Steven Weinberg: What’s the matter with quantum mechanics?

In this public lecture Weinberg explains the problems with the two predominant interpretations of quantum mechanics, which he refers to as Instrumentalist (e.g., Copenhagen) and Realist (e.g., Many Worlds). The term “interpretation” may be misleading because what is ultimately at stake is the nature of physical reality. Both interpretations have serious problems, but the problem …

More

Epistemic Caution and Climate Change

I have not, until recently, invested significant time in trying to understand climate modeling. These notes are primarily for my own use, however I welcome comments from readers who have studied this issue in more depth. I take a dim view of people who express strong opinions about complex phenomena without having understood the underlying …

More

Patterns on the sky

I’m busy reviewing ~200 promotion and tenure cases for my day job, so I don’t have much time to post about the BICEP2 observation of primordial gravitational waves via their effect on the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Instead, I refer you to Sean Carroll, Lubos Motl and Liam McAllister (guest poster at …

More

Feynman and the secret of magic

Lubos Motl seems to have taken offense at my last post: Feynman’s Cognitive Style. This is a rather ironic outcome, given that I’ve been a “Feynman idolator” since I was in high school :-) In fact, I chose my college (Caltech), career, and even research specialization under his influence! In the previous post, I noted that …

More

Feynman’s cognitive style

Some interesting finds in this 1966 AIP oral history interview with Feynman. I have always felt that Feynman was cognitively a bit “lopsided” — much stronger mathematically than verbally. This might be partially responsible for his way of learning — it was often easier for him to invent his own solution than to read through …

More

Nobels for Higgs and Englert

Congratulations to Peter Higgs and François Englert on their Nobel prize. A bit of background from an earlier post How the Higgs boson became the Higgs boson: IIRC, I met Peter Higgs in Erice in 1990. He was quite a nice fellow, but the story below by Steve Weinberg illustrates how capricious is the allocation …

More