Some short items of a wide variety of kinds:
- Witten has posted to the arXiv a long paper about the work on superstring perturbation theory that he has been doing. Superstring Perturbation Theory Revisited, together with two papers of background material (see here and here) weighs in at 400 pages. For an explanation of the main points, you might want to start with one of Witten’s recent talks on the subject, for instance this one at Strings 2012.
Witten doesn’t make much in the way of claims for the significance of this work, portraying it more as a project of going through the foundations of the subject of how you define higher loop superstring amplitudes in a much more careful way than was common during the mid-late 80s when this was a hot topic of research. The technicalities here are ferocious, well beyond my expertise. It will be interesting to see if this project revives interest in the subject and others start working on it again.
- Also on the arXiv is a new paper from Paul Frampton, with affiliation now including the Centro Universitario Devoto, part of the prison where he is unfortunately still incarcerated in Argentina. He argues here that he is still able to fulfill his duties as a University of North Carolina professor from Devoto prison, but doesn’t seem to have gotten the university to agree about this.
- There’s a conference at DESY this week on Lessons from the first phase of the LHC, with talks on Friday discussing “Where could SUSY be hiding?” and “Searches for new physics at the LHC: some frustration, but no despair…”. For some additional context to the SUSY issue, I recently ran across this talk from SUSY 02, 10 years ago, which argued that SUSY arguments implied that “superpartners are probably being produced” at a new collider that had been running for a year or two (the Tevatron Run II at that time).
- The SCOAP3 consortium has announced a plan to support commercial journals publishing HEP papers, paying them 1000-2000$ per HEP paper they publish according to a complicated formula. Elsevier would get about $2.4 million/year for papers in Physics Letters B and Nuclear Physics B, but somehow reduce its subscription fees to compensate. I don’t understand at all how this is supposed to work (obvious problems include that of why anyone would subscribe once it was all open access, and what the mechanism is to stop publishers from increasing revenues by publishing more second-rate papers). Nature has an article explaining more about what is going on here. Steven Harnad describes the scheme as Unnecessary, Unscalable and Unsustainable, Peter Coles as “Particle physics volunteers to be fleeced…”
- String theory advertising available here, Sean Carroll commentary about this here.
- At Foundations of Physics, Gerard ’t Hooft has a new paper which doesn’t seem to be on the arXiv, On the Foundations of Superstring Theory (you may need a subscription to read it). Here’s the abstract:
Superstring theory is an extension of conventional quantum field theory that allows for stringlike and branelike material objects besides pointlike particles. The basic foundations on which the theory is built are amazingly shaky, and, equally amazingly, it seems to be this lack of solid foundations to which the theory owes its strength. We emphasize that such a situation is legitimate only in the development phases of a new doctrine. Eventually, a more solidly founded structure must be sought.
Although it is advertised as a “candidate theory of quantum gravity”, we claim that string theory may not be exactly that. Rather, just like quantum field theory itself, it is a general mathematical framework for a class of theories. Its major flaw could be that it still embraces a Copenhagen view on the relation between quantum mechanics and reality, while any “theory of everything”, that is, a theory for the entire cosmos, should do better than that.
There’s a recent blog posting about this here, including commentary from ’t Hooft himself.
- If you’re trying to keep up on reaction to Mochizuki’s claimed proof of the ABC conjecture, try looking here. Still I think a very long ways to go before experts understand this well enough to evaluate whether this is a solid proof.
- I recently heard from Nick Carlin, who has unearthed the following scientific documents: Strange Particle Interactions in a Bubble Chamber and The Angular Correlation of Polarization of Annihilation Radiation, from late 1977 or spring 1978. Handwritten commentary is from William J. Skocpol and Robert V. Pound.
Update: Some frustration, but no despair is now on-line. The first slide is pretty amusing…
Update: More news about the latest in Paul Frampton’s case here.