Here’s a quick hit from Ars Technica (John Timmer):
Maybe the math behind string theory is overrated anyway
So, we’ve reached a point where math can’t answer many questions in biology, but the most promising path for advancing physics (string theory) remains trapped in the realm of pure math. Is this a cue for panic? Maybe not, as illustrated in an exchange between two panelists: “You’re not upset because you’re not a mathematician,” Chaitin told Livio, “you don’t care because you’re a physicist.”
“We know there’s problems with quantum mechanics, but has that stopped anything?” Livio countered.
It’s not just quantum mechanics. Biology may have resisted easy quantification, but it has hardly slowed the field down. If math turns out to be just a tool (and a tool with some substantial limits), that may disappoint mathematicians, but it won’t necessarily slow down our ability to understand and model the natural world. This may be my background as a scientist talking, but that seems like the most important consideration, and I’m willing to live with a community of disappointed mathematicians in order to get there.
Adrian German has posted a call for papers for the 2008 Midwest NKS, on the NKS Forum.
Here are this year’s topics of interest:
Topics of interest for submissions include (but are not limited to):
– Pure NKS projects
– The physics of computation
– Computational physics
– Foundations of computation
– Universality and Irreducibility
– Classical (digital) and quantum computation
– Algorithmic information theory
Keynote speakers and round-table moderators:
Confirmed keynote speakers:
Charles Bennett (IBM Research, via videoconference TO BE CONFIRMED)
William Bialek (Princeton University)
Cristian Calude (University of Auckland)
Gregory Chaitin (IBM Research)
Martin Davis (New York University/University of California, Berkeley)
David Deutsch (Oxford University, via videoconference)
Edward Fredkin (Carnegie Mellon University)
Tony Leggett (University of Illinois)
Seth Lloyd (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Dana Scott (Carnegie Mellon University)
Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Research)
Leonid Levin (Boston University TO BE CONFIRMED)
Round table moderators
James Gleick (author of Chaos, Genius and Isaac Newton)
Gerardo Ortiz (Indiana University Bloomington)
Hector Zenil (Univ. of Paris 1 and Univ of Lille 1)
Colin Bruce (Oxford, author of Schroedinger’s Rabbits
Title and short abstracts are due by August 25, 2008. The conference runs October 31, 2008 – November 2, 2008.
Just wanted to announce that Adrian German has confirmed that a formal announcement for posting papers for the 2008 Midwest NKS Conference will begin, on the NKS Forum, in a couple of weeks:
I would like to confirm that preparations for the 2008 Midwest NKS Conference are now extremely advanced and that in fact travel arrangements (booking of air plane tickets, hotel rooms and such) for our distinguished guests will start next week. I can’t really make a final, definitive announcement at this stage but you can and should expect a formal announcement with a call for papers to be posted on this forum in less than a week by either Hector Zenil or me.
The draft poster that Alastair linked to is quite accurate. Gregory Chaitin, Martin Davis, Tony Leggett, James Gleick, Cristian Calude and Stephen Wolfram have all confirmed their presence in Bloomington for the conference. David Deutsch will give a talk via videolink from Oxford. I spoke with Roger Penrose when he visited Bloomington two months ago and at that time he was interested in giving a videolecture from Oxford and it is my understanding that he still is. But prior commitments appear to be taking him out of Oxford the weekend of the conference so his videotalk is now unlikely. Hector has received promising responses from Dana Scott, Leonid Levin and Ed Fredkin. Charles Bennett may participate via videolink twice in the conference: once to give a talk and once taking part in the round table that will be moderated by James Gleick assisted by Gerardo Ortiz, Hector Zenil and hopefully Colin Bruce. Invitations have also been sent to Anton Zeilinger, Marvin Minsky, Seth Lloyd, Per Martin Loef, William Bialek and Gary William Flake. We will be able to make an announcement in a few days. There is no website for the conference yet but one will be set up shortly then the official announcement and call for papers will be released.
Thanks for your interest and apologies for the relative slowness with which we have moved but we hope that in the end everybody will be pleased with the result. All the best to everybody, and we will be in touch again soon,
I’d like to attend this conference, and possibly present that which I’m working on at the NKS Summer School (having to do with social network theory). So that means I need to get busy, and write up a paper!
Anyone else planning on going? Do any of my co-bloggers have information or advice?