Some Links

John Baez is encouraging people to join in a campaign to “save New Scientist” from itself, i.e. to get them to stop publishing so much scientific nonsense. This seems to me like a worthwhile goal; maybe if they stop writing articles about crackpots and their “electromagnetic drives”, they’ll also stop promoting bogus over-hyped claims from prominent theorists about cosmology, string theory, etc….

Shing-Tung Yau is fighting back against the New Yorker article “Manifold Destiny”, which was very critical of him, essentially claiming he was trying to steal credit for the proof of the Poincare Conjecture from Perelman. He has hired a lawyer and set-up a web-site. The web-site includes a long letter from his lawyer to the New Yorker, making his case that the article has many inaccuracies. There will be a webcast tomorrow at noon giving his side of this story. Many other blogs and newspapers are discussing this, see here, here, here, here, and here. Unfortunately for Yau, he has strong support from Lubos Motl, who seems a tad obsessed, ranting about how the quality of the New Yorker article:

resembled the style and ethical standards of many jerks in the blogosphere, including a colleague of Sylvia Nasar at Columbia University.

[Note: this has been edited by Lubos, now I’m not a “jerk”, but instead a “despicable writer”]

People who want to engage in bashing of Yau or of his opponents are warned that they should do it elsewhere. Only comment on this here if you have something to say that is substantive and respectful of all parties involved.

Besides Yau’s webcast, tomorrow you can also listen to me on the SETI Radio Network program, broadcast on Discovery Channel Radio. This will also be on their web-site, more info here.

The Harvard Crimson has an article about Nima Arkani-Hamed, who evidently made Popular Science’s “Brilliant 10” list for

his research on the idea that our universe may be only one of many “multiverses” and that additional dimensions may exist.

(many “multiverses”???) Arkani Hamed promotes the anthropic landscape and split supersymmetry as a test for it:

He recently proposed a model for new physics, called split supersymmetry—which theorizes that half of all particles in the universe have partner particles. He said that if the results of the LHC experiment reveal split supersymmetry, “it would be a tremendous push in the direction of a multiverse.”

“Right now a lot of people are on the fence,” about the theory of a multiverse, Arkani-Hamed said. “I think if the LHC sees split super symmetry it’s over.”

Also on the multiverse front, Gibbons and Turok have a new paper out on The Measure Problem in Cosmology. They claim to have a way of determining a measure on the “multiverse”. Only problem is that with their measure, the probability of having inflation work out the way it is supposed to is about e-180.

Update: Another radio appearance today, on the program This Week in Science.

Update: To view today’s webcast, go to, get your software working, and enter room 150144. I’ll be skipping this myself, partly because I’ll be in a faculty meeting.

Update: If you want to read a lot of incredibly ill-informed and worthless comments on the Yau story, there’s always Slashdot.

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103 Responses to Some Links

  1. Curious Bystander says:

    1. Here is a quote from Cooper’s (Yau’s lawyer) letter:
    “Professor Manin made clear that the mathematical community felt that work remained to be done to complete Givental’s arguments”

    2. And here is a post in the New Yorker forum:

    “Although it may be uncertain what is the consensus, and remain unknown if Manin indeed suspected a flaw in Givental’s arguments, it seems quite clear however why Yau’s defenders refrain from quoting Manin’s statement in full. It turns out that when the passage is read in its entirety, the conclusion that “some work remains to be done in order to complete his arguments” applies to the paper of Yau et al as well.  
    Here it is:
    “Givental [Giv2] achieved a remarkable progress in proving the Mirror Conjecture for complete intersections in toric varieties where the precise construction of mirrors is due to Batyrev ([Ba1], [BaBo2]). He enriched Kontsevich’s approach by passing to the equivarinat quantum cohomology. Some work remains to be done in order to complete his arguments.”
    As one can see, Manin is talking here about the Mirror Conjecture for complete intersections in toric varieties as formulated by Batyrev and his coauthors. As it is well-known to specialists this conjecture, strictly speaking, still remains open. The paper [Giv2] deals with complete intersection in projective spaces, i.e. simplest examples of toric varieties. In this case, the Mirror Conjecture cannot be attributed to Batyrev as it was known before his work (and this fact, no doubt, is known to Manin, as well as Yau). Thus, when taken literally, Manin’s statement views [Giv2] as a “remarkable progress” toward a proof of the general Mirror Conjecture, but contrary to the claim of Cooper’s letter,  it does not indicate that [Giv2] per se is incomplete. “        

  2. woit says:

    I’m shutting off comments on this posting. Too many people are trying to use it as a Tian-Yau battlefield. I think this behavior is disgraceful and I want no part of it.

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