Sunday, June 17, 2018 ... /////

SJWs insist on abolishing variables in elementary schools

I became a favorite source of quotes for the journalists who write about the constructivist methods to teach mathematics – although they sometimes fail to mention my name. But when they address a critic who thinks that the exercises in those classes are analogous to Sudoku; and that some kids like those classes simply because they're more similar to gyms than mathematics, you can be sure it's about me.

The Euro, a Czech weekly currently belonging under The Youth Front (and therefore owned by PM Babiš through a trust), has published two new texts promoting the Hejný method. One of them is an interview with Milan Hejný, the son of the "inventor" of the method. The title reads

First commandment: don't reveal any wisdom to the schoolkids, Milan Hejný urges teachers
Because, you know, the first thing that the teachers can never ever do is... is to teach! Just to be sure, I would be absolutely willing to agree that students should be left to figure out numerous things – e.g. some boring steps needed to complete the details of a calculation or a proof – by themselves. However, to turn the principle "teachers don't teach" into a universal dogma is just plain insane because very many things (arguably an overwhelming majority of the things that one should learn at school) simply need some kind of guidance and if the guidance doesn't exist, the students just won't ever get it.

Saturday, June 16, 2018 ... /////

History of the global warming scare 1980-2010

Guest blog by Prof Emeritus Cha-am Jamal Munshi, Thailand

LM: I found this itemized list rather impressive even though it's in no way complete. Whether we live in Thailand or Europe, we have been exposed to a very large amount of fearmongering and failed predictions. The explosion of these news in 2005-2010 is easily seen in the lists below. After 2010, the growth arguably stopped or reversed so this contribution may be considered the work by a historian. There's a clean mobile version of this page.

1. Chapter 1 1980-1985
2. Chapter 2 1985-1990
3. Chapter 3 1990-1995
4. Chapter 4 1995-2000
5. Chapter 5 2000-2005
6. Chapter 6 2005-2010 (separate text)

Friday, June 15, 2018 ... /////

Hooper: we need to contain, catch stars outside the Local Group

Many physicists are getting "broader" if not "distracted". Edward Witten wrote a nice 38-page-long introduction to information theory. The reason isn't quite clear but maybe he wants to be sure he's an expert in these matters – I had absolutely no doubts he was one – and the best way to learn is to teach.

Mistele, Price, and Hossenfelder use a neural network, quite a complex software, to find a shocking conclusion: if a paper or a physicist looked good so far, he or it will probably look pretty good in the following year, too. While Hossenfelder implicitly wants to frame this finding as some suspicious news about physics, the predictability is clearly a net positive. The fame of physicists and papers isn't changing by random criteria, at random moments, and fashions. Physics actually has some hard content that may be identified and whose value doesn't go away fast. Of course a good neural network may catch patterns that distinguish good papers from others. What's bad is that most people don't want to learn any of the things that even a neural network can do pretty well.

What is happening at the Fermilab? The U.S. facility no longer competed in the first discovery of the Higgs boson. In the recent decades, what were the top Fermilab theorists up to? One of them, Dan Hooper, gave us an amusing answer yesterday (a diagram of the project was embedded as a picture above):

Life Versus Dark Energy: How An Advanced Civilization Could Resist the Accelerating Expansion of the Universe
Looking for the basic laws of Nature and their beauty is no longer fashionable among most taxpayers. So the Fermilab is thinking about the urgent problems that face the mankind. The most urgent problem, Dan Hooper points out, is that due to the cosmological constant, all the stars outside our Local Group (of 54+ galaxies including ours) will accelerate outwards and cross our cosmic horizon and will therefore become forever inaccessible.

Thursday, June 14, 2018 ... /////

Young folks born in 1991 are 5 IQ points dumber than older ones born in 1975

Norwegian researchers blame the retrograde Flynn effect on "adaptation to the environment"

We often complain about the declining intellectual skills, deteriorating education systems, dropping focus on hard sciences and knowledge with beef, decreasing curiosity, and on the contrary, increase of the percentage of bogus knowledge and indoctrination, virtue signaling, safe spaces, and political correctness. Many of us have surely thought about the causes and fixes for many particular manifestations of these trends.

A simple title summarizing a paper, e.g. RT's

Dumbing down? New study suggests young people's IQs are in decline
has persuaded me to think differently, more simply about phenomena such as a low number of very young string theorists. And the conclusion is that it may be futile to try to solve any similar problem in isolation. It may be futile to fight against lousy "science journalists" and similar people because they're not really the isolated "cause" of these trends – instead, they're just symptoms, among millions of others.

What's going on? Two Norwegian IQ experts, Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg (and yes, Scandinavia was a hotbed of lots of eugenics a century ago), have published a new paper in PNAS,
Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused,
that has looked at the mandatory IQ tests in Norway that have been performed on 18- or 19-year-old men (or big boys) for decades in order to map the army reserves. First, let's ask: Why wasn't the Idiocracy film shot before 2006? It's because people actually observed the Flynn effect, named after a psychologist from New Zealand.

Chinese: Einstein's description of our nation is accurate

Two days ago, I mentioned a hit piece against Albert Einstein that was published in the British left-wing daily, the Grauniad (the letters are usually deliberately permuted in this way in order to emphasize the frequent typos in the newspaper as well as the editors' brains' being fudged up).

The comrades didn't like the physicist's cultural observations about East Asia during his visit in the early 1920s.

If you search Google News for Einstein and racism now, you will find something like a hundred of hysterical tirades about the "shockingly" racist and xenophobic physicist. Virtually every left-wing MSM journalist is staggeringly offended. (There are no right-wing journalists in the mainstream media.)

The anti-Einstein hysteria is similar on Twitter. Every vocal left-winger shows to his or her comrades how much xe despises the physicist now. They abuse the fact that Einstein made a mistake, died in 1955, and can no longer defend himself effectively. But their assumption is incorrect: Einstein has left some weapons – such as your humble correspondent – that will defend him.

An Indian interview with Juan Maldacena

If you have 16 spare minutes, you should listen to this fresh interview with Juan Maldacena (transcript).

The audio sucks but he says a couple of interesting things. In the 1990s, he and numerous classmates in Argentina were into string theory. They were also dreaming about not starving to death after their PhD, and they were sorry about the canceled collider in Texas.

You know, this is a setup that makes AdS/CFT-like breakthroughs much more likely. You start with some substantial pool of young people who are focusing on things that really matter, young people in a third world country or elsewhere, and approximately one of them makes breakthroughs similar to Maldacena's.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 ... /////

Bitcoin holders pay some 7% a year as fees to their "fund managers"

In February, I argued that the unbacked cryptocurrencies (almost all of them except for Tether) should be considered to be stocks in "companies" that simply don't produce any dividends (and have no plans to change it). Among other things, this unified treatment would simplify taxation.

People still pay huge amounts of money for these basically worthless stocks because they assume that a greater fool will buy it from them for a higher price in the future. This greater fool's theory dominates the price dynamics of the Bitcoin and others – which is why the P/E ratio is infinite i.e. very different from the expected value of 10 or so. For some reasons, lots of these would-be investors still haven't noticed that the cryptocurrency bubble has been deflating for half a year.

Now, when no one really believes that the Bitcoin is a miraculous guaranteed source of huge and safe profits (although some snake oil salesman periodically impress their sheep with "predictions" that the Bitcoin will be worth a million or a vigintillion dollars very soon), it makes sense to compare the "investment" to the Bitcoin with the investment to the stocks and funds with some extra details. I will talk about the cryptocurrencies' counterpart of the hedge fund fees and other fees.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 ... /////

If you have trouble with string theory, it simply proves you're not too smart

The author of a new embarrassing anti-physics book that was released today is finally receiving the expected affirmative action from the political activists who pretend to be science journalists and who pretend that the author of the book is a physicist who is worth the name – she is definitely not one.

One of the uncritical reviews was published in Nature. She has a vagina so she must surely be right in her disagreements with Wilczek, Weinberg, Polchinski, and Arkani-Hamed – to suggest otherwise would be an example of sexism. But I had to laugh when I saw the title and the punch line of a Forbes text by Ethan Siegel:

Is Theoretical Physics Wasting Our Best Living Minds On Nonsense?
That's a nice question! Siegel must be applauded for having confronted an actual question that all other members of the organized crackpot movement have so far ignored:
What is your standing? Why do you think you have the right to question the legitimacy of the research voluntarily chosen by a few hundred or at most a few thousand people in the world who think that they're doing something important?
You know, this question is a very important one. When one of these crackpots spends much of his time by fighting against modern physics, it's hard to justify this jihad by financial considerations. Why? Less than 1,000 people are actually being paid as string theorists or something "really close" in the world now, and even if you realistically assume that the average string theorist is paid more than the average person, the fraction of the mankind's money that goes to string theory is some "one millionth" or so. Or 1/100,000 of the money that goes to porn or any other big industry. Moreover, the funds are allocated by special institutions or donors – they're too technical decisions that the taxpayer simply shouldn't make directly.

So the taxpayer money is unlikely to be a good justification of the frantic hateful efforts by which scumbags of the W*it and Sm*lin type are trying to hurt the image of physics in the eyes of the public (and, if possible, to outlaw string theory research), right?

Bohr was far clearer and more rigorous than his critics

Adam Becker and Philip Ball recently released their books against quantum mechanics, the main framework encapsulating modern science.

You don't need much time to see that Becker is a hardcore anti-quantum jihadist at the level of Tim Maudlin – it's often impossible to distinguish which of the two men wrote a given text – while Philip Ball is a moderate jihadist.

Let me discuss the text

Myths of Copenhagen
by the moderate jihadist. Like in the case of moderate Islamic jihadists, you can distinguish their rhetoric from the hardcore jihadists; but you may also see that they're really fighting at the same side of the war. Ball's main claim is that Bohr said many vague things and they're being misinterpreted. Sadly, he's among those who misinterpret them – and who pretend that they left much more wiggle room than they actually did.

Sunday, June 10, 2018 ... /////

Eggless salad emoji, bikiniless beauty contest, and boyless Scouts

...not to mention the end of the Formula One grid girls...

The pandemics of political correctness has spread like fire and most of the time, it's making us frustrated.

But sometimes the leftist scumbags are so incredibly retarded that the results of their activism are rather amusing because they really look like parodies of themselves. RT has combined three of the recent episodes to show how the PC run amok is shaping the American society in mid 2018.

So this "lady" named Jennifer that sucks money from the world's largest company has finally made a great piece of "work". She has directed her subordinates to remove the egg from the salad emoji in order not to offend vegans! Whether she offends carnivores or the people who still have a piece of the brain in their skull left isn't too important.

Just imagine that the people doing "work" like Jennifer get paid roughly \$100,000 a year.

Our current president Zeman has described his relationship towards vegetables nicely:
My relationship to vegetables is utterly positive. I demand, however, that an intermediary transformative device is inserted in between me and the vegetables, and that device is named the pig.
In fact, this comment has made it to the top of his 70 best witticisms.

Friday, June 08, 2018 ... /////

Science Magazine: a surprisingly sane review of an anti-physics book

Lost in Math: How Beauty Leads Physics Astray by anti-physics blogger Sabine Hossenfelder is going to be distributed in a few days. The book builds on interviews with big shots of theoretical physics – such as Nobel prize winners Wilczek and Weinberg and Milner prize winners Arkani-Hamed and (late) Polchinski.

However, the author of the book – who hasn't made an interesting contribution to science yet – thinks that she is smarter than all these men. So she "corrects" their opinions and "womansplains" to them that modern physics is junk and all of its pillars (and intuitive assumptions such as the elegance of the laws of Nature) are wrong.

This basic theme of the book – a complete and deluded Niemand telling the best physicists that they're idiots – always makes me think about Arthur Bolčo, a Slovak amateur physicist who wrote the book "The Ordinary Failure of One Extraordinary Theory". I was "honored" to talk to this man once – and debunk his criticisms of relativity. You may see that he placed himself next to Einstein – and adjusted his surname to "Bolstein" to highlight his intelligence.

Well, while she failed to rename herself to a Hosseinstein, Ms Hossenfelder has made progress since the times of Mr Bolstein. She is no longer placing herself next to Wilczek, Weinberg, Arkani-Hamed, and Polchinski. She thinks she's above them. And she mostly correctly assumes that no one would challenge this picture – to challenge her superior position would mean to be a sexist, chauvinist, racist, and a homophobe.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018 ... /////

Monte Carlo fails at leptonic top pair production

The LHC collaborations have produced hundreds of papers that mostly say "everything agrees with the Standard Model, nothing new to be seen here".

Well, a new CMS preprint

Measurements of differential cross sections for $t \bar t$ production in proton-proton collisions at $\sqrt{s} = 13\TeV$ using events containing two leptons
says something completely different.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018 ... /////

Dijkgraaf, parameters, and omnipresent Šmoitian trolls

MathPix is a rather amazing app for your phone. Write e.g.$\int_{-\infty}^{\infty} e^{-x^2} dx$ with your hand, take a photo of this expression while it's in the rectangle, and the app will convert it to perfect $\rm\LaTeX$ and calculate that it's $\sqrt{\pi}$, with graphs and analyses by WolframAlpha. It's like PhotoMath for adult mathematicians. Hat tip: mmanuF@Twitter
Robbert Dijkgraaf is the director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey – he is the boss of Edward Witten and he would be a boss of Albert Einstein if Einstein avoided death in the 1950s. He's also a late co-father of matrix string theory (and once a co-author of mine).

In the Netherlands, he's a rather well-known scientific talking head. So if you search for "Robbert Dijkgraaf" on YouTube, you will get videos from Dutch TV where Dijkgraaf talks about Einstein for an hour and stuff like that.

Well, Dijkgraaf just posted the newest text at the Quanta Magazine:
There Are No Laws of Physics. There’s Only the Landscape.
He says that there are dualities in string theory which physically identify two or several seemingly different descriptions, but there's still a huge landscape of possible effective laws that are left. The article doesn't say much more – except that it's possible for a Chinese to cook a Chinese food and notice it's identical to an Italian food. ;-)

Well, dualities in the world of cousins seem rather unlikely.

Monday, June 04, 2018 ... /////

Steven Pinker vs quantum mechanics

An evolutionary psychologist cannot be as smart as a good theoretical physicist, otherwise he would be one

I've praised Steven Pinker many times. I don't think that he was the first one to discover something important. But he has wonderfully accumulated common sense on evolution – and evolution of psychology, societies, memes, and stuff like that. He knows why certain behavioral patterns have evolved and where we can expect them to drift in the future. He's right on the freedom of speech in the Academia and lots of other things.

But I have used the term "common sense". All of this is just common sense that is elaborated upon in the ivory tower. The discipline isn't really particularly intellectually demanding. And his books that are extremely close to the experts' writing on the same issues may also be classified as popular books. So he's good at some stuff that lots of rather ordinary, albeit much less famous and usually much less articulate people, may be equally good at. Sadly, it's easy to find a proof of Pinker's limitations. Luke has pointed out the following tweet:

Pinker has basically endorsed an embarrassing, supportive review by Tim Maudlin of the painful anti-quantum book by Adam Becker. It's no coincidence that the title of Maudlin's reason describes quantum mechanics (plus, less importantly, Kuhn's views about the evolution of science as a human enterprise) as a "defeat of reason". I am convinced that an undergraduate student who is getting As at courses close enough to theoretical physics simply has to see that Maudlin's diatribe can't be good enough physics.

Maudlin screams and uses strong words but screaming can't replace actual valid arguments, and Maudlin hasn't presented any.

Pinker apparently doesn't make it to the level of undergraduate students of physics who understand these basic matters. He may be one of the smartest people in the social sciences but his is still not high enough IQ to become a good undergraduate student of theoretical physics. My estimate for his IQ dropped from the vicinity of 145-150 to the vicinity of 130-135. No doubt, some commenters would object that there are different kinds of IQ. Well, yes and no. There are surely different ways to measure it, they produce different results, and none of them is really accurate or reliable. But there's only one kind of underlying skills that deserves to be called the real IQ or the g factor. Claims that the "diversity of IQs" may be a good enough excuse for huge blunders such as Pinker's support for Maudlin's rant are just politically correct fairy-tales.