Thursday, June 11, 2009

This and That

Some photos from the SUSY 2009 conference are online now, you can find them here. Here is one that caught me at the reception first day. And just in case, I'm the second from the left. Please don't ask me who these people are coz my brain has a black hole where other people store names.

Some more photos that I made, here's Boston

And here's the Curry Student Center at Northeastern University, the building where the parallel sessions took place, as well as some folks in the coffee break and the audience of the public lecture

I'm not on the group photo for no other reason than that I didn't know when it would be made.

Some other things:

  • Lee Smolin wrote a piece for PhysicsWorld titled "The Unique Universe". I don't know what to make out of it, so I'll restrain from commenting.

  • Martin Fenner asks Why do we go to conferences.

  • For quite convoluted reasons I found this article about Perimeter Institute in the Google cache. It's hilarious. I have the uncanny feeling somebody might be quiet unhappy I digged it out, but I can't resist sharing it. Let me quote you some lines
    Faced with [Laurent] Freidel’s delirious state of distraction, his wife reportedly pleaded with a colleague: “Can’t you do something? He’s going insane.” [...]

    Markopoulou-Kalamara is the only female faculty member at Perimeter. She makes efforts to tone down her exuberant European elegance to match the company she keeps—that is, variously aggressive, cavalier and nerdy male physicists. One of them, her husband Olaf Dreyer, had recently experienced an eureka moment. “He thinks he’s found the solution to quantum gravity,” she says. “He’s flipping out.” [...]

    Every physicist at Perimeter has free use of a BlackBerry, though, as Smolin laments, “the phone bill isn’t covered.” [...]

    Bilson-Thompson, 33, is a playful scientist who wears a perennial pony-tail and fleece [...] The Perimeter Institute, he says, encourages the same adventuresome pursuit of knowledge with a simple laissez-faire formula: “Take scientists, put them in a box and say, ‘OK you boffins, do your thing.’” [...]

    Physicists are forever thinking they’ve “got it,” Markopoulou-Kalamara says. Or they are tormented because they don’t. This is the physicist’s bipolar yo-yo of euphoria and despair. “We need to have a psychiatrist in residence,” she says. “Somebody is always in a state of crisis over something.” [...]

    As for Smolin, he said “Hello” when Susskind arrived for his visit at Perimeter in March, but got a tepid response. “It was in a tone that gave me the impression he had no interest in speaking to me,” he says.

    Says Susskind, “I spend every day having lots of interesting conversations.” [...]

    See what fun it is to be a theoretical physicist?


  1. If nothing exists or is true outside of time, then this is all wrong. However, if mathematics is not the description of a different timeless realm of reality, what is it? What are the theorems of mathematics about if numbers, formulas and curves do not exist outside of our world? This leads Unger and me to a new view on mathematics that can be summarized in a fourth principle. Lee Smolin

    Oh I see, if you can't beat them join them?:)

    4. Mathematics is derived from experience as a generalization of observed regularities when time and particularity are removed.

    Lee's got it all wrong.:) It not ever apart from and is always inclusive. This abstraction(mathematics) is part of a intellectual "sphere of thinking," which exists part and parcel. However fine this abstraction is, it cannot be removed from time being as part of the essence of pattern discernment.

    As to Susskind's reception, maybe he's harboring feelings of resentment toward the book the Trouble with Physics?:)


  2. Well, I suppose as Plato you have to say that ;-)

    As to Susskind's reception, yes, maybe.

  3. Dear Bee,

    thanks for sharing the photos of the conference :-)... and I have spotted you in one more photo taken during the public lecture, I hope you don't mind the link...

    Cheers, Stefan

  4. The gentleman rightmost in the photo is
    d'Artagnan of course.
    (Just to help You because of that black hole)
    (alias Aramis)

  5. Nice photo. It looks like the four of you could have starred in the classical "The Revenge of the nerds".

    That was a joke.

  6. Bee:Well, I suppose as Plato you have to say that

    I am not sure what Lee has Against Symmetry? It's like he's always trying to run from me?:)


  7. From the cache, "There is a subtle pressure—you should be calculating" You should be observing,
    Superb hardware repeatedly loaded with unconscionable crap.

    Do the world lines of a pair of shoes immersed in a gravitational field depend on structure? Do single crystals of enantiomorphic space groups P3(1)21 and P3(2)21 quartz violate the Equivalence Principle? Use enantiomorphic space groups P3(1) and P3(2) gamma-glycine if you want 37% denser atom packing.

    If there is a massed sector EP parity violation, there's your problem. As we say in industry, KISS.

  8. There is a German song called 'Rebell' which means - as you can guess - 'rebel'. The chorus goes like this "I am against it, no matter what it is."

  9. Pope Maledict XVI9:36 PM, June 11, 2009

    Bee said: "I don't know what to make out of it, so I'll restrain from commenting."

    What a strange policy. I thought that blogs were intended precisely for people to comment on things they don't understand. That's how it works for [insert name here].


  10. Please don't ask me who these people are coz my brain has a black hole where other people store names.

    So if you remember a name is it a case of how information gets out of a black hole? :)

    I'm very poor at remembering names too unless the person looks like how I imagine a character from a novel.

  11. Hi Bee,

    It certainly looks like a nice setting for a conference. I also very much enjoyed your little exposing piece on the life a physicist. In particular I enjoyed Bilson-Thompson’s comment “Take scientists, put them in a box and say, ‘OK you boffins, do your thing.” I always imagined this is as being what amounts as both the challenge and frustration of what you do; that is although you work and meet in boxes you are expected to be able to imagine beyond them. The problem being of course is one still has to consider the box as a constraining necessity :-) Also I confess although only having the pleasure to meet the author of this observation once that it sums up my initial impression of him so completely.



  12. The PI article is kind of hilarious :) Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. Special thanks for answering my last comment in the discussion of the Networks post.

  13. Sorry for the typo, I meant "indeed kind of hilarious" :)


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