Saturday, May 25, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Murray Gell-Mann: 1929-2019

Sadly, as reported by The New York Times and many others, Murray Gell-Mann died at home yesterday, May 24th, at age of 89.7. He was clearly one of the greatest living physicists – by integrated achievements. It was cancer that killed him – for years, he's used his broad scientific expertise to defeat that lethal process inside his body. See this talk by Gell-Mann and David Agus about cancer. Physician Agus considered Gell-Mann to be his mentor. Cancer has also killed Gell-Mann's first beloved wife.

A picture of MGM and Thomas Appelquist that I took in Harvard's Science Center in 2005. If you think that you are a theoretical physicist but I haven't photographed you, then you effectively fail to exist.

He was born in Manhattan in 1929 to a Jewish family that arrived from the present Ukrainian territory – then a town named Černovice (close enough to Czechoslovakia so we have our name!) in our beloved homeland of Austria-Hungary.

He got his PhD when he was 21. His students included Ken Wilson (Gell-Mann really helped the renormalization group ideas to emerge, think about the Gell-Mann–Low equations), Sidney Coleman (who was celebrated at the event where I met Gell-Mann), Jim Hartle (that's linked to Gell-Mann's interest in foundations of QM – they were also among the people who authored the consistent histories), and Barton Zwiebach (a top expert in string field theory today, I discuss Gell-Mann and strings later). Gell-Mann has also discovered the seesaw mechanism that might give neutrinos their masses of the right magnitude.

Gell-Mann received his 1969 Nobel prize in physics mainly for the 1964 theoretical discovery of quarks (independently of George Zweig) – more precisely, as Ed S. insists, he got the prize for the Eightfold Way which only "led" to quarks – which made the classification of hadrons (proton, neutron, and their cousins) meaningful. Gell-Mann copied the name "quark" from Finnegans Wake by James Joyce ("Three quarks for Muster Mark" – indeed, it's not "Mister Clark" as I wanted to write LOL). That fancy choice was an early example of his deep interest in linguistics (he was claimed to speak 13 languages fluently, wow).

He was also obsessed with birdwatching or ornithology, archaeology, and more conventional intellectual interests. He possessed three houses in different U.S. states (Santa Fe, Aspen, Pasadena in NM,CO,CA), one of them was a "museum", and he loved-and-knew expensive wine and cars (guess where the "Jaguar" comes from in "Quark and the Jaguar" – the animal was there just to mask that he wanted to brag about the car).

Friday, May 24, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Swedes bullying a schoolgirl who doesn't want to skip classes

When I was a kid, we were usually obliged to attend the November 7th rally with Chinese lanterns, to commemorate the Great October Socialist Revolution (the 1917 communist coup in Russia). Sometimes, we also had to go to the May Day parade with parade sticks. In the early 1980s, we were expected to draw pictures of the Victorious February (the 1948 communist coup in Czechoslovakia). I think that at some moment, the teachers turned the participation to a voluntary one but I haven't witnessed the actual interactions between the teachers that took place between the teachers and their bosses at higher levels to make such decisions.

And those of us who had a clue felt jealous because the kids in the West didn't have to do this kind of rubbish and had more time for more pleasant and more meaningful activities. Seeing that the West was more relaxed and more prosperous, nations like Czechs and Slovaks wanted to "copy" the Western social arrangement throughout much of the 1990s – the decade when we enjoyed the peak freedom.

Thursday, May 23, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

The NIPCC reports are actually amazing

Because a VIP from the vicinity of ex-president Klaus has told me that it would be a good idea, I've spent a few days by translating the Summary for Policymakers of the latest 2019 NIPCC report into Czech. Some climate skeptics may be amateurs; others are clearly competent and brilliant but they may be overspecializing on some aspects of the climate debate or even a bunch of papers (or one paper).

The NIPCC reports have really been a series of eclectic and comprehensive documents that discuss a great majority of the aspects involved in the climate change debate. And the reports aren't the work of amateurs; the latest report cites something like 2,000 articles whose bulk may be said to be peer-reviewed in the standard sense.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

How Tesla fanboys' comments look with some hindsight

Free Wolfram: Stephen Wolfram's company has launched a free Wolfram engine for software developers; see an explanation in a blog post. You may connect the Wolfram Engine to basically any system or project for free, in the development stage, but once you start to sell it, you have to buy a production license.
Most defenders of Tesla (or long investors in Tesla) on the Internet may be classified as textbook examples of dumb and obnoxious trolls. They never have bring any ideas, any numbers, anything rational to the discussions at all. They just insult everyone who dares to have a brain – an organ capable of figuring out that the Tesla stock is overvalued at least by one order of magnitude.

To shield my Twitter search pages from this junk, I have blocked roughly one hundred Musk fanboys but new ones keep on emerging. Sometimes, you may find a Tesla fan who behaves as if he were capable of writing full sentences superficially resembling the human thought and I will pick one example here.

On Tuesday, August 7th, 2018, Elon Musk notoriously tweeted that he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private for $420 (a marijuana number) per stock. The stock price which was about $340 before the tweet jumped to 1/2 of the interval between the previous price and the promised $420, i.e. to about $380, on the following day.

CMS: an excess for a \(700\GeV\) Higgs

This is a really short blog post whose main point is a graph showing an apparent excess in an LHC search.

In recent months, I discussed several experimental hints for a new Higgs – a Higgs of mass \(96 \GeV\) and, previously, a CP-odd Higgs of mass \(400\GeV\).

Monday, May 20, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

WGC and modular invariance: does the WGC constrain low-energy physics at all?

Physicists writing papers about the Weak Gravity Conjecture (WGC) seem to be particularly excited about their work so they often submit their paper to be at the top of the hep-th list. Two weeks ago, a paper on the axion WGC was posted one second after the collection of papers for the new day started.

That's exactly what was achieved by another group of authors, Shiu and Cole at Amsterdam and Aalsma in Madison, who just submitted

Weak Gravity Conjecture, Black Hole Entropy, and Modular Invariance
a second after the beginning of the new arXiv day. A funny achievement of this paper is that it is the 500th followup of the WGC paper according to Inspire, so the Weak Gravity Conjecture has made it to the highest, "renowned", category of papers. Both Arkani-Hamed and Vafa have 19 renowned papers so there is no reason to congratulate them, and Alberto has 2+1 renowned papers with Nima et al. But it's my first renowned paper, so congratulations to me. ;-)

Why the framework of quantum mechanics cannot be deformed

I've explained the inevitability of quantum mechanics and the incorrectness of all the criticisms from many angles.

The main reason why the wrong opinions keep on spreading is that the "natural selection" that used to eliminate the people who are totally wrong about fundamental issues has ceased to exist. The inkspillers who write complete nonsense about quantum mechanics should really be "terminated" as scientists – for their life (that's how it still worked e.g. in the times of Hugh Everett) – but instead, we live in an epoch in which they find a few thousand dumb readers who will say that the "realism" or a related stupidity is cool and the authors may often keep on calling themselves "physicists" although they have just proven to be incompetent.

Quantum mechanics is not only a very useful and precise theory. The general framework of quantum mechanics is also a set of principles that are pretty much totally guaranteed not to change in the future at all – because their unavoidability may be almost rigorously proven. Aside from a few thousand of "real experts" in quantum mechanics, almost no one gets this point. Almost no one understands quantum mechanics. The problem is that almost all people think that it's OK to consider QM to be just a "bunch of random counterintuitive equations" that may be deformed just like some unreadable incomprehensible classical equations. But that's not the case at all.

Rape isn't a good argument for abortion

Jefferson: Buttigieg, a left-wing U.S. presidential candidate, wants to remove Jefferson from the names of things. Clearly, the Harvard physics department's building where I spent 6 years – Jefferson Laboratories – is at risk of becoming nameless because of a radical whackadoodle.

Because some lawmakers have approved a de facto ban on abortions in Alabama, there seems to be quite some hysteria in much of the U.S. Not only the far left "pro-choice" demonstrators but even the "pro-life" (but not very socially conservative) president Donald Trump and other politicians have distanced himself from the new law. The new law hasn't come to force yet and will be disputed in courts.

A Minecraft video for a Czech tramps' classic song by Wabi Ryvola, The Box of Whiskey, sung by a guy who was sentenced to death and already wants to go to Heaven and drink some whiskey there.

I find it crazy that the U.S. South that is often said to be socially conservative and full of fundamentalist Christians actually seems to have more pro-abortion laws than many important European countries. Only four "mostly Southern" states have adopted the heartbeat rule. One can abort an embryo before the first detectable heartbeat – which occurs roughly in six-week-old embryos.

First of all, I am no fundamentalist but I am obviously closer to the pro-life position. From my viewpoint, it is really a matter of scientific literacy for one to understand that there is no natural yet qualitative difference between abortion and murder. Societies generally accept that it's very wrong to murder 4-year-old kids. But these babies have gradually evolved from smaller babies, fetuses, and embryos.

Saturday, May 18, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Australia: climate hysterical Labourists lose unlosable election

We have some great news coming from Australia. Just like Trump and Brexit-Leave were predicted to lose by the pollsters, the center-right coalition led by the current prime minister Scott Morrisson was predicted to comfortably lose the Australian federal election today. The pollsters were wrong in the Trump case, in the Brexit case, and they were wrong about Australia, too.

The pollsters were predicting at least a 52-to-48 edge for the Labour Party, relatively to the center-right coalition. In reality, counting the lawmakers (there are 151 in total), the center-right bloc won 74-to-66 or so, by more than ten percent (of the Labour Party's gain).

The winner, Mr Morrison, has already thanked "miracles he has always believed in" and the "quiet Australians" for the victory; the loser, Mr Shorten whose electorate was shortened relatively to the predictions, has already admitted defeat.

Friday, May 17, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Heckman, Vafa: QG bounds the number of hierarchy-like problems

Every competent physicist knows that fine-tuning is a kind of a problem for a theory claimed to be a sufficiently fundamental description of Nature.

Fundamental physicists have wrestled with the cosmological constant problem, the Higgs hierarchy problem,... and perhaps other problems of this kind. Fine-tuning is a problem because assuming that the fundamental "theory of everything" works like a quantum field theory and produces the couplings of the low-energy effective field theories via renormalization group flows, the observed hierarchies between the scales etc. seem extremely unlikely to emerge.

In principle, there could be arbitrarily many couplings and even fine-tuned couplings which could cause an infinite headache to every theorist. In a new paper, Cumrun Vafa – the Father of F-theory and the Swampland Program (where this paper belongs) – and Jonathan Heckman, a top young research on both topics, present the optimistic evidence that in string/M-theory and/or quantum gravity, the infinite fine-tuning worries are probably unjustified:

Fine Tuning, Sequestering, and the Swampland (just 7 pages, try to read all)
What's going on? Effective field theories outside quantum gravity may be built by "engineers". You may apparently always add new fields, new sectors, and they allow you to tune or fine-tune many new couplings. There doesn't seem to be a limit.

Leveraged cryptoexchanges probably encourage price fluctuations

After reaching $20,000 in mid December 2017, the Bitcoin price went mostly down, dropping near $3,000 in December 2018. It was mostly stable for months but started to show signs of life in the recent month or two and reached levels above $8,300 (more than a one-year-high) a day or two ago. Two hours ago, it suddenly saw a drop from $7,800 to $7,000 in a few minutes.

The price behavior is extremely unnatural, showing the mood swings. For a long time, you may see a virtually constant price. Suddenly, a flash crash or a pump takes place. The magnitude of fluctuations may suddenly change. Most of these changes result either from some unusually large traders or from psychological changes of the traders – or a combination of the two.

What's funny is that some cryptoexchanges saw a more brutal drop within those ten minutes today. Bitmex saw the price decreasing from $7,800 below $6,370, almost by twenty percent in minutes. Bitmex trades real U.S. dollars. But you saw similar swings down to $6,500 or lower at exchanges that trade the Tether (USDT) instead of the real dollar.

Incidentally, according to the current view of, the Tether pegged to the U.S. dollar is the most traded cryptocurrency now!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

I mostly do believe that Soph mentally beats average 20-year-old women

Trump vs censorship: The White House has launched a new website where Americans may report censorship on the Internet.
In recent 24 hours, I have watched several videos by the young pro-capitalist, Libertarian, old-fashioned right-wing YouTuber Soph T. – heavily censored YouTube channel, BitChute channel (yes, I can imagine that we will gradually move from YouTube – a soon-to-be-censored cultural Marxist hell – e.g. to Bitchute). Two blog posts ago, I mentioned her as the brilliant counterpart of the hysterical and unspectacular Greta Thunberg.

Soph T. – the surname is known to me – was born in September 2004 – the precise date is known to me – so she is 14.7 right now. She lives in an upper middle class suburb somewhere in the Bay Area. She's been creating unusually intelligent videos for a kid, mostly about gaming, when she was 9-11. She was gradually switching to more political topics. I find this evolution natural because I would also care about computer games at age 10-12 but politics became very important when I was 14-15 or so.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Student rabble has fired a top Harvard law professor

I think that I should no longer afford to host some great and young Californian visitors in Pilsen – so I was lucky and pleased that they have hosted me today. ;-) With their Irish Papamobile (a blue Škoda Rapid Spaceback), they took me to the Great Synagogue, the historical underground, Kozel the chateau, Radyně the castle ruin, the Salzmanns' restaurant, and more. One of my hosts has been a Harvard student in a different department during my Harvard years.

Well, I still sometimes follow The Crimson, Harvard students' newspapers (, and in recent years, I was stunned by the rapid increase of the percentage of articles that are dedicated to some extreme left-wing politics. It seems to be an overwhelming majority now. One of the most read articles in recent days was Winthrop Faculty Deans to Leave After Harvard Refuses to Renew Their Appointments. There have been other Crimson stories about the affair, too.

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr and Stephanie R. Robinson were fired, something seemed fishy, but I hadn't read the articles carefully which is why I didn't really know who the people were, what were the actual reasons, whether there was some justification, and so on.

EVs vs ICEs, NOx, critics of science as thought police, Ponzi scheme, Soph

There are too many terrible events happening in the world right now – every day, both famous and unknown people are getting fired and hunted for saying the truth or for not being far left extremists; scientifically illiterate snake oil salesmen are receiving the Hawking Prizes; media are bombarding us with lies against science and the Western civilization.

A major Dutch publication has written a text on the topic "is physics a Ponzi scheme?". My once co-author Robbert Dijkgraaf and Juan Maldacena are the only voices that actually and calmly explain the state of theoretical physics now. They're overwhelmed by critics who don't understand the field at the technical level at all and who are being presented as if they were equal – Maldacena is the top theoretical physicist of his generation and Dijkgraaf is, among other things, the director of IAS Princeton where Einstein used to work.

Those special attributes don't seem to matter to the journalists anymore. Random angry activists and hecklers who are allies of the journalists are often made more visible.

Monday, May 13, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Grothendieck's hermitian 70,000 pages: do they have a value?

TBBT in Long Island: Newsday (for EU readers harassed by GDPR) tells us that the string theorist Luis Álvarez-Gaumé, the Spanish-born director of the Simons Center, and others on the island are fans of The Big Bang Theory, like your humble correspondent. The article discusses the child-like personality of physicists, supersymmetry, Asperger, and whether the viewers laugh with the characters or at them, among other topics.
Last week, Le Monde brought us some information about the material left by Alexandre Grothendieck, a legendary mathematician. Here you have an English translation:
The elusive archives of Alexandre Grothendieck (Archyworld)
Grothendieck, considered the greatest 20th century mathematician by numerous smart enough folks, was born in Berlin in 1928 to anarchist Jewish parents and moved to France during the war. After the war, he started to do some deep mathematics and discovered fundamental insights in category theory, number theory, topology, algebraic geometry etc.

He has greatly influenced the "way of thinking" of professional mathematicians – and as diverse results as the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem as well as the Higgs mechanism in physics.

Saturday, May 11, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Neff: when reason is pushed to the corner

By Ondřej Neff, a Czech science-fiction writer and the editor-in-chief of The Invisible Dog

The World: When Ratio [Latin for "reason"; Czech spelling of Neff's: "racio"] Stands In a Corner
Environmentalism is nonsensical in the Western world. Let's be guided by facts, not emotions

The parallel between the communist and environmentalist ideologies is more obvious to the older, if not the oldest, generation. Even people who are in their 50s or 60s today haven't experienced the proper communist regime when people were hanged, tortured, and when prisons were overfilled – while, on the other side, there were polite, educated, idealist people who "knew" that even these mistakes (as they later called these acts) would lead to a new, better, more just world rich in prosperity and happiness.