Sunday, November 12, 2017

Away Note

I am overseas the coming week, giving a seminar at Perimeter Institute on Tuesday, a colloq in Toronto on Wednesday, and on Thursday I am scheduled to “make sense of mind-blowing physics” with Natalie Wolchover in New York. The latter event, I am told, has a live webcast starting at 6:30 pm Eastern, so dial in if you fancy seeing my new haircut. (Short again.)

Please be warned that things on this blog will go very slowly while I am away. On this occasion I want to remind you that I have comment moderation turned on. This means comments will not appear until I manually approve them. I usually check the queue at least once per day.

(The above image is the announcement for the New York event. Find the seven layout blunders.)


  1. New haircut? About time. Rhapsodize them!

  2. Welcome to our neck of the woods. Luckily the Arctic cold blast of the last few days has retreated, and you'll be greeted by more seasonal temperatures. Am especially looking forward to your live webcast with Natalie Wolchover from New York.

  3. As they say in showbuisness, when you want to wish someone "good luck" with a performance, *break a leg*. ☺

  4. bee:
    i watched the live webcast last night. you seemed to be almost as bored as i was, or were you just travel-weary? they must have expected someone would learn something from the 'conversation' but what? the moderator was absolutely useless. i hope they at least took you out for a good nyc meal afterwards.

  5. Richard,

    No, I was not bored, I actually thought it was interesting, though I found the format a little strange. The panel discussions that I am used to are somewhat more freely floating. In any case, I was really tired. (Still am.)

  6. What's it about? Is it you trying to save Quanta Magazine from its New Scientist-like and intellectually dishonest* addiction to "mind-blowing" (mostly by propagandizing psiontology rather than magic carpets)?

    * To New Scientist's credit it never sank to deleting critical comments.

  7. What's what about? Sorry, can't follow.

  8. A few days ago a friend of mines and I were discussing the LHC's failure to discover supersymmetric particles and the impact that it would have on string theory as a viable theory of everything. He claims that even though supersymmetry is discredited by the null results at the LHC, string theory is still sound, because it is still possible to have string theory without the supersymmetry. However, it seems to me that much of the foundations of modern day string theory (M-theory and the like) come from supersymmetry, and if supersymmetry is false, then it seems hard for string theory to not fall down like a house of cards. I don't know, what are your thoughts about this?

  9. @Jan Dybicz Mind-blowing geometry! Euclid excludes Great Circle geodesic paths upon Earth's surface. Parameterize! Elliptic geometry violates accepted theory (Euclid).

    Mind-blowing physics! Dark matter, baryogenesis, Tully-Fisher relation, non-classical gravitation, Chern-Simons repair of Einstein-Hilbert action, SUSY (proton decay versus Super-K). Postulated exact vacuum mirror symmetry may deviate 10^(-10) relative (Einstein-Cartan). 50 years' million pages of rigorous, elegant, beautiful, natural theory versus 90 days inside existing bench top apparatus. Falsification violates (empirically sterile) accepted theory.

    Defective postulates remain hidden when derivation excludes falsification.

  10. I attempted to watch the webcast live on Thursday, but my slow satellite connection caused the feed to be constantly interrupted with the spinning wheel as it attempted to load data. Early this Saturday morning I tried again, and was able to watch the first 38 minutes without interruption. I temporarily stopped watching, went out for a breakfast sandwich, and by the time I got home again the internet must have gotten busier, as the feed was once again sporadic. I'll finish watching tomorrow morning when the (regional) internet is slow, hopefully.

    I did get to the part where Natalie brings up a 2013 article she wrote in Quanta magazine on the Amplituhedron; a geometric construct in higher dimensional space that greatly simplifies calculating particle interaction probabilities. That made me wonder if particle physicists are routinely using this device to expedite particle interaction analysis nowadays.

  11. Hi Sabine,

    In the caption for the announcement of the New York event, you mentioned that there are 'seven layout blunders', and gave us the challenge of identifying all seven them. For the life of me, I can barely identify three, but no more. Is it possible that you could provide some 'hints' for finding all of them, or perhaps provide an 'answer key'?

    Thanks In Advance!

  12. Nick,

    Ah, that was mostly a joke meant to say this poster looks pretty terrible. But let me see 1) header has the wrong margins (doesn't fit with the rest) 2) header font is way too small. This is a poster, you should be able to read it from 20 yards away 3) Red shade is too dark or logo should have had text in white. The combination in the image is hard to read 4) photos don't seem to be vertically aligned 5) why is one photo in color and the other not? would have been easy enough to convert mine to b/w 6) Maybe it's my eyes, but I believe the red in the logo isn't the same red as in the background. I know I'm terrible. 7) The hand-script font for the diagonal strikes me as something to avoid. A simpler italic font might have done a better job.

    Ok, so I made it up to seven. Not that I know a lot about graphics design, so don't take this too seriously. What were your three points? Best,


  13. Find the seven layout blunders.

    At first I though they blundered by putting five blue dots around the red bubble and only four red dots around the blue bubble, but then I realized they were hinting that expectations of symmetry in nature may be unjustified.

  14. We are currently visiting open days at various schools since we are looking for new schools for the youngest two children (one is starting primary school next summer and the other is finishing primary school next summer (the two oldest children are grown)). One knock-out criterion is a PowerPoint presentation which has too much "cute" stuff and/or where it was obvious that someone had way too much time on their hands.

    Although he got it really wrong concerning the internet, I'm more or less with Cliff Stoll regarding the question whether computers belong in the classroom, so too much of this is also not a good idea. (Both Cliff and I have spent substantial fractions of our life at the computer and chew code for breakfast, so this is not some Luddite reaction.)

    Yes, visual presentation is sometimes necessary (I'm making a poster now myself), but if it's worth doing it's worth doing right.

  15. @Phillip Helbig

    What is the proper order of education versus knowledge? US President Johnson imposed the "Great Society" in 1965. Washington substituted social intent for empirical performance discrimination, especially in education. "Social promotion" replaced passing grades required for advancement, including creating teachers.

    The Khan academy allows any child to know anything, and then much more of it, without interference or bias. They can find themselves. Sabotage leviathan bureaucracies of the coercive state.

  16. i read a lot of Natalie Wolchover's articles on Livescience. after a wile you notice it's only a handful of people writing them. i definitely appreciate it and enjoy reading them.


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