Various Links

Some links to things that may be of interest:

  • There’s an excellent article at FiveThirtyEight about the issue of publicizing math research, taking as example the Atlas of Lie Groups and Representations project (which will soon be having a workshop). This kind of thing generally gets no public attention, while at the same time, one of the results of this research arguably got too much public attention (see here).
  • There’s a new \$1 million mathematics prize that will be awarded for the first time this fall, together with a $1 million physics prize that was awarded for the first time last year. This is called the Future Science Prize, and to get it you need to be working in China. Used to be a \$1 million prize was a big deal, now with the \$3 million Breakthrough Prizes, a mere million looks like small potatoes.
  • Another way you could get a measly \$1 million would be to prove (or disprove) the Hodge conjecture. For some inspiration, see Burt Totaro’s new survey of progress on the Tate conjecture (blog entry here).
  • 4 gravitons has a nice posting about work by Turok and others about complexified path integrals and cosmology. The issue of the relation between Euclidean and Minkowski signature QFT is one that I think has gotten far too little attention over the years. Now that I’ve finished writing a book with a QFT discussion that sticks to Minkowski space, I’m hoping to work on writing something about the relation to Euclidean space.
  • There’s an interview with Nima Arkani-Hamed here. His talk at the recent PASCOS 2017 conference (real title is second slide “What the Hell is Going On?”) gives his take on the current state of HEP, post failure of the LHC to find SUSY. He’s sticking with his 2004 “Split SUSY” as his “Best Bet”. I’d like to think his inspirational ending claiming that the negative LHC results are forcing people to rethink the foundations of the subject, asking again the question “What is QFT?” reflects reality, but not sure I see much of that.
  • This year’s LHC startup has been going well, with a new luminosity record already set, and 6 inverse fb of data already collected. For more, see here.
  • Remember that “dark flow” that was supposed to be in the CMB data and evidence for the multiverse (see here)? Still not there, according to Planck (via Will Kinney).

Update: I’m sorry to hear the news of the untimely death of Maryam Mirzakhani, who was the first woman to win a Fields medal, awarded at the last ICM in 2014. Her work was described in detail at the time in this article by Curt McMullen.

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14 Responses to Various Links

  1. On rethinking the foundations of naturalness and SUSY as a potential solution, I don’t think physicists need look further than the first slide of most SUSY talks, where the hierarchy problem (or the naturalness problem for the Higgs mass) is almost always described in terms of a top quark divergence and a cutoff scale. As a result, a good proportion of the field believe that the top quark itself is the problem, and the level of the naturalness problem is set by the cutoff scale alone. But this is not the case at all. In the standard model, the top quark divergence is an unphysical quantity related to the cutoff regularisation procedure, and (when new physics is added) the level of any naturalness problem is necessarily proportional to the coupling strength of that new physics (not just the scale of it). This is manifest when you only consider the renormalised parameters and not bare quantities. The latter point also seems to generalise to gravity: the lesson to learn is that scales in a theory can easily have small (and technically natural) dimensionless parameters hiding inside them.

    You (and others) might be interested in a recent blog post of mine where all this is spelled out in a way I have not seen elsewhere, and I think the field would benefit from considering. There is a sloppiness in the naturalness literature that needs addressing.

  2. paddy says:

    Typo: “…with new a new luminosity record…”

  3. Code Ferret says:

    FWIW, NEW appears to have crashed The github site is of course humming along. Too much publicity…

  4. Georg says:

    “post failure of the LHC to find SUSY.”

    “Susy failed to show up on/in LHC” is closer to facts.


  5. neil says:

    My fave LHCb continues to find interesting stuff. Now a doubly heavy-quark (charm) baryon in the 13 TeV data. Nothing BSM there, but it could be useful for probing the strong interaction. Still more to discover.

  6. OT, but Iranian media is reporting that Maryam Mirzakhani has passed away.

  7. Mozibur Ullah says:

    This is sad news about Maryam Mirzakhani, to die so young and so soon after being awarded the Fields Medal. Rest in peace.

  8. Armin N says:

    I am genuinely shocked by her untimely passing. Not just Iran and the US lost a jewel, but humanity as a whole. My condolences to her family.

  9. tulpoeid says:

    If I am permitted to get dramatic … she bypassed two of the three obstacles that have usually kept women from entering history; she navigated a patriarchal society and she managed to combine career with family. The third one though, a more vulnerable body, caught up.

  10. Shantanu says:

    Peter, any comments about T’hooft’s interview in physics today
    avaiable at DOI:10.1063/PT.6.4.20170711a

  11. Peter Woit says:

    I didn’t think the interview was particularly interesting, more interesting was the news, which I hadn’t heard, that he has a book out about his ideas about QM, freely available at

    The kind of thing he’s trying to do is not my cup of tea (my own book about QM should make clear what point of view I’m more interested in) but others may find this more worth looking into.

  12. Low Math, Meekly Interacting says:

    I’d read about Maryam Mirzakhani with great interest (probably first in Erica Klarreich’s article in Quanta). Not sure why, but news of her death made me especially sad for a total stranger whose work I don’t understand. Maybe it’s because my daughter was recently most tearfully upset because a boy called her stupid. Too few examples like Ms. Mirzakhani, and to lose her so young is simply tragic. I hope her legacy continues to inspire those most in need of a role model.

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