A few things that may be of interest:
- Fermilab is continuing to push the wormhole publicity stunt, with Joe Lykken, the lab’s Deputy director for research on the 17th giving a public lecture on Wormholes in the Laboratory. The promotional text goes way out of its way to mislead about the science:
A wormhole, also known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge, is a hypothetical tunnel connecting remote points in spacetime. While wormholes are allowed by Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, wormholes have never been found in the universe. In late 2022, the journal Nature featured a paper co-written by Joe Lykken, leader of the Fermilab Quantum Institute, that describes observable phenomenon produced by a quantum processor that “are consistent with the dynamics of a transversable wormhole.” Working with a Sycamore quantum computer at Google, a team of physicists was able to transfer information from one area of the computer to another through a quantum system utilizing artificial intelligence hardware.
The “utilizing artificial intelligence hardware” seems to be an incoherent attempt to add more buzzwords to the bullshit. If you know anyone with any influence at the lab, you might want to consider contacting them and asking them to try and get this embarrassment canceled.
- On another embarrassment to science front, Fumiharu Kato on Twitter is announcing the publication of the paperback edition of his book promoting the IUT proof of the abc conjecture. In his talk about this at the Simons Center he dealt with the issue of the problems with the proof by pretending they don’t exist, but (from what I can make out using Google Translate), he says he’ll deal with this in the paperback edition. His point of view seems to be that once PRIMS (chief editor S. Mochizuki) decided to accept the IUT papers, no one should be writing things like this. Perhaps he’s just trying to point out that this is potentially a huge embarrassment for PRIMS and RIMS in general, which is undeniable. But he appears to be going down the truly unfortunate path of making this not about mathematics but about Japanese national honor, with one tweet getting translated as:
Some non-Japanese mathematicians questioned, “This is an insult to the Japanese mathematics world! Why don’t Japanese mathematicians say anything after being so insulted?” I also think the question is valid.
- Continuing with the difficult and depressing, there’s the ongoing Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. The New York Times reports on the efforts of the Simons Foundation help sustain Ukrainian science. The Guardian has an excellent article on the problems the LHC experiments are having due to the fact that Russian physicists make up a significant part of the collaborations. I had heard this story back in September from John Ellis, who I met for the first time in London (at an event which now has a video of a discussion I was involved in). Tommaso Dorigo has an article about this on his blog, where he takes a point of view that is appealing (no borders or nationalism in science), but I don’t think it’s so simple.
I’ve been wondering if there is a historical parallel to look to, with one possibility the situation in 1938-39 when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia. By this point (as now) a lot of scientists had fled to the West, and the issue must have arisen of how scientists in the West should deal with their German colleagues who were staying in Germany.
- Turning to something much more pleasant, Michael Harris points me to a video of a talk by Manjul Bhargava that has finally appeared, one of a series of talks at a 2018 conference in honor of Barry Mazur.
- This week in my graduate class I’m talking a bit about Howe duality, and just discovered that his original unpublished articles on the subject are now available online, see here and here.
- Finally, I only recently learned about the volume of Sidney Coleman’s correspondence that recently appeared, under the title Theoretical Physics in Your Face. Especially fun to read for those like me who remember the era at Harvard when Coleman was at the center of activity. One quote, his opinion in 1985 evaluating the grant to the Princeton theory group:
If I have any serious criticism of this group at all, it is that their recent concentration on superstrings seems to me a tactical error, too much devotion of effort to a line of development that (at least to an outsider’s eye) is not that promising. However, I could well be wrong in this, and, even if I am right, they’ll soon discover they’ve drilled a dry hole and be off exploring other fields next year.
Unfortunately the last part of this was very wrong…
Update: Nature has an article on the resolution of the LHC Russian authorship issue.