More Scenes From the Storm in a Teacup, III

Poor Jeff!

I’m listening to the program now, and 40 minutes into it, there’s been long sections of completely pointless waffle by Lee and the presenter (the latter keeps reading long and largely peripherally relevant quotes from philosophers), broken up by breaks to shout the name of the station at you…. then long musical ditties… then back to more waffle…. and then the few times Jeff gets to come in, he is interrupted again by the presenter with more irrelevant stuff about philosophy. Jeff managed to say at one point “I’d rather talk about what can be measured, what we can calculate…”, but this seems to have been ignored. (Here and later I am not giving the exact words of what was said… you should listen to the archive.) He is given a little time to start to explain what strings is about….

A bit later…. Lee is just going on and on and on and on about…. uh…. crap and utter irrelevance. The battle between Liebniz and Newton. Relational vs absolute. Sigh. I just don’t get it. Why is this happening? Another music/station reminder break…

A bit later…. Jeff finally manages to get a bit of a word in. He has to jump in at one point when Lee starts actually redefining on the spot what his book is about… backpedalling a huge amount and saying that his book is about how our generation failed. “No, wait, you said that we failed,” Jeff says, “I simply don’t agree with you”. Lee seems a bit wrong-footed by this reminder of what his book is about. Jeff brings up the argument several of us have brought up before… There is an infinite number of field theories, but that does not stop us from going out and measuring some parameters in experiments, and inputing them into a particular field theory and thus building the remarkably successful and well-tested thing we call The Standard Model of Particle Physics. So if there is an infinite number of string theories, or solutions to string theory, why is that a priori a failure? I’d still like Lee or Peter to tell me this.

Finally they get to the, shall we call it what it is, the “I want more money for my approach”, bit from Lee (my words not his). Jeff has to jump into the waffle again to point out that the resources in science are distributed by our peers. Not string theorists, but our peers in several other fields in physics. If you want to get more resources for your field, for an alternative idea, you produce encouraging results from that idea, and convince our peers that it is worth supporting….

I would go further and say “and you don’t write books of half-truths whining about it!!”.

Speaking of half-truths: At some point the presenter actually does something constructive (despite himself) and asks Lee what the other approaches are, and whether there are any experimental predictions of Loop Quantum Gravity:

…dead air for a while…

“Not… quite…. yet…” Lee manages to squeeze out. “We have some hints from…. not in the four dimensions in which we live, but in a three dimensional version…. and it is not fully worked out yet….. that …” and then he goes on to talk about doubly special relativity and how it will be tested at Glast.

My question to Lee: – So will you abandon Loop Quantum Gravity is Glast does not see what it “predicts”? How come you don’t apply your much vaunted high standards for doing science to your own work?


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