👓 Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovered Radio Pulsars in 1974, But the Credit Went to Her Advisor; In 2018, She Gets Her Due, Winning a $3 Million Physics Prize | Open Culture

Read Jocelyn Bell Burnell Discovered Radio Pulsars in 1974, But the Credit Went to Her Advisor; In 2018, She Gets Her Due, Winning a $3 Million Physics Prize (Open Culture)
Say you made a Nobel-worthy scientific discovery and the prize went to your thesis supervisor instead. How would you take it?
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🔖 Statistical mechanics of complex networks | Rev. Mod. Phys. 74, 47 (2002)

Bookmarked Statistical mechanics of complex networks by Réka Albert and Albert-László Barabási (Reviews of Modern Physics 74, 47 (2002))
Complex networks describe a wide range of systems in nature and society. Frequently cited examples include the cell, a network of chemicals linked by chemical reactions, and the Internet, a network of routers and computers connected by physical links. While traditionally these systems have been modeled as random graphs, it is increasingly recognized that the topology and evolution of real networks are governed by robust organizing principles. This article reviews the recent advances in the field of complex networks, focusing on the statistical mechanics of network topology and dynamics. After reviewing the empirical data that motivated the recent interest in networks, the authors discuss the main models and analytical tools, covering random graphs, small-world and scale-free networks, the emerging theory of evolving networks, and the interplay between topology and the network's robustness against failures and attacks.

h/t Disconnected, fragmented, or united? a trans-disciplinary review of network science by César A. Hidalgo (Applied Network Science | SpringerLink)

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👓 Andrew Jordan reviews Peter Woit’s Quantum Theory, Groups and Representations and finds much to admire. | Inference

Read Woit’s Way by Andrew Jordan (Inference: International Review of Science)
Andrew Jordan reviews Peter Woit's Quantum Theory, Groups and Representations and finds much to admire.

For the tourists, I’ve noted before that Peter maintains a free copy of his new textbook on his website.

I also don’t think I’ve ever come across the journal Inference before, but it looks quite nice in terms of content and editorial.

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👓 Lost in Math | Peter Woit

Read Lost in Math by Peter Woit (math.columbia.edu)
Sabine Hossenfelder’s new book Lost in Math should be starting to appear in bookstores around now. It’s very good and you should get a copy. I hope that the book will receive a lot of attention, but suspect that much of this will focus on an oversimplified version of the book’s argument, ignoring some of the more interesting material that she has put together. Hossenfelder’s main concern is the difficult current state of theoretical fundamental physics, sometimes referred to as a “crisis” or “nightmare scenario”. She is writing at what is likely to be a decisive moment for the subject: the negative LHC results for popular speculative models are now in. What effect will these have on those who have devoted decades to studying such models?

I love that he calls out the review in Science.

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👓 Ultra-Accurate Clocks Lead Search for New Laws of Physics | Quanta Magazine

Read Ultra-Accurate Clocks Lead Search for New Laws of Physics (Quanta Magazine)
Atomic clocks are letting physicists tighten the lasso around elusive phenomena such as dark matter.
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👓 Mathematicians Explore Mirror Link Between Two Geometric Worlds | Quanta Magazine

Read Mathematicians Explore Mirror Link Between Two Geometric Worlds by Kevin Hartnett (Quanta Magazine)
Decades after physicists happened upon a stunning mathematical coincidence, researchers are getting close to understanding the link between two seemingly unrelated geometric universes.

An interesting story in that physicists found the connection first and mathematicians are tying the two areas together after the fact. More often it’s the case that mathematicians come up with the theory and then physicists are applying it to something. I’m not sure I like some of the naming conventions laid out, but it’ll be another decade or two after it’s all settled before things have more logical sounding names. I’m a bit curious if any category theorists are playing around in either of these areas.

After having spent the last couple of months working through some of the “rigidity” (not the best descriptor in the article as it shows some inherent bias in my opinion) of algebraic geometry, now I’m feeling like symplectic geometry could be fun.

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🔖 [1803.08823] A high-bias, low-variance introduction to Machine Learning for physicists | arXiv

Bookmarked A high-bias, low-variance introduction to Machine Learning for physicists by Pankaj Mehta, Marin Bukov, Ching-Hao Wang, Alexandre G.R. Day, Clint Richardson, Charles K. Fisher, David J. Schwab (arxiv.org)
Machine Learning (ML) is one of the most exciting and dynamic areas of modern research and application. The purpose of this review is to provide an introduction to the core concepts and tools of machine learning in a manner easily understood and intuitive to physicists. The review begins by covering fundamental concepts in ML and modern statistics such as the bias-variance tradeoff, overfitting, regularization, and generalization before moving on to more advanced topics in both supervised and unsupervised learning. Topics covered in the review include ensemble models, deep learning and neural networks, clustering and data visualization, energy-based models (including MaxEnt models and Restricted Boltzmann Machines), and variational methods. Throughout, we emphasize the many natural connections between ML and statistical physics. A notable aspect of the review is the use of Python notebooks to introduce modern ML/statistical packages to readers using physics-inspired datasets (the Ising Model and Monte-Carlo simulations of supersymmetric decays of proton-proton collisions). We conclude with an extended outlook discussing possible uses of machine learning for furthering our understanding of the physical world as well as open problems in ML where physicists maybe able to contribute. (Notebooks are available at this https URL )
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👓 Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76 | The New York Times

Read Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76 by Dennis Overbye (nytimes.com)
A physicist and best-selling author, Dr. Hawking did not allow his physical limitations to hinder his quest to answer “the big question: Where did the universe come from?”

Some sad news after getting back from Algebraic Geometry class tonight. RIP Stephen Hawking.

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The Physics of Life: Summer School | Center for the Physics of Biological Function

Bookmarked The Physics of Life: Summer School | Center for the Physics of Biological Function (biophysics.princeton.edu)
A summer school for advanced undergraduates June 11-22, 2018 @ Princeton University What would it mean to have a physicist’s understanding of life? How do DYNAMICS and the EMERGENCE of ORDER affect biological function? How do organisms process INFORMATION, LEARN, ADAPT, and EVOLVE? See how physics problems emerge from thinking about developing embryos, communicating bacteria, dynamic neural networks, animal behaviors, evolution, and more. Learn how ideas and methods from statistical physics, simulation and data analysis, optics and microscopy connect to diverse biological phenomena. Explore these questions, tools, and concepts in an intense two weeks of lectures, seminars, hands-on exercises, and projects.
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👓 How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever | Physics Buzz

Read How 4,000 Physicists Gave a Vegas Casino its Worst Week Ever (physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com)
What happens when several thousand distinguished physicists, researchers, and students descend on the nation’s gambling capital for a conference? The answer is "a bad week for the casino"—but you'd never guess why. The year was 1986, and the American Physical Society’s annual April meeting was slated to be held in San Diego. But when scheduling conflicts caused the hotel arrangements to fall through just a few months before, the conference's organizers were left scrambling to find an alternative destination that could accommodate the crowd—and ended up settling on Las Vegas's MGM grand.

Totally physics clickbait. The headline should have read: “Vegas won’t cater to physics conferences anymore because they’re too smart to gamble.”

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Physicists Aim to Classify All Possible Phases of Matter | Quanta Magazine

Bookmarked Physicists Aim to Classify All Possible Phases of Matter | Quanta Magazine (Quanta Magazine)
A complete classification could lead to a wealth of new materials and technologies. But some exotic phases continue to resist understanding.
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📗 Read pages i-14 of The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics by Leonard Susskind and George Hrabovsky

📖 Read pages i-14 of The Theoretical Minimum: What You Need to Know to Start Doing Physics by Leonard Susskind and George Hrabovsky (Basic Books, , ISBN: 978-0465028115)

I’d read a portion of this in the past, but thought I’d circle back to it when I saw it sitting on the shelf at the library before the holidays. It naturally helps to have had lots of physics in the past, but this has a phenomenally clear and crisp presentation of just the basics in a way that is seldom if ever seen in actual physics textbooks.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Lecture One: The Nature of Classical Physics

There is a very simple rule to tell when a diagram represents a deterministic reversible law. If every state has a single unique arrow leading into it, and a single arrow leading out of it, then it is a legal deterministic reversible law.

Highlight (yellow) – 1. The Nature of Classical Physics > Page 9

There’s naturally a much more sophisticated and subtle mathematical way of saying this. I feel like I’ve been constantly tempted to go back and look at more category theory, and this may be yet another motivator.
Added on Wednesday, January 4, 2018 late evening

The rule that dynamical laws must be deterministic and reversible is so central to classical physics that we sometimes forget to mention it when teaching the subject. […] minus-first law [: …] undoubtedly the most fundamental of all physics laws–the conservation of information. The conservation of information is simply the rule that every state has one arrow in and one arrow out. It ensures that you never lose track of where you started.

Highlight (yellow) – 1. The Nature of Classical Physics > Page 9-10

This is very simply and naturally stated, but holds a lot of complexity. Again I’d like to come back and do some serious formalization of this and reframe it in a category theory frameork.
Added on Wednesday, January 4, 2018 late evening

There is evan a zeroth law […]

Highlight (gray) – 1. The Nature of Classical Physics > Page 9

spelling should be even; I’m also noticing a lot of subtle typesetting issues within the physical production of the book that are driving me a bit crazy. Spaces where they don’t belong or text not having clear margins at the tops/bottoms of pages. I suspect the math and layout of diagrams and boxes in the text caused a lot of problems in their usual production flow.
Added on Wednesday, January 4, 2018 late evening

Guide to highlight colors

Yellow–general highlights and highlights which don’t fit under another category below
Orange–Vocabulary word; interesting and/or rare word
Green–Reference to read
Blue–Interesting Quote
Gray–Typography Problem
Red–Example to work through

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👓 Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Charles Bennett shares $3M Breakthrough Prize | Hub

Read Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Charles Bennett shares $3M Breakthrough Prize (The Hub)
He and his team are recognized for groundbreaking WMAP space mission, which established the Standard Model of Cosmology
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