Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This and That

Christmas is coming closer, daylight is getting less and less, but except for one day in October we still haven't seen snow here in Waterloo. For once it seems I'm on the better side of climate change. What's interesting today:
  • My ficus died. Please send condolence cards directly to the Composting Council of Canada.

  • Wired has an article about the LHC: Subatomic Inferno Under the Alps

  • The December Issue of Phyiscs Today has reviews of Peter Woit's and Lee Smolin's books. The reviews aren't exactly nice, but kind of interesting and different from other reviews I've read so far. The author, Kannan Jagannathan, roughly says all this talk about the so-called-crisis is on weak feet, and The End of Physics is nowhere near by. He ends with the sentence 'Smolin and Woit appear to think that it is time to cut the short-term benefit of the doubt for string theory, but many other physicists might be willing to let a little more time pass before rendering judgement.' I agree on most of the criticisms Jagannathan raises, but I think that he's shaking off the raised concerns in both books too easily.

  • If you still have doubts that Waterloo, Ontario is the place-to-be, let me mention that the construction area on King Street has eventually turned into the Waterloo Town Square. This doesn't only mean that PI has now a Starbucks withing 3 minutes walk (or a 10 minutes drive respectively, because you don't get out of the parking lot), but also the largest LCBO in Southwestern Ontario (that LCBO being the place where you're supposed to buy liquor).

    "TORONTO, Oct. 24 /CNW/ - With popping corks and toasts with Ontario sparkling wine, the LCBO today officially opened its new Waterloo Town Square store at 115 King Street North in Waterloo. The new 16,633 square foot store is the largest LCBO outlet in Southwestern Ontario [...]" >>read more

    For some photos, see here.

  • The German magazine 'Der Spiegel' has an article titled 'Weltall aus Musik' (Universe made of music). Which briefly mentions Lee Smolin's and Peter Woit's books, but mostly makes fun out of the string theory landscape. That fun being on an elementary school level of the form:

    "In a faraway Cosmos, there live intelligent Dampfnudeln [a bakery]. They can travel almost as fast as light. For this they use the recoil of improved pressure cookers. [...]"

    The article cites Wolfgang Lerche saying "A deep gap is dividing particle physics. String theory is forced onto the defensive.". Besides this, the article hardly contains any interesting information.

  • Last week, V. Mukhanov gave a very nice colloquium about inflation which is now online:

    Inflation after WMAP (Windows Media , Macromedia Flash , MP3 Audio , PDF)
    Speaker(s): V Mukhanov
    Date: 23/11/2006 - 11:00 am

    If you are looking for an easy to follow introduction, I can recommend the talk. It is also quite entertaining.

  • If you want to see a cosmologist getting upset about inflation, look at this video.

  • Yesterday I stumbled across this interesting paper:

    Quantitative Analysis of the Publishing Landscape in High-Energy Physics
    Authors: Salvatore Mele, David Dallman, Jens Vigen, Joanne Yeomans

    Abstract: World-wide collaboration in high-energy physics (HEP) is a tradition which dates back several decades, with scientific publications mostly coauthored by scientists from different countries. This coauthorship phenomenon makes it difficult to identify precisely the ``share'' of each country in HEP scientific production. One year's worth of HEP scientific articles published in peer-reviewed journals is analysed and their authors are uniquely assigned to countries. This method allows the first correct estimation on a ``pro rata'' basis of the share of HEP scientific publishing among several countries and institutions. The results provide an interesting insight into the geographical collaborative patterns of the HEP community. The HEP publishing landscape is further analysed to provide information on the journals favoured by the HEP community and on the geographical variation of their author bases. These results provide quantitative input to the ongoing debate on the possible transition of HEP publishing to an Open Access model.

  • And finally, if you enjoyed the Rube-Goldberg machine made out of Honda parts, you might also like this video. I think, I finally found a purpose for all my CD's that are catching dust since iPod.


  1. Hi Leucipio,

    yeah, making wine out of applejuice is a very common thing in the region of Germany where I was born (Hessen). My mother used to make applewine in the basement... I recall that we were strongly advised not to go down the stairs alone. There are lots of stories about people who suffocated, because the fermentation produces CO_2 which fills up the rooms from the bottom. (If you're home alone, take the Canary with you).

    But I'm afraid I'm a lover of good wine, and I wouldn't want to give that up for the sake of science ;-)



  2. Ummm...I was thinking that maybe you or Stefan might go into some explanation here about Stanley Mandelstam if you ever have time?

    “The Trouble With Physics,” by Lee Smolin, Index page 382, Mandelstam, Stanley, and string theory finiteness, pages 117,187, 278-79, 280, 281, 367n14,15

    I just noticed in your side bar the topic of "Finite Imagination" and I'll have to have a look. The word "Finite" is hanging in my mind this morning.

  3. A new contender for Silly Titles:

    "Children's Drawings From Seiberg-Witten Curves", hep-th/0611082

    Actually very serious, the title is the fault of Grothendieck who introduced the name 'desseins d'enfants' for something to do with the Riemann sphere...


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