"So string theory is certainly among the directions that deserve more investigation. But should it continue to be regarded as the dominant paradigm of theoretical physics ? Should most of the resources aimed at the solution of the key problems in theoretical physics continue to support research in string theory ? Should other approaches continue to be starved in favor of string theory ? Should only string theorists be eligible for the most prestigious jobs and research fellowships, as is now the case ? I think the answer to all these questions must be no. String theory has not been successful enough on any level to justify putting nearly all our eggs in its basket".

Lee Smolin, "The Trouble With Physics"
Uli Baur

Uli Baur

Nov 30 2010 | 1 comment(s)

I was quite saddened today to hear the bad news that Uli Baur passed away prematurely yesterday. Uli was a professor of physics at the University at Buffalo, and his research interests focused on electroweak phenomenology. I knew Uli as I worked with him in a workshop at Fermilab, when we tried to determine the Run II potential of the Tevatron in the physics of weak bosons. He was a brilliant theorist, known for his good manners and charm. He was also a CMS collaborator (although I did not know that! We are simply too many in these large collaborations...)
Physics hunts for the ultimate theory; at least that is what the media and people like L. Susskind and M. Tegmark tell us incessantly what physics is all about (god particle, ultimate string theory landscape, ultimate ensemble, and all that). If you are after the ultimate theory, Smolin
The time is now. If you are going to fantasize about the possibilities of an extended Tevatron running and how likely it is that your favourite physics model may be tested by CDF and DZERO, you are advised to get in the game.
"I learned the stopping-rule principle from Professor Barnard in conversation in the summer of 1952. Frankly, I then thought it a scandal that anyone in the profession could advance an idea so patently wrong, even as today I can scarcely believe that some people resent an idea so patently right."

L.J. Savage
Effect of embedding Fe3O4 nanoparticles in silica spheres on the optical transmission properties of three-dimensional magnetic photonic crystals
I am very happy to report here (after having done the same on my Greek blog first, for a change) that the "Max Planck" medal for 2011 has been assigned to Giorgio Parisi, a distinguished Italian theoretical physicist. I first got the welcome news from Facebook, thanks to my e-friendship with Parisi.
In another thread on Science 2.0 we got onto the nature of existence and what we can say for certain about the universe (if anything).  Given that physics and math seem so intimately linked in practice, I often wonder if this link is "real".  In other words:
Do numbers and other mathematical entities actually exist, or are they made up by the human mind?
At the Edge you can find a rather interesting discussion between Lee Smolin and Leonard Susskind, involving all the stuff I try to demystify often.

They fought via email, then agreed to each write a final letter on the edge. And today you can read the final judgment right here at the source from somebody who is little prejudiced by his own hidden agenda, which is by the way one of the main charges that Susskind

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A really interesting piece of news comes from the CERN laboratory today. The CMS experiment has detected a handful of Z boson decays in events featuring the collision between heavy ions, accelerated to energies of hundreds of GeV per nucleon.