“Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”
– Warren Buffett
“If calculating were all, the Rain Man would be the greatest physicist.”
“One oxdung artiste backed by a thousand oxdung artistes amounts to 1001 oxdung artistes.”
– Dreamheron’s country cousin Bhombol
There is an empire in the clouds. People live there. They make discoveries there. We do not know why they do this and what these discoveries mean for us. Sometimes these demigods come down to the Earth and we anoint them heavily – with real gold and real gems. This has become a cosmic worship ritual. Why do we do this? For the very same reason we let very earthy crooks cheat us out of our daily bread and our nest eggs time after time after time – for long periods of time. The human race has become a race of fools. Anyone who wants to rip ’em off is doing it any which way he wants to, with great ease. And the intellectuals are doin’ it in their own way.
(A special 6-proverb post)
Once again, some analysis in the public interest… For many years the masses have been extensivlely and intensivlely educated on Edward Witten’s String Theory – on primetime, saturating the airwaves. Now it is time to educate the masses about Edward Witten.
Wealth from the twelfth dimension
What is the main attribute of the Hedge Funds that did the world in? An abstract mathematical construct that proceeds as a concrete basis for trading trillions of real dollars.
And such is the mindscape of Edward Witten. An elaborate construct in his imagination that serves as tangible arena in which ‘discoveries’ are being made and anointed as such. In it are churning millions of taxpayer dollars, and then disappearing into the 12th dimension. This wispy nothing of an imaginary empire of the cloud has so much real force that it evicted many a hapless physicist from his workspace.
Make-believe discoveries in a make-believe World
The celebrity physicist Brian Greene claims in the dust jacket of his popular book that he has made many discoveries within String Theory. Surely that helps sell the book and promote the discoverer and garner real dollars.
A discoverer “within String Theory”! What is that?! Is this like a Knight-errant from Freedonia? Or a General of the Narnian Army? Where is Walter Mitty when we need him to explain to us all this?
What kind of a World is this where people take such comic claims as serious accomplishments? The answer is simple: Something serious is going on here. These actors are deftly lifting your wallet with two fingers while whispering sweet mathematical nothingnesses in your ear. Physics does not have anything even remotely to do with this business. And mathematics is but the organ grinder’s monkey. A very dressed up monkey.
That’s right! You can absolutely judge the work of the String Theorists as nonsense-peddlers without ever getting into their world of mathematics, although that is what they would like you to do (“Come into my parlor…”)
Fighting String Theorists in the arena of mathematics is a damn fool thing. It is like jumping into the viper pit to kill the snakes. That’s not the way to do it.
Additionally, String Theory is being aggressively merchandized to the World through the mass media and popular culture. There absolutely needs to be presented a counterpoint also at that level. The String Theorists cannot on one hand stuff their pockets and inflate their egos in the souk of the Kasbah, and then tell the critics: Shhh… not here! We will meet you in the alley behind the camel stables.
Soup of the flying duck
There are other such ‘discoverers’ like Greene. Witness this absolutely hilarious piece:
… is among India’s most famous theoretical physicists. He has made a number of major original contributions to the subject of string theory, including his landmark paper on strong-weak coupling duality or S-duality, which was influential in changing the course of research in the field. He pioneered the study of unstable D-branes and made the famous Sen conjecture about open string tachyon condensation on such branes. His description of rolling tachyons has been influential in string cosmology. He has also co-authored many important papers on string field theory. One of his most recent contributions include the entropy function formalism for extremal black holes and its applications to attractors. His current research interests are centered around the attractor mechanim and the precision counting of microstates for black holes in string theory.
What is this guy doing?! Is he “soaking his bread with the soup of a flying duck,” as an Uyghur proverb has it? You are wondering if brains was misspelled as branes? Me too. I mean, read the paragraph one more time. Where do you get ‘physics’?
Witten multi-media promotion campaign
Impressed by the most splendiferous drama unfolding within the fantabulous mindscape of Edward Witten, the World has showered on him just about every tangible thing they could find to shower. Of course the Tempus Magazine long ago listed him in their annual selection of Seventy Suave Savants. PBS TV also got into the promotion campaign. The bookmakers pegged him for the Nobel Prize. The numerous Internet message boards singing his paean … let’s not even go there. He’s been called a time traveler from future and he has been said to possess the mind of God. Intelligent Designer has been mentioned. Newton and Einstein have been named as predecessors. He has been likened to a certain denizen of the Holy See. And there was this apellation: Greatest theoretical physicist in the World. President Bush has hung around his neck a big chunk of gold. Of course all the other standard prizes came along the way.
[Reader, I know this impresses the heck out of you. Naturally. But here’s a tiny bit of thought to bear in mind: John Mather was also anointed thusly.]
A recent Google image search on “Edward Witten” showed about seven pages of photos before they started to dwindle. As a comparison, Dr. Wayne Dyer came in at about 6 and often scantily-clad Cindy Crawford at about 12.
Edward Witten as seen by his admirers
Excuse me, but shouldn’t Klaatu be here as well…?!
If the Vatican don’t make pizza, Shakey won’t issue indulgences
And just when you thought “Gosh, what’s left for Eddie to do in this mortal World?” there came this: Men of cloth rose to the occasion. The highest executive of the Vatican personally issued this encyclical:
(His Eminence Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo, President of the Governorate of Vatican City State) said the discovery of new sub-atomic particles may help confirm Princeton University professor Edward Witten’s Superstring Theory, which seeks to unify Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum physics.
Your Eminence, with due respect, there is an old proverb:
The cobbler should stick to his last.
And here’s what a wise Arab sheik in his tent, stroking his long white beard, might say about the confirmation of Superstring Theory:
“I have neither a male camel nor a female camel in it.”
Did the the Pontifical Academy of Sciences evolve this position to support their member, their very own Witten? Why does the Vatican want a piece of the action in promoting physics weirdorama? I have already given you the answer. (Whose mind does Witten possess?!)
[Reader, always remember, don’t ever forget, that high level hanky panky – nobles abusing the long-traditioned trust the society reposes in them – is the hallmark of this Age of Fakery.]
Years ago I wrote about the “grotesque promotion of Edward Witten.” Now you see what I mean. The Miss Universe promotion campaign has nothing on Witten’s. Nor has the phenomenal Stephen Hawking promotion campaign unless – unbeknownst to me – Hawking has lined up the endorsement of the CofE. In that case we have to debate which endorsement is the greater! That – I admit – is a question very far above my head.
Remember how the scientific establishment was up in arms (rightly so) when the religious folks tried to undermine Darwin? The basic argument was that religion should not interfere with the course of science. Single exception: If religion interferes to promote Edward Witten…then…well…Hallelujah!
But the strangest thing about all this is that nobody pauses to ask: Why does a theoretical physicist need such a multi-media promotional program that dwarfs in its slyness and craftiness all promotional campaigns: politicians, musicians, thespians, rock stars, TV gurus, motivational speakers ….?
The answer of course is very simple and very straightforward – but one that no one wishes to face: This is a Great American Selling Job. Without this campaign Edward Witten, by the physics establishment’s own established criteria, would be classified as a crackpot.
I feel quite certain that His Eminence did not get up one fine Rome dawn and hear an inner call to bless the Superstring Theory. People from within the physics establishment had to move the Vatican to issue that statement. Why?
Because hypocrisy has never achieved as great a height as it has within the contemporary physics establishment.
(Acciuga e pepe per me, per favore, Su Eminenz!)
The scientific support…
Let us also touch in passing on the high power support string theory received from the high authorities of physics. Here is an example:
“String theory is anything but a futile effort,” said an e-mail from David Gross of UC Santa Barbara, who shared the Nobel Prize in physics last year. Among other accomplishments, it has enabled physicists “to understand, finally, many of the mysteries of black holes. … I am convinced that string theory, as presently understood, is on the right path, but that this path is quite long, and (perhaps many) further breakthroughs are required.”
This is the kind of thing that emboldens the string theorists and helps them garner taxpayer money. Now, am I going to rebut the David Gross endorsement? No way. I have rebutted him. You see, his Nobel Prize which gives him the scientific authority is out and out bogus.
What we have here is a case of bogus physicists supporting the bogus physics of other bogus physicists. And all this takes place on a very high and showy pedestal. Then the jackals in the media howl their appreciation.
Edward Witten – the unstoppable Samurai
The public does not know half the truth about Edward Witten. And they would not know unless Dreamheron told them. So here it is:
Witten tried to make a living in the real-life, matter-of-fact arenas of History and Economics and Journalism. Presumably, he was not exactly in his elements in these fields. He then decided that Physics was his calling. The Earth had to synchronize her music of the spheres with Witten’s stream of consciousness. So he packs his fabulous katana called Matematicus and jumps into the field of physics. There he comes upon a little guy named Sambo Panza who becomes his sidekick and shows him around. They come upon a three-faced monument: “This here represents the three dimensions of our World. We are limited to only three space dimensions,” says Sam. “I don’t like ’em Sam,” says Witten and assumes the chudan-no-kamae stance. The katana flashes and demolishes the monument.
A little later they come upon a great boundary wall, and Sam explains: “This is the Wall of the Great Conservation Principles. We must all stay within it.” Witten says: “I don’t like ’em Sam.” He assumes the seigan-no-kamae stance, shouts “Hi!” and with one fell stroke of the katana he breaks open a gaping hole in the inviolate wall.
Now little Sam protests: “You cannot go on exceeding the great foundational principles of physics. Whatever it is you do then is not physics.” This angers Witten greatly, and he performs a kesa-giri.
Thus freed from all the constraints of physics the mortals struggle within, Witten proceeds to do his stuff. Soon he acquires an excellent team of handlers. They put out a veiled explanation that Witten can break the laws because he is God. No one asks about what happened to Sam.
Young people should heed the lesson here. If you are Edward Witten and break the laws of physics, you are God. If you are not Edward Witten and break the laws of physics, you are a crackpot.
With the Promotional Apparatus that made Edward Witten into the greatest theoretical physicist in the World, Yogi Bera could likewise be made into the greatest practical philosopher. GM and AIG ought to find out who is behind this campaign, and retain this group to get them out of the mess. Go to Princeton and inquire within.
[Reader, here is a passing thought. If you accept Witten, then the great principles of physics are violable. So what about the many works of physics that tacitly rely on the inviolability of the same?]
The sheik’s miracles are related by himself – Turkish proverb
As the great Samurai-physicist, Witten acquired – besides the excellent group of handlers – a very small group of admirers. These few people and Witten alone know what ‘physics’ they are doing. No one else understands anything about anything. The World receives only sound-bites through mass media: M-Theory, curled-up dimensions, Branes etc – and so does the rest of the physics establishment. The frequent flyer who purchases a String Theory book from an airport magazine shop knows as much string theory as a professor of nuclear physics in Oxbridge University. So basically, the truth emanates from Witten’s brain and becomes branes, and the branes wrap the World. There is no scientific process of broad-based collective evaluation.
Justice for Sam at last: The Message in the Medal!
So for ol’ Eddie it is now
Oh Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder
It’s the truth and it’s actual
Everything is gonna be satisfactual
There was just one little thing needed by way of a nice little supper at the end of this glorious day: The Swedish Prize! And wouldn’t you know, he got it! In 2008, from the very hands of His Majesty the King of Sweden! That makes Edward Witten the most complete, most official, and most unassailable genius in the history of the universe thus far (Part I).
Wait a minute! Don’t go away. There’s just a wee bit more. Witten did not get the Nobel Prize. He got the Crafoord Prize, also awarded by the Nobel people, for areas not covered by the Nobel Prize. (Witten got only a fourth of the prize money.)
There had to be, for some years, great American pressure on the Swedish Nobel people to anoint Witten. But these people have been burned so many times by giving in to American pressure that they wised up. They decided to push back, and send a strong message to the American powerbrokers.
So, after reportedly singlehandedly revolutionizing physics, Witten is being told in no uncertain terms that he is not covered by the Nobel Plan – PPO or whatever! Surely he can see this as a big slap on his face. It is as though the Nobel people are telling him: “No soup for you!”
Ingen soppa åt dig!
This is how it is at such high levels. Bad news comes with a nice gift attached. Do you not remember how they sent George Tenet home with a b-i-g gold medal?
[Slam dunk indeed!]
Heck of a job, Georgie!
[Your kind of physics is not covered by the Nobel!]
Please accept a quarter of the Crafoord Prize [instead.]
The parenthetical message in the Medal!
The great Edward Witten has been sent up to bed without supper – with a little red plastic duckie to keep him company.
If the Nobel people disagree that this is the message they sent to Witten and his promoters, they can say so.
The Opus Odoriferous
When you think of physics as a beneficial way for mankind, the Wittens and the Hawkings are completely inconsequential. The Ponses and the Fleischmanns are very consequential.
What Witten is doing – seen as physics – is rubbish. If a hundred physics Nobel Laureates vouch for it, it is rubbish promoted by a hundred Nobel Laureates. If Witten is given a Nobel Prize for his physics, it is rubbish that has nobeled. Based on facts in plain evidence, I have the highest authority to make this statement, and by exactly the same token, no one has the authority to contradict me.
Edward Witten’s distinguished university published a book by one of his colleagues in the Department of Philosophy. Uncannily, the book described Witten’s work to a T – as if the author were using him as an unnamed subject. Witness these uncanny comments:
However studiously and conscientiously the bull—-ter proceeds, it remains true that he is also trying to get away with something. There is surely in his work, as in the work of the slovenly craftsman, some kind of laxity that resists or eludes the demands of a disinterested and austere discipline.
…bull—- is a greater enemy of truth than lies are
If to these you add a little Latin wisdom:
Merda taurorum animas conturbit,
then you get the complete picture.
Here in silence is a photo of Frankfurt’s book:
(Courtesy Princeton University Press)
A Danish Proverb
String Theory will do as much for physics as the hedge funds have done for the economy.
String Theorists of today and of the future should heed the profound and clear message: “No soup for you!”
There is a Danish proverb: If beard were all, the goat might preach. Likewise, if calculating were all, the Rain Man would be the greatest physicist.
There is of course the issue of the great and powerful support base for Witten. They will lay the stuff on you thick. They will impress the heck out of you. I asked my country cousin Bhombol (remember the guy who delivers fine cornpone wisdom?) what he makes of this. His answer:
One oxdung artiste backed by a thousand oxdung artistes amounts to 1001 oxdung artistes.
The World has tired of you Luftmenschen. It is fed up with your Narcissism and it is reviled at your preoccupation with intellectual autostimulation conducted in full view of the World. It has had enough of your seeking constant limelight and adulation. It cringes at the aversion of grown men to useful work. And most of all, it is angered about your elbowing out those who do want to do useful work and effect true progress.
You need to pack it in, just as the quants need to pack it in.
Exercise for the readers:
1. What would be:
Edward Witten – The great American Promo Blitz = ?
2. What might have been:
Myron Evans + The great American Promo Blitz = ?
3. Through mathematical physics Myron Evans has brought specificity to the concept of photon. What is Edward Witten’s contribution to physics that is even remotely comparable to this?
4(a). Describe Edward Witten’s defining moment when he reportedly brought down the house at a conference.
4(b). Describe John Mather’s defining moment when he reportedly brought down the house at a conference.
5. Compare and contrast the above two sublime defining moments.
6. Of the two scientists named below, one was vilified by the Vatican and the other was lauded by the Vatican. Which one is which?
7. In 100 words or less, justify the involvement of the Vatican in the above two cases.
8. In 50 words or more, justify whether or not the String Theory Movement can be called a cult movement. Use the following graphic as a guideline:
Edward Witten contribution to science and society
9. What percentage of the physics establishment does not understand Edward Witten’s mathematics at all:
10. Why does a mathematical ‘physicist’ – whose work can be understood a by only a few people in the whole wide world – need the most elaborate promotional campaign ever devised by man?