String Theory & the Scientific Method
In the early seventies the newly discovered gauge symmetries had made it possible to give a unified description of three of the four basic forces in nature.1 However, it remained a mystery how the force of gravity was to be incorporated in the resulting standard model. In 1974 it was proposed by Joel Scherk and John Schwarz that string theory—which until then was regarded as a theory only of hadrons—was a theory that could unite the whole of microphysics. The promise of full unification attracted many researchers to the field of string theory. A lot of work was done which expanded the mathematical framework and in 1984 Scherk and Schwarz finally succeeded in formulating the Lagrangian of the superstring: a quantised string that includes a matter field. With the mathematical formalism now firmly in place, the scientific community waited for experimental verification of the string hypothesis. And it waited.
The Current Debate
Today, more than 40 years after the earliest...
We’d like to thank Carlo Rovelli, Dennis Dieks and Gerard ’t Hooft for their insightful comments on the matters discussed in this review.
- 3.P. Woit. Not even wrong (2013), www.math.columbia.edu/woit/wordpress/. Accessed 14 May 2013