Do you have any suggestions or improvements for the next one on the 12th of July?

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    $\begingroup$ note there is some discussion/ evaluation after the 1st mtg in chat transcript incl by DavidZ & Daniel Sank et al $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ Good point @vzn perhaps a link to that discussion/evaluation would be appropriately discussed here? $\endgroup$
    – user 85795
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 16:45

3 Answers 3


I enjoyed the chat session and I will certainly attend future AMAs. I've long felt the chat room is an underused resource and it was nice to see the chat room so lively.

But ... (there's always a but on these occasions) ...

I don't think we attracted many people bar the regulars. I went through the log and I counted 31 questions (after eliminating the frivolous ones). The askers were:

vzn          11 (doing his bit as chairman :-)
secret        5
obliv         4
3075          3
qmd           2
constantine   2
daniel        2
mafia         1
me            1

Around half of the questions were non-technical e.g. Why did you decide to study physics?. Of the remainder the majority were fairly general e.g. what are the major areas or unsolved questions.

Having said this, there was quite a bit of discussion on CTCs and for me this was the most interesting thing about the AMA. We could have just declared a one hour chat session on CTCs, but I suspect that would ramble a bit. I thought it worked well that much of the meeting was in effect ask Sam about CTCs as that kept things focussed.

So I don't think we learned a lot about CTCs, and I don't think it was an effective exercise in evangelising. But is was fun.

For the record here are the 31 non-frivolous questions I counted. I don't guarantee I haven't missed any or that my definition of frivolous is trutsworthy:

  • Obliv: @slereah Do you live in france? (since you got a degree at a french uni)

  • 3075: @Slereah Why did you decide to study physics?

  • vzn: did your MS thesis have connections to CTCs or did you do a lot of separate research in the area? how did you get into/ specialize in CTCs in particular?

  • qmd: @Slereah What advice would you give to an undergrad student or someone who has just started studying physics?

  • MAFIA36790: @Slereah: Do you want to go to other country for phd?

  • Obliv: @slereah Do you think the job market for physics research in France is more difficult than in the U.S. or other countries?

  • secret: What is the major research topic in riemannian space in your thesis, i.e. what is the problem your thesis is going to address in terms of the GR research field (or differential geometry in general)?

  • obliv: @slereah What other subject of study interests you, outside of physics?

  • secret: I see, what are the major results you found during your research in the thesis?

  • 3075: @Slereah what is your profile image?

  • vzn: S did you do a masters thesis presentation/ defense with advisors? guess that happens "usually" in US, dont know EU/ france...?

  • vzn: @Slereah how long was the session? how many advisors or attendees?

  • obliv: @slereah when did you and @0celo7 start a blog together at einsteinandtheevidence.wordpress.com

  • Constantine Black: Greetings. I see there is a discussion about the system of Master and PhD. May I ask your opinion on how the system works? Would you say you were satisfied in general and maybe if there are certain problems that need to be addressed? Thanks.

  • vzn: @0celo7 do you have any plans for blog S? news to me that you (co)contributed. (encourage everyone who chats frequently to experiment with blogs, it doesnt take much more effort & allows math formulas etc) =D

  • qmd: @Slereah If you could go back to your first year at university, would you still do physics? why or why not?

  • secret: In your opinion, what are the major areas or uunsolved questions that any aspiring CTC researchers need to focus more on?

  • vzn: @Slereah what would you say about CTC vs string theory researchers? small overlap? compatible somehow?

  • Constantine Black: chronology protection conjecture : Do we need a quantum gravity theory to attack this problem and why would you say so? Why GR isn't enough. Thanks.

  • John Rennie: If you have a spacetime you could imaging geodesics flowing through it almost like streamlines. A CTC would then look I suppose a bit like a vortex in a flow. Wouldn't there be some very strange behaviour at the stagnation points?

  • vzn: @Slereah whats your take on hawking? modern near-einstein? what about his pop science books/ rep vs hard core science? (0celo7 is lately studying him intensely although will prob not admit it) :P

  • vzn: @Slereah did you see "theory of everything"? any reaction? have you heard opinions on it from others? etc

  • vzn: @Slereah re "not that big on string theory" ... ie somewhat skeptical?

  • vzn: @Slereah lol (nope! still have ~15m!) slereah re your admitted collaboration with 0celo7 on blog, if you could cowrite a book with him, what would it be?

  • 3075: @Slereah did you know much physics in high school?

  • secret: (this is more of a general public style question) What is the most important difference between CTCs and the popscience and scifi notion of stable time loops? http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/StableTimeLoop

  • DanielSank: At some level then, you learned the mechanics of stochastic integration and use it effectively? No need to get into the details?

  • vzn: @Slereah re books, youre a big collector, how many do you think you have on physics anyway? do you also use ebooks?

  • DanielSank: @Slereah Would you say this book can be understood by a physicist with typical math background?

  • vzn: @Slereah sounds a lot like virtual particles though!

  • secret: @vzn but since the time evolution of a quantum state is deterministic, then it should not be a big deal?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thank you for your most excellent listing and categorization of these 31 "non-frivolous" questions. Any suggestions on improves for the next one? $\endgroup$
    – user 85795
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ actually the physics chat room is quite unusually busy relative to other SE sites, hence some of my own attraction, but agree (as the novel/ unprecedented session demonstrates) that it is "underutilized" in the sense that it has a lot of untapped potential wrt science communities and maybe much more is possible. also eg here is some writeup of SE chat dynamics/ highlights over several years. as for "chairman" title, thx for the esteem, but am leaning more toward "co-coordinator" or "co-organizer" and we all appreciate everyones different contributions! $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 16:30

Even if sadly I could not attend, I had the impression from the post-session comments that it was not so easy to follow the Q-As because of the "background noise" made by side comments, or independent hbar chatting.

And @DanielSank (if I recall correctly) suggested a solution: posting AMA questions in boldface, and answering using the reply feature of the chat.

I will reprise that suggestion:

AMA questions to the guest should be in a single post (if possible, or contiguous posts) with boldface letters (** at the beginning and end of the post).

Answers should also be either in one post or in contiguous ones (not so easy at times), and contain the appropriate reply tag.

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    $\begingroup$ I like the idea +1 and thank you for accepting to be our next "speaker." $\endgroup$
    – user 85795
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 8:30
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    $\begingroup$ Putting questions and answers in bold defeats the point, as nearly everything would be in bold. I think it's better to have only questions in bold; after all, the point is to make the questions stick out, both so that it's easy for you (the guest) to see them, and so that it's easy for readers to find convenient starting points. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidZ I see your point; however there was a distinction between bold and slanted bold ;-) Probably your suggestion would do as fine (or maybe the answer may be slanted, to distinguish it from common chat talk/comments). $\endgroup$
    – yuggib
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ @yuggib Well, I intended to imply that the italicization doesn't matter - if we put both questions and answers in bold, it will be overwhelming regardless of whether there is any use of italics. Answering in italics wouldn't be so bad (although I personally would find it a bit hard to read). $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 10:16
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidZ Ok, I see. I will edit my suggestion accordingly $\endgroup$
    – yuggib
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 10:19
  • $\begingroup$ often in printed/ published interviews, often the questions are in bold and not the answers. but also in these interviews, the interviewee answers at more length. however, it is difficult to achieve the coherence of an interview in the chat room. also, some of the side commentary can be seen as a colorful "feature" and not "bug" of this format. agreed it can feel near-random/ distracting at times but the cyber audience is very diverse and think it will be tricky to get/ achieve more streamlined dialogues or formats. $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 16:36

I suggest to change the title.

"AMA" ask me anything

I think it should be changed to "AMAT" ask me appropriate things.

And then the phrase of appropriate should be elaborated or I suggest that the questions are posted one day before the session for recognizing their appropriateness by competent people.

  • $\begingroup$ Is there some particular inappropriate type of question you're worried about? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:25
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Thank you very much because of your attention! First, I am sorry because of that day! I hadn't use bad words. I apologize. Second, I am not worried. They didn't let me to ask my question yesterday because of inappropriateness . And I wondered because of the phrase of "any". So, I posted this answer. $\endgroup$
    – lucas
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ To be honest, this is very hard to evaluate (at least for me) without knowing what the question was. That said, the AMA format typically has rather few restrictions (with the option left for the speaker of simply dodging questions they don't want to discuss), so if the organizers are unduly restricting the topic then there is something weird there. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Sorry, but I think you use phrasal sentences so much and I cannot get your comments meaning completely. BTW, I can understand approximately what is your mean. Do you want to see my (yesterday) question? $\endgroup$
    – lucas
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ To be unambiguous: yes, you should provide your question. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:39
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty May we continue in h-bar chatroom? $\endgroup$
    – lucas
    Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:40
  • $\begingroup$ OK, but keep it short and concise. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 13, 2016 at 10:43

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