I’ve had little time for blogging, and coincidentally, there seems to be little to blog about recently. Here though are a few quick items:
- Several people had asked me about this paper about the CC, and I had to tell them that this was not something I could evaluate. Luckily, Sabine Hossenfelder has read it and thought about it carefully, and discusses the problems with this sort of thing here. The physics community owes her a great debt.
- The LHC is back in business, with intensity starting to ramp up. You can follow progress here. This summer should see release of more results based on last year’s run, results from this year’s run likely will not appear until early next year.
- Inference magazine has a thoughtful piece in the latest issue by Adam Falkowski (AKA Jester) about prospects for the future of HEP physics. The same issue also has a piece by Aurélien Barrau about the implications of the failure to find the “natural” physics some expected SUSY to provide.
- Hironaka has recently put on his website a document intended to give a proof of resolution of singularities in characteristic p. For some background and links to explanations of what this is about, see mathoverflow. Evidently Hironaka has been working on this proof for quite a few years, this is the first complete version to be made public. Sometime in the next few months it should become clear whether this proof will really work, as experts get a chance to go through it carefully. If it does work, it will be a remarkable story, especially since Hironaka is now 86.
- Maybe I’m the last one to find this out, but for quite a few years now MIT has been making public detailed course materials including lecture notes from many courses in mathematics and physics.
Update: For the obligatory Multiverse Mania item, see this interview with Lord Martin Rees. Rees is rather proud of himself for leading the field of theoretical physics to embrace Multiverse Mania, quoting Frank Wilczek as claiming at the end of a conference that:
five years ago we were a beleaguered minority, whereas now, he and I and others had led many other people into the wilderness.
Besides his belief in the multiverse, he also believes this is what we have in our future:
I don’t think Elon Musk is realistic when he imagines sending people a hundred at a time for normal life because Mars is going to be far less clement than living at the South Pole, and not many people want to do that. I don’t think there will be many ordinary people who want to go, but there will be some crazy pioneers who will want to go, even if they have one-way tickets.
The reason that’s important is the following: Here on Earth, I suspect that we are going to want to regulate the application of genetic modification and cyborg techniques on grounds of ethics and prudence. This links with another topic I want to come to later about the risks of new technology. If we imagine these people living as pioneers on Mars, they are out of range of any terrestrial regulation. Moreover, they’ve got a far higher incentive to modify themselves or their descendants to adapt to this very alien and hostile environment.
They will use all the techniques of genetic modification, cyborg techniques, maybe even linking or downloading themselves into machines, which, fifty years from now, will be far more powerful than they are today. The posthuman era is probably not going to start here on Earth; it will be spearheaded by these communities on Mars.