Tuesday, October 21, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lisi, triality, postmodernism, and Hawaiian beaches

After the merchant of smear Ms Naomi Oreskes, Edward Witten has another "peer" who has also been interviewed by John "End of Science" Horgan: the surfer dude also known as Garrett Lisi:

Surfer-Physicist Garrett Lisi Offers Alternative to String Theory—and Academia
The absurdity of this company is self-evident and comical. Horgan begins by an explanation why Garrett Lisi is "famous". In November 2007, Lisi submitted a paper on a theory of everything. Lee Smolin added him to his short list of 17 "geniuses" (which included 5 people whom Smolin hasn't slept with; I make no statements whether Lisi belonged to that group) – crackpots who were Smolin's "proteges" and hopefuls to become the "next Smolin" i.e. the world's most celebrated crackpot at a given moment. This "endorsement" was clearly sufficient for tons of low-brow journalists to run stories about a surfer dude who revolutionized physics.



Surfer babes

The paper boasted Lisi's ability to notice some of the basic relationships among the Lie group \(E_8\) and its subgroups – Lisi was demonstrably unfamiliar with most of the basic facts from this class even several years after his preprint – and he distorted many of the group-theoretical facts underlying GUT quantum field theories and heterotic string theory model building to "incorporate" gravity into the "grand unified force" in unorthodox, namely wrong, ways. A key tool to sell the paper was a simple visualization of the weights of \(E_8\). The model suffered from some elementary flaws that a good graduate student could have seen within minutes. He misunderstood – and the model ignored – the spin \(j=2\) of the gravitons and the chirality of the Standard Model fermions, among many other basic things.

Alarmists argue about the 5-year plan

The alarmist party is split to a joule wing and a kelvin wing

Three weeks ago, Mr Victor and Mr Kennel admitted in Nature that the 2 °C "warming target" is a plain idiocy. In the climate alarmist movement, even such obviously valid observations turn out to be immensely controversial.

So Stefan Rahmstorf published another memo on RealClimate.ORG,

Ocean heat storage: a particularly lousy policy target
The tirade starts with a 2027 article in the New York Times where they announced that the 2 °C target was replaced by the 1024 joule target after the 385th gathering of the climate alarmists on the Bahamas. If I suppress all the redundant junk, Rahmstorf's article says that it's bad to replace kelvins by joules in the deep ocean because no one cares about the deep ocean and it takes centuries for the heat to penetrate to the ocean.

(Incidentally, neither Rahmstorf nor a single other participant of the RealClimate.ORG exchanges knows that the units such as joules and kelvins are written in lowercase letters. So the answer to the question "Are you smarter than a 5th grader, climate scientist?" may very well be "No.")

Monday, October 20, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Paul Dirac on dimensionless constants and the "large number hypothesis"

Paul Dirac (see TRF biography) died exactly 30 years ago, on October 20th, 1984.



He was an eminent physicist, a co-father of quantum mechanics, the author of the Dirac equation, and a man who was convinced that the

Physical law should have mathematical beauty.
He wrote down this important sentence in capital letters on a blackboard during his 1955 lecture in Moscow. ;-)

U.S. entry bans for Hungarian officials are abuses of power

Everyone who knows my long-term views on the history and politics of Central Europe must know very well that I am pretty unlikely to defend some "political idiosyncrasies" of Hungary, especially those that are flavored with nationalism.

Our Slovak brothers would sometimes have problems with Hungary, partly due to the large Hungarian minority that stayed on the Slovak territory, despite Hungary's losing status after the Second World War. I think that when Czechoslovakia was created in 1918, it was wise for the Western powers to incorporate the "potentially controversial" territories into (Czecho)Slovakia because (Czecho)Slovakia had a much higher potential for democracy and respect towards ethnic minorities than Hungary, as the following decades helped to confirm. I think that Slovakia was right to argue that a Hungarian-Slovak treaty about the Gabčíkovo-Nagymarosz dam was valid, despite the nationally flavored backlash by the Hungarian greens and their allies. And so on.

But the way how Hungary and its most powerful party, Fidesz, along with its boss, prime minister Viktor Orbán, is being treated by many politicians in the West is unacceptable.

Sunday, October 19, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Would it be wise for Russia to conquer Sweden?

Well, the historical record is surely encouraging for Russia. It hasn't lost in numerous wars (mostly in the 18th century) against Sweden – the last one, the 1808-1809 "Finnish War", meant that Sweden had to transfer Finland to Russia.

We're told that Sweden has glimpsed some foreign submarine(s) 50 km away from Stockholm and detected emergency radio signals from the submarine(s) on one side and the Kaliningrad region on the other side. The idea is that Russia is beginning to violate the sovereignty of Sweden.

Of course, one must be careful about far-reaching interpretations.

The submarine hunts in Swedish territorial waters have been common for decades and the most famous one – sensationally involving the U 137 "fine-structure constant" Soviet submarine – occurred in 1981. Some of those operations may have been NATO false flag operations designed to affect the public opinion in "neutral Sweden", it may be true now as well, and all these things are very complicated.

Just to be sure, I believe that it is extremely likely that the newest submarine incident near Stockholm doesn't mean anything important. However, it seems reasonable to me to think about the possibility that it could mean something more important.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

ETs, hippies, loons introduce Andrew Strominger

...or a yogi and another nude man?

Exactly one week ago, Andrew Strominger of Harvard gave a Science and Cocktails talk in Christiania – a neighborhood of Copenhagen, Denmark.



The beginning of this 64-minute lecture on "Black Holes, String Theory and the Fundamental Laws of Nature" is rather extraordinary and if you only want to see the weirdest introduction of a fresh winner of the Dirac Medal, just listen to the first three minutes of the video.

Paper: feminists are authoritarians with a hyper-male ratio of finger lengths

A study indicates that feminists shouldn't be clumped together with women

Every sane adult has been able to notice that there exist profound biological differences between men and women that go well beyond the "obvious shape of some organs" and affect pretty much everything, including very fine correlations describing the behavioral patterns. The feminist movement is partly based on the denial of these basic facts. Why are they doing these things?



They often say that they are fighting to improve the conditions for women. However, as the paper below states, only a minority of women in modern societies count themselves as feminists. Certain folks think that this is paradoxical – it's been named the feminist paradox. Why do most women think that feminists suck if feminists claim to fight for women's conditions?

A Swedish-Belgian paper in Frontiers of Psychology gives a rather clear potential answer (thanks to Doug K. for the URL):

Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and social dominance: a possible explanation for the feminist paradox (by Guy Madison, Babe Ulrika, John, and Michael)
The answer is that the feminists mean something else by the word "women" because the members of the feminist movement have significant differences from the true, typical, feminine women. In some sense, the paper is a somewhat more rigorous description of the well-known observation that feminists are ugly yelling men-like bitches.

Friday, October 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lorentz violation: zero or 10 million times smaller than previously thought

One of the research paradigms that I consider insanely overrated is the idea that the fundamental theory of Nature may break the Lorentz symmetry – the symmetry underlying the special theory of relativity – and that the theorist may pretty much ignore the requirement that the symmetry should be preserved.

The Super-Kamiokande collaboration has published a new test of the Lorentz violation that used over a decade of observations of atmospheric neutrinos:

Test of Lorentz Invariance with Atmospheric Neutrinos
The Lorentz-violating terms whose existence they were trying to discover are some bilinear terms modifying the oscillations of the three neutrino species, \(\nu_e,\nu_\mu,\nu_\tau\), by treating the temporal and spatial directions of the spacetime differently.

Annapurna circuit trekking route: Western companies should build better GSM coverage

One week ago, Cyclone Hudhud landed in Eastern India and it brought some bad weather to the Himalaya Mountains, too. October is very popular with the courageous visitors of Nepal. However, meteorologists must have failed to predict that such a cyclone is likely to bring lots and lots of snow to the highest mountains in the world.



As you must have heard, unexpected avalanches killed at least 29 people yesterday even though 220 people have been saved. The casualties include 4 Canadians, 4 Nepali guides, 3 Nepali herders, 3 Indians, 3 Israeli, 3 Poles, 2 Slovaks, and some people with unknown nationality.

Thursday, October 16, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An overlooked paper discovering axions gets published

What's the catch?

Sam Telfer has noticed and tweeted about a Royal Astronomic Society press release promoting today's publication (in Monthly Notices of RAS: link goes live next Monday) of a paper we should (or could) have discussed since or in March 2014 when it was sent to the arXiv – except that no one has discussed it and the paper has no followups at this moment:

Potential solar axion signatures in X-ray observations with the XMM-Newton observatory by George Fraser and 4 co-authors
The figures are at the end of the paper, after the captions. Unfortunately, Prof Fraser died in March, two weeks after this paper was sent to the arXiv. This can make the story about the discovery if it is real dramatic; alternatively, you may view it as a compassionate piece of evidence that the discovery isn't real.



Yes, this photograph of five axions was posted on the blog of the science adviser of The Big Bang Theory. It is no bazinga.

This French-English paper takes some data from XMM-Newton, X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission installed on and orbiting with ESA's Arianne 5's rocket. My understanding is that the authors more or less assume that the orientation of this X-ray telescope is "randomly changing" relatively to both the Earth and the Sun (which may be a problematic assumption but they study some details about the changing orientation, too).

With this disclaimer, they look at the amount of X-rays with energies between \(0.2\) and \(10\keV\) and notice that the flux has a rather clear seasonal dependence. The significance of these effects is claimed to be 4, 5, and 11 sigma (!!!), depending on some details. Seasonal signals are potentially clever but possibly tricky, too: recall that DAMA and (later) CoGeNT have "discovered" WIMP dark matter using the seasonal signals, too.

Feminists vs computer games

Computer gaming belongs among the human activities with the most obvious gender gap. I have experienced this gap clearly among all the contemporaries of myself in the environments that have surrounded me and I observe this gap on my niece-and-nephew, 5-year-old twins, too. This software (even more so than "most software") is predominantly produced by male programmers, and overwhelmingly played by male gamers. The difference between the male and female attitude to computer games is expressed in a song called Computer Games by the LHC, too.

Physics would be attacked by the feminists for being male-dominated. These ladies don't actually want to learn the Feynman path integral – of course, almost none of them could do such a thing – but they love to harm others and their important sophisticated activities. I was unsurprised to see that the computer gaming industry has become another target of the feminists' anger.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lockheed Martin promises fusion plants by 2024

Off-topic, music: the Macbook of Acapella Science, Tim Blais, the author of "Bohemian Gravity", got stolen along with non-backed-up music data. He is under financial pressure and was asking people for help. Well, within 2 days, he has already collected 3 times his goal to buy a new laptop.
Just in the last week, three self-confident reports on progress in fusion were published – and be sure that I don't count the new "independent test" of Rossi's cold fusion miracle.



What I do count is the dynomak, the Z-machine improvement, and... a today's intriguing announcement by a major aerospace and defense company:
Lockheed Martin Pursuing Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Concept (press release)

Aviation Week (good detailed text), Google News
We're told that they bet that their compact nuclear fusion reactor (CFR) – see the diagram above – will power the mankind within ten years.

A good popular text on gravitons and its limitations

In recent 24 hours, I saw a couple of news reports and popular articles about particle physics that were at least fine. For example, Physics World wrote about an experiment looking for WISP dark matter (it's like WIMP but "massive" is replaced by "sub-eV", and axions are the most famous WISPs). The Wall Street Journal wrote something about the RHIC experiment – unfortunately, the text only attracted one comment. The lack of interest in such situations is mostly due to the missing "controversy" and thanks to the technical character of the information.

But I want to mention a text by a "daily explainer" Esther Inglis-Arkell at IO9.com

What are Gravitons and Why Can't We See Them?
which is pretty good, especially if one realizes that the author doesn't seem to be trained in these issues. Before I tell you about some flaws of the article, I want to focus on what I consider good about it because that may be more important in this case.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Who is a more visceral hater of fundamental physics: skeptics or alarmists?

It's a tie: both groups largely despise pure science and modern physics

A month ago, I mentioned that an interview with Edward Witten had occurred at a very strange place, namely John Horgan's blog hosted by Scientific American.

John "End Of Science" Horgan is a loon and one does expect a completely different kind of people to be interviewed over there. And do you know who was the next interviewee who was interrogated on the same blog?

Naomi “Merchants of Doubt” Oreskes Slams “Corrosive” Climate Change Skepticism
Yes, it's Naomi Oreskes, a hardcore left-wing ideologue who would previously write a notorious article arguing that papers disagreeing with important tenets of the climate hysteria didn't even exist. To make you even more frustrated, the interview with this evil stupid lady has attracted many more comments than the interview with Edward Witten, the world's most cited scientist.

She's not just a hardcore Marxist who has some deluded beliefs. She is a truly evil lady, indeed. When she was visiting Harvard – before a department at that school outrageously hired her – she learned that there was a climate skeptic in the physics department. So she wrote a mail to me with copies sent to all my superiors at Harvard and her alarmist friends who had some potential to harm me personally. The letter claimed that I despised the best scientists (meaning the alarmist whackos) from the last 50 years and something should be done about that.

Decent people obviously agree that she is a despicable bitch who wants to harm inconvenient scholars in ways that don't differ in any way from Hitler's and Stalin's eras. And of course, pretty much everyone in the physics department would agree with me that she was this kind of a šitty monster, to put it really diplomatically. But I also knew that Harvard was filled with individuals not dissimilar to herself who were powerful enough to really spoil other people's lives.

Many years ago, meritocracy had died at Harvard's history department that hired this evil Marxist as faculty.

Ukrainian soldiers among top victims of the fascist terror



Update: Yulia Kharlamova, a Russian "agent", is claimed to be the driver behind the uprising of the Kiev soldiers. Good job, děvuška, and I must say that this and other images suggest that the Ukrainian soldiers' reaction was totally appropriate! ;-)



Last night, hundreds of soldiers from the Ukrainian National Guard – which was founded (again) half a year ago – gathered in front of the president's office in Kiev. Russia Today.



I have watched the rally for some time. Some of the bitches who would scream at the soldiers that they are obliged to risk their lives for her bogus pride were disgusting. Why doesn't the fascist lady go to fight over there instead?

They demanded demobilization, compensation, and winter gear, among other things. Many of them protested that they have to work long after their contracts have expired. It is very clear that most of them consider the civil war to be a stupid enterprise. Their material conditions are really stunning; some of them have been getting less than $12 per month for half a year.

Monday, October 13, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

ATLAS: two Standard-Model-only Higgs decay papers

Some hours ago, the ATLAS collaboration posted two papers on its website:

Evidence for Higgs boson Yukawa couplings in the \(H \to \tau\tau\) decay mode with the ATLAS detector

Observation and measurement of Higgs boson decays to \(WW^*\) with ATLAS at the LHC
Spoilers alert. Too late. The result is that all the basic figures are found to be in almost exact agreement with the Standard Model.

Sunday, October 12, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Cold fusion: science which is not a science

A warning at the very beginning. The comment section below this blog post isn't meant to be a platform for believers in Rossi's fraud to promote their religion. I don't consider these people worthy to comment on this blog and I will blacklist them if they are try to do such a thing. This is a physics blog but cold fusion isn't physics. Deal.
Andrea Rossi is not only a crackpot but a convicted crook who has so far spent four years in prison. His newest generation of "cold fusion" gadgets, E-Cat, has been hyped at least since 2011. This blog contains many articles with the name of Andrea Rossi.

Some of the previous blog posts were dedicated to the absurdity of the physical claims – about the possibility to ignite reactions at "room temperature" even though basic calculations imply that these reactions need tens of millions of kelvins to run (to overcome the Coulomb i.e. electrostatic potential energy barrier between the nuclei). I've discussed some elementary mistakes and tricks. Many of these suspicions were later proven to be true. For example, lots of water that was claimed to vaporize didn't vaporize at all – they misunderstood the actual boiling point.

The thermal radiation wasn't what it was claimed to do. More seriously, in the past, the folks around Rossi have already claimed that they could have dramatically changed the isotopic composition of the fuel. Those claims were later shown to be wrong. It is easy to find details about those events in the past.

Czech elections: evaporation of political thought

Between Friday 2 pm and Saturday 2 pm, Czechs were voting their local representatives and 1/3 of the senate, the upper chamber of the Parliament.

It's simple to describe whom I voted for. In Pilsen as well as the city part Pilsen 4, Klaus-founded center-right ODS, the Civic Democratic Party, received my votes "without further detailed refinements of the candidates", and I also voted the ODS' candidate for the senate. Well, more precisely, he is a shared candidate of ODS and Czech Crown, a party trying to restore the monarchy. ;-) This sounds extremely colorful but the candidate and his program actually looks extremely uncolorful.



Mom, dad, I have to tell you something... I will vote for ODS! – Father screaming all over Pilsen (probably inspired by Proletarians of all nations, lick your aßes): What is the right choice for you!? :-) I only saw this hilarious video by "Pilsen is different" on Sunday morning.

It doesn't mean that I am happy about what the ODS has become. But in the Euroelections, I voted for Mach's Euroskeptics (and it was successful, Mach got to the European Parliament) but it didn't seem to me that they had anything coherent to offer for the local (and even senate) elections so I returned a decade or two ago when a vote for ODS was common sense.

It turned out that Pilsen became the last bastion of ODS! With some exaggeration, Pilsen's role is analogous to what it was in the 15th century when it turned into a Czech stronghold of conservative Catholics in the era of Hussites and protestants of many sorts. Why is that? I don't think that some intrinsic special feature of the Pilsner folks explains the slightly superior results. Instead, the Pilsner city hall – that has been under more or less uninterrupted control by ODS since the Velvet Revolution – has managed the city very well and it even seems to me that there is some consensus about the point (it's partly about the things like the new theater, the only new big theater in Czechia in 3 decades, new stadiums and other things that have been built, including all sorts of lanes for bikers and details of the sort; they plan kindergartens up to 6 pm and free Wi-Fi throughout the public transportation stops, aside from lots of other similar things).

So the votes for ODS here are points for a good management. To some extent, I think it is a legitimate consideration that affected me, too. The local politicians don't really affect the "big ideological questions" and the mundane management of everyday affairs (for an amount of money whose size and origin they can't really affect much) is inevitably a major part of their job.

Friday, October 10, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The very meaning of "probability" violates the time-reversal symmetry

An exchange with the reader reminded me that I wanted to dedicate a special blog post to one trivial point which is summarized by the title. This trivial issue is apparently completely misunderstood by many laymen as well as some low-quality scientists such as Sean Carroll.

This misunderstanding prevents them from understanding both quantum mechanics and classical statistical physics, especially its explanation for the second law of thermodynamics (or the arrow of time).



Time goes up (up=future, down=past). The right diagram.

What is the issue? For the sake of completeness, let's talk about the spreading of the wave function \(\psi(x,t)\) describing the position of a particle. In the diagram above, time starts at the bottom and it goes up. You see that there are are three stages of "spreading". The wave packet spreads between \(t=0\) and \(t=1\), then it abruptly shrinks because the particle is observed, and then is spreads again from \(t=1\) to \(t=2\), shrinks at \(t=2\), and spreads between \(t=2\) and \(t=3\). The diagram is qualitative and could be applied to the probability distributions for any observable in classical or quantum physics, OK?

CMS, ATLAS metaexperiment: deficit of deficits

Important update: I have received a message from the authors and they confirmed, as I was somewhat afraid in the original blog post below, that the channels with exactly 0 events were mishandled. A newer version of the paper will appear on Monday October 13th, with just somewhat weaker results for one detector but stronger for the other, and thanking me. ;-) There may still be another bug but let's wait, they will find it if it is so.
A fewer poorer people kind of means that the society is rich, right? ;-)

Benjamin Nachman of SLAC and Tom Rodelius of Harvard published an amusing piece of comparative literature:
A Meta-analysis of the \(8\TeV\) ATLAS and CMS SUSY Searches
Able to produce papers like that, they should be named professors of comparative literature. In fact, they're better than the average professors of comparative literature because those usually don't know lognormal distributions and related concepts.

I count them into this field because one really doesn't need to know any physics (what the experiments measure, how they measure it, how it's being predicted what they should observe, and so on) – it's enough to read many papers and to know how to (statistically) compare their results.



The interval \((0,1)\) for \(p\) is divided to ten bins; the red bars appear on the left side from the blue bars just to make the diagram more readable.

Here is the quick summary. They've looked at 17 ATLAS preprints and 12 CMS preprints searching for signs of supersymmetry and based on the bulk of the 2012 collisions and statistically analyzed which of them showed excesses – more observed collisions of a special type than expected – and deficits – less observed collisions than expected.