Before turning to other topics, congratulations to my Columbia colleague Wei Zhang, who was awarded the Gold Medal at the recent ICCM in Beijing.
On the HEP physics front, some news is:
- On Monday at 1:30pm Danish time, at the conference on Current Themes in High Energy Physics and Cosmology that is part of the Simons Program at the Niels Bohr International Academy, there will be an event adjudicating the bet on SUSY first made in 2000 (described here, the wager is here).
Nima Arkani-Hamed will act as referee, a bit unconventional since he’s on one side of the bet. On the other hand, it’s clearly the losing one and I have no doubt he’ll concede graciously. Others who may be heard from as part of the event include David Gross and Gerard ‘t Hooft.
Video streaming should be available at this site, I guess the time is 7:30am New York time, maybe I’ll be up and watch during breakfast…
- In related news, Frank Wilczek has conceded loss on a similar bet he made back in 2009 with Garrett Lisi, see here.
- As for other similar bets I’m aware of, Lubos Motl is about to lose his bet with Adam Falkowski, and David Gross should be losing his with Ken Lane within the next year (perhaps he’ll comment on this on Monday). The interesting story to watch here will be whether this changes anyone’s behavior. Will Gross, Wilczek and others continue to point to SUSY extensions of the Standard Model as the promising future of the field, or will they acknowledge that this is an idea that hasn’t worked out?
- In other HEP news, the “nightmare scenario” seems to have driven physicists at CERN to try human sacrifice to propitiate the angry Gods who are tormenting them in this manner.
- There’s a conference going on in Banff organized by FQXI, and you can follow it to some extent on Twitter. I’m somewhat of a skeptic about claims to have deep new insights into physics based on what seem like simple, vague natural language arguments. Not clear if the 140 character limit of Twitter is a good or bad thing in trying to capture such arguments.
- Another of the vague sort of claims I’m dubious about is the “ER=EPR” one described here. On the other hand, this at least appears to have important applications.
- Also on the dubious HEP news front, there have been lots of news articles recently about a supposed new “Fifth Force”, generated by a press release from UC Irvine promoting a PRL paper by UCI theorists. This story had been debunked a couple months ago by Natalie Wolchover at Quanta (see here).
The usual hit on science journalism is that the work of scientists is hyped and misrepresented by journalists, but I think this shows an all too common example of the real problem: hype from physicists and their institutions (egged on by PRL), with journalists trying to hold the line against it (and not always succeeding).
- Finally, there’s a wonderful interview with Edward Witten (part of a TV program in Dutch) that I would guess was filmed in
1999-2000[maybe 1997?] and is available here. Witten is there quite optimistic about the prospects of string theory, and of course I’m curious whether and how the intervening years have changed his point of view. On other topics the interview is quite fascinating, doing an unusually good job of getting the normally reticent Witten to talk a bit about life and wider issues (as well as demonstrating an admirable refusal to get provoked into pontificating about various questions he’s not expert in).
Update: For a detailed explanation from one of the theorists working on the supposed “fifth force”, see here.