Various things that I’ve run across recently that seem worth mentioning:
The New York Times today in its Science Times section has a very interesting article by Dennis Overbye entitled China Pursues Major Role in Particle Physics. It tells some of the history of particle physics in China, describes the BEPC accelerator in Beijing which has just had a luminosity upgrade, and discusses the role China may play in future accelerator projects, especially the ILC. A US physicist who sometimes works at BEPC, Frederick Harris, is quoted as saying “The rate China is growing, this is something they could contemplate hosting in 10 years.” Perhaps the future of high-energy frontier accelerator projects really will be in China.
There’s also an associated article about the spring 1989 physics conference in Beijing that overlapped with the Tiananmen Square massacre, with David Gross quoted as saying “Until the shooting began, the visit was delightful.” He and Vafa describe the bloody van that was supposed to be their transport, after it had been used to pick up wounded students, two of whom died.
Physics World has an article about physicists willing to make bets, called Physicists who fancy a flutter, featuring Tommaso Dorigo’s recent $1000 bet with Gordon Watts and Jacques Distler over what the LHC will see.
New Scientist has a feature article Physics Goes Hollywood, about Costas Efthimiou and a course he is teaching at the University of Central Florida. The idea of the course is to have students watch movies, often ones with a sci-fi theme, then use real physics to critique the accuracy of scenes in the movies. Costas is a particle theorist who has worked on conformal field theories, and was a visitor here at Columbia for a while, from what I remember. He has several papers about teachng physics using films, most recently this one.
The Cao-Zhu paper giving the details of the proof of the Poincare conjecture that originally appeared in the Asian Journal of Mathematics has now been posted in revised form on the the arXiv. The revised version includes an apology to Kleiner and Lott for not acknowledging the use of their work in the original version.
Geometric Langlands is definitely the hot topic of the moment, I just learned about two more conferences about this that will take place soon. One is a Gottingen Winterschule, on January 4-7, the second is a program on Langlands Duality and Physics, to be held at the Schrodinger Institute in Vienna from January 9-20.
A couple weeks ago in Hamburg there was a conference on Kahler Geometry and Mathematical Physics, held to celebrate the 100th birthday of Erich Kahler.
Princeton will be hosting a conference next year entitled Geometry and the Imagination in honor of Bill Thurston’s 60th birthday.
Dmitry Vaintrob, son of mathematician Arkady Vaintrob, has won a $100,000 scholarship from the Siemens foundation based on a research project in string topology. For more discussion of this, and what it means for string theory, see here.
Update: Two more.
Giorgios Choudalakis took a poll back in August of grad-students, postdocs and professors associated with Fermilab, asking them what they expected the LHC to find. Here are the results. More about this at Fermilab Today.
A commenter points out that this week’s Zippy the Pinhead deals with one character’s doubts about string theory. Over the last few years, the comic has often dealt with string theory, to see this try typing “string” into this search page.