Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More astro-ph Nuggets

Today's first piece of fun on astro-ph is a short paper by Travis Metcalfe on "The Production Rate and Employment of Ph.D. Astronomers," or: how difficult is it to get a tenure-track job given that you have a Ph.D. in astornomy? I haven't actually read this preprint, but Travis had a very interesting poster at the AAS meeting last May on the same topic, so I am guessing it is based on the same information.

The second is a short conference proceedings by Chris Stubbs on the Crisis in Fundamental Physics, or, what will happen if w really does equal -1. Translation: what if the properties of the dark energy really are the most boring vanilla stuff we can come up with ... and thus also boring both theoretically and observationally. This, combined with Simon White's screed from a few months ago, paint the question of dark energy as inherently interesting (there is something going on in the universe that we really don't understand, and it might be related to why our really-good-for-everything-else theories of quantum mechanics and gravity don't play nice together), but in the meantime it poses a scientifically and sociologically potentially crippling/stagnating problem.

1 comment:

bj said...

Recently , Garret Lisi seems to have suggested a new way to unify the four forces using the symmetry of the E8 supergroup

his theory predicts 20 new particles associated with gravity.

Perhaps this could solve the dark matter problem...