Origin of the World

Arizona State University’s new Origins Initiative is starting off this year with some mind-expanding programs, including an Origins Symposium that will start tomorrow. The number and quality of speakers who will be making the trip to Tempe is remarkably high. The event will be webcast, so the rest of the world can get the inside dope by following along here.

Cosmology will be the main topic on the first full day of the Symposium, with Science Friday broadcasting live at 11am a panel discussion on “Physicists and the Origin of the Universe”. The afternoon program will be in three parts, with the last part about new observational methods. The first two deal more with the chronic heady topics and pipe dreams of theorists (“How Far Back Can We Go?” and “Is our Universe Unique, and how can we find out”), and will have a break for tea and brownies, finishing up at 4:20 with Glashow (whose title is the blunt “Is Particle Physics Over?”) and Vilenkin (“Mediocrity as a principle”).

I hear that refreshments will be provided by Tempe’s own ChebaHut and there will be an exhibit featuring work of local artists. Arizona is putting on quite a show, with a major effort to attract cutting-edge researchers in physics to the state, including the recent announcement of proposed new legislation.

Update: The final paragraph above was inspired by the posting date, and is pure fantasy. In addition, I have no idea whether brownies will be served during the break tomorrow, or what might or might not be in them. I do look forward to seeing what the various speakers will have to say, and am sure they will be addressing the multiverse/pre-big-bang topic without the aid of any mind-altering substances, difficult as that may be to believe.

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10 Responses to Origin of the World

  1. Shantanu says:

    Thanks, Peter for the link. I will be watching the cosmology talks.
    In 2003 there was another very awesome conference at Case on Cosmology (which I attended).
    here
    and there is a discussion of anthropic principle (which is the first time I saw it)

  2. AO says:

    “finishing up at 4:20″?? is that serious??

  3. artist says:

    The question of the origin of the world was solved long ago:
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=1777#comments

  4. Jeffrey McGowan says:

    OK, it’s not nearly as good as Courbet, but still…

    http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0903/0903.5321v1.pdf

  5. DatUCLA says:

    best april 1st post ever

  6. Joey Ramone says:

    If we can get Paul Davies’ time machine working on time, the Ramones will be headlinig the big bash at the Origins Initiative!

    We have a new song :

    Rock-rock-rock-rock’n’roll cosmology center!

    “Rock N Roll Cosmology Center”

    Well I don’t care about string theory
    Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
    ‘Cause that’s not where I wanna be
    Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
    I just wanna have some multiverse kicks
    I just wanna get some multiverse chicks
    Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school

    Well the girls out there knock me out, you know
    Rock, rock, rock’n’roll landscape
    Cruisin’ around in my time machine GTO
    Rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school
    I hate all predictions and old principles
    Don’t wanna be taught to be no fool
    Rock, rock, rock, rock, rock’n’roll high school

    Fun fun rock’n’roll cosmology center
    Fun fun rock’n’roll cosmology center
    Fun fun rock’n’roll cosmology center
    Fun fun, oh baby

    The album is called “A Cosmology Center in every Multiverse.”

    Hope to see you at the conference!

    Towards the end of the video, the LHC is turned on and it
    1) proves string theory
    2) finds seven multiverses
    3) locates 17 higher dimensions
    4) proves the anthropic principle
    5) creates baby black holes which become bouncing universes
    6) explodes before any of this can be recorded

    Joey

  7. Joey Ramone says:

    P.S. Here is the video for Rock’n’Roll Cosmology Center: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhRALq8IsL4

    Towards the end of the video, the LHC is turned on and it
    1) proves string theory
    2) finds seven multiverses
    3) locates 17 higher dimensions
    4) proves the anthropic principle
    5) creates baby black holes which become bouncing universes
    6) explodes before any of this can be recorded

  8. John Hungaton says:

    In one of the discussions in the Origin conference on Monday, it was suggested that Sundrum’s model “must be right”, as it “got him tenure”. This sort of reasoning is almost unbelievable…

    On the other hand, Brian Greene made it clear that one should talk about “string conjecture”, not “string theory”. He was not giving the impression to be completely sure that the whole endeavor is on the right track. Now, if Greene does not believe in it, who does?

    John

  9. woit says:

    John,

    I’m pretty sure the comment about Sundrum was a joke. On the other hand, in an environment where no one is coming up with models that make contact with experiment, maybe a model is “successful” if it gets one tenure.

    From what I’ve seen, Brian has always been careful to claim that string theory is a conjecture, and it’s not appropriate to “believe” in it. I think he and most string theorists desperately want to find some sort of prediction of the theory that would allow it to be tested, and are very frustrated that that has not turned out to be possible so far. To what extent he and others in their heart of hearts are getting to the point of doubting that the whole idea is on the right track is an interesting question I don’t know the answer to.