- Mathematician Sasha Beilinson has a letter to the editor in this month’s AMS Notices calling on the AMS to sever all ties with the NSA (right now it manages NSA grants, and runs ads from the NSA in the Notices). Beilinson compares the NSA to the KGB of the former Soviet Union. For discussion of the Beilinson letter, see here.
- Beijing now has a Center for Future High Energy Physics, with Director the ubiquitous Nima Arkani-Hamed. The inaugural conference of the Center will be next month, on Future High Energy Circular Colliders. Nature has an article on the topic this week, Physicists plan to build a bigger LHC, about proposals to build a 100 TeV pp collider, with a possible electron-positron collider Higgs factory using the same tunnel. For the latest on TLEP, the proposal for such a Higgs factory at CERN, see here.
- I was in London a few days too early for this, but this week the Science Museum there celebrated the opening of its exhibition about the LHC with an event featuring Stephen Hawking. The Guardian has a report here. Hawking seems to think the LHC may see evidence for M-theory:
“There is still hope that we see the first evidence for M-theory at the LHC particle accelerator in Geneva,” said Hawking. “From an M-theory perspective, the collider only probes low energies, but we might be lucky and see a weaker signal of fundamental theory, such as supersymmetry.
“I think the discovery of supersymmetric partners for the known particles would revolutionise our understanding of the universe.”
As is often the case in stories like this, the wording about evidence for string/M-theory is rather odd. We’re told:
As yet there has been no incontrovertible experimental evidence to show that M-theory is correct.
but “no incontrovertible experimental evidence” is a peculiar way of phrasing “absolutely zero experimental evidence of any kind whatsoever.”
- For an interview with Shiraz Minwalla, one of the winners of this year’s Milner prizes for young researchers, see here.
- Edward Frenkel’s new book, Love and Math, has been getting quite a few good reviews, with the latest from Jim Holt in the New York Review of Books.
- Finally, your best source of fascinating mathematically-related graphics is surely going to be John Baez’s new Visual Insight blog.
Update: One more. The Perimeter Institute announced yesterday the funding (half provided by the Krembil Foundation) of two new chairs in theoretical physics. These will be held by two young mathematical physicists: Kevin Costello and Davide Gaiotto. As far as I know, the hiring of Costello away from Northwestern is the first time Perimeter has hired someone with a pure mathematics background. It’s good to see them moving in this direction.
Update: More about the new Perimeter chairs here. The article discusses the fact that this is a change of direction towards mathematics:
The choice is a strategic shift and a gamble for the 12-year-old institute, which is in a global tug-of-war for talent and looking to grow its profile as a centre for high-level thinking on some of the deepest questions in the universe.
Although math is the working language of physics and equations cram every available blackboard at Perimeter, Dr. Costello’s hiring, to be announced Saturday, will mark the first time the institute has sought a pure mathematician for its faculty….
“There’s something about the situation in physics today which makes it especially important to bring in high-powered mathematics,” said Neil Turok, the institute’s director.