Notices
Results 1 to 15 of 15
Like Tree1Likes
  • 1 Post By Fanghur

Thread: Why are String theory and M-theory considered scientific theories?

  1. #1 Why are String theory and M-theory considered scientific theories? 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Mississauga, Ontario
    Posts
    48
    I've been reading a lot of articles about the whole evolution vs creationism debate (evolution all the way, by the by), and I am continually being forced to grit my teeth in frustration whenever these idiots pull the utterly vapid 'it's just a theory' argument, even though it has been explained more times than I can count that the word 'theory' in a scientific sense refers to a framework of knowledge, observations and experimental evidence that explain various aspects of reality. In other words, if the evolution scientists (I denounce any scientist that outright claims that evolution is a lie) are correct, a scientific theory is for all intents and purposes 'proven', as much as anything can be proven outside of mathematics, to be correct and accurate. That is my working definition to the word theory as well.

    However, as much as I think the majority of creationists are just being trolls when they pull the 'it's just a theory' argument, I can't help but notice that there are several cases where scientific theories, the most obvious being String theory, M-theory, and loop quantum gravity theory, that do not fit that definition of the word theory, and seem to me to better fit the definition of theory that is a synonym of 'hypothesis', as these 'theories' have virtually no experimental evidence of any kind backing them up (if I'm wrong on that account, someone please let me know). In fact I have heard several scientists refer to them as being philosophy, not science. So I'm curious, why is it that they are referred to as scientific theories and not hypotheses? True they have the potential to explain how the universe operates, but until we can build a particle accelerator the size of the solar system, we won't be able to directly test them.


    Edward Wechner likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Professor
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    In the circuitous haze of my mind
    Posts
    1,028
    As far as I'm concerned, they are designed to be unsolvable and create a scientific standstill. I guess "String theory" flows better than "String hypothesis". I would basically call evolutionary theory a misunderstood and augmentable fact; unless creationists want to argue that God is 'tricking us' into believing that we got here via evolution and not his direct intervention....but needless to say, the 'it appears that way, but may not be, and I have no evidence to show this' argument doesn't fly well in intellectual circles. I would simply see string theory and the like as a good mental exercise which may lead to the truth via the methods developed within them, rather than as a representation of the truth itself.

    Remember: Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity, and as above, so below.


    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

    -Einstein

    http://boinc.berkeley.edu/download.php

    Use your computing strength for science!
    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Senior TheObserver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    351
    To my understanding, none or at least hardly any physicists would consider those to be actual theories. In fact I often see them making it very explicit that we don't have a string theory yet.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Senior TheObserver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    351
    Quote Originally Posted by Fanghur View Post
    True they have the potential to explain how the universe operates, but until we can build a particle accelerator the size of the solar system, we won't be able to directly test them.
    That isn't necessarily true, it just means we haven't thought of a way to directly test them yet.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Junior epidecus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    268
    Quote Originally Posted by TheObserver View Post
    To my understanding, none or at least hardly any physicists would consider those to be actual theories. In fact I often see them making it very explicit that we don't have a string theory yet.
    Let me get this straight... So it does seem to be a "theory" in the everyday sense. But if we consider the scientific method, it's better to call M-theory a hypothesis?
    Dis muthufukka go hard. -Quote
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Forum Senior TheObserver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    351
    Quote Originally Posted by epidecus View Post

    Let me get this straight... So it does seem to be a "theory" in the everyday sense. But if we consider the scientific method, it's better to call M-theory a hypothesis?
    More like a collection of hypotheses and mathematical results.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Professor river_rat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    1,517
    Its a theory in the mathematical sense, IMHO, which is reasonable seeing that it is more mathematics than physics.
    As is often the case with technical subjects we are presented with an unfortunate choice: an explanation that is accurate but incomprehensible, or comprehensible but wrong.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Average Human guymillion's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    187
    Quote Originally Posted by river_rat View Post
    Its a theory in the mathematical sense, IMHO, which is reasonable seeing that it is more mathematics than physics.
    Yeah, I think that it has a lot of interesting math involved, but I'm not convinced of anything until they have some solid observations.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Eric
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    UT
    Posts
    7
    Quote: "There is only one truth: Something Exists. Everything else is a perspective of the observer in their limited environment of perception."

    Everything is a theory.
    Some theories have less contradictions and/or holes than others.
    Some theories like the Standard Model has a traceable lineage of development.
    Some theories can be used by engineers to produce useful productivity more than others.

    Useful theories are in some ways testable so that the relationships can evolve.

    All theories evolve, and eventually the hope is they will become useful.

    Theories that don't evolve are sometimes called laws if they are useful, like the laws of thermodynamics. Useful relationships that can be used repeatedly within a "constrained environment". The laws of thermodynamics are not abstractly useful in all circumstances like near the speed of light, intense gravity wells, with materials that have uncharacterized non-linear properties, nano-scale and smaller artifacts...

    Theories that don't evolve and are not testable are called Religions.
    String Theory evolves daily, so even though not testable it is not a religion.

    Potentially String Theory is testable in a quantum causality environment. But first quantum causality needs to be detected.

    From what I've grasped so far, Quantum Causality is not directly observable due to Relativity. Anything based in relativity is observable, systems of causality, not individual connectedness.

    So a quanta connected to an experiment one microsecond, is no longer connected to the experiment the following microsecond, and is part of other relativistic entities. That is why differential systems of detection are required and direct detection of quantum causality is not feasible.

    Like x-rays, a detetor needs to be modeled. For quantum causality systems of physics need to be modeled into the detector to isolate relativity in some way.

    When this happens, I suspect String Theory will become a very important part of physics; and it will evolve very quickly due to having a testable environment. When String Theory related to quantum causality becomes testable, tools to control space-time will probably evolve. Useful outcomes.
    Last edited by junkstopshere2; November 4th, 2012 at 10:14 AM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Forum Bachelors Degree Kerling's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Copenhagen
    Posts
    440
    Well in Popper's model for science a good theory is a theory which is easily falsifiable. If it is falsefied it is disproven. Actually religion is a very good theory. Very easy to falsify. It is however a choice to attain a falsified theory.

    String theory and M-theory are bad theories. They are very difficult to falsify and a lot of 'dirt' on the side. Yes, the mathematically often explain things very pretty. But they have no real provable physical background. This makes them very hard to falsify. But because they provide such a pretty answer people are less likely to give it up. In a sense String theory could be considered a good religion, as it is hard to falsify.

    The problem is, in the entire discussion, that people are more likely to believe something that is hard to falsify as truth, then the other way around.

    In science of course it is not. Something is truth because even though it is simple to falsify, nobody has managed to do so yet, and we really are trying very hard.
    In the information age ignorance is a choice.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    113
    I do share your feelings about String Theory. I knew nothing about it, but was interested to find out. So I bought myself a few books and carefully studied them, now I know even less about it. If you are interested in my take of the String Theory, please read my blog:
    StringTheory http://edwardwechner3.blogspot.com.au
    You may not agree with everything I say, but that is how I feel about it.


    I do even more-so sympathize with your feelings about Creationists, and offer my views in:
    Physics and Religion http://edwardwechner4.blogspot.com.au
    and a bit, more at the end of my blog: Dimensions http://edwardwechner.blogspot.com.au









    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    I live in Los Angeles but travel a lot and spend some time in Mexico.
    Posts
    1,509
    Quote Originally Posted by Fanghur View Post
    I've been reading a lot of articles about the whole evolution vs creationism debate (evolution all the way, by the by), and I am continually being forced to grit my teeth in frustration whenever these idiots pull the utterly vapid 'it's just a theory' argument, even though it has been explained more times than I can count that the word 'theory' in a scientific sense refers to a framework of knowledge, observations and experimental evidence that explain various aspects of reality. In other words, if the evolution scientists (I denounce any scientist that outright claims that evolution is a lie) are correct, a scientific theory is for all intents and purposes 'proven', as much as anything can be proven outside of mathematics, to be correct and accurate. That is my working definition to the word theory as well.

    However, as much as I think the majority of creationists are just being trolls when they pull the 'it's just a theory' argument, I can't help but notice that there are several cases where scientific theories, the most obvious being String theory, M-theory, and loop quantum gravity theory, that do not fit that definition of the word theory, and seem to me to better fit the definition of theory that is a synonym of 'hypothesis', as these 'theories' have virtually no experimental evidence of any kind backing them up (if I'm wrong on that account, someone please let me know). In fact I have heard several scientists refer to them as being philosophy, not science. So I'm curious, why is it that they are referred to as scientific theories and not hypotheses? True they have the potential to explain how the universe operates, but until we can build a particle accelerator the size of the solar system, we won't be able to directly test them.
    I agree such "theories" as string/ M theory, quantum loop gravity, do not meet the definition of being scientific or even logical based upon differing definitions of the words. Hypothesis are often not backed up by consensus math theory such as dark matter and dark energy for instance, so many choose to call them hypothesis. String theory and quantum loop gravity are primarily mathematical theories but may fail in some definitions of science logic such as: Scientific Logic defined: the science involving formal principles and rules of reasoning which can involve deductive, abductive, and/or inductive sequences of probable inferences and resultant conclusions. Scientific Method defined: Definition: the application of logic and objectivity to the understanding of phenomena. Both "scientific logic" and "scientific method" seem to be close to synonyms.

    So If everyone followed set definitions of "theory," hypothesis," etc. then there might be less ambiguity. Realize, however, that people like myself consider many other so called theories as hypothesis, so there should be no persons or groups allowed to make final judgements concerning which theories are on firmer grounds than others via its designated category

    Talk about the ridiculous use of the word "theory:" Bolzmann Brains: The Big Brain Theory

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cr...typing-hamlet/

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/sc...anted=all&_r=0
    Last edited by forrest noble; November 13th, 2012 at 06:37 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    7,302
    Quote Originally Posted by forrest noble View Post

    Talk about the ridiculous use of the word "theory:" Bolzmann Brains: The Big Brain Theory

    The Higgs, Boltzmann Brains, and Monkeys Typing Hamlet | The Crux | Discover Magazine

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/sc...anted=all&_r=0
    Right, can you ( in your own words, not in the form of quotations ) explain to us exactly what you understand "Boltzmann Brains" to mean ? I think you got the entirely wrong idea about that concept. Furthermore, the NY Times and some blog on the Discover Magazine site aren't exactly scientifically exact sources.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    I live in Los Angeles but travel a lot and spend some time in Mexico.
    Posts
    1,509
    Quote Originally Posted by Markus Hanke View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by forrest noble View Post

    Talk about the ridiculous use of the word "theory:" Bolzmann Brains: The Big Brain Theory

    The Higgs, Boltzmann Brains, and Monkeys Typing Hamlet | The Crux | Discover Magazine

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/sc...anted=all&_r=0
    Right, can you ( in your own words, not in the form of quotations ) explain to us exactly what you understand "Boltzmann Brains" to mean ? I think you got the entirely wrong idea about that concept. Furthermore, the NY Times and some blog on the Discover Magazine site aren't exactly scientifically exact sources.
    In a nutshell I think the basic idea is that reality as we observe it is non-existent, and instead has its basis as a thought within a Boltzmann Brain, free floating within the universe. Ha Ha, ridiculous

    This comes from the summation of the first paragraph from the second link above. I think the basic idea comes from Quantum Theory whereby observation itself accordingly creates the reality of it.

    The related principle of Quantum Mechanics is this: -- Measurement determines reality. If particles have not been measured/observed they have no definite state.

    (This is the assertion, I say what is the evidence?)

    The "indeterminacy of the state" of existence principle means that observation is necessary for a state of reality to be finally determined (Shroedinger's cat). If something has not been observed it accordingly cannot physically exist in a determined state, hence Boltzmann Brains are the observer and the creator of a definite-state of reality, or that the definite state does not exist either and is solely in the mind of the observer -- so satheth the psuedo-science of it. Whereby the classification of such an idea as a scientific theory, "The Big Brain Theory," regarding the OP query regarding scientific use of the word theory, I think is a clear case of a truly laughable use of the word theory. If they would have said that the Big Brain theory was just as likely to be true as present Quantum Theory (which of course they didn't ), then I would have agreed with them

    Another reference source:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boltzmann_brain
    Last edited by forrest noble; November 14th, 2012 at 03:35 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Moderator Moderator Markus Hanke's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    7,302
    Quote Originally Posted by forrest noble View Post
    In a nutshell I think the basic idea is that reality as we observe it is non-existent, and instead has its basis as a thought within a Boltzmann Brain, free floating within the universe. Ha Ha, ridiculous
    Just like I thought - that is not idea behind the concept. I am on my way to work right now and don't have time to elaborate, but perhaps when I get a spare hour or two over the weekend I might put together a thread on this subject. In the meantime I refer you to this paper by Andrei Linde, one of the foremost experts on cosmology in our time :

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/hep-th/0611043v3.pdf

    Have a good read through it, it's fairly straightforward and well referenced.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Similar Threads

  1. string theory
    By Topalk in forum Astronomy & Cosmology
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: May 27th, 2010, 07:19 PM
  2. String theory
    By Robins Thomas John in forum Physics
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: April 11th, 2010, 03:03 AM
  3. When folk theory meets scientific theory?
    By coberst in forum Philosophy
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: September 27th, 2009, 07:26 AM
  4. String Theory
    By Time Master in forum Physics
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: October 27th, 2006, 05:34 PM
  5. String Theory and M-theory Study Material
    By sachinastro in forum Astronomy & Cosmology
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: November 20th, 2005, 01:04 AM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •