Below is a good article on the development of String Theory and on the general state of theoretical physics today. It is one general and non-technical view, and there are of course other views around, but it is overall a reasonable view backed by numbers of modern physicists though currently a minority.
Following the article are presented some other views and considerations of String Theory, M-theory, Quantum Mechanics, Uncertainty physics and Duality physics.
Article by Michael Strauss 2006.
Science has reached an enormous impasse. From biology to
physics, astronomy to genetics, the scientific community is
reaching the limits of understanding which often presage a complete
rethinking of long-accepted theories. So characteristic of this new
apex of modern arrogance is the inability to comprehend the obvious
in physics: That we don't know what we are talking about.
Last December ('05), physicists held the 23rd Solvay Conference in Brussels, Belgium. Amongst the many topics covered in the conference was the subject matter of string theory. This theory combines the apparently irreconcilable domains of quantum physics and relativity.
David Gross a Nobel Laureate made some startling statements about the state of physics including: "We don't know what we are talking about" whilst referring to string theory as well as "The state of physics today is like it was when we were mystified by radioactivity." The Nobel Laureate is a heavyweight in this field having earned a prize for work on the strong nuclear force and he indicated that what is happening today is very similar to what happened at the 1911 Solvay meeting. Back then, radioactivity had recently been discovered and mass energy conservation was under assault because of its discovery. Quantum theory would be needed to solve these problems. Gross further commented that in 1911 "They were missing something absolutely fundamental," as well as "we are missing perhaps something as profound as they were back then."
Coming from a scientist with establishment credentials this is a damning statement about the state of current theoretical models and most notably string theory. This theoretical model is a means by which physicists replace the more commonly known particles of particle physics with one-dimensional objects which are known as strings. These bizarre objects were first detected in 1968 through the insight and work of Gabriele Veneziano who was trying to comprehend the strong nuclear force.
Whilst meditating on the strong nuclear force Veneziano detected a similarity between the Euler Beta Function, named for the famed mathematician Leonhard Euler, and the strong force. Applying the aforementioned Beta Function to the strong force he was able to validate a direct correlation between the two. Interestingly enough, no one knew why Euler's Beta worked so well in mapping the strong nuclear force data. A proposed solution to this dilemma would follow a few years later.
Almost two years later (1970), the scientists Nambu, Nielsen and Susskind provided a mathematical description which described the physical phenomena of why Euler's Beta served as a graphical outline for the strong nuclear force. By modelling the strong nuclear forces as one dimensional strings they were able to show why it all seemed to work so well. However, several troubling inconsistencies were immediately seen on the horizon. The new theory had attached to it many implications that were in direct violation of empirical analyses. In other words, routine experimentation did not back up the new theory.
Needless to say, physicists romantic fascination with string theory ended almost as fast as it had begun only to be resuscitated a few years later by another 'discovery.' The worker of the miraculous salvation of the sweet dreams of modern physicists was known as the graviton. This elementary particle allegedly communicates gravitational forces throughout the universe.
The graviton is of course a 'hypothetical' particle that appears in what are known as quantum gravity systems. Unfortunately, the graviton has never ever been detected; it is as previously indicated a 'mythical' particle that fills the mind of the theorist with dreams of golden Nobel Prizes and perhaps his or her name on the periodic table of elements.
But back to the historical record. In 1974, the scientists Schwarz, Scherk and Yoneya reexamined strings so that the textures or patterns of strings and their associated vibrational properties were connected to the aforementioned 'graviton.' As a result of these investigations was born what is now called 'bosonic string theory' which is the 'in vogue' version of this theory. Having both open and closed strings as well as many new important problems which gave rise to unforeseen instabilities.
These problematical instabilities leading to many new difficulties which render the previous thinking as confused as we were when we started this discussion. Of course this all started from undetectable gravitons which arise from other theories equally untenable and inexplicable and so on. Thus was born string theory which was hoped would provide a complete picture of the basic fundamental principles of the universe.
Scientists had believed that once the shortcomings of particle physics had been left behind by the adoption of the exotic string theory, that a grand unified theory of everything would be an easily ascertainable goal. However, what they could not anticipate is that the theory that they hoped would produce a theory of everything would leave them more confused and frustrated than they were before they departed from particle physics.
The end result of string theory is that we know less and less and are becoming more and more confused. Of course, the argument could be made that further investigations will yield more relevant data whereby we will tweak the model to an eventual perfecting of our understanding of it. Or perhaps 'We don't know what we are talking about.'
About The Author: Michael Strauss is an engineer who has an interest in this subject matter. To contact the author visit: www.relativitycollapse.com or www.relativitycollapse.net
Below you can hear one alternative YouTube 'explanation' of some 'mainstream' modern physics theory ;
While the general sense of this 'Heisenberg-Einstein' observer approach to physics may well seem OK, it certainly looks like science with bad definition of even its basics like mass, energy and space.
It also maybe looks like a physics that is a poorly defined image theory of Gilbert-Newton signal attraction physics theory where all physical objects are observers and/or signals.
In comparison, 'Heisenberg-Einstein' observer physics has only anthropocentric or anthropomorphic observers in a universe in which mankind is unjustifiably totally different from the rest of the universe. In a Gilbert-Newton signal attraction physics where all physical objects
are automaton observers/responders, mankind fits more naturally and has only the addition of thought to its processes. Then physical objects and mankind differ basically only to the extent that programmed computers and self-learning computers differ.
Gilbert-Newton signal attraction physics can reasonably claim to better unify the physical and biological and to be the least anthropocentric physics, and certainly not the most anthropocentric and anthropomorphic as widely falsely claimed.
(anthropocentrists trying to widen 'mankind' by including gods and/or alien life amounts to little real widening.) William Gilbert's experiments showing basically that rocks attract rocks is still not disproved, and it may well be that both types of theory have some valid defined place in some well defined physics.
In the 1990s, string theorists including Edward Witten, Paul Townsend and others concluded that the five versions of 10-dimension string theory current then basically describe the same thing seen from different perspectives and so were aspects of one bigger theory. Basically from considering theory-equivalences, they proposed a unifying 11-dimension string theory called 'M-Theory' or 'Membrane Theory', involving multiple universes and gravity being a force that operates between each universe. Like much modern physics, the improved mathematics of M-theory seems to go with a poor physical description and no doubt its better mathematics will in the future be found to go with some one or two other better physical descriptions. The universe is unlikely to be actually constructed of strings, loops, waves, triangles or any other geometric shapes that mathematics may suggest. When these theories prove some consistencies between each other, their loose definition generally limits proved consistencies to the superficial level. And as additions to the standard 4 dimensions of space and time, the other proposed 'dimensions' of M-theory may just be physically describable as forces or energy states or signal-response states ? (also see our General Image Theory section)
Modern physics includes theories like General Relativity theory, Standard Model theories, Quantum Mechanics theories, Loop theory, String theory, Superstring theory, M-theory and other theories which are often poorly defined and based on ridiculously weak science terminology assumptions such as 'we all know what 'mass' is'. Well no - there are actually quite a range of different physics ideas of what mass is exactly, and they will not all be consistent with a particular physics theory. Some want several of these theories to be all accepted as valid, and not needing to disprove eachother, without any substantial consistency proofs. But any science theory without exact definitions must perhaps be taken as being a weak science theory.
2014 saw German physicist Alexander Hartmann design a Standard Model game, called Spinglas, but it was undoubtedly not the most useless work by a modern physicist.
String theory is basically a quantum physics that involves the
universe consisting of only one type of one-dimension 'string' body
which has many different ways of vibrating within 10 'dimensions'.
If the meaningfulness of 10 dimensions is doubtful, the
meaningfulness of a 1-dimensional body is at least equally doubtful.
String Theory seems to build a physics on an object that cannot exist.
But quantum physics started basically as the application of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle and probability to a Particle Physics, though some claim it is really only fully applicable to a Wave Mechanics with wave mathematics necessarily linking position, motion and momentum. More clearly in its early days Quantum Physics was basically a form of Descartes mechanical physics then became a form of wave energy physics with its 'wave' poorly defined, but now has mostly adopted the scary science 'Duality Principle' positing both.
Duality, claiming that everything is a wave and is not a wave, is so plainly self-contradicting that it clearly disproves itself. And that is without the additional modern requirement of waves that they are also now claimed to need no medium to wave. Support for these scary science ideas has given us an Emperors Clothes physics where none wants to risk their reputation by pointing out that these things are clearly ridiculous. The peer mob rules and maintains modern scary physics. Even Einstein bought scary duality if only for light, when it was maybe of little real use to his relativity theory which in any case had other major problems.
Like both Relativity theory and String theory, Quantum Mechanics was initially basically another form of Descartes mechanical push physics and all three of them have problems that still await satisfactory scientific solutions. They require that A forces an effect in B, unlike Gilbert-Newton attraction theory, but have no real force/push mechanism - and especially so modern quantum mechanics which allows multiple things to occupy the same space and so does not even have contact for a push or force mechanism. Some see duality as having increased the power of quantum physics, but some see it as having seriously disabled quantum physics in robbing it of real definition.
Quantum Mechanics theory has developed and is still developing in a variety of directions involving field theories and/or particle theories, as in the 'particle theory Standard Model' - though that often including 'massless particles' that are maybe better termed energy quanta and so not a particle theory in any Descartes sense. Often such theories require particles to occupy the same space and/or require forcefields or energy quanta to somehow have push abilities like mass particles though meaningful mechanisms and indeed meaningful definitions are often not offered. Claimed mechanisms include claimed exchanges of 'virtual particles', said to be unobservables and having no well defined mechanisms for their claimed probabilistic appearing or vanishing in a vacuum or in any medium. Of course a signal theory can readily allow of energy quanta signals occupying the same space and having push or pull type response effects with no problem.
Quantum mechanics also claims that evidence supports an 'entanglement' instant-communication property for some pairs of particles or photons, created as by radioactive decay, linking them no matter how far apart they are so if one particle changes spin then the other instantly changes spin oppositely. Such quantum entanglement of particles or photons, or even of atoms, looks very much like action-at-a-distance but with no explanation or mechanism at all. Einstein called it 'Spooky action-at-a-distance' though he offered no specific evidence against it and offered no alternative explanation. It being specific to only particular particles makes entanglement certainly even stranger than common at-a-distance general forces like gravity and magnetism. But a signal physics can more naturally handle multiple-signal emissions having related information without requiring any mystical 'entanglement'. The modern physics 'spooky entanglement phenomenon problem' has developed from 1 photon splitting into 2 lower-energy photons. But a general entanglement phenomenon, as "if you split something into 2 pieces, then some property of one piece may reflect some property of the other piece even if the pieces are separated by some distance", does not seem to necessarily require anything spooky and looks like it might in at least some cases be explainable somehow by Newtonian physics depending on the details applying to a case. This does not imply or require any actual connection between the 2 pieces subsequent to their split, only prior to their split. Subsequent connection is just apparent and is not actual, and so presents no actual problem to classical Newtonian physics where appearance issues merely concern the responses of objects or observers to signals - or 'attraction theory'.
Gilbert-Newton action-at-distance by signal emission is NO real problem for a physics even if the signals are hard to detect, but instant action-at-distance with no emission involved IS obviously a killer problem for a physics requiring it as does some quantum mechanics. Of course physics is not always good at measuring actual zeros or actual infinities and so cannot always really distinguish 'instant' from 'fast'. It is easy to build a robot with anticipatory response to light that certainly appears to be faster-than-light response as near the bottom of our main section on Einstein. And in quantum mechanics physical events are claimed to be basically probabilistic. This despite the fact that the Sun always rises every morning, and a magnet always attract iron quite deterministically and not probably as is firmly established by many experiments and observations. Physical actions predominantly appear to be perfectly deterministic. Of course there certainly are some cases like radioactivity that seem to involve probabilistic action, but may simply involve an as yet unobserved determinism.
Quantum Mechanics generally incorporates Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle at least in relation to human observers. But the Uncertainty Principle applying to ANY observer can perhaps only fully apply to a physics like William Gilbert's where all physical objects are observers in that they respond to gravity etcetera signals from other physical objects - ie. to a non-mechanical Gilbert Quantum Signal Physics ? The same should also apply for Relativity theory for ANY observer as against Einstein limiting it just for human observers ?
The unfortunately vague definition of 'observer' and 'observation' in both Relativity and Quantum Mechanics theory, with some even confusing observing with experimenting, has even allowed some physicists to conclude that 'observation' can physically affect things observed. And that has encouraged a very doubtful philosophy or religion around a claimed 'Law of Attraction' in which the human mind is supposed to be able to control the physical universe. If observation is just the reception of such signals as things emit then it cannot affect the emitter - and so experiments such as attempt to elicit such signals or responses to such signals if affecting the emitter would not be observations. And 2014 has seen Christopher Ferrie and Joshua Combes, backed by Rainer Kaltenbaek and Franco Nori, throw major doubt on Quantum Mechanics and especially its 'weak measurement' as being based on bad statistics. (see http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2014/oct/09/are-weak-values-quantum-after-all)
You can read another quantum mechanics view of the issue at Many-Minds Quantum Mechanics.
Of course these physics theories have used somewhat different actual mathematics, but that does not perhaps preclude some of them being developed to use similar mathematics. Any theory that is consistent with some experiment is a theory that can give the mathematics that is consistent with that experiment. And since nobody can really prove that one object can actually touch or actually push another object, mechanical physics theories are perhaps not the only physics explanation theories possible ? Certainly modern physics has now mostly, though not entirely, abandoned the early-'victorious' Descartes matter-only physics framework for the early-'defeated' Gilbert-Newton matter-and-energy physics framework. But without acknowledging that the first big physics-war was 'won' very wrongly, and without reconsidering the basic science issues at all - wrongly taking all early physics as Cartesian physics but calling it Newtonian. Perhaps unsurprisingly the modern physics resulting is full of dispute.
In a variety of physics fields today can be found numbers of physicists who support Einstein mathematics but not the explanation given with it, or support Quantum Mechanics mathematics but not the explanation given with it, or support M Theory mathematics but not the explanation given with it - ie who are basically supporters of Black Box science in line with Newton though for post-Newtonian physics theories. With the variety of current physics 'explanation theories' being so diverse, weakly defined, and contradictory, as to perhaps offer no real explanations, maybe such a Newton-like black-box position is preferable - though maybe needing stronger agreed rules for deciding which give consistent mathematics and which does so most easily ? And while the common claim that there is now some one widely accepted 'mainstream physics theory' is far from true, modern disagreement on physics theory does usefully encourage experimental physics. But the experimenting being very largely in the nuclear arena may not be the most useful experimenting possible.
2009 did see a Gilbert-Newton quantum signal attraction physics seemingly getting some modern backing from the new Hořava time-invariant quantum gravity, see www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=splitting-time-from-space (On ideas relating the basics of signal theory to quantum mechanics theory see A Gersten, Annals of Physics 1998 1 and 2 at http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/physics/pdf/9911/9911018v1.pdf and http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/physics/pdf/9911/9911019v1.pdf) A crucial part of the claimed 'proof' of Einstein's physics and all later physics theories has been their claimed 'consistency with Newton' which is largely illusionary or at least very loosely based and certainly not based on any real study of Newton or the theories that he considered his physics to be consistent with.
Of course there are other problems to trying to reconcile Einstein and post-Einstein physics with Gilbert-Newton physics. Hence while Gilbert and Newton took the mass of natural experiment and experience as showing Magnetism, Electricity and Gravity being basically similar forces, Einstein and later physics often depends on treating gravity as being entirely different and not any force. The observed behaviour of gravity is certainly very similar to that of the other forces, but does any physics fully explain both the similarities and the differences ?!
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