20 December 2010

Stringy black holes

In his latest post, Motl concludes:

String theory predicts that the light black holes have masses that are almost certainly relatively close to the Planck scale, to say the least, and will never be produced by particle accelerators. It's the other "alternative" theories that are driven by hype rather than good science and that have predicted lots of flashy phenomena - that are not being seen and won't be seen as the dust is settling and string theory is proving to be the only beyond-QFT framework with a lasting value.

Ideology is rampant again.

First, every serious theory of fundamental physics predicts that black holes have masses above the Planck scale. Second, string theory is not the "only beyond-QFT framework with a lasting value": there are many more. In fact, string theory is based on the assumptions of supersymmetry and of higher dimensions, both of which have no experimental basis. String theory itself is not of lasting value.

A faithful reader of Motls blog once emailed in disbelief: Motl is not able to explain to a normal reader with a physics degree where the assumption of higher dimensions comes from. My answer is simple: if higher dimensions cannot be explained to your own faithful, who is suppose to believe in them? "Believe" is the right term here, as experiments give no hint at all.

But this does not mean that Motl is always wrong. In fact, many of his arguments against other "theories" of fundamental physics are correct. His "down-to-earth" approach of physics is shared by many great physicists.

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