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Conference celebrating Dyson's 90th birthday

Freeman Dyson will be celebrating his 90th birthday in December 2013 (congratulations!) and the Institute for Advanced Studies where he has been employed for 60 years (I really mean six zero: think about how long this quantity is) is organizing a conference today and tomorrow. It's called Dreams of Earth and Sky.

The schedule with the live video is here (click).
Yes, I took the picture in Harvard's Jefferson J253.




Freeman Dyson has been a genuine peer of folks like Richard Feynman etc. He's known for the Dyson series – some of the most comprehensible derivations of the perturbative expansions in quantum field theory. He's been thinking about biotechnology, space exploration, extraterrestrial life, metaphysics, and many other things in more recent decades.




The talks began three seconds ago i.e. today at 9 am New Jersey Time (3 pm Prague Summer Time). Dijkgraaf will do an introduction and there will be folks like Seiberg, Witten, Yau, Rees, Callan, Drell, and Happer (Dyson's fellow global warming skeptic who will talk about the reasons of the paused global warming). And others.

Incidentally, Google Maps finally added the Street View mode for the LHC collider (new layout here, story here) so you may walk around the 27-kilometer tunnel and check all the detectors from the viewpoint of the Swiss pedestrians who accidentally get lost 100 meters under the sidewalk.

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reader James Gallagher said...

I wish him happy birthday in advance (he's almost exactly 50 years ahead of you Lubos) A great inspiration for people who couldn't be bothered to complete their phds ;-)


reader James Gallagher said...

good link - I can't upvote you (some problem with my disqus account?) but that's a +1


reader Mikael said...

Dear Lubos,
it is hard for me to remember the last time when I disagreed so wholeheartedly with you as about Linux. I work in the IT industry so in this case I think I know what I am talking about. One mayor source of disagreement is that you narrow down Linux to your experience with it as a desktop system and to your experience with people who think that the world is a better place just because they run a Linux system. Yes these people exist but it is not a problem of Linux per se. The truth couldn't be further from that, Whether you like it or not Linux has gotten tremendous economical importance in servers, supercomputers and in all kinds of embedded systems such as routers or physical measurement devices and the kernel now in tablets via Android and so on and so on. Whether it will also win the desktop PC is an open question but for example a mayor player in the games industry called Valve is heavily investing in the Linux plattform. A totally open and adjustable system in the hand of a desktop user may be mostly a hobby or saying it less friendly a waste of time. But an open and adjustable system in the hands of company who needs is of tremendous value. Yes, Linux is free for everybody but criticizing this is as sensible as criticizing that the air in your room is free and the forests are free for anyboy to walk in. Is Google a socialist company just because their search is free? Is science a socialist activity just because the papers are available for anybody to read? On a personal level you totally misjudge the personality of Linus Torvalds. When he was a student he just cared about his hobby and later he was in the lucky position to turn his hobby into his job with which he can support his family etc. I recommend you to read about the history of Linux. It is a lot of fun. Yes he copied Unix because he wanted a "real operating system" on his home machine and couldn't afford to buy one. Linus also understands very well the mechanisms of economics and this is part of the way how he leads Linux. But just as you he doesn't think that the most important thing in life is to become rich. And the way Linux is maintained in a chaotic self organizing way is following much more the model of the free market than many bureaucratic companies. As you mentioned yourself the amount of talent of top programmers which has been wasted at Microsoft for less than optimal outputs is enormous. Linux has reached so much with just a tiny fraction of the resources.

I am all for capitalism but having grown up in a capitalistic country I think I can look a but more relaxed at these things. Therefore I will not blindly think that anything which comes out of capitalism is good and I will less easily be blinded by hate for everything that smells like socialism.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Fine. I trust you Linux is important for servers and things like that. I just don't call it a major economic importance because the firms effectively get it for zero and don't directly get any income from using Linux, either.


It's like a coal power plant that can work for free in one country and pay carbon indulgences in another. It will choose the first country but that doesn't mean that the lack of carbon indulgences is making a profit. The presence of carbon indulgences *would* make a loss but the indulgences aren't being paid. ;-)


reader Gordon said...

His autobiography "Disturbing the Universe" is a good read. I also just finished reading his son, George's book "Turing's Cathedral" about early years of computer development by von Neumann, Bigelow, Metropolis, etc---also good. Daughter, Esther, graduated from Harvard in economics, but has bootstrapped herself into a technology maven and journalist/entrepreneur/philanthropist/venture capitalist (understudy for Charles Simonyi on his Soyuz space trip to the International Space Station.)
Their mother, Verena Huber-Dyson is a mathematician specializing in logic. I had seen her name mentioned at U of Alberta, Calgary---she is now an emeritus prof. When married to Freeman, she got to know Godel and has focused on his work.


reader James Gallagher said...

oh dear


look Lubos, if you're gonna dictate to us about the incredible ideas of $3 million richer Arkani-
Hamed's fundamental physics then it would help (for crdibility) if you could master the much more basic intellectual environment of operating systems


reader Mikael said...

Dear Lubos,
I think there is something not working in your comparison. Carbon indulgences are at best a null sum game as they just shift wealth from one place to the other. Linux on the other hand should be increasing the overall output of the economy.


reader Eugene S said...

Yes, I am "doing it wrong". I'd be rich if I had a dime for every time I've heard that. Linux on the desktop is a bait and switch. First they gush about how it's free, then after you fall for the hype they tell you but we never meant free to use, only free to get. Linux is free -- for people who value their time at $0.00 per hour. For the others, it's a very expensive proposition. That's why I prefer to pay the $80 that is the cost of Windows in a new computer and benefit from the work of thousands of developers and usability experts in Redmond who have already tackled the problems I might face using their operating system -- and solved them for me.


reader Eugene S said...

That's strange, you should be able to vote as you're obviously logged into Disqus. What browser do you use? If it's Firefox, the error console will often give you helpful clues as to what went wrong.


reader Eugene S said...

Another example is Vijay Iyer, one of the recipients of this year's MacArthur grants, who was in a physics Ph.D. program at Berkeley when he switched to music. Old Johann Sebastian probably would have been an important mathematician if he hadn't chosen music instead.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear James, before you offer ambitious claims about someone's not knowing the basic intellectual landscape operating systems, without a glimpse of evidence, you may want to learn what the concept of a mouse button means.


reader Mephisto said...

Oh, I was wrong. Linux is definitely left-wing. Raúl Castro is using it
http://royal.pingdom.com/2011/05/12/the-top-20-strongholds-for-desktop-linux/


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Mephisto, I don't know whether you meant it as a joke but I surely take your comment seriously and it is indeed one of the reasons.

The percentage of Linux in Cuba exceeds the next country, Venezuela - another de facto communist stronghold - by a factor of two or so. That's indeed a part of the reason why I consider Linux a left-wing system.

It's also highlighted by the fact that the Cuban government really sponsors a Linux distribution, its Nova Linux:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nova_(operating_system)



Again, I don't mean that some particular technical feature or way it's programmed is intrinsically left-wing. I mean the framework by which the development is organized and how the OS is supposed to be marketed - or non-marketed.


reader James Gallagher said...

I'm using firefox in Fedora Linux. I can vote onther sites eg my upvotes are registered against the commenters here http://nautil.us/issue/5/fame/the-twin-prime-hero (Interview with Yitang Zhang - quite incredible story btw). But on this site my votes don't stick - I'm pretty sure its Lubos' fault.


reader James Gallagher said...

My votes don't stick, when I refresh the browse they've gone. Look I'm gonna downvote your comment above but it won't stick.


reader Luboš Motl said...

I assure you that I have no control whatsoever to the way how the voting interacts with different systems - it works absolutely the same in all websites with the DISQUS.


\(E=mc^2\)


reader Eugene S said...

Are you using an ad blocker or NoScript? What does the error console say?


reader Bohdan said...

He was really keen on space travel ..

http://youtu.be/v4k_YZAXSEI