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Some Math Items

Some math items that may be of interest: Zentralblatt Math has a review of Mochizuki’s IUT papers, by Peter Scholze. Scholze explains the problem with the proof claimed in these papers. For more details, see his manuscript with Stix, or this discussion hosted last year on this blog. The Bulletin of the AMS will be running a special issue on the...

More of the Same (Physics, Math and Unification)

I was going to just provide the following links with a some comments, but decided it would be a good idea to put them into what seems to me the larger context of where we are in fundamental physics and its relationship to mathematics. For the latest on the conventional physics approach to unification (GUTS, SUSY, strings, M-theory), there’s: The...

Steven Weinberg 1933-2021

I heard this morning the news that Steven Weinberg passed away yesterday at the age of 88.  He was arguably the dominant figure in theoretical particle physics during its period of great success from the late sixties to the early eighties.  In particular, his 1967 work on unification of the weak and electromagnetic interactions was a huge breakthrough,...

The Problem of Quantization

I’ve been watching Witten’s ongoing talks about geometric Langlands mentioned here, and wanted to recommend to everyone, mathematician or physicist, the first of them, on The Problem of Quantization (pdf here, video here, the question session is very worthwhile). For those very sensibly not interested in the intricacies of geometric Langlands, this...

Deterioration of the World’s Thinking About the Deepest Stringy Ideas

For quite a few years now, I’ve been mystified about what is going on in string theory, as the subject has become dominated by AdS/CFT inspired work which has nothing to do with either strings or any visible idea about a possible route to a unified fundamental theory. This work is very much dependent on choosing a special background, in tension with...

Even More Langlands

Various news at least tangentially related to the Langlands program: Cambridge University Press this month is publishing a volume edited by Julia Mueller, entitled The Genesis of the Langlands Program. The chapters by various authors concentrate on Langlands himself and the early history of the program. For the table of contents, try Google Books....

Strings 2021

Strings 2021 started today, program is available here. Since it’s online only, talks are much more accessible than usual (and since it’s free, over 2000 people have registered to in principle participate via Zoom). Talks are available for watching every day via Youtube, links are on the main page. As has been the case for many years, it doesn’t look...

Various Math Items

Some math-research items: Mura Yakerson has been doing a really wonderful series of interviews with mathematicians, available at her math-life balance web-page or Youtube channel. I’ve just started listening to some of them, including ones with Peter Scholze and Dustin Clausen (Clausen is John Tate’s grandson, the latest AMS Notices has a memorial...

Non-empirical Physics

I haven’t been paying much attention in recent years to the philosophers of science studying “Non-empirical” or “Post-empirical” physics or theory confirmation. At various times I did write fairly extensively about this, see for instance here, here and here. By 2015 there was a conference in Munich on the topic, which led in 2019 to a volume of papers...

The Evolution of the Physicist’s Picture of Nature

Reading this Nautilus article about Julian Barbour led me recently to something I don’t think I’ve ever read before, Dirac’s 1963 Scientific American article The Evolution of the Physicist’s Picture of Nature. There is a very famous quote from this article that I’ve often seen: It is more important to have beauty in one’s equations than to have them...

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