Lots of Links

Various things that I’ve run across recently that seem worth mentioning:

The proceedings of the big yearly lattice gauge theory conference that was mentioned here, Lattice 2006, are now available here.

The New York Times today in its Science Times section has a very interesting article by Dennis Overbye entitled China Pursues Major Role in Particle Physics. It tells some of the history of particle physics in China, describes the BEPC accelerator in Beijing which has just had a luminosity upgrade, and discusses the role China may play in future accelerator projects, especially the ILC. A US physicist who sometimes works at BEPC, Frederick Harris, is quoted as saying “The rate China is growing, this is something they could contemplate hosting in 10 years.” Perhaps the future of high-energy frontier accelerator projects really will be in China.

There’s also an associated article about the spring 1989 physics conference in Beijing that overlapped with the Tiananmen Square massacre, with David Gross quoted as saying “Until the shooting began, the visit was delightful.” He and Vafa describe the bloody van that was supposed to be their transport, after it had been used to pick up wounded students, two of whom died.

Physics World has an article about physicists willing to make bets, called Physicists who fancy a flutter, featuring Tommaso Dorigo’s recent $1000 bet with Gordon Watts and Jacques Distler over what the LHC will see.

New Scientist has a feature article Physics Goes Hollywood, about Costas Efthimiou and a course he is teaching at the University of Central Florida. The idea of the course is to have students watch movies, often ones with a sci-fi theme, then use real physics to critique the accuracy of scenes in the movies. Costas is a particle theorist who has worked on conformal field theories, and was a visitor here at Columbia for a while, from what I remember. He has several papers about teachng physics using films, most recently this one.

The Cao-Zhu paper giving the details of the proof of the Poincare conjecture that originally appeared in the Asian Journal of Mathematics has now been posted in revised form on the the arXiv. The revised version includes an apology to Kleiner and Lott for not acknowledging the use of their work in the original version.

Geometric Langlands is definitely the hot topic of the moment, I just learned about two more conferences about this that will take place soon. One is a Gottingen Winterschule, on January 4-7, the second is a program on Langlands Duality and Physics, to be held at the Schrodinger Institute in Vienna from January 9-20.

A couple weeks ago in Hamburg there was a conference on Kahler Geometry and Mathematical Physics, held to celebrate the 100th birthday of Erich Kahler.

Princeton will be hosting a conference next year entitled Geometry and the Imagination in honor of Bill Thurston’s 60th birthday.

Dmitry Vaintrob, son of mathematician Arkady Vaintrob, has won a $100,000 scholarship from the Siemens foundation based on a research project in string topology. For more discussion of this, and what it means for string theory, see here.

Update: Two more.

Giorgios Choudalakis took a poll back in August of grad-students, postdocs and professors associated with Fermilab, asking them what they expected the LHC to find. Here are the results. More about this at Fermilab Today.

A commenter points out that this week’s Zippy the Pinhead deals with one character’s doubts about string theory. Over the last few years, the comic has often dealt with string theory, to see this try typing “string” into this search page.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Lots of Links

  1. Tony Smith says:

    Since the New York Times requires registration, I read an article on the freeinternetpress.com web site that said in part:
    “… China Pursues Major Role In Particle Physics 2006-12-05 … Dennis Overbye ..
    The proposed I.L.C. would shoot electrons and positrons at each other with 500 billion electron volts of energy through a tunnel 20 miles long. An approximate price tag will be announced when the international collider planning team meets in Beijing this February.
    … the jockeying for where to put the machine has already begun. The host country for the collider would have the advantage of being the center of 21st-century physics, but would have to bear a larger share of the cost.
    Last spring, a report from the National Academy of Sciences urged the United States to do what it takes to get it built here rather than in Europe or Asia, or face the prospect of relinquishing traditional leadership in physics.
    … Frederick A. Harris, a professor of physics at the University of Hawaii, who works often at the Beijing collider … said, “The rate China is growing, this is something they could contemplate hosting in 10 years.”
    … Given the explosive growth of China’s economy and the vow of the country’s leaders to emphasize science and technology, it is natural to wonder whether some future particles will have Chinese names the way many of the bright stars in the sky have Arabic names. …”.

    It is interesting that the USA lobby to get the ILC located in the USA has been proposing a site at Fermilab in Illinois, rather than a site on the Pacific Rim such as California.
    Since the USA lobby’s choice of Illinois was based heavily on the political influence of Illinois Republican Dennis Hastert as Speaker of the House
    since the November 2006 elections changed the 2007 Speaker of the House from Illinois Republican Hastert to California Democrat Pelosi,
    it will be interesting to see whether the USA lobby will change its focus to a California site, or even whether the new political situation will weaken the USA lobby so that the eventual site for the ILC will be in Asia, such as Japan or China.

    As Peter said, “… Perhaps the future of high-energy frontier accelerator projects really will be in China. …”.

    Tony Smith

  2. SSC says:

    I am not so sure that we will need a linear collider with center-of-mass energy equal to 500 GeV, not much above the old LEP. Maybe LHC will tell that it is enough for studying spetroscopy of supersymmetric particles. Or maybe not: LHC could instead suggest that we need to explore higher energies. While the US probably have psychological problems with a SSC-like project, China might like the idea of a SinoSuperCollider.

  3. Mary says:

    Since the readers of this blog are possibly the only people in the entire world who will think these comics are funny, I can’t resist leaving another link: Zippy the pinhead is doing string theory again.

    I have no affiliation with Zippy, just an appreciation for the deeply surreal…

  4. Chris Oakley says:

    Re: Zippy: I don’t think that twins should get involved like that – or maybe the inbreeding of its advocates is the key to the success of String Theory – ?

  5. Garbage says:

    I dont understand, how can “the SM Higgs” and “no new Physics” be separated options?
    Unless “no NP” means *nothing at all*, not even the Higgs, and that would be more than New!!! 🙂
    I mean, somehow the EW Theory has to be unitarized, so *something* HAS to happen, or is *nothing* a logical option? Could the theory break unitarity, at a scale lower than the Planck scale so no QG effect (forget XD) and still make sense, without *anything* ELSE happening?

    I’d like to know what was in the minds of those 9%…

  6. J says:

    I’m not sure whether China would play an important role in future particle accelerator programs, but I am thinking that China will definetely be part of it.

  7. Thomas Larsson says:

    I mean, somehow the EW Theory has to be unitarized, so *something* HAS to happen, or is *nothing* a logical option?

    Was no aether wind a logical option for H. A. Lorentz?

    AFAIU, no Higgs at the LHC would disprove QFT. Now that would be interesting, but perhaps not very likely. But then again, what is most unlikely, no Higgs at the LHC or no single top production at the Tevatron?

  8. Garbarge says:

    “AFAIU, no Higgs at the LHC would disprove QFT.”

    which means that *some NP* has to appear to make up a consistent theory. I am talking about the scenario where NOTHING is found.

    “Was no aether wind a logical option for H. A. Lorentz?”

    Jap, and that’s how Relativity was born, new physics at the time 😉

  9. Who says:

    Cosmic Variance has a short review of the two books
    dated 07 December
    by Polchinski
    that will be appearing in American Scientist


  10. Who says:

    Pankaj Jain (SUNY Buffalo and Kanpur IIT) thinks he has detected an axion


    and the article has been published in an IOP electronic journal

    Search for new particles decaying into electron pairs of mass below 100 MeV/c2

    P L Jain et al 2007 J. Phys. G: Nucl. Part. Phys. 34 129-138 doi:10.1088/0954-3899/34/1/009

    article is available FREE for a limited time, but you have to create an account and get logged in



    it does not seem to have been posted at arxiv.

  11. Peter Woit says:


    The “axion” result looks highly unbelievable. I find it very hard to believe that if such a particle with that mass existed it wouldn’t have been seen before. Maybe someone more expert can give a more informed opinion about this.

  12. It is not long time when an axion candidate from optical rotation experiments see posting of Lubos. The mass of this axion was in millieV range so that there is a difference of 12 orders of magnitude as compared to this axion. This makes me wonder why the term “neutral pseudoscalar particle” is not used instead of “axion”: is the reason political?

    These two are not the only candidate for neutral pseudoscalars. I add here my comment to the blog of Lubos. The first evidence for pion/axion-like particles created in heavy-nucleus collisions near Coulomb threshold in MeV range came for more than 20 years ago. I developed a TGD based model for their strange production characteristics for more than 15 years ago.

    TGD explanation was based on what I called leptohadron physics with quarks replaced by color octet excitations of electrons allowed by TGD view about color. The production mechanism was creation of leptopions in strong non-orthogonal E and B with action given by E.B. Coupling to photons is dictated by partically conserved axial current hypothesis and identical with the coupling of pion/axion. The mass of the lowest leptopion state is very nearly to 2 times electron masses. Also heavier excitations on Regge trajectory are predicted: actually entire spectroscopy of leptomesons and leptobaryons.

    Exotic quarks with MeV mass scale and corresponding to Mersenne prime M_127=2^k-1, k=127, characterizing electron, play a key role in TGD based model of nuclei as string like structure with threads connecting nucleons having quark and antiquark at their ends. The model explains tetraneutron and predicts a new exotic states of nuclei.

    Quite generally, TGD predicts entire hierarchy of p-adically scaled up variants of standard model physics with mass scales coming as powers of half octaves. p=about 2^k. k prime or power of prime, are favored. Hence pionlike states should exist at various length scales and serve as a signature of various scaled variants of QCD like physics.

    *Mass scale 8 MeV (compare with 7 MeV) would correspond to k= 11^2, and thus power of prime.
    *Mass scale of 16 MeV (compare with 19 MeV) to p=about 119=7*17.

    Below a list of references about early evidence for pionlike states which people for some reason probably related to shortcomings of ancient theories( want to call axions.

    1. A.T. Goshaw et al(1979), Phys. Rev. Lett. 43,
    2.J.Schweppe et al(1983), Phys. Rev. Lett. 51, 2261.
    M. Clemente et al (1984), Phys. Rev. Lett. 137B,
    3. P.V. Chliapnikov et al(1984), Phys. Lett. B
    141, 276.
    4. L. Kraus and M. Zeller (1986), Phys. Rev. D 34,
    5.. A. Chodos (1987), Comments Nucl. Part. Phys., Vol
    17, No 4, pp. 211, 223.
    6.W. Koenig et al(1987), Zeitschrift fur Physik
    A, 3288, 1297.
    7. C. I. Westbrook ,D. W Kidley, R. S. Gidley, R. S
    Conti and A. Rich (1987), Phys. Rev. Lett. 58 ,

  13. Thomas Larsson says:

    “Was no aether wind a logical option for H. A. Lorentz?”
    Jap, and that’s how Relativity was born, new physics at the time

    This is not correct. The proponents of aether theory discovered much of the math of SR, e.g. Lorentz transformations and Poincare algebra. But abandoning aether theory, i.e. saying that Newton’s mechanics is wrong, was a step that they could not take. It took Einstein to do that.

    Noone denies that QFT has passed every test for 60 years. But Newton passed every test for 200 years, and was nevertheless superseded by something better. 4D QFT has its problems (incompatible with gravity, renormalization mathematically dubious), and if not even a Higgs shows up at the LHC, it will have problems with unitarity as well. If so, a modification of QFT which preserves unitarity seems necessary.

    I don’t seriously think this will happen. But saying that the LHC must see at least a Higgs to save unitarity is similar to saying that Michelson-Morley must see an aether wind to save Newtonian mechanics.

  14. Lux says:

    If no higgs particle were observed, then the higgs sector of the SM would be wrong. It would mean that the mechanism of SSB is different in nature from the simplest possibility implemented in the SM. There are many Higgsless models around, the LHC could tell us if any of them would be right in that case.

    But it is the “Higgsless SM” that has problems with unitarity, not QFT. QCD is a QFT, and it’s perfectly unitary whether there’s a HIggs in nature or not.

  15. anonymous says:

    Lux, the trouble is any “Higgsless” model necessarily requires a new particle at or below 800 GeV-ish, which the LHC should be able to find. But 10% of the people in the poll said “no new physics”, which seems logically inconsistent — do those 10% of people really expect violations of unitarity? More likely they meant “only an SM Higgs” and didn’t notice the other option?

  16. Lux says:

    “Nothing at all” is clearly not an option. If anything, without a Higgs electroweak boson physics is going to get quite interesting.

  17. Bob says:

    “New Scientist has a feature article Physics Goes Hollywood, about Costas Efthimiou and a course he is teaching at the University of Central Florida.”

    Efthimiou is a well respected professor at UCF and an all-around good guy.

Comments are closed.