Of Particular Significance

Wednesday: Sean Carroll & I Interviewed by Alan Boyle

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 02/04/2013

On Wednesday February 6th, at 9 pm Eastern/6 pm Pacific time, Sean Carroll and I will be interviewed by Alan Boyle on “Virtually Speaking Science”.   The link where you can listen in (in real time or at your leisure) is http://www.blogtalkradio.com/virtually-speaking-science/2013/02/07/sean-carroll-matt-strassler-alan-boyle

What is “Virtually Speaking Science“?  It is an online radio program that presents, according to its website:

  • Informal conversations hosted by science writers Alan Boyle, Tom Levenson and Jennifer Ouellette, who explore the explore the often-volatile landscape of science, politics and policy, the history and economics of science, science deniers and its relationship to democracy, and the role of women in the sciences.

Sean Carroll is a Caltech physicist, astrophysicist, writer and speaker, one of the founders of the blog Cosmic Variance, who recently completed an excellent popular book (which I highly recommend) on the Higgs particle, entitled “The Particle at the End of the Universe“.  Our interviewer Alan Boyle is a noted science writer, author of the book “The Case for Pluto“, winner of many awards, and currently NBC News Digital’s science editor [at the blog  “Cosmic Log“].

I was interviewed on Virtually Speaking Science once before, by Tom Levenson, about the Large Hadron Collider (here’s the link).  Also, my public talk “The Quest for the Higgs Particle” is posted in their website (here’s the link to the audio and to the slides).


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15 Responses

  1. of course like your web site but you need to test the spelling on several
    of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very troublesome to tell the truth nevertheless I will surely
    come again again.

  2. P.S. :
    For all those who proclaim the fallacy that every thing popped-out from absolute no-thing , would you please substantiate your claim by referring the reader to physical equations where it started with absolute no-thing and resulted in real concrete something .

  3. That is exactly my point , the more fundamental , more profound laws and principles after reducing the complex to them , have no explanation whatsoever.
    I just read sean carroll paper @ unitary evolution & fine tuning..i reached a basic conclusion:
    No true theory of initial conditions of our universe is possible as all theories will depend on generic initial data which are what to be explained for the theory not to be just effective one.

    1. We’ve discussed before that there is no final answer to inquiry.

      However — your use of the words “effective theory” is not consistent with the way physicists use the term, and that’s going to confuse you in your reading. An effective theory is one that describes long-distance, long-time phenomena (or sometimes some other class of phenomena) while averaging over other phenomena, such as shorter-distance and shorter-time phenomena.

      A physics theory is typically a set of equations that describes how an initial situation evolves to a final one — i.e., a method for predicting, given a starting point, something about an ending point.

      Most such theories — whether effective theories or complete theories of how the world works — do not predict the initial situation. After all, the initial situation is typically determined by an experimenter.

      In some special circumstances people attempt to predict part of or all of the initial situation of the universe. This type of theoretical effort is (1) in its infancy, (2) requires assuming that we have a complete or nearly complete theory of quantum gravity, which we probably don’t, and (3) is extraordinarily difficult to test experimentally. In this sense, predicting the initial conditions of the universe is on the edges of science; someday it may be done, but it is unlikely that it will be doable in our lifetimes, and it is far from clear it will ever be possible.

  4. I was able to hear the audio of your September talk on blogtalkradio but today’s talk just wouldn’t play. Will you have an audio of this one, maybe I’ll have better luck with that.

  5. You may classify my question as stupid , but remember that ALL cosmic origin speculations ONLY speak about origin of fields , particles and forces , never any scenario presented any hint about origin of laws and principles , hence comes my question….by the way i took your decline to answer its second part as representing that there are no answer for it.

    1. I don’t think the second part of your question made sense given that I rejected the first part.

      I don’t think one can speak of the fields and particles (the specifics of our universe) without speaking about laws and principles (without which there’s no universe to describe scientifically.) You say “never any scenario presented any hint about origin of laws and principles”; that’s not true. People do certainly try to reduce more complicated laws and principles to simpler, more fundamental, and/or more profound ones. It happens not to have come up much in particle physics in recent years, but it certainly has before, and it does in other research areas.

  6. Here is a fundamental question for which i would like to know the answer :
    Assume – in principle – that only the building blocks– fields , particles and forces — of the cosmos exist without any laws or principles , does any kind of universe would exist then or all will vanish ?
    Then can any physical theory – in principle – be capable to describe a physical generator of laws and principles and their causal power that directs building blocks to obey those laws and principles ?

    1. “only the building blocks– fields , particles and forces — of the cosmos exist without any laws or principles”

      I don’t know what this means. Can a field exist if you cannot do any experiments to show it is there? No experiments or observations (or observers, casual or scentific, real or imaginary) are possible in a world without laws or principles.

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