Ok, im not sure if this is the right forum for this post, but its about string theory so im pretty sure it is.
I have just finished watching the three hour NOVA program, "The Elegant Universe" and have several questions and issues.
I would like to point out that i have no background in mathematics but mearly an interest, and although the mathmatics that drives string theory described to me at this point is beyond me, the program was very understandable even to a layperson like myself. In this regard I liked the program. However there were several issues that I just couldnt let alone.
At the begining of the program they mention that while string theory is just that, a theory, it is an untestable theory with no chance of being falsified. To me this was an important point and one that i thought wasnt made clear enough for those who might not understand the importance of a theory proposing the ways in which it could be shown wrong.
The gravity issues i have with the program involved the mechanisms described about how gravity works. According to the program gravity is a force particle that bounces back and forth between two objects. The more particles that are shared the more apparent the force between those objects are. This is ok to me. Though i understand that we have yet to discover a particle that could be responsible for gravity, how it was proposed that it works makes sense to me and for the sake of sticking with the programs information I will use that description for this post. The problem came in near the end of the program where the host says that gravity seems to be weaker then the electromagnetic force. In the example he asks the question if gravity is so strong why can he overcome the force so simply by for example picking an object up even with the entire mass of the earth pulling it down. (the object was an apple) Now given the original description this didnt seem to contradict the laws of gravity to me. An apple has very little mass compared to the earth and gravity is combined effect of mass between two objects. The force particles that can bounce between an apple and the earth are very little given the total mass of the apple. (if I am missunderstanding this at this point let me know) He went further to use theoretical solultions to this problem using string theory. According to string theory there are two type of strings: open ended, and closed. The open ended strings are anchored to the membrane that we perceive as our universe and thus appear strong, while the closed strings are able to float from membrane to membrane dilluding the strength of gravity. To me this seems wrong. They ignore their original description of how gravity works to support and propose a new mechanism which supports their theory.
Another issue I have is how they unified GR and Quantum Mechanics. They showed how when we model big things such as solar systems the fabric of space is smooth, and when we do the same on the attomic level it is chaotic. Now, to me this doesnt seem complicated. From outterspace the earth looks smooth, the hight of mountains are not dicernable from the level of the oceans, yet when we take a vantage point on the top of a mountain we can clearly see that the earth seems quite bumpy and chaotic. Furthermore if you were to accelerate our clocks not only is the earth a bumpy place but changes quite chaotically. Now to me instead of proposing something like string theory, could it simply be our vantage point that when look at the incredibly tiny that is making our view seem chaotic and bumpy. This issue is less of a problem then the first i mentioned more of an idea i had while watching that im quite currious about the answer too.
One more problem I had with the program is that again in the begining of the program they assert that string theory is not observable and makes no predictions, and is unobservable, yet by the end they assert over and over that it does make predictions. To me it makes no difference either way, but it is very dishonest to assert two opposing views like that. Also when they did mention that it is both unobservable and makes no predictions they seemed to skim past it and hit you with some other major information that makes it hard to remember that string theory is more of a philosophy then it is a science.
I hope that people with more knowledge on this subject can explain to me if I am just missinterpreting this or if im on to something and perhaps direct me in the right path to get to the bottom of this. Again I am not a mathematician, I did teach myself algebra several years ago but do to lack of study have lost most of that knowledge.
Thanks for any replies,
(p.s. I am probably forgeting several of the points I wanted to make at this point, though as the discussion picks up I will attempt to lay them out as I can recall them)