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Evidence for String Theory?

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the quarks-and-stuff dept.

Science 258

Izeickl writes "PhysOrg.com is reporting that scientists working at a neutrino detector nicknamed AMANDA at the South Pole report that evidence for string theory may soon be coming. Extra dimensions predicted by string theory may affect observed numbers of certain neutrinos and this is what the scientists will be looking for. The article further states 'No more than a dozen high-energy neutrinos have been detected so far. However, the current detection rate and energy range indicate that AMANDA's larger successor, called IceCube, now under construction, could provide the first evidence for string theory and other theories that attempt to build upon our current understanding of the universe.'"

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258 comments

Now we know.. (1, Funny)

christurkel (520220) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587726)

Where all the Best Buy rebates go, no wonder Best Buy is going to a different system: We're onto them!!

Re:Now we know.. (1, Interesting)

rapierian (608068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587737)

Screw string theory. Verify Heim theory!

Re:Now we know.. (3, Informative)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587764)

For those who aren't aware:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heim_theory [wikipedia.org]
Predictions of faster tan light travel (amoung other things)

Re:Now we know.. (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587867)

faster tan light travel
I do get bored waiting so long in those tanning beds to brown, perhaps this 'faster light' of which you speak is the answer.


And before the humourless point it out, I do know that was a typo. I just thought it was funny.

Re:Now we know.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587798)

Why, because New Scientist dug it up and hyped it? Obscure theories unverified by the scientific community making fantastic predictions are a dime a dozen.

new dimensions (5, Funny)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587736)

I heard that there was only one other dimension... and the only difference was we are all wearing mexican hats... I thought this was general knowledge - perhaps the scientists here should have checked the facts before they started considering 24 dimensional super gravities and the like

Re:new dimensions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587769)

What about the mexicans? What exactly do they wear in the "other" dimension?

Re:new dimensions (2, Funny)

strokerace (912726) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588117)

Wrong! There is another dimension but it's the exact opposite of this dimension, and there we all have goatees.

Re:new dimensions (3, Funny)

sl3xd (111641) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588231)

So Steve Urkel would be a platinum blonde seductress with a goatee?

I'll pass.

well is it (2, Insightful)

lubricated (49106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587758)

so will string theory finally be falsifiable and be more than a religion?

Re:well is it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587772)

Of course not. If IceCube fails to see an effect, some theorist will just come up with a modification explaining why there isn't really any effect to see, or better yet, why you need to build a 10x larger detector to see it.

Re:well is it (2, Interesting)

musonica (949257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587799)

Or perhaps provable and evidence of religion? Oh save us from thy noodley jokes that are yet to be posted... Still this will be great to actually have some idea if the beautiful http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/String_theory/ [wikipedia.org] has validity!

Re:well is it (2, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587986)

Actually, this research will say next to nothing about string theory. The "string theory" mumbo-jumbo there is just hype. The IceCube experiment will (hopefully) see physics beyond the Standard Model [wikipedia.org], but it's a far cry from that to saying "this will test predictions of string theory". There are literally hundreds of models (many of them string-theory based) for what could happen. More importantly, the energy scale of the experiment will never detect anything "stringy" directly. It can only see the effective theory at that energy scale, in fact only a small piece of that. Whenver people hype an experiment as potentially providing "evidence for string theory" what they really hope for is "evidence for phsyics beyond the standard model".

Re:well is it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588021)

Mostly true, although if one of the large extra dimensions scenarios pan out, we could see stringy physics directly as the strings propagate through the large (-> low energy) dimensions.

Re:well is it (4, Insightful)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587826)

Just because you don't know how to falsify it doesn't mean it's not falsifiable. Religion is by definition not falsifiable.

That's the big, important, difference.

Re:well is it (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587842)

>> Just because you don't know how to falsify it doesn't mean it's not falsifiable.

If nobody has any idea on how to even begin to falsify it, what's the difference?
>>Religion is by definition not falsifiable.
String theory by construction is unfalsifiable.

Re:well is it (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587856)

Well what about this experiment? If it fails, then that disproves a certain version of it.

Re:well is it (1)

lubricated (49106) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587869)

ok, so certain versions are falsifiable, the thing as a whole is not.

Re:well is it (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588036)

let mr put it to you this way.... you are an idiot. it is a theory based on mathematics, just like General Relativity was based on mathematics. it took many many many years before the precision in instrumentation and the energy was available to test it. Did that make GR a religion? If it makes you feel better. Ed Witten has revised his M-Theory. Through the use of Twistor Geometry he has reduced the number of dimensions to 4, those present in GR.

Re:well is it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588087)


If it makes you feel better. Ed Witten has revised his M-Theory. Through the use of Twistor Geometry he has reduced the number of dimensions to 4, those present in GR.

That turns out not to be the case. M-theory is still 11-dimensional, though the usual compactification scheme of getting down to 4 large dimensions can be employed. You may be getting confused by his work [arxiv.org] showing how to use twistors to relate perturbative (supersymmetric) gauge theories to string theory. (Anyway, the dimensionality of M-theory is tangential to the question of its falsifiability.)

Re:well is it (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588059)

"String theory" isn't a theory, it's a collection or class of competing theories. Kind of like "celestial mechanics." You can't falsify celestial mechanics, but you CAN falsify the geocentric model, thereby realizing that the heliocentric model is better.

Re:well is it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588109)

Classes of theories can be falsified too, if you make an observation that is incompatible with all theories in that class. Whether we are technologically capable of making observations that could potentially falsfify all string theories is unknown.

Re:well is it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587885)


String theory by construction is unfalsifiable.

You don't know that. Nobody does. Nobody knows what the definition of string theory even is, let alone how to unambiguously extract what kinds of low-energy physics it definitely can or cannot predict. Right now there is significant debate regarding this point within the string community; it is dubbed the (Anthropic) Landscape. There is some discussion in this blog [utexas.edu].

Re:well is it (1)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588009)

Flash back to 1907..... How were you going to falsify GR?

Re:well is it (1)

gkhan1 (886823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588202)

You mean special relativity, not geberal. Special relativity was discovered in 1905, general 1915. However your point it still valid, there was no way to prove SR in 1907.

Re:well is it (1)

rollingrock (653505) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588256)

GR correctly predicts the precession of the orbit of Mercury, which was known at the time. The lack of aether, which on its own is pretty firm evidence SR, was demonstrated in many experiments [ucr.edu] before and after SR.

Re:well is it (2, Insightful)

Dashing Leech (688077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588179)

"If nobody has any idea on how to even begin to falsify it, what's the difference?"

It's a huge difference. But beyond that, if a theory/model makes predictions about how the universe works, and it is impossible to ever prove it wrong (falsifiable), by definition you've just demonstrated that it is a perfect model of the universe. That is, after all, the goal of the Theory of Everything, to have a model that explains and can predict everything.

Religion is not falsifiable because it makes no predictions about the interactions of reality that can be checked. (This is arguable, however, depending on the belief of the religion. For example, faith-healers are falsifiable and have been demonstrated to be false. Really we're talking about the existence of God, not religion as a whole.)

String/M- theory is a mathematical construct that makes predictions about reality. That we don't have the technology to check them yet, and that all of the predictions haven't been derived yet, is different from being non-falsifiable. In fact, one can argue that it already has. It predicts the existence of gravity, and our observations match the prediction. If they didn't, it would be false, hence it's falsifiable.

Put yet another way, if string/M- theory is not falsifiable then it is not making any predictions about reality and hence it is useless as a model to tell us anything. That's hardly the case.

Re:well is it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587874)

Just because you don't know how to falsify it doesn't mean it's not falsifiable.

Hm, maybe Gödel's incompleteness theorem is relevant here.

link [wikipedia.org]

Falsifiable (3, Interesting)

Cybersaint2k (828867) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587904)

Religion that hides so far from rationality and logic that it become non-falsifiable, unproven and unprovable, is hardly the robust Christianity I find in the Bible.

If you find internal consistency (within the dogma of a religion, including their trusted documents) and external consistency with the outer (earth/cosmos) and inner (conscience/mind) world, then you can start taking it seriously.

Ordinary Christianity has its share of mystery and hyper-rational statements (that is, statements that seem to be beyond 19th century rationalism to fully unpack/understand), it seems to be extremely falsifiable and, to different degrees depending on your presuppositions, provable.

But that's just me.

Re:Falsifiable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588257)

Yes, but most of the claims in the Bible have been so thoroughly refuted that the choices left are to
a) ignore science and insist the Bible is inerrant (what we might call the "fundy" route
b) throw out most of the Bible and make your god into something that is inherently untestable, undisprovable, and ultimately impotent

Re:Falsifiable (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588282)

Indeed, Richard Swinburne, Nolloth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Oxford, has dedicated the last thirty years to showing that theism in general and Christianity in particular is provable. For instance, in The Resurrection of God Incarnate [amazon.com] (Oxford University Press, 2003), he uses a number of sources plus the Bayesian theorem to show that the traditional Christian teaching of Christ's return from death is overwhelmingly probable. Anyone with the slightest education in philosophy can enjoy his argument.

Responsiblity and Atonement [amazon.com] (Oxford University Press, 1989), his first book on specifically Christian themes, is a bit more obscure for the layman but rewards attention.

Re:Falsifiable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588369)

That's silly. By the Bayesian Occam's Razor [utexas.edu], theological hypotheses are disfavored, once you take into account the space of all possible predictions (not just the resurrection or whatnot), because they fail to be specific in the vast majority of cases, and you end up diluting the prior. (An example of this is the Ikeda/Jefferys fine tuning argument [utexas.edu].)

Re:Falsifiable (1)

Filip22012005 (852281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588345)

If you find internal consistency (within the dogma of a religion, including their trusted documents) and external consistency with the outer (earth/cosmos) and inner (conscience/mind) world, then you can start taking it seriously.

For a list of internal bible inconsistencies, visit http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/by_na me.html [skepticsan...dbible.com]
For a list of inconsistencies between the bible and history/science, visit http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/science/long .html [skepticsan...dbible.com]

Re: well is it (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588347)

> so will string theory finally be falsifiable and be more than a religion?

Do you know of anyone teaching their children that they will go to Hell if they don't believe in string theory?

And if the day ever comes that we get observations that conflict with the claims of string theory, will physicists dismiss the observations as manifestations of God's inscrutable will?

Even the most speculative branches of science very different from religion.

Uh oh... (5, Funny)

TheNoxx (412624) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587763)

Great, now we'll be able to see Cthulhu and he'll get all embarassed because he'll be like, in a shower or something when that thing's turned on, and he'll eat the goddamn earth. Can't we be happy with *our* dimension of existence? Wasn't invading Iraq enough?

Re:Uh oh... (1)

mscir (718269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587835)

Saddam was hiding some of the parts for the detector in a museum, he found them in a pyramid, or something...

Evidence may be coming? Oooh, I can hardly wait! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587773)

Of course, it may not.

WTF?

Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? (-1, Redundant)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587775)

When did they build a Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? More junk is being built there all the time. Why not the North Pole region of Canada, the US or Russia?

 

Re:Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? (5, Informative)

dragons_flight (515217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587805)

Construction on AMANDA began in 1994, and South Pole was chosen because you need high transparency ice. That means you need an ice sheet substantially thicker than 1400 meters (the bubble conversion zone) in a region with few dust or volcanic impurities. South Pole satisfies both these properties very well.

Re:Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587865)

"More junk is being built there all the time."

What do you think is creating the "hole" in the ozone layer? I've always wanted to know how the CFCs out of my hair spray gets to the south pole.

Re:Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? (3, Informative)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587927)

The really cool thing about the very thick ice on the south pole is that beneath the few douzend meters of surface layer, its incredibly pure and transparent.

Now if a neutrino causes a shower of cherenkow radiations, it can be detected many many meters away.
So instead of building huge watertanks in deep mines, one can use the deeper ice layers as a large detector.

You just melt holes into it and put photodetectors in a grid pattern, and get billions of tons of detector mass (which you need because low chance of neutrino interaction with matter)

Re:Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? (4, Funny)

wbren (682133) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588012)

When did they build a Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? More junk is being built there all the time. Why not the North Pole region of Canada, the US or Russia?
Santa's invisible workshop is already there. Since it is such a large operation, it takes up most of the real estate up there.

Re:Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? (2, Funny)

Screaming Harlot (942308) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588102)

Because Santa is an ID-proponent, and refuses to allow such blasphemy to be conducted on his pristine icy shores.

Re:Neutrino Detector at the South Pole? (1)

boojumbadger (949542) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588222)

largely, I suspect, because the south pole is on land and the north pole is not. Also wouldn't there be more interference from nuclear subs passing by all the time?

Just might (-1, Troll)

catahoula10 (944094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587779)

FTA:"that ghostlike particles from space could serve as probes to a world beyond our familiar three dimensions, the research team says."

The science freeks should be carefull!!

They just might find GOD in those other dimensions.

hahahaha!!

Re:Just might (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587790)

Sounds like someone has been reading Philip Pullman.

When they start drilling holes in people's heads let me know...

Don't get your hopes up (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587785)

This is not the only experiment which could probe large extra dimensions; the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is another notable experiment. However, this article is not implying that AMANDA (or any other experiment) has found evidence for string theory, or even that they are likely to.

Normally, string physics is thought to appear at the Planck scale (far beyond what we will ever be able to probe directly), because that is thought to be the size of the "curled up" extra dimensions. However, it's possible that the dimensions aren't actually that small, that they could be much larger — possibly not much smaller than a millimeter. (They could even be infinitely large, not curled up at all, and we could be living on a 4-dimensional "brane" close to another one.) In those cases, stringy behavior is brought down from the Planck scale to as low as 1 TeV (tera-electron volt), which is the energy that corresponds to a distance somewhat below a millimeter. (By the Uncertainty Principle, higher energies correspond to shorter distances that can be probed.)

The problem is, there isn't a lot of reason to believe that these scenarios ought to be true; they are highly speculative (even relative to string theory as a whole!). To a large extent, they are just hopeful thinking — that stringy physics might occur at in an energy regime we can probe. They could be helpful in understanding the hierarchy problem (the question of whether and why there is an absence of new particles between the electroweak and Planck scales), but when you get down to it, most high energy physicists are not betting on large extra dimensions. So these experiments might very well not show up any evidence of string theory (even if string theory is true).

Re:Don't get your hopes up (1)

dragons_flight (515217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587836)

Of course, just a couple weeks ago there was a story [slashdot.org] about people at RHIC thinking they saw evidence for micro black holes. And presumably if RHIC can do it, IceCube might be able to as well.

Re:Don't get your hopes up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587870)

From that same thread, RHIC did not see evidence of black holes [slashdot.org].

Besides which, RHIC is a particle accelerator and IceCube is just a detector (and just a neutrino detector at that). It's not equipped to either produce or detect black holes (though it's not impossible AFAIK, since it can at least detect flashes of light).

Who needs evidence? (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587792)

"Strings" are just another way of describing devine, Noodly Appendages [venganza.org].

Actually, this is really cool. Looking forward to what the use of the new detector shows, or doesn't, as the case may be. String theory is such a mind bender for most people (including me), that anything making it more directly tangible will really help focus the conversation. Or end it. Either way is good.

This sounds familiar (3, Funny)

Rude Turnip (49495) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587818)

I remember what happened the last time some scientists were doing experimental research in the South Pole. Let's just nip this one in the bud, shall we? Launch Eva!

You may know him from (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587820)

AMANDA's larger successor, called IceCube,

Also seen in such blockbuster hits as Boyz n the Nucleus, Three Quarks, and xXx: State of the Quantum.

That's nice, but. . . (5, Insightful)

petra13 (785564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587822)

It's cool that there's a testable prediction coming out of string theory, but I would take this with a grain of salt for the next few decades. For one thing, I don't think neutrinos themselves are well enough understood yet that string theory would provide the only (or even the best) possible explanation for discrepencies in their 'up' and 'down' neutrino rates. A multitude of experiments are being done now just to try to pin down the parameters governing neutrnio behavior. So if AMANDA sees the discrepency predicted by string theory, it would take a lot more work and many more years to demonstrate that there isn't a better explanation for it.

Conversation at the South Pole (5, Funny)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587830)

Top Scientist: How's the measurements going?

Peon: We've counted 12 possible events out of 789,567,345,754,234,567,876 (est) neutrinos passing thru the detector.

TS: Hmm, that's as expected, totally useless number of events to draw any inferences from. Keep at it.

(Next day) South Pole Grant Administrator: Hey, TS, got any news I can tell Washington? Your grant approval comittee meeting for the Big Project is next week!

TS: Oh, yes, Er, Um, hte data we got from their previous infusion of cash indicates Big Things, the possible proff of String Theory, SuperGravity, The AntiMacassar Postulate, and much more. But better just mention String Theory to the commitee, it was on the cover of Popular Science last month.

SPGA: Will do!

Actually (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587846)


Peon: We've counted 12 possible events out of 789,567,345,754,234,567,876 (est) neutrinos passing thru the detector.

TS: Hmm, that's as expected, totally useless number of events to draw any inferences from. Keep at it.

I think you were joking, but astrophysicists extracted a surprising amount of information [arxiv.org] from the 19 neutrinos observed from Supernova 1987A.

Heim theory? (3, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587838)

Will this neutrino evidence support or detract from Heim Theory [wikipedia.org], which also predicts multiple dimensions?

Sigh (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587918)

New Scientist sure has created a lot of Heim groupies.

The fact is, pretty much nobody knows what the hell Heim theory predicts. Most of his theory was never published or reviewed by his peers. We don't even know if his theory is self-consistent, whether the predictions hyped by New Scientist or the Internet "Heim appreciation society" that's pushing it are actually predictions of the theory, etc. For that matter, hardly anybody knows what the definition of the theory is.

Just because some people have made a bunch of wild claims about what Heim theory can predict, doesn't mean it's something to get excited about. Nor does Heim's reputation. Schroedinger himself thought he had come up with a unified field theory, called a big press conference, privately spoke of winning a second Nobel Prize. Some reporter asked Einstein what he thought, and he responded with a carefully worded response to the effect that one shouldn't get the impression that physics is like unstable Third World dictatorships, always experiencing revolutions. Schroedinger's theory didn't pan out and the two stopped corresponding for over a year.

There are more string dimensions than S,M,L & (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587839)

I've already seen strings XS, XXL and XXXL !! So we have at least 7 string dimensions ...

Though getting to 11 can be hard:

XXXXS XXXS XXS XS S M L XL XXL XXXL and XXXXL

The dimensions are of different size ... we can easily live in XXXXL !!! But XXXXS dimension is so small that we could not really
see it with naked eye ....

Anyway, string physics is a sexy topic ...

Re:There are more string dimensions than S,M,L &am (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588205)

Dude, that's "G" String Theory, which is easily observable at the macro scale, the only detector needed being an eyeball.

Re:There are more string dimensions than S,M,L &am (1)

Dashing Leech (688077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588286)

"Dude, that's "G" String Theory, which is easily observable at the macro scale, the only detector needed being an eyeball."

Yes, but an interesting principle of G-string Theory is that obvserving XXL and above strings can permanently destroy the measuring device, i.e., the eyeball, and hence can't readily be observed.

Re:There are more string dimensions than S,M,L &am (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588404)

Yes, that's absolutely true, and furthermore such observance has been construed to induce direct physiological effects, such as hairy palms and thinning of the wallet.

Communicating with other dimensions. (0)

ROMRIX (912502) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587849)

The year; 2008 A.D.

Scientists at the South Pole have just had a major breakthrough in proving the existence of other dimensions when a message was received at the IceCube facility from an alternate dimension!

The message was as follows;

ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO ME!

Re:Communicating with other dimensions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587899)

You mean "ALL YOUR BASE ARE BELONG TO US". "To Me" just removes the fun of it.

Re:Communicating with other dimensions. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588140)

"TO ME"? WTF?


It's "TO US". Dumbshit.

Re:Communicating with other dimensions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588180)

Oh? really? you got the same message?
get a life fucktard.

wake me when this matters to us 3d people (-1, Troll)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587862)

Since we're limited to moving 3 spatial dimensions, and a unidirectional path through the time dimension, wake me when somehow these 'extra' dimensions matter to humanity, and I'm not talking about the crystal people, faith healers, Platonists, and trekkies, who base their world view on denying the three dimensions we live in. Will it build the space plane? Will it allow FTL travel, in real terms, not some sort of "it would work, if only we had an infinite energy source"? Will it cure HIV, will it stop the third world from breeding like rats? Will it stop the onward march of socialism?

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14587931)

No, and neither will any of the stories reported in the history of all Slashdot. If you only want to read about boring things, why are you reading Slashdot at all?

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (4, Insightful)

csirac (574795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587935)

Will it stop the onward march of socialism?

I'm confused by this one. There's an onward march of socialism? I thought it fascism ;)

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (1)

oneiron (716313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588023)

Actually, now that I think about it... It could turn this planet into the socialist utopia that socialists have been dreaming about since the idea was concieved. That's not to say that we wouldn't encounter another economic game to participate in beyond our atmosphere. Oh wait... That's Star Trek. Oh wait.. science-fiction sometimes ends up being a little less strange than the truth, even...

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (2, Informative)

musonica (949257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587937)

You may think we are only operating in 3+1 dimensions, perhaps our terms of understanding other dimensions are limited. These other dimensions are said to make matter what it is, for instance a certain multi-dimensional vibratory resonance pattern is what makes a hydrogen atom different from an atom of gold. (IAACST (I am a crackpot string theorist)). A dimension "is a parameter or measurement required to define the characteristics of an object" (wikipedia) so i tend to look at things like color, taste or emotion as other "dimensions", though perhaps this is sematics to some, or difficult comparing mathematics to the real world.

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588390)

A dimension "is a parameter or measurement required to define the characteristics of an object" (wikipedia) so i tend to look at things like color, taste or emotion as other "dimensions"

No. A physical interpretation of a dimension is a direction you can move in. We can't visualize a fourth physical dimension of travel any more than a creature who lived in a two dimensional plane world could visualize the direction "up from the plane / down from the plane".

IAACST (I am a crackpot string theorist)).

[crickets chirping]

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (1)

oneiron (716313) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587940)

A functional understanding of the fundamental building blocks that make up our physical reality could do everything you've mentioned in your post...and a LOT more. It's like the atomic bomb x10, if you really think about it.

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (1)

Chowderbags (847952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588377)

Do we really need an atomic bomb x10? If that's all we can think to do with the new knowlege we might gain, is that really an improvement? Why must the immidiate first application of technology always seem to be better and better ways to kill people and break stuff? If that's the first thing we make with our exporations into new science, than we are no more civilized than out cavemen ancestors.

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (4, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587967)

You essentially ask: what use is fundamental physics research?

You can't ever predict what applications fundamental research will have on technology. Sometimes, things are immediate: after Roengten discovered X-rays in 1895, the medical application was obvious. On the other hand, in 1905 Einstein predicted that objects moving fast experience time dilation relative to stationary objects. In 1915 he also predicted that the same would hold for objects higher up in a gravitational well. This was completely irrelevant to then-current technology: Nothing man-made moved faster than 500mph, or got high enough off the ground, and anyway time couldn't be measured accurately enough for these effects to matter. Swing around to the 1980s. The US government is now launching the GPS system, which depends on exteremly precise timing synchronization between a satellite in orbit and the unit on the ground. It turns out that the two relativistic time-dilation effects have to be taken into account for the system to work at all. Who'd have thunk this in 1915?

Moreover, progress is usually incremental. No single discovery will "cure HIV" or give us infinite energy. New physics beyond the standard model might have technological applications in 80 years. Does that mean we shouldn't discover it today?

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (3, Informative)

Gromius (677157) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588097)

I completely agree, at the time most fundamental physics research seems completely pointless at the time but often in 60-80 years time its extremely important. Take the example of quantum mechanics, in the early 1900s, researching into being able to explain the precise movements and behaviour of subattomic particles, effects so small they had no practical application in everyday life may have seemed a bit pointless. 60 years later the understanding this lead to the invention of the transistor, which some people might argue is of some importance in todays world.

Anyway as an aside, evidence for extra dimensions != evidence for string theory. String theory isnt the only model which predicts extra dimensions. Evidence for no extra dimensions is evidence that string theory doesnt exist. However we'ld probably have to go to the planck scale to be sure which is probably impossible for the time being. Anyway we're far more likely to pick up string theory by the breaking of the E6 symetry group which produces extra massive neutral gauge bosons (Z').

Just your friendly neighbourhood extra dimensional researcher (CDF expt, Fermilab)

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588204)

Will it stop the onward march of socialism?

LOL. How the fuck will this good for humanity, you moron? Reds under the beds, PANIC STATIONS, omg!!1!!111!!11 They'll stop our corporate profits!!!!1

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (1)

jr-slash (904487) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588244)

Since we're limited to moving 3 spatial dimensions, and a unidirectional path through the time dimension, wake me when somehow these 'extra' dimensions matter to humanity
They matter if you are trying to find out why gravity is so weak when compared to the other 3 basic forces. If the other 3 are only "visible" in our 4 dimensions, but not in the other 6 (or 7), it would be logical for the gravity to be so weak.
An other thing to keep in mind is, that there are excacly 3 spatial dimensions! It has to be this way since the basic rules of our Universe (eg. gravity ~ 1/(r*r) ) would be different. So you cannot have any existence in the other dimensions, which is similar to ours.

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588278)


An other thing to keep in mind is, that there are excacly 3 spatial dimensions! It has to be this way since the basic rules of our Universe (eg. gravity ~ 1/(r*r) ) would be different. So you cannot have any existence in the other dimensions, which is similar to ours.

The extra dimensions spoken of are spatial dimensions, so there would be more than 3. Deviations from 1/r^2 would be seen, but only on scales smaller than the size of the extra dimensions. If the extra spatial dimensions beyond the 3 we see are small, they could exist but we wouldn't know it. We would be constantly be moving around in the extra dimensions as well as our 3, and not be able to tell.

Re:wake me when this matters to us 3d people (1)

sarragorn (654091) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588337)

what the fuck do you mean by "the third world from breeding like rats" and the "onward march of socialism" ?!
what is your problem ?
do you judge people on this planet by geographic or economic factors ?
SO WHAT if THEY are breeding, you dont ?!
this is the least we know for sure about life. that we multiply.
are u a fag ?!
do you feel a threat in socialism !?
i thought "americans" were over that embarrasing b-movie episode.
u are a true idiot me thinks.
please don't have a nice day.

I've got some string at home (2, Funny)

hughbar (579555) | more than 8 years ago | (#14587946)

There's no need for all this deep theoretical work and all these expensive detectors. I've got plenty of string at home in a jam jar. If they ask nicely, they can have some; it's in this dimension too (I think..).

And in related news... (0)

dc29A (636871) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588026)

The rapper Ice Cube decided to sue a bunch of scientists for trademark violation.

Re:And in related news... (1)

coastin (780654) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588394)

I was wondering why the rapper Ice Cube was mentioned in a /. post about evidence for a String Cheese Theory.

Let me know (1)

Zygote-IC- (512412) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588034)

Someone drop me a line when we can use this knowledge to do that Quantum Leap thing and jump around in our own lifetime.

Then I can go back and warn myself not to:
Write articles about how Apple is dying
Buy a DIVX player from Circuit City
Open the red door in that Choose Your Own Adventure book that ended in me being killed by that vampire that on the cover sort of looks like Boy George.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588037)

Oh yes, I believe in the string theory. Without this I wouldn't be able to play on my Xbox 360

See "Not Even Wrong" Blog (3, Informative)

pmjbf (950254) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588143)

This is discussed in this blog entry:

http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=33 5 [columbia.edu]

A snippet of which is:

The half a dozen references to string theory in the short press release might lead the gullible to think that we're about to be provided with evidence for the "exotic predictions of string theory", but that has little relationship to the reality here, one aspect of which of course is that there are no "predictions of string theory" about any of this.

...and which might be worth reading if this interests you.

Re:See "Not Even Wrong" Blog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588161)

One should note that Woit's blog is, um, a little anti-string biased. (In fact, that's practically its entire reason for existence.) However, I think that on this issue, any string theorist would agree with him.

A qualified No. (4, Interesting)

davidoff404 (764733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14588160)

This article or more specifically press release which triggered it is unqualified nonsense. There are no string theories which make testable predictions; we don't really even know how to get measurable predictions from them. The press release [neu.edu] from Northeastern in which this work is announced is terribly misleading and, in places, completely incorrect.

The only interesting thing about this experiment is that it could very well rule out the existence of extra dimensions at the energies which the LHC will begin to probe in a year or two even before the LHC comes on line. And yes, I am a string theorist.

Re:A qualified No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588203)


There are no string theories which make testable predictions; we don't really even know how to get measurable predictions from them.

I think that hinges entirely on what you mean by "make testable predictions". I would say that the problem is that there are too many string theories that make predictions (most of which are nothing like our universe). What is needed is some way of focusing on which ones are "likely", in some sense, or in some way constraining the space of theories. (That's what the whole Landscape debate is about.)

Had to be done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14588276)

I, for one, welcome our new highly charged overlords!
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