A pretty random collection of interesting things I’ve noticed recently:

The Mathematical Institute at Oxford has a newsletter, and from the latest issue I learned that Quillen is retiring and that they’re planning construction of a new building. There are quite a few other articles worth reading in the newsletter, including one about George Mackey.

There’s a long interview with Lawrence Krauss on the web-site of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Jennifer Ouellette at Cocktail Party Physics has a nice posting about Sonya Kovalevsky.

The International Congress on Mathematical Physics (ICMP) is taking place in Rio this week, and here’s the program. Victor Rivelles is blogging from the conference, and says that talks will be put online after the conference. I agree with his comments about Witten here.

Tommaso Dorigo has some excellent recent postings about new results from the Tevatron on the top quark mass and the search for the Higgs. It looks like the Tevatron’s best bet for finding the Higgs (or for ruling it out in some mass range above the range already ruled out by LEP) will be if it’s around 160 GeV.

Also from Fermilab, there are new results from MINOS on neutrino oscillations. Sometime soon MiniBoone is supposed to be “opening the box” on their blind analysis of the data and reporting results. Anyone know when?

One needs more posts about top quarks mass (+decay modes, CKM matrix els?), Higgs searches, etc, although I suppose that’s not really the brief of this blog. I’m not bothered by what anyone thinks of Witten. (I’ve met him. He’s a nice guy. I had nothing to say to him and he had nothing to say to me and that was the end of our non-collaboration.)

FWIW does anyone know what has become of the pentaquark?

The pentaquark does not appear to exist. Higher statistics measurements in pretty much all the channels where something was originally observered do not show its presence.

LHM, you know that story of Feynman and Dirac? as best I remember, when they met, Dirac was still in an eigenstate of taciturnity and Feynman in one of speechless Dirac worship*, so they didn’t have much to say to each other:

Feynman: “That was a beautiful equation!”

Dirac: “It was a long time ago. Are you trying to get an equation?”

Feynman: “I’m working on mesons. It is hard.”

Dirac: “One must try.”

-drl

*Pauli – “There is no God, and Dirac is his prophet.”

First meeting between RPF and PAMD.

F: I am Feynman (extends hand)

D: I am Dirac (extends hand)

pause

F: (awed voice) It must have felt good to have invented that equation.

D: But that was a long time ago. (Pause) What are you working on?

F: Mesons.

D: Are you trying to discover an equation for them?

F: It is very hard.

D: But one must try.

I disagree with the Rivelles characterization of mathematical physics as something that would have “no prediction that has been experimentaly verified yet”. How about the proof of the stability of matter? Or how about rigorous work on Navier-Stokes or in statistical mechanics? Let’s not smear mathematical physics by comparing it to string theory.

Hi Peter,

thanks for the link! You should do that more often, I got 200 visitors from your site today 🙂

LostHisMarbles: I will try to post more about the most recent stuff going on with top quarks at the Tevatron in the future. There are some nice things coming up real soon in fact.

Cheers all,

T.

Tommaso’s post about the Higgs searches contains a revealing statement ~ each one of the solid and dashed curves represents years of analysis. That’s precisely the problem. It takes YEARS of painstaking effort in expt HEP, to nail down the most basic parameters for a theory proposed 30 years ago, and meantime no expt evidence for anything beyond SM has surfaced. Theoretical HEP just can’t wait that long. There’s just no expt guide as to what lies beyond the SM (as opposed to the 1950’s when every new accelerator produced puzzles faster than theory could absorb.) One can speak of dark matter and dark energy etc (from cosmology), but these concepts are not amenable to precise lab measurements. Even if one makes hypotheses there’s no way to do a controlled expt to test the ideas. One can blame string theory for all sorts of ills, but the crisis (if I may call it that) is nobody’s fault.

The real problem is to lose the commitment to press ahead with expt HEP (the ILC or muon collider or VLHC etc). One can say that ST is Not Even Wrong, but it is far worse to Not Even Try.

KOVALEVSKAYA WAS AMAZING, HER WORK ON THE EQUATIONS FOR A SPINNING TOP USING ELLIPTIC FUNCTIONS DEFINATELY DESERVES THE BORDINS PRIZE. I STARTED LEARNING ABOUT INTEGRIBLE SYSTEM BECAUSE OF THIS.

IS IT TRUE THAT WEIERSTRASS WAS HOPELESSLY IN LOVE WITH HER? WHAT ABOUT MITTAG-LEFFLER?

ALSO IN THE PAPER SHE SUBMITTED FOR THAT THERE IS A FAMOUS QUOATATION WHICH IS TRANSLATED AS

“SAY WHAT YOU KNOW, DO WHAT YOU MUST, COME WHAT MAY”

BUT DOES ANY BODY (HAHAHA THIS WAS MY JOKE) KNOW WHAT IT SAY IN THE ORINGAL FRENCH?

It always seemed to me that Kovalaskaya was the first person to discover that partial differential equations have characteristic directions, but I’ve never seen a definitive statement that this is so.

Dear Peter Woit,

Sorry if this has been already posted:

A ‘Landscape’ Too Far? Science 11 August 2006: Vol. 313. no. 5788, pp. 750 – 753.

Christine

There is also this one:

You are made of space-time.

Christine

Apologies Peter,

I’ve no idea where to express this, but I feel I must express my emotions somewhere.

You’ll remember that I expressed my (mild) criticisms about string theory on Lubos’ blog, only to have them deleted and Lubos asking me on Climate Audit not to “nuke” his blog with my comments.

Well, speaking of nuking, Lubos allows this comment on his blog with nary a word of rebuke let alone deletion. I can only feel that Lubos is quite, quite mad and not merely a reactionary ideologue. Of course comparing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s most corrupt politician of the last twenty years, with Jesus Christ makes me wonder how shakey is Lubos’ grip on reality.

John,

Lubos is nuts, and his commenters are mostly even crazier. The only reason he isn’t completely ignored by the entire world is that he’s the most prominent proponent of string theory on the web, and for some people, some how, this causes them to ignore his crackpotism and lunacy.

Peter,

Thanks for that. I don’t want to derail your weblog with all things Lubos, so we’ll leave it at that. I’ve vented and got it out of my system.

John