Wednesday, January 31, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Alexandre Grothendieck hiding

Breaking news: Thomas Čech withdraws from the Harvard presidential search because he already has a great job. I am afraid he is right. His decision makes Dr Faust the #1 candidate.

Scienceline.ORG writes about Alexandre Grothendieck, an eminent mathematician, who is now 78 years old and he is probably doing well but no one has seen him for 14 years. In 1988, he rejected a prestigious award. He also criticized politicization of science - especially awards that change the real goal of science and mathematics. Also, Grothendieck has predicted a complete collapse of scientific establishment.

I share most of his concerns but I am probably less radical about them. ;-) The scientific establishment hasn't collapsed in the last 10 years. Awards suck and all the other phenomena Grothendieck talked about are here and they are pernicious but it doesn't necessarily follow that the scientific establishment must collapse. Because it's contaminated by careerism and politics, it will just become far less appealing for people like Grothendieck and it will lose - it is already losing - its purity. It will attract - and it is already attracting - a different kind of people.

EU constitution: 2007

Many people want Europe to be more unified than ever before. Most Americans want a tightly unified Europe because they don't want to learn too many names of foreign countries and they don't want to meet too many foreign politicians. ;-)

In Europe, some politicians think that a unified continent is an important principle that has been revealed to them by an angel. Some green and leftist politicians see a unified Europe as a perfect tool to spread their favorite ideology. It has become popular among certain people to paint the EU constitution as an inevitably good thing and its opponents as politically incorrect people. Among the good people, there is consensus.

Is there any consensus? Well,

Fine, there are also countries where Yes has won. But surely the opponents in France and Holland must be uninformed simpletons. Does the elite support the constitution?

There are still anti-EU sentiments in the United Kingdom, despite Tony Blair's attempts to eliminate them. However, the EU also has new members and some of them have very good reasons to feel as self-confident co-determinants of the common policy. Well, so far I am not talking about Romania and Bulgaria who don't really know yet what these questions are all about.

It is Prague that has emerged as a key opponent of a further unification and a foe of a complicated and long EU constitution. Angela Merkel saw it last week. President Klaus wants to replace EU by his Organization of European States. He is certainly not the only one who has similar ideas about these issues.

Jan Zahradil, a member of the European Parliament, was chosen to be Czechia's negotiator in these issues. He shares the opinions with other Czech politicians. Also, he believes it would be profoundly wrong if it became possible for the EU to silently expand its power into welfare and healthcare systems of the individual countries because these important issues could no longer be decided by democratic mechanisms.

Poland shares these Czech sentiments although its politicians are far less outspoken about them. On the other hand, the most Euro-optimistic party in the Czech Republic is probably the Green Party that has become a part of the current government.

If you care, the Czech Republic is the only EU country (among 27) that hasn't ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC), together with countries like the U.S. and Israel.

Jo Leinen

Have you ever heard of this name? He is a head of a committee of the European Parliament. As far as I can say, I have only heard about this Gentleman whenever he criticized Václav Klaus. In this sense, Jo Leinen is Klaus' misbehaving appendix in the same sense as e.g. CapitalistImperialistPig is mine. :-) Nevertheless, this particular Jo Leinen feels very self-confident in criticizing the Czech president:
It's both sad and entertaining what this Leinen seems to think and say. Klaus is bringing Czechia to isolation, he damages his country and citizens, and must be confronted - and all this crap. Leinen apparently hasn't noticed that there has been quite a serious discussion about these issues in the Czech Republic (unlike some other countries) and many people, not only the president, are also able to think and many of them have made similar conclusions as the president.

Various people simply want to revive the same dead EU constitution that has been rejected by citizens of two pretty important countries. The referendums were just errors in their measurement. They can be neglected. Re-counts and re-re-counts must be organized until this "great" document will be accepted.

Click the picture to get a Russian opinion.

I don't believe that democracy can work at a supernatural level. There are things in which the European unification has been kind of useful regardless of political opinions - free trade, ability to move, simpler bureaucracy, funds to pay for certain projects in certain regions, especially poor regions, and so forth.

But there are topics which are purely political, controversial, and that should be decided democratically as long as the territory of Europe remains an example of democracy. The level of taxation, cultural questions, the healthcare system, pension rights, gay marriage, legal status of drugs and prostitution are examples. If these things are decided democratically, I think that it is rather clear that they must remain national issues.

It is impossible to elect European representatives truly democratically. It will always - at least in the next 10 years - be the case that a primary task for the deputies of the EU Parliament will be to defend the national interests of their countries. It's simply a fact because the national identity within the EU will remain more important than other kinds of identities, including the identity to political blocs, for most citizens of the EU. Most citizens of the EU can't understand what most politicians of the EU want, and how much they want it - because they don't speak their language.

It would be very wrong to create a Europe controlled by a political elite that is electing itself because most citizens can't really influence its composition. It would be very wrong to create a Europe in which politicians are not being chosen according to their political principles and abilities but according to their language skills and their friendship with other similar people with language skills. It is not hard to see that the language requirements impose a drastic reduction of the pool of possible candidates for European politics and there is no good reason to think that something will dramatically change about this fact.

These are some of the reasons why a newer, shorter, more comprehensible, and less ambitious constitution must be written.

And that's the memo.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Czech arts: daily suicides

On Saturday, Ms Iva Hercíková, an author of dozens of bestsellers who emigrated to the U.S. in 1986 because of political reasons but who was happy to return to Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution, hanged herself at the age of 71.

On Sunday, Mr Karel Svoboda, a music composer and the author of many hits including those of Mr Karel Gott, shot himself dead by a legally owned weapon. He was 68 years old. Is there a pattern here? Well, it's certainly sad.

Windows Vista editions

Windows Vista, Microsoft's new operating system, will be sold to consumers from this moment - the midnight between Monday and Tuesday. You can either upgrade from Windows XP (or Windows 2000) or buy a full version which is more expensive.


There are different editions - you may click the green links to get to and search for "Windows Vista" to get the full list.

The [upgrade, full] prices of Windows Vista in USD are:

  • Home Basic - replaces XP Home [99, 192]
  • Home Premium - replaces XP Prof [153, 227]
  • Business - replaces XP Prof for work [192, 283]
  • Ultimate - semi-transparent Aero windows [250, 379]
You need at least 1 GB of RAM to make things run smoothly, especially the full user interface found in the Ultimate edition. The Reference Frame predicts 20 million licenses to be sold in the first month, 30% of computers to run Windows Vista in January 2008 and 50% in January 2009.

Microsoft will also release Office 2007. Be ready for a completely new arrangement of all tools and commands which is superior and more intuitive but you will need minutes/hours to get used to it.

Hubble mostly blind

The Hubble Space Telescope has lost its survey camera, probably for good, because of a short circuit. This device gave us most of the popular pictures including some of those relevant for the research of dark energy. It was expected to last 5 years and it lasted for 4.9 years. Not bad. See the New York Times.

Monday, January 29, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Battle of Antarctica

As Wikia explains, this battle takes place in the air above the continent of Antarctica on Earth between humans, using X-302 fighters✈ and the Prometheus (X-303)✈, and the forces of Anubis.

Note that Prometheus designed by Roger Pielke and humans in general are represented by the IPCC climate panel. On the other hand, Anubis is one of the most powerful and evil Goa'uld in history. Goa'uld are bad guys and parasitic beings that take over hosts such as humans and that came from the P3X-888 planet. You should now ask:

What the hell is he talking about?

Well, sorry that it wasn't clear so far. I am talking about the same battle that Bob Ferguson aptly named

  • food-fight over alarmism among the consensus.

Just like in the case of the Catholic Church and Protestants, the environmentalist church of consensus is going to split. Everyone in the church agrees that there is a 100% consensus among all experts but unfortunately two equally strong groups of experts disagree what the consensus says.

Figure 1: The authors of IPCC who are completing their document in Paris are completely free and can obey all standards of scientific integrity. They are not being intimidated at all by an eco-activist organization that has attached a banner to a rather well-known tower. ;-)

This disagreement emerged because of the IPCC AR4 report whose summary will be released on Friday, after four days of secret word-by-word editing. The main point of disagreement is Antarctica. See

There are two groups of experts who face each other. Various Anubis' experts have

  • denounced the IPCC report as misleading
  • said that the report fails to give the right ✭impression✭ about the CO2 effect on Antarctica
  • said that the IPCC neglects the gorillas
  • said that the prediction of the IPCC is obviously not the full story because ice sheet decay is something we can't (even) model now but we ✞know✞ it's happening

I agree with Bob that the second sentence above is really characteristic of their movement. The goal of a scientific report is apparently to "give the right impression". The statement about gorillas comes from an Ohio State Anubis' expert and another Anubis' expert, MacCracken of The Neverending Story who used to lead the U.S. government reviews of the IPCC reports until 2001, has fired off a letter of protest because of the gorillas (Greenland and Antarctica deserve this name as the key reservoirs of ice).

Sunday, January 28, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Daniel Holz nationalizes cosmology

Daniel Holz has joined Cosmic Variance as its seventh blogger and the first thing he announced is that

because the people have paid for it. ;-) A poem from the MTW telephone book of GR (see below) is used as an additional piece of evidence. In his enthusiastic celebration of the comprehensibility of the Cosmos, Dan mentions that an average U.S. taxpayer contributes about $70 for basic physical sciences a year. While it's less than what the average E.U. citizen annually pays for the Kyoto protocol, it is a nonzero amount of money.

Still, I would recommend to be more careful with these overly transparent strategies to get more money and public support - something that cosmologists clearly like to do and they are good at it. ;-) Cutting edge science doesn't really belong to the public and typical people don't even want to own it. The key scientific insights haven't always been found as a result of some government's spending. And even if it were so, there was no contract that would imply that the discoverers lose their rights. Moreover, a typical taxpayer thinks that a typical cutting edge theory is wrong.

Special relativity was found in the patent office and the key insights of general relativity were settled at the Charles University in Prague - its German section - where Einstein was paid for different things. Isaac Newton was born to rather wealthy farmers and didn't have to rely on the redistribution of resources too much either. Finally, a nonzero amount of money is now coming from rich sponsors such as Fred Kavli or Mike Lazaridis.

More importantly, I think it is crucial to know that the public financial contributions to science can't mean that the public has the right to directly determine the outcomes of the research. As long as the research is science, such a direct influence can't exist regardless of the amount of the money. These facts imply that the taxpayer is paying the money because he or she assumes that the people who are paid know what they're doing and their work moves our cognitive horizons further than ever before, at least in the long run.

Google maps: Cambridge, MA

View Larger Map

You can drag it, zoom in, zoom out etc. If you find this map useful, bookmark it. For those people who don't live in Cambridge: be sure that I know where you live and I could also draw a map of your neighborhood if I wanted. ;-)

Saturday, January 27, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

BBC investigates Stern report

As most of the readers of this blog know, the Stern report is an atrocious piece of politicized pseudoscience that has been heavily criticized by many people, including those who are counted as alarmists by your humble correspondent - e.g. James Annan and William Connolley.

BBC has broadcasted a 30-minute program

where scholars such as Prof Richard Tol, another environmental economist and alarmist, decides whether Stern would deserve an "D" for "dilligent" or "F" for "fail" if he submitted it as a master thesis. It is full of elementary mistakes that such a student simply shouldn't make. It's not even flawed. :-)

Barack Obama didn't discover general relativity

Dozens of TV channels and internet servers, for example the Boston Channel, informed their audiences and readers about the following:

  • Obama analyzed and integrated Einstein's theory of relativity, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, as well as the concept of curved space as an alternative to gravity, for a Law Review article that Tribe wrote titled, "The Curvature of Constitutional Space."
Well, I understand that certain activists are thrilled with the idea of a black president but I would recommend them not to write these articles that present Mr. Obama as a combination of Jesus Christ and Isaac Newton because they underestimate the intelligence of the Americans who will surely recognize that the information is nonsensical.

The reality is that the concept of curved space as an alternative to Newton's laws of gravity was discovered by Albert Einstein, not Barack Obama, and even the (scientifically meaningless) 1989 article "The Curvature of Constitutional Space" with 3 citations wasn't written by Barack Obama. Obama is one of six people - together with Prof Gerald Holton of Harvard University - who is being thanked in a footnote of this article written by Laurence Tribe.

Intel: 45 nm chips & high-k materials

Chips with 65-nanometer transistors have been around for some time. It turns out that to get a new speed boost, you need a material that can withstand the higher currents.

This amounts to a material with a higher "relative permittivity epsilon_r" - which the commercial sector usually calls "the dielectric constant k". While the vacuum has "k=1", silicon dioxide (SiO2) that has been used for decades has "k=3.9". There are better materials with higher values of "k":

  • High-k materials:
  • ---------------------
  • hafnium dioxide (HfO2): k=23
  • zirconium dioxide (ZrO2): k=20
  • titanium dioxide (TrO2): k=86-170

The higher "k" allows one to make the circuits thicker. We were surrounded by silicon dioxide for decades. It could disappear as early as 2008 when most producers start to incorporate the 45 nm technology into their chips. Note that if the linear dimensions shrink by a factor of 45/65=0.7, the areas decrease to one-half. Intel hasn't yet revealed what frequency the chips will have. When was all this miniaturization first predicted? It was in 1959 when Richard Feynman noticed that there's plenty of room at the bottom.

John Conway goes after the Higgs

Several days ago, we mentioned the 2 sigma signal for a possible MSSM Higgs at 160 GeV. John Conway whose favorite lepton is tau and who has been searching for the Higgs for 20 years wrote an exciting two-part novel about their search:

Figure 1: A simple version of the parameter space of the minimal supersymmetric standard model (MSSM). The x-axis is the mass of the CP-odd Higgs boson, the y-axis is tan(beta), essentially the ratio of expectation values of the two Higgs scalars in the model. The broader purple region (dark+light) is the region they expected to exclude. However, the bump only allowed them to exclude the dark purple region. Analogously, LEP 2 at CERN (defunct) has excluded the blue region - in a somewhat complementary fashion to the Fermilab.

Friday, January 26, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Angela Merkel in Prague

Angela Merkel, a German physicist and chemist, has visited Prague today. While the German chancellor is trying to lay out a roadmap to revive the EU constitution during the 6-month-long German presidency of the EU, the opinions are somewhat different in Czechia, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

In her friendly and productive discussions with president Klaus, Merkel has shown a good grasp of the Czech history. According to Merkel, Klaus is a new kind of a hussite who also likes to fight over every theological millimeter. Wow - I didn't know the exact length scale myself, and even Klaus was impressed and he apparently understood Merkel's comment as a compliment. :-)

Figure 1: Hussites, except for the guy in the middle who might be a crusader. Picture taken in 1420 or so.

Recall that the hussites were Czech communists, protestants, and terrorists in the 15th century who built on the teachings of John Huss, an early reformer burned in 1415, and whom most Czechs are proud about. They liked to intimidate the opposing armies - usually the crusaders - by their songs and they have eventually combined their millimeters to grasp a big chunk of Germany, up to the Northern Sea.

Record cold temperatures: Northeast

Right now in Boston, we have -16 C (+3 F), near the record low temperatures for this day from 1927 when they suffered -17 C (0 F). The wind chill is -28 C (-18 F). It will be neither too pleasant nor too easy to walk outside, even for the last of the real men. It's going to be the second coldest day in this century so far in Boston: the coldest day was 1/15/2004 when Al Gore gave a major speech about the global warming in New York City (this frequently observed type of correlation is known as the Gore effect).

According to Wunderground, other places have already breeched their daily record lows. For example, -11 C seems enough in Philadelphia. -13 C (+9 F) in Stamford, CT seems to tie the record from 1982, and they may have already broken it. The flag at Buffalo airport, NY froze in full-wave mode. Recall that the freezing point for flags is rather low. ;-)

The winds from North and Northwest seem to go on. They're the main reason why the high on this day will be a record low for January 26th in much of the East Coast.

Cold weather is also moving to North Dakota and is already creating headaches in Utah. Alaska saw record low temperatures today, too. Frigid weather is expected to go on throughout February in Colorado. Denver's January has so far been the seventh coldest January on record.

Western and Central Europe has experienced some snowstorms. For example, 100 flights were cancelled in Prague. 100,000 families in France were cut out of electricity. Snow arrived in Spain, too. The picture above is a signpost for Madrid.

When the winter was balmy, every other journalist would find a climate scientist who would say that this could really be a result of the "climate change". Once the weather becomes frigid, you won't find any articles about the climate. Suddenly it's only the cold facts themselves - cold weather - that is reported. Isn't it interesting that warm weather is related to the climate but cold weather is not?

Kasper Peeters: Cadabra

Kasper Peeters whom the readers of this blog know as a co-author of the most cited 2005 paper about loop quantum gravity - a paper that has unfortunately shown that loop quantum gravity can't be useful for physics in its present form - has created a rather impressive symbolic computer algebra system to solve field theory problems.

The software is so far available for Linux and can be downloaded from the
that shouldn't be confused with the Abracadabra website. :-) Both the input and the output is a subset of TeX and it allows you to manipulate with expressions involving tensors, derivatives, Grassmann variables, and gamma matrices, among other things.

Thursday, January 25, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Stringin' it

Did you ever dream about seeing physics at the string scale? Did you want to see how the dual colors of the gauge theory emerge from the strings? You can see it now. The perfect illusions from "desktop light show" for $30 will make your life happier and reveal the beauty of 3 dimensions which is pretty close to the total number of 10. Click the picture above or click here.

The structural foundations of quantum gravity

Most of you surely remember the article "Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" by Alan Sokal. He has founded a field that is literally thriving today. If you want to learn the state-of-the-art insights of this field, you should look at this book.

I am actually serious. Well, almost. :-) If you think that the book is more than rough toilet paper, you should click and buy this new book. ;-) It is full of structuralism, structural realism - especially ontic structural realism, holism, as well as quantum quandaries and background independence by two colleagues of ours. :-)


Update: see a posting from February 2nd, after the IPCC summary was released... You can also see the interview with the Czech president about the climate.

Imagine that the results of some scientific research are relevant for policymaking. What is the right ordering of the events? Do we first find out the technical results by the scientific method and determine the conclusions for policymaking afterwards, or do we first determine what the conclusions for policymaking should be, and then do the research so that it will agree with the policymaking goals?

That's a stupid question, isn't it?

I guess that most high-energy physicists and perhaps even most scientists would answer that the first scenario is correct while the second one violates every basic principle of science. It is simply impossible to assure that scientific research will confirm some predetermined political conclusions without committing scientific fraud. The whole point of scientific work of any kind is that it can change some of the assumptions we started with. And any research usually does change these things unless it is useless.

Steve McIntyre has figured out that the climate science follows very different rules than science. On 2/2/2007, i.e. next Friday, the summary of the IPCC international climate report for policymakers will be released. However, the full report won't be released until May 2007. What will the IPCC people do in these three months? Well, the answer can be found on page "4 of 15" of this

Search for "grammatical". It explains their version of the scientific method unambiguously:
  • Changes (other than grammatical or minor editorial changes) made after acceptance by the Working Group or the Panel shall be those necessary to ensure consistency with the Summary for Policymakers or the Overview Chapter.
No kidding. Steve has correctly predicted that it would make my jaws drop. ;-) Those 2500 people first determine what the "big" conclusions should be and then they will spend 3 months by "adjusting" the technical report so that it is consistent with the summary for policymakers and with the overview chapter. We are probably expected to believe that it is physically impossible that anyone among these 2500 people has a chance to find any inaccuracy in the overview in 3 months.

France and astrophysics

The left-wing blogosphere often tells us that the Americans are much more ignorant about science than the citizens of more secular nations. For example, 20% of the U.S. citizens think that the Sun revolves around the Earth. So let us look into another country that is based on cultural elites and a country that most of us admire, namely France. As mentioned in the previous link, 2% of the Americans think that the United States have won their independence from France, so it is a rather important country. ;-)

The guy below can win 3,000 euros in "Who wants to be a millionaire". However, he must first answer a rather difficult question: which celestial body gravitates around the Earth? It is a) the Moon, b) the Sun, c) Mars, d) Venus. If it happens to be tough for one particular French intellectual, he can still rely on the French public, can't he? ;-)

OK, maybe the people just wanted to have some fun. Who knows. But you could also call the opinion of the public to be an example of scientific consensus, especially once those 42 percent of skeptics - and let's say it openly, heretics - are decertified. :-)

See also Blonde American geography.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Solar resonant diffusion waves

At the beginning of this International Heliophysical Year, Robert Ehrlich offers a new theory what is the main driver of terrestrial climate change:

in (peer-reviewed) Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics (URL). The diffusion waves modulate the dependence of various quantities on the distance from the center of the Sun; the relevant distance is between 0.21 and 0.25 solar radii. These effects are meant to account for fluctuations of the terrestrial temperature at the sub-megayear timescale.

The author uses various methods that will probably be difficult to understand for the scientific consensus - formerly known as the average and worse-than-average climate scientists - for example the Fourier transform. On page 15 you may see how his theory predicts three frequencies of the time-dependence very accurately. I am very impressed by the figure 2 and the simple formula behind it. Ehrlich predicts that the dominant frequencies giving peaks in the Fourier transform should be

  • fn = f1 n2

and his figure 2 shows a remarkable agreement with observation for "n=2,3,4". Now, the statement that some frequencies are proportional to a square of an integer sounds pretty fundamental - almost like the spectrum of the Hydrogen atom - and one should look carefully before dismissing such an interesting observation.

Ehrlich believes that his theory should supersede the conventional explanations based on the Milankovitch cycles - where the main driver is encoded in the quasiperiodically oscillating parameters of the orbit of our planet - and he enumerates some of these problems that could be solved in his setup.

Via Benny Peiser.

Duke lacrosse scandal

I just learned about this story from Foxnews and find it rather amazing.

Crystal Gail Mangum is an attractive exotic stripper who was hired for a party of lacrosse players at Duke University in the residence of two captains of the team in spring 2006. There were actually two dancers.

Mangum later argued that she was raped by the lacrosse players. It could, in principle, happen. But there exists a wise principle of presumption of innocence. Moreover, everyone should be able to determine that such an accusation sounds very unlikely. It is simply much more likely that a person with this job invents these stories than that members of the second best team of its type in the U.S. would commit such a crime under circumstances in which it would be trivial to prove their guilt.

As the investigation continued, Mangum was changing her testimony and it was becoming increasingly more obvious that the accusation was bogus. As Wikipedia decently explains, a large number of DNA molecules of males has been found in her body but neither of them seemed to come from a lacrosse player. Moreover, the second dancer said that the accusation had to be nonsense because they were seeing each other during the whole party except for a five-minute interval.

Despite these obvious observations, an activist (white) judge has violated various rules in an attempt to speed up the punishment for the accused young men and he is now facing an ethics investigation. Equally seriously, 88 Duke professors immediately placed an ad in the newspapers arguing that all this was surely an example of the evil white males who can cover any crime. Some of these scholars were punishing the poor accused students by failing grades, in advance.

This group of 88 people included 80% of the Black Studies Department, 72% of the Feminist Department, and a large fraction of several other humanities departments. The ad was clearly an outrageous and hateful racist act that violates the very basic principles of justice - equality in front of the law and presumption of innocence being two main examples. These departments should probably be abolished because if they're overrun by this kind of professors, their influence on the students can hardly be positive.

Voices from Duke University argue that these mad extremists effectively control what's happening at that university, more or less all administrators are cowards and puppets, and I tend to believe that they are right. These stories sound entirely incredible to a Central European guy like me because almost everyone in Central Europe would always be trying to get some reasonable common sense estimates of the probability that the accusations are right.

If a gipsy woman accuses someone of being a rapist, the judges will give her as much attention and care as they would give to anyone else. But obviously, people who are outside the scandal will think that the accusation is unlikely simply because there haven't been too many cases in the past in which such an event actually occurred: a frequentist probability is the best way to estimate probabilities of things that are not yet known.

The radicals at Duke University prefer their racist dogmas over common sense: a clearly untrustworthy stripper must surely be believed more than a bunch of players from a rather prestigious lacrosse team as long as her skin color is more politically correct.

I think that the usage of the comment that someone is white (or male) and therefore the law or public opinion should be against him or her should be treated exactly as the opposite case - i.e. as racism (or sexism) and hateful crime - otherwise a similar kind of fraud and hysteria will keep on expanding.

The professors from some departments - mostly natural sciences and engineering - didn't participate. Two weeks ago, some economics professors decided to act in the opposite way than the feminist and black departments - a way that is both wise as well as economical: they showed support for the players and explained that the players are more than welcome in their courses. ;-)

State of the union: Bush was shining II

Last year: "Bush is a genius". The far left-wing nutcases have essentially forced me to rename the article to "Bush was shining".

The State of the Union address has just ended. First of all, let me say that I was jealous about the good mood and atmosphere among the participants. Happy, friendly, and smiling faces were everywhere around. And yes, I consider George Bush himself to be one of a small set of people in the hierarchy of influence that can be relied upon.

In principle, it was approximately the same kind of an event as some of the FAS faculty meetings at Harvard University. And George Bush gave a similar kind of speech as Lawrence Summers used to give. Except that most of the FAS faculty never applauded to the big principles and friendly remarks of Lawrence Summers. I feel that most of them are kind of evil and negative people, unlike the lawmakers.

Some observers have noticed that the atmosphere in the Congress was actually more friendly and bipartisan than during Clinton's era. You may ask who is responsible for this improvement if you think it is an improvement. ;-)

Alberto Gonzales didn't attend the event. He was chosen to be the guy who would become the U.S. leader if the terrorists succeeded in exterminating the whole government and lawmakers of America. ;-)

George Bush started extremely politely at the very beginning. He was very proud that he was the first president who could say "Ma'am speaker". Nancy Pelosi was pleased, too. Very touching. You wouldn't believe that it is the same Nancy Pelosi who will start with her outrageous global warming committees and fights against John Dingell and others as early as tomorrow morning. ;-)

Bush praised the great economy, 7+ million jobs that have been created, and the significant & faster-than-expected decrease in the budget deficit that he wants to eliminate entirely. He argued that the inflation was low and I am sure that many economists would disagree with him. I disagree myself.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton was smiling. I think that she is much more ready and suitable to become the U.S. president than Barack Obama, among other examples. The Reference Frame appreciates that she has served as the president of college Republicans, too. Her father was a Republican executive in the textile industry - almost like mine - and she knows what capitalism is. ;-)

Bush has spent some time talking about the healthcare and the No Child Left Behind act that should be renewed because it is a very good law. Some of the specific proposals about the health insurance sounded confusing to me because I am simply no expert. What I understood is that he wanted important decisions to be made by patients and doctors - a principle that was greeted by a bipartisan ovation. I guess that this was not the first time when this assertion occurred in the annual speech.

In the section about immigration, Bush proposed temporary work permits to disentangle relatively innocent immigrants who come to America to work and earn some bucks from the smugglers and other criminals. He said that both animosity as well as amnesty for the illegal immigrants who are already in the U.S. should be avoided.

America seems to depend on foreign oil which can be influenced by the terrorists. So Bush has enumerated a couple of technologies that should be improved and strengthened - clean coal, hybrid vehicles, clean diesel, biodiesel, nucelar power (I accept the Southern version of the word because Bush seems to insist that it is correct), and ethanol production. In 10 years, the gasoline consumption should drop by 20 percent, he argued, and extra goals up to 2017 have been proposed. The strategic reserves should be doubled. The last sentence of this section ended up with the term "global climate change" and Bush essentially said that it will be solved if his other points are accepted, which is clearly incorrect but which I find acceptable enough a compromise about this particular stupidity that some profoundly confused people consider to be one of the most important problems facing humanity.

Bush had to drink some water, too.

Federal courts should have enough judges. Several success stories about the fight against terrorism were enumerated - like the stopped attack against L.A. and some victories of the British allies. Organized Sunnis and terrorists - and even the Shi'ias - are bad guys who dislike democracy and America must support moderate governments and democrats with a lowercase "d" in the world. The ultimate goal is to protect the American people. Bipartisan ovations, including Nancy Pelosi, followed.

Some 2006 setbacks in the Middle East were mentioned but Bush still hopes for victory and everyone should. The goal in Iraq is to make the country safe, democratic, and allied. 20,000 extra troops have to be sent, mostly to Baghdad, and their task is to clean the terrorists with their Head & Shoulders. Applause. Some 92,000 troops should be added in total but I didn't listen carefully what he exactly said about them.

America can't afford to lose in Iraq because of a nightmare and a big conflict of all possible extremists that Bush described in detail. The success in the Middle East may count as the most important task in America's history. Bush asked the Congress for its support and judging by the bipartisan applause, he got it. The president warned that the war on terror is a generational event that will last even after most of the people in the room are gone.

Civilians should be allowed to serve in these critical conflicts and Bush wants to create some civilian reserves. The good world and the United Nations are on America's side. Israel should co-exist with the state of Palestine. America must support good guys in Cuba, Belarus, Burma, and Darfur, and fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and malaria in 15 African countries. That will require some money. America's help to the world reflects the generosity of its people.

Four heroes who attended the event were introduced to the Congress: an NBA player who was born in Kongo and who has paid for a hospital; a female founder of Baby Einstein Inc.; a black worker who has saved a kid; and a white Sgt Rieman (with one "n") who was injured but continued to fight within the mantinels of the Euclidean geometry. The last guy was awarded the silver star.

America is a fine and decent country, the state of the union is strong, and God bless.

Jim Webb (D-VA)

While the president's speech was precious, nice, and constructive, the Democratic answer of Jim Webb was confusing, confrontational, and destructive. He focused on the differences. In the context of the economy, Webb offered a rather distasteful form of economical populism: the economy may be strong but it is not "properly shared". All jobs are outsourced, all services and tuition are more expensive than ever before. Also, Webb argued that the U.S. government has the duty to protect the American bureaucrats and provide them with an unrestricted fattening station. Webb has explained that this goal will be achieved because of the Democratic control of the House. ;-)

As far as foreign policy goes, Webb thinks that we have seen four years of mismanaged war. Jim Webb has proudly shown a picture of his father who was a war hero. Jim Webb himself served not only in the navy but also in the Reagan administration before he became an unpleasant leftist: thanks CIP for a correction here. Webb has enumerated a few American G.O.P. presidents who disregarded recommendations of their advisors. America is now a hostage and it has paid staggering amounts of money and blood, we were told. A majority of the public, military, and the Congress opposes the war and Webb has recommended a quick exit from Iraq. I hope that Hillary doesn't share this opinion with this Gentleman. Finally, Webb has pleased the American public with some historical anti-corporate fairy-tales. Webb think that Bush will either join the Democrats in their fights or they will show him the way, whatever it exactly means. ;-)

The Virginia voters should be kind of ashamed to have sent this guy into the Senate instead of George Allen. Nevertheless, Webb's somewhat painful speech can't diminish the positive and constructive tone of the State of the Union address.

And that's the memo.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

MSSM Higgs at 160 GeV: 2.1 sigma signal

An acausal update: John Conway whom I know from Rutgers University and whose favorite particle is the tau lepton has two long articles about the bump at CosmicVariance: first, second. Holy crap. Or not?

Can we prove the minimal supersymmetric model (MSSM, Dine's book chapter 11), the next layer of string theory's predictions about reality, experimentally?

The Higgs sector contains 8-3=5 particles (instead of 4-3=1 God particle - also named Weinberg's toilet by Sheldon Glashow - in the normal Standard Model) because there must be two Higgs doublets in order to allow masses both for the upper quarks and the lower quarks. One of the recent Run II preliminary charts of the D0 detector group is the following:

Figure 1: The decay of the Z boson according to the D0 group

So is there a Higgs boson? The answer partially depends on the question whether there is a bump in the figure above. It would be great if a readers who are good at looking at pictures tried to answer whether there is a bump in this picture. Don't be fooled: the yellow curve is an idealization. The real data are the white circles with the vertical lines representing the error bars. ;-)

Most readers will say "Of course there is a bump". Unfortunately, the bump around 80 GeV is not a Higgs. It is the Z boson. If they see a Higgs, it is a bump around 160 GeV which is much less convincing. Still, you should know that a similar measurement of CDF sees a 2.1 signal for the A Higgs of the MSSM - it can't be interpreted as a non-supersymmetric Higgs boson - which is higher than the 1.7 sigma signal for the 115 GeV Higgs that we see at the end of the life of LEP.

I am unconvinced by the statement that there is an extra bump at 160 GeV in the chart above. The chart would be more likely to indicate a bump at 140 GeV. Stay tuned.

Via Dorigo where you find other data such as a weak excess of some events measured at CDF that could indicate the MSSM Higgs around 160 GeV. CDF will release its version of the figure above in the middle of February.

Snow is back to Cambridge

Jefferson Lab 1/23/2006


Monday, January 22, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Dine & Becker-Becker-Schwarz sold in the U.S.

Everyone can now buy the books by Dine as well as Becker-Becker-Schwarz. I already have both of these books and they look cool! Preview of Dine's book via

Sunday, January 21, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Kyoto protocol: third millikelvin

If you look at the Kyoto counter, you will see that the total temperature increment hypothetically subtracted from the global temperature in 2050 has just surpassed three negative millidegrees centigrade! Congratulations to everyone. It's an exceptional moment of human history.

You can now proudly inform your grandkids that in 2050, if they're still around, the global average temperature will be about 14.863 Celsius degrees even though otherwise, without the bold acts of the grandfather and millions of other great people, it would probably be frying 14.866 Celsius degrees although no one will be able to prove this assertion.

Because many readers of this blog are unfamiliar with some basic numbers and data, let me explicitly say that I am not inventing these numbers about the costs and temperature differences: they're the official numbers generated by the IPCC, the panel of the United Nations, in documentation used to support the Kyoto protocol. Of course, they had to offer these numbers for such a huge project.

Anyway, the hypothetical reduction of the temperature is our generation's contribution to the civilization: no boring cathedrals or theories of relativity: three negative millikelvins. Wow. And it was very cheap - something like 300 billion U.S. dollars. Thanks, Al Gore, for guiding us in this enlightened direction. Amen.

See Kyoto - costs and benefits.

How much money it is

Because most people don't really "feel in bones" how much is 300 billion dollars that the world has wasted for carbon indulgences in the last two years - it looks like "some number" - let me translate the number to plain English. We could have paid for either of the following projects:


Alex Wissner-Gross who is a graduate student at Harvard University and an interdisciplinary genius has just completed the Alpha version of Wikiosity, e-technology that was described in Nude Socialist Technology and that tells you which ten Wikipedia articles you should read if you're interested in a certain topic - your search query. Check it out!

If you're using the search box above, press enter after you type your query. Fortunately, topics linked to Wikipedia articles whose primary titles have special characters - such as many Czech names - don't yet work. ;-) The first time I learned about this particular project of Alex was when a user searched for "Wissner-Gross Wikipedia Nobel prize".

Peer-reviewed global cooling

Bonus: Dozens of blog articles about dozens of recent scientific papers that disagree with the so-called "consensus".
A large portion of physicists in Russia, especially solar physicists, have reached a "scientific consensus" - as others would call it - that the Earth will enter a period of global cooling in a couple of years and the temperatures will drop to the minimum sometime in the middle of this century.
Bonus: 2007 was the coldest year of the 21st century so far
If they're right, a period of deep freeze will start around 2055-2060 and last for 50 years or so. These predictions are based on a detailed analysis of internal dynamics of the Sun. 2007 is the International Heliophysical Year so you're not supposed to dismiss this science without reading it. Unfortunately, I cannot verify all these statements.

In the West, it has become popular for many activists such as Naomi Oreskes to claim that there is no peer-reviewed literature that contradicts the fashionable theory of the so-called global warming. Well, that's very far from reality as everyone who is familiar with basic research directions in this field knows very well. Whether or not we think that all these papers are right or not, it's a fact that there is even peer-reviewed literature that argues that we're gonna experience global cooling.

Because problems with similar statements are being looked for about 1,000 times more intensely by certain groups than problems with their own statements, I must offer you several links that would otherwise be unnecessary. ;-)

"Kinematics and Physics of Celestial Bodies" is a peer-reviewed journal that Springer translates from Ukrainian together with other journals in Russian (thanks for the correction, Gene!): click the Springer link, read the first sentence, and find the title of the journal. ;-) An article by Habibullo I. Abdussamatov in this journal published in 12/2005 discusses some of these solar cycles that are relevant for the climate. You may prefer another text about similar topics in conference proceedings published by Cambridge University Press. Other sources where similar articles were written include
  • Bulletin of Crimea Observatory Vol. 103, pp. 122-127, 2006
  • Proceedings of the All-Russian Conference in Troitsk, Izmiran, pp. 3-8, 2006

It's not just theoretical papers that are dedicated to these questions and explanations.

is a project to measure the temporary variations of the shape and the diameter on the Russian segment of the International Space Station. The pages belong to the Central Astronomical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Pulkovo.

Missile defense: radars in Czechia, missiles in Poland

The new Czech government makes it much easier to locate a part of the missile defense system in the Czech Republic. The senior government party, the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) led by Mr Mirek Topolánek, supports such a unit without any referendum.

Mr Karel Schwarzenberg, the aristocratic minister of foreign affairs, seems to be excited by the idea, too. He says that "it is a great contribution to our security". Do you know which party has nominated him? Well, it's the Green Party. Do the U.S. environmentalists support the missile defense system? The notion that Europe is necessarily more anti-American and anti-imperialist ;-) than America may need a revision.

The third party in the government, the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) seems to agree, too. Ms Vlasta Parkanová thinks that the project should be seriously considered because the threat is real and will become even more real in the future.

Two places without any population near some villages, namely Jince near Příbram, Bohemia, or Libavá near Olomouc, Moravia, seem to be the most likely spots for the project. About 200 experts would work in the facility that would respect the Czech laws. The missiles would be placed in Poland.

Friday, January 19, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Creationists join the fight against climate change

The following report (details here) may sound as a joke from The Onion except that it is apparently quite serious. ;-)

Creationists, evolutionists join forces

Leaders of the creationist Christian community have joined the forces with biologists who fight against the "climate change" and urged president Bush to join them, too. The great news results from a dialogue organized by Harvard University.

J. McCarthy who is still alive argued that the new union protects all life on Earth. The name of J. McCarthy gives the new unified movement a distinctly democratic flavor.

Figure 1: Rev. Richard Cizik argues that polluters have to answer God, not only the government led by Al Gore. Amen. The article linked in the previous sentence scientifically explains, using Genesis 2:15 and Revelation 11:18, that creation care is isomorphic to environmentalism and that God the Almighty will destroy those who destroy earth. Also, he explains that the scientists who interpret "dominion over the fish of the sea" in the Bible as "domination" are deeply flawed heretics.

Czech government wins confidence

230 days after the elections, a new Czech government led by Mirek Topolánek has won the confidence of the Parliament. The center-right government has 9 people from the Civic Democratic Party, 5 Christian Democrats, and 4 Greens.

These three parties represent 100.00 out of 200.00 members of the Parliament and the support was only possible because of tolerance of two social democrats who left the room before the vote in order to end the 230-day-long "internal agony" as they called it. Their contract allegedly involved incorporation of unspecified social principles into the new government program which can hopefully be translated as "fog". ;-)

The vote has been greeted by derogatory remarks of the socialists such as Paroubek and Zaorálek, two of the main leaders of the current socialist-communist opposition.

Thomas Čech: a Harvard presidential candidate

The Harvard Crimson offers a

While Thomas R. Čech is just one of 30+ semi-officially known candidates for a future president of Harvard University which I don't really care about much right now (the list includes Bill Clinton who hasn't denied any speculations), this topic is interesting for this blog because of two reasons:

  • Čech is the most achieved scholar among the candidates
  • Čech is a Czech American

Concerning the first assertion, let me mention that Čech has won the 1989 Nobel prize in chemistry with Sidney Altman, one month before the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia, for their discovery of catalytic properties of RNA.

Concerning the second point, it shouldn't be hard for you to figure out that the name Čech - the name that Thomas Čech shares with Eduard Čech, the inventor of the Čech cohomology - is a Czech name and you can check and bet your cheque that it means "Czech". ;-) His grandfather Josef, a shoemaker, moved from Bohemia to America in 1913. He would probably agree with me that I don't spell his grandson's name as "Thomas Cech". ;-) The other grandparents were first-generation Americans of Czech origin, too.

Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly: pundit exchange program

Tonight, Stephen Colbert will appear on "The O'Reilly Factor" (Foxnews, 8:00 pm). Also, Bill O'Reilly will appear on "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central, 11:30 pm). Recall that O'Reilly's program used to be called "O'Reilly Report", too - and it is no coincidence. An encounter of a great journalist and his supreme imitator could be a lot of fun.

Figure 1: Colbert is not short. It is O'Reilly who is 6-foot-4 tall (cite the Reference Frame for this piece of information if you needed it). Click the picture to see both men getting ready for the shows. ;-)

After the show

I think that both shows were priceless. These guys clearly like each other and respect each other at a deeper level. You know, I like Colbert partially because his version of O'Reilly still sounds good to me in most cases. Sometimes he exaggerates but otherwise what he says is morally true, and I don't really care whether someone thinks that all these things are just jokes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Silly string theory

This picture deserves to be called art, I think.

Click a few times to get a much higher resolution.

Heidi Cullen (Weather Channel) vs skeptics

Nuremberg trials and decertification of climate skeptics

If I hadn't seen it, I wouldn't believe it. ;-) Amazing. Unreal.

This text will be mostly about Dr. Heidi Cullen, a photogenic climate specialist at the Weather Channel, her ideas, and the ideas of her soulmates. Because the percentage of global warming believers among the meteorologists is way smaller than what she would like to see - meteorologists actually work with some data on a daily basis and they know that what usually matters in weather is weather and not some hypothetical global trends - she has proposed to

  • revoke the Seal of Approval by the American Meteorological Society for any TV weatherman who is seen to express skepticism that the human behavior is creating a climate catastrophe.

Wow. ;-) This idea to eliminate a whole portion of the humankind from the public arena violates so many basic rules of science, democratic society, and the rules of all these institutions themselves that I wouldn't believe that someone who is so visible has proposed it if I hadn't read it.

The weathermen's job is to forecast weather or interpret the predictions of others and they have nothing to do with some long-term climate theories even if you speculatively imagine that there could be something true about these theories of the so-called "global warming".

They have received their seals for entirely different things than their blind loyalty towards a belief system about the alleged catastrophic human influence on the climate. They are supposed to tell us what the weather is gonna look like tomorrow or in three days and they do it well in most cases, although certainly not in all cases.

What people actually google for

Some favorite queries that have lead here today. The numbers represent the Google rank - additional pages from the same servers are not counted. The queries are written without quotation marks:

Many other queries, especially queries similar to those above, were omitted. Well, those people could try to search for deep ideas (4) here instead. ;-)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

String theory song

I just found some time to start a CD from Melanie. It starts with a string theory song. ;-)

It turns out that string theory is a metaphor for the polarity of the male & female natures.

Frozen nation

It's very interesting, to say the least, how the global climate is never mentioned when it's cold.

Figure 1: A pigeon walks on ice in San Antonio, Texas. Click for the CNN article

Some events:

  • Californian citrus growers will lose most of their citruses, roughly $1 billion in damages: expect higher prices: Clifford has 6 pieces for you
  • 55 people froze in 9 states, 20 in Oklahoma: 58% of them thought that the global warming would damage the U.S. economy
  • The wind chill in Maine was as low as the temperature of international harmony: if you don't know what this pleasant temperature is, it is -40 degrees because it is the same figure in Celsius as well as Fahrenheit degrees ;-)
  • Mount Washington has experienced -77 F wind chill
  • At 2 p.m., Cambridge, MA lives in -10 Celsius degrees. It's less pleasant than those +21 Celsius degrees on Saturday two weeks ago but probably more pleasant than the wind chill at Mount Washington
  • 300,000 homes and businesses without power: hard to repair
  • freezing temperatures will last for some time

Boltzmann's brain and low-entropy initial conditions

Tom Banks, my former advisor, has an article about a provoking topic that will surely be interesting for many readers of this blog:

Because the available field-theoretical and string-theoretical techniques are not yet ready to answer the deepest questions about the beginning of the Universe, it is not surprising that this topic is inevitably a speculative one. But the papers about the particular question of the low-entropy beginning of the Universe seem to be more than just speculative.

I feel that most of the papers written about this topic - with authors including great names such as Roger Penrose, Lenny Susskind, Don Page, and many others - are somewhat irrational texts that try to solve non-existent problems and propose absurd scenarios that we simply know to be incorrect and whose starting point seems to be some ideologically-driven confusion. It is often difficult to figure out whether certain ideas in these papers were proposed seriously or as a satire. The papers usually disagree with each other in details because they draw different boundaries between serious statements and jokes. But there are so far no sharp boundaries in this business. ;-)

Second law of thermodynamics

Let me first try to explain why I think that there is no real paradox to talk about.

A perpetuum mobile of the second kind is impossible. This gadget would be able to cool down an object and transform all the "saved" heat into work. If this machine could be constructed, we might simultaneously cool down the Earth, stop the global warming, and satisfy all energy demands of the mankind. ;-)

Adobe Flash 9 for Linux: sound

Many of you have just replaced Adobe Flash 7 (formerly Macromedia Flash) by Adobe Flash 9 for Linux that was just released. Many of you hear no audio just like I didn't. The most likely reason is that the plug-in expects ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) but you only have OSS (Open Sound System) - a free unofficial version of audio support.

Don't panic. You need to find the directory with the plugins - i.e. for Firefox. It's a directory where you find the main file with the plugin. To fix your audio, you also need a similar but much shorter file,, to be found in the same directory. Well, you will have to compile it yourself.

Go to the page of flashsupport. At the bottom, you will find the flashsupport.c source. Save it on your disk in the directory with and compile it. In the ideal case, the following three commands are enough (please join the first three lines into a single command with many arguments):

  • cc -shared -O2 -Wall -Werror
    -licuuc -lssl flashsupport.c
    sudo cp /usr/lib
Needless to say, the first command may give you about 35 errors, just like in my case. It's because you don't have a working openssl either. ;-) So you open the flashsupport.c source, find the #define OPENSSL line, and comment it out by "//" just like the following lines. The first "cc" command will still return you an error message and create no "so" output. Don't panic and simplify the first command to something like:

Foxnews on singing cosmic superstrings

Foxnews argues that astronomers have been deaf so far but with LIGO and LISA, they may detect the songs sung by cosmic superstrings: :-)

The expected music is 10-20 octaves below the usual pop-music hits. Fair and balanced. We report, you decide. :-)

There are interesting people mentioned in the article but let me still recommend this 2004 review by Polchinski:
Unlike our friends in Foxnews, Joe Polchinski doesn't confuse cosmic superstrings with more general cosmic strings - thin tubes filled with the primordial vacuum. ;-)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere with feeds

Have you ever told Paul Ginsparg that the software behind his is getting a bit old? Did you need to show him how the would look like with some of the new gadgets? Andy Stevens and folks at IOP can show you how such an archive looks like:

It has several small useful gadgets such as an RSS feed for each separate archive. You can now add hep-th to your Firefox toolbar, among other things.

Hewlett-Packard: two-story chips

Moore's law has been stagnant lately. Hewlett-Packard's applied physicists in Palo Alto may return the industry back on track. Tom Abate in

has an entertaining explanation. Chips need to become smaller if you want to speed them up. The transistors inside the chips are like buildings in a city. However, the wires that connect them play the role of the streets. The streets waste a lot of space that could be used for real estate.

The Hewlett-Packard solution is to build the streets above the buildings, not below them. Moreover, it is just the streets that appear in the first floor above the building: the perpendicular avenues are placed in another layer two stories above the buildings. ;-) There is an insulating (or "insulting", as a classic wrote) soap-like layer in between the streets and avenues that can become conductive if you apply some voltage to the avenues. The same voltage applied to the streets turns the switch off, they strangely say. Both streets and avenues are only a few atoms thick.

The immediate way to use this technology as early as in 2007 are FPGAs, modern reprogrammable chips. It is not clear whether the breakthrough may be useful for the conventional architecture of microprocessors and memory chips.

Times & Slashdot books

A reader has pointed out an article in

that mentions, among other things, "gladiatorial spats" involving your humble correspondent and a notorious critic of string theory. While the critic's specialization is incorrectly described in the article and an untrue sentence of him is quoted, the article also contains a concise and accurate one-word description of that particular individual by your humble correspondent that the intelligent readers of The Times will surely find helpful. ;-)

A discussion at

is unusually enlightened, especially because of Ambitwistor whoever she or he is. I have no personal interest to promote her or his text because it contains some popular attacks against me caused by his imperfect understanding of the situation: but it also shows that she or he has understood some essential points.

Of course, the more the people interested in science understand about the actual internal architecture of physics, the better environment for science itself we obtain and the more obvious it will be that the critics, liars, parasites, and charlatans build on hot air, to say the least. Ambitwistor cites two main sources:

  1. Jacques Distler's "motivation" why string theory is needed to get quantum gravity
  2. Your humble correspondent's explanation of the unity of strings, their inevitability, uncuttability, and unseparability from well-established physics such as gauge theories - a favorite argument of David Gross

Environmentalists vs NSTA: an inconvenient truth

Two months ago, we described a strange lawsuit that the environmentalists filed against the Environmental Protection Agency, the so-called

You might think that a bureaucratic structure whose very name shows that it protects the environment is an unlikely target for the environmentalists who also claim that they want to protect the environment. You would be wrong for the first time.

The EPA wasn't the last unexpected target of these groups. The environmental movement often says that they support science education. So you would think that they wouldn't attack the National Science Teachers' Association. You would be wrong for the second time.

The National Science Teachers' Association (NSTA) has adopted a very sensible policy back in 2001, namely a policy against product endorsement. Because the ecoactivists often argue that they want the state institutions to remain independent from for-profit organizations and commercial pressures, you might believe that the policy against product endorsement was not the reason why NSTA was attacked. You would be wrong for the third time.

Capitalism is a great gadget to optimize products and to increase the consumers' satisfaction. If the consumers are satisfied, the products sell well which is what the producers want. This mechanism works remarkably well.

However, consumer satisfaction is not quite the same thing as the scientific truth. Unless the consumers are rational people who are familiar with all the required facts and who moreover depend on the validity of a proposed scientific theory, you may be pretty sure that the direction in which the market pressures push a product is different from the direction that would be selected by the scientific method.

If a product depends on science, it is almost inevitable and it must be expected that the underlying science will be selectively presented, biased, twisted, oversimplified, or exaggerated in order to increase the profit of the producers. Sometimes the effect is strong, sometimes it is weaker but all reasonable policymakers must be aware of the fact that this effect exists. This is why it's so sensible for an institution that cares about something like the objective truth to adopt a policy against product endorsement.

I am sure that you don't have to read Money, religion, and science in order to know what I mean.

Example: a DVD

In November 2006, we had the opportunity to see how wise the policy actually is. A producer has offered her DVD to NSTA so that the teachers could advertise it in the classrooms and their students would buy a lot of these DVDs. Because the particular DVD is cheap to produce but it is sold for $19.99, you may guess what it would do with their profits.

The DVD contains a horror movie whose primary market strength is that it claims to be based on science - and perhaps, it is nothing else than science. Is it science? Well, it hasn't been peer-reviewed. More precisely, it has been informally peer-reviewed by many scientists and it has been rejected as an unreliable source of information by most of them. Most scientists have described the movie as one-sided, misleading, exaggerated, speculative, or plain wrong.

The environmentalists often say that they want science to be peer-reviewed so you would guess that they surely agree that NSTA shouldn't become a tool for producers who claim something to be science but couldn't stand a peer review to fill their pockets. You would be wrong for the fourth time. How is it possible that you would be wrong once again?

Well, environmentalists only like science to be peer-reviewed when it suits their agenda. When the producer who has made the shameless suggestion is a self-described "global warming activist" such as Laurie David (indeed, Einstein is turning in his grave because his quote has appeared on her website) who wants to fill her pockets in ways that make the average Philip Morris shareholders look like angels and when the main actor in that movie is a former future president, the rules of the game suddenly undergo a first-order phase transition.

However, NSTA has had its wise rules and therefore the association has, of course, refused to become a tool of these shameless profiteers and it has politely explained its position. You might think that a few arrogant people were simply stopped by the internal regulations of an educational institution and the story is over. You would be wrong for the fifth time: I am sure that at this moment, you must already be tired of being wrong all the time ;-) so I will try to avoid this rhetorical sleight-of-hand from now on.

New pressure

How is it possible that you would be wrong? Well, we live in the early 21st century and the discourse is contaminated by all kinds of lobby groups with no self-consistent moral constraints and with no accountability whatsoever. Eleven of them have written a truly disgraceful text

in which they have attacked NSTA by their usual Goebbelsian methods. This attack includes the standard comment that NSTA are stooges of ExxonMobil. They offer their universal proof of this statement: the money is circulating so NSTA has surely received a dollar from ExxonMobil. As long as NSTA fails to obey every wish that the ecoactivists - and at this moment, it is really more appropriate to call them ecoterrorists - have, it is clear that they must be stooges of ExxonMobil.

Well, I really don't think that NSTA has received enough money from ExxonMobil to grant the company a significant influence on their acts. More importantly, I think that the people who would ever view such an argument - a hypothetical link with ExxonMobil - as evidence for anything are too stupid to deserve any attention. ExxonMobil is a great company that substantially contributes to the well-being of the whole mankind while the ecoactivists mostly belong to the moral bottom of hypocrites who are parasiting on the society and who profit from human stupidity and fear.

When the main actor in a movie is Al Gore, all previous rules must be suppressed because he is apparently our Savior. He can argue that the people shouldn't emit carbon dioxide but he can emit as much as 800 average people do. He can preach that individuals shouldn't earn hundreds of dollars by twisting scientific insights but he can earn millions by doing the same thing.

For many of us including me, he is a rather perverse politician and manipulator who doesn't follow his own principles. Can you imagine the fireworks that would explode if Michael Crichton offered his "State of Fear" as recommended literature for students via NSTA? What is the difference between the real case of Laurie David and the hypothetical case of Michael Crichton? In fact, there are two main differences:

  • Michael Crichton knows more about the climate than Laurie David and her collaborators, by an order of magnitude
  • Al Gore enjoys the political support of a significant portion of the universities and some climate blogs that have become extremely politicized

Sadly enough, the second difference is more consequential in the real world of 2007. Fine: you can see that this is almost the last paragraph. So you might think that the RealClimate.ORG folks will be satisfied with their criticism of NSTA. I don't want to say that you would be wrong for the sixth time but you would be wrong anyway. ;-)

In reality, RealClimate.ORG attempts to create an alternative NSTA whose goal is, on the contrary, to endorse products and spread them through schools and through the most easily manipulable teachers - but only the products that will pour money directly to Al Gore's pocket and indirectly to theirs.

I am sure that every good person in the Academia and beyond is ashamed of the hypocritical and morally defective approach of RealClimate.ORG and others and I am confident that it is only a matter of time before most people figure out how much they're being cheated.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Snap preview before you click

A German physics blog has installed a pretty fascinating gadget and you may enjoy it here, too. If you're irritated by the bubbles or if they slow you down, you - a client - can turn them off if you click "Options" in the upper right corner and if you continue with a comprehensible dialog box.

Before you click to get to any external website, you will see a preview how the target looks like. It doesn't work with the Haloscan comments and some links that are generated in certain dynamical ways, but it does work for the regular links as well as "links to this post" as well as the blogroll as well as the translations to other languages (flags). Wait for half a second and you will usually obtain a high-quality preview.

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