Must be something in the air, lots of weird things going on recently:
My book has been officially non-endorsed by the people at Axes & Alleys.
I finally realized why Lubos was carrying on about how if any errors in my book had been corrected it was because of him. Evidently one of the university presses I sent it to decided he was an appropriate reviewer for the book, and sent it to him to referee. I assume the review was as loony as the one he put on Amazon, but I never saw it, and have no idea whether it convinced the publisher to turn down my book. I do wonder which if any string theorist suggested Lubos to the publisher as an appropriate referee. The “free marketplace of ideas”, indeed…
Lubos has put up a paranoid rant about how someone just told him that I “made amazon.co.uk erase all reviews” of the book except for the 5-star ones. This is complete nonsense. When his review appeared there and I first saw it over a month ago, I did hit the “report as inappopriate” link at the bottom of the review, but that’s all I ever did about this, and I never saw any other negative reviews except his. Actually, I think his review was responsible for several people posting positive reviews in response to it (thanks folks!). I have no idea why Amazon UK recently deleted his review. Perhaps lots of people hit the “report as inappropriate” link, perhaps someone there just read it and recognized it for what it is. I wrote a comment on Lubos’s blog explaining this, but it was immediately deleted (and has now been added to the Censored Comments From the Reference Frame section of this blog). It’s pretty hilarious how exercised he is about censorship.
Over at the arXiv in hep-ph, a few days ago there was a paper from Tom Banks entitled Remodeling the Pentagon After the Events of 2/23/06. Somehow, Banks seems to be comparing the appearance of the paper of Intriligator, Seiberg and Shih about metastable SUSY breaking to the events of 9/11, and the following “neo-conservative revolution” in the US. Banks had a SUSY model containing a “Pentagon” (a “new strongly interacting SU(5) super-QCD with 5 flavors of pentaquark”), which he now enhances with metastable SUSY breaking to get what he describes as “a lean and mean, stripped down version of the Pentagon, suitable for rapid deployment to solve all of the problems of the supersymmetric standard model” (a footnote warns about the Pentagon’s propensity for hyperbole).
A commenter here pointed to another paper on hep-ph, from last night, entitled Neighboring Valley in the String Landscape. Pretty much pure science fiction, although it did make me realize that just about any Landscape paper could be improved by doing what this author did, including an impressive color graphic of the earth de-materializing.
Over at hep-th, there’s a new paper last night, entitled Generalized Flux Vacua. Using a new construction, the authors find an infinite number of solutions that are supposed to be consistent backgrounds for string theory. This pulls the plug on the arguments from a couple weeks ago by Acharya and Douglas that the Landscape should be finite (after imposing varous cutoffs). The authors also claim that this drains some of the swampland promoted recently by Ooguri and Vafa. They do note that, although string theory is a completely precise and rigorous framework, it’s impossible to tell whether the backgrounds they describe really are consistent vacua for string theory (because of, among other things, possible non-perturbative effects):
This somewhat surprising result seems to contradict recent predictions regarding properties of the string landscape, though as we will discuss there are some reasons why the solutions we find may not correspond to stable nonperturbative vacua in a complete string theory framework.