- Long-awaited results from the Planck experiment were unveiled last week, with a new model for how to do this: hold a conference with no videos, no slides released, no wifi in the lecture hall, and put out a press release in French. They did release an amazing image that looks like a Van Gogh, but if you want numbers, you have to search Twitter. Stories at Nature and the New York Times indicate not much new, data relevant to primordial gravitational waves still to come (Dec. 22?, next year?).
- News from MIT is that, after an investigation of charges of sexual harassment of one or more students online, the university has revoked physics professor Walter Lewin’s emeritus status and is removing his lecture videos and course material from their online course sites.
- Today’s Wall Street Journal has a sensible piece by Ira Rothstein on The Perils of Romanticizing Physics.
- I took a look at Kip Thorne’s The Science of Interstellar in a local bookstore. It gives a detailed explanation of the “science” behind the film, explaining what a lot of the highly confusing later plot of the film was supposedly about. It seems it’s all based on the “large extra dimension” business of 15 years ago, the dimensions that were supposed to show up at the LHC. If you want to see all the equations, go here and look for the pictures of the blackboards.
- The LHC magnets are now getting trained for 6.5 TeV operation, as well as inspiring fashion designers.
- I mentioned last year’s Gelfand Centennial conference at MIT here, thought that there were no videos. Luckily I was wrong, quite a few talks well worth watching are now available here.
- Videos from the Breakthrough Prize symposia recently held at Stanford are now available. For the physics talks, see here. For the math talks, see here, here, here, here, here and here.
- If you need a change of pace, and can’t get enough of the string theory/LQG debate, this is for you.
- For talks about the implications of not seeing new physics at the LHC, there’s Naturalness 2014. Nima Arkani-Hamed kicked it off with “Hopefully My Last Ever Talk On This!” (seems unlikely…). He argues for the idea that it’s the Multiverse that did it, and we should keep looking for Split SUSY, disses “conformality” approaches. Matt Strassler on the other hand points out that Arkani-Hamed’s use of the multiverse explanation doesn’t make sense (there’s no anthropic reason for the highly non-generic SM).
- There’s a workshop this week at Caltech on scattering amplitudes and the Grassmanian.
- Finally, a HEPAP meeting this week. Budget news for HEP theory doesn’t look good, but on the other hand the US now seems to be functioning without a budget, so it’s kind of hard to be sure…
Update: Slides from the Planck conference are now available.
It seems the US does have a budget now, some info here. DOE HEP and Cosmic Frontier $766 Million, down very slightly from last year’s $775 million, higher than the White House requeset of $744 million.
Update: Scott Aaronson on Walter Lewin here.