Thursday, April 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The mild civil war in Ukraine

Thankfully, the number of the new casualties in Ukraine remains relatively low. Whether we call the confrontation "a civil war" is a matter of terminology and only with the hindsight we will acquire in the future, we will be able to decide whether it is an appropriate word for the recent events.

The attitude of the would-be mainstream Western politicians, institutions, and media (and the brainwashed hundreds of millions of average citizens who never question anything they are fed) looks staggeringly hypocritical, cruel, and just plain idiotic to me. My overall sentiment concerning the U.S. interventions has been positive until recently. You know, I live in a city that was grateful to the U.S. army for the liberation from Nazism. (Unfortunately, this liberation wasn't enough to give the words "Western Bohemia" the same ring and political meaning as the words "West Germany" LOL.) This positive sentiment has survived doubts about the U.S. excursions to Yugoslavia – where I would already notice a significant anti-Serbian xenophobia of the U.S. approach – and neutral or counterproductive interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

The U.S. had the moral right to "do something" in Afghanistan after 9/11 while, as we know today, it didn't have a sufficient justification for its operations in Iraq a decade ago. However, I think that with the hindsight, the results in Afghanistan are worse than those in Iraq. Afghanistan is really "unfixable". It is foolish to expect that Afghanistan may be turned into a productive capitalist democracy similar to the Western ones. It is a highly undeveloped nation on drugs which has no real chances to be "like us". Iraq is different and the intervention may already be seen as a net positive.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Another anti-physics issue of SciAm

High energy physics is undoubtedly the queen and the ultimate reductionist root of all natural sciences. Nevertheless, during the last decade, it has become immensely fashionable for many people to boast that they're physics haters.

The cover of the upcoming May 2014 issue of Scientific American looks doubly scary for every physicist who has been harassed by the communist regime. It resembles a Soviet flag with some deeply misleading propaganda written over it:

A crisis in physics?

If supersymmetry doesn't pan out, scientists need a new way to explain the universe. [In between the lines]
Every part of this claim is pure bullshit, of course. First of all, there is no "crisis in physics". Second of all, chances are high that we won't be any certain whether SUSY is realized in Nature. Either SUSY will be found at the LHC in 2015 or soon afterwards, or it won't be. In the latter case, the status of SUSY will remain qualitatively the same as it is now. Top-down theorists will continue to be pretty much certain that SUSY exists in Nature in one form or another, one scale or another; bottom-up phenomenologists and experimenters will increasingly notice the absence of evidence – which is something else than the evidence for absence, however.

But aside from this delusion, the second part of the second sentence is totally misguided, too. Supersymmetry isn't a "new way to explain the universe". It is another symmetry, one that differs from some other well-known symmetries such as the rotational or Lorentz symmetry by its having fermionic generators but one that doesn't differ when it comes to its being just one aspect of theories. Supersymmetry isn't a theory of the universe by itself (in the same sense as the Standard Model or string theory); supersymmetry is a feature of some candidate theories of the universe.

Years of Living Dangerously

An expensive, $20 million superstitious program on drought and CO2

Update, April 16th (blog post originally released on April 12th): Nielsen ratings concluded that the premiere of "Years of Living Dangerously" was only watched by 294,000 people (compare with 16+ million for The Big Bang Theory), confirming my 04/12 predictions below that the ratings would be poor. If you divide, you see that an average TV viewer (or those paying for the commercials) would have to pay over $68 for the TV series to become profitable.
By most quantitative criteria, James Cameron is the world's most successful film director and film producer. He has earned almost $1 billion just for himself and some of his works are blockbusters – like Titanic and The Terminator; let me not include Avatar here. He's also a deep-sea explorer. You can have some unusual hobbies if your worth approaches a billion.

However, when it comes to issues like the climate, he is just batshit crazy. He's much more religious about this nonsense than Osama bin Laden was religious when it came to the Allah doctrine. So he also decided to shoot a completely unoriginal, redundant, 9-part TV documentary (9 hours in total), Years of Living Dangerously.

The first episode, included in the video above, will be aired tomorrow. I have actually watched it – partly in the background because I had other work. It is a collection of unnecessary repetitions of footnotes from An Inconvenient Truth. What seemed incredible to me was how boring the "documentary" was. I can't understand why the creator of Titanic just can't make a more persuasive documentary.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Podcast with Lisa Randall on inflation, Higgs, LHC, DM, awe

I want to offer you a yesterday's 30-minute podcast of Huffington Post's David Freeman with Lisa Randall of Harvard

Podcast with Randall (audio over there)
The audio format is thanks to RobinHoodRadio.COM.

They talk about inflation, the BICEP2 discovery, the Higgs boson vs the Higgs field, the LHC, its tunnels, and the risk that the collider would create deadly black holes.

Monday, April 14, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Andrei Linde: universe or multiverse?

Some time ago, before the BICEP2 discovery (in July 2012, weeks after the Higgs discovery), Andrei Linde gave an 82-minute talk at SETI, a center to search for ETs.

Because Linde and his theories – even some more specific theories – seem to be greatly vindicated by the BICEP2 announcement, it may be interesting to listen to his more general ideas about the subject. Linde is a pretty entertaining speaker – the audience is laughing often, too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stanislaw Ulam: 105th birthday

I didn't have enough time in the morning but the 95-vs-105 numerical error is still very painful because my late maternal grandfather was born in 1909, too

Stanislaw Ulam was born in Lviv, Galicia, on April 13th, 1909. His broader family, the Ulams, was a very wealthy one in the region. His immediate family was doing fine but not great. He would study at the Lviv Polytechnic Institute which was a Polish school. It's useful to keep these nationalities in mind when you think about Western Ukraine – where Lviv belongs today. Achievers like Ulam would be Polish Jews for quite some time. But Galicia didn't belong to "Poland" at that time; it was a part of "my country", Austria-Hungary.

He was invited to the U.S. by Hans Bethe and has been affiliated with the IAS at Princeton, Harvard, U. of Wisconsin, U. of Colorado, U. of Florida, and Los Alamos National Laboratory at various moments. He became a U.S. citizen in 1941 – before he began to work on the Manhattan Project. He did quite some important calculations over there – both on hydrodynamic calculations of implosions, and the statistics of multiplicative processes. He was the boss of a group of female computers. Female computers are constructed out of women; at that time, they contained less silicon than they contain today. ;-)

Friday, April 11, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Harvard professors' fossil fuel divestment letter

I was told about a letter signed by some Harvard faculty urging the president and the Harvard Corporation to eliminate the fossil-fuel investments from the endowment and to otherwise harass and discriminate against the fine folks who work in that industry and the other investors:

HarvardFacultyDivestment.COM (open letter)
Fortunately for Harvard and the system (because Harvard is considered a role model by many others), Drew Gilpin Faust – the new president that replaced Larry Summers – continues to be sensible. See what she recently told the brainwashed babe at the Harvard Yard.

This is not an actual Harvard-University-affiliated logo. Instead, it is a notorious Czech one but I won't be sued for having used that, I guess. ;-)

There are over 4,000 academic employees at Harvard and this letter has been signed by 97+20 or so professors so far. So they represent a tiny fraction. I am sure that this blog post itself will help to add some more signatures. It is surely not my goal ;-) but I don't really care much because I believe that the petition will remain extremist and it won't get above the 2,000 signatories when one could talk about a majority opinion.

Needless to say, the first thing I have checked was the list of the signatories. How many people do I know? What is the composition?

Sheldon's farewell to string theory: a fun episode with some serious problems

For almost 7 years, I have been an enthusiastic fan of The Big Bang Theory. The CBS sitcom is in its seventh season. Each episode lasts 20 minutes or so. So far, 155 episodes have been aired. I am pretty sure that I've seen every single one of them – on average, I've watched an episode of TBBT 3 times – partly in the original, partly in the Czech dubbing which I started to love pretty soon. The initial seasons have a higher number of views than the newest ones.

So you may see that I have spent something like 155 hours of quality time with the sitcom. This figure vastly understates how important the sitcom has been in the scheme of my cultural inspiration. Last week, on April 3rd, they aired the 154th episode, The Indecision Amalgamation, which was the last problem-free one. Sheldon was deciding whether to buy XBOX or a new PlayStation, Raj had to simultaneously deal with two potential girlfriends, and Penny got a useless advice from a frustratingly nostalgic Wil Wheaton on whether she should accept an offer in a bad movie.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lessons of the heartbleed bug for open source software, \(P=NP\)

Two days ago, Neel Mehta of Google’s security team as well as a team of security engineers at Codenomicon have found a dangerous vulnerability of versions of OpenSSL – 1.0.1 and 1.0.2 beta – called the Heartbleed bug that allows the attacker to read pretty much any information from the vulnerable server (keys to encrypt and the actual user passwords and data) in 64-kilobyte packages. See Google News.

It means that the safe "HTTPS" actually makes things more insecure than the ordinary "HTTP".

About 17% servers allowing encryption are running the bad versions of OpenSSL. The most publicized server whose users should surely try to change the passwords as soon as possible (probably in the past) is Tumblr (owned by Yahoo, so probably Yahoo passwords may also be in danger). I really hope that it is really true that Dropbox, Gmail, Facebook etc. are unaffected; try this tool or this one to check the security of particular servers; Jesus Christ, it says that is vulnerable.

Kaku, Krauss, Tegmark: stars of a pro-geocentrism movie

With their hype, they have waited to be abused

Update: It was clarified later today why Krauss ended up in the documentary. He signed a release form and cashed a cheque. So Krauss' pretended surprise shows that he is a greedy liar.
Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss wrote a Slate piece about his role in the movie called "The Principle" that promotes geocentrism. Try the impressive video-based website of the movie.

As the trailer shows, he as well as Michio Kaku and Max Tegmark found themselves in a rather motley company (the adjective has nothing to do with your humble correspondent).

Their comments about the coming revolutions in cosmology are being alternated with equally sounding monologues by morons who believe now, in the 21st century, that the Earth is the center of the Universe. (The filmmakers – led by a religious maverick Dr [from Vanuatu] Robert Sungenis – also seem to believe that the Holocaust was a myth.)

Now, I am confident that neither Tegmark nor Krauss nor Kaku believe that the Earth is the center of the Universe. Still, I think that their "participation" in the film isn't quite a coincidence.

The narrator of the movie is Kate Mulgrew ("Captain Janeway") who says not to be a geocentrist and she is unhappy about the movie. It is not entirely clear to me how she could narrate the movie in that case. See also stories at Google News.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Alan Guth's 1979 handwritten notes

First, let me mention that the CERN accelerator complex is in the middle of the Two Years' Vacation which is the right moment to begin its reawakening. See LHC begins long road to restart at the Symmetry Magazine.

They first restart the source, then the smaller rings and boosters etc. – the chronology of the restart pretty much mimics the 6-minute video above that describes the CERN rings etc. culminating in the LHC itself. In one year, e.g. in April 2015, the collisions at 13 TeV should begin. Because of the quantitative leap in energy, all "null results" may be instantly forgotten and there will be a completely new chance – but not certainty – to detect previously undetected physical phenomena.

But I want to mention another article at the Symmetry Magazine that was posted in 2005.

Monday, April 07, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

People's Republic of Donetsk

The Donetsk region of Ukraine has declared the independence from the Maidan government in Kiev, under the new brand People's Republic of Donetsk, using the standard Maidan algorithm: people took over some key government buildings (five-minute video of the muscle game) and announced that they are in charge. Well, there are differences.

The activists in Donetsk are pro-Russia and disagree about many things with the Maidan folks. Another difference is that there are no hardcore fascists and Nazis among the Donetsk separatists – which is also why they haven't murdered dozens of (pro-Maidan) cops and even more of their own people (at least so far).

The new republic may look tiny but the region has 4.6 million people, just like Ireland, almost matching Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Norway, and Georgia, and beating Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Macedonia, Slovenia, all three Baltic states, Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Luxembourg. So it's not a "ludicrously small" region. Be sure that if you live in a country like mine, with 10 million people, it's a pretty big country. The population is able to cover almost all human activities, in some cases, at the global top level. You must walk for a hundred of miles to get to the border, and so on. So if the Americans think about countries of this size as "tiny specks of matter", they really don't understand what's going on.

The new republic – not recognized by any other state right now – wants a Crimea-style referendum by May 11th and asks Putin to send "peacekeepers" to the region.

Sunday, April 06, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Roger Penrose continues his weird anti-ïnflation jihad well as anti-quantum, anti-string...

For more than 30 years, Roger Penrose would be offering many irrational and wrong criticisms of the cosmic inflation. He didn't stop after the publication of the discovery of primordial gravitational waves by BICEP2. On Friday, instead of hiding somewhere in a closet, he went to Ira Flatow's show, Science Friday, and displayed more self confidence than ever:

Sir Roger Penrose: Cosmic Inflation Is ‘Fantasy’ (click this and click the "LISTEN" button)
In the 27-minute interview, he reminds us about the book "Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy" about "string theory, quantum mechanics, and inflation," respectively, that he has been writing for a decade. Whenever he is asked a technical question, he laughs and closes it with the suggestion that it is surely silly to talk about such questions on a science show.

Instead of a single counter-argument, we hear lots of things "it must be wrong because I say so". The discovery by BICEP2 is probably OK, he says, but the interpretation is completely wrong. It cannot be because of gravitational waves because there should be no gravitational waves in the early Universe.

Saturday, April 05, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hooperon dark matter may be boosted by dwarf galaxies and even LUX

Exactly one month ago, I wrote about two dark matter stories: the proposal by Randall and Reece to link extinctions to dark matter; and some unusually strong (formally 40-sigma) signals supporting the existence of the hooperon, a WIMP dark matter particle candidate with mass between \(30\) and \(40\GeV\). (See Jester's classification of the tantalizing dark matter particle clues.)

Some sources of the gamma rays seem to clearly shine near the Galactic center (but almost 5,000 light years from the center) even if the known sources are removed.

Lisa Grossman of Nude Socialist (and Phys.ORG, among others) has summarized the story with a one-month hindsight now:

Best dark matter signal yet hints at heftier particles
Just to be sure, there is this signal near the Central Milky Way whose statistical significance is a staggering 40 standard deviations. However, this significance is useless if there is an alternative, so far overlooked explanation of the bright spot that is able to emulate the annihilating dark matter particle. This bright spot is discussed in the previously mentioned (at this blog) February 2014 paper by Hooper and 6 co-authors.