Links, Links, Links…

Wired has an interview with Lee Smolin.

The French internet site Arte has interviews with various physicists, including one with Carlo Rovelli. If you don’t want to watch the videos, there’s a text summary (in French).

Mel Schwartz died earlier this week. He won the Nobel prize in 1988 for his 1962 co-discovery of the muon neutrino at the AGS at Brookhaven. Schwartz left physics for a while and founded his own company near Stanford. He returned to Brookhaven and worked on the plans for RHIC, then came back here to Columbia where he was a professor in the physics department, so I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple times. After his retirement he moved to Idaho.

Freeman Dyson’s 1951 lectures on QED have been put in TeX and posted on the arXiv.

This fall Graeme Segal will be visiting Columbia as “Eilenberg Chair”, a visiting position we have that was funded by the sale of part of Sammy Eilenberg’s collection of South and Southeast Asian art to the Metropolitan Museum. Segal will be giving a course on The Mathematical Structure of Quantum Field Theories, which I’m very much looking forward to.

Another course I’d like to attend, but it’s too far away, would be Dan Freed’s one this semester on Loop Groups and Algebraic Topology. The web-site for the course includes a reproduction of Bott’s wonderful lecture notes dealing with the topology of compact Lie groups.

There’s a new paper out by Thomas Thiemann summarizing the technical state of LQG. I haven’t had time yet to read it, but hope to spend some time soon doing that. A good place to discuss it would be here, where Aaron Bergmann has already started, also see some comments by Robert Helling. A not so good place to discuss it would be here.

Eckhard Meinrenken has an interesting new paper entitled Lecture Notes on Pure Spinors and Moment Maps, which promises a more detailed forthcoming paper by him, Alekseev and Bursztyn.

Some recent and ongoing conferences that have talks online are at Ahrenshoop and Santa Barbara.

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22 Responses to Links, Links, Links…

  1. Attila Smith says:

    Dear Sir,
    Yakov Perelman, a Soviet physicist without a Ph.D., wrote wonderful books on popular (but very accurate) physics, always firmly based on low-tech experiments.
    Do you know of a relationship with Grigori?
    Yakov couldn’t be his father, because he died in 1942.
    Thanking you in advance, I remain

    Yours faithfully A.Smith

  2. D R Lunsford says:

    The typesetting of the Dyson lectures is an absolute prize! Thanks to Mr. Moravcsik!


  3. Luboš Motl says:

    Dear crackpot Woit,

    this is one of the reasons why you’re crackpot. You “haven’t yet had time to read a paper” – any technical paper, for that matter, and at least for 18 years – but you already offer the other idiots who visit your discussion forum of morons a precise prescription which analyses are correct and which are not.

    The cleverest 10% of the chimpanzees will figure out that your opinions are just a worthless piece of garbage, much like 10% of the cleverest visitors of your crackpots’ discussion forum.


  4. D R Lunsford says:

    I should mention that the three books Dyson mentions are all available (Pauli from Springer I believe – Wentzel and Heitler from Dover) and are all wonderful books.


  5. D R Lunsford says:

    Did someone just sit on a whoopee cushion?


  6. Lubos and the Bogdanovs says:

    Hi Peter

    I visited a bookstore in the capital city today, and I saw a copy of the Bogdanovs’ “Avant le big-bang” (“Before the Big-Bang”), recently (May 2006) published by “Le livre de poche” editions, in the french section bookshelf. Guess my surprise when I picked it up and had a look at the back! A comment by Lubos figured there. I quote:

    “Les frères Bogdanov proposent quelque chose qui, d’un point de vue spéculatif, a le potentiel pour représenter une alternative à la gravité quantique.
    Professeur Lubos Motl, physicien théoricien,
    Université de Harvard.”,

    which translates into:

    “The Bogdanov brothers propose something which, from a speculative point of view, has the potential of being an alternative to quantum gravity.
    Professor Lubos Motl, Theoretical Physicist,
    Harvard University.”

    Go to this ( for proof that I am not making this up.

    Wow! I guess I should not be surprised by now when it comes to Lubos; only the latter can say such a thing about whatever the Bogdanovs are up to. Did he actually read this book?

    I know this is not the place to post this, and I apologise if this is too much.

  7. LDM says:

    Thank you for posting the very nice Dyson link…

    BTW, American edition of NEW, page 99 — you might be interested in knowing that Kharkov is in Ukraine, not Russia …
    (though it is true most people in Kharkov might prefer the Russian lanuage to the officail Ukrainian language and Kharkov has strong ties with Russia)

  8. Thomas Love says:

    drl wrote: The typesetting of the Dyson lectures is an absolute prize! Thanks to Mr. Moravcsik!

    Evidently he didn’t read all of the typist’s notes, Moravcsik did the rewriting from the first edition to the present one. The current TEX typesetting was done by David Derbes, a PhD student of Higgs.

    It will be an interesting read, reading Dyson and then NEW. I ordered the package of NEW and Smolin’s book from Amazon and I haven’t received either.

  9. RandomSurfer says:

    I can’t resist pointing to a link for the “eerie similarities” department. It’s written by a reasercher in computer graphics, but… well, read and see for yourself: Leaving.

  10. Chris Oakley says:

    Moravcsik did the rewriting from the first edition to the present one. The current TEX typesetting was done by David Derbes, a PhD student of Higgs

    This gives the lie to the commonly-held belief that Ph.D. students are no good to anyone.

  11. woit says:

    Thanks for pointing out that Kharkov is in the Ukraine, a fact that I wasn’t aware of. The inaccuracy this caused in the book is minor. I refer there to Golfand, Likhtman, Volkov and Akulov as “Russian physicists in Moscow and Kharkov”. Looking into this, while Volkov and Akulov were in Kharkov, Volkov was born and mostly educated in Leningrad, moving to Kharkov at age 26, so referring to him as Russian is not inaccurate. I don’t know about Akulov, who was Volkov’s student, quite likely he is Ukrainian.

  12. lostsoul says:

    Thanks for the Dyson link; latex is better than a hand written scrawl.
    All round, you’re keeping it real; and I keep coming back.

  13. nontrad says:

    The Dyson link, and the rest that are all QFT related, is one of the primary reasons why I continue to return to Peter’s blog.

    Simply put, there is a fond place in my heart / mind for all things QED!

    Feynman, simply put, has been a hero of mine since at least I was 16. Sam Schweber’s ‘QED and the Men Who Made it’ ( is a book that I literally poured over when I was first studying QFT… searching for inspiration for the how’s and why’s of that strange and wonderful place called ‘quefithe’.

    Dyson and Schwinger and Tomonaga, Pauli and Oppenheimer and Bethe and Wheeler and Dirac all became heros too…as a result of Schweber’s book.

    These notes then are a blast from the past that strike, apropos, of the leaves just now starting to change with the coming Autumn…

    Scanning the notes, I am reminded of Dover’s Principle of Relativity (containing the original papers ‘On the electrodynamics of moving bodies’, ‘Mathematical aids to the formulation of generally covariant theories’, ‘The theory of the gravitational field’ and ‘Hamilton’s principle and the general theory of relativity’); which I first bought in a used book store in a dog eared copy printed in 1952 that still sits on my book shelf.

    The days when physics was still physics….

  14. YBM says:

    Dear “Lubos and the Bogdanovs”, if you had a look inside the book, you could have read the same quote this time translated as :

    “Les frères Bogdanoff proposent quelque chose qui, d’un point de vue spéculatif, a le potentiel pour être une alternative à la théorie quantique.”

    which translates into :

    “The Bogdanov brothers propose something which, from a speculative point of view, has the potential of being an alternative to quantum theory.”

    Motl is falsified in the worse and more delusional “anti-String theory” book ever published in France (the cranky brothers are not proposing a “alternative to quantum theory” , but to “string theory” on the basis of bogus math and pre-graduate faulty physics), and is quite happy with that as long as he think he can use that against Woit. What a pity.

    Motl couldn’t (yet) be called a crackpot (at least on physics issues, anything he writes on computing on his blog is a joke), only a phycho. I guess it won’t last long before he’ll fall into the first category.

  15. Gina says:

    Dear Lubos Motl:

    Can you please tell me (just a few sentences understandable to a laywoman, even just a friendly link will be useful) what is your opinion on the two claims:

    1) That string theory cannot predict anything and will not be able to.

    2) That there are over 10^500 possibilities which makes things worse.

    many thanks in advance –Gina

  16. woit says:


    Lubos has his own blog at If you want to start a discussion with him, best if you do it there.

  17. dan says:

    dear anti-woit lubos,

    if peter is materially wrong about something, that certainly deserves to be aired, but if peter is factually correct on his statements on string theory, then as a scientist, wouldn’t you agree this kind of skepticism is to be valued?

    Peter, have you seen Lubos top 12 top stringy results, and do you think that those results are sufficiently impressive so as to justify the current effort in the string theory research program?

  18. Chris Oakley says:

    As Peter quite rightly does not allow self-promotion here I will keep this short, but I have just added a section on the spin-statistics theorem to my on-line text book (preamble here). Intelligent feedback (by e-mail) would be appreciated.

  19. Stefan says:

    I came to know via an e-friend that his commentary to Lubos’ post on Connes’ new paper was removed. What more, he was permanently banned from posting there again.

    He told me that what he wrote was neither personal in nature, nor degrading to Lubos’ work or intellectual abilities (well, maybe a little), nor in any way offensive to anyone else.

    His primary criticism was the following [in paraphrased form]:

    Lubos, until you prove your value as a researcher (by say writing something which either: a) gets the attention of leaders in the field – say Witten or Gross or ‘t Hooft etc. or b) gets 500+ citations within a year of publication; or both) you will not get many to listen to your constant (and never ending…) spiel on random and (mostly, not always) off-topic issues that have nothing to do with physics…

    in this case: your review of Connes’ paper.

    He goes on to add [in subtle language]: To critique someone like Connes’ may be a bit out of your league…

    I guess that probably offended Lubos’ sky-high ego… and in the true spirit of scientific dialogue he banner him ever from posting again.

    Wow, it’s a side of Lubos he rarely reveals to anyone else…

    …interesting… and intriguing I must add.

  20. Stefan says:

    Hi Peter,

    Don’t quite understand why you blocked my previous post.


  21. woit says:

    Stefan (and others),

    The WordPress spam filter is idiosyncratic, often working very well, sometimes deciding to mark comments as spam for no obvious reason. When this happens, I don’t get a notification of it, but they go into a queue. I check the queue periodically, but often only once a day.



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