Thursday, April 30, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

NYU about Hořava-Lifshitz gravity

Keith Chen (click) wrote a rather illuminating story about the fate of Hořava-Lifshitz gravity (click and read this text first!) at the NYU.

Journal clubs are apparently alive and well over there. I think that they're important for the health of science as seen from a broader scientific community's viewpoint. I found the "[postdoc] journal club" to be one of the most satisfactory formats for creative scientific confrontation. All ideas and criticisms by sensible and quasi-sensible people can be raised. They can be debunked, too.

Andrei Gruzinov, a professor of theoretical astrophysics, wanted this paper (or these papers) to be analyzed - because of those "cool properties" that have been said about it (including its being a theory of quantum gravity and a replacement for inflation), mostly in dozens of Asian preprints. Andrei Gruzinov asked Matt Kleban to present the paper in the journal club.

Their analysis focused on the question whether the heavily nonrelativistic "z=3" theory in the ultraviolet can flow to the relativistic "z=1" theory in the infrared. See also a later article,

Can Hořava gravity flow to Einstein gravity?
Massimo Porrati gave some arguments why it was not possible. Incidentally, although he hadn't read the whole paper(s), Porrati claimed that if the paper were right, he would switch his field to swine flu. ;-) At the end, the previously excited people considered the attempt to be a failed one and they have lost interest in it.

French germophobia rejected: so far

Nikola Tesla, Michael Jackson, and Cameron Diaz are among the most famous people who have suffered from germophobia.



The French nation has just collectively joined the group. Yes, it is a very paradoxical decision. ;-) We are talking about the same French nation that has invented (or re-invented, following Kamasutra) exercises such as one on the picture above. When I was in Paris a year ago, I had to kiss 38 women a day in average. :-)

Nevertheless, France has asked the EU to suspend flights between Mexico and the whole EU. Wow. The Czech EU presidency and European Commission thankfully rejected these calls. That's good news because the French minister of health, Ms Roselyne Bachelot, despite being a doctor of pharmacy, is demonstrably an epidemiological crackpot.

By the way, a crew of Air France managed to impose the ban on their aircraft: these striking sissies have simply rejected to fly to Mexico. ;-)

But let's return to the big picture.


One simply can't quite isolate Europe away from Central America. Some "essential flights" would have to occur, anyway. Moreover, the swine flu virus has already spread to Europe, too. It is impossible to effectively determine who is infected because many infected people don't exhibit any symptoms. As Sheldon Cooper (who is a germaphobe himself) correctly emphasized in The Big Bang Theory, if the symptoms had always accompanied the disease, the disease would have already died a long time ago.

Most importantly, it seems very likely that non-Hispanic people are pretty much unaffected by the virus. All casualties, including one on the U.S. territory, have been (genetically) Mexicans. We can speculate whether this special sensitivity of the Mexicans is purely genetic in origin or whether it is affected by their reduced immunity due to their less luxurious lifestyle or polluted environment: my guess is the former.


If you think that the main reason is the habit of Mexicans not to visit conventional doctors, choose either "culture and lifestyle" if you think that the reason behind their behavior is psychological or "poverty" if it is economic. People who agree with Orson that the reason is that the Mexicans are not vaccinated against similar flus, unlike the Yankees, choose "reduced immunity due to poverty". But I assure you that other, richer nations are not obsessed with flu vaccines, either.




But trying to isolate our continent from a country that is as important as Mexico would be far too expensive. An influenza virus managed to mutate and it is destined to kill a few more people. The virus deserves it for its achievements. The idea that we can and we should save absolutely everyone, whatever it costs, is a proof of germophobia by itself.

We must simply deal with it. So far, the disease is far less important for the public health (and even for the number of people who die) than ordinary flu. It may stay so. Anti-viral drugs may be effective and a vaccine may be found, too. At any rate, attempts to isolate whole countries could only delay the propagation of the virus by a few weeks - while the costs would be huge.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

North Pole: ice 100% thicker than expected

Radio Bremen (in German), April 28th, 2009
... (automatic translation to English)


Surprising results

In Canada, "Polar 5", a research aircraft (see 27 hi-res pictures), has ended its recent Arctic expedition today. During the flight, scientists were measuring the ice thickness in regions that have never been overflown before. The result: the sea ice is apparently thicker than the scientists had suspected.

Under normal conditions, the ice is formed within two years and ends up being slightly above 2 meters of thickness. "Here, the thickness was as high as four meters," said the spokesperson for the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven. According to the scientists, this conclusion seems to contradict the warming of the ocean water.



Besides the thickness of ice, the expedition has also investigated the composition of the air. Lasers were used to study the air pollution by emissions from various countries. Within weeks, the results will be evaluated. About 20 scientists from the U.S., Canada, Italy, and Germany participated in the project.

[Well, I guess that you won't hear about this experiment from the journalistic suidae. LM]

Translation from German: LM

The Vegas Renormalization

Episode 2x21 of The Big Bang Theory:

Watch it at Supernova Tube (click)
Abstract: the hormonal system of the loop quantum gravity bitch, Leslie Winkle, collapses again - so she dumps poor Howard. ;-)

Las Vegas is the chosen place for him to get rid of the divergent and other loops and to get renormalized. Meanwhile, Sheldon's nearly realistic dreams about solitude are destroyed by a missing key: Penny's horny dreams get more realistic instead. :-)



Click to zoom in. See the previous speedometer anniversary.

While Penny has to undergo an annoying interrogation about sex and emotions by Sheldon, Leonard and Rajesh buy a Jewish girlfriend experience for Howard. :-) Howard is able to determine that she is a prostitute - and he thanks his friends. Sheldon receives Penny's bed for a night, without her, but with her brand new singing of Soft Kitty.

I am often afraid that the producers have overshot Sheldon's asexuality, bringing it to irreversible dimensions. But once again, everything is possible on TV screens.

F-theory bottom-up uprising: CP3 blowups



The F-theory phenomenological minirevolution is going on. Joseph Marsano, Natalia Saulina, and Sakura Schafer-Nameki (Caltech) wrote a 55-page paper called

F-theory compactifications for supersymmetric GUTs (PDF)
that constructs very explicit Calabi-Yau four-folds that produce SU(5) grand unified theories if used as backgrounds for F-theory.

As the final picture for the base manifold, including the diamond E' in the middle, indicates, they obtain the space by a sequence of blowups and flops, starting from CP3. Recall that CP3 is a toric geometry with a simplex as its toric diagram: you find it in the paper, too. Many of the world's best geometers below 40 were helping them to understand the manifolds.

In my opinion, the complex projective space is the most natural starting point for local constructions because among complex geometries, it is the simplest compact approximation of the flat space. However, a couple of operations have to be performed for the consistency conditions to be obeyed.

Monday, April 27, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Media: swine flu beats global warming

According to Google News, there are 24,000 articles in the last 30 days that talk about swine flu, surpassing 24,000 articles about global warming. One day later, swine flu articles doubled to 50,000+.



Warning: this cartoon is irrational because you can't get infected by eating pork.

Swine flu makes some sense as a threat. It is actually killing people and pandemics have occurred many times. However, empty threats have been frequent, too. Bird flu has arguably been an overhyped threat, too: only 257 out of 421 infected people were defeated by avian flu. What do you think about the number of people who will be killed by swine flu by the end of 2009?


Also, see another poll why the flu only kills Mexicans - in the article French germophobia rejected.

Herbert Kroemer & innovation

A 78-minute 2005 UCSB lecture by Herbert Kroemer, the German American 2000 Nobel prize winner in physics (for semiconductor heterostructures), has been recommended by his proud disciple ;-), namely Gene.



Aside from some cute details about the history of transistors, CDs, LCD, LEDs, and the evolving appraisal of the importance of related phenomena, he said lots of important general things that I fully subscribe to, for example

  • the key applications of a discovery create completely new things and possibilities, so it is wrong to judge new discoveries according to their ability to solve the old problems only and to supersede existing gadgets
  • in other words, more generally, in the most valuable research (and the most valuable parts of the learning process), the results (and applications) are not known to start with
  • the methodology allowing one to learn the necessary stuff and independently solve problems is more important than individual pieces of knowledge
  • the key physical ideas and methods are usually contained in a simplified model which should therefore be naturally understood first, instead of attempting to solve the most general problem at the very beginning
  • it is completely sane that the business world tries to pay for research influencing a finite future and the business world shouldn't be attacked for behaving rationally
  • however, the researchers must still be given the freedom to investigate questions that are important according to the pure scientific criteria of the research itself
  • an expert cannot care much about the fame of other people who offer their opinions on some research, its value, and the answers - he must be able to judge these opinions according to their content.

Insightful D-branes

I believe that the best hep-th paper today is the last one,

Insightful D-branes (PDF)
by Gary Horowitz, Albion Lawrence, and Eva Silverstein. The authors decided to say something new about the fate of information near the black hole horizons.

In order to do so, they had to find an appropriate model of a black hole with many descriptions. So they picked an orbifold of AdS5 x S5 with the orbifold group identifying points at some hyperbolic purely space-like slice of the past light cone of a point in AdS5 x S5.

Much like for the four-dimensional Schwarzschild and other black holes, one can use Schwarzschild-like coordinates that don't see inside the horizon; these coordinates are often natural in unitary descriptions where quantum mechanics is respected. And one can also use other coordinates that do see beneath the horizon; such descriptions take classical general relativity seriously. Many of the black hole paradoxes can be reduced to the mysterious relationship between these two types of a description.

Because they want to study how physics changes at different radial distances from the singularity, they use spherical D3-brane probes - the same kind of spherical D3-brane shells whose collapse could have created the black hole in the first place. In the dual AdS/CFT description, their position is given by the six adjoint scalars.

They investigate the dynamics of these scalars i.e. these D3-branes. In some approximation, they're governed by DBI-like actions. And the eigenvalues of these positions themselves are primarily affected by the inverted harmonic oscillator potential. For different energies, starting from the very low energies that are well below zero (well below the maximum of the potential), this degree of freedom can either
  • (A) classically bounce; the bulk sees D3-branes that never reach any horizons; they also think that naked singularities are removed by some repulson-like dynamics
  • (B) bounce with large quantum corrections; the bulk image includes time-like singularities cloaked by outer and (unstable) inner horizons
  • (C) reach the origin of the configuration space; the bulk theory interprets it as the space-like singularity
This is a nice and simple map that links qualitatively different causal diagrams with different types of motion in the system that is as easy as the inverted harmonic oscillator. Great. That's the kind of a true insight that is important in physics: a classification of difficult things is correlated with a classification of simpler things.

The pictures where the horizon is crossed or not crossed are related by time-dependent field redefinitions for the Yang-Mills scalars. These words may sound satisfactory to someone but I simply don't see how these words actually solve any of the problems. There are still two possible pictures: in one of them, the probe never gets inside; in the other picture, it does.

These two pictures differ by the amount of information that can live in space. According to black hole complementarity, the information about the black hole interior should not be independent. It seems that the authors think that they have confirmed this principle but the details how this occurs are not clear to me.

After all, a field redefinition is a trivial operation. But on both sides, one should have some consistent rules about the boundary conditions, normalization conditions, and domains where the scalars (and time) are allowed to take their values. Most importantly, how many "places" on the D3-branes (where excitations can live) are there?

The two pictures, with the black hole interior and without the black hole interior, seem to have different answers to all these questions. And so far I don't see how the different answers are being reconciled by the paper. They say that in the Schwarzschild coordinates, the infalling D-branes are slowing down and the corresponding adjoint scalar fields become heavily fluctuating.

Well, it is almost certainly the case. But if they believe that they have a well-defined, essentially integrable system to analyze the situation, shouldn't it be possible to say some details about this transition? How do these large quantum fluctuations look like and how do they imply - via the field redefinition - the mostly "empty space" seen by the infalling observer and/or the nearly thermal radiation leaving the black hole? How is the information about the black hole interior (and the black hole entropy) really stored in these highly fluctuating degrees of freedom?

My feeling of confusion is not being helped by Figure 4, either. They reproduce the topologically trivial "Penrose diagram" of a black hole by Ashtekar and Bojowald, featuring a blob called "nongeometric region" but no horizon. The moral purpose of this picture is to say that in quantum gravity, there are no strict causality rules. Indeed, that must be the case because the information can get out. So all "black hole interiors" are just artifacts of the classical approximation and don't exist at the quantum level.

That's almost surely the case. But is there something more about the picture that should be taken seriously? What does it mean to draw a geometric picture (namely a Penrose diagram) of a nongeometric region? Isn't it obviously impossible? Where is the boundary of the nongeometric region? Is it near the singularity, near the horizon, or is the whole spacetime slightly nongeometric - with the "effect" and "degree of nongeometricity" decreasing as we are going away from the singularity? If these questions can't be answered, I think it is misleading to draw any new Penrose diagrams. Penrose diagrams are meant to tell us something the classical causal structure of a geometry. If the latter doesn't exist, Penrose diagrams shouldn't exist, either.

Although the situation was probably nicely chosen to allow them to do a relatively complete analysis, I don't feel that this analysis has been quite made so far. The term "field redefinition" seems to be a vacuous buzzword. As a physical operation, it seems to lack the beef (although it may look complicated if the Yang-Mills symmetry is being gauge-fixed differently on both sides) and it seems that the basic questions - e.g. whether the degrees of freedom inside and outside in some slices (that see inside) exist independently at the same moment - have not yet been answered here.

There is one more way to explain why I feel that the gap hasn't quite been removed. There are essentially two basic descriptions. One of them is that of classical GR; it includes the black hole interior as an independent piece of space; nothing special happens near the horizon; the information gets lost. The other naturally talks about the black hole exterior only; it is manifestly unitary and quantum-mechanics-friendly; but it doesn't see anything beneath the horizon.

The basic gap is in between these two descriptions. It is clear that the classical GR description is only correct in the classical limit; while the second, pure quantum description a priori fails to imply the correct limit with the empty and seemingly independent black hole interior. From a solution to those black hole puzzles, I expect the authors to have a picture that satisfies the quantum principles - including unitarity and complementarity; but also can be used to derive all the features of the classical physics of GR; and tell us something beyond that, too.

That's why I am probably going to continue to think about these matters because they have not been fully resolved by these toy models.

Saturday, April 25, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Birth of oil: geology, temperature, CO2



The left-wing blogosphere tries to humiliate Rep Barton and climate change at geological timescales. I am stunned by the extremely low quality of the discussion at most blogs. They essentially try to picture Rep Barton as a Young Earth creationist - there is no justification for such a description here - and they ignore his question completely.

Dr Chu failed to give a particularly quantitative answer to Rep Barton; see Steve McIntyre's article dedicated to the same observation.

So let us ask again: Why is there oil in Alaska? Where did all the biological material come from? It turns out that continental drift was comparably important for the elevated temperatures needed to create oil as the global mean temperature. In this sense, Chu and Barton were comparably close to the truth, despite the emotional indications of many superficial blogs.



Late Jurassic, about 150 million years ago, when the world's largest oil fields were born. The continental drift has substantially changed the arrangement of continents since that time.

Here are the periods of the Phanerozoic eon, together with the fashionable life forms, temperatures, CO2 concentrations, and places where petroleum or coal was being born. Recall that the current global mean temperature is about 14 °C and the CO2 concentration, including the human contributions as of 2009, equals 385 ppm. You will see that the temperature used to be noticably higher and the CO2 concentrations used to be substantially higher. All the data are taken from Wikipedia.

Friday, April 24, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The Droste Effect



Click the image for a whole article at the Wolfram blog, with many additional conformal transformations of this picture.

The Droste Effect (the term comes from Dutch) involves images within larger images that are similar to the original ones. However, conformal mapping may be used to generate more fascinating images. For example, can you tell which girl on the picture is real and which girl is a level-n image? Well, "n" is continuous in this case. See also a movie. ;-)

It's too late now but it could be fun to play with similar algorithms a little bit later.

By the way, Wolfram Alpha will be presented on Tuesday 3:00 pm at the Harvard Law School.

Polish NAS joined climate skeptics

It took us two months to learn that the Committee for Geological Sciences of the Polish National Academy of Sciences has joined the climate realists. In their February 2009 statement,

Translation published by Benny Peiser
Original Polish statement (PDF)
they enumerate dozens of examples of natural processes that have been changing the climate from the birth of our planet, at all time scales, locally and globally.

It explains why the recent changes were small in comparison with the historical evolution and why the most recent measurements do not offer us enough data to validate complex models. The scholars agree that the greenhouse effect is real and identify water vapor as the key greenhouse gas. They emphasize that the climate must be studied in its entirety, including the geological context, and the focus must shift away from CO2.

Dark gulping: dark matter black holes

Anthony Watts wrote about the fraudsters associated with the Catlin Arctic Survey who are selling catastrophic measurements by Pen Hadow et al. before these measurements are actually measured. ;-)



GRS 1915+105 is almost certainly stellar in origin, despite its being the largest stellar black hole in the Milky Way that we know: there is also another star orbiting it, too.

But I have also noticed the screenshot of a Yahoo page where the problematic ad appeared. It is about dark gulping.

See Google News, Yahoo/Space.com, Softpedia, MSNBC,
claiming that superlarge black hole holes - with billions of solar masses (such as those found at large galactic centers) were created by a collapse of dark matter.

Thursday, April 23, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Victor Stenger: Quantum Gods

Amanda Gefter reviews Victor Stenger's new book in Nude Socialist. The book, "Quantum Gods" (click to buy), looks at several religious directions that are mostly based on the following two memes about quantum mechanics:

  1. Because of the uncertainty principle, there is a lot of room for God to control the world, without contradicting the laws of physics.
  2. The mind and the Universe are linked via quantum mechanics.
Gefter's article indicates that he correctly - from a physics viewpoint - says that the first verse is incorrect because the quantum outcomes have to be truly random, unaffected by any data from the past light cone (and probably not even by God's master plan, although this no-go theorem may be harder to prove than the free-will theorem haha).

The second religious principle is incorrect because quantum mechanics applies equally to all systems in the world, "conscious" and "unconscious" ones (these two physically differ by their ability to manipulate with the information only!), and the only relevant difference that separates "objects following the quantum logic" and "objects within the realm of classical intuition" is based on the speed of decoherence.

The book correctly says - in my opinion - that the main message of EPR-like phenomena is that one has to give up determinism and realism, not "locality" (even claiming that most physicists agree with it - a statement that I am sometimes uncertain about), and it offers counter-arguments against the Bohmian school, too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Waiting for N heads in a row

David Berenstein offered us the following:

Problem

You toss a coin and you win if you get N heads in a row. What is the average number of throws for a win?

General answer

The average number of throws is actually
2N+1 - 2.
For example, for N=3 heads in a row, you need 16-2=14 throws while for N=5 heads in a row, you need 64-2=62 throws to get five heads in a row. The numbers 2, 6, 14, 30, 62, and maybe 126 also appear as dimensions in the Kervaire invariant problem in mathematics.

A somewhat elegant derivation (LM)

Imagine that you throw the coin L times where L goes to infinity.

Any sequence of N consecutive throws clearly has the probability of "1/2^N" of being "N heads in a row". For a fixed and large "L", let's count the number of throws "M" that are the last throws completing a short sequence of "N heads in a row". Clearly, there are "L times the probability" i.e. "M = L/2^N" of such throws for a very large "L". All the throws are always independent from each other.

Earth Day



Our Earth has her day today. Congratulations. I wish her to get rid of the green shackles soon.

If that happens, we won't have to travel 20 light years to find another planet where life is legal. ;-)

You may help her to get liberated, too. Shoot your environmentalist today!

After 45 days, there is a new official sun spot displayed on the surface of our star. The spotless streak has been amazingly long, anyway.

Pen Hadow et al. are making almost no progress in their planned journey to the North Pole. The global sea ice area remains substantially above the average for April 22nd.

The transition to ENSO-neutral conditions is pretty much completed. While some circulation patterns reflect a weak La Nina, the Nino 1+2 region indicates a substantially positive El Nino anomaly +0.8 °C; the remaining regions are essentially at zero.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Michael Atiyah: 80th birthday

Sir Michael Atiyah, one of the most influential 20th century mathematicians, is celebrating his 80th birthday tomorrow. Congratulations!

See The Herald to learn about the Atiyah Fest...
Although he has been a mathematician, his results - especially those in algebraic topology - have become essential in modern theoretical physics in general and string theory in particular.

The most well-known result is the Atiyah-Singer String Index Theorem, proved in 1963. It is often called simply the "Atiyah-Singer Index Theorem" although this short name doesn't quite reflect the depth of the result - i.e. its proximity to the most fundamental mathematical features of our string-theoretical Universe.

Sir Atiyah has also co-authored a famous paper with Ed Witten on M-theory on manifolds of G_2 holonomy, one of the cute 100-page papers that I couldn't have resisted to read, and a related, shorter, and comparably famous paper with Maldacena and Vafa about the M-theoretical counterpart of Calabi-Yau flop transitions.

His work on K-theory turned out to be important in the physics of D-branes. The ADHM construction, of which he is the alphabetically first co-author, was able to understand how D0-branes dissolve within D4-branes and how to describe the space of instanton solutions in an alternative way - long before this trick was needed or understood by the physicists. Consequently, many of his findings may be viewed as prophesies that became physics long after Atiyah saw their importance.

Marbles (Kuličky): a film

Pilsen is just hosting the 22nd Festival of Czech films. The Czech movie Marbles (Kuličky) became another part of my week in the cinemas - and it was extremely good.

See the trailer (Czech)
Warning: spoilers are included below

Its director, Ms Olga Dabrowská, has connected four stories by one unifying theme: the natural ability of women to manipulate with men. The first story takes place among children who play on the playground; the actors in the last story are above 80 and the exploitation of the man by his wife doesn't even end with his death.

The first story, The Wedding, is very short. Children play a "wedding game". As soon as a boy becomes a "husband", he is prevented by his new "wife" from joining others who search for a treasure.

We get to the world of teenagers (around 14) in the second story, Mom's Little Angel. We meet a girl who controls a boy whom she likes by telling him that she has cancer. However, the main hero of the story - and another example of subtle blackmailing - is another girl (Tereza Nvotová) who hates her mother's new intimate relationship with a man. The daughter decides to have sex with him, too. By bringing him into this impossibly painful situation, she probably manages to terminate his relationship with her mother.

The third story, A Moral Imperative, is about adults. An ugly Christian woman who lives in a stable family background brings her attractive and adventurous blonde classmate from the high school to a Christian weekend in the countryside. The blonde's own main goal is to pick a man and she finds the Catholic priest himself (Jiří Vyorálek) to be the most eligible one. At the end, she makes him break the celibate by an interaction that both people find satisfactory - an event that is uncovered by the other believers.

Friday, April 17, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

44th Academia Film Olomouc 2009



If this trailer has just automatically appeared, that's because it was pre-programmed and I am probably on my way to Olomouc, the spiritual center of Moravia, to supplement one of the TV programs - that you probably know very well, that you may see in the trailer above, and that is going to be aired on AFO 2009 - with a spoken (and PowerPoint) presentation. ;-)

If you think that some of the programs are not quite new, it's because not every annual festival in Olomouc is devoted to fundamental physics.

Sorry for the absence...

Sunday update

I can't review everything that has taken place - because it was a lot of stuff. By the way, Olomouc is a beautiful historical city with lots of churches and an anomalously low number of tourists. I took about 200 pictures, too.

There have been documentaries such as Most of the Universe is Missing (BBC) which was followed by a talk by Prof Kulhánek about dark (and visible) matter and dark energy, and The Elegant Universe (PBS) that was followed by my talk on similar topics.

All the movies were introduced by the official intro, explaining that crop circles can't be caused by the U.F.O. (and showing the U.F.O.'s along the way), and usually also by a short movie shot from the reference frame of a monkey (or at least a student of a film academy pretending to be a monkey).

The following private discussion with many participants was mostly dominated by an ingenious woman who was inspired by my talk to realize that the sound results from the world sheet of strings, using modern language. She couldn't believe anyone that the sound could have had anything to do with the air.

Other discussions about the infinite hierarchization of matter (vs the Planck scale) and lots of other topics came after my talk.

On Saturday night, I saw Jesus Is Normal (Take It Jeasy, in English), a documentary about a Christian sect that is very similar to one that I became familiar with 12 years ago (through an ex-GF of mine).

I was impressed by the movie - and by the sensible answers of the film director, 20-year-old Ms Tereza Nvotová (greetings!) in the question period. Let me keep other things linked to TN private. ;-)

There have been many stories linked to the trip. For example, in the train, when I was returning to Pilsen a few hours ago, a freshman next to me studied mechanics of the continuum and he or she was confused why one coefficient of thermal expansion was three times another one. After observing one minute of his or her suffering, I couldn't resist and explained him or her that one of them referred to the linear expansion while the other was about the expansion of the volume etc. He or she was excited how much sense it made. Someone is lucky. ;-)

TBBT: Czech dubbing

Check 1x01 Pilot and 1x02 Hypotéza otrubové vlákniny to compare the Prima Cool dubbing of "Teorie velkého třesku" with the original.

I think that the translation and synchronization are OK (and the translation is sometimes creative) but the style of the Czech characters looks weak to me.

For example, Sheldon's voice is too ordinary and the Czech actor simply doesn't seem to be a high-IQ person at all. This is amplified by his frequent colloquial Czech: a huge problem. The Czech director seems to have lost the whole point here (and maybe they simply haven't found a good Parsons counterpart). Czech Leonard's voice is too self-confident (very different from Leonard's frustrated discourse) - and indistinguishable from Sheldon, anyway. The Czech creators seem to have misunderstood all the specific features of the individual characters.

Well, I don't like Czech Penny's voice too much, either. It sounds just like all the other dubbed sitcoms. Rajesh has no Indian accent and sounds insufficiently shy. And Wolowitz is bad at basic things like imitating Hawking's computer voice.

There are some errors in the translation, too. For example, Penny talks about her work about a girl who moves from Lincoln - but she is from Omaha so it's not about her, she says. Lincoln is translated as "Nebraska" (because no one knows "Lincoln" the city here) which completely screws the joke because Omaha is in Nebraska, too. It doesn't sound manifest that Penny is more ordinary than the boys.

Well, let me stick with the English original.

Thursday, April 16, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Claude Allègre may become French minister

La Depeche (autom. translation to English)
The name of Claude Jean Allègre is returning regularly in the discussions about the new minister of environment in the reshuffled French government led by Fillon. He would become either the minister of the environment or the minister for research.

See also Google News (French). By the way, if your browser doesn't have a button to instantly translate foreign web pages to English, drag-and-move this blue "English" button among your bookmarks (preferably in the toolbar).

These rumors are fascinating because Claude Allègre, an achieved geochemist, is an outspoken newborn global warming skeptic: see Lawrence Solomon's story and Allègre's article, The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

Via Marc Morano's Climate Depot, the website of the new superpower that will defeat climate alarmism on this planet ;-)

Catlin Ice Survey shows that global warming predictions were wrong

Pen Hadow et al. went to the Arctic to measure ice. Most of their scientific gadgets froze and broke down - but they're still doing manual drilling.

One of the predictions by the people who believe that there is a global warming worth talking about that the explorers were expected to confirm was the proposition, widely published in the media, there would be no first-year ice on the place of their current location (relatively close to the North Pole) in the middle of April 2009. That's roughly because such ice would have been created last Fall which was "warm" in the Arctic and ice can't be created in such conditions, those people's (sloppy) reasoning goes. So Pen Hadow et al. "didn't expect first-year ice".

In reality, they found something else: there is first-year ice, after all. The scaremongers also think that thick ice can't be created within a few months, so various melting changes are permanent.

Well, this new ice is actually 1.77 meters thick in average which is, technically, very thick first-year ice. You may remember lots of articles being released almost every day during the last half a year or so that despite the sea ice area's being above the normal, the "volume" is surely smaller because the ice area is composed out of first-year ice which "must" be thin: see, for example, Ocean Conserve from April 6th, 2009 (also in The Guardian). Believe Hadow or not, it's not thin and all the newspaper articles were bunk.

In other words, ice comes and goes all the time - lots of it and very quickly - get used to it, chaps with as overheated brains as Sprite is frozen. The main threat for Pen Hadow et al. is no longer the harsh weather (or antiseptic creams pretending to be toothpastes) but the possible decision of their orthodox base that by releasing the inconvenient truths from the Arctic, the explorers have become heretics who no longer deserve an airplane. ;-)

Via Anthony Watts.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Strings link the ultracold with the superhot

An award-winning science writer and the editor-in-chief of Science News, Tom Siegfried, wrote a nice popular article about the string-theoretical dual of various strongly coupled systems.

When experimenters studied the quark-gluon plasma, a large chunk of excited nuclear matter (of colliding golden nuclei), they thought it would have to behave as a gas or plasma: the temperature was so high and the stuff was so hot! Instead, what they saw was that the material actually behaved as a liquid - a seemingly cold type of matter.



And it wasn't an ordinary liquid: it was actually a liquid with a very low viscosity. In fact, it had the lowest viscosity that a liquid of the same entropy density could have: a perfect liquid! Despite a trillion of degrees Celsius, it behaved like a pretty cold liquid. Meanwhile, the string theorists already knew why this thing would be observed.

Surprisingly, an ultracold "gas" - Lithium-6 that was cooled just to dozens of nanokelvins in 2002, which is a temperature 19 orders of magnitude cooler than the previous, nuclear stuff, behaved in the very same way. A perfect liquid, too.

The minimum ratio of viscosity and the entropy density can be translated in another way: it is actually the maximum ratio of the entropy density to viscosity. For a fixed viscosity (and volume), which physical system has the highest entropy density (and therefore the net entropy)? Well, in the gravitational context we know the answer. Black holes maximize the entropy. They're the ultimate bound state of matter into which the matter collapses into, and by the second law of thermodynamics, they must maximize the entropy among all such bound systems.

Bird migration and warming: an example of media manipulation



Today, various news agencies such as

AP, Reuters, The Telegraph
informed about one of those typical papers showing the "catastrophes" caused by global warming.

Some guys in England tried to calculate new favorite trajectories for 17 migratory bird species in a hypothetical warmer world, as projected by the most extreme warming scenarios, between 2071 and 2100. The result was that some of the species won't be affected. Half of them will face longer flights - and a few of them by as much as 250 miles.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

GISS: March 2009 was the coolest March in this century

GISS data for March 2009 are out. With the global anomaly of 0.47 °C, March 2009 is reported as the coldest March since 2000 - and colder than March 1990 and 1998, despite the ending La Nina that is being superseded by ENSO-neutral conditions. That puts March 2009 out of the "top ten".


Also, the March 2009 global mean temperature differed by 0.03 °C only from the March 1981 figure - from a month when the ENSO/ONI index was pretty much equal to the current value. This cherry-picked monthly comparison would suggest that there may have been 0.03 °C of warming in 30 years.

See also the corresponding satellite data for March 2009 that were released previously.

The Sun has been spotless for 39 days, resembling the spotless streaks before the Dalton minimum that occurred 200 years ago.

The Antarctic sea ice area anomaly is approximately +1.2 million squared kilometers (more ice than what is normal for the season), almost matching the peak reached in June 2008. Combined with a minor negative Northern sea ice area anomaly, the global sea ice area anomaly approaches huge +1.0 million squared kilometers.



Pen Hadow, the global warming alarmist in the Arctic Ocean, was humbled by the freezing weather and according to BBC, he admitted that "it's never wise to imagine that either man or technology has the upper hand in the natural world."

He said it's truly "brutal" out there - a "constant reminder that Mother Nature always has the final say". He said these words after the team had to abandon Sprite, a key yellow scientific gadget, that froze and broke again, even after it was repaired in London.

According to our poll, 97% of the 400+ voting readers think that they won't reach the North Pole: 57% of them think that they will be dramatically evacuated while 16% think that at least one of the team members will perish.

Against the religion of chaos

One of the irrational misconceptions that I have considered to be dead but that have re-appeared in many recent interactions of mine is the idea that "nonlinear" and "chaotic" phenomena are cool while "linear" and "predictable" phenomena are unimaginative.

For many people, it is enough to say these adjectives if they want to feel smarter. Well, they also look smarter, but only in the eyes of other people whose mental abilities are equally limited. If you open the famous hoax paper by Alan Sokal from 1996,

Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
that managed to be published by some pompous fools in the "Social Text" magazine, even though it is a long and manifestly fake sequence of ludicrous absurdities, you will see that the word "nonlinear" appears more than 20 times over there, and so does the word "chaos". They're combined in sentences showing the immense pride of the fictitious author, Alan Sokal, or real, dumb authors who are being cited by Sokal.

Steven Weinberg was amused and has reviewed Sokal's prank. Weinberg notices that the postmodernists use the words "quantum mechanics" and "chaos theory" to promote their ideas about the fragmentary nature of experience. Also, in this framework, "catastrophe theory" and "chaos theory" lead to social and economic liberation, Weinberg says. Yes, "catastrophe theory" is about the tipping points, the critical parameters in bifurcation theory.

Concerning the word "nonlinear", Weinberg has observed pretty much the same thing as I have written many times:
But for some postmodern intellectuals, "linear" has come to mean unimaginative and old-fashioned, while "nonlinear" is understood to be somehow perceptive and avant garde. In arguing for the cultural importance of the quantum theory of gravitation, Sokal refers to the gravitational field in this theory as "a noncommuting (and hence nonlinear) operator." Here "hence" is ridiculous; "noncommuting" does not imply "nonlinear," and in fact quantum mechanics deals with things that are both noncommuting and linear.
Well, the postmodernists - and unfortunately not only the "official ones" - like to use the words such as "chaos", "nonlinear", and "noncommutative" as synonyma. These are the words that they "endorse", regardless of the meaning, and such an endorsement makes them "cool" in their own eyes and in the eyes of their "peers".

The Hofstadter Isotope

Episode 2x20 of The Big Bang Theory:

Watch it (click)
Penny with a guy (not quite) just like Leonard, namely Stuart from the Comic Book Store...

Monday, April 13, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stolen Kosovo: a TV documentary



Video 1: Ten parts of the documentary, including English subtitles.

This one-hour Czech TV documentary shows a lot of touching details about the violence against the Serbs and their culture in their historical province of Kosovo and Metohija (Kosmet) - by the Nazis, communists, and the Albanian terrorists silently tolerated (and sometimes openly supported) by some NATO members.


It's a very sad story and how can someone side with the KLA against the Serbs is just beyond me.

Meanwhile, Serbia is getting ready to send the 300-page complaint against the declared independence of the province to the International Court of Justice. Also, BBC has just revealed the horrors of KLA prison camps.

Armed gangs and organized criminals flee to Kosovo every day, for example the bank robbers today, because they know that Kosovo is now officially governed by their colleagues so they're pretty safe over there.

At the same moment, the five-day-old protests to oust the president of Georgia intensify. The protesters are dissatisfied with his record on democracy and the disastrously ill-conceived war against Russia.

King Coal Carlsbad wins Czech ice-hockey extraleague



At the end, Pilsen lost to Slavia Prague in the semifinals. However, our Western Bohemian rivals from Carlsbad, the well-known spa town (hotels), managed to defeat Slavia Prague in the finals. In the decisive match, they transformed a hopeless 0:3 score to 4:3. The Carlsbad players are nicknamed "the Russian bitches" by the melodic Pilsner fans, due to a high influence of Russian businessmen in that town.

The sponsor of HC Energy Carlsbad are the unions at Sokolovská Uhelná, the brown coal joint stock company from the nearby town of Sokolov. It produces 10 million tons of brown coal annually. While it used to be the symbol of the degradation of the environment near the Czech-EastGerman border during communism, it became one of the Czech companies with the highest investments to green technologies (not only the players' outfits): 4.5 billion CZK since 1994 (USD 1 = CZK 20 today).


Ore Mountains have been regaining their health for quite some time. Even though the local brown coal contains a lot of toxic stuff, including uranium, the company seems to be pretty clean these days - unless you're one of the loons who consider CO2 a pollutant.

Sunday, April 12, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Yuri Gagarin: 48th anniversary



Honor to the Astronaut (click)

(Jaromír Hnilička / Pavel Pácl,
translation L.M., sung by Gustav Brom 4/12/1961)

The whole world heard the news from the Soviets,
the whole world suspended all its chats.
The whole world jumped away from radios,
and it turned all its eyes to the skies.

Good morning, Mr major Gagarin,
we couldn't wait but now it is here.
The whole world drank wine red as your flag,
people were waving all of their hands.




2x Tell the guys who live on the stars,
tell the guys who live on the Moon.
Tell them the message from us humans,
that we will follow your steps soon.

I can't sing this fun song terribly well
because my voice is trembling like mad.
I have heard that you are twenty seven
and the world is as young as you are.

(In the translation, "Soviets" was chosen instead of "TASS", the Press Agency of the Soviet Union. I've exchanged "stars" and "Moon" to make "Moon" rhyme with "soon". Some articles were omitted to fit the syllables.)

See also the amusing 2007 update of this song, supporting the U.S. missile defense system radar in forests near Pilsen and sung by our minister of defense and her fellow musician. ;-)

Hat tip: Dmitry Podolsky

Saturday, April 11, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pen Hadow's scientific expedition disintegrating

This page contains a poll about their fate...
Pen Hadow and two companions want to get to the North Pole and supply the Copenhagen conference with the required "doomsday data" to ban carbon, the main hallmark element of life, on Earth.



Gadgets break down

However, as BBC informed on Thursday, the scientific gadgets, including radar device Sprite and salinity/thermometer SeaCat, keep on malfunctioning. The technology failed largely due to "unexpected" (by them) minus 70 °C wind chill. At least, they can regularly drill the ice. :-)

On the fifth day of the expedition, one cable simply snapped. Four days later, it was clear that this made all the cables break. So out of the first 18 days, Sprite only collected data from 7 hours. :-) They were trying to fix the radar and/or give them a new one.

Update: As expected, Sprite continued to malfunction after the repairs and it was abandoned on day 44. Hadow conceded that Mother Nature always has the final say.

Biometric data are fake

Friday, April 10, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Whistleblowers at the Perimeter Institute

A former director of the Perimeter Institute has written a text - that will be explicitly promoted neither on TRF nor in the comments - about the insane beginnings of the Perimeter Institute for theoretical physics. The readers can see how easy it can be to suck money out of an impressionable, idealistic, and generous billionaire - in this case Mike Lazaridis.



Off-topic: Little red riding hood with technical documentation. ;-)

Nemanja Kaloper (UC Davis) is a very serious phenomenologist, with roughly 100 technical publications in particle phenomenology. He has had many students. But for one of them, who was just a de facto student of Nemanja because Nemanja was still just a postdoc at that time, the PhD defense in 1998 was the maximum that Nemanja could have hoped for. At the end, this student managed to co-author two very similar 15-page papers. One year after the defense, this "doctor of physics" received his first citation. The total score is eight citations as of today.

Thursday, April 09, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Donagi, Wijnholt: what 3 generations mean in F-theory

The best hep-th paper today is the second one,

Higgs bundles and UV completion in F-Theory (PDF)
Ron Donagi and Martijn Wijnholt look at the F-theoretical model building. As the first true professionals, these Gentlemen seriously study the question whether the models may have three generations and what it means. You can see that each segment of their writing that you read in detail seems to make sense, unlike some attempts that have tried to answer similar questions and that required many "clouds" saying that "here a miracle occurs".

Recall that in the local F-theory model building, the gauge groups are carried by real codimension two objects, i.e. by seven-branes of type IIB string theory. Such objects can carry exceptional symmetries, up to E_8 itself. In other words, the gauge theory is supported by a 7+1-dimensional spacetime manifold.

Holdren: I will return us to the Age of Smog

As AP and others reported, Obama's science advisor John Holdren wants to reintroduce smog to the atmosphere.

The reason is that by living in the age of global warming, we are driving a car with bad brakes toward a cliff in the fog. He repeated this "rigorous" sentence twice in 30 minutes. ;-)

Well, it's clear that if we ever had a problem, all options would have to be considered, and this set of strategies would be a natural one to manipulate with the temperature. It would probably be cheaper than fossil fuel caps by orders of magnitude, too.

However, it is strikingly obvious that there doesn't exist a tiniest sign of a negative consequence of the hypothetical global warming. So why would we be returning to those dirty times?

In Communism, capitalism, and environment, I explained how horrible the pollution used to be in the industrial communist cities. We were not talking about CO2 which is a completely innocent gas - but about SO2, SO3, NOx, CO, NH3, ozone, particulate carbon, and similar stuff. Children began to be slightly sick. Acid rains were killing forests. Weeks of schooling outside the cities had to become mandatory.



Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge / Krušné hory) on the heavily industrialized EastGerman-Czech border at the end of the 1980s (the end of the communist era). Acid rains did the job. Today, the mountains are thriving again.

Capitalism cured all these things. People didn't want to live in a contaminated environment and they actually became able to influence whether their environment is healthy. Unnecessarily dirty technologies - whose main goal was to fulfill communists' arbitrary and absurd 5-year plans - have disappeared, useless portions of the heavy industry were reduced, affordable gadgets to clean the air coming out of plans could have been bought, and the pollution decreased by an order of magnitude.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

New Scientist about Edward Witten

Matthew Chalmers wrote a pretty good article about Edward Witten for Nude Socialist:

Inside the tangled world of string theory (click)
It tells you that despite being a Witten, Witten received a lousy office from CERN. That's called the European hospitality. ;-) To be fair and balanced, you should also look at Einstein's office at the IAS in Princeton.

Witten considers the "string wars" that began in 2006 by the publication of two books by Swolin (that he hasn't read) to be as irrelevant episodes as the short-lived chaos initiated by the publication of a similar book, The End of Science, by a similar "thinker" a decade earlier. Neither of the books nor the temporary nature of their repercussions - Swoit's 15 minutes of fame - reflected any change of the underlying climate, Witten enunciates.

The following paragraphs sketch Witten's opinion about the interpretation of the landscape, the multiverse, the expectations from the LHC, extra dimensions, supersymmetry, Witten's favorite sports, Witten and history, advantages of Witten relatively to Einstein and vice versa, and many other things. Chiara Nappi believes that top physics can no longer be investigated in a patent office in Bern, Switzerland. It can only be pursued in a latent office in CERN, Switzerland. ;-)

Richard Feynman on gravity

The Messenger Lecture about The Law of Gravitation:

Playlist (click, 7 x 8 minutes, play all)
The first minute is black. Then the Cornell Provost introduces RPF in the first part: the lecture takes place in 1964 when Feynman was already happy at Caltech.

In the first part and the early second part, he explains why science is superior over social science and why he would focus on Nature rather than Man. Tycho de Brahe is quoted as the originator of science: his idea was to record the observed positions so accurately that different detailed hypotheses could be compared and/or excluded.

The third part is already dedicated to Kepler's laws. He mentions some theories of that time - that angels were pushing the planets. The theories were almost right, RPF says, except that the angels are actually sitting on another side and are pushing the planets radially. :-)

Applause follows. Of course, the discussion turns to Galileo and inertia. Newton added the forces that can change the straight lines to different paths. The universal law of gravity evolves naturally. A lot of dramatic predictions were made - parameters of orbits, tides, etc. High-precision tests followed: the moons of Jupiter. The first discrepancies (moons ahead of the schedule) were explained by the finite speed of light.

In the fourth part, he explains more examples how new laws can be found by taking the old ones serious: the Neptune was predicted and discovered by the 2nd observatory (that didn't share the arrogant and dumb anti-theorist attitude of the 1st one). ;-) Finally, the Mercury anomalies were fixed by Einstein.

Correlation of sunspots and sea level



Click to zoom in. Did they ever fit together? Most ridiculous thing I ever heard. :-)

I find this graph by David Archibald stunning. Relevant posts at climate realist websites:

Watts: Archibald posts this graph
Climate Audit: Holgate on sea level
Watts: Sea level and Jason data
The graph shows a remarkably accurate correlation between the number of sun spots - following the approximately 11-year solar cycle - and the annual sea level rise in millimeters.

See pages in Colorado to download the sea level data from satellite altimeters etc. and a previous posting about the sun spots for links to the solar data.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Richard Feynman on the arrow of time

The distinction of past and future

Playlist (click, 5 times 10 minutes)

Update: The videos are available via Project Tuva
The lecture is pretty much isomorphic to Chapter 46, Volume I, of Feynman's lectures on physics.

The lecture took place a few days after the experiment finding the CP violation. Feynman was somewhat skeptical ;-) but he correctly said that the effect couldn't be responsible for the macroscopic irreversibility.

In the first part, Feynman talks about the reversibility of the microscopic laws, the irreversibility of all macroscopic phenomena, and the need "not to look too carefully" in order to understand the irreversibility.

In the second part, he gets to the low initial entropy. At the end of this part, he suggests the "Boltzmann brain" theory. At the beginning of the third part, he explains why this is a "ridiculous theory" because it incorrectly predicts that the rest of the world should be completely disordered.

He also explains that the low initial entropy is independent of the dynamical laws: no dynamical theory can ever "predict" that we are Boltzmann brains because the second law depends on an additional layer of knowledge, the initial conditions, that remain pretty much outside physics (even today). Feynman ends the third part by ruling out a particular Maxwell's demon. So in the fourth part, he is led to clarify the difference between energy and useful energy.

He generalizes the insights about the increasing entropy by noticing that the laws of physics often do not have a direct relevance for the experience - one needed to analyze statistics instead of the microscopic laws themselves. We would say that some phenomena are emergent and many microscopic details become irrelevant along the way.

Monday, April 06, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Perceiving randomness: egalitarian bias

After a long time, I am going to agree with a text written over at Cosmic Variance:

Perceiving randomness
Look at the following two pictures. Click to zoom in. We will call them the Ludolf map:



and the Coulomb map:



Which of them is random? Well, both of them look random, according to some distribution, so let me be more specific. Which one is more typical a representative of the probability distribution that has random, uniform, and independent coordinates {x,y} of each point over an interval?

Many people would say that the Coulomb map is more likely to be random than the Ludolf map. The Ludolf map seems way too clustered. In reality, it is the Ludolf map that is random, of course. Repetitions do occur. People usually suffer from the "egalitarian bias" and "psychological quotas".

BBC HARDtalk with Roger Penrose: before the Big Bang

We have already embedded and compared Hardtalks with Václav Klaus and Lee Smolin.



Here is one from 2006 with Roger Penrose, a very colorful and creative thinker, dealing with the pre-Big-Bang cosmology. See the full Real Video. In the remaining 10 minutes that are not available on YouTube, Penrose talks trash about quantum mechanics and defends the right of people to do pure science from the primitive journalist.


At some moment, they jump to artificial intelligence and consciousness of robots. Sackur can't distinguish "unconscious" objects from "man-made" things, so Penrose reminds him that we can make not only computers but children, too. ;-)

In my opinion, Mr Sackur confirms he is not fair. Klaus was asked where he took the "arrogance" to dispute the dangerous global warming theory promoted by those amazing "experts".

But when it comes to the Big Bang, suddenly it is "the most popular but far from unanimously" accepted a theory. Wow. So our robust state-of-the-art picture of the evolution of the Universe is just popular but it is "arrogant" to disagree with politicized pseudoscientific hacks who promote global warming fears - fears based on no non-trivial theory, no empirical evidence, and no high-quality scholars at all.

Sackur has tried to pump the global warming shit into Roger Penrose, too, convincing him that it matters more than the Universe. To be fair, he also spends 3 minutes trying to force Penrose to accept God. ;-) OK, let me stop complaining about Mr Sackur who is just an obnoxious BBC moron and let us return to the real cosmological issues.

Jan Fischer: the new Czech bureaucratic government

The Czech politicians have agreed on the name of the new interim prime minister: it is Jan Fischer (*1951), the current "apolitical" boss of the Czech Statistical Office, appointed by ex-PM Špidla and (officially) President Klaus in 2003.


Both of his parents were mathematicians.

Well, your humble correspondent is surely not thrilled by this temporary solution - the "summer government" (a term hated by President Klaus) will reign from May to October when the early elections should take place.

While this solution was agreed upon by the four non-communist parties in the Parliament, Fischer was a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party between 1980 and 1989 so it is really the only party that was left out that is probably going to secretly celebrate. ;-)

The communist membership was a typical approach of the career-driven opportunists in the 1980s, most of whom left the communist party during the Velvet Revolution. As we were taught at the basic school (before the fall of communism!) by our class's teacher, a communist can't be both ethical and intelligent. I may have forgotten the third adjective.

Saturday, April 04, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Barack Obama in Prague

Sunday - the full anti-nuclear speech in Prague:



See also excerpts from the Klaus-Obama military parade, 28 seconds of the bilateral meeting, a minute from the Havel-Obama meeting, EU-US Prague family photo preparations (1 minute), and some more Obama video background from Sunday in Prague.

Back to Saturday, before he arrived. Sorry for the lack of a uniform arrow of time in this text. ;-)


Obama gave a nice present to the British queen, an iPod. Next time, they can play Bump Bump together. Will Klaus receive one, too? Update: Klaus received a bust of Obama's predecessor whose name is not known but I guess it wasn't George W. Bush. The Obamas have received books about the Prague Castle, glass, while Michelle gave Livia a vase.

Everyone noticed that Michelle changed her dress every hour ;-) but almost no one knows that Klaus and Obama conspired to use blue and red ties on Saturday, and they switched them to red and blue on Sunday, in this order.

Friday, April 03, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

RSS MSU: 0.06 °C month-on-month cooling

If you remember a discussion that was posted one month ago, RSS MSU (Remote Sensing Systems, advanced Microwave Sounding Unit) was one of the teams that reported that February 2009 was (0.09 °C) cooler than January 2009, in terms of the global temperature anomaly.



It turns out that March 2009 was even cooler, matching the anomaly from December 2008:

2008/12: 0.172 °C
2009/01: 0.322 °C
2009/02: 0.230 °C
2009/03: 0.172 °C
Two months are enough for 0.15 °C of cooling. Let us see whether our climate realist friends at UAH MSU will continue in their warming trend - and in their divergence away from RSS MSU. :-)

Update: no. As expected, UAH MSU reported cooling, too. But guess how much: 0.14 °C per month!

God and Boltzmann eggs: dogmas and infinite priors

At the end, I added some comments about the general proof of the second law of thermodynamics in quantum mechanics.



Apologies to readers who are believers but I found it funny and deep.

The discussions about the Boltzmann eggs have reminded me of the psychological power of dogmas, fundamentalism, and circular reasoning once again.

Imagine the following old-fashioned set of hypotheses:

  1. the world was created exactly as described in the Bible
  2. for example, the electromagnetic field was created after the Earth
  3. life was created within seven days
  4. and so on...
At some level, that's an internally self-consistent framework. That's why it could have been believed by decent and relatively smart people for long centuries. This framework can be reinforced in many ways:
  1. the infinite power of God is independently confirmed by many books of the Bible
  2. that's why He is really "infinitely^66" powerful, not just infinitely powerful
  3. because God is infinitely great, no competing hypothesis can ever have a chance and no experiment can be important enough to change the conclusions above; after all, thou shall only have one God
  4. and so on...
The Inquisition vs heretics

You can see that the framework is self-consistent and powerful, indeed. ;-) But some heretics have asked whether the framework was right. Well, if you use the internal logic of this framework, it is certainly right: any doubt about it is a heresy.

Thursday, April 02, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Myths believed by some AGW skeptics

Roy Spencer finally wrote a text that I wanted to write for quite some time:

In defense of the greenhouse effect
We frequently hear arguments from the fellow skeptics that the greenhouse effect has to be impossible, exactly zero, that it contradicts some basic laws of mechanics, thermodynamics, and so on.

Well, these thoughts lead to the correct practical conclusions: it is absurd to spend trillions to "fight climate change".

But from a scientific viewpoint, all these statements are as ludicrous as the statements of the alarmists that the ongoing "climate change" threatens life on the Earth. Every effect that cannot be proved to be zero - by symmetries and closely related principles - is guaranteed to be nonzero. That's why there are so many other effects, too. The only question are the coefficients, i.e. the strength of all these effects.

As Roy Spencer explains, the greenhouse effect is technically different from the effect used in the greenhouse with vegetables. The greenhouse effect is about the infrared absorption while the greenhouse mechanically prevents heat convection. But both of them reduce the ability of the system to cool down, which means that the equilibrium temperature increases. The only question is how much.

The bare value (neglecting rain, effects on other parts of the atmosphere etc.) can be calculated for the CO2 greenhouse effect from well-known laws of physics: it gives 1.2 °C per CO2 doubling from 280 ppm (year 1800) to 560 ppm (year 2109, see below). The feedbacks may amplify or reduce this value and they are influenced by lots of unknown complex atmospheric effects as well as by biases, prejudices, and black magic introduced by the researchers.

PAMELA: excess of 1.5-100 GeV positrons



Click the picture to see the experiment's website

As you have been already told when we talked about the CDF lepton jets, the PAMELA collaboration has detected an excess of positrons at energies above a few GeV, especially if they approach 100 GeV, their measured maximum.

These positrons can't come from secondary sources. While the theoretical percentage of positrons from secondary sources among electrons and positrons drops from 5% to 2% between 5 GeV and 100 GeV, PAMELA indicates that the fraction increases from 5% to 15%.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

RealClimate.ORG abolished

As some of you may have expected, some members of the RealClimate.ORG have always been sane. They have evaluated the Heartland Institute's conference of climate realists and determined the the science is settled.



The realists have always been right, the group now says, which is why their propagandistic website, RealClimate.ORG, can finally be abolished:

Farewell to our readers
Even Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC has eaten a couple of steaks and revived most of his sleeping neural vegetarian cells in his brain:
Scientists worldwide admit global warming is a hoax
Al Gore has finally urged the police to put him in the prison, too. So everything starts to make sense and people who have been considered brain-dead for many years are becoming a part of our society.