Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Lost in the Landscape

The newest twists in the landscape business strengthen further the pessimism concerning the future of M-theory and super string models as an enterprise deserving the attribute "scientific". Last Wednesday appeared the eprint of Shamit Kachru et al claiming that there exists an infinite number of flux compactifications stabilizing all moduli rather than "only" 10100,10500, or 101000 of them. In practice this is a death blow for the hopes that one could find some justification for possibly existing physical compactifications. Peter Woit commented this in his Not-Even-Wrong blog. Also Lubos Motl, who has openly expressed his skepticism on lanscaping, has commented in detail the mathematics behind the landscaping. Today an eprint of Michael Dine appeared in arXiv.org. Peter Woit has commented also this in his posting "Running Scared" today. Although Dine still wants to remain optimistic, the following comment in this conclusions tells something else. "There are many ways, as we have indicated, in which the ideas described here might fail. Perhaps the most dramatic is that the landscape may not exist, or alternatively that there might exist infinite numbers of states, whose existence might require significant rethinking of our basic understanding of string theory and what it might have to do with nature." What is still lacking is a convincing argument demonstrating that M-theory does not allow any compactification reproducing realistic physics. I hope that someone could provide this argument before the status of theoretical physics as a respectable branch of science is completely lost. From bird's eye of view provided by TGD the situation is by no means a surprise and it is easy to list the most important wrong choices made during these three decades responsible for the recent catastrophical situation. The misery started with GUTs and with the highly un-imaginative idea of forcing both lepton and quark families into the same multiplet by extending the gauge group. For a reason which has remained mystery to me, a consensus that proton must be unstable emerged and led the theorizing to a totally wrong track. The outcome was an industry of Grand Unified Theories, which relates to the great theories of physics as the musical creations of a fifteen year old who has just learned blues formula relate to the symphonies of Beethoven. Kaluza-Klein theories and higher-dimensional super-gravity theories were the next fashions, and it soon became clear that they do not work since they cannot explain chirality breaking couplings. The problem did not disappear in string model compactifications and should have been enough to kill the whole approach. In conflict with obvious aesthetic arguments, these pragmatical TOERs however argued that the problem can be put under the rug by allowing orbifold compactifications, which mean replacing the smooth compact manifold by a singular one. This is like replacing perfectly smooth sphere as a fundamental geometric construct explaining the physical existence from Planck scale to atomic physics to biology to cosmology with a tear drop. This kind of pragmatism should squeeze tears from eyes of anyone having even most a rudimentary sense of mathematical beauty and a respect for the deep mystery of physical existence. The notion of spontaneous compactification is an idea which would have been regarded as absolutely silly if represented by some unkown graduate student. After discovering that quantum gravitation might be obtained from strings moving in fixed background, these practical thinkers made also background dynamical. Double gravitation! We would now be wittnessing the flourishing of this exotic flower of pragmatic thinking if string world sheet would have been generalized to a 4-dimensional space-time surface in a fixed non-dynamical imbedding space. A sloppy use of no-go theorem explains this weird twist in the development of ideas (perhaps the fact that certain completely unkown person had already made this discovery might also relate to this weird twist as well as to the birth of M-theory). The problem is that the huge 2-dimensional conformal invariance is replaced by a finite-dimensional group of conformal transformations in higher dimensions. No-one had time to sit calmly the necessary five minutes to realize that light-like 3-surfaces of 4-dimensional space-time are metrically 2-dimensional and allow a generalization of 2-dimensional conformal invariance. This also forces space-time to be 4-dimensional. These blunders tell that in the hype created by the amazing success of the standard model particle theorist failed to realize that the building a theory of everything is not like repairing old car by using the spare parts which you happen to find in the garage. Every hypothesis must have a deep mathematical and physical motivation and ad hoc constructs are doomed to be wrong. All these erraneous choices were amplified to a colossal proportion by the vision that all resources must be focused to a single promising idea and that the era of individuals is over in science. The sad fact that most active young M-theorists know practically nothing about particle physics explains why the fatal grand unification hypothesis is taken as an experimental fact. Admittedly, the idea of coding the whole particle physics to single gauge group makes things very easy for an algebraic geometrist eager to apply his powerful technical tools. While wittnessing the falldown of super string models during last year I have experienced confused and frustrated feelings and questions fill my mind. Do these negative results have any impact on the mainstream or do they continue in the autistic mode producing papers about a theory having nothing to do with real world? Is there any hope of communicating these people the simple fact that the basic problems have been solved long ago in TGD framework? After all, TGD approach generalizing string models emerged already 1978, and my thesis appeared 1982, two years before the first super string revolution, and the interpretation represented in the thesis has remained essentially intact during these years. Are there any hopes of catching the attention of an M-theorist and force him to spend few days to develop rough view about how brilliantly TGD solves the basic conceptual problems of modern physics, and how the same unique theory emerges from extremely general number theoretical considerations and just the brief inspection of the symmetries of the Particle Data Table? Just wondering? Matti Pitkänen

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