Two quotes from The Elegant Universe:

Ironically, we will see [ahead in the book] that although string theory has the potential to be the most predictive theory that physicists have ever studied – a theory that has the capacity to explain the most fundamental of nature’s properties – physicists have not as yet been able to make predictions with the precision necessary to confront experimental data. Like a child who receives his or her dream gift for Christmas but can’t quite get it to works because a few pages of the instructions are missing, today’s physicists are in possession of what may well be the Holy Grail of modern science, but they can’t unleash its full predictive power until they succeed in writing the full instruction manual. Nevertheless, as we discuss in this chapter, with a bit of luck, one central feature of string theory could receive experimental verification within the next decade. And with a good deal more luck, indirect fingerprints of the theory could be confirmed at any moment.

This was the passage I intended to quote this morning. Tonight, I read Brian Greene quote conventional physicist and string theorist David Gross (from his paper Superstrings and Unification), about experimentalists and string theory:

It used to be that as we were climbing the mountain of nature the experimentalists would lead the way. We lazy theorists would lag behind. Every once in a while they would kick down an experimental stone which would bounce off our heads. Eventually we would get the idea and we would follow the path that was broken by the experimentalists. Once we joined our friends we would explain to them what the view was and how they got there. That was the old and easy way (at least for theorists) to climb the mountain. We all long for the return of those days. But now we theorists might have to take the lead. This is a much more lonely enterprise.

The above was posted to my personal weblog on May 8, 2003. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.

Posted around the same time:

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