I am beginning a small bout of learning, if that is possible, into what is called “string theory” (there is a nice article here, which summarizes the basics at the bottom). I’m learning about it, because there is so much controversy directed at it. On the one hand, it is a contender for The Theory Which Explains Everything (Ultimately). Yet, there is (after over 40 years of theorizing) no documentable proof of its existence. This would be a question of trivia were this theory not so heavily influential – and invested into – within academia (particularly in America’s most elite universities), where there is growing concern that this theory has become a self-propelling conceptual vehicle which is capable of using unanswered questions of its existence to justify its existence.
I once chatted up someone who revealed himself to be a retired physics professor, and the subject of string theory came up. He smirked and said dryly, “String theory is a cult, waiting for its Jonestown.”
How could I not take that as a cue to learn more?