Discover a new way to find and share stories you'll love… Learn about Reading Desk

All Blogs / Academics / Physics / Popular


Coral Forest

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

Given that you read here at this blog, you may well like to keep your boundaries between art and science nicely blurred, in which case you might like to learn more about the coral reef forests made of crochet spearheaded by Margaret and Christine Wertheim. Show More Summary

Pubs in London

While I kill time waiting for it to be a reasonable time to call Kate and the kids back in the US, a list of most of the pubs I’ve visited during this trip to London. Because why not? In more or less chronological order: The Victoria in Lancaster Gate. Or maybe Paddington, going from…

Making and Baking….

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

Back in LA, I had an amusing day the other day going from this in the TV studio... involving a laser and liquid nitrogen (so, around -320 F, if you must use those units), to this in the kitchen: involving butter, flour, water and shortening... (and once in the oven, around +350 F) which ultimately resulted in this: [...] Click to continue reading this post ?

Throwback Thursday

OK, the photo above is a recent picture of me– yesterday, in fact. But the spiral-carved rock I’m standing next to was carved that way a bit more than five thousand years ago, so that ought to count as a throwback… We’ve been in Dublin the last few days, and on Thursday we took a…

LHC physicist takes on new type of collisions

A former Large Hadron Collider researcher brings his knowledge of high-energy collisions to a new EA SPORTS NHL hockey game. After years of particle physics research—first for the D0 experiment at Fermilab near Chicago and later for the ATLAS experiment at CERN near Geneva—Michele Petteni faced a dilemma. Show More Summary

Nature is Fundamentally Conformally Invariant

For a third slogan I’ve chosen: Nature is fundamentally conformally invariant. Note the weasel-word “fundamentally”. We know that nature is not conformally invariant, but the kind of thing I have in mind is pure QCD, where the underlying classical theory … Continue reading ?

Grand Unification of Mathematics and Physics

For a second slogan about quantum mechanics I’ve chosen: Quantum mechanics is evidence of a grand unification of mathematics and physics I’m not sure whether this slogan is likely to annoy physicists or mathematicians more, but in any case Edward … Continue reading ?

A whole-Earth approach

Ecologist John Harte applies principles from his former life as a physicist to his work trying to save the planet. Each summer for the past 25 years, ecologist John Harte has spent his mornings in a meadow on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Show More Summary

Dark Energy Survey kicks off second season

In September, DES will make data collected in its first season freely available to researchers. On August 15, with its successful first season behind it, the Dark Energy Survey collaboration began its second year of mapping the southern sky in unprecedented detail. Show More Summary

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

2 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

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…

3 months agoAcademics / Physics : Asymptotia

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 ?

Copyright © 2011 Regator, LLC