Friday, July 04, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sheldon Cooper roots for a non-Czech Wimbledon finalist

...and the obvious prospective loser, princess Eugenie...

This isn't supposed to be a serious blog post so readers insisting on deep science and ideas are recommended to ignore it.

Quantum computing news: a paper in Science argues that the D-Wave would-be quantum computer doesn't seem to speed up even several of the tasks where it could have had a chance.
In April, the writers of the otherwise excellent The Big Bang Theory sitcom turned Sheldon into a retarded guy when they made him claim that he only began to study string theory because some bullies used to beat him with a string theory textbook. It isn't really possible to learn string theory or learn to appreciate string theory by this algorithm; and it's equally impossible to abandon string theory for the mirror reasons that were described in that episode.

But the photographers have caught Jim Parsons in another awkward situation. Click the picture above this sentence to see more photographs and details.

Among the top 8 female players at the 2014 Wimbledon Tournament, there were 3 Czech women. It would have been a bad luck if none of them would make it to the final match. And indeed, Ms Petra Kvitová, the #6 at the WTA, scored mandatory victories over some foreign players as well as two of her countrymates and will face Eugenie Bouchard of Canada in the final match right after the noon on Saturday.

Now, Jim, Eugenie may be prettier than Petra – with apologies to Petra and her unrepeatable charms of a sort. Such players may even make you doubt about your sexual orientation, Jim.

But if you were a real Sheldon, you would still be rooting for Petra. I know something about it! ;-)

Note that there is no maple leaf on the Czech-Texas double flag. Feel free to promote this observation in Fun With Flags, episode 53. :-)

If you want to hear Parsons talking just about Bouchard for 7 minutes, try this video.

Did you know that Eugenie Bouchard is a student of mathematics and science? On the other hand, Petra was born in Bílovec (Wagstadt). Although the town only has 7,500 inhabitants, it possesses a remarkably mathematically good high school, the Copernicus Gymnasium. That's also the reason why I spent a week in Bílovec as a kid – a concentration week for mathematical olympiad contestants or something like that.

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reader paul (a canadian) said...

Glad to see he did the right choice ;)

reader Ron Maimon said...

LM: Everett has no results
RM: What about I_p + I_x >C? What's that? Chopped liver?

LM: stop with the ad-hominems!

You called Everett's thesis devoid of content. I am showing you this is not so, as it contains an important result, the correct uncertainty principle.

So you need to remove the slander on Everett's talent, it's as simple as that.

Regarding the interpretation, the philosophy doesn't add all that much, but the technical results, the method of separating states into relative states, is extremely important, as this is how you extract information about measurements when you are given access only to quantum mechanical wavefunction data.

I am using slight ad-hominems, because in this case (and in only a handful of others) you have your head totally up your backside in a physics related matter. That is rare, since you usually are able to read the technical content very accurately.

I suspect you simply have not bothered to read the technical content of Everett's thesis, because the philosophical context made you vomit. Just cover your mouth, and consider it an intellectual exercize to see how he defines the relative states. I think you will come to like it.

It doesn't require you to accept any philosophy, the relative state formalism is independent of philosophy.

reader Luboš Motl said...

It's not a result relevant for foundations of quantum mechanics in any sense. It's an awkward mathematical inequality remotely related to those that appear in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle but much less important.

reader AJ said...

Are they sharing a room? Do they have an agreement?

Here in Canada, we're all rooting for Genie. It's very big news.

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, which agreement do you exactly mean? In the case that it's news for you, Parsons is gay.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Nice, did you choose this nickname just for this comment or is that a persistent expression of your patriotism? ;-)

reader paul (a canadian) said...

I chose it to be particularly clear as the source of my bias...

reader Uncle Al said...

"Czech-Texas double flag" I'd be suspicious of that unless you want 1.8 million "undocumenteds" (reproductive warriors) appearing on your doorstep each year, yearning to be free. Free food, free clothing, free shelter, free healhtcare, free, and the freedom to have their whole country move in with them.

reader AJ said...

Yes I was aware of Parsons status and thought this might increase the importance of an agreement :)

Yes we treat Raonić as our own, especially since he moved here when he was 3yrs old. Canada is a country of immigrants so ethnicity isn't very important. For example we took great pride in our Jamaican born sprinters (Donovan Bailey moved here when he was 13). After Seoul, however, a certain sprinter was frequently referred to as "the Jamaican born Ben Johnson". Essentially we gave him back :)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Canada is a country of Eskimos and natives! ;-)

reader Luboš Motl said...

BTW if someone needs a good website to watch the premature final match in soccer, Germany-France, go to

reader AJ said...

These lands were once a collection of "first nations" that were in a perpetual state of war. The creation of Canada united them. Unfortunately it was in a state of perpetual welfare :(

reader Luboš Motl said...

Come on, Uncle, don't cry so much. Spaniards discovered the whole continent of yours, after all.

I enjoyed Texas when I was there once in my life - well, if you count Austin as Texas. ;-) It was a sort of down-to-earth productive land, like some places in Czechia that happen to work.

reader Gordon said...

Well, of course he shows off his high IQ by supporting the good looking Canadian girl :)
Otherwise, I actually am rooting for Federer---at the French Open the "color" commentators were slagging him, saying that he may not win another title, that at 32, he was geriatric etc.
And Raonic is a bit of a Neanderthal.

reader Luboš Motl said...

32? Is he still alive at such a high age? It's 100,000 in binary.

reader Giotis said...

My prediction for the upcoming season:

Amy will persuade Sheldon to come back, they will move in together in Sheldon’s apartment and he will continue his work in String theory (maybe with a breakthrough); Leonard and Penny will also move in together (probably in the apartment next door) and eventually get married.

Sheldon and Penny will have sex (end of season).

reader Gordon said...

No, but it's enough to get a passel of ugly feminists on your case...:)

reader Ron Maimon said...

He gave a "physicist proof" on page 129, he showed that Gaussians are the only local minima of this inquality. After you try out a few examples, you see that this means it must be true. This is the usual variational-principle derivations that physicists sometimes call proofs in the case of other minima. It's just not a rigorous proof, because the space of wavefunctions is not compact, so you need to worry about violations at the edges of the space, which are all possible distributions. There are clearly no violations, so he is justified in his conjecture, but proving this rigorously is a different kettle of fish than establishing it is true with scientific level of certainty. He did do that much, there could be no doubt it is true given the stuff on page 129.

You call it "awkward" only because you aren't familiar with it. What it says is that any additional bit of information gained about the probability distribution of p will, in the extreme case, be counterbalanced by a bit of information lost about x, no matter how it is gained. Once you get used to it, it starts to look like the correct fundamental way to state any uncertainty principle, and the variance argument starts to look hokey and derivative (Everett derives it on page 129, showing that his UP is strictly stronger).

On the other hand, the generalization to other commutators is not obvious for the information theoretic principle, while it is obvious for the variance. This is a sign that there is still future work to do, not that Everett was somehow doing something artificial.

The information theoretic formalism he discusses is now standard, but it was relatively new in 1950s. He does a full lucid review from first principles in the thesis, and gives new results.

Further, he then gives the method of embedding classical information into a quantum evolution, by identifying the classical information as a branch-selection. This is a proper way to state how quantum mechanics includes classical anything, the only classical thing here is information.

Everett does not use words like "many-worlds", not because he is shy, but because he is stating things in a properly positivist way--- he doesn't want to use an inflammatory philosophical gauge. But he isn't against using inflammatory philosophical language later, when he has nothing to lose, so he uses whatever language he feels like.

The language is not important, the important thing is the mathematical content--- he is identifying exactly how quantum mechanics plus embedded classical information selecting the wavefunction branch is equivalent to the Copenhagen interpretation of collapse. This is an extremely important result, it is the basis for all standard (meaning Copenhagen based, not hidden-variable) work on quantum mechanics since then.

reader Ron Maimon said...

You think you understand quantum mechanics enough, you don't. You only understand propaganda.

The problems he is setting out in his thesis are those that happen when you consider simulating the Schrodinger equation that describes a person, and trying to extract the person's experience inside the simulation from the numerical solution to the equation. A proper physical theory needs an algorithm to extract the perceptions of an observer from the data.

Unlike Lubos Motl, you are not giving technical criticism based on philosophical disagreement, you are simply spouting ignorant propaganda, so I think it's best if you shut the fuck up.

reader Uncle Al said...

Spain raped and pillaged the New World, killing off 30 million indigens. It was a good start, but had no follow-through. Texas is the emobdimenf achieving America, albeit with hard shell Baptists and football.

reader Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you straight from Israel. The 3 hostages that got killed, and the Palestinians that got killed by the mob are horrible event and they are frightening when you look at what they can lead to in the future. right now they are a tiny dot next to the monstrosities in Iraq.

reader Anonymous said...

Hello lobos,
I hear you say a lot that "full quantum mechanics is the only correct theory" or something along these lines. landau and lifshitz's course on quantum mechanics (i think it's volume 3 in the series) says that quantum mechanics needs a "classic enough" measuring device. if QM needs a classic measuring device in it's core, how can we say anything about a "full QM"?
I would love if you would answer my question, as it always float in my head when i read your posts.
Thank you,

reader martin said...

Lubos has a nice word for people like you "arrogant cranks" Everett claim copenhagen interpretation only allow one valid observer in universe (Solipsism) and whole of his thesis is to solve this problem .he suggest a superposition of objective reality (many world )that produce a subjective experience for many observer and reject fundamentally probabilistic nature of reality you still call this quantum mechanics?

reader John Archer said...


Since no else here has seen fit to offer you congratulations on your nation's 238th birthday, I shall.

Happy Independence Day, Yanks! :)

If I'd been a redcoat I would have jumped ship and joined you. But then if my aunt had had balls she'd have been my uncle. Oh well...

Come think of it, if I'd have been a redcoat I doubt that I'd have been told what was what, but just to kill the enemy, or be killed. I'm sure life was quite that simple for those on the King's shilling. The officers point out the enemy, and you kill 'em. That's what you were paid for. You wouldn't know anything else. And so mothers' sons end up killing mothers' sons, and all in the same family.

Fucking sad.

Anyway, I'm very pleased the right side won. But it's such a shame you're now losing what cost you so much. But then, so are we. That's fucking sad too.

reader Curious George said...

A sign on the door of a local (very English) Berkshire Inn: Closed today. Mourning a loss of a colony.

reader John Archer said...

Nice county, Royal Berkshire. :)

reader Ron Maimon said...

Everett is making a technical

point here, that it is technically inconsistent to use the Copenhagen interpretation with two separate observers, since the wavefunction reduction for one observer is not a-priori incompatible with that of the other observer. This is especially clear when one of the observers has access to the full wavefunction of the other observer, this is the Wigner's-friend paradox (it could equally well or better be called Everett's friend).

One resolution to Everett's friend is solipsism, that only YOU can collapse the wavefunction. This is the point he is making, and he is absolutely correct.

The reason he "sounds wrong" to your untrained ears is because he is original. All original work sounds wrong, and it sounds wrong in direct proportion to the originality of the work, not in proportion to it's correctness. One of the most important parts of scientific training is to learn to suppress the desire to brand all new ideas as wrong.

Everett also sounds wrong to trained scientist readers, for different reasons, having to do with philosophical prejudice, and the fundamental difficulty of getting a clear picture of such a strange idea as what he is proposing in his interpretation. That's not his fault, that's the reader's fault.

The statement you make, that he is "rejecting the fundamentally probabilistic nature of reality" is just making a propaganda point. His reality is fundamentally probabilistic, except the probability occurs in a different place, it is in the perception of classical data inside the observers, whose subjective perception are taking this or that path in the wavefunction, at random.

There is a complete dictionary between Everett concepts and Copenhagen concepts. There is no way to reject his interpretation as nonsensical or inconsistent (unlike, say, the transactional interpretation), because it is complete and with sufficient sophistication, equivalent to Copenhagen. But the different perspective gives insight into why Copenhagen is consistent, and why it looks the way it does.

reader John Klein said...


Do you agree that the Multiverse itself is static while time emerges as a result of the processes within it? Is this just a meaningless metaphysical proposition?

reader AJ said...

Yes... Happy Birthday to my Yankee neighbours to the south! I hope you especially enjoyed your breakfast pie this morning!

From wiki:

A humorous aphorism attributed to E. B. White summarizes the following distinctions:

To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
To Northerners, a Yankee is an Easterner.
To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast.

reader Svik said...

Still stuck with:

1 up green 1
2 down red 1
3 up green 1
4 down red 1

Even the scores and delta are in sync.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear John,

first of all, whether the whole spacetime or just its slice at a given time (now) exists is nothing else than the presentism vs eternalism debate and the answer has nothing to do with the question whether there is one universe or many universes or a multiverse.

Relativity classically makes one think in your "eternalist" way - the whole spacetime is equally real etc. This attitude is reflected in some algrebra (of constraints) at the quantum level, too.

However, it is very important that the facts - the results of the measured experiments - to be decided in the future don't exist now (yet). It follows from the free-will theorem and related results. The random generator dictating the outcomes from several possibilities must really be occurring "as time goes by".

So I wouldn't say that the question is meaningless metaphysics. It is actually meaningful metaphysics but the answer has to be divided and refined, it is more subtle.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Anonymous, I am saying the same thing as Landau and Lifshitz.

To make or verify propositions about events of the known type in quantum mechanics, we need a classical device/observer that registers the quantum information.

But that doesn't mean that we need classical physics or that we need the laws to follow the rules of classical physics.

The classical objects are entities or concepts within quantum mechanics, definable by a definition that only uses concepts of quantum mechanics. A classical object is an object whose key properties we describe by observables given by operators L_i, L_j... that effectively commute and evolve from each other basically deterministically so that they *mimic* what we knew in classical physics. But we're not switching the world to classical physics in any sense. It's still full-fledged quantum mechanics.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Everything you write is completely and fundamentally and importantly wrong, Rong. Or Ron. ;-)

Everett's rants are indeed incompatible with proper quantum mechanics but it's because he is incorrect about all the issues, not because there is anything incorrect about quantum mechanics.

No solipsism is required for quantum mechanics. Solipsism is the assumption that "I" fundamentally and objectively differ from others when it comes to possession of consciousness blah blah blah. Quantum mechanics implies nothing of the sort. Quantum mechanics is supposed to be used by any observer equally. It just says that the things it predicts are subjective perceptions. But when one refers to subjective perceptions, it doesn't mean that he is adopting solipsism.

I have no desire to suppress new theories as I am demonstrating every day. Moreover, Everett's texts are not a "new theory". They are 57 years "old delusions".

reader Luboš Motl said...

Happy Birthday to you, too late. And happy birthday to the 2nd birthday of the Higgs boson.

My nation celebrates the 1151st anniversary of literacy and orthodox belief (brought by Constantin and Methodius, two missionaries from the Eastern Roman Empire) - both of which are mostly evaporated :-) - today. Tomorrow, we have 599th anniversary of the execution of Jan Huss, a priest, an early Christian reformer and warrior against the Catholic hypocrisy.

reader Don said...

"All original work sounds wrong". Boy this is so incorrect. The best novel new science that has emerged during my practicing career always has the quality "Oh man, that is so obvious, why didn't I see it?". What are some examples of this? PCR. Combinatorial model of mRNA regulation. Phenotypes as attractor states in a multidimensional phase space. Network math applied to brain, or cell function. All of these were original, and they were all obvious upon hearing them. Not a one of them sounded wrong. Just saying...Don

reader Fred said...

OK. You got me!

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, the reason why I found it moderately funny is that I am pretty sure that most of the other contestants are running their code on some near-supercomputers with the power orders of magnitude above my laptop.

So beating these guys with heavy expensive technology with the help of a Lumia is just a slight exaggeration of what I am doing. ;-)

reader Michael said...

Hi Lubos,
the comment you are responding to wasn't directed at you, he did not call you untrained or said you suppressed new theories. He replied to Martin.
I do understand why you are annoyed, you have spent so much time and energy (and thank you for that) explaining the crucial element of subjectivity in quantum mechanics, and its rejection of "objective reality" (and why many worlds doesn't work).
I hope this doesn't mean that we don't get to see his guest blog on cold fusion.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Apologies to all the Canadian fans for the fact that Kvitová thought that one hour would be too much time to spend for the decision about such a formality! ;-)

As ex-president Klaus, an avid tennis player, user to say: Really but really, if I am better than my opponent, I really won't work hard to make the game balanced, like 8:6, 8:6, 8:6 - I will just beat him 6:0, 6:0, 6:0.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks, I removed the entry from the blog list, but I am annoyed even when other people who just dare to point out that quantum mechanics works are being treated in this way.

I have been trying to get the deep Ron's thoughts about the cold fusion for some time and will continue to do so.

reader Gordon said...

Hmmm, is the Czech Republic really allowed to enter a Terminator who trained pulling ploughs and drinking (by the look of the prominent beer belly) way too much Pilsen beer?
(congrats--Gennie can play much better. Than that but KvItova steamrollered her today.)

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, Petra isn't really a big beer drinker.

But she only owns $15 million last night so she can't afford to eat food by professional cooks or similar thieves.

Last night, her dinner was prepared by the guy who is otherwise stringing her rackets.

reader RAF III said...

Lubos - I understand your annoyance with Ron, but it was amusing to watch him dig himself into an ever deeper hole. I think it would not have been too long before he realized it.
p.s. - Kvitova was awesome

reader M Mahin said...

Thanks for the excellent and much needed rebuttal. The Everett "many worlds" theory is the nuttiest theory the human mind has ever created. According to that theory, all
possibilities are as any real as what we observe -- so there are an infinite number of parallel Earths in which a dog rules as the president of the United States. There is not, and never possibly could be, the slightest observational evidence for this crackpot idea. No one could ever observe a parallel universe. The Everett "many worlds" theory is not and never will be science. It is instead metaphysics -- the worst type of metaphysics.

It's interesting that a JP Morgan executive recently jumped to his death from a skyscraper. A friend said he was a parallel universes enthusiast, and suggested he was inspired by two other parallel universe believers who had committed suicide. This is a case of an irrational belief leading to irrational conduct.

See my blog post "The Parallel Universes Delusion."

reader AJ said...


reader John McVirgo said...


Martin is an untrained physicist as he's admitted himself, and so it's perfectly OK for Ron to describe him as such.

Is Ron able to comment now?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Hi! Gábor made a new submission today and jumped to the top with nearly 3.84, wow! ;-) I think that he has some really good code that is actually guaranteed to get better if he runs it for a longer CPU time, and he runs it for hours or days! ;-)

Maybe it's just one of the standard libraries with some extreme choice of parameters that beat overfitting (for the price of being very slow) but I don't know how this could be done, at least not with certainty.

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