Fairytale Physics

Jim Baggot in his recent book that is entitled Farewell to Reality: How Fairytale Physics Betrays the Search for Scientific Truth  advocates the idea that modern physics is going in the wrong direction. In particular, he critically examines superstring theory and concludes that this theory cannot explain the existence of many things we know they exist! Similar ideas have been presented in Peter Woit's Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics. Recently, the British newspaper The Guardian has published as debate between Baggot and string theorist Mike Duff. The later replied to Baggot's remark that "the positron was discovered in cosmic ray experiments just a couple of years after Dirac had agreed that this was what his theory predicted" as follows:
Dirac did not assume the positron; he discovered it to be a consequence of an equation that described the well-established electron. Similarly, string theorists did not assume supersymmetry, extra dimensions, the dualities of M-theory or the myriad possible universes; they discovered them to be consequences of a theory that subsumes empirically well-established features such as general relativity, gauge field theory and chiral quarks and leptons. Current research is devoted to finding out what else M-theory requires.
 The problem with Duff's argument is that none of the things superstring theory has been speculating about have been discovered! In fact, there are not even indirect evidence that might one lead to the conclusion that these bizarre things exist. (They do exist in Fringe's universe…)

One may wonder what all these have to do with computation. The answer, of course, is quite simple: when one proposes a bizarre model of computation she must make sure that the physics involved is valid beyond any doubt!

PS On the 20th episode of season 7 of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon wonders: "Am I wasting my life on a theory that can never be proven?"  and decides to stop his work on string theory... (I read about this in the Not Even Wrong blog).


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