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String Theory Tested, Fails Black Hole Predictions

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the you-fail-it dept.

Education 307

eldavojohn writes "Back in 2006 there was a lot of talk of testing String Theory. Well, today CERN has released a statement for the Compact Muon Solenoid Experiment. The short of it is simply that as far as they could tell, 'No experimental evidence for microscopic black holes has been found.' The long statement indicates that since the highly precise CMS detector found no spray of sub-atomic particles of normal matter while LHC smashed particles together, the hypothesis by String Theory that micro black holes would be formed and quickly evaporated in this experiment was incorrect. These tests have given the team confidence to say that they can exclude a 'variety of theoretical models' for the cases of black holes with a mass of 3.5-4.5 TeV (1012 electron volts). Not Even Wrong points us to the arxiv prepublication for those of you well versed in Greek. While you may not be able to run around claiming that String Theory is dead and disproved, evidently there are some adjustments that need to be made."

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307 comments

fail (0, Redundant)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#34573828)

StringFail

Re:fail (4, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574058)

Then how DO you explain these infinite number of parallel universes? There must be some experimental rationale for the overwhelming evidence of these!

Signed, Arthur XXII, King of Britain and Jupiter.

Re:fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574206)

Signed, Arthur XXII, King of Britain and Jupiter

.

When it comes to parallel universes, I would have thought that Jerry Cornelius was already enough.

Re:fail (1)

actionbastard (1206160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574322)

Currently there are only 1730 known parallel universes. [theinfosphere.org]

Re:fail (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574676)

And all of them are evil! Except for pirate universe.

Re:fail (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575162)

This one is evil only because we are taught that it is a sphere when it is really a 4 sided cube. At least that's what I learned at timecube.com.

Simple (5, Funny)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#34573850)

Simple. The Creator obviously didn't NULL-terminate. Hence his strings have no black hole at the end.

Re:Simple (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574506)

I'm betting my pay check on a buggy implementation of left trim.

Re:Simple (1, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574612)

Or perhaps the FSM is simply changing the results to make us THINK that string theory is false, to test our faith.

First Post Theory tested (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34573862)

and failed, right here, right now on Slashdot.
I hope the hype ends now.

Unobservable (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34573882)

How can we be sure that the black holes were not created? String theory posits that there exist physical dimensions outside of our 4 dimensional universe, in fact that these are part and parcel of our universe. However, given our tools are all limited to 4 dimensions, it makes sense that there could be phenomena that is unobservable in our universe yet occurring in those other unexperienceable dimensions.

I agree with the summary, this isn't the defeat of String Theory. It is a chance to refine and improve it.

Re:Unobservable (3, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34573938)

Does it matter if something inobservable exists? If you posit the existence of something that can't be observed, how do you verify that hypothesis? What are the applications for a theory that doesn't suggest effects we can detect and verify?

Re:Unobservable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574714)

If you posit the existence of something that can't be observed, how do you verify that hypothesis?

Simple, you just declare the hypothesis to be a non-scientific hypothesis.

For a hypothesis to be put forward as a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can test it

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothesis

Re:Unobservable (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574994)

"Does it matter if something inobservable exists? If you posit the existence of something that can't be observed, how do you verify that hypothesis? What are the applications for a theory that doesn't suggest effects we can detect and verify?

  • It matters to people who want to know. Don't tell me I can't find something out simply because you don't think it has any merit. Curiosity is what drives most of science. You may not care what the underlying rules of the universe are, but others do, and we want to know.
  • The (sic) inobservable (you meant unobservable) is usually observed through indirect means; Eddington's 1919 N. Pole expedition showed Einstein's general theory was correct by observing star displacement.
  • Practical application usually follows these theories well after they've been posited and and experimentally verified, long long after in many cases.

Re:Unobservable (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575072)

Gravitational leakage is one idea - that gravity doesn't scale with distance the way we think it does, but appears to due to "leakage" of the force into higher dimensions. The dimensions may not be directly observable, but if you construct a model based on them that accurately fits the data and makes useful testable predictions, you've got yourself some science.

Re:Unobservable (0)

gatechman (1585777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34573942)

String theory is one of the largest examples of scientific circle-jerk in academia today. Even a layman to can tell that most of theoretical beauty is nothing more than a facade that crumbles in the face of experimental data.

Re:Unobservable (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574036)

Even a layman to can tell that most of theoretical beauty is nothing more than a facade that crumbles in the face of experimental data.

But what does it prove if a layman criticices something? A math laymen can tell you that 1 + 1 = 48261.51. Doesn't make it true.

Re:Unobservable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574566)

Neither does expert opinion that 1+1=2 make it true. Its truth is self-evident to both mathematicians and laymen. The so-called "layman" is anyone who exercises a healthy command of intellect, reason, and perception. Anyone with these common human attributes can and should judge scientific theory accordingly. A theory -- even a beautifully constructed, internally coherent and logical one -- that fails the most fundemental tests of observability and empirical verification is just so much Faith.

Re:Unobservable (2, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574722)

A math laymen can tell you that 1 + 1 = 48261.51.

Wrong. A layman would tell you that 1 + 1 = 2. Layman means someone who understands a subject and can even work with it to some extent, but is NOT an expert. Most if not all of us are medical laymen for example. We can apply a band aid, apply CPR, know how to take a pulse and if one is not evident that a person is dead. But we wouldn't be the one to go to, to perform a complex diagnosis or prescribe medicine or perform an operation... because we are laymen. Laymen can know enough on a subject to sound like they know what they are talking about, and drive experts crazy. Now I am waiting for real language experts to go ballistic on me. [grin]

Re:Unobservable (0)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574972)

triangulation is the answer, surly that's obvious.

Though current mathematics doesn't seem to be able to handle if very well.

math is after all, just all theory.

Re:Unobservable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34573998)

Yeah, maybe they're made out of luminiferous ether and they could exist in the special dimension where souls go when people die. Or not.

Re:Unobservable (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574046)

How can we be sure that the black holes were not created? String theory posits that there exist physical dimensions outside of our 4 dimensional universe

But the theory is that they are so small that "moving through them" is not something that would cause things to "disappear" into them, but rather, that the position and momentum within them merely manifests itself as physical properties (charge, mass, spin, ...)

Re:Unobservable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574052)

How can we be sure Schnoznobbles weren't also created? My Schnoznobble Theory postulates that there are exactly 75 major and 21 trillion minor dimensions that are forever beyond our apprehension that are part and parcel of our universe. However, given our tools are all limited to 4 dimensions, it makes sense that there could be phenomena that is unobservable in our universe yet occurring in those other unexperienceable dimensions, which is the domain of Schnoznobbles AND Schniznobble Particulates.

Dangerous Ground! (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574068)

How can we be sure that the black holes were not created?

As one might suspect, the very opening to the paper in the arxiv explains this. After lengthy explanation of several peer reviewed papers that have been widely accepted on detection of black holes, they state:

The microscopic black holes produced at the LHC would be distinguished by high multiplicity, democratic, and highly isotropic decays with the final-state particles carrying hundreds of GeV of energy. Most of these particles would be reconstructed as jets of hadrons. Observation of such spectacular signatures would provide direct information on the nature of black holes as well as the structure and dimensionality of space-time [1]. Microscopic black hole properties are reviewed in more detail in [15, 16].

Now, as you can see by the [1], [15] and [16] references, each of these claims will lead you to a further longer paper on the concept of black holes themselves. Is it possible this method is flawed? I'm not a particle physicist so I'm not authorized to answer that. But I will say that this experiment has been a long time coming and I'm certain the authors of this paper were very careful in all their statements about String Theory.

String theory posits that there exist physical dimensions outside of our 4 dimensional universe, in fact that these are part and parcel of our universe. However, given our tools are all limited to 4 dimensions, it makes sense that there could be phenomena that is unobservable in our universe yet occurring in those other unexperienceable dimensions.

I know what you're saying but String Theory turns a lot of people off when its nature seems to be "unobservable" as you so put it. You'd have just as easy a time proving God exists as you would proving String Theory. The joke about String Theory is that it is conceived to make it untestable so it can never be wrong. This is dangerous ground and whenever a prediction is made by the theory that can be tested, it must be taken seriously. "Unexperienceable dimension?" Ahhh, I wouldn't go around talking to scientists about 'unexperienceable' things. I do not believe the scientific process looks kindly on such things.

I agree with the summary, this isn't the defeat of String Theory. It is a chance to refine and improve it.

I am the submitter, I don't think I said anything too far one way or the other. Usually Not Even Wrong points me in the correct direction but they gave this paper an unusually short nod with little correspondence or refutation. I think this is a good indication that everyone is waiting for the real scientists (not my lame armchair ass) to look this over and weigh in. You know, if you make predictions and they're wrong and you stretch your model to always avoid any sort of direct contradiction but you never get anything correct, then you look more like a fortune teller than a theoretical physicist. They should have the option to revise but my prediction is that this result will lose them a large amount of support in the community. It doesn't outright disqualify them but it sure is a vote of no confidence in a lot of the popular String Theory models.

Re:Dangerous Ground! (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574352)

The microscopic black holes produced at the LHC would be distinguished by high multiplicity, democratic, and highly isotropic decays...

Democratic?

Maybe they all voted not to show up.

Re:Dangerous Ground! (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574924)

No, no, no. Wrong Democratic.

This just proves that reality has a conservative bias - no Democratic black holes? Then, by God, it's Republican's bringing light to the world!

Really quite a simple concept. Just as you would expect.

Re:Dangerous Ground! (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574494)

I have no doubt that certain instruments could eventually be built to "observe" other dimensions if they even exist. I am skeptical that they even do, just as skeptical I am that dark matter even exists, however one theory that I sort of like actually is a re-do of Relativity. I forget who proposed it, and as far as I knew it was not generally excepted by Physicists. However it treats light as a non-constant and posits that 2 other dimensions exist that have something to do with gravity and electromagnetism. The cute thing about the theory was that it enabled FTL travel (which has been a Sci-fi wet dream of mine since childhood) through some kind of conversion between electromagnetism and gravity. Im sorry if I am too vague. I am hoping someone can respond to my post with the name of the guy that came up with this. I believe it was posted on Slashdot a few years ago.

Re:Dangerous Ground! (1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574666)

I am the submitter, I don't think I said anything too far one way or the other.

It's true that /. editors change up the submissions, sometimes beyond recognition, I think the following quote from the summary is essentially the same as my agreement with it.

While you may not be able to run around claiming that String Theory is dead and disproved, evidently there are some adjustments that need to be made.

I agree with the summary, this isn't the defeat of String Theory. It is a chance to refine and improve it.

Re:Dangerous Ground! (2)

Genrou (600910) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574672)

This reminds me of the luminiferous aether and the Michelson-Morley experiment. A lot of physicists at the time were certain that luminiferous aether existed, but no experiment was able to prove it -- even with the proposed adjustments that are also cited here. Then Einstein, from the work of others, came with relativity theory. I always thought that string theory was weird (not that the universe should care about what I think, anyway), but maybe scientists are looking in the wrong direction. It would be really exciting if a completely different theory appears.

Re:Dangerous Ground! (1)

monkeythug (875071) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574990)

It doesn't outright disqualify them but it sure is a vote of no confidence in a lot of the popular String Theory models.

I'm not so sure this really means anything much. I'm no expert, but my understanding was that the creation of mini-blackholes was always a longshot, predicted by only one fairly left-field formulation of string theory.

AIUI there are basically two broad classes of string theories - there's the "Brane" theories that holds that we only experience 3D+time out of the possible 10D+time because the other six dimensions form a Brane - a large (possibly universe sized) structure where all quantum particles are constrained to a 3 dimensional "surface" and cannot move in any other direction (except for possibly gravitons). Think in terms of a large piece a paper where everything can move freely across its surface but cannot leave it.

Then there's the second class of string theories which says that the other six dimensions exist in the universe we live in but are somehow "wrapped up" into a tiny volume around each quantum particle rather than being "unwrapped" like the three we're familiar with.

Only this second class of string theory predicts the mini-blackholes. Not only that but the blackholes are only predicted if a least one of the six dimensions are "loosely wrapped" to about a millimeter in size. Most physicists AFAIK already considered it far more likely that all the six dimensions are tightly wrapped to somewhere around the Planck length.

Re:Unobservable (2)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574220)

I agree with the summary, this isn't the defeat of String Theory. It is a chance to refine and improve it.

Why would you? This was the only ever testable prediction from String Theory, and it failed. Finally String Theory has its coveted falsifiability, and now you want to take it away again? People have been refining and improving string theory for decades, so far with nothing to show for it. Maybe we need to look elsewhere. (Loop Quantum Mechanics looks promising, if I understand The Big Bang Theory correctly.)

Re:Unobservable (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574654)

I have said this on here before many times, but I was a physics minor in college, and used to read a good deal about string theory back then, and it seems to me that the theory is wasting millions of hours of research and brainpower on string theory.

It is TREMENDOUSLY complicated. I only scratched the surface of the mathematics involved, and I can tell you that it gets very heavy, very quick. Aside from that though, it seems like every time some bump in the road was hit, they added another layer of almost absurd complexity to explain it. It really reeks of the epicycles added by astronomers who wanted to keep the earth-centric model intact.

To think that all of physics can be explained by relatively simple concepts and equations, but string theory comes along and is just an order of magnitude beyond anything that we have seen previously, fails to really predict anything, and at times doesn't even seem to be consistent with itself... leads me to believe that there is a much simpler explanation out there.

It kills me that there are so many bright young physicists out there focusing on this, because it is a hot area (this may have changed, its been almost 10 years since I was in school, but the trend seemed like it was picking up steam, not losing it when I left).

That's just my $.02. I know, its easy to pick me apart- I don't have a PHD and can only hold my own on technical details for about 10 seconds with a string theorist, but I just don't believe that String theory is going anywhere.

Re:Unobservable (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574400)

I agree with the summary, this isn't the defeat of String Theory. It is a chance to refine and improve it.

Am I the only one who sees 'string theory' as the modern equivalent of the geocentric model of the universe? When it makes a prediction that doesn't match reality, we 'refine and improve' it by adding more spheres within spheres (or presumably strings within strings in this case).

Re:Unobservable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574592)

I was going to post something similar, it seems to me that you could mathematically prove the geocentric model and use less constraints than string theory.

Nothing to worry about (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34573910)

Any day now a new string theory will "predict" that we won't find any microscopic black holes. String theory's main strength is in predicting the results of experiments that have already been done. It's just predicitng anything we don't know yet that it has trouble with.

The story of string theory (5, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34573926)

One day, Bob the Scientist was puffing on some buddha. He smoked and smoked, and smoked some more. Suddenly, Bob the scientist looked down: the lines between the tiles on the floor started to wiggle this way and that, giving the tiles the impression that they were vibrating. Bob the Scientist blinked his eyes twice, only to see the lines still wiggling, enticing them with their random, chaotic dance.

"That's it!" Bob shouted. "That's the answer, man!"

Bob the Scientist went and grabbed Bill the Scientist. He pointed at the floor, saying over and over again "The lines, man! Look at the lines! Wooooooaaaaaahhhhh."

Bill the Scientist sniffed, and said to Bob "Bob...have you been smoking that crazy ganja again?"

"Yes, but so what? Duuuuude...the liinnnes...their taaaalking to meeeee..."

"Give me some of that shit." Bill the Scientist took a big drag, looked down at the floor, and they both stared. "Woooooaaaaaaah...we better write this down, so we don't forget!"

And thus, string theory was born.

Re:The story of string theory (2)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574186)

You'd be funny if you didn't confuse acid for pot. Just b/c you're a geek doesn't mean you have to be a square.

Re:The story of string theory (4, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574230)

The whole "vibrating line" thing is based off an optical illusion that affects even sober people, which pot can exacerbate. If it was LSD, the tiles would have been floating slightly above the ground and shifting colors, rather than something as simple as stationary lines showing trail-like vibrations.

I've been called many things, but never a square :p

Re:The story of string theory (v2) (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574202)

Logically, the strings came from the first crappy but mandatory attempt to visualize the science for a documentary or a magazine. Science must be cool (says management), and therefore, we need full-color pictures - preferably moving pictures. Since 26-dimensional calculations are very difficult to visualize (see for example the end of Space Odyssey 2001), and you can't show the actual calculations either... Voila: strings.

Ok. I admit... my version isn't much better.

Re:The story of string theory (v2) (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575086)

Weren't there "only" 11 dimensions, or have they added some in the new catalog ?

Re:The story of string theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574340)

"their taaaalking to meeeee...""

Now you know he's baked, he can't tell they're from their!

adjustments (4, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34573984)

While you may not be able to run around claiming that String Theory is dead and disproved, evidently there are some adjustments that need to be made."

...again

String theory is one of those theories that get changed around every time they run into trouble. I can't imagine what it would take to have it go away, aside from a paradigm change.

Re:adjustments (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574120)

That's the scientific method at work. Bear in mind that string theory was constructed because quantum mechanics and relativity need some pretty serious adjustments of their own.

Re:adjustments (2)

mcvos (645701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574278)

How exactly does String Theory help? QM and Relativity only conflict in their predictions in areas we can't observe. In exchange we get String Theory which doesn't predict anything. Except for this, and it's been refuted.

Re:adjustments (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574644)

None of what you have said there is true. Firstly, QM and relativity conflict fundimentally. Physics is discontinuous with scale. We get around this because the corrections are generally negligable, much as QM and relativistic corrections were negligable to scientists in the 1800s. Experiments like the LHC are reaching energies at which the corrections become non-negligable. Secondly, this is not the only prediction that a string theory makes.

Re:adjustments (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575252)

Secondly, this is not the only prediction that a string theory makes.

Love it. "A" string theory. It's funny because it's true - there's "a" string theory to predict just about anything.

Re:adjustments (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574358)

String theory is one of those theories

No it isn't. 'String theory' is an informal term used to describe a collection of theories with some common principles. Not all of them make the same predictions. It works as a pretty good filter when reading scientific journalism. Any article that contains the phrase 'string theory says' is almost certainly written by someone who doesn't know what they are talking about.

that get changed around every time they run into trouble

Uh, that's how science works. You observe, hypothesise, test, and then refine the hypothesis. Sometimes it takes a lot of testing before you find a case where the hypothesis makes predictions that are wrong (e.g. Newtonian gravity), sometimes it takes very little. If a theory is sufficiently high profile, a lot of effort (e.g. building the LHC) will go into testing it, so hopefully you'll find errors quickly.

Very occasionally, someone will come up with a completely new theory that makes the same predictions as an existing one (or more accurate ones) but is simpler. When this happens, it generally displaces the old theory, but it's very rare.

Re:adjustments (2)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574606)

All thoary shnge to adapt to new data. Newton can be falsifiad at the quanten level, that doesn't mean ti's not correct under everyday .

What test was previous falsified string theory? Of course 'string theory' is a set of mathematical theories.

Re:adjustments (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575040)

All thoary shnge to adapt to new data. Newton can be falsifiad at the quanten level, that doesn't mean ti's not correct under everyday .

.

WARNING!

Insufficient Caffeine levels detected!
Cease posting immediately until situation corrected.

WARNING!

Re:adjustments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575136)

All throaty shingle to adapt to new data. Newton can be falafeled at the canteen level, that doesn't mean ties are not correct under everydaywear.

I think it's good either way (5, Insightful)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574004)

It shows string theory is testable after all.

Even failing still sheds light on what is wrong with our theory (or reality if you're an economist :-).

Re:I think it's good either way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574236)

No it doesn't. There are as many string theories as there are people working on it. This has been the problem from day 1. It's a religion for physicists, not science. There's nothing more to it than their beliefs, and just like god religions where everything can be replaced with FSM, the same can be done with string theory.

Re:I think it's good either way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575118)

No it doesn't. There are as many string theories as there are people working on it. This has been the problem from day 1. It's a religion for physicists, not science. There's nothing more to it than their beliefs, and just like god religions where everything can be replaced with FSM, the same can be done with string theory.

Except M-theory says all the string theories are part of an even more general theory.

Re:I think it's good either way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574410)

Well said. As far as I am concerned, this is science at its best: formulate theories, make predictions, conduct experiments, ... and deal with the more than occasional refutation. Some theories need "adjustments" (Newtonian physics) others are plain wrong (caloric, ether) but theories that allow to make predictions are always useful in advancing our knowledge, if only because they can be refuted by experiments and lead to better theories. We should congratulate people who admit things didn't work out as they expected.How often do you see politicians doing that? :D

Re:I think it's good either way (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574588)

Even failing still sheds light on what is wrong with our theory (or reality if you're an economist :-).

Well the thing is there's probably one theory that is right for physics. The same is not true for economics, if people buy into the bubble there'll be a bubble and if people buy into the panic there'll be a panic so you have self-fulfilling predictions while an atom does what it does no matter what you predict. The actual trigger can be as distant as the assassination of an archduke starting a world war, and if that trigger didn't happen the whole economy could change.

Take a look at the stock market after the financial crisis, for every drop there was a group of people saying "Now is the time to invest!" but they weren't many enough and it dropped some more. Finally it hit some form of critical mass of people and it took a huge bounce back as people suddenly realized they missed the bottom and wanted to get back in. Does the timing of that have anything at all to do with the economy as such? Nah, it's all about timing in relation to everyone else. And when everyone is trying to predict what everyone else is doing, it gets really messy.

Re:I think it's good either way (3, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574800)

The same is not true for economics

And there's an easy answer as to why: False theories in economics can be very profitable, and where there is large profit to be made there will be somebody trying to make it (that's one of the few settled theories of economics).

For instance, the Laffer Curve has been consistently demonstrated to be absolutely nothing like what Arthur Laffer postulated it would be (namely, a smooth parabola) when tax rates are anywhere in between about 10% and 90%. But the Laffer Curve also motivates politicians to cut taxes, which for people who pay a lot of taxes is very profitable. So if I'm an economically rational wealthy guy who normally pays $1 million in taxes, and I can pay somebody $30,000 to tout the Laffer Curve to help convince politicians to cut my taxes by 5% (thus with a potential savings of $50,000), I'm going to do just that.

Re:I think it's good either way (1)

Steve Blake (13873) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575084)

Laffer never claimed that the curve (tax rate vs. collected revenue) was a smooth parabola.

Good Science (1)

MessyBlob (1191033) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574066)

If this work checks out, then it's "good science" (yay, a disproof!), and tells us a lot more about current ideas than the typical run-of-the-mill publications that exist today. At the risk of trolling: we have many broken or fudged models at the moment, and we need new ideas!

Personally (2)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574250)

I think String Theory is vital! You take the early works of Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and move through Hendrix, Trower and later Stevie Ray and without people furthering string theory then American Idol becomes the end-all! Granted we're in a glut of String Theory progress right now but these things are cyclical. I'm confident there's another genius out there that will take strings to the next level of understanding and I for one can't wait. And as for "tiny black holes," frankly the big one behind the strumming point on the strings has always worked just fine.

Waste of time and money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574288)

What a waste of 30 years and 4.4 billion dollars

"String Theory" is a misnomer (1)

paiute (550198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574350)

Until it has some experimental evidence to support it, it should be String Hypothesis.

Re:"String Theory" is a misnomer (1)

fusiongyro (55524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574488)

Yeah, but until your ideas can be tested, they're not even hypotheses. Until today, it should have been "String Philosophy." And now it should be whatever the most politically correct term is for "theories" like alchemy.

We need least of all another reconfiguration of this broken idea. What we really need is to find a way to offer academic amnesty for string theorists, to get them to move to the humanities department where they belong.

Re:"String Theory" is a misnomer (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575014)

You're commenting on an article about string theory failing a test, saying how string theory cannot be tested.

WRONG (-1, Offtopic)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574726)

wrong wrong wrong. you idiots gett stupidies everytime you say that.

In physics(which this is) the term theory is used for a mathematical framework.

God, you get in thing in your head and then can't even be bothered to find out if it is used differently in different fields.

tard.

should not make expirementally based adjustments (1)

goffster (1104287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574482)

If you make adjustments based on experimentation, then your theory becomes nothing more than
"explaining the results" which is bad science.

In other words, the experimenter should not say "your model failed this particular test"
but "your model failed".

String theory is a kind of religion (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574484)

Both theoretical and practical physics are important. But I fear some theoretical physicists have become so disjointed form the practical side of things, they are engaging in nothing but science fiction. The self-reinforcing groupthink begins to build upon itself, some horrible academic paper generating force, a sociological phenomenon that bears no relation to what science is actually supposed to be.

Then we have something more akin to how religious organizations conduct the preservation, evangelization, and defense of their dogma.

This isn't physics anymore. Don't question string theory. It exists in a realm outside of reality, untestable, unprovable, unknowable. Except through the investment of faith in the academic movement that keeps the sacred thing alive.

Sheldon Cooper will be pissed (0)

landoltjp (676315) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574502)

Either that, or he'll be on a complete tear to prove CERN wrong. I can feel a few Big Bang Theory episodes out of this!!

Better than the alternative . . . (1, Informative)

nixman99 (518480) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574522)

"the hypothesis by String Theory that micro black holes would be formed and quickly evaporated"

Better no black holes than black holes that didn't evaporate.

Unfalsifiable yet falsified? (1)

grimJester (890090) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574524)

I haven't read Woit's post on this, but the whole idea that some guy who has for years claimed that string theory is "not even wrong" because it can't make any predictions suddenly changes his mind to say it predicted the Planck scale is below 3,5TeV is absurd.

Some Randall-Sundrum [wikipedia.org] models might have been falsified, but I don't know enough to say whether they are part of string theory or not.

Reminder from my High School Days (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574540)

I remember in a math class, we were given series of numbers and we were supposed to determine the function that created them. For example:

1, 4, 9 ,16 Obviously asking for y=x^2
0, 1, 0, -1 Going for a sinusoidal wave

etc. etc.

Now, me being the smartass I am and completely bored decide to prove that an infinite number of functions can produce these series. So after digging in, figure out that if given a series of n items that I can reproduce it with at least one polynomial function with largest term of cx^n-1 terms and an infinite number of polynomial functions with largest term of cx^n.

So basically one can create a function to describe the limited information you have but not really answer what the "real" answer is.

This is what string theory reminds me of. You observe some things and find some convoluted explanation for it. If you get a data set that destroys the theory, you add another term to your equation and shout "VOILA" and declare that you have enhanced your theory.

Contrast this to the theory of relativity where new observations support its validity. Bottom line: string theory is not science.

Re:Reminder from my High School Days (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574852)

I think you make a great point. With complex enough mathematical instruments you can make a model that accounts for all the data. But that opens up a philosophical question. If it does actually account for everything so well that it can't be falsified, doesn't that make it true anyway? And if we come up with any series of equations that models the universe correctly, won't brilliant mathematicians eventually come up with simplifications to it if possible?

Re:Reminder from my High School Days (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574876)

this also is why the climate modeling of the "climatologists" is utter nonsense, they are forever re-cooking their books as reality doesn't support their predictions

Awesome! (0)

youn (1516637) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574576)

not yet the end of the world? with a runaway blackhole gulping earth... now that's a relief :)... maybe better (or worse) luck next time :)

No fundamental adjustments needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574752)

Well, string theory is indeed far from dead but I would claim that it does not even need adjustments.

The reason for this is that string theory contains within itself a large class of possibilities for the 'low-energy' degrees of freedom. (The name 'low-energy' is a bit misleading since those degrees of freedom are actually precisely the particles one may detect with very high-energy particle colliders like the LHC.) Naively speaking you can curl up your six or seven (or even eight) extra dimensions in such a way that they predict *very* different results for experiments like the LHC, and all of this can be done within the same string theory.

What the present paper says is that *one class* out of these very many possibilities should now be discarded. That is a nice and good result in itself but personally I am not too surprised since this class seemed a bit far-fetched to me anyway.

String theory is therefore still alive and kicking and this experiment certainly does not imply any adjustments are necessary to the fundamentals of the theory itself. Rather, string theorist simply cross out these options from their list, thank the experimenters for their efforts (thanks, guys!) and start looking for different ways of curling up dimensions... ideas are welcome! :-)

Disclaimer: IAAST

In case you want to know from a physicist (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574792)

I happen to be an actual theoretical particle physicist. The headline and summary are completely misleading/sensationalist and this has essentially nothing to do with string theory. If I hadn't seen the string-theory connection here on slashdot, "string theory" would not even have crossed my mind reading this. If you happen to actual read the so-called "long statement" (which is only half a page really) you would have noticed that it doesn't say anything about string theory. What this measurement has ruled out are certain theories that have some small extra dimensions that would predict these tiny black holes. Those theories don't really have anything to do with string theory per se. The only conceived connection is that string theory also has more than 4 spacetime dimensions.

Calling this "string theory tested, fails prediction" is close to the following analogy: Someone comes up with a crazy theory according to which once a while (say 1 in 100) an apple that gets detached from a tree should rise into the sky (say by using complex numbers to cleverly generate a minus sign in Newton's laws). After having observed sufficiently many apples all fall down, we can now say with confidence that apples don't rise but in fact always fall. The slashdot headline would be: "Complex numbers tested, fail apple prediction."

So rest assured, no string theorist will have a sleepless night and none of them will make any adjustments whatsoever. The main reaction in the particle physics world to this will be a lunch conversation along the lines of: "Told you so, this whole idea about mini-blackholes was ridiculous in the first place, in any case, glad they rule it out, so hopefully this will quiet down this whole black-hole circus now."

No Black Holes - No more 2012 LOLZ! (1)

bigsexyjoe (581721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574796)

Okay, I'm as interested in tests of String Theory as the next guy. But more importantly, if CERN can not create mini-black holes, can we stop with all the LOLZ THE WORLD ENDZ IN 2012 LOLZ!!!!

Is that to much to ask?

And preemptively, If you want to reply, IT DID CREATE THE BLACK HOLES, THEY DIDN'T EVAPORATE, THE WORLD ENDS IN 2012, LOLZ!!! I should point out that if i made the black holes that don't evaporate they'll end the world before 2012. Second of all, shoot yourself. Just shoot yourself, alright?

Nerdrage at incongruence in TFS (1)

FTWinston (1332785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574916)

...for the cases of black holes with a mass of 3.5-4.5 TeV (1012 electron volts).

Ok, wtf is that bit in the brackets meant to be? A conversion into "common sense" units? From terra electron Volts to ... electron Volts? But the numbers make no sense at all!! Seriously, whoever put that in, go learn some physics. Or some maths. I can't even work out what units they were attempting to convert to there. Closest I can come up with is "two-third milli-ergs" ... but that's deliberately venturing into the realm of the riduculous.

1 TeV = 1,000,000,000,000 eV. So 3.5 - 4.5 TeV is 3,500,000,000,000 eV - 4,500,000,000,000 eV. Where the hell does the 1012 eV part come from? Graah!

Re:Nerdrage at incongruence in TFS (3, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575046)

I suspect a carat or other symbol was dropped by the slashcode, and it used to read "TeV (10 *to the* 12 electron volts)".

The theory (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574936)

The string theory is that cats like them, or not. I don't think the cats should be in a box though, that's just cruel.

No more unlocks? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575102)

Does this mean I don't get my mhttp://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1913170&op=reply&threshold=0&commentsort=0&mode=thread&pid=ini-black hole blaster?

What Greek? (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575208)

Not Even Wrong points us to the arxiv prepublication for those of you well versed in Greek

As the article is written in English, I'm trying to understand why you wrote that.

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