Talk:Sidney Coleman

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Original article moved to Sidney_Coleman/Temp after copyright violation of [1] Tonderai 11:57, Apr 24, 2005 (UTC)

The bulk of Sidney Coleman’s research has been in high-energy theoretical physics, in particular quantum field theory. He has contributed to the theories of strong-interaction symmetries, of spontaneous symmetry breakdown, of duality in two-dimensional field theories, of solitons and instantons, of the cosmological constant, and of quantum effects in black-hole dynamics.
rv to pre-vopyvio version.--Duk 03:29, 3 May 2005 (UTC)

Sad news[edit]

Unfortunately you should view the sad news about Sidney's death as a confirmed news with a source. See the main page of the Harvard physics department. [2] --Lumidek (talk) 15:31, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

Categeory: Science fiction fans[edit]

Coleman was also well-known in science fiction fandom (which was the context in which I knew him). I checked to see if this could be sourced, and indeed his articles are found in science fiction fanzines. See for example. --Pleasantville (talk) 11:49, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Contributions to physics[edit]

Coleman's Erice lectures, written up over the years, were very influential on his generation of physicists. It seems to me that this work was indeed a "contribution to physics" in addition to his original research. In particular, I think TonyMath's addition of "Instantons (Aspects of Symmetry)" should stay in the article. betsythedevine (talk) 00:27, 22 January 2011 (UTC)

His Erice lectures might count as a contribution, but it is wrong to select one specific physics topic from them, "Instantons", to which he made no major physics contribution, and put it in a list with the decay of the false vacuum etc, to which he made seminal contributions. I suggest putting his Erice lectures in the list of contributions (instead of Instantons), marking it as a review. Dark Formal (talk) 03:24, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

That sounds like a very good suggestion to me, and I've attempted to implement it in the article. If others feel I got this wrong, feel free to improve. betsythedevine (talk) 05:21, 23 January 2011 (UTC)


  • This note concerns the deleted text :

In 1998, Sidney Coleman and Sheldon Glashow published a paper [1] suggesting that Lorentz symmetry violation (LSV) could be at the origin of a suppression of the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin (GZK) cutoff. But the work by Luis Gonzalez-Mestres, that Coleman and Glashow do not cite, is clearly prior to their suggestion.

In his book The Trouble With Physics, Lee Smolin, a former doctoral student of Sidney Coleman at Harvard, wrongly attributes to Coleman and Glashow this original idea. Already in a 1996 paper [2], Gonzalez-Mestres had also conjectured that superbradyon decay could provide a source of ultra-high energy cosmic rays.

In April 1997, postulating the existence of a vacuum rest frame and a quadratic momentum dependence for the effective LSV parameters, González-Mestres pointed out [3] that Lorentz symmetry violation for "ordinary" particles can lead to a suppression of the GZK cutoff and that, under the same hypothesis, unstable particles can become stable at ultra-high energy. More generally, the stability and decays of ultra-high energy particles would depend on LSV parameters. These original ideas were also presented at the 1997 International Cosmic Ray Conference. [4]

(en of the text)

You can find more details in a former version of the biography of Luis Gonzalez-Mestres that one is trying to remove :

Including the explicit mentions by the New York Times and the CERN Courier. Then, a simple check of article dates shows that the papers by Gonzalez-Mestres were clearly prior to those of Coleman and Glashow.

Citizen Biographer (talk) 10:28, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

  • More precisely, Nick Mavromatos wrote in the August 2002 CERN Courier :

"Other astrophysical probes of the stochastic quantum-gravity effects may be provided by ultra-high-energy cosmic rays (UHECR) with energies above 1019 eV, as well as by TeV photons. The presence of such events seems puzzling from the point of view of Lorentz invariance - standard kinematics imply the existence of energy thresholds, the Greisen, Zatsepin, Kuzmin (GZK) cut-off, above which certain reactions would prevent such energetic particles from reaching the observation point, assuming an extra-galactic origin. Some exotic suggestions have been made to relate Lorentz invariance violation associated with the quantum-gravity-induced modification of the particle's dispersion relations with the existence of UHECR or TeV photons, in the form of an abolition of the GZK cut-off in such models."

One of the references of the article is :

L Gonzalez-Mestres 1997 physics/9704017 at

which corresponds to : (14 April 1997)

whose abstract explicitly states :

The sectorial Lorentz symmetry may be only a low-energy limit, in the same way as the relation $\omega $ (frequency) = $c_s$ (speed of sound) $k$ (wave vector) holds for low-energy phonons in a crystal. We study the consequences of such a scenario, using an ansatz inspired by the Bravais lattice as a model for some vacuum properties. It then turns out that: a) the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin cutoff on high-energy cosmic protons and nuclei does no longer apply; b) high-momentum unstable particles have longer lifetimes than expected with exact Lorentz invariance, and may even become stable at the highest observed cosmic ray energies or slightly above.

(end of quote)

Similarly, in The New York Times (December 2002), Dennis Overbye writes :

In the late 1990's Dr. Luis Gonzalez-Mestres of the National Center for Scientific Research in France, and, independently, the Harvard theorists Dr. Sheldon Glashow and Dr. Sidney Coleman proposed that a small violation of relativity would allow high-energy cosmic rays to evade the G.Z.K. energy limit on travel.

(end of quote)

Even if Dennis Overbye uses the expression "independently", the way he quotes Gonzalez-Mestres is a clear recognizion of his priority. Then, one can check the actual dates of papers. It is quite obvious that in August 1998 there was no reason for Coleman and Glashow not to cite Gonzalez-Mestres.

Citizen Biographer (talk) 10:51, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

For nearly any physics result, there are pre-existing papers that said something similar somewhere. I doubt this dispute about who said what first in 1996 or 1998 is notable enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. I don't see WP:RS calling this a controversy. If it were to be included, the place it should go is Luis Gonzalez-Mestres, not Sidney Coleman or Sheldon Glashow, since they were arguably unaware of the earlier paper when they wrote theirs. betsythedevine (talk) 11:19, 26 May 2011 (UTC)
WP:NOTAFORUM + talk page is to discuss improvements to the article --betsythedevine (talk) 12:38, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.
  • Unfortunately, as it has been pointed out (and immediately censored and declared "sockpuppetry", "disruptive" and so on...) in the discussion on the proposed deletion of the Gonzalez-Mestres biography :

there was no reason for Coleman and Glashow not to cite Gonzalez-Mestres. Especially, given the fact that they had cited him here : (revised 30 April 1997 version, two weeks after the above paper by Gonzalez-Mestres and not considering a possible suppression of the GZK cutoff)

and the Harvard University has itself an excellent database quickly picking abstracts, where you can find this paper :

as well as the May 1997 one by Gonzalez-Mestres whose title was explicitly :

Absence of Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin Cutoff and Stability of Unstable Particles at Very High Energy, as a Consequence of Lorentz Symmetry Violation

Coleman, Glashow and Smolin could not reasonably ignore this evidence, especially in August 1998 (date of the first paper where Coleman and Glashow evoked a possible GZK cutoff suppression) or years later.

Is the deletion of the Gonzalez-Mestres biography a way to "kill" embarrassing evidence for dysfunctions of the "western" scientific institutions whose role is clearly declining at the world level ? (talk) 08:46, 27 May 2011 (UTC)

  • This seems to be a serious ethical issue that would even possibly deserve some investigation. Did the situation of Gonzalez-Mestres at College de France, as a well-known member of the "dissident" unions, have an influence on the fact that Coleman and Glashow refrained from quoting him, when they had previously cited his work in April 1997 after the paper had appeared ?

Negun (talk) 09:42, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

  • It is just a fact that two essential results claimed by Coleman and Glashow in 1998 as original (possible GZK suppression and stability of unstable particles at ultra-high energies) :

explicitly appear in the abstract of the April 1997 paper by Gonzalez-Mestres : (talk) 09:31, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Those "essential results" are so unimportant to Coleman, to Glashow, and indeed to physics that they are of absolutely zero interest to anybody reading this biography. Coleman and Glashow made other major contributions to physics. The "possible GZK suppression and stability of unstable particles at ultra-high energies" are not an important part of their physics biography. The talk page of the article is a place for discussing improvements to the article. It is not a WP:FORUM. Good luck with your "investigation" and if some WP:RS reports on its results, then maybe it will be notable and reliable enough for inclusion in Wikipedia. betsythedevine (talk) 12:10, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

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  1. ^ Sidney Coleman and Sheldon Glashow, High-Energy Tests of Lorentz Invariance, arXiv:hep-ph/9812418
  2. ^ Luis González-Mestres (June 1996), Superluminal Matter and High-Energy Cosmic Rays,
  3. ^ Luis González-Mestres (April 1997), Vacuum Structure, Lorentz Symmetry and Superluminal Particles,
  4. ^ Luis González-Mestres (May 1997), Absence of Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin Cutoff and Stability of Unstable Particles at Very High Energy, as a Consequence of Lorentz Symmetry Violation, Proceedings of the 25th International Cosmic-Ray Conference, Durban, 30 July - 6 August (published before the conference), Volume 6, Potscheftroomse Universiteit, Copyright Space Research Unit 1997, ISBN 1-86822-281-0 , page 113, paper posted in May 1997, , also available at (KISS, KEK, Japan)