I was planning on writing something about the field with one element, but Lieven Le Bruyn has done a better job of it than I would have, linking to all of the recent news on this subject I was aware of, and more.
Today’s New York Times has an article entitled Dark, Perhaps Forever, which is summarized as “Scientists are beginning to despair of explaining the universe”. It is about the recent dark energy symposium in Baltimore, and focuses on Witten’s talk, which was discussed previously here. To an account of the talk itself, it adds this quote from Witten:
As for how I feel personally, I am not sure what to say… I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic the first, or even second, time I heard the proposal of a multiverse. But none of us were consulted when the universe was created.
There’s no mention of the crucial issue that Rachel Bean implicitly confronted Witten with in a question at the end of his talk: if the landscape inherently can give no testable insight into physics, why should a scientist bother with it?
Other speakers at the symposium discussed possible future experiments to measure dark energy and their funding prospects. One worry is that such experiments may do little more than give a somewhat more accurate dark energy number, providing no further insight into the problem of its origin.