Tommaso Dorigo and I put on a bit of a show yesterday here in Antwerp at TEDxFlanders, and the results are already available on YouTube (and Tommaso has blog postings here and here). Doing this sort of thing for 1000 people in a venue like the Antwerp Opera House is not at all the sort of thing I’m used to, so I’m glad that it seemed to come out reasonably well.

Much of this was due to the incredible all-volunteer staff, which put on an ambitious day-long program on a shoe-string (+ crucial help from some sponsors) and pulled it off with only the most minor hitches. Christophe Cop was the “curator” and founding father of TEDxFlanders, and Thomas Goorden led the production team to victory. It was a great pleasure to meet them, many of the other volunteers, and some of the other speakers, as well as to get a chance to enjoy some time in the beautiful city of Antwerp.

Back to New York (and maybe somewhat more regular blogging) on Tuesday. Hoping to make Dick Gross’s second Eilenberg lecture on Local Langlands at the Columbia math department in the afternoon…

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10 Responses to TEDxFlanders

  1. Bernhard says:

    Very enjoyable. I kind off lost a bit what you were saying at 13:31 as the camera decided to show a really beautiful woman instead of you, but the rest I´ve got it :-).

  2. P says:

    is it true you don’t own a car?

  3. keinkar says:

    George Washington didn’t own a car either.

  4. Peter Woit says:


    Yes, no car. This isn’t exactly unusual though for people living in Manhattan, where it makes a lot more sense to rent a car when one needs to go out of town and rely on public transportation, taxis (and a bike..) in the city.

  5. Lau says:

    Great talk, both you and Tommaso!

    I’m shocked to see Lubos’ comment on Tommaso’s blog about it. I hope Tommaso doesn’t delete it, so everyone can see how impolite (I don’t want to use a stronger word) Lubos is…

  6. Peter Woit says:


    It’s not really anything new for Lubos, he’s been at this for years. That string theory skepticism has been getting a lot more attention than string theory advocacy in recent years really drives him nuts, with the results that you see….

  7. Quantumburrito says:

    Great talk, and not much to add about Lubos Motl whose comment was disgusting. For all his apparent erudition in swearing, Motl is nothing but a failed physicist (who was denied tenure at Harvard) who has crashed and burned and is simply jealous that others are getting more attention than his lunatic, hateful ravings. He hates the fact that he will never make an important contribution to physics and he hates the fact that criticism of string theory is now mainstream; all he can do is foam about it. Face it Lubos, you will probably end up a jealous, cussing old geezer who will never make it even to the footnotes of the physics books. Enjoy your wretched life.

  8. Peter Woit says:


    I do wonder what Lubos will end up as, maybe a major political figure in the Czech Republic?

    For the sake of accuracy, it’s my impression that he wasn’t denied tenure at Harvard, but (like many if not most of their junior faculty) left before a tenure decision came up. In some places like Harvard, it’s assumed that typical junior faculty will do this, with most going on to very respectable positions elsewhere. I don’t know exactly why Lubos left academia totally, but string theory crashing and burning was probably part of it (not that he would admit this). Maybe a larger part was realizing that if he wanted a tenured position somewhere he’d have to stop ranting public attacks on people he disagreed with.

  9. King Ray says:

    This comment is a little off topic, but might be illuminating. I read Understanding Other People by Stuart Palmer, since it was recommended in a book about writing fiction, to help you understand your characters and develop their motivations. Palmer’s thesis is that everyone is motivated by the need to gain approval and/or the need to avoid disapproval. If someone is frustrated in these needs, and they are not properly socialized, then they turn to aggression against others. Someone who is too socialized to aggress against others may end up aggressing against themselves, e.g., suicide. An example given in the book is that of a hermit. A hermit doesn’t have a strong need for approval, but has a very strong need to avoid disapproval, so they avoid other people.

  10. Rane Bowen says:

    I seem to have taken too long to get about watching this – the youtube video is now private, and I can’t see it!

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