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Peebles is from Winnipeg. He’s the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton, which sounds like a really good job to have. I imagine getting it is rather competitive. You probably have to, you know, know a lot about physics.

In the industry, it’s perhaps not quite as prestigious as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge U., which has been held by Newton, Babbage, Dirac, and Hawking. But your mom would probably find it simpler and more fun to explain to her bridge friends that you are the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton than that you are the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.

Peebles is the emeritus Albert Einstein professor, The current Albert Einstein professor is Paul J. Steinhardt, who looks alarmingly like George Costanza.

Swiss scientists Mayor and Queloz were the first to discover an exoplanet around another star back in the 1990s. Eventually we’ll figure out the best planets to colonize in our galactic neighborhood. Then we will have to figure out how to get there.

It won’t be easy.

 
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  1. James Peebles is a very big deal in astrophysics. He could have won the Nobel at almost any point in the last fifty years.

    • Agree: Bardon Kaldian
    • Replies: @prime noticer
  2. Abe says:

    All in all you’re just another brick in the dude wall.

    • LOL: PiltdownMan
  3. Thank you my friend are diligence update. Too bad next post is again about loser bn sportsman. You must be careful of his teeth.

  4. “But your mom would probably find it simpler and more fun to explain to her bridge friends that you are the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton than that you are the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics.”

    People under the age of 50 don’t really play bridge anymore, Steve. Nowadays its XBox and Playstation.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  5. Mr. Anon says:

    The other two recipients, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, are cited for “the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star.” It is a “hot Jupiter” orbiting 51 Pegasi, so it was the first exoplanet orbiting a main-sequence star. Not to minimize the work of these two (fine work, I’m sure), but that was not the first exoplanet to be discovered. I don’t see why planets orbiting main-sequence stars should be deemed more interesting or important than those orbiting other bodies. The first confirmed detection of an exoplanet was by this guy:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksander_Wolszczan

    So why doesn’t he share in the prize? Okay, so it turns out he was an informer for the secret police. But what about this guy:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Marcy

    Okay, so he got #me-tooed

    But, does the prize recognize scientific accomplishment, or moral worth?

  6. JimB says:

    I wonder what James Peebles said or did to delay his receiving the physics Nobel prize until he was 84.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  7. Pericles says:

    There is something about these physicists that’s really triggering, isn’t there?

  8. I’m sure George Costanza will soon acquire his own Nobel for his groundbreaking work in Islamic Quasicrystals.

  9. Peebles is doubtless a great physicists; for the latter two, I simply don’t know.

    But- what if all dark matter & energy concepts come down crashing, like phlogiston & ether?
    Admittedly, people like Sabine Hossenfelder are borderline nuts- just, what if she’s right- along many others- who claim that dark matter simply does not exist (as we’ve seen, was the case with proton decay & supersymmetry & GUTs). And that all the hype about M theory & superstrings was just a good fun for developing various fields of mathematics- but has not much to do with reality?

    What if Lee Smolin was mostly right in many elements of criticism (even if he is better as critical than a creative mind)?

    And what if- let’s go full sci fi- the very idea of possibility of continuation of carbon-based life elsewhere is doomed? That if we are too vulnerable for any type of existence outside of this shitty little planet & that we can “live” elsewhere only as cyborgs or some post-human (and post- carbon based life, any type, with all these vulnerable tissues etc.) “creatures”? What if we can “live” somewhere else only if we cease to be “we”?

    Time for sci fi on steroids, forget about boring eat-sleep-shit existence.

    • Replies: @fish
  10. The BBC, evidently triggered, go with Planets and Big Bang win Nobel physics prize: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49960497

  11. Jack D says:

    The Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton was not the chair held by Einstein. The position dates back only to 1975. Einstein himself was at the Institute of Advanced Study, which is not part of the university though it is in the same town. Einstein lived in NJ almost a half a century after his important work was done. The work he did while resident in Princeton did not amount to anything.

  12. @Jack D

    EPR is not a small thing ….

  13. Art Deco says:

    Peebles is the emeritus Albert Einstein professor, The current Albert Einstein professor is Paul J. Steinhardt, who looks alarmingly like George Costanza.

    I’m beginning to think Steve was one of Hayman’s minions.

  14. pyrrhus says:

    I think iSteve omitted Fred Hoyle from the Lucasian list….Hoyle was a far more important scientist than Hawking, and should have receiveed the Nobel Prize..

  15. glib says:

    Although the exoplanet media storm started after Marcy and collaborators discovered a few ones (in 1998 IIRC), it was those two who started what is now a major sub-field of astronomy. The major consequence has been a complete re-think of planetary systems (more on that below).

    Marcy, he was heroic. He was teaching 3 classes per semester in San Fran, and the NSF kept rejecting his proposals. He did his discovery on a shoestring, and after a complete software re-write saved them from abject failure. One of the referees denying him money said (paraphrased) “the authors of the proposal know that they can not discover anything”. And that was because we had a very strong bias, due to our own solar system, of how planets should behave. Basically, Jupiter is too far, and the Earth too small, to exert a significant pull on the star (whose wobble is then seen with Doppler). The referee naively assumed that Jupiters at Earth’s distance did not exist. Live and learn, they are plentiful.

  16. We choose to go to the best planets to colonize in our galactic neighborhood, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. Why does Rice play Texas?

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  17. Eventually we’ll figure out the best planets to colonize in our galactic neighborhood. Then we will have to figure out how to get there. It won’t be easy.

    Well. let’s get Katherine Johnson started on it right away then.

  18. If you thought talking about biological race differences in science made you a pariah, I dare you to say black holes and black matter don’t exist. Group think, liberalism and policing what is acceptable to talk about is not a new thing in science. Ideology has been going on for decades.

    • Replies: @El Dato
  19. When that first exoplanet is eventually colonized, it’ll need a cloaking device to prevent unassimilable aliens from paying space mules to sneak them through the atmosphere and throw disposable diapers all over New Eden.

    • Replies: @prime noticer
  20. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    In the industry, it’s perhaps not quite as prestigious as the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics at Cambridge U., which has been held by Newton, Babbage, Dirac, and Hawking.

    One of the witty touches in the Star Trek: TNG series finale was to make the android Data the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in a future timeline. I remember that going over the head of a reviewer who just thought the retro residence was clever.

  21. Peebles is also a very good “popularizer,” with Sagan being the first in a long line of popularizers such as Penrose, Greene, Sean Caroll. Even Hawking got into the act with “A Brief History of Time,” arguably the biggest unread best seller before Michelle Obama’s memoir..

    But as Caroll notes, you’d better do some real physics first before you start going down that road, otherwise your career will get stuck, as Caroll’s almost was when he was denied tenure at the University of Chicago.

    Theoretical physics may be approaching it’s end time, however. The last pieces of Einstein’s theory of relativity have basically been confirmed — Susskind and others have experimentally confirmed gravitational waves, and we now have a picture of a black hole, though what’s really “inside” a black hole we’ll never know.. String theory appears to be highly explanatory, yet the Large Hadron Collider has come up with nothing. A bigger machine might get there, but who’s going to write the check?

    Peebles bounce back theory and the attendant multiverse result is likely unprovable. Caroll’s view that quantum mechanics leads to a “many worlds” within our one universe is another unprovable theory..

    Penrose’s current work is really interesting, arguing that we have “aeons” — a series of conformable universes, with a cyclical succession of single universes starting with a big bang, and then over trillions of years the universe becomes colder and emptier, with only photons left, and then ANOTHER big bang, and the next aeon begins. Unlike other cosmologists, he may have some physical evidence — so called Hawking Points — vestiges of the last set of Black Holes in the previous universe as reflected in hotter parts of the microwave background radiation.

    Penrose — still going strong at 87!!

    Anyway, it’s fun to think about it all and it’s great that these physicists are out there trying to explain this stuff rather that hide behind their unique math world.

    • Replies: @Anon
  22. istevefan says:

    In 1995 Queloz was a Ph.D. student at the University of Geneva when he and Michel Mayor, his doctoral advisor, discovered the first exoplanet around a main sequence star.[5] For this achievement, they were awarded half of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star”.

    So Queloz and Mayor are getting the prize for something they did 24 years ago? Is this normal? If so it will take even longer to “diversify” these prizes since the overwhelming bulk of work that old was probably performed by White males.

    I wonder how many such discoveries are in the buffer que right now awaiting recognition.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  23. I knew the SJW posturing was lip service. They’re not actually going to award Dr. LaTawna Brown for her discovery of de-kinkifying hair conditioner.

  24. Alfa158 says:

    “It won’t be easy.”
    That’s an understatement. Scale our solar system to the football field at the LA Coliseum. The Sun is at one goal line, the Earth is at the two yard line, and Pluto which we only recently reached and requires a ten year trip with our current technology is at the opposite goal line. The nearest star to us on the same scale is on Route 66 halfway between Winslow, Arizona and Gallup, New Mexico. (Cue Route 66 song).

  25. glib says:

    any reason why my comment on exoplanets is not being published?

  26. @Alfa158

    Maybe so, but if you stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, then the girl (my lord!) in the flatbed Ford slows down, which makes the trip possible after all. It’s all relativity and stuff, ask Einstein. If you can coax him away from the bar at the Nassau. In some alternate universes, he’s still there.

  27. Looks like a pic of a middle-aged Morning Zoo, minus a chick or two.

  28. @Jack D

    The work he did while resident in Princeton did not amount to anything.

    Berti was quite the horndog. But, unlike other Ivies, Princeton did not have a nearby sister school. He must have been quite frustrated.

    • Replies: @Jack D
  29. bjondo says:

    Exoplanets, inflationary cosmology.

    Are these prize winners real geniuses

    or smart guys stuffing pillow cases

    with bull?

    Nobel science judges desperate.

    Also fields of physics, cosmology.

    Peace judges have it easier.

    Select person from PR recommendations.

  30. El Dato says:
    @JimB

    The Nobel commitee is in hurry.

    Sometimes physicists have an end of life event before a Nobel could be awarded.

    Anyway, explainer on this one:

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/nobel-prize-in-physics-to-james-peebles-michel-mayor-and-didier-queloz-20191008/

  31. Jack D says:
    @Yojimbo/Zatoichi

    By the time that you have been made the Einstein professor at Princeton, your mom is well north of 50.

  32. Jack D says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    What did Princeton men do? I suspect that by the time he hit Princeton, Einstein’s horndog days were behind him. Most accounts of him walking to his office from home every day refer to him “shuffling” rather than walking.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
  33. El Dato says:
    @Real Buddy Ray

    While there is defensible doubt about Dark Matter, Black Holes seem to be experimental Science Fact. Indeed Einstein Gravity is the only survivie of precision measurements of Neutron Star binarys behaviour.

    There are regular attempts to replace Black Holes by something barely distinguishable from an Einstein Gravity Black Hole but nothi g conpelling yet. Recently there was the Dark Energy Star approach which pretended to also solve accelersting universal expansion at the same time. Interesting!

    • Replies: @Hippopotamusdrome
  34. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Jack D

    Next you’ll tell us he didn’t have an MD from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

    • LOL: Charon
  35. Jack D says:
    @Alfa158

    And that’s just the nearest star – no guaranty that it has a habitable planet with earth’s “just right” temperature (which seems to be a pretty narrow band – over 160F and most life forms are pasteurized, below 32F and everything is locked in the ice) and plentiful water . Maybe you have to go to 1,000 more distant solar systems before you find one with a habitable planet and maybe when you get there they kill and eat you. One theory why we don’t receive any communications from other planets is that everyone is trying to keep a low profile and we are idiots for trying to attract attention to ourselves.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • LOL: Old Palo Altan
    • Replies: @Bubba
    , @Alfa158
  36. JMcG says:
    @Alfa158

    Humankind will never, ever leave our solar system. Ever.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    , @Alfa158
    , @Graham
  37. Charon says:

    Glasgow’s Lord Provost urged to quit after spending £8,000 of taxpayers’ money on shoes and clothes

  38. FYI Peebles is a small town south of Edinburgh where I once ate a particularly poorly made mutton pie. (Not a euphemism.)
    That is all.

  39. @PiltdownMan

    “James Peebles is a very big deal in astrophysics. He could have won the Nobel at almost any point in the last fifty years.”

    they were just waiting for him to die, so they didn’t have to award him the prize, and could give it to somebody else.

    i’m only half joking. the policy is that dead guys can’t get it. so the actual most important guys get left out sometimes, and the committee is left scrambling to award the prize to some minor guy on his team or staff.

    Peter Higgs is lucky they got around to that Large Hadron Collider thing before he died.

    Medal of Honor after you die: yes. Nobel Prize in Science: no.

  40. @Buzz Mohawk

    I believe Rice plays Texas for money.

  41. utu says:

    All the Exoplanets That Came Before 1995
    Several exoplanets were found before the 1995 discovery that netted Mayor and Didier this year’s physics Nobel. Why weren’t the others honored?

    https://www.insidescience.org/news/all-exoplanets-came-1995

    • Replies: @glib
  42. JohnnyD says:

    The next Nobel Prize will be awarded to a physicist who can explain the physics behind a black woman’s hair.

    • Replies: @fish
  43. Anon 2 says:
    @Jack D

    Einstein was 57 when his second wife Elsa (his first cousin, who famously
    said “I don’t need to understand Theory of Relativity to be happy”) died
    in 1936. According to a revealing article in Physics Today (published 15-20 years
    ago) about how Einstein spent his vacations, his friends and colleagues
    had to hide their wives and girlfriends from him when he was summering
    in the Hamptons or the Poconos. In other words, he continued the
    lifestyle he was used to in Germany where he was an inveterate womanizer,
    even cheating on his second wife. All those details are coming out now,
    and I’m sure we’ll learn more over the next 20-30 years.

    • Replies: @El Dato
    , @NOTA
  44. Bubba says:
    @Jack D

    ‘Mr. Chambers, don’t get on that flight! The rest of the book… it’s a cookbook!”

  45. fish says:
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Time for sci fi on steroids, forget about boring eat-sleep-shit existence.

    …..what….no baseball……It’s October?

    That is a pointless existence!

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
  46. fish says:
    @JohnnyD

    Some mysteries weren’t meant to be solved by mere mortals!

  47. Beats dyin.

    Mother Nature is one ambitious bitch. She’ll do what she has to.

  48. El Dato says:
    @Anon 2

    A bodice ripper with … Albert “time dilation” Einstein?

    It’s more likely than you think!

    • Replies: @nebulafox
  49. map says:

    Yeah…well…

    We are a far cry away from the good old days when theoretical physics led to practical applications within a short period of discovery.

    The whole physics profession derives its credibility from the atom bomb…where theory and practice converged in…what…a decade? decade in a half?

    And the atom bomb and later, nuclear power, was such an obvious demonstration of an understanding and a command over the laws of physics. What do we have today? Dark Matter? Black Holes? Exoplanets? All irrelevant, whose proof can only be demonstrated by those with an equal understanding of the subject matter.

    What nonsense.

    You may as well argue that the universe rides on the back of a giant turtle.

  50. @El Dato

    There are regular attempts to replace Black Holes

    Its magnets.
    Wal Thornhill: On the Black Hole’s Non-existence

    • Replies: @El Dato
  51. glib says:
    @utu

    good question. As your link explains, the first object was considered, right or wrong, a brown dwarf. That means this object may or may not fuse tiny amounts of hydrogen, and therefore be considered a very small star. Now double (or more) star systems are ubiquitous, amounting to about 2/3 of total stars in our Galaxy, and readily seen since the 1800s. Alpha Centauri is a 5-star system. So they were unlucky, had the object been, say, 5 Jupiter masses instead of 11, then it would not have fused according to theory, and they may have won the prize. Although this leaves me perplexed, because IMHO brown dwarfs are closer to 100 Jupiter masses.

    The other one was a planet circling a neutron star. I wonder how they saw it since a neutron star does not emit much light, although they may have used the accretion disk’s light if it was in a high density region of the Galaxy. Anyhow, no chance of ever seeing life in a system like that, no or little light now and the neutron star originated in a supernova explosion anyway.

    The planets that these two found also have no chance of ever harboring life. But theorists started tweaking models and soon found ways to “migrate” these Jupiter-sized planets from where they are created (give or take, where Saturn and Jupiter are) to inner orbits, through friction with the leftover gas, collisions, and/or long term gravitational tugs between planets. So these are considered “similar” systems to our own, and accepted as copias of our own system. It is a pity that it came down to definitions, and to some extent you have a point.

    A better reason is these two started a major sub-field of astronomy, furthering the careers of hundreds of astronomers. They had a constituency, whole collaborations using their methods and perhaps their software, and the other prior guys did not. In the end the Nobel is a political process with political outcomes.

    • Replies: @utu
  52. @Mr. Anon

    But, does the prize recognize scientific accomplishment, or moral worth?

    It recognises a bunch of things, and like all bureaucracies it wants the proletariat to view their anointed as archetypal paragons: humble, morally-upstanding, diligent, hard-working and super-genius.

    And there is also a very strong (ahem) ethno-cultural component that generates over-representation for one group in the same way (and for the same reason) as the Haaaaah-vahd admissions mechanism and the market for riveting first person accounts of suffering during WWII.

    Turns out that getting your people onto committees is a useful strategy if you’re part of a group that is groupwise-obsessed with getting its reputation to exceed a meritocratic equilibrium. It’s also why they aim for the judiciary, the bureaucracy, disciplinary bodies, and things like Bar Councils and Law Societies (Freemasons historically did the same, as did Catholics).

    That’s not to say that the RSP Nobel laureates weren’t fine men, or fine scientists. But with anything as subjective as a Nobel (or the Nobel-simulacrum awarded for Economics[1]), who makes the decisions is at latest as important as the work of the pool of candidates.

    Also – why hasn’t the entire Nobel sideshow been tarnished as being based on Blood Money? Nobel inaugurated them to salve his conscience for the deaths his products caused – the claimed initial motivation was that when Nobel’s brother died, a newspaper in France thought Alfred had died and the resulting obituary (which caleld him a death merchant and generally celebrated his demise) made Alfie kind of obsessed with his legacy.

    Genuine greatness is embodied in one Grigori Perelman – who was selected for the Fields Medal, the Clay Millennium Prize, and the European Mathematical Society’s EMS Prize.

    He rejected them all.

    [1] As I always point out, my PhD supervisor’s supervisor – Leontief – won the pretend-Nobel for Economics in 1973 (the year before Hayek); initially he was not particularly interested in travelling to attend the award ceremony. My supervisor (Peter B Dixon – “Dicko”) does not appear in Leontief’s Wikipedia list of graduate students – which, to be fair, is pretty crowded with talent. It includes Samuelson, Schelling, Solow, Iverson, Quandt, Minsky, and Jorgenson.

    Dicko probably deserves a pretend-Nobel for his work – he has 3 books in the North Holland “Contributions to Economic Analysis” series (#91, #142 and #256), but he is
    ① a gentile;
    ② not-American;
    ③ not a self-promoter (no Wikipedia page!!); and
    ④ only spent a brief period teaching at a US Ivy (Haaaah-vahd in 1984, I think).

    So he’s unlikely to get to the head of the queue before he shuffles off the mortal coil, given that he’s 73 now and still works unimaginable hours.

  53. Anonymous[591] • Disclaimer says:
    @istevefan

    Yes. Nobels are given for work that made people famous decades ago.

    24 years is shorter rather than longer for these intervals.

  54. @Bard of Bumperstickers

    “When that first exoplanet is eventually colonized, it’ll need a cloaking device to prevent unassimilable aliens from paying space mules to sneak them through the atmosphere and throw disposable diapers all over New Eden.”

    was thinking the same, except about Mars.

    all the vibrants screaming about how it’s a totally stupid waste of time and money that should be spent on more food and housing for more vibrants…except 100 years from now, if YT is actually able to turn Mars into a habitable place thru a century of sheer hard work and determination at his own great expense, YOU KNOW that the endless legions of mediocre government bureaucrats, vibrants and various third world nations around the world will DEMAND to be part of Mars. just like the US was actually ‘for posterity’ but now it’s just a flop house for everybody and was always meant to be so. with Mars, the UN will start screeching about “Planet Gap” and how europeans scooped up all the habitable planets, leaving the rest of humanity with nothing to colonize.

    the amount of vibrant middle manager types who will DEMAND to be Administrator of Mars Federal Colony…my god. what’s the point of expanding out to the stars, if human colonization will just be Washington DC writ large.

    extrapolating to the greater problem, european men create too much stuff, which the other humans then demand to appropriate. colonize your own planet? it’s not even possible to start your own college without these people eventually coming around and demanding you turn them over.

  55. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @JMcG

    Ever is a long time. I suspect you are wrong, but will be dead long before we get to that point, so it’s academic.

  56. nebulafox says:
    @El Dato

    Einstein was rather muscular and ruggedly handsome in 30s and 40s, from what I recall. I think the vision of him as the frail old white-hair is what sticks in popular culture because that was him in the United States, but that was only the last portion of his life.

    I don’t understand the notion that physicists are uniformly socially inept. Yeah, sure, Dirac would probably be diagnosed as autistic today, but for every one of him, you had a guy like Heisenberg who was quite the charming lady’s man.

    • Replies: @Mungerite
  57. Black Holes seem to be experimental Science Fact.

    Yeah, well, given GR time dilation, how can a black hole form, get bigger, or even move in a finite amount of time from an outside observer’s perspective?

    • Replies: @Real Buddy Ray
  58. prosa123 says:
    @Jack D

    Einstein’s most significant contribution to knowledge in his later years came not as a scientist but as a medical patient. In the fall of 1948, the 69-year-old Einstein’s abdominal pains were so severe that he sought out the esteemed surgeon Rudolph Nissen at Brooklyn Jewish Hospital. Nissen discovered that Einstein had a large aortic aneurysm, a condition largely untreatable at the time and one that would invariably be fatal if and when the aneurysm ruptured.

    Nissen decided that the only hope was a very risky experimental procedure that in effect involved wrapping the bulging part of the aorta in cellophane. While the cellophane wrapping would not be strong enough by itself to stop the bulge from bursting, the hoped-for idea was that the body’s immune system would attack the intruding cellophane and in the process strengthen the aortic walls.

    Against pretty much all odds the operation succeeded at least temporarily and Einstein made a full recovery. With all the publicity given to his case many more people underwent similar operations and were saved from certain death. Einstein himself enjoyed several more productive years until the aneurysm burst in 1955 when he was 76. While a second operation probably would have worked, Einstein declined to undergo it and died a few days later.

    Postscript: there’s a common misconception that the famous photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out was taken as he was leaving the hospital after the surgery. In fact, the photographer took it several years later while Einstein sat in the back seat of a car. In the rarely seen uncropped version there are two people plainly visible on either side of him.

  59. By the way, for those who wish to learn something reliable (or sometimes provocative) on various areas of physics & the rest, I’d recommend Eugene’s videos:

    https://www.youtube.com/user/EugeneKhutoryansky

    as well as most videos by Sabine (she’s OK, even great, just slightly off ..):

    https://www.youtube.com/user/peppermint78/featured

    Sure, you got many more vids on World Science Festival, Ted Talk, … but those above are shorter & more insightful.

  60. MG says:

    There’s an interesting story about Peebles and Kurt Gödel related by John Wheeler here –

  61. eded says:

    What are the chances today that a brilliant young Jim Peebles stays home in Winnipeg to do his undergrad at the University of Manitoba? Does he get vacuumed up by the meritocratic system and sent an elite university right away? Or are certain parts of the anglosphere still like 1950s America where the really bright local boy stays close to home for school?

    • Replies: @Bluebombers
  62. Steinhardt looks like a close relative of Charles Murray.

  63. Then we will have to figure out how to get there.

    I kinda hope those exotic space travel methods (like “wormholes”) don’t pan out, because I have this romantic image of humans setting off for greener pastures in massive fleets of “generation ships.” But then since these ships might require a hundred so generations to reach their final destination, you have to wonder if anybody at that point would bother disembarking. Or maybe they’d forget the purpose of the mission well before arriving at their destination.

  64. Alfa158 says:
    @Jack D

    Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to us in the Alpha (no relation) Centauri star cluster has planets that orbit at the right distance for life sustaining temperatures, but it has been determined that red dwarfs like Proxima periodically emit flares so powerful that they pretty much blow away the atmosphere.

  65. Alfa158 says:
    @JMcG

    Our successor machines could leave the solar system but probably would have no motivation to. That is one of the explanations offered for Fermi’s paradox of “Where is Everybody?”

  66. utu says:
    @glib

    I am sure the committee was very careful this time with the wording to unambiguously (*) exclude Wolszczan and Frail. Besides they could not have four laureates so somebody had to be cut off. But in my opinion it was a toss and some unknown and possibly random reason decided which two to take and then the wording was tailored to justify the decision.

    (*) See streptomycin controversy (1952 Nobel): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Schatz_(scientist)

    “In October 1952, it was announced that Waksman would be awarded that year’s Nobel prize for physiology or medicine for the discovery of streptomycin. After receiving letters from the vice president of the agricultural college where Schatz was working at the time, and others, the Nobel committee’s wording of the actual award on 12 December 1952 was for, “ingenious, systematic and successful studies of the soil microbes that led to the discovery of streptomycin” rather than, “for the discovery of streptomycin” as the original announcement had said.”

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    , @glib
  67. NOTA says:
    @Anon 2

    Is it too much to hope for that Einstein left a dozen or so bastards behind? Those genes should not go to waste.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    , @anonymous
  68. @utu

    In the detective novel I read about a murder at Caltech [Spoiler Alert], it turned out the motive was the Nobel Rule of Three. There were four scientists who’d made a Nobel-worthy discovery, so it was assumed that the guy who was lowest on the totem pole would miss out. But then one of the higher ranking guys wound up dead.

  69. Mungerite says:
    @nebulafox

    To say nothing of Johnny von Neumann!

  70. Anon[101] • Disclaimer says:
    @kpkinsunnyphiladelphia

    But as Caroll notes, you’d better do some real physics first before you start going down that road, otherwise your career will get stuck, as Caroll’s almost was when he was denied tenure at the University of Chicago.

    All of carroll’s technical work sucks, and he’s unworthy of tenure at a premiere research institution.

  71. @Paul Yarbles

    Check out Wal Thornhill. He’s the Steve Sailer of physics.

  72. @Mr. Anon

    Okay, so he got #me-tooed

    #wronged-too.

    And the carnage at MIT. Anyone can make unfounded accusations. And they do. They’ve gone after Marvin Minsky now, which is especially disturbing because he died a few years back and can no longer defend himself.

    We may well be entering a new dark age.

  73. glib says:
    @utu

    of course it was carefully worded. I posted in the other thread about several Nobel-worthy individuals being excluded, sometimes multiple times. In the case of Cabibbo, the initiator of the CKM matrix, he was replaced by Nambu, who himself had been previously stiffed (on the unrelated topic of electroweak theory). That time no care in wording could hide the discrepancy, and the Committee was much criticized, even though Nambu was a deserving winner (again, on things other than the CKM matrix).

    And the case at hand, the 2019 Prize, is clearly debatable, no matter the wording. It all stems from the definition of planet, which is arbitrary. And, historically, this arbitrariness has created much controversy. For 90 years there were 8 planets in the solar system, then for 70 years there were 9, and now there are 8 again. Strictly speaking Jupiter and Saturn, too, radiate their own heat, so eliminating heat-producing bodies (brown dwarfs) should also eliminate the Swiss pair. You can definitely shoot holes in this Nobel.

    As I say, it is a political process with political outcomes. When Atzmon related the story of the Dylan Nobel on these pages, I was among the readers most ready to accept that version of the facts.

  74. Anon 2 says:
    @NOTA

    Einstein has left some descendants – one of them is a physician practicing
    at a hospital in Santa Monica, CA. No resemblance to Albert Einstein at all.

  75. Nick Diaz says:

    Steve Sailer

    “Nobel Prize in Physics…”

    99.9999% of white males are not capable of ever earning a Nobel Prize in anything, let alone in physics. Trying to argue that white males are intellectually superior to males of other “races” or to females based on extreme outliers is asinine. This has literally no relevance when it comes to averages.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  76. @Anon

    Well, I am an amateur’s amateur when it comes to physics, but Caroll’s acadmeic publication record looks OK to me, with a bunch of collaborative articles in Physical Review, with a half dozen or so articles since 2017. He isn’t just doing talks.

    https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=Lfifrv8AAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate

    He has also said he’s going to do a textbook on Quantum Mechanics. He’s certainly a busy guy.

    He is a bit of a self promoter, of course, but so was Hawking in his later years, culminating in his appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    Anyway, I think it’s great that these physicists are out there in the public. It’s fun, but the theoretical stuff is all fun and games until somebody does a real experiment. It’s why Kip Thorne has a Nobel Prize. Caroll is unlikely to get one, but your never know.

  77. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

    99.9999% of white males are not capable of ever earning a Nobel Prize in anything, let alone in physics. Trying to argue that white males are intellectually superior to males of other “races” or to females based on extreme outliers is asinine. This has literally no relevance when it comes to averages.

    And for blacks, mestizos and aborigines it’s nine nines , and five or six nines for Asians, even higher IQ Chinese. What is your point?

  78. El Dato says:
    @Hippopotamusdrome

    I don’t think anyone except Wal Thornhill is on this particular trip. Thus “extremely speculative”.

    Einstein Gravity, however, is supported by experimental evidence to an astonishing degree (First equation developed based on no-frills math is correct?! Well, I never! Why is Nature so direct!)

    https://www.quantamagazine.org/troubled-times-for-alternatives-to-einsteins-theory-of-gravity-20180430/

  79. Graham says:
    @JMcG

    And Australopithecus never left Africa. But…

    • LOL: Bubba
  80. anonymous[532] • Disclaimer says:
    @NOTA

    Do we need descendants of Einstein? I say no. We can do quite well without ….

    Look at it this way. I (anonymous though I might be) am descended not only from King David (almost certainly) and King Arthur (again, almost certainly), but I am also a fairly close relative of Alexander Graham Bell (I have the exact same version of male pattern baldness he did), and I am an even closer relative of an even more talented individual (who I am not gonna name, just because I don’t feel like it).

    I have not written any immortal Psalms, or ever retrieved an enchanted sword from its immemorial resting place, or invented anything like a telephone, but I have made lots of people laugh …. and seriously, how many times have you read about King David or King Arthur or even Alexander Graham Bell doing that ?????

  81. anonymous[546] • Disclaimer says:
    @Nick Diaz

    Nick – you are not really good at numbers, are you?

  82. @eded

    Peebles did do his undergrad at Manitoba.

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