Saturday, June 19, 2004

More on loops and strings

Readers of this blog will recognize my unhealthy fascination with loop quantum gravity and string theory. In my browsings of, I discovered a section of the physics area on popular writings in physics (what a concept: why can't we do this in theory CS too?). There's a nice article there by Rüdiger Vaas called 'The Duel: Strings Meet Loops' that explains the conflicts between the two approaches to unifying quantum physics and general relativity.

A related article is a Socratic dialogue between a fictitious professor and student on the pros and cons of string theory and loops. Bear in mind that this was written by Carlo Rovelli, one of the fathers of loop quantum gravity, so it is may be somewhat biased :)

And for those of you who say 'Bah ! Humbug ! Why should I care about such nonsense', I say 'Don't you want to understand John Baez's talk at SODA ?'

1 comment:

  1. We do have popular explanations of theoretical computer science. Ian Stewart gave a series of lectures in connection with the Clay Millenium Problems on P vs. NP. His jumping-off point was the result that Minesweeper consistency is NP-complete.

    You could also argue that _Godel, Escher, Bach_ is a popular explanation of theoretical computer science. I am not really a fan, but the fact is that it is how many of my friends first heard of recursive pheomena.

    What I have seen less of are popular explanations by researchers. (I think there are a few, although examples elude me at the moment. You could also argue that these weblogs are popular explanations of a sort.) Perhaps this is not surprising - the skills required for writing a research paper and for writing a treatment accessible without a course in theoretical CS are different.


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