Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"Nothing will make me stop believing in String Theory!"

That's what I heard my eight-year-old Nico say to his little brother this morning.

Nico is totally hooked on these theoretical physics videos. If you're not sure what String Theory is, or how it works, or why it's controversial -- just ask Nico. He'll be very happy to explain it to you. At length.

Meanwhile, of course, getting him to do his homework is like pulling teeth...

In other news, I had some of my posts featured in two of my favorite carnivals: The Humanist Symposium and The Carnival of the Godless!

The latter linked to one of the awards we're doing at Main Street Plaza. We're still collecting nominations for the "Brodies". If you don't know what Brodies are, they're a little like "Niblets", only (hopefully) without the 200 comment battle.

As usual, I failed to win a Niblet. However, in this year's drama, I was one of a handful of people singled out by name (as being one of those naughty atheists whom good Mormons should be excluding from Niblet-land), which I guess is some sort of honor. It puts me in the same class as other bloggers who have been at the center of the Niblets' traditional yearly brawl in the past, such as fMh ("Big blog or not???") and the various Mormon mommy blogs (I forget what the dispute was around them)...

9 comments:

Bruce said...

Well, if he's already willing to hold on to his convictions without regard for evidence, he's already a string theorist!

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Bruce!!!

lol, that's part of the reason I thought the quote was funny enough to post to the web! Nico is aware of the problems with proving or falsifying string theory, but he just loves string theory so much that he wants it to be correct.

Keep in mind, of course, that he's only eight years old.

Actually, I think it's a very interesting and useful example to contemplate when it comes to talking about scientific theories and evidence.

Xuxana said...

Ha! I love string theory too. It's great for certain aspects of my novel writing :)

Maybe Nico can use his knowledge of string theory towards great sci-fi fiction stories! :)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Xuxana!!!

I hope so! On the way to school this morning, they were discussing how to do the special effects for a movie they're planning to make (a sequel to "The Incredibles").

Xuxana said...

That's brilliant! Your kids are so smart. Now, how do I get my children interested in string theory? lol

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Xuxana!!!

Actually, I'm not totally sure how it happened...

Chris said...

Your kids are amazing, chanson. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, given their parentage.

MoHoHawaii said...

I was video chatting with my son, the math Ph.D. student, tonight on Skype. I remembered your post, so I asked him what he thought about string theory.

My son said that he follows a lot of physics blogs. Until last year all the new job openings in physics posted on those blogs were for string theorists, but demand has recently collapsed. In the past 12 months all of the job openings now seem to be for phenomenologists that use the Standard Model (i.e., not string theory). He thinks the tide may be turning against string theory.

When I pressed him for what he thought personally, he said that he liked the math behind string theory (of course, he said this only after airing his usual complaints that physicists are bad at math). He said that it is weird that string theory makes no predictions that could ever be observed. He said it was the only scientific theory he could think of that didn't try to predict anything.

FWIW.

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Chris!!!

Hey MoHoHawaii!!!

Yeah, I think that's essentially the problem with string theory. It doesn't predict anything that can be observed. So, notably, it can't be falsified. Your son is right that a scientific theory is normally expected to be fruitful in terms of making new predictions.