Science

The multiverse in three parts: Brian Greene at TED2012

Posted by: Helen Walters

Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Superstring theorist and physicist and the co-founder of the World Science FestivalBrian Greene splits his visually rich, action-packed talk into three distinct sections, all in the name of convincing us of the existence of the multiverse, the possibility that way beyond the earth, the milky way, we’ll find that our universe is part of a vast complex of universes we call the multiverse.

Part One: The history and mystery

In 1929, the astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that distant galaxies were rushing away from us; that space was stretching and expanding. This was a revolutionary idea; the prevailing wisdom to that point had been that the universe was static. One thing everyone agreed on: the expansion of the universe must be slowing down over time.

Fast forward to the 1990s, when two teams of Nobel Prize-winning astronomers aimed to measure the rate at which the expansion of the universe is slowing. Instead, they discovered the opposite: it’s actually accelerating. This, says Greene drily, was a surprise. The next obvious question: what force is driving this behavior? Well, gravity can push as well as pull. According to Einstein’s math, if space is filled with a uniform, invisible mist, the gravity generated by that mist would also be repulsive. And repulsive gravity, now also known as dark energy, is exactly what we need in order to explain the concept that as galaxies push away from each other, they cause the expansion to speed up, not slow down.

Now here’s Greene’s mystery. When the astronomers tried to work out precisely how much dark energy must be infusing space to account for cosmic speedup they found a number that is, well, “spectacularly small”. So the mystery became to explain this number. “We want it to emerge from laws of physics. But so far no one has found a way to do that,” says Greene. Should we care? Yes, it might be a technical detail, but he says, “some details really matter.” And, let’s face it, a detail that might evoke the meaning of new universes surely matters at least a little.

Part Two: The solution to the mystery

Now, Greene gives a quick recap of his own topic of research: string theory, an approach to reaching Einstein’s dream of a unified theory of physics. “The central idea of string theory is quite straightforward,” he says. “If you examine any piece of matter ever more finely, at first you’ll find molecules, atoms, sub-atomic particles. Probe the smaller particles, you’ll find something else, a tiny vibrating filament of energy, a little tiny vibrating string.” It’s these strings that vibrate to create all the different particles that create the “cosmic symphony of all the richness we see in the world around us.”

One problem of this elegant unification, confesses Greene: “the math of string theory doesn’t quite work.” That is, unless we allow for extra dimensions of space, to think beyond the three dimensions of height, width and depth with which we are familiar. String theory says there are additional dimensions crumpled to such a tiny size they remain undetected. But while they are hidden, they have profound effect: the shape of those extra dimensions constrains how the strings can vibrate. And naturally, the amount of dark energy within each universe is also determined by the shape of those extra dimensions. So now we just need to figure out the shape of those dimensions.

Another problem: we don’t actually know how to do that. And, where once there were five candidate shapes for these dimensions, now there are billions of them–10 to the power 500, in fact. “Some researchers lost heart,” confesses Greene, who then proposes his solution: turn the problem on its head. Maybe, in a multiverse, each of the shapes is on an equal footing. Maybe, they’re all real, each with a different shape. And if other universes have different shapes, their physical features will be different and their amount of dark energy will be different. Instead of focusing on answering the wrong questions, we need to rethink the problem. Perhaps the right question to ask would be why humans find themselves in a universe with that particular amount of dark energy instead of in any of the other possibilities? After all, in those universes with more dark energy than here, they blow apart immediately and galaxies don’t form. Those universes with less energy implode so quickly that again, galaxies don’t form. And without galaxies, there’s no chance for stars or planets and therefore no chance for our form of life to exist in those other universes.

Part Three: The cosmological theory that pulls the story together

We often envision a cosmic explosion that created our universe and sent space rushing outward, says Greene, who points out a simple truth: the Big Bang leaves out something important: “the bang tells us how our universe evolved after the bang, but gives us no insight into what would have powered the bang itself.”

Inflationary cosmology describes a particular kind of fuel that would naturally generate a natural outrushing of space. This fuel is so efficient, it’s virtually impossible to use it all up, which means that it would not only have generated our big bang, but countless other big bangs, too, each one giving rise to its own separate universe with ours becoming just one. Meld this idea with string theory, and we can imagine other universes with extra dimensions in a wide variety of different shapes. “It’s only in our universe that the physical features–like the amount of dark energy–were right for our form of life to take hold.”

Of course, questions remain. For one thing: could we ever confirm the existence of other universes? Again, Greene allows, it’s hard to imagine, but it is possible. Inflationary theory has observational support; the Big Bang would have been so intense that as space stretched, tiny quantum jitters would have stretched from the micro to the macro world, creating a distinctive fingerprint across space which powerful telescopes have now observed. Similarly, we might be able to detect if one universe collided with another, we might one day detect those temperature differences.

Greene concludes with the implication of these ideas for the very far future. If we accept these ideas, then this means that “in the far future galaxies will rush away so fast we won’t be able to see them, not because of technological limitations but because the light will never traverse the ever-widening gap between us.” And that means that future astronomers will see nothing but “an endless stretch of static, inky black stillness.” Those astronomers might look back at the ancient records we left them, but they will likely conclude “that the universe is static and unchanging and populated by the single oasis of matter they habit; a picture of cosmos we definitely know to be wrong.” And why will they believe the records of earlier astronomers? Unlikely. This, he concludes, means that we are living through a remarkably privileged era.

See also, Brian’s 2005 TED talk in which he lyrically explains–also with beautiful visuals–the premise and potential of superstring theory.

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  • commented on Feb 29 2012

    The above quotes from Nobel Laureates regarding String Theory were found at: “Why String Theory, M-Theory, LQG, Multiverses, and Parallel Universes are NOT Physics, and why Moving Dimensions Theory (MDT’s dx4/dt=ic) IS”

    http://herosjourneyphysics.wordpress.com/

    “If we are to write a scientific book, we must first of all define what science is and ought be. In order to do this, I turn towards the greatest scientists and philosophers of all time—those Founding Fathers who are never quoted, nor mentioned, nor exalted in the myriad of books devoted to string theory, multiverses, loop quantum gravity, and other mathematical farses, failures, and frauds perpetuated for fleeting fortune and fame, of funded by the very same fiat-debt regimes which fail on moral and spiritual levels by privatizing profits and socializing risks. Below are the scientsists I boldly ride forth with—many were persecuted in their own day and age by the cruelty and ignorance of their peers, as I am today by the proud imposters gaining tenure for treatises on space aliens, multiverses, parallel universes, strings, loops, and countless other imaginary conjectures with absolutely no physical reality, but only fiat realties. But just as S=klogw is engraved on Ludwig von Boltzman’s tombstone, after his theory of entropy was derided, castigated, ignored, and impugned by his peers, contributing to his suicide, so too shall dx4/dt=ic be engraved on my tombstone, as sure ax xp-px=ih is engraved on Max Born’s tombstone. Here is how the Greats define science:

    When the solution is simple, God is answering.[ii] –Einstein

    A physical theory can be satisfactory only if its structures are composed of elementary foundations. The theory of relativity is ultimately as little satisfactory as, for example, classical thermodynamics was before Boltzmann had interpreted the entropy as probability.[iii] –Einstein

    Max Born wrote, “All great discoveries in experimental physics have been made due to the intuition of men who made free use of models which for them were not products of the imagination but representations of real things.”

    Albert Einstein: Before I enter upon a critique of mechanics as a foundation of physics, something of a broadly general nature will first have to be said concerning the points of view according to which it is possible to criticize physical theories at all. The first point of view is obvious: The theory must not contradict empirical facts. . . The second point of view is not concerned with the relation to the material of observation but with the premises of the theory itself, with what may briefly but vaguely be characterized as the “naturalness” or “logical simplicity” of the premises (of the basic concepts and of the relations between these which are taken as a basis). This point of view, an exact formulation of which meets with great difficulties, has played an important role in the selection and evaluation of theories since time immemorial.

    Isaac Newton: No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.

    Sir Isaac Newton: “If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants.”

    Isaac Newton: I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

    Isaac Newton: If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.

    Isaac Newton: We build too many walls and not enough bridges.

    Richard Feynman: Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. . . . Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”

    Isaac Newton: As the ocean is never full of water, so is the heart never full of love.”

    Sir Isaac Newton: This most beautiful system [The Universe] could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.

    Einstein: Play Is The Highest Form Of Research.

    Albert Einstein: Once it was recognised that the earth was not the center of the world, but only one of the smaller planets, the illusion of the central significance of man himself became untenable. Hence, Nicolaus Copernicus, through his work and the greatness of his personality, taught man to be honest. (Albert Einstein, Message on the 410th Anniversary of the Death of Copernicus, 1953)

    To me there has never been a higher source of earthly honor or distinction than that connected with advances in science.[iv] –Newton

    The only real valuable thing is intuition. –Einstein

    A person starts to live when he can live outside himself. –Einstein

    The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. –Einstein

    Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding. –Einstein

    No great discovery was ever made without a bold guess.[v] –Newton

    For an idea that does not at first seem insane, there is no hope.[vi] – Einstein

    If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.[vii] –Newton

    In questions of science, the authority of thousands is not worth the humble reasoning of one individual.[viii] –Galileo

    Books on physics are full of complicated mathematical formulae. But thought and ideas (the fourth dimension is expanding relative to the three spatial dimensions at c), not formulae (dx4/dt=ic), are the beginning of every physical theory.[ix] —Einstein/Infeld, The Evolution of Physics

    But before mankind could be ripe for a science which takes in the whole of reality, a second fundamental truth was needed, which only became common property among philosophers with the advent of Kepler and Galileo. Pure logical thinking cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly because he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether. -Einstein[x], Ideas and Opinions

    Epur si muove – (And yet it does move.)[xi] –Galileo

    .. my dear Kepler, what do you think of the foremost philosophers of this University? In spite of my oft-repeated efforts and invitations, they have refused, with the obstinacy of a glutted adder, to look at the planets or Moon or my telescope.[xii] –Galileo

    A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up with it.[xiii] –Planck

    Planck: Let us get down to bedrock facts. The beginning of every act of knowing, and therefore the starting-point of every science, must be our own personal experience.[xiv] (All physicists have personally experienced the double-slit experiment, and as relativity tells us that photons remain stationary in x4, x4 must thus be propagating at c with both a wavelike and quantum nature!)

    Einstein: Mathematics are well and good but nature keeps dragging us around by the nose.[xv]

    Einstein: The theory must not contradict empirical facts. . . The second point of view is not concerned with the relation to the material of observation but with the premises of the theory itself, with what may briefly but vaguely be characterized as the “naturalness” or “logical simplicity” of the premises of the basic concepts and of the relations between these which are taken as a basis. [xvi]

    Planck: That we do not construct the external world to suit our own ends in the pursuit of science, but that vice versa the external world forces itself upon our recognition with its own elemental power, is a point which ought to be categorically asserted again and again . . . From the fact that in studying the happenings of nature . . . it is clear that we always look for the basic thing behind the dependent thing, for what is absolute behind what is relative, for the reality behind the appearance and for what abides behind what is transitory. . this is characteristic not only of physical science but of all science.[xvii] (dx4/dt=ic is the “basic, abiding thing” behind all relativity, entropy, and QM!)

    Einstein: Truth is what stands the test of experience.[xviii]

    Heisenberg: Science. . . is based on personal experience, or on the experience of others, reliably reported. . . Even today we can still learn from Goethe . . . trusting that this reality will then also reflect the essence of things, the ‘one, the good, and the true.[xix]

    Since we experience both particles and waves, and since the Greats agree that physics begins and ends in experience, MDT follows the Greats in providing a foundational model underlying the physical, experiential reality of waves and particles—of the analog and digital—of relativity, QM, and entropy, as well as time and all its arrows and asymmetries. MDT agrees with the Greats:

    Schrodinger: The world is given but once. . . The world extended in space and time is but our representation. Experience does not give us the slightest clue of its being anything besides that. [xx]

    Bohr: The classical concepts, i.e., “wave” and “corpuscle” do not fully describe the real world and are, moreover, complementary in part, and hence contradictory. . . . Nor can we avoid occasional contradictions; nevertheless, the images help us to draw nearer to the real facts. Their existence no one should deny. “Truth dwells in the deeps.” [xxi]

    Schrodinger: Everything—anything at all—is at the same time particle and field.[xxii] (This is because MDT’s expanding x4 is continually spreading and distributing locality.)

    Einstein: Time and again the passion for understanding has led to the illusion that man is able to comprehend the objective world rationally by pure thought without any empirical foundations—in short, by metaphysics.[xxiii] (MDT begins and ends with empirical foundations!)

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.[xxiv] –Einstein

    Mathematicians may flatter themselves that they possess new ideas which mere human language is as yet unable to express. Let them make the effort to express these ideas in appropriate words without the aid of symbols, and if they succeed they will not only lay us laymen under a lasting obligation, but, we venture to say, they will find themselves very much enlightened during the process, and will even be doubtful whether the ideas as expressed in symbols had ever quite found their way out of the equations into their minds.[xxv] –Maxwell

    I don’t believe in mathematics.[xxvi] –Einstein

    Sir Francis Bacon: And all depends on keeping the eye steadily fixed upon the facts of nature and so receiving their images simply as they are. For God forbid that we should give out a dream of our own imagination for a pattern of the world; rather may he graciously grant to us to write an apocalypse or true vision of the footsteps of the Creator imprinted on his creatures.

    Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics, I assure you that mine are greater.[xxvii] –Einstein

    Geometry is not true, it is advantageous.[xxviii] –Poincare

    John Wilkins: I shall most insist on the observation of Galilæus, the inventor of that famous perspective, whereby we may discern the heavens har by us; whereby those things others have formerly guessed at, are manifested to the eye, and plainly discovered beyond exception of a doubt. –1638″

  • commented on Feb 28 2012

    String Theory has been the leading candidate … for a theory that consistently unifies all the fundamental forces of nature, including gravity. It gained popularity because it provides a theory that is UV finite.(1) . . . The footnote (1) reads: “Although there is no rigorous proof to all orders that the theory is UV finite…”[xxxviii] –STRING THEORY IN A NUTSHELL

    So you see, string theory is not a finite theory, but this is generally kept to the footnotes, when mentioned at all. Many Nobel Laureate physicists harbor reservations regarding strings:

    We don’t know what we are talking about[xxxix]. –Nobel Laureate David Gross on string theory

    It is anomalous to replace the four-dimensional continuum by a five-dimensional one and then subsequently to tie up artificially one of those five dimensions in order to account for the fact that it does not manifest itself. -Einstein to Ehrenfest (Imagine doing this for 10-30+ dimensions!)

    String theorists don’t make predictions, they make excuses[xl]. – Feynman, Nobel Laureate

    String theory is like a 50 year old woman wearing too much lipstick.[xli] -Robert Laughlin, Nobel Laureate

    Actually, I would not even be prepared to call string theory a “theory” rather a “model” or not even that: just a hunch. After all, a theory should come together with instructions on how to deal with it to identify the things one wishes to describe, in our case the elementary particles, and one should, at least in principle, be able to formulate the rules for calculating the properties of these particles, and how to make new predictions for them. Imagine that I give you a chair, while explaining that the legs are still missing, and that the seat, back and armrest will perhaps be delivered soon; whatever I did give you, can I still call it a chair?[xlii] –‘t Hooft, Nobel Laureate

    It is tragic, but now, we have the string theorists, thousands of them, that also dream of explaining all the features of nature. They just celebrated the 20th anniversary of superstring theory. So when one person spends 30 years, it’s a waste, but when thousands waste 20 years in modern day, they celebrate with champagne. I find that curious.[xliii] –Sheldon Glashow, Nobel Laureate

    Richard Feynman, a man about as difficult to bamboozle on scientific topics as any who ever lived, remarked in an interview (p. 180) in 1987, a year before his death:

    …I think all this superstring stuff is crazy and it is in the wrong direction. … I don’t like that they’re not calculating anything. I don’t like that they don’t check their ideas. I don’t like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation—a fix-up to say “Well, it still might be true.”

    Feynman was careful to hedge his remark as being that of an elder statesman of science, who collectively have a history of foolishly considering the speculations of younger researchers to be nonsense, and he would have almost certainly have opposed any effort to cut off funding for superstring research, as it might be right, after all, and should be pursued in parallel with other promising avenues until they make predictions which can be tested by experiment, falsifying and leading to the exclusion of those candidate theories whose predictions are incorrect.

    One wonders, however, what Feynman’s reaction would have been had he lived to contemplate the contemporary scene in high energy theoretical physics almost twenty years later. String theory and its progeny still have yet to make a single, falsifiable prediction which can be tested by a physically plausible experiment. This isn’t surprising, because after decades of work and tens of thousands of scientific publications, nobody really knows, precisely, what superstring (or M, or whatever) theory really is; there is no equation, or set of equations from which one can draw physical predictions. Leonard Susskind, a co-founder of string theory, observes ironically in his book The Cosmic Landscape (March 2006), “On this score, one might facetiously say that String Theory is the ultimate epitome of elegance. With all the years that String Theory has been studied, no one has ever found a single defining equation! The number at present count is zero. We know neither what the fundamental equations of the theory are or even if it has any.” (p. 204). String theory might best be described as the belief that a physically correct theory exists and may eventually be discovered by the research programme conducted under that name. – http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/reading_list/indices/book_502.html reviewing Peter Woit’s Not Even Wrong

    The problem, to state it in a manner more inflammatory than the measured tone of the author, and in a word of my choosing which I do not believe appears at all in his book, is that contemporary academic research in high energy particle theory is corrupt. As is usually the case with such corruption, the root cause is socialism, although the look-only-left blinders almost universally worn in academia today hides this from most observers there. Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, twigged to it quite early. In his farewell address of January 17th, 1961, which academic collectivists endlessly cite for its (prescient) warning about the “military-industrial complex”, he went on to say, although this is rarely quoted,

    In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    And there, of course, is precisely the source of the corruption. This enterprise of theoretical elaboration is funded by taxpayers, who have no say in how their money, taken under threat of coercion, is spent. Which researchers receive funds for what work is largely decided by the researchers themselves, acting as peer review panels. While peer review may work to vet scientific publications, as soon as money becomes involved, the disposition of which can make or break careers, all the venality and naked self- and group-interest which has undone every well-intentioned experiment in collectivism since Robert Owen comes into play, with the completely predictable and tediously repeated results. What began as an altruistic quest driven by intellectual curiosity to discover answers to the deepest questions posed by nature ends up, after a generation of grey collectivism, as a jobs program. In a sense, string theory can be thought of like that other taxpayer-funded and highly hyped program, the space shuttle, which is hideously expensive, dangerous to the careers of those involved with it (albeit in a more direct manner), supported by a standing army composed of some exceptional people and a mass of the mediocre, difficult to close down because it has carefully cultivated a constituency whose own self-interest is invested in continuation of the program, and almost completely unproductive of genuine science.

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/reading_list/indices/book_502.html

    I don’t like that they’re not calculating anything. I don’t like that they don’t check their ideas. I don’t like that for anything that disagrees with an experiment, they cook up an explanation-a fix-up to say, “Well, it might be true.” For example, the theory requires ten dimensions. Well, maybe there’s a way of wrapping up six of the dimensions. Yes, that’s all possible mathematically, but why not seven? . . . So the fact that it might disagree with experience is very tenuous, it doesn’t produce anything; it has to be excused most of the time. It doesn’t look right.[xliv] –Nobel Lareate R.P. Feynman

    But superstring physicists have not yet shown that theory really works. They cannot demonstrate that the standard theory is a logical outcome of string theory. They cannot even be sure that their formalism includes a description of such things as protons and electrons. And they have not yet made even one teeny-tiny experimental prediction. Worst of all, superstring theory does not follow as a logical consequence of some appealing set of hypotheses about nature.[xlv] —Nobel Laureate Sheldon Glashow

    “… There have always been kookie fanatics following strange visions. One of the most kookie, and of course most brilliant, was Einstein himself. It has often been said by my string theory friends that superstrings are going to dominate physics for the next half of a century. Ed Witten has said that. I would like to modify that remark. I would say that string theory will dominate the next fifty years of physics in the same way that Kaluza-Klein theory, another kookie theory upon which string theory is based, has dominated particle physics in the past fifty years. Which is to say, not at all.” –Sheldon Glashow

    Burton Richter: The anthropic principle, I think, is one of the most stupid ideas ever to infect the scientific community. Look, the anthropic principle is an observation not an explanation. It is perfectly true that if the electromagnetic force had a significantly different strength, then atoms as we know them and molecules as we know them couldn’t exist and we couldn’t exist. This is an observation, it doesn’t tell you anything about how the electromagnetic force got to be that way. Sure we’re here, we’re having an interview, that means the electromagnetic force is constrained to be within a certain narrow boundary but the physics is; why is it in that narrow boundary? Now, you can beg that and you can go back to the scholastics in the Middle Ages and their answer would be ‘God made it so’. That may turn out to be the only thing…we may never find an explanation. If we don’t find an explanation then it’s just an arbitrary constant. –Former Director of Stanford Linear Accelerator, http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2007/1861083.htm (Burton Richter, Director Emeritus, SLAC)

    Robyn Williams: So the new accelerators could well change our view of the universe, but what Burton Richter isn’t so keen on is what he calls the theology that so many theoreticians like Stephen Hawking and Paul Davies goes in for. He wants his physics hard.

    Burton Richter: I called it theological speculation. They seem to have forgotten they have to be connected to physical reality.

    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/scienceshow/stories/2007/1861083.htm (Burton Richter, Director Emeritus, SLAC)

    To me, some of what passes for the most advanced theory in particle physics these days is not really science. When I found myself on a panel recently with three distinguished theorists, I could not resist the opportunity to discuss what I see as major problems in the philosophy behind theory, which seems to have gone off into a kind of metaphysical wonderland. Simply put, much of what currently passes as the most advanced theory looks to be more theological speculation, the development of models with no testable consequences, than it is the development of practical knowledge, the development of models with testable and falsifiable consequences (Karl Popper’s definition of science)…

    The anthropic principle is an observation, not an explanation… I have a very hard time accepting the fact that some of our distinguished theorists do not understand the difference between observation and explanation, but it seems to be so… –http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-59/iss-10/p8.html, Burton Richter, Director Emeritus, SLAC

    String theory has no credibility as a candidate theory of physics. Recognizing failure is a userful part of the scientific strategy. Only when failure is recognized can dead ends be abandoned and useable
    pieces of failed programs be recycled. Aside from possible utility, there is a responsibility to recognize failure. Recognizing failure is an essential part of the scientific ethos. Complete scientific failure must be recognized eventually.” –Dan Friedan, early Rutgers String Theorist

    “Likewise, the fact that certain beautiful mathematical forms were used in the period 1905-1974 to make the presently successful theory of physics does not imply that any particular standard of mathematical beauty is fundamental to nature. The evidence is for certain specific mathematical forms, of group theory, di®erential geometry and operator theory. The evidence comes from a limited range of spacetime distances. That range of distances grew so large by historical standards, and the successes of certain specific mathematical forms were so impressive, that there has been an understandable psychological impulse in physicists responsible for the triumph, and in their successors, to believe in a certain standard of mathematical beauty. But history suggests that it is unwise to extrapolate to fundamental principles of nature from the mathematical forms used by theoretical physics in any particular epoch of its history, no matter how impressive their success. Mathematical beauty in physics cannot be separated from usefulness in the real world. The historical exemplars of mathematical beauty in physics, the theory of general relativity and the Dirac equation, obtained their credibility first by explaining prior knowledge. . . General relativity explained Newtonian gravity and special relativity. The Dirac equation explained the non-relativistic, quantum mechanical spinning electron. Both theories then made definite predictions that could be checked. Mathematical beauty in physics cannot be appreciated until after it has proved useful. Past programs in theoretical physics that have attempted to follow a particular standard of mathematical beauty, detached from the requirement of correspondence with existing knowledge, have failed. The evidence for beautiful mathematical forms in nature requires only that a candidate theory of physics explain those specifc mathematical forms that have actually been found, within the range of distances where they have been seen, to an approximation consistent with the accuracy of their observation.” –{ 11 {JHEP10(2003)063, Dan Friedan

    This book is about physics, and this implies that theoretical ideas must be supported by experimental facts. Neither supersymmtry nor string theory satisfy this crieterion. They are figments of the theoretical mind. nothing more than an interesting

    The great irony of string theory, however, is that the theory itself is not unified. . . For a theory that makes the claim of providing a unifying framework for all physical laws, it is the supreme irony that the theory itself appears so disunited!![xlvi] Introduction to Superstrings & M-Theory –Kaku

    Is string theory a futile exercise as physics, as I believe it to be? It is an interesting mathematical specialty and has produced and will produce mathematics useful in other contexts, but it seems no more vital as mathematics than other areas of very abstract or specialized math, and doesn’t on that basis justify the incredible amount of effort expended on it.

    My belief is based on the fact that string theory is the first science in hundreds of years to be pursued in pre-Baconian fashion, without any adequate experimental guidance. It proposes that Nature is the way we would like it to be rather than the way we see it to be; and it is improbable that Nature thinks the same way we do.

    The sad thing is that, as several young would-be theorists have explained to me, it is so highly developed that it is a full-time job just to keep up with it. That means that other avenues are not being explored by the bright, imaginative young people, and that alternative career paths are blocked.

    —Philip W. Anderson Physicist and Nobel laureate, Princeton

    If Einstein were alive today, he would be horrified at this state of affairs. He would upbraid the profession for allowing this mess to develop and fly into a blind rage over the transformation of his beautiful creations into ideologies and the resulting proliferation of logical inconsistencies. Einstein was an artist and a scholar but above all he was a revolutionary. His approach to physics might be summarized as hypothesizing minimally. Never arguing with experiment, demanding total logical consistency, and mistrusting unsubstantiated beliefs. The unsubstantial belief of his day was ether, or more precisely the naïve version of ether that preceded relativity. The unsubstantiated belief of our day is relativity itself. It would be perfectly in character for him to reexamine the facts, toss them over in his mind, and conclude that his beloved principle of relativity was not fundamental at all but emergent (emergent from MDT!) . . . It would mean that the fabric of space-time was not simply the stage on which life played out but an organizational phenomenon, and that there might be something beyond.[xlvii] (MDT!) -A Different Universe, Laughlin, Nobel Laureate

    [String Theory] has no practical utility, however, other than to sustain the myth of the ultimate theory. There is no experimental evidence for the existence of strings in nature, nor does the special mathematics of string theory enable known experimental behavior to be calculated or predicted more easily. . . String theory is, in fact, a textbook case of Deceitful Turkey, a beautiful set of ideas that will always remain just barely out of reach. Far from a wonderful technological hope for a greater tomorrow, it is instead the tragic consequence of an obsolete belief system-in which emergence plays no role and dark law does not exist.[xlviii]—