The sold-out “debate” held Wednesday night here in New York is now available for viewing online, see here. I just watched most of it, and one of many things I couldn’t figure out is what if any propositions were being debated. Lots and lots of the usual multiverse mania, and endless flights of speculative fancy and empty, meaningless argumentation. I’d guess this left much of the audience thinking there’s not much difference between what well-known scientists do and what stoned college students do when they’re talking late at night. Amongst all this, a few topics stood out as completely missing:
- Any significant discussion of what our best theories really say about the vacuum. There are all sorts of interesting things you could say about the vacuum of the Standard Model QFT, but no one seemed interested in this topic.
- Any legitimate connection to experimental test. The Planck results to be released the next day were referred to by Eva Silverstein, who claimed that CMB observations could test the sort of thing she was talking about. In actuality, there seems to be zero prospect that Planck or any other such observations will test the speculative ideas about string cosmology she was referring to.
- Any indication that the multiverse and string theory are not settled science that all physicists now agree on. The problems with this picture of the world went completely unmentioned as far as I could tell.
- Any mention of the disinvited David Albert.
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