The tide seems to be turning against string theory and its speculative attempts to produce a "theory of everything." Not a moment too soonby John Horgan / August 27, 2006 / Leave a comment
Published in August 2006 issue of Prospect Magazine
Not Even Wrong by Peter Woit
Jonathan Cape, £18.99
“String theory is still promising,” I once heard the physicist and Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek quip, “and promising, and promising.” String theory is a so-called unified theory, which attempts to wrap quantum mechanics and relativity into one tidy mathematical explanation of all nature’s forces, and it has been promising for more than 20 years now without delivering.
Depending on which variant you prefer, string theory holds that reality is woven out of infinitesimal strings, or loops, or membranes vibrating in a hyperspace of ten, or 11, or whatever dimensions. Advocates—I will call them “pluckers”—claim that string theory represents a “theory of everything” that will answer the most profound of all questions: how did the universe come to be? And why did it take this particular form rather than some other form that would not have permitted our existence?