Quick Links

  • Jim Simons is profiled in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, the New York Times today. The WSJ piece is partly about a recent $50 million donation to the Simons Center for Quantitative Biology at Cold Spring Harbor, but it reports that Simons is moving away from “broad institutional support”, in favor of “collaborative, goal-driven science”. Recently Simons has funded the Simons Array of telescopes that will be looking at polarization in the CMB, and the NYT piece reports that he was talking to Stanford physicists working on experiments looking for the axion. Simons is estimated to have a net worth of $12.5 billion, the Simons Foundation now has $2 billion.
  • Quite a few years ago I started a trip to Paris by getting off the plane from New York and heading directly to attend talks at the Seminaire Bourbaki. The main thing I remember now of that is an epic struggle to stay awake, since I hadn’t slept on the plane, and the room was rather overheated. There’s now a much better way to enjoy talks from this historic program, which since its inception in has been the source of some of the great expositions of new mathematics. Talks are on Youtube, links are on the latest program (learned about this from Emmanuel Kowalski’s blog).
  • In other news from France, this year’s Baccalaureat exam features questions about the Higgs and the LHC. They start off with a quote from Carlo Rovelli about the Higgs discovery being “as important for intellectual history as Newton’s law of gravitation”. Rovelli’s reaction: “I’ve never thought such a stupid thing.” For more on the mini-controversy, see here.
  • For more videos to watch, Oxford has an interview with Atiyah here, Penrose here. Cambridge has a large collection of such video interviews, including Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, John Coates, Martin Rees and John Polkinghorne.
  • The AMS has been encouraging discussion in the mathematical community of the implications of the Snowden revelations about the activities of the NSA, supposedly the largest employer of mathematicians in the US. This month’s Notices includes pieces from Keith Devlin and Andrew Odlyzko, introduced by Michael Harris and Allyn Jackson. Further contributions to this discussion are encouraged.
  • On the abc conjecture front, perhaps the planned lecture series this September by Go Yamashita will give mathematician’s a fighting chance to understand Mochizuki’s claimed proof. While the talks will be in Japanese, presumably Yamashita will be producing something written in English.
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8 Responses to Quick Links

  1. Nick M. says:

    Hi Peter,

    I’m not sure if you caught this (and if it isn’t on topic with your “Quick Links” post, then I apologize), but it seems that there is yet another reason to believe that the multiverse didn’t do it; i.e., see the New Scientist article “Biggest void in universe may explain cosmic cold spot“, as well as the arXiv paper (sited in the article) here.

  2. BHeller says:

    This may be interesting for those who don’t find pleasure in supersymmetry, strings, the multiverse, etc. but in the Standard Model:

  3. Bill says:

    Will you have a discussion of a recent Quanta article on your blog? It was an interesting article, curious to hear what people think about this.

  4. Jakob says:

    I totally agree with Bill. Would love to hear your opinion about those recent fluid-quantum experiments, that may lead to a comeback of the disfavoured Bohmian mechanics

  5. Peter Woit says:

    Jakob and Bill,
    I haven’t followed that closely, my impression is that it just shows you can find a macroscopic classical system with features described by the Schrodinger equation. This may be useful for visualizing some aspects of elementary QM, but I don’t see how it tells you anything fundamental about QM or gets rid of any of the problems of Bohmian mechanics.

    Anyway, sorry, but I’m just profoundly unsympathetic to the whole idea of replacing the beautiful mathematical structure of QM (that I’m writing a book about) with classical pdes. If people want to discuss this, they need to find somewhere else, run by someone with enough interest to moderate a discussion.

  6. Marcus says:

    The video of Steinhardt’s talk has been posted at the Strings 2014 website.
    It is 28 minutes long including a brief exchange with Raphael Bousso at the end.
    The presentation is a model of calm and cogency, IMO. Worth watching.

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