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Cliff Harvey

I love high energy physics, computer science and giant robots

Above all, Im passionate about physics. More generally Im interested in furthering understanding of this world at all levels, from particle physics to economics to galactic superclusters and everything in between. I have an artistic side I once cultivated aggressively but has somewhat fallen by the wayside. My inner artist/musician is howling to get let out soon.
As a physics major at WPI, I did a couple major research projects on quantum information theory, specifically on proofs of Bell's theorem involving 4 and 5 qubits. Those projects heavily shaped the way I view physics in general, and its deep foundational issues in particular. Despite the difficulty of the subject, I am convinced there is much more confusion than is necessary, as sloppy reasoning and explanations persist.
At the moment Im mostly spending my time learning quantum field theory and string theory. I am consistently amazed by the unity of physical and mathematical logic, and as I've studied the structure of this logic I'v


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+16
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About 1 week ago +Lawrence Lessig on organizing against institutional corruption
Its frustrating that for all the energy we see invested in political issues in the US, so far only a tiny fraction has been effectively focused on the central problem underlying essentially all of them: namely the system of private funding for public political campaigns. This would-be democratic republic is dominated by a transactional model of politics; a politics-by-auction. Numerical and anecdotal evidence of this situation is overwhelming, for example by the 93% correlation rate between winning the “money primary” and winning a House Congressional race. [1]

But this frustration is also what strikes me as precisely a cause for optimism, because it seems as though only a comparatively small fraction of the political energy that exists in the country would need to be refocused in order to actually make headway on the issue. The awareness seems much higher now. The signs of the problem are much more jarring and unavoidable. The un
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About 2 weeks ago Heres a nice little summary of a fantastically under-appreciated insight in theoretical physics, which can be summarized by the simple slogan: Gravity is Yang-Mills Squared.

This is a prime example, and a relatively easy one to explain at that, of the stark connections between the two big frameworks of fundamental physics, gravity on the one hand and Yang-Mills theory describing the remaining 3 forces on the other. These kinds of connections are what puts theoretical physics in such a fascinating and exciting position. Despite the fact that the master theory that would fully explain these connections remains out of the reach of laboratory science, its impossible to study these established frameworks in any depth without noticing some of these dramatic clues lying around. 

Explaining such "coincidences" should be a primary target of any putative master theory. String theory actually provides quite a bit of intuition and understanding to back these relations – roughly it correspo
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About 3 weeks ago Press conference on BICEP2, and other links
Heres the video of the press conference given this monday on the apparent detection of primordial gravitational waves by the BICEP2 experiment. As press conferences go its pretty solidly informative, with lots of details about the experiment but not so many that you get bogged down. It also has some interesting discussion about the theoretical aspects of inflation and with both major co-founders Alan Guth and Andrei Linde participating.

Needless to say, if its confirmed this an enormously important event, and I can't resist commenting on what seem to me like the most exciting implications. First its incredible to have what is really the first direct evidence of a quantum-gravitational process, and in particular a process driven by the mechanism of Hawking radiation. Both of these are things that seem nearly inevitable for any sensible theory of physics based on what we know today, but its still awesome to see them begin to move from the realm of
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About 6 days ago LHCb confirms that the Z(4430) state observed by the Belle collaboration is a particle. It must be formed of at least four quarks.