Quantum Diaries

The world of particle physics web logging expanded by about an order of magnitude today, as a new web-site called Quantum Diaries came on-line. The idea seems to be to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s remarkable 1905 papers by getting 25 physicists from around the world to set up web logs so people can follow what they do during 2005.

Most of the participants are experimentalists, with just three theorists as far as I can tell. The theorists are John Ellis of CERN (see here for a story about him), Stephon Alexander of SLAC, and Jochen Weller of Fermilab.

Interestingly, all three of the theorists are spending at least part of their time working on cosmological or astrophysical topics, which gives you some idea of where the field is headed. Also, none of them are working on string theory at the moment, which also gives you some idea of where the field is headed.

As a completely unrelated aside, today I came upon the web-site of Brian Powell, a graduate student of Will Kinney’s at Buffalo studying cosmology. He’s more pro than anti string theory, but irreverently funny. His comment that “many people criticize string theory because it’s sort of becoming fashionable to do so” warmed my heart. On the other hand, the fact that he links to something I wrote about Witten’s talk at Santa Barbara with the terms “Witten gets socked in the groin” kind of upsets me.

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12 Responses to Quantum Diaries

  1. Peter says:

    Hi David,

    Good luck with your studies. Can’t help with your prelims, but can help on one of the prevalent themes you mention for your blog.

  2. David Guarrera says:

    Apprapos, I’d like to take this opportunity to plug my own blog at http://web.mit.edu/guarrera/www/blog.htm . It’s the musings of a theoretical physics first year grad student (namely, me)…

  3. Fabio says:

    Ellis is one of the world’s most published string theorists, and also one of the world’s most cited (if you include self-citations).

  4. Luboš Motl says:

    Dear Peter,

    it’s very sad if I am taking your naive, innocent, childish ideals 🙂 from you, but most of the people are working in string theory in one way or another.

    I am not sure whether you will believe me that determining the ten-dimensional string coupling by John Ellis et al. in December (20th) 2004 is a recent work on string theory


    Also, Stephon Alexander has the biggest hobby right now – he was explaining it at Harvard – about determining the string scale in the heterotic models


    Jochen Weller is a hard astroparticle guy, sure.


  5. JC says:

    I always found “first person” accounts and/or diaries quite interesting in seeing what people were thinking at a particular point in time, without the benefit of hindsight. The real world of physics is a lot more messy and uncertain as one is doing research, unlike how it is presented in future textbooks and/or monographs. Everything in hindsight looks “obvious” and/or “simple” for many things.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the informative post. Notice that these sort of posts, which do not merely concentrate on (possibly justified) opposition to something, and are emotionally neutral, do not attract the flood of crackpots. If you really don’t want them, you know what to do.

  7. Fabio says:

    Wow, this Quantum Diaries thing is great. I can’t think of any better way to celebrate Einstein’s legacy than to read a bunch of random physicists detail who they had dinner with the other night or the latest movie they saw.

  8. Sean says:

    Please don’t stoop to smileys; I’ll just try to fine-tune my tongue-in-cheek sensitivity.

    Sure, a lot of particle physicists are increasingly working on astrophysics. Too many, actually, especially on the experimental side. Ten or fifteen years ago that would have been a great career move; but right now particle experiment is just beginning to get interesting again.

  9. Peter says:

    Hi Sean,

    The part about string theory was meant to be kind of tongue in cheek (I really got to figure out how to put in those smileys the way Lubos does…). But surely you agree with the first part (about more and more particle physicists working on cosmological and astrophysical topics), that was meant seriously.

  10. Sean says:

    Oh come on, Peter. Do you really think that the choice of blogging physicists tells you something about where the field is headed, rather than the predispositions of the certain individuals that run the site? Shall we conclude that condensed matter physics is basically dead, since it doesn’t appear here? All we can conclude is that the site was set up by HEP experimentalists.

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