Peter Woit

Department of Mathematics 
Columbia University 
2990 Broadway 
New York, NY 10027, USA 
Office: 421 Mathematics 
Phone: (212)-854-2642 

About Me

I'm currently a Senior Lecturer in the Mathematics department at Columbia University, where I teach, do research, and am responsible for the department computer system.  At various times, I've also been our Calculus Director, coordinating Calculus teaching.   My academic background includes undergraduate and master's degrees in physics from Harvard, a Ph.D. in particle theory from Princeton, and postdocs in physics (ITP Stony Brook) and mathematics (MSRI Berkeley).  I've been at Columbia since 1989, starting here as Ritt assistant professor.

Current Research

I'm quite excited these days about  some new ideas concerning unification in physics, which involve working with twistors in Euclidean signature space-time.  For more about this, see this page.


Quantum Theory, Groups and Representations: An Introduction


This is a textbook covering quantum mechanics and quantum field theory from the point of view of representation theory.  It was published November 2017 by Springer which has a webpage for the book, and a Springer Link page for the book (from which your institution may provide ability to buy a MyCopy softcover version for $24.99).  A page with errata is here. Essentially the same content is available from my website here, and I have retained copyright for the book content.  If you're in the mood to write a review of the book, the Amazon page is here.   Some blog entries about the book are here.  For a review of the book, see Woit's Way.

Not Even Wrong

        Even Wrong

My book Not Even Wrong was published in June 2006 in England by Jonathan Cape, in the US in September 2006 by Basic Books.  Translations have appeared in French, Italian, Czech and Korean.  I'm maintaining web-pages for links to reviews, and errata.

Lecture Notes

Lecture notes from the second half of my spring 2020 Fourier Analysis class are available at the AMS Open Math Notes site.

Lecture notes from the first part of my spring 2023 Lie Groups and Representations class are available here.

(In Progress) Lectures notes from my spring 2024 topics course on Quantum Field Theory for Mathematicians are available here.


Current course:
Mathematics GR8250 Topics in Representation Theory; Quantum Field Theory (Spring 2024)
Older courses:

Mathematics GU4344 Lie Groups and Representations (Spring 2023)

Mathematics GU4391: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Spring 2022)

Mathematics GU4392: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Spring 2021)

Mathematics GU4391: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Fall 2020)

Mathematics GU4032: Fourier Analysis (Spring 2020)

Mathematics UN1102: Calculus II (Fall 2019)

Mathematics GU4032: Fourier Analysis (Spring 2019)

Mathematics UN1102: Calculus II (Fall 2018)

Mathematics GR6402: Modern Geometry (Fall 2017)

Mathematics GU4032: Fourier Analysis (Spring 2017)

Mathematics G4344: Lie Groups and Representations (Spring 2016)

Mathematics V1102: Calculus II (Fall 2015)

Mathematics W4392: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Spring 2015)

Mathematics W4391: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Fall 2014)

Mathematics G4343: Lie Groups and Representations (Fall 2013)

Mathematics W4392: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (continuation)

Mathematics W4391: Introduction to Quantum Mechanics (Fall 2012)

Mathematics G4344: Lie Groups and Representations (Spring 2012)

Mathematics V1101: Calculus I (Fall 2010)

Mathematics V1102: Calculus II (Spring 2009)

Mathematics V1102: Calculus II (Fall 2008)

Mathematics G4343-4: Lie Groups and Representations (Fall 2007-Spring 2008)

Mathematics G4344: Lie Groups and Representations (Spring 2007)

Mathematics V1202: Calculus IV (Fall 2005)

Mathematics G4402-3: Modern Geometry (Fall 2004-Spring 2005)

Mathematics G6434: Quantum Field Theory and Geometry (Fall 2003)

Mathematics G4344: Lie Groups and Representations (Spring 2003)


My recent research has been focused on some new ideas about how to get a unified theory using twistor geometry, formulated in Euclidean signature space-time.  There's a web-page here, and articles at

Euclidean Twistor Unification (arXiv:2104.05099)

Notes on the Twistor P1 (arXiv: 2202.02657)

Is Spacetime Really Doomed? (arXiv:2204.02225)
International Journal of Modern Physics D(2022) 2242005
This received Honorable Mention in the Gravity Research Foundation 2022 Awards for Essays on Gravitation.

Spacetime is Right-handed (arXiv:2311.00608)

For something much older, there's:

Quantum Field Theory and Representation Theory: A Sketch
Posted at as hep-th/0206135 June 2002.

For some really, really old things, there's:

Topological Quantum Theories and Representation Theory (conference proceedings 1989)

Supersymmetric Quantum Mechanics, Spinors and the Standard Model
(Nuclear Physics B393 (1988) 329-342)

Chern-Simons Numbers and Universal Bundles on the Lattice (unpublished, from 1987).

Topological Charge in Lattice Gauge Theory (Physical Review Letters 51 (1983) 638-641)


Since 2004 I've maintained an active blog called Not Even Wrong, which deals with topics in physics and mathematics.  It now (Oct. 2022) contains about 1890 postings that may be of some sort of interest.  There's a huge pdf of the whole thing here.

I wrote a few articles in 2016 for Heidelberg Laureate Forum blog, see here.

Some Popular articles

String Theory: An Evaluation
Posted at as physics/010251 February 2001.
Russian translation courtesy of SciPosts.

Is string theory even wrong?
Published in the March-April 2002 issue of American Scientist.

The problem with physics
Cosmos Magazine, August 2007.

String Theory and the Crisis in Particle Physics
Based on a talk at the Gulbenkian Foundation Conference in Lisbon on Is Science Nearing Its Limits? 25-26 October 2007. This appears in the conference proceedings volume, available here.
Polish translation by Alica Slaba available here.

The Nightmare Scenario for Fundamental Physics
Edge 2013 question contribution, published in
What Should we be Worried About?

The "Naturalness" Argument
Edge 2014 question contribution, published in
This Idea Must Die: Scientific Ideas that are Blocking Progress

String theory and post-empiricism
Scientia Salon, July 10, 2014.

Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Mathematics and Physics

Essay written for FQXI contest, February 20, 2015. arXiv:1506.07576

Theorists Without a Theory
Inference, Vol. 3, No. 3, November 2017.

Contribution to "Memorial for Robert Hermann"
Notices of the AMS,  Vol. 68, No. 9, October 2021.


For technical audiences
Transparencies from a talk on Quantization and Equivariant K-theory at the Wigner Conference in New York, May 27, 2003.

Slides from a talk on Quantum Field Theory and Representation Theory at the Dartmouth Math department, June 3, 2004.

Slides from talks on Is String Theory Testable?,  March 8 (INFN Rome) and March 15 (INFN Pisa), 2007.

Slides from a talk on BRST and Dirac Cohomology at Dartmouth, October 23, 2008.

Slides from a talk on Quantum Mechanics and Representation Theory at Texas Tech, November 21, 2013.

Slides from a colloquium talk in the physics department at Rutgers, February 3, 2016.

Slides from introductory talks on quantum mechanics and representation theory at LaGuardia Community College, November 1, 2017 and Queensborough Community College, November 15, 2017.

Slides from a colloquium talk in the physics and astronomy department at Rochester, March 7, 2018.

Slides from a colloquium talk at the US Naval Observatory, December 6, 2018.

Slides from a talk on Quantization and the Dirac Operator at the Dartmouth Math department, May 23, 2019.

Slides from a talk on Twistor Unification at the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology, September 24, 2020.

Slides and video from a talk on Euclidean Twistor Unification at the Brown Theoretical Physics Center, September 23, 2021.

Slides from a talk on Unifying Foundations for Physics and Mathematics at Foundations2021, October 30, 2021 in Paris.

Slides from a talk on Euclidean Twistor Unification and the Twistor P1 at the Algebra, Particles and Quantum Theory seminar, February 14, 2022.

Slides from a different talk on Euclidean Twistor Unification and the Twistor P1 at a math colloquium at the University of Texas at Dallas, May 6, 2022.

Slides and video from a talk Spacetime is Right-handed at the OSMU23 lecture series, December 8, 2023.

For popular audiences
Slides from a talk to students at Collin College, March 24, 2010.

TEDxFlanders talk.  Joint performance with Tommaso Dorigo at the Antwerp Opera House on September 24, 2011.

What We Don't Know About Fundamental Physics, Talk at the Blind Tiger on Bleecker Street, April 29, 2014, part of Raising the Bar.

Slides from a talk for the general public on Unified Theories of Physics: their illustrious past, peculiar present and uncertain future at Oxford, September 27, 2022.

Video of discussion of "The Code to the Cosmos" with Marika Taylor, Arif Ahmed and David Malone, at How the Light Gets in Festival, October 2, 2022.

Interviews, podcasts, profiles, etc.

Interview with John Horgan 2006.

Interview at Scienceline, December 28, 2006.

Bloggingheads conversation with Sabine Hossenfelder, July 9. 2008.

Bloggingheads conversation with Craig Callendar,  September 10, 2009.

Rationally Speaking.  April 2010.

Big Think.  June 6, 2010.

The Admiral of the String Theory Wars, Nautilus, May 7, 2015.

Still Not Even Wrong, Physics World podcast, September 2016.

Why String Theory Is Still Not Even Wrong, Scientific American blog, April 27,2017.

What happens when we can't test scientific theories, Guardian Science Weekly podcast, June 28, 2019.

Interview with Fraser Cain, Universe Today podcast. November 16, 2020.

Not Even Wrong! String Theory and Beyond, The Edge of Science podcast, January 19, 2021.

Theories of Everything and Why String Theory is Not Even Wrong, Lex Fridman podcast, October 8, 2021.

String theory is dead,  IAI News interview, February 23, 2023.

Unification, Spinors, Twistors, String Theory, Theories of Everything podcast, November 22, 2023.

Maths, Twistors and String Theory, Know Time podcast, January 6, 2024.

Why Physicists are Rethinking the Route to a Theory of Everything, New Scientist, February 7, 2024.

Book Reviews

I've written quite a few book reviews on the blog, the ones from the past few years are easily accessible here.  Some reviews I've written for publication include:

Grappling with Quantum Weirdness, American Scientist, September-October 2005.  Review of Giancarlo Ghirardi's Sneaking a Look at God's Cards.

The Goldilocks Enigma, New Humanist, September-October 2006.  Review of Paul Davies' The Goldilocks Enigma.

What Happens In the Dark,  Wall Street Journal, January 31, 2011.  Review of Richard Panek's The 4% Universe.

In the End Is the Beginning, Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2011.  Review of Roger Penrose's Cycles of Time.

Fun with Fysiks,  American Scientist, July-August 2011.  Review of David Kaiser's How the Hippies Saved Physics.

Our Mathematical Universe
, Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2014.  Review of Max Tegmark's Our Mathematical Universe. Also available here.

The Half-Life of Physicists, Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2015.  Review of Paul Halpern's Einstein's Dice and Schrodinger's Cat.

Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics, MAA Reviews, September 15, 2016.  Review of Roger Penrose's Fashion, Faith and Fantasy in the New Physics

Searching for God at the Center of the Big Bang, Wall Street Journal, February 17, 2017. Review of Zeeya Merali's A Big Bang in a Little Room

Search for the "Perfect" Theory, Physics World, May 2017.  Review of Frank Close's Theories of Everything

Lost in Math, MAA Reviews, June 11, 2018.  Review of Sabine Hossenfelder's Lost in Math

Ancient material from the earliest days of the string theory controversy

Some reactions to these articles, various outrages, and a few voices of reason.
Anyone interested in a bet?