Author Archives: woit

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Mathematics

The first set of winners of the $3 million Milner/Zuckerberg financed Breakthrough Prizes in mathematics was announced today: it’s Donaldson, Kontsevich, Lurie, Tao and Taylor. There’s a good New York Times story here. When these prizes were first announced last … Continue reading

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Smoking Gun No Longer Smoking

The BICEP2 paper is now out in Physical Review Letters, with major revisions to its conclusions from the preprint/press conference version of last March. For another sort of associated revision, compare this (from a March 17 Stanford press release): Linde, … Continue reading

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Strings 2014

This coming week and the next Princeton will host both the big yearly string theory conference Strings 2014, and Prospects in Theoretical Physics 2014, a program designed to train young physicists in string theory. Princeton is definitely the right place … Continue reading

Posted in Strings 2XXX | 44 Comments