Yet another example of the seemingly infinite supply of bogus “evidence for string theory” is a recent Slashdot posting about a claim to have measured a change in time of the proton/electron mass ratio. It is based on a New Scientist article that states:
If confirmed, the result could force some physicists to radically rethink their theories. It would also provide support for string theory, which predicts extra spatial dimensions.
Standard physics does not have an explanation as to why Mp/me has this value, nor can it provide an explanation as to why it would vary. However, superstring and M-theories do provide qualitative explanations for the Mp/me value and also predict possible variations of the fundamental constants.
It’s unclear where the author got this particular piece of incorrect string theory hype. Not from Lubos evidently, who says that according to string theory the proton/electron mass ratio is constant, unless it isn’t.
Update: This particular piece of nonsensical string theory hype even makes it to USA Today:
Such changes to fundamental constants would lend support to modern-day versions of string theory, which has varying constants built into its basic equations. String theory holds that on the very smallest distance scales possible, strings or loops of energy vibrating at different frequencies are the components of sub-atomic particles. String theory has also been a hot topic in physics for decades among theorists looking for a better explanation than “that’s just the way it is” of why fundamental constants have their fundamental values. So far, string theory has more critics than results, it should be noted.
Update: The hype even makes it into Nature which is normally better at avoiding this kind of nonsense:
But various versions of string theory suggest that extra dimensions occupied by a particle might affect properties such as its mass. Subtle changes in these dimensions could make physical constants vary slightly, explains Barrow. However, “there’s absolutely no observational evidence to support this vast array of ideas,” cautions Fabian. The paucity of hard evidence for string theory may be partly responsible for the upsurge in interest in variable constants, Barrow adds; results like Ubachs’ could eventually provide a good way to assess the ideas. “I’m sure we’ll see some theory papers about this,” he says. “I might write one myself.”
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