Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law

Book Reviews | Aug 19th, 2007

Author: Peter Woit
Publisher: Basic Books
Genre: Science
Pages: 290
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Finally, someone said out loud what we’ve all secretly suspected: superstring theory, the darling of physics since the 1980s, is not the Holy Grail. In fact, it might not even be good science.

Superstring theory is appealing because it posits the existence of extra dimensions, within which any number of physical properties can exist. As such, anything can happen in this “multiverse” – you can make x whatever you want, as long as it fits your theory.

The problem with superstring theory isn’t so much its limitless ability to come up with solutions. The problem is that these solutions are so far untestable in the world outside of mathematics. An observable experiment can’t be created with superstring theory nor can observable predictions be made with it. It may be theoretically and mathematically sound, but it can never be proven right or wrong. Thus Wolfgang Pauli’s famously dismissive quote of theories that fit this description: they are “not even wrong.”

This book makes the above convincing argument, though it takes a while to get there and the journey is strewn with complicated physics-talk and equations. Unless you know physics well, simply enjoy the compelling introduction and last few chapters.

Bottom Line: Untangles superstring.
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