Posthumous note to Joseph Polchinski
(May 16, 1954 – February 2, 2018)
Written: August 30, 2019 at 12:13 PM
Dear Prof. Dr. Joseph Polchinski:
When I finally read your 1998 work, Quantum Gravity at the Planck Length [PDF], I was quite taken back. Fascinating. For me, it is a most important contribution.
First, you were an early adopter! You took the Planck Length seriously! As a result, I included my first brief reference to your article: https://81018.com/transformation/#4b
Thank you for your legacy of work and for all your recent reflections about the meaning and value of life: Your comment, “I’m sorry that no one has gotten rid of the firewall, but please keep trying,” is endearing.
Congratulations and thanks again for your constant search.
Footnote: While writing this note, I continued my search of this scholar’s writings. There are 150 Polchinski articles within ArXiv alone.
Then I learned David Gross presented his last two lectures for him — https://arxiv.org/pdf/1512.02477.pdf and the follow-up, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1601.06145. Only then did I learn he had died of brain cancer on February 2, 2018.
When I engaged the Wikipedia article about him, there is a reference to his August 2017 writing, Memories of a Theoretical Physicist, arXiv:1708.09093 [physics.hist-ph]. Autobiographical memoir, and a link to his Kavli personal homepage. -BEC