This past week has seen a veritable bumper crop of media hype, involving claims coming from both string theorists and critics of string theory. Besides the overhyped claims and Lisi-mania that has made it into all sorts of media outlets, New Scientist has added a couple more examples:
It is the unmistakable imprint of another universe beyond the edge of our own.
I think our evidence points to string theory being on the right track.
She also claims that string theory does make a prediction about what the LHC will see: no supersymmetry. Since many other string theorists are claiming that string theory could be vindicated by seeing supersymmetry at the LHC, I guess this logically shows that string theory has already been shown to be correct by the LHC results, since it predicts both that supersymmetry and no supersymmetry will be seen, and this is a prediction guaranteed to come out right.
…suggest that by making this observation in 1998 we may have caused the universe to revert to a state similar to early in its history, when it was more likely to end.
The Drudge Report today links to an article Mankind ‘shortening the universe’s life’ in the British newspaper The Telegraph.
A lot of this nonsense seems to be originating in Britain. Tomorrow at Cambridge University there will be a series of talks on God or Multiverse? that one can attend for the bargain price of 65 pounds. The talks are advertised with a quote from philosopher Neil Manson
The multiverse is the last resort for the desperate atheist
Perhaps the members of the clergy assembled for this event can lead those attending in a fervent prayer that we soon be liberated from this plague of hype and nonsense, whether it be inspired by string theory or not…
Update: The story mangling Krauss/Dent has made it to Slashdot. Seems to me that recent Slashdot stories on physics conclusively falsify one theory, that of the wisdom of crowds.
Update: Krauss has changed the last two sentences of the paper to avoid misunderstandings about what he is claiming such as the ones that appeared in the media, see his comment here.
Update: It appears that Krauss somehow got the notion that it would be a good idea to respond to Lubos’s posting about him in the comment section of the blog. He has now been banned there on the grounds that he is “unable to satisfy basic criteria of what I [Lubos] consider a rational debate.” Remarks from anyone supporting him have also been deleted, following the usual Lubosian practice of how to deal with dissent.
Update: The Telegraph article has been extensively edited, with the current version more accurately reflecting what was actually in the Krauss/Dent paper. The misleading headline remains. I also hear that Krauss has written a letter to New Scientist about the problems with their article. This also got picked up by Wired Science, where I seem to have acquired an affiliation with MIT I wasn’t aware of.
Update: Here’s an account of the “God or Multiverse” event, where prayers for deliverance from nonsense were not answered by the almighty:
…given that multiverses are in favour in many physics departments these days, perhaps theology has something to contribute. Augustine and Nicolas of Cusa are just two theologians to have pondered the possibility way back, thinking it quite likely that the generous creativity of God would overflow into the formation of other universes…
For theists, consciousness is ontologically prior to everything else. So in a sense the possibility of the multiverse makes perfect sense already. It would be every possible state of things that could exist, formed in the mind of God – who must be able to conceive of everything possible since that is implicit in the concept of divinity…
…not all explanations of things are simpler than the things they are explaining (the multiverse as an explanation for the apparent fine-tuning of our universe being an obvious case in point…
…In fact, maths looks rather like God – the former being necessary thinking, the latter necessary being…
…However, if modern cosmology comes up with the multiverse as the fundamental, necessary proposition (at least in one version, it says that all possible worlds necessarily exist somewhere, we just happen to be in the one that we happen to be in), then Ward put it that the proposition of God as the fundamental necessity is actually a far simpler conjecture. In the theological case, all possible worlds would be said to exist in the mind of God, though quite possibly only a limited number of universes, and perhaps only one, actually exist. Occam would presumably have been much happier with that thought than heaped infinities of actually existing universes…
God’s role in creation, then, is to allow only the universes that do exist, to exist….
…This would be a purposive explanation of the universe. Purposive explanations require knowledge of things, discrimination between things, an appreciation of goodness, and the power to chose good over evil. So to put it all another way, the big question in the cosmology debate is that of evaluation: how do you evaluate one theory over another?…
Update: John Baez explains what the Krauss/Dent paper is really about.
Update: The Krauss/Dent paper has now been refereed and accepted for publication in PRL.