Physics Nobel for String Theory Instead?

So I don’t usually talk too much about raw politics here, but when the news broke early this morning about the Peace Prize for Barack Obama, I was sure it was a joke. (Or perhaps I was mishearing given that it was almost 2:00am and I was just coming home from a long night downtown which finished with several hours at the Edison bar.) When I woke up five hours later and heard that he’d accepted, I was a bit sad. I think it is simply a mistake, and a distraction. You give the prize to someone for having done stuff. Plain and simple. He has not really left the starting gate yet. (And frankly, on almost all counts – not just peace – he seems to be still at the starting gate trying to find his way out of that little box.) But it is nine months into his presidency, so good or great things can happen yet. But they have not yet. So this prize looks like a lazy political slap in the slap in the face of the Bush administration, a cheap political statement that backfires and cheapens the prize. Obama would have had a huge amount of respect from me if he’d at least tried to respectfully decline.

So stepping away from direct politics I was trying to think what might be a fun and instructive thing to think about this. How about alternative prizes for this week’s categories? Prizes to work (or authors of the work) that while extremely promising, […] Click to continue reading this post

The Hat

Here’s a strong clue that I’m supposed to be working on writing slides for an important presentation:

Albert Einstein in Aretha Franklin s Inauguration Hat

Yes. I’ve been playing with photoshop. What’s the story? Well, I noticed that there is a facebook page for Aretha Franklin’s wonderful Inauguration hat. You know the one. The page has a huge number of fans already, growing at a rate of something like 200 every ten minutes (when I last looked). People are adding photos of themselves, their pets, and other objects, all wearing the hat. It’s great!

So I, rather than settling down to design those slides I’ve been meaning to get to for the last few hours, thought I’d join in the facebook fun! I could not resist sneaking […] Click to continue reading this post


Hope. This word has been used a lot in the last year or more. Sometimes it felt to me like it was overused, but now that the dust has settled, I think I’m quite sure that it is a good word to describe where we are, or what we have. Beginning early today, there will be a new President of the United States, Barack Obama. He’ll be bringing in a whole new regime that seems, given what we’ve seen so far with the work of the transition team and the various appointments to key positions, determined to do some truly good things. (See several related posts listed below.) There’ll be several huge obstacles to fulfilling the promise and potential of the new regime, some known, and some unknown. It’ll be hard to firmly move forward, but it is hugely encouraging to see the looks of delight and joy on people’s faces during these days of celebration, and to hear about their engagement with the idea that we can pull together and move forward on so many fronts on so many vital issues. We don’t know what will come to pass, but one thing we do know is that there is a marvellous window of opportunity. There is Hope.

Since the election result on the night of 4th November 2008, with all that had been achieved and overcome still fresh in the air, right up until today, there’s actually been a rather fitting song ringing in my head when I think about all of this. I find the chorus from the song “I Live In Hope”, by a musician friend of mine, Libby Lavella (you may recall her from posts here and here) extremely evocative of the mood. With […] Click to continue reading this post

Opportunity Knocks!

Wonderful result!

This is, it seems, the long-awaited return of reason. The return of an atmosphere where ideas, and careful, thoughtful, nuanced argument and persuasion can become the centerpiece of how we go about solving our collective problems and shaping and reshaping our world. So among all the great things said yesterday about the meaning of it all, it is worth noting that it was a good day for Science.

Well, the initial phase is over, and now it is time to start the restoration work, the strengthening of the foundations, and then the true building anew.

-cvj Click to continue reading this post