Friday, February 29, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Study: AGW propaganda creates skeptics

A Texas A&M University study by Kellstedt et al. (PDF)
seems to show that the more a person knows about climate change, the less he or she thinks that it is a concern and the less he or she feels personally responsible.
Yahoo news
In other words, the skeptics are educated while the warmers are ignorant, if you allow me to be excessively polite for a while.

Also, the more a person trusts the scientists, the less personally responsible for the hypothetical global warming threat he or she feels.

If we summarize all the sign results (page 121 in the PDF file above), the U.S. people who tend to worry are (slightly) anomalously more likely to be white, male, uneducated, poor, old, non-religious, Republican (!), conservative (!), fans of new ecological values (a very strong correlation, of course), uninformed about global warming, failing to trust the media (!), distrusting experts, unconfident in science (a rather strong effect!).

Many of the correlations seem to be too weak to be significant but the result that the people who have confidence in science are less likely to be concerned about "global warming" seems rather robust.

Explanation?

In some sense, I find the main result kind of unsurprising, especially for those who know what does it mean for an evolutionary advantage to be "credible". Alternatively, the highly repetitive propaganda is only influencing those who have problems to notice, remember, and understand it for the first time they hear it and they I think that they end up in the uninformed category.

Thursday, February 28, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Some geography: Statetris

A helpful exercise not only for future wars among the respectable readers of TRF:

Statetris - Europe
Statetris - USA
Traveler IQ challenge

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stephen Hawking and Ed Witten try to compete with new Einsteins...

... but it's very tough. ;-) Although a famous scientist from New Jersey informed me about a new and cool article in the

Discover magazine
in advance, I completely exploded in laughter when I actually saw it. It is explosive. The picture below says it all:



This is just hilarious! In this list of New Einsteins, Stephen Hawking (2) and Edward Witten (6) have a very hard time to compete with the true geniuses, namely a surfer dude (1), a critic of Newton's law of gravity (3), a double Einstein with somewhat perturbed dispersion relations (4), and the ex-girlfriend (erratum: former spouse) of the author of the hitparade (5) who has also helped him to model particles as octopi swimming in a foam. The author of the hitparade, Lee Smolin, is "too modest to admit" that he is the Einstein number (7). Indeed, they are the ultimate "iconoclasts" as the magazine explains. ;-)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Global warming: 1958 edition



I don't even have to accuse Al Gore of plagiarism. It is enough if you watch an excerpt from Frank Capra's movie "The Unchained Goddess" above. :-)

It is a part of the "Bell Telephone Science Films" series, intended to make baby boomers go to sciences.

Well, the plagiarism by Al Gore is not the only one here. The Gaia hypothesis, named after an unchained Greek Goddess personifying the Earth, was formulated by James Lovelock in the 1960s so he could have been "inspired" by the 1958 movie, too.

What is the difference between this fifty-years-and-two-weeks-old movie and "An Inconvenient Truth"? Well, there is not much difference in the content. Perhaps, "The Unchained Goddess" has flooded the whole Mississippi valley while Al Gore has only flooded Florida after the scene in either movie where the ice caps melt. ;-)

Endangered species: U.S. travel visa for Czechs

Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek is visiting the U.S. and he has signed something that should have been signed a long time ago.



Bush and Topolánek, a somewhat older and funny picture.

The old EU members have been allowed to travel to the U.S. without the classical travel visa - an obnoxious, time-consuming, and rather expensive piece of paperwork - for quite some time. The Czech Republic and others could not even though the Americans have been, of course, welcome to Czechia without any visa for decades. Countries such as the Czech Republic usually had too high a rejection rate, well above the 3% threshold, which was the technical reason why they couldn't enter the no-visa club.

According to a new U.S.-Czech agreement about the mutual understanding, the condition could be waived and the classical travel visa could be abolished as early as in September 2008. So you should wonder what did the U.S. get for such generosity. They got the access to some biometric and biographic data and the right to have security units on aircraft. And surely enough, a more friendly attitude to the U.S. radar is expected, too.

If it works out, it would be great. I think that this is the old-fashioned kind of politics or diplomacy that I always prefer. Two countries trade certain services or friendly gestures that are good for both sides, if you add all the pluses and minuses. In such an approach, there is not too much mystery about the drivers of some new policy changes and there are no hidden and potentially controversial expectations that one side should be infinitely grateful to the other side or something like that. Good bills make good friends, or whatever is the English version of this proverb.

It has been shown by an independent audit that the Czech Republic has only used its competencies to negotiate this agreement as opposed to the policies that have been moved to Brussels. Nevertheless, the European Union has been trying to create problems for this individual Czech initiative for quite some time - and it may even continue to do so.

This story is another example how counter-productive and illogical the attempts to transfer these traditionally national decisions to the EU bureaucratic headquarters are. The old EU members have been allowed to visit the U.S. without visa for many years and if the EU were really promoting some kind of unity of its member countries, it would have negotiated the same Western rules for the other EU members, too. Or it would at least have made some progress towards this goal.

Well, the EU failed to do so which is why the Czech politicians began their own separate negotiation - a strategy that others can clearly try to reproduce: it is a model for visa reform. In this context, the European Union tries to undermine the attempts of its member country to make the rights of the EU citizens somewhat more uniform, while the EU cites the dreams about a unified foreign EU policy as a justification. Isn't it kind of paradoxical?

Whatever is their logic, I hope and guess that it will be getting increasingly obvious that even if the EU wanted some members to be treated as second-class members, the Czech Republic is simply no longer in this club.

And that's the memo.

F-theory GUTs

Today, if you're an expert, I would almost certainly recommend you the first hep-th paper by

Beasley, Heckman, Vafa
about grand unified models constructed out of F-theory. The paper only has 125 pages but you shouldn't be disappointed because it is just the first part. ;-)

In this setup, the features of particle physics are "geometrized" in terms of eight-real-dimensional manifolds as completely as it gets.

They study (complex) codimension one and two singularities and what they mean for the gauge groups, matter generations, and Yukawa couplings. Not surprisingly, given the name of the most senior author, they try to transform the analysis to a topological string theory case as much as possible.

But it is much more likely that their calculations of the number of generations etc. are correct than it was for some previous papers about the same topic that we discussed in 2007.

The second part of the paper is discussed here:
F-theory and experiments

Monday, February 25, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

NPR talks to Serbian students

NPR (audio)

has just aired a relatively decent program that presents what has, bizarrely enough, become "the other side" of the conflict so that at least some of the Americans who listen to NPR or read the Reference Frame can learn some basic facts.

The host asks Andrej Komnenovic and Tamara Pavasovic about the role of Kosovo for the Serbian history and psychology, problems related to the co-existence of nations in the region, and about their visions for the future.



Tamara Pavasovic, a Harvard sociology graduate student, with Boris Tadic, the president of Serbia.

In my opinion, the young people (and Obrad Kesic on the phone) do a great job and it might be pretty difficult for the host to get an equally educated, cultivated, and fair representative of the Albanian side; an example that appears in the show offers something else instead of detailed historical, legal, and psychological analyses: he says "Hooray, now I have a country." ;-)

Nevertheless, you can see some of the deeply irrational attitudes of the host who tries to find capital letters in a somewhat angry - but otherwise completely relevant and well-informed - e-mail and deduce that all Serbs are evil. She sees a lot of bigotry in the e-mail; I don't see much of it. Instead, I see a lot of inspiring things that the stupid P.C. woman should try to learn from. Also, I can show you much worse things written by the Albanians - and there would exist even worse things to offer if those worse people knew how to write.

An introduction to the climate change debate

CEP conference: Low climate sensitivity and other inconvenient truths (click)

Oscar: Markéta Irglová & Glen Hansard, "Once"



Markéta Irglová became the first Czech female Oscar winner, together with Glen Hansard, for their song "Falling Slowly" from "Once", a movie about struggling musicians, in the category of movie songs. See their thanks at the ceremony.

Victorious February: 60th anniversary

Exactly 60 years ago, on February 25th, 1948, the communists took over Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovak coup d'état of 1948 (Wikipedia)
Communists were never negligible in Czechoslovakia, since their creation in 1921, but after the World War II, they had a real momentum. Although Czechoslovakia managed to become one of the last "undecided" countries of the Central and Eastern Europe, as the Soviets thought themselves, the internal situation was much more favorable for the rise of communism than the situation in other countries that adopted communism at about the same time.

There were hundreds of Soviet agents in our country but I don't think that they have played an important role; their ability to convince the social democratic party to co-operate with the communists might have been an exception but it wasn't such a key event. After everything was settled, the Soviet communist party has criticized their Czechoslovak comrades that their victory wasn't sufficiently bloody. But what were the conditions that have made the coup possible - and, in fact, easy?

Sunday, February 24, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hillary vs Obama: healthcare

Barack Obama is ahead of Hillary Clinton and as Bill Maher says, the most likely presidential race will be YouTube vs Feeding Tube because John McCain is likely to be the GOP nominee.



Obama as a Somali Elder by Sheikh Hassan, left, in Kenya (2006).

I don't see any inevitability here, however. Hillary needs to get about 800 more delegates and Obama needs 700 extra delegates or something like that. I think that the probabilities that it will go in either direction are comparable.

There are two aspects of their recent battle about the healthcare policy: issues about the policies themselves and the questions about the honesty and integrity with which the positions are presented.

Healthcare: policy

I think that the universal healthcare is a bad idea and if a nation knows how to live without it, it is good for the nation. Throughout my life in the U.S., the health care insurance was kind of useless for me. It has sucked a lot of money, added paperwork, and whether it could be used in particular contexts always depended on extremely complicated and unreliable rules. No doubt, it would have been much better from all points of view - financial, psychological, etc. - if I were allowed not to pay it and pay for health care directly. Of course, all these things are more transparent for U.S. citizens but not completely transparent.

Saturday, February 23, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

LHC alarmists

When LHC was getting started on September 10th, 2008, there was an embedded Sky News Live video here.
After some time, I was led to web pages of the LHC alarmists again:
LHC defense
LHC concerns
The most catastrophic man-made phenomena that they are afraid of - and that might be caused by the new accelerator at Franco-Swiss CERN, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - are microscopic black hole production, gigantic strangelets, and the tunneling into another vacuum in the landscape. These things may create a growing volume whose interior is incompatible with life and they may destroy our planet: the LHC is therefore irresponsible, they say.



Just like the alarmists of all kinds, these people are using a very contrived - and in this particular case, extremely contrived - combination of common sense, emotional, obsolete scientific, and cutting-edge scientific arguments that are connected exactly in the "right" way to justify the conclusions that they determined at the very beginning. The similarity with other forms of religion is obvious.
Update: Some comments about the recent lawsuit and the plaintiffs
If they followed one of the approaches - common sense; phenomenology; classical physics; cutting-edge theoretical physics - consistently, they would know that it is extremely unlikely that there exists any threat. Without a loss of generality, let us talk about the microscopic black holes.

Anthropogenic global blackholing

The hypothetical threat discussed below is that the LHC produces a small black hole that will grow and eat the whole planet, after some time. Is it possible?



In the world of movies, it is. ;-) But what about the real world?

According to classical general relativity, one may create a black hole if he squeezes a sufficient amount of mass (=energy, as special relativity implies) into a small enough region. One can see that if we assume that there are always 3+1 dimensions only, as most people still do, it is technologically impossible to get enough mass in the form of elementary particles to create a black hole.
See a preprint by Koch et al. that rules out the black hole threats at the LHC, too...
The elementary particles are simply too light, even if they are accelerated to high energies. Even if you wanted to create a black hole that it as small as the Planck length, about 10^{-35} meters, you would need to concentrate the Planck energy, 10^{19} GeV or so, into one or two particles. The LHC with its 10^{4} GeV clearly can't do it. The elementary particles themselves have a "size" and you can't squeeze them into too small volumes anyway, certainly not the Planck length.

Friday, February 22, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Men, women, and the Internet

Sean Carroll and the New York Times look at the gender gap in the context of computer science in general and the Internet in particular.

It seems that we are looking at pretty much the same numbers. Nevertheless, the conclusion that the likes of Sean Carroll arrive at seems somewhat incompatible with a fully healthy brain.

The Internet as we know it has only been around for 15 years or so. Everyone started from zero. There have been no historical differences that would systematically lead men and women to do different things with the Internet. Most people use the Internet when they are alone and they can really do whatever they want (and can). The maximum harm that biased parents and other people can do is to discourage one sex from computers in general: but such a hypothetical pressure couldn't influence the internal composition of the activities on the Internet.

Nevertheless, multiple studies have demonstrated that men and women use the Internet very differently. Even coherent and (mostly) friendly multi-sexual communities like ours demonstrate a measurable difference between the interests of men and women.

If you want a more scientific example, two years ago, Pew Internet and American Life published their report:

Men are from Google, women are from Yahoo
Men prefer the functionality of the Internet: the net is an office, a library, a playground. Women use the Internet as a tool for communication. They use the e-mail much more than men do (also negatively: only 6% of women, but 12% of online men, don't use e-mail) and they also participate in the online social networks more frequently than men do.

Men have a noticeably higher variation in the interests, a usual feature of men as an ensemble, and use the Internet for many reasons - news, politics, sports, do-it-yourself, software, music downloading, rating of products, online learning. Note that there was nothing here about "nurturing relationships." ;-)

So the data that Sean Carroll refers to are just another massive confirmation of the indisputable and biologically rooted cognitive differences between the sexes, pointing to the very same type of correlation that we have known from other contexts before the Internet became important: women are socially oriented while men are technically and functionally oriented.

And what about Sean's statement that women shouldn't be doing anything that is related to computers? That's really silly: a typical straw man. The information technologies, operating systems, and essential software and services have simply been simplified - mostly by boys and men - sufficiently so that everyone, men and women, can use it for whatever activity they find attractive and important. Those technologies that haven't been simplified - such as Linux - remain overwhelmingly male. It can't be otherwise.

We have been hearing bizarre conspiracy theories about the oppression and discrimination - and the underlying equivalence - of men and women for decades. Billions of dollars have been invested into various programs to attract girls to computer science. And the result? Of course, the percentage of women in computer science continues to drop:

Wiki: Women and IT
Wiki: Decline of women in CS in Canada
Boston Globe: Gender gap in CS growing
The percentage was decreasing in the last decade and the percentage also decreases as one moves towards more selective levels of computer science education and the industry.

It should be expected that the percentage of women in certain very technically oriented portions of the information technology will continue to decrease because things and their functional relationships are becoming increasingly complex and more standard deviations above the average are needed than ever before: and men have an edge here. The people who expect the women to catch up with men in Linux or drivers or XML standards are living in a virtual reality.

The attempts to make this composition 50:50 is a typical example of a cargo cult science. Superficially, they are trying to pretend that they follow the scientific method. However, something must be wrong because the airplanes don't land and the women are not closing the gender gap in computer science. What's missing? Well, they don't eliminate hypotheses that have already been disproven, something that is arguably important for the scientific method.

Freedom, democracy, and human rights are about equal opportunities. But equal opportunities do not imply equal outcomes, for dozens of objective (and subjective) reasons. Some people still dream about a 50:50 composition in technical fields etc. Dreaming is OK. However, the same people tend to waste a lot of money and accuse others from crimes and nastiness just because the 50:50 distribution is not respected in reality. But this fact is not a fault of particular people; it is a "fault" of the laws of Nature.

Please don't try to dictate Nature how She should behave especially because She is female and such a dictate is thus a form of sexism. ;-)

And that's the memo.

Bonus (Asymptotia)

Clifford Johnson just published a feminist cartoon. Well, both teachers at the picture are pretty much right, either accurately or statistically. But a third teacher who would say that all the boys (or boys relatively to girls) suck in math would be wrong because men have have discovered or invented 95+ percent of mathematics known to our civilization.

Moreover, I think that the two pictures, when studied more carefully, make it clear that this theory simply cannot explain a lack of women in CS or mathematics: the pictures falsify the explanation involving discrimination only. If a person who can't integrate x-squared is told that he or she sucks in mathematics, it has virtually the same - stimulating or discouraging - effects as if he or she is told that his or her gender sucks in math. How could there be a substantial difference here?

If a hypothetical talented person gets discouraged by such comments, both of them will have the same impact on the individual person. It doesn't really matter what the rest of a randomly selected community (other women and girls) do. The important thing for the student is whether he or she himself or herself can do the integrals. From this viewpoint, the information contains on both pictures is identical. He or she cannot.

You can't do it because you are a girl? Because you are an Albanian? Because you are the dumbest among your siblings? Because you have had a brain injury? Who cares? The result for you is the same. All of the justifications matter and neither of them is absolute.

And frankly speaking, I agree that the math skills of someone who integrates x-squared as pi simply suck! ;-) Whether such people are discouraged from mathematics immediately or later cannot have any substantial impact on the gender composition of the world of mathematics (or computer science). Moreover, the true heroes of exact sciences usually didn't give much room to others to tell them that their abilities sucked.

I am convinced that Clifford and others would be capable to analyze this system properly if they wanted and see that their hypothesis doesn't hold much water. However, they don't want to do it. Dogmas are more important than the truth.

Thursday, February 21, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

500,000: Kosovo is Serbia

Time magazine estimates the number of the participants of the today's "Kosovo is Serbia" rally in Belgrade to be around 500,000 (some others as 150,000-200,000), probably the greatest Serbian rally ever, surpassing anti-Miloševič democratic rallies in 2000. The number of people who are upset and who were able to gather on a single place is more than 1/4 of those who are supposed to be happier because of the "new country" that some people try to create.

It is unfortunate but not too surprising that a few hundreds of more passionate participants chose a more radical path and tried to burn the U.S. embassy. Well, 15% of the territory is equivalent to tens of thousands of such buildings so whether one such particular building is damaged is probably not one of the most relevant things right now. And those who would suggest that they didn't expect that there would be such attacks in reaction to the recognition of the secession seem to lack the sense of political reality and empathy which makes them rather inappropriate people for international politics.

Oil from coal

China will open a chemical plant to produce oil from coal:

The Guardian
Recall that the oil:coal price ratio has increased by a factor of six or more during the last decade. It is very clear that such things should certainly be pursued even though I guess that the environmentalists might prefer a shining example of Haiti and Somalia.

Thank you, I prefer up to 6 °C of warming.
Coool pictures: A waterfall or, more precisely, an ice-doesn't-fall-because-it-is frozen, and three more recent freezing pictures...
The article indirectly indicates that the oil produced in this way could cost as little as USD 40 per barrel or less. That's pretty good now when the oil price is above USD 100, 25% above the USD 80 price first reached in September 2007.

Missile defense probably destroys a hostile spy satellite

An interceptor designed for missile defense was ordered to be launched by Robert Gates personally and used to hit a dying U.S. spy satellite:

The New York Times
Most likely, the dangerous fuel tank with 1,000 pounds of hydrazine (N2H4, derived from NH3 but similar to H2O) has been ruptured. We will know today. Don't pick the debris.



If true, and even if not quite true, it shows how real and useful the technology behind the missile defense system can be, even for peaceful purposes - in this case, it is useful to protect the U.S. spying know-how against wise guys elsewhere.

I think it is a good idea for the U.S. or the democratic world to build such a system. At the same moment, it is also clear that some countries that are effectively weakened by such a system may feel a kind of dissatisfaction.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

HadCRUT3: Jan 2008 coldest since Feb 1994

Just a small curiosity. January 2008 was the coldest month since January 2000 following RSS MSU and the coldest month since May 1995 according to GISS. So it is clear that I can't overlook a new winner in our hitparade. ;-)

The new numbers from

HadCRUT3: HTML, data, graph
identify January 2008 as the coolest month since February 1994: 166 previous months had a higher anomaly than +0.037 °C measured in January 2008.

If the temperatures drop by additional 0.16 °C which can't be ruled out, the record breaking will extend to 1984 or 1985. But January 2008 was, anomaly-wise, already as cool as the average month of the 1980s. In this sense, you may start to say that 20 years of warming have been undone. Once you get to the 1970s, which is just a small step, you will automatically get to the 1940s because there was no warming between the 1940s and the 1970s. In a few months, most of the 20th century warming - and virtually all of warming that can be sanely attributed to the industry - may be simply gone.

Nature is capable to do such things in an elegant way - without paying tens of trillions of dollars, without introducing a new totalitarian ideology, without scaring children, without elevating stomachs in the movie theaters, and without awarding a Nobel peace prize to an annoying, fat, and power-thirsty crank.

Nature rules. And cools. It is simply cool. And yes, that's a rule.

How to disprove spoon bending



The video above is wrong, as you will see below. :-) The video is an example of situations where you should discard observations done by a nervous Colombian skeptic pretending to be a charlatan and insist on your theory or more precisely a theory of others, QED.

After some time, Sean Carroll wrote an article that I enjoyed and that I completely subscribe to. His aim is to explain that the limits of science don't mean that it is reasonable to expect the discovery of new phenomena such as telekinesis.

He begins by explaining several principles of science:

  • Science never proves anything rigorously. Instead, it is constructing a framework that allows us to say that certain things are very plausible while others are less plausible or almost implausible. For example, it allowed Feynman to say that it is much more likely for UFOs to be explained by the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial beings rather than by any unknown rational efforts of extraterrestrial beings. ;-)
  • Every good theory not only describes some phenomena but it also descibes the range of its validity. It tells us what special things we have to do in order to "take it to the limits" where the theory may break down. Inside the mantinels, it is very implausible that we don't understand what's going on.
  • A theory can't be universally proven to be right but it can in principle be proven wrong but such a falsification is only conceivable outside the limits where the theory hasn't yet been tested. As Feynman said, we can never be sure that we are right; we can only be sure when we are wrong.

Concerning telekinesis, the scientific strategy to (almost) prove that it is impossible is based on the following steps:

Sunday, February 17, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Problems with the independence of Kosovo



Kosovo has unilaterally declared independence from Serbia. Some people outside Kosovo celebrate the decision. I think that this reaction is irresponsible.

A millenium ago, Kosovo was a part of the Serbian state. Slavs used to live there. Of course, the Slavs had moved to their favorite regions just a few centuries earlier and there has been a lot of traffic in Europe 1000-1500 years ago. But there exist both historical as well as modern reasons to consider the territory to be a part of the Serbian domain of influence. Some people call it the cultural heartland of Serbia.



The Patriarchate of Peć in Kosovo where Serbian Orthodox Patriarchs are officially inthroned. Should this 13th century heritage site belong to the Albanians, too? How did it exactly happen? And is it OK to point out that Kosovo authorities have unfortunately begun to falsify the history?

Later, there has also been a lot of influence from the Turks, Islam, and Albanians who currently represent over 90% of the population (2+ million) of Kosovo. Places with this kind of complicated history are always sources of tension and - in some cases - wars. I believe that the best working strategy in similar cases is to try to preserve the status quo as much as possible and to convince both (or all) sides that such a new beginning is acceptable. Compensations shouldn't be about a complete control over a territory.

Saturday, February 16, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Klaus: fifth candidate speech

Distinguished chairmen, dear women senators and woman deputies, dear senators and deputies, dear members of the government,

please allow me to begin by thanking to those of you who have voted for me a week ago and to thank to all those who were struggling to preserve the dignity of the presidential election. It has a value for its own sake.

I consider it to be a really strange privilege but this is already my fifth candidate speech. I have checked that no one else has faced this task or opportunity or honor since the creation of our modern state.

It might be a symptom of a missing indisputable presidential authority in our country. However, it might also be a result of a very strong polarization and un-cooperativeness of our political life and the presidential election might be just the proverbial tip of an iceberg that is far too visible. Just like some of the glaciers that have been melting on Earth since 1850 (not just recently), let us hope that this iceberg will melt, too. It is my desire. I believe that the whole Czech public wants the same thing.

In order to avoid misunderstandings - when we already talk about glaciers - I don't dream about a quiet, nearly invisible melting of the extraordinary recent era of authentic political freedom and democracy and the associated and perhaps likely risk of tight results of elections that lead to complicated processes of creation of coalitions. But I wish the presidential election to be truly decent. The generous dose of demagogy, untruths, insults, and other ugly things that the last week brought us can't easily be erased from the consciousness of the citizens of our country. My desire is for the participants of the election to be able to look into the eyes of their colleagues once the procedure ends. This desire unfortunately wasn't fulfilled after Friday and Saturday last week.

A week ago, I tried to overview my work in the role of the president of the republic, offer my experience and life-long love for our country and I asked you to support my candidacy. I won't repeat the same arguments today.

In April, I am scheduled to be the main speaker during a memorial meeting near the grave of American President Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois that takes place every year during the anniversary of his death. With this motivation in mind, I have studied various texts he has written and found his 1865 Second Inaugural Address, i.e. the speech he gave before his second term began. Let me quote a brief excerpt from the introduction:

"At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented."
I have a very similar feeling today.

A week ago, some of you have described me as a man with extreme or marginal opinions or a man of yesterday. I must add a few crucial comments about it that you may have not heard from me yet.

Dear electors,

if you long for a tomorrow where your free decisions are monitored and where everyone who offers his or her own opinion is being intimidated, then I am certainly a man of yesterday. If you feel well in the atmosphere of hostility, conflict, slanders, and humiliation, I can't be your candidate because throughout my political career, I was a champion of a fair political competition and the search for consensus and I have always rejected crudeness and insults.

If you don't want to care about thousands of years of traditions of our civilization, its Christian values, the accent on a classical family and every human life, don't vote for me because I do respect these values. If you want a future created out of fashionable waves when it is forbidden to smoke but when drugs are tolerated, when marriage will become a dying institution and city halls will only see pairs who want to register their partnership, when old and sick people will be mercifully liberated from their lives, when authorities will tell us what we should eat, drink, and how we should talk, then it is not my plan. It is not my vision about the future.

Dear electors,

if you dream about a future in which the Czech Republic shouldn't protect its interests but it should rather succumb to the orders of officials of one kind of international institutions or another, then I am a man of yesterday, too. If you consider the Czech crown, our currency, to be such an anachronism that we must get rid of it as soon as possible, choose one of the remaining candidates because I want to support our currency as long as it is going to be beneficial for the citizens of the Czech Republic. If you want to live in the future in which policies are adopted without any solid arguments to skittishly fight against a possible slight warming of our planet, policies that negatively influence both the poorest groups of our citizens as well as (especially) the poor countries of the third world, then yesterday is a better choice again.

I could continue and define myself in this negative way but I have been, I am, and I will fundamentally be an advocate of positive perspectives and attitudes to the world. I have dedicated the last two decades and most the effort of my life to our country. I have liked to do it and it was done because of my deepest conviction. Despite all difficulties, it has been an era in which our republic flourished. Not only its economy. The life expectancy has increased. The healthcare was improved. The air quality and the quality of water in rivers got hugely better. We have moved to a totally different position but it is sometimes easy to forget where we have been before.

I believe in the Czech Republic. I trust the people who live here. I like my country and I will continue to work actively here regardless of the outcome of the election today. But I will primarily fight for us to keep our freedom and national coherence. Five years ago, I quoted Alois Rašín, the first Czechoslovak finance minister, because it was his anniversary. Because he has an anniversary again, let me choose his quotation once more. Right before he died, he said the memorable words: "If all of us will hold to each other, we will hold our republic."

Let us choose this path. It is the only way for the Czech Republic to remain strong, independent, and a good place to live. If your thoughts are similar to mine, vote for me. Whether it will be a secret ballot or a public vote. The public vote would probably be - in the light of the recent experience - less contentious. If I am going to be elected by you, I am decided to maximally contribute to the restoration of confidence and the ability to co-operate on our political scene.

Thank you for your attention.

Václav Klaus, Spanish Hall, Prague Castle, February 15th, 2008

(Translation: LM)

Friday, February 15, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Václav Klaus smoothly re-elected

Today, the Czech Parliament performed its second presidential election and it was a success.

In the first round, Klaus received 141 votes. In the second round, he repeated it. In the third round, whoops, he did it again: a sign of his consistency, stability, and reliability. ;-) It was more votes than what was needed (140, more than 1/2 of 279 in the room). So Václav Klaus was re-elected the Czech president for five more years which is very good.



There were interesting talks and a much calmer atmosphere than during the first election last week. Mrs Jana Bobošíková gave an intriguing, although exceedingly socially oriented talk, too. It was enough for her and she gave up her candidacy before the voting began.

Klaus's speech (AFP) was especially good. He didn't avoid some controversial topics - post-democracy, political intimidation, euthanasia, legal drugs combined with illegal smoking etc. He said that if these things are supposed to be the rules of tomorrow, than he is a proud man of yesterday. ;-) He offered some quotes from Abraham Lincoln's re-election (Lincoln has also said that everyone had learned his positions on everything so new explanations were not needed) and calls for unity by Alois Rašín, the first Czechoslovak finance minister.

Thursday, February 14, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Anthony Watts on Solar Cycle 24



If you are ready for a popular account of solar physics and the recent silence, see:

Where have all the sunspots gone? (Click.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Robert Rines: Global warming killed the Loch Ness monster

Legendary Nessie hunter Robert Rines is giving up his search: the monster was killed by global warming.

Daily Record


The Czech intro to The Family Ness.

"The Scot has the skirts, the pipes, and the lake where a mysterious puzzle has been hiding for a long time... An evil monster is said to live there who resembles a dragon. Only Matthew and Pauline know how it looks like... In fact, there are several monsters over there, they are not evil at all, and certainly none of them is monstrous... Who would dislike the Famile Ness? And who wouldn't like to play with us? They're wonderful friends, aren't they?" :-)

A few years ago, this report about the scientific causes of the death of the monster would be a joke that only a tabloid could afford. Today it is a part of mainstream news.

Thanks to Marc Morano.

Bonus

If the monster is too mundane for you, Swedish geologists use a computer model to argue, in Science, that the shape of Earth's core is a cube! ;-) I would appreciate if someone finds and studies the paper and gives us a rational perspective on this information. It might have a substance but so far it is no coincidence that I grouped it together with this Loch Ness article. ;-)

Update: Another light topic: I just returned from ice-hockey. Our team, Lasselsberger Pilsen, was losing 0:4 against Windows Gottwaldov in the 53rd minute. Now, realizing that there are only 60 minutes, you would bet USD 100,000 that Pilsen can't win, wouldn't you? ;-) Well, we have won 5:4 (even though the last goal was in the 62th minute, so we only receive 2/3 of the points). If you need my account number to send me the money, let me know! :-)

Time travel: reality and myths

Recently, the media described a paper by

I. Volovich and I. Aref'eva
The paper argues that if the TeV models of low-energy gravity are correct and if they moreover allow some kind of exotic dark energy and a violation of the null energy condition, the wormhole and time machine production at the LHC have the same scaling laws for the cross sections, sizes, and energies as black hole production.

The authors know that it remains very unlikely that a macroscopic time machine could be created or constructed in a foreseeable future. I would certainly bet against such a science-fiction scenario, too. On the other hand, there are people on both extreme sides in this debate. Some people think that time machines are certainly a normal thing and it is just a matter of patience or money to create them. Others think that everything in science that remotely looks like a time machine is an unscientific metaphysical fairy-tale.

Both groups are wrong. There exist strong constraints that probably make many kinds of time machines impossible. At the same moment, there also exist constraints that make it difficult if not impossible to prohibit all exotic phenomena that are used in various constructions of time travel.

Arguments for and hopes: solutions to general relativity

Time machines look bizarre and no one would think about them seriously in the context of the flat spacetime as included in Newtonian physics. However, Einstein's general relativity has made spacetime flexible. Quite suddenly, pieces of spacetime could be glued together in new ways. One can think about wormholes, tubes behaving as shortcuts connecting distant places in space and perhaps time.

They have a long history. Kurt Gödel was the first person to discuss a spacetime in general relativity with closed time-like curves. His rotating Universe was so captivating that Einstein, being convinced that time machines are unacceptably crazy, started to doubt his own general relativity. In string theory, some Gödel-like solutions were shown to be T-dual (equivalent) to Penrose's pp-waves: search for "Hořava" below.

Other physicists have added their solutions later: van Stockum and Tipler; Kerr and Newman; Gott; Morris-Thorne; Ori.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bobo joins the presidential race as the communists' candidate

Even if you don't care about Czech politics, this message could be fun for you.



In 2003, she only wanted to be a director.

Mrs Jana Bobošíková, currently a right-wing independent deputy of the European Parliament and a former TV host, was just nominated as the third presidential candidate by the communist party for the election on Friday. ;-)

Bobo's YouTube channel
Bobo's website
The German band Rammstein has already created a videoclip "Sonne" (Here Comes the Sun) about Bobo's visit in the communist club.

Monday, February 11, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

GISS: January 2008 was the coldest month since May 1995

Recently we noticed that according to the satellite data, January 2008 was the coldest month since 2000.

However, NASA's GISS led by James Hansen offers us a more impressive figure extracted from the weather stations (land) and sea surface temperatures (ocean) - a methodology that normally leads to the fastest warming trend. According to

GISTEMP+dSST data (graph),
the global temperature anomaly in January 2008 was 0.12 °C, the coldest reading since May 1995 when it was 0.08 °C: Hansen's team hasn't seen a cooler month for more than 150 months, not even during the 1995-1996, 1998-2000, 2000-2001 La Ninas. Also, January 2008, the globally coldest January since 1989, was exactly 0.75 °C cooler than January 2007.
Update: The recent cooling according to HadCRUT3 seems even more unprecedented.
If we were fans of the alarm and extrapolated the latter trend, we would deal with 75 °C of global cooling per century. That could indeed be a catastrophe. ;-) If we extrapolated the 0.28 °C month-on-month cooling since December, the cooling would remove 336 °C per century, dropping below 0 Kelvins before 2100. :-) Entertainingly enough, January 2008 was also 0.27 °C (anomaly-wise) colder than June 1988 when Hansen gave his infamous testimony before the U.S. Congress, predicting a dangerous warming in the following 20 years.

No, I am not comparing apples and oranges here. January 2008 was also 0.39 °C colder than January 1988. Incidentally, NCDC shows January 2008 as the global lands' coldest January since January 1982.



Figure 1: Thames, London during the Dalton minimum (in 1814). Click to zoom in.

La Nina (now referred to as a "strong one") might be insufficient to explain the recent cool weather. An unusually quiet beginning of the solar cycle 24 might be another culprit. I won't really endorse the predictions of a new ice age but I find it obvious that the solar activity matters; see also sunspots and climate.

Joseph D'Aleo (a big shot meteorologist, pic) argues that the temperature is strongly correlated with the ENSO index (El Nino vs La Nina) but it lags by 2 months or so. With this assumption, we should expect the global cooling to continue in the following months. Also, he argues that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) that switched to the cold phase during this winter (the Great Pacific Climate Shift II?) shouldn't be included separately: its effect is to increase the proportion of El Ninos (warm PDO phase) or La Ninas (cool PDO phase).

Minnesotans: keep on dreaming about global warming (song).

Sunday, February 10, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Presidential elections

I would like to know your opinions about the ideal U.S. presidential candidates, insights into the candidates' strategies, and predictions what will happen. Now when Romney is out and Obama & McCain look strong, the situation simplifies a bit.

Update: Klaus re-elected a week later
When I was looking at the new 2007 state tax returns in Taxachussets with an extra page designed to steal money (the personal exemption) from the people who couldn't really afford (now mandatory) health insurance even though bureaucrats would dictate them that they could, I lost 30% of my confidence in Romney - who has started this mess - anyway. Making things overregulated and overly complicated by superficially left-wing populist policies that actually hurt the poor people and that take money from you according to random ad hoc rules is something I simply can't stand.

I used to like Fred Thompson because of his realist attitudes to the climate alarm and Ron Paul because of his pragmatic, libertarian approaches to the economy and budgets. On the other hand, I don't hide that Hillary Clinton would be acceptable for me - I probably support her much more than you think and I find the anti-Clinton hysteria of many GOP partisans irrational and detached from real issues - and Barack Obama wouldn't necessarily be a disaster either, except that this guy hasn't really achieved anything substantial in politics so far and it is likely that other people would be the de facto leaders.

Friday, February 08, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Biofuels produce a lot of CO2

I've been watching the Czech presidential elections the whole day - it has a chance to be completed tomorrow after 10 a.m. in which case I would definitely write a report. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile,

The New York Times
describes papers published in Science that reveal that the production of biofuels actually increases the human contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere, mostly due to the associated modification of the land.

This bizarre technology of biofuels is being largely promoted by the propaganda against CO2 as a gas - even though, much like all decent people in the world, I love my carbon dioxide - but it turns out that the sign of the argument has been wrong. Nevertheless, the biofuel policy leads to increasing food prices and inflation in many countries of the world. It helps to spread hunger from the poorest communities in the poorest countries to others.

I think that the charlatans and fraudsters who are responsible for these insane policies and who have benefitted from them at the same moment should pay some kind of compensations. The global warming hysteria is hopefully approaching its end. I feel that we should be slowly preparing for the days - perhaps as early as in 2008 - when the absurdity of the alarm and dishonesty of its champions is going to be appreciated by a majority of the society.

We should ask the following questions, among others: Have there been some events that can be considered illegal? Which people should pay for having dishonestly acquired huge resources and positions and what laws have they exactly violated? Which people have been damaged seriously enough to be compensated? A serious and rational discussion about these issues should begin soon.

I, for one, do think that the assets of the big fish like Al Gore should be confiscated and used for compensation of those who have been harrassed and cheated by the anti-greenhouse movement. But we must also know in advance where to stop.

Some of the immoral people of the alarm are also making other kinds of crime - for example, John Lefebvre (of the Lefebvre foundation) who pays a large fraction of the money to the ecoNazi website DeSmogBlog he co-founded is facing substantial prison time (20 years) after pleading guilty to federal money-laundering charges (he is released on a USD 5 million bail) - but even those who don't make other kinds of crime than earning by climate alarm should be looked at.

Thursday, February 07, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Aether compactification

One of the undesirable effects of the blogosphere is the self-promotion of dubious papers written by authors who are also bloggers. In the era of classical journalism, journalists were not perfect and they didn't ever understand science in depth but they were usually impartial. Or at least, they understood that they should have been. I think that blogging scientists simply shouldn't introduce this kind of bias and hype into the process of appraisal of scientific work. All responsible people should be cautious about this kind of a potentially flagrant conflict of interests.

Because I tend to believe that most TRF readers would agree with me and the statement of mine above is uncontroversial, let me focus on the technical aspects of one particular recent incident, namely the paper about

Aether compactification
by Sean Carroll and Heywood Tam that was promoted on the blog of one of the authors. They more or less explicitly argue that

  1. They have a new scenario how dimensions can be hidden
  2. The main task of extra-dimensional model builders is to break the rotational symmetry between the ordinary and hidden dimensions
  3. One can construct consistent physical theories by adding arbitrary Lagrange multipliers that impose arbitrary constraints
  4. One can see that in their picture, the masses of scalars, fermions, and gauge fields scale with different powers of a new parameter
  5. The "aether" theory solves any puzzles of current physics or offers any attractive features
  6. The "aether" theory can follow from a consistent theory of quantum gravity as a classical limit

All these statements, assumptions, and beliefs and incorrect, as we will show in detail.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Windows Vista Service Pack 1 released


Official Microsoft information about Vista SP1
On Monday, Microsoft released the final version of the Service Pack 1 to manufacturing ("RTM'd it"). It seems likely that build is identical to the latest Release Candidate 2 Refresh, build number
6001.18000.080118-1840.
Why? Well, and this sentence is an update, it was confirmed by a Microsoft spokeswoman! The old explanation follows... Because The Reference Frame allows you to download
the automated installation kit (AIK) as a DVD image (iso, 1.2 GB)
directly from Microsoft (so far only for English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish versions of Vista, but the image also contains Windows Server 2008). It has the same build number as the RC 2 Refresh. For readers who get here by searching the Internet,
6001.18000.080126-2040
is a build number of a fake build originating somewhere from China (only in English and one of the Chinese dialects).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The Arctic cooling since 500 AD

In this weekly dose of peer-reviewed skeptical literature about the climate, we look into Climate Dynamics.

Håkan Grudd
applies somewhat esoteric statistical methods to data extracted from Northern Swedish trees (in Torneträsk) to conclude that the late 20th century wasn't exceptionally warm.



The decades around 750, 1000, 1400, 1750 AD were comparably warm and the whole bi-centennial period around 1000 AD was clearly warmer than the late 20th century: at the 95% confidence level. See also
World Climate Report

Free fermionic heterotic models

Cleaver, Faraggi, Manno, Timirgaziu argue that they have found a free fermionic heterotic model with a Bose-Fermi degeneracy at the classical level (and thus a vanishing one-loop cosmological constant) that nevertheless breaks supersymmetry perturbatively because they seem to be able to show that one can't simultaneously solve the D-flatness and F-flatness conditions at any finite order in the string coupling.

It looks as a step to solve the cosmological constant problem...

Their result is interesting and different from the field-theoretical intuition but it would be even more interesting if they could show that the cosmological constant also vanishes to higher orders - whatever is necessary to make it tiny enough to agree with the observations.

In other words, it would be even more interesting if they had some evidence that the cosmological constant might be smaller than the value expected from the field-theoretical dimensional analysis, namely than the superpartner splitting mass scale to the fourth.

Free fermionic models

However, I want to say a few general things about the free fermionic heterotic models. Fifteen years ago, slightly before the duality revolution in string theory was getting started, I didn't pay much attention to it. Several times a week, I went to the Karlov computer lab that already had the Internet connectivity to read new papers on the arXiv. Incidentally, Karlov is not far from the place where Einstein was working while in Prague. But once again, duality papers were not my main focus. In fact, I only started to systematically learn the dualities - and to be impressed by them - when I was attracted to Matrix theory at the end of 1996.



The Karlov church, a few meters from the department of maths and physics where I had the Internet access since late 1992

During the years 1993-1995, string phenomenology was a clear winner for me and I was impatiently looking for new papers about the heterotic phenomenology.

Normally we think about the heterotic vacua in terms of a ten-dimensional heterotic string theory compactified on a six-dimensional manifold. However, you may choose a non-geometric, free fermionic approach to these compactifications. Whenever a vacuum can be generated in both ways, the two descriptions may be shown to be exactly equivalent. So we are clearly talking about the same theory even though it might be easier to study some vacua in one picture or another.

The fields on the worldsheet

What are the degrees of freedom of a heterotic string? Let us talk in terms of the light-cone gauge degrees of freedom which is useful because all excitations of the strings are physical and we don't have to investigate who is a ghost. The left-moving portion of the heterotic string is inherited from the bosonic string and it has D-2=24 bosons in the light-cone gauge.

The right-moving portion of the heterotic string is inherited from the ten-dimensional type I/II superstring and it has D-2=8 bosons and 8 fermions (either Green-Schwarz or Ramond-Neveu-Schwarz) in the light cone gauge. Keep D-2=2 bosons on each side - corresponding to the transverse part of the four spacetime dimensions that we normally observe - and transform all remaining degrees of freedom into fermions, knowing that one boson is equivalent to two fermions.

In the left-moving sector, you will have 2x22=44 fermions while in the right-moving sector, you will have 2x6+8=20 fermions. In total, there are 64 real chiral fermions living on the worldsheet. They can play different roles and you must impose the proper generalized GSO conditions and include all the sectors where some fields are periodic and others are antiperiodic (or have a different phase as the monodromy).

The GSO projections and sectors

The overall GSO projection must always be there, for modular invariance, but to get semi-realistic four-dimensional vacua, you also include some other projections that give rise to sectors where some groups are periodic and others are antiperiodic. When you choose a certain set of GSO projection operators, the so-called NAHE set - named after Nanopoulos, Antoniadis, Hagelin, Ellis - you will naturally end up with three-generation models similar to supersymmetric grand unified theories.

NAHE means "pretty" in Hebrew while NAHÉ means "naked" in Czech and the characters who invented this gadget are very interesting. For example, John Hagelin became a U.S. presidential candidate representing the spiritual interests of Maharishi Mahesh-Yogi.

Incidentally, right after the Velvet Revolution, when all kinds of world views gained the freedom to penetrate into the former socialist country, disciples of Mahesh-Yogi came to our high school to teach us how to meditate and they talked not only about various bizarre Eastern religious things that I didn't pay too much attention to but also about a unified field theory of everything. It sounded highly conceivable and despite being a canonical scientific skeptic, I wasn't quite sure whether I should have believed them at least for several days. ;-) Today, I think that everything that was so impressively adjusted to influence me was invented by John Hagelin. It can't be that hard for such a bright person to influence a receptive science fan from a high school.

Independently of these bizarre religious things, believe me that the NAHE paper is an extremely serious, high-quality paper that belongs to the best papers about the phenomenology beyond the Standard Model that we have even today, in 2008. The number of generations - three - occurs kind of naturally in this framework, much like the grand unified group (or its Standard Model subgroup) plus the correct representations for the fermions.

If you don't like extra dimensions, this model is the closest thing to a unified model of quantum gravity and particle physics you can have. In the free-fermionic setup, the conditions for the critical dimension are rephrased in such a way that string theory predicts the right value of a certain combination of the number of generations and the rank of the gauge group.

Top-quark mass

If you care about predictions, the free fermionic models were used by Faraggi to predict the top quark mass as 175-180 GeV back in 1991, more than 3 years before the top quark was actually discovered. His calculation was later shown to be inaccurate and the particular model he used should have given about 190 GeV. Moreover, there could have been other ways to guess that the top quark mass was near 175 GeV. But try to honestly evaluate the papers that were predicting a top quark mass before the particle was observed. I think you will agree that the string-theoretical framework naturally leads one close to the correct values, to say the least.

Stringy compactifications

The free fermionic models are sometimes equivalent to compactifications at orbifolds whose radii are simple rational multiples of the self-dual radius under T-duality. They're the true string-size compactifications. Others don't have a well-known geometric dual. Nevertheless, I always found these compactifications natural and promising and I still do.

On the other hand, I would recommend to avoid any kind of simple vs complex bias. The people who are good geometers surely enjoy to study complicated multi-dimensional manifolds and believe that this knowledge will be necessary for the ultimate description of particle physics. Others might think that a theory of free fermions is somewhat easier than complicated manifolds that are not really needed because the simple, free theory can lead to the same observable phenomena in four dimensions while its toolkit is more economical.

Nature treats simple and hard as equal

I would think that Nature doesn't care about these biases. It is not difficult for Her to compute properties of multi-dimensional manifolds but She is also not afraid to deal with childish theories based on the free fermions. So we must leave it up to Her to decide. But I also think that string theory always seems to provide us with some kind of duality between the simple and the hard. When something is consistent but too hard, it will eventually be shown to have an easy dual description. This is a kind of belief that is supported by circumstantial evidence.

This duality, whenever it exists, is also a very specific reason why you should think that the complicated manifolds and the simpler choices of GSO projections are "equally big" and your prior probabilities for both of them should be comparable.

At any rate, we should study everything that looks promising, realistic, and passes non-trivial consistency checks. The free fermionic heterotic models almost certainly belong to this category.

And that's the memo.

RSS MSU: January 2008 was the coldest month since January 2000

We have reported that November 2007 and especially December 2007 were the coolest months since January 2000, according to the RSS MSU satellite records. Two weeks ago, however, we learned about an error in the RSS computation located by John Christy and Roy Spencer, their competitors from UAH MSU. Once the error is corrected, all months in 2007 warm up (on paper) by roughly 0.1 °C.

Update: GISS reported an even more dramatic temperature drop in January 2008
However, you can't stop Mother Nature (i.e. you can't stop climate change, if you wish). The cooling trend continued and January 2008 was even colder than December 2007, by 0.16 °C (anomaly-wise). Even with the correction taken into account, RSS MSU (graph) shows that January 2008 was the coldest month since January 2000 when we were enjoying the most recent, similar La Nina (the anomalies between 20°N and 20°S are similar in early 2000 and early 2008). The global temperature anomaly in January 2008 was -0.080 °C (thanks, Kate), meaning that the month was cooler than the average January on their record. Later, UAH MSU confirmed that it was cooler: -0.05 °C.

Monday, February 04, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pakistan Telecom hijacks YouTube IP address space

Posted on February 24th, 2008

There have been video cartoons at YouTube.com that didn't show a sufficient love for Allah. Consequently, Pakistan decided to ban YouTube.com in Pakistan. Because the irresponsible Pakistani citizens and infidels could try to open YouTube.com even outside Pakistan, the country decided to

block YouTube.com globally,
except for Larry's town. They hijacked the IP address space of YouTube.com so it didn't work in most of the world between 8 pm and 10 pm, Central European Time.

A BGP route announcement has redirected virtually all of YouTube.com traffic to Pakistan or nowhere. There have been confusing reports that the traffic has been sent to PCCW Telecom of Hong Kong. It was said that the NIC information about youtube.com was saying:
YOUTUBE.COM.ZZZZZ.GET.LAID
.AT.WWW.SWINGINGCOMMUNITY.COM
YOUTUBE.COM.MORE.INFO
.AT.WWW.BEYONDWHOIS.COM
YOUTUBE.COM.IS.N0T
.AS.1337.AS.WWW.GULLI.COM
YOUTUBE.COM
OK, fine, you might think it could have been a hacker unrelated to the Pakistani government, especially because of the sexy young woman at swingingcommunity.com and the "underground" comments at gulli.com. The beyondwhois.com website only contains a non-picture. But the author of the report misunderstood what he was looking for: he was looking for all NIC entries that contain youtube.com as a substring. The other URLs have nothing to do with youtube.com itself.

Think whatever you want about the exact culprit but if most of the Internet can be fooled in this way by a seemingly remote region at least for several hours, there is a bug in the whole design of the BGP architecture.

If you're affected by the Pakistani government - not by the hypothetical hackers whose impact was temporary - and you want YouTube.com to work again, the Pakistani government offers you a solution. Collect the IDs of all blasphemous videos at YouTube.com, especially those with the Danish cartoons and Benazir Bhutto's speeches, and demand their removal from the YouTube.com administrators. Also, lick the arse of Mr Allah (PBUH). Good luck. ;-)

The mixture of a 7th century religion and the 21st century technology can sometimes be explosive. :-)

La Niña becomes an episode

Weekly ENSO report (PDF, 36 pages)
La Niña is defined by cooler-then-usual temperatures of the equatorial Pacific (although it also brings many other effects to other parts of the world). The standard convention instructs you to measure the temperature anomaly in the ENSO 3.4 region, an equatorial rectangle near the middle of the Pacific (page 5/36). If the anomaly is -0.5 °C or even more negative, we deal with La Niña conditions (or regime).



But an official La Niña episode only occurs if the average temperature anomaly stays at or below -0.5 °C for five consecutive overlapping 3-month intervals. Because July-August-September 2007 was the first recent period of this kind when the anomaly was -0.5 °C (page 26/36), the more than sufficient -1.4 °C average anomaly in November-December-January 2007-08 guaranteed that we deal with a full-fledged La Niña episode.

The previous La Niña episode ended in March 2001. It is expected that La Niña will continue through Spring 2008 and many models indicate that it may last up to Summer 2008 (in Northern Hemisphere English). Even though the Pacific waters near Southern America seem to be warming up back to normal, a prominent NCEP CFS dynamical model (page 28/36) suggests that La Niña will probably last up to 2009.

Saturday, February 02, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Mootle: Energy Saving Search

After your 10th search, turn off the lamp in your bedroom and air-conditioning in the living room (it's winter!). After your 100th search, encourage your deputy to ban biofuel production.

After your 200th search, call Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio to use a commercial aircraft instead of private jets. After your 500th search, attend a rally to support nuclear energy.

After your 1000th search, give a proper thrashing to your neighbor who wants to shut down a power plant because of global warming.








This search engine reduces food prices and saves energy unlike blackle.com that wastes even more energy, especially when combined with LCD displays. Also, this search engine is cheaper than Yahoo.com by more than USD 44 billion.

(c) Mootle Inc 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Heartland Institute vs RealClimate

The Heartland Institute
organizes a climate conference in March that is, unlike the conferences that you usually hear about in the media, open to climate skeptics and experts regardless of their political opinions or overall sentiments about the relationship between Nature and the human civilization.

The organizers have sent invitations to many kinds of climate experts, including some of the well-known champions of the climate alarm. These invitations have provoked
a hysterical reaction of RealClimate.ORG.
The profoundly concerned scientists describe all the scientists who will attend - before they actually know who they are - as being corrupt by the "evil" oil industry, not being scientists at all, as people being paid concrete amounts of money to fabricate papers and talks, and so on. Their talks are described as "tobacco science". RealClimate.ORG even recommends their readers conspiracy theories from two hardcore smear ecoNazi websites, ExxonSecrets.ORG and SourceWatch.ORG, that preemptively throw mud at very concrete people who might (or might not) attend.

What about the remaining 450 scientists at the updated Inhofe's list? Are the environmentalist whackos fast enough to create a similar Goebbelsian web page about every scientist who says the obvious, namely that the dangerous global warming orthodoxy is a hoax? Do they actually believe that they can eliminate the opposition as completely and effectively as NSDAP did without actually having police and other arms under its control?

The RealClimate "group" explains that the participants are not scientists at all - before they actually know who is attending - and they encourage the participants to skip the talks and enjoy a nice hotel in New York instead. They wouldn't hear any science at all, so it is important that the participants can't hear the talks...

Their smear job is so blatant, hateful, and inconsistent with any kind of a reasonable, balanced, open-minded, or scientific analysis of a question that I can't really believe that there exist people who are intelligent enough to learn how to read but moronic enough to be influenced by this incredibly cheap propagandistic porn.

Motivation behind conferences

The Heartland Institute conference is clearly not designed as a cutting edge conference that is expected to lead to some revolutionary scientific results. No truly groundbreaking discoveries have been made in climate science for many decades and it is unlikely that some of them will occur in a foreseeable future. Climate is just too messy and there are too many moderately important small insights about it. On the other hand, there are scientists - such as Richard Lindzen, Roy Spencer, Henrik Svensmark, and numerous others - who understand the climate much better than most people, including many active participants of the "climate debate", and who have a lot of things to teach others.

The real problem here is a political one - there exist powerful forces that don't want other people to learn what is actually known about the climate, not even some of the basic results and numbers. There exist organizations and their ad hoc unions that prefer constant lies to be promoted by the media and myths to thrive among ordinary people.

They have certain reasons to make people believe that the temperature of the second millenium looked like a hockey stick - even five years after the papers were shown to be bunk and their main author a crackpot in statistics. They want everyone to believe that the carbon dioxide was driving temperature during the ice ages and interglacials - many years after it became absolutely clear that the causal relation behind the correlation goes in the opposite direction.

They want everyone to believe that small changes of the temperature can exterminate polar bears and other species even though the actual scientific evidence shows that it can't, that the Solar activity doesn't have any impact on the terrestrial climate even though there is extensive evidence that it does, that small warming creates catastrophic hurricanes even though all links of this type have been shown erroneous. They want everyone to believe that there is a scientific consensus about this scientific discipline and this consensus can settle the debate and justify arbitrarily oversimplified conclusions - even though there is clearly no consensus and even if there existed one, it wouldn't mean anything and it would certainly not justify any oversimplification.

Indeed, the official goal of the organizers of the conference is a political one - to inform the world about the real state of affairs, namely that many qualified experts who have carefully thought about these questions simply disagree with the global warming orthodoxy. Individual participants may have purer (or, on the contrary, more material) reasons to attend. At all conferences, it is always like that, to one extent or another, and the "group" is simply not saying the truth if they pretend that pure scientific curiosity is behind all of their conferences. But I think that it is good that the Heartland organizers honestly state what is their goal because the goal of analogous alarmist conferences is also political (while many of their attendees have material reasons to attend) but this fact is being routinely obscured.

There is another difference that RealClimate.ORG points out: that the preferred speakers are recommended by the organizers or sponsors while it is usually a scientific committee that does it at "ordinary" conferences. Unlike RealClimate.ORG, I am not so sure which of these two arrangements is superior.

I have learnt a great deal about the work in committees - most of them were impotent, constantly stuck bodies composed of people driven by their extremely narrow-minded personal interests and desire to look politically correct and coincide with whatever opinion is felt to be dominant according to the wind that is just blowing right now. Whenever the question was whether an adjacent discipline would be allowed an extra funding or job, the dominant argument was always the pockets of the participants. 90% of the arguments offered at certain committees' meetings were driven either by material interests of participants or the creation of their fake "nice" image.

Yes, with these memories in mind, I would probably prefer a semi-informed CEO of ExxonMobil to make the choice but I am not sure whether he or she is actually the person who will do it. ;-) In fact, I doubt it.

At any rate, I recommend all big shots and medium shots ;-) regardless of their position within the environmentally political spectrum to attend, learn a lot, and teach others - climate realists and climate alarmists alike - a lot.

George Wing & Poincaré recurrences

Sean Carroll has received the following mail from a kid:

I don't know if you exist but I do! I do not agree with your article and I do not believe that "Mumbo Jumbo" if you do... Well! It's a disturbing thought but I know how to deal with it! I will not let the world disappear under my nose but if you do, I can't say I’m sorry!

Sincerely

a ten-year-old who knows a little more than some people!
George Wing

P.S.: Some people have a little too much time.
Grammar has been corrected for the sake of clarity.

Now, George's arguments are somewhat less complete and less rigorous than what I would like :-) but he is, of course, right. The predictions by Sean Carroll and others for Boltzmann's brains and reincarnation in otherwise ordinary cosmologies are totally preposterous. In this text, we will look at the nature and correct interpretation of Poincaré recurrences.

Disturbing implications of a cosmological constant?

We may choose the 2002 paper by Dyson, Kleban, Susskind to be my main target. The readers of this blog must know that I immensely admire Lenny Susskind and I also proportionately admire his younger colleagues. ;-) But I have always viewed this paper (and dozens of similar papers) to be a joke and I still look at them in the same way.

But you may want to know: how big a joke it is? It is a big joke, indeed. It has collected 114 citations in less than 6 years. Not bad for a joke.

The content of the paper

They argue in the following way. A positive cosmological constant has been observed. It's so horrifying! It means that we effectively live in an excited de Sitter space. Now, one causal patch of it arguably contains all the degrees of freedom of such a space. The degrees of freedom in other regions are neither independent nor commuting, by the complementarity principle. That means that a de Sitter space literally behaves as a finite entropy system. Events repeat in a de Sitter space much like they repeat in the box.

Dog solves the travelling salesman problem

The travelling salesman problem is classified as NP-hard and it is one of the most notorious problems in the class.

The task is to find the cheapest closed path connecting n=74 balloons, with well-defined costs for the transfer between any two pairs of balloons, and exact your revenge on them. (The tasks where the balloons explode and where they don't are equivalent.)

See P vs NP and NP-completeness
It's not easy because the solution space is 1/2 (n-1)! = 1/2 times 73! and it is widely believed that no algorithm that would only take time proportional to a power of n=74 can exist.



However a dog called Prof Simon, not to be confused with Jim Simons, has solved the problem for n=74 in t=47 seconds. Congratulations. ;-)