The state of physics

March 13, 2006 at 9:29 am | Posted in Math / Physics | 6 Comments

John Baez posted the slides from a talk he gave in Marseille on “Fundamental physics: Where we stand today.” It’s a great high-level summary of the situation, especially in listing the most glaring unsolved mysteries and unexplained observations.

Meanwhile, his latest “This Week’s Finds” is an incredible mish mash of astronomy, category theory and logic…every time I read his stuff I’m simultaneously inspired and panicked: so much amazing stuff to learn, and so little time…

Math art

January 19, 2006 at 8:35 pm | Posted in Math / Physics | Leave a comment

Geometrically inspired sculptures, via John Baez.

Jim Simons funds RHIC

January 16, 2006 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Math / Physics, Political Economy | Leave a comment

Via Peter Woit. Simons (of Chern-Simons fame) is an amazing story alone, mathematicians branching out successfully into commercial endeavors aren’t all that common; and his funds are more than successful, they look to be as wrapped up in the world economy as LTCM (more via Steve Hsu).

RHIC needing a billionaire to bail it out financially is pretty sad, though; such a small amount of money in such a huge budget…but even more, it makes clear that basic research and particularly physics has such a lack of mindshare with those with political clout. I think this might be at least one reason behind the unusually strong focus on string theory in the US: quite apart from any scientific issues, without a highly visible and unified effort that can capture the imaginations of voters or at least policymakers, institutional funding for theoretical physics seems to be shaky at best.

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