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QG vital signs

  1. Sep 8, 2008 #1

    marcus

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    Some people talk as if they think the social statistics of science don't matter, but it's hard for me to believe they really think that. Stats on public perceptions and interest in science, and also stats on research publication, citations, faculty hiring etc., must sometimes be important to understanding what's going on.

    In any case I for one, and maybe others as well, like to follow a few easy-to-keep-track-of stats relevant to quantum gravity. The stats of a certain kind of ballgame---or, if you prefer a more academic term, sociology of science.

    At the moment there are TWO popular books on the market that clearly support the vision and goal of a background independent quantum physics, namely Lee Smolin's and Frank Wilczek's. Here I mean background independence in the sense that non-string QG people use the term---no fixed geometric background used in constructing the theory. Space, instead of serving as a static stage for other things to move in, is itself dynamic: a major actor in the play. Dynamic geometry might indeed turn out to be the only actor, if matter fields arise as various types of geometrical disturbance.

    So I am going to watch how the Wilczek book does in the popular science book market, compared to a convenient benchmark that I've already used some to track the Smolin book.
    We'll see what happens.

    =============
    There are also some other relevant stats. But for the moment I'll focus on this. It's a rough gauge of public interest in and acceptance of a kind of vision that the author is trying to get across. Physics has, up til now, been almost entirely formulated on fixed geometric backgrounds, so in both cases we have an author trying to reach a wide readership with a comparatively new vision of physics. The amazon book stats will give us an idea of how well it's getting across.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2008
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  3. Sep 8, 2008 #2

    marcus

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    Here's the book by Wilczek:
    http://www.amazon.com/Lightness-Being-Ether-Unification-Forces/dp/0465003214
    It is called
    Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether, and the Unification of Forces
    I haven't gotten a copy yet but by all reports it's a real page-turner, profoundly thoughtful, with an easy style illuminated but not crammed with personal experience. That's not the point here. I want to see how it sells. I have no idea how that will go. Will it sell mainly to physicists? Will Wilczek bother to promote it, get on TV, and so forth?

    As of 5 PM today, 8 September, the salesrank was 1481.

    As a benchmark for comparison, the ranks of the top five stringy books averaged 4125.6, making the ratio 2.8. "Lightness" was selling over twice as well as the stringy topfive average, for now.
     
  4. Sep 9, 2008 #3

    marcus

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    When I checked this morning it was doing a bit over FOUR times better than benchmark. I might as well put in the Table of Contents to make more definite what the book is that we are following:
    http://www.lightnessofbeingbook.com/inside_TOC.html
     
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