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Did you Run Out of String?

You may wonder what a physicist does for fun. For one thing, he plays with string theory. No, this is not a ball of yarn he stole from his cat. String theory has been a darling of physicists since the concept took off in 1984. It is based on the idea that the elementary particles of physics are not points, but are rather vibrations of one-dimensional strings. Different particles are the same strings set at different vibrations. In order to get the string theory to work mathematically, the physicists invented 10 (of maybe 11) different dimensions for the strings to play in, though no one knows what these dimensions are or how they exist.

Understandably, the math for string theory is a nightmare because the different dimensions can "compactify" in so many different ways. In fact, the more than 10 to the 500th power ways to compactify creates a possibility for that many different universes (the number is a 10 with 500 zero's after it). As a result of this uncertainty, string theory is not really a theory because it cannot be used to make predictions that can be tested in any scientific way. In fact, because of its nature, string theory cannot even be disproved. With all of this guessing and fuzzy lack of proof, you might conclude that string theory is only a mental exercise physicists play with when they are having a slow day. You would be wrong. Absolutely wrong.

You see, string theory has dominated the study of physics for thirty years. In his soon-to-be-published book, "The Trouble with Physics," physicist Lee Smolin states, "Virtually every young mathematically inclined particle theorist must sign on to the string agenda to get an academic job." In addition, thousands of scientific papers and stacks of books have been written about string theory. Modern physics is consumed with string theory. But mathematician Peter Wolk of Columbia University, in another soon-to-be-published book "Not Even Wrong," declares string theory to be so sloppy and so speculative that it is "not even wrong." Smolin concurs, "When it comes to extending our knowledge of the laws of nature, we have made no real headway" in the last thirty years. He blames string theory for the stall. Truly, the scriptures are correct in their assessment of those who are, "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2Timothy 3:7) and who follow after "science falsely so called" (1Timothy 6:20). [information taken from an article in today's "Wall Street Journal"]