Monday, April 30, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Gore's guru, Dr. Roger Revelle, disagreed with alarmism

The Financial Post, a Canadian newspaper, shows much more evidence that Al Gore's mentor, Dr. Roger Revelle, thought that the significance of the greenhouse effect was unproven and existing knowledge didn't justify any "action".



The evidence includes not only his widely discussed paper with Singer and Starr but also earlier letter to lawmakers and others.

Unfortunately, his student was a pretty lousy student. Even more unfortunately, lousy students are those who have much influence in this sometimes lousy world.

Meanwhile, another student who is a staunch AGW believer and became an official member of "Al Gore's cavalry", which is the official name of the greenshirts, is surprised that her classmates think that she's nuts. Most of her generation doesn't find global warming that terrifying, she says. Thanks God.

Similar nutcases as Claire who have made it into the European Parliament want to outlaw burping, so far only for cows. Poor cows. For 50 million years, they thought that they were free to burp. Suddenly, everything can change. ;-) According to the U.N., farm animals create 18% of the greenhouse effect, more than 14% created by transportation. And because the greenhouse effect became politically incorrect, poor cows must change their diet and recycle their manure.

Resolving the Big Bang

Sean Carroll wrote a bizarre essay arguing against the cosmological principle and against many sane ideas we have about the beginning of the Universe, while trying to oversell many less sane ideas. Because I think that many comments about these issues are based on basic and widespread misunderstandings, let me try to re-analyze these questions.

Cosmological principle

The cosmological principle says that the Universe is homogeneous and isotropic at large distance scales. Of course, this principle isn't a religious dogma we received from the heavens. It's an assumption about the Cosmos. Do we know it's true? Well, even though it can't be obvious a priori, the answer is Yes. Observations show that the visible Universe is homogeneous and isotropic at distances longer than 300 megaparsecs or so.

Does it mean that the Universe has satisfied the cosmological principle in the past? Once again, the answer is not obvious but it is Yes. Why? Well, it's because the inhomogeneities increase with time. In the past, they were smaller. This statement may be supported by particular calculations as well as observations. For example, the cosmic microwave background that was created 300,000 years after the Big Bang is much more uniform than the distribution of galaxies in the present Universe.

Can we extrapolate this statement to the very beginning? Well, we can extrapolate it to an arbitrary moment in the past in which classical general relativity coupled to other objects was a good zeroth approximation of reality. This certainly includes later stages of the inflationary era. In fact, during inflation, the Universe was as homogeneous as you can get because it was essentially empty. Inflation has the remarkable ability to turn the rules of the game upside down. Inflation makes the Universe more uniform. Do we know this is the case? Well, we know it theoretically and obviously, it is not easy to test it by direct experiments. But as long as we agree about the definition of the word "inflation", we should agree that it tends to make the space empty.

Sunday, April 29, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

IPCC AR4 WG1: full text

The climate panel's working group I has just published the full report:

A preliminary version of the same document has been available via JunkScience and the structure of the final document seems almost identical. You may read the first reactions of Steve McIntyre.

Officially, we have had the summary for policymakers (SPM) only - until now. You may see that the long document contains a lot of serious albeit boring science and data. Concerned members of the IPCC have however (mis)interpreted the results in catchy ways in their summary. Journalists are even more concerned and their presentation is much closer to nutcases like Al Gore than the boring content of the IPCC report. This multi-level hysterization and cherry-picking is a primary mechanism fuelling this whole global idiocy.

Comments about the IPCC working group II summary for policymakers, originally posted on April 6th

Recall that the U.N. climate panel (IPCC) has three parts:
  • WG1: physical processes
  • WG2: impact on life and societies
  • WG3: how to cool down Earth :-) ... next week, they will recommend nuclear power and GM crops
Buy your personal CO2 box today!
(Thanks to the creator written in the corner of the ad.)

WG1 is composed of scientists led by government bureaucrats and political activists: these three subgroups are far from disjoint. Their list includes every scientist who has been in contact with them but hasn't yet threatened them with a lawsuit - which is what e.g. Prof Paul Reiter had to do before he was removed from the list of the corrupt scientists. Their pre-determined task is to "prove" that most of the recent climate change is man-made, despite any scientific evidence that shows the opposite. Their fourth report, IPCC AR4, will be released on April 29th (officially May).



It is necessary for WG1 to prove what they're asked to prove, otherwise it would become clear that the very existence of the groups WG2, WG3 is a gigantic fraud - much like the existence of a large WG1, after all.

In the same way, it is necessary for WG2 to prove that the exaggerated yet modest warming "predicted" by WG1 will have extremely bad consequences. If they failed to prove it, it would become clear that the very existence of WG3 - and to a large extent WG2 - is a huge fraud. The political framework is given and scientists are only expected to make it look convincing by inserting scientific jargon and cherry-picked data into the big gaps in the whole orthodoxy. That's a classic example of intellectual prostitution.

Map: we know your location



The Reference Frame knows where you are. Please feel free to bookmark this page or link to it if you find it useful. Feel free to drag the map, zoom it in, zoom it out, and so on.

Friday, April 27, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An MIT dean with high school education (or less)

Dr Marilee Jones, PhD joined the MIT Admission Office in 1979 to lead the recruitment efforts for women. That was exactly what was expected from certain powerful cliques so she became the Dean of Admissions in 1998.

Last year, she co-authored a booklet called "Less Stress, More Success". She emphasized that "you must always be completely honest who you are."

Dr. Marilee Jones, PhD is the recipient of MIT’s highest award for administrators, the "MIT Excellence Award for Leading Change", as well as the "Gordon Y. Billard Award" and the "Dean for Undergraduate Education Infinite Mile Award for Leadership". I could continue. She has simply been a star.

Except that last week it turned out that among her three degrees from schools in upstate New York, she hasn't received a single one. See

She is not a Dr. She is not a PhD. She hasn't finished a college. She hasn't seen the two colleges out of three at all and she has only attended the third one as a part-time student for a year. Indeed, with much less stress, she achieved much more success: she earned about 3 million USD more than if she didn't cheat. And she has been teaching students how to achieve the same thing with minimal effort. It's not surprising they liked her.

An obvious question is whether anyone has noticed during these 28 years. Is it really that difficult for those thousands of people who have interacted with her to distinguish a PhD from a former torch singer at upstate New York clubs with high school education? Maybe it's not difficult but it is certainly hard to point out that the woman has been a complete fraud because of an outrageous totalitarian ideology called feminism.

Its power is so overwhelming that even if you're the most obvious scholarly zero as you can get, you can not only live with these lies for 28 years but also collect the highest awards on the market, as long as you help to spread certain fashionable lies.

If she were a Harvard dean and not an MIT dean, she wouldn't be fired. Instead, she would simply say that she only hasn't received the degrees because of white male sexist pigs who prevented her from getting them. She would be given the three degrees and as a hero of the feminist struggle against the last remnants of common sense and moral integrity, she would be promoted to the president of the university.

I assure you that comparable although not as striking situations can be found everywhere in the Academia. Thousands of activist women and radical members of other "oppressed" groups - groups that actually control this whole disgusting theater - pretend that they are much more than they are and the whip of political correctness guarantees that they can do so. Feminism and other types of victimism are forms of organized crime.

And that's the memo.

Thursday, April 26, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Wolfgang Pauli: a quantum mechanical hero

Wolfgang Pauli was born on April 25th, 1900, and he was one of the brightest physicists of his generation. See also Backreaction.



His approach to physics was very sharp and sophisticated. The Pauli matrices and the exclusion principle are named after him (Nobel prize 1945 for the exclusion principle) and he has proven many things such as the spin-statistics relation and the CPT theorem. In 1949, he co-authored the Pauli-Villars regularization but of course his contributions were far more numerous, including contributions that are not published anywhere.

His encounter with David Bohm

Wolfgang Pauli didn't like sloppy thinking - and especially various kinds of mishmash of unconscious projections and science - such as the morphogenetic fields and similar primordial forms of the "New Age" garbage. If you look e.g. at this page, you can see where the famous "not even wrong" epithet comes from.

Chernobyl: 21 years later

Exactly 21 years ago, the Ukrainian power plant exploded. Last year, we wrote about

A new study has found that the long-term health impact of the Chernobyl disaster was negligible. All kinds of mortality rates were at most 1% higher than normally.
Everyday life is riskier.

Financial Times: carbon permits fraud is widespread

As Willie Soon has kindly pointed out, the Financial Times have revealed that most of the transactions with carbon permits are fraudulent. Companies pay for CO2 emissions reductions that never occur while others greatly benefit.

For example, an Indian company earned 600 million USD by a trick. Russians also know what to do in this complete chaos: Gazprom will sell Brazilian credits to Europe.

This massive international fraud should stop as soon as possible and those responsible for it should be arrested. Otherwise, as the U.S. Congressional Budget Office report found out, the CO2 cap-and-trade schemes will devastate the economy, especially the poor.

By the way, the current price of the European 2007 permits is 0.64 euro, down from 30 euro one year ago by a factor of almost fifty.

Censorship and propaganda

Other climate news: the website climateofdenial.net contains a letter of 30+ modern inquisitors who demand The Great Global Warming Swindle DVD to be banned. Prof Will Alexander became another victim of a witch hunt in South Africa.

Meanwhile, USA Today reports that Al Gore is cloning himself to create what the paper calls a "global army" of about 1000 men, mostly aggressive senile fat men. Pretty scary: not even Saddam Hussein succeeded in this cloning army strategy.

200 countries

The number of countries that have visited The Reference Frame according to the counter in the sidebar has reached 200. That's well above the number of U.N. nations. While several entries are non-countries such as "Anonymous Proxy" and "Europe", we are close to saturation. A further increase of the number of nations will probably lead to a discovery of extraterrestrial aliens.

Klaus in Russia

The Czech president had a friendly phone call with his U.S. counterpart, mostly about the radar base. George Bush will visit Prague in June 2007.



Today, Václav Klaus started an official visit of Russia. His relations with Vladimir Putin are much better than the average relations between two international leaders which will make any possible controversy about the radars less violent.

String theory in 2 minutes: blackthornba



This looks like a serious contestant to me although I can't promise you that the video is more than a union of pieces collected elsewhere. ;-)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

History of gravitational waves



Daniel Holz discusses some history of gravitational waves. Click the animation above to get to his article. Note that my animation (LM) showing how space gets stretched in the presence of such a wave is rotated by 45 degrees relatively to Dan's animation (DH): they are two different "linear" polarizations. If you take the combinations

  • LM + i DH, LM - i DH,
you will obtain a different basis of the so-called circular polarizations. In the corresponding pictures, an ellipse would simply rotate around, in one direction or the other.

In my wave, if you label the plane as x-y and the wave moves in the third, z-direction, it is the component g_{xy} of the metric tensor that fluctuates around zero. In Dan's wave, g_{xx} and g_{yy} fluctuate around one (in the East Coast convention); the two components oscillate in the opposite directions so that g_{xx} g_{yy} remains constant, equal to one. In the linearized approximation, it's equivalent to keeping g_{xx}+g_{yy} constant.

Gliese 581 has a habitable planet

Gliese 581 is a star that is 20.5 light years from us. It is smaller and colder than the Sun: in fact, it is a red dwarf. That's why habitable planets may be much closer to the star.



Gliese 581 c is a planet whose radius is about 1.5 times the radius of Earth. The planet is 14 times closer to the star than our distance from the Sun. But because the star is so much smaller, the planet is expected to have temperatures between 0 and 40 Celsius degrees which is pretty pleasant. Indeed, you can see liquid water on the satellite photograph. ;-)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Interview with Richard Lindzen

Relax, the planet is fine

National Post (Canada) had a nice interview with Prof. Richard Lindzen on Saturday.

There are many usual things - warming and human influence is not proven, it will probably be beneficial e.g. for Canada, indulgence industry is a huge business that can feed whole nations, scientists direct their research to get funding etc.

Lindzen also mentions the story of Roger Revelle who was one of the greatest oceanographers of the 20th century at Harvard University. One of the last papers he wrote was one with Fred Singer and Chauncey Starr

What to do about greenhouse warming: look before you leap
that argued, among other things, that existing science justifies no action to mess up with the climate.

Alarmists hated the paper so much that Al Gore, together with another Harvard professor, created a whole disgusting fairy-tale that Roger Revelle was senile and manipulated. Fred Singer sued the #$#$ alarmists and won a full vindication. Mainstream media are, of course, silent about this lawsuit.

They also talk about Gore's cynicism and about children used for alarmism - an approach that closely resembles Hitlerjugend. The happy end of the interview is that we should learn math and physics so that we don't get fooled by this idiocy. Well, I couldn't agree more.

Monday, April 23, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

P vs NP & NP-completeness

Michael Sipser of MIT gave a very clear - and perhaps too elementary - colloquium about P vs NP and NP-completeness. Let me make a short introduction to these questions.

P and NP problems

Use a computer to multiply two numbers, 7x13 = 91, or some longer numbers. It will be done "quickly". For large enough input with "N" bytes, the required number of operations (time) will go like a power law, "N^a", where "a" is an exponent. These are the P (polynomial) problems: they are quickly solvable.

Then there are possibly harder problems that may be more time-consuming but if you have a solution, you can quickly prove that it satisfies the conditions. This class of problems is called NP (non-deterministically polynomial) and includes these seemingly difficult problems:

  • find the best schedule for students
  • find the factors whose product gives you a large number with "N" digits
  • find the clique of size "M" (a number comparable to "N"); a clique is a subgraph where all vertices are connected with each other
  • compute the permanent of a "N x N" matrix (determinant without the minus signs)
  • protein folding - minimize the energy by folding a protein
  • find a proof of a true theorem, a proof that has "M" characters
  • find a vacuum with the smallest positive cosmological constant in some toy models of the landscape with "exp(N)" vacua
and many others. (About two entries were added by me.) Once you find a solution, you can check that it is a solution in polynomial time, "N^a". But apparently, the only way to find such a solution is to search through a significant part of possibilities which takes time longer than any power law, namely time such as "exp(N)" or even "N! ~ (N/e)^N".




NP problems are "quickly verifiable". You can easily see that P problems are a subset of NP problems: if a problem is quickly solvable, it must also be quickly verifiable. But is it a proper subset? Can't they be identical sets?

History

When was this science invented? It was around the mid 1960s, independently by Russian and American authors. When you have a Russian and an American who invent the same thing at the same time, you're usually not getting the whole story. If I tell you that it was all invented 10 years earlier, what was the citizenship of the inventor? Yes, you're right. It had to be a Czech. In fact, he was not just Czech: he was a German Czech at the IAS. ;-)

I claim that the description "German Czech" matches the U.S. standards - it is constructed just like e.g. "African American" - but no sane Czech person with a possible exception of your humble correspondent would ever seriously call Kurt Gödel a "Czech". ;-)

Recent analyses of John von Neumann's archive showed that in 1956, Kurt Gödel sent a letter to (ailing) von Neumann (both IAS Princeton) asking how much time "phi(N)" one needs to find a mathematical proof of a valid assertion, a proof that is known to contain "N" characters. It could be a power law, he speculated. This fact if true would have profound consequences for mathematics. He has also sketched other problems where similar questions can be asked. Gödel was clearly interested in the issue of finding proofs but his comments were more general and the other guys just repeated it 10 years later.

NP-completeness

The most important later development was NP-completeness. There exists a large and important subclass of NP problems that are exactly as difficult as each other. This NP-complete class contains many granddaddies - but the clique problem is one of them. This really means that a difficult, NP-complete problem can be converted to a clique problem (or one of many other granddaddies that are dual to each other).

The set of NP problems also contains problems that are not proven to be NP-complete such as the factorization problem. A factorization homework can be transformed into a clique problem which means that factorization problems can't be more difficult than the clique problem: but they can be easier although there exists no proof whether they're easier in either way.

Clique problem

Imagine that you have a group of scientists (vertices of a graph) with the information which pairs have shared a paper (links in this graph). Your task is to find the largest subgraph (subgroup of scientists) in which everyone wrote a paper with everyone else.

In paleoclimatology, it is clearly a P problem. The fast solution to identify the largest clique is to find Michael Mann in the graph, list all of his co-authors, sort them by a number of papers co-authored with Mann, and take the upper "M" of this list that still form a clique, if you want to get the largest clique in the graph.

This algorithm was discovered by Dr. Edward Wegman, a statistician who was asked by by the U.S. lawmakers to investigate similar problems connected with that particular bizarre clique generating a remarkable large number of flawed papers, especially about broken hockey sticks.

P=NP or not P=NP

However, the real question is whether this problem is quickly solvable for random large graphs outside paleoclimatology. If there is a solution that avoids the brute force search, then P=NP. Because such an identity would allow one to crack all possible codes, solve scheduling problems, identify cliques, calculate permanents, and even find proofs of true mathematical statements automatically and quickly, it is generally expected that P=NP is not true.

However, there are examples where similar intuition is wrong, such as the primarily test. One can quickly test whether a number with "N" digits is a prime by using Fermat's little theorem. It takes much less time than testing all possible factors up to those with "N/2" digits. The Lucas-Lehmer primality test is a similar example of this dramatic speed-up although it only works for Mersenne numbers.

NP-completeness means that if you find a universal fast (power law time) solution of one of those hard but easily testable problems, you can prove that you have solved all of them. Not all NP problems are NP-complete, but many of them - such as the clique problem - are.

Sipser continued with some additional questions whether we can check that someone knows a solution to a problem such as the isomorphism of two graphs. These are toy models of some concepts that are important in contemporary cryptography - such as the methods for someone to prove that she knows a password without revealing what it is.

Finally, he also mentioned how different levels of complexity that require memory or time scaling as various, generally different functions of "N" can be related to each other, suggesting that these relations could have something to do with the relations of space and time in physics. Well, I would guess that probably not but everyone is free to try to find this relation with physics, of course. ;-)

And that's the memo.

Joe Kernen outshines Laurie David and Sheryl Crow

Flash has pointed out this interesting TV confrontation: a CNBC video clip is available on the website under Sheryl's picture below. Or try YouTube including Patrick Michaels' reaction.



I think that both Sheryl Crow (is she "All I wanna do is have some fun" or "Girls just wanna have fun"? Both are great hits) and Laurie David (the prettiest among those who earn big bucks from "An Inconvenient Truth") are attractive women.

Sometimes it is not enough to be pretty and to create great songs or earn big bucks. Joe Kernen, a skeptic, received a support of 80% of viewers against the two alarmist ladies. It's not hard to see why. For example, when asked how she wants to replace hydrocarbon (nuclear?), Crow answered that we should burn clean coal instead. Coal without hydrocarbons - that's what I call a really clean coal. ;-)

Boris Yeltsin died



Figure 1: Billary Clinton: "He's so cute."

Boris Yeltsin (*1931) grew up in Yekaterinburg = Sverdlovsk, my hometown Pilsen's twin city, where he was the party boss. Later he became the first post-Soviet president of Russia, 1991-1999. He liked to drink and other things. Not everything was perfect about his reign and life but he is one of the people who should be credited for the expansion of capitalism and democracy in Russia.

Hartle & Srednicki vs. typicality

Jim Hartle and Mark Srednicki explain that all details of the assumptions about "typicality" - an inherent part of the anthropic reasoning - should always be explicitly stated and some of these assumptions lead to ludicrous conclusions.

They use the Bayesian reasoning to explain that a theory in which the observers like us are more typical are not preferred. If you click at the link in the previous sentence, you will get my article with a similar argument (search for "huge landscape" to get to the main assertion).

Some of their examples of ridiculous conclusions obtained with the assumptions of typicality are related to the Boltzmann brains. Because I clearly agree with their assertions, let me paraphrase the main points from their first page:

  • Predicted atypicality of humans is not enough for falsification of a theory
  • Deciding about validity of theories mustn't depend on counting of intelligent observers and their properties because this would kill objectivity
  • All accessible reliable data may be used and should be used unless it can be shown that they are inconsequential
  • Predicting a higher or lower number of copies of observers like us and observations like ours doesn't modify the degree of validity of a theory
  • We shouldn't assume that something about us was created by a random process unless there is evidence for this assumption
  • Bayesian inference may be used to guess measures that may be implied by a fundamental theory but don't have to
Some people assume that we are randomly selected from a class "C". Hartle and Srednicki call this misstep "selection fallacy" because its essence is to neglect some known data.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Jazz and women

Clifford Johnson has complained that a woman considered jazz to be a male sexist genre, if you allow me to simplify his text a little bit. Well, yes, most feminists are sexist. ;-)

Well, I am not sure whether Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Carla Bley, Alice Coltrane, Hana Hegerová - one of the people in the 1966 Czech jazz opera "A Walk Worthwhile" (that Miloš Forman is just bringing to the traditionally classical Czech national theater!) -, Vlasta Průchová, Jana Koubková, or a Californian female string theorist whom I know (and who still likes jazz more than I do) would agree that women can't like jazz. I don't think so.

Instead, let me offer you a few compositions.



This is Jaroslav Ježek's 1928 classic, Bugatti Step. I was never good enough to play this one. Ježek was an extraordinary Czech composer, the third friend of Jiří Voskovec and Jan Werich, two eminent Czech comedians from "The Liberated Theater" who became famous in the 1920s.



The composition above, resembling the inner workings of Bugatti, is so difficult that you won't easily find a free copy on the Internet that is flawless; try a string version (...) or YouTube anyway. Be sure that girls like to play Ježek's compositions, too, for example "Heaven on Earth" (Nebe na zemi).

A week ago, when we recalled Yuri Gagarin, we also linked to an MP3 file, "Honor to the Astronaut" (1961).

Try also numerous jazz bands on the streets of Prague.

Finally, Clifford should realize that the Czech president is, among the current leaders, the most enthusiastic fan of jazz - and the organizer of "Jazz on the [Prague] Castle". I hope that this will be enough for Clifford and others to join Klaus' fight against political correctness and against the global warming religion! :-)

Nevertheless, my answer to Clifford's main question is that I don't see any significant signal that would indicate that jazz is more anti-female than other genres. Men dominate the composition and instruments - but that's the case in other genres, too.

Colony Collapse Disorder

A bee & CCD: to bee or not to bee?
Bee afraid, bee very afraid

Last fall, the mysterious illness started. Colonies simply disappear. In January 2007, the size of the problem became obvious. About 27 U.S. states see the problem that has already decimated roughly 1/2 of their bee populations. In February 2007, your humble correspondent warned Bee about the problem.

Video above: music by Karel Svoboda, an ingenious composer who shot himself: memorian, Slivers of Glass I, Slivers of Glass II.

In March, the problem was dubbed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) although BBC preferred a Vanishing Bee Syndrome (VBS).

What can be causing such an abrupt decline of the bee populations in the U.S.? It must be something fast, something that has changed rather abruptly. Some possibilities:

  • A virus
  • Changes in the ultraviolet background: bees see in the UV spectrum; it could be related to the ozone hole
  • Changes in the IR spectrum
  • Social collapse caused by external factors, e.g. infiltration by Cape honeybees from Africa: they produce their own young, with no respect for the queen's brood; it won't be trivial to find and execute the African intruders
  • Social collapse caused by internal factors, i.e. a new kind of communism or environmentalism forcing the freedom-loving bees to emigrate; it won't be trivial to find and exterminate the alarmist bees
  • A new kind of nutrition supplement or other stuff given to the bees, e.g. genetically-modified crops
  • A new chemical compound that appeared in their environment such as new pesticides

Some research has been made with 1.9 GHz cordless phones, indicating that they could have some impact. Journalists talk about "cellphones" which seems inaccurate although the frequencies are similar. It is not impossible that cellphone signals suddenly start to have impact on bees: still, I find it unlikely.

If this problem doesn't go away, it may become a story. Still, the annual value of pollination in the U.S. is estimated at 15 billion USD only, about 0.1% of the GDP. I think it is a significant underestimate of the importance and value of the bees, these hard-working friends of ours, but on the other hand, I don't think that a huge decline of bees would imply anything comparable to a decline of the civilization.

And that's the memo.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Václav Klaus: Blue, not Green Planet

The book is being translated to English, German, Russian, Polish, Dutch, Bulgarian, and other languages but I can't tell you when it is going to be released so far

What is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?

To be released on 5/15/2007 in Czech...
Sold e.g. at KOSMAS.CZ

Global warming has recently become both a symbol and a prototype of the tension between the truth and propaganda. One politically correct truth has taken over and it is not easy to oppose it although a significant number of people, including top scientists, see the climate change issues, its reasons, and its impact very differently. They are scared by the arrogance of the advocates of the global warming hypothesis and the related conjecture that connects this warming with particular acts of Man. They are afraid of the consequences that it will have for all of us. The best environment for humans is the environment of freedom. It is the only right criterion to judge all environmentalist visions and all their categoric demands. The current debate about global warming is thus inherently a debate about the freedom.

Tropospheric warming not as fast as the surface

A weekly dose of peer-reviewed denier literature on the climate.

Christy, Norris, Spencer, Hnilo (ADSABS) have studied the temperature of the lower troposphere in tropics (-20...+20 latitude) during the 1979-2004 period in their article in Journal of Geophysical Research (2007).

See also: Wrong fingerprint of greenhouse warming
They used two sources, UAH (University of Alabama in Huntsville) and RSS (Remote Sensing Systems). The nighttime trend is 0.12 K/decade while the daytime trend is 0.07 K/decade - a strange difference indicating that an adjustment may be needed.

For generic readers, K is Kelvin and the temperature difference in Kelvins is the same thing as the temperature difference in Celsius degrees.

Friday, April 20, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Samir Mathur: comments on fuzzballs

The author, Prof Samir Mathur, is a physicist at Ohio State University

The information paradox arises if we assume that the effects of quantum gravity extend only over Planck distances. String theory, as a complete theory of quantum gravity, must offer us a way out of this paradox. The way it does this is that string theory states "puff up" in proportion to the number of quanta they carry, changing the notion that there is no information stored near the horizon.

There have been some comments on this blog regarding the classical / quantum nature of microstates. Here are my brief comments on the issue; for more details one can look at the reviews hep-th/0502050 or hep-th/0510180. More details on the nature of states etc can be found for example in hep-th/0607222, hep-th/0609154.

The simplest model is the 2-charge extremal hole. We can dualize the charges to NS1-P; that is, a string carrying momentum. The total winding and momentum are taken large, so that we can match the entropy to the Bekenstein-Wald classical value.

MIT: Daniel Barclay died

Daniel Barclay (22), an MIT political science & economics senior, has been missing since April 8th. Although it could be his body that was found on Cape yesterday, there's still a non-zero chance. He hasn't spent any money or used his cellphone since 4/8. If you have any idea about his location, please call the MIT Police at 617-253-1212 or anonymous 617-258-TIPS (8-8477). Click the photograph for more details at Boston Herald.

Update: unfortunately the dead body was him. We are very sorry to hear that.

Simon White on fundamentalist physics

Fundamentalist physics takes over astronomy

Sean Carroll at cosmicvariance.com has pointed out an article by

that explains that the cosmological constant is a conspiracy created by the fundamentalists - also known as high-energy physicists - to take over astronomy. :-)

That's interesting. I thought that the cosmological constant was a conspiracy theory of astronomers meant to dismantle high-energy physics and fill it with all kinds of traditionally astronomical garbage such as the anthropic principle. :-)

As you can see, most of the people on the hypothetical two sides of the battle between the laws of the small and the laws of the large agree that the cosmological constant is an evil thing. Even Einstein himself agreed when he called the intellectual intercourse that led to its discovery "the greatest blunder of his life". :-)

Simon White argues that the fundamentalists, represented in the context of cosmology by their fifth column and their WMAP satellite, are uniform teams with predetermined big goals and their work leads to improvements in statistics. The astronomers and traditional cosmologists, represented by the Hubble Space Telescope, are, on the contrary, a diverse group of many loosely connected small teams with many unexpected results.

Siberia-Alaska tunnel



As Larry pointed out, Russia has reinvented a project to build a tunnel between Alaska and Chukotka (map), with a safe highway, railroad, oil pipelines, and fibers to speed up The Reference Frame for readers in Eastern Siberia.

The project expected to become an international one will soon be presented to the people in the U.S. and Canada. Walter Hickel (GOP), a former governor of Alaska (and a secretary fired by Nixon), is already among the staunch supporters of the project, together with the LaRouche conspiracy family that has been promoting this tunnel for decades. ;-)

Its 100 kilometers are twice the "chunnel" under La Manche between Britain and France. The tunnel itself would only cost $10 billion but with the additional 4000 miles of railroads needed on the continents to make it useful, it is a $65 billion project, about 1/5 of money annually wasted for the Kyoto protocol.

It is a purely business project. Note that Russia sold Alaska for 7.2 million old dollars which is 1.67 billion new dollars. So the tunnel, to be completed around 2020, will cost 40 times more than what Russia earned by selling Alaska itself. But it still seems as a good investment to me, especially because $20 billion a year may be saved for electricity costs on both continents.

Thursday, April 19, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Probabilities of various theories: climate change

The following list is the global warming counterpart of a similar table for fundamental physics:

  • 99.9% - The global temperature is cooling and in 100 million years, it will be measurably below the current 2.7 Kelvins ;-)
  • 99% - Doubling of CO2 from 280 ppmv to 560 ppmv adds more than 0.2 Celsius degree to the expected average temperature
  • 95% - Higher life can easily withstand three times higher fluctuations of the decadal average temperatures than those seen in the last 100 million years
  • 90% - Scientists in 2100 will find contemporary climate models as naive as we view models from the early 20th century
  • 85% - Temperatures that would instantly jump 2 Celsius degrees above the present ones (giving us no time for adaptation) would have a smaller negative economic impact on life and the civilization than a world war (such as WW2) under way (war-like death rate is not assumed to be a part of the impact here)
  • 80% - A satisfactory theory of cloud formation and of the main drivers influencing it is necessary to get a good zeroth approximation for the climate at the millenial timescale or longer
  • 75% - Annual average global temperatures have differed by more than 5 Celsius degrees from the present ones in both directions during the last 10 million years
  • 70% - Cosmic rays have a detectable and statistically significant influence on temperatures at the multi-million-year timescale
  • 65% - 2025 will be warmer than 2005
  • 60% - Long-term solar variations have a detectable influence on the climate at the centennial scale
  • 50% - A future warming by 1 Celsius degree - regardless of its origin - will be beneficial for the society, economies, and most animals, or a future cooling by 1 Celsius degree will not be beneficial
  • 40% - Turbulence and largely unpredictable motion in the atmosphere and the ocean is responsible for more than 30% of the decadal variations of the climate at a fixed continent
  • 30% - The climate sensitivity for CO2 doubling is a well-defined quantity, it is greater than 2 Celsius degrees, and it will be measured with a 20% error or more accurately by 2100
  • 20% - The average decadal temperature in at least one of the decades in the last 20 million years differed from the most recent decade by more than 10 Celsius degrees in either direction
  • 10% - Positive feedbacks amplifying the external perturbations influencing the temperature are stronger than the negative feedbacks
  • 5% - Under business-as-usual scenario, newly emitted man-made CO2 will contribute more than 2 Celsius degrees to the temperatures in the next 50 years
  • 5% - The temperature trend of the 20th century puts it among 3 most spectacularly changing centuries in the last 1 million years
  • 3% - Under the business-as-usual scenario, the 21st century will be the warmest century in the last 1 million years
  • 1% - Human production of CO2 is responsible for more than 80% of the decadal climate variations of the 20th century
  • 1% - Benefits of CO2 reduction according to currently contemplated plans will exceed the costs
  • 0.1% - Investments to influence the global climate using present technologies today are wiser and more economical than investments into similar plans in 2020 using future technologies
  • 0.01% - The climate sensitivity for CO2 doubling is greater than 5 Celsius degrees
  • 0.001% - The effects of climate change under the business-as-usual scenario will remove more than 50% of the integrated GDP by 2100 or its equivalent
  • 0.0005% - The sea levels will rise by more than 5 meters in the next 50 years
  • 0.000001% - Extinction of mammals because of any climate change by 2100 (includes solar dysfunction)
  • 0.0000001% - Extinction of life because of any climate change by 2100
  • 0.00000001% - Extinction of mammals because of CO2-driven climate change by 2100

Again, if you carefully negate the assertions and subtract the numbers from 100%, you get additional estimates. ;-)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Richard Lindzen: Iris effect remains alive and well

Some readers may want to look at

about the Iris effect, originally published in 2001. The claimed agreement of existing climate models with reality may be described as curve fitting. There are good reasons to think that there is a couple of important negative feedbacks related to water vapor and clouds that make the CO2 climate sensitivity small.
ABC of the iris effect: when the Earth is warming, the rain at places where air flows in the direction up becomes more intense. This reduces the amount of water droplets available for high-altitude cirrus clouds. Warming thus reduces the number of cirrus clouds and because these clouds have a warming effect, the overall impact of this mechanism is a slight cooling which means that the ultimate warming will be smaller than if the iris effect wouldn't exist.
A 2007 paper by Roy Spencer et al. on cirrus clouds brought some new evidence for the iris effect. See also
Roy Spencer: Global warming and Nature's thermostat: precipitation systems
Incidentally, NOAA climate models have just obtained the same result about the future hurricane rate
as people who have read at least initial chapters of meteorology textbooks know - although the microscopic details of the explanations are different. (Thanks to Alexander Ač, no kidding.)

Falsifying non-local realism

Preprint for this blog entry: An experimental test of non-local realism

Off-topic: Seed magazine offers a tool (PDF) for living in the 21st century, namely a basic introduction to string theory. Clifford Johnson was apparently an adviser - so he told them that a Hydrogen atom is a deuterium ion with four electrons, as Wolfgang has pointed out. ;-)
Scientific American describes a new experiment of Anton Zeilinger et al. - laser light split into entangled pairs whose polarizations are then measured in different angles - whose authors claim that it falsifies "nonlocal realism".



Figure 1: A Zeilinger. The picture is not 100% relevant but I want to avoid accusations that most physicists discussed on this blog are male. :-)

The title of the SciAm article, "Quantum Mechanics Fails Reality Checks", is unfortunate because it creates the impression that they have shown something wrong either with quantum mechanics or with the Czechs. Quite on the contrary: they have shown that quantum mechanics holds, just like the Czechs say, even in cases when some critics would like to create doubts. ;-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Probabilities of various theories: fundamental physics

This is the first set of estimates what are the probabilities that various theories are correct. The precise numbers don't mean much - the *exact* answer is actually either 0% or 100% in each case, nothing in between - but they may express a kind of "qualified guess". Everyone can add entries and/or comment on (vastly) different estimates of various numbers below. Let me start with fundamental physics.

Monday, April 16, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Identity of Va Tech Asian Gunman: Seung Hui Cho



As we said, the shooter was 조승희 ...
An author of two plays ... (thanks, Rae)

Fingerprints, Korean government, and his own note have confirmed the identity of the Korean shooter

It's horrible news right after my class. At least 32 people plus 1 monster were killed - mostly shot, but some of them chose to jump out of the window - at Virginia Tech University. Dozens of additional people are injured.



The previous shooting at Virginia Tech - last summer - was the work of William Morva: check his background.

The tragedy has become the worst college shooting incident in the history of the world, much worse than a similar incident at University of Texas 40 years ago when "only" 16 people died.

It's so stunning to imagine that a lunatic suddenly enters Jefferson 256 - our physics classroom at Harvard - and shoots everyone in the class.

Intelligent life right after Big Bang

George Smoot, a teacher of string theory and a very entertaining Nobel prize winner, has a cool theory that intelligent life existed a picosecond after the Big Bang. ;-)

So far, the details of his calculations don't quite work which is really the only reason why The Reference Frame is skeptical about his theory so far. ;-)

Ladislav Adamec dies



Ladislav Adamec, the last prime minister of the socialist Czechoslovakia and a moderate, pro-perestroika politician from a mining family, died on Saturday at age of 80.

He was tolerated, to say the least, by the Civic Forum when the Velvet Revolution got started. When the velvet revolutionaries were not yet too ambitious, they were dreaming about being able to make Adamec the most powerful person in Czechoslovakia. ;-)

Democracy and the competition it brings is a good mechanism to find better politicians in the long term but it can't eliminate the fluctuations. When I look back, Adamec would get a much higher score than most leftist activists - and some leftist politicians - whom we can see today.

Gravity Probe B: frame-dragging twice smaller than resolution

Gravity Probe B, a \$700 million NASA satellite experiment with gyroscopes controlled from Stanford University, an experiment that started more than 40 years ago (the oldest physics experiment alive) and that was designed to verify the effect of frame-dragging predicted by general relativity, is still unable to say Yes or No. Rotating Earth should "drag" the space around with it and transfer some angular momentum from the Earth to other objects.



The observed change of the axis of rotation of the gyroscopes can clearly measure the geodetic effect with the accuracy of 1% but the predicted frame-dragging - a general relativistic effect that is the closest reminder of the Mach principle, a flawed principle that motivated Einstein to find a new theory of gravity but one that was eventually refuted - is about twice as small as their current error margin.

Sunday, April 15, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Leonhard Euler: 300th anniversary

Written three centuries after the birth of a famous 18th century string theorist



Leonhard Euler was born in Switzerland exactly 300 years ago. He introduced modern notation for many functions and sums, figured out how to exponentiate complex numbers and why exp(i.pi)+1=0 which is, according to Richard Feynman, the most remarkable formula in mathematics.

Euler has understood the calculus of variations and the derivation of Euler-Lagrange equations. The Euler-Bernoulli beam equation turned out to be critical for the design of the Eiffel tower. Euler has put Huygens' wave theory of light on firmer ground, thus peacefully reducing Newton's corpuscular authority.

Euler and his friend Bernoulli liked to debunk Leibniz's monadism, a fuzzy philosophy attempting to avoid quantitative laws. For similar reasons, Euler disliked the teachings of Christian Wolff that were "heathen and atheistic". Euler believed the Bible literally.

Euler and string theory

Euler was an eminent string theorist. He introduced the modern complex formalism for Fourier series describing the vibrations of a string and, as Larry pointed out, has solved a large number of partial differential equations relevant for oscillation of strings and drums (membranes).

Moreover, Euler has calculated the scattering amplitude B(u,v), also known as the Euler beta function, for four open-string tachyons 250 years before Veneziano. He has also computed the index of many moduli spaces of string-theoretical vacua, the so-called Euler characteristics.

An Inconvenient Truth ... or Convenient Fiction?

Steven Hayward is the star in a new documentary, one of the replies to An Inconvenient Truth.

They showed those 50 minutes to audience in San Francisco and it was a success. I haven't yet seen it.

The other on-line skeptical movies are listed in the article about Doomsday Called Off.

Update: Unfortunately, AIToCF got pretty bad reviews from readers and writers of The Reference Frame. The star of the movie seems less consistent and less passionate than these protesters from a Boston rally this weekend:



More seriously, I think it's just awful to manipulate children in this way - in this case to support entirely insane policies to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent. Half of children between 7 and 11 years lose sleep because of this panic.

Alien planet with water

Dry, gaseous, Jupiter-like planet HD 209458b somewhere in Pegasus, 150 light years from Earth, ...



... is the first exoplanet known to have water in its atmosphere according to indirect evidence based on spectral bumps found in computer simulations and compared with observations.

I leave it up to you to decide how far it is from the previous picture of the constellation to the following picture:



See preprint accepted for publication in ApJ or news.google.com.

An even better planet: possibly habitable Gliese 581c.

Saturday, April 14, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Global warming bets

BetUS.com, a gambling company, allows you to make a lot of bets about global warming. See

that also contains a list. Their estimated probability that various places of the world will be under water within 5 years or so - as well as the probability that the sea levels will be rising in a mad, Al-Gore-like way - is between 0.1% and 1% with the exception of Florida that is virtually doomed - see the picture below.

Polar bears will go extinct by 2010 with probability 1%, too.

The U.S. government will announce, by the end of 2007, that "global warming has been proven by a flawless paper", with probability of 80%. The bookmakers estimate the probability 30% of the U.S. government's declaration, by the end of 2007, that "a flawless paper has proven that the warming is man-made".

Well, the assertions from the previous paragraphs are pretty likely because governments like to do a lot of idiotic things, almost by definition. ;-)



Figure 1: Florida after a 20-foot sea level rise projected by Al Gore. According to BetUS.com, this will happen by 2011 with probability 10%. ;-)

James Annan and Gavin Schmidt agree with your humble correspondent that all the catastrophic and otherwise unusual statements - about Florida submerged by 2015 or corn grown everywhere in Antarctica in a few years :-) - are absurd and their real probability is orders of magnitude below the probability indicated by BetUS.com who want to earn money from naive people such as Alexander Ač.

When it comes to numbers and gambling, it turns out that Al Gore's statements are as sensible as the prediction about Elvis Presley found alive on the Moon, as James Annan says. Well, it's hard to make bets against James if he actually agrees, whenever he abandons his professional hypocrisy, that all the predictions that drive the global warming hysteria and the funding of tens of thousands of people like himself are absurd. ;-)

And that's the memo.

Petra Němcová: Thai school works

Petra Němcová, a supersymmetric model, has survived the 2004 tsunami under rather drastic circumstances:

At 3:30 of the video, you learn that she decided to trust the Universe - she really means string theory but doesn't want to make her talk overly technical - and she wasn't nervous at all although her life depended on a sequence of happy coincidences.

After she decided to trust the Universe, she was suddently - it's quite important that it was more than suddenly - released. :-) The last step in her Al Gore rhythm to survive was to catch a genus zero Feynman diagram - a tree - and save a few locals along the way.

Last month, she has finally gotten rid of that guy called James Blunt so she's now very happy. ;-) In Thailand, she just opened a school and a computer center. The kids were very excited and jumping around so her investment was probably a good one.

Friday, April 13, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Radar excursion: visa denied



Two Czech lawmakers, a communist deputy and a Christian democratic senator, were denied U.S. visa for their trip to the Marshall Islands where they were invited to see how the missile defense radar works.

It is hard to avoid mixed, mostly negative feelings. It would be a kind of fun if a communist were denied the visa for being a communist except that it's apparently not the case. They were rejected simply because they didn't submit their documents early enough: for purely bureaucratic reasons.

I view it as a typical example of the system being overrun by uncontrollable bureaucracy. If the U.S. thought that the radar base were a good thing for its national security, it should be completely obvious that trivial formalities such as visas for foreign lawmakers who will help to decide about the fate of this base should be completely circumventable.

The fact that it's impossible to avoid these bureaucratic misunderstandings even under these highly special circumstances shows that something is wrong with the system. The U.S. government or ambassadors should have the right to unconditionally allow entry to the U.S. in special circumstances and this situation should be an example.

And that's the memo.

Gopakumar-Vafa invariants for the quintic at genus 51

Yesterday, Kirill Saraikin was talking about their work focusing on a generalization of the OSV conjecture to non-supersymmetric black holes. It was surprising - i.e. either unlikely or revolutionary - to many people that such a generalization should exist because these non-supersymmetric objects are not protected, according to the state-of-the-art understanding of protection.



The argument needed Nikita Nekrasov's unpublished extension of the topological string by one or two additional parameters corresponding to components of the graviphoton field strength in the 01 and 23 directions in the full string-theoretical spacetime. The statement that an additional subset of protected but non-supersymmetric quantities should exist was controversial and, as far as I can say, remains unsettled.

Duality seminar

Aneta Langerová: Hříšná těla, křídla motýlí



Aneta Langerová won the first Czech "American Idol" in 2004 and became a professional singer. The video above is her "Hříšná těla, křídla motýlí" - "Sinful Bodies, Butterfly Wings." See more videos from Aneta.

Vlastimil Horváth won the second Czech superstar in 2005 and turned into the most popular ethnic Roma in the Czech Republic.

Zbyněk Drda became the third Czech superstar in late 2006.

Thursday, April 12, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Yuri Gagarin: 46 years ago

On April 12th, 1961, Yuri Gagarin said "Poyekhali" (Let's go) and became the first person who was liberated from the terrestrial gravity. As the Czech poster below says, "communism has opened the road towards the stars". :-)



Nowadays, the spiritual heritors of the Soviets may create posters saying that "environmentalism has opened the path back to the caves." :-)

As kids, we were always taught to be proud that the first country that Gagarin visited during his world tour after he returned from outer space was Czechoslovakia. Seventeen years after Gagarin, Vladimír Remek who is now a deputy in the European Parliament for the Czech Communist Party became the first non-Soviet non-American citizen in space.

UK: pay students to study science

In the U.K., the scientific literacy and the number of students who study science is collapsing and some people started to think about the possibility to pay 500 pounds to students who will take STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics).

Well, it's a kind of social engineering but it may be in the interest of the society to have people who are literate which may justify this unusual policy. Britain's increasing scientific illiteracy recently became obvious also because the two infamous crackpot books about physics were accepted even more uncritically than in other countries.

Deforestation may cause cooling

If you like and admire ;-) three-dimensional climate models coupled to carbon-cycle models, you may want to know that according to one of these models,

as large as 10 Fahrenheit degrees. The results of their analysis indicate that cutting tropical forests may release CO2 and warm up the atmosphere in average, while for most forests that are far enough from the equator, changes of albedo (forests absorb more light) and evaporation (including evaporation from leaves of plants) win and cause a net cooling effect.



The work by Bala et al. is published in a new online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. I would personally recommend people not to accept such results of climate models too abruptly. On the other hand, it seems likely that the existing models overestimate the role of CO2 in driving the temperature, so if the albedo part of these models is more accurate, the qualitative result holds anyway.

To summarize: if you believe climate models and if you think that cooler Earth is better than warmer Earth, selling chainsaws to Russia, Canada, and Sweden is a way to go. You may be able to cool down Earth by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

MiniBooNE refutes LSND

Update: there has been a lot of confusion sparked mostly by rumors that MiniBooNE has seen something exciting. This posting has been edited many times. After the dust settled, it is almost clear that the rumors were just false and the result is as uninteresting as possible, is only able to falsify a simple and silly two-flavor oscillation with a sterile neutrino, and can't say anything else, indicating that the normal three-flavor Standard Model picture is correct as almost everyone thought.

I have erased several comments that only increased the amount of confusion and changed the filename to temporarily break links from crackpots' blogs. I apologize to everyone who was affected by any confusion in previous versions of this article, and I hope that the text below is now more or less OK and perhaps the clearest report on the Internet:

See my 1998 notes that contain almost everything you need to know about neutrinos: not much has changed for 9 years although people different from your humble correspondent were less certain about most of these things than I was
Evidence for several types of neutrino oscillations has been known for a decade or more. That includes atmospheric neutrino oscillations (in which muon neutrinos get "lost"), solar neutrino oscillations (in which electron neutrinos get "lost"), and a lab experiment called LSND in Los Alamos.



A simple oscillation in between two neutrino flavors - electron neutrino and muon neutrino - was a natural candidate theory to explain the observations but it couldn't agree with details of the LSND data which is why the LSND results were questioned. The next-to-simplest seemingly natural candidate model was a two-flavor oscillation that would include a sterile neutrino, a new kind of "fourth" neutrino without a charged partner.

Mainstream physicists like myself have always considered sterile neutrinos to be an unjustified construct. Such a particle never emerges from string theory - it seems fair to say that string theory predicts that there can't be any sterile neutrinos - but even outside string theory, models with such a particle feel unnatural. If you add such a new spinor field - which is ugly - it is expected to get a huge (GUT) mass anyway. There's no reason to expect a light sterile neutrino.

Chaotic FAS meeting

Before the Harvard's FAS faculty meeting on Tuesday, the professors had received a 25-page PDF booklet containing various proposed amendments for the general education legislation that should be discussed on the meeting.

My immediate comment was that the length, repetitiveness, and chaos in that booklet shows a complete lack of leadership at Harvard these days. It would take at least five hours to discuss it, especially because most of the amendments are highly polarizing. The meeting had to be chaotic, too.

It would be a waste of time to go there even if I really cared what they adopt. ;-)

Needless to say, I was almost right except that I forgot to add the time needed to argue about grammar. ;-) As

reports, they adjourned a meeting filled with procedural chaos after 90 minutes and will continue next week. They didn't even get to the most interesting topics.

Is there a history?

For example, they spent one hour with arguments whether the "Culture and Belief" category of courses should mention "history". Now, I wouldn't care about the wording but on the other hand, it is absolutely obvious that one can't comprehend anything in depth about culture and belief without understanding the historical traditions that inform them, as Prof Hamburger said, just like you can't properly understand biology without knowing how life evolved, as I add.

But I am afraid that the majority of the people who attend the meetings are postmodern scholars for whom subjects such as history are too hard sciences already. These social sciences deal with facts which is no good for them. As you might guess, a majority has decided that history has no room in culture and belief.

Even if someone studies culture, belief, law, political science or anything like that in the context of the contemporary era, it is simply necessary for her to know (some) history. History provides us with the empirical material that is needed to judge where various ideas lead and whether they are good and important or not, after all. If you don't know any history, your opinions about the present (and the future) are no more than unsubstantiated beliefs.

If you build a political or spiritual ideology without paying attention to history, you are bound to repeat many mistakes from the history of your civilization. Needless to say, that's exactly what the postmodernists want.

Science as a postmodernism's slave

One of the proposals that wasn't discussed was the idea of a large portion of sciences - including the whole department of physics as well as Steven Pinker (would it be really so difficult for the physics department to simply sign under Pinker's proposal that includes a well worded explanation?) - to scrap a paragraph describing details of the science education (both for life sciences as well as physical sciences) that says something like this:

  • Whenever it's appropriate, the science courses must explain that all of the scientific truth is relative and depends on societal pressures. The science instructors must masochistically admit that their "science" is just a random result of oppression of minorities by white, male, and sometimes Jewish oppressors such as Darwin and Einstein. All of science education must lead to increasing food production for the working class in the next 5 years [added to please Peter Woit].

Indeed, this is the cutting-edge feminist/Smolinian crap whose spirit you can find in the currently proposed rules. The extremely soft "scientists" have simply spread like an illness and they're threatening to kill the very basic features of science education at every single school in the world.

And that's the memo.

LHC: the time machine 1,2

If you have 5+6 minutes, click "Play".



The video starts with archaeologists and continues with the 14-TeV-scale archaeologists who will use the LHC as a time machine to travel 15 billion years to the past. :-)

Also, the movie explains that the LHC must discover the God particle and then all the superpartners.

Full links to both parts of the video:

You will also find other LHC videos in the sidebar of YouTube such as
Shockingly enough, the two-part movie above is also available in Czech.

Another movie about the ATLAS experiment follows the template of Star Wars:
Incidentally, the temperature of the LHC dropped below the microwave background temperature for the first time today: 1.9 Kelvins.

See also videos about CMS and ALICE at the LHC.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Mooney & Nisbet: science should be deliberately politicized

The Science magazine has published a highly controversial text written by Matthew Nisbet and Chris Mooney whose main message is similar to the message of an equally controversial article about post-normal science by Mike Hulme. Neither Nisbet nor Mooney is a scientist but they are widely viewed by the public as spokespeople of science.

If you don't have subscription, a large portion of their text, starting with the word "Issues", can be found e.g. here.

The authors argue that the laymen don't care about any technical details and scientists should accept this fact and "frame" information to make it "relevant to different audiences" i.e. to define controversies so that they "resonate with core values and assumptions". One of their "great" examples how to do so is the recent decision of some creationist Evangelical leaders to include the climate change orthodoxy as a part of religious morality. Rev. Richard Cizik has thus become a role model for all scientists! ;-)

What Nisbet and Mooney suggest is dangerous and despicable. Don't get me wrong: it is very clear that the public discourse has indeed been evolving exactly in the direction that they like. But it's a wrong direction that should be reverted. The only legitimate way to frame science is to make it accurate enough so that it can appear on the Reference Frame. ;-)

There are many examples of this undesirable dynamics: whole fields of science have become heavily politicized: oversimplified political labels became more important than detailed and fair analyses. While climate change and, to some extent, bioengineering are the two most prominent examples, some people have actually tried to politicize even fields that are as unpolitical as you can get, such as quantum gravity and high-energy physics.

Certain people are indeed "framing" their account to fool the least educated audiences and they try to make the fate of otherwise extremely technical and specialized scientific questions depend on cheap emotional and irrational clichés, naive philosophical preconceptions, prevailing political streams of segments of the society, fundamentalist oversimplified interpretations of notions such as empiricism or diversity, fear, and compassion.

Most laymen, indeed, don't care whether the metric tensor is the only degree of freedom at the Planck scale but they care about the impact of various scientific controversies on their life and on their moral system. The critics of science - which includes both creationists as well as e.g. the recent critics of high-energy physics - have thus been "framing" the "public discussion" in such a way that the social feelings and emotions become primary and the technical questions become secondary or irrelevant.

Al Gore is trying hard to transform climate science from a science to a moral issue.

OK, I am from the old school in which political, ideological, and emotional arguments based on values shared by groups of people simply don't belong to science. They are impurities in science and the people whose goal is to spread these impurities are, indirectly, impurities themselves.

Their attitude is all wrong. If the society is going to avoid a serious setback that would lead our civilization back to the Middle Ages, scientists must fight against this tendency that Mooney and Nisbet actively promote. Scientists must actively say that Mooney and Nisbet are polluting science by undesirable political elements. Whenever they're active, scientists must try as much as they can to teach the public to think scientifically and rationally, at least about scientifically loaded issues.

It is very clear that the average laymen have always been thinking less scientifically than the scientists. They are still doing so and they will think less scientifically than the scientists in the future: this fact is true by definition - I mean the definition of a scientist. But I think it is clear in what direction the amount of scientific flavor in their approach should evolve in the optimistic scenario: it should increase.

Mooney and Nisbet propose that scientists should, on the contrary, adopt the mostly ideological and superficial approach to the truth. Scientists themselves should speak in such a way that politics is ahead of science and ahead of its technical questions in particular, they argue. Answers should be pre-determined by core values and assumptions, they claim. This is an extremely pernicious proposal.

It may be an attractive idea for certain political activists to politicize science because most scientists are leftists and Mooney in particular likes the idea that science will become another slave in the sometimes unholy political struggles of the Left: Mooney is the author of the "Republican War on Science."

The very title of the book is a textbook example of politicization of science. Of course, Mooney can always argue, just like Lee Smolin, that the title is just a collection of typos introduced by the publisher. ;-)

You might think that a dishonest presentation of the scientific results may help you or help the world. But I assure everyone that at a slightly longer time frame, the effects of such policies - if they became official and justifiable attitudes by the societal standards - would be very counterproductive for mankind regardless of the political identification.

I urge everyone to denounce their toxic proposals.

Stem cell research: morality vs science

Eric Berger (SciGuy) has written a thoughtful reply to Mooney's and Nisbet's suggestions. In a discussion with your humble correspondent, he reminded me that parts of science such as stem cell research depend on the public perception. I replied:

Dear Eric,

thanks for your reply. I agree that the expansion of the stem cell research and other activities depends on the public opinion. Moreover, I think that it is correct that it depends on the public opinion.

Why? It is because I think that the question whether it is right to clone embryos and do other things with them is indeed a moral question - one that can't be settled by science. Just like the public opinion and "core values and assumptions" shouldn't have the power to control what answers scientists find in their search for the scientific truth, the opinions of scientists shouldn't have the power to determine what is moral and what is immoral - questions that are beyond the ability of science to answer.

Now, I would of course agree that the approach of some people to bioengineering is based on sentiments that a scientist probably views as unscientific myths. But the people have the right to have these sentiments and in democracy, they have the right to use them to influence policies even without any need to prove their knowledge of biology.

One more thing: as cold scientists, we could perhaps calculate and imagine what would happen if we had policies that e.g. kill weak and sick children. From a scientific viewpoint, there's nothing impossible about these scenarios and we could think about them. But we are also humans, not just scientists, and I choose these policies to be unacceptable to consider. Other people's tolerance may be lower and they find stem cell research to be too much already. I am sometimes not sure myself. They have the right for these sentiments, don't they?

The way to improve the situation is to try to educate and spread the truth as it is. If some arguments are difficult, scientists should try to explain that the explanation is difficult and people should learn how to become more immune against cheap propaganda. The quality of the public debate should increase, not decrease. If science can't determine the answers to some questions, scientists should admit that they can't determine the answers. Everyone should learn that scientists don't necessarily have answers to all questions and scientists shouldn't feel any pressure to pretend otherwise.

People should be led to appreciate wisdom and knowledge and the atmosphere in the society should be such that the people who understand certain questions naturally enjoy a high degree of respect whenever these questions are considered.

There will always be people who decide about many scientific questions by following superficial criteria. We won't change that simply because some questions will always be too difficult for a majority and many people will always have other interests than the scientific truth. Allowing incorrect and inaccurate information to become powerful may be helpful in one particular situation but in the next one, we can pay a very high price for it. It is a flawed and unscientific long-term strategy.

I wrote that people who misunderstand some technicalities will always be around. But hopefully, there will also be people who look for answers by the scientific method, following the usual scientific standards and values, including the extreme desire for accuracy and fairness. Let's not allow Mr. Mooney and Mr. Nisbet to change this fact.

Sean Carroll has also reacted to the proposals.

Carbon dioxide & 800-year lag behind temperature

How alarmists think

As we have explained in 2006, Vostok ice core records show that the carbon dioxide concentration averaged over a few centuries has been correlated with temperature at least for half a million of years. However, we know for sure that the temperature was the cause and the CO2 concentration was its consequence, not the other way around. It follows that the greenhouse effect hasn't been important in the last half a million of years.

There are many ways to see it. The 800-year lag is the most popular one, it has been featured in the Global Warming Swindle (especially in this two-minute-long segment), and we will discuss it below. However, there are other ways to see that the influence of temperature on the concentration of gases has been more important than any influence in the opposite direction. For example, the ice core records show that the concentration of methane was correlated with temperature, too. If the CO2 concentration were the primary cause, we would have no explanation why the CH4 concentration was also correlated. In fact, CO2 and CH4 play the very same role in the ice core records. If some combination of them determined the temperature, we would still have no explanation why these two concentrations were correlated with one another.

Moreover, easy reasoning can be used to show that the ability of oceans to store gases decreases with increasing temperature and this effect is clearly much stronger than the greenhouse effect.

The 800-year lag

LIGO: nothing

LIGO sets new upper bounds and reports that it is very likely (90+ percent confidence level) that there are less than 5 bursts per month of a certain kind - counted using the frequentist paradigm - that they could measure: preprint.