Thursday, June 07, 2007

The recent situation in Stanford

Wonderful weather and we are still able to enjoy it! It is a real experience to sit outside with eyes closed and mind wandering freely. Add to this garden of apple trees in full blossom and flowers.

In the middle of this all one should not go to web but it is difficult to avoid the usual blog around. The recent situation in Stanford had inspired Peter Woit to develop an interesting indirect argument against string models. Some homeless woman had found a roof above her head in Standord university in the same building as Leonard Susskind and Stanford model theory group. This has lasted as long as for four years. As a non-professional I failed to understand the details or even the gist of the argument leading to the conclusion that this poor woman was actually a string theorist and that something very strange was going also in Stanford theory group, which might relate to the recent situation in string theory. What would had come into my uneducated mind first that it is nice that even string theorist can feel compassion towards suffering human kind.

Also Lubos commented but did not point out any correlations with the recent situation in M-theory. Scott Aaronson also commented the situation in Stanford but from a pragmatic view point and crystallized his view as: "When we discover a stowaway on the great Ship of Science, why throw her overboard when we could make her swab the decks?"!

The crisis in Stanford inspired amazingly lively discussions about the groupies of science, as Scott Aaronson called them. The discussion left the overall impression that the ability to feel compassion towards those who suffer is something which I would not use to recognize a physicist from a big crowd of people. The topic also seemed to create group feeling: "we scientists in our departments in contrast to those non-scientists outside academy". This group feeling materialized in several serious questions. Should we tolerate among us also individuals who cannot do calculus? Could it be possible to teach the most intelligent individuals of groupie species to perform simple but useful activities such as writing popular scientific articles (rather than only swab the decks)?

1 Comments:

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Kea said...

The discussion left the overall impression that the ability to feel compassion towards those who suffer is something which I would not use to recognize a physicist from a big crowd of people.

Amen.

 

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