Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Congratulations to Yoichiro Nambu, Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa (the K and M of CKM) for winning this year's Nobel prize for their work on broken symmetries!


Anonymous Steven H. Cullinane said...

Thanks for the "broken symmetries" link. The document it leads to suggests that the Royal Swedish Academy has posed an etiquette koan... You are the first to pick up a napkin at a Nobel Prize round table dinner. The napkins are not on the plates, but on the left and right of the plates. Which napkin should you choose?

October 08, 2008 1:35 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

I would put the left napkin on my lap, and then after I had dropped it on the floor, which would probably still be before anybody else arrived, I would take the right napkin too.

October 08, 2008 1:40 PM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

Our job is to fix the symmetries that the old guard broke.

October 08, 2008 2:06 PM  
Blogger Matti Pitkanen said...

Out of this particular topic but in accord with general spirit of this blog!

The writing of recommendation letter inspired me to take a fresh look on possible applications of category theory in quantum TGD. I wrote three postings about this.

The first one is about 2-plectic structure, which generalizes symplectic structure and appears in TGD framework naturally through Chern-Simons action and also about generalized Feynman diagrams as categories.

Second application is about planar operad category or rather its generalization to generalized Feynman diagramatics with basic idea being that the disks represent white regions of map which are replaced by smaller white regions when measurement resolution is improved. The disks are replaced by causal diamonds in TGD context.

The third posting just mentions possible other applications.

October 08, 2008 5:39 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Ooooo. They sound like interesting posts, Matti.

October 08, 2008 6:26 PM  
Anonymous chimpanzee said...

The Man Who Missed the Nobel Prize

"Douglas Prasher played a key role in the work that won the Nobel Chemistry prize this week. Prasher did not share in the $1.4 million winnings.

Instead, we're told he drives a courtesy van at Bill Penny Toyota in Huntsville, Alabama.


In the 1980s, working at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, he cloned the protein--but then ran out of grant money. When Chalfie and Tsien called him some years later, he willingly shared his work. His story is nicely told by Steve Doyle of the Huntsville Times. Prasher moved there to work for a NASA contractor, but has not been able to find work since in biochemistry.

"Of course, I want to get back into science; that's a no-brainer," Prasher tells Doyle. "But in this town, I don't think it's going to work."

How did he end up driving a courtesy van at a car dealer? He needed to pay his bills, he says. His $10-an-hour pay doesn't quite do it, but he has family reasons for staying in Huntsville.

Bob Grant, Associate Editor of The Scientist, asks, "Is there anyone out there who might have a research position open for him?"

Prasher, through it all, insists he is not angry at the Nobel winners. "I'm really happy for them." "


Let's see if I get this straight. Prasher did pioneering work (which led to Nobel Prize), couldn't get funding, is reduced to a blue-collar job. Wasn't even given recognition by Nobel Committee ("we can't honor a guy who drives a taxi").

The above is an indication of a broken R&D infrastructure in US, & what a joke the Nobel "prize" is. Whatever happened to Meritocracy, or is all about Idiotcracy?

"If you put yourself in a position to Win [ lay the foundation to foster research ], YOU HAVE A SHOT AT WINNING"
-- Jim Valvano, NC State basketball coach, NCAA '83 champs

They are laying the groundwork for FAILURE for any future scientific discovery (at least in US). "Brain Drain" (researchers cast off), "Brain in the Drain" (failing US educational system)..a Brain Dead system.

October 11, 2008 1:53 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Dear Chimpanzee, of course he is not angry at the prize winners, who no doubt did some excellent work. There are plenty of other people to be angry at. Like, almost everybody else. A prize that refuses to acknowledge somebody because they drive a taxi deserves no respect.

October 11, 2008 7:23 PM  
Anonymous chimpanzee said...

There was a recent 2003 Nobel Prize/Medicine (UIUC researcher, my university), where the "original" discoverer felt slighted & took out a full-page advertisement in NY Times!

"'The Shameful Wrong That Must Be Righted'' and charging at angry length that the Nobel committee was trying to rewrite history. In what way? By failing to include Raymond V. Damadian, who says in the ads that it was he who discovered M.R.I. and that Dr. Lauterbur and Sir Peter merely refined the technology."

"Many regret that Rosalind Franklin, whose data James Watson and Francis Crick used to elucidate the structure of DNA in 1953, died before the prize went to them in 1962"

[ details of interest to Feminists:
R. Franklin was a diligent/dedicated researcher, whose research was "spied on" by Watson/Crick. I.e., Scientific Misconduct (violation of confidentiality). They used her experimental results to come up with their theory. Watson was "outed" by Linus Pauling as "THEY [ Watson/Crick ] thought they were in competition with me", i.e. hyper-competititve types who were interested more in personal glory, than real Science. RF died of cancer (related to exposure from radiation from her experiments), due to her dedication. BTW, RF was an avid outdoorsperson, liked hiking in mountains, etc. There is a rule, a Nobel prize can't be awarded to dead people, so RF was REALLY SCREWED. The truth is just now being revealed, Univ of Chicago just named XXX after RF, Dr. Sally Ride was keynote speaker. Watson recently committed serious "foot in mouth", & was forced to resign. ]

"In 1974, when Martin Ryle and Antony Hewish were awarded the physics prize for discovery of pulsars, the cosmologist Fred Hoyle rose in wrath at the omission of Jocelyn Bell, the student astronomer who had made the initial radio-telescope observation that led to the discovery. Miss Bell, now Dr. Bell Burnell, has serenely ignored the claim."

So, one has 2 options: endure the insult or lash out. T. Dorigo has some interesting comments about the recent Physics Nobel:

"I wonder why Nicola Cabibbo was left out of the package though."

"Maybe they thought Nicola was a woman"
-- Kea

I wouldn't be surprised if a simple gender misunderstanding played into it either, given the above Rosalind Franklin & Jocelyn Bell slight.

October 11, 2008 8:59 PM  

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