Friday, 31 December 2010


P.R.L.! Wooo hooooooooo! Suck on that, crappy wrong over-paid professor type!

You should see the reviews. They are glittering.

The thorn in this particular rose is that the copy-editors are atrocious (I suspect they are in the employ of disgruntled rubbish professor physicist impersonator, either that or they're pissed at having to work over christmas). I'll talk about this shortly.

Saturday, 6 November 2010


The comment has become a letter. Problems resolved, everything solved, and its dripping in physics which is, lets see, correct.

Now to wait for the reply from PRL which will surely crush any remaining will I have to ever do physics again.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Submission for dummies.

Dear authors,

When submitting your paper to the arxiv, please collect your bibliography data from SPIRES. This way, the arXiv will be able to recognise your references and attribute appropriate citations automatically. Whereupon, the authors you have cited will wake up to some happy news, rather than the arduous task of reformatting your bibliography and exchanging hopeful, pleading e-mails with SPIRES Corrections.

Special note to older physicists. You don't like the format? Oh dear. Well, never mind, you get yourself snuggled up by the fire and let us get on with the work. It's easier for us, you see, because we have more time: we only care about being cited, not the format the citation takes, so we don't have to waste hours of our time changing "," to "", for example, and so we can just get on with the physics.

You settled in there? Good. Cup of tea? Co-co? Oh dear, little accident, I'll get a mop...

Lots of love,

Other authors.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

More Hawking

This review is pretty good too.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Grand Designs.

Notice the irreverent title? Comparing Hawking's latest book with reality TV trash? Good, just checking.

Love this paragraph from the NY times review of the book:

"The real news about “The Grand Design,” however, isn’t Mr. Hawking’s supposed jettisoning of God, information that will surprise no one who has followed his work closely. The real news about “The Grand Design” is how disappointingly tinny and inelegant it is."

Good commentry by Woit over at Not Even Wrong.

Thursday, 26 August 2010


As I've mentioned already, I have a "comment" on a paper ready to go. The paper is by a powerful professor. The paper is in PRL. My comment is one column long, but it could be a paragraph because I can demolish all his arguments in one line. Alright, two. One line for the shiny equation. So two lines, but kind of irrefutable because, um, well, the bit of maths in that second line which is, well, correct. (I might also not use the word screwed.)

Not that my comment will ever seee the light of day. I have already been warned off trying to publish it by my colleagues, because it will be politcal suicide. They are correct. They're also correct to say that most comments and the resulting counter comments end up as whingeing rants and/or personal attacks. See for example this one.

No idea who this guy is or whether the comment he is replying to was correct or not. Again, though, moderators? Hello? Five pages of text with no equations, again. (He has some in-line stuff, but it looks like notation.)

It's hard not to become irate when someone tells you the paper you've just poured months of your life into is a sack of crap. Or when you know that you can shit papers which are better the crap being published by people with All Hallowed Sacred Tenure (blessed be it's permanenty name).

But, as with most occasions in life, becoming angry does nothing for you. The sad thing is that being correct doesn't do anything for you either, when in comes to physics. Celebrity culture has infected the game - you need to have money and the prestige and networking which comes with it to get into the best journals. Once you have the money, you could scrawl your poop on a page and PRL would still go giddy over it.

Yeah, I'm jealous. I'm also right, but we've already established how relevant that is....

Twilight falls on the arXiv.

26 August 2010. The seas boiled, lightning cracked, Duncan's horses did turn and eat themselves as usual, the Kraken rose in a foul mood and...

...well. Some physicists may have become a tad disgruntled this morning, but that's all that happened. Even that isn't likely these days, so I doubt anyone really marked that today was the day when the arXiv finally jumped the shark.

Theck out this missive on emergent gauge fields.

Four pages of "Microsoft Word" text with not a single equation. Moderators? No, ok.

Over on hep-ph, the only single topic which has been considered important in QCD conferences for the past N years continues to dominate -- we have yet more attempts at solving the Schwinger-Dyson equations, and an introduction to the Dyson-Schwinger equations.

For those of you not up to date on the Schwinger/Dyson/Dyson/Schwinger Saga, it goes like this: Schwinger is a scrawny looking, possibly in-the-closet sappy wet vampire, while Dyson is a super-buff certainly-in-the-closet werewolf jock. The physics community has divided itself into two screaming fan-girl groups who rate one of these two celebrity-fuelled man-whores over the other. One group works on what they call Schwinger-Dyson equations, the other on Dyson-Schwinger.

The rivalry has become so fierce that you can't even attend conferences on one "topic" if you work on the other: a young postdoc recently made that mistake and had to miss the poster session because he was putting a plaster over a really, really nasty nail scratch. That particular conference was cancelled soon after because the keynote speaker became so distressed over his broken nail that he locked himself in the toilet and cried so hard his mascara dripped all over his presentation, ruining his homemade fan-girl drawning of himself being tenderly yet firmly embraced by a mysteriously pale and moody looking Witten.

(Oh, and all that Twilight stuff goes for lattice people who argue about which fermions are less wrong on the lattice, too. You really can't mix up your conferences there -- mee-ow!)

Friday, 2 July 2010


A paper by my rivals has been accepted by PRL. It is manifestly rubbish -- there is a problematic divergence in their calculation which they avoid by applying a random, unphysical, ad-hoc prescription which manifestly violates the most basic tennent of gauge invariance. It is therefore, total nonsense. But it's in PRL now.


1) What am I supposed to do? I can prove their arguments are wrong in a second, but I don't understand how to solve the problem. I have ideas, but they're not working out yet. So do I write a comment? I'm a postdoc, and one of the rivals is a "top level" proffessor with, you know, The Power. Who do you think is going to come out on top?

2) This is what happens when people who were, two years ago, still writing the Dirac equation down with "alpha" and "beta" matrices in it, think that they understand QED all of a sudden and rush a paper out.

3) Walking into PRL seems to be easy for these people, whether what they write is bullshit or not.

4) Annoyed.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Higgs will eat your soul.

Some of the billions of dollarpounds going into the LHC are being given to the same kind of people who actually put a monkey in a cage with a typewriter and waited for it to produce a sonnet. (It threw its shit around and pressed "s" a lot, apparently.)

According to this article over at the BBC, a "sonification team" (oh my lord) are working on a way to convert the LHC data into sounds so that scientists can identify the Higgs via "listening to the data".

"The aim is to give physicists at the LHC another way to analyse their data," apparently. Clearly we haven't been doing enough:

"Dear God. The powerful supercomputers, hugely sophisticated algorithms and achingly exauhstive statistial analyses which have been devised aren't going to be enough to prove the Higgs exists!"

"Sir! What do we do, sir?"

"Jenkins? Jenkins! Find me a god-damn hippy and get it inside that control room, STAT."

"A hippy, sir?"

"That's right, man, a hippy. We need some flower power loving hippy chick with grass in her hair, sitting in the lotus position and listening to the sound of the universe. If the Higgs is out there, only a hippy will be able to hear its cosmic rhythm."

"By god, sir, you're right!"

"Permission to speak freely sir!"

"Go ahead, Daniels."

"Sir... a hippy, sir? It's... it's not right, Sir!"

"I know, Daniels, I know! By god, do you think I don't feel the shame? Hippies make me sick to my stomach but it's the only god-damned hope we have of detecting the Higgs."

"Sir. Yes sir."

"Stiff upper lip, men! Now, we don't have much time. Get me that hippy. And we're going to need her stoned. Off. Her. Tits. before that machine fires up."

"Sir, YES SIR!"

"Carry on, men."

On the plus side, if you take a listen to the Higgs on the BBC site, you'll find it sounds just like Aphex Twin, which is always good. I look forward to the first high energy collision which results in a twisted voice screaming "I will eat your soul!" from inside the machine.

Rather that than supersymmetry.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Told you.

Wrote a paper on Gribov. It was sent to a latticist. Now I have to rewrite my paper and explain to the referee that his little torus isn't the be-all and end-all of QCD.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Escalating argument.

There's an amusingly barely-restrained argument going on over on Not Even Wrong about whether Gribov copies are of any importance at all. It seems that we have, very loosely:

"It's an important question and something is certainly going on there" from P. Woit,

"Yes they do" from P. Orland

"Nonsense! I wrote a book!" from N. Nakanishi,

"No, really, they do" from P.O. and

"NO! NO YOU FOOLS" from N.N.

It's a topic I'm interested in, so I'm following. We've almost reached boiling point. People are adressing each other using "Mr".

I'm aware that this blog has been... noticed. I strongly encourage comments on the above subject.

Oh, Lubos apparently has an opinion too, but I haven't read it because it probably involves sending those dirty Gribov copies back where they came from, or something.

Monday, 12 April 2010

ArXiv funnies.

Today on the arXiv, animals!

1004.2037, "Warped Penguins"
Csaba Csáki, Yuval Grossman, Philip Tanedo, Yuhsin Tsai

as well as

1004.1846 "Solar Chameleons"
Philippe Brax, Konstantin Zioutas

And the guy's called Brax! I want to be a Doctor Who villain...

Friday, 9 April 2010

Deliberately contentious review.

Here are samples of three reviews of my paper. Words have been tweaked for the sake of anonymity, the messages have not.

Reviewer #1: "This paper is sound and is sufficiently illuminating to deserve publication."

Reviewer #2: This paper is not suitable for publication. I am not an expert on subject though, so I might have missed the point. Review by an expert may lead to a different opinion.

Reviewer #3: Nobody doubts that the lattice gives the correct nonperturbative description of QCD.

So, one referee loves it, another admits he hasn't a clue what's going on, but rejects it, and his opinion apparently counts for something, while a third almost ignores the actual content of the paper because he thinks all the difficulties of QCD can be avoided if you just shove it on a lattice. The review spans a side of A4 which tells me only one thing -- we should all be lattice theorists.

Does anyone else doubt that the lattice is the best thing ever? Because, I'm sure it gets all the topology right. Absoloutely spot on. I'm sure that taking the incredibly complicated configuration space of QCD, with all its topology, you know, that thing which makes it different from QED, and replacing it with a box of discrete points is utterly fine. Oh yes. And I'm sure that at short distances spacetime is entirely equivalent to a not very finely grained euclidean 4-torus. That sounds totally reasonable.

How are you supposed to fight reviews like this?

Can you guess?

07Apr10 Reminder to referee [others sent (not shown) at 1-2 week intervals]
17Mar10 -- 23Mar10 Review request to referee; report received
17Mar10 Acknowledgment sent to author
17Mar10 Review request to referee; response not yet received
16Mar10 Correspondence (miscellaneous) sent to author

So, a referee reviews a high energy physics paper in under a week. There are only two options.

1. The referee is a mate of mine and has advised publication. This is doubtful since all the people likely to do this are co-authors of the paper.

2. The referee didn't bother reading the paper because he doesn't like me, or my collaborators, or the subject area in general, and has advised rejection. This is most likely. He could have declined to review the paper, but instead he will have had his spiteful fun by giving a heavily biased or uninformed opinion which it will be impossible to refute, because it has no scientific basis. Something like "this is an uninteresting area", or "they should have done it all on the lattice". He will probably end his review with something incredibly pompous like "The decision is final."

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Something new to click on.

Whiling the quiet hours away clicking refresh on my PRL and PRD document status pages (the editor is sitting on one, the reviewer on another, I am filled with dread), I have found something new to click on.

It's the ATLAS update page!

Higgs yet?



Higgs yet?



Monday, 8 March 2010


One month ago, I sent a paper to PLB. 12 days later, it was reviewed. I am still waiting for the editor to forward me the decision.

One week ago, I sent a paper to PRL. I am still waiting for the editor to either reject it outright, or send it our to review.

Journals are like the Death Star. You are like Alderan. The former has complete power over the latter. The former may obliterate the latter at will. And, stretching the analogy to breaking point and beyond, while the Death Editor knows exactly what Alderan is (it's lunch), Alderan has no idea... who... grand moff tarkin is. See, I've lost it. Grand Moff Tarkin is the reviewer. Or the editor. Whoever it is who knows who you are, but you don't know who they are.

The point is, double blind refereeing will never work in physics, because of the arXiv. But the fact is that there are some people who know nothing, nothing at all, but are in a position of power to reject papers, and do so anonymously. This infuriates me. Some fat pig somewhere believes that I'm an idiot, because he doesn't understand QED. I want to know who that prick is, so I can tell him to his face how wrong he is at conferences.

I am fed up of being treated like shit by these people.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Verlinde on Entropy

If this paper had not been written by Verlinde, but rather "Bobby Stardust", of the "Self Invented University for thinking about gravity in my front room, with the telly on and licking a spoon of jam", would anyone be giving the slightest fig about it?

I sounds facetious, I know. Let me rephrase: if a patent clerk had brought this to the community's attention, would anyone give it a second glance?

And try comparing it with Baez's crackpot index. Non-zero score.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Lubos is claiming on his blog that global temperature could rise 13° and we'd all be fine. Possibly apart from some poor people with dark skin, but that really doesn't matter, does it? Especially if they don't have very many citations.

No, you racist idiot, of course not. As long as you're safe in your ivory tower of right wing bigotry, everything is fine. Until the melting ice caps release enough water to drown you in your sodding tower. I hope the last thing you see is a desperate, dark skinned chap climbing over you to get to higher ground. Possibly stopping just long enough to hold your head under for a bit.