Wrzucałem to już jakieś pół…

Wrzucałem to już jakieś pół roku temu. Nie maleje liczba osób nierozumiejących metody naukowej i tego, jak przebiega rozwój nauki, w szczególności fizyki, więc nie zaszkodzi takie dobre teksty przypominać. Wrzucam najciekawsze fragmenty tekstu Search for ETs is more speculative than modern theoretical physics:

You know, it’s correct to say that science is a dialogue between the scientist and Nature. But this is only true in the long run. It doesn’t mean that every day or every year, both of them have to speak. If Nature doesn’t want to speak, She has the right to stay silent. And She often stays silent even if you complained that She doesn’t have the right. She ignores your restrictions on Her rights! So at the LHC after the Higgs boson discovery, Nature chose to remain silent so far – or She kept on saying „the Standard Model will look fine to you, human germ”. You can’t change this fact by some wishful thinking about „dialogues”. Theorists just didn’t get new post-Higgs data from the LHC because so far, there are no new data at the LHC. They need to keep on working which makes it obvious that they have to use older facts and new theoretical relationships between them, new hypotheses etc. In the absence of new theoretical data, it is obvious that theorists’ work has to be overwhelmingly theoretical or, in Loeb’s jargon, it has to be a monologue!

What Loeb actually wants to say is that a theorist should be obliged to plan the experiments that will settle all his theoretical ideas within his lifetime. But that’s not possible. The whole point of scientific research in physics is to study questions about the laws of Nature that haven’t been answered yet. And because they haven’t been answered yet, people don’t know and can’t know what the answer will be – and even when it will be found.

As e.g. Feynman said in his simple description of the scientific method, the scientific method to search for new laws works as follows: First, we guess the laws. Then we compute consequences. And then we compare the consequences to the empirical data. Note the order of the steps: the guess must be at the very beginning, scientists must be free to present all such possible hypotheses and guesses, and the computation of the consequences must still be close to the beginning. Loeb proposes something entirely different. He wants some planning of future experiments to be placed at the beginning, and this planning should restrict what the physicists are allowed to think about in the first place. Sorry, that wouldn’t be science and it couldn’t have produced interesting results, at least not systematically.

On the other hand, string theory is just a technical upgrade of quantum field theory – one that looks unique even 50 years after the birth of string theory. Quantum field theory and string theory yield basically the same predictions for the doable experiments, quantum field theory is demonstrably the relevant approximation of stringy physics, and this approximation has been successfully compared to the empirical data. Everything seems to work. The extra dimensions are just scalar fields analogous to those that are known to exist that are added on the stringy world sheet (and in this sense, the addition of the extra dimension is as mundane as the addition of an extra flavor of leptons or quarks). We have theoretical reasons to think that the total number of spacetime dimensions should be 10 or 11. Unlike the expectations about the ETs, this is not mere prejudice. There are actually calculations of the critical dimension. Joe Polchinski’s „String Theory” textbook contains 7 different calculations of D=26 for the bosonic string in the first volume; the realistic superstring analogously has D=10. This is not like saying „there should be cow-like aliens near Alpha Centauri because the stars look alike and I like this assertion”.

[Jest to polemika z artykułem Theoretical physics is pointless without experimental tests]

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