29 March 2012

How fundamental physics research is influenced by violent men

Sabine Hossenfelder has a new preprint, on minimum length in nature: http://arxiv.org/abs/1203.6191 . Read it. What you find is a 70 page overview and not one conclusion that is noteworthy. It only sums up 80 years of research by saying that minimal length is implicit in essentially all of modern physics, but that its existence is still an open issue.

How can she make such a weak statement in the field she dedicated her life to? To understand this you must know that she is constantly attacked by one of the worst woman-haters around, Lubos Motl. Motl has a simple world view: women are bad and string theory is good. Of course, string theory implies a minimum length, but Motl is the only string theorist in the world that denies this. Armed with this inherent contradiction and all the hate he has accumulated in his life so far, he constantly hassels Sabine with the statement that there is no experimental evidence for a minimum length, and does so with all his nastiness. After all these years of fighting, Sabine has caved in: she avoids any statement that endorses minimum length, because "no experiment has seen it". This is also Motl's mantra.

But there is a tiny thorny issue: they are wrong. Planck showed already in 1899 that there is a huge number of experiments that show that a minimum length exists: every length measurement is based on a minimum length. The Planck length is the unit of length. Without a Planck length, without a minimum length, length measurements are impossible.

Yes, the minimum length makes length measurement possible. It takes only a bit of thinking to deduce that the minimum length itself is hard to measure in an experiment, because to see it, tiny black holes are necessary. (Schiller does not explain this well.) So, the minimum length exists, and at the same time it is hard to actually find it in a real measurement set-up.

In 2012, we know much better than Planck why the length unit is hard to measure. But honest women such as Hossenfelder are wary to explain this because violent men such as Motl unjustly criticize them.  There is only one advice: Never, never, never give up.

Truth is defined by correspondence with data, not by lack of male violence.