"Against Symmetry" Smolin in Paris June 14 Prof. Smolin will be speaking at an amphitheater of the Ecole Polytechnique (Paris version of MIT). The talk is part of an historical controversy. Here is a short advance summary of the talk copied from Christine Dantas' blog: http://christinedantas.blogspot.com/2006/05/lee-smolin-against-symmetry.html ===announcement of Smolin's Paris talk=== Against Symmetry From the Leibniz-Newton debates to the present debates between string theorists and loop quantum gravity theorists two notions of fundamental physics have stood opposed. On the one hand is the Newtonian vision, which is based on a belief in a fixed absolute space and time and which holds symmetry to be fundamental and its breaking to be contingent. Leibniz's conception of space and time is an ever evolving network of relationships in which complexity is fundamental and symmetry is unnatural and accidental. This distinction characterizes the divide between background dependent theories like string theory and relational, background independent theories such as loop quantum gravity. In this talk I analyze the present status of the two traditions and the plausibility of their contemporary incarnations. I show that the crisis of predictability facing string theory is a direct consequence of a conception of unification that is opposed to the principles that underlie the successful modern unifications such as general relativity and gauge theories. I close by describing a new kind of unification which emerges from background independent theories. Amphithéâtre A, entrée par le 25 rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, Paris 5ème Contact : Alexei Grinbaum (firstname.lastname@example.org) ===end quote=== Shortly after the Paris talk, Smolin will be speaking in London. He is scheduled to give "The Annual Public Lecture" at the London School of Economics CPNSS http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/CPNSS/events/Conferences/AnnualPublicLecture.htm Anyone who happens to be in London around that time, if interested in science issues, may wish to attend. The lecture is open to the public and admission is free. Prof. Smolin will be introduced by Jeremy Butterfield of All Soul's College-Oxford.