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I just won a bet I made in 2002 with physicist Michio Kaku. I bet him $1,000 that “by 2020, no one will have won a Nobel Prize for work on superstring theory, membrane theory, or some other unified theory describing all the forces of nature.” This year’s Nobel Prize in Physics, which recognized solid work in cosmology (yay Jim Peebles!) and astronomy, was Kaku’s last chance to win before 2020.
Kaku and I made the bet under the auspices of Long Bets, a “public arena for enjoyably competitive predictions, of interest to society, with philanthropic money at stake.” Long Bets is a project of the Long Now Foundation, which Stewart Brand and others created in 1996 to promote “long-term thinking.” Folks like Warren Buffet, Christof Koch, Freeman Dyson, Ray Kurzweil, Gordon Bell, Eric Schmidt, Steven Pinker and Ted Danson have made hundreds of bets on predictions involving science, politics, the environment, economics, sports, you name it. Proceeds of bets go to a charity chosen by the winner. Kaku and I each put up $1,000 for our wager. Since I won, $2,000 goes to the Nature Conservancy. If Kaku had won, the money would have gone to National Peace Action.
Physicist - Lee - Smolin - Proponent - Theory
Physicist Lee Smolin, a proponent of a rival to string theory called loop-space theory, was supposed to bet against me, but after fussing over the wording of the wager, he backed out. Smart move, Lee. Physicists have yet to produce any empirical evidence for either string theory, which was invented more than 40 years ago, loop-space theory or any other unified theory. They don’t even have good ideas for obtaining evidence.
Below are the arguments that Kaku and I presented in 2002. In my argument I predicted that “over the next twenty years, fewer smart young physicists will be attracted to an endeavor...
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