I direct your attention to the physics SE question on Philosophical Interpretation of String Theory. Verbatim questions from the post:

How to explain all the mathematical structure that arises in string theory?

How does one know what one derives is math and what is physics? Where is the boundary?

The first is extremely broad; string theory incorporates many aspects of mathematics. Secondly, the 'boundary' between whether something derived is mathematics or physics is primarily opinion-based.

The user has added other questions, and I feel other than being too broad and opinion-based in some aspects, the post should be split into separate questions. For example, one discusses the possibility of string theory as being some effective field theory, or approximation of a more fundamental framework, which is not related to the two questions above.

Unfortunately, a bounty has been offered, and the question cannot be closed (at least not by normal users). How has this question slipped passed us for two days, and not been closed?

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    $\begingroup$ I flagged the question with a generic moderator flag and the following comment many hours ago: "This should be closed as philosophy and primarly opinion based as fast as possible, as it has a high potential to ignite flame wars." However, my flag is still active and has not been processed for some reason ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Oct 17 '14 at 21:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Dilaton open meta question on the topic, waiting for some community input on it. Also, it got edited. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 18 '14 at 6:31

Comments to the new version of Phys.SE question Philosophical Interpretation of String Theory (v5):

  • The question has now been considerably changed, so that many of the initial flags do possibly no longer apply.

  • I have therefore cancelled the flags. If you still think the latest version should be flagged, submit a new flag.

  • I have cancelled the bounty to give the community a chance to review the latest version.

  • OP should wait at least 3 days before setting a new bounty.


It hasn't been closed because it did not accumulate five close votes from 3k+ users. (Or four votes, at least, with a moderator picking up the fifth.) That's really all there is to it.

As a matter of fact, nobody voted to close it.

Now that it has a bounty and doesn't allow close votes, if anyone does strongly believe it should be closed, flag it accordingly, and we (mods) will interpret that as a proxy for a close vote. I'm not sure if the system lets you flag as off topic, but if not, use a generic flag for moderator attention and give your reasoning for why it should be closed in the flag description. If there is strong community support for closing it, we can still cancel the bounty and close the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I support closing the question/canceling the bounty. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 17 '14 at 20:42
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, I've flagged the question. $\endgroup$ – JamalS Oct 17 '14 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth even the current version? $\endgroup$ – user10851 Oct 18 '14 at 5:14
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisWhite (1) is a resource rec (fine on its own), (2) is too broad; "string theory" isn't one theory. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 18 '14 at 6:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth But the OP doesn't know that, and we can answer questions with the form "actually your misunderstanding runs deeper than you appreciate." $\endgroup$ – user10851 Oct 18 '14 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't go so far as to say it's no theory at all; but yeah, it's one of those "actually your misunderstanding runs deeper than you appreciate." questions. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 18 '14 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth as I said in the comment below ST-Philosophy question, there is absolutely nothing about ST that is in conflict with the scientific method as it has always been applied for centuries. It is a completely legitimate part of theoretical physics. It should therefore not be allowed to troll about it on Physics SE. Could the offending unnecessary confrontational first sentence of Chris White's comment, which insults people working on such topics and their work, be edited out? BTW it is not the first time I see Chris White stating such wrong negative comments about legitimate physics... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Oct 18 '14 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ The question, as edited, is still off-topic as it combines two separate questions, a resource request on relation between ST and mathematics and whether string theory is only an approximation of a more fundamental framework. $\endgroup$ – JamalS Oct 18 '14 at 9:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton Edited out the inflammatory part of Chris' comment. The question in question is no longer insinuating that ST conflicts with the scientific method (and FWIW, ignorance of a topic does not make one a troll), though is still IMO closeable, so it's fine to wait a bit and see if others feel that it should be kept open. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 18 '14 at 12:41

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