Discover Magazine has just announced a competition, calling on people to submit videos to them that “clearly explain perhaps the most baffling idea in the history of the world: string theory”. The challenge is called String Theory in Two Minutes or Less, and the winner gets featured in an upcoming issue of Discover. In related news, one of my correspondents suggested making my postings available as YouTube videos, but I think I’ll resist any temptation to go that route.
Michael Peskin was here at Columbia yesterday, giving the physics colloquium, which was mainly about prospects for detecting at the LHC the kind of supersymmetric WIMP that is supposed to make up dark matter. On his web-site there are slides which more or less correspond to the talk he gave. The bottom line is that he believes that over the next 5-10 years we’ll be seeing evidence for such a WIMP from all of three different sources: astronomy (GLAST), direct detection experiments, and the LHC. The claim is that the LHC should be able to detect the existence of such a particle (although it’s not easy…) and maybe even measure the mass to 10 percent.
Experimental HEP bloggers keep putting out gripping multi-part stories about what it’s like to be dealing with collider data that is not conclusive, but has anomalies that promise the possibility of something new and exciting. See the latest from John Conway and Tommaso Dorigo.
There’s a new mathematician’s blog out there, John Armstrong’s The Unapologetic Mathematician. He promises “I’m sure I can come up with a good rant once a week or so. Actually, I’ll set that as a goal.”
NPR’s last Science Friday program dealt with experimental HEP physics, featuring David Barney (CMS), Jacobo Konigsberg (CDF) and Barry Barish (ILC).
I managed to get to a few of the talks at last week’s City College workshop on non-perturbative Yang-Mills that was mentioned here recently. Unfortunately I couldn’t get up there on Friday and missed talks by Maldacena and Freidel that I would have liked to see, but did make it to some of the talks on Thursday and Saturday. It appears that progress in 3+1d remains limited, but quite a lot of work is going on with new analytical methods for dealing with 2+1d, which can be tested by comparison with extensive results from lattice gauge theory computer simulations.
Max Karoubi has a new paper on the arXiv, Twisted K-theory, old and new. It traces the origins of the subject back to nearly 40 years ago, explaining the original mathematical motivations, old and new results, and relations between them.
Over at edge.org, my friend Nathan Myhrvold has his photos and an essay about penguins. OK, besides Nathan’s background in the quantum gravity business, this has nothing to do with math or physics. But the things are damn cute…
Update: A commenter points out that I should also advertise a bit an event taking place downtown here in New York next week. I’ll be talking at the Cafe Scientifique, which will take place at 7:30 next Tuesday evening, at the Rialto Restaurant in Soho.