Monthly Archives: May 2007

Beauty and Physics

I just got a very interesting article entitled “A thing of beauty” by Arthur Miller, whom I met in Ascona. The nuance between “beauty” and “simplicity” might be an interesting topic of discussion. In fact an essential point of our joint work (with Chamseddine and Marcolli) on the Standard Model coupled to gravity is to obtain the complicated Lagrangian from a simple principle: the spectral action.

The Ascona meeting on Pauli and Jung

Thanks to Masoud for keeping the blog alive in the middle of all these trips to conferences. The last one I attended ended today and was dedicated to Pauli’s philosophical ideas. It was quite interesting and gave me a great occasion to get a better knowledge of these ideas. An interesting talk was given by Rafael Nuñez “Where does mathematics come from? Pauli, Jung, and contemporary cognitive science” with a brave attempt to dismiss platonism (and in particular Pauli’s view) using “contemporary cognitive science”. The talk was very entertaining, in particular on the representation of the future as relative motion as in expressions of the form “winter is coming” or “we are arriving at the end of the year”. Or when the infamous Chilian dictator, after the coup, said successively:”Communism has taken us at the edge of the abyss” and “today we took a big step forward”. Unfortunately I missed the talk of Arthur Miller “When Pauli met Jung – and what happened next”… but I could talk to him directly and got very interested with these images Jung was showing to Pauli after hearing his dreams. I had to give a rather improvised talk on Wednesday morning (about the nature of mathematical reality and also the relations with physics) and barely made it in time, since my plane to Milan had been canceled the day before (strike of Air Control) and I had to go there by train. This took the whole day and the only possible way to reach Ascona in time was to rent a car in Milan and drive there in the middle of the night. I did it since I really hate to accept giving a talk somewhere and not be able to make it at the last moment, but there was definitely a kind of “Pauli effect“making it quite difficult to reach the place in time…

Jürg Fröhlich was prevented to come for family reasons and the talk on Pauli’s work was given by Harald Atmanspacher who replaced Fröhlich at the last minute. What was really striking in this meeting was that all talks were followed by long and passionate discussions which usually lasted for almost half an hour and one could learn a lot just because there was so much interaction.

Conference on Wolfgang Pauli’s Philosophical Ideas and Contemporary Science

Telegram sent on June 14, 1954 from physicists Fred Reines and Clyde Cowan to Wolfgang Pauli announcing the detection, for the first time, of neutrinos.

Wolfgang Pauli‘s contributions to physics are too numerous and well known to be recounted here (the exclusion principle, the spin-statistics theorem, and the prediction of the neutrino, to name just a few). His philosophical thoughts on the other hand are less known. There is an interesting conference going on this week in Monte Verita, Ascona (Switzerland) devoted to Pauli’s philosophical ideas and contemporary science. Some of the themes of this conference, specially Pauli’s interactions with the psychiatrist Carl Jung, is described in the following excerpt from the announcement:

“The psychophysical problem, of essential significance for Pauli, has generated rapidly increasing interest together with the renaissance of consciousness research in the 1990s. The widely distributed Journal of Consciousness Studies, founded in 1994, gives a good impression of this trend. The idea of a psychophysically neutral monism with mind and matter as dual aspects, which Pauli favored, represents a seriously discussed alternative to reductionist or materialist accounts in current discussions in the philosophy of mind and psychology. For instance, Jung’s concepts of archetypes and synchronicity, taken quite seriously by Pauli, can be embedded fairly straightforwardly in dual-aspect approaches.”

Alain speaks in this meeting and I hope we get a first hand report later!

Update on Vanderbilt Conference

The FIFTH ANNUAL SPRING INSTITUTE ON NONCOMMUTATIVE GEOMETRY AND OPERATOR ALGEBRAS at Vanderbilt University is over now. Slides of mini courses and talks are

gradually becoming available. Check back the middle of this page for the latest updates. In a separate post we hope to have some comments on some of the talks at least.

Quite a few other events on noncommutative geometry are scheduled this summer in Chicago,
Fredericton, Bonn, and again in Bonn, Warsaw and at the Chern Institute for Mathematics in China.

Center for Noncommutative Geometry and Operator Algebras at Vanderbilt University

Professor Dietmar Bisch, chair of the mathematics department at Vanderbilt University, has kindly written the following piece about the newly formed “Center for Noncommutative Geometry and Operator Algebras (NCGOA)” and its activities for the NCG blog.

FIFTH ANNUAL SPRING INSTITUTE ON NONCOMMUTATIVE GEOMETRY AND OPERATOR ALGEBRAS, Vanderbilt University, May 7 to May 16, 2007

The Fifth Annual Spring Institute on NCG & OA will begin this coming Monday, May 7, at Vanderbilt. The topic of this year’s meeting is index theory, Hopf cyclic cohomology and NCG. We expect about 100 participants from all over the world, including more than 60 students and postdocs. The following mini-courses will be featured at the meeting:

Alain Connes: Noncommutative geometry and motives

Nigel Higson, John Roe: Dirac operators and the Baum-Connes conjecture

Christian Kassel: An introduction to quantum groups

Atabey Kaygun, Masoud Khalkhali: From cyclic cohomology to Hopf cyclic cohomology

Giovanni Landi, Andrzej Sitarz: An Introduction to equivariant spectral triples

Ryszard Nest, Boris Tsygan: Algebraic index theorem

Michael Puschnigg: Cyclic cohomology and the Chern-Connes character

Moreover, there will be several research talks related to the topics of the spring institute. For more information, please consult the conference website.

Funding for the yearly NCGOA spring institute is provided by NSF and the College of Arts & Science at Vanderbilt University. The annual spring institute on NCGOA is organized every year by the Center for Noncommutative Geometry and Operator Algebras (NCGOA) at Vanderbilt under the direction of Alain Connes.

The Center consists of more than 20 graduate students, postdocs and senior mathematicians. The senior mathematicians in the area of NCG & OA atVanderbilt are Dietmar Bisch, Alain Connes, Bruce Hughes, Gennadi Kasparov, Jesse Peterson, Daoxing Xia, Guoliang Yu and Dechao Zheng.

Researchers affiliated with the Center cover a broad spectrum of scientific interests including K-theory of operator algebras, index theory, coarse geometry, von Neumann algebras, the theory of subfactors, operator theory, controlled topology, stratified spaces and quantum information theory. We are heavily involved in the training of students and postdocs and our work in this area is currently supported by an NSF Research Training Group grant.

Besides the annual spring institute, the Center’s activities include organization of seminars, lecture series and (small) workshops, and we are involved in running the annual East Coast Operator Algebras Symposium. Information about the previous NCGOA spring institutes is available on the web. The links are listed below. Each site contains links to lecture notes, articles or slides of talks which were sent to us by the speakers.

The Clay Mathematics Institute international conference and spring school on NONCOMMUTATIVE GEOMETRY AND APPLICATIONS in conjunction with the 18th Annual Shanks Lecture (aka the FIRST ANNUAL SPRING INSTITUTE on NCGOA), May 2 to Tuesday, May 13, 2003

THE SECOND ANNUAL SPRING INSTITUTE ON NONCOMMUTATIVE GEOMETRY AND OPERATOR ALGEBRAS, May 15 to May 25, 2004

THE THIRD ANNUAL SPRING INSTITUTE ON NONCOMMUTATIVE GEOMETRY AND OPERATOR ALGEBRAS in conjunction with the 20th ANNUAL SHANKS LECTURE, May 9 to May 20, 2005

THE FOURTH ANNUAL SPRING INSTITUTE ON NONCOMMUTATIVE GEOMETRY AND OPERATOR ALGEBRAS, May 8 to May 17, 2006