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String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (Are There 10 Dimensions Of Space and Time?)
NY Times ^ | 7 December 2004 | By DENNIS OVERBYE

Posted on 12/10/2004 7:09:09 AM PST by shrinkermd

ASPEN, Colo. - They all laughed 20 years ago.

It was then that a physicist named John Schwarz jumped up on the stage during a cabaret at the physics center here and began babbling about having discovered a theory that could explain everything. By prearrangement men in white suits swooped in and carried away Dr. Schwarz, then a little-known researcher at the California Institute of Technology.

Only a few of the laughing audience members knew that Dr. Schwarz was not entirely joking. He and his collaborator, Dr. Michael Green, now at Cambridge University, had just finished a calculation that would change the way physics was done. They had shown that it was possible for the first time to write down a single equation that could explain all the laws of physics, all the forces of nature - the proverbial "theory of everything" that could be written on a T-shirt.

And so emerged into the limelight a strange new concept of nature, called string theory, so named because it depicts the basic constituents of the universe as tiny wriggling strings, not point particles.

"That was our first public announcement," Dr. Schwarz said recently.

By uniting all the forces, string theory had the potential of achieving the goal that Einstein sought without success for half his life and that has embodied the dreams of every physicist since then. If true, it could be used like a searchlight to illuminate some of the deepest mysteries physicists can imagine, like the origin of space and time in the Big Bang and the putative death of space and time at the infinitely dense centers of black holes.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Philosophy; Unclassified
KEYWORDS: black; dimensions; holes; physics; science; string; stringtheory; ten; theory
I appreciated this well written article on a subject difficult to understand but important in a field I am completely ignorant of. NYT has many faults but many accomplishments we would be poorer without.
1 posted on 12/10/2004 7:09:10 AM PST by shrinkermd
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To: shrinkermd

The NYT WYTs get it right every now and then. Even a stopped clock is right in two or three dimensions of the space-time continuum......


2 posted on 12/10/2004 7:13:29 AM PST by Red Badger (If the Red States are JESUSLAND, then the Blue States are SATANLAND......)
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To: Red Badger

Yes, but only twice a day.


3 posted on 12/10/2004 7:17:32 AM PST by steve8714 (Urban sprawl and citizens' guns will save this country.)
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To: shrinkermd

A good book about the subject

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0393058581/qid=1102691824/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/103-3406403-9374245?v=glance&s=books&n=507846


4 posted on 12/10/2004 7:17:38 AM PST by Sinner6
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To: shrinkermd

So where can we buy the T-shirt?


5 posted on 12/10/2004 7:17:55 AM PST by Deaf Smith
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To: shrinkermd

Not to be a poop but the 10+ dimensional requirements for things to work remionds me of the Ptolomey model for the solar system. Full of complex gyrations to make up for knowledge of something we learned later.


6 posted on 12/10/2004 7:24:39 AM PST by ProudVet77 (Beer - It's not just for breakfast anymore.)
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To: steve8714

In one theory, time does not flow like a river, but is static, like a clothesline. To go from one place to another on the timeline simply exit and re-enter at the desired time. Therefore, if your clock is "stopped" it will always be right......


7 posted on 12/10/2004 7:25:40 AM PST by Red Badger (If the Red States are JESUSLAND, then the Blue States are SATANLAND......)
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: shrinkermd
Science is making it more and more clear that Men in Black was right...our universe really does exist in a gym locker in some sports facility belonging to those living in a higher dimension.
9 posted on 12/10/2004 7:31:02 AM PST by BikerNYC
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To: shrinkermd

Interesting... bump for later.


10 posted on 12/10/2004 7:31:50 AM PST by SirChas (I posted this using Sun Solaris 10 (UNIX) on my PC!)
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To: shrinkermd

bump to read later


11 posted on 12/10/2004 7:34:17 AM PST by TX Bluebonnet
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To: Sinner6
That is a great book. See also his new book The Fabric of the Cosmos.

See also the Nova special based on the The Elegant Universe.

And for a look at the implications of this science for religion, see Beyond the Cosmos.

12 posted on 12/10/2004 7:35:28 AM PST by truthfinder9
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To: shrinkermd
Yeah, but this isn't one of them. String theory has produced no predictions confirmed by observation beyond those offered by the union of general relativity and the standard model of particle physics. It purports to calculate quantities by summing over all possible embeddings of Riemann surfaces in certain spaces (10 or 11 dimensional), but once one is dealing with higher genus surfaces (imagine more and more handles on your coffee cup) there is no proceedure for 'regularizing' the infinite sum to produce a finite quantity. (Such procedures exist for low genus surfaces only up to 'two loops' in the physicists term of art.)

My closest colleague has tried to pin them down: string theorists assert with near clockwork regularity that string theory is 'perturbatively finite', but when you ask them where this is proven, most can't point to a source, and those who can point to a paper in which the methods only work up to two loops. . .or they give bogus arguments based on misunderstandings of a mathematical construct called Teichmuller space. And, to date string theory can only be done in a 'flat background' space-- but general relativity tells us gravity is equivalent to certain kinds of curvature on space. If it's not perturbatively finite, or can't be done in a realistic space-time, string theory isn't even a theory much less a theory of everything.

Of course, neither the popular science press nor the National Science Foundation seem to have noticed this, not even when Edward Witten, one of the leading lights of string theory over its 20 year life has given up on it to turn to work on loop quantum gravity--which according to the string-theorist quoted in the times (who has no basis in either physical or mathematical fact for his assertion) 'must be part of string theory'. It isn't.

13 posted on 12/10/2004 7:35:37 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know what this was)
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To: BikerNYC

Science is making it more and more clear that Men in Black was right...our universe really does exist in a gym locker in some sports facility belonging to those living in a higher dimension.

So that accounts for the funny smell...


14 posted on 12/10/2004 7:36:26 AM PST by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: BikerNYC
our universe really does exist in a gym locker in some sports facility belonging to those living in a higher dimension.

I think everyone's washer and dryer are portals to another dimension, the Galaxy of One-footed sock wearers.

15 posted on 12/10/2004 7:36:35 AM PST by Alouette ("Who is for the LORD, come with me!" -- Mattisyahu ben Yohanon, father of Judah Maccabee)
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To: shrinkermd

Yes, but this article would be quite different if either the GOP or the Dems adopted belief of string theory into their party planks.

Thankfully, that hasn't happened yet. lol.


16 posted on 12/10/2004 7:39:44 AM PST by linear (You men can't fight in here - this is the War Room!)
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To: shrinkermd
the proverbial "theory of everything" that could be written on a T-shirt.

42.

17 posted on 12/10/2004 7:57:16 AM PST by Squawk 8888
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To: shrinkermd

Fantastic, but over my head. It's nice to know we may not be limited by relativity and C in exploring the universe in the near future.


18 posted on 12/10/2004 7:57:55 AM PST by eagle11
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To: Deaf Smith

whats the speed of dark?


19 posted on 12/10/2004 8:00:46 AM PST by al baby (she stuned my little beeber)
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To: The_Reader_David
It purports to calculate quantities by summing over all possible embeddings of Riemann surfaces in certain spaces (10 or 11 dimensional), but once one is dealing with higher genus surfaces (imagine more and more handles on your coffee cup) there is no proceedure for 'regularizing' the infinite sum to produce a finite quantity.

Huh?

20 posted on 12/10/2004 8:01:53 AM PST by Dogrobber
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To: al baby

You can't detect dark anyway so assign its speed arbitrarily ...


21 posted on 12/10/2004 8:06:02 AM PST by dartuser (Regarding Putin ... It only takes one moment of truth for an unbeliever to become an evangelist.)
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To: shrinkermd

My theory is that any N theories can be "unified" by postulating a new universal theory with N + 1 dimensions.


22 posted on 12/10/2004 8:07:06 AM PST by palmer ("Oh you heartless gloaters")
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To: ProudVet77

Yup.

The perverse thing is that there are approaches to construct other models which get no press time in the U.S. and precious little grant funding (thanks to the string theorists dominating all the review panels):
loop quantum gravity, Alain Connes' almost miraculous
construction of the Standard Model (I think plus the Higgs boson, if I'm not mistaken) from the simplest
non-commutative geometry whose underlying commutative geometry looks like Minkowski space (on 10 or 11 dimensions, just 4 and some fancy algebra), the Barrett-Crane state-sum model, . . .

Basically if string theory is wrong (or useless--see my last post) the NSF has been throwing almost its entire theoretical physics budge down a rat-hole for 20 years.


23 posted on 12/10/2004 8:08:44 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know what this was)
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To: palmer
Actually you're very close to the latest two iterations of string theory: "M-theory" (M could stand for matrix, the next to last iteration, or membrane). The string theorists argue that because four or five of their attempts approximate each other in certain limits, they must be aspects of a single as yet undiscovered theory. (The limiting arguments are non-rigorous, not usually a consideration in physics if experiments can be appealed to, but they can't in this case, and the overarching argument is completely bogus: quantum mechanics approximates classical mechanics in a certain kind of limit, and this is not evidence of a missing theory which both approximate which is the 'real theory'>)
24 posted on 12/10/2004 8:13:10 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know what this was)
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To: al baby

Same as the speed of light, but only when it's retreating.


25 posted on 12/10/2004 8:14:29 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know what this was)
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To: The_Reader_David

The key my theory is orthogonality, as long as forces are orthogonal to each other in the new theory then there's no unification, just aggregation. Shortly I will present 4 or 5 variants of my theory as proof.


26 posted on 12/10/2004 8:20:20 AM PST by palmer ("Oh you heartless gloaters")
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To: Dogrobber
Physicists (since Feynman) have computed things by defining certain infinite sums which (unlike ones you might have met in Calc II) always diverge when interpretted in an ordinary mathematical sense, then finding a way to interpret them differently ('regularize' them) to get finite quantities.

The best one used outside of string theory--in the context of Feynman diagrams, where one's sums depend on all embeddings of graphs (finite bunched of paths that can branch and rejoin)--is to realize that the dimension of the space-time shows up in the sum, turn the dimension into a variable, d, write the sum as a sum ofmultiples of powers of (d-4). It is infinite when d = 4 because you get some negative powers. Just throw away all the terms with negative powers of (d-4) and add up the rest (as in Calc II). Mirable dictu the result agrees with experiment to 14 places after the decimal.

There is no correponding procedure in string theory, where the sums depend on embedding Riemann surfaces (surfaces glued together out of copies disks from the complex plane so that you can tell which complex-valued functions on them have derivatives in the complex sense).

27 posted on 12/10/2004 8:25:35 AM PST by The_Reader_David (And when they behead your own people in the wars which are to come, then you will know what this was)
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To: shrinkermd

I always wanted to know about newer modern physics, so I
got Hawkings books, including "universe in a nutshell",
and Greens book, The elegant universe. These concepts are
very difficult for nonmathematicians or maths which don't
specify "topology'...

What is fascinating to me is that strings are suppposedly
these tiny (like 10 to the minus 33) meters size vibrating
loops of energy...but can't there be 1/2 strings, or left
strings, right string? substring areas???..and by the way,
what is energy? Can it be detected by what it does, or
does it exist without our ability to dectect it?
Does energy move material objects? Since material objects
according to string theory are only manifestations of the
vibrational patterns of strings, does that mean energy is
what moves its own species??? It sounds very reminiscent
of it being self-existing on its own without beginning and
without end.....but it is impersonal...hmmmmm....

Finally, some of the maths used to explain these subatomic
physical oddities are accessible only to mathematicians.
They incorporate ideas such as "imaginary time", the
sum of paths mentioned earlier, things existing only because
they are "detected" , fabric of space changing or opening and
closing, multiple universes undetectable by us (as our
physics is different)...and somethings (is that a good wor
to describe it?) called Calabi-Yau spaces which explain in a
spatial way how the extra 7-8 dimension curl up. Like I
said, you gotta he heavy into math to even understand what
they be talk'n 'bout, never mind prove or disprove it...

It is interesting however. We may find that we are trying
to make up "just so" stories to explain that we cannot
really "get at" the core bits of matter/strings cause the
energy requirements to control them or blast them out of
their "comfy" homes are too great. Example, it may take
a supercollider the size of our solar system to generate the
energy to accelerate these "particles" very close to the
speed of light....

Alright, enough of this. Time to watch the 3 stooges.Nyuk,
Nyuk, Nyuk.


28 posted on 12/10/2004 8:29:23 AM PST by Getready ((...Fear not ...))
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To: The_Reader_David
I dont know enough to say for sure, but it seems to me that this string theory may be a bunch of mental mathematical m*sterb*ation. The proof is in the pudding, and as of yet, as you say, there is no unique pudding!

BTW, for some TOE technobabble BS fun in a sci-fi way, read the book called "Distress", by Greg Egan. Takes this stuff and twists it around into ultimately a silly conclusion, but it was kinda fun reading it.. (the person who "discovers" or first interprets the TOE becomes the "keystone", or something like the creator of the Universe....)

29 posted on 12/10/2004 8:31:50 AM PST by Paradox (Occam was probably right.)
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To: al baby

In which dimension?


30 posted on 12/10/2004 8:35:31 AM PST by steve8714 (Urban sprawl and citizens' guns will save this country.)
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To: shrinkermd

I've believed in string theory for some time. I read a book that talked about it a LONG time ago.

It's called the Bible...


31 posted on 12/10/2004 8:35:55 AM PST by RobRoy (Science is about "how." Christianity is about "why.")
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To: Alouette

So THAT's IT!!!


32 posted on 12/10/2004 8:36:38 AM PST by Edgerunner (The left ain't right. Hand me that launch pickle...)
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To: shrinkermd

I always thought there was seven.


33 posted on 12/10/2004 8:37:13 AM PST by bmwcyle (I wear sleepwear therefore I think (When they are off I am single minded))
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To: Allan

Bump


34 posted on 12/10/2004 8:43:52 AM PST by Allan
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To: truthfinder9; Sinner6

Book rec's much appreciated. :)


35 posted on 12/10/2004 8:55:31 AM PST by Graymatter (Be all that you can be......Eat chocolate.)
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To: shrinkermd
My kind of String theory:


36 posted on 12/10/2004 8:59:40 AM PST by Paradox (Occam was probably right.)
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To: The_Reader_David
Physicists (since Feynman) have computed things by defining certain infinite sums which (unlike ones you might have met in Calc II) .... (snip) .... together out of copies disks from the complex plane so that you can tell which complex-valued functions on them have derivatives in the complex sense).

Huh?

I really appreciate the attempt to educate me, and if I had the time to put the brainpower to it I think I could absorb it ok, ... but - D@mn that just hurts too much to think about it.

37 posted on 12/10/2004 9:12:51 AM PST by Dogrobber
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To: Getready

I do not pretend to understand string theory beyond the popular descriptions of it, and even those I don't have a good feeling for. But there is no doubt that every explanation posts up a whole new bunch of questions. Strings, I guess, are made of energy. What is the energy made of? What is stuff that energy is made of made of? And so on. When do we know that we have the final theory? When it explains everything except itself? Or including itself (a recursive definition, I guess)? Or equals 42?


38 posted on 12/10/2004 10:01:27 AM PST by beef ("Blessed are the geeks, for they shall inherit the earth.")
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To: Paradox

Those are tarts. Share?


39 posted on 12/10/2004 10:09:57 AM PST by spunkets
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To: The_Reader_David
"Physicists (since Feynman) have computed things by defining certain infinite sums which (unlike ones you might have met in Calc II) always diverge when interpretted in an ordinary mathematical sense, then finding a way to interpret them differently ('regularize' them) to get finite quantities."

Renormalization used in quantum field fiels theories is an incredibly clever trick.

40 posted on 12/10/2004 10:34:40 AM PST by Truthsayer20
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To: Sinner6

GReat recomendation - it is a very informative and well-written book


41 posted on 12/10/2004 10:38:04 AM PST by Hegewisch Dupa
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To: shrinkermd
Posted on the 7th, as a search on "String Theory" would have revealed:
String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not).
42 posted on 12/10/2004 10:40:30 AM PST by PatrickHenry (The List-O-Links for evolution threads is at my freeper homepage.)
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To: Sinner6

It is an excellent book, but, ironically, string theory comes out looking inelegant and patched compared with an Einsteinian universe that Greene depicts with such elegance that a child could understand it.


43 posted on 12/10/2004 11:28:20 AM PST by eno_ (Freedom Lite, it's almost worth defending.)
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To: The_Reader_David

For all the unsatisfactoriness of Wolfram's theories, I find them no less plausible than string theory.

I have no doubt that grant spending has a lot to do with which theories are most "credible" these days.


44 posted on 12/10/2004 11:32:48 AM PST by eno_ (Freedom Lite, it's almost worth defending.)
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To: shrinkermd
Maybe Black holes are gateways into different dimensions.

Or maybe I watched too much Twilight Zone as a child... :)

45 posted on 12/10/2004 11:39:53 AM PST by Walkin Man
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To: spunkets
Those are the ladies from BOND, a String quartet:

Curvaceous string quartet Bond says "who cares"

By Richard Chang
The Orange County Register
Posted November 27 2004

  Email story  Print story

Photo

Sex appeal sells records
Sex appeal sells records
See larger image
(Decca photo)
Nov 27, 2004

Bond

Where: Carefree Theatre, 2000 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; Lincoln Theatre, 541 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Monday at Lincoln Theatre
Tickets: $36 Sunday, $40 Monday
Info: Call Ticketmaster (561-966-3309, 954-523-3309, 305-358-5885).

They're a string quartet, and each member has extensive classical music training.

But don't call the music of all-female group Bond classical. If you do, you're opening a can of worms.

Critics have chastised the Anglo-Aussie foursome for not sounding classical enough, and for using sex appeal to sell records. The Bond girls don't mind sporting revealing outfits, and have been well represented by men's magazines such as Maxim and Stuff.

But ultimately, these girls just want to play their own type of music, and they just wanna have fun.

"We're breaking down barriers of music," said Australian Haylie Ecker, first violinist for Bond, in a phone interview. "We're kind of this hot pot of musical styles. It's music to be enjoyed, not over-analyzed."

Bond will perform Sunday at the Carefree in West Palm Beach and Monday at the Lincoln Theatre in Miami Beach.

The group consists of Ecker, Eos Chater on second violin, Tania Davis on viola and Gay-Yee Westerhoff on cello. Ecker and Davis are from Australia; Chater and Westerhoff are from Great Britain.

The four met in London, where they formed the band in early 2000.

"Gay-Yee and Eos were already doing session music, and they were experimenting with different genres of music," Ecker said. "It sounded like a lot of fun. I gave it a go, and introduced Tania into it."

A man with money also didn't hurt. In this case, Mel Bush -- known for helping other crossover acts -- funded the entire project and became Bond's original manager.

The quartet's first album was titled Born. It debuted at No. 2 on the British classical music chart, but was pulled off after one week, since England's Chart Information Network determined it was "not classical enough."

A debate over whether Bond's sound is classical music ensued, and has not ceased since. The group's latest album, Classified (Decca, released in June), also seems to flirt with the classical music identification. On it are several well-known classical compositions, from Samuel Barber to Aram Khachaturian to Tchaikovsky. Backup musicians create a contemporary and poppy foundation, the four add their strings, and several layers of glossy studio production are incorporated into the mix.

The cover features the Bond women in classy yet sparse outfits, showing plenty of leg and, oh, one weird-looking violin.

The result is an album that has done well on "classical crossover" charts across the globe.

But is it classical music? If you ask the women directly, they'll admit it isn't.

"We're not doing classical music," Westerhoff said. "It's more like a pop group, and marketed more like a pop group. We're a string quartet, and people have a stereotypical image of what they want us to be like."

As for the sexed-up presentation, it shouldn't come as a surprise for four attractive twentysomethings trying to make it in the music industry. Indeed, what has become a standard for decades in rock and pop marketing has been seeping into classical music in recent years. Lara St. John, Andrea Bocelli, the Ahn Trio and the Eroica Trio are just a few examples.

"For us, it's the music, and the music is pop," Ecker said. "That reflects how we dress onstage. The clothes are fun and young. It's not so sexy, compared to Christina Aguilera and Britney [Spears]."

Westerhoff, who has experience performing with Sting, the Spice Girls, Primal Scream and Barry Manilow, said she's been having the time of her life on the current American tour, which has included performing the national anthem at Shea Stadium, and ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.

"It's really fantastic, actually. I wasn't expecting such a response. Everyone seems to be really into it," she said. "When you play really big places, they always feel really cool. You get a good buzz from them.

"There are moments when you wonder, `Oh, what am I doing?' They're all quite crazy in their own way."

46 posted on 12/10/2004 12:05:00 PM PST by Paradox (Occam was probably right.)
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String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not)
The New York Times | December 7, 2004 | Dennis Overbye
Posted on 12/07/2004 10:01:55 AM PST by snarks_when_bored
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/chat/1296277/posts


47 posted on 08/17/2008 1:34:26 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_______Profile hasn't been updated since Friday, May 30, 2008)
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48 posted on 08/17/2008 1:34:45 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/_______Profile hasn't been updated since Friday, May 30, 2008)
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