Sunday, March 05, 2006

My Connolley number is 7 after all

Steve McIntyre has been playing the game about the "collaboration distance". Various climate scientists tried to quantify their "Mann number", i.e. the length of the shortest chain of authors of papers with Mann and these people at the opposite ends of the chain, and with each link of the chain being codified by a collaboration on a paper.

John Fleck offered bonus points to anyone who will prove finiteness of William Connolley's Motl number.

This looks like an impossible task because William Connolley focuses on politicized low-energy science while we study apolitical high-energy physics. Moreover, our estimates for the latent heat of ice differ by three orders of magnitude.

However, Steinn Sigurdsson, now an astroclimate scientist, first proved that his Motl number is at most 6 and maybe even 5. The link of length 6 is Motl-Dine-Farrar-Hogg-Blandford-Hernquist-Sigurdsson (click the hyphens if you wish) where Hernquist may be replaced by one of numerous Steinn's collaborators. Steinn could have replaced Michael Dine directly by Tom Banks, my advisor.

Pierre Menard then shockingly (almost) nailed down John Fleck's original problem. Connolley received a Motl number of 7:

What is the punch line? The punch line is that we're all connected. Imagine that someone proposes a radical solution to the global warming problem - namely execution of all those who spread these fears. It has been shown above that such a solution would result in death of the collaborators of my collaborators of my collaborators of my collaborators of my collaborators of my collaborators, or at least their collaborators. :-)

But wait a minute. One of the links above is missing. It's because it is a weak link. Actually there is only one Nelson on that paper and the chain does not quite work, much like the MathSciNet collaboration distance script.

OK, you should not panic. Of course that I knew how to fix the problem, giving Connolley a Motl number of 8: William Connolley - J. S. Rollett - James Hardy Wilkinson - Richard S. Varga - Andrew M. Odlyzko - Daniel S. Freed - Edward Witten - Andrew Strominger - Luboš Motl. However, later I realized that there is a faster path, one that avoids Edward Witten, that gives Connolley a Motl number of 7: William Connolley - J. S. Rollett - James Hardy Wilkinson - Richard S. Varga - Andrew M. Odlyzko - Richard S. Stanley - Alexander Postnikov - Luboš Motl.

Motl numbers of well-known physicists

When you avoid shaky fields such as climate science, things become much more reliable. So my distance from various random people who are well-known to the public or at least the blogosphere is:

  • Leonard Susskind, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Tom Banks, Mohammad (and all my other collaborators) is 1
  • Edward Witten, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Sean Carroll, Clifford Johnson, Lisa Randall, Frank Wilczek, Jacques Distler, Michael Atiyah, Yakir Aharonov is 2
  • Roger Penrose, Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Weinberg, Sheldon Glashow, Gerard 't Hooft, David Gross, John Baez, Lee Smolin, Abhay Ashtekar, Mark Trodden, is 3
  • Richard Feynman, Abdus Salam, Freeman Dyson, Julian Schwinger, John Wheeler, Terence Tao, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Andrew Wiles, Paul Erdös (gauge choice), Stephen Wolfram is 4
  • Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrödinger, Max Born, Wolfgang Pauli, Lev Landau, Enrico Fermi, Brian Josephson is 5
  • Jerry Koliha (my uncle in Australia), Hermann Minkowski, Hendrik Lorentz (via Einstein), Paul Dirac, Satyendra Bose, Milton Friedman is 6 (yes, I am closer to Milton Friedman than Lawrence Summers is haha)
  • Felix Klein, Georg Friedrich Riemann is 7
  • Lawrence Summers is 8 (his distance from me as well as from Einstein is 8)

As you can see, the world of physics and mathematics is really quite connected. Everyone can check whether "Not Even Wrong" is connected with physics, too.

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