Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good News for String Theory

While looking through my kindergartener's school work last night I was pleased to find this:



Now, I'm not sure how long the concept of symmetry has been taught in kindergarten, but I do know that my 10 year old did not bring home any work like this when he was in kindergarten six years ago.

About a week ago I also saw several papers in my second grader's work that covered the concept of symmetry. I would interpret this trend as good news about the "trickle down" effect of String Theory's acceptance in a more general educational sense. Of course, String Theory did not invent Symmetry, but it has made symmetry an important foundational idea.

7 comments:

DHammett said...

Speaking of string theory, did you see Lubos' piece on global warming recently? I especially liked one of his graphics. ;-)

Rae Ann said...

dh, yeah, I saw it. You men. That's why the planet is warming... because all of you are getting too hot from looking at half nekkid women! ;-)

nige said...

Symmetry is essential to physics, such Yang-Mills quantum field theory which forms the Standard Model. Gell-Mann and Zweig predicted quarks/aces to explain the eightfold way symmetry of particle properties.

Superstring theory on the other hand contains too much unobservable symmetry and no observed symmetry: it contains 10^500 or more versions of the Standard Model symmetries, none of which have been shown to correspond to the real standard model symmetries, and it contains supersymmetry due to every fermion having a bosonic superpartner of higher but non-predictable energy.

Other stringy ideas, like M-theory which claims 10 dimensional "superstring" universe is a (mem)brane floating on the surface of 11-dimensional "supergravity" hyperspace, doesn't appeal to symmetry any more than to sanity. It's an inelegant, unproductive theory. Please talk Lumos out of it! Thanks!

Happy Christmas

Rae Ann said...

nigel, could it be that because "it contains 10^500 or more versions of the Standard Model symmetries" this indeed makes it the theory of everything? I mean, wouldn't the theory of *everything* have so many answers, even to questions we don't yet know? ;-) My point with this post is to show that at least here in the backwards hillbilly country symmetry has become an important concept in teaching young children mathematics. And it's probably the *only* thing about the 'new math' they teach that is actually useful.

nige said...

Dear Rae Ann, yes, providing that (as Professor Susskind claims) there is a "cosmic landscape" conveniently containing 10^500 universes, so that each of the different "predicted" Standard Models has it's own real little universe; and the world we're in is expected to be exactly like the one we see (by the "anthropic principle"). BTW, Lumos apparently isn't too fond of the anthropic principle and this landscape problem. He believes in 10/11-dimensional M-theory, but at one stage he referred to the landscape as “s**tland” and “f**kland”.

See http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=270

"Mucking About in the Swampland

"A little while ago I wrote about the recent Vafa paper on The String Landscape and the Swampland, as well as about postings on the subject by Lubos Motl and Jacques Distler. Lubos’s contribution to the subject was introducing the new terminology of “s**tland” and “f**kland”."

Rae Ann said...

nigel, I don't think we have to limit those possibilities to other universes, a la a landscape. That type of thinking seems too conventional or something. But I don't really know what I'm talking about. lol

babai said...

Symmetry is from the mathematical theory of groups.