From: "igor.bogdanov" (igor.bogdanov@free.fr) Newsgroups: sci.physics.research Subject: Physics bitten by reverse Alan Sokal Date: 1 Nov 2002 07:49:25 GMT Organization: no organization specified Message-ID: (aptbm5$rp6$1@panther.uwo.ca) On his webpage, Dr John Baez relates some aspects of the "Bogdanov affair". We are very greatful regarding his effort to keep his page up to date. In this perspective, please find hereafter our answers to certain questions raised on this webpage. John Baez text : " the Bogdanovs got their PhDs at different times; apparently one of them failed at his first attempt. " Comment : To be exact, Grichka Bogdanoff defended (and passed) his PHD (mathematics) June 26, 1999 at Ecole Polytechnique. At that time, Igor's thesis was postpone. Igor defended (and passed) his PHD (theoretical physics) July 8, 2002). John Baez text : " For example, here's the beginning of their paper "Topological Origin of Inertia" " Comment : It is not "their" paper but Igor's paper. To be more precise, it is a "conjectural paper" written as a heuristic exercise to understand a plausible (and unexpected) application of our "topological approach" of initial singularity. John Baez text : Zounds! They took that pendulum and rode it right off into hyperspace! Comment : Hyperspace? Hmm...We simply suggest that at 0 scale, the observables must be replaced by the homology cycles in the moduli space of gravitational instantons. We then get a deep correspondence -a symmetry of duality- between physical theory and topological field theory. John Baez text : I appreciate the fact that to someone not expert in physics, this stuff may seem no weirder than any other paper in a physics journal. They are indeed using actual physics jargon - but I assure you, it makes no sense. Comment : OK. However, we would prefer "not clearly understandable." Perhaps for two reasons : 1) first it is a secondary paper written long time after the "key paper" (Classical&Quantum Grav.) where all our ideas are exposed and developed in more details. 2) second : once more it is conjectural paper. John Baez text : How in the world could the plane of oscillation of a pendulum be "aligned with the initial singularity", i.e. the big bang? The big bang did not occur anywhere in particular; it happened everywhere. Comment : Well, it is exactly what we wrote : of course, there is no "priviledged" point and the initial singularity is -as you said- everywhere. It is precisely our view : in conjecture 4.9 (nothing more that an conjecture, by the way) we have considered that the 2-dimensional plane of oscillation of the pendulum conserves the initial singularity S for inertial reference, whatever the orientation of this plane in physical space R3." It is explicitly written in conjecture 4.9 and in different places of the paper. So your critic might be misleading. John Baez text : Indeed, nothing in the paper suggests that they really understand N = 2 supergravity, Donaldson theory, or KMS states. For all I can tell, they merely stuck together a patchwork of plausible-sounding sentences on these subjects. Comment : One more, one should refer to the PRINTED VERSION (not the PDF's) of CQG paper (and also to the 2 thesis) to get a clearer view of what we say (and know) about N = 2 supergravity, Donaldson theory, KMS states, etc.We have passed many years working on these topics and became rather familiar with all these subjects. John Baez text : There is no logic or cohesion to what they write. Comment : If one reads : 1) the thesis (Grichka's first), and 2) the papers in logical order, then it might make sense. But again, this "Inertia paper" is quite unapropriate to serve as an example of what we have in mind. John Baez text : Since I've worked on topological field theory, I was particularly amused by this passage in their paper "Topological field theory of the initial singularity": Now, the topological field theory (for D = 4) is established when the Hamiltonian (or the Lagrangian) of the system is H = 0, such as the theory is independent of the underlying metric. We propose to extend this definition, stating that a theory can also be topological if it does not depend on the Hamiltonian H (or the Lagrangian L) of the system. Ha-ha-ha! Sidesplittingly funny, eh? What - you don't get the joke? Hmm, it would take a while to explain, but it basically amounts to saying that they want to call a theory "topological" if it doesn't depend on what the theory is - since the Hamiltonian or Lagrangian is what you use to specify a theory of physics these days. A theory that doesn't depend on what it is! It almost sounds like an inside joke about the nature of the Bogdanov's work! Comment : We do not see the point here. In our view, the fact to consider a topological field theory independent of the Hamiltonian is just equivalent to consider the same theory as independent of the metric. A theory independent of H is topological because it is - by construction - independent of any physical field. This does not mean that such a theory does not depend on what it is. John Baez text : The Bogdanovs had apparently been TV personalities in France who made a career of answering science questions and generally acting like geniuses. Comment : Thank you for those titles (TV personalities) but we do not deserve it. We did not make a "career" and do not consider ourselves as "TV personalities". Obviously we are not. Just had by chance a successfull TV show on science and prospective on TF1 during 10 years (and became within the youg public a sort of a "cult" program). That's all. As far this "geniuses" question is concerned, well let's say that we never advertised anything about it. The only thing which is true is that we have a solid training in IQ tests. So our results might seem impressive (over 200) but it does not mean much. As you know, tests are not measuring intelligence itself but only one's capacity to solve the said tests. True : there is a solid legend in France about our "impressive IQ" but we never talk about this and even refused to become members of the MENSA as it was proposed to us 3 years ago. John Baez text : They apparently had previously attempted to get PhDs by dubious means, and had failed. Comment : In fact we never made any attempt to get any PHD before we passed the 2 present thesis. Where does this (new?) rumor come from? John Baez text : They were apparently accused of plagiarism at some point. Comment : The word "reverse" should be appropriate in this case. Because this so called plagiarism was made, in 1987, by our accusator on our own work and publications! He wrote a book in 1989 containing some here and there some sentences coming from 2 of our previously published articles. The proofs are available to anyone. Based on an official support of the french Academie des Sciences, we got a settlement with our contradictors. But this story is interesting because it is (without no doubt) the very far away origin of most of our present troubles. John Baez text : So, perhaps for now we should focus on their actual work. Comment : We indeed would be very happy to discuss our work, thesis and papers (prefer the printed versions to the PDF ones because of the misprints) on scientific basis. Thank you for your help and attention, Best regards, Igor Bogdanoff Grichka BogdanoffTo read my reply, click here

baez@math.ucr.edu © 2002 John Baez