Monday, May 29, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Is the Millennials' dependence on smartphones dangerous?

25 years after the final high school exam, we had a reunion in the open-air museum in Chanovice, a village 40 miles South of Pilsen. The open-air museum (or "skanzen" as we call them in Czech) was built in recent decades and my classmates have been one of the key groups of workers that made it possible. Historical buildings from the rural Klatovy area (between Pilsen and the Bohemian/Bavarian forest) were accumulated in a village that had previously had a chateau, a church, a rather impressive granary, and now also has an observatory.

It was fun to meet them. 21 people – a clear majority of the class – has attended. I surely don't claim that such reunions that are much more than "a few hours in the pub" are rare at the global level but they're rare enough. We had fun, drank beer and ate sausages, visited the skanzen, chateau, observatory, and received some expert stories about the history of the rural buildings from a local guru and our classmate LK whose knowledge – and contributions to the place – was amazing. He was born in the countryside and knows a lot – theoretically and practically – about the rural life in the recent as well as distant past.

We would rarely talk about serious topics but e.g. U.S. politics couldn't be avoided when we talked to PS who has been the U.S. citizen for some time and works for CDC (epidemics) in Atlanta, GA. Well, he voted for Mickey Mouse and almost none of my classmates are really interested in politics. They may have better things to do. But I could talk about things such as electron-positron annihilation in medicine and the status of the theory of the photoelectric effect with a classmate – named Camille, an X-ray professional and physics enthusiast – too. ;-)

Friday, May 26, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Zuckerberg's embarrassing degree, commencement speech

I have avoided Facebook for years but I think it's right that its primary founder is a billionaire. When billions of people think that this particular social network qualitatively trumps all others that have existed before or at the same time (something I could never see), it's simply unavoidable in a fair business environment for the owner of that network to get very wealthy. He has also demonstrated lots of programming, social, and other skills and lots of good luck, too.



Hackers have improved the main page of The Harvard Crimson.

But I don't think it's right for a credible university to give him a doctorate because of this commercial success. And yes, the dropout has just bought an honorary degree to become the doctor of law (a four-minute video). I think it's formally a PhD although it could be some JD, too. Add any adjectives you like (honorary) but the degree for a dropout demonstrates that at the end, the money trumps any values that Harvard ultimately tries to defend.

Many Americans love to imagine that it's some other countries, perhaps in Latin America, Asia, or Eastern Europe, that are corrupt. But this is plain corruption standing in front of your eyes.

Physics World insults me, simultaneously promotes climate alarmism and crackpottery in HEP

The writer's cognitive dissonance is amazing

Most readers of news outlets about science have begun to notice that most of the conventional semipopular news sources about physics – but also most other topics – are fading away.

They haven't been sufficiently financially rewarded for the quality of their writing so they reduced the quality of the writing and focused on cheap things that were enough for the undemanding readers. That decreased their attractiveness among the demanding readers as well as their revenue which led to a further, forced decrease of the quality because it's increasingly obvious that almost anyone can produce similar low-quality texts.

The actual, especially big shot, professional physicists know that The Reference Frame is arguably the highest-quality medium discussing current events in physics – especially those whose status is being misinterpreted elsewhere – and while they are sometimes cowardly and don't want to associate themselves with your humble correspondent too tightly, most people have noticed that this weblog actually is the spokesman of the world's scientific elite which is a little bit under attack from a coalition of aggressive simpletons.

So the simpletons and their mouthpieces increasingly frequently react to my texts. Well, there are many inkspillers on their side but they're missing a detail: The truth is not on their side.

Thursday, May 25, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

W-Z-Unruh's solution to the cosmological constant problem is intriguing

Several folks have asked me how I reacted to the paper

How the huge energy of quantum vacuum gravitates to drive the slow accelerating expansion of the Universe (March 2017)
by Qingdi Wang, Zhen Zhu, William G. Unruh (who is famous for the Unruh radiation i.e. the simpler Hawking radiation in the flat Rindler space). They claim that the Hubble constant implied by some vacuum energy density – which arises thanks to the quantum fluctuations in the vacuum – isn't the usual\[

H \sim \frac{\Lambda^2}{M_{Pl}}

\] but instead, it contains some shocking exponentially decreasing factor\[

H \sim \Lambda \exp(-c \Lambda / M_{Pl} ), \quad c\sim O(1).

\] If true, the decreasing exponential could be identified with the tiny factor of \(\exp(-123)\) and this mechanism could explain at least the "old" cosmological constant problem. My first reactions were skeptical or "incomplete" but the more I look into the paper, the more it reminds me of an attempt of mine that I first invented some 15 years ago. And that's an encouraging sign. ;-)

A new finance minister: a typically gradual Czech resolution of a crisis

First, different news from Czech politics: the Czech Parliament recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and criticized UNESCO for its anti-Israeli stances. It has asked the government to stop the Czech funding of UNESCO because of its politicization. Not bad. Sadly, the government is much more "supervised" by the likes of Merkel whose positions aren't that pure.



The Czech government crisis sparked by the scandals of the former billionaire and finance minister Andrej Babiš looked very dramatic, serious, and comical but all the tension is gone and the resolution looks like a non-event. I would say that it is a typically Czech development.



So the government hasn't collapsed and the social democratic prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka – dissatisfied with Babiš's growing pile of scandals – has basically succeeded because the president accepted the proposed firing of Babiš and named Mr Ivan Pilný as a new finance minister. Pilný (see the picture above) is a former Microsoft executive and a member of Babiš's populist ANO movement – often considered to be rather independent from Babiš. At any rate, Pilný at least looks independent enough so that the other politicians could have been satisfied. Perhaps, it was just enough for them to pretend that they're satisfied.

I actually do believe that Pilný is independent of Babiš – and by his membership in ANO, Pilný basically fooled Babiš. Why? Because it seems to me that Pilný is "mostly" an admirer of Václav Klaus, one of the top "evil people" whom Babiš has claimed as the reason why he became a politician. (These days, Babiš's references to Klaus are totally negligible relatively to those about his predecessor Kalousek.)

Needless to say, this is not necessarily the end of Babiš. He is still expected to safely win the October 2017 elections. Assuming that he will have less than 50% of the Parliament, and I am convinced that he will, we will see whether he has any coalition potential left. A grand left-right anti-Babiš coalition is rather possible and for the sake of freedom and democracy, I would personally prefer it over almost any government with Babiš in it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hep-ph arXiv conquered by GAMBIT

Most of the new hep-ph papers on the arXiv were released by the same large collaboration called GAMBIT which stands for The Global And Modular BSM Inference Tool. Note that BSM stands for Beyond the Standard Model. Most but not all BSM models that people study or want to study are supersymmetric.



This stack of cards may actually be seen in the lower right corner of all graphs produced by GAMBIT. ;-)

Click at the hyperlink to learn about their project. I have always called for the creation of such systems and it's great that one of them seems to be born by now.

Much of the work of model builders is really about some routine work – one works with some new fields and interaction terms in the Lagrangian, some methods to calculate particle physics predictions, scan the parameter spaces, compute probability distributions, and compare predictions with the experimental data etc.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Salman Abedi (23) strikes in Manchester

My condolences to the friends and families of the (so far) 21 innocent victims of a suicide attack (involving a home-made explosive device with nails) in Manchester's MEN arena. The victims were mostly kids and young teenagers, fans of Ariana Grande (*1993), an American singer.

The explosion occurred at 22:32 local time, Monday night. Few hours before the massacre, at 18:28 and 18:32 local time, the Twitter account @Owys663 warned in broken English that "the just terror" was coming to the #ManchesterArena – this hash tag was included in one of the two relevant tweets.

Monday, May 22, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Conceptual penis drives climate change

The 1996 Sokal hoax has shown that the social scientists' journals considered prestigious didn't have any standards, the "research" done by that community had no content, and its editors were indeed unable to distinguish absurd satirical nonsense from something they were ready to call "true scholarship".

You could have thought that the publication of Sokal's ludicrous article was an anomalous mistake and nothing of the sort would be repeated because the editors in similar journals would become more cautious. However, this improvement hasn't happened. In fact, it couldn't have happened because there is really no well-defined difference between the work done by scholars in "gender studies" and the jokes that you may invent about them in minutes to mock them. The jokes about these "social scientists" are funny because they are true.

As Breitbart, WUWT, CFACT, and others told us, a new hoax of the same kind was just published in "Cogent Social Sciences", a peer-reviewed journal in sociology.

Sunday, May 21, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

EURCZK: the distortions of the market may fade away now

About two weeks ago, my broker (similarly to at least some others) increased the margin requirements for CZK-based pairs by a factor of 20 – the justifiable reasons seem non-existent to me. (Update: They warned by a factor up to 20 to make the clients close the position, but then they increased it 5-fold "only", still too high for me.) It was the 4th annoying shocking change of the rules (and the most far-reaching one) so I decided that it was no longer usable and closed my position – and extracted all the money – with a nontrivial but modest 50% return on the money I reserved for that account. The plan was at least 300% – and even by this point, I could have easily achieved 200% if I were a little bit less cowardly.

I am not rich but I am more impartial now which is a more precious value. ;-)



You may still make big profits if your broker is more well-behaved. This is the chart of EURCZK since Fall 2004. Click to magnify the graph. You see that at the end of 2004, one euro was some 31 crowns (CZK). It was strengthening by some 4% i.e. one crown per year and reached the low of 23 crowns per euro in mid 2008. The Lehman Brothers-like events weakened the crown almost up to 29 in 2009. CZK strengthened back towards 24 or so by 2011 and was expected to return to the 4% strengthening per year.

Saturday, May 20, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Quantum mechanics is another example of deductive reasoning

Objectivity of the truth is separate, unnecessary, and non-existent

For various psychological, metaphysical, and quasi-religious reasons, many people find it insanely hard to understand an extremely simple fact – namely that quantum mechanics allows you to reason to pretty much the same extent (when it comes to the applicability) as classical physics did before the birth of quantum mechanics; but it fundamentally rejects the idea that there are statements about Nature that are objective in character.

I say it's simple and it really is. The point is that the laws of a quantum mechanical theory are tools to produce lots of statements of the form

"IF... THEN..."
These two words, "IF" and "THEN", basically cover everything that you need to understand the basic character of quantum mechanics. You don't need 43 pages of rubbish about Jesus Christ, John Wheeler, and random statements by 150 philosophers and physicists.

Quantum mechanics requires that you know some assumptions – the propositions behind the "IF". Those are the latest measurements that you, an observer, did in the past. And it allows you to derive or calculate some conclusions – the propositions behind the word "THEN". Because of this structure, "propositions are derived from others", we may say that the reasoning is deductive.

Well, the conclusions sometimes include the word "probably" or "with the probability \(P\)" where \(P\) is a number. For this reason, it may sometimes be better to say that some of the quantum mechanical reasoning is inductive or abductive. But the differences between the adjectives inductive, abductive, and deductive are not what really matters.

What matters is that it's normal that there are some assumptions or inputs – the observations that have been made – and one shouldn't be surprised that there is no objective way to decide whether the assumptions are right. The truth value depends on the observer's perspective.

Friday, May 19, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Flynn-Trump witch hunt is McCarthyism reloaded

Astro breaking news: Tabby's star is dropping again
What our finance minister Mr Babiš has been doing – and how our president has provided him with his marginally unconstitutional support – was pretty bad but in recent days, I was reminded of the poor level of the political culture in the world's only superpower. Some of the events that have followed Trump's decision to fire the FBI's boss Comey look incredible to me.

Under a Washington Times article about some events, I added my vote "Yes, it's the greatest witch hunt in the U.S. history". 77% of the readers of that news outlet have answered in this way. I answered not because I am certain that it's the greatest one – I have also been to the Salem, Massachusetts museum of the literal witch hunts ;-) which is another fact that makes me uncertain – but it seems as the greatest witch hunt among the obvious ones I can think of right now.

The Washington Times article says that an investigation of Comey's departure has turned into a "criminal investigation". In a similar context, what can this phrase possibly mean outside a banana republic? The only act that has taken place is Trump's "you're fired" for Comey which was partly powered by Trump's dissatisfaction with Comey's harassment of Flynn that the president considered inappropriate. And so did I: if I were the U.S. president, I would probably order waterboarding of those who gave Mr Flynn such a hard time for no good reason. It seems utterly obvious to me that according to the laws, Trump has had the right to fire Comey – he has extracted this political power directly from the American electorate. Aside from Trump, no one else has done anything that would matter.

Spacetimes as thick (objects and) amplifiers of information

There are a whopping 23 new hep-th papers today, not counting the cross-listed ones, and some of them are very interesting. For example, Kachru and Tripathy find some cute number theory inside the engine of \(K3\times T^2\) compactifications of type II string theory. Max Guillen shows the equivalence of the 11-dimensional pure spinor formalism to an older one.

Dvali studies the chiral symmetry breaking, a physicist named Wu presents a theory of everything based on "gauge theory in a hyperspacetime". Some paper answers whether patience is a virtue by references to cosmic censorship LOL. But mainly the following two papers look like they belong to the black hole (or spacetime's) quantum information industry:

Spacetime has a `thickness' (Samir Mathur)

Classical Spacetimes as Amplified Information in Holographic Quantum Theories (Nomura, Rath, Salzetta)
Mathur wrote a (silver medal) essay for a "gravity foundation" and the point is right. However, the suggestion that these are new ideas is not really valid. He says that the spacetime (or its state) isn't just given by a shape. One must also specify the "thickness" of the wave functional defined on the configuration space (the space of 3-geometries).

[The 4th prize in the same contest went to Shahar Hod, also cross-listed today, who claims to have proven our weak gravity conjecture as a consequence of "generalized Bekenstein's" [I wouldn't use these words] second law of thermodynamics within quantum gravity. The second law implies that the relaxation time is \(\tau\gt 1/(\pi T)\). When the imaginary parts of quasinormal models of a charged black hole are used to extract the relaxation time, one proves the weak gravity inequality. If it were a correct paper, he would have repaid my proof and our proof of his log-3 numerical observation. Well, I would still view it as "another" proof among many – similar to the proofs we already had in the original paper. It's surely personally intriguing that he has combined two things I've studied, the quasinormal modes and the weak gravity conjecture.]

If you think just a little bit, you will realize that it's an equivalent statement to my 2013 observation that coherent states form an overcomplete basis which implies that that field operators in QG cannot be localized in a background-independent way. Derivations with similar or stronger consequences have appeared in papers by Raju and Papadodimas, Berenstein and Miller, and a few others.

Even if the content of papers like Mathur were totally right, it's an unfortunate development – trend towards Smolinization of physics – for researchers not to follow their colleagues' work.

Thursday, May 18, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Young Sheldon: a first look

Sheldon Cooper is arguably the centerpiece of The Big Bang Theory which has been the most successful TV sitcom in the world in the recent decade. Jim Parsons – who just got "married" (the quotes indicate that the verb is incorrect according to the conventions in which I live) – was getting the same $1 million per episode as "Leonard" and "Penny" but he's had a little extra X-factor.

Watch the trailer at IMDB (5:16)
It was therefore logical for CBS to build on his success. As I mentioned in March, Iain Armitage, a 9-year-old literary critic, became the filmmakers' boy of choice to star as the young Sheldon. The TV station chose the most obvious no-nonsense name for the new series that will actually compete against the 11th season of The Big Bang Theory, namely Young Sheldon. I would have recommended them the same title.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

US, sane European countries should warn EU against anti-Hungarian blackmail

First, off-topic news from particle physics:


A new paper looking for a Z'-boson in the quark-quark-jet channel finds a modest excess (2.9 sigma locally, 2.2 globally) for the Z' mass around \(115\GeV\). No, the bump is not exactly the at the \(125\GeV\) regular Higgs' place. But record that LEP as well as some early LHC hints suggested a new boson at \(115\GeV\) in some easier channels.



Today, the Parliament of the European Union – whose members are "lawmakers" that are not allowed to propose any laws – has adopted a new pathological resolution directed against Hungary (393 yes, 221 no, 64 abstain). Hungary's minister of foreign affairs has already classified the resolution as a new attack by the Soros network. The EU-Hungarian exchanges sound like a post-modern addition to the Hungarian dances.



Aside from Hungarian dances, don't forget about the Slavonic ones, either. The latter may be a bit less spicy, much like Czech cuisine is more bland than the Hungarian one (and except for Dumka, all of them are in X-major, not X-minor), but they're underappreciated in the West, anyway.

Recently, Hungary adopted laws allowing the migrants to be transferred to Serbia and laws regulating foreign NGOs and foreign citizens' owned universities on the Hungarian territory. The algorithm proposed by the EU Parliament to blackmail Hungary was described in a press release.

The members of the Soros network don't like the Hungarian laws – or any common sense let alone signs of a European country's sovereignty – so they decided to harass Hungary as a nation state. They claim that Hungary is violating Article 2 of the EU treaty which should lead to the activation of the Article 7(1) of the EU treaty – preliminary work on sanctions that could strip Hungary of the voting rights and/or EU funds, among other things.

Richard Lindzen's talk in Prague

I am still a bit overloaded (also because the new phone I bought yesterday had a defective charging/battery and speaker so I returned it). So let me post some material that deviates from the most typical genre. John Archer wanted some report about Lindzen's talk in Prague. Here you have a fast translation of an initial draft of a report in Czech that I have to write.

Richard Lindzen's talk in Prague

Richard Lindzen, prof emeritus at MIT, is the most famous atmospheric physicist among the climate skeptics. I know him from Greater Boston, and because he spends several months in every year in Paris, I have convinced him that Czechia (Prague but even Pilsen) is worth seeing.