Friday, August 18, 2006

More Trouble with Physics

Lee Smolin has put up a website about his new book:

Also, later today there is an interview on Science Friday about the pros and con of string theory, with physicists Lee Smolin and Brian Greene. You can call in with your questions and comments at 1-800-989-8255 (3-4 Eastern).

So... have your cellphone ready...

Note added Aug. 20st: See also the discussion of the interview at Lubos' blog.

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  1. That website says "Brain Greene."

  2. *lol* true! Well, with a name like that, I guess he's heard his share of jokes about green brains.

  3. The Trouble with Physics

    A nice website! Colours are a bit flashy, but I guess they just derive from the design of the cover...

    That website says "Brain Greene."

    Great typo indeed :-)

    BTW, the other guy on the show, Mike Brown,
    is the one responsible for this stir about the number of planets...

    When he and his colleagues discovered 2003 UB313, the tentative number 12, and Sedna, and even more smaller objects in the outer regions of the solar system, this triggered this whole discussion about what makes a planet and how many are there..

    Best, stefan

  4. I listened. Lee did a good job. All three came off well, I thought, since there was little conflict, some shared perspective, and a fair number of actual points were made.

    Mike Brown said the astronomers should not change the set of planets. He said the definition is CULTURAL, like the definition of what is a "continent".

    Is Australia a continent? If so then is Greenland?
    Why should Europe be a continent and India just be a "subcontinent". Maybe Hawaii (he suggested) is a continent? He said they should rather leave the definition of "planet" alone as a cultural convention and just have 9 and not monkey with it.

    The next best thing, he thought, was to demote Pluto and just have 8 planets.

    He did not like the idea of defining planet to be any gravitationally round thing, as this would lead to some 200 planets. People are calling this the
    "Leave no ice-ball behind" proposal.

  5. The definition of planet is quite clear, since there is a phrase "What planet are you on?" meaning "You are talking nonsense!". Clearly, this requires that a "planet" must be able to support human life, however idiotic, and as far as I know, the only candidate in our solar system is planet Earth. There is therefore just one planet.

  6. heh heh CO
    what's funny is the big international conference of astronomers is actually going to discuss this and VOTE on it
    (should we have 8 planets, or the traditional 9, or approximately 200 most of which remain to be discovered)

    Bee, have to compliment you on the 8-frame shoetring comic. Have you sold it yet? If not, I'd recommend holding onto it---the most perfect of your paintings or graphics I've seen so far.
    In the last frame it looks a bit glum and bored with itself.

    Maybe they will put it on the wall at Perimeter. they have paintings. I guess ideally the dimensions (to make it look like something at NY MOMA) would be on the order of 2 meters by 8 meters. Maybe if it small they could hire someone to render an enlargement. Just dreaming.

  7. I mean 2 by 3 meters or whatever the golden section is. What is the size of the original anyway?

  8. Dear Who,

    credits for the graphic don't go to me. I thought about making one as a manual for shoe ties, but before that I did a Google search. That's where the picture comes from. Have no idea who made it.

    Have a nice weekend,


  9. In German there is this sentence which is supposed to help you memorize the order of the planets, it goes:

    "Mein Vater Erklaert Mir Jeden Sonntag Unsere Neun Planeten"




    What will we do if there are suddenly 12 or 8 Planets?

    Is there a similar sentence in English?



  10. Who said... I listened. Lee did a good job. All three came off well, I thought, since there was little conflict, some shared perspective, and a fair number of actual points were made.

    Yeah, I had the same impression. Though I found Greene kind of boring, like he was repeating things he had to say one million times before. Best,


  11. Upon further inspection, this black-and-white caricature appears to be suggesting that anthropic fingers are emerging from the landscape magically tying laces for a pair of shoes. This caricature seems to be conveying the message that one ought to resist the temptation to wear designer-laced shoes.;)

  12. Hi Bee, I think they both get lost in well rehearsed arguments.
    Reminds me of Palestinian Israeli debates at St Catherine's College, Cambridge - blow hot air and agree to disagree, instead of formulating a real (physical) or practical working model.

    Less time should be spent on arguing the merits of mathematical string theory and more on particle string theory and/or field theory.

    These then applied to QG & QM

    As for Dark Matter and Dark energy it would be helpful if we could separate what the terms stand for before trying to 'separate' them.

    Dark Matter as dust or invisible gravitons, in space and in blackholes (collapsed stars). Dark energy as charged particles??? charged by what, acceleration???

  13. bee not english but spanish

    Lunes - Luna - Moon Day Monday
    Martes -Marte - MarsDay Tuesday
    Miercoles Mercury Day Wednesday
    Jueves - Jupiter Day - Thursday
    Viernes - Venus Day - Friday
    Sabado - saturn Day - Saturday
    Domingo - Sun day - Sunday

    I guess its gonna be a longer week with more planets.
    As long as they add them to the weekend. lol!

  14. Dear Quasar,

    thanks for the long weekend :-)

    I noticed that I forgot the translation of the above sentence

    Mein Vater erklärt mir jeden Sonntag unsere neun Planeten.


    Every Sunday my father explains our nine planets to me.

    The sentence makes equally little sense in German as it does in English.

    Best, B.

  15. Hi Bee,

    I have been following the discussion over at Motl's frame, and just want to say that I greatly admire your patience. You made some good points over there, but don't waste your time with Motl.

  16. I will soon publish a new book Quanum Motion, which may also imply that string theory is incomplete, or even wrong. See my research website

  17. Hi zen,

    if you came here to leave this comment, it shows that its worth the time. I am not addressing Lubos in the first place, but the readers of his blog... which might be left with a, uhm, slighly distorted view of reality if uncommented. Best,


  18. This is the sole reason why hated physics. I seem to have a very complicated mind . And complicated minds can't solve complicated problems. But I like your blogs.


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