- I confess to mostly finding “philosophy of physics” arguments not very helpful for understanding anything, but for those who feel differently, some new things to look at are a Scientific American article Physicists Debate Whether the World is Made of Particles or Fields or Something Else Entirely, an interview with Jonathan Bain, an interview with Tim Maudlin, a debate between John Ellis, Lawrence Krauss and theologian Don Cupitt about Why is there something rather than nothing?, and the talks at a UCSC Philosophy of Cosmology Summer School. Since the last of these was funded by the Templeton Foundation, it ended with several talks on “Implications of cosmology for the philosophy of religion”. These included a detailed argument that the explanation for the laws of nature is “there is a perfect being”, contrasting this to another argument favored at the Summer School “the multiverse did it”.
- This week the Perimeter Institute will host Loops 13, devoted to loop quantum gravity and other quantum gravity approaches. While it’s also funded by Templeton, the organizers seem to have managed to keep God out of this one.
- At CERN, Amplitudes, Strings and Branes is on-going. Philip Gibbs has an amusing argument that this and Loops 13 are The Same Bloody Thing.
- One thing the LQG and Amplitudes people do share is that some of their most important ideas come from the same person: Roger Penrose (who, but the way, would be a good candidate for the Fundamental Physics Prize, although his distaste for string theory might be a disqualifier). There’s a long interview with him at The Ideas Roadshow, mainly about his “Cyclic Universe” ideas.
- The Simons Foundation has been publishing some excellent science reporting, and now has an online publication they’re calling Quanta Magazine. The latest story there is a very good piece on the search for dark matter from Jennifer Ouellette. The Simons Center at Stony Brook now has a newsletter about their activities.
- Another on-going conference is one of the big yearly HEP conferences, EPS HEP 2013 in Stockholm. CMS and LHCb have impressive new results about rare B decays, timed for this conference. For the details, see Tommaso Dorigo. There are also CMS and CERN press releases.
Last year similar but less accurate results were advertised as putting SUSY “in the hospital”, which some people objected to, on the grounds that it was already in trouble and this kind of result doesn’t make things much worse. Resonaances had the details, summarizing this a “another handful of earth upon the coffin”. The CERN press office tries to put the best SUSY spin on this that it can:
One popular theory is known as supersymmetry, SUSY for short. It postulates the existence of a new type of particle for every Standard Model particle we know, and some of these particles would have just the right properties to make up a large part of the dark universe. There are many SUSY models in circulation, and SUSY is just one of many theoretical routes to physics beyond the Standard Model. Today’s measurements allow physicists to sort between them. Many are incompatible with the new measurements, and so must be discarded, allowing the theory community to work on those that are still in the running.
- Finally, for those with mathematical interests who have waded through the above, Terry Tao has a remarkable long expository piece about the Riemann hypothesis, ranging from analytic number theory aspects through the function field case and l-adic cohomology.
Update: For more from Penrose, see this recent talk in Warsaw.
Update: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics is planning a special issue on the significance of the Higgs discovery, the call for papers is here.