Various Math and Physics Links

Here’s a collection of interesting things I’ve run across recently:

A website devoted to Hermann Weyl. The author is a religious sort, but of the good kind.

A movie taken at the 1927 Solvay conference. It is on the website for “The End of the Certain World”, which is a biography of Max Born. I’ve read the book and some of it is interesting, but I have little sympathy for one of its themes, that Born felt he didn’t receive enough recognition for his work (he got his Nobel Prize in 1954, long after many other Nobel prizes were given for quantum mechanics). Frankly I think any physicist like Born who had the incredible luck to be at Gottingen in 1925-26 should have spent the rest of his life thanking his lucky stars and not complaining about his career.

Harvard mathematical physicist Arthur Jaffe has a website. In particular the site has some interesting expository papers, including an autobiographical memoir about the IHES in the early 60s, a survey of constructive quantum field theory, and a work in progress, an introduction to quantum field theory from a rigorous point of view.

There’s a recent lecture by Eric Zaslow on Physics and Mathematics which he gives the supremely ugly name of Physmatics.

Some of the lectures from String Phenomenology 2005 in Munich last week are on-line. Lots of talks about flux vacua and the landscape, nothing that seems to have the remotest connection to physics. For a report from the conference, see Robert Helling’s weblog.

The talks from a conference held at Potsdam in April on Geometry and Physics after 100 years of Einstein’s Relativity are available.

The Bonn Arbeitstagung is a summer conference that was started by Friedrich Hirzebruch in the late fifties, and which often has been the site of announcements of important developments in mathematics. The 2005 Arbeitstagung ended last week and notes from the talks are on-line.

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10 Responses to Various Math and Physics Links

  1. D R Lunsford says:

    Yes, Peter, and in fact the “Dreimaennerarbeit” was really the beginning of QM, so he’s got a point.


  2. Nice collectin, thanks. 🙂

  3. Peter Woit says:

    Hi Tony,

    Those stories are in the book. Born’s complaints weren’t so much about his problems fleeing the Nazis as that Heisenberg got a Nobel prize early on and he didn’t until much later. I guess he thought the first prize for QM should have recognized the Born/Heisenberg/Jordan work, not just Heisenberg. One problem with this is that Jordan was a Nazi, and the Nobel committee wasn’t enthusiastic about recognizing him.

  4. Tony Smith says:

    Peter, you say that you “… have little sympathy for one of its themes, that Born felt he didn’t receive enough recognition for his work …”.
    I have heard (no scholarly references, just gossip) that Born was as you indicated, somewhat insecure and feeling unappreciated, and that he felt such an insecure chord of emotion when he arrived (fleeing Hitler) at the Cambridge train station. One of the buildings most visible from the station was a movie theater whose marquee showed the movie title “Born to be Hanged”.

    Further, he expected that he would stay in Cambridge as a professor there, and when he realized that Cambridge was only a first stop at which those fleeing Hitler were sorted out and matched up with available positions, he felt yet another chord of emotional insecurity and feeling unappreciated.

    (Maybe all that is in the book, but I have not read it, and I don’t know.)

    Tony Smith

  5. Godspell says:

    “You can see that Dirac was rather genial as a youngster…”

    Did I miss something or you can tell it from the bright of his eyes?

  6. Nat Whilk says:

    It would make more sense for the author to have a pair of sites.

    With any luck, it will be trichinella.

  7. robert says:

    Thanks for that Peter – the Solvay ‘home movie’ made my day.

  8. D R Lunsford says:

    “Physmatics” – utter idiocy. How can people write such drivel with a straight face?

    The Weyl site is nice, but vastly understates his influence, and somewhat misrepresents his work on gauge invariance.

    The Solvay movie was great! You can see that Dirac was rather genial as a youngster, while Pauli seems to have always been a five-foot scowl. Ehrenfest seems almost giddy – no evidence of his impending suicide.


  9. Levi says:

    I always appreciate it when you post such links. I bookmarked the Jaffe site. The Weyl site is certainly a strange combination of things though. It would make more sense for the author to have a pair of sites.

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