Several months ago Erick Weinberg had told me that his recollections of the story of the calculation of the Yang-Mills beta function were different than David Politzer’s. Erick actually did independently do the beta function calculation (for the case with scalars). At the time we talked he thought he had gotten the sign right, but the coefficient wrong, but now he has checked it and says the coefficient is right. He has posted his thesis on the arXiv, equation 6.68 is the beta-function. From the comments after this equation, you can see that he was aware that this meant that perturbation theory would break down in the infrared. Like ‘t Hooft though, who also did this kind of calculation, he wasn’t aware of the significance of asymptotic freedom in the ultraviolet for explaining the SLAC deep-inelastic scattering results.
Fabien Besnard has a new blog (in French), which is quite interesting. His latest post is a report from a Paris conference celebrating the Einstein centenary. He’s shocked by the comments of string cosmologist Thibault Damour that Popper was wrong, scientific theories don’t need to be falsifiable.
The New York Times has an article about the actress Danica McKellar and her work in mathematical physics. She was working with Lincoln Chayes while an undergraduate at UCLA. Lincoln and his then-wife Jennifer (also a mathematical physicist, now at Microsoft Research) were graduate students with me at Princeton. I have many happy memories of them and their impressive leather outfits, and our joint trips down to the punk-rock club City Gardens in Trenton.