Saturday, April 12, 2014

Big Bang Theory Meets String Theory

I just finished watching the most recent Big Bang theory episode. The central theme is that Sheldon decides to give up his search for proof of the superstring Theory of Everything because it is unprovable. While this criticism has been steadily leveled against the theory, I have always noted that just because a theory cannot be tested now does not mean that it cannot be tested sometime in the future as technology develops. For example, there was a time when atomic theory could not be proven. That time passed.

Naturally, this does not mean that if a theory cannot be tested now it will inevitably be proven in the future. The theory of the luminiferous ether, when it finally could be tested, was proven to be false.

In fact, Sheldon surely would have been aware that there have been recent developments in a number of areas which offer hope that string theory can in fact be tested. This would end the primary objection which has been raised by conservative physicists.

I did note with some amusement that loop quantum gravity came up again. Naturally, as a former string theorist, Sheldon could not possibly accept that as an alternative. See my earlier post:

Back to possible proofs. A very quick look at the Internet revealed the following:

Yet inspired by Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton, Towson University scientists say that precise measurements of the positions of solar-system bodies could reveal very slight discrepancies in what is predicted by the theory of general relativity and the equivalence principle, or establish new upper limits for measuring the effects of string theory.

Read more at:

“If experiments prove that our predictions about quantum entanglement are correct, this will demonstrate that string theory ‘works’ to predict the behavior of entangled quantum systems,” said Professor Mike Duff, lead author of the study.

Read more:

Actually, we may already have our first evidence that can lead us toward confirming supersymmetry, with the potential discovery of the Higgs boson.

(Supersymmetry is an essential part of string theory. It is possible to conceive of supersymmetry without string theory being confirmed. However, it is not possible to conceive of string theory without supersymmetry being confirmed.)

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