This week and next, I’m very busy preparing and delivering a new class (four lectures, 1.5 hours each), for a non-technical audience, on the importance of and the discovery of the Higgs particle. I’ll be giving it in Western Massachusetts (my old stomping grounds). If it goes well I may try to give these lectures elsewhere (and please let me know if you know of an institution that might be interested to host them.) Teaching a new class for a non-technical audience requires a lot of concentration, so I probably won’t get too much writing in over that period.
Still, as many of you requested, I do hope soon to follow up last week’s article (on how particle physicists talk about the strength of the different forces) with an article explaining how both particles and forces arise from fields — a topic I already addressed to some extent in this article, which you may find useful.
Now — a few words on the flap over the suggestion that math Ph.D. and finance expert Eric Weinstein, in his mid-40s, may be the new Albert Einstein. I’ve kept my mouth shut about this because, simply, how can I comment usefully on something I know absolutely nothing about? (Admittedly, the modern media, blogosphere and Twitter seem to encourage people to make such comments. Not On This Blog.) There’s no scientific paper for me to read. There’s no technical scientific talk for me to listen to. I know nothing about this person’s research. All I know so far is hearsay. That’s all almost anyone knows, except for a few of my colleagues at Oxford — trustworthy and experienced physicists, who sound quite skeptical, and certainly asked questions that Weinstein couldn’t answer... which doesn’t mean Weinstein is necessarily wrong, only that his theory clearly isn’t finished yet. (However, I must admit my expert eye is worried that he didn’t have ready answers to such basic questions.)
What I do know is that the probability that Weinstein is the new Einstein is very low. Why? Because I do know a lot about how very smart people with very good ideas fail to be Einstein. It’s not because they’re dumb or foolish.