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Stringing us along

The tide seems to be turning against string theory and its speculative attempts to produce a "theory of everything." Not a moment too soon

By John Horgan   August 2006

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…

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