Friday, July 31, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Forbush decreases confirm cosmoclimatology

Recall that cosmoclimatology of Henrik Svensmark and others postulates that the galactic cosmic rays are able to create "seeds" of low-lying clouds that may cool the Earth's surface. A higher number of cosmic rays can therefore decrease the temperature. The creation of the cloud nuclei is caused by ionization and resembles the processes in a cloud chamber.

Apologies for a sign error in the previous version of the first paragraph.

The fluctuations of the cosmic ray flux may occur due to the variable galactic environment as well as the solar activity: a more active Sun protects us from a part of the cosmic rays. It means that a more active Sun decreases the amounts of low-lying clouds, which means that it warms the Earth.

Because the low-lying clouds remove 30 Watts per squared meter in average (over time and the Earth) or so, one has to be very careful not only about the very existence of the clouds but also about the variations of cloudiness by 5% or so which translates to a degree of temperature change.

Thursday, July 30, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Mark Van Raamsdonk: the entanglement glue

Mark van Raamsdonk (UBC Canada) is quite a physicist. After dozens of very solid technical papers, he decided to write a rather deep conceptual essay (if we want to avoid the term "vague speculative fairy-tale") called

Comments on quantum gravity and entanglement (click).
SlavaM originally wanted to promote this article in his own review but finally it's up to me. ;-)

When a technically weak physicist decides to write an ambitious paper about big questions of quantum gravity, she or he usually ends up with a pile of gibberish and pap. You can't take much of it because it makes no sense.

With Mark's paper about qualitative conceptual questions, we face the opposite problem. When I am reading it, I pretty much agree with every word of it. So at the end, one inevitably has to ask what is it that he has written but is not yet appreciated as a part of the lore?

After the second reading, I tend to believe that there's something like that and it's very powerful but I am still not capable to articulate it crisply. :-)

The kind of questions he's asking

Let us begin with the general problems he would like to fully solve by following his program. In string theory, we have learned many quantum mechanical systems that are dual i.e. equivalent to quantum gravity in some appropriate large N limits.

The non-gravitational systems that display such an emergent gravitational behavior are pretty diverse. So the question is
What feature that they share is responsible for the magic of emergent gravity?
In other words, why does the gravitational description emerge? What is universal about the theories or states where a dynamical, weakly curved spacetime emerges?

And Mark would also like to answer all questions about the origin of complementarity, e.g.: Can we associate Hilbert space with limited patches or just "full" spacetimes? What is the link between the Hilbert spaces - and the space of density matrices - for different patches? Do we need to learn some quadratic maps between pure states and mixed states?

The kind of his gluing answer

Fine, so I have described some of his questions by now. What are his answers? If I strengthen and streamline his statements a little bit, he wants to argue e.g. that:
The primordial degrees of freedom may be viewed as non-geometric ones, and even referring to disconnected components of a not necessarily geometric spacetime. Whenever you want to connect or glue these disconnected components of the spacetime, you need a glue. Mark's glue is the entanglement between the pure states in the components.
Now, I can formulate these statements in a nearly equivalent way so that the propositions will look like obvious tautologies. Truly disconnected parts of spacetime are independent rather than entangled. Yes, indeed.

Whenever you want to talk about the distances between two points, which is pretty helpful in geometry, you want the components to be connected. That's right, too. Once you glue two parts of the spacetime, the degrees of freedom in these two parts get entangled as long as you know that the total energy is low. Yes, indeed: that's true even in quantum field theory. The more tightly they're connected (by thick and/or short necks, like if you're trying to minimize resistivity of a system of resistors), the more entangled the degrees of freedom are. Yes, that's true, too.

While it may be hard to find a clearly new or provocative statement, I think that they are written somewhere over there. It's just not easy to pinpoint the location. :-)

Maldacena's eternal black hole

It seems clear that Mark also wants to generalize Maldacena's insights about eternal black holes in AdS spaces that can be described as an entangled state in two different CFTs. The message is simply that:
What looks like a geometric interpolation between two boundaries in the gravitational picture is described as some entanglement in the non-gravitational description (CFTs).
I am sure that Juan did realize that his idea could have been more general but in order to present as solid evidence as possible, he remained modest and talked about the particular eternal black hole geometry only. But it is true that a qualitatively similar phenomenon exists in other contexts, too.

Stephen Hawking's happily lost bet

At any rate, it is fascinating to realize that an eternal black hole in a connected spacetime may be expressed as a linear superposition of many states, each of which describes two disconnected spacetimes. Stephen Hawking was surely thrilled by this observation, too, before he presented his own argument why the information was preserved: at the level of microstates (or microscopic contributions to the path integral), there's no topology change and no event horizon: all these things must arise from the sum over many microstates or contributions (but Hawking wasn't terribly specific about the way how the approximate horizon actually arises!).

I still find it conceivable that a few years ago, when he gave up the bet, Hawking has actually understood something about the information loss paradox that no one else has. But I wish I knew exactly what it was and what is the complete picture.

My universal black hole entropy derivation

In my favorite idiosyncratic universal derivation of the Bekenstein-Hawking (or Wald's) formula, one can obtain the whole black hole entropy from some topology change of the (Euclidean) spacetime. Imagine that you switch from a description where the microstates can be distinguished to an effective description where they can't. This procedure modifies the topology near the event horizon. It caps and/or glues each point at the event horizon: the procedure is similar to in Juan's and Mark's trace over the microstates.

With the deficit angle "2.pi" removed from every point of the event horizon, the Einstein-Hilbert action gets shifted by "2.2.pi/16.pi.G" integrated over the horizon area, i.e. by "A/4G". The path integral gets rescaled by "exp(A/4G)" which can be interpreted as the result of a trace over the "unmeasurable", macroscopically indistinguishable microstates (i.e. indistinguishable in the effective description). That means that their number must be close to "exp(A/4G)", giving us the right entropy.

The argument can actually be generalized to the whole Wald's formula, including the higher-derivative terms in the gravitational action.

Similar issues have been relevant for various discussions of quantum gravity of eternal inflation: does the complementarity principle apply to the bubbles?

Large entanglement must be possible

Mark says that if a gravitational description with a large enough geometry emerges, the quantum mechanical system must be able to develop highly entangled low-energy states. Well, that's surely the case. We essentially require the CFT to have a large central charge and related criteria in order to have a lot of states with low energies (normalized as the dimensions of the corresponding operators in the AdS/CFT context).

But does it tell us anything else? What does it really mean to require that these states may be highly entangled? This is the part of the story I don't understand. Isn't entanglement a universal skill of all quantum systems, a construction that can be used for any Hilbert space? In other words, shouldn't your ability to construct "highly entangled states", whatever it exactly means, depend on the density of states only?

After all, entanglement doesn't care about the interpretation of the states, does it? Moreover, you shouldn't really start with any a priori interpretation of the states in your CFT or a similar theory because an interpretation - the holographic geometric one - is your goal, isn't it?

So I agree that the entanglement may be there and that there are many states whenever new holographic dimensions emerge: but I don't quite understand what is the actual role played by the entanglement.

Pure-mixed maps

On page 3 (PDF: 4 of 30), Mark offers a picture that argues that pure states of a CFT in AdS/CFT may be interpreted as pure states in the full Poincaré patch but also as mixed states in smaller causal patches inside the AdS space. Well, the first statement is rather uncontroversial, except for possible issues about the normalizability of the states (which might however be a damn important technicality for a proper discussion of the relation between different patches!).

The second statement, involving the mixed states, is much more controversial. At least, the nature of the map is controversial. In some sense, one can always calculate a mixed state for a region by tracing over all the degrees of freedom outside the region. At least at the moral level, this is the case. But is such an operation "canonical"? Can we possibly learn something out of it?

In other words, is it legitimate to expect an exact theory of quantum gravity for limited regions of spacetime - or at least for those with the null boundaries of some kind? The answer can be Yes and No. But I have some problems to understand what the Yes answer could mean.

After all, whenever you deal with density matrices (or with tracing over some degrees of freedom, which is a mundane way to obtain density matrices), you talk about situations with incomplete knowledge. A density matrix is no "objective state of affairs". It is a description of the system you're interested in - one in which you assume a certain kind of "ignorance" about everything else.

If you're only interested in a smaller system - e.g. events in a spacetime region - you're always allowed to ignore the rest. So a density matrix for this region calculated from a pure (or mixed) state of a bigger spacetime does the same job.

But isn't it true that you must always be able to see that the world continues even after you cross the null boundaries (either in the past, or in the future) and that your ignorance - i.e. the very reason why you used density matrices - is just your "psychological" problem (and a mathematical trick to overcome the ignorance), not an objective feature of reality?

You may slice your spacetime by lightlike slices and all physical questions depend on the way how objects get from one slice to the next one (think about the light cone gauge). The physical systems on the opposite sides of a null slice may be entangled or related but they're also slightly different, because of the evolution in the other lightlike direction. All the dynamics is hidden in this dependence on the side, so dynamics can't be just about the entanglement.

Spacetime vs worldsheet and flops

It seems that Mark is intrigued by similar fascinating qualitative properties of our functioning descriptions of quantum gravity and sees a similar new general story as your humble correspondent does. But I am afraid that he hasn't still managed to write down the crisp answer that could be followed to answer all the questions about the origin of spacetime, its connectedness, entanglement, complementarity, and so on. And neither have I.

Maybe David Berenstein will? He claims to be completing a super duper important paper. ;-)

There is one more point that Mark doesn't discuss: the application of these ideas to worldsheets. After all, the stringy worldsheet is a consistent (two-dimensional) theory of quantum gravity, so many statements about quantum gravity should apply to the worldsheet, too.

If you open Polchinski's book, volume I, around Figure 9.7, you will see that higher-genus Riemann surfaces can be obtained by gluing two lower-genus surfaces that are connected with a tube. The tube may be represented by the sum of insertions of a complete set of operators at both places.

The similarity with Maldacena's rule for the eternal black hole is obvious: after all, we're solving a problem from the same universality class. But whatever Mark's ideas about the role of entanglement are, do they apply to this picture of the glued worldsheets?

Another question is whether the entanglement of two disconnected portions of spacetime may apply to some "ordinary" types of topology change. I have been thinking about a possible new kind of instability of the non-supersymmetric landscape - a decay of Calabi-Yau spaces with fluxes and branes into pieces (that would guarantee that only the "simplest" compactifications are viable). The entanglement story would clearly apply here, if this decay is possible at all.

But can't the gluing tubes have a different topology than a sphere times an interval? Cannot similar traces - and entangled states - be used to interpret the new branch in the case of well-known spatial topology-changing processes such as the flops and the conifold transitions?

Can Mark answer the question whether a stringy spacetime can actually decay into pieces, and/or absorb a new component that has been disconnected so far? Shouldn't baby universes remain forbidden? Is the process just "infinitely long", as measured by the logarithm of the "length over thickness" of the necks?


While we know many things and we can smell the flavor of many intriguing ideas, the full general story of the emergent spacetime patches remains an enigma. It may be helpful if every physicist with at least 500 citations for papers linked to holography or microstates in quantum gravity tried to write a preprint with her or his own attack on these questions, just like Mark did.

Maybe, the Nth paper from the sequence, with a finite N, could contain the (almost) complete answer. ;-)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Joule Biotechnologies: light + CO2 + GMO = fuel

Joule Biotechnologies, with headquarters at 83 Rogers St, Cambridge, Massachusetts is a startup with USD 50 million in its pockets.

It plans to create cheaper fuel than everyone else: the price should be equivalent to less than USD 50 per barrel.

George Church, a Harvard molecular geneticist (see the picture), is among the co-founders: the type of GM organisms seems to be a top secret. It just seems like a new choice, different from other people attempting to do similar things.

Bill Sims is the newly elected CEO and president.

Click to zoom in.

It's not another biofuel company. No agricultural land or fresh water is needed. You need sunlight and (concentrated) carbon dioxide, the gas we call life, but you obtain 20,000 gallons per acre and year (18.71 liters per squared meter and year), an order of magnitude better result than typical biofuels! Because the biofuels are close to the edge of being economically meaningful, you may be sure that this order of magnitude is FTW.

Monday, July 27, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

APS is reviewing its climate stance

Climate alarmism is a particularly embarrassing attitude for professional institutions that should represent disciplines with very high intellectual standards because climate alarmism is associated with extremely poor intellectual (and ethical) standards, besides other negative characteristics.

The American Physical Society (APS) was therefore embarrassed on November 18th, 2007 when its bodies approved an alarmist statement that was much more constructive and issue-oriented than the statements of many institutions outside physics but it was still a scientists' variation of the same blinded, biased, irrational hysteria.

It shouldn't be surprising that members around Will Happer, a renowned Princeton physicist (see the picture), wrote an

Open Letter to the American Physical Society (click)
where they mention that the climate has always been changing and warming and trace gases have many positive effects, according to scientific literature. The proposed new statement also discusses the unreliability of the existing climate models and urges the scientists to investigate all these effects objectively, and to study technological options related to the climate that are independent of the cause.

Don Page: Born Again

I am convinced that the first paper on the hep-th archive has a higher average value than the average paper. Physicists often know that they have found something pretty and they want others to see it. Because most of the people who submit papers to the arXiv are pretty bright, their selection is usually wise, too.

Unfortunately, on some days, this mechanism works in reverse. Don Page wrote two new papers and I will look at both of them. The first of them is called

Born Again.
The title is clever: it means that the paper is another attack on Max Born's interpretation of quantum mechanics. It also subtly invites you to join Page's church by becoming a born-again Christian - and it may stimulate your thinking about reincarnation. ;-)

Unfortunately, the title is the last clever part of the paper. Pretty much every paragraph of the paper contains fundamental misconceptions about the character of physical law and the very nature of rational thinking. The anthropic considerations are far from being the only misunderstood aspects of reality in this paper.

Saturday, July 25, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Climate feedbacks from measured energy flows

Let me start with a test of intelligence.

Shift-click to zoom in.

The picture above shows graphs extracted from 12 (...) climate models. Which of the models doesn't belong there? Which of them is the irrelevant fringe minority? A result of research funded by oil industry?

Yes, it is the first one because the function in the graph is increasing. The consensus of climate models proves (...) that the function is decreasing, doesn't it?

To be sure, the model that doesn't belong is not really a model. Instead, it's reality, the old denialist Ms reality. Only the remaining 11 graphs come from models.

Internet Explorer: Operation Aborted fixed

Some blogs including mine used to crash Internet Explorer with the "Operation Aborted" fatal bug, a dialog window that erases the web page once you click OK. The error was ignited by various subtleties in JavaScript.

SiteMeter code used to be a culprit for a while. Incompatible philosophies concerning child containers (Microsoft Knowledge Base) were the microscopic reasons behind other crashes. The Microsoft guys thought that the error was fixed in Internet Explorer 8 except that it returned soon.

The most recent villain was Google Friend Connect, a gadget I used to have in the sidebar, much like many other blogs. People in Google who are responsible for their side of the bug have admitted the bug.

Friday, July 24, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Václav Klaus grades EU politicians

Czech president Václav Klaus has summarized his experience with the other EU politicians.

In fact, he has also said some nice words about Barack Obama. Despite Klaus's extremely meagre expectations and despite their diametrically opposite ideologies, Klaus was always immensely pleased and surprised by conversations with Obama.

However, people like Jose Barroso, Javier Solana, and Angela Merkel didn't do so well. Their speeches are made out of empty formalities. They were probably written by their aides and the propositions don't logically follow from each other: they speak "ptydepe" that drove Prof Klaus up the wall.

Ptydepe is an artificial language invented by playwright Václav Havel, who would later become a prisoner and a president, in his The Memorandum (1966). Havel's brother, computer scientist Ivan Havel, actually helped Václav Havel to design it. It guaranteed the happiness of everyone by making sure that the words are never too close to one another. The language is cool, for example:

Ra ko hutu d dekotu ely trebomu emusohe, vdegar yd, stro reny er gryk kendy, alyv zvyde dezu, kvyndal fer teknu sely. Degto yl tre entvester kyleg gh: orka epyl y bodur depty-depe emete. Grojto af xedob yd, kyzem ner osonfterte ylem kho dent de det detrym gynfer bro enomuz fechtal agni laj kys defyj rokuroch bazuk suhelen...
This text roughly says that the translation doesn't exist or shouldn't be reproduced. Because no one has ever learned "ptydepe", it became a synonym for the meaningless jargon of bureaucrats, despite its original well-definedness. ;-)

Angela Merkel can't be charmed and she lacks the inner compass for ideas that Thatcher used to have. Moreover, it seems that she hasn't lived in communism: at least, she has learned nothing from that era.

See also DPA, AFP.

Mass police expect apology from Mr Obama

I am pleased that at least the Massachusetts Police are not cowards scared by the reverse racism that has overrun much of contemporary America.

Let me recall the storyline.

Prof Skip Gates returned from a shooting session in China. He was tired and stupid enough to lock himself out of his house at 17 Ware St, Cambridge. He decided to solve the situation in a way that arguably no white professor at the same university would choose. He simply asked the black yellow cab driver and they instantly shoved the door, while paying no attention whatsoever whether people on the street see this exercise. In fact, it seems that they were deliberately making more noise than what was needed: Gates behaved as a bull in a china shop who just returned from a China job.

A young woman called police. It was a very sensible thing to do - and the woman should be thanked for her active help. After all, she was apparently seeing two gangsters breaking into a house. Police arrived. Sgt Jim Crowley had to protect the law. Mr Gates got into a very peculiar situation and every sane person would realize that and acted accordingly. Mr Gates should be grateful to the police and Sgt Crowley that they cared about his property. They could have determined that it had been too dangerous to go there.

Instead, Mr Gates acted aggressively. It took some time for Sgt Crowley to find out that Mr Gates was the owner of the house. But even with this information, he had to investigate possible criminals inside the house because there existed a lot of evidence that two criminals broke into the house. At the end, Sgt Crowley knew everything about the situation he needed. But Mr Gates had already screamed so many bad things - including blackmailing (he was not a man to mess up with!) and comments about Crowley's mother (Gates will talk to her outside!) - that he had to be arrested for disorderly conduct.

The charges were later dropped for reasons that look murky to me: Alan McDonald, the cops' lawyer, is already sorry for this mistake. These subtleties depend on national traditions but I don't think that it should be legal to blackmail cops which is what Mr Gates did.

Now, as far as I can say, there doesn't exist a single piece of evidence of any imperfection in Sgt Crowley's behavior. The only person whose behavior was demonstrably both stupid and obnoxious was Mr Gates'. But such a conclusion is not sufficiently politically correct, is it?

So many dishonest people start to parrot the line that both sides had to err, and so on. Surely, any participant and any witness of any event that is inconvenient to any black professor must have erred, mustn't he? His otherwise brilliant professional credentials have to be polluted, right? The rights of a black man to shove his door, to make noise, and to blackmail cops are more important than the truth or the dignity of a professional guy, aren't they? Every inconvenient white guy can be labeled as a racist (even if he teaches how to avoid racial profiling), can't he?

But what the objective people see is something entirely different: a nervous, stupid black guy breaking into his house on one side and a perfectionist cop doing a pretty dangerous but important work according to the best recipes on the other side. That's why it's so sensible for Sgt Crowley to consider a defamation or libel suit against Mr Gates.

Now, Mr Barack Obama, an employee of an office in Washington D.C., was asked what he thought about it. He admitted he didn't know any details but because he's Mr Gates' friend, Sgt Crowley surely had to act "stupidly" when he investigated the situation - and when he charged Mr Gates with disorderly conduct at the end.

Mr Barack Obama can think whatever he wants - and he can say stupid things about issues that he doesn't understand and that he's not in charge of. But I understand the Massachusetts policemen that they want to make it clear that it is them, and not an uninformed bureaucrat somewhere in Washington D.C., who is expected to decide who should be arrested in crime-like situations in Cambridge and who should not. They want to know that the laws still apply in Massachusetts and the U.S. They want to know that they don't have to feel threatened if they protect it in the future.

It's very natural that they expect Mr Obama to apologize for his ill-conceived words, undermining the rule of law in the United States. But whether or not Mr Obama will apologize, it is very important for the Massachusetts police to appreciate Mr Obama as a biased but irrelevant external kibitzer who wanted to introduce a great dose of nepotism and reverse racism into their work - that he has no business to deal with - and to skew the law in Cambridge, MA, but who has failed to do so and who will fail in all similar attempts in the future.

In other words, it's their task to guarantee that the U.S. law will still matter, even in the extremely leftist town, and its champions won't be intimidated by someone who wants to put something completely different above the law. And if the law will require to arrest Mr Obama, they will do so, too.

And that's the memo.

Ellis et al.: Higgs self-coupling doesn't blow up

Tommaso Dorigo liked the paper by John Ellis et al.,

The probable fate of the Standard Model (hep-ph preprint).
Let's assume that the Standard Model - the renormalizable theory of known elementary particles plus one Higgs doublet - is valid up to very high energies. What can you say about the Higgs mass?

Click to zoom in.

As you know, the Higgs potential is classically a simple function, schematically
V(h) = lambda h4 - f(m)h2.
As long as the quantum corrections (i.e. "lambda") are small enough, this form is pretty good because quantum corrections are also small. Here, "f(m)" is an increasing function of the Higgs mass (and lambda). The coefficients must be such that the minima of the potential occur for "h = 247 GeV", to generate the right W,Z boson masses via the known gauge couplings.

But the overall normalization of the potential is not determined. You can kind of rescale it by "lambda". But "lambda" is not a complete constant. Quantum effects make it run logarithmically: it becomes bigger at higher energies, much like most couplings (except for asymptotically free gauge theories).

New Scientist: science is now inadequate

Olda K. has pointed out the following article in Nude Socialist to me,

George Marshall: Comment: Why people don't act on climate change.
The author, a boss of a climate pressure group "COIN" in Oxford, is conducting an "informal research project". It means that he's asking various people the annoying question how they could dare to fly to long-haul destinations.

Of course, needless to say, all the people whom he has interviewed and who flew to unnecessarily distant airports - for skiing trips, holidays in Sri Lanka, or scuba diving in the Pacific - were Greenpeace or British Antarctic Survey officials, leading climate policy experts, and similar green material.

So this not-so-gentle man asks why people don't "act" on climate change. And indeed, the obvious answer - that such an "action" would mean an economic suicide with no detectable positive effects - must remain a taboo. If he's not allowed to consider the possibility that his belief system is wrong, what other culprits can he find?

You shouldn't be surprised by the result. Media distortions and scientific illiteracy turn out to be innocent. The true villain is nothing else than science itself.
I do not accept that this continuing rejection of the science is a reflection of media distortion or scientific illiteracy. Rather, I see it as proof of our society's failure to construct a shared belief in climate change.
Marshall admits that even Ms Pope who is the holy mother of the Hadley Center for Climate Change thinks that climate science should build on scientific evidence. But Mr Marshall "could not disagree more". What matters is "shared belief".

Mr Marshall continues by discussing the possible methods how to construct such a "shared belief" that doesn't exist so far: only 10% of the people count "climate change" as a major problem. His conclusion is that the bulk of the society agrees with the skeptics not because they're right but because the "maverick" skeptics are better in trustworthiness, honesty, confidence, charm, humour and outspokenness.

Well, again, Mr Marshall has missed the obvious explanation, namely that the "ordinary" people are actually able to compare the impacts of a few tenths of a degree of possible warming on one side and the unavailability of energy on the other side.

By the way, I disagree with the "maverick" label for most of the climate realists. We're defending the status quo, the pillars of the scientific and industrial civilization that have been in place for centuries. It's the climate activists like him who are unhinged mavericks and hippies. Today, there are many of them but that can't change the fact that they're still hippies.

Instead of investigating whether his beliefs are actually correct or wrong, he wants to bring artists and writers to science because science has failed, he thinks. "Collective imagination" should replace it because:
It is clear that the cautious language of science is now inadequate to inspire concerted change, even among scientists. We need a fundamentally different approach. Only then will scientists be in a position to throw down the ultimate challenge to the public: "We've done the work, we believe the results, now when the hell will you wake up?"
Well, religious bigots have always needed a fundamentally different approach than science to achieve their goals, and Mr Marshall is surely not the first example in the human history. In fact, science is literally threatening to the core values that people like Mr Marshall worship, such as blind beliefs, unlimited fear, irrationality, and brainwashing of whole nations. Science has always been their enemy, whether they were potent in inspiring a new large religious awakening or as impotent as Mr Marshall.

I am also amused by Marshall's comment that "they" have done the work. Google Scholar shows that Mr Marshall has only written two papers. Each of them has earned 3 citations and they're called:
The psychology of denial

Sleepwalking into disaster; are we in a state of denial about climate change. :-)
Well, it doesn't look like Mr Marshall has done any work in his life. Instead, as Prof Richard Lindzen has explained (go e.g. to 21:00 and especially 33:45), Mr Marshall is a typical example of the mentally ungifted people who find the "shared belief" in catastrophic global warming to be a good tool to imagine themselves as something that they are surely not - namely thinkers - and to place themselves above others even though they are actually below them, from any objective viewpoint.

I just wonder how it's possible that a journal with the word "scientist" in its official title, and Nude Socialist is surely one of them, can be printing this garbage written by similar people who have nothing sensible to say.

And that's the memo.

News from Benny Peiser

India attacks Western climate alarmism: Indian scientists should investigate, instead of believing Western media fairy-tales about the Himalayan glaciers...

John Kerry thought that he was Mao-Zedong, able to control China and suppress its economy. He's disappointed to find out it's not the case...

Indian pundits: say no at Copenhagen: for understandable reasons...

A conference in India about the climate and the third world...

NYT blogs: Nicholas Wade warns against groupthink in science; group differences are mentioned as a taboo that still lives...

Oversupply of carbon indulgences in Europe: the market is gonna collapse again...

Green campaigners start to realize that industries only jumped on the CO2-busting bandwagon because they will actually steal billions from the system, having excessive indulgences. Industry has better applied mathematicians than the climate campaigners... ;-)

U.K.: Wind energy means expensive energy...

Also, a crackpot paper by Nordell and Gervet managed to penetrate through the peer-review process. These nuts haven't realized that the inflow of solar energy exceeds the direct human production of heat by four orders of magnitude...

Thursday, July 23, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Swine flu toll above 1000

The sum of the national figures counting the laboratory-confirmed swine flu deaths has surpassed 1,000. It means that the "consensus" of our poll from April 2009 has already been proved wrong.

As of today, 59% (454) people thought that the toll before the end of 2009 would be below 1,000. Additional 22% (167) thought it would be below 10,000, additional 4% (34) thought it would be below 100,000, additional 3% (23) thought it wold be below 1,000,000, extra 2% (17) thought it would be below 10,000,000, while a whopping 10% (81) thought that the toll would exceed 10 million.

Please feel free to vote again and/or edit your vote. My vote in April was 1,000-9,999 so it's "alive".

Michal Tučný's classic country-music song, "Everyone is already in Mexico", was recently modified to explain that swine flu is in Mexico, and one shouldn't be drunk all the time, which reduces his immunity. :-) The music above is the original song.

I think that the disease has already gone mainstream. Britain has 100,000 cases so all ideas about quarantines and demonization of all hypothetically infected must be forgotten. ;-) But I also think that it has been showed that this virus doesn't differ "profoundly" from other "seasonal" types of flu that (so far) kill many more people per year (36,000 just in the U.S.) and that the special care given to swine flu may be called a hype.

Pacific shift behind 70% of recent warming

In this weekly dose of peer-reviewed denialist literature on the climate, we look into Journal of Geophysical Research. J.D. McLean, C.R. de Freitas, and R.M. Carter, in their

Influence of the Southern Oscillation on tropospheric temperature (abstract),
have compared the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) and global tropospheric temperature anomalies (GTTA).

By looking at the derivatives of both functions, they argue that the Pacific events are responsible for roughly 70% of the tropospheric temperature changes in the last 30-50 years, a dominant contribution. When we consider the tropical troposphere only, the percentage increases to 81%.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Ralph Alexander: Global warming false alarm

(*****) Warm and revealing book about the great distortion of climate science

You might think that there are already many books about climate change on the market. But Ralph Alexander's book is special and unusually appropriate for both beginners and experts in the field because of its balanced attitude to the problem.

That doesn't mean that Dr Alexander ends up with a "mixed" answer to the basic question. Just like a majority of books on the subject, Dr Alexander makes the readers understand that the global warming alarm is almost completely an artifact of manipulation with the human psychology and with the data. But unlike the case of many other books, you will see that Dr Alexander is actually a mainstream scientist (and an applied scientist in the environmental sector) who cares about the good name and functioning of science. Years ago, he was inclined to believe the "general wisdom" about the problem. His diametrically opposite conclusions are a result of his long research of the problem. And his pride of a scientist has been hurt. Climatology has become an ugly example of a scientific discipline that has largely ceased to be scientific.

Dr Alexander determines that the "ring" and the international character of the IPCC, the climate panel of the United Nations, are the main drivers of the hysteria so the IPCC, its process, and its reports are the main players investigated by this text. He analyzes the history and structure of the IPCC and finds out that this panel is just a particular and heavily funded group of loud partisans and activists that is meant to defend a predetermined conclusion and that doesn't reflect the scientific opinion of the world's scientific community, at least its financially and otherwise unbiased part, and certainly not the available body of data. Lots of numbers about the percentages of the scientist who agree and disagree with various statements are included.

Pachauri against CO2 targets, tariffs

Associated Press and others have reported that Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC boss, supports India's position that this world's fourth largest CO2 producer should adopt no targets. He also disagreed with the CO2 tariffs that were being planned in the U.S. to launch new protectionist wars.

This coherent attitude of India and other poor countries means that the CO2 targets become virtually impossible. Of course, Pachauri is a hardcore left-wing activist and Indian nationalist and there are many people who would be ready to claim that the CO2 produced in India is innocent while the CO2 produced in the rich world is deadly - because wealth redistribution has been one of the main hidden goals behind the CO2 agenda, anyway. But I guess that these nutcases don't have a majority in the U.S. Senate and other key bodies yet. ;-)

After all, if the carbon restrictions only applied to the rich countries, the result would simply be that the carbon-intensive industries would be moved to the countries that are not restricted, keeping the world's total CO2 production pretty much unchanged. This point seems so obvious that the U.S. Senators who would approve such an unbalanced agreement could be easily tried for treason. More modestly, they would be finished in politics.

The politicians at the European level could support even such a crazy arrangement because they're not accountable for their acts.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Globe's warmest days in a decade

The record cold temperatures are often covered on this blog. But I have no bias so you can learn about the record hot temperatures, too.

According to the satellite methodology

UAH AMSU-A temperatures (Java graph generator),
July 12th, 2009 was already the globe's near-surface record-breaking warmest day at least since 1998. This particular algorithm ended up with a "very hot" result, -13.73 °C, which was warmer than the previous record, -13.78 °C, on July 2nd, 2007, followed by July 21th-July 24th, 2005 when the temperature was stuck at -13.79 °C. There were many periods during the last decade when the temperature was close to -13.9 °C.

Policy Peril: The Truth About Global Warming

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you have 40 spare minutes, it's time for another professional video about the climate change policies and their impact on the U.S. and others.

Marlo Lewis is the host in this new CEI program, Patrick Michaels is the most frequently features scientist, Roy Spencer and others also appear, and Al Gore's statements are those that are being compared with the scientific literature most often.

The Lieberman-Warner bill in 2008 was found to be economically equivalent to 600 additional hurricanes landing in the U.S. by 2030. Required reductions of fuel efficiency lead to less safe downsized cars which kill tens of thousands of people a year.

Via CEI On Demand and Viddler.

Skip Gates: Disorderly conduct

Imagine that you're a good cop - or one whose name is Sgt James Crowley - and Lucia Whalen (40), a Harvard employee, quickly calls you with her cell phone to see the individual from the picture, breaking into an apartment (with the help of a black yellow cab driver) and making terrible noise. What will you do? Well, I think that it will be roughly described by this

police report.
Unfortunately, the loud Gentleman will also refuse to show his ID. He will also threaten you by emphasizing that he is not a guy to be messed up with. Will you be scared? Well, I think you shouldn't.

As the screaming continues, the street is shocked, and you continue to perform the tasks that you are expected to perform as a cop, you are told that you will be labeled racist. Will you escape as a coward?

Monday, July 20, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Apollo 11 on the Moon: 40 years

A physics blog like this one can't forget about the special moment 40 years ago when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon.

You shouldn't be surprised that we're remembering this story of our fellow global warming denier, Buzz Aldrin.

And you shouldn't be shocked that a Czech blog like mine chose the same music background as Aldrin's colleague and ex-boss, Neil Armstrong, who cleverly took Antonín Dvořák's "New World Symphony" with him to the new world. ;-)

So this was the music that accompanied this unusually modest astronaut during his small steps for a man that were big for the mankind. When we discuss the Czech music in outer space, let's recall that Jaromír Vejvoda's Beer Barrel Polka was played in Discovery the space shuttle in 1995.

Which global mean temperature is relevant?

Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts have promoted a paper about East African temperatures by John Christy et al. in Journal of Climate. I would bet it's a very careful paper but I can't really say because I haven't studied it in detail. Here is the full paper:

Surface temperature variations in East Africa and possible causes (PDF)
After having digitized the old data and after a few subtle statistical manipulations, one of their conclusions is that the airport in Nairobi, Kenya gives the dominant warming signal in the most well-known surface temperature datasets. This confirms the familiar warming influence of tarmac and other urban achievements.

Kenya's main airport...

We're often amused by the fact that the surface temperature records are "contaminated" by various effects of urbanization because it seemingly makes them irrelevant. On the other hand, should we be joking about them? Shouldn't these things legitimately influence the beast called global mean temperature?

Well, it depends on your definition of the "global mean temperature". Teams behind products such as UAH, RSS, HadCRUT3, and GISS have measured very different rates of the change of the global mean temperature. For example, UAH sees the trend of 0.4 °C per century since 1979 in the mid troposphere and 1.2 °C in the low troposphere while the GISS figure is much higher. Is the whole difference due to an "error" of some of them - or all of them?

Saturday, July 18, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Top quarks and W bosons: MSSM is 13 times more likely than SM

Breaking news: LHC restart unfortunately moved to mid November
Tommaso Dorigo wrote another article in which he is trying to gradually turn his coat - from a supersymmetry hater to one of us, a champion of supersymmetry.

That's what everyone who cares about experiments is sometimes forced to do - except for the people who are always right, before the experiments are made. ;-) He talks about the ill-defined mass poles of the top quark and other technicalities. But the following chart - that we have already discussed in the past - is very comprehensible and very catchy:

The plane is parameterized by "x", the top quark mass, and "y", the W boson mass, both in GeV.

The red region is the Standard Model (SM). The colors are taken from the traffic lights and red means "experimentally verifiable particle phenomenology stops in the 1970s". On the other hand, the green region is the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM). The green color means "phenomenology will go on".

I neglected the thin region in the middle where they overlap.

The blue ellipse indicates the 68% confidence level region where the experimentally measured values of the top quark mass and the W boson mass probably lie. The carefully redefined (and lowered) top quark mass is centered around 168.5 GeV and the ellipse goes approximately 5.5 GeV in both directions. The W mass is centered around 80.4 GeV and the ellipse goes 0.04 GeV up and the same distance down: the W mass is much more accurately measured, of course. I neglected the slope of the ellipse if there was any: the ellipse looks like it's stretched exactly in the "x" direction.

Fine, how did I determine that the MSSM is 13 times more likely than the SM, using a simple Mathematica notebook? You see that the blue ellipse is fully located in the green, supersymmetric region. But what about the factor of 13?
Mathematica notebook, PDF preview
I parameterized the ellipses and those nearly straight lines for the SM and MSSM regions. Then I created a random generator following a normal distribution, rescaled in such a way that in approximately 68% of the cases, you remain inside the ellipse described above (that is approximated by a non-slanted one).

This random generator of points in the plane gave me about 96.5% of the points in the MSSM regions and 3.5% in the SM region. You may imagine that this generator simulates the possibilities (and their frequencies) that much more accurate experimenters will measure in the future, given the fuzzy knowledge we have today. Less than 0.1% were outside both strips, if you care. The green/red ratio between these two frequences is approximately 28: the MSSM wins.

But the prior probability density for the MSSM has to be lowered because the MSSM strip is about 2.2 times thicker, as measured around the 169 GeV top quark mass. In this sense, the MSSM is 2.2 times less predictive, the prior probability density has to be reduced relatively to the SM in order for the "total" prior probabilities of the SM and MSSM to be equal (a fair match!), and the ratio of probabilities for the MSSM and SM is therefore 28/2.2 which is close to 13.

Of course, this doesn't guarantee anything: 13 is not equal to infinity and unlike frequentist probabilities, Bayesian probabilities have no invariant scientific meaning because we're estimating the probability of an event that will only occur once. But it may give us a feeling how strongly the experiments are already trying to change our mind.

Thursday, July 16, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Archives: against

Independent geniuses such as Tony Smith, Jack Sarfatti, and many others who have penetrated much deeper to the "mainstream" have complained about the "censorship" - normally known as "quality control" and "peer review" - in the printed journals as well as Paul Ginsparg's

Even seemingly conventional physicists such as Tommaso Dorigo have complained about the very existence of quality control.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Bill Gates introduces Richard Feynman

Microsoft Research has just released its

Project Tuva (click).
What is the project? It brings you all seven Messenger Lectures that Richard Feynman gave at Cornell in 1964. Firefox or Internet Explorer are needed. Silverlight (Microsoft Flash Replacement) will install automatically if you don't have it yet: the evaluations of this system seem excellent so far.

The video player includes the complete lectures as subtitles and allows you to make notes, too. Relevant extra pictures, texts, and links appear on the right side and additional notes will be added in a few months.

In the introduction, Bill Gates says that he considers these lectures to be best ever. He has hoped to bring them to the public for 20 years. Now, two decades and 40 billion U.S. dollars later, he has realized his dream. :-)

The seven parts discuss
  1. Law of gravitation: an example of a physical law
    (includes a funny provost's introduction)
  2. The relation of mathematics and physics
  3. The great conservation principles
    (a clever mother, unlike most, counts the blocks)
  4. Symmetry in physical law
    (includes special relativity)
  5. The distinction of past and future
  6. Probability and uncertainty: the quantum mechanical view of Nature
  7. Seeking new laws
For example, the fifth part nicely repeats everything you have heard about the arrow of time and statistical physics from your humble correspondent and thoroughly debunks all misconceptions that you have heard about the same question from Sean Carroll. Three of the lectures have already been presented on this blog: the first, the second, and the fifth.

Borders of the kingdom of science

Sean Carroll wrote an essay about the range of validity of science and the principles that determine how its insights about the "truth" can be extended to new situations. And your humble correspondent actually agrees with all of his main ideas.

Well, more precisely, I no longer think that it is fair to pick religion and religious people as the only "target" in describing some common misconceptions about the "power of science". During the last decade, I learned that who doesn't believe in God is likely to believe in everything else. So he can end - and he often ends - with much more ludicrous ideas than many Christians do. Atheism often becomes a tool to promote more irrational ideas than Christianity.

But if we only talk about religion and science, and if we ignore possible misinterpretations and abuses of Sean's essay, I think he's right. You surely expect me to write a much better text than he did. So here it is. ;-)

LHC fixed: stress tests underway

CERN has completed repairs of the Large Hadron Collider. In June, they have been testing the data network. 4 GB of data - a whole big USB flash card - were transmitted to 140 locations in 33 countries every second. That's three times more than the LHC will generate while running. See Google News.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Obama's science czar's plans for mass genocide

The man in charge of the U.S. science policy is John Holdren. I knew that they wrote a lot of nonsensical predictions e.g. about hundreds of millions of Americans dying of hunger before 2000 with another megacrackpot, Paul Ehrlich.

But what I didn't know - and what Marc Morano had to tell us - was that they have also had very explicit plans to deal with the world's soaring population, a system of policies that would bring holocaust to a brand new, larger, universal, mainstream level. In the book "Ecoscience" co-authored by Holdren and two Ehrlichs, eugenics is subtly combined with some far-left ideas. They proposed that

  • Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
  • The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food;
  • Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
  • People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" - in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
  • A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives - using an armed international police force.
See e.g. this page (Google cache) for specific quotations - and scanned pages of their book as a proof. See also Google News.
Related: listen to a Howie Carr radio interview with Prof Richard Lindzen (MIT). He nicely says that it's inaccurate to call him a skeptic because he's not really skeptical. Instead, there's overwhelming evidence that the dangerous global warming hypothesis can't survive a scrutiny. So there's no real "agnosticism" here and he's really a denier, and so am I.

There's a good mood in the studio when they analyze why people believe this stuff and why the effects are negligible. But I recommend you to skip the first two minutes - a kind of chaos before Lindzen sits down. Lindzen says that the climate is usually changing without visible reasons: I completely agree with it. Also, educated people (especially Nobel prize winners) are easier to be fooled by this nonsense because they care what others say about them.

Hat tip: Orson Olson
Instead of giving these guys a life in prison, one of them was made the main science advisor to the White House and encouraged to continue in his "deep reasoning", with the population crisis remarketed as global warming (another analogous, completely non-existent problem), but used as a justification of similar global policies in the same way as previously. As recently as yesterday, Al Gore dreamed about the global governance that a climate bill could help to bring.

God bless America.

I think that these prospective mass killers should be eliminated from the surface of the Earth before it's too late. A legal way to terminate their lives - at least in the streets and public offices - should be found before they make it legal to terminate ours. As far as I remember, I have met Holdren during a dinner in the Society of Fellows. A fellow Fellow has introduced him as a person I could have had fun with! ;-)

Canadian bastards reintroduce visas for the Czechs

I have been invited to various places in Canada several times but I have always refused the offer because in the costs-and-benefits analysis of mine, the hassle that one has to undergo to get the Canadian visas was just way too much and Canada is simply not irresistible enough for a bureaucracy-hating chap to suffer through such a humiliating, multi-day torture.

In 2007, the visa duty was abolished again. But today, Canada has imposed the visa requirements on us once again, putting us next to Mexico which was affected by the same decision. The paperwork is even more difficult than ever before because the Czechs will have to travel to Austria to get the visas (the Czechs have already overwhelmed the office in Vienna by telephone calls). The annual total of 30,000 Czech tourists in Canada is likely to drop again, and even those seemingly negligible USD 60 visa fees will play a role.

Gypsy emigration

Gypsies have been moving from one place to another place for centuries. Their nomadic blood dictates them to do so. At the beginning of the 21st century, many of them live in Central and Eastern Europe. According to some official counts based on people's own chosen ethnicity, the Czech Republic currently hosts about 10,000 gypsies. The real number is around 200,000 or 300,000.

A few TV programs on Czech TV stations that were aired after the Velvet Revolution and that showed happy gypsies in Canada - who don't have to work too much but who have everything they want (it's partly true because of the Canadian welfare system) - has created a special atmosphere in the community of the Czech gypsies. Many of them just decided to move on. Canada has become their new dreamland.

Karel Gott: 70th birthday

Exactly 220 years ago, on July 14th, 1789, the Bastille was stormed and the demolition of one of the most cultural European kingdoms began.

Despite some of the great values promoted by the French Revolution, we may have mixed feelings. Outside France, we are allowed to ask whether this event - that escalated and ultimately ended with France as one of the most socialist countries on the European continent - was such a good idea.

However, for our friends in France, I have only prepared one word: congratulations! ;-)

Gott's playlist.
Press the "tape" in the player to pick individual videos in the playlist. A description of this playlist is added at the bottom of this text.
Exactly 150 years later i.e. 70 years ago, on July 14th, 1939, the Golden Voice of Prague was born in my hometown of Pilsen, Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia in the Greater Nazi Germany (but his conception took place in the same town of mine in the First Czechoslovak Republic, a few weeks before the Munich Betrayal). Karel Gott would later become one of the main symbols of the modern Czechoslovak culture and one of the main pillars of the totalitarian entertainment. ;-)

Saturday, July 11, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CERN: Weinberg on asymptotic safety

On Tuesday, Steven Weinberg gave a colloquium at CERN:

Firefox users, go to Help / Check for updates - and update to Firefox 3.5 if the plugin above doesn't work.

He reviewed the history of quantum field theory, his role in it, the interpretation of current algebras and the S-matrix program, the evolution of the price of quantum field theory on the stock market, and the history of the question whether quantum field theories are fundamental or just approximate, effective theories.

Friday, July 10, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Darwin vs Susskind

Evolution vs eternal inflation

Leonard Susskind wrote a provoking article for Physics World:

Darwin's Legacy (shift-click to open).
It promotes the analogy between Darwin's evolution in biology and eternal inflation based on the anthropic (non-)selection in fundamental physics. Let me assume that the readers agree with me and Susskind that Charles Darwin was a great scientist and his (and Wallace's) paradigm explaining life is a true and fundamental insight of biology and one of the most important insights of science.

The basic idea behind Susskind's analogy is simple: God is dead, the whole world is a gigantic, inelegant mess, and some structures - such as worms, DNA sequences, and Calabi-Yau manifolds with fluxes - win because they're more viable than others (able to produce a large enough number of self-conscious or intelligent individuals). We're supposed to believe that the world is much bigger than we have previously thought; that's not shocking because such a transformation of the scientific image of the world has occurred many times in the past. We know that the Universe is much bigger than the world that our ancestors thought to be inhabiting.

Eurosocialist healthcare system in the U.S.

Here is a simplified scheme of the new proposal of the Democrat Party:

Please accept apologies if the simplified scheme eats 100% of your CPU capacity: it is a very small sacrifice for the rosy Democrat future of America. ;-)

A slightly more complete map of the Democrat health plan was explained by the G.O.P. (PDF, click).

America, welcome to the EU. :-)

Nikola Tesla: a birthday

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10th, 1856. He died in 1943. Tesla was one of the most famous electrical engineers in the history.

The alternating current motors were his most important contribution to the Industrial Revolution. But the U.S. supreme court has also declared him in 1943 as the inventor of the radio and Tesla has contributed to robotics, radars, wireless transmission of information, computer science, and - speculatively - theoretical physics.

Back in March 2009, I and my host recorded a program about him for a Czech public radio. Of course, his alleged supernatural abilities were the main topic. The viewers of the Czech television know him from a program called "The Detector" where he was once described as one of the possible originators of the 1908 Tunguska event, besides the extraterrestrial aliens. ;-)

By the way, the pressure from (scientific) skeptic groups led to the abolishing of the program and there are continuing discussions whether such censorship of inspiring nonsense on TV actually helps science or anyone else.

Individual claims about his amazing, science-fiction inventions would require an individual treatment. Some of them may have resembled an artificial ball lightnings, some of them could have been pure fairy-tales, some of them have been scenarios that are still remaining dreams, e.g. ion-propelled aircrafts.

We often think of Tesla as a very applied scientist, an engineer. However, a comment by Lord Kelvin to be mentioned below reveals that Tesla has also been respectable as a theorist. Even more obviously, he was obsessed with theory, too. At least as an amateur, he followed relativity and related developments. By the way, Tesla thought that relativity was first discovered by a Yugoslav - not by Mileva Marić but by Ruđer Bošković in the 18th century! ;-)

Thursday, July 09, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CERN: an interview with Edward Witten

... about his supersymmetric wishes under the pillow, the Higgs, hungry higher-dimensional black holes, and other topics.

Press the triangle to play. Double-click the video for the full screen mode.

G8, err, G7 ban ice ages and order a global economic collapse

The leaders of several G8 countries suffer from a psychiatric disorder. They have commanded the Earth and the waters to keep their temperature within two degrees. Moreover, the CO2 output of most countries should drop by 80 percent or more - by a factor of five or more - by 2050. Yes, it is hysterical.

Well, this is actually not an agreement of G8, at most by G7 because the newest eighth member, Russia, finds this talk unacceptable and will reject it.

The rest of the BRIC group, i.e. Brazil, China, India, only views the climate talks as a method to get some additional money from the richer countries (redistribution is what the left-wing activists actually expect from such policies, anyway!) and to get to their level faster - either by getting richer or by making others poorer. They won't agree with any genuine reductions on their territories, either.

What does the "plan" actually mean?

First of all, the two points of the plan are pretty much unrelated. What will happen with the emissions is pretty much uncorrelated with the temperature change in any time frame that we can talk about. The correlation is small because a substantial part of the global mean temperature change - and probably a very large majority - has always been determined by natural sources and it is likely to remain so. So let us talk about the two issues separately.

The temperature change is almost certainly going to be less than 2 degrees Celsius in one of the two directions during the following 40 years. The typical change of the global mean temperature in 40 years has always been something like 0.3 °C. So far, it doesn't look like the mankind has changed anything about it. So getting to 2 °C is nearly a 10-sigma effect, a statistically impossible thing.

The global mean temperature naturally dropped by 1.3 °C or so between 1000 and 1600. The reconstructions are by Moberg (alarmist, up) and Loehle (skeptic, down) but you can see that there's no substantial difference here.

On the other hand, the global mean temperature certainly does change by 2 °C during longer periods of time. The Earth has seen 2 °C natural temperature changes in 500-year intervals many times. See the graphs above to understand that even in the last millenium, we were not far from such changes. But such changes become mundane if you look at longer intervals. The ice ages that alternate with interglacials after many (or dozens of) thousands of years change the temperature by 10 °C or so, sometimes squeezed into a 10-degree cooling in 3000 years (e.g. 130,000 years ago). Have those folks heard about them in the elementary school or did they skip the classes?

I suppose that for many teenagers, it has been always a better option to drink, smoke, and take drugs outside the school and be sure that you can still become a president of a country even if you are an uneducated ... person. And it turns out that they were right. Unfortunately, the list of fundamentally uneducated politicians includes people like Silvio Berlusconi, too. The political representations of many countries are flooded with people who lack basic science education.

Now, the reductions.

The global 80-percent reduction of CO2 by 2050 may contribute by 0.05-0.30 °C of cooling before 2050 (our man-made warming with the current CO2 emission rates adds between 0.25 °C and 1.5 °C per century and we're talking about 20 years worth of erased CO2 emissions here) - depending on the feedbacks that reduce or amplify the bare greenhouse effect.

And this change will be clearly indistinguishable from other effects and noise (the achieved cooling is smaller than the effect of one El Nino or one volcano eruption), certainly for those people who don't have very accurate thermometers or who can't perform very accurate calculations, involving the averaging over time and over the whole Earth. So it makes basically no impact on the climate. Does it impact the economy? You bet.

Whether or not such a goal is achievable depends on the future technological breakthroughs.

If the people manage to invent a new technology or efficiently switch all of their industries to electricity produced by nuclear power plants or something like that, the goal is attainable and it may even become a formality. If they won't, and no one can be really sure whether such a massive replacement of fossil fuels will occur (it hasn't really occurred for 250 years so far!), the goal will be approximately equivalent to an 80-percent reduction of the GDP. The real problem is not that the plan is "certainly" impossible but it is that someone is promising something that he cannot possibly know whether it is possible.

Because one may get something like a 1-percent increase of the carbon efficiency (GDP divided by CO2 emissions) a year by "non-radical" technological improvements, these improvements may accumulate to the reduction of the CO2 output by a factor of 1.01^41 = 1.5 by 2050. So the situation is not quite as bad: the desired reduction of CO2 by a factor of 5 may be equivalent to the GDP reduction by a factor of 5/1.5 = 3 or so.

The world's architecture in 2050 according to the newest G8 plan. Click the Harper to get to the source.

Nevertheless, a net GDP that drops to 1/3 of the present value is still pretty terrifying - especially if you realize that because the population may jump by a factor of 1.5, we're back to the five-fold reduction of the GDP per capita. It could make the world look like a world that was just decimated by a pretty large global war, one that may dwarf the World War II: see the picture above for an idea. Instead, most of us used to imagine that the people in 2050 would be richer. Recall that we're still talking about sacrifices motivated by a desired statistical cooling by 0.05-0.30 °C (relatively to the business-as-usual scenario) which some people consider a good thing for reasons that are not clear to anyone outside the AGW sect.

By the way, the fact that Russia as a member of G8 won't join this madness is not just a "perturbation" in the calculation of the CO2 budget in 2050. Instead, Russia plans to increase the CO2 output - a measure of its strength - by 30 percent by 2020. That's a 3-percent increase per year which, if extrapolated, gives you the increase by a factor of 1.03^41 = 3.35 by 2050. And if the industries will have to be moving from countries plagued by mad, CO2-hating policies (and politicians) to Russia (or elsewhere), be sure that Russia can see much more than a 3-percent increase a year. With such brutally different pro-growth vs anti-growth policies, be sure that all negative things that you (or "we") often associate with the Russian nation would become economically inconsequential in comparison.

Because the other G8 i.e. G7 members plan to lower their CO2 output by 80 percent by 2050, it is not hard to see that if the plans of all G8 members are realized, Russia's CO2 output in 2050 will exceed the rest of the G8 countries combined. Are we supposed to believe that the voters in the West will be happily watching how their previously prosperous countries are decimated and fully superseded by someone else? Or is it more likely that they will declare their politicians to be legitimate targets of daily assassinations and stop this lunacy within days or weeks? I surely guess that the latter would be more likely. In fact, the worst radicals are already becoming legitimate targets of assassinations today because the stakes are just getting too high.

These calculations of the future are silly childish games so someone must be making unreasonable assumptions about the future 41 years. I bet it is not Medvedev's aides in Russia.

What this agreement, if ever fully accepted, would actually mean will depend on the detailed implementation. If the only plan remains a "carbon-free dream" for 2050, nothing will happen until 2045 and the politicians in 2045 (or earlier) suddenly realize that the 2009 plan made no sense and throw it into the garbage bin where it will have effectively been, anyway. However, if someone will try to divide the 40-year plan into annual plans or the traditional communist 5-year plans, such plans can bring a destruction of the national economies that we can actually experience soon. Recessions would become the new standard.

Klaus vetoes scrappage fee etc.

Czech President Václav Klaus has vetoed the socialist-sponsored bill that was marketed as an anti-crisis package. The most visible part of the bill was a USD 1,500 scrappage fee, a government subsidy meant to speed up the new car sales (that is already at work in several EU countries). The bill also wanted to extend the period when the people can be supported in unemployment.

Klaus has explained that the proposed policy was non-systemic, discriminatory, and plagued by legislative errors. The regulation would add another layer of garbage to our legal system that is already contaminated by lots of weeds. The bill guaranteed no positive effects for the Czech economy - because people can buy foreign cars, too, a fact that Germany has already experienced in practice.

Concerning the discrimination, Klaus said that the lobbyists who work for a few car companies would be getting an undeserved advantage over many other sectors of the economy that don't have such powerful (or any) lobbyists. Legislative errors include a doubled, redundant policy about a faster amortization: an identical regulation has already become the law a week ago. Detailed policies describing what's needed for some subsidies have not yet been written.

The bill would also add a few billions of dollars to the budget deficit - which is expected to be at relatively modest 8 billion U.S. dollars - which is still way above the previous "balanced" years.

In this particular case, it is widely expected that the Parliament with its 200 deputies has almost no chance to collect the 101 votes needed to overrule the veto: only 82 of mostly left-wing deputies supported the bill and it only passed because the center-right deputies left the room, as a result of an agreement.

According to the website of the Czech public TV, 77.5 percent of the readers "definitely" agree with Klaus's veto and additional 3.5 percent "softly" agree with him. That brings the total support of Klaus to 81 percent. But yes, this number may be skewed by the fact that illiterate and uneducated voters are less likely to be able to open internet pages and more likely to support the social democratic party and its irresponsible games.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

No Obamamania in Russia

This most pro-Obama school in Moscow has only seen a polite reception and one lukewarm applause at the end.

The New York Times wrote about the low-key reception of Barack Obama and his wife in Russia, a topic that I find very interesting. As Times Union wrote, politics-weary Russia was underwhelmed. Kirill Zagorodnov (25), a graduate of a school where Obama gave a talk, summarized it in this way:

We don’t really understand why Obama is such a star. It’s a question of trust, how he behaves, how he positions himself, that typical charisma, which in Russia is often parodied. Russians really are not accustomed to it. It is like he is trying to manipulate the public.
The newspapers didn't care much where the couple was going. Most people were saying that the main thing they brought to Moscow were traffic jams. He's just another Big Cheese, after all. See also Reuters I, Reuters II, and the Washington Post for similar stories. TPPR offers a possibly deeper speculations on the internal Russian reasons behind the dynamics.

Physical reality of string theory demonstrated?

Laurent S. has kindly brought my attention (through Facebook!) to a Leiden University press release and related news in the media:

Leiden University press release
Science Daily, e! Science News
Hep-th / Cond-mat arXiv preprint
Their paper was accepted into Science rather quickly, an achievement that is probably exciting for condensed-matter physicists much like it is largely an irrelevant curiosity for high-energy physicists.

The main hero of this story is Jan Zaanen, a relatively senior Dutch condensed matter physicist whom we know from String Theory: a Middle Way. Co-authors are Mihailo Čubrović and Koenraad Schalm who has also co-authored other papers with people like Brian Greene, Gary Shiu, or Jan de Boer.

So if you want to divide the physicists into two simple groups, namely the serious ones and the media-driven freeloaders, they're unquestionably in the group of serious physicists! ;-)

Still, the press release is manifestly affected by some journalistic considerations. What do I mean? Well, first of all, it is not true that the papers described in press releases are necessarily the most important papers in the world - and you shouldn't allow other people's self-promotion or biased journalists to think otherwise. Second of all, their work is placed into the context of "string wars". It was a social phenomenon in which the media have blown up the importance of two narrow-minded haters of theoretical physics (and their asslickers) out of any reasonable proportion.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

UAH: June 2009: anomaly near zero

Global mean temperature according to UAH MSU for the first 8.5 years i.e. 102 months of this century. Linear regression gives a cooling trend by a hefty -1.45 °C per century in this interval. So if someone tells you that the trend is "of course" positive as long as we omit the year 1998, you may be very certain that he or she is not telling you the truth.
UAH MSU has officially released their June 2009 data. This time, they're faster than RSS MSU. The anomaly was +0.01 °C, meaning that the global temperature was essentially equal to the average June temperature since 1979. June 2009 actually belonged to the cooler half of the Junes since 1979.

Global warming is supposed to exist and to be bad. Sometimes, we hear that global warming causes cooling. In this case, global warming causes global averageness. In all three cases, it is bad news. The three main enemies of environmentalism are warm weather, cool weather, and average weather.

It is not a coincidence that these enemies are very similar to the four main enemies of communism. The four main enemies that were spoiling the success of communism were Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. :-) See Anthony Watts' blog for additional discussion.

Bonus: trends over different intervals

You may have been intrigued by my comment that the centennial cooling trend during the last 8.5 years is -1.45 °C. What is the result if you choose the last "N" months and perform the linear regression?

You may see that the cooling trends are dominating for most intervals shorter than 110 months; the trend in the last 50 months is around -6 °C per century. The local minimum near "N=140 months" ago appears because of the 1998 El Nino of the century that makes the 1998-2009 trend cooling, too. Only when the period gets longer than 150 months i.e. 12.5 years (but less than 31 years), the trend becomes uniformly positive (as far as we can say), around 1.2 °C per century for the intervals whose length is close to 30 years.

Polar bear experts face extinction

Gordon has pointed out the following troublesome story.

Polar bear expert barred from meeting over climate views
Mitch Taylor, a polar bear expert, retired last year but he is still doing research.

The Polar Bear Specialist Group didn't invite Taylor to their conference. More disturbingly, they explicitly said that the reason had nothing to do with the quality of Taylor's science. Derocher, a boss of the AGW-contaminated polar bear specialists, wrote an explanation to Taylor:
I do believe, as do many [Polar Bear Specialist Group] members, that for the sake of polar bear conservation, views that run counter to human-induced climate change are extremely unhelpful. ... I, too, was not surprised by the members not endorsing an invitation. Nothing I heard had to do with your science on harvesting or your research on polar bears.
Wow. The group is overrun by dishonest demagogues who use 20th century totalitarian methods combined with a politically correct jargon to achieve the ideological "purity" (meaning "complete dirtiness"). In my files that are getting ready for the collapse of this gigantic scam, I am adding Andrew Derocher one year in prison. What a screwed jerk.

Has it become normal in polar bear science - or broader science - to filter participants of conferences according to ideological and political criteria and to be open about it? Have you heard what had to be done with the previous groups who were doing similar things?

Also, I find it very arrogant to call Taylor's views "dissenting". It is the AGW Chickens Little who are dissenting - and who are rejecting the very basics of democracy, freedom, modern civilization, and the scientific method. AGW nuts, you're the hippies, freegans, loons, and freeloaders. And be sure that I will go after your necks, bastards.

Gore vs Nazis or Gore as Nazis?

By the way, it is a complete coincidence that I wrote about this story and combined the German symbol from the 1930s with the logo of Greenpeace. It just happened that today, The U.K. Times have reported that Al Gore compared the fight against climate change with the fight against the Nazis.

As you can see, I completely agree with him: he has just seriously confused the two sides of the barricade. The story of Mitch Taylor is the millionth piece of evidence that I am right and Gore is wrong about the sign issue. Read the Roots of Environmentalism to learn about the environmentalist character of the Nazi Big Cheeses and Anthony Watts' blog with additional remarks.

Concerning Godwin's law, I don't think that comparisons to Nazis should be taboo. The AGW movement is becoming radical enough for thoughtful comparisons of Nazism and environmentalism to gain importance. Asking what can we learn from the history about the dynamics of the society is important because the nations that don't learn anything from the history are destined to repeat its mistakes.

Assuming that I ask you to optimize the analogy, where do we stand today? My guess is that with the AGW activists today, we are in the situation of Germany in 1936 or so. It's not yet a "crisis" but the global warming realists enjoy a comparable treatment as the Jews in 1936. The fighters against climate change are slowly (or quickly?) taking over the scientific institutions and international organizations. Some pogroms against power plants may resemble a modest version of the Night of Broken Glass - but we're not there yet. It is up to us whether 2011 will be similar to 1938, too.

But structurally speaking, the current fight against global warming (i.e. alarmism) is similar to the fight against Nazism, indeed. It's not quite the same thing but the number of similarities is sufficiently high for us to learn a lesson or two.

Al Gore has recently studied the psychology of Gaia, Her thumbs, and neocortex. His reasoning will only be understood by the future generations, namely by the 22nd century psychiatrists.

Science at the bleating edge

You may be interested in the self-described "mainstream" climate science. What is the hottest question studied by the concerned people who are paid USD 2 billion for being concerned?

Gavin Schmidt has the answer. In the second part of "Science at the bleeding edge", he discusses the question whether higher populations of sheep amplify global warming.

No kidding.

A lighter color of their fur may cool the Earth. But global warming makes sheep smaller, Gavin argues, and it could therefore add some additional warming. However, he has forgotten the Double Copenhagen Feedback.

While the male climate aparatchiks are enjoying the genuine gifts of the Danish capital, their partners are lonely at home.

With a higher number of sheep, they have a higher probability to buy a cheap sheep fur coat or a woolen sweater before they enjoy their own night with their preferred spare partners. That allows them to turn off the heating for a while, an act that cools the Earth - both directly and by a reduced emission of greenhouse gases.

You may write 50 papers about similar topics and millions of dollars are yours! ;-) An imbecile would have to be an idiot not to join climatology these days! In fact, pretty much all of them are already working on it.

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-1828728-1', 'auto'); ga('send', 'pageview');