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Strings Link the Ultra-Cold With the Super-Hot

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the words-of-one-syllable-please dept.

Math 236

gabrlknght writes "Superstring theory claims the power to explain the universe, but critics say it can't be tested by experiment. Lately, though, string math has helped explain a couple of surprising experiments creating 'perfect liquids' at cosmic extremes of hot and cold. 'Both systems can be described as something like a shadow world sitting in a higher dimension. Strongly coupled particles are linked by ripples traveling through the extra dimension, says Steinberg, of Brookhaven. String math describing such ripples stems from an idea called the holographic principle, used by string theorists to describe certain kinds of black holes. A black hole's entropy depends on its surface area — as though all the information in its three-dimensional interior is stored on its two-dimensional surface. (The 'holographic' label is an allusion to ordinary holograms, where 3-D images are coated on a 2-D surface, like an emblem on a credit card.) The holographic principle has value because in some cases the math for a complex 3-D system (neglecting time) can be too hard to solve, but the equivalent 4-D math provides simpler equations to describe the same phenomena.'"

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For those who might have some questions.... (-1)

derrida (918536) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579099)

String theory summarized [wordpress.com] .

At least go to the original source... (4, Informative)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579117)

XKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:At least go to the original source... (0, Troll)

derrida (918536) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579199)

Just testing the community reflections.

Re:At least go to the original source... (4, Funny)

sokoban (142301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579271)

Linking just an image pretty much fails on every level.

Re:At least go to the original source... (2, Insightful)

sokoban (142301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581201)

Whoever modded me as a troll must have not read the mouseover on that xkcd.

Re:For those who might have some questions.... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27579149)

http://xkcd.com/171/

Info on ultracold physics (5, Informative)

azure8472 (930462) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579843)

"Ultracold" here refers to degenerate Fermi gases, not Bose-Einstein condensates (BEC).

Here's a layman article:
A Fermi gas of atoms [physicsworld.com]
Deborah Jin
Physics World, 2002

And the original publication by the Duke group:
Observation of a Strongly Interacting Degenerate Fermi Gas of Atoms [sciencemag.org]
K. M. O'Hara, S. L. Hemmer, M. E. Gehm, S. R. Granade, J. E. Thomas
Science Vol 298, p 2179 - 2182 (2002)

Of course (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27579203)

Lately, though, string math has helped explain a couple of surprising experiments

Yes, that happens all the time. The problem with string theoy is not that it doesn't predict anything. It's that it predicts everything. At least, one of the innumerable variants will predict anything after it's happened. If anyone could pick out some predictions before they happen then that might be something to get excited about.

Re:Of course (3, Interesting)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579377)

String theory to me is like those search algorithms that you run into that are utterly unique yet confounding to parse but get the job done somehow and no one feels smart enough to question half the time. A modified standard model works for me, with some of the new phenomenologies [arxiv.org] emerging based on it.

Predicts Everything (3, Interesting)

DJ_Adequate (699393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579819)

I think the problem is that it is so complicated it predicts everything that can or could happen. So the math is interesting to apply after the fact--but you can't extract the real from the possible results through the math alone.

Having to many points is the same as having none at all. And that's what String Theory in its current form seems to be.

Re:Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27579961)

Yes, that happens all the time. The problem with string theoy is not that it doesn't predict anything. It's that it predicts everything.

Kind of like creationism: "goddidit" 'explains' any observation, and therefore explains nothing.

Might as well say "something caused it", and call that a theory.

Re:Of course (1, Troll)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580893)

Kind of like creationism: "goddidit" 'explains' any observation, and therefore explains nothing.

No not quite. "goddidit" explains the who, sometimes the how, but science is responsible for determining the details as to how and possibly the why. Science is not separate from religion; it will merely prove what religion already says is out there and how it got here (to a point).

Re:Of course (5, Funny)

emjay88 (1178161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581539)

Science is not separate from religion; it will merely prove what religion already says is out there and how it got here

Exactly, just like Noah's flood, and how the earth was created around 6000 years ago and how people used to live for hundreds of years. Oh wait....

Lovely (4, Insightful)

jimmyswimmy (749153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579223)

Yet another physical phenomenon fits the theory of everything. How about a prediction from string theory for once?

Not even wrong! (4, Insightful)

FibreOptix (1028122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579521)

String theory is ripe with predictions. The problem is we can't test most of them directly, hence the main problem - lack of falsifiability (see: not even wrong).

Re:Not even wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27579733)

Don't you mean "rife with predictions"?

Re:Not even wrong! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580479)

You're confusing testability with falsifiability.

Re:Lovely (5, Funny)

Stickerboy (61554) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579531)

>Yet another physical phenomenon fits the theory of everything. How about a prediction from string theory for once?

You'll find that in String Theory 2: The Search For More Grant Money...

Re:Lovely (-1, Redundant)

FibreOptix (1028122) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579615)

String theory makes predictions a plenty. The problem is that non of them are testable in any direct way. So, the main problem with the theory is a lack of falsifiability (see: not even wrong).

Re:Lovely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27579617)

It occurs to me that once we have found the actual theory of everything, and discovered everything there is to know, said theory would not be able to make any new predictions. So we wouldn't ever be able to test it. It would just uneventfully agree with all current theories, continually being criticized.

Re:Lovely (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580815)

Really, I can't imagine why anyone would care about this bullshit. Another year, another theory. Yawn.

can this be it? (1)

hibji (966961) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579277)

Can this be what brings string theory from realm of math into the realm of science? (testable hypotheses and all that)

string analogues (2, Interesting)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579323)

"The point is that we have two different kinds of systems capturing the same kind of physics," says string theorist Clifford Johnson

Back in the day it was commonplace to construct analogs of mechanical systems, for instance, using electronic components [vwh.net] . If the differential equations describing the two systems are similar, so will their solutions be.

That the topic is string theory is also reminiscent of how soap works [elmhurst.edu] . Half of a soap molecule is soluble in water, the other half insoluble - thus bridging between wet and oily substances. Very yin and yang.

Re:string analogues (3, Interesting)

DirtySouthAfrican (984664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579629)

Well this is closer to "universality", which is a concept in field theory and condensed matter physics, in which the "atomic" characteristics of a system are largely irrelevant to its macroscopic properties, save for specifying a few parameters like viscosity or resistivity. Unlike your differential equation example, the equations for both are very different and non-trivial. When you start enumerating differential equations starting from the simplest you can write down, the harmonic oscillator, heat equation, diffusion equation and so forth pop out right away. You'll be writing for a long time before 11D supergravity equations of motion pop out.

String theory to science is Lolcats to grammar (1)

GlobalColding (1239712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579361)

Splunge for me too! I think it's a great-idea-but-possibly-not-and-I'm-not-being-indecisive!!

Re:String theory to science is Lolcats to grammar (1)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581497)

Yeah. Splunge for me too.

But where does Rock Hudson fit into String theory?

Just one thing (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579379)

They better have use for this in the next version of Super Mario.

Yup (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579413)

I still don't understand anything about string theory. Thank you /. for once more making me feel stupid.

Re:Yup (4, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579465)

I still don't understand anything about string theory.

I think you understand it just fine ;)

Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27579429)

yet more proof that the super-hot are ultra-cold?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580061)

So what your saying is if anyone on slashdot asked a super hot model out she would be ultra cold to them? I think I finally understand string theory or is that relativity?

Re:Hmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27581567)

String theory, since it's likely to lead to masturbation.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

PiSkyHi (1049584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581629)

whatever it is , its verifiable, it has more reality than any string theory.

"It's caused by strings" sounds an awful lot like (-1, Troll)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579437)

... "God did it", don't you think?

Re:"It's caused by strings" sounds an awful lot li (4, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579595)

The thing is, "God did it" doesn't give you any equations or principles. String theory, while it may turn out to be completely wrong, at least gives us something to test.

Re:"It's caused by strings" sounds an awful lot li (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580103)

The thing is, "God did it" doesn't give you any equations or principles.

Sure it does! God(0)* = the universe! See? Beautiful, mathematical proof!

*Definition of the God function left as an exercise for the reader.

Re:"It's caused by strings" sounds an awful lot li (4, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580327)

Yah, that's the problem - every theology ever invented can be summed up with one line of code:

If ($cause == $unknown) { exit("God did it!); }

Of course, they all like to pretty it up by adding comments and redefining meaningless variables, but the end result is the same.

Re:"It's caused by strings" sounds an awful lot li (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580301)

"It's caused by forces" sounds an awful lot like "God did it"
"It's caused by atoms" sounds an awful lot like "God did it"
etc etc

Come back in 10 minutes (5, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579449)

Once you've put Octavarium by Dream Theater on and smoked a fat joint, this will make a lot more sense.

To you, at least.

Re:Come back in 10 minutes (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581111)

Once you've put Octavarium by Dream Theater on and smoked a fat joint, this will make a lot more sense. To you, at least.

Sooo.....The Answer Lies Within.

Hang on (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27579453)

Hang on a minute... "Similarly, the extra dimensions that strings require would probably be far too small to detect by available methods." What? I was under the impression a dimension was like a mathematical axis, i.e. infinite in two directions...? I keep seeing a lot of articles on this sort of low level physics and mathsy stuff, and I'm not sure if I'm not understanding it because it is too complicated, but I'm starting to think the reporters are dumbing everything down and trying to explain complicated topics using nontechnical language, just throwing in the odd keywords to sound clever. There seem to be two extremes - sciencey news articles written by reporters which try to give a general idea to people who don't have a clue (It's something to do with holography, dimensions, strings and is far too complicated for you), and sources like wikipedia, which you need to already know what it's telling you to understand (I'm not saying that is a bad thing, I'm saying wikipedia is not good for teaching things - which it isn't supposed to be, I think). Can't I have something inbetween?

Re:Hang on (2, Informative)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579569)

I'm just a layman, but from what I gather the extra dimensions are supposed to be circular rather than "linear", like the ones we commonly use. The circumference of these circles is very small (Planck length).

Re:Hang on (1)

omuls are tasty (1321759) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579653)

To reply to myself :) But an example just came to my mind, think of a point on the surface of a torus. You can describe the location of any single point on it with two numbers, i.e. two angles (one from the center of the torus, and one from the center of the torus "tube"). If you describe it like this, then both of your dimensions are finite.

Re:Hang on (5, Informative)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579613)

Imagine the surface of a typical PVC pipe. It's long in one direction (perhaps infinitely long, probably not though) but in the other dimension it's actually kind of small - it's sort of "rolled up". Keep going around and you loop.

Dimensions can have all sorts of zany topologies going out to infinity.

Re:Hang on (4, Informative)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580277)

I was under the impression a dimension was like a mathematical axis, i.e. infinite in two directions...?

There's no such animal outside theory. In the real universe, spacetime is curved, more or less depending upon local conditions, but definitely never geometric line straight. If it appears that way it's because either the curve is too slow, you are similarly curved, or both. At the most extreme, the theoretical 'closed' universe curves back on itself as if you lived on the inside surface of a balloon.

Taking the lead from this Einsteinian view, string theory says the other dimensions are curved also, but to the extreme -- like to the Planck length or less (the smallest possible "grain" of the universe). The difference is not quality, only in quantity. That balloon you live in? Make it the so small that in size it is to an atom as an atom is to the Earth.

Once you've bent your head around that, consider that due to the Planck stuff, and things like Hawking's idea that near a singluarity (such as a Planck scale phenomenon) time and space fold into each other, no dimension no matter how straight, is an exact integer at all scales. This is true of the usual 4, and almost certainly of the other hypothesized 7. These other than integer dimensions are said to be "fractional". From fractional dimensions comes the word "fractal". And here you thought fractals were just good for producing CGIs of clouds, mountains, explosions and so forth. They are, but it's because they also produce the appearance of the real things.

Liars! (0)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579485)

Mathematicians are big fat liars!*
"Big M"..."String Theory"...**

*ok, not really, but its fun to pick at them
** Yea... I could only think of two that bug me... so what?!

probably meant (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579627)

...math for a complex 3-D system ...

was probably meant to be "complicated". "Complex 3d" means C^3... or (R+iR)^3 if you prefer.

Blah... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579647)

That still doesn't explain string cheese. :P

Re:Blah... (1)

DJ_Adequate (699393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579861)

Or Silly String.

Re:Blah... (1)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579903)

I hope someone invents superstring cheese. That bosonic mozzarella they using for the normal stuff tastes like ass.

More faith than science (0)

kaltkalt (620110) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579665)

I am a person who entirely believes in science, and as an atheist I greatly disapprove of anything resembling faith. I hate to say it, but so much of this superstring, 11 dimensional stuff sounds more like faith, or religion, than actual hard science. None of what's talked about here sets out a testable hypothesis, and it sounds like they're just making up stuff the way religious people do, though using words like "dimensional" instead of "power of Christ" to explain what otherwise can't be explained (or explained within the bounds of their own premises).

I mock religion all the time. I have to hold science and scientists up to the same standard. I'd be a hypocrite to accept unprovable scientific mumbojumbo, interdimensional whatnots and all. at face value while discounting unprovable religious mumbojumbo all the time.

Re:More faith than science (4, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579895)

While I am not sure that I agree with the sentiment on religion (we all have our own ways of coping... religion isn't the worst), I think you pretty much got it with string theory. It's disingenuous to call it science. Calling it math would be more appropriate. As a matter of fact, if it must remain a priory because its assumptions are not testable, it must be math. Now calling it religion is probably not fitting the bill. It is still based on postulate-and-then-use-logic-to-deduce paradigm. As opposed to religions' vision-followed-by-political-expedience paradigm. For anyone who wants to argue that "religion uses logic, too," I say "fair enough." But math uses only logic to come up with conclusions. And math can be based on arbitrary assumptions from which those conclusions are drawn (the only restriction is non-self-contradiction). Whereas religion will attempt to use plausible assumptions and then draw arbitrary (from the point of view of logical consistency) conclusions.

Re:More faith than science (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580979)

It's not really maths either though. It might turn out to be maths, but at present there are too many points in string theory where the physicists have been unable to prove "obvious" theorems (not base axioms, but actual "x follows from y" type theorems) but have continued to build on them *assuming* them to be true. And as anyone who has ever encountered any amount of post-high-school maths will tell you, sometimes "obviously true" theorems in maths... aren't true. So it's very possible that a not insignificant part of what we call string theory will turn out to be incorrect.

Re:More faith than science (4, Funny)

tixxit (1107127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581191)

May be string theory is the biggest joke God ever played. In order to progress in science, we have to first have faith.

Re:More faith than science (5, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580031)

Here is the thing. There are people that understand it, and can explain it. Just because you need a Phd to understand it.

You are right to be skeptical, but don't confuse not being able to understand something with it not being understandable.

It also make predictions.

There are tests, we need a certain collider to come on line...

Re:More faith than science (5, Informative)

domatic (1128127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580727)

Yes there are tests but the tests won't be definitive. One of the problems with string theories is that there are a multitude of them and they very very mutable. The collider will only rule out (likely) or confirm (doubtful) a subset of the possible string theories. However, the remainder of the string theories will be safe from falsifiable experimentation. What is needed but lacking is way to winnow out candidate string theories that a) describe our/the universe, b) solve current quandaries of physics like why certain physical constants have the values that they do, c) make predictions which are practical to confirm, d) are parsimonious as string theories are notorious for introducing several new constants and constructs for every one they explain.

Now I may not be a PhD but I am a taxpayer who is happy to see some of his taxes go to funding basic scientific research. And I agree with those who say that the current fashionability of string theories preclude other approaches from being funded and that string theories are getting a free pass on standards of prediction, observation, and experiment that other branches of science are held to.

Incidentally, a hallmark of all other good theories in physics to date is that all can be represented by fairly simple systems of equations which an Asimov, a Sagan, or for that matter a good HS science teacher can explain to an interested (and research funding...) public. Be they Newtons Law's, Special and General Relativity, or Maxwell's Equations, good theories tend to have a parsimonious tightness to them that practically shout out what experiments one should do next. Now I realize that in the end, that the universe need not conform to such beautiful systems but the fact that to date that it has and string theories most certainly are not give me pause.

The FA at least holds out some hope for winnowing out more implausible string theories (and no the idea that all string theories describe a possible universe cuts zero ice until someone finds a way to observe/test that) at least and maybe showing the way to an actual viable theory that is more than pretty math.

Re:More faith than science (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581295)

As an interested layman who counts cosmology as a 'hobby', I keep feeling that the String Theories as well as M-Theory are somehow flawed for the very reason that they are not parsimonious and introduce more questions than they seem to answer. I also keep feeling that at some point some brilliant young cosmologist is going to come up with a theory more elegant and 'simple' by an order of magnitude that renders them obsolete.

Science and math (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580325)

To be pedantic, science does not require belief. That's the point. Anything that qualifies as science is replicable. You're supposed to be able to take the described starting conditions and the described procedure and end up with the described result. If you don't, either you did something wrong or it's not science. Worthwhile science tends to require very careful adherence to the descriptions, and then requires some serious thought to relate the results to the conclusion. It can be difficult to perform the thinking correctly. This is where belief starts to creep in where it shouldn't.

The difficulty of correctly relating results to conclusions gives rise to our current conundrum in physics. Relativity is a bunch of equations that make predictions which can be experimentally verified (we think). Quantum mechanics is another bunch of equations that make predictions which can be experimentally verified (we think). Take one set of those equations and start plugging them in to the other set, and everything goes whacky. You get infinite answers for things that we know darn well aren't infinite. Therefore there's something wrong. String theory arose out of mathematicians trying to reconcile the two sets of equations.

That seems to have been a bad idea. As you say, it can't be tested. So there are people out there who are questioning relativity and quantum mechanics. It may be that there is something wrong with one or the other or both sets of equations. They SEEM to work really really well. We talk to space probes using engineering that uses relativity. We build computer chips using engineering that uses quantum mechanics. The equations seems to describe their respective phenomena really well. So if there's something wrong with one or the other, it's a very subtle something. String theory starts with the premise that there's nothing wrong with either, and proceeds to cheat by postulating physical things that are theoretically undetectable.

I'm not so sure that was the right way to go. Both theories, and all of their predecessors, started out with the premise that there was something wrong with the earlier theory. The wrongness got steadily less with each successive iteration. This time, the wrongness is so tiny that nobody has come up with a way to isolate it in a hundred years.

My money is on something wrong with relativity. Quantum mechanics can be explored and demonstrated using built things, like computer chips. Relativity is much less amenable to exploration with built artifacts. Lots of it is pinned on seen things, particularly astronomical things. Historically, we've not been very good with seen things. We're much better with built things.

I'm not convinced that the behavior of ultra-cold and super-hot things require string theory to explain. This stuff is still very new, so it will be interesting to see what alternative explanations people can come up with.

Re:Science and math (1)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580917)

Huh?

If you've got a GPS, either in your car or on your phone, you're seeing the benefits of our understanding of relativity. Relativity predicts that the clocks on GPS satellites have to be adjusted due to its speed, otherwise the system would be useless. The system works with clock adjustments, therefore, the prediction has been confirmed. How is this any less of a confirmation about its predictive power, thus strength, than working semiconductors?

Re:Science and math (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27581035)

It sounds like you skimmed that and saw the opposite of what was written.

Re:More faith than science (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580843)

Blasphemer! The Glorious String demands you be purified by Super-Hot fire!

Re:More faith than science (1)

lessthan (977374) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581435)

Release him, foul infinity! The power of the dimensions compels you!

Re:More faith than science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27581495)

Well, the idea of a memristor was based on equations as well. Theoretical physics has this property of creating logical constructions to be tested by the empirical side of the community. This way the theoretical and the empirical physics complete each other. Religions often lack the empirical "dimension" of the picture.

String "Theory" is Retarded (1, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579759)

They just make up math to cover everything.
None of it makes any sense, and no one understands it, it just fits what we observe.

When it doesn't fit, they add layers to the math to make it fit. It's not a theory, it's a table of data written in the most convoluted way imaginable.

And this whole hologram bullshit is retarded. A "news" story about a "new" "theory" of how our 3D universe may be a holographic projection of a 2D plane on the edge of the universe comes out every few months. It's bullshit, and they always make an analogy to holograms, which are 2D but store 3D information.

What fucking horse shit. Holograms are 3D (NOT 2D) and reflect light in 3D. To interpret a hologram, you read it as 2D data by viewing it from a single angle and alter the relative angle of the light incident on the surface to obtain more 2D data. Multiple sets of 2D data are then combined (by our magical eyes, or whatever reading device you want to use) and the 3D information is reconstructed. Effectively, a hologram compresses 3D data into thin 3D data, and analyzing it from multiple angles allows us to decompresses it decently.

The incompetence if fucking astounding, and I wish the fucking scientific community would just say GTFO to string theorists until they can produce an actual fucking theory. Too bad so many scientists are in desperate need of grant money and are afraid of being ridiculed ("lol it's ok if you don't understand it, most people don't").

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580043)

I see, you don't understand it so it must be false? nice~

"
they can produce an actual fucking theory."

they can.

Maybe you should read up?

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (1, Insightful)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580135)

Actually, you're completely, totally wrong.

String Theory has not, and so far can not, produce a single theory, that can be tested in any way.

That is, so far, all String 'Theory' is, is mathematical masturbation.

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580403)

"thin 3D" is 2D by most people's standards, regardless of if it's right or not.

Example:
http://www.eskimo.com/~billb/amateur/holo1.html

Drawing thin scratches on a piece of transparent plastic or other similar surface. Just because a thin scratch is technically 3D doesn't mean you can't approximate it as 2D and use 2D math to get meaningful data.

Even so, string theory isn't until it can make testable predictions.

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (5, Insightful)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580407)

Why are people modding this up?

A thin hologram can be represented truly as a 2D surface. You can print a thin hologram out using a laser printer and transparencies. You can even display a hologram on a TFT.

The fact that you don't even understand holograms makes me wonder why you are even commenting on string theory.

It's become very popular these days to bash string theory, yet noone has an alternative.

People like sexconker want to remove grant money from research into any new theory until they have a theory that is complete. And yet it can't be completed with people actually working on it.

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (1)

PiSkyHi (1049584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581453)

It's become very popular these days to bash string theory, yet noone has an alternative.

If any 1 person has a theory on their own that is inherently unprovable, that person will be labelled a crackpot and rightly so.

Have a whole community do the same thing and apparently that makes it good science - it isn't. never will be. Its redundant. There are many alternatives from serious individuals that have already come a lot closer, simply because they are trying to add to our knowledge by reducing the static information level of our best universe axioms - simply adding more complexity is what the dynamic universe itself is for - its not a useful theory unless it describes something other than itself that cannot already be described with simpler, more useful theories.

I can understand to a degree that many string theorists have gone down this path, mostly because its difficult for any 1 person to keep track of the sum of knowledge in physics these days - there is no doubt in my mind, modern physicists need some basic philosophy before they can theorise about anything - adding invisible layers is a salespersons job, not a scientist.

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27581289)

The holographic principle has nothing to do with holograms. It's the idea that a 11 dimensional string theory is equivalent to a 4-dimensional quantum field theory under certain conditions. The word hologram is only a term to describe the real thing.

If you're going to accuse string theorists of incompetence, make sure you know what you're talking about first.

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581425)

I think if you say "fucking" a few more times it will make your arguments much more convincing. Maybe throw in a few more "shits" too.

Re:String "Theory" is Retarded (0, Offtopic)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581441)

Oddly, I find myself agreeing with your sentiments, but then quite a number of people on Wall Street still believe that DEBT should be transformed into SECURITIES.....

My advice to string theory (4, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27579885)

If you want to be taken seriously, avoid descriptions like "a shadow world sitting in a higher dimension." It's a meaningless analogy that only serves to make your field sound like pseudoscience BS.

Re:My advice to string theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580447)

If you want to be taken seriously, avoid descriptions like "a shadow world sitting in a higher dimension." It's a meaningless analogy that only serves to make your field sound like pseudoscience BS.

But, given the field, isn't that rather appropriate?

Re:My advice to string theory (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580579)

Problem is: What's with cases, where reality sounds even worse than pseudoscience BS?

I think -- irrespective to the usefulness of experience-based prejudice -- there's something wrong, when you judge a theory by how it sounds.

String Theory is the new Astrology (1)

popo (107611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580027)

If it isn't testable it has no place in science.

Study it if it makes you feel good, but understand that you're not practicing anything scientific.

Re:String Theory is the new Astrology (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580429)

So basically you'd cancel all research into future theories? Real nice.

Re:String Theory is the new Astrology (1)

PiSkyHi (1049584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581471)

You expect money for not being testable ? that's called welfare, if string theorists stopped lying about what it is they want, then I might be more sympathetic

Re:String Theory is the new Astrology (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581597)

That's not true.

As long as it is "faliable' then it has a place in science.

If the theories advanced by the JudeoChristian tradition had been verified by empirical evidence then the bible would be valuable as a scientific tool.

Similarly if there were wizards and witches harry potter would be a useful tool.

String Hypothes--eerrm--theory is perfectly valid in science. Just so long as we recognize that it's speculation. Speculation is valuable. Speculation that becomes dogma. That's a problem. After all the religious explanation was the best fit to the data we had for centuries. Just as the earth being flat seemed to be an excellent fit to our known data for centuries.

String theory is not a theory! (1, Troll)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580089)

Mathematical mental masturbation does not constitute a scientific theory. I need to see hypotheses and tests before I will even consider giving these models the honor of being called a theory.

And you wonder why so many people believe ID proponents when they say that Darwinian evolution is "only" a theory.

Re:String theory is not a theory! (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580767)

Mathematical mental masturbation does not constitute a scientific theory.

As opposed to mathematical physical masturbation? Like using a slide rule?

Re:String theory is not a theory! (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581141)

Mathematical mental masturbation does not constitute a scientific theory.

As opposed to mathematical physical masturbation? Like using a slide rule?

Must....resist..maiking joke....about calculating.....logs.

In response to the article are dozens of posts... (4, Interesting)

StevenMaurer (115071) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580217)

...all claiming that String theory is not testable.

To these people, I'd like to point out that:
1] Not being testable with current technology is not the same as not making any testable predictions. Technology advances, after all, and there are predictions that were made by Einstein that are still being tested today.

2] It's flat out wrong [blorge.com] to say there is no work being done to test String theory. The LHC will begin to unlock a number of answers in this regard.

Re:In response to the article are dozens of posts. (2, Insightful)

cmat (152027) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580621)

I think the issue with the testability of String Theory is as follows:

In a theory, there are generally variables. For example, in General Relativity, there are "constants" (called such because they are measured via experimental science) that emerge from the theory. These "constants" are actually variables in General Relativity (if you were to set them to different values you would have a different "universe"). However the important thing is that "variables" that we had yet to measure which the theory predicted would be certain values (given other variables which we had measured and plugegd into the theory) turned out to be consistent with what General Relativity said they would have to be when we did get to performing experiments to confirm their values (so far).

The problem with String Theory is that there are many variables (not a show stopper) but that they seem to need to be fixed at certain values to arrive at "our universe". One might say General Relativity did the same thing, but no, given a set of variables that we had measured, we got predictions on what the values of the remaining variables in the theory must be. This does not seem to be the case with String Theory where we have not found any good reason to set the variables the way they must be to get our universe's constants out of the theory.

Why is this important? Because String Theory MIGHT be correct (i.e. more accurate than General Relativity) but we have no indication of why the variables in the theory should be set the way they are (i.e. no experiment has been constructed as far as I know that will measure a value in reality and set it to a specific value in the theory). And even if that were to happen, it seems that it is possible to fiddle with the other variables in String Theory to again arrive at the model of our universe. So it seems that we would need to experimentally resolve each variable in String Theory independently which says to me that the theory has no predictive capability.

IANAP, just an enthusiastic amateur who is annoyed at the state of physics.

Re:In response to the article are dozens of posts. (3, Insightful)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580729)

Sorry, but being conceivably testable is not the same as being testable. If I only had a ghost detector, then I could detect ghosts. Ergo, ghosts are a good theory to work on!

As a rule, if you cannot test something today, and you don't have a working blueprint for a machine that, once built, can test your theory, then you don't really have a testable theory.

Re:In response to the article are dozens of posts. (1)

Entropy2016 (751922) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581451)

You take take something obviously false like ghosts and attempt to compare it to whatever you'd like to cast disrepute on. Classy. Second, to have a ghost detector, you're required to first know that ghosts exist (otherwise then your ghost detector isn't really a ghost detector).

Also, you don't seem to recognize the long history of advances in science which were purely mathematical to begin with. For example: Black holes were first predicted mathematically, without any observations to back it up. Did scientists ignore it?. Hell no. Even neutron stars were originally just theoretical too. Whenever a physicist started doing calculations involving black holes or neutron stars, did people crap all over their work and berate it to the point of halting interest in the subject? Were they castigated for exceeding the bounds of the Theory of General Relativity?

Eventually we got the technology to test both of those ideas, and the vast majority consensus is that black holes and neutron stars exist. There's no evidence yet that rules out the possible existence of sufficiently convincing indirect evidence for string theory. Yes, direct evidence is unlikely, but we've got enough indirect evidence

Re:In response to the article are dozens of posts. (1)

domatic (1128127) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580865)

1] Not being testable with current technology is not the same as not making any testable predictions. Technology advances, after all, and there are predictions that were made by Einstein that are still being tested today.

Yes it is true that certain implications of Einstein's theories have only become testable recently. But it is also true that others were testable even with turn of the 20th century technology. As I recall, an expedition was mounted to South Africa to test the prediction that the eclipse happening there would make it possible to actually measure a particular kind of gravitational lensing by the Sun. That the measured lensing agreed strongly with the theory was a strong confirmation. Einstein's theories also explained a precession in Mercury's orbit that Newton could not and explained the lesser degrees of it in the other inner planet orbits. By the early Seventies, it was even possible to directly measure time dilation with synchronized atomic clocks one moving in a jet liner and the other left on the ground.

In thirty five years, I would almost surely think that SOME aspects/predictions would have been practical to test.

String theories have been around for thirty five years and the LHC will only be able to test a subset of possible string theories leaving a great many safe from falsification by it.

Re:In response to the article are dozens of posts. (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581157)

Name one prediction of string theory that could be tested with any technology. In other words, name one prediction of string theory that if found false (in any way) would disprove string theory. I'll give you a better one: name one prediction of string theory.

And just to cut short one level of string-theory silliness: "there might be 11 dimensions, but if there's not then we can still make the theory work with four" is not a prediction.

Because of theoretical advances and other sources of investigation, most physicists believe that LHC will do nothing more than confirm the current most accepted version of the Standard Model. Doesn't mean we shouldn't do it, but this is different than earlier experiments of this type, where physicists were more exploring than confirming. And LHC will not be exploring the energy levels that most string theorists say would actually provide them useful information for further developing the theory (e.g. will not allow us to differentiate between an 11 dimensional and 4 dimensional universe).

So, basically, I agree with any of the other comments here that what we have is a bunch of cosmologists running around doing very interesting math, but not doing any useful physics.

Re:In response to the article are dozens of posts. (3, Insightful)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581513)

Not only that but my own string theory related theory is that 99% of the posters here bitching about string theory do not have the necessary knowledge of physics and math to actually have a truly informed opinion about string theory. And of the remaining 1% I would venture that only a small fraction have gone to the necessary effort to actually properly evaluate it. But then it's so safe to try and look intelligent by chanting with the crowd; after all everyone around you believes you.

Here's a thought - the right to an opinion isn't a requirement that you have one.

Re:In response to the article are dozens of posts. (1)

buttersnout (832768) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581577)

Another point that I think is invalid is the idea that string theory is able to make room to explain any result and therefore not testable. This can be said of any theory. Consider the standard model and all the articles posted on slashdot of observed particles that were not predicted. Do people think the standard model won't find room to accommodate them? People are harder on string theory than the standard model because it is so full of alien ideas. Can you imagine if string theory required, yet forbid the graviton like the standard model does? Sure there are theories of quantum gravity but they include axioms no less radicle than those in string theory.

Ultra-Cold and Super-Hot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580227)

I think Super Model Theory already has this covered.

I remember an old Scientific American article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580339)

That posited that after we added "infinite energy" to a closed system (where the randomness was maximized), more energy would eventually result in all the states being in the high energy state (i.e. zero entropy, or randomness). That state would, indeed, be the same as the infinite lack of energy, in some way or another.

Holography not holographic! (4, Informative)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580591)

The article dorks up the notion of holography by associating it with 3-d holograms. The concept is that you don't need to know whats in the middle if you can draw a border around it and measure the surface of that border with sufficient resolution.

In "near field measurements" you are too close to the source to treat it as a simple point source, or a point source with directionality to its output. Normally you would have to be in the far field (at least several wavelengths of the frequency you're measuring or several times the physical size of the source) to be able to measure it using point receivers. Being in the near field you can't simply scale your measurement to farther distances using the normal spreading formula involving r^2 or r^3.

As an example, sticking a mic 4 inches away from a loudspeaker can't tell you what the sound level will be 100 feet away. Amusingly, the typical 1-meter you normally on stated SPL levels is too close for larger woofers.

Holographic measuring is the concept of putting an array of sensors in the near field surrounding the object and being able to extrapolate far field measurements. There are criteria for the number of required measurement points and spacing based on the distance and frequency you're trying to measure. From those measurements you can determine the far field measurements and make some calculations about whats inside the boundary. One technique is to take all those new measurements, amplitude and phase, and substitute those as individual point sources in calculating the far field sound levels.

'Theory' is really the wrong word (4, Informative)

jholden215 (939343) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580607)

It has always irked me how easily people misuse the word 'theory'. Until it is testable, with reproducable results, it will remain 'String Hypothesis'.

Status Quo Change? Bzzzzzt. Not. (1)

Weedhopper (168515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580735)

Okay, I get that string theory is much more elegant and being merely and engineer, mathematically well over my head, but this is getting a little ridiculous. I'm having a difficult time recognizing string theory as science.

Has string theory truly helped us understand anything better? If it has improved our understanding, what predictions of physical phenomena have come of this increased understanding of the physical universe? If your theory can only explain, not predict, aka No Predictive Power, then it is no better than pop psychology.

If the energy states required to test the theory are at a scale that is not physically measurable, what are we really talking about? That's not physics, man. That's metaphysics.

A lot of smart guys or no, string theory has yet to offer anything of real scientific vale and shouldn't be considered science until it does. Science has pumped decades of its best minds into this and its time we said enough. Those hundreds of PhDs should be considered PhDs in math, not physics.

Huh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27580901)

Superstring theory claims the power to explain the universe, but critics say it can't be tested by experiment.

Creationism theory claims the power to explain the universe, but critics say it can't be tested by experiment.

Not about string *theory*! (5, Informative)

Chuckstar (799005) | more than 5 years ago | (#27580921)

This article really is not about string theory. The article is really about the math developed as people have explored string theory. It is this math that has been applied in explaining "perfect liquid" experiments.

hooking up with the super hot? (1)

mirof007 (1441873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27581051)

Am I the only one who imagined some rope-based game for geeks to hook up with hot chicks after reading the title? I am? Ok.

From the wise prophet GIR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27581059)

It's got chicken legs...
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