Later this week there will be a mini-workshop at City College organized by some of the CUNY particle theorists, on the topic of Yang-Mills Theories: nonperturbative aspects. The schedule of talks is here, I’m planning on attending some of them.
Also this week, Witten is speaking at the IAS on Wednesday with the title “Operator Expansion Product of ‘t Hooft Operators”. I’d like to go down to Princeton to hear this, but have to teach here around the same time, so won’t be able to attend the talk. Maybe someone who does attend will tell us about what Witten had to say.
There’s an interesting new particle theory blog, called Resonaances, and written by someone in the CERN Theory Group (who for now is operating anonymously as “Jester”, also commenting here). It includes reports of talks at the recent Winter School on Strings, Supergravity and Gauge Theories, discussion or recent ideas about supersymmetry breaking using metastable vacua, and scary photos from the Christmas party, which included someone playing a Borat/Theorat character and Wolfgang Lerche as the string pope, intoning the following prayer:
Our Witten, which art in Princeton,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Nobel come,
Thy will be done,
In CERN as it is in the US.
Give us this day our daily string,
And forgive us our theory,
As we forgive those who do phenomenology.
Lead us not into experiment,
And deliver us from tests.
For thine is the arXiv,
Hep-th and math-AG,
For ever and ever,
Over at Tommaso Dorigo’s blog, he’s spreading wild rumors about a Higgs signal seen by CDF. He does acknowledge that this “signal” is not the sort of thing one should take seriously, almost certainly a statistical fluctuation. With the Tevatron getting closer to the point where it might actually see the Higgs, and the LHC sooner or later starting to produce data, I look forward to the prospect of lots of rumors being put out by bloggers of Higgs or SUSY signals. I remember many years ago that there were always new rumors of things being seen at experiments, which just about always turned out to not actually be there. In recent years the large experimental collaborations have done a better job of acting responsibly and not letting wild rumors get out. Maybe the blogging phenomenon can play a useful role in getting the irresponsible rumor game going again. Any CDF/D0 people who want to send me rumors that I can then irresponsibly help propagate are encouraged to do so.
I just got a copy of a new textbook about Lie groups and their representations, called Compact Lie Groups, by Mark Sepanski. I had been frustrated that there wasn’t a book out there of just the right level with the same perspective I’m taking during the next few weeks of my graduate course, but Sepanski looks just right. From what I’ve seen so far of it, I recommend it highly as a place to learn about things like the Peter-Weyl and Borel-Weil theorems.
Another interesting book I recently acquired is Terry Gannon’s Moonshine Beyond the Monster, which is highly readable as well as entertaining, and contains a wealth of information about affine lie algebras, “modular moonshine”, vertex operator algebras and conformal field theory, and much more.
There are two new textbooks now out about string theory and attempts to get the a unified theory of particle physics out of it, by Michael Dine, and by Katrin and Melanie Becker and John Schwarz. I haven’t had a chance to look at either very carefully, but they both seem to neglect to mention that this idea doesn’t work. The thing that most amazes me though is Dine’s choice for one of the three luminaries of the field to get a blurb from that might convince people to buy the book: Lubos Motl.