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Subhash Khot’s prizewinning research

I already congratulated Subhash Khot in my last post for winning the Nevanlinna Award, but this really deserves a separate post.  Khot won theoretical computer science’s highest award largely for introducing and exploring the Unique Games Conjecture (UGC), which says (in one sentence) that a large number of the approximation problems that no one has been able to prove […]

Quantum Theory is Representation Theory

For a first slogan (see here for slogan zero) I’ve chosen: Quantum theory is representation theory. One aspect of what I’m referring to is explained in detail in chapter 14 of these notes. Whenever you have a classical phase space … Continue reading ?

It’s the Little Things…

Small observations of things that have struck me as weird during our UK stay to this point: – There is no alarm clock in our hotel room. – There are no drinking fountains in public spaces. – The travel-on-the-left thing would be easier if it were consistently applied. About one stairway in three asks people…

West Maroon Valley Wild Flowers

I promised two things in a previous post. One was the incomplete sketch I did of Crater lake and West Maroon Valley (not far from Aspen) that I started before the downpour began, last weekend. It is on the left (click to enlarge.) The...Show More Summary

LHC research, presented in tangible tidbits

Students working on their PhDs at the Large Hadron Collider explain their research with snacks, board games and Legos. Concepts in particle physics can be hard to visualize. But a series of videos on the US LHC YouTube channel endeavors...Show More Summary

Smashing Physics

I recently finally found a copy of Jon Butterworth’s Smashing Physics, which came out in the UK a few months ago, but still hasn’t made it to the US. As far as I know it’s the first book about the … Continue reading ?

Eureka! It’s a Talk!

Kate and I had a very nice time doing touristy things in Bath yesterday during the day– old church, very old hot spring, Georgian architecture– then went on to Bristol where I gave a talk on the forthcoming book, as you can see in the picture above. I would ordinarily include a SlideShare link to…

Is the P vs. NP problem ill-posed? (Answer: no.)

A couple days ago, a reader wrote to me to ask whether it’s possible that the solution to the P vs. NP problem is simply undefined—and that one should enlarge the space of possible answers using non-classical logics (the reader mentioned something called Catu?ko?i logic).  Since other people have emailed me with similar questions in […]

Outstanding in Their Fields…

In case you missed it, Maryam Mirzakhani has been awarded the Fields Medal! This is regarded as the most prestigious prize in mathematics. Here's a Guardian article covering it at a general level, and here is the page on all the award winners, with more detail on each, at the International Mathematical Union website. Show More Summary

Hello from London

I figured I probably ought to post something to let the wider world know we made it safely to London, and have been engaging in tourism. So, please take the above photo of St. Paul’s with a backdrop of the ominous dark clouds that have been chasing us around the city as proof of our…

2014 Fields Medals

I thought this wasn’t supposed to be announced until late this evening New York time, but the Fields Medal announcement is now online. The winners are: Artur Avial Manjul Bhargava Martin Hairer Maryam Mirzakhani Mirzakhani is the first woman to … Continue reading ?

Rare isotopes facility underway at Michigan State

In July 140 truckloads of concrete arrived at Michigan State University to begin construction of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams. Michigan State University’s campus will soon feature a powerful accelerator capable of producing particles...Show More Summary

X-ray bananas

This year's discoveries follow the well-known Kübler-Ross pattern: 1) announcement, 2) excitement, 3) debunking, 4) depression, 5) acceptance. While BICEP is approaching the end of the cycle, the sterile neutrino dark matter signal reported earlier this year is now entering stage 3. Show More Summary

Mountain Sketch

I went for a little hike on Sunday. Usually when I'm here visiting at the Aspen Center for Physics I go on several hikes, but this year it looks like I will only do one, and a moderate one at that. I had a bit of a foot injury several weeks ago, so don't want to put too much stress on it for a while. Show More Summary

What’s Hard to Understand is Classical Mechanics, Not Quantum Mechanics

For a zeroth slogan about quantum mechanics, I’ve chosen What’s hard to understand is classical mechanics, not quantum mechanics. The slogan is labeled by zero because it’s preliminary to what I’ve been writing about here. It explains why I don’t … Continue reading ?

Fall QM Course

This year I’ll be teaching a new version of the same course on quantum mechanics aimed at mathematicians that I taught during the 2012-3 academic year (there’s a web-page here). During the last course I started writing up notes, and … Continue reading ?

New game trades clicks for physics discoveries

A group of students at CERN have created a computer game that makes particle physics research as addictive as Candy Crush Saga. If you’re hearing an incessant clicking sound right now, someone around you has probably just discoveredShow More Summary

Perseids, Meet Supermoon!

So tonight (meaning the wee hours of Monday morning and the next few mornings, for optimum viewing - more civilised hours will work too, of course) the Perseid meteor shower will be on view! Have a look at this site (picked at random; there are many more) for more about how to view the meteors, in case you're not sure. Show More Summary

See You on the Other Side…

…of the Atlantic. After a few stress-inducing bits the less said about which the better, preparations are basically complete, and we’re heading out for London tonight. In the highly unlikely event that I haven’t done enough plugging of my appearances, here’s a compact list of where you’ll be able to find me if you happen…

Open access to the universe

A team of scientists generated a giant cosmic simulation—and now they're giving it away. A small team of astrophysicists and computer scientists have created some of the highest-resolution snapshots yet of a cyber version of our own cosmos. Show More Summary

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