Short Items

  • There’s a wonderful new research mathematics site: Math Overflow. For some discussion of it, see here and here.
  • For yet another wonderful new site about research mathematics, there’s the French Images des Mathématiques.
  • Why is there nothing in theoretical physics anywhere near as good as the above two sites?
  • Via Flip Tanedo, an NPR story about Berkeley’s parking spaces for Nobelists. He neglects to mention that, starting with Vaughan Jones in 1990, Berkeley started providing equivalent parking spaces for Fields medalists.
  • It looks like multiverse mania is not just an American phenomenon, since there’s a new popular book on the multiverse out in Germany Die verrückte Welt der Paralleluniversen, by Tobias Hürter and Max Rauner. For a synopsis in English, see here. The authors have a blog, Multiversum.
  • The Perimeter Institute has just announced more details of their expansion plans. The new 55,000 square foot expansion of their building will be named the Stephen Hawking Centre at Perimeter Institute. They have doubled the number of Distinguished Research Chairs to 20, with ten new appointments announced here. Director Neil Turok is giving a talk about their plans today, video should be on-line soon.
  • This week at Perimeter they’re having a Quantum to Cosmos Festival. It started off Thursday night with a discussion by 9 physicists organized around “what keeps them up at night”. String theorist David Tong explained that he used to be kept up at night worrying about whether string theory unification could ever be tested, scientifically justifying the subject. Nowadays though, he says he sleeps fine since he no longer needs to worry about this: even if string theory unification is untestable, string theory research can be justified because it provides approximate calculational methods that might be useful in nuclear or condensed matter physics.
  • Last Updated on

    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

    10 Responses to Short Items

    1. Patrick Tam says:

      One of the creators of mathoverflow told me that stackoverflow.com inspired him. Stackoverflow is similar except for programming. Eventually, stackoverflow offered a service (http://stackexchange.com/) to run sites similar to it. The mathoverflow folks decided to use that. So math use to be in the same position (without good sites) you find theoretical physics. It is conceivable that the theoretical physics community will eventually set up something similar with the stackexchange service.

    2. Anton Tykhyy says:

      Actually there already exists a physics site, the problem being that it’s still empty — http://physics.stackexchange.com/

    3. PhilG says:

      Math Overflow needs TeX support to make it worth using.

      I much prefer the MathLinks forum which is an offshoot of The Art of Problem Solving. It is based around maths contest style questions but you will find discussions about maths problems at all levels there. It has been around for a few years and has over 70,000 registered users thanks to excellent TeX features and an friendly open atmosphere.

    4. Thomas says:

      Don’t UseGroups (nowadays aka Google Groups) fulfill the same purpose as MathOverflow/StackExchange?
      And they seem to be quiet alive and kicking!

    5. Tim vB says:

      Skimmed “Die verrückte Welt der Paralleluniversen”, the good thing is that this book does not hype the multiverse, but is just an attempt to draw some money from the existing hype. With some luck this thing will not be published in English. God, I think I lost 2 IQ point by just reading pages 100 to 150.

    6. Bob Levine says:

      “Nowadays though, he says he sleeps fine since he no longer needs to worry about this: even if string theory unification is untestable, string theory research can be justified because it provides approximate calculational methods that might be useful in nuclear or condensed matter physics.”

      So we’ve gone in a few short years from ‘the only game in town’ to computational heuristics?? Wow, how the mighty are falling… reading this statement from Tong, I could not get out of my mind the horrendously vivid scenes from Sergei Bondarchuk’s 1968 8-hour ultramasterpiece version of WAR & PEACE depicting the deathmarch retreat of Napoleon’s Grande Armée after the disastrous march on Moscow. If I were DT, I don’t think I’d be sleeping particularly well at all…

    7. joey says:

      calculational methods that might be useful in nuclear or condensed matter physics.

      might…!? what did he mean, might be useful? Just might, like in might be testable one day?

      I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight…

    8. Chris W. says:

      From the mathoverflow FAQ:

      What is this? Who are you?
      Math Overflow runs on Stack Exchange, the hosted service that provides the same software as the popular programming Q&A site Stack Overflow. The hosting cost is paid from the research funds of our generous benefactor, Ravi Vakil of Stanford University.

      Keeping Math Overflow clean, civil, and on topic are its moderators: David Brown, Daniel Erman, Anton Geraschenko, Scott Morrison, and Ben Webster. If you have any problems with the site, contact Anton Geraschenko (geraschenko@mathoverflow.net).

      As a long-time reader of Joel Spolsky’s blog, and occasional reader of stackoverflow, I have to wonder why the people behind this new site felt compelled to ape the name of Spolsky’s and Atwood’s original site. After all, the term stack overflow has a particular meaning and significance to programmers, whereas math overflow means nothing, really. The first offshoot of stackoverflow based on the Stack Exchange platform is called serverfault; it’s for system administrators and IT professionals. The common theme is that of a breakdown or failure that somebody is trying to understand and resolve, although the scope of the questions on these sites is broader than that.

    9. teaser says:

      So does this mean that string theorists will be absorbed into the condensed matter physics departments at universities everywhere? That should help the department numbers for these folks – and their funding.

    10. Aristarchus says:

      Stephen Hawking’s position at Cambridge has been replaced by a string pioneer:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/oct/20/stephen-hawking-michael-green-cambridge

    Comments are closed.