Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Away Note

I will be away for a week to attend SciFoo 2019. Please expect blogging to be sparse and comments to be stuck in the queue longer than usual.


  1. Sabine, if you have a window seat on the way from Germany to California for the SciFoo conference in Mountain View, you might want to keep an eye out for UFO's. Pilots periodically report unusual aerial phenomena. Back in 2004 Navy FA-18 pilots reported a 40 foot long "tic-tac" shaped object about 100 miles southwest of San Diego, which accelerated away from their aircraft at a blistering rate, after they sighted it hovering just above the ocean. In 2006, pilots and ground crew at O'hare in Chicago reported a disc shaped object hovering above terminal C, which shot straight up, punching a hole in the clouds. Have fun at the conference!

  2. Hi Sabine,

    I hope everything has gone well for you at SciFoo 2019, and that you've made a lot of good connections with people of like minded interests and perspectives.

    Anyway, I'm writing to alert you to an article, that appeared earlier today in Forbes by Chad Orzel, titled

    The Crisis In Theoretical Particle Physics Is Not A Moral Imperative

    I feel that some of the things that Chad says are not an accurate reflection of your true argument against the research motivations of certain aspects of current physics, and look forward to any rebuttal that you may provide.

    All the Best!

  3. According to my limitrd understanding Chad is wrong when he argues that Sabine is against beauty in physics per se. She argues that beauty is a weak guiding star,
    for providing direction, and moreover that sometimes the taste for certain beauty is a construct that follows consensus.

  4. I believe that symmetry has had its day in the Sun. Physics has exploited symmetry for all that it is worth and now it is a completely dry hole. But I also believe that dualism the kissing cousin of symmetry has got some more insights to give to science. The dualism between superconductivity, black holes, and Bose condensates could unearth some new paths forward for science.

  5. From my point of view the symmetry in physics does not really have anything to do with beauty. It is more about the eternal struggle with religion. Without symmetry the phenomena need a support from another side. Where should this come from? From God? Or the scientists find the anti-phenomena, which would provide for the balance. Otherwise the non-belief in God remains a matter of faith.

  6. How about instead of symmetry, a focus on simplicity? As in figuring out what is the most information-compact theory that predicts all experimentally repeatable phenomena? That to me would be real beauty.

  7. Dr. H,
    Creation of a seed which developes into an original, testable theory seems to me a kind of magic.
    Any process to maximize probility of such creation will probably be subjective, hence moot.
    A generalized process for clearly demonstrating significance of experimental results might be almost as important as one creating the seed. Practically, it might rely more on logic than black art, and possibly be more fun.
    A host of lessons along these lines were presented when Roentgen first demonstrated the "X Ray".
    An engineer, I have sometimes dreamt of that moment.

  8. Hi Sabine!
    I echo the comments hoping that you had a great time at the SciFoo conference (what an interesting name!). A week or so ago, I left a couple of comments on a post you wrote back in May (about Free Will). I haven't seen them appear, but I figured it is just due to the backlog of comments. I made sure to follow all of the guidelines, so I hope they are acceptable.

    Thanks again!

  9. When I first saw this post two weeks ago I was curious about the origin of the name "SciFoo". As someone long interested in the UFO subject I was well aware of the term "Foo fighters"; reports of strange, glowing objects seen by both Allied and Axis pilots in WW2. But that didn't make any sense as the conference had nothing to do with UFO's. A check with Wiki revealed the acronym "Foo" was short for "Friends of O' Reilly", O' Reilly Media being the organizer of these conferences.


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