The Quantum Theory of Fields

Excerpt from Sidney Coleman’s Erice lectures. The period he describes just predates my entry into physics. This was a great time to be a high-energy theorist, the period of the famous triumph of quantum field theory. And what a triumph it was, in the old sense of the word: a glorious victory parade, full of …

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Time and Memory

Over the holiday I started digging through my mom’s old albums and boxes of photos. I found some pictures I didn’t know existed! Richard Feynman and the 19 year old me at my Caltech graduation: With my mom that morning — hung-over, but very happy! I think those are some crazy old school Ray Bans …

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The cult of genius?

In one of his early blog posts, Terence Tao (shown above with Paul Erdos in 1985) wrote Does one have to be a genius to do maths? The answer is an emphatic NO. In order to make good and useful contributions to mathematics, one does need to work hard, learn one’s field well, learn other …

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Struggles at Yale

I used to eat at Silliman College (one of Yale’s residential colleges) with other physics professors, mainly because it was the closest cafeteria where we could get a free lunch. The free lunches were meant to encourage us to mingle with undergraduates at the college. But I was one of few professors that actually enjoyed …

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Gun Crazy

I grew up out in the country in Iowa. Our address was RR1 = “Rural Route 1” :-)  We had a creek, pond, dirtbike (motorcycle) track, and other fun stuff on our property. One of the things I enjoyed most was target shooting and plinking with my .22 — I’d just walk out the back …

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What is medicine’s 5 sigma?

Editorial in the Lancet, reflecting on the Symposium on the Reproducibility and Reliability of Biomedical Research held April 2015 by the Wellcome Trust. Offline: What is medicine’s 5 sigma? … much of the [BIOMEDICAL] scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and …

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