Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Das hässliche Universum [book & travel update]

[See below for travel update in English]

Ab heute ist die Deutsche Übersetzung von „Lost in Math“ in Handel erhältlich unter dem Titel „Das hässliche Universum: Warum unsere Suche nach Schönheit die Physik in die Sackgasse führt.“ Wegen Kommunikationsproblemen mit dem Verlag habe ich die Deutsche Übersetzung nicht im voraus gesehen; tatsächlich habe ich das Buch selbst erst am Freitag erhalten. Ich hab’s bisher auch nicht gelesen. Lasst mich doch bitte wissen, was drin steht.

Ich werde auch in den nächsten Monaten noch Vorträge zum Thema „Mist in der Physik“ geben, sowohl in Deutsch als auch in Englisch. In der ersten Oktoberwoche bin ich in New Jersey (3. Oktober) und in Richmond, Kentucky (4. Oktober). In der zweiten Oktoberwoche bin ich auf der Buchmesse. Am 7. November gebe ich einen Vortrag am Planetarium „Am Insulaner“ in Berlin (und zwar nicht über das Buch sondern über Dunkle Materie). Am 8. November rede ich in der Urania, dann wieder über mein Buch. Am 29. November bin ich an der Chapman University, Los Angeles, und am 10. Dezember in Kaiserslautern. 

Ausser der Deutschen Übersetzung wird es ausserdem Übersetzungen geben in Chinesisch, Japanisch, Spanisch, Französisch, Russisch, Koreanisch, Italienisch und Rumänisch.

On October 3rd I’m New Jersey at the Stevens Institute for Technology. I can’t recall sending either title or abstract, but evidently I’m speaking about “How Physics Went Wrong.” On October 4th I’m in Richmond, Kentucky, for a lecture and book signing.

The week after this I’m in Frankfurt on the International Book Fair. On November 7th I’m speaking at the Berlin observatory “Am Insulaner” about dark matter (not about the book!) and on November 8th I’m at the Urania in Berlin, back to speaking about the book. On November 29th I’m at Chapman University LA, on December 10th in Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Besides German, the book will also be translated to Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, French, Russian, Korean, and Romanian. The English audiobook is supposed to appear in December. The British, you guessed it, still haven’t bought the rights.

For updates, please follow me on twitter or facebook.


  1. Dear Sabine:
    I'm glad to know that your book will be translated in Spanish. For this translation, do you knok if your book will be sold in Spain only, or are there chances that the book will be sold in Latin America too. I'm from Argentina, that's why I'm asking.
    Best regards.

  2. "Ich werde auch in den nächsten Monaten noch Vorträge zum Thema „Mist in der Physik“ GEBEN..."

    Why is it so difficult to locate the dangling verb in German? In Mark Twain's hilarious 1880 essay "The Awful German Language," Twain notes that often the preceding sentence is so long that the verb is dropped altogether, requiring a kind of "sixth sense" for the reader to figure out what's going on.

    Seriously Sabine, I bought your book (English version) and enjoyed it immensely. Herzliche Glückwünsche!

  3. Impact! Engage shock brigades of exemplary labor to further the daily struggle!

    We observe 6.1×10^(-10) bias, hadrons less antihadrons versus photons (post-Big Bang hadronzation then Sakharov criteria). Measured gyromagnetic ratios of protons and antiprotons will diverge around the ninth decimal place. DOI:10.1038/nature24048,

    +2.7928473|50(9) proton
    −2.7928473|441(42) antiproton

    Given an extreme chiral divergent molecule at cryogenic rotational temperature still allowing a sharp low energy whole-molecule ungerade transition, analytical chemistry can measure what physical theory actively excludes. Popper goes the weasel.

  4. Congratulations !

    It was time Brian Cox got some serious competition ;-)

  5. Having grown up in Bergen County, New Jersey I recall that Stevens Institute of Technology was very highly regarded locally. It wasn't far from our home in Teaneck, being a few miles south of the Bergen County line in Hoboken, which is in Hudson County. Indeed, our late dad spent much of his career as a chemist working in Hoboken. A number of my High School classmates went to Stevens Institute.

  6. Guillermo,

    The contract is for the world rights in Spanish, not for Spain. But I don't know where it will actually be sold.

  7. Congratulations Sabine, I have just bought the English version

  8. Really liked the book, my take on it (in German) is here:

  9. Way to go. Excellent book that deserves a wide readership.

  10. Hello Ms. Hossenfelder,

    Purchasing your book, in hardcover! from a bookstore!! was a notable event for me. I can't say I understood a lot, but then that was your point, was it not?

    My interest is philosophical, particularly, how do we know what we know. This utterly basic question is rarely considered but piqued my interest sixty years ago when I was studying a very traditional form of philosophy. Despite taking a three credit course in epistimology, I found no answer to that question.

    And no question is more basic. How our knowledge comes to be knowledge, to be information enabling effective action, has to be solidly understood in order to know whether what we know is worth knowing.

    Only ten years or so ago did I find a satisfactory answer promoted by an obscure philosopher concerned with teaching mathematics, Ernst von Glaserfeld. He called it radical constructivism because it posits that all thoughts are necessarily constructs with no relationship to outside reality beyond our lifelong discovery of their usefulness at enabling our doing.

    We each construct an inner reality, unique to ourselves, on the basis of trial and error; bumps on the head, frowns from mom. Which means that communication is close to miraculous, strongly dependent on social adhesion and the social biases you wrote about. So the tendency to conformity goes deep.

    I believe this reinforces your conclusions in your book but also offers a foundational reference point for clearer dialogue. You acknowledge that in many places, but that is only you in your search for clarity. There is no generally established starting point articulating that what I think or say, is far more about the "I" than about what I am thinking or talking about.

    What I am urging is much more time and effort at identifying precisely to one another the terms we make use of; are they truly useful terms furthering the discourse, or are they tacit agreements to avoid such tedious, exacting effort?

    It doesn't sound like much fun, but crafting a definition with another reveals different ways of understanding that expands usefulness by approaching a bit closer to the incomprehensible complexity of any reality we might consider. Nobody ordered the universe to be within human comprehensibility, after all.

  11. Hi Martin,

    danke fuer den Review, hab ich irgendwie verpasst letzten Monat. Welche Begriffe hab ich denn am Anfang benutzt und nicht erklaert? Hab mir echt Muehe gegeben, dass das nicht passiert (und meine Editorin auch), das wuerde ich dann doch gerne wissen. Viele Gruesse,


  12. I habe Google Translate ferused:

    Starting today, the German translation of "Lost in Math" is available in stores under the title "The Ugly Universe: Why Our Search for Beauty Will Lead Physics into the Dead End." Due to communication issues with the publisher, I did not see the German translation in advance ; In fact, I did not receive the book until Friday. I have not read it yet. Please let me know what's in it.

    In the next few months I will also give lectures on the subject of "Mist in Physics", both in German and in English. In the first week of October, I'm in New Jersey (October 3) and Lexington, Kentucky (October 4). In the second week of October I'm at the book fair. On the 7th of November I give a lecture at the planetarium "Am Insulaner" in Berlin (not about the book but about dark matter). On the 8th of November I talk in the Urania, then again about my book. On November 29, I'm at Chapman University, Los Angeles, and on December 10, in Kaiserslautern.

  13. That's an amazingly good translation.

  14. Hallo Sabine
    Das war glaube ich irgendwo in Kap 2 und 3, ich muss aber gestehen, dass ich mich nicht mehr genau entsinne, welche Begriffe das waren, ist schon wieder ne Weile her, dass ich im Urlaub war.

  15. Started to read MartinB's above linked book review, but I quit immediately when he began to abuse the (german) female form of the noun 'physicist' as collective term for both, male and female physicists - and beyond started to offend people who dislike such drivel.

    I don't intend to read a genderpolitical manifest disguised as a book review!

    Notwithstanding I'm sure gonna buy and read the german version of Sabine's book (as soon as she has read and approved the german translation) because I estimate her work so much and will keep on to support her fresh and independent insights and opinions.

  16. "Mist in Physics"

    "That's an amazingly good translation."

    But not good enough. German "Mist" doesn't really have an exact translation in English. It can be manure, but also manure mixed with hay. Hence "ausmisten", literally to remove Mist from somewhere (what a farmer does with a pitchfork when not playing a supporting roll in The Rocky Horror Picture Show), means to clean something out, throwing stuff away one doesn't need, and so on. Metaphorically (the sense here), it means rubbish (in the metaphorical sense).

    English "mist", something between fog and drizzle, is Sprühregen. ("Fog" is "Nebel" and "drizzle" is "Nieseln".) If the liquid is not water but, say, stuff splattering up from a frying pan, then "Dunst".

  17. Ich wundere mich, was Brian Greene über dem Titel sagen würde haha

  18. "That's an amazingly good translation."

    Google Translate has improved recently in that its output is more correct grammatically and with regard to diction, i.e. it sounds like something a native speaker would say---but not always in that context. "Abnehmen" in German, literally "to pick up" or "to take off" can mean pick up the phone, or take the load off of someone, or lose weight ("take off the pounds"). Recently I read about an AI trying to translate German to French. There was a story about a man who for some reason couldn't pick up the phone when it rang. "Er konnte nicht abnehmen" became "il ne pouvait pas perdre du poids", i.e. "he couldn't lose weight", making it obvious that despite the improvements it was clear that there was no understanding, not even in the most basic sense, involved.

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  21. Perhaps when you are at Stevens Institute, you will talk to John Horgan, who teaches there. I have never met him, but I read his recent book, "Mind-Body Problems", and I found it fascinating.

  22. I hope you will post updates here.

    I avoid twitter and facebook. I've avoided the drama on social media for 20 years or so, since it was so appalling when I first got online.

    Since you're speaking at Eastern Kentucky University, it's in Richmond, KY, not Lexington, although Lexington is the nearest place with a major airport.

    Our mass transit in Kentucky is very poor. We once had trains connecting a lot of cities when I was a little girl (half a century ago), but they are gone now, thanks to the automobile industry's heavy influence.

    My husband and I plan to attend, so if you need assistance with transportation, please let me know.

  23. Liralen,

    Thanks, you are right of course, I've fixed that.

  24. I'd like to see you sum up & quote reviews/responses to your book, if they have real content. Just finished it & your suggestions for actions at the end is excellent.
    Idle Q: what new, plausible discovery could most help this situation?

    Gregory Benford

  25. Gregory,

    I have collected some reviews at this website. You can find reviews on amazon & goodreads.

  26. I note you're speaking at Chapman U Nov 29. Could come to UCI too?

  27. As I understand it observations of and experiments with physical properties of beauty always show that they cannot stand the test of time.

  28. The day before yesterday I was considering driving the 210 miles to Hoboken, New Jersey to listen to Sabine live at Stevens Institute, but decided against it. First, I was concerned about finding parking when I got there. Also, with 109,000 miles on my odometer, I didn't relish the thought of a breakdown enroute, particularly in the heavily congested region of northeast New Jersey. No doubt the talk will be available on Youtube at some point, or might already be there.

  29. Hi Sabine Great presentation at Stevens. Was wondering afterwards if you had any thoughts about malleability of 'local' scientific laws, not the theory change required to accommodate greater human understanding, e.g. the insufficiency of Newton's Law in some cases, but rather the idea (to get a bit wild) that Newton's law no longer works for the same cases in which it worked 1000 years ago, due to that same expansion in human knowledge, and a universal consciousness or whatever your favorite higher level entity reacted accordingly. Thus, the search for new theories based on Occam's razor, beauty, or other guiding principles could be part of a symbiotic relationship between the discoverer and the discovery.

    David Schroeder - my last name is Schreier, so I must have attended on your behalf but representing Essex County NJ. Another New Jersey attendee had a Waterloo shirt but it was for Waterloo NJ not U of Waterloo, Canada, where I was an undergrad and Sabine was a post-doc.

  30. @DaveS Was it difficult to find parking at Stevens when you got there? I looked at google Earth, and saw a number of parking areas, but it wasn't possible to tell if they might have been restricted to faculty, for example. I probably could have made it, as my previous car, also a Ford Focus, reached 235,000 miles, though I had some expensive repairs along the way. However, all my other cars had major problems by the time they got to the 100,000 mile mark, or thereabouts.

  31. @David Schroeder, I don't know - parked away from traffic, about 30 minutes walk from there

  32. @DaveS When I first learned that Sabine would be speaking at Stevens Institute in Hoboken, being an information-junkie, and having been there with my brothers to visit our dad's workplace as kids, I looked up the city on Wiki. It has a fascinating history, the city being developed by Colonel John Stevens, and after which the Institute is named. Colonel Stevens was an amazingly accomplished 18th to 19th Century individual, as an inventor, lawyer, engineer, and constructor of the first US steam locomotive.

    I lived for about a year in Essex County in the Branch Brook Park section of Newark, NJ, when I took over my twin brother's apartment there. He moved to Dallas, Texas after finding a position with an oil industry company. The cherry blossoms in Spring were spectacular in that neighborhood.

  33. Such a small world. Met a group of very nice, young people from Germany while descending a trail on Mt. Monadnock, in Jaffrey, New Hampshire. They were living and working for a year in America. Offhandedly, I asked if any of them ever heard of Sabine Hossenfelder. One of the young men chimed up that he did know her. They were from various parts of Germany, including Frankfurt, and spoke flawless English. Even tried out a few of the German words I knew, and they corrected me on my pronunciation. Had a short exchange about Dark Matter, knowing that Sabine will be discussing that topic in a few weeks in Berlin, Germany.

  34. I was asking in my local bookshop here in Australia and no distributors seemed to have picked it up here, either. :-( Is there anything as a potential customer I can do to encourage its uptake here and not buying it from the US?

    -David Michael Roberts

  35. Unknown,

    The existing English version is published and printed in the US. So the only difference it makes is that either you ship it from overseas or the bookstore has it shipped. Basic Books holds the rights for the US and Canada, so, presumably, if there was a publisher in Australia who was interested, they could ask to buy the rights. It seems rather unlikely though because there will be so little demand it's easier to import those.

  36. Ihr Buch auf deutsch
    Ich hab's gelesen und bin sehr begeistert, die Lektüre war ein grosses Vergnügen! Obwohl ich von Physik so wenig Ahnung habe, dass es für einen Physiker wohl nur schwer vorstellbar ist, ein Schulfach, das in der Mittelstufe vor ca 40 Jahren auftauchte und nahezu spurlos verschwand ( unser Physiklehrer gab allen Mädchen eine 2, ohne explizite Begründung soweit ich erinnere, aber ich schätze, seine Einstellung deckte sich in etwa mit der Ihrer Friseurin). Ich würde mich freuen, wenn Sie auf Ihrem Blog weiterhin über Ihre Vortragstermine informieren, ich würde es andernfalls verpassen, weil ich weder bei facebook sein möchte noch bei twitter angemeldet bin.


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