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Your prediction about string theory's popularity


What will the January average of "string NASDAQ" index be?  

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  1. 1. What will the January average of "string NASDAQ" index be?

    • Less than 10, a gain in popularity.
      0
    • 10.0 - 14.9, steady popular interest in string.
    • 15.0 - 19.9, declining public interest in string.
    • 20.0 - 24.9, severe slump.
    • 25 and over, nosedive.


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How well can you predict the public's interest in string theory as shown by January sales of books? Put down your forecast and we will see at the end of the month who got it right.

 

As an indicator we can use the "String NASDAQ" index which is the average standing (say, at noon that day) of the five most popular string books on the Amazon GENERAL PHYSICS BESTSELLER list. This is a list of 100 titles, with the top bestseller in that category being #1. A lower number indicates more reader interest----so if string is a hot topic there will be several string books with low standing on the list and the average will be low.

 

In December the index was mostly in the range from 5 to 15. The average of noon readings for the last 12 days of December was slightly over 11.

 

So let's try predicting the average for the whole month of January.

 

If the average for the month is less than 10, I'd take that to mean an INCREASE in popularity.

 

If it is in the range 10-15, I would say string's popularity was STEADY.

 

If the average is between 15 and 20, that would show a DECLINE in the public's interest in string.

 

Between 20 and 25 would mean a SEVERE SLUMP.

 

Over 25 would be a NOSEDIVE.

 

===================

 

I will make a note of the "String NASDAQ" each day in January, at noon (mountain time), and average it up at the end of the month so we can see how our predictions stack up.

 

===================

 

This poll has some connection to how people respond to SMOLIN'S BOOK, because one factor affecting how string research is perceived could be controversy the book has raised, as well as reviews and statements made recently in that connection by prominent physics figures, e.g. Nobelists Steven Weinberg, Frank Wilczek and others.

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In case anyone would like to check the Amazon General Physics bestseller list out, it is here:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/books/14560/ref=pd_ts_b_nav/002-1987816-1968818

 

If you are curious about how string books did in December, here is a record of the "String NASDAQ" for the last part of the month.

 

21 dec Thursday noon 11.6

22 dec Friday noon 9.6

23 dec Saturday noon 11.8

24 dec Sunday noon 14.0

25 dec Monday 9 AM 14.0 (checked early because of holiday)

26 dec Tuesday noon 12.0

27 dec Wednesday noon 10.8

28 dec Thursday noon 10.2

29 dec Friday noon 13.6

30 dec Saturday noon 12.4

31 dec Sunday noon 10.6

 

If it just continued to do that all thru the month of January, that would indicate STEADY popularity/interest in string, and might not be a very exciting prospect for many of us.

 

But one reason I posted this poll is that in January I noticed some unusual or unexpected behavior. It started out normally enough and then it went into unexpected territory.

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

 

the question is what happened in the past 3 days or so, and whether it is just a temporary random fluctuation or indicates a significant change in the climate.

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Here is an example of how the "string NASDAQ" index is calculated. From my notes for Saturday 23 December, I see that the first five stringy books on the GP list, at noon, were

 

3. Greene elegant universe

4. Randall warped passages

7. Randal warped (hardcover)

12. Greene fabric cosmos

33. Kaku parallel worlds

 

Adding up the ranks of these (the most popular string books at the moment) gives 59, and dividing by five gives 11.8.

 

So 11.8 was the average ranking of the five most popular, at noon that day.

And you can see that in the previous post where I listed the index for some days in the second half of December. It is the entry for 23 December.

 

The averaging happens in two stages. first I have to average 5 numbers to get the "nasdaq" index for that day. then later when there's data for a bunch of days, I'll average the index over a period of several days or a month, to reduce the clutter and random noise.

 

====================

 

YIKES! I just glanced at the General Physics bestsell list as of 10:05 PM Saturday 6 Jan. Just to see what it was doing (this is not an official noon reading :) )

 

5 fabric

7 elegant

40 parallel

51 warped (hardbound)

59 fabric (hardbound)

 

the sum is 162 and the average is 32.4!

 

that is way different from numbers like 10 and 11 that we were getting earlier, it is off there in NOSEDIVE territory!

 

Today really could be called "The Day the Public Stopped Buying String".

 

Or do you have an alternative explanation for this abrupt change?

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Hi Bettina,

 

THAT SPIKE YESTERDAY FAKED ME OUT! It turned out to be just a temporary random fluctuation! Now the popularity/reader-interest index is back to 8.8, safely in the same range it was before or even a bit better than recently.

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

07 jan Sunday noon 8.8

 

Following what happens this month looks like it is going to be a bumpy ride. Don't give up on your NOSEDIVE guess yet. :) It could still turn out when we do the average for the whole month.

 

BTW I see that right now as I was checking, Smolin's book was number one (on the General Physics list). The fact that it is being read so widely is one reason for the turbulence in string popularity, I suspect.

 

Hello YOURDA and BLUENOISE, thanks for entering your predictions. It definitely makes it more fun. At this point I must say I have no idea how this will turn out---each of the outcomes on the list seems like a real possibility.

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Hi bettina,This is my first time here. I have read some of your other posts about being empathic. I am also Empathic. When people walk into a room where I am sitting. Within 30 seconds I know what type of person they. I feel their anger,their depression,their happiness etc.

I know just how to talk to them because I already know what their going through at the moment.

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Hi bettina,This is my first time here. I have read some of your other posts about being empathic. I am also Empathic. When people walk into a room where I am sitting. Within 30 seconds I know what type of person they. I feel their anger,their depression,their happiness etc.

I know just how to talk to them because I already know what their going through at the moment.

 

Hi, I see its your first time here but you are way off topic in this thread and you did it again in another. Thats against the rules here so please private message me instead and I will tell you where to go...

 

Bettina

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Hi GutZ and ecoli, thanks for adding your predictions to what we have so far.

My guess agrees with both of yours, but I still think it is odd that no one has forecast a "severe slump"---a figure in the range 20-25.

 

Today the index was over the border into "slump" territory: 23.2.

 

Here is what it's done this month so far:

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

07 jan Sunday noon 8.8

08 jan Monday noon 23.2

 

I will post an average for the first 10 days of the month in a couple of days so we can see how it is shaping up.

 

=======UPDATE=======

this is not part of the record because it is not a NOON reading, but I thought it was pretty amazing.

as of 4:30 mountain time today the index was 37.8

that is way into NOSEDIVE territory, nosedive is anything 25 and over!

 

so maybe that spike on Saturday, when it went to 28, didn't deceive us after all. instead of just a random blip it could have presaged things to come.

 

anyway there is no telling how the month will turn out and so far everybody except Bee has been fairly cautious---we are mostly all thinking of a modest decline in interest, and nobody except Bee has risked predicting either the

"slump" (in the range 20-25) or the

"nosedive (25 and up ).

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I guessed decline, although it may even go into slump territory.

 

Yeah, I guessed decline too and nobody (except Bee) has the nerve to predict slump or worse, even though that seems to be what the numbers are saying :)

 

Today at noon mountain time, the index was 33.2 (which isnt even slump, it's nosedive!)

 

In case anyone is curious, if you look at the "General Physics" list it will say

 

19 Greene elegant

26 Greene fabric

28 Randall warped (hardcover)

36 Kaku parallel

57 Greene elegant (hardcover)

 

plus other stuff further down the list but we only count the five most popular,

and the sum is 166 so the string popularity index we are trying to predict is 33.2

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Yay! ParanoiA weighed in with a prediction of 20-25!

 

Now we have pretty much all the slots filled, all reasonable possibilities covered. Someone is bound to be right :) so come end of January there will be at least one expert guesser among us.

 

 What will the January average of "string NASDAQ" index be?                         Forecast by         percentage

Less than 10, a gain in popularity. 	0 	0%

10.0 - 14.9, steady popular interest in string. 	Bluenoise 1 	12.50%

15.0 - 19.9, declining...CanadaAotS, ecoli, GutZ, Martin, yourdadonapogos 5 	62.50%

20.0 - 24.9, severe slump. 	ParanoiA 1 	12.50%

25 and over, nosedive.      Bee 1                              12.50%

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Here is what the "String NASDAQ" popularity index has done this month so far:

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

07 jan Sunday noon 8.8

08 jan Monday noon 23.2

09 jan Tuesday noon 33.2

10 jan Wednesday noon 41.0

 

the running ten-day total is 207. 4, and the ten-day average is 20.7.

 

To save writing, I will keep that 20.7 as a benchmark and start another ten-day list.

 

It looks like it is still climbing for the moment. I'm sure it will eventually go back some, more towards whatever it's been before, but the question for us predicting is how will it average out for the month?

 

YT, I will save a post and reply to yours by editing this one. Thanks for your prediction---it sounds reasonable to me (in fact I guessed the same!) and based on thinking over the circumstances. The swingback from the Christmas sales glut. Also another factor is that US college students are buying their textbooks now in January for the spring semester, and that gives string pop books like Brian Greene considerable extra sales competition. That should let off in a week or so.

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15-20 short term,

 

increasing popularity later in the year (summer).

 

I base my esstimate on Books bought/given as presents over Xmas, these will have been bought and so the slump will be now, some will read and gain interest, by which time more will then be produced and sold to those wanting more data.

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I have offered the idea that the Schwarzschild metric precludes transverse modes of oscillation inside a black hole. This is not eleven-dimensional anything, but what if only radial spaghetti is allowed? Most agree this is the characteristic in toward the singularity, but how about copping to this? With some well-arranged media spin we could re-employ some really smart people and get something done. For those who enjoy a bowl of hot neutron/quark soup, is the collapse beyond 10^16 gm/cc a three-D change of phase, or perhaps a collapse of two dimensions?

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Well, to kind of sum up, we have 11 predictions so far---about the january average.

 

NINE of us are predicting that the average will be less than 20.

 

Two persons are predicting that the average will be 20 or higher.

 

And as of today, the running average of the first ten days of the month is 20.7

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Here is what the "String NASDAQ" popularity index has done this month so far:

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

07 jan Sunday noon 8.8

08 jan Monday noon 23.2

09 jan Tuesday noon 33.2

10 jan Wednesday noon 41.0

 

the running ten-day total is 207. 4, and the ten-day average is 20.7.

 

To save writing, I will keep that 20.7 as a benchmark and start another ten-day list...

 

starting another ten-day series:

 

11 jan Thursday noon 43.0

 

My personal hunch is that it will start coming down now, or very soon. 43 seems way too high. But the month average still may be higher than I (and several others) expected at first. Anyway we will see tomorrow.

 

Hey! We have 12 predictions recorded! Thanks to everyone who contributed their guess.

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I think interest in string theory will remain constant or even increase, but this is due to all the string bashing of late. String theory itself will probably be a less popular theory as viewed by the general public.

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As for the masses, I think they can be excited to take interest in anything.

 

Other than that, I personally think string theory is constructed using akward and non intuitive methods. And this by itself probably means that even if it proves to work out into a consistent mathematical exploit (which is what I consider it to be), a fundamental question still remains regarding the interpretation and the nature of the model itself.

 

Observations and the laws of nature doesn't lack our formulas. It's our curious brains that lack a satisfactory understanding of observations, and it would be a significant evolutionary advantage if we can understand and predict things in more detail. And theories that ignore plausibility and how the human brain works, and just considers mathematical exploits are not preferred. And the main argument isn't in the static model. In a certain way you can consider modelling like a mathematical exploit. Put it in a computer, get out a number. Who cares to ask why and how, if the numbers we get out give us power.

 

I see modelling as a evolving process. I think modelling is dynamic, as proven by history, and I doubt we will ever see a true theory of everything that will answer it all. Old questions are answered and new ones will come. So when preparing the next generation of theory, I think we should already have it prepared for another change. And unless we have some ideas, and philosohy it's nothing but spaghetti, and what is the natural extension to a bowl of spaghetti?

 

Why not already now formulate the new physics in terms of evolution of knowledge? what can be more natural? another advantage is tht such a formulate would be readily translated to reasearch in human brain function as well as learning models which are also fundaments of reality.

 

I think it's time for these fields to cooperate and join efforts and feed he theorists with some input from reality. It's all about observing, and modelling reality. And new observations feed remodelling.

 

I do not quite see to what fundamental question, the concept that the world is made out of strings is the answer to. The concept of a "string" is IMO not one bit more modern than the concept of a "particle". The obvious exploit is that since a string has more degrees of freedom, it will be a more flexible model.

 

I think we have reached the domain of physics, mixing both QM and fundamentals like space and time where the concept of fact of truth is no longer obvious. I still await a real revolution in modern physics.

 

Or maybe it's true what some think, that physics is soon dead as a fundamental science research area and what remains are applications, and the continuation of the theory will move to other fields?

 

I think we should model the modelling and see what findings we see. That has been my philsophy and ideas since by first QM course. I recall how tricked I felt when I during a class realized that they had been teaching me baloney this elementary school. But to their defense, it seems not even the teachers seem to understand it in depth. At least not well enough to explain to a student. Eventually I came to actually digest and realize that the old days philsophy of the absolute world was an illusion.

 

Sorry for the diversion.

 

I think string theory will be remembered as the last attempt to unify forces in the semi-classical domain ;)

 

/Fredrik

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I do not quite see to what fundamental question, the concept that the world is made out of strings is the answer to. The concept of a "string" is IMO not one bit more modern than the concept of a "particle". The obvious exploit is that since a string has more degrees of freedom, it will be a more flexible model.

 

I think we have reached the domain of physics, mixing both QM and fundamentals like space and time where the concept of fact of truth is no longer obvious. I still await a real revolution in modern physics.

 

...

 

Sorry for the diversion.

 

I think string theory will be remembered as the last attempt to unify forces in the semi-classical domain ;)

...

 

IMO this is an astute perceptive viewpoint. I am very glad you stated it so clearly and it DOES have relevance, indirectly, to understanding the current shift in the way various audiences perceive string research. I will try to answer.

 

http://www.scienceforums.net/forum/showthread.php?t=24508

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Here is what the "String NASDAQ" popularity index has done this month so far:

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

07 jan Sunday noon 8.8

08 jan Monday noon 23.2

09 jan Tuesday noon 33.2

10 jan Wednesday noon 41.0

 

the running ten-day total is 207. 4, and the ten-day average is 20.7.

 

To save writing, I will keep that 20.7 as a benchmark and start another ten-day list...

starting another ten-day series:

 

11 jan Thursday noon 43.0

 

My personal hunch is that it will start coming down now, or very soon. 43 seems way too high. But the month average still may be higher than I (and several others) expected at first. Anyway we will see tomorrow.

...

 

It does seem to be starting to come down now.

 

11 jan Thursday noon 43.0

12 jan Friday noon 38.6

 

 

Still hard to say what the month average will be.

We have 15 predictions! thanks to all who have contributed.

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Here is what the "String NASDAQ" popularity index (which we are trying to predict the Jan avg.) has done this month so far:

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

07 jan Sunday noon 8.8

08 jan Monday noon 23.2

09 jan Tuesday noon 33.2

10 jan Wednesday noon 41.0

 

(running ten-day total is 207. 4, and ten-day average is 20.7)

 

11 jan Thursday noon 43.0

12 jan Friday noon 38.6

13 jan Saturday noon 25.4

14 jan Sunday noon 21.4

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UPDATE: Here is what the "String NASDAQ" popularity index (which we are trying to predict the Jan avg.) has done this month so far:

 

01 jan Monday noon 10.8

02 jan Tuesday noon 13.0

03 jan Wednesday noon 13.6

04 jan Thursday noon 17.2

05 jan Friday noon 18.6

06 jan Saturday noon 28.0

07 jan Sunday noon 8.8

08 jan Monday noon 23.2

09 jan Tuesday noon 33.2

10 jan Wednesday noon 41.0

 

(running ten-day total is 207. 4, and ten-day average is 20.7)

 

11 jan Thursday noon 43.0

12 jan Friday noon 38.6

13 jan Saturday noon 25.4

14 jan Sunday noon 21.4

15 jan Monday noon 17.8

16 jan Tuesday noon 30.2

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