Quantum to Cosmos, and a Tiny Bit Beyond

By Sean Carroll | October 13, 2009 7:06 pm

Taking off to the Great White North this week, for a couple of fun events. First it’s to the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, which is hosting the Quantum to Cosmos Festival. It’s ten days of fun and big ideas, and best of all it will all be recorded and streamed live. Check out the program here. I’ll be participating in a panel discussion on big ideas Thursday night, and giving a popular talk on the arrow of time Saturday night. But there’s also a promising panel discussion on cosmology on Sunday (moderated by my favorite science writer), as well as interesting-looking talks by people like Peter Diamandis, Jim Gates, Neil Gershenfeld, Cory Doctorow, and even the other Sean Carroll. Plenty of fun to go around.

Then it’s off to the Francophone sector with me, where I’ll be visiting McGill University in Montreal to give another public talk on Monday night. I don’t know of any recordings there, but the talk won’t be that different from Saturday’s. But if there are any CV readers in Montreal, be sure to say hi!

  • Marc

    I wonder if Holger Nielsen will be there. He has some (“ahem”) interesting ideas about the arrow of time. Actually, Sean, you were too polite in the NY Times this morning. His idea is completely nuts, and I’m stunned that Dennis Overbye gave it any credibility.

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  • http://backreaction.blogspot.com/ Bee

    Hope you have fun! I’m sorry to miss it.

  • http://www.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw Robert L. Oldershaw


    The Nielsen paper appears to be an elaborate multi-paper spoof of the Sokal paper type.

    Sokal demolished “deconstructionism ” and post-modernism in the area of literature by publishing a completely crackpot paper in their journal without the editors and reviewers realizing what he was doing, thereby revealing the intellectual bankrupcy of the post-modern paradigm.

    It appears that Nielsen and his coauthor are doing the same thing to theoretical physics in order to show the current intellectual bankrupcy of that field.

    Theoretical physics has become such a Tower of Babel in recent decades that it is very difficult to distinguish valid speculation from quackery. Apparently Overbye was a victim of this sad state of affairs.

    Robert L. Oldershaw

  • Harbles

    The Q to C fest. overlaps the Kitchener/Waterloo Oktoberfest by two days. If you’re into Beer, Bratwurst and Om Pa Pa music you’re set!

  • Sili

    I don’t know why I felt the need to check who that moderator is. At least I was right.

    Made the mistake of going to hear Holger once. Wayyyyy over my head back then. Prolly still would be, I’m afraid. Sad really, that so many of us went to look at the giraffe like that …

  • Marc Sher


    Holger’s work is not a spoof. He is very serious. I know him and we have discussed it, and he believes this (unless he’s the best actor I’ve ever seen). He just happens to be completely uninhibited. He also doesn’t feel that the field is “intellectually bankrupt”, and has been writing other papers (most recently on 12-top quark bound states) as well.

  • Aiya-Oba

    Talks generally revolve around the Oneness of the egg and the chicken, when and where at issue is Quantum and Cosmos.

  • http://www.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw Robert L. Oldershaw

    Hi Marc,

    If the Nielsen/Minomiya papers are not a less-than-subtle hoax, then the situation in theoretical physics is really bad!

    You’re telling me that an adult scientist is arguing that nature’s abhorrence for the “Higgs boson” caused the failure at LHC via backwards causation? Egad!!!!! And “caused” the SSC to lose its funding??? Oh my Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore, or reality, for that matter.

    If this is not a hoax, theoretical physics is past the excursion phase and is in full meltdown.

    Yours in science,

  • http://meteorshower2009.blogspot.com/ Meteord

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] cosmicvariance.com .


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