Saturday, December 11, 2004

String theory: Good, Bad and Bogus

Part 1

Commentary on
Words written by Dennis Overbye are between quote marks.

"a single equation that could explain all the laws of physics, all the forces of nature - the proverbial 'theory of everything'" ?

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Physicists, like Dr. Robert Park, use a double standard not applying the same rules of engagement to fashionable elegant string theory as they do to flying saucers, the paranormal and cold fusion.

"And so emerged into the limelight a strange new concept of nature, called string theory, so named because it depicts the basic constituents of the universe as tiny wriggling strings, not point particles. ... By uniting all the forces, string theory had the potential of achieving the goal that Einstein sought without success for half his life and that has embodied the dreams of every physicist since then. If true, it could be used like a searchlight to illuminate some of the deepest mysteries physicists can imagine, like the origin of space and time in the Big Bang and the putative death of space and time at the infinitely dense centers of black holes. ... In the last 20 years, string theory has become a major branch of physics. Physicists and mathematicians conversant in strings are courted and recruited like star quarterbacks by universities eager to establish their research credentials. String theory has been celebrated and explained in best-selling books like "The Elegant Universe," by Dr. Brian Greene, a physicist at Columbia University, and even on popular television shows."

'Let them eat cake' said Marie Antoinette shortly before she was guillotined.

"even as they ate cake and drank wine, the string theorists admitted that after 20 years, they still did not know how to test string theory, or even what it meant."

Note "or even what it meant." Mainstream theoretical physics today is in a sorry state. Not so for experimental physics.

"As a result, the goal of explaining all the features of the modern world is as far away as ever, they say. And some physicists outside the string theory camp are growing restive. At another meeting, at the Aspen Institute for Humanities, only a few days before the string commemoration, Dr. Lawrence Krauss, a cosmologist at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, called string theory 'a colossal failure.'"

Brian Greene got a few million dollars advance for his book. The big corporations have a vested interest in this hype that can be compared to "WMD in Iraq."

"String theorists agree that it has been a long, strange trip, but they still have faith that they will complete the journey."

The fusion of science and religion on the heels of the fusion of Church and State?

"Twenty years ago no one would have correctly predicted how string theory has since developed," said Dr. Andrew Strominger of Harvard. 'There is disappointment that despite all our efforts, experimental verification or disproof still seems far away. On the other hand, the depth and beauty of the subject, and the way it has reached out, influenced and connected other areas of physics and mathematics, is beyond the wildest imaginations of 20 years ago.' In a way, the story of string theory and of the physicists who have followed its siren song for two decades is like a novel that begins with the classic "what if?" What if the basic constituents of nature and matter were not little points, as had been presumed since the time of the Greeks? What if the seeds of reality were rather teeny tiny wiggly little bits of string? And what appear to be different particles like electrons and quarks merely correspond to different ways for the strings to vibrate, different notes on God's guitar?"

"I'll play the music on my guitar, yes!" Rossini, The Barber of Seville.

"That would explain why you cannot have a single quark you cannot have a string with only one end. Strings seduced many physicists with their mathematical elegance, but they had some problems, like requiring 26 dimensions and a plethora of mysterious particles that did not seem to have anything to do with quarks or the strong force."

You need the extra space dimensions because string theory violates signal locality in Einstein's original 4D curved spacetime. That is, final causes after their effects are possible in plain vanilla 4D string theory with topology change. Of course, this is exactly what the UFO and paranormal evidence is telling us along with "presponse" experiments by Dick Bierman and others. Then there is also the "Intelligent Design" controversy. What is bad and bogus for string theorists is good for UFO, paranormal and consciousness researchers. One man's meat is another man's poison.

"When accelerator experiments supported an alternative theory of quark behavior known as quantum chromodynamics, most physicists consigned strings to the dustbin of history. But some theorists thought the mathematics of strings was too beautiful to die. In 1974 Dr. Schwarz and Dr. Joel Scherk from the École Normale Supérieure in France noticed that one of the mysterious particles predicted by string theory had the properties predicted for the graviton, the particle that would be responsible for transmitting gravity in a quantum theory of gravity, if such a theory existed."

This pyrrhic victory has been trumpeted as a great triumph showing the power of fantasy in the minds of string theorists. Einstein's gravity is not renormalizable as a quantum field theory which strongly suggests that it should not be quantized top -> down like electro-weak dynamic and chromodynamics. Indeed, Andrei Sakharov suggested that Einstein's gravity emerges bottom -> up as a collective phenomenon just like the elasticity in crystals. P.W. Anderson has since formalized this idea as "More is different." Furthermore all current tests for grainy "quantum gravity foam" that should show dispersion in the high energy gamma rays from outer space have been null. That is, there is no evidence for the equation

E^2 = [(pc)^2 + mc^2]/[1 + (pc/mPc^2)^2]

where mP is the Planck mass for the quantum gravity graininess of Einstein'sw spacetime geometrodynamics.

Note that the high energy limit of this equation is

E -> mPc^2 ~ 10^-5 grams c^2 ~ 10^16 ergs ~ 10^9 Joules ~ 10^28 electron volts

implying a maximal acceleration of

a_max = c^2/LP ~ 10^21/10^-33 ~ 10^54 cm/sec^2 ~ 10^51g

But, so far, no evidence supports this idea. If my theory of the emergence of Einstein's gravity of MACRO-QUANTUM curved spacetime from the PARTIAL cohering of the micro-quantum zero point vacuum fluctuations in the BCS unstable massless pre-inflationary globally flat false conformal vacuum is correct, there is no quantum foam in principle.

The BCS type energy gap Egap of "quasiparticle excitations" of the non-perturbative background-independent MACRO-QUANTUM vacuum condensate of virtual electron-hole pairs bound by virtual photons near the E = 0 Fermi energy of the pre-inflationay false vacuum obeys

E^2 = (pc)^2 + Egap^2

Egap ~ (Debye energy of edge of Fermi surface)e^-1/Vrho(0)

V is the attractive static potential energy between the virtual electron-hole (hole = positron) pair from a single virtual photon exchange. rho(0) is the density of Dirac's negative energy virtual electron states at the edge per unit energy.

The Einstein-Cartan tetrads eu^a derive from the MACRO-QUANTUM COHERENT WORLD HOLOGRAM phase of the LOCAL PARTIAL VACUUM COHERENCE "More is different" "order parameter".

guv = eu^anabev^b = nuv + (1/2)Lp^2(PHASE OF VACUUM COHERENCE){,u,v}

= nuv + (1/2)[Eu,v + Ev,u)

{ } is symmetrizer (i.e. anti-commutator) with ,u ordinary partial derivatives in a local coordinate patch of the manifold.

eu^a = &u^a + Eu^a

&u,^a = Kronecker-Delta i.e. 1 if u = a, 0 if u =/= a


This equation is the analog to the deBroglie-Bohm guidance equation of IT by BIT for a quantum liquid. Here we have an ELASTIC ODLRO "quantum solid" that I introduced into physics in 1966-67 in Physics Letters A on "Super Solids" in Helium when I was on the physics faculty of San Diego State and the creator of the National Science Foundation Summer School in Superfluid Physics and Lasers for College Teachers at San Diego State (1969 & 1970) that I ran with Herschel Snodgrass. The faculty included F.W. Cummings and Jim Johnston.

The QUANTUM OF AREA Lp^2 = hG/c^3 ensures Hawking's (also Bekenstein, Susskind, t'Hooft)

Entropy of Volume of Space = (Bounding Area of Volume)/4Lp^2

Space-time physics is local because the macro-quantum order parameter is local. This same locality ensures that the early post-Big Bang universe after the inflationary vacuum phase transition has low entropy so that the Arrow of Time for the irreversible processes of the Second Law of Thermodynamics points in the same "direction" as the presently accelerating expansion of the 3D space of our universe from residual w = -1 zero point dark energy of negative quantum pressure. Hawking's blackhole entropy formula is automatically obeyed. That is considered a triumph of string theory. It's no big deal really. Sorry for stealing string theorist's thunder and upstaging them, but as Ludwig Boltzmann said "Elegance is for tailors". Not that this new way of connecting the cosmic dots is not elegant to the max. :-)

That is, the pre -> post inflationary Big Bang phase transition collapses the phase space volume of the "ground state" and the "entropy" is ~ kBlog(Phase Space Volume). This same collapse of ground state phase space volume always accompanies "More is different" emergence of qualitatively CREATIVE new order, AKA "spontaneous breakdown of vacuum symmetry".

"These are the phenomena"

Dennis Overbye wrote:
"It was another 10 years before Dr. Schwarz and Dr. Green (Dr. Scherk died in 1980) finally hit pay dirt. They showed that it was possible to write down a string theory of everything that was not only mathematically consistent but also free of certain absurdities, like the violation of cause and effect, that had plagued earlier quantum gravity calculations."

Of course we "fringe" physicists who study UFOs, the paranormal and consciousness are struck by the real evidence for the violation of cause and effect! We do not consider the "signal nonlocality" of 4D string theory and quantum gravity to be absurd at all. But we do consider, perhaps, these extra space dimensions, that Roger Penrose says are "unstable" to be an abomination! Schwarz and Green's results are, perhaps a cure that is much worse than the disease. A disease that has been misdiagnosed. Antony Valentini has shown how quantum theory can be tweaked a tiny bit to have the violation of cause and effect. Henry Stapp showed how that generalized quantum theory with signal nonlocality can explain paranormal data. Stapp, a professor at UC Berkeley was burned at the stake in the scathing pages of Physics Today for a paper he managed to get published in Physical Review A on "General Physics". "Never again!" said Robert Park.

"In the summer and fall of 1984, as word of the achievement spread, physicists around the Year?” world left what they were doing and stormed their blackboards, visions of the Einsteinian grail of a unified theory dancing in their heads."

This is a scene out of Jonathan Swift's "Gulliver's Travels" at the Academy of Laputa where "to get sunbeams from cucumbers they've a plan and they'll set The Thames on fire if they can" (Princess Ida, Gilbert and Sullivan "These are the phenomena".

"String theory is certainly one of the most musical explanations ever offered for nature, but it is not for the untrained ear. For one thing, the modern version of the theory decreed that there are 10 dimensions of space and time. To explain to ordinary mortals why the world appears to have only four dimensions - one of time and three of space -string theorists adopted a notion first bruited by the German mathematicians Theodor Kaluza and Oskar Klein in 1926. The extra six dimensions, they said, go around in sub-submicroscopic loops, so tiny that people cannot see them or store old National Geographics in them. A simple example, the story goes, is a garden hose. Seen from afar, it is a simple line across the grass, but up close it has a circular cross section. An ant on the hose can go around it as well as travel along its length. To envision the world as seen by string theory, one only has to imagine a tiny, tiny six-dimensional ball at every point in space-time."

Curiously, Gennady Shipov's torsion theory has 6 extra anholonomic space dimensions from locally gauging the Cartan tetrad Lorentz group rotations. But they are not all curled up.

"One of string theory's biggest triumphs has come in the study of black holes. In Einstein's general relativity, these objects are bottomless pits in space-time, voraciously swallowing everything, even light, that gets too close, but in string theory they are a dense tangle of strings and membranes. In a prodigious calculation in 1995, Dr. Strominger and Dr. Cumrun Vafa, both of Harvard, were able to calculate the information content of a black hole, matching a famous result obtained by Dr. Stephen Hawking of Cambridge University using more indirect means in 1973. Their calculation is viewed by many people as the most important result yet in string theory Another success, Dr. Greene and others said, was the discovery that the shape, or topology, of space, is not fixed but can change, according to string theory. Space can even rip and tear. But the scorecard is mixed when it comes to other areas of physics. So far, for example, string theory has had little to say about what might have happened at the instant of the Big Bang.. Moreover, the theory seems to have too many solutions. One of the biggest dreams that physicists had for the so-called theory of everything was that it would specify a unique prescription of nature, one in which God had no choice, as Einstein once put it, about details like the number of dimensions or the relative masses of elementary particles. But recently theorists have estimated that there could be at least 10^100 different solutions to the string equations, corresponding to different ways of folding up the extra dimensions and filling them with fields - gazillions of different possible universes. Some theorists, including Dr. Witten, hold fast to the Einsteinian dream, hoping that a unique answer to the string equations will emerge when they finally figure out what all this 21st-century physics is trying to tell them about the world. But that day is still far away ... For years physicists have looked for the origins of string theory in some sort of deep and esoteric symmetry, but string theory has turned out to be weirder than that. Recently it has painted a picture of nature as a kind of hologram. In the holographic images often seen on bank cards, the illusion of three dimensions is created on a two-dimensional surface. Likewise string theory suggests that in nature all the information about what is happening inside some volume of space is somehow encoded on its outer boundary ... Just how and why a three-dimensional reality can spring from just two dimensions, or four dimensions can unfold from three, is as baffling to people like Dr. Witten as it probably is to someone reading about it in a newspaper. In effect, as Dr. Witten put it, an extra dimension of space can mysteriously appear out of 'nothing.' ... Our own universe may be a four dimensional brane floating in some higher-dimensional space, like a bubble in a fish tank, perhaps with other branes •parallel universes - nearby. Collisions or other interactions between the branes might have touched off the Big Bang that started our own cosmic clock ticking or could produce the dark energy that now seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, they say."

I have a simpler explanation of the dark energy as residual zero point energy of negative pressure that is not totally absorbed into the coherent giant quantum vacuum wave out of which Einstein's curved spacetime springs emergent like a song on FM cosmic radio - God's Talk Reality Show.

"Critics of string theory, meanwhile, have been keeping their own scorecard. The most glaring omission is the lack of any experimental evidence for strings or even a single experimental prediction that could prove string theory wrong - the acid test of the scientific process."

This is precisely Richard Feynman's definition of "Cargo Cult Pseudo-Science. Paranormal research, flying saucers and cold fusion are better than string theory in that regard. You do not see any Big Professors at the Institute for Advanced Studies on those topics. I mean not the one in Princeton. How come PSICOP is not attacking the string theorists as beyond the "fringe"? Why the double standard?

"Dr. Harvey of Chicago said he sometimes woke up thinking, What am I doing spending my whole career on something that can't be tested experimentally? This disparity between theoretical speculation and testable reality has led some critics to suggest that string theory is as much philosophy as science, and that it has diverted the attention and energy of a generation of physicists from other perhaps more worthy pursuits. Others say the theory itself is still too vague and that some promising ideas have not been proved rigorously enough yet. Dr. Krauss said, 'We bemoan the fact that Einstein spent the last 30 years of his life on a fruitless quest, but we think it's fine if a thousand theorists spend 30 years of their prime on the same quest.'"

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