Thursday, March 7, 2013

More strange stringy stuff, and no, I don't hate birds...

Apparently, Background Dominated thinks that I have some sort of anti-bird bias.  Yes, I do enjoy insulting this sorry sap of a scientist (I also enjoy alliteration), but most of my insults in my previous post were not at ALL related to birds.  I mean, what does "fat fingers" have to do with birds??  I was just simply stating the undeniable fact that Background Dominated has fat fingers (alliteration++).

Not only do I not have any bird biases, I am always attempting to weed out any bias I have on any subject - an excellent trait to have as a scientist!  The only exception may be my eternal bias against the musings and non-sensical crap spewed out by Background Dominated.  But is it really a bias if it's true?

Anyway, enough about that nincompoop (see? no bird insult here!).  Before I get into more strange string stuff (alliteration++ ... OK, last time I do that, I promise), I wanted to point out an error that I had in my previous post.  I claimed that the first piece of evidence in support of Einstein's theory of general relativity was the Sun experiment, in which the deflection of background star light due to the Sun's gravity was measured to be in agreement with what general relativity predicts.  This is not entirely true. The first piece of evidence that general relativity was on the right track was that it correctly accounted for the precession of Mercury's orbit.  Without general relativity, Mercury is predicted to go around the Sun in a usual orbit.  However, what is really observed is that Mercury's point of closest approach to the Sun changes over time (i.e., it precesses).  Only by invoking general relativity could this observation be explained.

What does all of this have to do with string theory?  Well, I am again drawing an analogy between string theory and general relativity.  General relativity accounted for an observation already made and then made predictions that were confirmed years later.  String theory has also accounted for an inconsistency in our universe.  And that is that when you go to the very smallest scales imaginable, where quantum mechanics dominates, our understanding of gravity breaks down.  String theory is designed to fix this problem.  So, just like general relativity and Mercury, string theory has accounted for a problem that was already known to exist!

Is this good enough for it to be a valid theory? No - it still needs to make testable predictions that can be verified either via experimentation or observation.  And it has NOT done this yet.  However, unlike the impatient Background Dominated, I am not willing to think this theory is crap just yet.  Yes, it is taking awhile to test predictions that it makes, but science progresses slowly.  What difference does it make if the predictions made by string theory are verified years after its initial conception versus decades?  It's still science!

Personally, I think Background Dominated is just jealous that his "science" doesn't get more attention and funding than Brian Greene's work ;)

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