Saturday, October 20, 2012

Readings ...

I feel sleepy today. So I'll just link to two books that I'm reading.

Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. It was on sale at a reduced price. It's from 2003, before the Large Hadron Collider, so there you go. Some of the ideas about String Theory were good. It's a very good intro to theoretical physics for cretins such as myself. But towards the middle, it began to be a defense of string theory against some rather esoteric challenges that were met with equally esoteric counter-arguments. There was a part where advanced string theory ideas were used to solve very high-level mathematical questions that was very interesting. Then my high-school physics teacher friend told me that mainstream particle theory was still the biggest game in town. So I don't know.

Michael W. Hudson's The Monster. It's an apt title. I'm only about one-third into it, but I'm already disgusted with the moral emptiness of these Orange County and Wall Street pieces of shit. One asshole talked about how his salespeople had to be "hungry" and "passionate" about their jobs in order to succeed. "Hungry" to make a lot of money. "Passionate" about using psychological manipulation and OUTRIGHT LIES to trick poor people (in his case, elderly African-American widows mostly) into taking out loans using their hard-won homes as collateral, and then burying them in hidden fees and soaring interest rates and payback penalties, to bleed them dry.

These weren't people trying to use their homes as piggy-banks. One woman was convinced she could borrow $5,000 against her house to install better windows that would save her money on heating. She lost her home. "Passion" for their work was what motivated these guys. And "hunger" for hookers and cocaine and fancy cars and just being a mindless, materialistic cretins.

These monsters are still in charge. They're Obama's people. (Well, not really. They've displayed their ingratitude for his services by abandoning him and putting all their money behind Romney. One of their own. That's how much they're still in charge.)


opit said...

Maybe you should check out Lubos Motl's Reference Frame
The best theoretical physics blog that the search engine can offer you, by a ... The Reference Frame
That's the Search blurb
I have read string theory posts by him. A rather contentious assoc professor he has posted on both string theory and climate change - and he is not 'politically correct'

thwap said...

Thanks for the reference. It's good when the experts can explain the jist of what they're talking about.

Purple library guy said...

I've never thought string theory and conventional particle theory are at odds, really. That's part of the problem--as I understand it, string theory has potentially lovely elegant math, but getting it to work is mainly a matter of finding versions that give you--conventional particle theory, with more elegant math.

But by many accounts, there's no obvious way of testing whether it's actually true in any sense beyond the math being descriptive, like whether "strings" actually in some sense exist. And any cool mathematical solution they come up with will just be one of a near infinite number of such solutions, with nothing in particular to distinguish it from the rest. So objections to string theory are often less about it being wrong, exactly, and more about it--not getting us anywhere. I mean, when they sat down and wrangled up the Standard Model, it predicted a bunch of particles. And they turned out to be there. Some of 'em weren't exactly as advertised (neutrinos have mass now? wtf?), but that's still some major progress you can take to the bank. What does string theory predict?

thwap said...


I remember Greene saying something about their numbers predicting some result for something that was verified by a computer program.

But of course, being completely at sea I have no recollection of any useful identifying facts right now.

So I did a google search for "string theory, predictions" and came up with this:

This is all about reconciling two states that will forever be beyond our actual experience, the infinitely huge and the infinitely small, so there's not a lot of testing that's possible.