Testing String Theory

The Skeptical Teacher looks at New study suggests researchers can now test the ‘theory of everything’ and discusses How Real Science Progresses:

One of the hottest ideas around [in theoretical physics] is the notion of so-called string theory: it’s the idea that all matter & energy in the universe — from the electrons & quarks that make up atoms to photons of light to everything in between — is composed of ultra-tiny strings of vibrating energy. It’s a marvelous and mathematically elegant idea, one which many theoretical physicists believe holds the key to unifying the fundamental forces of nature, but it suffers from a big flaw: these strings are, according to the theory, so small that we have no way to experimentally detect them. Thus, if such is the case, then many physicists & critics of string theory have equated the idea with a dragon in the garage, an unfalsifiable notion which isn’t subject to scientific investigation. I have placed myself into this category of string theory skeptics for quite a long time for this very reason …

… up until now, that is. It seems that the question of whether or not string theory is testable, and therefore real science, has been answered. That’s because recent theoretical analysis of string theory has revealed that it makes unique predictions which can be tested in a controlled laboratory setting having to do with a weird phenomenon called quantum entanglement. Up until now, physicists haven’t had a good way to really predict the behavior of systems that coupled via quantum entanglement, but it seems that some aspects of string theory can shed some light on this .

Folks, this is how real science works. many pseudoscientists & cranks often moan about how the “scientific establishment” is keeping them down, or how there’s some conspiracy to conceal the “truth of their discovery”. But for all their melodrama, these cranks and weirdos can never seem to come up with the scientific goods that skeptics are looking for: a way to actually test out their ideas.

The lesson here is simple: if you want your idea to gain any scientific validity, answer the questions of whether it is falsifiable and how to go about testing it. Without that, it may be a very elegant & appealing idea, but don’t call it science.

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