On Monday, November 18, 2002, at 07:12  AM, Marchal Bruno wrote:


I hope you have not missed Ian Steward's paper on the number
8, considered as a TOE in the last new scientist.
It mentions a paper by John Baez on the octonions. The
octonions seems to be a key ingredient for the quantization
of general relativity.


I am too buzy now to make comments but it seems *very*
interesting, if not convincing.

I happened to see Stewart's article at a news stand. He writes good general math books, so he was able to do a good job explaining octonions and hinting at why they may be important.

(I was struck by the point that the sequence "1, 2, 4, 8" is the only sequence satisfying certain properties--the only "scalars, vectors, quaternions, octonions" there can be--and that the sequence "3, 4, 6, 10," just 2 higher than the first sequence, is closely related to allowable solutions in some superstring theories, and that these facts are related.)

Ironically, in the Bogdananov/Sokal controversy being discussed in sci.physics.research, the topic of articles in "New Scientist" came up a week or so ago. Baez said he no longer reads "Scientific American," "New Scientist," and similar popular magazines because of their watered-down, sensationalized, dumbed-down, breathless hype. Someone (maybe Baez) said that cover stories in "New Scientist" are a good place to look for what _not_ to take seriously! I have to wonder what Baez thinks of being quoted in this latest cover story!

I actually enjoy the speculative cover stories in "New Scientist." I take them with a grain of salt, especially as every few weeks there's a new article about a new theory of everything, a new theory of how the universe arises out of nothingness or out of some sort of dream state. (Perhaps like some of the theories people here on this list have!)

The articles, especially those by Marcus Chown, are wildly speculative hints at what may be aspects of reality...at least this is how I treat them. And what appears to be just idle speculation sometimes is linked with things I know to be important (a cover story on the work of Greg Chaitin comes to mind...anyone not familiar with Chaitin's work would probably think the article was hype, but it contained hints and nuggets which might inspire some folks unfamiliar with his work to take a closer look.).

--Tim May
(.sig for Everything list background)
Corralitos, CA. Born in 1951. Retired from Intel in 1986.
Current main interest: category and topos theory, math, quantum reality, cosmology.
Background: physics, Intel, crypto, Cypherpunks

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