Welcome to my new blog!
In 2016 when I ran a crowdfunding campaign together with my colleague, the mathematician Johannes Aastrup, to generate funding for our research project in mathematical and theoretical physics, I started writing biannual newsletters to the backers of the campaign to let them know about our work — how far we have come, the aim and scope of our project, what we are working on right now and so on — and also to tell them more broadly about the search for a fundamental theory of Nature.
These newsletters were intersting for me to write. Usually when I write about my work it is for scientific publications where the language is very formal, technical and straight to the point. There is not much room in a scientific publication for a broader and less technical explanation, which is too bad, I think, because what is most interesting is often the big picture. Details are noise, I sometimes feel, which is of course wrong, details are everything, without the details you have nothing, but details are not what matters the most when you want to convey an idea or a vision. In that case details are secondary, the idea comes first, the vision is what matters — and you fill in the details afterwards.
The world of theoretical high energy physics is a world of details. Its all about the details and that to a degree where I sometimes feel that we have lost touch with the big picture. That is what I found so intersting about the newsletters, which I suddenly had to write — I had promised our backers to write them — because here I could not write any details since my readers mostly had no special knowledge about theoretical physics and mathematics. And I liked that! Suddenly I was forced to write only about the big picture, the ideas themselves, and to explain them in a non-technical language. To be honest it felt liberating, it was fun.
So it seems natural to expand these writings into a blog — this blog! — which I would like to use to write firstly about our work, our ideas, in an informal language and secondly to write also about the broader picture, the search for a final theory, what are we looking for, why we believe it exists and when they will finally serve those popcorns!
Key topics will be the question about whether a quantum theory of gravity exist — and what it may look like, it will be the question of what lies beyond the standard model of particle physics. Why does theoretical physics appear to be stuck? What questions are we asking and more importantly, what question should we be asking?
I also expect to write about the people who do the searching. The physicists and mathematicians. Us, ourselves. The scientific communities and my own experiences as a participant in several of them — in particular non-commutative geometry, loop quantum gravity and various directions in mathematical physics. How they work, research politics and, well, why I have chosen to crowdfund my work — and to what extend that actually was a choice. Science is about the world of objects, the “out there” part of the reality in which we find ourselves, but there is no objective without a subjective and in this case that means the scientists themselves. What drives us, why do we do it, what do we hope to achieve?
I hope that these posts will be interesting both for experts and non-experts. My work with Johannes Aastrup combines several different research fields in both mathematics and theoretical high-energy physics, which means that the number of people with expert knowledge in all these fields is quite limited. I hope that I will be able to convey our ideas also to those experts in theoretical physics, who do not have intimate knowledge of these research fields — and for the non-expert, I hope that I will be able to give them a solid taste of what this is all about.
Although it is my intention to keep the discussions as simple and non-technical as possible I expect that I sometimes will plunge into a topic, where I will not be able to keep that promise. In those cases I will encourage readers, who find the terrain too rough, to just hang on and wait for the next post. I firmly believe that if you understand something then you can also explain it, so if things get too technical then its either because I do not understand what I am talking about or, and this is the excuse I will hide behind, it will be because I wish to keep things short.
Finally I expect to write about other topics too, anything that I find interesting really, in particularly about climate change, which is a topic that I have followed relatively closely over the past 2-3 decades and which I have recently started to write about publicly. If we cook our planet there is no point in searching for a final theory — and since we have the knowledge and the means to prevent the cooking, well, I say we do that.
So this is the plan, lets see where this ship ends up. As always the most important thing is to stay pirate!
Best wishes, Jesper
ps: I have also posted my previous newsletters and a video on the blog too. Enjoy