Thursday, March 05, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Did Homer Simpson calculate the correct Higgs boson mass?

No. But we may reveal the deepest secrets about Homer's mathematical brain, too.

For a while, I didn't understand where the story came from. But the number of articles pointing out that Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson (example) has exceeded 50 which is a lame reason why a TRF blog post may be appropriate. ;-)

All the excitement seems to be about this screenshot from the 1998 “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace” episode. I can't realize that I have ever seen Homer Simpson who was this technically powerful but he must have been.

Now, all the media say that Homer Simpson either discovered the Higgs boson before CERN, or that he calculated the correct mass 14 years before it was measured at CERN (on the 2012 Independence Day).

Taming the butterfly effect

The butterfly effect is a defining effect of chaos theory. As Edward Lorenz said, the flapping of a butterfly's wings in Beijing is needed to decide whether a hurricane is created and lands in New Orleans a few weeks later. (And it is not, as the porn gurus in the IPCC claim, because of the CO2 that the butterfly exhales and that leads to a climate cataclysm.)

Is that true? There are many other butterflies and effects that help to decide but in general, it is often true: major events (hurricanes) are often strongly affected by very small perturbations of the initial state (butterfly).

How strong the dependence is and how quickly the sensitivity may grow with time? Three famous physicists just argued that there is an upper limit. In their fresh new hep-th paper

A bound on chaos,
Juan Maldacena, Steve Shenker of Stanford, and Douglas Stanford of Shenker ;-) provide us with evidence in favor of a cute new inequality.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Drachma wouldn't have saved, won't save Greece

Goldman Sachs has argued that the transition of Greece to its new currency won't improve things; on the contrary, it is likely to make things worse. The main problem is that no one would be willing to hold such a new currency so all the meaningful trade would occur in harder, existing currencies.

No, this guy isn't Pythagoras. It's his former boss, Zeus.

I completely agree with that. And unlike many fellow Euroskeptics, I don't really believe that Greece would be doing well or substantially better today (financially) if it had not switched to the euro. In the long run, as long as we have two currencies that are sustainable as major means of payment and storage of value, the conversion from one to the other is just a matter of a change of units – just like the conversion from pounds to kilograms and vice versa – and it doesn't change any underlying dynamics.

Abolished Big Bang is all around us

A rant on the unlimited stupidity of the masses

Three weeks ago, I discussed a media storm following the publication of a lousy article by Ali and Das that was interpreted as a disproof of the big bang theory. Lots of the Czech media joined at that time.

However, what I didn't expect was that this insanity was going to continue for weeks. On Monday, when I opened the [translation of the name of the server:] app on my smartphone, it immediately impressed me by the article called There Has Never Been Any Big Bang, a New Study Claims. Holy cow. There was an easy way to save my life: to drag my finger from the left side of the screen to the right one. The terrible thing disappeared.

Monday, March 02, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Google Earth Pro for free: 3D model of each building, tree on Earth

One month ago, I read an article and downloaded Google Earth Pro. It normally costs $399 a year except that incredibly enough, Google made this application fre..

Click the image for a higher resolution picture of the center of Pilsen.

Once you download the Google Earth Pro (GEP) 7.1, you may register your copy and use GEPFREE as the key (the user name should be your e-mail if you're respectful enough). It works and only occupies 100 MB or so (plus cache if you like it) on your hard drive.

Brian Greene's 14-hour audiobook

I admit that I have never bought an audiobook. And I don't even know what kind of devices or apps are able to play them. But most of us are able to play YouTube videos. And a user who is either a friend of Brian Greene or a pirate posted the full audiobook of "The Hidden Reality" to YouTube a month ago.

Sunday, March 01, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Physicist Boris Nemtsov assassinated near the Kremlin

Boris Jefimovič Němcov (don't you prefer this Czech spelling?) was born in 1959. In 1985, he got a PhD from the Gorky State University (he later became a "candidate" of physico-mathematical sciences) and for five years, he worked as a research fellow in the Gorky Radio Physics Research Institute.

He has actually authored over 60 publications (in Russian journals) in quantum physics, thermodynamics, and acoustics, including some papers about the "acoustics laser" that he invented, along with new designs for space-based antennas.

John Pell: a birthday

I am pretty sure it's the first time I write about John Pell, an English 17th century mathematician.

He was born on March 1st, 1611, in Southwick, Sussex. When he was five and six, his father John Pell and mother Mary Holland of Kent died, respectively. However, his \(4+4=8\) kids didn't learn what it means to be an orphan: he only died when he was 74.

During his life, he became an accomplished linguist, a diplomat, and he even proposed a universal language. He wrote about pedagogy, encyclopedism, and pansophy. Because he did all these pretty sophisticated non-mathematical things, I find it pretty weird that we remember him as a mathematician.

Saturday, February 28, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How science celebrities often hurt science

Backreaction responded to Lawrence Krauss' essay which argued that celebrity scientists such as Einstein, Feynman, Sagan, and Tyson are generally good for science and the society because they motivate young people, help to fight scientific nonsense, promote scientific literacy, and improve decision making.

Sabine Hossenfelder says that the celebrity status is just very weakly correlated with one's being a great scientist, she instinctively avoids fandoms, those celebrities do influence what scientists discuss and study, but she believes that they don't hurt, after all. In her perspective, the most serious related problem is that the vast majority of quality science gets unnoticed by the public; I agree with this comment. And she promotes science blogs as windows into the real science. Well, my reactions to this comment are mixed.

AMS opposes climate witch hunts

Left-wing media activists have been excited about finding out that Willie Soon, a climate skeptic at Harvard-Smithsonian, has earned over $1 million which included grants from the Koch Foundation. They could have asked me years ago – I would tell them.

Willie is clearly one of the top earners and the impressive figure makes him a counterpart of James Hansen (and that man's Greenpeace money). On the other hand, it is no way an obscene amount of money for research that Willie has participated in for at least 20 years. If a quick calculation helps you, note that $1,200,000 / 20 = $60,000 which is not too much for an important guy.

Of course that I consider the Koch Foundation to be a much more impartial and decent sponsor of scientific research than Greenpeace. Can the source of money affect the character of research and conclusions? You bet. But let me be more precise about my thoughts on this question.

Friday, February 27, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Obamanet is harmful

The FCC has approved some proposal to establish "net neutrality", probably treating the packets on par with electricity, gas, or feces in the sewerage system – instead of information services which is how the Internet data have been classified so far. Even though those 300+ pages should have been posted on the FCC website yesterday, I can't find it. The whole institution seems to be a complete mess.

Despite the absence of the document, lots of clueless people celebrate this "achievement". Exceptions – sensible reactions – are rare. Matt Walsh of The Blaze, an information ecosystem founded by Glenn Beck, is one of these exceptions.

The transition from the good old Internet as originally invented by Al Gore ;-) to the Obamanet is wrong for numerous reason. In particular, it may be described as

  1. a cure for a non-existent disease
  2. a partial nationalization of the industry and the ISP companies
  3. forced egalitarianism
  4. blow to innovation in technologies depending on prioritization
  5. forced price distortion
  6. contamination of the legal system by hundreds of pages of junk that may contain secret timebombs threatening every other person on the Internet
  7. transition of power from somewhat ineffective large ISP companies to an even more inefficient organization, the government
  8. risk of censorship by the government
The way how these standards were recommended and adopted is also shocking, if I reproduce the words by the former FCC chairman Michael Powell. A layman, crackpot, amateur, far left political activist, and community organizer recorded a YouTube video and FCC took this video seriously.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Nature is subtle

Caltech has created their new Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics. It's named after Walter Burke – but it is neither the actor nor the purser nor the hurler, it's Walter Burke the trustee so no one seems to give a damn about him.

Walter Burke, the actor

That's why John Preskill's speech [URL fixed, tx] focused on a different topic, namely his three principles of creating the environment for good physics.

Assyrian history destroyed

Many events are taking place every day and many events make me – and many of you – upset. But what made me extremely angry today was this ISIS video:

The video that was embedded here violated YouTube's rules although I don't know what the exact rule is. Ask those who saw it on Thursday...
To skip the babbling by the apparatchik-bigot and to get to the drastic "action", jump to 2:40.

The animals have penetrated into Mosul, Northern Iraq, and they chose the local Nineveh Museum as their target. The museum contains lots of priceless (or at least multi-billion) statues from the neo-Assyrian empire. Well, it did contain it – up to yesterday.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Black hole microstates from gluing an exterior with its delayed twin

...and a proof of state-dependence of interior field operators...

Kyriakos Papadodimas (CERN) and Suvrat Raju (Tata) have released a five-page paper that is full of hot ambitious ideas as well as cool, almost rock-solid arguments about the "holographic code" describing the black hole interior:

Local Operators in the Eternal Black Hole
They work with the eternal Schwarzschild black hole in the \(AdS_{d+1}\) space. They describe it using the tortoise coordinate, one that I and Andy Neitzke learned to love when we studied the quasinormal modes. This coordinate makes the \(rt\)-plane look "conformal" and some world sheet methods may therefore become applicable; I would like to comment on this point of mine in more detail later.

At any rate, the eternal \(AdS\) black hole may be holographically described using two conformal field theories, \(CFT\), and an eternal black hole state is a maximally entangled state\[

\ket{\Psi} = \frac{1}{\sqrt{Z(\beta)}} \sum_E \exp(-\beta E / 2) \ket{E,E}

\] The first thing they appreciate is that one may evolve this state in time, by a Hamiltonian (i.e. one may wait), to obtain many inequivalent states \(\ket{\Psi_T}\) that seem to have indistinguishable local physics, however:\[

\ket{\Psi_T} = e^{iH_L T} \ket\Psi = e^{i H_R T} \ket \Psi

\] One either asks the object to "wait" for time \(T\) in the left \(CFT\) only; or in the right \(CFT\) only. In both cases, one gets the same result but the result depends on \(T\) nontrivially.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ismail El Gizouli, new IPCC boss

Rajendra Pachauri has been the head of the International Panel for Climate Change for many years, having turned into a cell of organized crime.

This railway engineer and porn writer has had uncountable conflicts of interests and numerous conflicts with the law in the past but he was forced to resign because of a relative detail: his colleague who boasted voluptous heaving breasts in New Delhi sued him because she didn't like the way in which the love guru raped her. Well, it was probably her mistake, too. Everyone must have known what a dirty pr*ck this guy is, so a decent woman would keep the distance at least one mile from him.

He was replaced by Ismail El Gizouli. This vice-chairman representing Africa is famous for this December 2013 YouTube video hit. It seems to be the only publicly available web page about this Gentleman and when I was embedding it into this blog post, it had 8 views (and 2 of them counted the electronic devices of your humble correspondent). Quite a rock star!

Monday, February 23, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Giuliani vs Obama 2015

Almost eight years ago, it looked like Rudy Giuliani and Barack Obama could have been going to compete for the White House.

Let's go, Obama girls.

Finally, America's mayor didn't make it through the primaries. You know, your humble correspondent probably isn't the most canonical guy who would have picked Giuliani but I would find him highly natural in the office, anyway. He's still a symbol of the mainstream America's leader who has everything that seemed necessary in those old years when I couldn't think about a single major complaint against America – these days, I have way too many.

Yes, I also think that Giuliani was the #1 person who showed his qualities as a leader after 9/11. As a leader, history turned him into a hero. He may have lost the primaries because of his highly imperfect image as a family man (be sure that the Czech voters have much more tolerance in all these matters!) or due to something else, who knows. John McCain was a lousy candidate and he is still a lousy politician but he was what the GOP finally offered.

Hawking wins the "best male actor" Oscar

Eddie Redmayne did a great job in "TOE"

The Theory of Everything (2014) is coming to the Czech movie theaters this week. Those of us who have mastered the space and time have already seen the picture. The touching film is based on "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen" by Jane Wilde Hawking, the famous physicist's first wife, which is a reason to expect fewer path integrals and more of the social stuff.

Even Stephen Hawking himself has pointed out that Eddie Redmayne was almost as handsome as himself (Hawking) so you shouldn't be surprised that this actor added the Oscar for the "best actor" last night, next to his Golden Globe for the "best actor" as well similar awards from SAG and BAFTA.

In this way, Redmayne almost became more famous than Hawking himself for a while. Before I would allow something like that, I would carefully test Redmayne's abilities to compute path integrals and emitted radiation within quantum field theory on curved backgrounds. Would he continue to be as great as Hawking himself?

The $15 million budget movie has earned $100+ million so far, not bad, and I must say that this success is impressive for the writer of the book, Jane Hawking herself. In some sense, you could say that the first woman who marries a young Stephen Hawking is a "random educated woman" and the random educated woman's ability to write a book that produces a $100 million box office movie seems like a coincidence. Well, I admit that the fact that she has a famous man to write about may have helped, too.

Saturday, February 21, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Many worlds: a Rozali-Carroll exchange

Sean Carroll wrote another tirade,

The Wrong Objections to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
where he tries to defend some misconceptions about the "many worlds interpretation" of quantum mechanics while showing that he is totally unable and unwilling to think rationally and honestly.

After some vacuous replies to vacuous complaints by vacuous critics who love to say that physics isn't testable, he claims that the following two assumptions,
  1. The world is described by a quantum state, which is an element of a kind of vector space known as Hilbert space.
  2. The quantum state evolves through time in accordance with the Schrödinger equation, with some particular Hamiltonian.
imply that the worlds where other outcomes of quantum measurements materialized must be as "real" as our branch of this network of parallel world. This claim is self-evidently untrue. Quantum mechanics – as understood for 90 years – says that no such words "really" exist (they can't even be well-defined in any way) even though the theory respects the postulates.

So Carroll's claim is equivalent to saying that \(12\times 2 = 1917\) because \(1+1=2\) and \(2+3=5\). Sorry but this would-be "derivation" is completely wrong.