Thursday, December 23, 2004

Yang's mirror symmetry & Andy in India

What is happening before the Christmas?
  • George Bush became the Time magazine's "Person of the year 2004" for the second time. Edward Witten has made it to the top 100 of the most influential people. Congratulations. Incidentally, I was voting for the most worrisome article about string theory in 2004, and the winner is the article in the Time magazine.
  • The first book in 2004 that has left an enriching impression and triggered the imagination of the president of India APJ Abdul Kalam, apparently a sibbling of Steven Weinberg :-), was the new excellent book "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene. Mr. President quite often refers to this book, but I am a bit confused whether he read the same book because he believes that Brian Greene "reconciles" string theory with loop quantum gravity! ;-)
  • String theory affects not only mathematics, but also art - especially Stephen Linsteadt's oil, oil pastel and graphite expressionistic works based on String Theory :-)
  • Santa Claus may be a threat to the environment because of his ion shields, trips between the dimensions, and the air friction, as new physics research shows. A problem with that paper may be that they used bosonic string theory and identified Santa Claus with Einstein himself.
  • Chen Ning Yang whom we usually associate with Robert Mills decided to learn mirror symmetry. Why exactly mirror symmetry? Because he's 82 while his new wife is 28.

  • Well, that was a silly joke. You can find many really entertaining mathematical jokes in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, as Peter Woit pointed out
  • Joe Polchinski published another review about the cosmic strings, and if you go to the article "Astronomers ...", you will see that I've added a link.
  • Stephen Webb has released his new book "Out of this world". It covers a lot of material in physics, including string/M-theory and braneworlds, and it has a huge number of figures (above 100, if I remember well). For example, the book uses 17 photographs that I took. Someone has pointed out that only someone called CERN can remotely compete with me. Who the hell is CERN? Is not it the institution that also builds an accelerator, 50 times weaker than mine? ;-)
  • Classes ended at Harvard. Andy Strominger returned from India where he attended Shiraz Minwalla's wedding but where he also made an interview for The Telegraph in Calcutta. This interview mentions the entertaining comments of Feynman who said that he knew that the good physicists usually become silly when they're old and they say a lot of stuff that other people will find ridiculous (like Einstein) - but he simply could not resist to make the same error and say that string theory was crazy ;-). Also, the journalist Pathik Guha wanted to show that the Harvard professor and a leader of theoretical physics Andrew Strominger can't compete with Guha: when Andy said that string theory had no competitors, Guha wrote that "Strominger may not be entirely right" because there also exists loop quantum gravity. :-) I am always a bit puzzled by Andy's statements that string theory is "just another step" - what sort of other step that goes "beyond" string theory but does not invalidate it is Andy thinking about? But otherwise his answers are nice, of course.
I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

1 comment:

  1. I think Cindy Sheehan's response is the appropriate one to the first clause of the first bullet in this blog.