New String Theory Blog

Thanks to Wolfgang Beirl for the news that there’s an exciting new string theory blog, called The Official String Blog.

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44 Responses to New String Theory Blog

  1. Thomas Larsson says:

    Comments by Peter Wrought, Lubos Bottle, and Jacques Distiller.

  2. secret milkshake says:

    I am sorry, this is not very subtle but malicious it is. This one is on level of adding a mustache to the picture of princess Di, or writing about Dildo Baggins in “Bored of Rings”

    A good parody takes on a serious tone + unperturbed jargon. Only after few paragraphs it should slowly dawn on uninitiated observer that something isn’t quite right. Of course, the best part of a good parody is the confused reaction of people who got taken by it.

    Here is example of a good parody (from a completely different field):

  3. clandestine malt says:

    jeeez it’s just for fun dude… string theorists are really on the defensive these days… (assuming you are a string theorist, that is–I don’t know who else would have that virulent a reaction to a little joking web page)

  4. secret milkshake says:

    Maybe somebody who does not like borderline-moronic spoofs? (C’mon – you could do better than this, doode).

  5. clandestine malt says:

    okay–duly noted that all humor too sillly for the milkshake is malicious.

    I wonder what Lubos thinks

  6. Thomas Larsson says:

    Milkshake, note that Gates, Rocek, Grisaru and Siegel are close to being string theorists themselves. They are at least closely involved in SUSY.

  7. secret milkshake says:

    Lllame is the word you were sarching for, Clarice. Lame and vitriolic.

    A reaction cannot become virulent but bad taste can. There is Webster to help you.

  8. secret milkshake says:

    T Larsson: you are right – yours is way better

  9. anon says:

    Are u sure it’s a spoof? Check out the FAQ’s:

    Q. Is string theory related?
    A. Related to what?
    Q. Related to the real world?
    A. What was your question again?

  10. fh says:

    Siegels Parodies vary in quality, his anthropic principle one is great for example,

    This hidden argument we call the Misanthropic Principle. It goes something like this:

    1. I can’t solve this problem.
    2. Therefore, you can’t solve this problem.
    3. Hence, this problem can’t be solved.
    4. So, it’s got to be just dumb luck.

  11. D R Lunsford says:

    The Main Sequence of Researchers:

    “Experiments are a waste of spacetime, since nothing new will be seen till the Godzillatron is built” – Gall, “Ideas and Opinions are Like A**holes, Everybody Has One”


  12. Adrian H. says:

    For anyone who grew up with Mad magazines this qualifies as parody, and good parody at that.

    But no one seems to have asked the important question, the question that Hmm would undoubtedly want to know the answer to: are Gates et al *allowed* to run a blog? Have they published enough? And what are their citations like?

    I just hope they’re not nobodies who have not received permission to speak.

    Concerned from Tunbridge-Wells

  13. Luboš Motl says:

    Dear Peter,

    your comments about the “landscape problem” have really no relevance for the calculation of the Yukawa couplings in the heterotic model of Ovrut et al.

    The topic of your blog is to transform everything to the “landscape problem” – much like a student who has learned the birth of date of William Shakespeare and wants to transform every exam question about history and literature to the number 1564.

    But one can’t discuss any concrete physics questions in this way. Sorry.


  14. woit says:

    This is off-topic for the posting about a parody blog, but then again, maybe not, because Lubos and his blog increasingly seem to be a parody.

    The scientific point at issue is about a very recent paper claiming to calculate Yukawa couplings in a specific heterotic string background. When Lubos wrote a post hyping this result, I wrote in a comment pointing that that the authors were ignoring the main problems with doing this: how do deal with the moduli and supersymmetry breaking. These problems are what lead to the landscape, since the only known way of fixing the moduli leads to exponentially large numbers of possibilities.

    There was an exchange of comments, with Lubos displaying the usual string theory partisan mixture of insult, ad hominem attack and straw man argument. Faced with having this pointed out to him, he moved on to the next tactic: censorship. Here’s the comment that he evidently had no answer for, so dealt with by deleting it:


    Your tactic is always the same: ignore the point I’m making (one that you know well is quite serious), then make up things I never said in order to use those to criticize me as ignorant. This behavior is stupid, dishonest, and highly scientifically unethical. You should be ashamed of yourself.

    Let’s look at how your dishonesty works explicitly:

    In this case, you are ignoring the problem posed by the moduli, and you are well aware that it is a deadly one. The paper in question notes
    explicitly that fermion masses will depend on the moduli.

    You claim to show that I’m wrong and don’t know what I’m talking about by writing:

    “Nope. We are not choosing fluxes “in order to stabilize the moduli”.”

    I never wrote that “We are choosing fluxes in order to stabilize the moduli”, I just said that the numbers like 10^500 that one hears for the size of the Landscape come from the number of choices of the fluxes, and these correspond to ways to stabilize the moduli. Do you know of a way of stabilizing all the moduli that doesn’t involve this? If so, lets hear it. If not, acknowledge that you were dishonest to bring this up.

    As for supersymmetry breaking, your claim that:

    “marginal operators can’t be classically affected by supersymmetry breaking”

    is irrelevant. We’re not doing classical physics here.

    If you have any honest points to make, I’ll respond to them, but I’m not going to waste any more time dealing with your dishonesty, interspersed with stupid, nasty, personal attacks. When you were a young graduate student, this kind of behavior was a bit amusing. At your age and stage of your career, it’s just pathetic.”

  15. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Η Μισανθρωπική αρχή

  16. Theorema: ‘Skeftomai ara uparxo’, Lemma: nomizo oti skeftomai…

    [meso tou Not Even Wronk]

  17. Juan R. says:


    What is the more interesting comment to the conference on the future of string theory for you?

    I am doubing between this

    Bottle says:
    9:20 AM
    String theory is just as well proven as evolution. In fact, DNA is an open twistor superstring.

    and this

    Bottle says:
    9:32 AM
    Hey, can we stay on topic? Which is, “Global warming is caused by the cosmological constant.”

    The deepd inside of bottle in global warming and related issues is fascinating but the open ‘twistor’ comment is really great!!!

    Juan R.

    Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)

  18. Christine says:

    Concerning the parody blog in question: funny and frivolous. (Now I am waiting for “The Official Loop Quantum Gravity Blog”…)

    There is one thing that I would like to have. Peter Woit writes down his top 5 criticisms to string theory. Lubos Motl objectively and concisely addresses these 5 topics. After that, Peter and then Lubos may offer one final statement on their points of view. No personal attacks allowed.

    I would like to have this framework fixed at the sidebar of my blog page. No, it is not supposed to be a joke. I really would like that.

    Thank you,

  19. Dumb Biologist says:

    The blog is kind of funny, but, as mentioned above, it’s also blindingly obvious that this a joke. The best examples of parody dance gingerly about the “fine line between stupid and clever”, and never stray too far into either territory.

    The Bogdanovs might help them concoct something more subtly ironic. It would be amusing to see who could be fooled.

  20. Actually the interesting part technically is where Peter and Lubos agree (landscape is bad, things like AdS/CFT are not the real world, Witten is brilliant). Their disagreement is not so much where string theory is now but where it will be later and what needs to be done now to make things as good as possible later. Even if Peter was wrong about some particular string theory detail, who cares, smart people correct each other all the time, it’s the way science is supposed to work. Even if string theory is extremely close to finding the right answers they could spend hundreds of years not finding it cause of the way they get fixated on particular ideas. The parody has some truth about the way people can cluster around an idea not yet worthy of such clustering.

  21. MathPhys says:

    I heard that, more than 20 years ago, Warren Siegel used to say “If Ed became crazy, would anybody notice?”.

  22. Dumb Biologist says:

    Awright, after a bit more reading, some of this is damn funny.

  23. a says:

    What Siegel presented as parodies are real difficulties of strings and high energy physics. E.g. the “lobotomy” parody, which is older than the landscape, contains the main criticism to string theory:

    “In 11 dimensions, you can predict things uniquely; in 10 dimensions, you can predict up to a factor 5 of uncertainty; but by the time you get to 4 dimensions you can predict any value you want for a result.”

    One can find similar examples of masked criticisms in old published papers. The big merit of Peter is saying in public what many physicists think, but prefer to discuss only privately.

  24. blank says:

    Thank goodness nobody had ever told me that a “good” parody has to be so subtle that is doesn’t even make me laugh.

    Actually Siegel’s parodies seem to be the very opposite of a “good” parody: they seem an obvious trivial farce at first, but the more you think about them, the more they seem to accurately capture certain realities of string theory culture.

  25. Dumb Biologist says:

    Yeah, I must admit, after giving it more than a cursory look, there’s a good amount of wry cleverness beyond the blatant silliness, so I should withdraw my earlier comment.

    The recommendation letter thing was laugh-out-loud funny…and not at all isolated to physics.

  26. D R Lunsford says:

    DB – the parody is also of the magisterial tone that runs through many papers – this makes it doubly funny for someone used to reading papers.


  27. Levi says:

    No way is this a parody.

    The advice in the appendix on The Art of Giving Seminars in “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” is pure gold. Or consider this, from the Dictionary of Common Phrases in “The Nonabelian Names of God”:

    “We’ll have to save further questions for the end of the talk.” —– “You’ve found the crucial flaw in the theory, so give everyone a chance to run away before it hits the fan.”

  28. Quantoken says:

    That was a funny web site. Thanks for the laugh. I always thought Jacques’s last name as “Distiller” until I read it more carefully 🙂 But you got Lubos’s last name wrong! It’s not “Bottle”, but Mottle, or, Multi-Bottle. M like the M in Multiverse, or M-theory. For string therists, it’s not Universe, but rather Multiverse, so of course Lubos’s correct last name should be Mottle, not Bottle.

  29. Dumb Biologist says:

    He is the best student we have had in as long as I have been here…He is not quite good enough for us to hire here, but he is certainly better than anybody you have there…He hasn’t written any landmark papers yet, but then, neither have you.

    Indeed, gold…and about as accurate a reflection of the subtext of such letters as has ever been offered. It’s as if my advisor’s mind were an open book to be read. 😉

  30. Dumb Biologist says:

    Randomly, I’m reminded of the more overt (albeit probably benign) contempt expressed in another recommendation letter…

    Dear Einstein,
    This student is good, but he does not clearly grasp the difference between mathematics and physics. On the other hand, you, dear Master, have long lost this distinction.

  31. Omni says:

    GUFFAW!! That site was a riot!!

    I find it vaguely disturbing, though, to find highly educated people categorizing themselves as ANTI something; if you have what you believe to be a valid theory that’s backed up by proof, why not call yourself an adherent of that theory, rather than being anti someone else’s theory… and if you DON’T have your own theory, why not go quietly about your research until you DO have one, rather than making an issue of being anti?

    I idolize theoretical physicists, but I have to say; this is childish and unworthy of you. The truth is out there; please stop nay-saying and finger-pointing and FIND it.

  32. Dumb Biologist says:

    I rather doubt everyone around here is being contrarian just for the sake of it. I personally think the ANTI-science forces running amuck out there have rather elevated the stakes in the age-old debate over what is science and what isn’t. I’ve said here before, it’s bad enough when science is attacked from without, but it’s excruciating when it’s corrupted from within. One needn’t have a “better” alternative to an idea that is unscientific to have something positive to say. It might be enough to reassert the essential need for a scientific theory to be, at least in principle, experimentally testable. It’s also essential that a scientific theory be falsifiable, so that, if and when it is falsified, one can even know when to abandon a faulty approach and do the very thing you suggest, which is find a better idea.

    If a theory fails both qualifications, it’s hard not to feel concerned. I’m not sure about all of Superstring theory, but it seems almost certain this Landscape business (and probably all anthropic arguments) are about as anti-scientific as it gets. Even if it’s 100% true, we’ll never know anyway, so why, as a scientist, would anyone bother with it? And if someone is promoting such ideas, in the capacity of a scientist, to an interested and admiring public, is it inappropriate for others to decry the harm being done?

  33. There are people here with their own theories. Unfortuneately string theory acts like a monopoly does in the business world and makes it quite difficult for new ideas to take hold (even new string theory ideas). The string theory powers that be even seem to be actively keeping some of the ideas here out of the arXiv archive.

  34. D R Lunsford says:

    John – even Penrose is ignored. He gives the simplest conceivable argument showing that inflation, to take an example, not only doesn’t fix what it’s supposed to fix, it actually makes it worse*. The alternative for it is to resort to anthropism. Since no one seems to be willing to abandon inflation, we can only assume that anthropism has already taken a seat.

    Penrose’s argument can be understood by an undergraduate. So why doesn’t it have a prominent place?



    Look for Penrose lecture “Fantasy”

  35. science says:

    String theory has ‘queered the pitch’ for physics ideas. Few people have the time or inclination to study the details of the maths of stringy M-theory. String theory hype says they can ‘predict’ gravity, the Standard Model, and unify everything.

    This is equivalent to saying: ‘all alternatives are unnecessary’ or, more clearly, ‘all ”alternatives” are crackpot junk that is not science.’

    Notice that the first line of defence ignorant people have against criticism of mainstream is to claim there is no alternative. When you point out that you are critical BECAUSE alternatives are being suppressed, they then sneer at the alternatives because they haven’t had the level of funding of mainstream string theory for 2 months, let alone 20 years…

  36. Juan R. says:


    And what about the Nobel Gell-Mann and his five brains?

    He carefully claims that string theory even if finally correct will be not a TOE, and emphasizes that antrophic principles are either nonsense or trivial and still there is people stating in talks that string theory may explain everything or that anthropism is a revolution in science.

    Juan R.

    Center for CANONICAL |SCIENCE)

  37. Ignorant Layman says:

    I wonder what all you critics think of Johnathan Swift’s fey Island of Laputa in Gulliver? Was it an unserious error in parody or a classic skewering?

  38. science says:

    Swift’s parody on crackpot mainstream scientists went wrong. He portrayed the truth of what scientists of the Royal Society were up to, but it was so crazy people thought it was mad or exaggerated.

    Attempts to chemically revert sewage into food, to store energy in cucumbers, and to train blind people to paint pictures, were really made. This is innocent compared to the claims made for strings.

  39. Ignorant Layman says:

    Faw! It all sounds like Alchemy to me.

  40. Christine says:

    Is it possible that the general public is starting to think that String Theory is silly?

    Silly String Theory For Dummies.

    Silly String Theory In Computer Science.

    Silly String Theory In Artwork.

    Silly String Theory, a Cabaret Performance.

    [I do not mean that I think String Theory as a whole is silly, this is just meant a joke considering this parody thread].

    BTW, I would like to know whether there are any papers with a lucid evaluation on the merits and demerits of string theory, published in a peer review journal?

  41. matt d says:

    String theorists remind me a lot of the Intelligent Design crowd.

    That was a funny site, thanks Peter.

  42. Danny, at least Penrose (and Peter) can get themselves into Discover Magazine so maybe there’s some hope. Surprised Penrose didn’t mention Paola Zizzi in relation to the ORish alternatives.

  43. woit says:


    I don’t know of anything quite like what you are looking for, perhaps the closest is Lee Smolin’s hep-th/0303185. Not sure if it was ever published or peer reviewed, if so the comments from string theorists would have been interesting to see.

  44. D R Lunsford says:


    Penrose’s lecture was fascinating. His bizarre visualization of phase space was sort of unnerving (like all fractals). Although you couldn’t call him a dynamic speaker, his argument was so clear that it held my attention. Well worth attending.


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