The March issue of the Notices of the AMS is out. Excellent summaries of the mathematical work of the 2006 Fields medalists and interviews with three of them (everybody except Perelman). By the way, does anyone know if the 2006 or 2002 ICM proceedings are available on-line (the AMS is advertising the published books for the 2006 ICM, 3 volumes for $428)? There’s also an interesting article about Jim Simons and “Math for America”, the New York City based program designed to encourage people with a mathematics background to go into teaching. The program is partially funded by a yearly charity poker tournament attended by various people in the financial industry. I’d heard from one of them about this, but didn’t realize the scale on which they were operating. Last year’s tournament brought in $2 million.
Last month McGill University sponsored a large public symposium on the Anthropic principle that attracted overflow crowds, and featured Paul Davies, George Efstathiou, David Gross and Lenny Susskind. Gross and Susskind made more or less precisely the same points they have been making publicly about the string theory anthropic landscape for the last 4 years. You can watch the video for yourself here. Susskind seemed a bit less of an aggressive salesman of the anthropic point of view than in the past, acknowledging that the question of how you put a measure on the multiverse (this is needed if you want to make even statistical predictions) still has no solution. Gross made his usual points that accepting the landscape is premature, since we don’t know what string theory is, don’t understand the “emergent” notions of space and time it seems to lead to, and lack consistent time-dependent states describing something consistent with what we know about cosmology.
Besides the Becker-Becker-Schwarz and Dine fat textbooks on string theory that have just come out, another one is due out soon. It is by Elias Kiritsis and is called String Theory in a Nutshell (at nearly 600 pages, kind of a big nut). Princeton University Press is bringing it out in May. One of the leading physicists chosen to give a blurb is Harvard’s Lubos Motl, who also features on the Dine book. Evidently people who write string theory textbooks and their publishers feel his endorsement will do a lot to sell the books. Some of his recent postings refer to me as a “Communist” of a more “primitive and fanatical” sort than the ones he had to contend with during the Soviet era. I’d like to make clear that my political tendencies lean more toward some combination of anarcho-syndicalism and Clintonism than Soviet Communism. He also refers to the loyal readers of my blog as “human waste” (that’s you, folks…)