Various Links

  • The Smithsonian has a long article about Lisa Randall here.
  • The Wall Street Journal has a shorter article about Randall’s high school classmate Brian Greene here. Brian’s World Science Festival will start here in New York on Wednesday.
  • I’ll probably skip the World Science Festival in favor of an event at the CUNY Graduate Center: a conference on the work of Jim Simons, in honor of his 75th birthday. The conference will start off Tuesday morning with talks by Witten and Deligne (for a recent piece about Deligne and the Weil conjectures by Ed Frenkel, see here)
  • One of many worthwhile things funded by Simons is Simons Science News, which now carries some of the best science journalism around. There’s a new interview with David Gross, who talks about the way QFT overcame those who wanted to do away with it in the sixties. About string theory:

    String theory is not as revolutionary as we once hoped. Its principles are not new: They are the principles of quantum mechanics. String theory is part and parcel of quantum field theory.

    About the multiverse:

    There are frustrating theoretical problems in quantum field theory that demand solutions, but the string theory “landscape” of 10500 solutions does not make sense to me. Neither does the multiverse concept or the anthropic principle, which purport to explain why our particular universe has certain physical parameters. These models presume that we are stuck, conceptually.

    About the current situation “Sometimes, he says, science is just plain stuck until new data, or a revolutionary idea, busts the status quo.”

    The latest article at Simons is one by Natalie Wolchover, who was at the same Nima Arkani-Hamed talk I recently attended. See her take here, mine here. Will write yet again about “naturalness” and some of the content of this article in a separate posting.

  • For the state of SUSY, and particle physics in general, check out recent talks here, especially Matt Reece’s SUSY theory overview. I think a fair description of the current state of affairs is that the only SUSY theories standing are either “fine-tuned” (removing the main argument of LHC-scale SUSY), or highly contrived (e.g. by going beyond the MSSM in various ways to escape LHC negative results). For the latest experimental results about SUSY, watch for this CMS talk on Tuesday.
  • For the latest in speculative theorizing about HEP and cosmology, see this past week’s Planck 2013 conference.
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6 Responses to Various Links

  1. Tom says:

    In Wolchover’s article Arkani-Hamed asserts that “naturalness has a track record”, and she writes that “Time and again, whenever a constant appeared fine-tuned, as if its initial value had been magically dialed to offset other effects, physicists suspected they were missing something. They would seek and inevitably find some particle or feature that materially dialed the constant, obviating a fine-tuned cancellation.” I found this very surprising because my opinion has always been that naturalness has no track record whatsoever as a useful physical principle, and when I asked people to give me an example the only thing anyone ever came up with was that you could have inferred the positron from the self-energy of the electron, if you hadn’t already known about it. Does anybody know of any other cases?

  2. Shantanu says:

    Peter or others,
    has any BSM prediction or any other idea in any theoretical paper by Randall been vindicated by experiment? I don’t think so, but maybe I am wrong.

  3. Peter Woit says:


    I’ve written a lot more about this in the next posting.

    Responses to Tom’s question are encouraged, but please put them in the next posting.

  4. Peter Woit says:


    I don’t know of any, but that’s true not just of her, but of all BSM theorists.

  5. David Nataf says:

    I saw on astro-ph a month ago that JiJi Fan, Andrey Katz, Lisa Randall, Matthew Reece had an article on dark matter interactions.
    They did something I had never seen before … they had the standard 30 page version of their paper, and they also wrote a 5 page cole’s notes version, I wonder which version will end up with more citations. A lot of people I spoke to found it funny, but, it’s probably a good idea.

    I dont think the general idea of double-disc dark matter is that new, but they’re probably pushing it to a more sophisticated and a more precise direction. And, as far as I can tell, that would make them among the first particle theorists to realize that the Gaia satellite has a good shot to be the highest-impact technological laboratory in the next decade in terms of putting fundamental physics forward. In my view there is a desperate need for more predictions for Gaia observations that are only a few years away, so this was a good step forward.

  6. Navneeth says:

    I came across the Simons Foundation/News website only recently when I found the link to the article about the recent advances regarding the Twin-prime conjecture. As a layman I thought the piece well written; not dumbed down at all (in the most pejorative sense of the term), for a popular level article.

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