I’ve been much too busy the past few days, so haven’t had time to write anything new here. One thing that has been keeping me busy is going over the copy-edited version of the American edition of my book, which will be published in September by Basic Books. The British edition, published by Jonathan Cape, should be available June 1, both in Britain and Canada, and presumably one can order it from the British or Canadian versions of Amazon. The American version will have a somewhat different preface, and has been separately copy-edited, so there will be minor changes (beyond just changing British spellings back to the American ones I first wrote down…). Late last week I was sent an early copy of the British version of the book itself, and I’m very happy with how it looks.
Last week I also spent a significant amount of time at my colleague John Morgan’s 60th birthday conference, which was held here in the math department. Morgan is one of the leading figures in topology, and over the years has worked on a wide range of different kinds of mathematics, often bringing the subject together with other very different parts of mathematics. At the moment he’s involved in at least two projects, one involving Calabi-Yaus with Chuck Doran, another an ambitious attempt with Gang Tian to work out the details of Perelman’s proof of the Poincare conjecture. He’s also doing a stellar job as chair of our department.
Morgan has collaborated with and interacted significantly with Witten over the years, and Witten gave a wonderful talk at the conference on Gauge Theory and the Geometric Langlands Program. This was really just a taste aimed at mathematicians of his recent work on geometric Langlands and gauge theory. He explained some of the history of Montonen-Olive duality, some of the relevance of supersymmetry to mathematics, and then explained what an ‘t Hooft operator in gauge theory is, and that it is related to the Hecke operators studied in geometric Langlands.
Here are some quick links to interesting things I’ve run across recently:
John Baez has a new edition of his proto-blog “This Week’s Finds in Mathematical Physics”. It contains a beautiful exposition of the circle of very different sorts of mathematics that all gets related via Dynkin diagrams.
Greg Moore and his recently graduated student Dmitriy Belov had a beautiful new paper on self-dual field theory in 4l+2 dimensions.
Christianity Today has an article entitled Science in Wonderland, which mentions Susskind and string theory and notes:
This theory has not met with, shall we say, universal approbation, not least because it can’t be empirically tested. You could even say it’s not science, and some have said that, but they don’t hiss the way they do when they talk about Intelligent Design.
The AMS has a new web-site devoted to Mathematical Imagery.
In the comment section here, Bert Schroer pointed to some web-sites I wasn’t aware of that contain all sorts of links to various material related to the algebraic approach to QFT. These include the home page of Stephen Summers and the Local Quantum Physics Crossroads” hosted at Gottingen.
Update: If you want to know why the mathematics associated with Dynkin diagrams can’t be usefully explained or viscerally understood without string theory, as well as why John Baez is a proto-human, you can consult the blog of a prominent Harvard faculty member. He also notes that
Peter Woit is another proto-human who eats everyone who dares to look in between the clouds. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
and explains in great detail why
it is important not only to learn string theory well but also to emphasize that and explain why people like Peter Woit are intellectual barbarian cannibals. 😉