Archive for May, 2009

Today I received a purported message from the American Physical Society. It was an html page with claims like these:

Not necessaries more experiments, theories and models about the particle and atomic world, because now exists the very simple and real physics of these!

As Moshe would say, this is a typical crackpot comment. However, it goes much further than usual:

We state positively that her paper is the giant revolution of the physics science. We wish with this mail to suggest Prof. Gabor Fekete for Nobel Prize.

Afterward it suggests that I exert pressure on the Royal Sweedish Academy of Sciences to that effect.

Looking at the headers, the e-mail was sent from Hungary. It also has quite a few names of physicists in the top of the advert. It even insinuates that the Nobel prize winners in Physics of last year are endorsing this. The APS would never send a message like this, especially not with such a ridiculously bad English grammar.

I definitely think this breaks the mold and should not be tolerated. Hence, a post with full name and an explicit claim that this is spam and crackpot physics.

PS. If your name is on the header of this advert and you are not a party to endorsing this sending, I suggest that you protest heavily the use of your name in association with this mail.

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That was the phrase uttered to me earlier today when someone realized she had called the elevator from the second floor, in order to take a ride to the first floor in my building. I had not said anything, not given a weird look. It’s the first time someone apologizes to me like that for calling the elevator. I’m trying to decide if it is because she thought they had made me loose three to five seconds, or because she thought that energy conservation was at stake.

I’ll let the audience of the blog decide on when it is actually proper to call an elevator for a one flight ride. I find that the answer in general seems to be very dependent on the country of origin of the individual.

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In case you were fretting today about the future of CMB astronomy, it seems the two satellites made it to space ok earlier today.

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Today on the arxiv Oswaldo Zapata wrote an essay on issues about fact and belief systems in superstring theory. Naturally, Peter Woit decided that this was really important and wrote a whole article about it. Here I will collect a few recollections that serve as a rebuttal/complement to some of those discussions. Mostly, I feel implicated by some of this discussion since at least one of my works (together with Juan Maldacena and Horatiu Nastase) is mentioned as changing the history of an idea from belief to fact.

The whole issue is to quantify the following statement: the AdS/CFT correspondence is a true fact.


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Santa Barbara Fire

Unless you have been sleeping under a rock, if you live in the Santa Barbara area you might have noticed the Jesusita fire. Many people I know have already been evacuated from their houses, and the view of the fire from my house last night was rather impressive. I was hiking in the affected areas just two weekends ago. When I was there, the grasses were tall and the brush was rather dry. With the very high winds and hot temperatures of the last two days, it is not surprising that the fire has been out of control. It is rather frightening how bad it is instead.

While I was surfing for information about it today I ended up in some Blog agregator site that sent me straight to a ‘you have a virus mock up scan’.

In the interest of depriving some of the traffic for those sites, I thought I would connect you to the official site for information:

The Santa Barbara city safety website

Another very useful place to collect information is the Santa Barbara Independent.

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Bad cookie theory.

I have a theory on why cookies at various academic department sponsored events tend to be low quality in general, but not completely inedible. 

If the cookies are very good, the first few people who arrive at the event have a feast of cookies, and there are only a few crumbs left for the rest. To compensate, the event needs to have many more cookies and word gets out, so that in the end it costs too much to keep the quality up.

If the cookies are too bad, nobody shows up and you end up with no attendees to the event. Or if people show up, it becomes a matter of nature to have complains on the quality of the cookies, with ensuing food fights and/or bad joke contests.

The happy medium are cookies that are good enough to be an incentive to students who go for the free food, but bad enough so that nobody really wants to eat more than their share. I’m sure this general lesson applies to a lot of other social activities. 

I have a lot of circumstantial evidence supporting my case.

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I just finished a quick primer for my class on Advanced QFT on Representations of Lie algebras and useful facts about them. Here is a link to the lecture notes. It’s a hands on approach with no proofs, but at least it makes various concepts a little bit more accessible and can serve for a quick reminder of basic stuff like what is a Dynkin diagram and labels of various representations. The notes cover mostly  SU(N), but various concepts are quite general.


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