Thursday, October 04, 2012

ESQG 2012 Update

Our conference on "Experimental Search for Quantum Gravity" now has the schedule online. As you can see, this year's format is somewhat different from the previous installations. Based on Astrid's suggestions, we have only a few long talks and otherwise many discussions with short (10-15 min) contributions. I'm curious to see how this goes.

Personally, I find discussion sessions to be of limited use. Participants usually to like them for the social touch, but in my experience they tend to be dominated by always the same people who say always the same things. And I guess I just prefer prepared talks for they are usually better structured and convey information better. Which is why, if I add discussion sessions to a conference I'm organizing, I do my best to encourage participants and esp the discussion leaders to prepare some questions and arguments in advance. Maybe mixing discussions with the short contributions is a good way to avoid these pitfalls. Either way, I think it is worthwhile to try a different format.

14 comments:

uair01 said...

That looks like a fun conference! I'm looking forward to your report (I assume you are going).

I would be most interested in:

Cosmological windows such as CMB polarization and 21cm redshift surveys to probe Planck-scale physics

The highest-energy particles of the Universe as viewed by the Pierre Auger Observatory

Searching for Quantum Gravity with the IceCube Neutrino Observatory

Dark Matter and Dark Energy as a possible manifestation of a fundamental Scale

Colloquium: Astrophysical Searches for Quantum Gravity Signals

I like those macro - micro approaches. And for a layperson they're easier to get a feel for than all the complex mathematics.

Shantanu said...

I look forward to watching the talks online once they get archived. Btw I do prefer conferences with lots of time for discussion. else if most of the conference time is devoted to talks, most people check emails instead of listening to the talk. (Of course counter argument
is sometimes people are too shy to ask questions)

Btw one thing to consider for this conference? Will it be possible to webcast live the talks (like STSCI) and also seek questions from remote participants?
Thanks

Koala said...

Its pretty funny how roughly half of the talks have "quantum gravity" in the title. In any respectable or established field there are basic questions and content to be addressed that is kniwn to the audience beforehand, snd doesn't need to apprar in the title. For instance, at a particle physics conference you might see s title "new computations of the magnetic moment of the muon". You won't see the title "particle physics and the muon", because particle physics is established, there are interesting questions known to members in the field, and they don't need to advertise the field of particle physics to eackother. But here, there are only fringe researchers, and some borderline crackpots, who are always trying to adverise their field to one another for self assurance. Even at a string theory comference, you rarely find "string theory" as the title of people's talks, because there is real content to be discussed, you might see title's like "a dual description of qcd", i.e, real content. You won't see "quantum mechanics" in the title of a quantum computing conference, you will see "application of shor's algorithm to such and such". The quantum gravity conferences have no real content. There is no experimental support for the Planckian violations of lorentz symmetry that Smolin and others argued should happen. Such preductions are wrong. And there are no other predictions. So what is the point of such a conference?

Eric said...

Koala,
May I jump in here in defense of Bee and the conference in general? I think you are obviously invoking a question of style and not of substance. Quantum gravity may be a bit of a trendy phrase, and that is why you object to it, but that does not mean that there is not real substance behind it.

You object to Lorentz violation and then act as if that is the only thing the conference is about. I actually have similar doubts about that particular area. But just looking at the abstracts of the talks tells me that there is a whole new area opening up in "quantum gravity" around asymptotic safety. This is new and is an exciting area because it represents a dual relationship between gravity and the strong force. It is particularly exciting because it represents new ideas about the ability of space to be deformed, expanded if you will, while simultaneously absorbing electromagnetic energy from
the vacuum. It really is the first rigorous attempt (at least in my view) to try to satisfy the requirements of a universe that is whole unto itself and that gets colder as it expands. It also hints that if space is deformable in this way with the emission or absorption of photons during the transition then there is finally hope of conserving the combined energy of matter and the vacuum energy as the universe evolves.

Eric said...

One more thing. It is certainly debatable whether asymptotic safety turns out as the the way forward in physics. But if it turns out to be true it suggests something fantastic and utterly amazing: it would imply that the universe started out as all vacuum energy and through a series of discrete steps will eventually become all matter. If conceptual beauty plays any role whatsoever in physics then one absolutely needs to pay attention to this new area of research.

Bee said...

Hi Koala,

You are judging the value of a research direction by looking at the titles of talks on a workshop webpage. I can't say I'm very impressed by the depth of your argumentation. The reason there's so much "quantum gravity" in the titles is probably that many of the researchers, from theory and experiment, also work on other things, so they might have found it relevant to point out how their work relates to the topic of the workshop. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

I wonder about the true meaning of all things.

QG could provide answers?

Anyway I take comfort from the fact that nothing is important...

Koala said...

Eric, a supporter of the conference, informs us that "It is particularly exciting because it represents new ideas about the ability of space to be deformed, expanded if you will, while simultaneously absorbing electromagnetic energy from the vacuum. It really is the first rigorous attempt (at least in my view) to try to satisfy the requirements of a universe that is whole unto itself and that gets colder as it expands. It also hints that if space is deformable in this way with the emission or absorption of photons during the transition then there is finally hope of conserving the combined energy of matter and the vacuum energy as the universe evolves."
This is meaningless drivel... Quite typical for such a "quantum gravity" enthusiast...i like how we are informed that the "universe is whole unto itself"... Wow, thats deep, man.

Bee, yes, some of the researchers know, in the back of their minds, that this is fringe/crackpot stuff, and they can only do it on the side, while working on other stuff to secure a job. There are also full time "quantum gravity" researchers with "quantum gravity" in the title. Either way, it highlights one if the many flaws in this area.

Also, I also pointed out that the only well known prediction of this stuff is the Lorentz violation, that has been disproven by observation of distant quasars, etc. So what other predictions are there? I see you failed to address this point.

Bee said...

Hi Koala,

I did not address your question simply because you appear to be very opinionated and strike me as the sort of person who will not take note of any information in conflict with their believes anyway. That is to say, even though I am probably wasting my time I wrote a summary paper for the previous conference. It's now two years out of date though. Anyway, besides departures from Lorentz invariance the most active area is cosmology, be that loop quantum cosmology, string cosmology, or other versions of quantum cosmology. Causal sets also don't violate Lorentz-invariance, at least not on the average. Besides this, your way of criticizing a research direction by insulting everybody who works on it is as dumb as disgusting. Best,

B.

Eric said...

Hi Bee,
Yes, it's best not to get too involved with trolls. To them any attention at all is good attention. Discussions then always seem to devolve into sarcasm and insults because one can't help but want to defend against the unmerited insults.

And besides that, what can you say to koala, who's first instinct is to throw out the first law of thermodynamics for the universe? Without that there can be no constraint on any physics theory nor any common ground.

Koala said...

As Eric points out, this conference's purpose is to discuss the First Law of Thermodynamics. A law that was established centuries earlier, and is completely understood by any sensible undergraduate physics student. But apparently there are entire groups of researchers out there, who can't understand this most basic of all principles, and need to set up conferences to discuss it. Wow...

Eric said...

It seems to me Koala that you are complaining about the speck in others eyes while ignoring the log in your own. Questions about the first law of thermodynamics were not raised by me, nor by Bee.

"Even at a string theory comference, you rarely find "string theory" as the title of people's talks, because there is real content to be discussed, you might see title's like "a dual description of qcd", i.e, real content."

Yet, at string theory conferences over the past 20 years the first law has been given up on in favor of the multiverse, and in quantum mechanics the many worlds principle. So your expert opinion is wrong that every undergraduate accepts the first law.

In fact, everyone who has bought into these myths, and I suspect you are one of them if you have such high regard for string theory conferences, is deriding the first law. I'm also sure you know that even if you don't agree with those myths that there are a large group of people, both undergraduates and so called experts, who do. So you, my friend, are a hypocrite or a fool to not believe the first law needs to be reemphasized and put back in priority in physics

Eric said...

So Koala, why don't you just confess that the conceptual frameworks you most admire completely diss the first law of thermodynamics. That would be much more admirable of you than pretending you actually believe in the first law. Maybe through that process you could "really" be honest with yourself instead of taking your inner conflicts out on me and others who actually understand those conceptual conflicts.

Koala said...

Wow, Eric thinks that quantum mechanics disproves the 1st law if thermodynamics, the conservation of energy. No Eric, that is wrong. And yes, any mediocre undergraduate undertands the 1st law, but you, and your fellow quantum gravity researchers, do not.
Thank you for proving my point.