Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Most Wonderful Person on Earth, 2010

The Somerset Institute for Advanced Logic announced today that Edward Witten narrowly beat out runners-up Gerardus 't Hooft, Richard Branson, Mike Lazaridis, Elon Musk, Woit'n'Smolin, Stephen Hawking, Steven Weinberg, the Verlinde twins, the Ghost of Évariste Galois, Phil Warnell, Gore Vidal, and the irrepressible Leonard Susskind to win the coveted, and inaugural, Most Wonderful Person on Earth Award for 2010.

I see no reason to list Witten's accomplishments, as it would make for redundant reading. For details, read Peter Woit's book: Not Even Wrong.

Rather, I would like to acknowledge as to WHY he won, because there are so many reasons to pick from.

The reason, simply, is his diplomatic skills in achieving parity in the ongoing Superstrings Civil War.

For those unaware, Superstrings Theory has split into two camps: One headed by Leonard Susskind of Stanford and allied by Joe Polchinski who support Anthropic, the other by David Gross of The Kavli Institute and just about everyone else at Ed Witten's The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, who reject Anthropic.

Witten, true to his genius form, counsels open-minded fairness regarding "Ships were made to house barnacles" Theory, and refuses to be pegged to either side of the on-going argument.

For meritorious conduct in diplomacy and logical thinking, we are pleased to announce that Edward Witten is the unanimous choice and therefore the winner of The 2010 Most Wonderful Person on Earth Award.

So let it be witten, so let it be done.


Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

It’s flattering the company you include me as being in, yet hardly disserved. None the less Witten as I said before represents to be the best his environment was able and intended to produce, for which he can’t be faulted. There are however others out there, such as David Albert that do have their eye on the ball in terms of the questions that need to be addresses seriously before that next giant leap can be expected. Smolin and Unger also represent for me as falling into this category, with knowing the questions themselves must be more fundamental before ever expecting to discover answers that represent being the same.

Perhaps most may consider dark matter and dark energy as being reasonable terms for science to use, yet how can that be without reason(s) given that can be found to be reasonable. The fact is they can’t adequately demonstrate either is resultant of matter or energy, yet have only identified a potential being realized that defies current explanation as to what being its source. They then further insist this mainly only being resultant of a lack of technical ability that prevents this.

I find with their concern not to have the baby thrown out with the bath water, they’ve forgotten the baby not being their theories to be what stands as truth, yet only explanations which finds nature demonstrated as observed. I think this in part comes as them knowing there are more scientists alive today then has existed in the total of the past, that a lack of reason and/or intuition can’t be possibly be to blame, yet rather the difficulty of the questions themselves. This I find more consistent with human arrogance, as to think such things can be so simply quantified, for discovery needs as much the right place as it does anything else for it to manifest.



Anonymous said...

you seem to be a moron

joe polchinski's office is down the hall from david gross's, not kavli vs IAS as you stated.

you are using, in some of your post, terms which you clearly dont understand. just to be specific, you were relating phonons to quantum gravity, to wen's idea of emergence, to the quantum hall effect, and you left a trailer like 'more when the research is published.' While people have thought about quantum gravity in different formulations your post is connecting things completely out of context and demonstrates mostly how you dont understand to any reader with a phd in this stuff.

Steven Colyer said...

you seem to be a moron

joe polchinski's office is down the hall from david gross's, not kavli vs IAS as you stated.

The more I learn the more ignorant I feel, because the more I realize there is to learn. I am an amateur, not an expert, and never claimed to be. At least I have a better handle than "anonymous." I'll cut you some slack in that you may not in fact be a coward who hides behind anonymity, but rather was in such a rush to reply that you forgot to sign in.

I am well aware that Polchinski works at Kavli, I never claimed otherwise. I'll think about re-writing that sentence, if the exact wording confused you, thanks for mentioning it because it probably confuses others as well.

Steven Colyer said...

Hi Phil,

you wrote:
It’s flattering the company you include me as being in, yet hardly deserved.

Perhaps, we'll see. This world isn't done with either of us yet, time will tell. I'm just getting my dibs in early for one who was nominated for "meritorious service in his efforts to bring a back-to-basics Socratean-Platonic-Aristotelian approach to the Philosphical Physics, particularly in promoting the work of Quantum Foundationalist Douglas L. Hemmick, PhD (scroll down and read "Influences"), whose work requests we not put the How? and Why? questions in neat separable boxes, but rather focus on how they blend."

It is quite difficult for a person such as myself who is of English heritage to NOT put things in boxes, so this was a bit of revelation for me personally, Phil.