Tuesday, July 30, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Salon: AGW cause confined to a left-wing ghetto

Salon has reprinted an interesting sociological essay on the climate debate originally written by Geoff Dembicki for Canada's The Tyee:

How to talk to a conservative about climate change
Dembicki, a left-wing alarmist, starts by admitting that during the recent two decades, the climate worries have become increasingly confined to an intellectually sterile environment of brainwashed and stubborn people whose ideology strongly influences their very perception, something that Dembicki calls the "left-wing ghetto".

People not heavily invested into the left-wing ideology tend to reject the climate propaganda in the U.S., the U.K., and even in Canada. We're told something that folks like the Czech ex-president Václav Klaus have been saying for many and many years, namely that the purpose of the climate alarm isn't to care about the environment but to rebuild the human society.

Shmoits face a German competitor

Book market flooded with garden-variety cranks

In 2010, a German conspiracy theorist and high school teacher named Alexander Unzicker released his anti-physics tirade that was reformatted as a book. The title was "Vom Urknall zum Durchknall" which I would translate as "From the Big Bang to Their Big Butts' Being Banged" but that was translated as "Bankrupting Physics" by the unimaginative translator. The English translation will appear tomorrow. You may pre-order it.

Most of the 21 chapters have titles saying things like "something is rotten in the state of physics", "why cosmology is going the wrong way", "how physics became a junk drawer", "branes, multiverses, and other supersicknesses: physics goes nuts", "string theory: how the elite became a sect and mafia", "what's wrong with the physics business", "get ready for the crash". You get the point.

I haven't read and I won't read the book because I consider the table of contents to be fully sufficient to know what's inside the book. It's surely not the first time when most of the 20th century physics is being trashed by an aggressive stupid asshole who has no clue about science. But a review of the book written by a TRF reader may be published later.

ER-EPR correspondence and bipartite closed strings

This text is just an experiment. I want to know the number of viewers of a blog entry on a related topic and the composition and character of comments if there are any. The insight below is not necessary correct; and it is not necessarily fundamental. ;-)

The Maldacena-Susskind ER-EPR correspondence invites one to think that (non-traversable) wormholes are natural, sort of inevitable – because spacetimes with this topology are physically equivalent to ordinary spacetimes with entangled degrees of freedom in two regions.

One of the things I was thinking about was whether there are other dual descriptions of such spacetimes. Consider, for example, two faraway Strominger-Vafa black holes in type IIB stringy vacua with 5 large dimensions and connect them with the ER bridge. Now, reduce the coupling \(g_s\) to a very low value. What will you get?

New iPhone likely to have a fingerprint scanner

One year ago, Apple bought AuthenTec, a Prague-based security company (7 Husinecká Street), for $356 million. One may now check the Czech commercial register shows two key people from Cupertino, California, aside from a Czech male and Czech female name that started the company with the basic registered capital of $10,000 (too late for great investments). ;-)

Yesterday, the Czech technological media reported that the iOS7 beta4 code contains a BiometricKitUI.axbundle folder along with some sentences suggesting that the fingerprint scanner will read your thumb when it touches the home button.

Monday, July 29, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Isidor Isaac Rabi: 115th birthday

Isidor Isaac Rabi was born on July 29th, 1898, to an orthodox Jewish family in Galicia, Northeastern Austria-Hungary. The town of Rymanów, sometimes shared with Ukraine, belongs to Poland these days (it's about 20 km from the Slovak borders). He died of cancer (after doctors would monitor him via magnetic resonance imaging) in New York about 25 years ago, in 1988.

Soon after he was born, his family moved to the New York City where his dad ran a grocery store in Brooklyn. Books about heliocentrism turned Izzy into an atheist. He asked: "Who ordered God?" if I improve his question a little bit. His compromise with the parents involved a lecture on the electric light he gave during a ceremony that turns 13-year-old Jewish boys into adults.

Sunday, July 28, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Some amazing technological advances

I am getting lots of similar news and sometimes I collide with some of them in the media. Sometimes they sound amazing.

First, MIT has developed a perfect mirror – a material that reflects electromagnetic waves without any losses.

Now, Tesla Motors and Colorado's company SpaceX believe that they can build an amazingly fast superhighway of evacuated tubes where you can drive from California to NYC in an hour.

A combination of magnetic levitation, vacuum would allow minivan-sized capsules to travel up to 6,000 kph and the replacement for the EastCoast-WestCoast air ticket would cost just $100.

Saturday, July 27, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Arctic methane bubbles will destroy 1/2 of your wealth

Tons of journalists have promoted a "Stern review on steroids", namely a commentary about the Arctic methane that Gail Whiteman, Chris Hope & Peter Wadhams have published in Nature:

Climate science: Vast costs of Arctic change.
For the sake of brevity and accuracy, I will refer to the authors as the three imbeciles. We're told that some frozen permafrost in the Arctic will melt within a decade and via the methane-induced global warming and sea level rise and other things, this will destroy $60 trillion of wealth in the next decade.

The figure is approximately equal to the global annual GDP – what the whole mankind produces in one year – or one-half of the total mankind's household assets ($125 trillion). A few bubbles of natural gas in an irrelevant faraway empire of ice will destroy 1/2 of the wealth of the average human. Holy cow.

John Dalton: an anniversary

...and also Baron Loránd Eötvös...

This CV looks ordinary but it is an experiment. ;-)

John Dalton was born to a family of a weaver (and Quakers, independent Christians dissatisfied with the existing denominations) in Northwest England on September 6th, 1766.

He died on July 27th, 1844 i.e. 169 years ago.

Friday, July 26, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Reuters' climate alarmism down by 50% since 2012

Media Matters for America, a propaganda arm of the neo-Stalinist movement in the U.S., has complained that the number of articles published by Reuters that promote the unlimited climate hysteria has dropped by 48 percent in the recent 12 months.

They take the data and interpretations from David Fogarty, an indisputable hardcore climate activist, who would be employed until recently as the "climate change correspondent for Asia".

Just try to appreciate how crazy such an arrangement was. A biased activist who makes Lysenko fair and balanced in comparison was hired by an agency for which the truth and accuracy is the main asset.

And he wasn't employed for a proper job that should exist in peaceful times. He wasn't hired to cover all of physical sciences or the whole Wall Street or the culture. He was hired to cover just stories about a fabricated tiny appendix of one of the least significant, least hard, and least prestigious subdisciplines of physical sciences. And in fact, he wasn't supposed to follow the whole climatology because it would be still too hard for him; he would only cover the catastrophic climatology. And he wasn't even supposed to cover all of catastrophic climatology; he could make living out of climate change articles about Asia.

So he was inventing, cherry-picking, and spinning stories about the environment in Asia, its hypothetical dark future, and the mankind's hypothetical cause behind that dark future, especially the carbon dioxide. He was earning tens of thousands of dollars by writing the same junk you may still see on his Twitter account.

Thursday, July 25, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Spanish train crash: quantifying the acceleration

A tragically motivated homework problem in mechanics

Chances are that you have already seen the dramatic video of the Wednesday Santiago de Compostela derailment. Warning: the following video is brutal.

78 people died and 145 extra ones were injured. In total, it's 223 people – more than the number of passengers, 218 (homework for you: why?). A map allows one to determine that the crash occurred at the top middle point of this Google map.

Using a piece of paper, I estimated the radius of this arc of circle to be \(R\sim 380\,{\rm m}\) or so.

Fermion masses from the Δ(27) group

Ivo de Medeiros Varzielas of Basel, Switzerland and Daniel Pidt of Dortmund, Germany released an interesting paper about the family symmetries

Geometrical CP violation with a complete fermion sector
They continue in the authors' three-weeks-old research of quark masses and Varzielas' 2012 research and other developments and argue that the \(\Delta(27)\) family symmetry seems fully appropriate to obtain not only quark masses but also lepton masses and the CP violation.

LHCb: \(3\)- or \(4\)-\(\sigma\) excess of \(B\)-mesons' muon decays

New physics may already be looking at us

Tommaso Dorigo has discussed something that may be interesting – a hint of new physics coming from the LHCb experiment:

A Four-Sigma Evidence Of New Physics In Rare B Decays Found By LHCb, And Its Interpretation
The deviation will be described in the LHCb-PAPER-2013-037 paper, now in preparation. Locally, it is a \(3.7\)-\(4.0\sigma\) effect which is reduced to \(2.5\)-\(2.8\sigma\) once you take the 24 bins into account (look-elsewhere effect). See page 13 of Nicola Serra's presentation in Stockholm.

Update: A preprint will appear in December 2015, JHEP, ScienceAlert 2016.

We just described how strong the evidence is. But what events is the evidence about? Well, it is about the decay of the neutral \(B\)-mesons\[

B^0 \to K^* \mu^+ \mu^-, \quad K^*\to K^+ + \pi^-.

\] Recall that the asterisk denotes a virtual particle in this experimental jargon. When some "new observables" are used, they see the aforementioned excess of events approximately in bins with the transferred momentum\[

1\GeV\lt \sqrt{|q^2|}\lt 3\GeV

\] or so, especially between \(2\GeV\) and \(3\GeV\).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Relativity bans faster-than-light warp drive

In recent 24 hours, lots of media outlets including

NY Times, The Daily Mail, Russia Today, The PK Nation, Times of India, Bend Bulletin
discuss the NASA research into faster-than-light spaceships based on "warp drive". The idea is being attributed to Mexican fantasist (rather than physicist) Miguel Alcubierre while Dr (???) Harold White is being mentioned as the most active researcher working on this ambitious project.

The proposed idea is simple: reduce the magnitude of the space-like components of the metric tensor in front of the spaceship and increase it behind the spaceship. So the space will look shorter in front of you and the general relativistic causal limit will allow the coordinate speed to be greater than it is in the vacuum. Consequently, you will move from one place to another faster than light.

F-theory on \(Spin(7)\) manifolds, icezones to beat firewalls

I want to mention three new hep-th preprints. One is on F-theory and two are concerned with the black hole information puzzles.

Concerning the former, Federico Bonetti, Thomas W. Grimm, and Tom G. Pugh of Munich wrote a paper called

Non-Supersymmetric F-Theory Compactifications on \(Spin(7)\) Manifolds.
There exist just a few interesting holonomy groups that manifolds constructed of extra dimensions in string/M-theory may respect. Realistic vacua of F-theory are usually thought of as \(SU(4)\approx Spin(6)\) holonomy Calabi-Yau manifolds that preserve 1/8 of the original SUSY i.e. four real supercharges.

Ice and fire dragons will be discussed momentarily.

However, there exists an even larger possible holonomy group for 8-real-dimensional manifolds that is in between the Calabi-Yau \(SU(4)\approx Spin(6)\) holonomy and the generic orientable manifold's holonomy, \(Spin(8)\), namely \(Spin(7)\). You could expect that these compactifications preserve \(1/16\) of the original SUSY but for \(12-8=4\)-dimensional vacua, you are only left with \(32/16=2\) real supercharges which is less than the minimal spinor in four dimensions. So you actually don't preserve any SUSY at all but the minimum SUSY may be restored if you compactify one dimension from \(d=4\) to \(d=3\).

The paper discusses how it happens and offer some \(d=3\) evidence in favor of the conjecture that M-theory on \(Spin(7)\) manifolds is dual to F-theory on \(Spin(7)\) manifolds times a line interval. What's strange is that there have been almost no papers on \(Spin(7)\) compactifications of F-theory since a bold proposal by Witten and the pioneering F-theory paper by Vafa in the mid 1990s. The present authors try to stop these two decades of silence.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Mechanical characters mass-produced by Disney, cyborgs at Harvard

Apologies to TRF readers – I was too busy these days: traveling, swimming, walking, and more. Here's a recreational blog entry. In the following video, you may see some cute mechanical puppets displaying some highly realistic motion:

In fact, Disney Research has a whole infrastructure to mass-produce toys of various kinds.

Monday, July 22, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Edward Witten and the \(i\varepsilon\) prescription

What it would look like if Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart decided to discuss A440, concert pitch (440 Hz), on 24 pages?

Today, you may see the answer to a very similar question. Edward Witten finally attempted to solve a homework problem given not only to him by his (former) doctoral adviser in 1989 and wrote

The Feynman \(i\varepsilon\) in String Theory.
Almost all particle physicists learn about the \(i\varepsilon\) prescription in their introductory courses. The Feynman propagators have to have the form\[


\] in the mostly positive \(({-}{+}{+}\cdots{+}{+})\) signature that Witten prefers. The extra infinitesimal term tells us in what direction we should circumvent the singularity when we integrate over the momenta in the loops and that's why it matters. In the position basis, the addition of the infinitesimal imaginary term answers the question whether the propagators are retarded or advanced or something in between. Yes, C) is correct: they are Feynman propagators, stupid.

Note that the extra term adds an imaginary term to something that you could naively try to define by the real principal value because\[

\frac{1}{z-i\varepsilon} = {\rm v.p.} \frac{1}{z}+i\pi\delta(z).

\] I would always say that you may imagine that this \(i\varepsilon\) is an infinitesimal limit of something like \(i\Gamma/2\) coming from a finite width (decay rate) – even if the lifetime is infinite, it has to be there for the stable intermediate particle to behave just like the unstable ones. There can't be any discontinuity if you just send the lifetime to infinity and because the form of the propagator seems obvious for the unstable particles (whose wave functions exponentially decay with time), a "trace" of the exponential decrease with time has to be inserted to the stable particles' propagators, too. This is a moment in which the arrow of time enters the fundamental formulae, by the way.

Sunday, July 21, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stephen Hawking got a flat tire

...but sang the Big Bang Theory theme song...

Just like your humble correspondent yesterday, Stephen Hawking got a flat tire which is why he couldn't be at the Comic Con. At least, he prerecorded this monologue:

He also sings the theme song of TBBT, a very successful sitcom of CBS that is nominated for Emmy 2013 much like Sheldon Cooper and Amy Farrah Fowler.

Saturday, July 20, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bernhard Riemann: an anniversary

Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann was born in a village in the Kingdom of Hanover on September 17th, 1826 and died in Selasca (Verbania), Northern Italy, on July 20th, 1866, i.e. 147 years ago. As you can see, he was 2 months short of 40 years when he died.

His father was a poor Lutheran pastor and a Napoleonic war veteran. His mother died when he was a kid. He was the second (oldest) among six children. Bernhard was shy, timid, afraid of speaking in public, and suffered from psychological problems and breakdowns. His math skills were obvious early on. However, he started to study a lyceum and investigated the Bible intensely, with a rough plan to become a pastor to earn some money for his family.

Friday, July 19, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Naturalness and the LHC nightmare

Phil Gibbs wrote a nice essay,

Naturally Unnatural,
in which he discusses the annual EPS-HEP conference that just began in Stockholm and the subdued/nightmare feelings that phenomenologists may have due to the perfect agreement between the LHC and the Standard Model. He adds comments about naturalness and the multiverse.

Unnaturalness is sometimes in the eyes of the beholder.

Nima is quoted as a defender of a \(100\TeV\) collider. A possible result could be that nothing new is found which would be considered fascinating by Nima because that would be a proof of some unnaturalness in the Universe. Well, I have been defending "ever higher energies" as the most well-motivated post-LHC direction of particle physics for quite some time but I wouldn't be too thrilled by a negative result. It seems totally plausible to me – the probability is comparable to 30-50 percent, whatever – that the Standard Model would work even at such a higher-energy collider.

Detroit declares bankruptcy

...but the distortion of the markets continues...

Detroit declared bankruptcy according to the Chapter 9 of the federal law. You may see what it probably means for the city and the bondholders and others. We are talking about the "city proper" only – with 700,000 people, it's the 18th largest U.S. city (but the population was 2 million just decades ago). The metropolitan area hosts about 5 million people and is largely unaffected.

A century ago or so, Detroit was the leader of innovation in the same way as Silicon Valley is today (or at least was several years ago) after Henry Ford would ignite his automobile revolution in the city just decades earlier.

Some popular music was born there – the company Motown (standing for motor town) was founded in 1959. Still, the bankruptcy is no surprise for me because a neighbor on a flight 7 years ago or so has explained to me the ghost-town character of the contemporary Detroit in quite some detail – an hour of zir monologue. Ze told me about the empty skyscrapers and other sad things – I couldn't avoid thoughts about the deathbed of the industrial superiority.

What was going wrong?

Thursday, July 18, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

New miraculous ways how F-theory achieves gauge coupling unification

F-theory phenomenomenology has been described in dozens of TRF articles, e.g. these.

Initiated by Vafa et al. less than a decade ago, this formally 12-dimensional approach to particle physics combines some of the fanciest higher-dimensional stringy geometric methods with those of braneworlds to make predictions in which particle physics is somewhat naturally "decoupled" from the four-dimensional gravity and in which the properties of particle physics are somewhat different and thoroughly geometrized as (often degenerate) eight-real-dimensional complex shapes.

Today, an interesting hep-ph string-inspired paper was written by James C. Callaghan, Stephen F. King, George K. Leontaris:

Gauge Coupling Unification in E6 F-Theory GUTs with Matter and Bulk Exotics from Flux Breaking
F-theory models like to predict large grand unified gauge symmetries to start with. In the case of \(E_6\), one finds fields in the "bulk" which transform in the adjoint, 78-dimensional representation of this exceptional Lie group. And there are other fields localized on "matter curves" that transform in the fundamental, complex 27-dimensional representation of \(E_6\).

We're used to say that whenever we add some generic extra light fields to the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM), we modify the running of the gauge couplings which destroys the wonderful numerical coincidence that many of us like so much, the gauge coupling unification.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Exothermic double-disk dark matter

Anniversary: On July 16th, not only my namesakes had their name day ;-) but we also celebrated the 68th anniversary of the Trinity Test, the beginning of the nuclear age. See Wikipedia, YouTube, The Bulletin. The concentration and speed of the deaths was scary during the following month or so but the event finally saved millions of lives during the (shortened) World War II as well as the 68 years that followed.
This blog entry is about a very similar topic as the previous one; the paper released today also tries to incorporate the hints from the dark matter direct search experiments, both positive and negative ones. However, in their
Exothermic Double-Disk Dark Matter,
Matthew McCullough of MIT and Lisa Randall of Harvard adopt a very different philosophy about the inner structure of dark matter. It isn't composed of individual structureless particles that arise from some symmetries. Instead, in agreement with two 2013 papers that Lisa co-wrote, this dark matter may be composed of rather symmetry-uninspired particles but what makes them special is that they are subject to internal interactions, they live almost just like the visible baryonic matter we know.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Light Dirac neutralino dark matter

As the TRF readers are regularly reminded (see especially dark matter wars), an increasing number of direct dark matter search experiments indicate that there exists a very light particle of dark matter, \(7\)-\(10\GeV\), that may have been detected underground. Its cross section with a nucleon, if spin-independent, would be close to \(2\times 10^{-41}\,{\rm cm}^2\).

Off-topic, feeds: the former users of Google Reader may try Feedly, try the red feed logo near my photograph in the right sidebar, or The Old Reader, a link to this blog's feed.

LHC luminosity will be 10 times higher: new U.S. niobium tin quadrupole magnets capable of focusing the proton beams have succeeded in Fermilab tests. This should allow CERN to increase the luminosity within a decade (not since 2015, unfortunately) one order of magnitude above the maximum designed value! See Red Orbit, E&T.
Most recently, CDMS suggested an \(8.6\GeV\) particle in their three events. It's not impossible that LUX, an experiment in South Dakota that is already running, will reveal some spectacularly clear evidence in favor of this light dark matter particle by the end of this year when they almost certainly publish their first results.

However, the number of papers in the phenomenological literature that are implicitly compatible with such a light dark matter particle remains very low. In May, I talked about the proposed right handed sneutrinos. The third hep-ph paper today,
Phenomenology of Dirac Neutralino Dark Matter,
by Matthew R. Buckley, Dan Hooper, Jason Kumar (I know Jason in person) proposes another possibility, one that is arguably more attractive than the sneutrinos and that overlaps with a possibility promoted on TRF many times in the past: the extended supersymmetry.

Monday, July 15, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bohmian mechanics, a ludicrous caricature of Nature

Some people can't get used to the fact that classical physics in the most general sense – a class of theories that identify Nature with the objectively well-defined values of certain (classical) degrees of freedom that are observable in principle and that evolve according to some (classical) equations of motion, usually differential equations that depend on time, mostly deterministic ones – has been excluded as a possible fundamental description of Nature for almost a century.

Classical physics has been falsified and the falsification – a death for a theory – is an irreversible event. Nevertheless, those people would sleep with this zombie and do anything and everything else that is needed (but isn't sufficient) to resuscitate it. Of course, it's not possible to resuscitate it but those people just won't stop trying.

Bohmian mechanics, one of the main strategies to pretend that classical physics hasn't died and hasn't been superseded by fundamentally different quantum mechanics, was invented by Prince Louis de Broglie in 1927 who called it "the pilot-wave theory". In the late 1920s, the 1930s, and 1940s, physicists were largely competent so they didn't have any doubts that the pilot wave theory was misguided by its very own guiding wave ;-). Exactly 25 years later, the approach was revived by David Bohm who made the picture popular, largely because he was a fashionable, media-savvy commie (he's almost certainly the recipient of Wolfgang Pauli's famous criticism "not even wrong" that was ironically hijacked by aggressive Shmoitian crackpots in the recent decade). Prince Louis de Broglie liked the new life that apparently returned to the veins of his old sick theory so he didn't even care too much that his theory was going to be attributed to someone else and that the someone else was a Marxist rather than an aristocrat.

Origin of the name Motl

When I was a baby, my father would often say that we come a French aristocratic dynasty de Motl – for some time, I tended to buy it ;-). Much later, I knew about the Yiddish (extreme Jewish dialect of German) novel Motl der Operator and people would conjecture that I must have some Jewish roots which I never believed.

Finally, I accidentally asked my editor, Ms Věra Amelová, who was just working on the index for the 2nd edition of the Czech Elegant Universe and who found an explanation of the origin in a book. I don't expect regular TRF readers to be interested in similar linguistic stuff but those who search for things using search engines may be interested. And I just wanted to write it down somewhere.

Saturday, July 13, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Richard Lindzen vs Aljazeera gladiators

Some time ago, mostly Arabic-language-based politically correct TV station Aljazeera bought Current TV, a failed U.S. TV station, from former vice-president Al Gore and his partner for hundreds of millions of dollars.

They apparently got more interested in the climate and decided to debate Prof Richard Lindzen of MIT, a famous climate skeptic, in "Head to Head" which is described as "Al Jazeera's new forum of ideas - a gladiatorial contest tackling big issues such as faith, the economic crisis, democracy and intervention in front of an opinionated audience at the Oxford Union."

The video is 48 minutes long. Will you watch it?

The web page with some words and the video above is here:

Climate change: Fact or fiction?
My understanding is that Dick was hired as a bull while the brainwashed journalists indefinitely repeating the clichés about man-made climate change are supposed to be the gladiators.

Friday, July 12, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Summers, Yellen: candidates to replace Bernanke

Sometimes in January 2014, Ben Bernanke will leave the job of America's key central banker. The replacement is already being looked for. According to polls, current Fed vice-president Janet Yellen (picture below) and ex-Harvard president Larry Summers are the two frontrunners. Arguments in favor of both are so asymmetric that I won't try to compare them.

Needless to say, I know Larry in person and we've been on the same side of a battle for some fundamental values at Harvard so his candidacy for the most important economist's job in the world is far more interesting for me than Yellen's. Despite all complaints I could possibly find, I am obviously his supporter. At the same moment, they have a similar background – they're connected with the universities, the Clinton administration, and they're equally Jewish, too.

Thursday, July 11, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The "Past Hypothesis" nonsense is alive and kicking

I can't believe how dense certain people are. After many years that Sean Carroll had to localize the elementary, childish mistakes in his reasoning, he is still walking around and talking about the "arrow of time mystery" and the "Past Hypothesis":

Cosmology and the Past Hypothesis
His Santa Cruz, California talk about this non-problem took no less than 3.5 hours. Imagine actual people sitting and listening to this utter junk for such a long time. I can't even imagine that. He has even coined some new phrases that describe the very same misconception of yours.
If there is one central idea, it’s the concept of a “cosmological realization measure” for statistical mechanics. Ordinarily, when we have some statistical system, we know some macroscopic facts about it but only have a probability distribution over the microscopic details. If our goal is to predict the future, it suffices to choose a distribution that is uniform in the Liouville measure given to us by classical mechanics (or its quantum analogue). If we want to reconstruct the past, in contrast, we need to conditionalize over trajectories that also started in a low-entropy past state — that the “Past Hypothesis” that is required to get stat mech off the ground in a world governed by time-symmetric fundamental laws.
As talented enough students learn when they are college juniors or earlier, statistical mechanics explains thermodynamic phenomena by statistically analyzing large collections of atoms (or other large collections of degrees of freedom) and doesn't depend on cosmology (or anything that is larger than the matter whose behavior we want to understand) in any way whatsoever. It's the atoms, short-distance physics, that determines the behavior of larger objects (including the whole Universe), not the other way around!

Reverse Times Square 2013. In the real world, objects moving forward and backward in time can't co-exist, a well-defined logical arrow of time indicating what evolves from what has to exist everywhere. That's also why none of the clowns above managed to unbreak an egg. Exercise for you: Can the video above be authentic or was it inevitably computer-reversed afterwords? You should be able to decide by looking at details of the video. For the advanced viewers: Which parts were edited?

Moreover, since its very birth, statistical physics was a set of methods to deal with the laws of physics that were time-reversal- (or CPT-) symmetric and it always "got off the ground" beautifully. There is absolutely nothing new about these matters in 2013. In fact, nothing really qualitative has changed about statistical physics for a century or so.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bob Carter, John Spooner: Taxing Air

Previous related article: Bob Carter's job not renewed

I just received my copy of the paperback edition of cartoonist John Spooner's and geologist Bob Carter's new book, Taxing Air. The Kindle edition may be bought from amazon.com here (icon on the left side); go to TaxingAir.COM for the book's web page and options to buy it for $30.

The book immediately impressed me by the colorful illustrations on pretty much every page. They're playful, witty, full of colors and life, and they also quickly convey some key ideas.

Perhaps because it seems easier to read a 280-page book whose significant portion is filled with similar pictures, I couldn't resist and immediately started to read the book. Let me say in advance that about one-half of the pictures are jokes, often with alarmists' and (mostly Australian) politicians' faces; the other half are graphs and diagrams that explain serious scientific concepts and the cold hard data.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Papers on the ER-EPR correspondence

This new, standardized, elegant enough name of the Maldacena-Susskind proposal that I used in the title already exceeds the price of this blog entry that you had to pay. ;-)

Yesterday, there was a one-page critical paper by Hrvoje Nikolić of Zagreb, Croatia, EU trying to criticize the ER-EPR correspondence. When I am looking at similar articles, I am often ashamed to be a European: Nikolić attacking MS reminds me of an angry and hungry dog attacking Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven except that in those good old times, the composers were European and the dogs were American. This shame largely evaporates as soon as I see similarly dumb, low-quality articles inkspilled inside other continents.

Like a five-year-old spoiled boy, Nikolić screams that he has to be given some quantitative comparisons of ER and EPR correlators to trust such a thing. But it's simply not true that this is the only possible or allowed kind of evidence that the correspondence is valid. Moreover, it's obvious that once we allow the spaces with the ER bridges at all, the observables on the opposite sides of the throat will be entangled just like the rules of entanglement require; after all, despite the apparent huge distance through the normal space, they're close to each other due to the throat. In the absence of very high energy quanta, field operators at nearby points are almost equal to each other.

Sunday, July 07, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Cumrun Vafa: Strings and the magic of extra dimensions

One month ago, Cumrun Vafa's son determined that he needed to go to Bangalore, South Central India, and because Cumrun is a good father, he went with him.

So why wouldn't he give a public talk (one hour and one second) about strings and the magic of extra dimensions at the local campus of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research?

Saturday, July 06, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Tim Maudlin's right and (more often) muddled opinions about physics

Vincent has asked me what I thought about an interview with philosopher of physics Tim Maudlin at 3:am,

On the foundations of physics.
Regular TRF readers remember Maudlin as the main villain in the 2011 story about Tom Banks and anti-quantum zealots which was ignited by a discussion at Preposterous Universe (well, it was at Cosmic Variance at that time).

Yesterday, Maudlin mostly said the same wrong things as he did 1.5 years ago but let me discuss them again.

Friday, July 05, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Negligible impact of dark matter on the Solar System

Mike has asked me about the following preprint:

Constraints on Dark Matter in the Solar System by N.P. Pitjev and E.V. Pitjeva (Leningrad, Russia)
This article was celebrated by an impressive title and a "more than just uncritical" article at the Physics arXiv Blog:
The Incredible Dark Matter Mystery: Why Astronomers Say it is Missing in Action
Wow. The only comment over there that isn't preposterous is the comment by S. Seibert. Thankfully, Sean Carroll presents the same stance as your humble correspondent: in his opinion, the expected impact of the dark matter on the Solar System is comparable to the dark matter's influence on NBA three-pointers.


Thursday, July 04, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Summer School of Philosophy

I returned from a few days long trip at the Summer School of Philosophy 2013 in Dub nad Moravou (Oak Upon Morava, and it is Morava, not Morave, for all the Californian nitpickers!).

It's a small township (2,000 inhabitants) beneath a pretty presbytery 10 miles South of Olomouc, the historical and spiritual capital of Moravia (Eastern 1/2 of Czechia).

Pilgrim temple of the Purification of Virgin Mary. (Update: Wow, this translation was meant as a somewhat geeky joke – but I later found out that this is actually the correct name of the divine process in English.

A Polish guy was made the manager of the building and he's doing it very well – the Poles have a much closer relationship to God, regardless of His existence (and to the late Pope John Paul II whose pictures are everywhere) than us, after all. ;-) Some young folks organizing the school knew him which is why it was possible for the participants to sleep there etc.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Death Valley: highest temperature on Earth will survive 100th anniversary

Tons of journalists were recently hyping the warm weather that came to California and other places. Fox News and many others talk about "tied records" and "baked West".

But the real story which is almost totally overlooked is the comparison of the absolute temperature record on Earth and the modest temperatures in recent years that had no chance to match it. This real story is clearly inconvenient to the climate alarmists, one of the most unhinged and dishonest cliques of demagogues who have ever walked on the face of Earth, and journalists many of whom have always been trying to claim that what is happening right now is amazing even if it is not.

Monday, July 01, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: \(2.93\sigma\) hint of a second Higgs boson at \(136.5\GeV\)

Today's sensation is tomorrow's calibration. Or: Today's discovery is tomorrow's background. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's my pleasure to tell you that we are finally living in the tomorrow in the sense of these proverbs. CMS has finally published a paper that incorporates the \(125\)-\(126\GeV\) Higgs boson into the background.

Properties of the observed Higgs-like resonance decaying into two photons (CMS PAS HIG-13-016)
ATLAS and CMS are doing a superb precision work. One of the consequences is that their papers have been found to agree with the Standard Model immensely well. In fact, we haven't seen virtually any \(2\sigma\) excesses. One could argue that the number of false positives in other experiments than ATLAS and CMS – bumps that would fill many physicists with a "hope" that turned out to be unjustified – was much higher than 5% and the reason was that these experimenters were just sloppier than ATLAS and CMS.

But neither new physics nor flukes can be denied and confined indefinitely. The paper above which was released today is an example.

America spying on Germany, EU

An ugly image of a double-faced, hypocritical America emerges

Off-topic, philosopher's birthday: One of the greatest polymaths of the history, Gottfried von Leibniz, was born on July 1st, 1646. See this biography written in 2008. His father, a professor of moral philosophy in Leipzig, East of Germany (who was half-German, half-Sorbian i.e. Slavic: I couldn't understand a Sorbian song, looks like a countryside Czech dialect pronoucation of Polish words inspired by some Yugoslav speakers), died when Gottfried was six. From that moment on, he had access to the dad's huge library and was affected by his mother's teachings. He wrote often valuable things in dozens of disciplines but his standards and ingenuity in natural sciences couldn't match Newton's.
Edward Snowden hasn't been assassinated by the U.S. government yet so he is starting to make some real impact, unfortunately a negative one so far. The media such as the Guardian told us about the anger in Europe that erupted after some European countries' officials were shown documents indicating that Prism is spying on EU in general and Germany in particular:
Berlin accuses Washington of cold war tactics over snooping
The extremely promising Euro-American free-trade pact has been threatened after we learned that half a billion of phone calls, text messages, and e-mails are tapped by the U.S. every month. I can't really imagine how this huge amount of information may be effectively monitored, how many (invisible?) people the U.S. intelligence services are employing etc.

It would be great if people kept their heads cool because the trade pact could be a great thing and if they tried to see all the things in the context – every major power is spying on someone and Snowden actually indicated that the U.K. is more brutal in this respect than the U.S., a subtlety that the Guardian and others fail to mention – but on the other hand, I won't hide that I am kind of troubled by the revelations, too.

I generally like the Americans' character but this story highlights some of its darker sides including an unmatched level of hypocrisy, a hardwired hardcore centralization sentiment, and a generally poor understanding of (and respect for) other nations' culture and inner working. I will get to these points momentarily.