Communications in late March and early April, 2020

January-February 2020 contacts
February-March 2020
An alphabetical listing of contacts

March 24, 2020
Francisco S. N. Lobo, Instituto de Astrofisica e Ciencias do Espaco, University of Lisbon (FQXi)
Fotini Markopoulou, Empathic Technologies
Frank Wilczek, MIT  (FQXi)

March 25, 2020
Raphael Bousso, University of California at Berkeley
Basil Hiley, University of London, Birkbeck College
Jürgen Mlynek, Humboldt University in Berlin and Helmholtz Association
Matt Visser, Victoria University of Wellington  (FQXi)

March 26, 2020
Suzy Lidström, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Texas A&M University

March 27, 2020
Job Feldbrugge, Perimeter
• Jean-Luc Lehners, Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik (Albert-Einstein-Institut)
Neil Turok, Perimeter

March 28, 2020
Max Tegmark, MIT
David Gross, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

March 30, 2020
Steven Weinberg, University of Texas – Austin

March 31, 2020
Rudolph Schild, Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysics
•  Helen Quinn, Stanford Linear Accelerator
•  Jeffrey Lagarias, University of Michigan

April 2, 2020
Alan Guth, MIT
Daniel Shechtman, Technion, Israel

The next group would include:

April 4, 2020
• Lawrence Summers, Harvard

April 5, 2020
Martin Rees, Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge
Sabine Hossenfelder, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies
Edward (Rocky) Kolb, Kavli Institute, University of Chicago

April 8, 2020
Thomas Callister Hales, University of Pittsburgh
Tim Cook, Apple

April 9, 2020
Joseph Silk
Paul Steinhardt, Princeton

April 10, 2020
Nathan Seiberg

April 2020
Lisa Randall, Harvard
Brian Josephson, Cambridge

Among the next to be added in April:
• Roland E Allen, Texas A&M, Life, the Universe, and everything-42 fundamental questions:  (PDF) (ArXiv)

Barker, William H.

William H. Barker

Bowdoin College
Brunswick, Maine

Books:  Continuous Symmetry: From Euclid to Klein (AMA, 2007)

________ Harmonic Analysis on Reductive Groups

(NOTE: A conference on Harmonic Analysis on Reductive Groups was held at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine from July 31 to August 11, 1989. The stated goal of the conference was to explore recent advances in harmonic analysis on both real and p-adic groups. It was the first conference since the AMS Summer Sym­posium on Harmonic Analysis on Homogeneous Spaces, held at Williamstown, Massachusetts in 1972, to cover local harmonic analysis on reductive groups in such detail and to such an extent. While the Williamstown conference was longer (three weeks) and somewhat broader (nilpotent groups, solvable groups, as well as semisimple and reductive groups), the structure and timeliness of the two meetings was remarkably similar. The program of the Bowdoin Conference consisted of two parts. First, there were six major lecture series, each consisting of several talks addressing those topics in harmonic analysis on real and p-adic groups which were the focus of intensive research during the previous decade. These lectures began at an introductory level and advanced to the current state of research. Sec­ond, there was a series of single lectures in which the speakers presented an overview of their latest research.

_____ Lp harmonic analysis on SL(2,R)


Most recent email: Friday, 7 February 2020

Dear Prof. Dr. William H. Barker:

My work in 1972 focused on continuity, symmetry, and harmony. I was attempting to define what I thought would entail “a moment of perfection” within our quantum universe. By 1980, after working with an array of distinguished scholars in Boston, Cambridge (USA), and Paris, I went back to work within a business that I had started in 1971. From a little service bureau, we soon had a software business with well over 100 employees. My first opportunity to attempt to dig back into it all back was in 2011. I was helping a nephew with his high school geometry classes when we went inside the tetrahedron — — and then its octahedron, step-by-step, deeper and deeper by dividing all the edges by 2 and connecting those new vertices. Within 45 steps we were within particle physics. In 67 additional steps, we were within the Planck scale. By multiplying those classroom objects by 2, in 90 steps we were out to the approximate age and size of the universe. Instead of base-10 like Kees Boeke (1957), we used base-2, we had an inherent geometry, and we went from the Planck units to the current time.

It was an unusual, albeit, rather idiosyncratic chart of 202 notations:

Prima facie, do you see any merit to such a chart?

I will continue my readings of your work, Continuous Symmetry: From Euclid to Klein (AMA, 2007) and Harmonic Analysis on Reductive Groups (Springer, 1991) in hopes that you might have some guiding thoughts for  this rather idiosyncratic chart of the universe.  Thank you.

Most sincerely,


PS. In 1746 our family settled in Bremen, Maine. Bowdoin had always been on my list of schools to consider, but in 1965 the call for voter registration in the South won the day.  I always think of you all on my way out of Freeport and as we go through Brunswick. -BEC

First email: August 2, 2016 3:20 PM

Dear Prof. Dr. William H. Barker:

My grandmother lived up the road a ways (Bremen…Damariscotta, then out to 1A and the coast). Often Dad would stop at Valerie’s in Ogunquit, my sister’s favorite restaurant; they shared the name. We’d fall quickly back to sleep as children for the final long slog up from Cambridge. For some magic reason, I would awake just as we were passing by Bowdoin. Bathed in the soft summer lights, I would secretly dream, “That’ll be my school.”

1965 came quickly and I marched off to the south to register voters, but Bowdoin always held that special place.

Today, I am delighted to find your book on continuous symmetries and remember my childhood once more. Images imprint the soul and make us who we are.

When and why is there spontaneous symmetry breaking?
Have you given it much thought?

So, I have discovered your work and I am grateful to now be taking a de facto course with you through your writing. And so I say, “Thank you!”

With warm regards,
Most sincerely,



How does one find your work:
In mathematics, continuous symmetry is an intuitive idea corresponding to the concept of viewing some symmetries as motions, as opposed to discrete symmetry, e.g. reflection symmetry, which is invariant under a kind of flip from one state to another.

The notion of continuous symmetry has largely and successfully been formalised in the mathematical notions of topological group, Lie group and group action. For most practical purposes continuous symmetry is modeled by a group action of a topological group.

One-parameter subgroups
The simplest motions follow a one-parameter subgroup of a Lie group, such as the Euclidean group of three-dimensional space. For example translation parallel to the x-axis by u units, as u varies, is a one-parameter group of motions. Rotation around the z-axis is also a one-parameter group.

Noether’s theorem
Continuous symmetry has a basic role in Noether’s theorem in theoretical physics, in the derivation of conservation laws from symmetry principles, specifically for continuous symmetries. The search for continuous symmetries only intensified with the further developments of quantum field theory.

See also:

References:  William H. Barker, Roger Howe, Continuous Symmetry: from Euclid to Klein (2007)


Communications between January and February 2020


  1. Edward Anderson, formerly of DAMPT of Cambridge and OTC, Paris
  2. Anousheh Ansari, CEO, Prodea Systems and sponsor of the Ansari X Prize
  3. Nima Arkani-Hamed, theoretical physicists, Institute for Advanced Studies, Pricneton
  4. Peter Diamandis,  founder/chairman, X Prize Foundation and Singularity University
  5. Gil Elbaz, founder and CEO, Factual, American entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist
  6. Brian Greene, professor, Columbia University; co-founder, World Science Festival
  7. Justin Khoury, Professor of Physics, University of Pennsylvania
  8. George Musser, contributing editor for Scientific American magazine
  9. Thanu Padmanabhan, theoretical physicist and cosmologist
  10. Tony Rothman, American theoretical physicist, academic and writer

Particularly looking at the first principles and assumptions
of those involved with the FQXi, Skeptical Inquiry, and the ΧPRIZE.





Communications: Late January 2020


  1. Emily Conover, PhD, Physics Editor, Science News, Washington, DC
  2. Karen Crowther, Philosophy/ Ideas, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  3. Sylvester James Gates, Director, Brown Theoretical Physics Center, Privdence
  4. George Gillies, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
  5. David J. Gross, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, UC, Santa Barbara
  6. Quincy Jones,  Detroit and Los Angles, Global Entertainer
  7. Sir Peter Knight, Emeritus Professor, Imperial College, London
  8. Massimo Pigliucci, Professor of Philosophy, CUNY-City College, NYC
  9. Anabel Quan-Haase, Professor of Information & Media Studies and Sociology,
    University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario Canada
  10. Shakira (Isabel Mebarak Ripoll), a global entertainer
  11. Kristina Starkloff, Archiv der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft,  Berlin