From Publishers Weekly
String theory—the hot topic in physics for the past 20 years—is a dead-end, says Smolin, one of the founders of Canada's Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics and himself a lapsed string theorist. In fact, he (and others) argue convincingly, string theory isn't even a fully formed theory—it's just a "conjecture." As Smolin reminds his readers, string theorists haven't been able to prove any of their exotic ideas, and he says there isn't much chance that they will in the foreseeable future. The discovery of "dark energy," which seems to be pushing the universe apart faster and faster, isn't explained by string theory and is proving troublesome for that theory's advocates. Smolin (The Life of the Cosmos
) believes that physicists are making the mistake of searching for a theory that is "beautiful" and "elegant" instead of one that's actually backed up by experiments. He encourages physicists to investigate new alternatives and highlights several young physicists whose work he finds promising. This isn't easy reading, but it will appeal to dedicated science buffs interested in where physics may be headed in the next decade. 30 b&w illus. (Sept. 19)
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In The Trouble with Physics
, Lee Smolin, founder of the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada, and the author of several popular science books, including The Life of the Cosmos
and Three Roads to Quantum Gravity
, takes a complex debate on a highly theoretical topic and makes it accessible and interesting to the general public. With gusto, the author describes the infighting and politics that hinder progress in physics. Opinions vary on the success of Smolin's call to action in sections where he skewers his colleagues in theoretical physics for their shortsightedness. Reviewers, howevermost of them physiciststend to agree that string theorists' inability to empirically test their results will continue to undermine their efforts.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.