The Dao of Grothendieck

I remember back when I was in high school and came across lists of the greatest mathematicians ever. They almost always included Archimedes, Newton and Gauss. Sometimes Euler made it in. I knew who these guys were, but every once in a while, there was this guy I had never heard of, Alexander Grothendieck. I […]

What is String Theory?

The title of this post is a famous question (posed, for example, by Joe Polchinski) which is modeled after an even more famous question by Ken Wilson, “What is Quantum Field Theory?”. I certainly can’t answer the first question, but Wilson’s question now does have a widely agreed upon answer (which is sadly not well […]

Turn Around

For those of you willing to stay up late, there will be a total eclipse of the moon on August 28 visible to various extents over most of the western hemisphere and some of east Asia. The show is a little late for me (some might call it early) as I’m on the east coast […]

Maldacena on the Beach

As I mentioned earlier, I’m currently attending the Simons Workshop in Mathematics and Physics at Stony Brook University. The weather finally warmed up today, and we relocated to Smith Point Beach to hear Juan Maldacena tell us a bit about AdS/CFT and gluon scattering. If you’re looking for a precis of the talk, I’m afraid […]

Alone in the Multiverse

The LHC is coming, and it’s time to place your bets. What do you do? (Fun though it may be, shooting the hostage doesn’t really help here.) We’re committed Bayesians (for the sake of this post, at least), and we want to assign a probability that the LHC will see supersymmetry. More generally, we have […]

New York in August

I’m here at the Simons Workshop at Stony Brook out on Long Island. I’d like to talk a bit about the workshop later, but right now I just want to note that it is 56 degrees out. In New York. In the middle of August. Thunderstorms I’d understand, but cold, dreary drizzle? It’s August, not […]