Sunday, August 14, 2005

It's Oh So Quiet...

Things are quiet around here right now, no seminars, students and lecturers are away (avoiding the liquid sunshine) and nothing is stirring not even a I have no notes to put up here.

However, the football season has commenced again, so it is a very exciting time, especially if, like me, you are a Queen's Park Ranger's fan as QPR have hit the headlines two weekends on the trot for non-football reasons. Last weekend, QPR fans were taunted by Hull fans about the London bombings and yesterday Gianni Paladini, a director at QPR, was forced at gunpoint to sign a piece of paper detailing his resignation from the board. Well this is sensational stuff and one really has to wonder who would do this and why, after all Paladini as a major stakeholder in the club has invested considerable amounts of money and also been pivotal in recently helping QPR to sign the defender Milanese. In short one would think that fans would appreciate Paladini's work, but also one would think that only very committed/insane fans would be driven to such rash actions. So something is amiss. Nevertheless, on the pitch, QPR have made a good start to the season, joint top in the Championship, and our legendary manager Ian Holloway is continuing to make football more fun, this week he summarised his pre-match team advice as "I told them to be awful." Let's hope he reaches the heady heights of this post-match interview again this season.

But even in the wilderness of summer in London there are plenty of physics links still that can be posted. First and most importantly the videos from LMS symposium Geometry, Conformal Field Theory and String Theory have started to appear online here. The organisers Patrick Dorey, Peter Bowcock and Katrin Wendland have done a fantastic job in collating all the videos so far and have even provided us with some photos of the symposium. In fact, for the curious, there's even a photo of me (I'm on the right) stuck in a castle window; at this point I am halfway through a tour of Bamburgh castle and am looking out the window and seeing the leader of our group (the one with the camera and the watch) a long way away and I'm wondering whether I'm being left behind... but it turns out, from the photos, that they were heading down to the beach and skipping the tour. There are also a number of other conferences that have provided media from their talks online (many of these come via Peter Woit's Not Even Wrong), so you can sit at home (un-jetlagged) and feel like you went to a lot of conferences, these include:

  • Strings 2005 - sound and slides.
  • Advanced Summer School on Modern Mathematical Physics in Dubna - A very impressive collection of introductory talks.
  • Mathematical Structures in String Theory at KITP - this runs from 1st August until 16th December and already there are videos available, and there is even a devoted (and secure!) weblog.
  • The SLAC Summer School: Gravity in the Quantum World and the Cosmos - videos are available under the titles for each talk.
  • Simons Workshop in Mathematics and Physics 2005 at Stonybrook - Vafa, Berkovits, Witten, Maldacena et al can all be listened to (slides are not generally available so you might have to listen very carefully...although some talks are close to those at Strings 2005, so some comparison is worthwhile)
  • A talk by Lee Smolin on Loop Quantum Gravity (from May 2005 with an astrophysics leaning - for the interested there are a host of astrophysics talks in the same directory)

    The perfect quiet of this summer is well suited for the Ashes, however in case one thought that the genteel nature of a cricket test match might not be condusive to competition please see this violent yet thoroughly amusing game involving much Ozzie bashing on the Channel 4 website.

    P.S. Please don't miss Lubos Motl's $3 challenge to disprove that Amazon, one of my favourite companies, are run by "crackpots" who are only allowing positive reviews of pseudo-science books which masquerade as science.

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