Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law

Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law

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by Peter Woit
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0465092756

ISBN-13: 9780465092758

Pub. Date: 09/28/2006

Publisher: Basic Books

If Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit shows that what many physicists call super-string "theory" is not a theory at all but an unrealized hope that a theory might exist. In his view, superstring theory has departed the realm of testable hypothesis and now resembles something like aesthetic speculation, even theology-it makes no predictions, even wrong ones. Can a subject be a

Overview

If Not Even Wrong, Peter Woit shows that what many physicists call super-string "theory" is not a theory at all but an unrealized hope that a theory might exist. In his view, superstring theory has departed the realm of testable hypothesis and now resembles something like aesthetic speculation, even theology-it makes no predictions, even wrong ones. Can a subject be a science if it makes no predictions at all? Not Even Wrong tells the story of how quantum physics came to such a pass. It describes how superstring theory came about; explains how mathematic and physics have worked together to generate a compelling theory of particle physics that has become in many ways a victim of its own success; and describes how it developed that judgments about scientific statements, which should be based on the logical consistency of argument and experimental evidence, are instead based on the eminence of those claiming to know the truth.

About the Author:
Peter Woit is a lecturer in the Mathematics Department of Columbia University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465092758
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
09/28/2006
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents


Preface     ix
Particle Physics at the Turn of the Millennium     1
The Instruments of Production     5
Quantum Theory     29
Quantum Field Theory     49
Gauge Symmetry and Gauge Theories     59
The Standard Model     67
Triumph of the Standard Model     85
Problems of the Standard Model     91
Beyond the Standard Model     95
New Insights in Quantum Field Theory and Mathematics     105
String Theory: History     139
String Theory and Supersymmetry: An Evaluation     161
On Beauty and Difficulty     193
Is Superstring Theory Science?     203
The Bogdanov Affair     213
The Only Game in Town: The Power and the Glory of String Theory     221
The Landscape of String Theory     237
Other Points of View     247
Conclusion     255
Acknowledgments     265
Notes     269
Index     279

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Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Tunguz More than 1 year ago
I've been following the arguments made by Peter Woit against String Theory for quite some time, and it's a pleasure to be able to have them all in a single volume. His arguments are very persuasive, and his writing clear and to the point. This, however, is not a book that the general audience will find easy to follow. The earlier chapters recount the canonical story of the success of the particle physics in the 20th century, and if you are familiar with that story you can safely skip these chapters. The later chapters are the really interesting ones, but unless you have at least some familiarity with theoretical particle physics and the modern mathematics, you might find yourself lost. Even with that caveat it is still possible to appreciate the central theme of this book: theoretical particle physics took a wrong turn somewhere in the late 70s and the early 80s, and has never been able to recover from this. Woit is appealing in this book to the practitioners in the field to be more honest with their assessments of the direction in which the theoretical particle physics is headed, and the lack of any meaningful progress. Unfortunately, I am very sceptical of the potential impact of this book on the field of particle physics. The Emperor is naked, but he is perceived as irrelevant as well.