Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Miss USA: Should math be taught in schools?

The prettiest and brightest young American women were asked whether math should be taught in schools.

Thanks to Honza. ;-)

Original: Should evolution be taught in schools?

Chris Hull: a stringy alien on Strings 2011

There is the annual Strings 2011 conference in Uppsala, Sweden. The most physically interesting talk in the first three days was delivered by
Chris Hull
who talked about "doubled field theory" - a way how to make T-duality on tori manifest by including both dimensions.

I've been thinking about those matters a lot in the past. The string fields have to be constrained by the "p.w = N-N~" constraint (which is unusual from a strictly field-theoretical viewpoint) and there are other issues but you may gain many advantages.

My adviser, Tom Banks, would always dislike my attempted "double field theory" viewpoint - for reasons that I understood well but couldn't share with their full negative emotions. It's like making "p" and "x" of the phase space both "commutative". Except that even the latter thing may be usefully defined - if products of operators are written as star-products etc.

The frustrating thing is that among the 20 lectures at Strings 2011 so far (3 days out of 5), Chris Hull's lecture was unusual because it was the only one about the actual physics of string theory.

Other lecturers are - or were - string theorists but their talks are not really string theory and they shouldn't represent a majority of a strings conference. While those lectures are about fair technical work in field theory and mathematics - non-gravitational supersymmetric theories; field theories in lower dimensions found as limits of strings; topological string theories etc.; effective field theory approaches to quantum cosmology - their goal is not to understand string theory itself, the whole beast. So they're not really not that conceptually deep.

This terrible percentage of string talks will be partially repaired during the last two days. Thursday will be dedicated to AdS/CFT-like issues; Friday will hopefully see some flux compactifications and Calabi-Yau geometry, cosmology, and Erik Verlinde's entropic pseudoscience for which he should have been stripped of his physics PhD (he has already denounced dark energy, dark matter, inflation, and even the big bang itself) - but instead, he has received about 10 million dollars from the Dutch government.

At any rate, it is frustrating to see this collapse of the activity dedicated to string theory itself. The probability that something really important and conceptually new beyond the SM will be found without string theory is comparable to the probability that an extraterrestrial alien will land here and give us their newest comprehensive textbook of high-energy physics.

So the loss of activity - and dwindling attempts - is nothing else than the loss of ambitions and it might turn out to be pretty hard for someone to convince me that the ultimate main driver of this downtrend is something else than the desire of many string theorists to sooth their inferior, non-stringy colleagues and not-so-colleagues.


  1. Some people really need only the positive integer (natural) numbers, you shouldn't drag them into Real numbers or even far(complex numbers).

  2. Right, Kamil. Your opinion and your IQ is being shared by many of the pretty and bright young ladies in the video.

    You forget about aliens and mixing of the drinks.

  3. How is my IQ related to my opinion? Because I advertise freedom of choise, I am dumb. Why should artists or writers bother learning real numbers? People can do counting and ordering with integers. Money can be viewed as integers. What common math think (everyday life, not work) can't be done with integers?

  4. Dear Kamil,

    it may be shocking news for you but the IQ is the most important factor that decides about the "opinions" of people about maths and many other things.

    The only other thing I wrote is that your opinions and IQ are clearly very close to those that were parodied in this very video.

    A person living in an industrial country in 2011 who doesn't understand the concept of real - continuous - numbers shouldn't be considered homo sapiens.


  5. Is this video a parody of something?

    It didn't look very real and those ladies were not at all beautiful.

    But if it is real, then I can only say that the human civilization is doomed.

  6. Yes, it's a parody, my text clearly links to the original video that the new one is a parody of, and frankly speaking, I am amazed by the huge number of people who have doubts that it is a parody.