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Beyond the Standard Muddle

  1. Jan 31, 2006 #1


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    my normally icy heart melted when Kea approvingly mentioned Standard Muddle, attributing the coinage to me.
    it was in some locked thread, best forgotten,
    so I did not have an opportunity to reply.

    Kea: Marcus' Beyond the Standard Muddle is better. Plurals are unnecessary.

    What sight so lured him thro' the fields he knew...

    Me: Thanks Kea :smile:

    why be serious all the time? richard asked "What's in a name?" or was it william? what do you think of the constantly changing title of ORITI'S FORTHCOMING BOOK?

    It changes every time i see it cited. The Cambridge UP publishers have taken a while to make up their minds. the most recent reference was to:

    "Approaches to Quantum Gravity - Towards a new understanding of space and time" (ed. D. Oriti), Cambridge University Press, 2006

    I think it's good. if a bit wordy. I think QG is towards a new understanding of space and time----and matter too, as an inherent facet of spacetime. High hopes for the book.
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  3. Feb 1, 2006 #2


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    Kea was right. Muddle is a word that really does not need a plural.
    (dividing a muddle up into several separate muddles already makes it less muddly.....muddlish.....whatever)

    We are watching a new field of theoretical physics take shape and names really do matter when that is happening.

    roughly speaking the name is "(background independent) Quantum Gravity"

    and I suppose a signpost in the coalescence of this field (which is not just LQG or spinfoam or CDT or causal sets but is more of a Big Tent) will be the 2006 publication of Oriti's book.

    I forgot to mention Gambinistics (the "consistent discretization" method of Rodolfo Gambini) which is certainly inside the Big Tent, and Thiemann's Masterconstraint spinoff from canonical LQG. And this is not to mention various maverick enterprises by---no let's say exceptional not maverick---Torsten-Helgi and Noldus and Lisi and someone at Heriot-Watt in Edinburgh.

    In a sense, Daniele Oriti has been given the job of showing where the boundary of the tent is and what is inside. Oriti's TABLE OF CONTENTS will define a new field of physics, as of 2006. And he is just a nice young fellow at Cambridge.

    Most likely the more marginal people like Torsten-Helgi and Garrett Lisi won't get in. Oriti TOC will just define the CORE approaches to QG. But if the core can solidify and establish its identity that will benefit the more distant relatives too----they will be on the margin of something recognizable, instead of on the margin of a fog.

    This has been happening for quite a long time. Heroic efforts by Lee Smolin for years to build (b.i.) QG into a field. He has always been interpreting the term "LQG" rather inclusively. And the postdocs he gets to come to Perimeter are never representing just one narrow approach.

    But Oriti's Table of Contents will be a definite step in the process of forging a collective field because it will be a kind of official list---and spell it out in black and white what is today's core QG.

    Non-string, of course.

    So as with the formation of any academic specialty, this is in part a SEMANTIC exercise. People are trying to specify what they mean when they say QG and what a QG researcher does. So names DO matter. What's in a name? A lot, in cases like this.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2006
  4. Feb 1, 2006 #3


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    apparently someone should check out the Prolegomena that Isaac Newton wrote to his Principia.

    I think this may be the historical point of departure when one says, as in Oriti's title, "towards a new understanding of space and time" and matter too, one imagines....matter should emerge as some kind of kink in spacetime-----it should be a feature of the fabric and not a visiting extra.

    in Prolegomena, apparently (I havent seen it) Newton invoked the ultimate rhetorical device to make people accept the independent existence of the all-inclusive PREMISE space and time. It was the mind of the Big Kahune, and the Big Kahune also had an (absolute) Clock. The mind of the Big Kahune came with a fixed particular number of dimensions. We are trained to believe in such things, as part of our culture. So deeply inculcated that it seems inconceivable NOT to believe in them.

    When I think of a new understanding of space and time I think of people departing from this, in a gradual groping manner. Renate Loll's dynamical triangulations, where even the dimension of spacetime is dynamic and varies with scale---dimension is a quantum observable actually so it has no definite value anywhere or at any scale, except at the time and place where you measure it. the Kahune's mind is not made up until the instant you do the experiment.

    Here is Alejandro Perez contribution to Oriti's book(a spinfoam chapter):

    Here is Joe Henson's contribution (causal sets):
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2006
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