Landscape Architecture

The Perimeter Institute in Canada is known as a center for research in Loop Quantum Gravity. This week they have come up with an extremely clever way to make string theorists look bad. They’ve scheduled a week of talks on String Phenomenology, ending this Friday on April Fool’s day. Most of the talks are related in one way or another to the “Landscape”, with talks by Kachru on “Landscape Architecture” and DeWolfe on “More Landscape Architecture”. If you’re in the mood for a giggle, tune into these talks tomorrow: it will be all landscape, all the time, from Michael Douglas in the morning to a panel discussion in the evening moderated by Herman Verlinde on the topic “Landscape: What Is It Good For?”. It’s quite possible the panel discussion will be very short.

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12 Responses to Landscape Architecture

  1. D R Lunsford says:



  2. Chris Oakley says:

    It is always a disappointment when one discovers that people are not acting from the best of motives. For example, when I discovered that Schrödinger used to run a pay porn site using the University of Zurich’s web space, I was devastated (I think that he was, anyway).

  3. Fyodor Uckoff says:

    “— Why is this all a good thing?”

    Why, that’s a terrible thing to ask. I bet somebody will get the Nobel for this work some day, if indeed they haven’t already.

    Meanwhile, I hear that Peter Woit is actually writing a popular book about Dirac Index Theory! Seems that his website was just to gain publicity for his new book, “Black holes, White holes, Worm holes, Bore Holes, The Bermuda Triangle, and Embeddings of SU(2) in SO(4)”. And you thought it was only Stanford and Harvard profs who did that kind of thing. Michio Kaku, when asked to comment, would say only: “I think I’ll wait for the movie.”

  4. Arun says:

    “Remarkably, it is only in the modern context of the landscape that we can appreciate such a finely tuned theory. It would have been rejected out of hand by traditional effective field theorists only a decade ago. In the modern context, it is a strong competitor to other theories of physics at the weak scale.”

    “…unlike traditional unwieldy model-building, in which additional fields are added and their phenomenological consequences studied, here we remove fields and their associated phenomenological problems.”

    — Why is this all a good thing?

  5. Peter says:

    I get the joke about supersplit supersymmetry. But I still don’t see why split supersymmetry isn’t a joke. And please, somebody tell me that what has been going on at the Perimeter Institute this week is an elaborate hoax. It would be too depressing if this were not true…

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow. It’s not often you see a theory paper with such a high author:page length ratio.

  7. Aaron says:

    Peter — there’s a fascinating new paper on the ArXiV which shows how the landscape can lead to some radically new ideas in phenomenology.

    I find it hard to believe that people would have considered such a model before anthropic ideas became prevalent.

  8. Urs says:

    People have been working on the idea that the
    Dirac operator answers all our questions for 25 years now

    Beyond the intended parody it is maybe interesting to note that Dirac operators and index theorems and all that play a prominent role in superstring theory. The index of the heterotic worldsheet supercharge, which is a Dirac operator on loop space, is related to the elliptic genus, for instance.

    I think anyone interested in Dirac operators in general can hardly find a more fruitful area than superstring related topics.

  9. Quantoken says:

    I looked at the URL Peter provided, and find the LHC Stretch Exercise to be interesting. Any string theoretist up to the challenge of coming up with a theory to explain the presumed “data” from LHC, before Friday the April Fools Day?

    I did a little bit calculation and find that the original author must had the figure of exactly 2000 GeV in his mind when he proposed that “data set”.

    I guess the point they try to make is: If you can’t say anything about a clean set of hypersised data from your theory, then how could you say anything when the REAL data comes out, which is full of ambiguity and therefore much less useful? Isn’t it a complete waste of money if LHC doesn’t help you to tell which theory is right and which is wrong?


  10. Juan R. says:

    I agree with the “obscure instructor” on that “Dirac operator theory” is outdated. I’m sorry Peter, but your ideas are pure “speculation” (really is bad math)!

    But, and this is an important point, string theory has derived lot of stuff outside of the standard model but nothing inside it!

    String theory is so outdated as Dirac operator and young and brilliant people would work in some more general and revolutionary theory!

  11. Meanwhile, the 4/1/2005 issue of the SF Chronicle has an interview with a certain P Woit, a leading authority on Dirac Index Theory, the dominant theory in theoretical physics for the last quarter century. The theory has however attracted some criticism. Edward Witten, an obscure instructor at Princeton, says: “People have been working on the idea that the
    Dirac operator answers all our questions for 25 years now, and the theory predicts absolutely nothing beyond the Standard Model. It’s long past time that people like Woit should admit that Index Theory is a failure; he should be persuading young people to try something new and radical. I’ve always thought that string theory deserves a lot more attention, attention it would have received if the Index Mafia had not dominated the physics departments of the great universities for so long.” Asked to comment, Woit said: “Talk to the Hand.”

  12. John Bell says:

    Spooky Processes

    Scattering processes are always interesting and with regards to the Perimenter institute, Smolin retains a well balanced view of what needs to be done there.

    We would need proof to this ascertion of Fool’s day. We know some people like to make use of it in regards to appling labels. Alan Sokal crying wolf?

    This does not in anyway make the idea less tangible in what String Theorist think of. In regards to the information that comes out of the blackhole. They think they can get much closer theoretically.;)

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