This week’s Nature has a nice cover story on Lyn Evans, who has been leading the construction of the LHC. The story mentions one of the problems of his high-profile job:
Evans has found himself the subject of more than one ad hominem attack in physics chat rooms and blogs; he knows because he Googles to find out.
While beam commissioning won’t start up again at the LHC until at least next July, at the Tevatron things have been going extremely well. Last week they set a new luminosity record, accumulating 74 pb-1. For more about this, there’s a posting at Symmetry Breaking.
The Boston Globe has an interview with Lisa Randall, who is writing the libretto for an opera to be entitled “Hypermusic Prologue: A projective opera in seven planes”.
Lieven le Bruyn has a posting about David Mumford and the so-called “Red Book”, the notes for his course on algebraic geometry. This includes a reproduction of Mumford’s picture of Spec Z[x], together with explanations of what all the squiggles mean. From this posting I also learned about a wonderful book on the topic of “Five Centuries of French Mathematics”, available here.
Taking a look at the Theoretical Particle Physics Jobs Rumor Mill, things are looking quite bad for tenure-track jobs in string theory or, more generally, any formal work on quantum field theory. It seems that what US physics departments most want now are cosmologists and “astro-particle physicists”. One place that plans to do a lot of hiring in this area is Arizona State, which is advertising for 8-10 new faculty appointments in these areas, and a similar number of postdocs, to be hired over the next 5 years. All of a sudden the field of “string cosmology” starts to make a lot more sense.
One organization that may need a lot of string theory instructors is the Maharishi Central University which will offer “Unified Field Based Education”:
The groundbreaking curriculum of Maharishi Central University is based upon the most advanced scientific knowledge of our age: the discovery of the Unified Field. During the past quarter century, modern physics has explored progressively more fundamental levels of nature’s functioning at the atomic, nuclear and sub-nuclear scales, culminating in the recent discovery of the Unified Field—a single, universal field of nature’s intelligence at the foundation of the universe.
This Unified Field, or “E8xE8 superstring field,” is the crowning achievement of fifty years of advanced research in quantum gravity theory, and is expressed most concisely in the following, compact Lagrangian, or “super-formula,” presented, for simplicity, in the super-conformal gauge…
The summary of the curriculum goes on to explain how the superstring field “provides the long-sought, mathematically rigorous, interdisciplinary foundation for all the sciences, and for the whole field of academic study,” and that “Without such knowledge, the entire field of education is essentially baseless.”
The plan seems to be to build 50 universities, one in each state, with a construction cost of $16 million each. They’re looking for investors, who are told that each university will enroll 200 students who will pay $45,000/year, generating an income of $9 million per year, so “This will render financing completely risk free.” This money-raising effort is related to the one discussed here.
The first such university is being built at the “exact geographic center” of the US, a point about 12 miles northeast of Smith Center, Kansas. The news from Raja Robert Wynne, Mayor of Maharishi Vedic City and Raja of Invincible New Zealand, Armenia, Kenya, Pakistan, Iraq, Vanuatu, Liberia, and Burundi for the Global Country of World Peace, is that there are 10 buildings now under construction. From an AP article about this, according to founding president John Hagelin
“The ultimate vision is 40,000 students. We’re probably not interested in something smaller than 10,000 students”… He said it would take more than $100 million to start up the university – which he had wanted to have open two years after construction began – and that kind of money isn’t easy to find amid a national banking crisis. Because of that, he said, a more reasonable estimate would be that the university will open in five to 10 years.
The locals seem to not be very happy about all this, worried by the presence of a Mexican construction company with Mexican workers at the site. One such Kansan is the Rev. Dennis Lambert, whose church is nearby, who says “We consider them to be a cult”. The AP article explains that
Lambert was among a small group of people who in 2006 dug up what they believe to be a Hindu idol on a rural property that meditators had once owned about 10 years ago. The figure, a hollow metal animal, contained fake jewels symbolic of the nine planetary gods, he said.
“The fake jewels were crushed and the metal deal was destroyed with heat,” Lambert said. “It was believed to have demonic influence and that’s the way we dealt with it.”