Friday, November 23, 2007

ESQG 2007 Summary

[I was asked to write a brief summary of our previosly mentioned workshop Experimental Search for Quantum Gravity for the PI newsletter. Here is what I wrote:]

The suggestion for the workshop came up during our discussion group on the phenomenology of quantum gravity, held at Perimeter Institute last winter. We wanted to bring people together who are working on this still young field; particle physicists with the kappa-Poincaré mafia, cosmologists with analogue modelers, and astrophysicists with space-time foamers. There is by now a wide variety of approaches examining different possible phenomenological effects. On the longer run, it should be possible to find out whether some of them can be understood as arising from the same concept, such that their applicability can be extended to cover a broader range of phenomenology. The meeting was quite successful in fostering the discussion about the relation between different models.

One of the main points was raised by Daniel Sudarsky while talking about the 'Shrtvomings of the Standard Lore' (a mentionable 3 sigma event of typos):

    "The QG arena is the natural place to put things you don't understand."

Well, I hope this conjecture doesn't apply for the next postdoc hires. But more seriously, a recurring question in the field is of course whether a model has actually something to do with quantizing gravity, or whether it is just some generally possible speculation for physics beyond the standard model:

John Moffat:"Why violate Lorentz invariance ?!"
Jens Niemeyer:"Oh, just because everybody does it?"

John EllisMy favorite among the talks was Steve Giddings', who gave a very nice introduction into high energy scattering processes and black hole formation. John Ellis talked about the prospects of testing quantum gravity, and a special event was the talk by Aaron Chou who reported on new results from the AUGER collaboration that confirm the GZK cutoff. Giovanni Amelino-Camelia brought us up to date with the progress in Deformed Special Relativity, and Matt Visser gave us good advises how to deal with our office mates:

    "If you want to give your colleagues a heart attack, you talk about the
    velocity of the sub-quantic aether."

It was a very lively and interactive meeting that run very smoothly thanks to D, K and A's help with the organization. The worst disaster being that a participant lost his dinner voucher.

ESQG 2007

All of the talks were recorded and can be found on the PI websites.


  1. Yay for experimentally-consequential QG!

    Question: I recognized the rest, but I seem to have missed the reference when you talk about the "kappa-Poincaré mafia"? Any hints?

  2. All the Italians working on kappa Poincare Hopf things. I keep mingling up their names.

  3. Dear Bee,

    thank you for the write-up. If the workshop was as entertaining as you report, it was for sure a big success :-)

    Best, Stefan

  4. With regard to the final picture there, am I alone in finding it incredibly bad manners to open up a laptop during someone's talk? No, I am not complaining because this happened to me, but because of what I saw at a recent conference. Somebody was giving a talk, and immediately all the laptops came out: an external observer would have assumed that he was looking at a typing academy. The gentleman in front of me was watching a cricket game, and when his favoured team was crushed, he rather loudly exclaimed, "shit!!". This caused no disturbance, however, because the people to his left and right were watching movies, etc, and could not be roused by a mere expletive. Now I admit that the talk, like most talks, was really boring, but there are more polite ways of dealing with this, eg you bring along a paper to read, and doodle on it, pretending to take notes. But opening up your laptop is about as subtle as putting up your feet and starting to snore loudly [yes, I know people do that too....]. Why not just put up a sign saying, YOU ARE REALLY BORING! ? Come on, we know that most people give boring talks, and while that is bad indeed, this is not the way to solve that problem...

  5. hi all,

    "sub quantic aeter", Backreaction comes up as #1 by googeling this word.

    I have no clue what it means, it is a crack-potty joke? or is there more to it?

    Wiki gives no answer.



  6. Hi Dr Who:

    Well, watching a movie is certainly an extreme case, but generally I don't mind if people use laptops in my or others talks. From my experience at conferences what most people do is either finishing their own talk, checking/answering emails, or reading papers. I can understand that. If you are one week at a conference you'll still have some of the usual stuff to do. And at least my brain is full after 2 new talks a day anyhow. However, if you've been at a couple of conference you will already know the people and most of what they are saying. So you might stay and listen, but maybe not with 100% of attention. Also, I often use a wireless to look up papers by the speaker, or references he provides. (If you look at the laptop screen on the photo, it looks to me like he's doing his powerpoint presentation).

    Yes, when it comes to papers to read, a printout would look more polite, since it's at least not hanging in front of your face. But when on a conference it's usually not that easy to send a job to a printer. But if it's a standard colloquim with only local participants that's what people do (me included). Best,


  7. Hi Klaus,

    If you want to know the exact context, look at Matt Visser's talk. It's just a funny sounding way to put the idea of having a quantum fuzzy background through which particles have to move. Best,


  8. The short path is to falsify both GR and QFT while tossing string theory and its 10^1000 vacua into the garbage for good measure. Be patient for a month - this is a job for experimentalists. The next terrestrial perihelion could be very messy for physics. Wouldn't that be fun?



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