Eric Weinstein: The String Theory Wars

The fight for the soul and and future of physics

String Theory has been the dominant candidate for a ‘theory of everything’ for decades. But Eric Weinstein thinks its dominance is unjustified and has resulted in a culture that has stifled critique, alternative views, and ultimately has damaged theoretical physics at a catastrophic level. In this exclusive interview, Weinstein defends String Theory against some of its critics, but ultimately argues the need for a fundamental cultural shift to save the vitality of the field from certain death.

 

These days almost all of theoretical physics is conducted by professional academics working in universities. Leaving aside the droves of amateurs bombarding high profile physicists with their pet theories that supposedly prove Einstein wrong or solve the measurement problem of quantum mechanics once and for all, there are very few, but notable exceptions. Eric Weinstein is perhaps the most famous among them.  

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Bud Rapanault 19 February 2023

Well it would be hard to overstate the extreme and blatant
hypocrisy of this remark:

“Science is not a hypothesis that you then go out into the world to test. That’s what we tell religious fundamentalists, so they don’t invade our subject. We have oversimplified the scientific method into a fairy tale we tell slow children because we have bad actors, if we didn’t, then we could say what science really is.” The problem, according to Weinstein, is that the scientific community itself has internalised some of these “fairy tales” and uses them to discredit their opponents."

Talk about brazen! That's a Master Class in Class Hypocrisy! A separate set of rules one for the "wise ones" and one for the "fools". Sickening - and I agree with many of his criticisms otherwise.

That attitude is at the heart of the reason that the two standard model's are physically inane mathematical monstrosities. Theoretical physics these days does not play by the rules of science and it's a mess.

Xinhang Shen 18 February 2023

"String Theory has been considered the most promising candidate for a so-called theory of everything for decades. It purports to have achieved what has been the holy grail for physics ever since Einstein: the merging of Quantum Filed Theory (our best theory about the very small) with General Relativity (our best theory about the very large)."

Then, it is just a waste of effort because Einstein's relativity is fatally wrong and even can be disproved by a few sentences as shown below:

Einstein uses Lorentz Transformation to have redefined the space and time. The newly defined time is no longer the physical time measured with physical clocks. According to Lorentz Transformation, the time of the moving frame t' is shorter than the time of the stationary frame t:

t' = t/gamma < t

which is so called "time dilation", from which Einstein simply concludes that the frequency of the moving clock becomes lower than that of the stationary clock without any reasoning. He even thinks that the traveling twin would be younger than the twin stayed on the earth when they reunited on the earth after the trip. Relativists even claim that numerous experiments "have proved" relativistic time dilation.

But the period of the moving clock p' as an interval of the time of the moving frame should also be shorter than the period of the stationary clock p:

p' = p/gamma < p

Thus, the frequency of the moving clock f' should become faster than the frequency of the stationary clock f:

f' = 1/p' = gamma/p = gamma*f > f.

That means, the effect of "time dilation" makes the moving clock ticks faster than the stationary clock, directly denying Einstein's claim.

The shorter time of the moving frame and the higher frequency of the moving clock actually perfectly make the recorded number of periods N' a invariant of Lorentz Transformation:

N' = t'*f' = (t/gamma)*(gamma*f) = t*f = N

where N is the recorded number of periods on the stationary clock.

The Lorentz invariance of the recorded number of periods of a clock means clock time is still absolute, independent of the reference frame, and the time satisfying Lorentz Transformation is not clock time but an artificial time without physical meaning.

As clock time is still absolute, there is no such thing called spacetime and thus all spacetime based theories are wrong.

Michael DePietro 17 February 2023

It seems these days some very smart people have taken to saying some particularly asinine things and here is one of them...
“Science is not a hypothesis that you then go out into the world to test. That’s what we tell religious fundamentalists, so they don’t invade our subject. We have oversimplified the scientific method into a fairy tale we tell slow children because we have bad actors, if we didn’t, then we could say what science really is.” Followed by this... “Science includes the hypothetico-deductive model, but it also includes Kary Mullis getting stoned out of his mind and coming up with the polymerase chain reaction, or Kekulé dreaming of snakes swallowing their own tail, and coming to understand the structure of benzenes.” Weinstein that concludes with this bit of circular reasoning...
“Everything that results in reliable knowledge is science”... Say what... So how do we determine if a bit of "knowledge" is reliable? What is the criteria we use for reliable...? When the next future Mullis comes out of his LSD trip and says I have this brilliant idea... It might be a brilliant idea or it might be nonsense.. I have an idea.. why do we not ask the Mullis 2.0 to show us some empirical evidence that his or her idea is actually correct...Oh yeah.. that is sort of like science.. In fact it is what Mullis himself had to do....

It should be pretty self evident that while the origin of an idea might seem to be someone's drug induced haze or a dream the ultimate process of determining the validity of the theory depends on generating empirical evidence. There are a lot of drug induced hazes and goofy dreams and most of them do not lead to useful knowledge.. there are a lot of ways to generate ideas... The point is science is reliable to the extent it emphasizes empirical evidence. In fact even Weinstein's little history lesson about PCR is nonsense.. the ground work for PCR was laid in the early 1970s Kjelle Kleppe who with coworkers developed the initial techniques of replicating short DNA segments using primers.. Subsequently Mullis and Michael Scott working independently were awarded the Nobel prize for the development of PCR... In any case the development and proof of concept was done using standard collection of data and presenting it... In fact the development took years and had input of a number of people at the company that employed Mullis ( Cetus corporation)

There is some truth that at one time "science" meant any systematized body of knowledge and it is quite possible that there are systematized bodies of knowledge that can reach truth or attempt to do so.. typically they use elements of deduction and logical reasoning ( Mathematics or some branches of philosophy might be included here) But the modern usage of the word "Science" now means what entails confronting theories with experimental evidence.. Most well established scientific ideas have been proven essentially accurate ( even if there are things we do not fully understand) such as quantum mechanics or general relativity or the workings of DNA transcription, because of confirmation by empirical evidence, either experimental or observational. Other theories have been shown to be incorrect when data suggested the idea was false ( such as Dale's principle that a neuron would release only one neurotransmitter, which we now know is not always true.) or Something like Freudian psychoanalysis which while still popular in literary circles is no longer used much in actual psychiatric medicine since it has zero empirical evidence.

One thing I have noticed about the work of science popularizes is that it interviews some very smart people who are full of themselves.. Academia these days does not foster a lot of humility and it allows people to spew nonsense that does not survive much scrutiny.. If you are a surgeon and you spew nonsense.. your patients die, you get sued.. there are penalties.. My guess is if Weinstein makes a series of bad prediction managing Theil Capitol the Board at Theil would take notice of the financial losses and find a new leader... The problem with modern theoretical physics seems to be it has become infected with the problems in the rest of academia.. You can spew nonsense, it can be very sophisticated nonsense but it is going unchallenged because those who would challenge it are punished.. Not an expert in the relevant Math ( I did not get much farther than Calculus and statistics..) I can not opine on the merits of String theory etc.. but it appears that they have given up on the idea that is can be empirically verified or that this is even an appropriate criteria to determine if the theory is correct. IF that is the case than it is closer to Freudian Psychoanalysis than what we regard as useful science that taxpayer should shell out a lot of grant money to support.. And it likely will prove about as useful.