By Hamish Johnston
I think it’s safe to say that Peter Woit was never going to like Gordon Kane’s latest book about string theory. Woit, who is at Columbia University, is a prolific anti-string-theory blogger and author of Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics, whereas Kane is a leading string theorist who is based at the University of Michigan.
Kane’s latest tome is called Supersymmetry and Beyond: From the Higgs Boson to the New Physics and it will be published later this month by Basic Books. On his blog – also called Not Even Wrong – Woit compares the new book with Kane’s previous effort Supersymmetry: Unveiling The Ultimate Laws Of Nature, which was published in 2000.
Woit makes the controversial claim that about 75% of Supersymmetry and Beyond is a simply a rehash of the 2000 book. To make his point, Woit focuses on several examples of how Kane has updated the text to paper over the fact that little experimental evidence for supersymmetry has been found over the past 13 years.
Of course, it is entirely normal that Kane would have to update his material to reflect more than a decade of measurements by Fermilab’s Tevatron and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. However, Woit claims that Kane has not addressed several predictions he made in 2000 regarding signatures of supersymmetry appearing in Fermilab data – discoveries that simply have not happened.
While I can see Woit’s point, for Kane to have raked over the coals of past predictions would hardly make for a ripping yarn, string theorists have naturally recalibrated their ideas in light of recent data, and people want to know about the latest predictions and how they could be seen when the Large Hadron Collider fires up again in 2015.