Edward Witten, a physics hero

On November 28, 2017, Quanta Magazine published an article of Natalie Wolchover (a senior writer at Quanta magazine, winner of 2017 AIP Science Writing Award) who interviewed Edward Witten recently. That article is available at https://www.quantamagazine.org/edward-witten-ponders-the-nature-of-reality-20171128/ .

I must praise and complement Witten’s courage to give the death sentence to M-string theory finally, as it is after all his hallmark.


Of course, Wolchover’s article itself is heavily camouflaged for upholding Witten’s dignity, with many side-attractors. However, the following direct quotes of Witten’s statement from the article will reveal Witten’s true intention clearly.


A) The direct quotes

{Now, Nati Seiberg [a theoretical physicist who works down the hall] would possibly tell you that he has faith that there’s a better formulation of quantum field theory that we don’t know about that would make everything clearer. I’m not sure how much you should expect that to exist. That would be a dream, but it might be too much to hope for; I really don’t know.

Physics in quantum field theory and string theory somehow has a lot of mathematical secrets in it, which we don’t know how to extract in a systematic way.

I could point to theories where the standard approach really seems inadequate, so at least for those classes of quantum field theories, you could hope for a new formulation. But I really can’t imagine what it would be.

I think our understanding of what it (M-theory) is, though, is still very hazy. AdS/CFT and whatever’s come from it is the main new perspective compared to 22 years ago, but I think it’s perfectly possible that AdS/CFT is only one side of a multifaceted story. There might be other equally important facets.

Maybe a bulk description of the quantum properties of space-time itself, rather than a holographic boundary description. There hasn’t been much progress in a long time in getting a better bulk description. And I think that might be because the answer is of a different kind than anything we’re used to. That would be my guess.

I guess I suspect that there’s an extra layer of abstractness compared to what we’re used to.  … But I can’t say anything useful.}


The above statements clearly show four points.

One, QFT is a failed program for describing the nature.

Two, {M-string theory + AdS/CFT + hologram} fail to describe nature.

Three, he suspects that there is an extra layer of abstractness in addition to the two above.

Four, he simply does not know what that extra layer of abstractness could be.


These four points not only give M-string death sentence but also on all other theoretical cornerstones (QFT, AdS/CFT, and hologram) of the mainstream paradigm for the past 50 years.


B) A brief history

Is his finally accepting the total defeat the result of the no-show of SUSY at LHC?

For many SUSY devotees, the no-show of SUSY at LHC is just a great reason for building a bigger collider, such as the proposed 100 Tev Chinese Super Collider,  which was pushed by the entire West, the most notable prominent physicists are David Gross, Witten, Steven Weinberg, Sheldon Glashow, Hawking and countless others (Nima, Tommaso Dorigo, etc.).


Figure 1



Figure 1a

However, my Protégé Dr. Li xiaojian (Professor of North China University of Technology, Beijing, China) talked to David Gross at String 2016 about the G-theory.

Figure 2


This might lead to the article of K. C, Cole {The Strange Second Life of String Theory, on September 15, 2016, see https://www.quantamagazine.org/string-theorys-strange-second-life-20160915/ } which strongly hinted that the first life of M-string was dead.


By May 11, 2017, the CSC (100 Tev Chinese Super Collider) was officially killed after my series (4) of articles, see https://tienzengong.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/china-super-collider-part-three-a-misled-hype-or-dishonesty/ .


Figure 3


Finally, on Oct 17, 2017, Steven Weinberg gave a video presentation for ‘Int’l Centre for Theoretical Physics’ and revealed that both Witten and Nima have given up M-string theory (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mX2R8-nJhLQ at one hour 32 minutes mark).


C) An analysis

Can Witten hold out his total surrender?

Of course, not.

For saving M-string, it must add two points.

In my November 5, 2011, article {M-theory, a TOE if and only if it adds two points, see http://prebabel.blogspot.com/2011/11/m-theory-toe-if-and-only-if-it-adds-two.html }, I showed only one point.

M-string is a string without any INTERNAL structure while the G-string is composed of prequarks and with internal structure.


Figure 4


This G-string immediately provides the ‘String unification’, describing all fundamental fermions with a clearly defined language.


It also immediately resolves the BaryonGenesis mystery.


Figure 5


I did not discuss what the second point needed for M-string theory is in that 6-year-old article. Now, here it is, the ‘First principle’: the real/ghost symmetry.


Figure 6


The direct consequences of this are:

Figure 7


Figure 8


Figure 9


D) My comment

The past 100 years were very successful in the experimental physics while it was a total disaster on the theoretical side, see https://tienzengong.wordpress.com/2017/11/12/the-angel-and-demons-in-the-100-years-of-physics-nightmare/ .

I, however, must congratulate Witten’s courage of finally admitting that M-string was a total failure. Only hero has this kind of courage.


Note (added on December 4, 2017): on December 1, 2017, Scientific Controversies (Sci Con; a series of conversations between scientists hosted by PW Director of Sciences Janna Levin) held a public discussion with the title {Scientific Controversies: String Theory} with two prominent physics {David Gross (Nobel Laureate in Physics) and Clifford Johnson}.

Levin began the discussion by asking the two of them where they stood on string theory: pro, con or agnostic? This flustered Gross a bit (he’s one of the world’s most well-known and vigorous proponents of string theory) and Levin somehow took this as meaning that he was agnostic. Finally Gross clarified things by saying something like “I’ve been married to string theory for 50 years, not going to leave her now”.


Figure 10

Obviously, however wrong the M-string theory is, Gross cannot abandon her after 50 years marriage. Although without the courage of Witten, Gross’ loyalty for LOVE must also be praised.



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