The Case Against Quantum Computing

Thread Starter

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,443
I read some of the nay sayer stories. Wouldnt it be funny though, if a quantum computer could only solve problems that improve a quantum computer? Ha ha. But of course that's not the case. It has been used on some interesting problems already.
What we also need to look at is the date on the various articles on the web because things are changing very fast these days.
The date on the article is March 28, 2022 by someone very, involved in the field of quantum physics. He's not a nay sayer, he's saying let's not believe the money driven hype stories.
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=iF8im5cAAAAJ&hl=en

A recent laboratory experiment at Google has observed some predicted aspects of quantum dynamics (dubbed “time crystals”) using 20 noisy superconducting qubits. The experiment was an impressive showcase of electronic control techniques, but it showed no computing advantage over conventional computers, which can readily simulate time crystals with a similar number of virtual qubits. It also did not reveal anything about the fundamental physics of time crystals. Other NISQ triumphs are recent experiments simulating random quantum circuits, again a highly specialized task of no commercial value whatsoever.
 

Wolframore

Joined Jan 21, 2019
2,533
How many times did Edison fail in attempting to invent the light bulb?

The answer is not a nice, round number like 1,000 or 10,000 times that some people like to claim. It took 2,774 attempts to arrive at the bamboo filament that made Edison's light bulbs a commercial success.
 

Thread Starter

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,443
Last edited:

Delta Prime

Joined Nov 15, 2019
1,326
Stop perpetuating this myth. Edison BOUGHT the patent for the light bulb from Canadians Woodward and Evans. He did NOT invent it.
To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations: Those Canadian bulbs wouldn't even last 4 hours . Edisons' team increase the life span to over a thousand hours.His team also made the power company to light them up.
 
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MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,864
The date on the article is March 28, 2022 by someone very, involved in the field of quantum physics. He's not a nay sayer, he's saying let's not believe the money driven hype stories.
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=iF8im5cAAAAJ&hl=en
Maybe he/she was just trying to bring out the fact that it may not work for every single problem under the sun or anyone else's sun, but it's the same with parallel processing yet we see now 8 and 16 and even 32 and 64 core CPU's becoming the standard. Some problems can not be solved with parallel processing, yet the ones that can be solved benefit so madly great that we dont care if all of them cant be solved that way.
I could probably name 50 problems that can be solved with parallel processing off the top of my head, and one big one in this age is image processing. A lot is being done with computer graphics but i bet it would be nearly dead without parallel processing.
So when we do have a problem that can be solved with a quantum solution, it will be a huge benefit to us in ways that we could never achieve any other way.

So instead of knocking the technology, i say roll out the read carpet we are in for a landslide of technology that i would think will even beat the computer era where the internet became commonplace.

I do understand the hype though and P packing and all that statistical stuff and that a huge number of research papers can be disproved, but i dont think this is one of them. Could i be wrong? No. I believe i have read enough on this topic to make a good judgement call. It all tells me that something is going to become of this technology, and it's going to be big.

While we are talking about the hype angle on this we might also look at the briefly state of the fusion technology. Lots of hype there but that could be because they know it's probably going to be decades yet before we get anything real out of this so they hope to keep investors interested. If we lose investors it is definite we wont have fusion, but if we can hold on to them, there is a chance we will get fusion some years down the road.
So if an article dissuades even one investor, it could result in a great loss for mankind in the future.
 

Thread Starter

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,443
Maybe he/she was just trying to bring out the fact that it may not work for every single problem under the sun or anyone else's sun, but it's the same with parallel processing yet we see now 8 and 16 and even 32 and 64 core CPU's becoming the standard. Some problems can not be solved with parallel processing, yet the ones that can be solved benefit so madly great that we dont care if all of them cant be solved that way.
I could probably name 50 problems that can be solved with parallel processing off the top of my head, and one big one in this age is image processing. A lot is being done with computer graphics but i bet it would be nearly dead without parallel processing.
So when we do have a problem that can be solved with a quantum solution, it will be a huge benefit to us in ways that we could never achieve any other way.

So instead of knocking the technology, i say roll out the read carpet we are in for a landslide of technology that i would think will even beat the computer era where the internet became commonplace.

I do understand the hype though and P packing and all that statistical stuff and that a huge number of research papers can be disproved, but i dont think this is one of them. Could i be wrong? No. I believe i have read enough on this topic to make a good judgement call. It all tells me that something is going to become of this technology, and it's going to be big.

While we are talking about the hype angle on this we might also look at the briefly state of the fusion technology. Lots of hype there but that could be because they know it's probably going to be decades yet before we get anything real out of this so they hope to keep investors interested. If we lose investors it is definite we wont have fusion, but if we can hold on to them, there is a chance we will get fusion some years down the road.
So if an article dissuades even one investor, it could result in a great loss for mankind in the future.
We have lots of problems that might have a quantum (Quantum computers exploit superposition and entanglement) computing solution but we only have proof of concept machines today and for the foreseeable future IMO. Being on the verge of building “useful” machines is an article of faith at this point, not scientific evidence. If IBM meets their goals with their 1,121-qubit IBM Quantum Condor I we might on the road to something useful.

https://research.ibm.com/blog/ibm-quantum-roadmap
Knowing the way forward doesn’t remove the obstacles; we face some of the biggest challenges in the history of technological progress. But, with our clear vision, a fault-tolerant quantum computer now feels like an achievable goal within the coming decade.
https://www.ibm.com/quantum-computing/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/quant...he-hype-could-bring-everything-crashing-down/
Quantum computing is just getting going. But the hype could bring everything crashing down
From drug discovery to climate change, quantum computers have been pitched as a transformative solution to all sorts of business problems. But calls are mounting from within the field to distinguish hype from reality.
Computer scientist Scott Aaronson, for example, is a prominent critic of this bubble in the making, who writes in his blog that the call is now coming from inside the house, meaning that quantum scientists themselves are worrying about the proportions that the quantum field is prematurely reaching.
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,864
We have lots of problems that might have a quantum (Quantum computers exploit superposition and entanglement) computing solution but we only have proof of concept machines today and for the foreseeable future IMO. Being on the verge of building “useful” machines is an article of faith at this point, not scientific evidence. If IBM meets their goals with their 1,121-qubit IBM Quantum Condor I we might on the road to something useful.

https://research.ibm.com/blog/ibm-quantum-roadmap

https://www.ibm.com/quantum-computing/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/quant...he-hype-could-bring-everything-crashing-down/
Quantum computing is just getting going. But the hype could bring everything crashing down
From drug discovery to climate change, quantum computers have been pitched as a transformative solution to all sorts of business problems. But calls are mounting from within the field to distinguish hype from reality.
Hello again,

Well how do we know that the people who claim 'hype' aren the hypers themselves? If you say, "The earth revolves around the sun", and i say "It's all been hype that the earth revolves around the sun", if we never had any other input how would se choose which one is fact? I can easily be the hyper that is claiming the hype.

Here is a quote from a recent article:
"The American physicist Enrico Rinaldi, along with his team at the University of Michigan, has used quantum computing and computer learning to describe what is believed to be the interior of a black hole."

Now if this is true, it's important because it will be able to link particle physics with gravity, something that is very important for a TOE.
So if that is 'proof of concept' then that's OK with me :)
It sounds like something more concrete though, but maybe you can look into this and see what the details are and if it is possibly some kind of hype.

As i was saying in a previous post, because of the way research is published (the fine filter that prevents some papers and pushes other papers based on the publisher's belief system) there will be many papers that are unreliable or overstated. So there is lots of room for hype no doubt, but not everything is actually hype just because it sounds too good to be true. Is the James Webb really out there or did they just make all that up? After all, can human kind actually construct a mechanism that can unfold in space into a near perfect telescope in some -200 degree environment and actually calibrate it and get it working? Sounds too good to be true, so it's all hype :)
 

Thread Starter

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,443
Hello again,

Well how do we know that the people who claim 'hype' aren the hypers themselves? If you say, "The earth revolves around the sun", and i say "It's all been hype that the earth revolves around the sun", if we never had any other input how would se choose which one is fact? I can easily be the hyper that is claiming the hype.

Here is a quote from a recent article:
"The American physicist Enrico Rinaldi, along with his team at the University of Michigan, has used quantum computing and computer learning to describe what is believed to be the interior of a black hole."

Now if this is true, it's important because it will be able to link particle physics with gravity, something that is very important for a TOE.
So if that is 'proof of concept' then that's OK with me :)
It sounds like something more concrete though, but maybe you can look into this and see what the details are and if it is possibly some kind of hype.

As i was saying in a previous post, because of the way research is published (the fine filter that prevents some papers and pushes other papers based on the publisher's belief system) there will be many papers that are unreliable or overstated. So there is lots of room for hype no doubt, but not everything is actually hype just because it sounds too good to be true. Is the James Webb really out there or did they just make all that up? After all, can human kind actually construct a mechanism that can unfold in space into a near perfect telescope in some -200 degree environment and actually calibrate it and get it working? Sounds too good to be true, so it's all hype :)
Total straw-man arguments that don't mean anything about the possibilities of using QM properties in practical computing near-term. Many things are possible but most are not practical.

https://journals.aps.org/prxquantum/abstract/10.1103/PRXQuantum.3.010324?ft=1
Quantum computing and deep learning provide potentially useful approaches to study the dynamics of matrix quantum mechanics. If successful in the context of matrix models, these rapidly improving numerical techniques could become the new Swiss army knife of quantum gravity practitioners. In this paper, we perform the first systematic survey for quantum computing and deep-learning approaches to matrix quantum mechanics, comparing them to lattice Monte Carlo simulations.
The 'hype' here seems not to come from the original authors of the paper.
Two matrix models are studied, which are simple enough to be solved with more traditional methods, hence they provide a suitable benchmark. However, these models possess all the features of the more complicated matrix models used to describe black holes via the holographic duality. Here it is shown that current quantum algorithms, which are used successfully on quantum computers to solve quantum chemistry problems, i.e., the variational quantum eigensolver, are also useful to find the wave function of the ground state of a bosonic and a supersymmetric matrix models. Moreover, neural networks are utilized to approximate the quantum states of matrix models using normalizing flows. This neural quantum states allow us to scale our solutions to larger problem sizes than what is currently possible on quantum computers. These results constitute an important benchmark paving the way to future research on quantum and machine learning algorithms for quantum gravity via holography.
Maybe discoveries aren’t around the corner, but may be just over the horizon into unknown territory we can't see or imagine yet.
 
Last edited:

upand_at_them

Joined May 15, 2010
874
Am I missing the point here? What does it matter if it's hype or not? It will only get used if it's actually useful. People are working on it. Hype happens all the time. So? Smartphones use aspects of quantum mechanics, but I don't think anyone would have guessed that outcome 60 years ago. Maybe we'll get quantum computers, maybe we don't. Does it matter? It's certainly fine that people are working on it.
 

Thread Starter

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,443
Am I missing the point here? What does it matter if it's hype or not? It will only get used if it's actually useful. People are working on it. Hype happens all the time. So? Smartphones use aspects of quantum mechanics, but I don't think anyone would have guessed that outcome 60 years ago. Maybe we'll get quantum computers, maybe we don't. Does it matter? It's certainly fine that people are working on it.
It seems you are missing the point. The hype will spark interest and attract capital. Hype is a necessary evil we need to factor in the evaluation of news stories that depend of that interest and attract capital to continue R&D costs.
It matters because over-hyped marketing failures of today's prototype quantum computers will likely be a setback to useful and practical quantum computers that need continuing funding and research. IMO if your're bullish on the long-term future of quantum computing, moderating the short-term hype is beneficial to progress because we're at the electronic equivalent of early vacuum tube technology with present day QM machines.

https://arxiv.org/pdf/2202.01925.pdf
Hype is a term referring to over mediatization and
inflated, excessive or misleading claims that are applicable
to particular products, products categories, technology
trends, scientific domains, personalities like artists or
politicians, and even speculative financial bubbles and
scams. Hype characterizations range from broad societal
phenomena to explicit, well thought-out and planned
marketing strategies. It can be confused with marketing
exaggerations which are among its implementation artifacts.
On the other hand, buzz is a quiet way to disseminate
promotional content, before it gets amplified by hype.
 
Last edited:

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,864
Total straw-man arguments that don't mean anything about the possibilities of using QM properties in practical computing near-term. Many things are possible but most are not practical.

https://journals.aps.org/prxquantum/abstract/10.1103/PRXQuantum.3.010324?ft=1

The 'hype' here seems not to come from the original authors of the paper.


Maybe discoveries aren’t around the corner, but may be just over the horizon into unknown territory we can't see or imagine yet.
Hello again,

Why is it that many times when someone does not like an argument they always turn to "straw man".
There is no such thing ha ha.

But i dont think you got the point of my reply.

I know there is hype out there but geeze just watch a few commercials on TV. It's commonplace and i hate it too but we have to live with it.
And if you dont get investors, you dont progress.

What i really dont like about hype is when we see article titles that tell you that some big discovery was just made. Then you read the article and it turns out the discovery either doesnt help much or is actually posed as a question rather than an answer.
"We may see this discover soon." Yeah but the dang title didnt say that, so i wont read your articles anymore.
 

Thread Starter

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,443
Hello again,

Why is it that many times when someone does not like an argument they always turn to "straw man".
There is no such thing ha ha.

But i dont think you got the point of my reply.

I know there is hype out there but geeze just watch a few commercials on TV. It's commonplace and i hate it too but we have to live with it.
And if you dont get investors, you dont progress.

What i really dont like about hype is when we see article titles that tell you that some big discovery was just made. Then you read the article and it turns out the discovery either doesnt help much or is actually posed as a question rather than an answer.
"We may see this discover soon." Yeah but the dang title didnt say that, so i wont read your articles anymore.
Making arguments on the actual subject reduces the possibility of "straw man" being used.

As I said above, hype is a necessary evil so I do get your point about living with it until it gets to the point of being ridiculous like


"quantum computing will change life as we know it," "quantum computing will solve global warming," "Quantum computing will revolutionize science and industry," etc etc.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/quantum-computing-hype-bad-science-victor-galitski-1c/
Quantum Computing Hype is Bad for Science
3. Arguably, the worst possible outcome would be damage to the reputation of science as a whole. It's bad enough that some fields of science (epidemiology, climate science, etc) have been unnecessarily politicized and where some research results and conclusions can not be just published and discussed in an open and unbiased manner. Fortunately, for the exact sciences, like math and physics, it has not been really a problem there just yet. However, now some STEM fields are facing a different danger. The manifestly false promises of quantum computing, routinely made by unqualified individuals, and the high potential for fraud in the less-than-transparent business schemes of the QC companies operating in a fake-it-until-you-make-it market all but guarantee an eventual collapse. Investors will be eventually asking questions, customers will be eventually asking questions, but there will be no good answers. The likely downfall of this enterprise could irreparably damage the reputation of science and scientists across the board. But for now, the quantum house of cards is simultaneously both alive and dead.
 
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crutschow

Joined Mar 14, 2008
29,481
Stop perpetuating this myth.
Not a myth, just an incomplete statement.
Edison invented a practical light bulb, in the same manner that Bell invented a practical telephone.
Several inventers before them had invented various ways of doing those things, but none were useful in any real application.
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,864
Making arguments on the actual subject reduces the possibility of "straw man" being used.

As I said above, hype is a necessary evil so I do get your point about living with it until it gets to the point of being ridiculous like


"quantum computing will change life as we know it," "quantum computing will solve global warming," "Quantum computing will revolutionize science and industry," etc etc.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/quantum-computing-hype-bad-science-victor-galitski-1c/
Quantum Computing Hype is Bad for Science
Hello again,

I didnt read everything, but do those writers really believe that quantum computing is really JUST a hype?
There have been practical problems solved already with quantum computing so i dont see why they would still say that. That's why i made a reference to time in the beginning of my replies.
But also, in the quest for a greater number of qubits i think there have been other side discoveries. Making even one qubit that is stable means looking at a lot of quantum theory and finding out how to apply it to something in real life. I would think that would mean some advances in quantum mechanics if not anything else.
 
I have a limited understanding of quantum computing but have read several articles over the years that say exactly what you say.

e.g.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-problem-with-quantum-computers/

Fusion power generation is another one, lots of promise but all we seem to get is this or that minor step announced every year or two.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
4,749
I have a limited understanding of quantum computing but have read several articles over the years that say exactly what you say.

e.g.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/the-problem-with-quantum-computers/

Fusion power generation is another one, lots of promise but all we seem to get is this or that minor step announced every year or two.
Then there is string theory. The theory of everything that is a theory of nothing, but just won’t die.

Bob
 

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,864
Then there is string theory. The theory of everything that is a theory of nothing, but just won’t die.

Bob
Hello Bob,

Well i would not venture so far as to easily dismiss the works of those such as Edward Witten who made significant contributions to string theory which gave rise to understanding in other areas such as quantum gravity not to mention the anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory correspondence.

The problem here i think is that we expect massive advances and milestones when a new theory comes up, and it takes time to do that. Along the way however there are other areas of study that improve. String theory helps in those areas even though it's not complete yet and may never be.

The main problem with String Theory is that it may be too general. Let me try to illustrate this with something all of us here are very familiar with ... physical electric circuits and circuit theory.

Imagine we have a small circuit board maybe 4x6 inches rectangular, and we have various parts like resistors and capacitors and inductors mounted on the board and they are all connected by copper traces of the typical quality. Now in the schematic, not everything would be shown, especially not the parasitic parts that are present in every real life circuit, and also not shown in most cases would be the field interactions trace to trace and component lead to lead and traces and all of that. To analyze the contribution to just one point somewhere on a trace that comes from every other point on the board 9including inside the parts themselves). we'd have to sum the contributions along ever conductor path. Now we might start by looking at every inch of trace on the board, but that would only give us an approximation. We'd have to set up an increment at least in two dimensions and then in the equation let that increment fall to zero in order to get the exact theoretical result we were after. This could involve an enormous amount of work not only to write the equations but also the (most probable) numerical solutions. That alone would be quite a task.
The point being, if we want the exact solution to the circuit analysis problem we'd have to stay this GENERAL otherwise we'd be back to some approximation.

So what it is i think is String Theory is so general that it becomes extremely hard to deal with for obtaining solutions to the universe. In fact, i beleive it provides solutions to other universes too. So the complexity of this kind of theory is just too difficult to work with in many cases, but if we WERE able to deal with it then we could get exact solutions to every interaction in our universe.
Will this ever happen. It may not, but funny if quantum computing comes of age it may be possible to narrow each problem down, making them less general but more specific.

Another analogy is String Theory may be more of a STRATEGY rather than a particular solution, in the same way that partial differential equations are more of a strategy than a particular solution to a problem. Case in point, some time back i realized that a certain partial differential equation could describe a full wave rectifier or half wave rectifier circuit, no matter how complex the circuit was with the other parts such as filters and load. However, when you look at the equation it may not be immediately apparent why it is so amazing because it does not provide a solution it provides a strategy for obtaining a solution to your particular rectifier circuit. Noe the question is, why have it at all then. The answer is that if we understand the underlying principles the equation suggests, we can immediately start writing the specific equations for the particular circuit we want to analyze. Without that, we could be lost in a sea of possibilities but no clear path how to solve some of the more complicated circuits.
So string theory is looking like that to some degree. It can describe everything in exact detail but getting to the particular solution may be very difficult or even impossible in the current age.

I hope this sheds some light on this topic.
BTW i found that PDE mostly because i was frustrated that nobody had come up with a general solution for a rectifier circuit. There are solutions on the web, but they are all for particular circuits with particular parts connected in a particular way, which only allows us to solve that one circuit alone.
 

Thread Starter

nsaspook

Joined Aug 27, 2009
9,443
Hello Bob,

Well i would not venture so far as to easily dismiss the works of those such as Edward Witten who made significant contributions to string theory which gave rise to understanding in other areas such as quantum gravity not to mention the anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory correspondence.

The problem here i think is that we expect massive advances and milestones when a new theory comes up, and it takes time to do that. Along the way however there are other areas of study that improve. String theory helps in those areas even though it's not complete yet and may never be.

The main problem with String Theory is that it may be too general. Let me try to illustrate this with something all of us here are very familiar with ... physical electric circuits and circuit theory.

Imagine we have a small circuit board maybe 4x6 inches rectangular, and we have various parts like resistors and capacitors and inductors mounted on the board and they are all connected by copper traces of the typical quality. Now in the schematic, not everything would be shown, especially not the parasitic parts that are present in every real life circuit, and also not shown in most cases would be the field interactions trace to trace and component lead to lead and traces and all of that. To analyze the contribution to just one point somewhere on a trace that comes from every other point on the board 9including inside the parts themselves). we'd have to sum the contributions along ever conductor path. Now we might start by looking at every inch of trace on the board, but that would only give us an approximation. We'd have to set up an increment at least in two dimensions and then in the equation let that increment fall to zero in order to get the exact theoretical result we were after. This could involve an enormous amount of work not only to write the equations but also the (most probable) numerical solutions. That alone would be quite a task.
The point being, if we want the exact solution to the circuit analysis problem we'd have to stay this GENERAL otherwise we'd be back to some approximation.

So what it is i think is String Theory is so general that it becomes extremely hard to deal with for obtaining solutions to the universe. In fact, i beleive it provides solutions to other universes too. So the complexity of this kind of theory is just too difficult to work with in many cases, but if we WERE able to deal with it then we could get exact solutions to every interaction in our universe.
Will this ever happen. It may not, but funny if quantum computing comes of age it may be possible to narrow each problem down, making them less general but more specific.

Another analogy is String Theory may be more of a STRATEGY rather than a particular solution, in the same way that partial differential equations are more of a strategy than a particular solution to a problem. Case in point, some time back i realized that a certain partial differential equation could describe a full wave rectifier or half wave rectifier circuit, no matter how complex the circuit was with the other parts such as filters and load. However, when you look at the equation it may not be immediately apparent why it is so amazing because it does not provide a solution it provides a strategy for obtaining a solution to your particular rectifier circuit. Noe the question is, why have it at all then. The answer is that if we understand the underlying principles the equation suggests, we can immediately start writing the specific equations for the particular circuit we want to analyze. Without that, we could be lost in a sea of possibilities but no clear path how to solve some of the more complicated circuits.
So string theory is looking like that to some degree. It can describe everything in exact detail but getting to the particular solution may be very difficult or even impossible in the current age.

I hope this sheds some light on this topic.
BTW i found that PDE mostly because i was frustrated that nobody had come up with a general solution for a rectifier circuit. There are solutions on the web, but they are all for particular circuits with particular parts connected in a particular way, which only allows us to solve that one circuit alone.
+1

String Theory is a foundation/landscape/framework rather than a particular solution. It predicts everything and nothing.
1652798873284.png

https://cerncourier.com/a/witten-reflects/
Unfortunately, it has been very hard to find a conventional natural explanation of the dark energy and hierarchy problems. Reluctantly, I think we have to take seriously the anthropic alternative, according to which we live in a universe that has a “landscape”of possibilities, which are realised in different regions of space or maybe in different portions of the quantum mechanical wavefunction, and we inevitably live where we can. I have no idea if this interpretation is correct, but it provides a yardstick against which to measure other proposals. Twenty years ago, I used to find the anthropic interpretation of the universe upsetting, in part because of the difficulty it might present in understanding physics. Over the years I have mellowed. I suppose I reluctantly came to accept that the universe was not created for our convenience in understanding it.
Finally, 50 years ago the gulf between particle physics and gravity seemed unbridgeably wide. There is still a wide gap today. But the emergence in string theory of a sensible framework to study gravity unified with particle forces has changed the picture. This framework has turned out to be very powerful, even if one is not motivated by gravity and one is just searching for new understanding of ordinary quantum field theory. We do not understand today in detail how to unify the forces and obtain the particles and interactions that we see in the real world. But we certainly do have a general idea of how it can work, and this is quite a change from where we were in 1973. Exploring the string-theory framework has led to a remarkable series of discoveries. This well has not run dry, and that is one of the reasons that I am optimistic about the future.
 
Last edited:

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
4,749
Hello Bob,

Well i would not venture so far as to easily dismiss the works of those such as Edward Witten who made significant contributions to string theory which gave rise to understanding in other areas such as quantum gravity not to mention the anti-de Sitter/conformal field theory correspondence.

The problem here i think is that we expect massive advances and milestones when a new theory comes up, and it takes time to do that. Along the way however there are other areas of study that improve. String theory helps in those areas even though it's not complete yet and may never be.

The main problem with String Theory is that it may be too general. Let me try to illustrate this with something all of us here are very familiar with ... physical electric circuits and circuit theory.

Imagine we have a small circuit board maybe 4x6 inches rectangular, and we have various parts like resistors and capacitors and inductors mounted on the board and they are all connected by copper traces of the typical quality. Now in the schematic, not everything would be shown, especially not the parasitic parts that are present in every real life circuit, and also not shown in most cases would be the field interactions trace to trace and component lead to lead and traces and all of that. To analyze the contribution to just one point somewhere on a trace that comes from every other point on the board 9including inside the parts themselves). we'd have to sum the contributions along ever conductor path. Now we might start by looking at every inch of trace on the board, but that would only give us an approximation. We'd have to set up an increment at least in two dimensions and then in the equation let that increment fall to zero in order to get the exact theoretical result we were after. This could involve an enormous amount of work not only to write the equations but also the (most probable) numerical solutions. That alone would be quite a task.
The point being, if we want the exact solution to the circuit analysis problem we'd have to stay this GENERAL otherwise we'd be back to some approximation.

So what it is i think is String Theory is so general that it becomes extremely hard to deal with for obtaining solutions to the universe. In fact, i beleive it provides solutions to other universes too. So the complexity of this kind of theory is just too difficult to work with in many cases, but if we WERE able to deal with it then we could get exact solutions to every interaction in our universe.
Will this ever happen. It may not, but funny if quantum computing comes of age it may be possible to narrow each problem down, making them less general but more specific.

Another analogy is String Theory may be more of a STRATEGY rather than a particular solution, in the same way that partial differential equations are more of a strategy than a particular solution to a problem. Case in point, some time back i realized that a certain partial differential equation could describe a full wave rectifier or half wave rectifier circuit, no matter how complex the circuit was with the other parts such as filters and load. However, when you look at the equation it may not be immediately apparent why it is so amazing because it does not provide a solution it provides a strategy for obtaining a solution to your particular rectifier circuit. Noe the question is, why have it at all then. The answer is that if we understand the underlying principles the equation suggests, we can immediately start writing the specific equations for the particular circuit we want to analyze. Without that, we could be lost in a sea of possibilities but no clear path how to solve some of the more complicated circuits.
So string theory is looking like that to some degree. It can describe everything in exact detail but getting to the particular solution may be very difficult or even impossible in the current age.

I hope this sheds some light on this topic.
BTW i found that PDE mostly because i was frustrated that nobody had come up with a general solution for a rectifier circuit. There are solutions on the web, but they are all for particular circuits with particular parts connected in a particular way, which only allows us to solve that one circuit alone.
I think, you think you are disagreeing with me, but you are not. As I see it, string theory can (maybe) describe and infinite number of universes (as you said too general) and there seems to be no hope of coming up with the particular solution that will describe ours.

Coupled with the fact that it requires supersymmetry and each new collider we build ups the lower limit on then energy of supersymmetric particles requiring modifications to the theory, and it looks like a dead end to me. What it predicts beyond the standard model has been pretty much disproven.

Bob

Bob
 
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