17 July 2013

String theorists in the Royal Society fail the high school writing test

Please read http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.3534, a paper called "Multiparticle one-loop amplitudes and S-duality in closed superstring theory".

The summary section, on page 47, has latex mistakes, and a sentence is incomplete. Nobody in the team noticed this. Of course not! The summary is several pages long, and is not a summary: it does not explain what they found. It just explains that one might get more understanding by studying additional details. "We played around with the math, we cannot explain what we did, nor what we found, but we plan to play around more." In high school, you would not pass any writing test with such a summary.

Not even the abstract of the paper is clear. Who cares? In string theory, they do not bother about naive rules about abstracts, aims, or summaries. You will find no better example about how three men can sit down together for a year and produce 50 pages of utter ghibberish.

One of the authors is successor of Newton and Dirac, by the way. Nowadays achieving that is easier than achieving high school standards.