Sunday, August 18, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

What's more empirical: alternative interpretations of QM or particle physics?

In recent days, I was fully realizing the insanity of the attitude of some ideologues towards the "empirical foundations" of parts of physics – let me call them "deceitful hippies and their protégés and protégées, largely from minorities" – who claim that particle physics and/or things like string theory and supergravity aren't a good enough empirical science for them while the tirades against quantum mechanics and ludicrous new "interpretations of quantum mechanics" must be the future of empirical science.

This combination of claims is totally upside down and the detachment of this combination from the basic facts is absolutely unbelievable. It makes one desperate to see that there are thousands of sufficiently scientifically illiterate laymen in the society who just can't see the absurdity of these claims.

Physics investigates hypotheses and theories that have implications for the observations in principle. That definition is a result of centuries of thinking – although this definition had to be refined by more cautious thinking about "what is scientifically meaningful", let's say the "positivist" or "operationalist" thinking, that finally made it to the physicists' toolkit around the year 1900 and that must be counted as the most important contribution of philosophers (positivists in this case) to physics ever.

Friday, August 16, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Inverted yield curve and similar superstitions

The most recent 3% drop of the U.S. stock market indices – which had global repercussions – took place almost completely due to the fact that the main yield curve got inverted.

It's a sign of recession – in average, it comes in 22 months from now, a Swiss bank said. A Czech Canadian wrote me that the yield curve inverted and "f*gg*ts are buying stocks on that day" (the f-category surely included me).

The "bad sign of the inverted yield curve" is a similar rule-of-thumb as the technical analysis used to predict the future movements of prices of securities and other things. All these rules may be justified by heuristic arguments but none of the proofs really seems solid, ever. In most cases, these arguments act as a self-fulfilling prophesy.

The stock markets actually drop when the yield curve gets inverted – because tons of people are being trained to believe this "wisdom" which may very well be a superstition.

Can you distinguish blacks and whites, Bavarians and Bulgarians?

OK, during a discussion about the similarities and differences between Bavaria and Bohemia, a commenter suddently mentioned hair dye used by some hypothetical Muslims in Western Bulgaria. So I initially laughed: WTF? What does this discussion have to do with the Muslims going to Balkans, or their recolored hair, let alone with Muslims in West Bulgaria?

Why exactly West Bulgaria – where I have never been? We generally know just the Black Sea which is East Bulgaria.

I was obviously near certain that it was a very comical typo – or a sign of the American-level total ignorance about the world geography – so I assumed that what the comment actually meant was "Western Bohemia" where I live, not "Western Bulgaria" which is 1,000 km away and about 50% poorer. Great. The problem is that the discussion didn't stop.

Thursday, August 15, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A fun German perspective on Pilsen

Peter F. sent me a wonderful 15-minute-long video with commentaries by a German who, along with his wife, visited and liked my hometown of Pilsen, Czechia (170,000 inhabitants, Western Bohemia, 4th largest city in Czechia and 2nd in Bohemia):

His channel name is "Red Pill Germany" so I suppose he is rather right-wing or perhaps close to AfD. OK, the video shows some ordinary sequences from the city center where I also know every meter, as you can guess: I am a Pilsen patriot.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Incredibly low intelligence of anti-quantum, anti-relativistic Bohmists

Fix any theory by adding the axiom "no problem will ever arise"

You know that I like to use the term "crackpot" but I believe that I have actually learned the word from quite some serious, uncontroversial people who avoid expletives at all times: as far as I know, Dr Jiří Langer, an important physics instructor at my undergraduate Alma Mater, was the one who introduced us to the term "crackpots".

For years, the canonical crackpots – compatible with this flavor of the terminology – were haters of Einstein's theory of relativity. Once upon a time, one of them – the author of the far-reaching ;-) book above – came to our department in Prague, along with his buddy, the chairman of Mensa Czechoslovakia, and wanted to persuade the physicists that he had disproven the theory of relativity and, ideally, the professors should nominate him for the Nobel Prize in physics.

OK, he showed some wrong solution to some idiosyncratic version of a twin paradox and I was apparently the only one who exactly knew what was wrong about his reasoning and I have explained the flaw to everybody, including the senior physicists. At that time, I had already had accumulated quite some experience in interactions with the crackpots.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Coincidences, naturalness, and Epstein's death

The circumstances of Jeffrey Epstein's death seem to be a drastic but wonderful metaphor for naturalness in physics: those who say "there is nothing to see here" in the irregularities plaguing Epstein's jail seem to be similar to those who say "there is nothing to see here" when it comes to fine-tuning or unlikely choices of parameters in particle physics.

As far as I can say, a rational person who thinks about these Epstein events proceeds as follows:

  • an invention of rough hypotheses or classes of hypotheses
  • usage of known or almost known facts to adjust the probabilities of each hypothesis
It's called logical or Bayesian inference! That's a pretty much rigorous approach justified by basic probability calculus – which is just a continuous generalization of mathematical logic. The opponents of this method seem to prefer a different Al Gore rhythm:
  • choose the winning explanation at the very beginning, according to some very simple e.g. ideological criteria or according to your own interests; typically, the winning explanation is the most politically correct one
  • rationalize the choice by saying that all other possible explanations are hoaxes, conspiracy theories, "not even wrong" theories that are simultaneously unfalsifiable and already falsified, and by screaming at, accusing, and insulting those who argue that their other choices seem more likely – often those who do some really fine research
Which of the approaches is more promising as a path towards the truth? Which is the more honest one? These are rhetorical questions – of course Bayesian inference is the promising and ethical approach while the other one is a sign of stupidity or dishonesty. I am just listing the "second approach" to emphasize that some people are just dumb or dishonest – while they or others often fail to appreciate this stupidity or dishonesty.

Monday, August 12, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Dusting attack against Litecoin

Crypto-cultists know next to nothing about the technicalities of these payment systems

On Saturday, Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, has warned that a massive dusting attack against the Litecoin, the fifth largest cryptocurrency by capitalization, was probably underway.

What is it? A dusting attack is a method to discover the identity of the holders of various wallets – or to have a chance to do so, assuming that the owner of the wallet does something "not completely careful". I don't even say "a method used by a malicious party" because I am not sure what is the axiomatic framework in which this activity would be "malicious". The widespread claim that the cryptocurrencies are "anonymous" is just a promise that some people – usually promoters of this worthless hype – spread. It's a statement that may be right or wrong to various extents and no one has the moral duty or the legal obligation to make sure that it is "right"!

I have never promised such an anonymity and I don't think that the anonymous payment systems would be better than the systems in which the anonymity may be broken, e.g. by police, at the end. And a person who finds the names of owners of all Bitcoin wallets could perhaps be described as a curious person and an excellent researcher who can unmask the truth that others try to hide, by using the public information plus the standard allowed payments. So I don't think that the people doing a dusting attack should be called "malicious". They just do something else with the unregulated cryptocurrency networks and software than most others – or they do the same steps but combine them more cleverly.

Sunday, August 11, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Four Tommaso Dorigo's SUGRA blunders

Almost all the media informed about the new Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (which will be given to the guys during a TV broadcast event on November 3rd; in NASA's Hangar One, Mountain View, CA) – a prize to three founders of supergravity – as if it were any other prize.

The winners are lucky to divide the $3 million and/or they deserve the award which was chosen by a nontrivial process, like in the case of the Nobel Prize or any other prize. Thankfully, in this case, most journalists didn't try to pretend that they know more about supergravity than the committee. The judgements or information about the importance of work in theoretical physics should be left to the experts because these are damn hard things that an average person – and even an average PhD – simply hasn't mastered.

I detected three amazing exceptions. Nature, Prospect Magazine, and Physics World wrote something completely different. The relevant pages of these media have been hijacked by vitriolic, one-dimensional, repetitive, scientifically clueless, deceitful, and self-serving anti-science activists and they tried to sling as much mud on theoretical physics as possible – which seems to be the primary job description of many of these writers and the society seems to enthusiastically fund this harmful parasitism.

Saturday, August 10, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Possible murder of Jeffrey Epstein deserves deep investigation

When I was home from a trip, including the most accessible municipality of Germany where I can get one person by train for $8 (round trip) plus a one-minute-walk (and its larger Czech counterpart), the most important bad news story waiting in the alert centers was the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Very sad yet predictable and predicted.

Officials "report" that it was an apparent suicide. A problem is that the standard camera – that should monitor all the inmates – was just malfunctioning at the moment when he died! What is the probability that the United States of America isn't capable of installing and maintaining a proper camera to check the safety of a billionaire in jail – and that this camera breaks exactly when it's critically needed?

Also, it seems, two key guards were sent away because of "maintenance". Cool. Finally, Epstein was stunningly removed from the suicide watch even though he officially tried to commit suicide just three weeks ago (while he said that someone tried to murder him in late July).

Friday, August 09, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Maize mazes and kids' analytical thinking

Some 3 miles from my home, I saw an advertisement for The Cornies, a labyrinth in the corn. It's really there (near Kyšice) and if you click at the hyperlink, you will see that there are 12 copies of this fun for kids in Czechia. Some extra research indicates that in 2017, this network already existed and included 25 locations.

This is what our local labyrinth apparently looks like from bird's perspective. Try this Google Images search for related pictures.

For a while, I thought that it was an example of a simply clever Czech creativity. But I decided to verify the guess. "Popcorn labyrinth" looked like a suboptimal name. I quickly realized that I was always impressed or annoyed by the fact that the short English words for a labyrinth and for popcorn were the same. So I searched for Maize Maze and indeed, there is an English website with that very name.

Thursday, August 08, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Klimaneutral Germans have completely lost their mind

We are living next to a mad neighbor

By Dr Ivo Cerman, a Czech historian (orig. in CZ)

In the time of the climate crisis, Germany has lost its sound judgement. My latest visits to Germany and my reading of the German media between June and now (August 5th) have led me to the only single possible conclusion: that country has gone utterly crazy.

The theme number one in the media is no longer the migration crisis but the climate crisis. The newest buzzword is no longer "Willkommenskultur" (welcoming culture) but the term "klimaneutral" (climate neutral). Towns and whole lands are embracing Stakhanovite commitments about insanely short deadlines in which they will become "klimaneutral". In early July 2019, Munich adopted a pledge to become the world's first city with over 1 million of people that will be "klimaneutral". At the end of July, the Bavarian prime minister Markus Söder (CSU) already vowed to make all of Bavaria "klimaneutral" and he simultaneously proposed to incorporate the "Klimaschutz" (climate change mitigation) to the Bavarian constitution as well as the German federal "Grundgesetz" (fundamental laws).

Wednesday, August 07, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Indian plan to reintegrate Jammu and Kashmir should be respected

Most of us consider India and Pakistan to be the third world and that limits the attention paid to these countries (Škoda Octavia easily became an Indian bestseller in its category by selling just 196 units in all of India last month!). However, they are the most likely countries to start a nuclear war. We got a little bit closer to such a severe conflict when Pakistan voiced some dissatisfaction with some Indian government's steps to normalize the conditions on the disputed territory.

First, some basic geography. The grey area is India – which is mostly a Hindu (and Buddhist) country. It used to be a British colony along with Western and Eastern pieces that were Islamic and became separate once the colonial rule ended in 1947. The Western neighbor – formerly a part of the colony – is Pakistan while the Eastern, much poorer, Islamic nation is Bangladesh. They could very well be one, disconnected country but it would be impractical. As you see on the map, India is almost disconnected and surrounds Bangladesh in the East.

Needless to say, Bangladesh is so poor that it wouldn't dare to upset India too much even if it wanted.

Andy Strominger becomes lead cheerleader at Greene's festival

Carlo Rubbia demands particle physicists to be courageous and build the damn muon collider, a compact Higgs factory.
A few days ago, the World Science Festival of Brian Greene posted a 90-minute video with interviews about the state of fundamental physics:

Bill Zajc sent it to me and I finally had the time and energy to watch it, at a doubled speed. At the beginning, four minutes of Greene and visual tricks – similar to those from his PBS TV shows – are shown. I actually think that some of the tricks are new and even cooler than they used to be. I really liked the segment where Greene was grabbing and magnifying the molecules and taking the atoms, nuclei, and strings out of them. The illustrations of the microscopic building blocks had to be created to match the motion of Greene's hands.