Author Archives: woit

What’s Hard to Understand is Classical Mechanics, Not Quantum Mechanics

For a zeroth slogan about quantum mechanics, I’ve chosen What’s hard to understand is classical mechanics, not quantum mechanics. The slogan is labeled by zero because it’s preliminary to what I’ve been writing about here. It explains why I don’t … Continue reading

Posted in Quantum Mechanics | 46 Comments

Fall QM Course

This year I’ll be teaching a new version of the same course on quantum mechanics aimed at mathematicians that I taught during the 2012-3 academic year (there’s a web-page here). During the last course I started writing up notes, and … Continue reading

Posted in Quantum Mechanics | 8 Comments

Quantum Connection Could Revitalize Superstrings

Finally back from vacation, postings may appear somewhat more regularly… Science journalist Tom Siegfried has been one of the most vociferous proponents of string theory for many, many years (see here), but even his faith seems like it might be … Continue reading

Posted in This Week's Hype | 22 Comments

The NSA, NIST and the AMS

Among the many disturbing aspects of the behavior of the NSA revealed by the Snowden documents, the most controversial one directly relevant to mathematicians was the story of the NSA’s involvement in a flawed NIST cryptography standard (for more see … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Mathematics Items

For an Oxford conference last week, Langlands contributed a one-hour video talk, filmed in his office. One hour was not enough, so hours two and three are also available, as well as a separate text, and some additional comments. The … Continue reading

Posted in Langlands | 23 Comments

String Theory and Post-Empiricism

Note: This is being published simultaneously here and at Scientia Salon. Discussion will be at the Scientia Salon site. Last month’s Strings 2014 conference in Princeton included two remarkable talks by prominent physicists, both of whom invoked philosophy in a … Continue reading

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Quick Links

Jim Simons is profiled in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the New York Times today. The WSJ piece is partly about a recent $50 million donation to the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology at Cold Spring Harbor, but it reports … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Physical Mathematics and the Future

The “vision” talk at Strings 2014 that I found most interesting was that of Greg Moore, whose topic was “Physical Mathematics and the Future”. He has a very extensive written version of the talk here, which includes both what he … Continue reading

Posted in Strings 2XXX | 15 Comments

String Theory Visions

Strings 2014 ended today, with five separate “vision” talks, giving a good picture of where the leaders of the string theory community see the subject going. I saw the talks on streaming video, presumably they should appear on the conference … Continue reading

Posted in Strings 2XXX | 18 Comments

Pierre van Baal 1955-2013

I only recently heard about the death late last year of Dutch particle theorist Pierre van Baal. Pierre was my office mate when we were both postdocs at Stony Brook during the mid-eighties, and he was one of the people … Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments