Friday, February 23, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bitcoin, scarce cryptocurrencies are stocks in (hopeless) companies

Various central banks and regulators are trying to ban, suppress, or regulate the cryptocurrencies in one way or another. Others are preparing their own cryptocurrencies and join the irrational but widespread hype about the blockchain technology. Yet another group of central banks does both. The Polish central bank has paid some amusing $25,000 to Polish YouTube star to write texts and record videos such as I Lost All My Money about the cryptocurrency "investments".

Czechia is the home to the largest non-Chinese and oldest Bitcoin mining pool, SlushPool, and there is a detectable important community that does these things. But cryptocurrencies remain a fringe phenomenon and that's also reflected by the attitudes of the Czech National Bank. Our central bank – typically echoing the views of Mojmír Hampl, the most active member of the board in such matters – says that it's right not to harm them, not to help them, not to protect them, and not to guide them by holding their little hands because they're irrelevant for the system and the Czech participants ultimately know what they're doing and that they enjoy no protection.

The percentage of the wealth in the cryptocurrencies is very small and the percentage of the money in the real economy that goes through cryptocurrencies is even tinier. So the skeleton of our monetary system is in no way threatened. I agree it's true in Czechia but due to the ability of these bubble phenomena to rise exponentially, this assumption may very well break down in countries affected by a mania – such as South Korea.

Thursday, February 22, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Questionable value of inequalities in physics

Bill Zajc brought my attention to a very good talk that Raphael Bousso gave about his recent and older work. Inequalities play a very important role in his work. I am much willing to appreciate the value of an inequality than what I was when I was a kid or a teenager. But much of that sentiment has survived: I don't really believe that a typical inequality tells us too much about the laws of physics.

First, my initial realization is that inequalities incorporate much less information than identities. Imagine that you're asked how much is \(8+9\). Many of you will be able to answer\[


\] The percentage of TRF readers who can do it is significantly higher than in almost all other websites in the world. ;-) OK, but some people could also say that they're not quite sure but\[

8+9 \gt 10.

\] Eight plus nine is greater than ten, they figure out. That's nice and it happens to be true. But this truth is much less unique. In fact, someone else could say\[

8+9 \gt 12

\] which is another inequality of the same type – a strictly stronger one, in fact.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Székesfehérvár won't join Pilsen

Happy, dancing, white, Christian people are no longer allowed in the European Capitals of Culture

In 2015, my hometown of Pilsen was elected as the European Capital of Culture. We defeated Ostrava, a North Moravian town of black coal and dirty industry. As far as I can say, this EU event has had no important implications, aside from the fact that I could sometimes semi-jokingly brag that our city was even more important than it was.

Breitbart and RT (sorry for the "nofollow" tags under the links: I am adding them to make sure that Google considers me 100% politically correct) have informed us that Székesfehérvár, the ninth largest Hungarian city (100k folks), wanted to become the European Capital of Culture for 2023.

Limited belief in experts: hard anecdotal facts vs experts' lore

SUSY and Ledecká's idiosynrasies

People are pretty much divided to two groups: those who divide people to two groups and those who don't. ;-) Also, they're divided to those who love to defend the status of "widely respected experts" and those who despise any "authorities".

Richard Feynman has said that "science is the belief in the ignorance of experts". On the other hand, his colleague Murray Gell-Mann, when I debated these things with him during the 2005 Sidneyfest, was mocking Feynman whose teeth were completely decaying etc. because he didn't trust experts (and e.g. the superstition that one should brush his teeth). The two men have clearly stood on the opposite sides of the axis I want to discuss. Both of them have been immensely successful which proves that "you don't have to be exactly in the middle".

Most people choose to be in the middle when it comes to lots of opinions. It's a convenient attitude. The golden mean often ends up being rather extreme. The contemporary postmodern, extreme, politically correct attitudes have become so widespread in the West because the extreme leftists were capable to convince the "convenient people in the middle" that joining the extreme left-wing cult is the right way to stay in the middle which is so important. That's why whole nations such as Germany are full of psychopaths defending lunacies (such as the open-door immigration policies) who scream that they're sane.

This tweet from The New York Times contains a video that showed all the female contestants in super-G which was won by snowboarder Ester Ledecká (CZE). Don't forget that the actual race was a slalom so the trajectories have been straightened up. She was going on the left side from the likes of Goggia (ITA) and Vonn (USA). That's not surprising because she has primarily been a snowboarder and that is a left-wing sport. ;-) Also, the great finish has been more important for her than the beginning of her run.

Sunday, February 18, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Quantum mechanics is thinking outside the classical box

Several folks have sent me a text about interpretations of quantum mechanics, Thinking Outside the Quantum Box, that was recently posted by Bernardo Kastrup at a Scientific American's weblog.

Lots of people whose skulls are confined in a spherical bubble are imagining that they're creative geniuses who are thinking outside the box. But the reality is inside out. One needs to perform the spherical inversion to see it. They're narrow-minded, intellectually limited losers confined into a bubble while the proper solutions require the realm outside the bubble.

It's mostly another moronic, anti-quantum article. The claim that quantum mechanics contradicts our intuition is repeated thrice (so that readers with the IQ below 70 don't miss it). Again, like in almost all other moronic articles of this kind, we're told that physicists have invented dozens of "interpretations" and are obliged to look for a theory that is not quantum:

...So physicists scramble to interpret quantum theory in a way that makes room for a mind-independent reality. A popular way to do this entails postulating imagined, empirically unverifiable, theoretical entities defined as observer-independent...
It may be "popular" to replace quantum mechanics (whose application depends on the choice of an observer) with a theory whose entities are "observer-independent". It is indeed popular, especially among idiots and senile men. But it is not physically possible and no genuine physicists are working on such things. Only "philosophers", crackpots, and decidedly former physicists are affiliated with this totally misguided movement.

Quantum mechanics (with its need to pick an observer to apply it) is unavoidable. There is no viable competing theory, whether or not this basic fact is know to those who think it should be "popular" to believe that classical physics keeps on ruling.

Saturday, February 17, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Snowboarder Ledecká wins super-G skiing gold

Excessive specialization is often overrated

Czechia currently has 1+2+2 Olympic medals which places us at the 13th spot right now – second among the countries with 1 gold after Japan and ahead of Slovak brothers with 1+2+0 who got their gold from Russian-born biathlete Nasťa Kuzminová. A 20 times lower population of Czechoslovakia is enough to earn the same eight medals as the Unistatians. ;-)

We got a silver medal from Ms Martina Sáblíková, a speed skater: it's her 6th Olympic medal. She's also competing in bicycle competitions – another example of the versatility I will discuss. Because of her imperfect health in the recent year (and because of her 4th spot in the first Korean race), her traditional Dutch foes have argued that she would win no medal in 2018 so this insult has made her (and her coach) motivated and she scooped at least this silver.

Ester Ledecká

Ms Eva Samková took bronze in snowboard cross. She uses the nickname "samice" related to her surname – a "female individual" – but to emphasize that "samice" is actually derived from "samec", a "male individual", she often sports a fake mustache. (In Western Europe and the U.S., the feminists could attack her even for this cute piece of fashion.) She also turns her jacket inside out during the ceremonies – that ritual has worked for her so far and she did it day ago, too.

Some of the first medals were won by Ms Veronika Vítková and Mr Michal Krčmář, the only Czech male medal from Korea so far. You could immediately conclude that due to this 4-to-1 score, Czech men physically suck relatively to the rather attractive and athletic Czech women. And your hypothesis would have a little toad of the truth in it but there are also ways to present the history that look less skewed. Hours ago, Czech ice-hockey men defeated Canada (2-to-3 on penalty shootouts) so of course we always believe that a return to the 1998 Nagano gold place is possible in that Czechia's favorite sport, too.

Friday, February 16, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Does neutron decay to dark matter?

Three days ago, the Quanta Magazine published a playful simple article on particle physics

Neutron Lifetime Puzzle Deepens, but No Dark Matter Seen
The neutron's lifetime is some 15 minutes but there seems to be a cool, increasingly sharp discrepancy. If you measure how many neutrons are left in a "bottle" after time \(t\), it seems that there's one decay in 14:39 minutes. But if you measure a neutron "beam" and the protons that appear, it seems that they're being converted at the rate of one new proton per 14:48 minutes.

This neutron's logo is actually from some cryptocurrency network.

So the neutrons are apparently decaying about 1% faster than the protons are born. No other decays of neutrons are known. Relativistic effects for the beam are negligible.

Jeremy Corbyn collaborated with StB, too

Days ago, I mentioned that the Slovak court system irrevocably refused all doubts that the Slovak-born Czech prime minister in resignation Comrade Andrej Babiš has been intentionally collaborating with the Czechoslovak communist secret police, StB (ŠtB in Slovak, Státní/štátná bezpečnost i.e. State Security). Thankfully, this criminal organization is at least formally abolished and youth would translate the acronym STB as a "set-top-box" these days. ;-)

Just a day later, the British press – e.g. The Sun and The Daily Mail – was very excited that the boss of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has collaborated with our dear beloved StB, too. In the mid 1980s, Corbyn has met a Slovak ŠtB officer who posed as a diplomat in the U.K. thrice.

The public name of the Czechoslovak "communist James Bond", using the Daily Mail's jargon, was Ján Dymič. However, deeper analyses indicate that the true name of that ŠtB officer was Ján Sarkocy. (Ján is the Slovak version, and Jan is the Czech version, of John. Sarkocy is a surname of the Hungarian origin.)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A conference on teaching of mathematics

I just returned from a day-long conference called "New Teaching Methods in Mathematics?" that was primarily dedicated to an explosive phenomenon in the Czech basic schools, the so-called Hejný's method to teach mathematics (TRF texts on Hejný).

Most people believe that the method is named after Prof Milan Hejný who was recently celebrating his 80th birthday – as he reminded us several times – but it's actually named after his father who has taught his son Milan how to love mathematics. This gospel is being used by 700 out of 4,100 basic schools in Czechia and worshiped by virtually all the mainstream media that write about these things.

The basic philosophy of the method is that the teacher shouldn't have any authority in the class, he or she should do basically nothing with the children let alone to teach, and the kids should play and discover all important ideas by themselves. At most, several standardized exercises from recreational mathematics are encouraged to be repeated. The teacher doesn't correct mistakes when they're made, and so on, and so on.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czech PM gets the final certification as a communist rat by Slovak court

Some people are surprised when Czechs talk themselves down as a nation – why we're not more proud of ourselves. Well, let me tell you something, there are pretty good reasons for that.

Our prime minister in resignation (that's the official title that he acquired when he had to resign after his government failed the confidence vote in the Parliament) Mr Andrej Babiš is currently prosecuted by the police for a $2 million subsidy fraud (billionaire Babiš stole the taxpayer money by pretending to be a rather poor chap with a travel agency) – which should, according to the police expectations, win him 10 years in prison.

Today, another "public secret" was officially confirmed by the court. The regional court in the Slovak capital of Bratislava reviewed Babiš's lawsuit concerning his being a communist rat.

Six years ago, Babiš sued the Institute for the Memory of the Slovak Nation – a government historians' body which formally inherited the Slovak part of the archive after the Czechoslovak communist secret police – because he didn't like to be described as a rat in the historical documents (it's not too surprising he didn't like it – most people don't like when the world knows that they're rats). By persuading his pals, officers of the communist secret police (StB, our sibling of KGB), he was able to win some partial proceedings when courts said that he appeared in the historical records "unjustly". His "trustworthy" friends had told the judges that they hadn't ever seen Babiš, and what they were drinking together in the wine bar was also inaccurate. ;-)

Half a year ago, the Slovak constitutional court brought some bad news to Mr Babiš and redefined the conditions for such lawsuits by dissatisfied agents. First, testimonies by officers of the communist secret police were no longer permissible as the primary evidence because, shockingly, officers of communist secret police are neither maximally trustworthy nor sufficiently free to talk the truth. Second, it's not possible to sue the historical institute because it's not responsible for the validity of the historical evidence.

Monday, February 12, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Vitriolic SJWs' hatred towards The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory is approaching the end of the 11th season which is rather impressive. To mention an example, the January 11th, 2018 episode was watched by over 21 million U.S. viewers. That's actually a higher number than a few years ago.

I keep on watching it and I am still highly entertained and enriched most of the time. Of course the concept is no longer too new, some twists have to be somewhat repetitive, and the interactions must resemble Friends and similar generic shows more than they did in the first seasons. But it's still an extremely gentle and realistic sitcom about physicists and people around them. I am impressed with UCLA's Dr David Saltzberg as an expert that makes the content precise and relevant from physicists' viewpoint.

Well, I also became a big fan of Young Sheldon which is cute and I can relate to so many things, starting with the main boy character's feelings about so many things. And theirs was a wonderful American family, perhaps like the Simpsons etc. Recent episodes of Young Sheldon had some 13 million viewers in the U.S. and the second season has already been commissioned.

Saturday, February 10, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Permafrost mercury hysteria is shameful corrupt pseudoscience

It seems that other climate skeptics haven't dedicated much attention to this particular recent mania but I was intrigued and disgusted, so here is my reaction.

You need about 1,000 tons of the Arctic soil to extract this much (43 grams) of mercury.

National Geographic and most other science news outlets have informed us that there is a lot of mercury underneath the thawing Arctic permafrost and when it thaws, all of us will get poisoned to one extent or another. Will we?

Probabilities of one-time events don't have error margins

Quanta Magazine's puzzle columnist Pradeep Mutalík wrote an amusing and sensible text When Probability Meets Real Life with three probability puzzles. They're a bit more ordinary and less controversial than the Sleeping Beauty or the Monty Hall Problem. But they touch some general principles, too.

He says that scientifically inclined people often try to apply probabilistic reasoning in their lives. It's not perfect but it may be helpful.

In the first problem, Mutalik shows that Bayesian, perceived probabilities often change as new evidence arrives. Someone sadly fell out of an airplane. The probability of death is 90%. Fortunately, he had a parachute. The probability of death is 5%. Sadly, it didn't open. 99.9%. Happily, there was a haystack directly below him. 40%. But there was also a pitchfork there. 99.99%. Happily, he avoided the pitchfork. 40%. But he avoided the haystack, too. 99.999%. ;-) You may give better numbers.

Friday, February 09, 2018 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A simple Dow Jones targeting monetary policy

For some two years, the world's stock markets have enjoyed a calm era with a seemingly healthy growth. The volatility was almost zero and the positive returns looked as safe as if you buy the Bitcoin. Needless to say, aside from the fact that the companies have some intrinsic value which is why investors know that the prices shouldn't drop too low, the emotional part of the price swings is completely analogous in the case of the stocks and the Bitcoin. A difference is that emotions decide about some 30% of the stock prices but about 100% of the cryptocurrency prices.

OK, this calm era ended abruptly when the stock market indices saw a terrible week, with at least two days of 4-5 percent drops per day. The main reason that is cited is the U.S. investors' realization that the interest rates will go up.