Change of Direction

It probably won’t surprise my regular readers to hear that recently I’ve been getting rather tired of the usual topics of this blog. String theory has been intellectually dead for a very long time now, and continuing to point this out is becoming more and more tedious. About the multiverse, surely no one takes that seriously anymore, so, the less said, the better. Recently, John Baez decided to move away from abstract mathematical physics to write about topics of more relevance to the real world, see his blog Azimuth. Like him, I think it’s time to move on to subjects of wider interest. In the past I’ve very much restricted the topics I write about on this blog, but now have decided that I should share my views on a wide array of topics not just with my friends and colleagues, but with the wider world. This blog will be one way of doing this, but in the next days and weeks I’ll also be entering the world of Web 2.0 in a big way. There’s now a twitter feed, with much more to come.

As part of this new order, I intend to stop my previous somewhat fascist policy of deleting a large fraction of comments on various ill-defined grounds. I now encourage interaction with my readers, feel free to write about whatever’s on your mind!

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22 Responses to Change of Direction

  1. Dave says:

    As a reader for a long time, I won’t say the prior topics of the blog won’t be missed, they surely will. However much luck and enjoyment on the new direction, judging by the politics post, still a blog of interest to follow. Thanks for all the hard work and time leading up to this.

    p.s. Is there a good book/blog that you can recommend that deals with refuting the multiverse?

  2. abbyyorker says:

    A welcome break from your whining. Of course, this opinion only lasts 24 hours.

  3. Robert Smart says:

    If, after studying the issue for 1000 years, we determine that the probability of intelligent life arising in this universe (the bit we’re in causal contact with) is very low, then it seems that it will be impossible to distinguish between 3 ways of looking at it: (a) Our existence causes the universe to have had some fortuitous events in the past; (b) We are actually just a simulation in a higher being’s computer and they fudged it to get us; (c) There are multiple “universes” and naturally we are in one that happens to have intelligent life. Which will you prefer on aesthetic grounds (it being agreed that Science can’t distinguish)?

  4. Casey Leedom says:

    Wow. I _Really_ Should_, as per always, read my email — blogs comments — in reverse order. I’m Very Sorry Peter for not having done that tonight.

    My personal belief: High Energy Particle Physics is both dead and boring in the current world. I hope that some day we’ll have the ___DATA___ to generate some new and interesting theories. But right now, not so much.

    So, it’s time to focus on more productive paths. And I’m sorry, but physics isn’t part of that. My own personal view is that: if I were a young person trying to figure out what’s “interesting”, “likely to mean something”, etc. … it would be biology. I think that there’s a very real possibility of making a large number of people’s lives better. The data is there and growing. It’s going to take people with strong mathematical skills to process, integrate into good models, and help develop new takes on things.

    Let’s give this “Unified Field Theory” stuff a rest and try working in a domain that’s actually interesting …

  5. chris says:

    april 1st?

  6. Peter Woit says:

    This is me posting from a parallel universe and I’m _very_ annoyed at me in this universe for giving up the good fight!

  7. joke says:

    to bad that it’s april 1st 🙁

    A change to more interesting directions would be desirble …

  8. joke says:

    … and a stop of the randomly and absolutely unpredictible disappearance of posted comments into … 😛 (the Nirvana ?) would be a god thing too …

    But Alas! …

    Happy April 1st :-/

  9. Well, the bit about the Twitter account is true, April Fool’s or not, why not? “Not even wrong” applies to so many areas in our modern life, that you’d never run out of subjects in line with the blog title.

  10. Shantanu says:

    Peter, I shall miss the science and physics posts from you (as well
    as related comments from the readers). hope you continue blogging
    about particle physics.

  11. Giotis says:

    Good decision; if you can’t beat them, ignore them…

  12. alt says:

    “About the multiverse, surely no one takes that seriously anymore, so, the less said, the better.”

    what about Briane Greene “The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos” Jan 25, 2011 release date. Have you read it and do you have a review of it?

    from Publisher’s Weekly

    But string theory opened up a new can of worms, hinting at the possible existence of multiple universes and other strange entities. The possibility of other universes existing alongside our own like holes in “a gigantic block of Swiss cheese” seems more likely every day. Beginning with relativity theory, the Big Bang, and our expanding universe, Greene introduces first the mind-blowing multiplicity of forms those parallel universes might take, from patchwork quilts or stretchy “branes” to landscapes and holograms riddled with black holes.

  13. Sung Lee says:

    Was NEW hacked by string proponents?, or Peter just went nuts? Hope it is really an April 1st joke and the site goes back to the way it has been tomorrow. This site has really been a great source of information on mathematics and theoretical physics, and I am shocked and appalled by what I am seeing now. Is this a sign that mathematics and theoretical physics are hitting a dead end?

    Sorry, this is your blog but as a long-term reader of your blog, I am very disappointed if this is not a joke.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “String theory has been intellectually dead for a very long time now.”
    Particle phenomenology is a much more intellectually stimulating. It’s all about supersymmetry, supersymmetry, supersymmetry… and thousands of non-SM Higgs models.

  15. The Cosmist says:

    Mark my words, the future of physics and cosmology is turtleverse theory!

  16. D R Lunsford says:

    Peter, it was a heroic effort and did enormous good. I was utterly depressed about the state of science when I stumbled across your manifesto on arxiv a long time and another city ago. I was immediately cheered and took up physics again with a renewed effort. So this may be Aprils Fools day, but I do detect some sincerity in your screed here. You can still write about physics and desserts and New York all at once. I like to see some “then and now” photography from the city, maybe some architecture tours – that’ll give you some excuses for biking around.


  17. Peter Woit says:

    I guess not everyone is amused by getting brought into my practical jokes…

  18. donald klein says:

    I appreciate your thoughtful dehyping book Since you intend to march on to other
    super-hyped areas you might look at “personalized medicine” and
    the need to complete every biological finding with the promise of new therapeutic horizons.
    This all falls under the rubric of translational medicine.
    Please un-translate using scalpel of predictive validity.

  19. John Baez says:

    That was supposed to be a somewhat ironic “Grrr…”, but it’s hard to convey tone of voice in this medium.

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