Also in this week’s Science is an article about the “spin puzzle”, the fact that accelerator experiments with polarized particles give results for protons that are different than what one would expect from a naive quark model. The general assumption seems to be that this is a QCD effect, one that is tricky to calculate. I’ve always wondered if there is any chance that there is some sort of spin-dependent behavior of quarks different than that predicted by QCD. I don’t know of any work by people trying to come up with such models, but maybe it’s out there. I’d love to hear from some expert on this about whether the experimental results really do point to a serious possibility of something going on other than standard QCD.
A new book of interviews of scientists has recently appeared, Candid Science VI by Istvan and Magdolna Hargittai. It contains interviews with David Gross and Frank Wilczek. The authors ask both of them about their interactions with Wigner, and what they think of various other famous Hungarian scientists. Wilczek explains why he has made various moves over his career, that he was quite influenced by Peter Freund as an undergraduate, why he thinks it took so long to get the Nobel prize, and that his motivation for working on the beta-function calculation was to know if the electroweak model had the same Landau pole problem as QED.
Gross talks about his background and relation to Judaism, and also about his Nobel prize work. He remains enthusiastic about string theory, and characterizes opposition to string theory in many physics departments as due to people not wanting to learn it because it is hard work, as well as fear that if they hire string theorists, all the good graduate students will go work with them. There may be something to what he says, but I think it’s out of date, and times are changing.
I hear from David Derbes, who put together Dyson’s 1951 Lectures on Advanced Quantum Mechanics that were mentioned here earlier, that World Scientific is publishing them as a book this month. Profits will go to the New Orleans Public Library, where David grew up.
The two new Fields medalist bloggers each have fascinating blog entries on Millenium problems. Terry Tao writes a long explanation of Why Global Regularity for Navier-Stokes is Hard. He also comments about the recent New York Times piece about him and about math education issues. The comment sections of his postings have some very interesting discussions going on.
Alain Connes has a wonderful posting about Le reve mathematique, especially his mathematical dream of proving the Riemann hypothesis using non-commutative geometry. He notes that the first goal is to come up with a non-commutative geometry version of a proof for the function field case. More about this in a recent posting on the same blog by David Goss.