Fleinhardt Hits a Roadblock

Larry Fleinhardt, the fictional Caltech string theorist in the TV show Numb3rs, has decided to give up on string theory for now and become a phenomenologist. According to the show’s co-writer Nick Falacci:

Like real-life physicists, Fleinhardt hit a roadblock trying to create an 11-dimensional supergravity theory.

So, he will be joining the DZero collaboration at the Tevatron and work on the search for the Higgs. According to Fermilab Today, an office for Fleinhardt at Fermilab has already been created.

It’s not clear if Ed Witten or his brother Matt had anything to do with this…

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7 Responses to Fleinhardt Hits a Roadblock

  1. Chris Oakley says:

    I am still trying to figure out the connection between a TV crime drama and the search for a Higgs boson.

    It could be something like this:


    Dr. Fleinhardt, I cannot see what relevance this – what did you call it? – bubble chamber photograph? has to the case


    Your honor, it has everything to do with the case. Those charmed mesons being produced are extremely energetic. They are neutral, and can only decay weakly, and hence the gap between the primary and secondary tracks. An antiproton produced by meson decay could have an energy of up to 1 TeV, and would cause a lot of damage to biological organisms.


    Enough to kill a man?


    Indeed, your honor. That could be enough to kill a man.


    Fleinhardt, these attempts to make particle physics look “cool”, in hopes of getting funding, are not going to fool anyone.

  2. Bee says:

    How boring. What did ‘fiction’ come to? They should have let him discover a theory of everything. How come fiction tries to be real, whereas reality becomes more and more fictitious?

  3. Dear Bee,

    reality beats fiction all the time – and poor fiction gets the worse of it only more quickly. It is the effect of our failing imagination. Look at the LHC startup: today, I heard Joe Incandela at a plenary talk in the main auditorium at CERN saying that these are great times for experimentalists, since the field is all for them: theorists have no clue of what is beyond the standard model.

    I think Joe is right. The poor string theorist in Numb3rs only got the wrong plane ticket – he should’ve gotten one for Geneva. Dzero will not break new ground, nor will unfortunately do CDF.


  4. Coin says:

    “I expect it will make more people aware of the work that we do and (if the plot develops) how we actually learn about particle physics,” said DZero spokesman Darien Wood. “The characters on the show speak with great excitement and reverence about the search for the Higgs boson at DZero, and I think it captures some of the passion that we real particle physicists have for our work.”

    That’s… actually kind of an interesting thing for a tv show to try to do.

    And Bee: I don’t watch the show, but isn’t Larry kind of a secondary character? It seems like letting him discover the Theory of Everything would be inflating his subplot a little too much. What we should really be hoping for is for Charlie to finally succeed in proving P < NP*…

    * Clearly if they don’t have the budget to present scenes at the LHC in Geneva, then they don’t have the budget either to successfully portray the massive societal breakdown that would occur were someone to prove P = NP

  5. passerby says:

    nothing on Darren Crowdy, anybody?

  6. srp says:

    Basic rule of series cop shows: All plots end in “order restored.” At the end of the show the universe has been (at least partially) glued back together–injustices have been righted, dangers put back in their place, etc. Part and parcel of that is that the events of the plot, especially by the heroes, can’t change the world too much. We need a stable setting for the next episode and an emotionally satisfying restoration of order by the heroes (for the typical audience member).

    Science fiction plots, on the other hand, are often (although certainly not always) about precisely that–heroes changing the world. That’s one reason the audience is smaller and it’s harder to do episodic forms in that genre. Superhero comic books awkwardly straddle the two approaches; lately they’ve been moving more toward the science-fiction pole of hero-induced change (e.g. Marvel’s Civil Wars), but the comforting adventure-of-the-month against a stable background model will probably never go away entirely.

  7. passerby says:

    I did receive the Schwarz-Christoffel paper, jake. thank you. it is old.

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