Nobel Lectures

The winners of this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics gave their Nobel lectures in Stockholm on Wednesday. The lectures of David Gross and Frank Wilczek are available on-line, for some reason that of David Politzer isn’t, at least not yet.

Over at Sean Carroll’s Preposterous Universe there’s a first-hand report about the lectures from Thomas Larsson (who often comments here). It’s in the comment section of this post. One interesting detail from Politzer’s talk was that Coleman had originally assigned the beta-function calculation to Erick Weinberg (who is now my colleague at Columbia over in the physics department), but Erick already had enough material for his thesis and wanted to move on.

Update: Politzer’s lecture is now available at his web-site.

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17 Responses to Nobel Lectures

  1. plato says:

    Just thinking out loud.

    This is a nice picture taken from ISCAP

    Try refreshing the ISCAP page about five different times and you find some interesting pictures to look at, as well.

    Something triggered, in what DRL last posted(10:03).

    Here is a quote from Brian Greene in response to that last post.

    How can a speck of a universe be physically identical to the great expanse we view in the heavens above? Brian Greene

    Maybe a topological change?:)

    I wonder sometimes, about “events” even within the context of the expansive universe.

  2. D R Lunsford says:

    NGC 7603 is a strange object:

    It consists of an interacting Seyfert galaxy and three odd objects of widely discordant redshifts. Some of these peculiar galaxies are as weird and mysterious as UFO photos. (Spend an hour or two with the “Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies” for a trippy experience.)

    A recent paper is a real blockbuster:


  3. D R Lunsford says:

    (nor do I in any way deny his eightfold achievement)


  4. D R Lunsford says:

    Yes Chris, I was having a bilious moment. Sorry.

    Still, I never forgot the way he insulted his hosts.


  5. Chris Oakley says:

    Danny –

    I cannot possibly agree with your comments about Gell-Mann. In my opinion, the 1969 Nobel prize is the only particle physics Nobel prize since the war that has been deserved. Gell-Mann has this remarkable ability to find simplicity amid the confusion and complexity of experimental data. At a time when the bulk of theoretical activity is devoted to doing the exact opposite, his contribution ought to be appreciated that much more.

  6. ksh95 says:

    Why is NGC 7603 the most interesting object in the sky?

    Which seems more likely to you?

    1.)That one little speck in the sky is an optical illusion, and NGC 7603 is actually composed of several distinct objects, at different distances, along the same line of sight.


    2.)That one little speck in the sky is exactly what it looks like. NGC 7603 is actually one object, and volumes of data supporting the big bang are are wrong.

  7. plato says:


    Of course Gell-Mann, the very prototype of the quick-witted, stone-hearted, insightless boor, referred to “half-asstrophyisicists” – and now the army of mediocrities streaming into the academic world from PhD programs have usurped even those jobs.

    It’s a sick world.

    Why don’t you tell Brain Greene that you think this holds no value?:)

  8. D R Lunsford says:


    The Motloids of this planet also deliberately inhibit science by denying telescope time to “controversial” researchers, and even by blindly refusing to look at things like NGC 7603 (IMO the most interesting object in the sky). Of course Gell-Mann, the very prototype of the quick-witted, stone-hearted, insightless boor, referred to “half-asstrophyisicists” – and now the army of mediocrities streaming into the academic world from PhD programs have usurped even those jobs.

    It’s a sick world.


  9. DMS says:

    Actually, Einstein’s example is rather interesting.

    Sir Edmund Whittaker in his detailed survey, A History of the Theories of Aether and Electricity, Volume II, included a chapter entitled “The Relativity Theory of Poincare and Lorentz”, a clear attempt to deny any credit to Einstein. When Einstein was asked about this, he said something to the effect that he did not really care about the “priority” or “recognition”, and that he knew what he had done and was pleased about it. It also seems to be the case that the Michelson-Morley experiment played no role in Einstein’s developing SR.

    He was perhaps an exception; most scientists today would jealously fight for priority over any little thing they did (boost up the citation numbers). So not only was Einstein a great physicist, he was a remarkably wise and modest human being as well (ok, he was not a perfect husband, and there are the anti-Einstein “writers”, debunked by Einstein scholars , a rarity at any time and place.

    But, of course, nowadays, we have string theorists who are to be compared in genius directly to Newton.

  10. Lubos Motl says:

    I can give you Einstein’s quotes that are saying the same thing as me. But I am afraid that it is useless to make any discussions with you, DRL.

  11. plato says:


    The comments Lubos is making about the quest to understand NATURE are valid. I understand, at the “heart of the matters,” there are these qualities students have about their professors?:)

    Maybe we could call this bloggery, a psychological drama, where Mutt and Jeff are just the “innate,” one sided feature of a coin on Monday, and another, on Tuesday?

    Is it not known, all do not fair thee so well in times?:)

  12. D R Lunsford says:


    Motl is that type of scientist that Einstein specifically despised – the quick mind without insight, blind and hungry for power and fame. He is NOT representative of physicists – he’s representative of Bon-Motl.

    Of course, our society turns out these blustering faux-macho clueless dorks by the tens of thousands.


  13. Lubos Motl says:

    Rick, it’s not just personal glory, money, and fame – it’s the understanding of Nature itself. Many physicists are also doing physics as their job – it’s a form of career, and be sure that it is better for them to have interesting result.

    Whatever the motivation is, it is absolutely clear that a physicist *wants* to find interesting results, and if (s)he does not want, (s)he should not be a physicist!

    Of course that most of us are happy if someone else finds something interesting, but we would be even happier if we found it ourselves. I don’t believe that either of your friends is happier if someone else finds something out – if they are saying it, then – I apologize – your friends are liars.

  14. Rick says:

    Prof. Motl, you have such an average sense of values. Your comment is depicting physicists as if all of them are chasing after personal glory. Maybe you’re right, in the average. There are people who just enjoys doing physics, and happy to know even if it’s their friends who discovered something. Your comment is such a disgrace to them. Maybe I am not practical when concerned with monew issues. But I don’t want to sell my sould to fame or money.

  15. Lubos Motl says:

    Come on, Robert, it’s ridiculous. Every theoretical physicist would love to be the discoverer of the asymptotic freedom or any other important insight, for that matter.

    It is not just about the 400,000 dollars that Erick Weinberg rejected. It is about the fun of learning important secrets of Ms. Nature as the first one. Learning Nature is the real fun. It’s a very special feeling, and no doubt, the physicists are doing physics because they want to find something interesting.

    If a physicist pretended that he or she did not want to be the father or mother of QCD, I would not believe it anyway. It would be such an incredible hypocricy!

  16. Robert says:

    Prior to this, I have never felt that I could, in any way, be professionally competent to comment on the internecine abuse dispensed between the pro and anti string camps manifest on this blog. Professor Motl’s most recent remark, about Politzer, Weinberg, the beta function , and who got to check it out, highlights an atrophy of the spirit that shows why theoretical physics is chasing itself up its own fundament.

  17. Lubos Motl says:

    Haha, the decision of Erick Weinberg was not one of the smarter ones. 😉

Comments are closed.