If I were Garrett Lisi, I'd postdoc at Nottingham

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If you were in Garrett's shoes where would you go?


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  • #1
marcus
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A deepset culture bias says that too much limelight destroys scholars. The tradition goes back to monastery roots or even earlier. We expect scholars to withdraw to a quiet place: labor in the scriptorium and meditate in the monastery garden.

I know (my culture prepares me to expect) that it's time for Garrett to apply and get some postdoc offers--ideally even something more longterm but lets be modest in imaginings-- and disappear into some safe haven where he can share ideas with other young researchers and divide the labor. If academic physics doesn't have some suitable communal retreat at this point, something's seriously wrong with the cloister system.

So let's fantasize. Where would you go if you were Garrett? To Perimeter (if they offered) or to Penn State? or back to the surf and snowboard life? Suppose all the options were open: what would be the PERFECT place to continue improving E8 theory? Would you go to Marseille and join Rovelli's group?

I'd be seriously tempted by Utrecht. Renate Loll has taken on some topnotch postdocs, including one from UC San Diego. It's essentially Gerard 't Hooft's institute.

But I'd pick Nottingham. I'd essentially disappear into John Barrett's quantum geometry/gravity institute for about 3 years, find collaborators, and complete the theory.
I think I know why Nottingham, but might not be able to explain the choice clearly.
"f-h" who posts at PF might have some informed opinion since he knows the place.

Any body else have a preference? Visualize. As if everything were possible.
 

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  • #2
marcus
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I thought I was just going to pick Nottingham, but at the last moment decided I wouldn't turn down an offer from Abhay Ashtekar or Lee Smolin either----so Penn State and Perimeter were possibilities. It's a multi-choice poll.

Maybe you think it's goofy trying to look at things from another person's perspective, but I don't. Sometimes it can clarify the issues.
What attracts me about Nottingham is that John Barrett looks and acts like a creative mathematician. He could have scooped Alain Connes (Dr. Noncommutative) last August---it wouldn't have been gentlemanly but he could have scooped him. As it was they published within a week of each other in a cordial friendly way.

Also the English are reputed to know how to make mildly eccentric people feel comfortable and at home. They are said to be not so pîssy as we are about minor non-conformity.
 
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  • #3
mgb_phys
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Have you been to Nottingham ?
I imagine if you stay on the campus it's reasonably nice - but seriously have you been into the town?
 
  • #4
nrqed
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A deepset culture bias says that too much limelight destroys scholars. The tradition goes back to monastery roots or even earlier. We expect scholars to withdraw to a quiet place: labor in the scriptorium and meditate in the monastery garden.

I know (my culture prepares me to expect) that it's time for Garrett to apply and get some postdoc offers--ideally even something more longterm but lets be modest in imaginings-- and disappear into some safe haven where he can share ideas with other young researchers and divide the labor. If academic physics doesn't have some suitable communal retreat at this point, something's seriously wrong with the cloister system.

So let's fantasize. Where would you go if you were Garrett? To Perimeter (if they offered) or to Penn State? or back to the surf and snowboard life? Suppose all the options were open: what would be the PERFECT place to continue improving E8 theory? Would you go to Marseille and join Rovelli's group?

I'd be seriously tempted by Utrecht. Renate Loll has taken on some topnotch postdocs, including one from UC San Diego. It's essentially Gerard 't Hooft's institute.

But I'd pick Nottingham. I'd essentially disappear into John Barrett's quantum geometry/gravity institute for about 3 years, find collaborators, and complete the theory.
I think I know why Nottingham, but might not be able to explain the choice clearly.
"f-h" who posts at PF might have some informed opinion since he knows the place.

Any body else have a preference? Visualize. As if everything were possible.
I think this should belong to a new forum titled "Sociology of particle physicists" which would be the place for the posts discussing things like who did his PhD where, who did his PdH with whom, who works where, etc. And The present forum should be reserved to talking about the physics and maths of beyond the standard model physics not about the people who do physics. This way, one would not have to sort out through dozens of posts to see something about about physics.

But that's just my personal opinion.


Cheers
 
  • #6
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Does anyone else think that this whole thing is getting slightly embarrassing? And not a little bit ironic?

Seriously, people need to calm down and approach this with the usual amount of restraint. That or just go the whole hog and buy a damn cheerleader's outfit.
 
  • #7
marcus
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Have you been to Nottingham ?
I imagine if you stay on the campus it's reasonably nice - but seriously have you been into the town?
No I haven't! So it's a lousy town? Where would you suggest instead?

I'm interested how would you describe the local unattractions. The main Quantum Gravity international conference next year (called QG2 2008) will be held there.

I think it is a serious question: what are the top places in the world for quantum gravity/unification?

I'm putting the question in a concrete way, picturing it as somebody's choice.

When Lee Smolin was coming up he spent time in places like Harvard, Princeton Advanced Study, UC Berkeley, Cambridge... finally then Penn State and then Perimeter. It was part of a bright researcher's career path to go to these places and work with various important people there.

Why aren't any of these names (except last two) coming up? Or? Can anyone mention anyone at Harvard or UC Berkeley that would be useful to work with?
 
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  • #8
marcus
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Francesca says RIVERSIDE. Would you like to explain? I think it is a smart choice. John Baez at Riverside is a creative mathematician
and every so often in the history of physics they have to go to the well of pure math
and dip up a bucket of new definitions and theorems.

If someone working on a unification theory, doing things in a new way----eg. with Z2-graded algebas (socalled superalgebras) and corresponding E8 superconnection---if they go to Riverside maybe Baez helps invent just the right math.

I can see the point of Francesca's choice.

=======================

KANATO SAYS UC DAVIS! that is a really interesting choice. I wish you would explain.
To me, what UCD evokes is the idea of a Lisi-Wise collaboration, which could be extremely cool.
Both are inventing new ways of using the connection---innovative gauge theory. Both have a deSitter group interest.

Kanato, what did you have in mind (it may be different from what jumps in my head.)
 
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  • #9
arivero
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Were I Garrett, my next step would be to use some fqxi money to invite the people who have manifested interest in my work, and specially the people who have criticized it or pointed need of improvement, to a reduced private workshop in my house. Were I living where he lives, of course.
 
  • #10
marcus
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... private workshop in my house. Were I living where he lives, of course.
I think you should check MAUI on the poll!

(that option is not a university or research institute, it is the island with good waves where he lives most of the year)
 
  • #11
arivero
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I think you should check MAUI on the poll!

(that option is not a university or research institute, it is the island with good waves where he lives most of the year)
Ah, but I am not proposing to transform the house into an ASI school. But well, that was the kind of thing people did in the 1950 and it launched one thousand ships. No wait, that was another woman. I was thinking Cecile DeWitt-Morette.

Also, the "secret seminar" in Chew house, only for non-seniors, was at the end the responsible for string theory. Or so. Hmm, perhaps not so good idea :rolleyes:.
 
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  • #12
Astronuc
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Funny this should come up, but Lisi is in the news. A colleague sent me this -

Laid-Back Surfer Dude May Be Next Einstein
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,311952,00.html

Now if he likes surfing and snowboarding -

then he needs to check out the Department of Physics and Astronomy,
University of Canterbury - Christchurch, New Zealand :biggrin:

http://www.phys.canterbury.ac.nz/

I picked other for that reason.

Just north of Christchurch is a wonderful place where surfing and snowboarding can be accomplished in the same day!
 
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  • #13
CarlB
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Well I put "Maui" because I don't think you should meddle with success. If Maui works for you, stick with it.
 
  • #14
turbo
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Carl, you may have a point. The environment that gives rise to the work may be critical.
 
  • #15
Ivan Seeking
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I can't understand why anyone would want to surf at Maui instead of the North Shore of Oahu.
 
  • #16
cristo
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Have you been to Nottingham ?
I imagine if you stay on the campus it's reasonably nice - but seriously have you been into the town?
The same could be said about the inner parts of any city in the country, though! I lived in Nottingham for four years and enjoyed my time there. Like any city, you've just gotta find the nicer parts that suit your interests most. Besides, if you're a postdoc there you're bound to be living in the more suburban areas anyway.

To answer the question, I'd choose Perimeter: it seems like a fascinating place. From what I gather, the group at Nottingham is pretty good. I was taught differential geometry by John Barrett: it was the hardest course I've ever taken! I don't really know him, but from what I saw in lectures he seems like a bright guy.
 
  • #17
mgb_phys
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I knew as soon as I posted that somebody would have been there!

I was only there for a week at a conference - and not in that field.
I was staying near the cricket ground? It looked like a war zone to me, and I'm from Sheffield!
 
  • #18
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I can't understand why anyone would want to surf at Maui instead of the North Shore of Oahu.
Because Oahu is too crowded and expensive in comparison.
 
  • #19
Ivan Seeking
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Huh, we found Maui to be much more expensive.

I believe that there is one break in Maui that is claimed to make for the fastest waves anywhere.

One of my favorite videos, I thought this was a particularly nice representation of the position that Garrett finds himself in today.

Will he emerge from the whitewater? :biggrin:
 
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  • #20
f-h
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1) Everybody prefers a different backdrop to do their research, some lock away in quiet monasteries others surf, yet still others need the hectic activity of a big city to relax and think.

2) Nottingham as a city sucks. That's one of the compromises one makes, one goes where the science calls not the flashy social life.

3) This is by far the most ridiculous thread I've seen on here (not counting crackpottery). I mean, Marcus, I appreciate your work as an interested bystander in summarizing and giving a birds eye view of the ongoings in the QG community, but this is science, not entertainment news! Whats next? 10 Question quizzes "What would be the perfect theory for YOU?"? You are discussing other people's personal choices! It sounds like "Are Brad and Angelina really made for each other?" or "Was it a good idea for Beckham to go to LA?"

Garrett has realized and stated himself that the media attention his theory is getting might be detrimental to getting real physicists to look at the theory. Threads like this are definitely not helping!
 
  • #21
f-h
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On the science:

Garrett's theory has some very powerful, deep and conceptual problems to answer before it can be taken serious as a contender.
 
  • #22
Berlin
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I would go to Princeton

Work together with all the string fans. There are some guys really clever with maths and group theory. If they join 'forces' with Lisi and occupy the same 'spacetime' they would not have to step on eachothers 'TOEs'.

berlin
 
  • #23
MathematicalPhysicist
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I think this should belong to a new forum titled "Sociology of particle physicists" which would be the place for the posts discussing things like who did his PhD where, who did his PdH with whom, who works where, etc. And The present forum should be reserved to talking about the physics and maths of beyond the standard model physics not about the people who do physics. This way, one would not have to sort out through dozens of posts to see something about about physics.

But that's just my personal opinion.


Cheers
mine, too.
 
  • #24
Astronuc
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I would agree with robphy's post that thread is more suitable to the forum - Academic & Career Guidance

Perhaps it would be worthwhile to discuss the merits (e.g. research) of the various institutions or programs.

f-h said:
Garrett's theory has some very powerful, deep and conceptual problems
Problems or ideas/concepts? Certainly, the devil is in the details.
 
  • #25
cristo
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2) Nottingham as a city sucks
... in your opinion.
 

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