Monday, August 31, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Saner oil prices: an expansion of OPEC could be a good idea

As kids, we were taught that cartels were a terrible thing. They represented the transition from the evil free market capitalism to the even more evil imperialism, the second stage of communism, which is controlled by multinational cartels. I've never parroted this stuff in front of a teacher but I hope that they would give me an A now. ;-)



Needless to say, this hostility towards cartels was sort of "confirmed" by the post-Velvet-Revolution capitalism, too. In fact, just like the systems of most Western countries, the Czech legal system is full of assorted laws and bureaus designed to fight against cartels and monopolies. Don't get me wrong: the competition is usually essential for capitalism to work well. But cartels may be beneficial as well and the top-down social-engineering of the markets attempting to create competition artificially is a counterproductive left-wing misconception.

Certain industries work very well when the number of competitors is relatively low. In that case, some activities are not uselessly copied. In some cases, a country may suffer because it has too little competition; but there can be too much excessive competition, too. The ideal number of competitors depends on the context, the market decides about the value dynamically, and no social engineer may ever be smarter than the invisible hand of the markets. Even though I am no fan of Islam – and people whose main achievement is their sitting on pressurized liquid ground pines – it seems to me that even OPEC has played a helpful role since its birth in 1960.

Richard Muller's incredibly dumb comments about quantum gravity

I am often getting e-mail from Quora.com, a server where people ask and answer questions. I am largely avoiding that server because while some texts over there may be insightful or interesting, there are tons of widely spread delusions written by the ordinary people for other ordinary people. They often drive me up the wall, I think that I've been exposed to that stuff many times, and I just don't want to add any exposure.

But today, I clicked at the Theoretical Physics category over there and was quickly led to a question about the unification of general relativity and quantum mechanics. It was the answer by Richard Muller of Berkeley that has simply stunned me.

Sunday, August 30, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Xindl X, Mirka Miškechová: Female stranger in your country

By Mr Xindl X (sings in Czech) and Ms Mirka Miškechová (sings in Slovak)
The Velvet Divorce remains a popular theme in the Czecho-Slovak bilingual songs



CZ: As recently as yesterday, we were speaking the same language.
CZ: Despite the several foreign words, your letters
CZ: seemed readable to me.
CZ: Today those foreign ones dominate [over] the familiar ones,
CZ: what happened with us? Hell?
CZ: What happened with us?

Saturday, August 29, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The pleasant Cretaceous life

When the insanity of one climate fearmonger trumps the others

When you look at a 2009 blog post about geology, you may quickly figure out what the life was like in Cretaceous (German: K for Kreide, Czech: křída, meaning chalk), the geological period belonging to mesozoic era ("second mountains" in the outdated Czech terminology I was still taught: doesn't "ancient mountains", "first, second, third, fourth mountains" sound easier to remember?).



The Powderville Rocks [Prachovské skály], fun sandstone rocks in the Bohemian Paradise, the Bohemian Cretaceous Basin. A 1977 song by Ivan Mládek, Powderville Rocks, about the mountain climbers, climberesses, and climberbabies was one of the hits of my kindergarten years and beyond.

Cretaceous – 145 to 65 million years ago – came after the Jurassic Period in the same mesozoic; but was followed by Paleogene, the first period of the Cenozoic Era. The 2009 TRF text gives us some basic data:

The Cretaceous: 1700 ppm, 18 °C

figs, magnolias, some mammals, birds, modern sharks

Oil around Venezuela; Earth by 4 °C warmer than today; see Climate Audit
It was clearly a wonderful time to be around. Simply search for Cretaceous at Google Images. Do these pictures look like an environment that is hostile to life?

Leonard's new Asian American GF

Fellowship, related fact: Since the spring, The Big Bang Theory Scholarship Endowment ($4 million from Chuck Lorre etc.) has been financially helping UCLA science students. It's fair because Chuck Lorre has surely earned millions of dollars by emulating them. ;-)
The nineth season of The Big Bang Theory (TBBT) will begin on Monday, September 21st. Be sure that not every sitcom remains popular after 8 seasons.

According to a Nielsen Admosphere's survey, TBBT is the most popular TV serial of the Czech men. For men, the top answers were the following:
  1. The Big Bang Theory, 10%
  2. The Street, a junk Czech serial about ordinary people's lives, 9%
  3. Game of Thrones, The Simpsons, 5% each
  4. Doctor's Office in the Pink Garden (a junk Czech...), Crime Unit in Prague's Angel, Two and a Half Men, all 4%
The percentages for women are substantially different.

Friday, August 28, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Decoding the near-Planckian spectrum from CMB patterns

In March 2015, physics stars Juan Maldacena and Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS Princeton) wrote their first paper together:

Cosmological Collider Physics
At that time, I didn't discuss it because it looked a bit technical for the blogosphere but things look a bit different now, partially because some semi-popular news outlets discussed it.



Cliff Moore's camera, Seiberg, Maldacena, Witten, Arkani-Hamed, sorted by distance

What they propose is to pretty much reverse-engineer very fine irregularities in the Cosmic Microwave Background – the non-Gaussianities – and decode them according to their high-tech method and write down the spectrum of elementary particles that are very heavy (comparably heavy to the Hubble scale during inflation) which may include Kaluza-Klein modes or excited strings.

Thursday, August 27, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

LHCb: 2-sigma violation of lepton universality

In combination with earlier results by BaBar and Belle, the deviation is 3.9 sigma!

Since the end of June, I mentioned the ("smaller") LHCb collaboration at the LHC twice. They organize their own Kaggle contest and they claim to have discovered a pentaquark.

In their new article Evidence suggests subatomic particles could defy the standard model, Phys.ORG just made it clear that I largely missed a hep-ex paper at the end of June,

Measurement of the ratio of branching fractions \(\mathcal{B}(\overline{B}^0 \to D^{*+}τ^{-}\overlineν_τ))/\mathcal{B}(\overline{B}^0 \to D^{*+}μ^{-}\overlineν_μ)\)
by Brian Hamilton and about 700 co-authors. The paper will appear in Physical Review Letters in a week – which is why it made it to Phys.ORG now. An early June TRF blog post could have been about the same thing but the details weren't available.

Big volumes don't mean the truth

On the mentality behind the mindless group think in physics and stocks

Florin Moldoveanu is a great example of the average member of the "interpretation of quantum mechanics" community. He says and writes lots of ludicrous things – about the (non-existent) problems with quantum mechanics and "clever" (demonstrably wrong and usually extremely stupid) ways to cure them – because he sees many people in his environment who do the same thing. Like almost all others in that community, he doesn't exhibit any truly independent scientific or creative thinking.

Now, he wrote an article about the markets

Is China's turmoil the next Lehman Brothers?
which makes it clear that he exploits the same "intellectual methods" in topics outside physics, too. As the title makes explicit, he believes that there's some "Great Depression" event going on in China and the world. There's none. Everyone who has some actual business in China – e.g. the food chains – says that they don't even observe any slowdown, let alone a dangerous one. And if there's a slowdown or drop in the market, it's being fought against by various policies of the Chinese authorities, anyway.

What you should do when the markets are wild according to Mr Moldoveanu?
One of the most imbecile advice typically found on CNN by their so-called experts like Richard Quest is that you should not panic and ride out the storm. Is there a topic he is not qualified in?
...
[Advisors are biased.] They usually give you the same cookie cutter nonsense of investing for the long term.
Sorry but none of these two wisdoms is "imbecile advice" or "cookie cutter nonsense".

Market quotes: widget

I can imagine that some of you may find a market widget with certain quotes helpful. You are expected to bookmark the fast mobile version of this page because the design isn't optimized for the green template of this blog.


Market Quotes are powered by Investing.com

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stephen Hawking "solves" the information loss paradox again

Value not clear but he builds on some very interesting recent research

Stephen Hawking has visited Stockholm where he announced a paper that will be released in 30 days or so. You may watch the video of his 9-minute talk at a Swedish page or read a short paper that Hawking will submit one week from now. And you may check reports from Sabine Hossenfelder and the Nude Socialist.

Recall that in mid 1970s, Hawking backed Bekenstein's idea that black holes have a nonzero entropy because the black holes also have a nonzero temperature. They radiate just like the black bodies. The process that makes this radiation is possible is the Hawking evaporation. However, it seemed inevitable that the resulting Hawking radiation was exactly thermal and basically uncorrelated to the initial state of the star that has collapsed to the black hole.

Gaillard vs Ferrara 1981: are these discussions sane?

A sickeningly direct perspective into the feminist manipulations within the Academia

A month ago, the achieved phenomenologist Mary Gaillard (Berkeley) released her book "A Singularly Unfeminine Profession: One Woman's Journey in Physics". As you can imagine, the title has a similar effect on me as a red towel has on a bull. I am even inclined to think that the title – and probably much of the content – is considered repulsive by most of the potential readers.

Amazon.com only offers two short reviews – one five-star review (saying "great read" and "fantastic") and one one-star review which says that the book is boring and at one point, it talks about skiing trips and getting a new credit card. Nothing interesting to be found in the book, we hear.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Western stocks saved? People with lots of cash may be lucky

Except for Shanghai which dropped again, the world markets seem to compensate and, in Europe, overcompensate the yesterday's collapse. For example, the Prague index was adding almost 4% before the Bank of China announced that they would lower the rates from 4.85% to 4.60% (and relax the reserve requirements for banks) – and that added another percent, e.g. to almost 5% in Prague, across Europe.

It's amazing what such a relatively small move by an exotic nation can do. If you assumed proportionality, zero rate interest policy in China would add 18% to the stock indices.

Tony believes (or believed yesterday) that there would be many false rebounds – upticks followed by bigger drops – and this dynamics will be driven by clever institutions who want to attract buyers and sell them their big portfolios. I may be an optimist (not quite a perfect optimist: I sold about 10% of my stocks in a moderate wave of panic yesterday, the worst day to sell so far) but I find it a bit more likely than not that the Monday closing price was the bottom for a long time.

Sleeping Beauty, the betting assistant software

The following problem is a refinement of the Sleeping Beauty problem. We replace her by a computer so that its (formerly her) inner thinking is almost rigorously understood. And we make sure that its (her) reasoning and opinion about the state of the coin has some consequences.

The story is the following.

You took the job of a janitor at FIFA and you heard a conversation between the newly elected president and other officials. They want to kickstart a new era of FIFA by an unusual and marvelous soccer match, Holland vs Tennessee, on Wednesday. However, the match wouldn't be attractive enough because one of the teams seems stronger.



So they decide about the winner in advance, on Sunday, by a fair coin. (If you don't like these new policies to decide about soccer, you should have kept Sepp Blatter.) Heads means that Holland will win (H); tails means that Tennessee will win (T). The goalies are trained to make their deliberate failures look realistic.

The planning for a Tennessee victory is hard – because everyone in Tennessee would celebrate. Everyone needs to save some electricity, so in this case of "tails" (planned Tennessee win), there will be a short blackout on Tuesday at 8:00 am that will restart all computers. Except for the FIFA officials and you, no one knows that the blackout means that Tennessee is going to win a day later.

Monday, August 24, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The environmentalists have not dried the spring of the Moldau River

Ironically enough, I must defend the innocence of an environmentalist movement in a bizarre argument.

The Moldau (Czech: Vltava) – the river that Prague was built upon – is considered the Czech National River or the Mother of Czech Rivers. I guess that the true reason is that it is the river beneath the Mother of Cities, Prague. The officially stated reason is that the Moldau is the longest river on our territory – 430 kilometers in total.



The Elbe (Czech: Labe) seems like a bigger river – because it "devours" the Moldau near Mělník – and it is born in Northern Bohemia, too. However, the Elbe spends too much time in Germany so it's not quite "ours".

All this terminology and mythology about the river is full of strange irregularities and bogus arguments.

Sunday, August 23, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Applied climate hysteria became a $1.5 trillion-a-year industry

What we're buying and what we could buy

The Washington Times publicized some numbers originally taken from the Climate Change Business Journal (via WUWT, Town Hall seen at Climate Depot).



"I Love Emo 1984" created this video in 2007 which was the "ideological peak" of the climate hysteria but it clearly wasn't the financial peak.

The renewable energy and cars etc. industries and all similar things that justify themselves by the panic about the allegedly dangerous influence of CO2 on the global climate has grown into $1.5 trillion a year. That's 2 percent of the world economy. Because only about 1.5 billion people actually pay for that, each of them pays about $1,000 a year.

Saturday, August 22, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

NYT on Bekenstein and his argument with Hawking

Jacob Bekenstein died of heart attack. It is the first new piece of information in the New York Times obituary

Jacob Bekenstein, Physicist Who Revolutionized Theory of Black Holes, Dies at 68
written by (not only) their top science writer Dennis Overbye. A heart attack is a terrible thing and unlike many people who die when they're 103 or something like that, I feel it is totally right to say that Bekenstein's death was a premature one.

Friday, August 21, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Fed model: low yields justify higher P/E

Without any rational reasons, the markets have been conquered by a wave of hysteria. I guess that about 50% of the assets of the TRF readers as a group are held in the form of stocks (that's the percentage for Americans above $1 million) so as a community, we feel it.

What will the stocks do in the near term, medium term, and long term? Should the central banks' policies be adjusted in some minor or radical way to create a better economic system in the U.S., in European countries, or in the world?

The recent days of insanely huge drops of the stock market have been blamed on the uncertainty about the Fed's desire to increase the interest rates. It was generally assumed that the interest rates would start to go up in September 2015 – for the first time since 2006 – but because the conditions weren't spectacular and China slowed down and may be "exporting deflation" and because the Fed minutes were ambiguous, people are uncertain.

Thursday, August 20, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Rigid bodies are prohibited by relativity

A vast majority of the answers I have posted on Stack Exchange did fine but I have experienced a highly unexpected opposition today – one about a basic problem in special relativity.

The question by seeking_infinity was:

Refer, "The classical theory of Fields" by Landau lifshitz (Chap 3). Consider a disk of radius \(R\), then circumference is \(2\pi R\). Now, make this disk rotate at velocity of the order of \(c\) (speed of light). Since velocity is perpendicular to radius vector, the radius does not change according to the observer at rest. But the length vector at boundary of disk, parallel to velocity vector will experience length contraction. Thus, the circumference-to-radius difference is smaller than \(2\pi\) when the disk is rotating. But this violates rules of Euclidean geometry. What is wrong here?
It is clearly a totally rudimentary problem in special relativity. It has its own name and if you search for Ehrenfest paradox, you quickly find out that there's been a lot of debates in the history of physics – relatively to what one would expect for such a basic high school problem in classical physics. Born, Ehrenfest, Kaluza, von Laue, Langevin, Rosen, Eddington, and Einstein have participated, among many others.

Download, install, and use Stephen Hawking's firmware and voice

As a MSDN blog and others pointed out,

Intel just open sourced Stephen Hawking’s speech system and it’s a .NET 4.5 WinForms app that you can try for yourself
To make things short: if you're interested, go to
this ACAT's Github page
and download ACATSetup.exe (at the bottom, 253 MB) and run it as an Admin (or follow the detailed instructions above). ACAT stands for the Assistive Context-Aware Toolkit.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Merchants of Doubt, spoilers

Jo Nova told us that there are plans to get the movie "Merchants of Doubt" to schools.

The 2014 movie meant to be an attack against climate skeptics was loosely based on the 2010 book of the same name written by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. Oreskes became notorious for her published claims that there exist no papers that disagree with the global warming orthodoxy – here you have some 1,350 counterexamples. As an assistant professor sometimes in 2005, I have had huge problems with that evil woman. She's the kind of (just slightly) feminime Stalin who doesn't hesitate to damage the lives of people whom she finds ideologically inconvenient.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Jacob Bekenstein (1947-2015)

Sadly, Jacob Bekenstein, the forefather of black hole thermodynamics affiliated with the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, died in Helsinki on Sunday night. I've known him well enough, especially from his Spring 2004 visit to Harvard when I talked to him many times (although less frequently than with the most important communication counterparts).



I took this picture in his office in the Jefferson Labs. He was born in Mexico City, moved to a polytechnic in New York, and studied as John Wheeler's student at Princeton University (PhD in 1972).

You must have heard that aside from the world, there also exists the anti-world where everything is anti-. For example, antiphysics is being studied by anti-Semites over there. This joke is rather accurate but when we talk about Jewish physicists, we almost exclusively mean staunch atheists.

Debate on refugees: 2,000 intellectuals aggressively attack the mainstream Czech society

Many readers must have been surprised that the mindless and intolerant political correctness seems to be absent in the Czech society, in most of the Czech media, and among the Czech politicians. Shouldn't the same left-wing and SJW attitudes we know from many Western countries emerge among the Czech intellectuals and conquer the public opinion just like in many other countries? Don't such opinions exist?

Be sure that they do. The difference is just a quantitative one; there has been a substantial enough opposition to them so they haven't become "mainstream" (yet?). About 2,000 Czech intellectuals, mostly (1,500+) Czech institutionally affiliated scientists, have signed the Open Letter Against Fear and Indifference (the domain name means "An Appeal by Scientists"). If the context were omitted or unknown, I could have agreed with many sentences in the open letter. But because I know the context as well the actual goal of similar campaigns, I count myself among the 10 million or so Czech opponents of this petition.

The signatories are pretty much the same bunch of far left SJWs who kept on emerging with similar campaigns pretty much on every year, under different names such as "Thank You, Time To Go 1998", "Impuls 1999", "Strike Against TV 2000", "Something 2001", "Something Else 2002", "Protest Against Klaus' Presidency 2003", and so on and so on. I think that the signatories still represent a minority of the university environment as well (from my Alma Mater environment, I only found 2 well-known people – Obdržálek and Semerák – who are there, dozens of others are absent!) but they're sometimes if not usually powerful enough people so that the scientists who disagree with this stuff may find themselves in problems.

The president Zeman's spokesman has already said that he was sorry that this group of intellectuals decided to deepen the abyss that separates them from the mainstream Czech society. Amen to that.

Monday, August 17, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Oscillating Prague tourism trends

After weeks of sunny, tropical, and extremely dry weather, Czechia entered a very wet, consistently rainy half-week (or more) today, something that I call the "socialist weather" because I believe that this is what the weather was like (almost) throughout the early 1980s. Grey uniform socialist junk. The temperatures are 20 °C lower than two days ago.



I needed to go to Prague. Even though the rain is something basically pleasant for me, tourist destinations look profoundly non-photogenic when the weather sucks. I believe that it was raining bad when I went to the New York City for the first (or second?) time. This has dramatically negatively shaped my attitude to the Big Apple.

Sunday, August 16, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Julia Galef and the Sleeping Beauty Problem

Julia Galef is a statistician and the president plus co-founder of the Center for Applied Rationality in San Francisco, an entity that fights against biases as well as paranormal phenomena. Two months ago, she posted her most popular YouTube video so far (over 60,000 views), one about the Sleeping Beauty Problem.



The 4-minute video seems very comprehensible, concise, and powered by some beautiful cartoons. She presents both major answers to the Sleeping Beauty Problem that has earned about 5 previous TRF blog posts.

Saturday, August 15, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How mainstream Czechs respond to Prague Pride

Over 10,000 people participated at the LGBT march at and near the Wenceslaus Square in Prague today (whose motto was "all of us are equally warm=gay"); the competing pro-family events only attracted dozens of citizens.

The event has been praised and helped by several famous and/or influential people including the new female mayor of Prague, the U.S. ambassador to Czechia Andrew Schapiro, Madonna, and others. Many more politicians and church officials distanced themselves from the event.



These Pet Shop Boys-like artists must have been imported from the U.K., right? More fresh videos.

What do typical Czechs at a center-right news server iDNES.CZ say? These are the most upvoted comments. You may see that most of them basically share the same point.

Feynman sum over Young diagrams (discrete histories)

A covariant definition of M(atrix) theory?

One of the most important difficult outstanding problems in science – OK, at least in theoretical physics if you can't see that it's the ultimate heart of science – is a universal definition of string/M-theory that is valid in all superselection sectors or compactifications and for all values of \(g_s\), the string coupling, and all other moduli.

It is in no way guaranteed that such a single definition exists. There may exist a profound reason why string/M-theory will always be known as a manifold – an atlas of patches that may be glued to each other but that depend on individual definitions with equations and concepts that differ from one patch to another.

The knowledge of a universal definition would turn all questions about the "size of the landscape" and the "existence of a vacuum that matches the observable Universe" into fully rigorous mathematical tasks – something that can't quite be said to be the case today. Overlooked inconsistencies, instabilities, or selection effects could pinpoint the correct vacuum, too.

Friday, August 14, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A huge overreaction to Chinese currency adjustments

For three days of this week, the Chinese authorities did some work to weaken their currency, one yuan renminbi (the last word means people's currency). The world markets reacted hysterically again. I think that those things show that way too many emotionally unstable, immature, and irrational people have too much money – and use them to invest into tools they are not ready for.



Every good communist currency boasts pictures of mass killers. This one, Mr Mao, has arguably killed 78 million people. One murdered human could actually become a pretty good currency – worth some 2 million yuans (if you count the yuan M2 money supply).

Let me add a few details. First, let's begin with another story in the Chinese market.

Jiří Wolker: The Mailbox

A mailbox on the corner of the street
isn't just another damn generic object.

It blossoms in blue,
the people highly respect it
and they entrust all their secrets to it.



Little letters are being dropped into it from both sides:
happy ones from one side and the sad ones from the other.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Erwin Schrödinger: 10,000,000th birthday

Sometimes the binary numbers look more impressive

128 years ago, Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger was born as the only child to a botanist (and cerecloth producer) and a daughter of a chemistry professor in Vienna. His mother was half-Austrian (after Erwin's grandpa), half-English (after Erwin's grandma) and Lutheran while his dad was Catholic. Which religion did Erwin pick? He picked the Eastern religions, pantheism, and atheism. ;-)

He is primarily well-known for wave mechanics, the most popular formulation – and a recipe for misunderstanding – of quantum mechanics. I would normally add a standard full-fledged amusing biography, explain that he liked to be accompanied both by his wife and his shadow wife at all times. He studied color perception as well as the role of entropy reduction in life etc.

But I am a bit tired tonight. Moreover, this blog is in a superposition of states "already containing a respectable biography of Schrödinger" and "not yet".

\(4s\) gets filled before \(3d\): this is no myth

(in almost all important atoms and ions, but the details are difficult to calculate)

Some chemists would like to make the teaching of orbitals even stupider than it is.

Yesterday, I was making the Google News search for "quantum mechanics" – one of the searches I do relatively often – and I was led to the "Education in Chemistry Blog". Eric Scerri, a chemistry lecturer at UCLA, is fighting against various "wrong claims" in the education of chemistry. The article he posted yesterday was titled

Five ideas in chemical education that must die - part three
and dedicated to the ordering of \(3d\) and \(4s\) orbitals. He believes that it's wrong for most chemistry textbooks to say that \(4s\) gets occupied before \(3d\). And he also criticizes writers and teachers who admit that many of these questions behave irregularly because of complexities of quantum mechanics that can't be calculated and settled by chemistry students.

Except that Dr Scerri is wrong. In the most important cases, \(4s\) gets filled before \(3d\), there is no contradiction because the occupation numbers in the shell depend both on the number of electrons and the number of protons, and the reliable answer for each atom or ion can indeed be extracted only from a quantum mechanical calculation that is both unsolvable analytically and inaccessible to chemistry students (and chemistry teachers, and most physicists, too).

Tuesday, August 11, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Catastrophe worse than global warming: the Universe is dying

How a childish formulation penetrates to almost all media

If you open Google News Science right now, you won't have any doubt what is the most important event in science today: the Universe is dying! (The #2 story is probably worse: the tadpoles everywhere on Earth are dying, too.)

It's official. Astronomers confirm it. A galaxy survey confirms. The universe is dying or slowly dying and so on. Virtually identical titles may be found in the USA Today, CBS News, The Week Magazine, Forbes, RedOrbit, the International Business Times, and 200 other news outlets.

Warren Buffett buys a factory in Pilsen and elsewhere for $37.2 billion

Warren Buffett is a rich guy who has made lots of money. At the end, it seems to me that he's buying rather conventional companies he considers undervalued. Sometimes he's "strongly right" and the profit from the growth of these undervalued companies is usually capable of overcompensating the losses from the bets where he was wrong.

Years ago, I didn't quite realize the proximity. But now I believe that if I were doing similar business as Buffett, with similar amounts of money, I may pick a similar approach, too.



Rolls-Royce Trent 500, the competition-less engine optimized for Airbus A340 family, a PPC CZ product

His tastes may have been conservative – and could even say old-fashioned. He has made some recent bets on coal, railways, and other things. Days ago, he made the biggest purchase in his career so far: he bought the Portland, Oregon-based Precision Castparts Corporation (PCC) for $37.2 billion.

Saturday, August 08, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The Trump phenomenon

An interpretation of the Republican candidates

The 2016 Democratic Party nominee is likely to be Hillary Clinton – and Joe Biden has the highest chance to emerge as a formidable competitor. The Republican field is much broader. Bush, Christie, Fiorina, Huckabee, Pataki, Paul, Perry, Rubio, Santorum, Trump, Walker, and many others appear in the polls and debates.



There certainly exists a perspective from which all these candidates are totally ordinary in comparison with Donald Trump. In a recent GOP presidential debate, Megyn Kelly of Fox News – an unusually smart woman for such an attractive babe: she's at least a peer of the likes of Hannity or perhaps even O'Reilly and I am saying it even though I consider her much less conservative – was one of the three moderators.

The video above shows that Donald Trump got a special bad treatment from her.

Friday, August 07, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Can Christians be better at quantum mechanics than atheists?

Apparently yes.

Even though I have had extensive interactions and sometimes deep relationships with Christians from many churches and sects and believers were often my natural allies, TRF readers who are Christians must have noticed that I am not really one of them. When it comes to the literal belief in the non-vacuous statements of the Bible, I don't really believe any of them. They're at most an important part of our history and culture.



Even though in many polls, I would probably end up being among the 10% of the most atheist people – which is not so unexpected in my homeland – I lost the desire to constantly fight against religion a very long time ago if I ever had it. Even though religion often encourages people to think in wrong ways and believe wrong things, much of religion is about statements that science hasn't really disproven and religion is motivated by other things than the search for the scientific truth, anyway.

(Czechs, although we're the #1 atheist nation in the world, aren't necessarily the top supporters of gay marriage because those two things are in no way the same. Also, we're not the #1 fighters against religion. When left-wing psychopath Prof Milan Kohout of Pilsen established a Facebook page We Don't Want Christianity in Czechia a few weeks ago, he had collected less than 1,000 supporters. The number of these supporters was quickly trumped by the Facebook group We Don't Want Kohout in Czechia. The typical Czech attitude to Christianity is much more accurately described as complete indifference than hatred. And the typical pensioners shaped by the communist era care about the church's assets much more than they care about the church's teaching, of course.)

Many undergraduate classmates of ours were believers. In general, the Catholics had different views than the Protestants. Somewhat paradoxically, Catholics looked less fundamentalist and more compatible with the modern scientific views etc. But it was the undergraduate student hostels where I was first exposed to lots of the anti-evolution talking points – and other ideas in which the religious thinking deviates from the non-religious one. And I just found most of it immensely dumb, incoherent, and at least marginally self-fooling.

Thursday, August 06, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hiroshima: 70 years later

Seventy years ago, on August 6th, 1945, an amazing invention of (mostly) American physicists, the Little Boy, was thrown on a vibrant Japanese city. It was almost certainly the most concentrated mass termination of lives that the Earth remembers.



The Hiroshima Products Trade Fair (formerly a museum) was designed by the Czech architect Jan [John] Letzel, based on a copper skeleton that melted, and located right beneath the exploding bomb which is why the pressure wave acted vertically and didn't damage the vertical walls much. It became the famous A-Dome later. If you want your house to survive a nuclear attack, why don't you hire a Czech architect? Sadly, Letzel died as an unknown man in the "Kateřinky" psychiatric asylum near my Alma Mater (in Karlov) as well as Einstein's workplace (in Viničná St) at age of 45, in 1925.

(The industrial palace actually wasn't the only preserved building in Hiroshima; but the kimono shop across the river simply wasn't equally visually impressive so they demolished it.)

When a notion of energy coincides with some information

There are at least two interesting hep-th preprints today that have links to quantum information. Juan Maldacena wrote a nice gift to Andy Strominger's 60th birthday (happy birthday, Andy!)

A model with cosmological Bell inequalities
where he presents an example of an inflationary model where the violation of Bell's inequalities by quantum mechanics is observable on a natural enough quantity. If you want to know in advance, Juan talks about a singlet state constructed from isospin-doublet particles whose mass is variable and axion-dependent.

One of the virtues of cosmic inflation is that quantum fluctuations are stretched to astronomical or cosmological length scales and later become observable and "classical": The nonuniformities that were needed for galaxies to be born owe their origin to quantum fluctuations in the early Universe.

But all of quantum mechanics may be important – and very important, not just a small correction – in the early stages of the evolution of our Universe. You can see that the agreement with this elementary point is one of the things that distinguishes top physicists like Maldacena – in whose blood systems quantum mechanics circulates all the time – from bottom physicists like the "quantum foundations community" who surely prefer to look for wrong excuses for their incorrect claims that quantum mechanics can't be relevant in the Universe etc. (The last third of this blog post is another example, after all.)

The second paper I want to mention is
Canonical Energy is Quantum Fisher Information
where Lashkari and Van Raamsdonk argue in favor of the equivalence of one type of "energy" and one type of "information".

Wednesday, August 05, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Make your smartphone "hologram"

A proper hologram – as invented by Dennis Gábor – uses the interference of light waves, depends on the exact knowledge of the wavelength, and completely rearranges the information about the 3D image into an unreadable interference pattern.

A mathematically similar rearrangement of the higher-dimensional information into an interference pattern is exploited by Nature in quantum gravity – which is why we talk about the holographic principle that governs all consistent quantum theories of gravity (at least in some backgrounds).



For a while, I tended to believe that Microsoft Hololens (to be released in 2016) is a true holography. But the 4-days-old video above – which has already collected 5 million views – strengthens my opinion that Hololens won't be about true holography but something more ordinary that only looks like holography.

Zombie Nino is deluded about hidden variables

Sean Carroll has unsurprisingly endorsed an offensively idiotic Socratic dialogue

Hidden Variables: Just a Little Shy?,
a guest blog by an unknown postdoc Anton Garrett at an obscure Telescoper website. The text is a discussion between
  • Neo, a caricature of a modern (therefore "Neo") physicist working in a practical discipline relying on quantum mechanics (perhaps particle physics)
  • Nino, an intellectual who died in 1900 but was recently resurrected as a zombie.
It is very difficult to resurrect a person who died 115 years ago and you should ask: Why? Why so much work? You may very well pick a random arrogant contemporary pseudointellectual from the garbage bin – someone like Sean Carroll himself – and he will happily fill your websites with the same zombie crackpot attacks against modern physics as Nino.

Needless to say, the nonsense emitted by Nino is supported by the writer of the dialogue Mr Garrett, too. And it's quite some pile of garbage, indeed.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

William Rowan Hamilton: 210th birthday

Sir William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865) was born on midnight between 3rd and 4th August, 1805, to Sarah Hutton and Archibald Hamilton (a solicitor) in Dublin. The couple had 9 children. Statistics shows that in such multiplets with 9 components, the 4th oldest child has the highest chance to become a mathematical genius. And it was Hamilton's case, too.

(Let me admit that the statistical conclusion largely depends on one entry, Hamilton's family itself LOL.)

As a kid, he had to learn the simple things that almost everyone can learn. By his 7th birthday, he has mostly mastered Hebrew. And before his 13th birthday, he added about 6 European languages plus Persian, Arabic, Hindustani, Sanskrit, Marathi, and Malay – in the last two cases, I didn't even actively know the language's existence but the kid spoke them. His uncle, a linguist, was helpful for William to accumulate that knowledge. ;-)

Monday, August 03, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Quantum mechanical theories aren't children of classical theories

In the "quantum foundations" category of blog posts, I have often discussed the thoroughly misguided and debunked philosophical misconceptions about the quantum character of reality – the opinion that the intrinsically probabilistic quantum mechanical framework is just an illusion that may be ignored and that a basically classical i.e. objective and/or deterministic set of laws of physics underlies all of reality.

People who love to write or shout the nonsense that there is something incomplete if not embarrassing about quantum mechanics are deluded. They typically think that they must be smarter than others if they're incapable of understanding the most important revolution in the 20th century science – one that took place in physics in the mid 1920s. Some of them are convinced that they are ahead of others if they still think about Nature in terms of the 17th century concepts.

It often looks like that these differences are only philosophical or speculative in nature. They don't affect the calculations, we are often told. Except that they do. Even when (and maybe especially when!) we talk about particular equations to calculate a quantity – and when we avoid debates about the meaning of all the concepts, the idea that some basically classical physics is "primary" creates problems.

Sunday, August 02, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

John Tyndall: 195th birthday

Climate alarmists don't care about science which is why you can't find an alarmist blog that would remind its readers about the anniversary of the birth of one of the most important scientists who helped to establish the "greenhouse effect".

John Tyndall was born on August 2nd, 1820, to the wife of an Irish police constable. The family had emigrated from Southwest England. He got schooled in technical drawing and land surveying which was helpful in the mid 1840s when he was paid big bucks for railway planning during a train boom.

When he was 27, he felt rich enough and wanted to grow intellectually so he began to teach mathematics at a boarding school. Along with another young colleague, Edward Frankland, they realized that the Germans were a superior race when it came to experimental physics and chemistry. They moved to Marburg a year later. Hermann Knoblauch (German Garlic) became an important senior collaborator of Tyndall over there.