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spring break itinerary, etc.

Today was the last day of the winter quarter here. I'm getting up in less than 5 hours to drive to Fesno to fly to Dallas to visit my sister. I'll be back in Santa Cruz for Tuesday and Wednesday, then driving down to LA for a few days and heading back up Sunday April 1st. I probably won't have time to hang out with people in either city (other than those I'm visiting), but there's more of a possibility in LA so if anyone on my friends-list who lives there wants to have lunch or something, send me an email!

Meanwhile, I leave you these recent tidbits...

Two of my lj-friends independently reported sighting Stephen Hawking within the past week (first one sounds like a better story; second one includes photo):
http://nibot.livejournal.com/570797.html
http://smileycynic.livejournal.com/346281.html

(I guess he is kinda hard to miss!)

Humor: Jesus goes to a porn convention (via crasch):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPo648pyxvk

And finally, listen to the audio of a debate between string theory critic Lee Smolin and string theorist Michael Duff, with philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright playing Switzerland:
http://www.thersa.org/audio/lecture050307.mp3

My summary of the debate:

Smolin: Guys, you've got me all wrong... I'm not attacking string theory; string theory is great. I just think grad students should be encouraged to think about something else for a change. Try and argue with that!
Duff: He's lying guys, just listen to the two-faced bastard... he says that now, but check out what he writes in his book[...] You see, he's a string theory denier and just won't admit it! Not only that, but he's a pompous ass! Did I mention that none of my colleagues will even stoop to debate him, except me?
Smolin: That was the wrong version of my book, dumbass. None of the quotes you found are in the real version of my book, which I have in my pocket, and says nothing bad about string theory and all the pompous bits are removed! That was all made up by my editor, and then distorted by the media.
Cartwright: Why does any of this matter? There's no epistemic way to decide between theories anyway... and plus, I don't even believe in unification anyway (I should know, I worked in optics once and it didn't seem very unified to me). My l33t meta-induction skillz say that both of your theories are full of crap, since all theories have been in the past!

(Yes... I may have exaggerated the third-grade aspects of it, but it's nevertheless quite entertaining to listen to. As is this mp3 remix Sabine Hossenfelder made: http://th.physik.uni-frankfurt.de/~hossi/wildwestsound7.mp3)

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
resipisco
Mar. 23rd, 2007 08:15 am (UTC)
And finally, listen to the audio of a debate between string theory critic Lee Smolin and string theorist Michael Duff, with philosopher of science Nancy Cartwright playing Switzerland:

I read those names and I see curmudgeon michaelduff and the actress who voices Bart Simpson and think, "wtf are they doing debating string theory?"
easwaran
Mar. 23rd, 2007 11:54 pm (UTC)
I'll definitely have to listen to that debate! Good to hear that at least one philosopher is getting involved.

And my boyfriend just randomly saw Steven Hawking on campus the other day here in Berkeley, getting off a van or something. I guess he's on tour right now or something with a new talk?
spoonless
Mar. 24th, 2007 07:42 am (UTC)

Good to hear that at least one philosopher is getting involved.

Yes... I've been wondering for a while what all the philosophers of science are doing, while such a significant controversy over how science is done is under way. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with what she said and disagreed with nearly every word. Maybe it's because I'm a physicist, so I think more like a physicist (or perhaps that the arguments she's referring to are more complicated and subtle than they appear to me) but I feel like Smolin and Duff both said pretty reasonable things, while she said almost nothing reasonable. Especially infuriating is the way she dismisses unification (of quantum mechanics with gravity) as a luxury (which doesn't even "suit her taste") or an epistemic virtue, rather than a logical necessity of a consistent/coherent theory, which is how I view it. I also have major problems with the type of inductive arguments she appeals to, although I've never been able to state very clearly what my problem with them is or what the best way is to avoid the induction trap.

And my boyfriend just randomly saw Steven Hawking on campus the other day here in Berkeley, getting off a van or something. I guess he's on tour right now or something with a new talk?

Wow, so now we're at 3 sightings in a week or two? (2 in the bay area, and one near caltech.) I don't know if he's on tour or what; maybe he just doesn't come to the US that often, so when he does he makes sure to get around.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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