Monday, March 26, 2007

Told you so

Remember all that stuff about the failure of string theory? Peter Woit, author of Not Even Wrong, now has a scientific talk about the failure of string theory. It's in the usual PowerPoint format used in many scientific conferences today (except this version is converted to PDF). I like his first section title: "Introduction and Excuses."

As Woit points out, it's not usual to give talks about scientific failure, at least not if you want a career in the subject. Of course, Woit is not a physicist, but a string-savvy mathematician, so he has less to lose here - which makes the talk a lot easier for him.

Perhaps Woit has unwittingly inaugurated a new era of negative scientific conferences and presentations, which in the future might be filled with mea culpas - perhaps they can include something like the Al Chet confessional from Yom Kippur in the final plenary session, and the whole final day can require fasting.

The trouble with strings is not that they're just a theory with wrong predictions. The trouble with strings is that they're not a theory at all and make no predictions.

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