Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Dinner for Marvin Cohen

This is an experiment: I want to check how dramatically the quality of my essays - and my ability to find the correct words and the right keys on the keyboard - decreases after five glasses of wine. I am neither able to walk straight right now nor finish the preparations for the String theory lecture tomorrow (about the BRST and old covariant quantization of the string), but the current amount of self-control may still be enough to write an article onto this blog. ;-)

I've just returned from a dinner to celebrate Marvin Cohen, who is now the Loeb lecturer. There were roughly 50 people who attended the dinner. It seems that I was the only unimportant person participating, and therefore I recycled the tag "Prof. Motl" from the faculty lunch that was held yesterday. More concretely, I was probably the only person under 45, and most of the time, I was also the only person under 65 inside the 3-meter vicinity around me. ;-)

There have been many really great people who attended the dinner: Sheldon Glashow, the Nobel prize winner for the electroweak theory; Irwin Shapiro, who has made the famous experiments to verify general relativity; Eric Mazur; John Huth; Sekazi Mtingwa; Isaac Silvera; and I could enumerate roughly 50 more names like that.

Fortunately (or unfortunately), we did not have the opportunity to discuss string theory and its role in the structure of physics with Shelly Glashow (or his wife). :-) Instead, we discussed (with various people) the issues about the Casimir force (vs. the van der Waals force) and its QED or molecular explanation; KGB and the US post office - the two biggest bureaucracies in the world :-); the Red Socks and their recent victories; questions for Mikhail Gorbachev that were asked by Irwin Shapiro sometime in the mid 80s and Gorbachev's answers; the reasons behind splitting Czechoslovakia and its consequences; the different nationalities that the citizens of Ruthenia tried in the 20th century; Richard Feynman on the 1955 conference about general relativity in North Carolina; Shapiro's childhood in Far Rockaway, New York, near Feynman's house; John Edwards as a guy from North Carolina; the religion of the people who support George W. Bush and who believe that Hussain's Iraq was behind 9/11; why the people of different political orientations should listen to each other; what we did on 9/11/2001; the difference between the Russian cities of Sverdlovsk and Smolinsk. Well, you can imagine, a lot of fun stuff like that has been pondered.

It may be the right time to go to bed now, and hope that tomorrow we will do much more serious stuff than today. Well, let me admit that the significant part of this day was spent by arguments with Peter Woit about the history of interactions between mathematics and string theory. When I am under the influence of alcohole, it's easier to admit that it's probably not the most constructive way to spend my energy. :-)

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