Sunday, March 3, 2013

He's stringing you along again

Mr. Feather-feet; Dr. Dim-wit; Bird-brain; Fat-fingers.  I for one am impressed with the Turbulent Scientist's mastery of alliteration and applaud him for raising the level of debate to that of an elementary school playground.  Apparently Congress' example is rubbing off!

Have you ever seen such a defensive blog post in your life?  Before he even bothers to explain his topic of the day, he launches into a very anti-bird screed (do birds have fingers? and even if they do, would you consider them fat? or is he just demonstrating the profound depth of his ignorance yet again?), likening me to our feathered friends as a way to inoculate himself from the guano of truth soon to be raining down on his exposed scalp.  Besides, birds evolved from freakin' dinosaurs that ruled the Earth for over 100 million years, AND they can FLY, so why be hatin'?

What's he so defensive about?  String theory: a field of theoretical physics that tries to unite disparate branches of physics under a common framework, which involves thinking of particles as really small strings vibrating in extra dimensions of space.  Cool idea?  Hell yeah.  I even thought I'd be working on it one day (until I realized "ego >> mathematical talent").  But here's the problem: after several decades of work, a COMPLETE version of the theory still does not exist, and what parts of the theory do exist have yet to predict ANYTHING.

Does this mean it's not science?  Well, not exactly, because the goal is to predict something.  Unfortunately, even when they can't predict anything precisedly but suggest some type of unexpected result from an experiment run out of something like the LHC, they fail.

The problem here is that physicists may just be barking up the wrong tree.  I personally cannot assess that technically, but when you've been pursuing something as long as the world has been pursuing peace in the Middle East, and you have FEWER results to show for your efforts, maybe it's time to approach the problem from a different angle.  But this hasn't happened, because prominent string theorists like Brian Greene have been so successful at popularizing it that they've attracted most young physicists to the idea.  Being merely human, it's hard to abandon an idea and body of work you've built a career on, even if you worry it's all for naught.  The best place to check out more criticism like this is at Peter Woit's blog Not Even Wrong.

When alchemists tried to answer the question, "How can you chemically turn lead into gold?", it wasn't the answers that were wrong, but the question itself.  Like the question, "How many brain cells does the average person have to kill off to equal that in the Turbulent Scientist's brain?", which presupposes that that pathetic, putrid piece of pond scum has a brain at all.

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