More about BRST is on its way, but in the meantime a lot of things have accumulated that might be of interest, so I wanted to do a quick posting about these.
One of them does have to do with BRST. A correspondent pointed out to me that the 2009 Dannie Heineman prize for Mathematical Physics has been awarded to the four people involved in the original discovery: Carlo Becchi, Alain Rouet, Raymond Stora, and Igor Tyutin.
Via Garrett Lisi, there’s this collection of photos of the latest Threeasfour collection. It seems that E8 is inspiring not just physicists.
Over at the n-category cafe, John Baez has a posting about the remarkable publication record of M. S. El Naschie.
On the experimental HEP front, it looks like the LHC will not be trying again to commission beams until next summer. Minutes of a recent meeting about LHC work are here, an outline of a schedule here.
For the latest on the CDF anomaly, Tommaso Dorigo has started a series of detailed posting on the analysis here and here. Matt Strassler has a new paper out about this, including some discussion of possible interpretation of the results in terms of the hidden valley scenario. For more about this topic, see a recent posting at Resonaances.
There’s a new popular book out about particle physics, Nature’s Blueprint: Supersymmetry and the Search for a Unified Theory of Matter and Force by Dan Hooper. It’s a rather breathless account of how physics is about to be revolutionized by the discovery of supersymmetry at the LHC, very much like Gordon Kane’s 2000 Supersymmetry: Unveiling the Ultimate Laws of Nature. In Kane’s version the LHC was supposed to start up in 2005 and soon discover supersymmetry, in Hooper’s the LHC start-up is moved to 2008. One change since 2000: string theory played a big role in Kane’s book, Hooper pretty much ignores it.
The December issue of Discover Magazine is out, with Hawking on the cover for a story about the “50 Best Brains in Science”. Terry Tao and Edward Witten are on the list, and the magazine includes a nice appreciation of Witten by John Schwarz, who writes about his experience co-authoring a book on string theory with Witten, explaining that:
Witten is both deep and fast: After thinkings through the ideas, he can compose an essentially error-free 100 page manuscript, often describing breakthrough original research, on his computer in a day. His papers and lectures set a new standard for clarity of exposition. And he shows no signs of slowing down.
This year, Witten is working at CERN, and there’s a talk by him scheduled in the string theory seminar there next week, topic TBA. Maybe Jester will report on this.
In other Discover-related news, Cosmic Variance has announced that they have “sold out to the man”, and will now be going corporate, signing up with Discover to be one of their blogs.
Also in the new Discover Magazine is a long article promoting the multiverse entitled Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory. The author’s take on the story is that we really only have two choices: believe in God and intelligent design, or believe in the Landscape. He seems to have gotten this from Susskind:
The physicist Leonard Susskind once told me that without a multiverse theory, there may be no other explanation for life other than intelligent design.
The author’s note reports that the article came about through Templeton funding:
For this issue, he [Tim Folger] traveled to Cambridge, England, as a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion to learn what physicists have to say about how the universe seems custom-tailored to favor life.
In keeping with his theme, Folger quotes many proponents of the multiverse, and only one critic: John Polkinghorne, an ex-physicist and current Anglican priest who has motive to want to keep a role for God.
There’s some rather out-there stuff at the end from Andrei Linde:
As for Linde, he is especially interested in the mystery of consciousness and has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental component of the universe, much like space and time. He wonders whether the physical universe, its laws, and conscious observers might form an integrated whole. A complete description of reality, he says, could require all three of those components, which he posits emerged simultaneously. “Without someone observing the universe,” he says, “the universe is actually dead.”
The History Channel is running a series on The Universe. Next week the multiverse is being promoted, in an episode Parallel Universes. Here’s the summary:
Some of the world’s leading physicists believe they have found startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own. One possibility is that the universe is so vast that an exact replica of our Solar System, our planet and ourselves exists many times over. These Doppelganger Universes exist within our own Universe; in what scientist now call “The Multiverse.” Today, trailblazing experiments by state of the art particle colliders are looking for evidence of higher dimensions and Parallel Universes. If proof is found, it will change our lives, our minds, our planet, our science and our universe.
I learned about this from Clifford Johnson’s blog. He’ll be one of the physicists featured in the episode, as well as in the following one, entitled Light Speed. The next episode, Sex in Space, which will explore the “physiological, psychological and cultural challenges of sex in space” presumably will not be starring any theoretical physicists.
Update: It seems that selling pseudo-science with the argument “it’s either this or religion” works.
Update: The links above to the LHC Performance Committee’s site have now been closed to outside access. For the last few years the web-sites of the groups responsible for getting the LHC working have been open to the public, but it looks like there now has been a change of policy. The tentative schedule now inaccessible to the public showed that it is repairs to sector 34 that will determine when they can get going again. The process of getting damaged magnets out of the tunnel, making repairs, getting replacements installed, then testing everything, is what may delay everything into next summer.
Update: For some commentary on the Strassler paper, see Tommaso Dorigo here. Slashdot features the Discover article, promoting the idea that the string theory landscape is “Science’s Alternative To an Intelligent Creator”.