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Unformatted text preview: arXiv:physics/9403001v1 [physics.pop-ph] 25 Apr 1986 Desperately Seeking Superstrings? by Paul Ginsparg and Sheldon Glashow Physics Today, May 1986 Why is the smart money all tied up in strings? Why is so much theoretical capital expended upon the properties of supersymmetric systems of quantum strings propagating in ten-dimensional space-time? The good news is that superstring theory may have the right stuff to explain the “low-energy phenomena” of high-energy physics and gravity as well. In the context of possible quantum theories of gravity, each of the few currently known superstring theories may even be unique, finite and self-consistent. In principle a superstring theory ordains what particles exist and what properties they have, using no arbitrary or adjustable parameters. The bad news is that years of intense effort by dozens of the best and the brightest have yielded not one verifiable prediction, nor should any soon be expected. Called “the new physics” by its promoters, it is not even known to encompass the old and established standard model. In lieu of the traditional confrontation between theory and experiment, superstring theorists pursue an inner harmony where elegance, uniqueness and beauty define truth. The theory depends for its existence upon magical coincidences, miraculous cancellations and relations among seemingly unrelated (and possibly undiscovered) fields of mathemat- ics. Are these properties reasons to accept the reality of superstrings? Do mathematics and aesthetics supplant and transcend mere experiment? Will the mundane phenomeno- logical problems that we know as physics simply come out in the wash in some distant tomorrow? Is further experimental endeavor not only difficult and expensive but unneces- sary and irrelevant? Contemplation of superstrings may evolve into an activity as remotesary and irrelevant?...
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2011 for the course PHYS 101 taught by Professor Aster during the Spring '11 term at East Tennessee State University.
- Spring '11