Assorted News

Yesterday Sean Carroll and I appeared on the BBC Radio 4 program The Material World, in a segment on String theory – knot good enough?, about the controversy over string theory. The segment started with a piece from the play Humble Boy by Charlotte Jones, in which the main character is working on string theory. I don’t think anything either of us said was particularly controversial or would be in any way surprising to a regular reader of either of our blogs. The same program had a segment on the multiverse three weeks ago.

Some more titles of talks at next week’s Strings 07 have appeared. Witten’s talk is entitled “Three-Dimensional Gravity Revisited” and presumably will be about the new ideas described here. So, at least one talk there will be about a non-string theory approach to quantum gravity more along the lines of the LQG program. The schedule doesn’t seem to include any discussion session like the one at Strings 05 where the audience voted against the anthropic landscape.

A competing conference to Strings 07, Loops 07 will be taking place at the same time next week, but in Mexico, not Madrid. It’s much smaller, with less than a third as many participants. There will be one plenary talk on string theory, Moshe Roszali speaking on “Background Independence in String Theory”.

As the hunt for the Higgs is heating up at Fermilab, and CERN has officially announced the delay of LHC startup until next May, there’s a group of filmmakers who may be well-positioned if something exciting is found at the Tevatron. For the last few years 137 Films has been making a film to be called The Atom Smashers, following scientists working at FNAL. Filmmaker Clayton Brown is keeping a blog about this.

Yet another bogus “possible [experimental] signature for string theory”. Even Lubos doesn’t seem to believe this one, so I’ll just quote his argument:

My personal guess based on our work on the weak gravity conjecture is that the black hole bound is also satisfied in string theory for localized macroscopic objects, up to small corrections. This belief of mine is supported by the observation that Gimon & Hořava don’t have any explicit solution for their “superspinar”.

Christina Sormani tells me she has created a Wikipedia article on the proof of the Poincare conjecture, see here. For the latest on Perelman, see here.

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54 Responses to Assorted News

  1. Kea says:

    Witten’s criticism of the gauge theory approach, mentioned by Distler (who was at the talk), would seem to apply to both strings and Woit’s favoured QFT thinking.

  2. anon. says:

    Kea, I note that you quote Lubos’ remark on your blog:

    “Well, I happen to think that if Edward Witten started to work on loop quantum gravity, as defined by the existing contemporary methods and standards of the loop quantum gravity community, it wouldn’t mean that physics is undergoing a phase transition. Instead, it would simply mean that Edward Witten would be getting senile. We all admire him and love him, if you want me to say strong words, but he is still a scientist, not God.” – Lubos Motl

    This kind of gives the impression that Ed Witten risks being deemed as “senile” and “not God” but merely “a scientist” if he did take more interest in Loop Quantum Gravity. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t?

  3. LDM says:

    Since that particular laser history is not taught in the textbooks, it is safe to say more than a few physicists are unaware of it.

    Regarding your comment:
    Anyhow, let’s wait 30 more years to see if we will better understand physics by studying things like gravity in 2+1 dimensions, the SM landscape in 2+1 dimensions, etc.

    Well of course, there’s no need to wait 30 years, you can simply decide now that these approaches are sterile, and so strike out on your own…and if these approaches are not likely to go anywhere in terms of physics, you have drastically increased your chances of discovering something interesting by not studying them.

  4. evankeane says:

    Ah i noticed this paper on the violation of the Kerr bound while perusing the arXiv … was wondering if you would mention it!

    Evan Keane

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