Sheldon Gives Up On String Theory

Ten years ago I wrote here about the news that Witten had finally given up on string theory. Today I just heard a similar but even more dramatic rumor: next week’s episode of The Big Bang Theory features string theorist Sheldon Cooper deciding to give up on string theory, realizing that he has been wasting his time working on it for 20 years. Evidently the framing of the story is that string theory has been a bad relationship for Sheldon, now he’s grieving and trying to learn how to get over such a breakup.

In other April 1 news, it seems that some joker at MIT has scheduled an April Fool’s Day colloquium there on Our Mathematical Universe, featuring Max Tegmark. The conceit is that Tegmark will explain how the BICEP2 results provide “smoking gun” evidence for the ideas in his book about mathematics (his Mathematical Universe Hypothesis).

Update: For more April 1 fun, Steve Landsburg has Many Many Worlds, a review of Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe which describes the author as “a towering figure in intellectual history”.

Update: For some reason, some people didn’t believe the news yesterday in this posting. For a link with details, see here.

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12 Responses to Sheldon Gives Up On String Theory

  1. joel rice says:

    and Jester says they will re-use the SSC tunnel and get going with a BIG collider.
    he really knows how to hurt a guy.

  2. Tom Weidig says:

    Lubos will be devastated… 😉

  3. AcTeVist says:

    It’s a nice day today. Spring has returned early to Geneva area this year; the sun, the flowers and the easy time safely away from major conferences make people at CERN feel light-hearted and good about life. Spring clothes and short sleeves are taking over, so I wonder if every t-shirt is going to come out of the wardrobes and be proudly worn by its owners.
    It’s a nice and light-hearted day, and as an added bonus everything that follows is real…

    A couple of months ago a post of yours let us know that Ellis “is not giving up on supersymmetry”. I wonder whether this could have been kind of an answer to the statement featuring on one of the latest t-shirts in his famous collection. The statement being, “I searched for susy for twenty years and all I got was this stupid t-shirt”. ( )

    To be honest, he didn’t select this one himself. It features on five t-shirts offered to five prominent members of CERN and LHC experiments. Some of them have shaped collaboration policies according to their personal favourite theory, even as Higgs was being found, others went as far as e.g. to claim that the important part about Higgs is not giving mass but constraining I’ll-be-happy-to-be-reminded-what which is indirectly related to guess-which-theory.

    Offered by whom? Well, simply susy-agnostics, I guess 🙂

    It often happens that people turn to religion out of fear of death, of the unknown, or a wish of afterlife. It’ understandable. In all these cases it can provide a sense of explanation and understanding of the world. Turning to the religion of the perpetually unknown, on the other hand, seems to be a privilege unique to preachers of truth-seeking.

  4. Peter Woit says:

    Science magazine gets with the spirit of the day, letting us know that

    Scientists Find Imprint of Universe That Existed Before the Big Bang

  5. John McAllison says:

    Hey Peter,

    you must have had a big smile on your face when you deliberately posted this on April 1st; brilliant timing!

  6. frp says:

    I was at Tegmark’s talk. It was an overview of inflation, there was no mention of multiverses or the MUH, other than a one sentence comment that inflation might imply more spacetime exists beyond our horizon. One interesting comment he made is that the (Hot) Big Bang should be defined as the hot state of the universe just after inflation ended. With this definition, inflation happens before the Big Bang. I wonder if this wording will catch on. To me, the Big Bang has always meant the hypothetical curvature singularity at t=0, which (if it exists) is before inflation. I think this reflects an unfortunate difference in terminology between cosmologists and general relativists.

  7. Chris Kennedy says:

    I also heard that next season Sheldon & Amy will have twins. However Any becomes upset with Sheldon because he doesn’t want to recognize them as individuals or give each twin a name, rather he will only refer to them together as Cooper Pairs.

  8. S says:

    You might enjoy this article, wherein a medieval scholar’s apparently-not-awful physical reasoning is coopted to suggest that, if you merely assume he understood naturality and anthropic reasoning, he discovered the multiverse!

  9. Kavanna says:

    Well, Sheldon throws in the brane — what do you know? String theory really has been one long bad date.

    If they’re Cooper pairs, can be they canonically transformed back to an unpaired state? Will they have Primordial Soup for dinner?

    And, while we’re at it, the Fermilab April Fool’s Day issue is hysterical. I love the Eye of Sauron on top of the tower. Maybe that’s who should be funding HE research.

    (Coming soon: some impressions of the big MIT talk tonight on BICEP2. Tegmark and Guth spoke, but there’s a lot more. Doesn’t look good at all for strings, BTW.)

  10. Chris Kennedy says:

    Even if the pairs transform back to an unpaired state, if one twin grows up to operate a high-speed rail and the other becomes an orchestra leader, they would still remain (in a sense) super conductors.

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