Friday, June 08, 2007

Lee Smolin vs Thibault Damour

Le Monde informs about another battle in the neverending War on Crackpotism.

Thibault Damour faced no one else than Lee Smolin. Le Monde first summarizes how string theory solves the schizophrenia of the 20th century physics and talks about unification and dimensions.

Lee Smolin urges everyone to study any alternatives, whether they're garbage or just junk, and dares to talk about "tragic consequences" for "suicidal young physicists" who would like to work on these alternatives. (Similarity of his language with global warming is not a coincidence.)

All readers who understand anything about reality know that the situation is just the opposite than what Smolin says - namely bad consequences are more likely to meet those who publicly disagree with politically correct fashionable crackpots like himself. But "catastrophic" language and victimism is exactly the weapon used by those who already have about 500 times higher influence than they would deserve. (Similarity with crying feminists who already control the Ivy League is not a coincidence either.)

Damour has argued that not even Smolin can be so limited that he would actually believe the naive Popperian dogmas. Well, I am afraid that Smolin is much more stupid than Damour can even imagine. Accepting statements of philosophers as dogmas, blowing them out of proportion, applying them behind the range of their validity regardless of physical arguments, and using them to organize witch hunts is something that Lee Smolin is very good at.

Damour has also sketched the unprecedented conceptual richness of string theory as well as some experimental tests of string theory and its features by the LHC and other experiments. Damour also mentioned his work about the runaway dilaton that would generate a fifth force that would violate the equivalence principle. If the scenario in this paper were confirmed, it would prove their particular low-energy model that at some level naturally fits into string theory. I think that the runaway dilaton is unlikely but it could be experimentally proved if it is right and it would violate the usual consequences of the equivalence principle.

Predictably, the black crackpot has no idea about any of the actual papers so he thinks and even writes that Damour's statement contradicts my statement that all known semi-realistic F-theory and other major flux vacua exactly obey the equivalence principle. Everyone who has any clue about these things knows very well that there is no contradiction here simply because Damour talks about some very different scenarios.

I think that they're unlikely and as far as I know, he can't construct fully realistic backgrounds containing well-known particle physics (and if you ask me, it will never be possible in Damour's picture), but he is of course right that these models could be in principle experimentally proven, making the case for string theory and his particular structure of scalar fields strong. His models are 10 times more concrete a theory of future physics than anything in DSR or LQG and 50,000 times more than anything that Peter Woit has ever written down.

The usual models referred to as the landscape however don't have a runaway dilaton that would fit Damour's models. That's what I mean by the equivalence principle to be a general prediction of the whole landscape.

I just can't understand why some people read this breathtaking moron from Manhattan even after several years - when it must be so clear to absolutely everyone that he has no idea whatosoever about the topics he is writing about and everything he writes about anything that depends on physics, at least indirectly, is 100% junk. The people who read him must actually enjoy when a vitriolic simpleton constantly annoys and lies about other, much more sensible people. They must also enjoy when a wild dog attacks a human and eats her. They must suffer from some kind of deviation.

Concerning the other statement, I don't know whether Damour knows a construction to get some bizarre DSR-like dispersion relations from string theory. Maybe he knows something I know, maybe knows something I don't know, maybe he is wrong. But I can't judge what he says before I actually see a quantitative description of what he means and what's his evidence. Needless to say, crackpots can always judge anything, centuries before they understand the very basics. That's one of the millions of advantages of being a crackpot.

And that's the memo.

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