Saturday, June 09, 2018

Video Trailer for "Lost in Math"

I’ve been told that one now does video trailers for books and so here’s me explaining what led me to write the book.


  1. Hey, that is a GREAT statement! (And it applies to SO MUCH in life, not just physics!)

  2. Nice to see you Dr. H! Perhaps I should produce a video trailer for my books?

  3. which university library was this filmed at? That library seems to have a very good collection

  4. I have a better explanation for all of the third-eye blinds being pulled. It's the modern phenomenon of "bullshit jobs," which Harry Braverman started talking about back in the 70s.

    David Graeber: "In the year 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that, by century's end, technology would have advanced sufficiently that countries like Great Britain or the United States would have achieved a 15-hour work week. There's every reason to believe he was right. In technological terms, we are quite capable of this. And yet it didn't happen. Instead, technology has been marshaled, if anything, to figure out ways to make us all work more. In order to achieve this, jobs have had to be created that are, effectively, pointless. Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it."

    Bob Black: "Only a small and diminishing fraction of work serves any useful purpose independent of the defense and reproduction of the work-system and its political and legal appendages. Twenty years ago, Paul and Percival Goodman estimated that just five percent of the work then being done — presumably the figure, if accurate, is lower now — would satisfy our minimal needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Theirs was only an educated guess but the main point is quite clear: directly or indirectly, most work serves the unproductive purposes of commerce or social control. Right off the bat we can liberate tens of millions of salesmen, soldiers, managers, cops, stockbrokers, clergymen, bankers, lawyers, teachers, landlords, security guards, ad-men and everyone who works for them. There is a snowball effect since every time you idle some bigshot you liberate his flunkeys and underlings also. Thus the economy implodes. Forty percent of the workforce are white-collar workers, most of whom have some of the most tedious and idiotic jobs ever concocted. Entire industries, insurance and banking and real estate for instance, consist of nothing but useless paper-shuffling. It is no accident that the 'tertiary sector,' the service sector, is growing while the 'secondary sector' (industry) stagnates and the 'primary sector' (agriculture) nearly disappears. Because work is unnecessary except to those whose power it secures, workers are shifted from relatively useful to relatively useless occupations as a measure to assure public order. Anything is better than nothing. That’s why you can’t go home just because you finish early. They want your time, enough of it to make you theirs, even if they have no use for most of it. Otherwise why hasn’t the average work week gone down by more than a few minutes in the past fifty years?"

    Tinker Bell, Peter Pan would rather be flying than collecting fiber bundles.

  5. "Nullius in verba" - the motto of the Royal Society, fully in line with what you re saying in your opening statement, and as you point out, somehow missing in action in modern science.

  6. Shantanu,

    It's the library at Stockholm University. We did the filming as I was visiting last month. The same place, btw, where I did this video :)

  7. Ah, sorry, I should have said more precisely it's the science library in the Alba Nova building at Stockholm University (they have other libraries of course).

  8. Since you hold his book in your hands here a quote that points a way out of groupthink:
    "The goal in inventing a new theory is to make this happen not by giving measurement any special status in the laws of physics, but as part of what in the post-quantum theory would be the ordinary processes of physics.” Steven Weinberg, 2017

  9. You made your point with grace and conciseness, dr.Hossenfelder.

  10. This club mentality leading to empire building is just not in physics as you say , but it is global. In engineering it is compulsory to be in a club. If you think differently , then you are shown the door. Is it due to neoliberalism of university research that club mentality has taken over? AS you say you for a physics conference, if one attends a conference in engineering all repeat the same thing. The pizza dough remains the same , only the toppings change like pizza.

    Science without religion is lame .... were first five words of Einsteins quote. He said without and not become, but now science has become like religion now. You have to among the faithfuls and stop questioning.

  11. Sabine, I totally agree with you. I have often thought of these ideas of following the leader or an ideology. I really believe that it is an evolution of society and civilization that in the long run is difficult to predict. Much of the time we act like a herd of wildebeests, other times like a pride of lions, and sometimes like the lone wolf. I think all of these behaviors are good instincts that serve the progress of civilization. Sometimes these this can get out of control and is why I think it is important to have many institutions and countries so no one philosophy can gain ultimate power.
    No one can predict when or how the philosophy of physics will change, but I really believe you are on the right track.
    I will buy your book.

  12. Great video. It perfectly describes my reaction when I had enough breathing room to look into the current state my favorite sciences, physics and anthropology, a decade or so ago.

    In physics, I was appalled to find that stuff was being made up to make the math work out. That's fine as a hypothesis, but the articles I was reading did not make that clear (and hence, thoroughly pissed me off) until I ran into Steinhardt (although his solutions I doubted) and later, your writings. Your guesses were clearly presented as such, which was much appreciated, and make more sense. My guess is that the universe literally sucks, so gravity must be involved somehow, plus Coulombs law and Newton's law of universal gravitation not matching up because of differences in how particle charges are perceived, i.e., anti-grav pushed far away).

    I also love music, so started researching the science behind that too. Why did I spend so much on music when I was struggling? I still do, but I can afford it now. But I had 3 very nice audio systems before I ever owned a dining table. What's up with that? My obsession with music is not unusual, although for me, it's severe.

    What anthropologists have to say about it is very odd. Or rather, just as odd as mainstream physicists are now.

    Circular reasoning (chicks love it, as if we aren't also human), coincidence (spandrels), or story telling (cheesecake theories

    I tell you this because I believe the problems are related. Not the solutions, mind you, just the problems.

  13. I love the German book title. It made me laugh. And it makes me want to read the book.


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