Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bert Schroer's paper

A reader has pointed out that Prof. Bert Schroer has submitted a new paper about axiomatic quantum field theory that focuses on string theory:

This paper is a good illustration of the current intellectual trends in axiomatic field theory and an excellent example how publications in physics journals are going to look like if the current wave of "scientific democracy" wins.

The calculation starts with Galileo Galilei and the main five references include Susskind's anthropic book, Darrigol's article about the history of quantum fields, Jordan's review of QED from 1929, Haag's book "Local Quantum Physics", and your humble correspondent's answer to a layman on a newsgroup that the string tension is a scalar - a constant.

The latter source is very important. What is important about it? The important part is not the tensor vs. scalar debate because it is apparently too technical for the author's purposes. For these purposes, the most important line is the signature that says:

  • Superstring/M-theory is the language in which God wrote the world.

On page 8, Prof. Schroer explains why my signature is among the most popular signatures in the world - something I did not know - and moreover argues that the signature originates from pre-war multi-cultural Prague which I did not know either. Before the occupation by the Nazis, Prague was apparently 35 years ahead of the world in the research of string theory. Prof. Schroer recalls that after a performance of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde by a maestro named Motl, an art critic wrote instead of the usual critical review in next days newspaper the following limerick:

  • Gehe nicht zu Motl’s Tristan
    schau Dir nicht dieses Trottels Mist an,
    schaff dir lieber ’nen viertel Most an
    und trink dir mit diesem Mittel Trost an

While Prof. Schroer argues that the poem cannot be translated to English because the charm would be lost completely (especially Cimrman's perfect rhyme an-an-an, and the popular verse Motl-Trottel), the anonymous reader also offers a translation:

  • Do not go to Motl's Tristan.
    Don't appear at this nincompoop muck,
    Get yourself a drink instead
    And remain in comfort.

Somewhat analogous to the poem addressed to Lawrence Summers at the end of this text.

Well, I thought that the signature was my own invention, a slight modification of Galileo's proclamation that

but of course, I am more than happy if Prof. Schoer proved that the statement originates from maestro Motl in pre-war Prague. ;-) Well, I also don't see any relation of the limerick with string theory or with God or with writing the Universe, but Prof. Schroer apparently finds the evidence sufficient. Given the level of rigor required by Prof. Schroer, he could have also used the movie (and book) Motl der Operator to prove his point whatever the point is: the relationships with quantum field theory would be even more obvious.

Well, it's also possible that Prof. Schroer has used the signature to prove that I was a Motl while Galileo was a Trottel but I am afraid that this attempt has been a failure, too. Who knows: maybe the author of the statement is Einstein himself.

Prof. Schroer combines these insights with his dialogues between the Lord, Witten, Wilson, Galileo, Woit, and others. He discusses scholastic pre-Newtonian pre-Einsteinian re-mystification of Nature, the letter M in M-theory that stands for upside down Witten, and many other fascinating topics. What an interesting piece of scientific work which I unfortunately don't have time to read in its entirety. ;-)

The last sentence of the abstract states that the only game in town is based on the "wrong view that quantum field theory is a mature theory". Well, you should face it: quantum field theory is an immature theory according to the author. (This statement also agrees with the opinion of Carlo Rovelli who "has not yet digested Quantum Mechanics I".) On page 8, you may learn that your humble correspondent is immature, too. Be sure that he is flattered to be as mature as quantum field theory - which is probably a necessary assumption if you want to teach it which is what I do this semester.

It's safer to be immature than senile because the latter is usually irreversible. :-) At any rate, Chris Oakley, Danny Ross Lunsford, and Peter Woit have a new collaborator. :-)

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