My spring break vacation is not quite over but, after 10 days of spectacularly beautiful weather, it’s now raining hard here today and I’ve got some time indoors to write something. First some quick links to things I’ve seen in my short periods of recent internet access (leaving the BICEP2 story for after I get back Tuesday …):
- I don’t often link to things at Tommaso Dorigo’s blog, since my advice is that you should just always follow it since it’s the best HEP experiment blog to be found. His latest has news of an impressive CMS limit on the Higgs width, something that I had never realized could be done. This should get a lot more attention than it has gotten; it’s a great example of experimental cleverness, getting at a seemingly impossible measurement in an indirect way.
And, seriously, I’m not just saying this since Tommaso recently showed me around Venice…
- For another, very different, blog you should be following, there’s my friend Mathbabe, who has a simultaneously amusing and disturbing take on Princeton, which addresses the question of why it produces graduates like this one.
From what I can tell, Princeton seems to be little changed since the time I spent there more than thirty years ago, and at the time it seemed devoted to staying much like the place of thirty years before that. Something that hasn’t changed is the vanishingly small number of women, with even fewer at the IAS on the other side of the golf course (and if you want to argue about why that is, please do it somewhere else).
One thing I did enjoy about Princeton was getting to know some of my fellow students. In other HEP news, one of them, Jon Bagger, has just been appointed director at TRIUMF.
The recent HEPAP meeting seems to have had some unusual activity from the DOE in response to Laurence Yaffe’s recent complaints about large cuts to theory grants. This included a presentation specifically about HEP Theory funding, but reading it I still don’t see the explanation for why, as Yaffe claimed, cuts in theory group funding seem to be much more widespread than in other areas (see page 9 of this presentation).
The DOE/HEP presentation had a specific warning against discussion on blogs of funding problems, I’d guess specifically aimed at Yaffe:
Intense discussion in the community around the sociological issues can easily be mistaken by decision makers as disputes over the P5 plan, so please be careful to frame discussion points properly, especially when discussing issues we face with others outside the field.
– Blogging, posting on public websites are a de facto public conversation
‘Bickering scientists get nothing’
- Scott Aaronson has a review of Max Tegmark’s Our Mathematical Universe, which argues that the main claim the book is designed to promote is empty, but everyone should read it:
I think everyone interested in math, science, or philosophy should buy the book and read it. And I still think the MUH is basically devoid of content, as it stands.