17 September 2013

Counting dimensions

High energy theorists are split in two camps. One camp believes that space and time have ten, eleven or twelve dimensions. The other camp believes that there are two or three dimensions, not four. Reading the arxiv preprints, we can see each camp presenting arguments for its respective view.

A normal person might say that the battle is futile, because no experiments will ever verify either camp. In the past, some experiments have been proposed, but they all had flawed premises. No experimental test seems possible, so that the camps will go on discussing.

But why will they continue? Both camps claim that there is a minimum experimental length in nature. That is bizarre. A minimum length means that there is no way to measure the number of dimensions. Dimensions only exist if lengths can be as tiny as imaginable.

So these theorists fight about something that cannot ever be measured. Isn't that sad?