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String phenomenology of the somewhat different kind

13 Jun 2016, 10:32 UTC
String phenomenology of the somewhat different kind
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[Cat’s cradle. Image Source.]Ten years ago, I didn’t take the “string wars” seriously. To begin with, referring to such an esoteric conflict as “war” seems disrespectful to millions caught in actual wars. In comparison to their suffering it’s hard to take anything seriously. Leaving aside my discomfort with the nomenclature, the focus on string theory struck me as odd. String theory as a research area stands out in hep-th and gr-qc merely because of the large number of followers it has gathered, not by the supposedly controversial research practices. For anybody working in the field it is apparent that string theorists don’t differ in their single-minded focus from physicists in other disciplines. Overspecialization is a common disease of academia, but one that necessarily goes along with division of labor, and often it is an efficient route to fast progress.No, I thought back then, string theory wasn’t the disease, it was merely a symptom. The underlying disease was one that would surely soon be recognized and addressed: Theoreticians – as scientists whose most-used equipment is their own brain – must be careful to avoid systematic bias introduced by their apparatuses. In other words, scientific communities, and especially those which lack timely ...

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