It used to be that New Scientist had somewhat of a reputation for publishing misleading articles about speculative physics, and Science News was a more stodgy but reliable publication that stuck to serious physics. Recently there has been a role reversal. New Scientist is running a long, relatively sensible article about the use of AdS/CFT methods in condensed matter physics, entitled What string theory is really good for. It avoids the usual “String theory finally makes predictions!” hype that some string theorists have been trying to promote. Science News on the other hand, is now being run by Tom Siegfried, who is quite a fan of string theory hype, the more speculative the better. Last month was Strings Fight Back at Science News, this week it’s multiverse madness, with a cover story on Infinity, which promotes the latest multiverse/Boltzmann Brain pseudo-science. Towards the end of the article, David Gross is allowed a few words as skeptic, arguing that we don’t understand string theory, so can’t be sure it leads to this mess: maybe some missing insight will get string theorists out of it. Siegfried responds with the thought that the “missing insight is merely realizing the need to master the inconveniences of infinity to resolve the cosmic conundrums.”
Update: The New Scientist article makes it to Slashdot where, as usual, it gets transformed into nonsense:
His [Maldacena’s] theory states that the known universe is only a 2D construct in anti-de-Sitter space, projected into 3 dimensions.