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when Joseph Conlon As an undergraduate in the early 2000s, he avoided popular science accounts of string theory because he wanted to engage with it on a technical level, without preconceptions. It was a few years after the “second string theory revolution”, when theoretical physicists realized that they might be about to unlock the deepest workings of reality, perhaps The Theory of Everything. As he explored mathematics, Conlon became fascinated.

String theory famously states that everything is made of one-dimensional strings (see “String Theory: A Primer”, below), and also predicts a large array of possible universes—some 10500For note takers. Whatever you think of it, it’s fair to say that string theory hasn’t produced the testable predictions that many were hoping for. Today, it has a reputation for being untenable, perhaps even unscientific. One critic of arc string theory called it “not even wrong”.

But for Conlon, now a physicist at Oxford University, the thrill never subsided. String theory is a possible way to unify the conflicting ways we think about gravity and the quantum world, he argues, to create a unified theory of quantum gravity. He also claims that his field has been unfairly stigmatized, and that his opponents are adopting a double standard. Even he insists. String theory Makes predictions that we can potentially investigate with future astronomical observations.

Here, Konon explains The new scientist About the enduring joys of string theory, why it’s too early to write it, and why we…