December 27, 2005

Susskind's book on Cosmic Landscape

I read Leonard Susskind's book The Cosmic Landscape String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design. The book has triggered a lot of discussion and interviews in the blogosphere: Peter Woit, Lubos Motl (find title "Distasteful Universe and Rube Goldberg machines"), and Gerard 't Hooft. Many more here. As a slow writer I have little to add to these writings by the top guys. In six words: I would agree best with 't Hooft.

Yesterday there was at the arXiv a talk WaveFunction of the Universe on the Landscape, given last summer, by Laura Mersini-Houghton: Quoting from her Discussion Section: "We are still at a very preliminary level of understanding the underlying picture, therefore it may be early to anticipate whether the selection criterion for our universe will be postulated or derived by our physical theories. The purpose of the proposal discussed here is to offer a selection criterion for the landscape vacua which is derived from the dynamics of the wavefunction of the universe propagating on the landscape background."

After the reasonably good first two thirds but rather lengthy last third of Susskind's book I found it refreshing and encouraging to read Mersini-Houghton's paper.

December 12, 2005

December 12

Just a few quotes from recent weeks' blogosphere.

Peter Woit:
Weinberg Goes Anthropic
November 4th, 2005

The Cosmic Landscape
December 7th, 2005
Susskind’s new book, The Cosmic Landscape: String Theory and the Illusion of Intelligent Design is now out.

David Gross Admits String Theory is in Trouble
December 9th, 2005

Jacques Distler:
Exotic Instanton Effects
December 09, 2005

I’ve been reading the recent Beasley-Witten paper on (new) instanton effects in string theory.

Lubos Motl:
Utter confusion
December 09, 2005

David Gross has not only organized the prestigious Solvay conference but he also summarized it by the following words published in one article and second article in New Scientist:
  • We don't know what we're talking about
  • We are much like the physicists in 1911 who did not understand radioactivity
  • We are missing perhaps something as profound as they were back then
  • The field is in a period of utter confusion
Peter Woit:
Wilczek Goes Anthropic
December 12th, 2005

December 01, 2005

December 1

A paper Dimensionless constants, cosmology and other dark matters by Max Tegmark, Anthony Aguirre, Martin Rees & Frank Wilczek  came out today, conveniently on the day of Beyond Einstein webcast, telling where we stand now in particle physics and cosmology. Rather than to try to summarize this excellent paper, which just has to be read, I give a quote from the conclusions: “…suggesting that nature must be devised so as to make mathematical physicists happy.”