This week’s contribution to the long tradition of universities issuing press releases hyping non-existent “experimental tests of string theory” by their employees is from Duke University, which advertises “String Theory in a Lab“. This is based on a paper that just appeared in Science describing measurements of the viscosity of a Fermi gas. The paper explains the relationship of the measurements to string theory as:
The measurement of the viscosity is of particular interest in the context of a recent conjecture, derived using string theory methods, which defines a perfect normal fluid.
referring to this paper which first suggested that gauge/gravity duality implied a value of 1/4π for the ratio of shear viscosity to entropy density.
In the press release, this connection to string theory has been promoted to a headline, as well as to the claim that:
The results may also allow experimental tests of string theory in the future.
which I suppose is better than the usual claim in these press releases that what is being promoted is already an experimental test of string theory. It seems likely that one reason this isn’t yet an “experimental test” is that the data comes out 4 to 5 times higher than the string theory value.
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