Thought Archive

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Of Strings and Men.

I have not read books criticizing the String Theory – but I have read several popular science explanations. String Theory mathematics, that lies behind this latter-day theory of “Everything” is all Greek to me (for I am poor at math), but apparently, it is also incomprehensible to most theorists. Barriers required for knowledge of mathematics are exceptionally high, insurmountable for even quality physicists, which makes the String Theory an abode of genius. “Surely we have to accept their research, since the ideas of this kind are beyond our ability to analyze” an apologists may say. I think this is hard to accept on several grounds.

The trouble with this assumption that we know that there are several mutually exclusive theories leading to the same conclusion, which is an embarrassing fact to the apologists. Another problem, as highlighted in recent “Economist” article is that the String Theory is not really elegant and aesthetic as a true scientific theory be. Most scientists still belief in Occam razor principle that simple always wins, although quantum physics severely undermined this principle.

Final objection is on purely conceptual level, where laymen like me are on less shaky ground. Einstein’s theory of relativity (both general and special), however complicated and counterintuitive may be, is elegant and comprehensible for a trained mind in concepts other than mathematics. Quantum phenomena is observed and experimented upon and can be comprehended sensu stricto. String Theory is neither and as such is can not be proven or disproved. This puts it into the same category as faith and belief – not in itself a negative concept – however an anathema to scientific mind.

One feels that instead of explaining the Universe, this may be an abstract exercise in whitchcraft of mathematics. Mathematics, however, is not the truth, - it is only a tool. Further dangers lie ahead for those few scientists as they plow ahead leaving behind not only the general population but also educated elites trying to grasp the meaning of their endeavors.

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