There seems to be a political scandal going on in Italy revolving around the GIM mechanism, with Antonino Zichichi somehow involved. Definitely a higher level of scandal than we have here in the US.
An Oral History Project at Princeton involving interviews with people associated with the Math department during the 1930s is here, and includes the following exchange with Wigner, who evidently wasn’t so happy with Weyl:
Interviewer: We haven’t mentioned Hermann Weyl yet. Can you tell me something about your relations with him? When did you first get to know him?
Wigner: When he came to Princeton I knew about his work, and I quoted it also. You know he was interested in group theory. But in Princeton we were really strangers to each other. He never mentioned my work in his book on the application of group theory to quantum mechanics, even though practically all that is in the book was contained in publications by me and in joint publications by Johnny von Neumann and me. I resented that because I needed a job then.
The TLS has a review of The Trouble With Physics.
There’s a P5 meeting going on at SLAC, talks here.
Bert Kostant of MIT gave a talk at UC Riverside entitled On Some Mathematics in Garrett Lisi’s ‘E8 Theory of Everything’, and as part of the festivities John Baez gave an elementary introduction to E8. There’s some discussion of this at his blog. It seems that the initial reaction from some string theorists that this material is so easy that undergraduates shouldn’t have too much trouble with it may have changed a bit. For a comment on the attitudes involved, see here.
Update: To try and make up for the high-level of snarkiness of this posting, here’s something else. This month’s National Geographic has an excellent big article about the LHC, with the usual National Geo impressive photography. No hype about extra dimensions, etc., just a serious explanation of what the LHC is all about and what physicists are trying to do, ending with the following wonderful quote:
…I asked George Smoot, a Nobel laureate physicist, if he thinks our most basic questions will ever be answered.
“It depends on how I’m feeling on any particular day,” he said. “But every day I go to work I’m making a bet that the universe is simple, symmetric, and aesthetically pleasing—a universe that we humans, with our limited perspective, will someday understand.”
Update: Two more
Without a way of calculating probabilities, cosmology is a dead science, it doesn’t exist.
I think this will be news to most cosmologists, who are happily ignoring the problem of how to count universes in the multiverse. More accurate would be “Without a way of calculating probabilities, multiverse studies is a dead science, it doesn’t exist”, which is pretty much the situation now and for the forseeable future.
Discovering them would be really big news. String theory has often been criticised as a theorists’ plaything, a pretty piece of mathematics unable to make any testable predictions. That perception would change pretty fast if we were to find a host of giant superstrings crisscrossing the skies.
This is an accurate summary of the situation, although it might be worth pointing out that not only is there no evidence for cosmic strings, but there’s not even anything ever observed that cosmic strings provide a compelling explanation of. At the moment they’re just a pretty pure example of wishful thinking. Sure tomorrow someone may find a “host of giant superstrings crisscrossing the skies”. It’s also true that tomorrow aliens may land and explain to us how to compute the Standard Model parameters from superstring theory.