Preaching string theory to infidels like Freeman Dyson himself
Last December, Freeman Dyson celebrated his 90th birthday and the conference that celebrated the anniversary took place at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 26-29 August 2013. I was obviously misled into believing that the conference would take place at IAS Princeton but the truth was more colorful.
David Gross' 69-minute talk above, Quantum Field Theory – Past, Present, Future – was posted to YouTube a month ago. It is one of the interesting videos by the World Scientific Publishing that we may now enjoy.
Other talks you may watch include:
► Freeman Dyson: Is a Graviton Detectable?You see that the talks were a mixture of brilliant, interesting, cute, provocative, weird, and stupid ideas which is sort of appropriate for a giant of Freeman Dyson's type.
► Henry Tye: Is a Vanishingly Small Cosmological Constant Natural?
► Xiao-Gang Wen: Topological order
► Robert Delbourgo: Where-When-What and the relativity of Space-Time-Property
► Shou-Cheng Zhang: Topological Insulators and Superconductors
► Mary Beth Ruskai: Evolution of a Fundemental Theorem on Quantum Entropy
► Lawrence Krauss: Freeman to the Rescue - Life, the Universe, and Nothing
► Kerson Huang: Dark energy and Dark Matter in a Superfluid Universe
► Kazuo Fujikawa: Heisenberg's Uncertainty Relation Revisited
► Bruce McKellar: Breakdown of the Boltzmann Equation in a Solvable Model
I hope that someone will watch some of the other talks.
David Gross began by comments that Dyson "couldn't be defined". He spends the bulk of the talk by various historical comments on conceptual issues in quantum field theory – Landau pole, asymptotic freedom, renormalization, renormalization group including block spins, the nature of infinities, spectrum of QCD, and so on. The Standard Model is the greatest achievement of science of all times.
Around 43:00 or so, he is getting to the more up-to-date questions including unification and especially string theory.
The AdS/CFT paradigm plays a key role in his comments. Quantum field theory is really the same thing as string theory. David Gross has friends, like Shelly Glashow, who love quantum field theory but they hate that string theory and they hope that it will die. (1:02:30.) David is explaining to them: you can't have both! It's the same beast. In such situations, Sheldon Glashow ... looks away.
Some new self-promotion of my hometown of Pilsen, the EU culture capital for 2015.
In an hour, FC Viktoria Pilsen will play Shakhtar Donetsk which seems to be a relaxed, productive, industrial city in Eastern Ukraine. Their soccer team is much richer than ours – after all, Donetsk is a 1-million-people city, Pilsen has just 170,000. The Donetsk team is owned by the richest man of Ukraine; the owner of Viktoria Mr Paclík is a small fish in comparison.
Our players are mostly Czech plus three or four Slovaks; Donetsk has tons of Brazilian players. Their coach is Romanian and seems to support the Kiev opposition. A Czech player in Donetsk says that no chaos can be seen in Donetsk at all and he is not following these political events at all.
Update: Result: 1-to-1. Pilsen was playing OK, being able to steal the ball from the wealthier opponent often, boasting comparable chances and holding of the ball. But it was sort of less courageous, less stunning – probably a result of our new coach. Vrba went to the national team, a betrayal of a sort, and Uhrin Jr prefers a more defensive, opportunistic strategy.
The deaths in Kiev are tragic. I think it's obvious that the order has to be restored before the people stop dying and it is just irresponsible if not immoral for various Western politicians to support the anarchy.
Congratulations to the U.S. ice-hockey fans. It beat the Czech team 5-to-2 yesterday. We wanted to win but it's not embarrassing because the U.S. team is arguably the best U.S. team ever. Ironically enough, it is managed in a somewhat collectivist, un-American way. Some superstars were snubbed; discipline, expected speed, and cooperation are playing an important role. To some extent, America could live well with socialism, too – like East Germany. I won't be shocked if the U.S. team wins the Olympic gold.
By the way, I just watched the women's ice-hockey finals, CAN-USA. The Americans were better but the Canadians finally won in the 68th minute. The women's game is so much fun. It makes me smile. It is sort of sexy. Their playing is slower, less energetic, slightly resembling how I play similar games. They never fight truly angrily and when they lose, they really cry. But I would prefer to watch this over the men's game. Too bad it doesn't really exist here.