A few short items:
- Beams are back in the LHC. You can follow what is going on here real-time, or here for details of this year’s beam commissioning. Physics runs scheduled to start last week of April.
- There’s a wonderful interview with John Baez in two parts, here and here.
- For news of US HEP, take a look at the HEPAP presentations as they appear here. Reports from the LHC experiments are scheduled for April Fool’s Day.
- In the last month the omnipresent Nima Arkani-Hamed was giving talks at the David Gross Fest (video here, nice comments about Gross at the beginning, presentation here), a series of lectures in Trieste (see here), and a colloquium talk at Fermilab.
In the FNAL talk Arkani-Hamed advertises a “Modern S-matrix program”, based on recent work on amplitudes. He’s a reliable source for what the conventional wisdom is among the most influential people in the field, and he has this to say about the current situation (right at the end of the talk):
String theory killed QFT, then QFT killed string theory back, now QFT is king. We’re in a situation where most people think QFT is king and string theory a derivative thing in some limits.
His own opinion is that we need “something else”, neither QFT nor string theory, but he doesn’t know what it is.
- I seem to have missed this paper on String theory and general methodology (arxiv version here) when it came out quite a few years ago. At the time the authors felt that
the majority has not been convinced [by criticisms of string theory] and they continue to believe that string theory is the right way to go.
I’m not sure if the authors had any data to back that up, curious if anyone would still make this claim now. Arkani-Hamed seems to think the majority opinion has changed, with QFT killing string theory.
- For some interesting talks at one of the few conferences not featuring Arkani-Hamed, see the Nambu Memorial Symposium.
- I was sorry to hear recently that Rudolf Haag passed away back in January. For a short biography, see here. For an earlier posting linking to an autobiographical piece, see here. His book Local Quantum Physics is well worth reading. For a discussion of perhaps his most famous result, Haag’s theorem, see here.
- Multiverse mania shows no signs of slowing down, with a long BBC article here. Despite the length of the article, the author doesn’t seem to have been able to locate anyone who could add a note of skepticism amidst the usual thick layers of hype.
Update: A lot of data on recent DOE funding trends is available here and here. From FY 13 – FY 17, theory funding is down %20 at universities, 2% at labs. A bit over $20 million/year is now being spent by the DOE on HEP theory and computational research. For the most recent round of reviews, 23 groups were funded, and of these two were ones not previously funded, with two previously funded turned down.