Octopi Ogling

I found out only today (when I went into a newsagency) that the Sundance octopi have made the cover of New Scientist. The article, seemingly based on an interview with Lee Smolin, makes no mention of category theory, although it does quote John Baez. One can read a little for free.

When I mentioned octopi in a talk recently I was immediately asked by a member of the audience how something with three, or maybe six, legs could be called an octopus. Moreover, apparently octopi isn’t even the correct pluralisation.

But what is a good term? Sundance preons is really too crass, and the word preon is very misleading when translating the diagrams into a QG context. I finally decided upon the boring and very ubiquitous ribbon diagrams. Not very exciting, is it? Maybe we should use Grothendieck’s term, children’s drawings. Imagine trying to sell that one to the phenomenologists.

Update: There is now a PF discussion about octopi, with a great introduction by CarlB to his theory, not to mention a confirmation of the correctness of the lepton mass derivation … and so the jigsaw falls slowly into place, like the collapse of a terrifying Hegelian wave function, heralding a new time.

5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    L. Riofrio said,

    Hello Kea! Thanks for your kind comments on my blog. I have met both Lee and Sundance and they are easy to talk with. At Perimeter there is a small community of LQG theorists to compete with string theorists. “Sundance cephalopods,” perhaps? It is good to hear that LQG has made a magazine cover.

  2. 2

    Kea said,

    Sundance cephalopods, perhaps?

    Hmmm. Bit lengthy! Actually, I spent 6 months at Perimeter myself in 2003. Nice place to work.

  3. 3

    Gebar said,

    Hi Kea. Octopi is one of the two possible correct pluralizations according to my dictionary, but I can’t see what these diagrams have to do with octopi (or octopuses, the other pluralization). Perhaps Sundance diagrams. Or strand or braid diagrams. Or helon diagrams. Or weaves or weavons, which also evokes the crossing operation, or weave diagrams. You could also play around with the “-gram” suffix. Strandgrams, braidgrams, helongrams, weavegrams.

  4. 4

    Kea said,

    Hi gebar

    The name octopi was a derogatory term invented by a String theorist.

  5. 5

    Gebar said,

    Oh, I see. I avoid reading the specific theorists blog, the signal to neurotic noise ratio is way past my tolerance limit.

    By the way, as I mention in a post in Louise’s blog, I would like to have your comments on what I propose in http://www.visual-physics.com.

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