What do you think of string theory? Peter Woit is not a fan, and Nautilus has an interesting introduction to “Brian Greene’s archnemesis”:
Woit’s major complaint about the theory, then and now, is that it fails to make testable predictions, so it can’t be checked for errors—in other words, that it’s “not even wrong.” Contrast this with general relativity, for example, which enabled Einstein to predict, among other things, the degree to which a star’s light is deflected as it passes the sun. Had measurements of this effect not agreed with Einstein’s prediction, general relativity would have been disproved. Such falsifiability is a widely cited criterion for what constitutes science, a perspective usually attributed to philosopher Karl Popper. Plus, general relativity took Einstein only 10 years. String theory has taken more than 30 so far.
Woit’s secondary grievance is aesthetic. He, like many physicists, perceives an intricate beauty in the math underlying successful physical theories like Einstein’s. In contrast, Woit says, string theory’s math is “a gory mess.”
So his blog routinely condemns the theory as a “failure, ” and decries the “faddishness,” “mania,” and “arrogance” of physicists who promote its promise. He has publicly urged agencies like the National Science Foundation to cut string theory funding. The reaction from the community is plainly evident online, where he is called an “incompetent, power-thirsty … moron” and a “stuttering crackpot-in-chief” guilty of crimes as contemptible as those of Osama bin Laden.
What do you think of the Vatican’s approach to evolution? John Farrell is not a fan, and explains why in a recent issue of Aeon. I plan to offer some more commentary on his essay later when I’ve had more time to think over it some more, but for now, you can read it for yourself:
If the Vatican were not a powerhouse, it wouldn’t mean much. But without a more rigorous integration of science into theology, the Church is hobbling its ability to serve as a voice of clarity in worldwide debates about climate change, genetically modified crops, vaccinating children, and the controversial nature of assisted reproductive technologies, including human cloning.
It’s true that rhetoric from the Vatican often paints a more congenial picture when it comes to the compatibility of faith and evolution. Pope Francis recently declared that: ‘Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.’ But this is really an obfuscation, fooling some optimists into thinking that the Vatican has genuinely moved forward.
You can also pair it with this recent contrary take on Teilhard at Crisis.
What do you think of animals in heaven? David Bentley Hart is a fan (First Things), but Edward Feser is not (see also here and here). Fr. Schall also puts in his thoughts on the matter at The Catholic Thing. As I recall, Peter Kreeft is a fan of the idea, as well.
Finally, Science reports that the opah, or moonfish, has been discovered to be warm-bodied, maintaining a body temperature about five degrees warmer than the surrounding water. Various other fish have been known to have the ability to temporarily warm various organs or muscles, but the moonfish is the first fish known to be able to maintain a regular whole-body warm temperature, thus sharing a trait, to a degree, with endothermic creatures like birds and mammals. (Video: Science)