The Amplituhedron is the “jewel”-like, theoretical geometric structure (actually a mathematical tool) that’s been making the rounds in science news. The summary linked above appears fairly solid and unbiased, so far as I can tell.

Philip Gibbs

so far it is only applicable to the planar limit of one specific quantum field theory and it is not one encountered in nature. It is therefore very premature to say that this makes conventional quantum field theory obsolete.

On its own the theory is very interesting but of limited use. The real excitement is in the idea that it extends in some way to theories which could be physical.

Part of the story of the amplituhedron is the idea that space, time, locality and unitarity are emergent. This is exciting because people have always speculated that some of these things may be emergent in theories of quantum gravity. In my opinion it is too strong to call this emergence. Emergence of space-time implies that space and time are approximate and there are places such as a black hole singularity where they cease to be a smooth manifold. The amplituhedron does not give you this.

They will have to find a way to go beyond the planar limit, generalise to higher dimensions, include gravity and identify the relevant symmetries for string theory. Then there is just the little issue of relating the result to reality. It could be a long road.

inthenoosphere
I see a strong parallel between the evolution of robot intelligence and the biological intelligence that preceded it. The largest nervous systems doubled in size about every fifteen million years since the Cambrian explosion 550 million years ago. Robot controllers double in complexity (processing power) every year or two. They are now barely at the lower range of vertebrate complexity, but should catch up with us within a half century.
Hans Moravec (via inthenoosphere)
astronomnomy

Seven tips for (Physics) Freshers: Things to Keep in Mind As You Begin Your Journey

astronomnomy:

Congratulations for picking a really fun and satisfying subject to study! As someone who’s been through it all already (MSci Theo Phys and am in the midst of an Astro PhD) I thought, in honour of the first day of term, I would impart some old-people wisdom for those just starting their first classes - mistakes I made so you don’t have to…

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via Quanta MagazineBy: Natalie Wolchover    September 17, 2013Illustration by Andy Gilmore

Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.
“This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University …The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions.
…

THIS IS (POSSIBLY) EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
TL;DR: An idea that might help unify nearly a century of knowledge. A clue as to what may comprise everything in the universe as-known-to-date. HUGE. Read. Share.

via Quanta Magazine
By: Natalie Wolchover   
September 17, 2013
Illustration by Andy Gilmore

Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.

“This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University …

The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions.


THIS IS (POSSIBLY) EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

TL;DR: An idea that might help unify nearly a century of knowledge. A clue as to what may comprise everything in the universe as-known-to-date. HUGE. Read. Share.

qsalms

Some people may like to see themselves as having an illness because it conveys a certain level of suffering, and that it is not something they are choosing but rather something that happens to them. In this way some may find it is quite validating of the level of distress or confusion they at times experience.

In an individualistic society people who fail are often blamed for their failures, to be ill means you can seek some refuge from this blame. On the other hand, the other side to this exemption from blame is that the identity of being ill can lead people to feel helpless in the face of their emotional and social difficulties.

When we represent a group of connections by a closed and coherent set of concepts, axioms, definitions and laws which in turn is represented by a mathematical scheme, we have in fact isolated and idealized this group of connections with the purpose of clarification.

But even if complete clarity has been achieved in this way, it is not known how accurately the set of concepts describes reality.

Heisenberg, Werner
Physics and Philosophy

Continued:

These idealizations may be called a part of the human language that has been formed from the interplay between the world and ourselves, a human response to the challenge of nature. In this respect they may be compared to the different styles of art, say of architecture or music.

A style of art can also be defined by a set of formal rules which are applied to the material of this special art. These rules can perhaps not be represented in a strict sense by a set of mathematical concepts and equations, but their fundamental elements are very closely related to the essential elements of mathematics.

Equality and inequality, repetition and symmetry, certain group structures play the fundamental role both in art and in mathematics. Usually the work of several generations is needed to develop that formal system which later is called the style of the art, from its simple beginning to the wealth of elaborate forms which characterize its completion.

… the question of how far the formal rules of the style represent that reality of life which is meant by the art, cannot be decided from the formal rules. Art is always an idealization; the ideal is different from reality — at least from the reality of the shadows, as Plato would have put it — but idealization is necessary for understanding.

This comparison between the different sets of concepts in natural science with different styles of art may seem very far from the truth to those who consider the different styles of art as rather arbitrary products of the human mind. They would argue that in natural science these different sets of concepts represent objective reality, have been taught to us by nature, are therefore by no means arbitrary, and are a necessary consequence of our gradually increasing experimental knowledge of nature. About these points most scientists would agree; but are the different styles of art an arbitrary product of the human mind?

Here again we must not be misled by the Cartesian partition. The style arises out of the interplay between the world and ourselves, or more specifically between the spirit of the time and the artist. The spirit of a time [(Zeitgeist)] is probably a fact as objective as any fact in natural science, and this spirit brings out certain features of the world which are even independent of time, and are in this sense eternal. The artist tries by his work to make these features understandable, and in this attempt he is led to the forms of the style in which he works.

Therefore, the two processes, that of science and that of art, are not very different. Both science and art form in the course of the centuries a human language by which we can speak about the more remote parts of reality …”

Thanks for understanding, Heisenberg.