Smolin outsells string average tenfold

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marcus
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Main Question or Discussion Point

I just checked amazon and the orange edition of Smolin's book was selling 11.3 times better than the average of the five most popular string books, on salesranks.
The Smolin book's salesrank was 657 and the five most popular string books at the time were
Greene fabric
Greene elegant
Kaku parallel
Randall warped
Steinhardt endless universe

Their average salesrank was 7416.0. So the Smolin/string ratio was
7416.0/657 = 11.3

This was at 2 PM Pacific 15 September. It is pretty remarkable. I never saw it so high.
Earlier this year, I tracked this ratio for four months to get a baseline and found it stayed around 2.5.
On average, in the period February-May, the Smolin book was selling about 2.5 times better than the five most popular stringy books. That was the blue hardcover edition.
Now the ratio jumps up to around TEN.

I don't know what could have caused this, maybe word-of-mouth amongst students at the beginning of semester, which is a major book-buying time for college students. I don't know of any media coverage that could have influenced it. Does anyone know of anything that has happened which could explain?

In case anyone is interested in more detail, the averages for that four-month period, and their ratio were 5683.8/2279.1 = 2.5. The string figure tended to be fairly stable around 5683.8 with less than 10 percent variability from month to month so I'm inclined to treat it, at least, as a baseline index of popular interest in the stringy philosophy. It would be quite surprising, to me anyway, if that number would change very much longterm. what we have now, at least temporarily, is an unusual circumstance where that number is up to around 7416.0 (plus or minus roughly ten percent to allow for random fluctuations during the day). Not doing formal statistics here but it does seem to be temporarily "up" some. Not clear if that significant, quite probably not.
 
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marcus
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The previous post was ten days ago. I just checked as of 3PM pacific today (25 September) and the ratio was 7368.6/1081 = 6.8
That is, judging by salesranks the Smolin book was selling 6.8 times better than average of the five most popular stringy books. It's pretty remarkable.
In case anyone is curious, the top five stringy at the moment happened to be
elegant 5324
fabric 6400
parallel 7029
hyperspace 9035
becker text 9055
===============
there is a noticeable difference now as compared with the period February-May 2007 when I checked regularly to establish a baseline. Then the average ratio was around 2.5. The Smolin book's sales tended to be between 2 and 3 times better than average topfive string.
I have no idea why the ratio should be so much higher now. AFAIK the related publicity since May has not been from Smolin (can't think of any from him) but has been mainly coming from the other direction! Maybe the counterpublicity helps Smolin's book sell more?
 
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turbo
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If you will look up Glen Starkman's recent papers and those of Thanu Padmanabahn, you will see that they are modeling the vacuum as if it is a player in gravitation. Padmanabahn's model troubles me because he says that the vacuum state is insensitive to the presence of embedded matter, which makes me think that at best he may be able to recover a static gravitational model. Starkman's papers point to a a dynamical interaction between the vacuum and embedded matter, which opens the door to a dynamic model of gravitation. This concept meshes well with Smolin/Markopolou's work on the fine-scale structure of the vacuum. If the vacuum is a player in gravitation, and the presence of embedded matter can affect the fine-scale structure of the vacuum, the door is open for variable gravitation, and perhaps a way to explain why the standard model needs DM to explain the rotational velocities of galaxies and the excess binding and excess lensing of clusters of galaxies.
 
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marcus
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Turbo, it is interesting that you are thinking along aether lines.
I just noticed that Renate Loll has a new postdoc and he is a researcher in Einstein aether. She is assembling a remarkable team. The most or among the most promising independently creative postdocs in half a dozen different nonstring QG fields.
You may know this guy. His name is Brendan Foster.
Look up his papers.
http://www.phys.uu.nl/~loll/Web/group/group.html

these are Renate Loll's "Seven Samurai postdoc"
Brendan Foster
Tomasz Konopka
Daniele Oriti
Irina Pushkina
Hanno Sahlmann
Artem Starodubtsev
Joe Henson
==========================
maybe this is offtopic but what the hell, look at Brendan Foster's last eight papers (it seems that Ted Jacobson brought him up---Jacobson is a tough maverick and a key figure in QG as I see it)
Showing results 1 through 20 (of 20 total) for au:Foster_B

1. arXiv:0706.0704 [ps, pdf, other]
Title: Strong field effects on binary systems in Einstein-aether theory
Authors: Brendan Z. Foster
Subjects: General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (gr-qc)
2. arXiv:hep-th/0702124 [ps, pdf, other]
Title: Lorentz violation and perpetual motion
Authors: Christopher Eling, Brendan Z. Foster, Ted Jacobson, Aron C. Wall
Comments: 5 pages, 1 figure; v2. Added reference, and a remark concerning the assumption that the entropy radiated in fields responsible for Lorentz symmetry breaking is negligible
Subjects: High Energy Physics - Theory (hep-th); General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (gr-qc)
3. arXiv:gr-qc/0602004 [ps, pdf, other]
Title: Radiation Damping in Einstein-Aether Theory
Authors: Brendan Z. Foster
Comments: 25 pages, 1 figure; v2: added comments and references; v3: cosmetics; v4: corrected error in spin-1 portion of calculation
Journal-ref: Phys.Rev. D73 (2006) 104012, Erratum - Phys.Rev. D75 (2007) 129904
Subjects: General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (gr-qc); Astrophysics (astro-ph); High Energy Physics - Phenomenology (hep-ph); High Energy Physics - Theory (hep-th)
4. arXiv:gr-qc/0509121 [ps, pdf, other]
Title: Noether charges and black hole mechanics in Einstein-aether theory
Authors: Brendan Z. Foster
Comments: 14 pages; v2: minor comments added
Journal-ref: Phys.Rev. D73 (2006) 024005
Subjects: General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (gr-qc); High Energy Physics - Theory (hep-th)
5. arXiv:gr-qc/0509083 [ps, pdf, other]
Title: Post-Newtonian parameters and constraints on Einstein-aether theory
Authors: Brendan Z. Foster, Ted Jacobson
Comments: 19 pages; v2: corrected typos
Journal-ref: Phys.Rev. D73 (2006) 064015
Subjects: General Relativity and Quantum Cosmology (gr-qc); Astrophysics (astro-ph); High Energy Physics - Theory (hep-th)
6. arXiv:gr-qc/0502066 [ps, pdf, other]
Title: Metric Redefinitions in Einstein-Aether Theory
Authors: Brendan Z. Foster
Comments: 11 pages; v.2: Some clarifying remarks added, to appear in PRD
Journal-ref: Phys.Rev. D72 (2005) 044017

===========================
the fact that Renate Loll and Ted Jacobson point at Einstein-Aether as interesting to pursue is a signal. It looks like I will have to learn something about it. didn't you alrealy look into this?
 
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marcus
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Last time I reported on TWP sales was five days ago. Smolin book is still doing remarkably well. Salesrank ratio is 8.6.

As of 30 September noon pacific the Smolin salesrank was 602
and the salesranks of the five most popular stringy books were
elegant 3481
warped 4394
fabric 4464
parallel 4911
endless 8703

so the stringy topfive average was 5190.6
and the ratio was 5190.6/602 = 8.6
Judging by salesranks "Trouble" was selling over eight times better than the stringy average that I've been using as a benchmark.

this is surprising. I tracked the ratio earlier and it was fairly steady around 2.5 month after month during February-May. But during September it has tended to be five or higher.
 
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marcus
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At 4 PM the Smolin/string ratio was 11.8.
*The Trouble with Physics* salesrank was #463
and the stringy average was 5462.6
broken down as follows, in case anyone is interested:
kaku parallel 3225
greene elegant 4199
greene fabric 5055
randall warped 5352
steinhardt endless 9482

At 5 PM the ratio was 13.4
namely 5865.0/439
 
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  • #7
wolram
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At 4 PM the Smolin/string ratio was 11.8.
*The Trouble with Physics* salesrank was #463
and the stringy average was 5462.6
broken down as follows, in case anyone is interested:
kaku parallel 3225
greene elegant 4199
greene fabric 5055
randall warped 5352
steinhardt endless 9482

At 5 PM the ratio was 13.4
namely 5865.0/439
And the rest of the population watch Harry Potter.
 
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marcus
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If you mean the reading public, not quite all of them are reading Potterbooks.
the current #1 bestseller is
The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World
by Alan Greenspan
He's the retired chairman of the Fed (the US national bank that controls interest rates and regulates the economy to some extent).
Thought to be pretty smart and to have done a good job.

I think the recent Potter offering is only #10 on the list. People read do a lot of garbage and frivolous twaddle----but they don't ONLY read that stuff. They read solid non-fiction too and even some science.
 
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Turbo, it is interesting that you are thinking along aether lines.
Are there people out there to think along ether lines?

You may have a look at ilja-schmelzer.de/ether/ether.pdf

Ilja
 
  • #10
turbo
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the fact that Renate Loll and Ted Jacobson point at Einstein-Aether as interesting to pursue is a signal. It looks like I will have to learn something about it. didn't you alrealy look into this?
Yes, Marcus. I have been pursuing this in hopes of making sense of the mechanics of gravitation. Like Sakharov, Haisch, Rueda, and Puthoff, I have been exploring the foundations of physics, and that requires that we put everything on the table. If you will read Einstein's memoriam on the death of Ernst Mach, you will see what I mean. We cannot blithely accept the mathematical explanation for GR gravitation without demanding a mechanical model of gravitation that underlies the behavior that the math describes.

Einstein said:
"How does it happen that a properly endowed natural scientist comes to concern himself with epistemology? Is there no more valuable work in his specialty? I hear many of my colleagues saying, and I sense it from many more, that they feel this way. I cannot share this sentiment. ... Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such an authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. Thus they come to be stamped as 'necessities of thought,' 'a priori givens,' etc. The path of scientific advance is often made impassable for a long time through such errors. For that reason, it is by no means an idle game if we become practiced in analyzing the long common place concepts and exhibiting those circumstances upon which their justification and usefulness depend, how they have grown up, individually, out of the givens of experience. By this means, their all-too-great authority will be broken."
 
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I wonder if there's a correlation between 'sales', and 'grants' for the next year(s)/'given period'?
 
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marcus
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I wonder if there's a correlation between 'sales', and 'grants' for the next year(s)/'given period'?
I think that has been demonstrated, if sales refers to a serious non-fiction book that has an impact on public discussion of science issues.

The public supports theory research by tax money and ultimately the public understanding and interest in fundamental physics and cosmology matters a lot. It is what that support is built on, in a democracy.

The Smolin book does not merely criticize the string establishment. It makes a case for allowing researchers in the US a comparable freedom to what they have in Europe and Canada, to pursue different approaches to fundamental understanding of space time and matter.

In the past couple of years the situation has become rather satisfactory in Europe---there is quite a bit more in the way of support and positions available. Smolin's book is really addressed to the situation in the US (where there is only ONE university with a nonstring QG group, namely Penn State).

Outside the US a young researcher can pursue half a dozen different nonstring QG roads, in Trieste, Mainz, Lyon, Tours, Marseille, Nottingham, London, Utrecht, Potsdam, Aachen, Monpellier, Perimeter-Waterloo, Western Ontario U, etc. and get PAID and have a FACULTY ADVISOR/SPONSOR, and have some chance of a future POSITION.
The situation in the US is rather extreme, a German postdoc has called it "bizarre" if I remember right. In the US string has a stranglehold and I think the impact of Smolin book will be to help break that stranglehold, if it has any substantial impact. Hoping anyway.
 
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