Archive for Edward Frenkel

the ultimate simulation

Posted in Books, University life with tags , , , , , , on February 23, 2014 by xi'an

Another breakfast read of the New York Times that engaged enough of my attention to write a post (an easily done feat!): besides a lengthy introduction, Edward Frenkel, the author of the column, considers the Platonic issue of whether or not “mathematical entities actually exist in and of themselves”, an issue also central to Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. And suddenly switches to another philosophical debate, realism versus idealism, the later view being that reality only exists in the mind. And seriously (?) considers the question of whether or not we live in a computer simulation… Uh?! There is actually research going on with this assumption, as shown by the arXiv paper the column links to. This is also called the Matrix Hypothesis on Wikipedia. While I understand the appeal of arguing that we cannot distinguish between living in a real world and living in the simulation of a real world (this is a modern extension of Plato’s cave), I do not get the point of addressing the issue in a Physics paper. Seems more appropriate for science-fiction literature. Like Philip K. Dick‘s…

Rites of love and math

Posted in Books, pictures, University life with tags , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by xi'an

Edward Frenkel was the first research chair laureate of Fondation sciences mathématiques de Paris in 2008. He has written a film co-directed with Reine Graves about the beauty of mathematics, entitled Rites of Love and Math in homage to Yukio Mishima‘s Rites of Love and Death. (The film première will take place at Max Linder Panorama theater, 24 bd Poissoniere, Paris 9e, on Wednesday, April 14 at 6 p.m. The entrance is free. Warning: I do not have the slightest idea what the film is about!) I like very much some of Mishima’s novels, like The Temple of the Golden Pavillion, but the reference to the movie (whose Japanese title is Patriotism) is a bit unsettling… It is indeed prefiguring Mishima’s own suicide in 1970 during an amateurish right-wing coup.