Also available as http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/week257.html October 14, 2007 This Week's Finds in Mathematical Physics (Week 257) John Baez Time flies! This week I'll finally finish saying what I did on my summer vacation. After my trip to Oslo I stayed in London, or more precisely Greenwich. While there, I talked with some good mathematicians and physicists: in particular, Minhyong Kim, Ray Streater, Andreas Doering and Chris Isham. I also went to a topology conference in Sheffield... and Eugenia Cheng explained some cool stuff on the train ride there. I want to tell you about all this before I forget. Also, the Tale of Groupoidification has taken a shocking new turn: it's now becoming available as a series of *videos*. But first, some miscellaneous fun stuff on math and astronomy. Math: if you haven't seen a sphere turn inside out, you've got to watch this classic movie, now available for free online: 1) The Geometry Center, Outside in, http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6626464599825291409 Astronomy: did you ever wonder where dust comes from? I'm not talking about dust bunnies under your bed - I'm talking about the dust cluttering our galaxy, which eventually clumps together to form planets and... you and me! These days most dust comes from aging stars called "asymptotic giant branch" stars. The sun will eventually become one of these. The story goes like this: first it'll keep burning until the hydrogen in its core is exhausted. Then it'll cool and become a red giant. Eventually helium at the core will ignite, and the Sun will shrink and heat up again... but its core will then become cluttered with even heavier elements, so it'll cool and expand once more, moving onto the "asymptotic giant branch". At this point it'll have a layered structure: heavier elements near the bottom, then a layer of helium, then hydrogen on the top. (A similar fate awaits any star between 0.6 and 10 solar masses, though the details depend on the mass. For the more dramatic fate of heavier stars, see "week204".) This layered structure is unstable, so asymptotic giant branch stars pulse every 10 to 100 thousand years or so. And, they puff out dust! Stellar wind then blows this dust out into space. A great example is the Red Rectangle: 2) Rungs of the Red Rectangle, Astronomy picture of the day, May 13, 2004, http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap040513.html Here two stars 2300 light years from us are spinning around each other while pumping out a huge torus of icy dust grains and hydrocarbon molecules. It's not really shaped like a rectangle or X - it just looks that way. The scene is about 1/3 of a light year across. Ciska Markwick-Kemper is an expert on dust. She's an astrophysicist at the University of Manchester. Together with some coauthors, she wrote a paper about the Red Rectangle: 3) F. Markwick-Kemper, J. D. Green, E. Peeters, Spitzer detections of new dust components in the outflow of the Red Rectangle, Astrophys. J. 628 (2005) L119-L122. Also available as arXiv:astro-ph/0506473. They used the Spitzer Space Telescope - an infrared telescope on a satellite in earth orbit - to find evidence of magnesium and iron oxides in this dust cloud. But, what made dust in the early Universe? It took about a billion years after the Big Bang for asymptotic giant branch stars to form. But we know there was a lot of dust even before then! We can see it in distant galaxies lit up by enormous black holes called "quasars", which pump out vast amounts of radiation as stuff falls into them. Markwick-Kemper and coauthors have also tackled that question: 4) F. Markwick-Kemper, S. C. Gallagher, D. C. Hines and J. Bouwman, Dust in the wind: crystalline silicates, corundum and periclase in PG 2112+059, Astrophys. J. 668 (2007), L107-L110. Also available as arXiv:0710.2225. They used spectroscopy to identify various kinds of dust in a distant galaxy: a magnesium silicate that geologists call "forsterite", a magnesium oxide called "periclase", and aluminum oxide, otherwise known as "corundum" - you may have seen it on sandpaper. And, they hypothesize that these dust grains were formed in the hot wind emanating from the quasar at this galaxy's core! So, besides being made of star dust, as in the Joni Mitchell song, you also may contain a bit of black hole dust. Okay - now that we've got that settled, on to London! Minhyong Kim is a friend I met back in 1986 when he was a grad student at Yale. After dabbling in conformal field theory, he became a student of Serge Lang and went into number theory. He recently moved to England and started teaching at University College, London. I met him there this summer, in front of the philosopher Jeremy Bentham, who had himself mummified and stuck in a wooden cabinet near the school's entrance. If you're not into number theory, maybe you should read this: 5) Minhyong Kim, Why everyone should know number theory, available at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~ucahmki/numbers.pdf Personally I never liked the subject until I realized it was a form of *geometry*. For example, when we take an equation like this x^2 + y^3 = 1 and look at the real solutions, we get a curve in the plane - a "real curve". If we look at the complex solutions, we get something bigger. People call it a "complex curve", because it's analogous to a real curve. But topologically, it's 2-dimensional. This will be important in a few minutes, so don't forget it! If we use polynomial equations with more variables, we get higher-dimensional shapes called "algebraic varieties" - either real or complex. Either way, we can study these shapes using geometry and topology. But in number theory, we might study the solutions of these equations in some other number system - for example in Z/p, meaning the integers modulo some prime p. At first glance there's no geometry involved anymore. After all, there's just a *finite set* of solutions! However, algebraic geometers have figured out how to apply ideas from geometry and topology, mimicking tricks that work for the real and complex numbers. All this is very fun and mind-blowing - especially when we reach Grothendieck's idea of "etale topology", developed around 1958. This is a way of studying "holes" in things like algebraic varieties over finite fields. Amazingly, it gives results that nicely match the results we get for the corresponding complex algebraic varieties! That's part of what the "Weil conjectures" say. You can learn the details here: 6) J. S. Milne, Lectures on Etale Cohomology, available at http://www.jmilne.org/math/CourseNotes/math732.html Anyway, I quizzed about Minhyong about one of the big mysteries that's been puzzling me lately. I want to know why the integers resemble a 3-dimensional space - and how prime numbers are like "knots" in this space! Let me try to explain this in a very sketchy way, without getting into any technical details. I'll still make mistakes... but this stuff is just too cool to keep secret - so if the experts don't explain it, nonexperts like me have to try. You can think of Z/p as giving a very simple sort of curve. Naively you could imagine it as shaped like a ring, for example the integers mod 7 here: 0 6 1 5 2 4 3 But now it's better to think of Z/p as a "line". After all, a line is defined by one variable and no equations. Here we have one variable in Z/p. But remember: a curve defined in a field like Z/p acts a lot like a complex curve. And, a complex curve is topologically 2-dimensional! So, the "line" associated to Z/p seems 2-dimensional from the viewpoint of etale topology. In other words, it's really more like a "plane" - just like the complex numbers are topologically a plane. This is true for each prime p. But the integers, Z, are more complicated than any of these Z/p's. To be precise, we have maps Z -> Z/p for each p. So, if we think of Z as a kind of space, it's a big space that contains all the "planes" corresponding to the Z/p's. So, it's 3-dimensonal! In short: from the viewpoint of etale topology, the integers have one dimension that says which prime you're at, and two more coming from the plane-like nature of each individual Z/p. Naively you might imagine a stack of planes, one for each prime. But that's a very crude picture, and it misses a crucial fact: the primes get "tangled up" with each other. In fact, each "plane" has a specially nice circle in it, and these circles are *linked*. I've been fascinated by this ever since I heard about it, but I got even more interested when I saw a draft of a paper by Kapranov and some coauthor. I got it from Thomas Riepe, who got it from Yuri Manin. I don't have it right here with me, so I'll add a reference later... but I don't think it's available yet, so the reference won't do you much good anyway. In this paper, the authors explain how the "Legendre symbol" of primes is analogous to the "linking number" of knots. The Legendre symbol depends on two primes: it's 1 or -1 depending on whether or not the first is a square modulo the second. The linking number depends on two knots: it says how many times the first winds around the second. The linking number stays the same when you switch the two knots. The Legendre symbol has a subtler symmetry when you switch the two primes: this symmetry is called "quadratic reciprocity", and it has lots of proofs, starting with a bunch by Gauss - all a bit tricky. I'd feel very happy if I truly understood why quadratic reciprocity reduces to the symmetry of the linking number when we think of primes as analogous to knots. Unfortunately, I'll need to think a lot more before I really get the idea. I got into number theory late in life, so I'm pretty slow at it. This paper studies subtler ways in which primes can be "linked": 7) Masanori Morigarbagea, Milnor invariants and Massey products for prime numbers, Compositio Mathematica 140 (2004), 69-83. You may know the Borromean rings, a design where no two rings are linked in isolation, but all three are when taken together. Here the linking numbers are zero, but the linking can be detected by something called the "Massey triple product". Morigarbagea generalizes this to primes! But I want to understand the basics... The secret 3-dimensional nature of the integers and certain other "rings of algebraic integers" seems to go back at least to the work of Artin and Verdier: 8) Michael Artin and Jean-Louis Verdier, Seminar on etale cohomology of number fields, Woods Hole, 1964. You can see it clearly here, starting in section 2: 9) Barry Mazur, Notes on the etale cohomology of number fields, Annales Scientifiques de l'Ecole Normale Superieure Ser. 4, 6 (1973), 521-552. Also available at http://www.numdam.org/numdam-bin/fitem?id=ASENS_1973_4_6_4_521_0 By now, a big "dictionary" relating knots to primes has been developed by Kapranov, Mazur, Morigarbagea, and Reznikov. This seems like a readable introduction: 10) Adam S. Sikora, Analogies between group actions on 3-manifolds and number fields, available as arXiv:math/0107210. I need to study it. These might also be good - I haven't looked at them yet: 11) Masanori Morigarbagea, On certain analogies between knots and primes, J. Reine Angew. Math. 550 (2002), 141-167. Masanori Morigarbagea, On analogies between knots and primes, Sugaku 58 (2006), 40-63. After giving a talk on 2-Hilbert spaces at University College, I went to dinner with Minhyong and some folks including Ray Streater. Ray Streater and Arthur Wightman wrote the book "PCT, Spin, Statistics and All That". Like almost every mathematician who has seriously tried to understand quantum field theory, I've learned a lot from this book. So, it was fun meeting Streater, talking with him - and finding out he'd once been made an honorary colonel of the US Army to get a free plane trip to the Rochester Conference! This was a big important particle physics conference, back in the good old days. He also described Geoffrey Chew's Rochester conference talk on the analytic S-matrix, given at the height of the bootstrap theory fad. Wightman asked Chew: why assume from the start that the S-matrix was analytic? Why not try to derive it from simpler principles? Chew replied that "everything in physics is smooth". Wightman asked about smooth functions that aren't analytic. Chew thought a moment and replied that there weren't any. Ha-ha-ha... What's the joke? Well, first of all, Wightman had already succeeded in deriving the analyticity of the S-matrix from simpler principles. Second, any good mathematician - but not necessarily every physicist, like Chew - will know examples of smooth functions that aren't analytic. Anyway, Streater has just finished an interesting book on "lost causes" in physics: ideas that sounded good, but never panned out. Of course it's hard to know when a cause is truly lost. But a good pragmatic definition of a lost cause in physics is a topic that shouldn't be given as a thesis problem. So, if you're a physics grad student and some professor wants you to work on hidden variable theories, or octonionic quantum mechanics, or deriving laws of physics from Fisher information, you'd better read this: 11) Ray F. Streater, Lost Causes in and Beyond Physics, Springer Verlag, Berlin, 2007. (I like octonions - but I agree with Streater about not inflicting them on physics grad students! Even though all my students are in the math department, I still wouldn't want them working mainly on something like that. There's a lot of more general, clearly useful stuff that students should learn.) I also spoke to Andreas Doering and Chris Isham about their work on topos theory and quantum physics. Andreas Doering lives near Greenwich, while Isham lives across the Thames in London proper. So, I talked to Doering a couple times, and once we visited Isham at his house. I mainly mention this because Isham is one of the gurus of quantum gravity, profoundly interested in philosophy... so I was surprised, at the end of our talk, when he showed me into a room with a huge rack of computers hooked up to a bank of about 8 video monitors, and controls reminiscent of an airplane cockpit. It turned out to be his homemade flight simulator! He's been a hobbyist electrical engineer for years - the kind of guy who loves nothing more than a soldering iron in his hand. He'd just gotten a big 750-watt power supply, since he'd blown out his previous one. Anyway, he and Doering have just come out with a series of papers: 11) Andreas Doering and Christopher Isham, A topos foundation for theories of physics: I. Formal languages for physics, available as arXiv:quant-ph/0703060. II. Daseinisation and the liberation of quantum theory, available as arXiv:quant-ph/0703062. III. The representation of physical quantities with arrows, available as arXiv:quant-ph/0703064. IV. Categories of systems, available as arXiv:quant-ph/0703066. Though they probably don't think of it this way, you can think of their work as making precise Bohr's ideas on seeing the quantum world through classical eyes. Instead of talking about all observables at once, they consider collections of observables that you can measure simultaneously without the uncertainty principle kicking in. These collections are called "commutative subalgebras". You can think of a commutative subalgebra as a classical snapshot of the full quantum reality. Each snapshot only shows part of the reality. One might show an electron's position; another might show its momentum. Some commutative subalgebras contain others, just like some open sets of a topological space contain others. The analogy is a good one, except there's no one commutative subalgebra that contains *all* the others. Topos theory is a kind of "local" version of logic, but where the concept of locality goes way beyond the ordinary notion from topology. In topology, we say a property makes sense "locally" if it makes sense for points in some particular open set. In the Doering-Isham setup, a property makes sense "locally" if it makes sense "within a particular classical snapshot of reality" - that is, relative to a particular commutative subalgebra. (Speaking of topology and its generalizations, this work on topoi and physics is related to the "etale topology" idea I mentioned a while back - but technically it's much simpler. The etale topology lets you define a topos of "sheaves" on a certain category. The Doering-Isham work just uses the topos of "presheaves" on the poset of commutative subalgebras. Trust me - while this may sound scary, it's much easier.) Doering and Isham set up a whole program for doing physics "within a topos", based on existing ideas on how to do math in a topos. You can do vast amounts of math inside any topos just as if you were in the ordinary world of set theory - but using intuitionistic logic instead of classical logic. Intuitionistic logic denies the principle of excluded middle, namely: "For any statement P, either P is true or not(P) is true." In Doering and Isham's setup, if you pick a commutative subalgebra that contains the position of an electron as one of its observables, it can't contain the electron's momentum. That's because these observables don't commute: you can't measure them both simultaneously. So, working "locally" - that is, relative to this particular subalgebra - the statement P = "the momentum of the electron is zero" is neither true nor false! It's just not defined. Their work has inspired this very nice paper: 12) Chris Heunen and Bas Spitters, A topos for algebraic quantum theory, available as arXiv:0709.4364. so let me explain that too. I said you can do a lot of math inside a topos. In particular, you can define an algebra of observables - or technically, a "C*-algebra". By the Isham-Doering work I just sketched, any C*-algebra of observables gives a topos. Heunen and Spitters show that the original C*-algebra gives rise to a commutative C*-algebra in this topos, even if the original one was noncommutative! That actually makes sense, since in this setup, each "local view" of the full quantum reality is classical. What's really neat is that the Gelfand-Naimark theorem, saying commutative C*-algebras are always algebras of continuous functions on compact Hausdorff spaces, can be generalized to work within any topos. So, we get a space *in our topos* such that observables of the C*-algebra *in the topos* are just functions on this space. I know this sounds technical if you're not into this stuff. But it's really quite wonderful. It basically means this: using topos logic, we can talk about a classical space of states for a quantum system! However, this space typically has "no global points". In other words, there's no overall classical reality that matches all the classical snapshots. As you can probably tell, category theory is gradually seeping into this post, though I've been doing my best to keep it hidden. Now I want to say what Eugenia Cheng explained on that train to Sheffield. But at this point, I'll break down and assume you know some category theory - for example, monads. If you don't know about monads, never fear! I defined them in "week89", and studied them using string diagrams in "week92". Even better, Eugenia Cheng and Simon Willerton have formed a little group called the Catsters - and under this name, they've put some videos about monads and string diagrams onto YouTube! This is a really great new use of technology. So, you should also watch these: 14) The Catsters, Monads, http://youtube.com/view_play_list?p=0E91279846EC843E The Catsters, Adjunctions, http://youtube.com/view_play_list?p=54B49729E5102248 The Catsters, String diagrams, monads and adjunctions, http://youtube.com/view_play_list?p=50ABC4792BD0A086 A very famous monad is the "free abelian group" monad F: Set -> Set which eats any set X and spits out the free abelian group on X, say F(X). A guy in F(X) is just a formal linear combination of guys in X, with integer coefficients. Another famous monad is the "free monoid" monad G: Set -> Set This eats any set X and spits out the free monoid on X, namely G(X). A guy in G(X) is just a formal product of guys in X. Now, there's yet another famous monad, called the "free ring" monad, which eats any set X and spits out the free ring on this set. But, it's easy to see that this is just F(G(X))! After all, F(G(X)) consists of formal linear combinations of formal products of guys in X. But that's precisely what you find in the free ring on X. But why is FG a monad? There's more to a monad than just a functor. A monad is really a kind of *monoid* in the world of functors from our category (here Set) to itself. In particular, since F is a monad, it comes with a natural transformation called a "multiplication": m: FF => F which sends formal linear combinations of formal linear combinations to formal linear combinations, in the obvious way. Similarly, since G is a monad, it comes with a natural transformation n: GG => G sending formal products of formal products to formal products. But how does FG get to be a monad? For this, we need some natural transformation from FGFG to FG! There's an obvious thing to try, namely mn FGFG ======> FFGG ======> FG where in the first step we switch G and F somehow, and in the second step we use m and n. But, how do we do the first step? We need a natural transformation d: GF => FG which sends formal products of formal linear combinations to formal linear combinations of formal products. Such a thing obviously exists; for example, it sends (x + 2y)(x - 3z) to xx + 2yx - 3xz - 6yz It's just the distributive law! Quite generally, to make the composite of monads F and G into a new monad FG, we need something that people call a "distributive law", which is a natural transformation d: GF => FG This must satisfy some equations - but you can work out those yourself. For example, you can demand that FdG mn FGFG ======> FFGG ======> FG make FG into a monad, and see what that requires. Besides the "multiplication" in our monad, we also need the "unit", so you should also think about that - I'm ignoring it here because it's less sexy than the multiplication, but it's equally essential. However: all this becomes more fun with string diagrams! As the Catsters explain, and I explained in "week89", the multiplication m: FF => F can be drawn like this: \ / \ / F\ F/ \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / |m | | | | | F| | And, it has to satisfy the associative law, which says we get the same answer either way when we multiply three things: \ / / \ \ / \ / / \ \ / F\ /F F/ F\ F\ /F \/ / \ \/ m\ / \ /m \ / \ / F\ / \ /F \ / \ / |m |m | | | = | | | | | | | F| F| | | The multiplication n: GG => G looks similar to m, and it too has to satisfy the associative law. How do we draw the distributive law d: FG => GF? Since it's a process of switching two things, we draw it as a *braiding*: F\ /G \ / / / \ G/ \F I hope you see how incredibly cool this is: the good old distributive law is now a *braiding*, which pushes our diagrams into the third dimension! Given this, let's draw the multiplication for our would-be monad FG, namely FdG mn FGFG ======> FFGG ======> FG It looks like this: \ \ / / \ \ / / F\ G\ F/ /G \ \ / / \ \ / / \ \ / / \ / / \ / \ / |m |n | | | | | | | | | | F| |G | | Now, we want *this* multiplication to be associative! So, we need to draw an equation like this: \ / / \ \ / \ / / \ \ / \ / / \ \ / \/ / \ \/ \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / \ / | | | | | = | | | | | | | | | | | but with the strands *doubled*, as above - I'm too lazy to draw this here. And then we need to find some nice conditions that make this associative law true. Clearly we should use the associative laws for m and n, but the "braiding" - the distributive law d: FG => GF - also gets into the act. I'll leave this as a pleasant exercise in string diagram manipulation. If you get stuck, you can peek in the back of the book: 14) Wikipedia, Distibutive law between monads, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributive_law_between_monads The two scary commutative rectangles on this page are the "nice conditions" you need. They look nicer as string diagrams. One looks like this: F\ G\ /G F\ G/ /G \ \ / \ / / \ |n \ / / \ / / / \ / = / \ / / / / / \ / /\ / \ \ / \ / \ \ / \ G/ \F |n \F / \ G| \ In words: "multiply two G's and slide the result over an F" = "slide both the G's over the F and then multiply them" If the pictures were made of actual string, this would be obvious! The other condition is very similar. I'm too lazy to draw it, but it says "multiply two F's and slide the result under a G" = "slide both the F's under a G and then multiply them" All this is very nice, and it goes back to a paper by Beck: 15) Jon Beck, Distributive laws, Lecture Notes in Mathematics 80, Springer, Berlin, pp. 119–140. This isn't what Eugenia explained to me, though - I already knew this stuff. She started out by explaining something in a paper by Street: 16) Ross Street, The formal theory of monads, J. Pure Appl. Alg. 2 (1972), 149-168. which is reviewed at the beginning here: 17) Steve Lack and Ross Street, The formal theory of monads II, J. Pure Appl. Alg. 175 (2002), 243-265. Also available at http://www.maths.usyd.edu.au/u/stevel/papers/ftm2.html (Check out the cool string diagrams near the end!) Street noted that for any category C, there's a category Mnd(C) whose objects are monads on C and whose morphisms are "monad transforms": functors from C to C that make an obvious square commute. And, he noted that a monad on Mnd(C) is a pair of monads on C related by a distributive law! That's already mindbogglingly beautiful. According to Eugenia, it's in the last sentence of Street's paper. But in her new work: 18) Eugenia Cheng, Iterated distributive laws, available as arXiv:0710.1120. she goes a bit further: she considers monads in Mnd(Mnd(C)), and so on. Here's the punchline, at least for today: she shows that a monad in Mnd(Mnd(C)) is a triple of monads F, G, H related by distributive laws satisfying the Yang-Baxter equation: \F G/ |H F| G\ /H \ / | | \ / / | | / / \ | | / \ / \ | \ / \ | \ / \ / | | / = / | | / \ / \ | | / \ / \ | \ / | | \ / \ / | | \ / / | | / / \ | | / \ /H \G |F H| G/ \F This is also just what you need to make the composite FGH into a monad! By the way, the pathetic piece of ASCII art above is lifted from "week1", where I first explained the Yang-Baxter equation. That was back in 1993. So, it's only taken me 14 years to learn that you can derive this equation from considering monads on the category of monads on the category of monads on a category. You may wonder if this counts as progress - but Eugenia studies lots of *examples* of this sort of thing, so it's far from pointless. Okay... finally, the Tale of Groupoidification. I'm a bit tired now, so instead of telling you more of the tale, let me just say the big news. Starting this fall, James Dolan and I are running a seminar on geometric representation theory, which will discuss: Actions and representations of groups, especially symmetric groups Hecke algebras and Hecke operators Young diagrams Schubert cells for flag varieties q-deformation Spans of groupoids and groupoidification This is the Tale of Groupoidification in another guise. Moreover, the Catsters have inspired me to make videos of this seminar! You can already find some here, along with course notes and blog entries where you can ask questions and talk about the material: 19) John Baez and James Dolan, Geometric representation theory seminar, http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/qg-fall2007/ More will show up in due course. I hope you join the fun. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Quote of the Week: It is a glorious feeling to discover the unity of a set of phenomena that at first seem completely separate. - Albert Einstein ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Previous issues of "This Week's Finds" and other expository articles on mathematics and physics, as well as some of my research papers, can be obtained at http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/ For a table of contents of all the issues of This Week's Finds, try http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/twfcontents.html A simple jumping-off point to the old issues is available at http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/twfshort.html If you just want the latest issue, go to http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/this.week.html
>... lost cause in physics is a topic that shouldn't be given as a >thesis problem. >So, if you're a physics grad student and some professor wants you >to work on hidden variable theories, ..., you'd better read this: Maybe grad students shouldn't be assigned to work on hidden variable theories, but that doesn't mean mature researchers shouldn't look at them. While the conventional wisdom always seems to relegate these efforts to the 'crack-pot' realm, I find it interesting that J. S. Bell's book - The Speakable and Unspeakable in QM, is largely an ode to the de Broglie/Bohm pilot wave interpretation of QM, which is a (non-local) hidden variable theory. Yes, yes, I know - there are issues with a covariant formulation. But Bell seemed optimistic there, also. I don't think he would call it a lost cause. Unfortunately, we no longer have his input.
> After giving a talk on 2-Hilbert spaces at University College, I went > to dinner with Minhyong and some folks including Ray Streater. Ray > Streater and Arthur Wightman wrote the book "PCT, Spin, Statistics and > All That". Like almost every mathematician who has seriously tried to > understand quantum field theory, I've learned a lot from this book. > So, it was fun meeting Streater, talking with him - and finding out > he'd once been made an honorary colonel of the US Army to get a free > plane trip to the Rochester Conference! This was a big important > particle physics conference, back in the good old days. > > He also described Geoffrey Chew's Rochester conference talk on the > analytic S-matrix, given at the height of the bootstrap theory fad. > Wightman asked Chew: why assume from the start that the S-matrix was > analytic? Why not try to derive it from simpler principles? There is an variant of this anecdote in Streater's site, arguing to use positivity there, and in any case explaining why the bootstrap as defined by S-matrix practitioners is a lost cause. Yet, by reading non technical accounts such as www.journals.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/resolve?id=doi:10.1086/344960 or http://www.slac.stanford.edu/spires/find/hep/www?r=LBL-18372 one gets the feeling that Chewish program of "nuclear democracy" was wider than its implementation by S-matrix practitioners. And also that the interpretation of the program by non-practitioners was even wider. It is interesting that that remark of Streater was about the positivity axiom. Bootstrap theory never knew of supersymmetry, and here it come to come back with a revenge. Alejandro
In sci.math John Baez <baez@math.removethis.ucr.andthis.edu> wrote: > I also spoke to Andreas Doering and Chris Isham about their work > on topos theory and quantum physics. Is topos theory the next hot thing? Just yesterday I read about it in Lee Smolin's book "Three Roads to Quantum Gravity". P.S. I proved that the CPT theorem follows from knot theory. OK, "it follows" is a bit misleading, and "I proved x" would always be an outright lie, even for x="1+1=2" but you get the picture :-) -- Hauke Reddmann <:-EX8 fc3a501@uni-hamburg.de order stormed the surface where chaos set norm had there always been balance? ...surely not therein lies the beauty
On Oct 17, 10:41 am, Hauke Reddmann <fc3a...@uni-hamburg.de> wrote: > In sci.math John Baez <b...@math.removethis.ucr.andthis.edu> wrote: > > > I also spoke to Andreas Doering and Chris Isham about their work > > on topos theory and quantum physics. > > Is topos theory the next hot thing? Just yesterday I read about > it in Lee Smolin's book "Three Roads to Quantum Gravity". its hard to call certain approaches that are more than 10 years old hot, new, or the next thing though i agree they are certainly important directions and may be gaining in popularity topoi are found now in several approaches each with their own important integration of the field along with isham's work you will find markopoulou's work on internal logics which although with a slightly different view than isham's main focus on consistent histories is strongly aligned to that idea (they have worked together) also there is the work of bob coecke and operationalist interpretations of quantum theory also bringing in topoi using galois adjunction of the standard (orthomodular) quantum logics i have made a number of posts on these topics in the past on various pieces of these theories and their relations to larger programmes if you are looking for some background though many of the source articles are now available on arXiv and do not require much more background -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- galathaea: prankster, fablist, magician, liar
In sci.math galathaea <galathaea@gmail.com> wrote: > its hard to call certain approaches > that are more than 10 years old > hot, new, or the next thing I disagree. If my memory serves me well, string theory was decades old before a major mathematical breakthrough sent it rocketing off. So, why should not the same happen to topos theory? I'm a complete layman, and consider a topic as "hot" if it appears in layman-directed books. Zounds, I had to learn about the whole quantum theory interpretation smeg from "Illuminatus!" :-) -- Hauke Reddmann <:-EX8 fc3a501@uni-hamburg.de order stormed the surface where chaos set norm had there always been balance? ...surely not therein lies the beauty