Short Bits

More about BRST is on its way, but in the meantime a lot of things have accumulated that might be of interest, so I wanted to do a quick posting about these.

One of them does have to do with BRST. A correspondent pointed out to me that the 2009 Dannie Heineman prize for Mathematical Physics has been awarded to the four people involved in the original discovery: Carlo Becchi, Alain Rouet, Raymond Stora, and Igor Tyutin.

Via Garrett Lisi, there’s this collection of photos of the latest Threeasfour collection. It seems that E8 is inspiring not just physicists.

Over at the n-category cafe, John Baez has a posting about the remarkable publication record of M. S. El Naschie.

On the experimental HEP front, it looks like the LHC will not be trying again to commission beams until next summer. Minutes of a recent meeting about LHC work are here, an outline of a schedule here.

SLAC recently hosted an ICFA seminar, with talks available here summarizing the state of various current and proposed accelerator projects. Prospects for a photon-photon collider are discussed here.

For the latest on the CDF anomaly, Tommaso Dorigo has started a series of detailed posting on the analysis here and here. Matt Strassler has a new paper out about this, including some discussion of possible interpretation of the results in terms of the hidden valley scenario. For more about this topic, see a recent posting at Resonaances.

There’s a new popular book out about particle physics, Nature’s Blueprint: Supersymmetry and the Search for a Unified Theory of Matter and Force by Dan Hooper. It’s a rather breathless account of how physics is about to be revolutionized by the discovery of supersymmetry at the LHC, very much like Gordon Kane’s 2000 Supersymmetry: Unveiling the Ultimate Laws of Nature. In Kane’s version the LHC was supposed to start up in 2005 and soon discover supersymmetry, in Hooper’s the LHC start-up is moved to 2008. One change since 2000: string theory played a big role in Kane’s book, Hooper pretty much ignores it.

The December issue of Discover Magazine is out, with Hawking on the cover for a story about the “50 Best Brains in Science”. Terry Tao and Edward Witten are on the list, and the magazine includes a nice appreciation of Witten by John Schwarz, who writes about his experience co-authoring a book on string theory with Witten, explaining that:

Witten is both deep and fast: After thinkings through the ideas, he can compose an essentially error-free 100 page manuscript, often describing breakthrough original research, on his computer in a day. His papers and lectures set a new standard for clarity of exposition. And he shows no signs of slowing down.

This year, Witten is working at CERN, and there’s a talk by him scheduled in the string theory seminar there next week, topic TBA. Maybe Jester will report on this.

In other Discover-related news, Cosmic Variance has announced that they have “sold out to the man”, and will now be going corporate, signing up with Discover to be one of their blogs.

Also in the new Discover Magazine is a long article promoting the multiverse entitled Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory. The author’s take on the story is that we really only have two choices: believe in God and intelligent design, or believe in the Landscape. He seems to have gotten this from Susskind:

The physicist Leonard Susskind once told me that without a multiverse theory, there may be no other explanation for life other than intelligent design.

The author’s note reports that the article came about through Templeton funding:

For this issue, he [Tim Folger] traveled to Cambridge, England, as a Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion to learn what physicists have to say about how the universe seems custom-tailored to favor life.

In keeping with his theme, Folger quotes many proponents of the multiverse, and only one critic: John Polkinghorne, an ex-physicist and current Anglican priest who has motive to want to keep a role for God.

There’s some rather out-there stuff at the end from Andrei Linde:

As for Linde, he is especially interested in the mystery of consciousness and has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental component of the universe, much like space and time. He wonders whether the physical universe, its laws, and conscious observers might form an integrated whole. A complete description of reality, he says, could require all three of those components, which he posits emerged simultaneously. “Without someone observing the universe,” he says, “the universe is actually dead.”

The History Channel is running a series on The Universe. Next week the multiverse is being promoted, in an episode Parallel Universes. Here’s the summary:

Some of the world’s leading physicists believe they have found startling new evidence showing the existence of universes other than our own. One possibility is that the universe is so vast that an exact replica of our Solar System, our planet and ourselves exists many times over. These Doppelganger Universes exist within our own Universe; in what scientist now call “The Multiverse.” Today, trailblazing experiments by state of the art particle colliders are looking for evidence of higher dimensions and Parallel Universes. If proof is found, it will change our lives, our minds, our planet, our science and our universe.

I learned about this from Clifford Johnson’s blog. He’ll be one of the physicists featured in the episode, as well as in the following one, entitled Light Speed. The next episode, Sex in Space, which will explore the “physiological, psychological and cultural challenges of sex in space” presumably will not be starring any theoretical physicists.

Update: It seems that selling pseudo-science with the argument “it’s either this or religion” works.

Update: The links above to the LHC Performance Committee’s site have now been closed to outside access. For the last few years the web-sites of the groups responsible for getting the LHC working have been open to the public, but it looks like there now has been a change of policy. The tentative schedule now inaccessible to the public showed that it is repairs to sector 34 that will determine when they can get going again. The process of getting damaged magnets out of the tunnel, making repairs, getting replacements installed, then testing everything, is what may delay everything into next summer.

Update: For some commentary on the Strassler paper, see Tommaso Dorigo here. Slashdot features the Discover article, promoting the idea that the string theory landscape is “Science’s Alternative To an Intelligent Creator”.

This entry was posted in BRST, Experimental HEP News, Multiverse Mania. Bookmark the permalink.

52 Responses to Short Bits

  1. Hendrik says:

    Sorry to be a curmudgeon about the Dannie Heineman prize for Mathematical Physics for Becchi, Rouet, Stora and Tyutin (and without detracting from the impact of their work), but why is this mathematical physics? The context in which they did their work was nonrigorous QFT, and whereas classical BRST has attained rigorous status, quantum BRST has only very partially done so.

    The distinction between Theoretical and Mathematical Physics is an old bone of contention;- I remember a public debate some years ago at the IAMP meeting in Paris on exactly this point. My preference is for a definition I heard from Thirring: Mathematical Physics is mathematics but the problems are from physics. This is also in several articles of Jaffe, or in the section “the bad influence of physics on mathematics,” on p146 of this book.
    Thus it had to be rigorous to qualify as mathematical physics. Unfortunately, the debate at the Paris ICMP went in a political direction: “we should not criticise our colleagues in physics,” and since then the consensus has also shifted in this direction, and now we have no word for mathematics work on physics problems. There are many instances of (nonrigorous) theoretical physics being called mathematical physics. It is just a pity to see the prizes doing this too.

  2. Tony Smith says:

    Peter, you say that “… photos of the latest Threeasfour collection …” of fashion indicate “… that E8 is inspiring not just physicists …”.

    A google search indicates that E8 has not only transcended math and physics, but even beyond fashion,
    to a high-financial realm where no Lie group has gone before:

    According to a 14 August 2008 story:

    “…, Inc. today announced that it has successfully acquired six premium numeric domains from Marchex, Inc. …
    “We are pleased to add these domains to the ever expanding, digital asset portfolio of,” said T.J. Demas, Founder and CEO of, Inc.
    “Equally exciting is the fact that the close of the acquisition coincided with’s initial incorporation on August 8, 2008 (8.8.8) in the state of California.”, Inc.’s initial capitalization structure includes a 99% ownership stake by Aspen Edge Research, LLC and a 1% ownership stake by Moover Toys of Copenhagen, Denmark. Moover Toys initial 1% equity investment in, Inc. totaled $88,888.88 valuing, Inc. at $8,888,888.88 at inception. …’s mission is to provide the most advanced, intuitive, user interfacing platform in the world based upon the unifying supersymmetry of the exceptional Lie group E8 and its corresponding 248 dimensions. …”.

    According to a article:
    “… You may have seen a cryptic news release a few days ago from Marchex and about E8 buying six numerical domains from Marchex. The prices paid were not disclosed – but we are going to release them for the first time in this column.
    As it happens I know E8 Co-Founder and President, T.J. Demas, an Aspen, Colorado based investor …
    Demas is, to put it mildly, a mathematics fan. His company is named after an E8, one of the most complicated structures ever studied … In a nutshell E8 is all about symmetry and Demas is applying symmetry to a series of numerical domain purchases for a project he is not yet ready to fully reveal.
    With his focus on symmetry, his purchases have followed a certain pattern and the prices paid have been thought out down to the last cent. This past week Demas completed the purchase of 11 domains totaling $1,144,444.30. Six of those were bought from Marchex and five more were acquired in private transactions. …”.

    Peter, how much do you think that might be worth?

    Tony Smith

  3. Hendrik says:

    Further inspection of the list of previous Dannie Heineman prizewinners shows that this particular prize was always given to both (nonrigorous) theoretical physicists and mathematical physicists, with a fair representation of string theorists. It seems to have a ratio of about 2 theoretical physicists for each mathematical physicist. (Perhaps because it is administered by the APS?)

  4. mathematician says:

    Re: Discover Magazine article “Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory.”

    Why do people fall for these ridiculous false dichotomies? They basically take the form of “It’s either my theory, or else it’s this straw-man” when in reality, there are many more than just two competing explanations.

    I’ve even seen theists turn the tables by comparing their theism favorably with their chosen strawman, the anthropic landscape/multiverse (e.g. on an episode of “closer to truth” which is really terrible).

  5. Me says:

    Regarding sex in space, those interested in some experimental results caught on video should search for “The Uranus Experiment” (filmed in free fall).

    The results are not very appealing and without knowing in advance I for one would have not found anything special about them.

  6. Hi Peter,

    thank you for your reiterated signs of appreciation for my reports – you know I value your opinion at least as much as I value your links.
    The series on multi-muons will continue at least for three or four more posts, and possibly more, becoming the longest series on my blog. The third part, about secondaries from nuclear interactions, is out now.

    As for the LHC schedule: the repairs of sector 34 are indeed complicated. Many magnets need replacement, but quite a few more need to be checked. Moving stuff around in the LHC tunnel looks pretty much like that game invented by Sam Loyd (the unrivalled chess problem composer), “15”.

    I heard unofficially stated that we will most likely get beams in September 2009. That really sucks, but on the other hand we are not watching idly. People are busying themselves in various ways. No publications, and no data for grad students to build a career on: these are really nagging facts. But to many, more time to refine tools is not the end of the world. My main concern ? This is moving my cashing the 1000$ bet against new physics at LHC too much in the far future!


  7. Serifo says:

    I agree with prof. Hendrik in some points. However, currently I find it hard to define the term ” mathematical physics ” . Sometimes I have the impression that mathematical physicists are divided in following two groups 🙂 :

    1) Those ( real mathematical physicists ? ) who are concerned with the physics but also with mathematical rigour of their ideas.

    2 ) Those ( pseudo mathematical physicist ? ) who know and use the most advanced mathematical tools for physical purpose, but are not at all concerned in the rigour of their ideas .
    You may like to read the following article by Eric Zaslow on the idea of physmatics :

    Ps – The use of advanced mathematical tools in nonrigorous way in physics, may be the reason for the lack of progress in physics. So, maybe Hilbert had a point when he said physics is too difficult for the physicists ! 🙂

  8. Peter Woit says:

    Hendrik and Serifo,

    I think the term “mathematical physics” has always been rather vague, covering several different kinds of activity, and it has just become more so in recent years. The Heineman prize appears to have historically gone mostly gone to physicists, often ones without much interest in mathematics.

    After spending a lot of my life among both mathematicians and physicists, I’ve seen that:

    1. Mathematicians often see physicists as not only missing the importance of rigorous proof, but sometimes being unwilling to even formulate clearly what they are doing, and keep straight the distinction between what they do understand and what they don’t understand. From a mathematician’s point of view, this can make it very hard to make progress.

    2. Physicists often see mathematicians as overly concerned with pedantic issues, focusing on technicalities needed to achieve absolute rigor, or on empty formalism.

    I tend to often agree with both sides about this, but what happens is that the best people in each subject manage to rise above the problems of their subject. At the moment, it seems to me that mathematicians are in much better shape, making good progress, while maintaining high levels of rigor. Theoretical physics is not in such good shape, with even the best people making little progress. The problems are hard, and a lack of clarity about exactly what they are, what is understood and what isn’t, has a lot to do with this.

  9. MathPhys says:

    Thank you for the link to “The case of M S El Naschie”.

    I searched around a bit and found an e-mail that Paul Ginsparg wrote re one of El Naschie’s collaborators, Carlos Castor. Highly recommended for entertainment value.

  10. MathPhys says:

    I meant Carlos Castro. A link to Ginsparg e-mail is here

    Can someone please take a look at these photos

    Some seem to have been produced by photoshop

    Look at the photo with Wilczek, ‘t Hooft and Gross

    Looks very suspicious to me.

  11. Serifo says:

    Hi prof. Peter,

    Let me take your interesting observation : ” At the moment, it seems to me that mathematicians are in much better shape, making good progress, while maintaining high levels of rigor. Theoretical physics is not in such good shape, with even the best people making little progress. The problems are hard, and a lack of clarity about exactly what they are, what is understood and what isn’t, has a lot to do with this. ” Well , maybe theoretical physics is in crisis at foundational level as mathematics was in the early 20th century . Some Mathematician like Hilbert for example were not happy with the state of the subject itself, thus they started to put the subject in a firm ( axiomatic ) basis . So maybe theoretical and mathematical physicists need to do the same, specialy those who already have permanent academic positions and so are not concerned on spending 3 or 5 years to put the subject in a firm basis even if they fail ! 🙂 Now as in mathematics, where some fundamental concepts like Set had to be carefully formulated, maybe the same has to be done with some fundamental physical concepts !

  12. Peter Woit says:


    I don’t see any real evidence of photoshopping. El Naschie seems to have some sort of talent for getting ahead in the world, and I don’t think that attending a conference featuring some Nobel prize winners and getting in a picture taken of them would be all that much of a challenge.

  13. Peter Woit says:


    I don’t really think an axiomatic framework is what’s important. But I do think the question of what the right fundamental ideas are, and what their best mathematical incarnation is, are still open questions for fundamental physics. In recent years I’ve started to think there’s a lot more to BRST than just a solution to a technical problem…

  14. Kea says:

    MathPhys, your link to the Castro story is solid evidence AGAINST the photos being photoshopped. Perhaps you should read what you link to before you post something.

  15. Hendrik says:

    Dear Peter,
    I have also experienced those contrasting views which mathematicians and physicists have of each other. I think the reasons for these (occasionally) hostile views are sociological and economical. Theoretically, there should be no conflict between the two fields;- physicists are good at discovering patterns in the physical world, and should not be slowed down by being chained to rigour. Mathematicians on the other hand, are good at sorting out the exact logical frameworks, extensions and applications for those patterns, and need rigour in order to have certainty in their results. These are complementary activities, you need both to create a mature reliable description of a physical system.

    Unfortunately due to competition (for grants, territory, status etc) there is often conflict where there should be cooperation, and this competition is sometimes at the level of appropriation of names. So, it is that “mathematical physics” once was practiced mainly in rigorous frameworks, but now the term has been appropriated by the physics camp, and also denotes nonrigorous theoretical physics. (I disagree that it always had this general meaning;- from my small corner of the field, I have seen a definite 20yr drift in the meaning towards the nonrigorous). At the practical level, it means that both “types” of mathematical physicist now apply for the same grants and that e.g. Commun.Math.Phys. has the same rating as J.Phys.A. when these applications are judged, so it is not just a question of names.

  16. Tony Smith says:

    Hendrik said
    “… physicists are good at discovering patterns in the physical world …
    Mathematicians on the other hand … need rigour in order to have certainty in their results…”.

    Would it be fair to say that
    physicists’s work should be constrained by experimental observations
    mathematicians’s work is constrained by rigour of proof ?

    If so, then “… there should be no conflict between the two fields …” so long as each is subject to its constraint system.

    However, problems may arise if and when
    physicists work without constraint of experimental observations
    (which may be a source of concern about superstrings)
    mathematicians work without rigour
    (which seems, thankfully, not to be something that is a present source of concern).

    I agree with Hendrick that the term “mathematical physics” was, up to the 1980s, “… practiced mainly in rigorous frameworks …”
    (for example, look at the program of the 1981 Congress of the International Association of Mathematical Physics in Berlin (West)).
    that since that time (temporally coincident with the rise of superstring theory) there has been, as Hendrik said, “… a definite 20yr drift in the meaning towards the nonrigorous … theoretical physics …”.

    Tony Smith

  17. Chris Oakley says:

    The question of whether what one does is rigorous or not should not even arise. Particular assumptions lead to particular conclusions and if any one of the steps in the derivation is not rigorous then it all falls apart and all one can then say is that the assumptions do not therefore lead to the conclusions. In this regard, I would “tone down” my comments about renormalization considerably if text books and QFT courses were honest about the non sequiturs … “effective” field theory has a self-consistency, but is a much smaller framework than the pedagogical materials would lead one to believe.

  18. Sandro says:

    I think all of you have read this

    but it never hurts to give it another look..
    I agree that the reason for hostility between physicists and mathematicians are (most of the time) of economical species, and it is sad that we can’t get the best of the two worlds, which I think is the only way towards progress in both fields, because of this.

  19. MathPhys says:


    I have read what I linked and came up with a conclusion that’s opposite to yours. Perhaps you should consider that others may reach conclusions that are opposite to yours before you type.

    To my mind, a man who claims an affliation that dosn’t belong to him (amongst many other petty acts along the same lines) is not above posting photoshopped pictures of himself with celebrities.

  20. Serifo says:

    I red the following story from somewhere  : “ professor X holds a joint position in physics and maths departments. Now in respect to his research , his colleagues in physic`s dept. say he`s not doing physics while in math`s dept. they say he`s not doing maths ! “So what is professor X doing ? Could it be a new and independent field of knowledge, that uses both physics and maths as a platform ?
    Now I think among the mathematicians today, although there isn`t a general consensus on “ what is mathematics “, there is a kind of consensus in all the fields, on how the practice of the subject must be done ! On the other hand, it seems to me that, there is a kind of consensus among theoretical physicists on “ what physics is all about “ but there isn`t a consensus on how the subject must be practiced !

  21. Jeff McGowan says:

    OK, couldn’t pass up the opportunity – I’m sure most everyone has seen some variant of the following joke –

    If you understand something and can prove it, publish it in a math journal.
    If you understand something but can’t prove it, publish it in a physics journal.
    If you don’t understand something but can prove it, publish it in an economics journal.
    If you don’t understand something and can’t prove it, publish it in (fill in your least favorite subject) journal.

  22. Chris Oakley says:

    If you don’t understand something and can’t prove it

    … then get someone to make a popular science program showing that the only alternative to your idea is Intelligent Design.

  23. anon. says:

    ‘He’ll be one of the physicists featured in the episode, as well as in the following one, entitled Light Speed. The next episode, Sex in Space, which will explore the “physiological, psychological and cultural challenges of sex in space” presumably will not be starring any theoretical physicists.’

    Hawking is planning to go into space aboard Richard Branson’s Virgin spacecraft, so maybe he’ll be featured in the programme explaining his opinions on the physics of sex in space? See

  24. chickenbreeder says:

    The El Naschie story at n-Cc is pretty fascinating to read. It looks like El Naschie has adopted the same tactics of Bogdanoff brothers – using multiple aliases (all trackable to Cairo…) to defend himself.

    A case like this is by no mean isolated. Quickly off my head I can think of a few people who share the trait of EN, though not so extreme as to publish 300+ papers in the journal edited by oneself. This is happening and is largely left untreated because the majority of “normal” scientists do not want to drag themselves into the mud by pointing fingers at their colleagues, however justifiable it may be. It could lead to law suits and other unpleasant things. You never know.

  25. st says:

    That’s the problem, chickenbreeder. If scientists who know the type of pseudoscience he’s been consistently producing don’t speak up, then who will? If there is fraud like fabrication of data, should they not bring attention to that too? Why should they be afraid of lawsuits if their criticism is based on fact (e.g. the guy claims to have written a PhD thesis and has even cited it, but no thesis can be found at the university)? Folks, this is not a colleague doing poor work; it’s an outsider claiming to be one of you and has succeeded in fooling even a reputable (albeit greedy) publisher for a long time.

    Normally, it is best to ignore people who talk/write nonsense, but he has been draining the community’s resources and has destroyed the name and reputation of a journal, which at one time was probably a decent publication.

  26. MathPhys says:

    I think El Naschie deserves a medal (to add to his extensive collection). Without him (and the Bogdanoff’s and some of our colleagues who only go from high to higher) we would be lulled into the belief that the system works. It’s pioneers like El Naschie (and Carlos Castro) that keep us on our toes.

  27. Shantanu says:

    Peter, this may be a bit off topic, but I watched a very interesting talk
    by Robert Brandenberger on cosmology of the Lee-Wick extension to standard model and in the first 10-15 minutes Robert
    talks about the particle physics aspects and history of Lee-Wick standard model and apparently there were no papers on this subject for more than 35 years until recently.
    This is the first time I am hearing about the Lee-Wick model.
    Has this model been ruled out long time ago? Maybe you could post something about this model, as you are probably familiar with it

  28. Peter Woit says:


    Sorry, I don’t really know anything about the Lee-Wick standard model.

  29. MathPhys says:


    Maybe you want to take a look at the Lee-Wick version of the standard model. Any alternative to supersymmetry is welcome. Brandenberger’s talk is probably a good starting point.

  30. Math Phys says:

    El naschie using his own journal as
    a stock for his endless uncountable papers.
    Here is, one of his marvelous papers found in Chaos, soltion and fractals.

    The title

    “On the universality class of all universality classes and E-infinity spacetime physics”

    M.S. El Naschie,

    King Abdul Aziz City of Science and Technology, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

    Available online 18 October 2006.

    It is argued that E-infinity theory may represent the universality class of all universality classes of certain discrete dynamical maps which are at the root of relevant field theories. First we give a concise derivation of the basic equations of E-infinity and its ground state. Subsequently it is shown that the independence of the results obtained from the details of any equations of motion or Lagrangian is a clear indication that E-infinity may represent the universality class of all universality classes in the sense of Cantor with regard to relevant quantum field theories.

    I’m quite amzed how this could be published.

    In fact, for any one who knows little about particle physics realize that the results of any theory depend strongly on the particle content of the theory. For example in QCD, asymptotic freedom depends on the number of colours and flavors. The presence of CP violation in the quark sector depends on the number of generations. No CP violation for one and two generations, at least three generations is required for the presence of CP violation.

  31. Math Phys says:

    Almost one year ago we have sent to Elsevier about this issue concerning the “Chaos, soltion and fractl” Journal and his editor in Cheif El naschie

    Here is the letter

    Dear publishing responsible
    We are writing you about the Journal of Chaos , solitons and Fractals and his editor in chief El Naschie. We are group scientists from different countries working in theoretical high energy physics and as a matter of fact we noticed that El Nashie the editor in chief the above mentioned journal has been publishing an incredible large number of papers in this journal, where he claims to have solved all the problems of particle physics using his E-infinity approach based on fractal geometry. We have looked at those papers very carefully and found them unscientific and meaningless, completely irrelevant to science and particle physics in particular. Moreover, those papers are not only without sense but complete junk. On the top of that El Naschie has published in 2008 ( in one month and 5 days) 33 papers, that is one paper per day!!, which scientifically unacceptable. Not only that, we discovered that most if not all the papers published in this journal by different authors have no scientific sense and are really junk and rubbish. What most authors, who publish in this journal, do is either to refer to El Nashie works or invent a theory title and attribute to El Naschie, and then write anything, in many cases they just copy formulas from books and write them and publish the same article several times by changing the introduction and the conclusion.As an evidence we attached some papers published in this journal and we invite you to ask any respectable scientist to evaluate those papers. Indeed it is not even needed to have a big knowledge of physics and mathematics to realize that the content of those papers is complete non sense.This journal has become preferred place of scientific junk.We wonder how a respectable and leading publisher which publishes prestigious journals like Nuclear physics, physics letters.etc…accept such misconducting of this journal by his editor in chief El Nashie. In fact, it is very weired and strange that El Naschie publishes all his papers in his journal and this does not happen in any respectable journal. Indeed we have nothing personal against this guy, but this journal as we said has become sort of source of rubbish and junk and in our view a source of jokes. We are afraid that the publisher Elesvier will be participating and playing an unintentional role in fostering and delivering junk science in the globe, in contrast to supposed policy of Elsevier. Best Regards

    Here is the reply:

    thank you for your letter.
    We shall review the issues that you raise carefully. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.
    David Clark David Clark
    Publishing Director, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Astronomy
    Elsevier B.V. Radarweg 29, Amsterdam 1043 NX
    The Netherlands
    Tel + 31 20 485 2451 | Fax + 31 20 485 2370 | |

    But at the end nothing happened

  32. Peter Woit says:

    “Math Phys” (who is not the same as “MathPhys”)

    If you want to use a pseudonym, please choose a different one than one being used by someone else here.

  33. st says:

    Yesterday, I sent an email to David Clark of Elsevier to ask him if he did indeed respond a year ago to a letter written by a “group scientists from different countries working in theoretical high energy physics”. I included the addresses of blogs (including this one) that mentioned this letter, in case he would like to comment on it. It’s only been 24 hours, but I haven’t received a reply yet.

  34. Pingback: Carnival of Mathematics #44 « Maxwell’s Demon

  35. MathPhys says:


    I expect that Elsevier will respond by saying that it has already been decided that El Naschie will step down as Editor-in-Chief, but I think that that won’t be good enough.

    I think Elsevier has to explain what happened and how someone like El Naschie was let loose on a scientific journal published by them.

  36. st says:


    I don’t know when Elsevier will respond if at all. Perhaps the journalist mentioned here (see 11/22/08 comment) will have more luck. Apparently submissions to CS&F may now be sent directly to the (same) Editor-in-Chief at his newly announced e-mail address instead of an office in Elsevier, as was required until two days ago.

    I wonder if it is common practice to send manuscripts directly to the publisher first instead of an editor.

  37. MathPhys says:

    “The latest electronic version of manuscripts for publication should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief, Professor M.S. El Naschie, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals via Alternatively manuscripts may be submitted to the nearest Regional Editor.”

    A professor at which university?

  38. An says:

    I think the case of El naschie is a scandal by all measures. This case opens the door for many questions: what are the organizations involved in this matter?

    In the first place, one can mention Cambridge university which allowed him to publish his articles for nearly ten years 1993-2001 using its affiliation. It is far from reality to imagine that people in Cambridge have been fooled for that long time. According to the following data base

    One can find:
    17 articles where the affiliation is DAMTP, Cambridge, UK.
    72 articles where the affiliation is Dept. of Appl. Math. & Theor. Phys., Cambridge Univ., UK
    40 articles where the affiliation is Univ of Cambridge

    No prize for one who guesses at which journal those articles have been published.

    In the second place, it comes Elsevier that has been the main stage for producing such a scandal bomb of heavy weight. It is clear that there have been many people behind that matter who got direct benefits (earning money, most probably from El Naschie himself).

  39. MathPhys says:

    I find it very strange that Elsevier allows for an editor-of-chief of a journal who uses professor as a title simultaneously with a POBox number as an affiliation and as an e-mail address. What’s going on in Radarweg 29, Amsterdam?

  40. Stefan says:

    In this week’s Nature, Quirin Schiermeier writes about the El Naschie story, Self-publishing editor set to retire (subscription required), including a quote by Peter.

  41. Felipe says:

    It is very clear to me, just in case someone ever had a doubt, that Elsevier is in the making money business. The company has no real commitment whatsoever to the scientific quality of its publications, as long as they can make some university’s libraries pay for them. That is a very, very sad state of affairs.

  42. MathPhys says:


    This is no secret, in fact when they interview someone (with a degree in science) for a job, that’s the first thing that they tell them.

    In fact what I find strange is that Elsevier does not have the good business sense to know that to stay in the business requires a minimal degree of product quality control which is totally lacking in this case.

  43. Any one says:

    Looking for the numerous amazing articles of El naschie, I found a wonderful one whose title is
    “P-Adic analysis and the transfinite E8 exceptional Lie symmetry group unification ”
    M.S. El Naschie
    King Abdullah Institute for Nano and Advanced Technology, KSU, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    Volume 38, Issue 3, November 2008, Pages 612-614

    Just reading the first sentence in the introduction which is
    “One of the most amazing results in high energy physics is the T-duality discovered in the context of superstring theories by Witten [1] ”
    But, for your surprise, the list of references you find no mention of any reference of Witten.
    Reference [1] is just a paper of El naschie himself. Here is list

    [1] M.S. El Naschie, A few hints and some theorems about Witten’s M theory and T-duality, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals (2005), pp. 545–548.
    [2] A. Leonovich, Comments on E8 unification and P-Adic numbers. http:/ (10/03/2008).
    [3] M.S. El Naschie, Transfinite harmonization by taking the dissonance out of the quantum field symphony, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals (2007).
    [4] M.S. El Naschie, High energy physics and the standard model from the exceptional Lie groups, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 36 (2008), pp. 1–17.
    [5] M. Kaku, Introduction to superstrings and M-theory, Springer, New York (1999) see p. 385 in particular.
    [6] M.S. El Naschie, Infinite dimensional Branes and the E(∞) topology of Heterotic super strings, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 12 (2001), pp. 1047–1055.

    The first reference as already mentioned is El naschie paper. The big surprise about this paper is its tilte
    “A few hints and some theorems about Witten’s M theory and T-duality” here again we find no reference to any of Witten’s papers . here is list of references of this paper ;

    [1] E. Goldfain, Cantorian spacetime and unified field theory, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 23 (2005), pp. 701–710.
    [2] M.S. El Naschie, A review of E-infinity theory and the mass spectrum of high energy physics, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 19 (2004), pp. 209–236
    [3] M.S. El Naschie, Gödel universe, dualities and high energy particles in E-infinity, Chaos, Solitons & Fractals 25 (2005) (3), pp. 759–764.
    [4] El Naschie MS. On the cohomology and instantons number in E-infinity Cantorian spacetime. Chaos, Solitons & Fractals, in press doi:10.1016/j.chaos.2005.12.019.
    [5] M. Kaku, Strings, conformal fields and M-theory, Springer-Verlag, New York (2000).
    [6] A. Khrennikov, Non-Archimedean analysis, Kluwer Academic Publishers, London (1997).
    [7] V. Vladimirov, I. Valovich and E. Zelenov, P-Adic analysis and mathematical physics, World Scientific, Singapore (1998).

    Something more peculiar about the list of references, of the first paper, is that one of the references is just a comment on an article published in the Telegraph, unfortunately the comment has been deleted. Also the address of the first paper raises another question about the so many false affiliation of El Naschie. The address seems not to be related to his activities.

    It is obvious that there is no kind of peer review for these papers even at the fromal level apart from the content.
    One can guess that papers may be generated using a program of language generation like n-moles or n-grams or whatever kind of program used. I think, at least for me, that the ‘a b’ of scientific writing should fulfill certain basic criteria:
    1- If you mention a paper of Witten (or any name) [], then one should put reference for that person in the square bracket.
    2- If you have a paper titled with theory of some one, then the list of references should contain at least one reference for that guy.

    I hope, by now, El naschie has a plenty of time to fix the bugs in the program generating papers, implementing these two mentioned rules in the code and acknowledge this blog for drawing his attention.

  44. MathPhys says:

    On the positive side, El Naschie makes specific references to a standard textbook on string theory by one of the founding fathers of the subject

    [5] M. Kaku, Introduction to superstrings and M-theory, Springer, New York (1999) see p. 385 in particular.

  45. st says:

    Earlier I commented that “no thesis [of El Naschie] can be found at the university”. The comment was based on the fact that his name did not (still does not) appear in the University of London Theses Catalogue, a database known to contain titles dating back to the fifties.

    Recently Stefan at Backreaction has apparently found a record in the Integrated Catalogue of the British Library.

    I regret reacting prematurely.

  46. Pingback: Not Even Wrong » Blog Archive » Status of Superstring and M-theory

  47. Any one says:

    To St

    It is not important if El naschie is a phd holder or not.

    The number of his papers is 350 or 1000 papers is also

    immetrial. If one is allowed to write in his style without any

    peer review one could publish 6000 papers in twenty years.

    The main problems in his papers is they don’t make sense

    whatever mathematically or physicaly.

    About the address “King Abdullah Institute for Nano and Advanced Technology, KSU, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia” on

    his recent papers is very supicious as it has no relation to his


    On the Ninth International Symposium Frontiers of

    Fundamental and Computational Physics 2008 had a lecture titled

    “Average exceptional Lie group hierarchy and high

    energy physics” where he claimed to be the director of

    King Abdullah Al Saud Institute for Nano & Advanced Technologies

    as evident from the affiliation mentoined below.


    King Abdullah Al Saud Institute for Nano & Advanced Technologies*,

    Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

    *) Director

    one can check

    But if you check the web page of King Abdullah Al Saud Institute for Nano & Advanced Technologies you don’t find his name listed in the Committee Members of Establishing King Abdullah Institute for NANO Technology and there is no mention for him at all. That

    seems odd especially he is the director as he claimed.

    One can check the web page for “Committees consultative sciencetisic”

    web page for “Supervisory Committee to King Abdullah Institute for Nanotechnology”

    Can the great man explain for us.

  48. Any one says:

    If El naschie is an honest scientist and not a fraud. He should mention the web link to the institute he claimed to have a position or related to it in his website.

    I challenge him to put links which shows his claims and to assure his honesty for the others. Please give links to the following claimed position

    1-He is the current advisor of the Egyptian Ministry for Science and Technology (High Energy Physics and Nanotechnology)

    2- He is Adviser to King Saud University on Nanotechnology, and even more he claimed to be the director of King Abdullah Al Saud Institute for Nano and Advanced Technologies.

    One can check the following link where he claimed to be the director

    If you check the webpage of of King Abdullah Al Saud Institute for Nano and Advanced Technologies. You find no mention for him at all

    One can check the web page for “Committees consultative sciencetisic”

    web page for “Supervisory Committee to King Abdullah Institute for Nanotechnology”

    In fact it reflects badly on these countries if this was true.

  49. Any one says:

    Believe it or not

    El naschie had four articles whose titles containing Witten. The articles are

    1- A few hints and some theorems about Witten’s M theory and T-duality,

    Chaos,Solitons and Fractals 25 (2005)545 û548

    2- Using Witten’s five Brane theory and the holographic principle to derive the value of the electromagnetic structure constant alpha =1/137,

    Chaos,Solitons and Fractals 38 (2008)1051 -1053

    3- Fuzzy knot theory interpretation of Yang -Mills instantons and Witten’s 5-Brane model,

    Chaos,Solitons and Fractals 38 (2008)1349 -1354

    4- On the Witten -Duff Branes model together with knots theory and E 8 E 8 super strings in a single fractal spacetime theory,

    Chaos, Solitons and Fractals xxx (2008)xxx – xxx . The article is still in press, but you can get the pdf. file.

    The amazing thing about the references of the first three articles is that they don’t contain any research paper for Witten. Finally, the great man realized his mistake and put a reference for Witten in the fourth one (the most recent one). But the man didn’t acknowledge who pointed out to him this bug in his program which he used to generate papers (Backreaction blog). Any way this a good step, at least the references are now correctly produced. Unfortunately you still need further improvement in your code that seems has a serious problem with E. Witten. Although you referred to a paper of Witten the program has produced a wrong title for it. In the reference list we find

    [4 ]Witten E. Searching for a realistic Kaluza-Klein Theory. Nucl Phys B 1981;186:412 – 28.

    While the correct title turned out to be, as you can check yourself:

    Search for a realistic Kaluza-Klein theory

    Nuclear Physics B, Volume 186, Issue 3, 10 August 1981, Pages 412-428, Edward Witten

    As N. Eisfeld wrote on Mar. 26, 2008 @ 18:32 GMT, in this blog,, describing El naschie

    “This man has never bad-mouthed, ignored or downplayed anyone or any contribution. He also acknowledged every single person who contributed to his work unless he genuinely did not know and then he will immediately apologize of the unintended omission.”

  50. Any one says:

    I think that Elsevier is doing dirty jobs in scientific publishing. The CSF journal is owned by Elnaschie and Elsevier is getting money out of this apart from the journal subscription fees. El naschie pays for getting credibility of Elsevier and to have the chance to publish his great scientific ideas in journal hosted by a supposed reputable publishing house like Elsevier. There are other many similar cases in Elsevier.

    El naschie keeps publishing junks in CSF for a quite long time and kept unnoticed by mentoring system of Elsevier which seems very odd. While it was so obvious from the far beginning that we have a crackpot.

    The same applies to Cambridge university which allowed him to publish his articles for nearly ten years 1993-2001 using its affiliation, while, for sure, he wasn╝t a staff member there. It is far from reality to imagine that people in Cambridge have been fooled for that long time. According to the following data base

    One can find:

    17 articles where the affiliation is DAMTP, Cambridge, UK.

    72 articles where the affiliation is Dept. of Appl. Math. & Theor. Phys., Cambridge Univ., UK

    40 articles where the affiliation is Univ of Cambridge.

    No prize for one who guesses at which journal those articles have been published.

    It is not enough for Elsevier just to step down Elnaschie , they should explain how these things happened and what their future precautions to prevent such a misusing of editorial power.

    On the other side, Cambridge people should explain how it was possible for El naschie to use its affiliation for a quite long time, harming their reputation without charging him and any legal action.

    The papers of El naschie would be a permanent black record for both Elsevier and Cambridge for too long time in the future.

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