The book he was reading talked about something more important than I realized however; Money. It seems that a great deal of money that could be used in other physics research is being spent by the big university physics departments on research into string theory. This caused be to think about the biggest problem I've always had with life: you must make choices and every blasted choice eliminates an infinite number of other choices.
There is no way around it. You can't do everything, not even in theory, or theoretical physics. When a department decides to put money into a particular field of research it is gambling that that research will yield results that will get future grants or other funding due to prestige or real useful results. Things like string theory, which become very sexy in the eyes of the public, can be very tempting places to put your resources. Of course the problem with the public is that they have no idea what research is going to yield results worth chasing after. That is why physics departments are lead by physicists who are supposed to have a little better idea of where physics is going. But, the truth is: nobody really knows what research in basic theoretical physics is going to lead to. There are good arguments against pouring money into strings since it is not a theory with much hope of proveable results. There are also good arguments for pursuing a theory with such beauty.
In the end, nature will throw you curves no matter which way you go, and there will always be more to understand about nature than our theories and models can tell us. That is why I love science, because we get such beautiful glimpses of nature through it and sometimes that beauty leads to knowledge we never expected. Howevery, I must admit, in my view, string theory is probably too long of a shot to pay off any time soon and we should not let other avenues of physics research get lost while we gamble on string theory.