Friday, July 01, 2011

Strings without strings

Both Philip Gibbs and Peter Woit have commented Strings 2011 conference held in Uppsala, Sweden. For some reason Lubos Motl has not noticed the conference although one might think that the superstring fan number one would be its most zealous humble correspondent;-).

A short side remark: I have never been in Uppsala. It however stimulates in me some rather emotional mental images: one of the participants in the organizing committee is a professor in Uppsala and was the second one of two young professors whose statement about my work destroyed me professionally and made me unemployed for the rest of my life.

I recommend the posting of Peter Woit for anyone wanting to get idea about the general situation. The opening talk of David Gross contained the usual hype. Gross claimed the field is “extremely healthy”, “vibrant and exciting”, “making enormous progress in a variety of areas’”, with “stupendous progress” in N=4 planar SYM (just with this statement, which is not about string theory, I can agree). Gross admitted that string theory is a failure on the experimental side. Optimistically Gross noticed that "The most important product of knowledge is ignorance" but added “After 43 years of string theory , it would be nice to have some answers.”

In his conference summary Jeff Harvey said about string theory "It is not dead, it only sleeps" (friends of Monty Python remember the eager bird seller trying to sell a dead parrot). One of the participants- Chris Hull- wondered how little Strings 2011 was about strings. Paraphrasing Wheeler, Strings Without Strings 2012, might be a more appropriate title for the next conference. It is clear that string hegemony is making a graceful exit and it takes years to make this smoothly. Twistor approach - nothing to do with strings - is indeed extremely vibrant and developing approach and -most importantly- is well-defined so that it does the degenerate to endless conjectures about dualities between various non-existing formulations of a non-existing theory. Twistors provide the badly needed emergency exit for the string theorists and this is good.

The basic problem of string theory indeed is that there is no M-theory or string theory. How it could be otherwise since no general principles have been formulated. People have been busily producing technical results using the methods borrowed from existing mathematics instead of concentrating to questions about fundamentals. Physics is really difficult and the outcome of lifetime of thinking can be just an abstract principle which for the post-modern referee of the respected journal looks just crackpottery as compared with the impressive outcome of a massive calculation using a highly refined computerized method, which is basically just an application of existing algorithm. Strings are argued to provide inspiration for deriving mathematical results. I have no doubts about this: physicist's view provides a valuable complementary approach to the mathematical problems.

My hunch is that super-strings and M-theory will be one day admitted to be just an idealization of super-gravity in 10 or 11 dimensions using extended objects of various dimensions just as the basic argument allowing to assign p+1-forms to p-branes as generalizations of gauge potentials demonstrates. At quantum level this association is a fatal mistake since it is inconsistent with Uncertainty Principle. The use of charge distributions concentrated on surfaces of various dimensions - the branes - provides a powerful intuitive tool for deriving purely mathematical results about topology but does not have much to do with physics.

It is rather fair to repeat what I said for about 24 years ago- about two years after my thesis - as I wondered how it is possible that highly educated human beings can take seriously so incredibly stupid and ugly idea as spontaneous compactification is: string theory as a physical theory is dead. This is finally implicitly admitted also by the conference participants as is clear from what they are actually doing.

What next? I have some ideas about this but there are sociological factors involved;-). Doing some violence for Bohr's well-known saying so that it applies in the post-modern situation: "Before a new theory can be accepted, its proponents must be dead". In the recent situation the good news is that there is just one proponent and he is already sixty years old but I am afraid that we must just patiently wait at least one decade and in the worst case two;-). If the proponent is as long-lived as his mother, we have to wait for 34 years! Sad from the point of view of physics point of view but we must understand that the laws of sociology stand above the laws of physics in the academic hierarchy. The world of Dostojevski's "The Brothers Karamazov" is full of irrationally behaving characters but is only a Kinder Garten as compared with the academic world.


At 7:58 AM, Blogger Peter Fred said...

I cannot understand your theory. I have a hard enough time understanding the rudiments of string theory and general relativity that requires four dimensions or what ever. I take it that you believe, like everyone else, that a theory is no good unless it is couched in "invariant reference frames". Special Relativity is a principle theory. Einstein wanted to make it a visualizable, constructive theory but was unable to find a way to do this. What if the verified equations of SR can be incorporated into a visualizable constructive theory as I have done with my-yet-to be published theory? Then, as I have found, it is not necessary abandon Euclidean geometry as everyone else has and we would be free to have a gravity theory that does not need to get into a space-time warp in order to religiously and unthinkingly conform to the second postulate or principle of special relativity. The basic idea of my gravity theory has been confirmed experimentally. Has yours?

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Ulla said...

Lubos usually says: "I cannot understand what you say" when he don't want to comment, but I guess he has very hard to say "I cannot understand strings" so better be silent?

Sometimes last year I asked you Fred about your opinion of TGD. You answered something like you didn't want to deal with it at all. That it was very long from your theory. Obviously you didn't know what you was talking about, and your opinion has changed?

I hope also others opinions change fast. Why not take a look? The very strong side of TGD is its biological links, and there it can be said to be proven many times.

At 9:33 AM, Blogger ThePeSla said...

Peter Fred,

Your paper was creative and interesting but does not have the depth of Matti's insight nor the String like theories.

It is a most important observation of a phenomenon, not sure the geometric analogy holds as true without geometry as to we are on a new age of gravitation as in the age of electrification.

What cosmology and most any of the new physics has found is that we have to return to Euclidean space ideas (the universe is flat!) No one has abandoned any of the geometries that stand and fall logically together.

The general relativity will not be undermined, perhaps transcended, but the style of invariance TGD discusses applies to ordinary dimensions. The experimental conformation of this is all around us.

It is time the theoreticians of the physical world climb out onto the beach and evolved to walk upright and maybe reach the stars.

Interestingly, we do understand your theory. Good luck on its evolving.

The PeSla

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,

visualizability is a dream physicists have given up for long time ago. Mathematical imagination and abstraction comes in rescue.

The postulates of special relativity- Poincare invariance in modern language- have become part of established physics and TGD starts from the problem posed by the fact that one must give up these symmetries in general relativity. The solution of the problem is a unique identification of space-times as 4-surfaces of 8-D space which can be fixed with a one page long argument. The successes of the standard model are also successes of TGD since this the geometry of this 8-D space codes for the symmetries of the standard model: this answers to your question about experimental verification of the basic idea.

What is interesting are the deviations from standard model predicted by TGD. And also meeting the basic challenge: to predict elementary particle numbers- especially their masses correctly including the mysterious ratio of proton mass to Planck mass. TGD indeed does this by bringing number theory a part of physics (p-adic numbers) and predicts a lot of new physics- not just some new particle but entire branches of physics such as scaled up copies of hadron physics. Already now many of these predictions have found support and LHC will show within few years whether the predictions in TeV scale are correct as preliminary results suggest.

You mentioned also Euclidian geometry. TGD space-time allows both Minkowskian and Euclidian signatures for the induced metric of space-time and both the counterparts of blackholes and elementary particles (generalized Feynman diagrams) correspond to regions with Euclidian signature: this is possible because the Poincare invariance is symmetry of 8-D imbedding space rather than space-time. Both signatures are needed. There is no return to the days before Einstein.

At 7:41 PM, Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,

if I understood correctly, your experiment shows that heating of sphere from below increases its mass. Fractional increase of mass was 1.9 per cent per 400 seconds for a sphere.

I do not understand why you want to see radiation as the cause of the change of gravitational mass. I am not enough experimentalist to suggest any obvious explanation for the outcome, be it measurement error (most probably) or something real. In any case, mass flow of some kind from heating element could provide a natural explanation.

In many-sheeted space-time of TGD this kind of flows along parallel space-time sheets could take place and and I have suggested them as explanation for several anomalies. One example is the ultra-relavistic electrons associated with lightnings have energies which are too large by several orders of magnitude: they would flow along dark space-time sheets with very small dissipation and gain their energies in this manner.

If gravitational force would reduce to a force caused by radiation, it would revolutionize not only astrophysics but also Maxwell's theory so that also the theory you have applied to analyze your experiments should be thrown to a paper basket! Therefore you have an enormous challenge of demonstrating that the successful star models can be reproduced by assuming that radiation is responsible for gravitational force. You are however in good company: also Verlinde claims that gravitational force is entropic force and got 6 million euros for this project;-).

To my humble opinion your explanation for gravitational force in terms of solar radiation reducing surface gravitation of Earth at the dayside contains an error. If this kind of reduction happens, it produces only a force analogous to tidal force affecting Earth's shape, not a force affecting center of mass motion of Earth.

At 7:43 AM, Blogger Peter Fred said...

@matipita said,
"To my humble opinion your explanation for gravitational force in terms of solar radiation reducing surface gravitation of Earth at the dayside contains an error."
This problem bothered me for a long time. But four or five years ago I finally solved it. Scientist know that a the vibrations of an earthquake can go right through the center of the earth to the other side. We also know that sound waves can travel completely through the sun. Thus if solar radiation slightly decreases dayside surface gravity of the earth by as little as 0.008%, this change in the ought to transmit itself to the center of the earth. This, in turn should produce an imbalance of force between the solid dayside hemisphere and the solid nightside hemisphere. Given this premise, I can come derive GMm/r^2-the Newtonian force of the sun on the earth which scientists have believed in for 300 years (see my paper for this derivation). This means that spreading radiation from an astrophysical body has only to be slightly gravitationally attractive in order to account for the gravitational binding of galaxies, of clusters, of solar systems and of an expanding universe.
The philosophers are going on and on about the advantages of a constructive theory over an principle theory for Special Relativity. Here is a URL for the value of a visualizable constructive theory over a principle theory.
Replicate my experiments and start getting paid for all the years you have spend in physics being misled like every else due to Einstein's failure to come up with a constructive theory Special Relativity which in turn caused him to come up with the ridiculous idea that mass has some mysterious yet-to-be-explained ability to "warp space".

At 3:48 AM, Blogger Ulla said...
finally something essential?
Temperature Difference Leads to Magnetism


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