The Multiverse: An Apology

When Chad first asked me to guest blog here, my first response was that I didn’t have anything to say. After a little thought, however, it occurred to me that this would be an opportunity to do a little exposition. Unfortunately, my research area is quite a bit on the esoteric side, so I had to look elsewhere for possibilities. Thus, the “ask a string theorist” post below. But, the next thing that occurred to me was to talk about multiple universes.
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Best. Movie. Line. Ever.

Over at Andrew Sullivan’s place, he’s been presenting candidates for best movie line ever. Since I seem to have control of a blog of my very own, I’d like to present my nomination:

Holly Gennero McClane: After all your posturing, all your speeches, you’re nothing but a common thief.

Hans Gruber: I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I’m moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.

(transcription from IMDB)

Apparently my affection for this line is not widely shared, however, as finding the clip online has proven to be beyond my google skills. On the other hand, I did discover a phenomenon wherein people present montages of clips and photos of Alan Rickman with a musical background. I’m not sure whether to be disturbed or not.

Sullivan’s nominations can be found here. Other suggestions are encouraged in the comments. No points for anything from Monty Python or The Princess Bride, though — too obvious.

Stupid Math Tricks

One of the things Chad didn’t mention about me in his introduction is that in addition to being a physics major as an undergraduate, I also majored in mathematics. My research interests these days tend towards the exciting confluence of mathematics and high energy physics. So, in honor of that (but really completely unrelated), I give you:

60499999499 / 490050000000

If you like, consider it an easy puzzle to understand the significance of this number.

Ask a String Theorist

First of all, I’d like to thank Chad for the keys to his internet-house for the next few weeks. If you’re here, you know that one of the things Chad believes in (and is quite good at) is using his weblog for the exposition of science for the general public. While I don’t think I can manage any funny dog stories, I’d like to try to follow his example. I have some ideas already planned (such as, god help me, a three part series on the multiverse), but I thought as an initial post here, I’d go straight to the public. What do you want to hear about? Is there some aspect of string theory, quantum gravity or quantum field theory that you want explained? I can’t guarantee that I’ll know the answer or be able to explain it, but I’ll give it a shot or see if I can con get someone I know to try.

(and if anyone I know sees something they’d like to talk about, thus saving me work, give me an e-mail, he says optimistically)

Meet Your Guest-Bloggers

As mentioned several times hereabouts, Kate and I are headed to Japan on Saturday, where we’ll be spending three weeks touring around and attending the World Science Fiction Convention in Yokohama. We will have at least some Internet access, and I may post the occasional travel update from Japan, but I’m not going to try to schedule three full weeks worth of posts to keep the blog going during my absence.

If, for some strange reason, you find that you are wholly dependent on Uncertain Principles for your computer-based entertainment needs, have no fear– I’m not going to leave you totally bereft, hitting “Reload” on the same old posts for day after agonizing day. I’ve arranged for a couple of guest bloggers during my absence, so there will be at least some fresh physics-blogging goodness for you to enjoy while I’m off in the land of the metaphorical rising sun. They’re both physicists, and friends from my Usenet days, and I’m sure they’ll have interesting things to say while I’m out of town.

Nathan is another AMO physics type, and in fact is currently a post-doc in my old group at NIST. He was an undergrad at Berkeley, and did his Ph.D. at Caltech, but had a brief stint in the real world in between, working for a lab in the Boston area. He’s got slightly more indie cred than I do, when it comes to pop music, but squanders it by being fond of heavy metal.

Aaron is a string theorist, brought in to supply a little diversity of opinion around here. He was an undergrad at Yale (graduating shortly before I went there as a post-doc), and did his Ph.D. at Princeton, and is currently a post-doc at Texas A&M. He’s put up with a lot of grief from me about string theory, and is an extremely good sport about it.

They’ve got the run of the place for the next three weeks, and I’ve given them the keys to the disemvoweller, so don’t go thinking you can get uppity in the comments. I plan to check in from time to time, but even if I don’t, you’ll be in good hands.

Mata ne. See you in September.