Is all this work on string theory and multiple dimensions and extra universes still science? That’s the question physicist Sean Carroll and writer John Horgan recently debated. Carroll, of the California Institute of Technology, also blogs regularly for Cosmic Variance, and he wrote out a detailed post explaining his position. Obviously, as a cosmologist who works full-time on these seemingly preposterous ideas, he is a bit biased. He’s not the guy you’d expect to stop and say it isn’t real science. But his piece on the subject does effectively explain why he and, one assumes, other theoretical physicists working on these problems think this way. An excerpt:
“The next thing to understand is that all these crazy speculations about multiverses and extra dimensions originate in an attempt to understand phenomena that we observe right here in the nearby world. Gravity and quantum mechanics both exist–very few people doubt that. And therefore, we want a theory that can encompass both of them. By a very explicit chain of reasoning . . . we are led to superstrings in ten dimensions. And then we try to bring that theory back into contact with the observed world around us.”
Read more here.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.