Yesterday morning I flew to Vancouver, arriving mid-afternoon, in advance of today’s theory seminar at the University of British Columbia. Last night I stayed at Green College, which is on the UBC campus, and is supposed to have breathtaking views of the bay. However, since it has done nothing but pour down with rain since I arrived, I haven’t been able to see anything yet. I have high hopes for today though. I know that the Pacific Northwest is renowned for this type of weather, although, despite my insane travel schedule, this is the first time I’ve seen this part of the country for myself.
Yesterday evening I had dinner with my friend Moshe Rozali, who frequent visitors to Cosmic Variance will know as the only “Moshe” who comments on our posts. We ate at a delightful Indian/North American fusion restaurant, called Vij’s, had a couple of drinks and talked mostly about string theory, which is Moshe’s main area of research. We discussed the landscape and the extent to which one should take it, and its cosmological implications, seriously at this point, or whether the right course is just to keep working and not make extravagant claims (I recently had a similar fascinating discussion with Wati Taylor from MIT, who gave a great string theory colloquium at Syracuse last week).
Both Moshe and Wati are tremendous people with whom to discuss the landscape – experts on string theory, who take eminently sensible stances on the issue (I think it should be clear what my views are from the way I phrased things above). Obviously this is a very hot and controversial topic, which we just touched on over dinner. If you’re interested in what it’s all about, you can get a flavor of it by visiting Clifford’s landscape post and the terrific 168-comment exchange following it.
Because of the time difference, I had a very early night last night and have been awake for a couple of hours already this morning. I’m giving a talk that I’ve given at a number of other institutions over the last year, titled Connecting Cosmology and Fundamental Physics. UBC has an excellent, huge and broad physics department, and so I’ve spent part of the last couple of hours tweaking the talk to emphasize parts that I hope will be of particular interest to some of the people who I know here, either personally or by reputation. People like Bill Unruh, Ian Affleck, Ariel Zhitnitsky and Douglas Scott. The talk is somewhat broader, and consequently less detailed, than my typical seminars though, since this particular UBC seminar series is aimed at all theorists, with instructions that “The level of a seminar is intended to be somewhere between a technical talk and a general colloquium”.
Hopefully I’ll post again and describe the rest of my short visit here (I fly back very early tomorrow morning). For now, I’d better drag myself out of bed.