Monday, June 15, 2009
The reason behind the recent pause on this blog was a trip to Villeneuve-sur-Yonne in Bourgogne, i.e. to the French countryside. Some presentations including mine were given. Laurent Sacco kindly provided me with an excellent übertranslation: that's like a translation except that the content may be freely doubled, organized, completed, and otherwise improved. ;-)
And I lived in a hotel owned by Leslie Caron. I've met some very fine people - French and Czech - and many stories could be covered but unfortunately there's not enough time to do so. Of course, Igor and Grichka Bogdanoff were among the main drivers who pushed me to the event - with a lot of kids interested in science etc.
Jen ai marre, Lumo hit 2006, chosen by the TRF readers from an LM list.
A group of 8 eight-graders from Horní Bříza (Upper Birch Tree), the Czech twin city of Villeneuve-sur-Yonne (10 km from Pilsen), and their principal plus the driver plus the charming math teacher were kind enough to share their microbus with me. Besides warm and personal debates in the bus that are not fit for the hard scientific style of this blog, I had to re-learn how to unscramble Rubik's cube. ;-)
Impressively enough, Cyril Boulleaux - the Villeneuve's mayor - and his staff were the organizing force behind all the events. He is also a sustainably developing mayor who brings solar panels to the town, among other things. Be sure that I was both polite as well as interested in the logic and budget behind all these things. My impression is that he is a genuine believer in all these green things which is OK with me as long as he only "invests" resources that belong to him, either directly or by the democratic mandate.
While I was assured that these things are mostly driven by a genuine desire to make the world better, I wasn't quite convinced that it has been properly calculated that these improvements actually help the big picture.
Igor and Grichka spoke about the origin of time, heavily building on solid facts about special relativity. Prof Joël de Rosnay gave a talk about the "green commandments" which was at least formally a very good talk, unlike mine that was somewhat affected by my moderate fever at that point (soar throat etc). I participated in a discussion for France Blue, a French radio station, but knowing no French, the participation was somewhat symbolic. ;-)
What they were saying was very nice but I am afraid that if I could speak French, I couldn't quite support the positive words about the Lamarckian biology by Prof Rosney and others. You know, the Lamarck biology just doesn't work. The flow of information goes from the genotype (and DNA) to the phenotype (and proteins) only. I am convinced that all evidence is supporting this "central dogma of molecular biology". You might find it "asymmetric" or discriminating or contradicting some philosophical agendas of yours but that's how biology works. In fact, it would be hard for Nature to develop also the "reverse" dictionaries by evolution, especially if they're not needed.
Czech president Klaus has calculated that in order to replace a common 1000-megawatt block of a nuclear power plant, you would have to place wind turbines for every five meters of the highway between Prague and Brussels. In fact, this speculation is pretty close to reality because this is how the Pilsen-Paris highways through Germany and France almost looked like. ;-)