For our December Meetup, we'll be reading Lee Smolin's The Trouble With Physics:
"From Publishers Weekly
String theory?the hot topic in physics for the past 20 years?is a dead-end, says Smolin, one of the founders of Canada's Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics and himself a lapsed string theorist. In fact, he (and others) argue convincingly, string theory isn't even a fully formed theory?it's just a "conjecture." As Smolin reminds his readers, string theorists haven't been able to prove any of their exotic ideas, and he says there isn't much chance that they will in the foreseeable future. The discovery of "dark energy," which seems to be pushing the universe apart faster and faster, isn't explained by string theory and is proving troublesome for that theory's advocates. Smolin (The Life of the Cosmos) believes that physicists are making the mistake of searching for a theory that is "beautiful" and "elegant" instead of one that's actually backed up by experiments. He encourages physicists to investigate new alternatives and highlights several young physicists whose work he finds promising. This isn't easy reading, but it will appeal to dedicated science buffs interested in where physics may be headed in the next decade. 30 b&w illus. (Sept. 19)
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We've talked about String Theory at most of our meetups, and we've talked about the controversy, but we haven't actually read anything directly related to this interesting and important issue, so let's do it now. There should be enough time to read this book by December 14th, or at least to make good progress in it, so let's get reading!
Also, if anyone wants to suggest or hunt down any articles or cogent rebuttal reviews of this book (for example, I think one was published in American Scientist, and certainly there has been an ongoing debate between Lee Smolin and Leonad Susskind, some of which can be found here: Smolin Vs, Susskind: The Anthropic Principal) - please email me and I'll post links here.
Our November meetup was a really great discusssion, and I'm looking forward to tackling this topic in December!