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I don't get it

If her research had applications, it would've turned her pure math into applied math, which sounds less cool. But an application in string theory isn't always considered a "serious" application. String theory was popular in the 80s, as a model to unify quantum physics and relativity, but experiments since then haven't really confirmed supersymmetry, which is one of it's key hypothesis. Some still think string theory can be saved and make new versions of it to account for modern discoveries, but they're very marginal.

Depends on what you mean by marginal. String theory is still by far the largest research direction in the quantum gravity subject.

latest Mindscape episode was fascinating

Ok, so there's a problem in physics. General relativity and quantum mechanics both beautifully describe the universe at very large and very small scales respectively. However, they disagree with each other (general relativity breaks down when applied to quantum objects).

Many physicists since a long time have been believing that string theory would be the theory that would unify quantum mechanics and general relativity to get the theory of everything.

Why do so many ppl believe this? It's because the math of string theory is very elegant. Why is it elegant? It's because it strongly hints at unification.

But this is the problem - there is zero experimental evidence for string theory. In fact, certain requirements for string theory to be true have not been proven to be true yet (and have started to become less and less likely as experiments have progressed). This is why, string theory is just this incredibly complicated and mathematically intense theory without any practical applications.

The mathematician here hates her math to be practically applied. However, when she's told that it's being applied in string theory, she's relieved as she knows that it won't ever be practically applied. That's the joke lmao

Many physicists since a long time have been believing that string theory would be the theory that would unify quantum mechanics and general relativity to get the theory of everything.

So string theory is the Chosen One and which one of the other two has the high ground?

The string theory bit aside, the implications of being an applied mathematics professor is pretty grim: you're going to be known as the one responsible for the application, good or bad, and it's also a pretty different profession from theoretical mathematics. Like, a worse profession.

Say more about this? Why is it a worse profession? Anywhere I can get a layperson-friendly deep dive on this (that doesn't require a graduate degree in mathematics)? I'm fascinated by the nuance between niche academic disciplines and the "politics" of academia.

Don't ask me, man, I used to be an engineer. I figure it's kind of like being a poet and suddenly you're designated as a semantic English Teacher.

Maybe because people get into this kind of very abstract field to escape reality and that would mean reality is catching up on them and reducing their freedom to not have to care about consequences.

AFAIK it is just a form of elitism, where they argue applied science exists only because theoretical scientists "did" something. Like you are just using someone's stuff.

Another thing is theoretical science "indicates" advancement of science, where the applied side is just growth in sideways.

This kind of reductionism is hilariously unscientific.

Many theories were only able to advance after we had the tools to experimentally review them and quite frankly often weed the bad ones out. Modern tools like computing enable the development of theories that before were unimaginable, leaving aside the necessity of modern communication to grow and share knowledge.

Or in other words: Nobody who now writes his theories on chalkboard would have done so with charcoal on a cave wall after hunting mammoths during the day.

applied mathematics can get very messy: it requires performing a bunch of computations, optimizing the crap out of things, and solving tons of equations. you have to deal with actual numbers (the horror), and you have to worry about rounding errors and stuff like that.

whereas in theoretical math, it's just playing. you don't need to find "exact solutions", you just need to show that one exists. or you can show a solution doesn't exist. sometimes you can even prove that it's impossible to know if a solution exists, and that's fine too. theoretical math is focused more on stuff like "what if we could formalize the concept of infinity plus one?", or "how can we sidestep Russel's paradox?", or "can we turn a sphere inside out?", or The Hairy Ball Theorem, or The Ham Sandwich Theorem, or The Snake Lemma.

if you want to read more about what pure math is like, i strongly recommend reading A Mathematician's Lament by Paul Lockhart. it is extremely readable (no math background required), and i thought it was pretty entertaining too.

hell yeah the person that made the video is one of my favorite science peoples

Have you watched her latest video? Or more importantly, have you read the comments under it? The amount of irony in how many of them don't understand the entire video was (as one of the few comments that

*actually got it*said) "a 1 hour video of pure deadpan sarcasm" in a video about people not getting the point of an earlier video. It's just a hilarious time.I have.

Same here, love her stuff

I agree but I think there is more to science denial than just str*ng theory