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Initial post: Oct 5, 2006 5:43:20 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 17, 2006 2:56:41 PM PDT
String theory is the latest attempt by mathematicians (beginning with Pythagoras) to take over physics (today, they have almost completely succeeded - ever tried to break into theoretical physics without years of advanced math education?). All of these efforts have been based on geometry - the idea that empty space (the nothingness between the real bits) has some (all?) significance. The last big push by the Pythagoreans began around 1850 when Maxwell tried to understand electromagnetism before the discovery of the electron. Following Faraday, both Maxwell & Faraday imported into physics their religious ideas that "space was God's plenum" (i.e. God was everywhere and, "God was light"). Most of the Nineteen Century physics community was obsessed with the existence of the aether (the 'real' stuff of empty space). Maxwell's work was at the heart of this tradition & has formed the foundation for all field theories ever since. All of these theories propose that each & every point in space (3 times infinity) at every point in time (another infinity) has its own set of independent real number quantities (more infinities), such as the 3 components of electric field intensity & the 3 components of magnetic inductance. Of course, none of this plenitude of 'reality' has ever been observed but all of this 'religious' thinking is assumed to explain the behaviour of an electron when it is present at one of these myriad points in space & time near another electron. This is all just the ancient Platonic religious position that the "real" world is what plebeans (like us) cannot see but these high priests of mathematics can divine.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 22, 2007 12:51:48 AM PST
Well, Mr H.J, if a theory is based on geometry and at the same time can give predictions about the real world, what's wrong with that? A good example is General Relativity, a geometrical theory "par excellence", and yet its predictions have passed every possible test with flying colors...The problem with string theory , so far, is not that it is based on geometry, but rather that it has made no predictions, so it is not "falsifiable", in the sense of Karl Popper. And please let me know how you envisage to make progress in physics without mathematics...
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Initial post:  Oct 5, 2006
Latest post:  Dec 22, 2007

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Not Even Wrong by Peter Woit (Paperback - June 26, 2007)
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