A few pre-Thanksgiving items:
- International Journal of Modern Physics A has a new issue with “Featured Topic” part I of a discussion of the proposed Chinese supercollider project. The high profile contributions are from C. N. Yang, China should not build a supercollider at this time, and a response from David Gross: Why China should build the Great Collider. Both I think do a good job of making the case for and against the project, with the central question that of the high cost. If this was a $1 billion project there would be no question it would get done, and if it was a $100 billion project it could never happen. The problem is that the order of magnitude is $10 billion.
There are some other contributions to the debate, including sensible pro-collider pieces by Yifang Wang and Weimin Wu. There’s also a bizarre piece by Henry Tye, making an ad hominem argument against Yang, based on the fact that in 1980 Yang was skeptical about the future of high energy physics. I’m afraid that this doesn’t work very well as an argument against Yang, whose prediction of no post-1980 breakthroughs looks unfortunately prescient these days.
- According to the New York Times, one possibly imminent non-HEP breakthrough is a Microsoft quantum computer. Their project grew out of one they funded led by topologist Mike Freedman.
- Last weekend there was a celebration at Caltech of John Schwarz’s 75th birthday. No slides or video of talks it seems. I’ve wondered what Susskind’s take on supersymmetry is these days, so curious what might have been in his talk entitled “Supersymmetry and the Limits of What We Know”.
- Howard Burton was the founding director of Perimeter, helping to get it off the ground and turn it into the success it has become (Sabine Hossenfelder here notes that the term of the current director Neil Turok is up and wonders who is next). In recent years Burton has been running something he calls Ideas Roadshow, and now has a new blog called In Search of Refinement. He writes about a recent event with Roger Penrose, discussing his new book, and has kind things to say about my review of the book. Ideas Roadshow now has accumulated a significant number of interesting interviews, worth your while if you’re looking for high-quality but not free internet content to support.
Update: One more. Yet more private funding for US scientific research. The New York Times reports on the Simons Foundation Flatiron Institute, a planned $80 million/year, 200 employee research institute. The focus will be on computational work, and doing better science by freeing scientists from having to apply for grants.