- A few months ago I ended up doing a little history of science research, trying to track down the details of the story of the Physical Review’s 1973 policy discouraging articles on “Foundations”. The results of that research are in this posting, where I found this explanation from the Physical Review editor (Goudsmit) of the problem they were trying to deal with:
The event [referring to a difficult refereeing problem] shows again clearly the necessity of rapid rejections of questionable papers in vague borderline areas. There is a class of long theoretical papers which deal with problems of interpretation of quantum and relativistic phenomena. Most of them are terribly boring and belong to the category of which Pauli said, “It is not even wrong”. Many of them are wrong. A few of the wrong ones turn out to be valuable and interesting because they throw a brighter light on the correct understanding of the problem. I have earlier expressed my strong opinion that most of these papers don’t belong in the Physical Review but in journals specializing in the philosophy and fundamental concepts of physics.
I had heard that people studying foundations of quantum mechanics, frustrated by this policy, had started up during the 1970s their own samizdat publication, called “Epistemological Letters”. I tried to see if there was any way to read the articles that appeared in that form, but it looked like the only way to do this would be to go visit one or two archives that might have some copies. Unbeknownst to me, around the same time Notre Dame University had just finished a project of scanning all issues of Epistemological Letters and putting them online. They are now available here, with an article about them here and an introductory essay here.
- There’s an interesting essay on the arXiv about the current state of BSM physics, by HEP theorist Goran Senjanović, entitled Natural Philosophy versus Philosophy of Naturalness.
- Here’s an article about problems string theorist Amer Iqbal has been having in Pakistan.
- The New York Times has an article about Cedric Villani and his campaign for mayor of Paris. The election is next month, and I’m having a hard time figuring out why Villani is running. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference in policy views between the current mayor (Hidalgo) and the Macronistas (Griveaux and Villani), with the main effect of Villani entering the race a splitting of the Macron party vote.
- I was sorry to hear recently about the death of mathematician Louis Nirenberg. Kenneth Chang at the New York Times has written an excellent obituary. Terry Tao has some comments here.
Update: Excellent rant on Twitter from Philip Ball about misrepresentations of the Copenhagen interpretation. For your own rants, please engage in them on Twitter rather than here.