The science magazine Seed is being relaunched, and the first issue of its new incarnation is now on the newsstands. Their motto is “Science is Culture”, and Clifford Johnson over at Cosmic Variance has an enthusiastic appreciation of what they are doing. The magazine is strikingly attractive, with impressive photography and graphics. One photo essay pairs photos with important equations.
There’s a piece by Lisa Randall promoting her recent work with Andreas Karch on what she calls the “relaxation principle”. I guess this is meant to be a sort of vacuum selection principle, contrasted to the “anthropic principle”. In her Seed article she describes what she is doing as follows :
The challenge for physicists, and the problem I tackle in my own work, is find all possible qualitatively different universes — and to search for principles that determine which of these universes is most likely to exist.
Unfortunately there seem to be an infinite variety of possible such universes, and examining them all could easily take up the efforts of all particle theorists for the next few centuries. There’s zero evidence for any sort of vacuum selection principle that will pick out the standard model from this infinite array of possibilities, so setting out on this path means probably abandoning any hope for ever explaining much of anything about particle physics. Karch and Randall try to give an argument for why there are 3 space dimensions, ending up with an argument for the survival of both 3 and 7 dimensional branes if one starts out with branes of all dimensions. This is a very, very long way from getting any non-trivial information about particle physics.
This issue of the magazine also has a short piece entitled “A New Force? How blogs are revolutionizing physics” by Joshua Roebke, an ex-string cosmology graduate student who now works at Seed. Joshua devotes a sizable part of his piece to telling about “Not Even Wrong” and some of the effects it has been having. Earlier this summer I had lunch with him here in New York and was encouraged to see that Seed has someone on staff with a good theoretical physics background.
Update: Lubos Motl also has a posting about the new Seed magazine. He comments on the Karch-Randall “relaxation principle”, saying that he “kind of worked on it”, but
frankly, I don’t really believe it – because of the devil hiding in the details that just don’t seem to work – much like many other proposals that have appeared in recent years.