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This Week’s Hype

The New York Times today has Where is Physics Headed (and How Soon Do We Get There?). It’s an interview by Dennis Overbye of Maria Spiropulu and Michael Turner, the chairs of the NAS Committee on Elementary Particle Physics – Progress and Promise. This committee is tasked with advising the DOE and NSF so they can “make informed decisions about funding,...

What is the AdS/CFT Conjecture?

In recent years I’ve found there’s no point to trying to have an intelligible argument about “string theory”, simply because the term no longer has any well-defined meaning. At the KITP next spring, there will be a program devoted to What is String Theory?, with a website that tells us that “the precise nature of its organizational principle remains...

Spring Course

This semester I’m teaching the second half of our graduate course on Lie groups and representations, and have started making plans for the course, which will begin next week. There’s a web-page here which I’ll be adding to as time goes on. The plan is to try and write up lecture notes for most of the course, some of which may be rewrites of older...

Pierre Schapira on Récoltes et Semailles

Earlier this year I bought a copy of the recently published version of Grothendieck’s Récoltes et Semailles, and spent quite a lot of time reading it. I wrote a bit about it here, intended to write something much longer when I finished reading, but I’ve given up on that idea. At some point this past fall I stopped reading, having made it through all...

The New Yorker and the Publicity Stunt

The wormhole publicity stunt story just keeps going. Today an article about the Google Santa Barbara lab and quantum computer used in the publicity stunt appeared in the New Yorker. One of the main people profiled is Hartmut Neven, the lab founder and a publicity stunt co-author. He is described as follows: Neven, originally from Germany, is a bald...

Wormhole Publicity Stunts: Past, Present and Future

Most of the news I’m hearing today about the current wormhole publicity stunt is that physicists who could do something about it are instead blaming any problem on journalists and defending the stunt as some sort of progress forward. I’ve been wondering what the future for this kind of thing looks like, got a partial answer by looking at this presentation...

Various and Sundry

If you’re sick of hearing about bogus wormholes, here are some other random topics: There’s a SCOAP3 for books initiative, lots of textbooks in the field of particle physics now made open access and available here. It’s completely mysterious to me why this is so, but Mochizuki’s failed proof of abc is now getting promoted at various places outside...

Publicity Stunt Fallout

Latest news this evening from Scott Aaronson at the IAS in Princeton: Tonight, David Nirenberg, Director of the IAS and a medieval historian, gave an after-dinner speech to our workshop, centered around how auspicious it was that the workshop was being held a mere week after the momentous announcement that a wormhole had been created on a microchip...

The Wormhole Publicity Stunt

The best way to understand the “physicists create wormholes in the lab” nonsense of the past few days is as a publicity stunt (I should credit Andreas Karch for the idea to describe things this way), one that went too far. If the organizers of the stunt had stuck to “physicists study quantum gravity in the lab” they likely would have gotten away with...

Igor Krichever 1950-2022

I just heard the sad news that Igor Krichever passed away this morning at the age of 72. Igor was a great scholar, a wise man, and a wonderful human being. He will be sorely missed by his colleagues at Columbia and elsewhere. My condolences to his family, which includes another first-rate mathematician, his son-in-law Sasha Braverman. During the...

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