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Wilczek's nonstring unification vision for LHC and beyond

  1. 6 (wildly optimistic)

    50.0%
  2. 5 (what it was at noon today)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. 4 (what it was when I checked yesterday)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. 3

    50.0%
  5. 2

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. 1 (on par with the average stringy top five)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Sep 9, 2008 #1

    marcus

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    Frank Wilczek has brought out a book The Lightness of Being that is a perfect follow-up to Lee Smolin's The Trouble with Physics.

    Wilczek presents a vision of unification that is predicts phenomena at LHC energies, that is understandable and relevant in terms of today's experiments, and optimistically presages a new Golden Age of physics. As an honest popularizer he clearly wants to get all his readers on board---and provide decent balcony seats for the opening of LHC-and-beyond.

    So how is the book going to do? Lets pick a target date of 1 November and use our familiar stringy topfive average as a benchmark for comparision.

    At noon today pacific time, 9 September, the Wilczek book's salesrank was 901, and the average rank of the five most popular stringy books was 4526.6, making the ratio 5.02.
    In case anyone is curious, the stringy top five were black, fabric, elegant hardbound, elegant, and parallel---with ranks 644, 4748, 5320, 5813, 6108 in that order.

    What do you predict will be the ratio as of 1 November? Closest guess wins.
    Unless there is objection, we will use a smoothed figure arrived at by averaging the noon ratios for 30 October thru 3 November. This will eliminate some of the more erratic fluctuation.

    I'd guess the possbilities are anything from 1 (par with stringy average) to 5 (its value today.) I'll include the very optimistic figure of 6 even though I don't think it reasonable.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
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  3. Sep 9, 2008 #2

    marcus

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    Here's a video of a great 55 minute lecture Wilczek gave at MIT in 2005 called
    The Universe is a Strange Place.
    http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/253/
    The book we are tracking is kind of amalgam and extension of a number of wide-audience essays and lectures that he has given over the course of seveal years.

    Thanks to PF poster atyy for this link, which has other Wilczek text and video lectures as well
    http://web.mit.edu/physics/facultyandstaff/faculty/frank_wilczek.html

    I should also put the link for the new book, The Lightness of Being:
    http://www.amazon.com/Lightness-Being-Ether-Unification-Forces/dp/0465003214/
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2008
  4. Sep 10, 2008 #3

    marcus

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    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?

    So here we have a new wide audience book on fundamental physics--the deep theory. I'd say probably the most important one to come out since Smolin's book appeared in September of 2006.
    How do you predict it will do? How will it's salesrank stack up compared to benchmark, by the beginning of November?

    At noon today the book's salesrank was 784
    and the topfive stringy books averaged 3278.8, making the ratio 4.2
    Judging by salesranks, "The Lightness of Being" was doing about four times better than the stringy average.

    The five most popular stringy books were about the same as they have been for much of the time since early August: black hole, elegant, fabric, parallel, elegant hardbound, their saleranks being 599, 2841, 3704, 4317, 4933.
     
  5. Sep 11, 2008 #4

    marcus

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    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?


    Today at noon the ratio was 3.0. Lightness' salesrank was 1070 and the stringy benchmark was 3257.8.
    Three was the ratio I predicted for 1 November! So in effect my forecast says that over the next month and a half the ups and downs will even out so that the ratio will be the same as it was today.

    There is a phenomenon with new books that they sell a lot when they first come out and then taper off. This seems to have been happening in the three days, although that timespan is far too brief for any reliable conclusions.

    I ordered the book Tuesday and it was delivered by Amazon within two days. We didn't request any extra postage or shipping, just the normal base rate. So I was surprised.
    The book is perfect as a follow on to Smolin's because it develops a vision of the future of fundamental physics based on Wilczek's experience playing a major role, and his remarkable intuition.
     
  6. Sep 12, 2008 #5

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    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    12 September 3.8
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?


    Lightness' salesrank was 840 at noon today, 12 September, and the stringy benchmark was 3208.4.
    So the ratio rebounded some.

    Stringy top five were black hole, fabric, elegant, elegant hardbound, parallel, with ranks
    711, 2224, 2616, 5105, 5386.
     
  7. Sep 14, 2008 #6

    marcus

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    Wilczek's book is hot

    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    12 September 3.8
    13 September 3.0
    14 September 3.3
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?


    At noon 14 September The Lightness of Being salesrank was 596 and the stringy benchmark was 1964.4. So Wilczek's book was doing around 3 times better than par.

    Stringy top five were black hole, fabric, elegant, parallel, and elegant hardbound, with ranks
    1281, 1382, 1597, 2084, 3478.

    In case anyone is curious to know how Smolin's book is doing, its salesrank was 4722, with ratio 0.42. About 40 percent of par compared with the five currently most popular string books. Not stellar, but still hanging in there.

    Wilczek's book is a good continuation of Smolin's in part because it envisions the future of fundamental physics---deeper understanding of nature: quantum gravity, unification of forces---in a non-stringy way. String formalism plays no essential role and there is very little reference to it---the book's vision is post-string.

    Wilczek's vision is what quantum gravitists would call background independent meaning that empty space and its geometry are not fixed but constitute a dynamic actor in the play. A fully quantum model of the continuum. It's based on his experience and intuition gained in the course of understanding how quarks work, which is part of the story.
     
  8. Sep 16, 2008 #7

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    book still doing good

    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    12 September 3.8
    13 September 3.0
    14 September 3.3
    ...
    16 September 3.7
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?


    I've been reading this book. It's great. I get more out of it even than I did with Smolin's book. It is harder and more crammed with ideas, and has a clear general vision of where physics might be heading in the next decade or two. Very exciting. So I am glad the book is doing well. It will help disinfect the public's notion of fundamental physics which in my opinion got kind of sunk in stringy hype during recent years.

    Anyway at noon 16 September The Lightness of Being salesrank was 746 and the stringy benchmark was 2778.4. So Wilczek's book was doing around 3.7 times better than par, going by ranks.

    Stringy top five were black hole, fabric, elegant, elegant hardbound, and parallel,
    with ranks
    1050, 2216, 2639, 2785, 5202.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
  9. Sep 18, 2008 #8

    marcus

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    As of noon pacific 18 September Wilczek book's salesrank was 1271
    and benchmark average was 3075.0, making the ratio 2.4

    (The five most popular stringy books were black, fabric, elegant, parallel, elegant hardbound with ranks 2109, 2419, 2589, 3084, 5174.)

    ((The ratio for Smolin's book was 0.42. Still hanging in there---though only about 40 percent of the stringy average benchmark.))

    As of noon 19 September Wilczek 2060 and benchmark 3695.4, ratio 1.8
    Smolin book's ratio was 0.48.

    (elegant, black, fabric, parallel, elegant hardbound::2270, 2631, 3431, 4926, 5219)
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2008
  10. Sep 22, 2008 #9

    marcus

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    down to about twice par

    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    12 September 3.8
    13 September 3.0
    14 September 3.3
    ...
    16 September 3.7
    ...
    22 September 2.1
    23 September 4.2
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?




    As of noon 22 September The Lightness of Being salesrank was 1118 and the stringy benchmark was 2345.2. So on a salesrank basis, Wilczek's book was about twice par.

    Stringy top five were black hole, idiot guide, elegant, fabric, and parallel,
    with ranks
    1080, 1877, 2179, 3029, 3561.

    As of noon 23 September The Lightness of Being salesrank was 736 and the benchmark stringy average was 3075.0. So on a salesrank basis, Wilczek's book was doing about four times better than benchmark.

    Stringy top five were black hole, fabric, idiot guide, elegant, and elegant hardbound,
    with ranks
    2162, 2331, 2670, 2840, 5372.

    BTW the same ratio for Smolin's book The Trouble with Physics was 0.54, it seems to be holding fairly steady around the 50 percent mark.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  11. Sep 24, 2008 #10

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    four times par, what will the 1 October ratio be?

    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    12 September 3.8
    13 September 3.0
    14 September 3.3
    ...
    16 September 3.7
    ...
    22 September 2.1
    23 September 4.2
    24 September 4.4
    25 September 4.9
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?


    As of noon pacific time on 24 September
    Lightness of Being salesrank 744
    String average 3283.0, making ratio 4.4.

    As of noon 25 Septemeber Lightness was #3 physics bestseller with salesrank 481
    compared with string topfive average of 2367.4, making the ratio 4.9

    Gokul suggested smoothing the index out by a simple average of ratios over several days. Maybe it will suffice to use five days (less work than doing it for seven.) If 1 October were the target date this would mean recording ratios for
    29 Sep
    30 Sep
    1 Oct
    2 Oct
    3 Oct
    and averaging.

    I still feel OK about my prediction for 1 November, although it is maybe just a bit on the optimistic side.

    The five most popular string books on the 24th were black, elegant, fabric, idiot guide, and elegant hardbound, with ranks 1612, 3364, 3647, 3728, 4064.
    Those on the 25th were fabric, black, elegant, elegant hard, and idiot, with ranks 1253, 1789, 1926, 3047, 3822.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2008
  12. Sep 28, 2008 #11

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    below 2x par

    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    12 September 3.8
    13 September 3.0
    14 September 3.3
    ...
    16 September 3.7
    ...
    22 September 2.1
    23 September 4.2
    24 September 4.4
    25 September 4.9
    26 September 3.0
    ...
    28 September 1.8
    ...
    1 October ?
    ...
    1 November ?


    On 28 September
    Lightness of Being salesrank 1050
    String topfive average 1940.2, ratio 1.8
    String top five were parallel, elegant, black, fabric, idiot guide, with ranks:
    1462, 1593, 1632, 2334, 2680

    Attended a talk by Wilczek yesterday. currrent state and future of fundamental physics---foresees a new golden age analogous to the period around 1925 when a number of people (Schroedinger, Heisenberg, von Neuman, Bohr, Pauli, Dirac...) were inventing quantum mechanics and there were a lot of new ideas.
    Did not mention string/M anywhere in the talk, not part of his vision of physics future. However at the end one person asked about string, so he explained why it wasn't part of his vision of where things were going (but of course it might turn out, who can say...and so on.)
    Neat talk. Lot of slides stored on his laptop including animations. Stunning Large Hadron Collider pictures, and computer animation of the gluon dance going on inside of the proton. See the talk if you have a chance!
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
  13. Sep 29, 2008 #12

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    29 Sep 1.39
    1535 compared to 1528, 1997, 2279, 2354, 2536 (p, f, e, b, e)
    ratio for the Smolin book was 0.40

    30 Sep 2.04
    1470 compared to 2605, 2852, 2931, 3131, 3463 (p,e,b,i,f)
    ratio for TwP was 0.52
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2008
  14. Oct 2, 2008 #13

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    As per Gokul's suggestion, I'm going to average 5 readings around 1 October

    29 Sep 1.39
    1535 compared to 1528, 1997, 2279, 2354, 2536 (p, f, e, b, e)
    ratio for the Smolin book was 0.40

    30 Sep 2.04
    1470 compared to 2605, 2852, 2931, 3131, 3463 (p, e ,b ,i ,f)
    ratio for TwP was 0.52

    1 Oct 1.66
    Wilczek's The Lightness of Being rank was 1921, the stringy top five were fabric, elegant, black, idiot guide, and parallel, with ranks 2404, 2581, 2658, 3254, 5034 making average 3185.8, and the ratio 1.66
    Trouble's rank was 6567, making the ratio 0.49

    2 Oct 1.94
    1596 compared to 2297, 2459, 3343, 3581, 3786 (b, p, e, e, f)
    ratio for TwP was 0.32

    3 Oct 2.53
    Wilczek was 1707 compared to string top five 2564, 4235, 4440, 4797, 5534 (b, p, e, i, e) averaging 4314.0, ratio 2.53.
    ratio for TwP was 0.31

    As per suggestion, we now average the ratios for five days and get 1.91. Rounded to 1.9, this will serve as our smoothed data number for 1 October

    9 September 5.0
    10 September 4.2
    11 September 3.0
    12 September 3.8
    13 September 3.0
    14 September 3.3
    ...
    16 September 3.7
    ...
    22 September 2.1
    23 September 4.2
    24 September 4.4
    25 September 4.9
    26 September 3.0
    ...
    28 September 1.8
    ...
    1 October 1.9
    ...
    1 November ?


    OK, this is a landmark book. It is trying to reach a wide public with a new vision of empty space and of fundamental physics. It's viewpoint is decidely post-string. It is presenting Wilczek's intuition about a new paradigm of BEING. About how to imagine what the world is made of. He has a clear idea of what he wants from the LHC. (unlike a lot of people)

    This book matters in the communication of frontline physics concepts to the public, and that ultimately determines public support. So how do you think this book is going to do? What will the ratio be in November? That is what our poll is about.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2008
  15. Oct 6, 2008 #14

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    Wilczek's book as a post-string recovery indicator

    In my view, Lightness of Being is the first serious fundamental physics book written for wide audience that has come out since Lee Smolin's Trouble with Physics appeared in September 2006. I'm interested to see how the book does.

    I guess you could say that in the popular market a string bubble collapsed somewhere in that 2006 timeframe. As far as I can remember very few new string books have come out since 2006 that have had much impact on the market. It appears we are in a post-string recovery phase and Lightness is one of the indicators of how that recovery is going.

    I should mention that I classified Leonard Susskind's book Black Hole Wars as stringy even though it is primarily about something else. It has discussion at the end regarding what Susskind perceives as the usefulness of stringy mathematics in reasoning about black holes. Susskind's book could also be viewed as an indicator of the post-string era in the science book market, but instead I included it in the string benchmark category. The only new, primarily stringy book that is having a substantial impact in the market is the Complete Idiot's Guide.

    First of the month figures will be smoothed by averaging 5 noon readings centered at that date. The earliest figure I have for Wilczek's book is for 9 September, soon after it came on the market.

    The Lightness of Being performance relative to benchmark:

    9 September 5.0
    1 October 1.9
    ...
    4 October 2.1
    5 October 3.2
    6 October 2.3
    7 October 1.6
    ...
    1 November ?


    At noon 6 October Lightness salesrank was 1065 (it was #4 in physics) and the string top five were black hole, idiot guide, fabric, elegant, parallel, with ranks 1886, 2190, 2383, 2917, 3031, which put the stringy benchmark average at 2481.4 making the ratio 2.3. That is how much Lightness of Being was doing better than par.

    On 7 October Lightness of Being stood at was 1643 compared to 1575, 2089, 2437, 2937, 3997 for the topfive stringy (e, b, f, i, p) making the average 2507.0 for a ratio of 1.6.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  16. Oct 8, 2008 #15

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    Re: Wilczek's book as a post-string recovery indicator

    The Lightness of Being performance as a ratio compared with the competition:

    9 September 5.0
    1 October 1.9
    ...
    4 October 2.1
    5 October 3.2
    6 October 2.3
    7 October 1.6
    8 October 2.0
    9 October 1.9
    ...
    1 November ?


    At noon 8 October Lightness of Being stood at 1447 and the average salesrank of the five most popular string books was 2892.4, making the ratio 2.0. In other words Wilczek's book was doing about twice as well as the competition, judging by salesranks.

    It was also doing better than any of the five individually, which has been the normal situation since early September when the book came out. I've already indicated my reasons for being happy the book is doing well so far.

    I'm looking forward to the next major post-string book to come out, which I expect will be Can the Laws of Nature Evolve? by Smolin and Unger. Success of these books is a way of measuring the shift in the public conception of fundamental physics and the nature of reality (away from the simpler stringy Theory of Everything vision of the 1990s e.g. as conveyed in the Brian Greene books.)

    ==yesterday==
    Just happened to check at 5 PM to see what the indices were doing. Lightness was 2.6 (even better than at noon today) and Trouble's salerank ratio was 0.9----nearly par with the string competition. So it looks like both are doing all right for now.
    ...
    Normally I just check at noon but I got curious again and checked at 7AM this morning---both books doing unexpectedly well Lightness is at 2.6 of par and Trouble is at 0.6 of par. At this rate, my earlier guess of 3, for the performance of the Wilczek book relative to the competition benchmark, might even turn out to be right.

    ==today, back to normal==
    Today, 9 October, at noon Lightness was at 1.9 of stringy par, and Trouble was at 0.7.
    In detail, Lightness ranked 1722 and the string top five ranked 2675, 2731, 2924, 3735, 4571 (fabric, elegant, blackhole, idiotguide, warped) for an average of 3327.2, and Trouble ranked 4929.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  17. Oct 12, 2008 #16

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    Here's how The Lightness of Being has been doing recently, as a ratio relative to benchmark:

    9 September 5.0
    1 October 1.9
    ...
    4 October 2.1
    5 October 3.2
    6 October 2.3
    7 October 1.6
    8 October 2.0
    9 October 1.9
    10 October 2.3
    11 October 1.2
    12 October 1.6
    ...
    1 November ?



    Although we have no current prediction poll on it, I've also kept track of The Trouble with Physics' performance relative to benchmark

    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    1 August 0.4
    1 September 0.8
    1 October 0.4
    ...
    4 October 0.8
    5 October 0.9
    ...
    9 October 0.7
    10 October 0.6
    11 October 0.6
    12 October 0.9


    Had to be out at noon so the 12 October reading was taken at 11 AM
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2008
  18. Oct 16, 2008 #17

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    The Lightness of Being salesrank compared to benchmark:

    9 September 5.0
    1 October 1.9
    ...
    4 October 2.1
    5 October 3.2
    6 October 2.3
    7 October 1.6
    8 October 2.0
    9 October 1.9
    10 October 2.3
    11 October 1.2
    12 October 1.6
    ...
    16 October 1.7
    17 October 2.3
    ...
    1 November ?



    As of noon 16 October, Lightness 2613 and the stringy top five (elegant, parallel, idiot guide, fabric, black hole) 3288, 4006, 4974, 5160, 5262 for an average of 4538.0. Lightness was doing about 1.7 times better than benchmark.
    As of noon 17 October, Lightness ranked 1485 and the topfive stringies (parallel, elegant, elegant hardbound, black, fabric) ranked 2186, 3240, 3723, 3827, 3870 for a benchmark average of 3369.2 so that Lightness was doing about 2.3 times better than par.

    On 17 October Lee Smolin's book, Trouble with Physics, ranked 7788 or a bit over 40 percent of par.


    1 September 6.4
    1 October 6.5
    1 November 5.2
    1 December 2.4
    1 January 1.5
    1 February 1.3
    1 March 0.4
    1 April 0.6
    1 May 1.0
    1 June 1.0
    1 July 0.5
    1 August 0.4
    1 September 0.8
    1 October 0.4
    ...
    9 October 0.7
    10 October 0.6
    11 October 0.6
    12 October 0.9
    ...
    16 October 0.8
    17 October 0.4


    I am wondering why Smolin's book, on the market since September 2006, is still hanging in there. What gives it endurance when so many of the books on fundamental physics and/or cosmology that came out around that time or later have sunk from sight? Since it has behaved differently from books by equally prominent professionals like Steinhardt, Randall, Susskind, there must be something different about the book, what it talks about, the messages it gets across, style (?).

    Wilczek's book certainly seems to be doing well! Conceivably it too could turn out to have some endurance legs in the market. Could it turn out to be another classic?
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2008
  19. Oct 20, 2008 #18

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    Recent salesrank levels for both books

    The Lightness of Being and Trouble with Physics recent salesranks compared to benchmark:

    Code (Text):
               LoB           TwP        LoB+TwP
    9  October 1.9           0.7          2.6
    10 October 2.3           0.6          2.9
    11 October 1.2           0.6          1.8
    12 October 1.6           0.9          2.5
    ...
    16 October 1.7           0.8          2.5
    17 October 2.3           0.4          2.7
    18 October 1.2           0.5          1.7
    19 October 1.5           0.9          2.4
    20 October 1.7           0.4          2.1
    21 October 2.1           0.9          3.0
    ...
    1 November ?
     
    Noon 21 October LoB ranked 1986 (twice par) and TwP ranked 4842 (a surprising 90 percent of par).
    The currently most popular stringy titles were fabric, parallel, elegant, idiot guide, black hole with salesranks 2709, 2871, 4065, 4950, 6182 making the average 4155.4.

    I've tried adding the two indices together to see how the sum behaves. It might be something to try to predict, as long as we are watching how both books are doing on the market.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2008
  20. Oct 24, 2008 #19

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    Did my usual noon check to update the table on The Lightness of Being and Trouble with Physics recent salesranks performance compared to benchmark:

    Code (Text):
               LoB           TwP        LoB+TwP
     9 October 1.9           0.7          2.6
    10 October 2.3           0.6          2.9
    11 October 1.2           0.6          1.8
    12 October 1.6           0.9          2.5
    ...
    16 October 1.7           0.8          2.5
    17 October 2.3           0.4          2.7
    18 October 1.2           0.5          1.7
    19 October 1.5           0.9          2.4
    20 October 1.7           0.4          2.1
    21 October 2.1           0.9          3.0
    22 October 1.8           0.3          2.1
    23 October 2.5           0.4          2.9
    24 October 3.7           0.9          4.6
    25 October 3.1           0.9          4.0
    ...
    1 November ?
     
    At noon on 24th, LoB and TwP ranked 941 and 3695.
    Stringy topfive were parallel, elegant, fabric, idiot guide, black hole, ranking 2748, 3128, 3646, 3858, 4087 for a benchmark average of 3473.4. The performance ratios were LoB 3.71 and TwP 0.95.

    What the poll prediction is about is strictly Lightness of Being performance. The other two columns in the table are just for extra.

    It looks like my prediction of 3 for Wilczek's book as of 1 November might just have a chance of being right.:biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2008
  21. Oct 30, 2008 #20

    marcus

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    The Lightness of Being and Trouble with Physics recent salesranks performance compared to benchmark:

    Code (Text):
               LoB           TwP        LoB+TwP
     9 October 1.9           0.7          2.6
    10 October 2.3           0.6          2.9
    11 October 1.2           0.6          1.8
    12 October 1.6           0.9          2.5
    ...
    16 October 1.7           0.8          2.5
    17 October 2.3           0.4          2.7
    18 October 1.2           0.5          1.7
    19 October 1.5           0.9          2.4
    20 October 1.7           0.4          2.1
    21 October 2.1           0.9          3.0
    22 October 1.8           0.3          2.1
    23 October 2.5           0.4          2.9
    24 October 3.7           0.9          4.6
    25 October 3.1           0.9          4.0
    26 October 4.4           0.4          4.8
    ...
    30 October 3.1           0.9          4.0
    31 October 2.5           0.6          3.1
    ...
    1 November ?
     
    At noon on 24th, LoB and TwP ranked 941 and 3695.
    Stringy topfive were parallel, elegant, fabric, idiot guide, black hole, ranking 2748, 3128, 3646, 3858, 4087 for a benchmark average of 3473.4. The performance ratios were LoB 3.71 and TwP 0.95.

    As of 30 Oct, the noon ranks were 1516 and 5172 for LoB and TwP, making their ratios relative to the stringy topfive come out to be 3.12 and 0.92. The stringy topfive were fabric, elegant, elegant hardbound, black, parallel, ranking 3027, 3412, 4325, 5268, 7641 for an average of 4734.6. As of 31 Oct, the ratios were 2.53 and 0.59. Happy Halloween!

    What the poll prediction is about is strictly Lightness of Being performance. The other two columns in the table are just extra.

    One thing that is helping Lightness is probably the positive reviews and the comments by other Nobel laureates.

    Here's a sample:
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0465003214/

    Robert Laughlin, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Stanford
    “Vintage Wilczek—fun, simple and right.”

    Jerome I. Friedman, Nobel Laureate in Physics, MIT
    “The Lightness of Being takes the reader on a mind-stretching journey, providing a revolutionary new vision of the universe. Frank Wilczek is an extraordinarily accomplished and creative scientist who has the rare ability to communicate scientific ideas and insights with exceptional clarity—but also with a delightful playfulness.”

    T. D. Lee, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Columbia University
    “This book is deep, simple and incredibly well-written. Starting from the nature of mass, Professor Wilczek leads the reader to an understanding of the most profound ideas and accomplishments in physics today.”

    Amazon mentions that Laughlin is himself the author of some popular books, I don't know if that is relevant. I rather think not. Main thing is he's a prominent Nobelist in condensed matter physics.

    Lightness of Being has not gotten a lot of hype on the broadcast media, as far as I know. Not the kind of personality interviews a là Brian Greene, or TV specials. But it has solid support in print-media and on web---here are some examples:

    The Economist
    “A thrilling read… a glimpse of physics at its quirkiest and most illuminating.”

    Natural History
    “Read Wilczek’s book…to share some of the excitement and enlightenment that he and fellow particle physicists experience as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) goes into operation in Switzerland.”

    St. Petersburg Times

    “Wilczek possesses a compelling writing style…. The beauty of the intellectual leaps, the grandness of the discovery, are palpable. Making the reader feel engaged and conceptually informed is no small feat for a book on advanced science.”

    New Scientist
    “The Lightness of Being is an apt description of Wilczek’s writing style, which manages to be at once profound and light, filled with humour, wordplay and original explanations of difficult concepts.”

    SEED
    “With a command of both concept and language that few can rival, [Wilczek] weaves witty commentary into eloquent explanations. Heavy on physics but light on math, this book offers an accessible though sophisticated look at the central ideas of modern physics.”

    The reviews and the Nobelist comments probably help explain. I don't recall any other popular or wide-audience physics book that has gotten comments from laureates like this. Do you? Not Stephen Hawking's books, not Susskind's, not Paul Steinhardt's, or any other recent ones. Can't recall if Carl Sagan's Cosmos did. It is as if people like Robert Laughlin are tired of all the make-believe fluff and are saying finally there's this book that makes an honest effort to tell it like it is and they don't want it do go by unnoticed.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2008
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