After more than 3/4 of a million guesses, in over 50,000 games played in 67 countries, the results are clear: Science sounds like gobbledygook.

arXiv vs. snarXiv has been live for 6 months now, and it’s time to take a look at the results. Here’s how the game works. The user sees two titles: one is the title of an actual theoretical high energy physics paper on the arXiv, and the other is a completely fake title randomly generated by the snarXiv. The user guesses which one is real, finds out if they’re right or wrong, and then starts over with a new pair of titles.

I’ve been recording the result of each guess, originally just out of curiosity. I never expected to get reasonable statistics on the over 120,000 high energy theory papers on the arXiv. But after more than 750,000 guesses, that’s exactly what I’ve got, which means we can do some fun stuff. Continue reading…

*lie* is a python module for computations with Lie groups, Lie algebras, representations, root systems, and more.

I based it on the computer algebra package LiE, written by M. A. A. van Leeuwen, A. M. Cohen and B. Lisser in the early 90’s. They chose to implement a proprietary scripting language as a wrapper for all the fancy mathematical algorithms. While this language is useful for interactive computations and short scripts, python is more expressive and powerful — definitely what you want when exploring your favorite exceptional group.

### A Fun Example

Here’s an example of using *lie* to do a calculation that’s near and dear to every high energy theorist’s heart. We’ll show how the 10 + 5bar + 1 representation of SU(5) contains a single standard model generation. First we’ll fire up python and import the *lie* module. Continue reading…

The snarXiv is a random high-energy theory paper generator incorporating all the latest trends, entropic reasoning, and exciting moduli spaces. The arXiv is similar, but occasionally less random.

Actually, the snarXiv only generates tantalizing titles and abstracts at the moment, while the arXiv delivers matching papers as well. Details of the implementation are below. I’m the author, and I don’t remember exactly why I decided to do this. I did already have the framework lying around from a previous project, and I swear I spent more time doing research last weekend than implementing snarXiv.org.

### Suggested Uses for the snarXiv

- If you’re a graduate student, gloomily read through the abstracts, thinking to yourself that you don’t understand papers on the real arXiv any better.
- If you’re a post-doc, reload until you find something to work on.
- If you’re a professor, get really excited when a paper claims to solve the hierarchy problem, the little hierarchy problem, the mu problem, and the confinement problem. Then experience profound disappointment.
- If you’re a famous physicist, keep reloading until you see your name on something, then claim credit for it. Continue reading…

I should probably document the real origin of the Theorem of the Day and Philosophy of the Day. Coffee and Henry David Thoreau are perhaps less involved than originally indicated.

The theorem generator was written by a good friend of mine, Matt Gline, as a project for CS51: Abstraction and Design in Computer Programming, which we took together as freshmen.

The assignment was to use LISP to implement a context free grammar — basically a set of rules for computer-generated mad libs. The subject was whatever we wanted. Good ones from past years include computer-generated mystery novellas, course-guide reports, and performance art directions. Every year there’s a contest, and Matt’s theorem generator was hysterical enough to win him lunch at the faculty club. Continue reading…

New Philosophy

Continue reading…

This is the story of how Honda engineers screwed up a big expensive project with a simple arithmetic mistake, tried to fudge their result with sound editing software, and congratulated themselves for being totally awesome.

When I was a kid, my family used to drive up to The Pinery in Ontario, a beautiful park by Lake Huron. Very scenic. My favorite part, though, was a stretch of road a half-hour outside of the park. To discourage reckless Canadians from barreling past the houses and barns, the local government carved five sets of grooves in the road before every stop sign. Drive over them, and the car would vibrate: *“vbvbvbvb… vbvbvbvb… vbvbvbvb… vbvbvbvb… vbvbvbvb.”* The faster you drive, the higher the pitch.

My Dad is a musicologist, with a particular interest in tuning. So there was *no way* he was going to pass up the chance to experiment with this instrument. Every time we approached some grooves, he’d start fast over the first set, and try to slow down by the last set, to play a descending scale: G-F-E-D-C. If there was no oncoming traffic after the stop sign, he’d swing over to the other side of the road and play an ascending scale as we sped up. Continue reading…