Monday, May 06, 2013

Proposal for an Ig Milner prize (or trantor prize)

 Ok. Now that we have the Milner  prize I think that it is time to go a little bit further. The nobel prize has it's counterpart, the Ig nobel, so it would be fun to have an  Ig Milner. or Trantor prize`. remember Trantor is the planet that is the centre of the galactic empire in the Asivmovs book's about the foundation.  In that literary universe physics has discovered almost everything and the physicists mainly get prestige by doing formal or ideological revisions of the already established physics which have not consequence in making new discoverings (they even don't care about it).

 Well, the idea would be to give a symbolic prize to works that are superficially correct but are totally useless, or even make no sense at all when one looks at it's closely. I think that they would also be works which are specially ambitious and prepotent. To avoid injuring people who is beginning and could get too injured in their professional life by the bad press I guess that it would be better that the candidates to the prize would be people with a well established position.

 Also it could be given a prize -maybe in an slightly separate category- to papers that are correct but specially fun, or exotic.

 For the first edition I would make a few suggestions.

 One candidate would be the AMPS paper about firewalls. Better than trying to explain the details myself  I suggest reading some posts of Lubos on the subject, this being the last one at the date of writing this:

An apologia for firewalls

 An even better candidate, in my humble opinion, would be Lee Smollin for his last book. I would link the Lubos review but I think that would be to unfair because it is well known that "crackpot" is the more polite word that could characterise Lubo's opinion about Smollin.   That's why I give a link to Sabines blog, who also have a closer knowledge of Lee because she was a former collaborative of him: Book review: “Time Reborn” by Lee Smolin.

 Well, my last candidate would be for the exotic side. It is an article where the author - Benjamin K. Tippett - designs a metric that could fit a literary writing by Francis Wayland Thurston. The whole felling of the paper is something like a scientific description of the worlds of chuthlhu. I give here the link and the abstract:

Possible Bubbles of Spacetime Curvature in the South Pacific

In 1928, the late Francis Wayland Thurston published a scandalous manuscript in purport of warning the world of a global conspiracy of occultists. Among the documents he gathered to support his thesis was the personal account of a sailor by the name of Gustaf Johansen, describing an encounter with an extraordinary island. Johansen`s descriptions of his adventures upon the island are fantastic, and are often considered the most enigmatic (and therefore the highlight) of Thurston`s collection of documents. 
We contend that all of the credible phenomena which Johansen described may be explained as being the observable consequences of a localized bubble of spacetime curvature. Many of his most incomprehensible statements (involving the geometry of the architecture, and variability of the location of the horizon) can therefore be said to have a unified underlying cause. 
We propose a simplified example of such a geometry, and show using numerical computation that Johansen`s descriptions were, for the most part, not simply the ravings of a lunatic. Rather, they are the nontechnical observations of an intelligent man who did not understand how to describe what he was seeing. Conversely, it seems to us improbable that Johansen should have unwittingly given such a precise description of the consequences of spacetime curvature, if the details of this story were merely the dregs of some half remembered fever dream. 
We calculate the type of matter which would be required to generate such exotic spacetime curvature. Unfortunately, we determine that the required matter is quite unphysical, and possess a nature which is entirely alien to all of the experiences of human science. Indeed, any civilization with mastery over such matter would be able to construct warp drives, cloaking devices, and other exotic geometries required to conveniently travel through the cosmos.

 Of course everyone is free to make his own suggestions, and, if they don't like the idea, to explain their reasons.


Anonymous said...

Hahaha, the abstract of the paper explaining the island anomaly is very funny (almost as funny as Warren Siegel's joke papers) :-D

I like the idea of a lg Milner prize.


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Vladimir Kalitvianski said...

Magnetic monopole was also "discovered" by Radford in similar theoretical setup - a "self-acting" Dirac field. ( Such solutions deserve Ig prises.

Javier said...

Ok Vladimir, thanks for the link. I´ll read it soon.

If more people post candidates and blogger supports it I will try to make a poll with the candidates to have an informal winner ;).