magnetic dark matter, realism

Wednesdays are supposed to be sacred research days. That didn't really work out today; life is full! The best thing about the day was an absolutely great talk by Itay Yavin (McMaster) about dark matter with (very weak) electromagnetic interactions (magnetic dipole, to be specific). He (with Chang, Weiner, others) have a model that could potentially explain the putative / suspicious Fermi 130 GeV line, open up direct detection options, and leave signatures at the LHC. That would be the trifecta, and he would get the Nobel Prize! One thing I learned in the talk is that the Fermi team agrees that there might be a line at 130. That's big, and another endorsement for the intuition and judgement of my old collaborator Finkbeiner (Harvard). (Well Finkbeiner isn't old, but my collaborations with him are.)

The second-best thing about the day was lunch with Schölkopf, David Sontag (NYU), and Amir Globerson (Hebrew). We talked about probabilistic models; Sontag is trying to understand the medical states of patients based on medical records, and make predictions for future medical needs. We briefly discussed realism, and my rejection of it. The computer scientists have trouble believing that a physicist would reject realism! But we all agreed that models have to be compared with one another in the space of the data. If you think about it, that point alone is worrying for realism.

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