Monday, June 30, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The ISIL caliphate twist

The successes of the ISIL/ISIS, a terrorist organization working to establish the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, have brought a new twist (rooted in very old anti-civilizational delusions) to the unstable politics of the Middle East.

"Dr Ibrahim", the 40-or-so old "caliph" and the permanently masked chieftain of the ISIL/ISIS terrorists. Caliphates – territories led by a Muslim head – were founded after Mohammed's 632 AD death as a religious (and later political) institution. The previous (or so far latest) caliphate, the fifth one, was abolished by Turkish leader Atatürk in 1924 – he managed to convert Turkey to a nearly modern, almost secular country.

The last letter L/S in ISIL/ISIS is either Syria or the Levant. In effect, it may make a difference because "Syria" would be a relatively "modest" ambition of these bigots. On the other hand, the "Levant" refers to the Orient, the whole Eastern Mediterranean with its potentially flexible definition – see e.g. these diverse maps of the new black would-be state (including the Pooh bear on his trip to China).

Sunday, June 29, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Franson's "breakthrough" concerning the speed of light

Increasingly pathetic crackpot papers are being promoted by the outlets calling themselves "scientific media" at an increasing frequency that has probably surpassed the value of "one crackpot paper per day" a long time ago.

In recent days, tons of journalists got obsessed with the theme that "the speed of light might be wrong". The places where you could read this stuff included The Daily Mail and Pakistan's The Nation claiming that Einstein was wrong all along in the very title, The Huffington Post, The Financial Express, Science Alert, and dozens of others.

Most shockingly, there is a website called The Physics arXiv Blog that praises this stuff as well and the wording looks similar to the "real" Physics arXiv Blog although I can't find it there.

Saturday, June 28, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sarajevo assassination: 100 years

Exactly 100 years ago, the Great War became unavoidable. (That's how the people called a world war before they were forced to realize that this exercise is repeatable.)

On Sunday, June 28th, 1914, the prospective Czech king – who also managed to be destined to become the Hungarian king and the emperor of the rest of Austria-Hungary, too – archduke Franz Ferdinand d'Este, along with his wife, Czech countess Sophie (Žofie, genetically Czech aristocrat, culturally fully Germanized) who was afraid of her husband's safety (rightfully, it turned out, but her fear didn't help), was murdered during his visit to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, in a South Slavic region that would belong to Austria-Hungary at that time.

The assassin was Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb whose act was almost certainly coordinated by the Serbian secret services or parts of the Serbian military. Serbia had ambitions to destabilize the South Slavic regions of the Austrian Empire, Croatia, Bulgaria, and others and the principle or the principal goal of Princip's and other efforts was to create something like a Great Serbia. Well, let's use the word: they simply wanted to create Yugoslavia. ;-)

Bruno Zumino: 1923-2014

Sadly, Bruno Zumino, an Italian emeritus professor at UC Berkeley, died at age of 91 on June 22nd early after the midnight.

His 100 or so papers have won him 20,000 citations or so, a sign he was a top physicist.

His papers include six very different articles with over 1,000 citations per paper. They cover the eras both before the discovery of supersymmetry and after the discovery of supersymmetry.

Friday, June 27, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Have Australians and their photons legitimized time travel?

I've received links to this story approximately from 7 people so I will write a short blog post although I don't claim that it's a well-deserved honor for the authors. At any rate, the popular science media were full of the news that physicists managed to simulate time travel with photons, showed that there is nothing wrong with closed time-like curves at the quantum level, and so on.

See e.g. The Daily Mail – to be sure that at least one URL works for more than 30 days – and the press release at the University of Queensland, Doctor Who meets Professor Heisenberg.

All these wonderful things were not invented by the journalists. There is actually an article in Nature Communications

Experimental simulation of closed timelike curves
by Martin Ringbauer, a PhD student (!) and a lead author, and collaborators.

Thursday, June 26, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Strings 2014: talks

Princeton University and the nearby IAS – in combination, the ultimate epicenter of string theory on this planet – are co-hosting Strings 2014 this week (Monday-Friday). By far the most useful page on that server is this

Talks at Strings 2014 (URLs of slides and videos)
You may see that the AdS/CFT (and, more generally, "holographic") talks represent the largest percentage of the contributions. That includes applications in condensed matter physics, topological metals, turbulence, various indices, spectral curves, and so on.

Several talks – including one by the BICEP2 boss John Kováč – are dedicated to inflation and primordial gravitational waves. This set includes Paul Steinhardt's monologue, Daniel Baumann's talk, and Eva Silverstein's monodromy speech, Fernardo Marchesano's thoughts about the same type of models, and Matias Zaldarriaga's musings about the dawn of B-modes (have I missed someone)?

Should BICEP2, Higgs have crushed the Universe?

Only if you believe that there can't be any saviors

Yo Yo and other readers were intrigued by the following cool yet slightly misleading article in the Daily Mail:

Big Bang controversy grows: Study claims universe would have collapsed 'a second after it formed' if Bicep2 results were true
Lots of science media are combining the July 2012 Higgs discovery and the March 2014 BICEP2 discovery in this apocalyptic way although some of them chose a more sensible – more correct and less catastrophic – title (I mean and praise the titles referring to "new physics"). The articles were sparked by the following paper
Electroweak Vacuum Stability in light of BICEP2 (arXiv)
by Malcolm Fairbairn and Robert Hogan from Kings College London that was published in PRL one month ago (which is why the explosion of hype right now seems to be a bit late from any point of view).

To make the story short, if both the discovery of the \(125\GeV\) Higgs boson and the BICEP2 discovery of the primordial gravitational waves are valid, the Universe should have decayed – fled into an increasingly unlivable state incompatible with the particles as we know them – just a moment after the Big Bang. The following 13.8 billion years should have been impossible.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Philosophy became a euphemism for crackpot physics

Sean Carroll attempted to defend philosophy against the physicists who rightfully point out that it is not the right path to learn how the world around us works:

Physicists Should Stop Saying Silly Things about Philosophy (Preposterous Universe)
This defense isn't surprising because Sean Carroll is an eminent example of a physics crackpot who uses philosophy and his personal links with philosophers to suggest that he is something else than a physics crackpot.

He lists three valid criticisms that physicists sometimes raise against philosophy and attempts to disagree with them:
“Philosophy tries to understand the universe by pure thought, without collecting experimental data.”

“Philosophy is completely useless to the everyday job of a working physicist.”

“Philosophers care too much about deep-sounding meta-questions, instead of sticking to what can be observed and calculated.”
These criticisms – in one way or another articulated by folks like Weinberg, Hawking, Krauss, Tyson, and others – are true even though Weinberg in particular has stated the problems with philosophy much more crisply and accurately.

Try Wolfram Programming Cloud now

Sort of a remote online Mathematica+ for everyone

Stephen Wolfram and his folks have silently started an amazing thing:

WolframCloud.COM (click!)
See also Wolfram's blog post, Wolfram Programming Cloud is live, that offers you some cool examples what you may do right now.

I came to the web above, WolframCloud.COM, and tried a username/password combination I used to use with some Wolfram Alpha widgets or something. It has worked! You may create a new account over there, I guess.

What's really new and live on WolframCloud.COM is the "Wolfram Programming Cloud". You may click at many things over there, including "New". The latter gives you a Mathematica (more precisely: Wolfram Language) notebook interface of a sort. But everything is run on Wolfram's computers.

Lots of the functionalities you may expect from the cloud will satisfy you.

An LHC-friendly type IIA stringy braneworld

Dimitri Nanopoulos et al. have studied a different class of string compactifications capable of describing the Universe around us, at least as the first sketch. But today, they switched to type IIA braneworlds:

A Realistic Intersecting D6-Brane Model after the First LHC Run
Tianjun Li, D. V. Nanopoulos, Shabbar Raza, Xiao-Chuan Wang look at a particular model with D6-branes in type IIA string theory on the \(T^6/ \ZZ_2\times\ZZ_2\) orbifold.

This picture is originally from a paper about F-theory model building but the 2D illustrations aren't too different.

Monday, June 23, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

BICEP2 and PRL: journalists prove that they're trash

On Wednesday, Prof Knížák, a top Czech artist, told us that the journalists are wrong about everything. Whatever they write down is guaranteed to be wrong.

He has famously said that nowadays, the state of being informed is a sign of the lack of education because people are being mass-fed by distorted, irrelevant, and bogus stories. Students at schools are no longer able to think or debate. A cacophony of meaningless monologues has superseded a thoughtful dialogue. The Internet search engines have amplified the problem because especially young people are increasingly copying whole sentences and answers verbatim. They're no longer able to build any framework in their minds that could be used as a starting point for generating conclusions, predictions, or opinions.

When he was saying these things, I would think he was exaggerating. I have seen journalists who have written deep and sometimes even true and important things before, haven't I? However, since Wednesday or so, my impression has changed. I've been totally overwhelmed and repelled by the Internet and the media. The amount and intensity of recent junk and pure lies has exceeded some episodes I vaguely remember from the past.

Higgs correctly decays to bottoms, taus

The confidence level exactly matches the ATLAS contest top scores

The MIT released a cute press release 12 hours ago (which promotes a new paper in Nature Physics):

Fresh evidence suggests particle discovered in 2012 is the Higgs boson

Findings confirm that a particle decays to fermions, as predicted by the Standard Model.

Evidence for the direct decay of the \(125\GeV\) Higgs boson to fermions (Nature Physics)
Markus Klute of MIT and his collaborators looked for traces of a Higgs boson decaying to a pair of tau leptons,\[

h \to \tau^+\tau^-

\] See also a related CERN press release. Note that in July 2012, the Higgs boson was originally discovered by looking at processes when it was born and decayed either to two photons or two Z-bosons:\[

h \to \gamma\gamma, \quad h\to Z^0 Z^0

\] The processes involving a pair of fermions in the final state are a little bit less frequent. Note that the fermions get their masses from the God mechanism which means that the heavier fermions have stronger interactions with the Higgs. That's why the 3rd generation fermions are reasonably easy to be seen.

Sunday, June 22, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

You may watch Particle Fever soon

If you have been thinking about watching the 99-minute movie about the LHC, Particle Fever (by Mark Levinson and David Kaplan), it's time for you to recheck the movie's website which provides you with diverse ways how to be able to see the thriller.

What's your place where you usually get movies? Amazon? iTunes? Something else? ;-) Whatever it is, you should look there because chances are that you may see the movie very soon, sooner than you expect! You may find traces of the movie that you haven't found before when you tried. I hope that the hints have been sufficient. :-)

Saturday, June 21, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Siméon Denis Poisson: a birthday

Siméon Denis Poisson was born at the beginning of Summer 1781, on June 21st (like today), to a French royal soldier. He would die in 1840, at age of 58. He was a top French mathematician, geometer, and physicist of his era.

Both Lagrange and Laplace were his advisers. Liouville, Dirichlet, and Carnot (of the thermodynamic cycle fame) were among his students.

Revolutionary changes in France have influenced him in many professional ways. You may read it elsewhere.

A Czech anti-Maidan warrior

This guy came to Eastern Ukraine to protect Donbass and to fight against the Maidan regime:

I must say that I sort of admire him. His name is Ivo Stejskal and he is a teacher of physical education and civic education in Brno, Moravia, Czechia. He must be sort of inspiring for his (basic school, Novolíšeňská Street) students. The Czech media inform that he's a polite, likable person who gets the best ratings from his friends and colleagues.

Friday, June 20, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

BICEP2 gets published in PRL

Discovery upheld, paper nearly unchanged

Lots of sourballs and jealous experimenters (and theorists) have been trying to sling mud on the March 2014 discovery of the primordial gravitational waves by BICEP2. Some of them have been suggesting that it wasn't even kosher to write or talk about the discovery before it gets through the "peer review".

Well, those people associating the process of "peer review" with supernatural abilities have yet another reason to shut their mouth because the work was just published in the appropriately prestigious Physical Review Letters:

Detection of B-Mode Polarization at Degree Angular Scales by BICEP2 by Ade et al. (BICEP2)
Not just the abstract above but the whole paper is available for free. We should have entered the era in which almost all cosmo/astro/particle/theoretical physics papers should be available for free due to a contract.

Unless you have memorized individual sentences in the original draft (see arXiv) really carefully, you won't really find a difference. The paper claims the discovery of these waves. I can't even safely say whether it lists more methods to be confident that the discovery is real or fewer methods to do so.

The abstract claims that the null hypothesis is excluded at "more than five sigma" confidence level (and, later in the abstract, "seven sigma" confidence level) using the first method, that the dust is 5-10 times smaller than the observed signal if various models of the dust available in the literature are being used, and that cross-correlation arguments and the right spectral index exclude the dust at "three sigma" or "one point seven sigma" even without any models. It also says that if all these things are ignored, it's plausible that some completely new model of the dust could change the conclusion or at least the confidence level. What a surprise. Any development in any part of science may change things.

Will millions of girls start to code for $50 million?

I don't think so but I wish Google good luck

These folks at Google must really believe the cause.

What you said was nice, girls, except that I would bet that these words were written by a man.

Google along with Chelsea Clinton and others are paying $50 million to an initiative ( that should attract girls to coding, programming, and reduce the gender gap in information technologies.

Thursday, June 19, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

AMS-02: no cutoff in positron fraction up to \(400^+\GeV\)

Fer137 has pointed out that the AMS-02 collaboration has published some new data a few days ago.

In contradiction with my previous sociological speculations 14 months ago, they still don't show any cutoff after 11 million electron-positron events have been taken into account.

Feynman was right: easily explainable theories can't be worth physics Nobel prize

Out of many quotes by Richard Feynman, Tommaso Dorigo picked a 1965 statement printed in the July 22nd 1985 issue of People Magazine:

Hell, if I could explain it to the average person, it wouldn't have been worth the Nobel prize.
Dorigo himself adds: "I sure cannot disagree more with Dick than on the above sentence!" It is not quite clear to me whether Dorigo "only" disagrees with the general idea that Feynman wanted to convey or whether he even disagrees with the statement that Quantum Electrodynamics cannot be explained to the average person. I am eagerly waiting for Dorigo's textbook explaining QED to the average person! One can't even explain the actual general postulates of quantum mechanics to an average physics PhD – there is a whole "discipline" in the Academia that says that it's perfectly OK not to understand them and to replace the proper knowledge of the universal postulates by a comparative-literature-department-inspired discussion blog – so be sure that the task I assigned to him is much harder.

Maybe I should have used a skyscraper instead?

Well, your humble correspondent does agree with Feynman. At least for several centuries, cutting-edge physics – especially theoretical physics – has been built on top of a tall pyramid of insights that depend on other insights. The newest developments, including the breakthroughs, may transform several floors at the top, perhaps many floors. But they just can't overthrow the pyramid so entirely that you wouldn't need at least a couple of floors at the bottom.

An ex-presidential birthday party

I think that generic parties and similar events are not a good material for a weblog that is expected to be global in character. One reason is that most readers are not interested; another reason is that I am intrinsically an introvert and privacy is something I consider important.

But Czech ex-president Václav Klaus' 73rd birthday banquet may be different. It is a public event of a sort. I was invited and I went there yesterday. It was organized in the headquarters of the Václav Klaus Institute, in the Chateaux of Hanspaulka, the villa above.

Hanspaulka is "better than the adjacent places" villa quarter in Prague, Northwest from the Prague Castle, a subhabitat inside the villa neighborhoods called Dejvice, Střešovice, and Bubeneč. Prague dwellers will surely forgive me this outsider version of the Prague geography. I was walking a lot – 15 miles a day – and the "social shoes" are not good for that so some of my blisters are really bloody bastards. By the way, it was a nearly sunny, very warm, but fortunately not tropical, day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

David Evans' notch-filter theory of the climate is infinitely fine-tuned

The required notch filter itself is the key disease showing that the particular solar model is almost certainly incorrect

More than two months ago, Jo Nova's partner David Evans sent a group of people including your humble correspondent impressively looking and formally convincing documents about a new solar theory of the climate. I have spent many hours with reading them and thinking about them, exchanging e-mails with David, and so on. Because the documents were rather long, I needed an hour at the very beginning to see what the model really says, but that was followed by many other hours of reading.

Sometime on the second day, I became pretty much certain that the model is wrong. At that time, I should have stopped all interactions because they were unlikely to be constructive and I was at risk that I wouldn't even be thanked for the intense hours even though David would tell me he was incorporating my feedback – and this worry seems to have materialized, indeed. Not that it's too important! ;-) I did stop spending my time a few days later, anyway.

More importantly, I think that the climate cannot work like that and if you look how the theory works and what is used as evidence in favor of the theory, it's very clear that there is no evidence at all. Now when the theory is no longer embargoed, see big news I and big news II on Jo Nova's blog, let me summarize the model a little bit concisely.

John Oliver funnily interviews Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking has demonstrated that he's a good comedian once again.

John Oliver asked many important questions about the Universe, the alien life, the dictatorship by robots, and his abilities to date someone in a parallel universe.

Obama's commencement speech and the illusion of science literacy

Obama gave a commencement speech at UC Irvine:

He said some optimistic words, left-wing clichés about the inequality and the tautologically untrue propositions about the superior importance of the middle class, the need to welcome immigrants, and especially various words about the good quality of UC Irvine. This school sort of sucks but because they sent him 10,000 postcards to make him visit, they must be great.

I will discuss his comments about the climate and science in general. Go to 8:00 or so where this segment begins. This junk unfortunately goes on and on and on.

ATLAS race: conquering K2 for the first time

If someone happens to occasionally follow the ATLAS Higgs Contest Leaderboard, she could have noticed that among the 677 athletes or teams, your humble correspondent jumped to the 2nd place early in the morning. (Too bad, the T.A.G. team jumped above me an hour later, by a score higher by 0.00064 than mine, so I am third again.)

This is how I imagine the formidable competitors. Lots of powerful robotics and IT under the thick shields, boasting the ability to transform from one form to another, consuming terawatts of energy, and so on. Most of them would have competed in numerous similar contests. The only "big data" programming I have done in my life was a reformatting of the 80,000 Echo comments on this blog a few years ago, and I didn't really write too many smart programs in the last 25 years, and none of them was in the typical programming languages that contemporary programmers like to use.

But even if one is a programming cripple like that, he is allowed to compete. In this sense, ATLAS and Kaggle are more welcoming than a KFC branch in Missouri that ordered a 3-year-old girl injured by pitbulls to leave the restaurant because she was scaring the other consumers away.

Monday, June 16, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sabine began to understand the incompatibility of discrete physics with relativity

Several years ago, the writers of The Big Bang Theory, the sitcom, may have been inspired by Sabine Hossenfelder when they ordered Leslie Winkle to present a ludicrous anti-string rant defending loop quantum gravity in front of Sheldon Cooper.

The episode S02E02 was actually the first one I ever watched because of that exchange.

Winkle would say the very same things as her real-world subpar physics counterparts. Things like "loop quantum gravity" are predictive and it's so great that they predict that the speed of light depends on the frequency due to the discrete character of the spacetime near the Planck scale.

Windows 8.1, shape writing etc.

Last night, I wasn't sufficiently exhausted by the usual Sunday floorball match and card games so I decided to upgrade my Lumia 520 to Windows Phone 8.1 preview for developers. You register yourself as a developer and then "check for updates" offers you these beta updates, too. You can't return to 8.0 and may void some warranties. But you will be upgraded to the final version of Windows Phone 8.1 when it's out. The upgrade process was free of any glitches (you shouldn't try to interrupt the process by taking pictures etc.! Be sure that you don't run out of the battery in the middle!) but it took hours to be completed.

There are various improvements. You may see that the tiles may be transparent and show a background image behind them. You may increase the number of columns of tiles from two to three. FM radio is moved to a special application, a new file manager works, an Android-like "notification [action] center plus fast settings" is added via the top swipe. Cortana is a personal assistant, Microsoft's answer to Siri (it only works in English and Chinese so far). A battery supervisor is improved much like tons of other things. Applications and everything else may finally be saved to the removable SD card.

Saturday, June 14, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Has the extinction rate increased 1,000 times?

Lots of journalists happily spread the "gospel" about a recent paper in the Science Magazine,

The biodiversity of species and their rates of extinction, distribution, and protection
by S.L. Pimm and 8 co-authors (U.S., U.K., Brazil). The abstract suggests it is a rather careful, conservative paper with some interesting statistics. The summaries in the media are not so careful, I think.

The eye-catching figure is that it's being estimated – and as far as I see, the paper assumes it is essentially right – that the "number of species that go extinct per year" has increased by three orders of magnitude. That's huge and I would surely count myself as someone who cares about the biodiversity problem if the truth were close to this number.

I have no doubts that people have exterminated numerous species – usually by clearly hostile tools such as guns, not so much by some esoteric, hypothetical, and convoluted methods such as carbon dioxide emissions which are OK for everyone – but are the numbers so bad?

Friday, June 13, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

James Clerk Maxwell: a birthday

Off-topic, geology: The world ocean may have just quadrupled. A Science article brings evidence that at the depth of 410-660 km, there is a huge amount of so far overlooked water hiding in ringwoodite, a sponge-like stone, whose volume is 3 times the surface oceans' combined.
James Clerk Maxwell was born on June 13th, 1831, i.e. 183 (similar digits) years ago, which was fortunately for him Monday and not Friday we have today ;-), to a wealthy advocate from a family of Conservative Party lawmakers, and he died on November 5, 1879 (deja vu without MathJax). He was probably the most influential 19th century string theorist even though he mostly cared about the low-energy limit, similarly to the supergravity theorists today.

Michael Mann's six new lies interviewed the world's most notorious fraudulent climate fearmonger Michael Mann about

Six Things Michael Mann Wants You to Know About the Science of Global Warming.
Well, they mostly spoke in such a way that Michael Mann preached and obediently listened so I shouldn't have called it an interview.

His text is rather incredible. As Roger Pielke Jr observed five years ago, if Michael Mann did not exist, the skeptics would have to invent him.

According to Mann's latest tirade, everyone would be a fearmonger and a demagogue like himself if the public became more familiar with six propositions – various would-be facts and ideas. What are they? Are they true?

1. Climate Scientists are the Real Skeptics

No, they are not. Climate skeptics are known as "skeptics" for a good reason – because they are nothing else than the practitioners of scientific skepticism in the context of the remarkable claims about the climate. Climate fearmongers such as Michael Mann himself are those who are rejecting the rules of the scientific skepticism in a way that is completely analogous to the blunders committed by the advocates of paranormal phenomena and similar things.

Quantum contextuality is just another fancy word for Bohr's complementarity

People keep on rediscovering the old quantum wheel, while they produce and eat lots of šit, too

The popular science media were full of reports that a "magic word" has been found that will enable quantum computers, and the "magic word" is "contextuality". Quantum contextuality is a fancy word for the fact that quantum mechanics doesn't allow you to assume that the quantities you measure objectively had (in the classical sense) the sharp values you ultimately measured before the measurement.

Because of the quantum contextuality, what the measurements reveal depends on the character of the measurements, and not just some would-be objective reality that exists independently of the measurements.

All this journalistic excitement is based on a paper in Nature:

Contextuality supplies the magic for quantum computation by Howard, Wallman, Veitch, Emerson (arXiv, Nature)

Quantum computing: Powered by magic by Bartlett (Nature, semipopular)

... EurekAlert press release, Google News ...
The actual technical paper has a higher percentage of correct statements relatively to the wrong statements than the typical papers published about "the foundations of quantum mechanics" these days. But it is still a bizarre mixture of popular-book-level hype and distortions with some potentially technical stuff in quantum computation.

Thursday, June 12, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Barack Obama passes the Turing test, too

The famous computer science pioneer Alan Turing decided to define "artificial intelligence" as the machine's ability to speak in such a way that it fools people around into thinking that he or she or it is an actual human being. I don't think that this very definition of intelligence is deep – this will be discussed later.

Barack Obama and his Japanese friend

But let's first cover the story. As the chatbot's namesake Eugene S told us, the media have been full of hype about a chatbot pretending to be a 13-year-old Ukrainian boy Eugene Goostman (see his or her or its web where you may chat with Eugene) who has tricked 1/3 of a London committee into believing the words were produced by a human. The programmer of the chatbot remained modest and he would probably agree that his program isn't dramatically more advanced than Eliza that was created half a century ago.

(I still remember my encounter with a 130-cm robot who came to me and shook my hand at the Rutgers Busch Campus Cafeteria sometime in 1999. The discussion with this robot – about Czechia, Werner Heisenberg, and other things – was much more inspiring than similar talks one may have with 99% of the people. For a day or so, I was stunned: has the artificial intelligence improved so much? Beware spoilers: After the day, I assured myself that the robot has had cameras, microphones, and speakers converting human voice to a funny robotic noise, and this "artificial personality" was controlled remotely from about a 50-meter-distant location.)

Here's my interview with another one that has tricked almost all Americans and people in the world that his sentences are genuine human creations rather than decorated rhetorical patterns invented by semi-automatic politically correct speechwriters.

Motl: Did you know about the policy of selective targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service?

Obama: Let me make sure that I answer your specific question. I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press.

Motl: But that wasn't my question. I was asking generally about the harassment of right-wingers, not about a report of yours.

Obama: Let me be clear. Now, could you tell me where you live?

Motl: Hmm. What about the relationships with Eastern Europe? Don't you think that America should support the independently working prosperity of countries such as Poland instead of their obsession with permanently viewing Russia as the culprit behind all their failures?

Obama: Let me make sure: Poland is one of our strongest and closest allies. Using a phrase from boxing, Poland punches above its weight. ;-D

Zeman's speech on Arabs, Islam, and Israel's independence

Czech president wins the hearts of some Israel supporters

Two weeks ago, I shouldn't have missed Czech president Miloš Zeman's speech in Prague's Hilton – on the Israel's independence day. Here is a translation from the Czech original.

Speech of the president of the republic on the Israel's Independence Day banquet
May 27th, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen,

thank you for your invitation to this celebration of Israel's Independence Day. In the Czech Republic, dozens of state holidays commemorating the independence are being marked every year. I may arrive to some of them, I am too busy to attend others, but the only holiday of independence which I can never leave out is the celebration of the independence of the Jewish State of Israel.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Entanglement and networks of wormholes

The newly realized relationship between the geometric connections in the spacetime and the standard quantum entanglement has been the topic of exciting papers in recent years. One aspect of the papers that have been written down so far made them simple and too special: the entangled systems were always pretty much pairs of degrees of freedom and the wormhole correspondingly looked bipartite, like a cylindrical tunnel connecting two pretty much identical throats at the ends.

A newly published 65-page-long hep-th preprint

Multiboundary Wormholes and Holographic Entanglement
by Balasubramanian (I don't need a clipboard, Vijay!), Hayden, Maloney (hi, Alex!), Marolf, and Ross from Upenn/CUNY-Stanford-McGill/Harvard-UCSB-Durham (yes, seven affiliations for five authors, guess why!) was written in order to transcend this limitation.

A cantor learns a lesson from a brat

Oops, native English speakers probably don't know that a "kantor" is a teacher or a schoolmaster in Germany, Czechia, or Central Europe in general, so please be aware that the title is wittier than it sounds LOL

America is thrilled by the victory of an unknown Tea Party candidate, Dave Brat, an economics instructor at an unknown college in Virginia, over Eric Cantor, the House Majority (=GOP) Leader, in the Virginian Republican primaries.

One has to return by a decade in time to find a majority leader (Daschle) who would lose an election and no one remembers a loss of a majority leader in the primary elections. No one remembers because it hasn't happened since 1899 when the chair of the majority leader was invented.

I think that Cantor is a smart and sensible chap and I could disagree with some beliefs of Brat but as far as I am concerned, the positive emotions outweigh the negative ones.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Basics of the ATLAS contest

Update 6/15: After several days, I returned to top three out of the 656 competitors (or teams). 3.74428 would be enough to lead a week ago but times are changing. We are dangerously approaching the 3.8 territory at which I am likely to lose a $100 bet that the final score won't surpass 3.8, and I am contributing to this potential loss myself. ;-)
...and some relativistic kinematics and statistics...

In the ATLAS machine learning contest, somebody jumped above me yesterday so I am at the fourth place (out of nearly 600 athletes) right now. Mathieu Cliche made Dorigo's kind article about me (yes, some lying anti-Lumo human trash has instantly and inevitably joined the comments) a little bit less justifiable. The leader's advantage is 0.02 relatively to my score. I actually believe that up to 0.1 or so may easily change by flukes so the first top ten if not top hundred could be in a statistical tie – which means that the final score, using a different part of the dataset, may bring anyone from the group to the top.

(Correction in the evening. It's the fifth place now, BlackMagic got an incredible 3.76 or so. I am close to giving up because the standard deviation in the final score is about 0.04, I was told.)

I have both "experimental" and theoretical reasons to think that 0.1 score difference may be noise. Please skip this paragraph if it becomes too technical. Concerning the "experimental" case, well, I have run several modified versions of my code which were extremely similar to my near-record at AMS=3.709 but which seemed locally better, faster, less overfitted. The expected improvement of the score was up to 0.05 but instead, I got 0.15 deterioration. Concerning the theoretical case, I believe that there may be around 5,000 false negatives among the 80,000+ or so (out of 550,000) that the leaders like me are probably labeling as "signal". The root mean square deviation for 5,000 is \(\sqrt{5,000}\sim 70\) so statistically, \(5,000\) really means \(5,000\pm 70\) which is \(1.5\%\). That translates to almost \(1\%\) error in \(\sqrt{b}\) i.e. \(1\%\) error in \(s/\sqrt{b}\) (the quantity \(s\) probably has a much smaller relative statistical error because it's taken from the 75,000 base) which is 0.04 difference in the score.

It may be a good time to try to review some basics of the contest. Because the contest is extremely close to what the statisticians among the experimental particle physicists are doing (it's likely that any programming breakthrough you would make would be directly applicable), this review is also a review of basic particle physics and special relativity.

Monday, June 09, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lumia, Windows Phone: experience of the first hours

For a few hours, I've considered myself familiar with all the major mobile operating systems. I received an iPod Touch with iOS almost four years ago as a gift/compensation from Paul O. and I have played with an Android (ASUS Memo Pad Smart 10) tablet since October, while helping others with their Android phones (and another Android tablet I bought as a gift).

It was sort of inevitable that I wanted to try Windows Phone. Its users have been immensely satisfied. So today, I decided to replace my classic, reliable dumbphone Nokia 1600 with a Lumia. Even though I am Lumo, Microsoft failed to send me a Lumia for free. Just to be sure, Motlorola and others have failed, too. ;-) So I finally bought the cheapest one, a cyan Lumia 520 – although I still had a plan to buy a 625 last night. Its non-replaceable battery was a reason why I decided for something else.

Lumia 520 is the entry-level phone with Windows Phone 8 (which will be upgraded to Windows 8.1 in two months). I bought it for $130 today (CZK 2,599, not counting 2 times CZK 15 for my stupid useless connections to one-time cellular data haha: I hope that the cellular Internet is safely turned off for a while now) but in the U.S., you may have an unlocked one for $104, too. It's a good price for a smartphone that allows you to do so many things.

Saturday, June 07, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Inflation and BICEP2: Steinhardt is missing the whole point

If the BICEP2's discovery of the primordial gravitational waves is valid, and I am confident that the evidence still strongly suggests that it is, then Paul Steinhardt, Neil Turok, and Roger Penrose are perhaps the world's three sorest losers because the absence of such primordial gravitational waves were what these men self-confidently predicted as a consequence of their bold idiosyncratic "cosmologies".

However, Physics World hired Neil Turok, Science Friday interviewed Roger Penrose, and Nature now asked Paul Steinhardt to inform us about the status and the future of cosmology.

This is really amusing, shocking, or hysterical, depending on your temperament. It's like the following situation: It's April 1945. The Red Army arrives to Berlin and CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times interview Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, and the Japanese emperor (the order isn't necessarily the same as the order of the three physicists at the top!) about their plans for the future of Europe, Asia, and the world. ;-)

New physics? LHCb insists on a flavor anomaly in \(B\) decays

The Symmetry Magazine has told us about intriguing claims at an ongoing conference in the New York City:

LHCb glimpses possible sign of new physics

Electroweak penguins at LHCb (slides from the talk)
The LHCb experiment is smaller than the two LHC bulls, ATLAS and CMS, but it is more careful when it comes to the analyses of particles including \(b\)-quarks. These quarks incorporate themselves into hadrons – most typically, the \(B\)-mesons. The latter are analogous to pions.

Because the \(b\)-quarks belong to the third generation of the Standard Model quarks, all three generations are involved in their life stories. It follows that processes where \(B\)-mesons do something interesting are also sensitive to the CP-violating phase of the CKM matrix. The phase is inconsequential for all phenomena that only involve at most two generations of fermions. In other words, the LHCb experiment is particularly sensitive to violations of the CP symmetry, the symmetry with respect to the transformation placing all particles in the mirror and replacing them by antiparticles at the same moment.

The Standard Model violates the CP symmetry by the CKM phase only. Experiments even imply that the \(\theta\)-angle in front of the QCD \(F\wedge F\) pretty much vanishes – a puzzing result known as the strong CP-problem whose resolution requires axions, according to most phenomenologists. All older experiments are compatible with the assumption that this CKM CP-violating phase is indeed the only "CP offender" in Nature. However, LHCb seems to be carefully coming with a paradigm shift by daring to suggest that they sometimes see new sources of CP violation.

Friday, June 06, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Tom Steyer's donations are crippling and corrupting America

His events have nothing to do with "climate change"

Tom Steyer is worth $1.6 billion or so. He made his fortune through hedge funds 25+ years ago when it was still possible to extract lots of money from the inefficiencies of the markets. These days, the hedge fund industry belongs to the sector of lotteries – and the investors pay hefty service fees to be sure that in average, they will underperform the stock market.

At any rate, he is not only a billionaire but also a moron. The word "moron" understates what he is. He is not just a moron; he is – and I was afraid to say the E-word – an environmentalist. The San Francisco Chronicle told us about a new fund he is paying from his money:

Billionaire sets up fund for victims of climate change
His initial $2 million donation is supposed to grow and it should compensate victims of wildfires and other "extreme weather events". Additional funds should similarly go to victims of droughts, floods, and other natural disasters. All this stuff is painted as being linked to the "climate change". In reality, these events don't depend on any "climate change" at all. Precipitation, sunshine, wildfires, droughts, floods etc. are weather events that may be counted as business-as-usual weather that takes place in a normal, moderate, tropical, subtropical or almost any other climate. These phenomena have been the norm on our blue, not green planet for billions of years.

These donations are being presented as charity, something that helps the society. In reality, they contaminate and corrupt the society, make it dumber and less honest, and reduce the potential for the growth and prosperity in the future. These harmful effects occur because numerous sufficiently gullible people are being manipulated into believing claims that are patently false. And these claims are not just some academic questions. They influence policy in a way that costs hundreds of billions of dollars a year and this number may grow to trillions.

Thursday, June 05, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stops at \(200\GeV\), a \(W^+W^-\) anomaly may be screaming

While supersymmetry remains the most well motivated candidate for new physics, it seems that all the observations at the LHC up to the \(8\TeV\) run in 2012 show that no new physics is needed and all "excessively bold and obvious" proposals for new physics – those that could explain the unbearable lightness of Higgs' being – have been excluded.

The Standard Model seems to be a more "thrifty" theory than any other bottom-up effective phenomenological model, and because there's no significant contradiction between the Standard Model and the LHC data, one is expected to pick the 40-year-old theory of nearly everything as his preferred effective theory of choice. Empirically speaking, no other theory is doing better.

Well, the first two hep-ph papers on the arXiv today argue that this common wisdom may very well be wrong, in a very exciting way!

Natural SUSY in Plain Sight by Curtin, Maede, Tien [Stony Brook]

'Stop' that ambulance! New physics at the LHC? by Kim, Rolbiecki, Sakurai, Tattersall [Madrid/London/Heidelberg]
The second title probably jokingly refers to the theme of hospitals for theories.

I still think that the seven authors of both papers must be aware of the second group because it would be rather unlikely for two groups to publish a paper with pretty much the same speculative claim on the same day, just minutes after one another. However, I would normally expect some comment of the type "While this paper was being completed, we learned about some damn competing bastards [83] who wanted to scoop us; we're better, faster, correcter, and prettier than them, but we're also generous to cite their future paper because such incomplete future citations aren't counted, anyway."

But I don't see any such comment in either of the two papers so it is in principle conceivable that the papers are independent!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

MINOS disfavors nearly degenerate sterile neutrinos

The experiments that have been clearly accepted require at least three "flavors" of neutrinos, namely the \(SU(2)\) partners of the charged leptons called \(e^\pm, \mu^\pm,\tau^\pm\) that are called\[

\nu_e,\quad \nu_\mu, \quad \nu_\tau.

\] The Greek letter \(\nu\) ("nu") stands for a "neutrino" and it hasn't been copyrighted by an artist yet. A "neutrino" is a word invented by Enrico Fermi. This word may be translated from Italian to English as a "small stupid Italian neutral thing" (you see that the Italian language is more concise).

ATLAS contest, off-topic: Out of 521 competitors, your humble correspondent is back in top ten right now.
More precisely, the three mass eigenstates of these three neutrino species are some linear superpositions of the \(SU(2)\) partners of the charged lepton mass eigenstates – and it's the mass eigenstates that we call \(e,\mu,\tau\). The required mixing – the unitary transformation mapping the partners of the charged lepton eigenstates to the neutrino mass eigenstates – is called the PMNS matrix and it is mostly analogous to the CKM matrix for quarks.

A charged lepton such as the electron/positron is described by a complex 4-component Dirac spinor which is why we encounter both electrons and positrons (electrons' antiparticles) and each of them may be spinning up and down. Recall that \(2\times 2 = 4\).

However, the known neutrinos have a correlation between the helicity and their being antimatter: the neutrinos we may produce and see are always left-handed while the antineutrinos are right-handed. That's why a two-component Majorana (or, less appropriately, Weyl) spinor is enough for the description of a neutrino flavor. \(SO(10)\) and higher grand unified theories – and their stringy extensions – like to predict right-handed neutrinos, too. They are likely to exist because the existence of heavy right-handed neutrinos is capable of explaining the low mass of the known neutrinos via the "seesaw mechanism".

However, the masses of the "mostly right-handed" and "mostly left-handed" neutrino eigenstates are so different that the "in principle" 4-component Dirac spinor for neutrinos and antineutrinos (a spinor relevant if the right-handed neutrinos exist which is uncertain) is effectively split into two 2-component Majorana (or Weyl) spinors, anyway. At low energies, only the single well-known Majorana (or Weyl) effectively 2-component spinor is needed to explain all the known observations. If the additional, massive Majorana 2-component part of the Dirac spinor doesn't exist, the nonzero mass of neutrinos implies that the neutrino and the antineutrino are really the same particle and must be able to oscillate in between each other. (However, the knowledge of the angular momentum prohibits the most generic "transmutations" of this sort, anyway: a left-handed neutrino/antineutrino has to stay left-handed.)

New Russia can no longer reunify with a Kiev-led country

The fights in the Novorussian Confederacy – the newly declared union of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic – continue and we have gotten used to this sad situation, to women and children who have to live in basements, to save their lives from hostile airstrikes organized by the Maidan regime that has declared the whole large ethnic population of what used to be Ukraine as terrorists and that is working 24/7 to invade the newly born republics and to violently force everyone to obedience.

Sad news in climate science: George Kukla, a Czech American who would be a Nixon adviser and who would suggest as early as in 1972 that people should think about global warming, passed away on Monday. Later, he would become a prominent climate skeptic and even an advocate of "global cooling". Kukla was close to ex-president Klaus and may also be viewed as one of the top five scientists who have convinced the U.S. not to sign to the Kyoto protocol.
Like Slobodan Miloševič, Saddam Hussein, and other villains of ethnic cleansing, it is very clear now that the likes of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Oleksandr Turchynov, and now even Petro Poroshenko deserve nooses. It is also self-evident, however, that many people will have to die before the basic justice may be restored. The ethnic cleansing will continue for quite some time. The fascist junta in Kiev just boasted that it has murdered 300 citizens of New Russia just in the last 24 hours. 300 murders a day is what some American officials praise as "restraint".

Biometric passport terror

An hour ago, a seemingly mundane procedure has reminded me why I hate the government so much. After a decade, I had to apply for a new "Citizen's ID card", the most widely used ID in Czechia, and the new passport.

I don't remember a bureaucratic procedure of this kind that would be quite smooth but the experience today was much worse than the average.

It's the female hurricanes that are destructive: paper

I have made the observation – not seriously – many times, especially after the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It seems that the women hurricanes such as Katrina, Rita, and Wilma are those that are strong and that destroy things. Finally, this observation was made independently and published in peer-reviewed literature.

Thanks to W.M. Briggs who commented on the paper critically while the media covered it uncritically.

The hole at the center of a hurricane is often called an "eye" but new research suggests it is a vagina.

The paper

Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes
by Jung and 3 co-authors from Illinois and Arizona has made it to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America. Not bad.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pi on T-shirts illegal due to a registered trademark

As a kid, I thought that \(\pi\approx 3.14159265358979\) is a very important number, so I memorized the first 30 digits when I was 8. Because the amount of "wow" I could see at school was higher than the efforts I had to invest to learn the digits, I learned 100 digits when I was 10 – I can still tell you how it goes – even though I was already recognizing very clearly that there's no point in learning too many digits.

The number\[

\Huge \pi^{\rm TM}\approx 3.14

\] is arguably the most important irrational number in mathematics – possible competitors are \(e\) and \(\sqrt{2}\). It is very natural for a high percentage of geeky mugs and T-shirt to display this Greek lowercase letter.

Off-topic, programming: BTW, with some improved score around 3.67, I returned to top 15 (and top 3%) of the Higgs machine learning contest LOL.
Houston, we have a problem. A bizarre T-shirt company Pi Productions led by a Brooklyn street artist Paul Ingrisano has successfully copyrighted \(\pi\)© as the U.S. trademark registration 4,473,631. Congratulations or, even more precisely, fak you, aßhole.

Monday, June 02, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

EPA's carbon planning emulates communism

The EPA, America's major gang of official bureaucratic green brains, decided to write down a plan that every American source of energy should obey:

U.S. to unveil sweeping rules to cut power plant pollution (Reuters)
Obama to announce controversial emissions limit on power plants (Fox News)
The word "pollution" in that sentence is a piece of a dirty toxic propaganda, of course. In reality, they talk about CO2 which is no pollution in any sense – it is a natural gas that unavoidably accompanies a big part of the essential economic activities in the modern world and that is the primary source of the biological material within plants – and therefore also animals.

By 2030, the coal burners have to emit 30% less carbon dioxide than in 2030, and so on. Will they? Is that possible? I don't know. America may need much more coal in 2030 than it needs today and it will emit more CO2 emissions because it's not economically feasible to filter it; America may need much less coal due to the fracking boom and other, known or unknown technological alternatives and other reasons. What's more important is that the stupid green brains don't know the answer at all. These people exhibit a hardwired hardcore communist way of thinking, or the lack of it.

The ability to draw infantile pictures isn't the same thing as the ability to do science or the ability to wisely manage the economy.

The idea is that a group of enlightened leftists sits down and thinks about the best numbers that everyone should achieve in 5, 10, or 20 years for everyone to be optimally happy. And everyone else is just obliged to realize what these superior brains have outlined. That's how countries are supposed to build a rosy future. Does it work?