Saturday, January 30, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Transparency, public arguments: a wrong recipe for arXiv rejections

OneDrive: off-topic: tomorrow, Microsoft will reduce the free 15 GB space by 10 GB and abolish the free 15 GB camera roll space. Old users may click here and after two more clicks, they will avoid this reduction if they act on Sunday!
Crackpot blog Backreaction and its flavor appendix called Nature believe that it was wrong for the arXiv.org website of scientific preprints (100k papers a year, 1.1 million in total) to reject two submissions by students of quantum information who attempted to rebrand themselves as general relativists and argue that you can't ever fall into a black hole.

Thankfully, Ms Hossenfelder and others agree that the papers were wrong. But they still protest against the fact that the papers were rejected. Or to say the least, there should have been some "transparency" in the rejection – in other words, some details about the decision which should be followed by some arguments in the public.

I totally disagree with those comments.

I sympathize with Weinberg's classroom gun ban

Americans, especially the conservative ones, are proud about the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution that guarantees the right to keep and bear arms. Many TRF commenters consider this right very important and I won't make them too happy now.



A picture I took in 2005

A new law has stressed the right to carry weapons at university campuses. Locally, institutions could have declared exceptions and ban weapons. But the University of Texas decided not to have such exceptions. And even thought Austin isn't "really" Texas, the laws apply there, too. So something had to happen:

Nobel Laureate Becomes Reluctant Anti-Gun Leader (Texas Tribune)
See also The Star Telegram and Google News. Steven Weinberg (82) who teaches astrophysics in the spring semester has simply declared that he won't allow guns in his classroom.

Bizarre White House claims about Putin's billions

Update: funnily enough, hours after I posted this blog post, a U.S. journalist at RT used the same adjective bizarre for these attacks.

On Monday, the BBC aired a documentary in which Adam Szubin, a near-top official of the U.S. Treasury Department, called Putin a picture of corruption. Some claims about Putin's paying billions to relatives and friends were mentioned, along with suggestions that Putin – while officially getting the same salary I was getting as junior faculty – might be the wealthiest person in the world or close to it.



Putin is buying a breakfast

Fine. There has always been some corruption in Russia. One may speculate that it still exists. Szubin may have heard some detailed information that supports such conspiracy theories. And individual people may be expected to be much more attracted to conspiracy theories than others. However, there was a shocking development on Thursday. John Earnest, a spokesman of Obama's, said

that the Treasury’s assessment best reflects the administration view.
By that time, I didn't even know that Szubin's speculations were "the Treasury's assessment". And now, they're probably the official statement of the United States of America.

I had to laugh out loud – and read thrice – when I saw this stuff for the first time. Was that supposed to be a statement by Obama? Is it his childish way to ignite the Third World War? Even if there were reasons for such beliefs, what's the purpose of similar proclamations emitted by the White House? Are these comments supposed to be associated with Hillary and make her look tougher?

Needless to say, Lavrov and others have protested the accusations.

Friday, January 29, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Munich: Kane vs Gross

Kane's attitude is the more scientific one

Yesterday, I mentioned Gordon Kane's paper based on his talk in Munich. Today, I noticed that

lots of the talk videos are available
on their website. The available speakers include Rovelli, Dawid, Pigliucci, Dardashti, Kragh, Achinstein, Schäffer, Smeenk, Kane, Quevedo, Wüthrich, Mukhanov, Ellis, Castellani, Lüst, Hossenfelder, Thebault, and Dvali while others may be added soon.

Japan joins the negative rates club

Nothing wrong about negative benchmark rates

Haruhiko Kuroda, the boss of Bank of Japan, has shocked the markets and lowered the benchmark interest rate to minus 0.1 percent, with the commitment to do anything (including further moves below zero) to tear the deflationary expectations away from people's minds. Kuroda has joined Mario Draghi of ECB who has already dragged some rates beneath zero.

Most of us – including your humble correspondent – have the intrinsic feeling that negative interest rates (and even zero or low positive rates) are "sick". But if we are a little bit more careful and rational about "what is sick" about the negative values, I think that we must conclude that certain rates may be healthy when they're below zero.

Thursday, January 28, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Gordon Kane's ideas at Dawid's testability workshop

An occasional TRF guest blogger Gordon Kane of Michigan has posted an edited, written version of his talk at the Munich workshop on the "testability of string theory etc." that was organized by Richard Dawid:

String/M-theories About Our World Are Testable in the traditional Physics Way
The 18-page PDF file is much more technical than other contributions but you find tons of easily comprehensible ideas in the paper, too.

The paper argues that the qualitative character of testability of string theory is exactly the same as it has been for all respectable theories in the history of physics. And it uses the predictions for particle physics from M-theory on \(G_2\) holonomy manifolds as a detailed example of all these claims. It's impressive how this framework has been developed to say something about all aspects of physics – including the nature of dark matter, patterns of superpartner masses, solution to the CP-problem, and many others.

Gordon Kane admits that like others, this scenario has no solution for the cosmological constant problem – why the CC is so small – so he assumes that this problem is solved by something that is "orthogonal" to the mechanisms deciding about the rest of particle physics.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Oxford claims on conspiracy theories are partly sensible, partly junk

RT and hundreds of other sources talk about the work by an Oxford physics postdoc, David Grimes:

On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs (PLOS, PDF)
The basic claim of the work is something I complete share – and Grimes could have very well gotten it from this blog, e.g. some considerations here including "So I would think that a famous man probably has a smaller chance to organize something that remains completely secret than an ordinary man." The claim is
Conspiracy theories need to assume that lots of people are able to keep secret for a long time but that ain't so.
I think that this is really the main correct mechanism that shows why many true conspiracy theories are implausible. It is the most effective single tool to disfavor conspiracy theories – but it's by far from being the only tool or the tool relevant in all situations. In most cases, you simply have to look at the specific details of a particular conspiracy theory and its "mainstream alternatives".

There is no gravitational rainbow

Sabine Hossenfelder tries to promote some bizarre would-be research of her pseudoscientific friends, in this case about the "gravitational rainbow". She credits Smolin and Magueijo (2003) with this flawed concept even though those guys only tried to plagiarize Smoot-Steinhardt 1993, Accioly+Blas 2001, Accioly 2002, and others. Thankfully, nothing valuable was stolen here.



Poland in "Entropa", Czech sculptor David Černý's provocative portrait of the EU.

The event that made her write about this junk again was the recent publication of a Lewandowski+2 (2014) article in a journal. All the differences between the papers are irrelevant. All these people have been playing with the idea that quantum gravity "forces" the speed of light to be energy-dependent or, equivalently, the metric tensor must depend on the frequency of the quanta, just like in real-world materials (such as glass) which produce dispersion (and therefore rainbows).

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bibi Wilhailm: a time to flee from Islamofascists in Germany?

A week ago, Bili Wilhailm – a young German woman who will be 17 soon – posted a 20-minute video monologue on Facebook about the problems associated with the increasing body of illegal Muslim immigrants in Germany.



The translation is about 95% accurate.

I think that a large part of her attractiveness is her sexy brain: she makes more sense than "Fatima Merkel" and her administration combined. Her thinking sounds unusually mature to me. Bibi is afraid of walking on the street (incidentally, check this partial Cologne NYE spreadsheet, the latest number of complaints is 1049, however), she's been a witness of some scary events involving the Muslims. She wants to preserve her freedom to walk outside and wear her T-shirts.

Al Gore: Earth will become a total frying pan today

Today, it's the 26th of January, 2016. Because the mankind hasn't done any "drastic action" to reduce CO2 emissions (which indeed continued to rise at a moderate 2%-per-year pace in recent years, except for the moderate 2014-to-2015 decrease), the Armageddon is coming later today.

At least it's the case according to an amateur scientist who has served as a vice president of a major Western power, a man named Al Gore.



On the January 26th, 2006 issue of the Washington Post, we have learned about the results of Al Gore's research. The article said, among other things,

But he [Al Gore] is also a very serious guy who believes humans may have only 10 years left to save the planet from turning into a total frying pan.
The deadline just happens to be today.

Monday, January 25, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Zeman on EU operetta army, U.N. migrant comic book, asylum rules

Three years ago when the Czech voters were directly electing their president for the first time, I didn't know and none of us could have known that our interactions with the Muslims would grow into a major issue. Nevertheless, I had concluded that we have entered an epoch in which it's increasingly important for the leaders to use their own brains.

Candidate Miloš Zeman obviously differed from Václav Klaus, the second Czech president, in many ways. But he still shared some virtues so I voted for Zeman. Now, in early 2016, the Muslims in Europe are a hot issue and I think it's good that the voices of sanity can be heard from my homeland. Karel Schwarzenberg, the partly Austrian aristocrat who was defeated in the elections, has some other virtues but none of them would be too relevant these days.

Polchinski, Bayes, Woit, Weinberg, and the multiverse

Joe Polchinski was the only participant of the December 2015 Munich workshop on testability who didn't physically attend the meeting (his spirit and world view was represented by David Gross, an actor). He was also the only defender of the multiverse over there. But his talk has made a bigger impact than the talks of anyone else, anyway.

Polchinski focused both on the multiverse and string theory that has been a tremendous success so far. Today, he released a continuation of his essay on the arXiv:

Why trust a theory? Some further remarks (part 1)
He offers a new perspective on his previous claims.

Sunday, January 24, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Errors with e-mail safety would be a disappointing way to stop Hillary

Ted Cruz and Donald Trump look like good presidential candidates to me on the GOP side.

Cruz recently announced that he and his family were the examples of the millions of Americans who lost their health insurance because of ObamaCare. Later, Cruz's campaign has found some papers that show that his BlueCross BlueShield insurance (which I also had for a few years while in the U.S.) was automatically switched to a new program - at least up to the end of January.



So he hasn't been without the health insurance yet. But I agree with the point of this "laugh line". The hassle resulting from the forced changes to the insurance may be too much even for a brilliant lawyer. This hassle isn't "purely" due to the Affordable Healthcare Act. But most things in the real world don't have pure and unique reasons and Obama's reforms have greatly contributed to the mess.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are the top candidates of the Democrats. It seems rather sensible but not guaranteed that it's already too late for other Democratic candidates to join the contest.

Saturday, January 23, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Greeks, Romans, and races

Sometimes I look at some "other" Stack Exchanges such as math, history, and linguistics. An hour ago, I was stunned by some incredible answers to a rather simple question about the history:

What did the Romans call black people (sub-Saharan)?

What did the Romans call black people (sub-Saharan)? In classic Latin as well as vulgar latin and slang. That is, what we today call PoC, blacks, n-word etc, depending on context.
Senile Purdue mathematician Alexandre Eremenko has demonstrated how the political correctness can make one's brain absolutely unusable.

Sachdev on string/graphene duality

My ex-colleague Subir Sachdev is one of the main world's condensed matter physicists, if not the main one, who leads the application of the stringy holographic methods to condensed matter physics. And the word "Sachdev" appears in 9 TRF blog posts. Subir would surely deserve more. ;-)



Kevin Hartnett has interviewed him for the Quanta Magazine:

Taming Superconductors With String Theory
Before he was charmed by these stringy methods sometime in 2007, Sachdev has done lots of important work about phase transitions in various condensed-matter systems. I actually remember some parties we attended in 2007 where he couldn't hide his enthusiasm about the new stringy tricks he has introduced.

Friday, January 22, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Temperature anomalies are naturally more accurate than the absolute global mean temperature

When skeptics' talking points degenerate to low-brow anti-science demagogy

Some climate skeptics sometimes offer talking points or "anger" of the type that I don't share at all. And it's quite possible that I am much more annoyed by some of the criticisms than the average climate alarmists are. An example appeared at Anthony Watts' blog yesterday – and we debated it in an e-mail ring:

Failed Math: In 1997, NOAA claimed that the Earth was 3.83 degrees warmer than today
Funnily enough, the URL of that blog post contains the figure 5.63 °F instead of 3.83 °F. While screaming about "failed mathematics", Anthony wasn't quite able to compute how much is 62.45–58.62. ;-) If you need to know, the bug was due to Anthony who copied 58.62 as 56.82 somewhere. Hmm.

What's the cause of these skeptics' excitement? Tom Nelson found a NOAA page published in early 1998 that said that the "global average temperature for 1997 was 62.45 F" (the page was already intensely discussed one year ago, so it's not really a new finding). Now, 18 years later, NOAA quantified the global average temperature for 2015 as 58.62 °F, a whopping 3.83 °F i.e. 2.13 °C cooler than 1997.

Such a huge cooling would not only contradict claims about the year 2015 as the warmest year; this multi-degree cooling in 18 years is clearly wrong. So Nelson, Watts, and others are excited. NOAA keeps on changing data, they keep talking about a quantity they have no idea about, and so on.

Thursday, January 21, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Do we remember the snows of our childhood?

In this winter, more frequently than ever before, I was involved in discussions comparing the weather we're experienced in recent years with the weather we remember from the times we were kids.



The general spirit is as follows: the winters had to be chillier and more snowy and we went sledging and skating all the time. A Christmas that was as warm as it was in 2015 – up to 11 °C in Pilsen and it wasn't the warmest place in Czechia – used to be impossible.

Sometimes I tend to say similar things myself. But are these "memories" really true? Can we remember it?

Wolfram Programming Lab is out

Try online Mathematica

Stephen Wolfram has announced the release of

the Wolfram Programming Lab
On that page, you have a 5-minute video introduction. Alternatively, you may immediately click at "try it yourself, shift/enter" in the bottom left corner and play with Mathematica.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Cologne's imam doesn't belong to Europe

Prisons and zoos may be exceptions

The Czech public is shocked by the news – also reported by Breitbart and The Daily Mail, among others – about the words that an Islamic Salafist imam in Cologne, Sami Abu-Yusuf, made about the 1,000 or so Cologne assaults on women on NYE. (800+ women have complained so far; 521 of the assaults had a sexual flavor, 3 are known to be full rapes so far; 1 person was charged so far.)



The imam has made these statements for a major Russian TV; go to 8:20. Only the women themselves are responsible for the assaults because they were "half-naked" (which probably means the winter jackets without burqahs etc.) and perfumed. In other words, women are obliged to pour camel urine on themselves, and completely cover their bodies by black clothes.

LIGO rumors reflect genuine, healthy excitement

Steven T. Corneliussen of Physics Today wrote a somewhat critical text about the wave of LIGO rumors that escalated one week ago:

Physics gossip vs. physics news
Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss is often cited as a source, mainly because his rumors are relatively quickly spread through a large number of his Twitter followers. Your humble correspondent is often quoted as the propagator of the most precise rumors. Wait for February 11th to hear the announcement. And you will learn about at least two events. And at least one of them will be the detection of a merger of two black holes each of which weighs at least 10 solar masses. ;-)

I've received the news by parts, from several sources that may be independent or reliable but I don't have any clear proof of that. I am not actually "certain" about any of the propositions myself. Everyone knows that it's a rumor. It may be wrong. Or some details may be wrong. The detection may be another drill even though we were told that it wasn't one this time. But many people are interested because the gravitational waves are cute, carry the Einsteinian flavor, and their direct detection would be new. My blog post last Monday got 7,000 readers which is substantially higher than than the average blog post.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bob Carter, RIP

When I returned from a walk in a snowy, chilly Pilsen (the temperature will drop to minus 14 °C at night, overcompensating the 11 °C Christmas), I saw a message from Willie Soon which didn't immediately seem important.

However, it contained a forwarded message from Anne Carter telling us that Bob Carter has peacefully passed away today, at age of 74, surrounded by his family. See heartland.org and Wikipedia. So sad.

Book about George Washington's pastry-cook censored

Claims about the freedom in the U.S. are getting absolutely ludicrous

You may have one of the last opportunities to buy the children's book about the chef of the first U.S. President George Washington because the book was censored by the publisher after a series of attacks launched by the radical leftist movement that has no respect for the historical truth, the freedom of speech, or the founders of the United States of America.

The banned book is currently the #6 bestseller at amazon.com – the ban clearly helped this ranking – but you may expect that the free sales won't last too long. Petitions demanding the removal from amazon.com are collecting signatures and Amazon's stockpiles may be depleted, too.



Vanessa Brantley-Newton was the illustrator. The author, Ramin Ganeshram (picture), is a successful author of cookbooks and a chef, too. She holds a master degree in journalism, is an expert in the Washingtonian history, and has spent years by researching the topic of her book. Even her politically correct sex and the unusually politically correct mix of Trinidad and Persian ancestry didn't help her. After the initial support (see also the author's blog post about the book), Scholastic Publishing halted the distribution.

Monday, January 18, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Experts discuss Hawking, Perry, Strominger on a blog

Their skepticism has many layers

This text adds a few more comments about the proposed new solution of the black hole information puzzle by Hawking and two collaborators (HPS).

Jacques Distler's blog in Austin woke up after half a year and it was enough for an

unusually well-informed discussion of professional researchers about the paper.
The discussion pretty much reproduces my opinions and expectations about the conclusions that would be done by experts – although there are many ideas in the comments that are much more detailed than what I have figured out.

Sunday, January 17, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

When religious beliefs trump one's life

A heartbreaking opinion piece by a climate alarmist

This opinion piece is perhaps the first essay by a climate alarmist that I have ever read and that I would label as "heartbreaking". Adjectives like "cynical", "self-serving", and "hypocritical" come to us much more frequently.

[Only this paragraph that you're reading was added in the evening. I think that the previous paragraph written in the morning of European time makes it clear that Sellers is *not* one of the widespread alarmist people who deserve, according to my opinions, the adjectives like "cynical" etc. On the contrary, I wrote that he deserved the adjective "heartbreaking". I will demand the apology from Seth Borenstein of AP who has absolutely distorted the previous paragraph.]



Piers Sellers (60) has done lots of things in his life. One of them was spacewalking around the International Space Station. If I had to make a guess, I would think that this was the most unhealthy activity that has led to a recent diagnosis: the acting director of NASA's center for climate alarmism suffers from an incurable disease in a late stage. First U.S. woman astronaut Sally Ride has died at (similar) age of 61 of the very same pancreatic cancer. You may say it's a coincidence; or you may also realize what the cosmic radiation does to our DNA and how well the Earth's atmosphere helps to shield this radiation in comparison with the space suits, for example. My guess is that in 50 years, the number of cases will be so large that this cancer will be called the "astronauts' illness".

We're told that he has tidied up certain things, threw a party, and wanted to decide how to spend the remaining time on Earth. Mt Everest and nice beaches don't seem attractive. So instead, he's looking forward to return to his office at NASA to work on some climate alarmist tales. He assumed that he was young enough to become a witness the Climate Armageddon. Now when it's unlikely, he at least summarizes how important for climate alarmism the year 2015 has been.

Saturday, January 16, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Can you explain the Martin Luther King Day to me?

On Monday, because it will be the third Monday of 2016, the U.S. will celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr day. He was born in 1929, was assassinated in 1968, fought for the black interests, and received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize – which various characters win these days.

I think he must have been an OK man – well, like a nontrivial number of Baptist ministers. But I am simply not getting how "his day" could be picked and survive as a holiday on par with Christmas or the Independence Day. Such recent politically active characters are typically very polarizing. In Czechia, there is quite a consensus that Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first president of Czechoslovakia, was a very special, refined, positive man. But we don't celebrate any Masaryk Day. Newer character – surely Havel – would be way more polarizing, of course.

Thursday, January 14, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A LIGO Kaggle contest would be fun

Vaguely related: my contribution to the rumor mongering was mentioned by SciAm and Nature (the same article) but also by PerfScience, The Indian Republic, and especially SkyAndTelescope which seems like the best English article on the story to me. However, all of these texts are beaten by this Czech story whose birth I struggled for, a little bit. Also, that Czech article has gotten over a hundred of comments in few hours and it will continue – somewhat amazing that the Internet's key language, English, doesn't accumulate the same level of readers' interest about LIGO as a Czech article.
One of the topics we touched in some recent mails with Bill Z. was the question how LIGO – or LIGO/VIRGO – will determine the statistical significance of their discoveries. Bill has had some interesting thoughts. They surely have some algorithms, too. (I have actually looked at some pages with them but I don't quite know how they're doing it.) They must have been thinking about it for quite some time.



A chirp

It would be nice if LIGO/VIRGO has released their data publicly – maybe the rawest possible data you can get. People could play with them – maybe, they would be able to discover gravitational waves from many more events than those that are visible to the LIGO/VIRGO teams. (Next month, we are pretty likely to be told about at most two events but the data taking was only completed on January 12th so maybe some events were added.) Why do I think so?

Some "horror stories" of harassment at Californian universities

Sean Carroll has posted another feminist tirade, We suck (but we can be better), which paints an absolutely terrifying picture of what kind of a behavior the feminist hardcore fascists such as himself want to criminalize (or have already criminalized).

To support his lie that women are constantly discriminated against in science (in the comments, Mark S. has explained that the pendulum has swung to the opposite side), he started with the following story:

One day in grad school, a couple of friends and I were sitting at a table in a hallway in the astronomy building, working on a problem set. The professor who had assigned the problems walked by and noticed what we were doing — which was fine, working together was encouraged. But then he commented, “Hey, I’m confused — you’re all smart guys, so how come the girls have been scoring better than you on the problem sets?” Out loud we mumbled something noncommittal, but I remember thinking, “Maybe they are … also smart?”

This professor was a good-hearted guy, who would have been appalled and defensive at the suggestion that his wry remark perhaps reflected a degree of unconscious bias.
So the most terrible example of discrimination against women that Carroll could have found in his career was a 20-year-old story about a professor who expected a bunch of guys to have a higher score in a test than girls?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Free will of particles and people

It's so simple

This text is a simple attempt to rephrase the recent thoughts about free will (including the content of the comments) in a way that is more organized according to the philosophers' jargon.

Philosophers have debated "free will" for centuries. The basic question is whether free will exists but philosophers love to ask a different "first" question:

Is free will compatible with the determinism of the Universe?
Those who answer "Yes, compatible" are called "compatibilist". Those who answer "No, incompatible" are called incompatibilists. Now, many people have suggested that I was a "compatibilist", especially because I mention that the freedom may be defined as the absence of influence from other people or objects or, more precisely, the existence of some decisions that are not fully determined by those other people or objects.

The idea is that the existence of e.g. political liberty isn't some obscure metaphysical question but a very tangible, material question that decides about the human lives and the character of whole nations. I agree with that: freedom may be a bit vague concept but it's very real, too. I think that this agreement of mine is in no way equivalent to the compatibilists' defining proposition that "free will is compatible with determinism".

I am an incompatibilist because I really define free will to be the existence of data (free decisions) that are not determined by the earlier, external data (or agents). And I am confident that free will exists, even in principle. We will get to the evidence showing all these things.

Marriage of strings and loops again?

No, thank you.

People often behave in funny ways – and the human chemistry is hard to predict. That's why the marriages may sometimes look surprising to the external world, too. Over the weekend, Rupert Murdoch engaged retired supermodel Jerry Hall,



congratulations, and the wedding is imminent. During her career, she has protested things like the expansion of an airport – it's probably what makes Rupert excited. Well, it's not easy to marry different scientific theories if they're genuinely different. They may only marry if they're shown compatible and, in the case of sufficiently well-defined theories, equivalent – and that occurs rarely.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Facebook erases pages of the most supported Czech NGO

If you have minimized the time spent at Facebook as I have, you have another reason to think that you did the right thing. It's a website where the Islamists have an "advantage" over those who realize that Islam is uncivilized and dangerous.

Facebook has pretended that it respected the freedom of expression at some basic level and that the censorship of the German-language pages was basically imposed on the website by the German government.

However, Czechs were assured that it wasn't quite the case yesterday. Facebook has deleted or suspended the pages of an NGO that is arguably the Czech NGO with the highest number of fans in the country,

We don't want Islam in the Czech Republic (ivcrn.cz).

Motto: We like diversity and we therefore reject Islam.
The Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ivcrn/ (which the movement was even asked not to mention anywhere anymore, wow) was liked by 163,833 users as of yesterday. Although not everyone agrees with all the detailed acts made by this organization led by Dr Martin Konvička, a South Bohemian entomologist (yes, insect scientist; he is into butterflies) and translator, and all of their opinions, well over 95 percent of the Czech population agrees with the sentence above that became the name of the NGO. Konvička isn't considered an important leader primarily because what he says is so common.

On November 17th, 2015, Czech President Zeman spoke along with Dr Konvička at a rally.

An incandescent light bulb, the most efficient bulb

One of the things that the government bureaucracy can't do is to predict the direction that the free scientific and technological progress will take in the future. No one can really do it, not even the best minds let alone stupid arrogant aßholes that have to be employed as regulators within the government structures.

MIT researchers have reminded us about one striking example. The Wikipedia contains a page titled Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs whose first sentence says:

Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.
You see, governments across the world "passed measures" based on their belief – a dogma, to be more precise – that there's something intrinsically and unavoidably wrong about incandescent light bulbs when it comes to their energy efficiency and this defect can't go away.

Monday, January 11, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

LIGO rumor: a merger of 2 black holes has been heard

Masses of both black holes exceed 10 solar masses

Because many of us eagerly expect the announcement of a hugely exciting discovery (direct detection) of the gravitational waves, the background image shows three rural experiments: LIGO in Hanford WA (the brown "desert"), LIGO in Livingston LA (the forest, an identical gadget thousands of miles away), and VIRGO in Italy (the green fields beneath mountains). All these experiments are L-shaped pairs of orthogonal tunnels. The length of each LIGO bitunnel is 2x 4 kilometers; VIRGO has 2x 3 kilometers. Their mechanism is the same and they share the data.

The tunnels contain vacuum with laser beams. Interference is used to measure the difference between the length of both arms with the accuracy around \(10^{-20}\) meters, an error margin ten billion times shorter than the atomic radius.

Sunday, January 10, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A properly defined free will is an established scientific fact

Sabine Hossenfelder has argued that

Free will is dead, let’s bury it.
That's how things may have worked according to Newton's physics but the quote above has been shown incorrect by the discovery of quantum mechanics – well, at least with some sensible definition of a "free will". It looks like Ms Hossenfelder has slept at least since 1925 or, if we insist on rigorous proofs, since 2006.



Arthur Schopenhauer

In classical physics, the future was determined by the past. Humans were bound states of some particles or other classical degrees of freedom so they evolved in the way fully determined by the initial state of the Universe and the laws of physics. Quantum mechanics prescribes similarly unambiguous equations for the evolution but what is being evolved are just probability amplitudes and the actual outcomes of observations are random.

Saturday, January 09, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Strominger in SciAm on paper with Hawking, Perry

Some new games with classical GR are creative and attempts to use them for black hole information mysteries may be praised, but the final product is deeply flawed so far

Update: Jacques Distler criticizes this paper. His first complaint is a refined version of an objection I wrote below. Strominger, Hawking, Perry redefine the rules of the game and claim that the BMS symmetry transformations at the horizon aren't redundancies (like gauge symmetries in the bulk should be) but real symmetries, so states don't have to be invariant under them and one may produce new states. Jacques also believes that a certain diagonal BMS subgroup is ill-defined for an evaporating black hole. Finally, Distler agrees with my main general point as well – Hawking et al. work within local field theory where the information loss paradox was born and may be shown to be trouble. Some nonlocal twist is needed to avoid the paradoxes. Jacques insightfully says that local quantum field theory breaks down not only locally at short distances. It has to break at the very long Page time (when the black hole has reduced its entropy to 1/2) because at that time, the entanglement between the early and late Hawking radiation must start to show up.
This is a continuation of the story about the BMS supertranslations and their relevance for the black hole mysteries.



Gross, Hawking, Witten, Strominger, Yau. Note how similar the photograph is to these images of 5+ supersymmetric heroes from different movies.

Andy Strominger was just interviewed by a writer for Scientific American – not exactly one of the journals we still respect, to put it mildly (if I have to avoid the term "greasy šit") – about his recent work about soft hair:
Stephen Hawking's New Black-Hole Paper, Translated: An Interview with Co-Author Andrew Strominger
Well, this title is bizarre – it's a paper by three authors and not just Stephen Hawking's and Strominger is in no way a "junior" co-author. One could in fact say that Strominger is the leader of this sub-industry and Hawking along with his old co-author from 1978 and 1983 Perry have decided to be Strominger's grad students for a while again.

(However, one must understand that SciAm doesn't write for people who have a clue. It writes for SciAm commenters over there like "essentia" who only asks "what kind of scam is this?" and "naro10" who only says that Hawking has allegedly blamed the State of Israel for the existence of the black holes LOL. This is not what the interview is about, "naro10"! The remaining two commenters offer mushed potatoes involving negative entropy and fractals; and the claim that black holes are just neutron stars. Swines bombarded by pearls.)

But the interview is fun and Andy says lots of things nicely. Why the information loss looks terrible to the physicists (well, the word "determinism" looks too old-fashioned for the unitarity in quantum mechanics given the ability of QM to predict probabilities only but one implicitly hopes that Andy isn't fundamentally misunderstanding something like that) but why it has seemed true at some point, anyway, why you can't escape from a black hole (because the horizon is a sphere expanding outward by the speed of light whose area just happens to be kept fixed thanks to the spacetime curvature), what the Strominger-Vafa derivation has changed, and so on.

Be sure that I agree with some 90% of what Strominger said in the text as a whole.

Is Germany donating Cologne to Arab, African thugs?

On New Year's Eve, two railway stations in Munich were evacuated because of expected imminent terrorist attacks. At the end, they didn't take place. Instead, other German cities have suffered from some "milder" criminal activity. Lots of women were groped and robbed by the Arab and North African men.

Cologne was the main but far from only city whose New Year celebrations were tainted by these crimes. The Cologne Cathedral is Germany's most visited landmark. It is somewhat similar to the Prague Castle's St Vitus Cathedral and receives the same number of 20,000 tourists a day. (But the landscape between Aachen and Cologne is boringly flat, just like the flat landscape that the Czech "Cologne" (Kolín) is famous for. There's a rural song Cologne, Cologne, you're standing in a nice flat plane.)

Lots of interesting details about the problematic New Year's Eve co-existence between white German women and the dark-skinned men were written in The Daily Mail article two days ago and announced in an RT TV segment yesterday, among others.

Norway steals 5 children from a family 'cause parents are Christians

Global opposition towards fascist policies grows

Czechs know the Barnevernet, "The Bureau for the Protection of Children" in Norway, primarily because of its decision to steal two sons from Ms Eva Michaláková, a Czech mother who has lived in Norway for years, while using accusations that were refuted in the courts. More.



Barnevernet is taking kids away from thousands of families every year and it's estimated that the organization currently "takes care" of 70,000 children. To compare, a similar organization Lebensborn has "created" only 8,000 government-optimized kids in Germany and 8,000-12,000 babies in Norway during the whole history of the Third Reich. Many of the families affected by Barnevernet came from post-socialist Europe. The most shocking recent event affected this happy family of Ruth and Marius Bodnariu:

Thousands Protest Norwegian Embassies for Return of 5 Christian Children Seized by CPS
Three sons and two daughters were kidnapped by the rogue government-sanctioned organization on November 16th after the teacher of one of the girls complained to the principal that the girl (and her family) believes that "God punishes sin". The female principal called Barnevernet – now she claims that she only wanted to convince the parents to make the kids talk less about their faith. But Barnevernet decided to do something more radical. It seems that the family believes in Pentecostalism, a flavor of evangelical protestant Christianity. The parents were immediately charged with the lethal sin of "Christian radicalism and indoctrination". Wow. Interestingly, similar cases affecting Muslim families are not known.

Friday, January 08, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An interview with Sleeping Beauty on Wednesday

Yesterday I had to spend more time with the computer because someone was wrong on the Internet. ;-)

A guy has emerged in an old thread on the Sleeping Beauty problem. I've reviewed all the important facts known to the halfers – no new information, the dangers of the sampling bias, absence of reason for an "egalitarian" probability distributions in random sets – while that "someone" repeated all the misconceptions and misleading talking points by the thirders.



"Šípková růženka" literally means "Dog-rose Rosie" in Czech. "Růženka" is an affectionate way to call Rosie. To make things subtle, the full botanic translation of "dog-rose" is "růže šípková" which is almost identical to the name of the fairy-tale (and its heroine).

Such discussions don't make much sense but I think that when I rephrased the problem in terms of stochastic matrices, I found a funny simple way to show how ludicrous the answer \(P=1/3\) is. Normally, the Sleeping Beauty is only awakened on Wednesday to make the problem sound human. But she's been a heroine, a guinea pig in a great experiment, so why shouldn't people ask her questions when the experiment is over? ;-)

It's right when 150+ papers are quickly written on the diphoton bump

Adam Falkowski argued that 2016 will be the Do-or-die year, one that will decide about the character of the future of particle physics. The excitement is a sine-like periodic function of time and it is high now, much like it was high right before the LHC exploded in 2008 and when the LHC was discovering the Higgs boson in 2012.

(Yes, the peaks are multiples of four i.e. years linked to the leap years, Olympic games, and the U.S. presidential elections. Note that my words are probably more informative than his graph.)

Jester and several readers have also exchanged their opinions about the question:

Is it a sign of a pathology that three weeks after the inconclusive observations of the \(750\GeV\) bump by ATLAS and CMS, there are about 150 phenomenological papers explaining that? And is that an unhealthy manifestation of a hunt for citations?
I think it's totally fine if not cool if lots of models and arguments are invented by theorists that could account for the signal if the signal happens to be real. The papers show the state-of-the-art business of the phenomenologists, the kind of ideas that are still trusted or investigated, and they turn the people's brains on which is just great.

Thursday, January 07, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Is war on PC enough to win the White House and be a great president?

Maybe.

The term "political correctness" (shortened as PC below) was first used by Marxists-Leninists after the 1917 Russian Revolution, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, to describe "adherence to the policies and principles of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union". This phrase only expanded as a derogatory one during the U.S. of the 1990s but largely disappeared later.

However, the 2016 U.S. presidential election season has greatly revived the terminology – despite the fact that a university in Wisconsin recently ignored the consistency of their axioms and declared the phrase "politically correct" to be a politically incorrect micro-aggression. (See also Google Trends.) For the Donald Trump, the leader of GOP polls, it's probably the #1 evil. Ben Carson seems to agree – his campaign seems to be in trouble right now, however.

(Even after a decade in the U.S., Ivana Trump's "The Donald" sounds natural to me. Even more clearly, I would tend to say The Donald Duck or Donald the Duck instead of Donald Duck which seems to be the correct choice here. We the Slavs simply don't have any innate aptitude for an/the/_ article[s].)

GOP's #2 candidate in most polls, Ted Cruz, isn't so clearly focused on that evil. But his father Reverend Rafael Cruz has urged Americans to reject the leftists' PC vocabulary including the terms "gay" and "pro-choice" for homosexuals and the supporters of abortion. "Gay" means "happy", not "homosexual", and the opposite of "pro-life" is clearly "pro-death" or "pro-murder".

Shape dynamics and antirelativistic crackpottery in general

Crackpots may be classified to categories (or given time stamps) according to the first important discovery in physics that they hate. The closer this discovery is to the present, the more likely it is for the crackpots to impress many other people. The older this discovery is, the more visible the inadequacy of the crackpot should become to a larger portion of the public. For example, people who say that the Earth is at the center of the Universe don't enjoy too much support from the public (so far).

In 2006, the mass media began to hype anti-string crackpots (their time stamp is about 1974 – when string theory was shown to imply GR) as if they were on par with the real top physicists (if not better). To sling mud at some of the most valuable insights that the mankind has found is bad enough by itself. But because string theory is so perfectly continuously connected to the rest of physics and its history, it seemed obvious to me that the culture of physics hatred would gradually grow and extend to ever older pillars of physics.

The journalists would spend the following years by increasingly hostile attacks against things like quantum mechanics and celebrated the people who question facts settled at least since 1927. Right now, we may be entering the era in which it's considered "OK" for the mass media to hype anti-relativity crackpots.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

North Korea goes thermonuclear

Barack Obama has issued an executive order requiring additional background checks of sellers of guns and similar things. GOP candidates vow that they will undo such moves as long as they get in the office.

The first person who has gotten Obama's permission to obtain a new weapon was Kim Jong-Un. In his country's fourth nuclear test, he detonated his first successful H-bomb.

I have no doubt that they have performed some test. You may look at earthquake.usgs.gov and see a 5.1 magnitude earthquake that just happens to be located at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the Northeast of the isolated country and that, unlike other earthquakes, was measured to have occurred at the depth of 0.0 kilometers.

Hawking, Perry, Strominger on soft hair

Last June, Andy Strominger gave an interesting talk at Strings 2015 (and published papers) on memories, soft theorems, and asymptotic symmetries. New hair was identified along with infinitely many new conservation laws related to the BMS supertranslations etc. Two months later, Stephen Hawking said that he had used these advances to solve the black hole information paradox – which he had started 4 decades earlier – "again". Hawking has mentioned that Andy Strominger would be one of his assistants in getting the new great idea out.

The main paper is now out:

Soft Hair on Black Holes

(by Stephen Hawking, Malcolm Perry, Andrew Strominger)
They repeat some of the uncontroversial things from the Strominger-related papers alluded to above. But they add something new which seems controversial to me (at least so far). The new hair is claimed to be describable as zero-energy gravitons (for the BMS methods applied to the metric field) or zero-energy photons (when applied to the massless Maxwell field) at the event horizon. If I understand well, these new degrees of freedom are meant to equip the black hole with its Hawking-Bekenstein entropy (or at least contribute a big part to it). And these degrees of freedom cannot be excited because they occupy sub-Planckian distances.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

\(E_6\) grand unification, F-theory prevail in the \(750\GeV\) phenomenology today

Models of numerous kinds have been proposed in about 130 model builder papers so far that try to explain the diphoton resonance of invariant mass around \(750\GeV\) seen at the LHC – which may turn out to be a manifestation of new physics or a fluke.

Tommaso Dorigo is a cynic but I found his recent comment amusing, even if it is wrong. He claims that the \(750\GeV\) bump can be neither the Loch Ness Monster nor Mickey Mouse, because of some differences in the shape. Otherwise, the bump can be anything.



The bump may actually be due to Loch Ness and Mickey Mouse assuming that both of them cooperate and Loch Ness is properly twisted by the Donald Duck. Dorigo has overlooked that model.

More seriously, in the real world, the bumps may be real and many of the explanations are viable if not highly intriguing. I've discussed sgoldstinos, radions, D3-branes and closed strings, sbinos and NMSSM, and a few other generic options.

But today, we have a clear new winner, the \(E_6\) grand unified theories.

Monday, January 04, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Saudi and Oregon convictions: similarities

The anti-rancher moves and sentiment differ from the Sunni sectarianism less than we think

A few days ago, a judge in the (Sunni) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ordered the execution of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a (Shiite) cleric, and 46 other people. They were charged with terrorism. At some level, almost all Islamic clerics are terrorists. However, from a broader viewpoint, it's obvious that clerics are much less typical terrorists than many others. It was guaranteed that the execution would lead to protests in the (Shiite) Islamic Republic of Iran. Lots of angry protesters stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Saudi Arabia reacted to the protests and cut the diplomatic ties with Iran.

Sunday, January 03, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Is supersymmetry in the same situation as Chelsea and Manchester United?

Robert Matthews is a bachelor of physics, a chartered physicist, a computer science professor of a sort, and a science journalist. His most famous work in science, a paper on chaotic encryption algorithms, was published in the late 1980s.



Petr Čech

Years ago, his name has repeatedly appeared on this blog. He was the science hater par excellence in 2006 and became a prominent Nude Socialist Popperazzo in 2008. For more than 7 years, we were fortunate not to see this jerk often but he's back – with a somewhat comical anti-physics text.

His rant about supersymmetry is actually mostly about soccer – and a photograph of soccer players introduces it.

2016: communist snitches are in charge of everything again

For many years, I have been proud about the velvet character of the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia. We did it nicely and it was possible. We didn't execute the leaders – like the Romanians did. Even the communist party was allowed to exist – and, unlike other countries, it has never changed its name in an effort to "improve its image" (which was mostly a sign of hypocrisy in the other countries). Despite this fact, communists have stayed out of all governments since the first free 1990 elections (so far).

Instead, our politicians have only introduced some soft laws designed to protect the new democracy from the return to a totalitarian system. In particular, the 1991 great and 1992 small lustration laws said that former agents of the communist secret police (StB) wouldn't be allowed to occupy top posts in politics. So everyone was allowed to live and make money but the power in the country wasn't (and legally, isn't) accessible to the communist snitches.

A particular communist snitch (with the secret name "Bureš") who has also worked as an apparatchik in the communist food industry and was doing lots of trade with the Arabs (and, as you can imagine, he could accumulate lots of contacts and helpful know-how from his communist job) – a Slovak man named Andrej Babiš – became a wealthy food industry mogul during capitalism. I don't have a problem with that. Ethically failed people may still be good in other things and if someone switches from doing nasty things to doing helpful things, it's a change we should celebrate. However, I have a serious problem with the fact that this snitch was allowed to enter politics even though the law explicitly says that ministers etc. have to prove that they had no StB record – which he obviously can't. I have a problem with that not because I am dreaming about some kind of a revenge. I have a problem with that because people with the mentality of snitches are likely to change our society in very harmful ways – and indeed, the process is underway, as I will discuss.

(Andrej's younger brother Alexander "cleverly" signed the cooperation with the communist secret agency as well – 11 days before the Velvet Revolution erupted, with the secret name "Miki". During capitalism, he's been a financial boss in Andrej's Agrofert Slovakia, he was charged from stealing $200,000 from the Slovak subsidiary of Czech utility ČEZ, and will spend up to 15 years in prison if convicted. He currently plans to flee Europe. Their father Štefan Babiš joined the communist party in 1952 and was a fanatical enough member so that in a 1971 letter to a communist minister, he has officially renounced his brother-in-law who emigrated to Australia: "I have had nothing to do and hostile relationship with my former brother-in-law for 9 years and it would be unjust if his act, which I absolutely condemn, would affect the future of my kids Andrej and Alexander". The party then allowed him to work in Japan, France, Ethiopia, Yugoslavia, and Switzerland. Truly a wonderful family ready to become "ethical role models" for all Czechs and to be in charge of all Czech public finances. At least, the father Štefan was discussed in the StB archives not because he cooperated with it. He was suspicious of misappropriation; and of selling a license to produce citric acid to a foreign country.)

Databases in Czechia and Slovakia (and the historians who run them) agree that Babiš was a communist snitch. But in Slovakia, Babiš has been able to win a trial by arguing that their proof of his wrongdoing during communism was insufficient.

Friday, January 01, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Results, brilliance of practitioners keep string theory at the heart of science

Bigots' medieval efforts to constrain what scientists are allowed to study and conclude are unacceptable

It has become literally fashionable for subpar minds to copy essays claiming that string theory is not science from each other. Two men, David Bailey, a pensioner at UC Davis, and Jonathan Borwein have joined this business when they published a rant titled

Data vs Theory: The Mathematical Battle for the Soul of Physics
in the Huffington Post. HuffPo is obviously just a very influential left-wing blog about politics but they often love to pretend that they have something to do with science even though they don't. So they occasionally publish texts that pretend to be about science but they are not. For example, two weeks ago, Lisa Randall was abused by a feminist whore at HuffPo.

Update, related ad: Tetragraviton mentions that neither string theory nor inflation or the multiverse are examples of a non-empirical confirmation – which is why he views the whole Dawid's workshop as a misguided event – because people who study these three concepts are a union of those who are actually working on producing old-fashioned predictions, even if they use novel methods such as the anthropic ones; and those who use the multiverse "heavily ambiguous" compactifications as an explanation of the failure to complete physics so far (an excuse), but those people get excited about old-fashioned empirical naturalness-like explanations as soon as one arrives. So none of these people can be said to "need, want, and merit" non-empirical explanations at the same time which is why the discussion of non-empirical confirmations is unjustified in these three contexts.
Bailey and Borwein who demonstrably don't understand what string theory actually is at the technical level are also trying to persuade the superficial, brainwashed, and impressionable readers of that political weblog by linking string theory to some science-related political causes in which the opinion of the HuffPo readers seems to be predictable. I will get to this demagogic trick soon.