of your inaction that a physical elimination of the enemy may be needed.
Got that? It is no use promoting string theory to the general public unless the enemies of string theory are physically eliminated.

1 comment:

  1. Funny, I always thought that women were making sure that string theorists don't make it to the next generation. Thanks girls. Don't date creeps.