Tuesday, March 26, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

It's irrational to both worship and completely distrust a thinker

People like Weinstein hide their fanatical desire to silence thinkers into some "flattering" mumbo-jumbo

Peter Thiel has hired Eric Weinstein as a part-time economist, part-time talking head about science – someone who produces far-reaching and emotionally loaded statements about the value of science, its future, the relationship between scientists and the establishment and, as we will see... the need for the majority society or the rich to conquer the scientists' brains and turn the scientists into obedient slaves.

Last week, Weinstein gave an 80-minute-long very unfocused interview about music, humor, labor... (I don't have patience for all this cheesy and distracting stuff and sorry to say, it is very clear that I don't belong to the target audience – it's just talk addressed to the mass culture) and after 50:00 or so, he talks about his "love-hate relationship" with theoretical physicists.

Monday, March 25, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Can gravitinos form some Cooper pairs?

The cosmological constant problem is hard. Many people have said it was the deepest problem in physics, especially around 2000 when this proposition was fashionable. But there's no guarantee that its resolution would transform all of physics. The right solution could very well be an idea that is isolated from the rest of fundamental physics.

Why is the cosmological constant positive yet so small? Like \(10^{-122}\)? The most boring solution is the multiverse solution in which our Universe is chosen from a large number, of more than \(10^{122}\), potential Universes. Life can't form in the Universes with too large or too small values of the constants, so it's unavoidable that from the many choices, people end up here, wondering why the cosmological constant is so small. But it couldn't have been otherwise. This anthropic tautological explanation is unattractive for many of us.

There may be a quintessence, a scalar field that makes the cosmological constant decrease as the Universe gets older. Or there may be some totally new "fake dark energy" linked to holography or MOND or some non-local phenomena in the Universe.

Mueller probe and meta-justice powers

The Mueller probe seems to be completed. From 2017, Robert Mueller has been investigating the allegations that Donald Trump has colluded with Russia to become the U.S. president – and that he has been obstructing justice. The investigation was started by Rod Rosenstein, a deputy attorney general.

Attorney General William Barr has received the report and summarized it in a summary. No evidence of a collusion has been found. No more indictments will be made. Instead of clearly saying whether Trump has ever obstructed justice, Mueller wrote arguments on both sides and concluded that he doesn't want to make crisp statements and it's not enough for some prosecution. Clearly, the wording concerning the obstruction is more ambiguous – which is linked to the fact that the definition of obstruction is murkier.

Sunday, March 24, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: a 3.5-sigma excess in CP-odd Higgs to tops decays

The CMS collaboration has apparently resumed its mass production of deviations from the Standard Model. After the hints of a gluino in gauge-mediated supersymmetry breaking, we have a new anomaly:

Search for heavy Higgs bosons decaying to a top quark pair in proton-proton collisions at \(\sqrt{s} = 13\TeV\)
The excess is locally 3.5 sigma and globally 1.9 sigma.

Saturday, March 23, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A strange "letter against statistical significance"

Anton wanted me to react to

Scientists rise up against statistical significance,
a letter written by 3 people and signed by 800 others (which may look high on the street but it's really an insignificant fraction of similar or better "scientists" in the world – surely millions). Two of the three authors have written a similar manifesto to a Nature subjournal in 2017. The signatories mostly do things like psychology, human behavior, epidemiology – mostly soft sciences. I see only 4 signatories with some "physics" on their lines and 2 of them are "biophysicists".

First, I found that text to be largely incoherent, indicating a not really penetrating thinking of the authors. There isn't any sequence of at least three sentences that I could fully subscribe to. If there is a seed of a possibly valid point, it's always conflated with some fuzzy negative attitudes to the very existence of "statistical significance" and I think that no competent scientist could agree with those assertions in their entirety.

Statistical significance may be misunderstood and used in incorrect sentences, including fallacies of frequently repeated types (I will discuss those later) and in this sense, it may be "abused", but the same is true for any other tool concept in science (and outside science). One may "abuse" the wave function, quantum gravity, a doublet, a microscope, or a cucumber, too, and this website is full of clarifications of the abuses of most of these notions. But just because people abuse these things doesn't mean that we may or we should throw the concepts (and gadgets) to the trash bin.

When it comes to the description of the "frequent abuse of statistical significance", I don't see a statistically significant positive correlation between their comments and my views – and the correlation is probably negative although I am not totally certain whether that correlation is statistically significant. ;-)

Clearly, I must start with this assertion that will also be the punch line of this blog post:
Sciences that have experimental portions and that are "hard sciences" at least to some extent simply cannot work without the concept.
A proof why it's essential: All of science is about the search for the truth. One starts with guessing a hypothesis and testing it. Whether a hypothesis succeeds in describing data has to be determined. The process is known as the hypothesis testing. The result of that test has to be quantitative. It's called the \(p\)-value (or similar, more advanced quantities). The term "statistical significance" is nothing else than a human name for a \(p\)-value or a qualitative description of whether the \(p\)-value is low enough for the hypothesis to get a passing grade. The very existence of science is really connected with the existence of the concept of the statistical significance although a few centuries ago, the significance often used to be so high or low that the concept wasn't discussed explicitly at all.

This is a mostly theoretical physics blog but there are hundreds of comments about 3-sigma this and 4-sigma that. You couldn't really express these ideas "totally differently" (except for switching from sigmas to \(p\)-values or using synonyms). We simply need to quantify how reasonable it is to interpret an experiment as an experiment in which the Standard Model has apparently failed.

You may click at Statistical significance to see that the Wikipedia provides us with a perfectly sound and comprehensible definition – which doesn't indicate that there's anything controversial about the concept itself. A statistically significant outcome is one that is unlikely to emerge according to the null hypothesis. That's why such a result makes it likely that there's something beyond the null hypothesis. This kind of the interpretation of the empirical data represents the building blocks of almost all the reasoning in quantitative enough empirical sciences!

How I became a non-voter last week

Last Friday, March 15th, was quite a scary day. Too bad that such days can't be removed or reversed in some way. To summarize the contemporary tragedies with a symbol, that day was the 80th anniversary of the occupation of the rest-of-Czechia by Nazi Germany in 1939.

I received a certain hostile letter from a lawyer which has probably devastated me to a similar extent as some Czech patriots were devastated by the occupation 80 years ago.

But that's not the only thing. It was also a day when tons of high school kids across the world went to skip the classes in order to support "science" and save the world from the climate Armageddon. (I just read that Greta nicely surprised and supported nuclear energy – before her dad intervened and she no longer supports the nuclei. Makes one wonder whether she's ever been more than her green dad's puppet.) To make it even worse, thousands of students accumulated in the streets of Prague as well – and pictures from our otherwise sensible skeptical nation became the organizers' most popular snapshots.

Sorry, kids, but you can't get closer to science by skipping the classes. Those who skip the classes are likely to become scientifically illiterate manipulated sheep. To get closer to science, you need to study it – and you need to study it critically so that you may also figure out when something said by the teacher does't add up.

Friday, March 22, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A scalar weak gravity conjecture seems powerful

Stringy quantum gravity may be predicting an \(r=0.07\) BICEP triumph

Many topics in theoretical physics seem frustratingly understudied to me but one of those that are doing great is the Weak Gravity Conjecture (WGC) which is approaching 500 followups at the rate of almost a dozen per month. WGC hasn't ever been among the most exciting ideas in theoretical physics for me – which is why the activity hasn't been enough to compensate my frustration about the other, silenced topics – but maybe the newest paper has changed this situation, at least a little bit.

Nightingales of Madrid by Waldemar Matuška. Lidl CZ goes through the Spanish week now.

Eduardo Gonzalo and Luis E. Ibáñez (Zeman should negotiate with the Spanish king and conclude that our ň and their ñ may be considered the same letter! Well, the name should also be spelled Ibáněz then but I don't want to fix too many small mistakes made by our Spanish friends) just released:

A Strong Scalar Weak Gravity Conjecture and Some Implications
and it seems like a strong cup of tea to me, indeed. The normal WGC notices that the electron-electron electric force is some \(10^{44}\) times stronger than their attractive gravity and figures out that this is a general feature of all consistent quantum gravity (string/M/F-theory) vacua. This fact may be justified by tons of stringy examples, by the consistency arguments dealing with the stability of near-extremal black holes, by the ban on "almost global symmetries" in gravity which you get by adjusting the gauge coupling to too small values, and other arguments.

Other authors have linked the inequality to the Cosmic Censorship Conjecture by Penrose (they're almost the same thing in some contexts), to other swampland-type inequalities by Vafa, and other interesting ideas. However, for a single chosen Universe, the statement seems very weak: a couple of inequalities. The gravitational constant is smaller than the constant for this electric-like force, another electric-like force, and that's it.

Thursday, March 21, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A proof of highly-curved AdS/CFT, edition 2019a

Freedom of expression increasingly under attack: the Czech Wikipedia, along with the German, Danish, Slovak ones, and others, is darkened today to protest the March 26th EU-wide vote about copyright laws that would make it mandatory to preemptively search for potential copyright violations in excerpts from news. With worries like that, most sources – except for some monopolies with big legal teams – could indeed be silenced. Freedom to talk about the news is far more important than anyone's copyrights related to news.
Since the discovery of the AdS/CFT correspondence in 1997, some physicists (including me) tried to prove it. I am talking about the most famous case with the \(AdS_5\times S^5\) background of type IIB string theory that is described by the boundary CFT in \(d=4\) with the \(\NNN=4\) supersymmetry. And I am talking about some sort of a "direct proof", at least in some regime – there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that Maldacena's duality is correct, of course.

If you "thicken" propagators in a gauge theory Feynman diagram, it starts to look like a piece of a plane – which may be considered a world sheet – cut to pieces. Many things may be done with this 't Hooft picture which was the precursor of holography in the mid 1970s. Well, maybe Nathan wants to add at least one reference to a paper by 't Hooft LOL but I understand what's behind such omissions.

That duality is usually studied for a large gauge theory 't Hooft coupling where the radius of the AdS space and the five-sphere (the radii are equal) is much larger than the 10D Planck scale in the bulk quantum gravitational theory (type IIB string theory). But at some level, the correspondence should be true for a small radius as well, i.e. for the highly curved AdS space that cannot be easily described by a low-energy "classical" gravitational action.

You may Google search my blog for a proof of AdS/CFT – this topic is very old. Also because I am being acknowledged (thanks, Nathan) although I didn't give him any useful input recently, I sort of have to write about (my once co-author's and brilliant physicist's) Nathan Berkovits' new iteration of the proof:
Sketching a Proof of the Maldacena Conjecture at Small Radius
It's still a "sketch" so we don't know whether it will be treated as the "final word" on these proofs sometime in the future.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

On aspects of Theranos

...and what it teaches us about bad, hyped science...

I admit that I have almost completely missed the story of Theranos and its founder, up to yesterday or so (I missed it partly because they have "only" made big claims about a limited issue, blood tests, not about a world revolution). The media were full of reviews of "The Inventor", an HBO documentary about the most famous recent Silicon Valley fraud. Interestingly enough, most of the footage in the documentary was shot for Theranos ads – and by Errol Morris whom I met in person at the 2005 SidneyFest (and a dinner in the Society of Fellows).

If you want to learn more, you need to Google search for "Theranos" or "Elizabeth Holmes". But let me start with a basic story.

Elizabeth Holmes, who is 35 now and awaiting up to 20 years in prison for massive wire fraud (she's officially broke but still lives in a hyper-luxurious apartment with various paid servants now, it turned out), has been born into an important dynasty. Her ancestors built important hospitals etc. and her father was a vice-president of a hot company – whose name happened to be Enron. I would think that even this fact should have raised some red flags – but it seems largely unknown to the public, even today.

She studied some biochemistry at Stanford but became a dropout, starting with Theranos (from Therapy+Diagnosis, originally named Real-Time Cures), a company with gadgets that make equally reliable blood tests fast and only need a droplet of your blood or so. It's not terribly important how many droplets the gadgets needed, it was nonsense for all small values of that number. For a young entrepreneur, she looked like a remarkably average teenager as a high school student.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: 2.4-sigma excess in the last gluino bin, photons+MET

Gluino, a vampire alchemist with human eyes

I just want to have a separate blog post on this seemingly small anomaly. We already saw the preprint for one day in advance but the CMS preprint finally appeared on the hep-ex arXiv:

Search for supersymmetry in final states with photons and missing transverse momentum in proton-proton collisions at 13 TeV
OK, they look at events in which two photons are created and seen in the calorimeters, plus the momentum addition doesn't seem to add up. The sum of the initial protons' \(\sum\vec p_i\) seems to differ from the final particles \(\sum \vec p_f\). The difference is the "missing transverse momentum" but because such a momentum is carried by particles which must have at least the same energy, it's also referred to as MET, the missing \(E_T\) or missing transverse energy.

Friday, March 15, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Hossenfelder demands $10,000 from me through Czech lawyers

I just received a message from some Czech attorneys (a Czech subsidiary of a German firm – March 15th ***9 is a wonderful date for such a relationship) that Sabine Hossenfelder hired with her claims of defamation – concerning her expertise etc. She demands the following within 15 days:

  • CZK 200,000 of compensation for hers plus CZK 24,864 for legal expenses, a bit over $10,000 in total
  • removal of all my negative texts about her
  • end of any publication of stuff about her in the future
otherwise she will sue and it will be worse etc.

I think it's absolutely stunning. She's on her violent campaign against the whole field that I find dear and against its practitioners and she just wants to silence me – which would mean she would continue in her campaign with a terribly weakened real opposition. It is not possible to discuss the relationship between science and the society without touching the people who are many new outlets' preferred sources.

The letter is formulated as if she demands a ransom. It adds a new level to her debatable methods to earn money.

My knowledge of the law is next to non-existent. I have no idea whether a party that is attacked in this Blitzkrieg way has an effective way to defend itself. I don't know whom I would be inviting as a witness to show that she's been helped by affirmative action, her physics is not good etc. Your recommendations are welcome. If you're extremely rich, your financial help would be welcome, too.

Thursday, March 14, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Strumia: audio from his famous talk on women in HEP

If you missed it, today is the Pi Day, 3/14, Albert Einstein's 140th birthday, and the Slovak Fascist State's 80th birthday!

If you want some quality 35 minutes with the Italian English, the audio from the talk by Alessandro Strumia from University of Pisa (Galileo's Alma Mater) will be interesting for you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

AdS bulk is a neural network, entanglement is a quantum gauge field

I want to mention three new papers. One of them has a cool title and the other two have some cool ideas in their bodies.

First, F. F. Faria wrote a hep-ph paper with a Conformal theory of everything. The number of papers with the ambitious titles involving "a theory of everything" is still small enough so if you want to be sure that people like me would spend at least 0.2 seconds with each page of your paper, call it "a theory of everything".

It's my policy to quickread papers with "theories of everything" in titles because it has worked for me – such a paper (not very good one) was the first paper from which I learned about Matrix theory which was rather important for me, and still is. ;-)

Sadly, the paper just writes down some action as a sum of some Standard Model, conformal gravity, and dilaton actions, with no sign of a unification or anything else that would be new and interesting. Still, good for a paper written in Brazil (an Amazon researcher is shown on the picture above).