A few odd things that I’ve run into recently:
- The IAS has a weekly meeting to discuss current topics in HEP theory. From their events calendar, next week’s meeting will be devoted to “The Cosmological Constant and the String Landscape”, with suggested readings the 28 year old papers by Weinberg on anthropics and the CC, as well as the KKLT paper (I’m a fan, see here) and its Bousso/Polchinski predecessor from about 15 years ago. I would have thought this was a very well-worn topic. The one recent reference is a defense by Polchinski of KKLT against some technical challenges, but if the intent is to discuss those, it’s unclear why they’re not in the references (and they have nothing to do with Weinberg/CC/anthropics).
- Mochizuki has two new things on his website. One is a long discussion of the use of the words “anabelioid” and “Frobenioid”, the other is an animated video of a diagram explaining a theorem (see near bottom of here).
- A couple years ago there was a controversy over the proof of the so-called “Yau-Tian-Donaldson” conjecture (see here), with Donaldson and his collaborators publicly complaining about Tian’s paper claiming credit for proof of this conjecture. The Tian paper was submitted to the Courant journal Communications on Pure and Applied Mathematics in February 2013, was published there in the July 2015 issue (a technical corrigendum appeared a couple weeks ago). More expertise than I have would be needed to see if the published version addresses the Donaldson et al. concerns, a quick look doesn’t indicate evidence of that.
At the time I wrote:
On a more positive note, perhaps this controversy will not interfere much with future progress in this area, as Donaldson and Tian are jointly organizing a Spring 2016 workshop on this topic at MSRI.
The MSRI directory for this year though lists Tian as visiting, but not Donaldson.
- Among the many oddities associated with string theory is the decision of a group in Philadelphia to name a group of charter schools there the String Theory Schools. I don’t think they teach string theory, just liked the name. The financing of these schools is now attracting controversy. It seems they are running into some financial trouble, involving huge real estate deals and tax-exempt bond financing. For the details of the story, see here. For some analysis, see a Naked Capitalism piece: Private Equity Asset-Stripping Strategy Meets Charter Schools to Produce Even Better Looting.
- Presidential candidate Ben Carson has been widely (and quite appropriately…) criticized for some of his odd and non-sensical views about science. In USA Today’s factcheck piece about this, we’re told
Carson went on to claim that the presence of stars and planets is related to the existence of multiple Big Bangs that eventually might produce an ordered universe:
Carson: And then they go to the probability theory, and they say “but if there’s enough big bangs over a long enough period of time, one of them will be the perfect big bang and everything will be perfectly organized.” And I said, so you’re telling me if I blow a hurricane through a junkyard enough times over a long enough period of time after one of them there will be a 747 fully formed and ready to fly?
That is not an accurate reflection of the Big Bang theory. Though some theories of the origin of the universe suggest that the Big Bang was only one of many such explosions, these theories do not state that the currently ordered existence is a spontaneous result of one of these repeated Big Bangs.
He’s getting it somewhat wrong, but this does sound a lot like Carson has been reading about the string theory multiverse…
Update: Please do not use the reference to Carson as an excuse to post your thoughts on US politics and the ongoing political campaign. I think everyone would appreciate not having to be subjected to that topic here.