Tuesday, December 31, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Einstein's equations from first law of thermodynamics in AdS

Happy New Year!

First, Nima Arkani-Hamed (IAS) and Jaroslav Trnka (Caltech) have released another amplituhedron preprint, Into the Amplituhedron, in which they expose the amplituhedron origin of various QFT rules applied to cuts – the unitarity double cut, the multicollinear limit (which explains why the amplitude is sometimes the exponential of something simpler), and other cuts (whose properties emerge from the shape of \(d\)-dimensional faces of the amplituhedron).

But there's another intriguing hep-th paper published on the last day of 2013 (even if we overlook the remaining dozens of papers): Thomas Faulkner, Monica Guica, Thomas Hartman, Robert C. Myers, and Mark Van Raamsdonk wrote

Gravitation from Entanglement in Holographic CFTs
which provides us with a much more constructive, microscopically complete, anti de Sitter version of Ted Jacobson's heuristic derivation of Einstein's equations from entropy considerations (see e.g. Event horizons and thermodynamics: more than analogy, TRF 2010).

Monday, December 30, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Alarmists stuck in Antarctica will probably be saved by a helicopter

The formerly entertaining stories about idiots who scream that the world is undergoing a dramatic so-called "global warming" and then must be saved from their otherwise unavoidable death by freezing on their overly risky expeditions have become so frequent that they must be considered a cliché.

To review some of them, search for the word "frostbite" on this blog.

Here we go again. The Russian vessel called Akademik Shokalskiy got trapped near the sunny Antarctic beaches – about 2,800 km South of Tasmania – in ice that seems to be 3-4 meters thick at many places. Exactly 83 years ago, there was almost no ice on their trajectory which brought some smooth sailing to the polar explorer Douglas Mawson.

Sunday, December 29, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Kittens investigate Newton's cradle

We often think that the humans are the culmination of the Creation. However, kittens are ahead of us.

Dr Panda, Dr Pikachu, and Dr Pavel (the principal investigators above) decided to do some research of Newton's cradle. Their research strategy was wise and the tactics were clever.

And the performance was so cute and their creativity was so mesmerizing that it is no wonder they received a $300 million grant from NSF.

Saturday, December 28, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Kruskal can read your mind and the mind of God

Gordon sent me a fun trick invented by physicist Martin David Kruskal. He can read your mind. Choose a random word in the first 3 verses of the Bible. So many choices!

Count the number of letters \(N\) in that word \(W\) and find the next word that is \(N\) words after the word \(W\); for example, if you chose "heaven" in the first verse, you will have \(N=6\) and jump to "earth" in the following one; overlook the digits and punctuation marks. If you landed in the 7th verse, stop. Otherwise return by two sentences in this blog post and repeat the instruction again and again.

Friday, December 27, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Pussy Riot have no credentials to advise anyone

And the boycott of the Olympics is indefensible and mean

Vladimir Putin and friends are working hard on a reconciliation with various foreign political forces ahead of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi (Feb 6th-23rd). Mikhail Khodorovsky, a half-Jewish oligarch (who has lost most of his wealth but that hasn't eliminated him from the list of billionaires) and a prisoner of conscience according to Amnesty International, was freed after almost a decade in prison. He was wise enough to keep a low-key profile.

Two Pussy Riot girls were freed after 1.5 years, too. They are primarily famous for having staged an event of the same content in the Christ the Savior Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow in 2012. See above. It's not shocking that the security units were activated and the Russian presidential forces had the same opinion as the orthodox church and the majority of the Russian citizens. The performance above wasn't kosher.

Now, when they're freed, they apparently became heroes, human rights activists, and aides who should determine who should be the president of Russia, aside from tons of similar questions. I am stunned by all of this. By adopting this pro-Pussy-Riot position, the Western postmodern journalists really do prove that the East's accusations pointing to the moral collapse of the mainstream Western society have a point, to put it mildly.

White Christmas in Prague: 9 in 40 years, no trend

In recent weeks, the weather was often cold but we didn't have a white Christmas almost anywhere in Czechia (as has been correctly predicted since mid December). Klimaskeptik.cz mentions some interesting statistics based on Centrum.CZ, NOVA.TV, PocasiCZ.CZ, and Infomet.CZ articles that make it clear that we shouldn't have expected a white Christmas.

Well, during the last 40 years i.e. my lifetime, Prague has only experienced 9 white Christmases.

Jacob Bernoulli: a birthday

Welcome back after the Christmas – thanks for your wishes and even gifts. I hope you enjoyed the Saturnalia.

Jacob Bernoulli was born on December 27th, 1654, as the first big hero of the Bernoulli family that turned out to be rather remarkable. It included 3 great sons of Niklaus Bernoulli (who was a descendant of some doctors and spice traders etc.) in the 17th century; and 6 additional mathematicians and physicists in the 18th century.

I would still say that Jacob Bernoulli (from the group of the 3 sons) was the most important mathematician among these 9 men (Bernoulli numbers, differential equations, \(e\), and other things below); and Daniel Bernoulli (from the later group of 6) was the most important physicist (Bernoulli's principle of fluid mechanics, a manifestation of the conservation of energy, and St Petersburg paradox in game theory). I will only discuss these two men and their contributions.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Quantum gravity and afterlife

Afterlife in quantum gravity might be a natural topic for this year's Christmas Eve, a blog post that follows one on the elixir of youth. ;-)

Even though the combination of the quantum gravity and afterlife keywords returns over 350,000 Google hits, it's a topic that hasn't been discussed on the part of the blogosphere we know, not even by the "most audacious" commenters.

This guy (just another Jew, as I was taught by my PhD adviser) was or wasn't resurrected 1980 or 1983 years ago. Just to be sure, he was born during Christmas – exactly 2014-2019 years ago – and died during Easter.

Perhaps, I decided to partially legitimize these topics under the influence of various fiction movies I saw on TV in recent days – including Inception (2010) where Leonardo DiCaprio (the same actor who starred as myself in The String Kings) has to do some job in a dream within a dream within a dream within a dream to get rid of the attachment of his wife who is dead in the level-0 but who wants to drag him back from level-minus-two to level-minus three.

(Time goes 20 times faster at each level than at the parent level; two days spent at level-0 give you 50 years of fun at level-minus-three. I didn't quite follow the storylines at each level; you must be a Milner Prize winner to follow them.)

Sunday, December 22, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Elixir of youth: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide

Alchemists were hired and transferred to Prague by our leader, Austrian Emperor Rudolph II (reign in Bohemia 1576—1611), and one of their tasks was to develop the elixir of youth for the monarch who was aging, despite his blue blood. He was aging so quickly that at night, "they" were clearly hearing how "their" arteries are hardening with calcium and other waste products (arteriosclerosis).

Days ago, the research project funded by Rudolph II was finally completed. Well, maybe, if we believe the optimistic reports.

Anti-ageing compound set for human trials after turning clock back for mice (The Guardian)

Google News

Declining NAD+ Induces a Pseudohypoxic State Disrupting Nuclear-Mitochondrial Communication during Aging (technical article)
The article by Ana Gomes and sixteen co-authors from Harvard and New South Wales just appeared in Cell, an expert journal.

The short story says that aging "is" nothing else than the loss of the communication between the cells' nuclei and the mitochondria, the cellular power plants. And the main reason behind this loss of communication is the decrease of the concentration of NAD+, the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide.

We received one billion dollars

I was pleased to learn that along with Dick Lindzen, Anthony Watts, Marc Morano, and a few other pals, we have received one billion dollars just in 2013!

Conservative groups spend up to $1bn a year to fight action on climate change (Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian)
Congratulations to all of us. A possible problem – one pointed out to me by the Galileo Movement via Twitter – is that I may find out that we just "may have received" the billion instead of the phrase "did receive" it.

Meanwhile, if you send a few tens of dollars via PayPal, it will be noticed and appreciated. ;-) Just like there is a missing heat, I noticed that there seems to be a missing billion of dollars somewhere because I am sure that the climate lunatics' calculations must be accurate!

If I had a m/billion dollars – or at least some global warming. Mr Brulle probably estimates that the Minnesotans for global warming have received $5 million for this song so that they may buy a new chair.

Goldenberg's extraterrestrial article was based on the preprint in Climatic Change
Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations by Robert J. Brulle
that studied the antisocialist elements and U.S. climate change counter-revolutionary organizations (the so-called CCCM, an acronym chosen by them to distinguish us from "their" side, CCCP).

Saturday, December 21, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Alan Guth: a talk at Hunter College

Alan Guth of MIT was one of the nine inaugural winners of the $3 million prize. He was awarded for his cosmic inflationary theory.

In May 2013, he gave a 80-minute talk at the Hunter College, CUNY, New York:

The video was posted on the YouTube channel of the Milner physics prize that you're invited to look at – it's full of acceptance speeches by the winners, aside from long talks by Polchinski, Linde, and others.

Friday, December 20, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Edward Witten: what every quantum physicist should know about string theory

...those who don't want to become string theorists...

If you have 83 spare minutes, here is a July 2013 talk at Princeton's IAS by Edward Witten:

The title was "Feynman diagrams in string theory" and the talk was presented during the "LHC physics" program. Edward Witten wouldn't get to "funny" things like the central charges and critical dimensions but he would get far enough.

Thursday, December 19, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Langevin, Michelson, Millikan: anniversaries

Paul Langevin was born in 1872 in Paris and died on December 19th, 1946, in the same city. Because he was a rather important representative of the French science and a science official, great physicists have encountered him at many conferences. Langevin was also a leading figure who promoted relativity in France.

The modern interpretation of diamagnetism and paramagnetism in terms of electron clouds asymmetrically or anisotropically located within atoms is due to Langevin. As a college freshman, we were taught the explanations of these "canonical effects" like Langevin's diamagnetism by Prof Sedlák. Before that, I didn't believe that that "non-fundamental physics" may be this insightful. ;-) But at that time, I began to like these crisp explanations in condensed matter physics and many other non-fundamental physical subdisciplines.

In statistical physics, he wrote down the Langevin equation describing Langevin dynamics. The simplest example is Brownian motion in a potential: Langevin's equation is then Newton's equation of motion with the classical potential term, a friction term, and a noise term. He also designed some ultrasound-based technology based on the piezoelectric effect (previously demonstrated by the Curie brothers) to locate submarines during the war but when the gadget was ready, the war was over.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Reddit: a major "share a random URL" server bans climate skeptics

I know the reddit.com server as one of the servers where you may "share an URL".

Why someone would visit this server has always been completely incomprehensible to me – the pages on reddit.com look like a collection of trash – some random URLs – and the discussions attached to these URLs seem to be overwhelmed by trolls. I have been thankful to reddit.com as one of the sinks of the trolls' energy – a place where this foam of the Internet interacts with itself so that it has less time to annoy decent Internet users.

Even Reddit's official logo seems to confirm that this is the mission of the server.

For example, it seems to me that the majority of comments linked to URLs about physics that I have seen in my life were controlled by various clones of the prolific Czech crackpot Zephir (I don't know him or her in person, I believe). If you've read some other physics blogs, you must have encountered dozens of "aether wave theory contributions" by this particular lunatic. If you are dreaming about an even higher concentration of similar comments, search for physics articles at reddit.com.

So reddit.com is a junk server but it has appeared almost "on par" with Google+, Facebook, and Twitter and it claims to have 4 million subscribers which makes it a "big fish" of a sort which is why you may care about its major policy decisions.

A few hours ago, Jan Urban sent me a rather incredible article – and encouraged me to be careful while reading it.

Warning: the following external URL points to a potentially dangerous server and the page contains a highly disturbing article. Be careful while opening it and reading it.

Reddit’s science forum banned climate deniers. Why don’t all newspapers do the same?
A climate alarmist called Nathan Allen boasts that he is an editor on the reddit.com server linking to random Internet trash. A year ago, after a campaign in which "they" would be "increasingly stringent with deniers", "they" would attach yellow stars to all climate "contrarians" (because "they" didn't like that someone dared to question the climate panic and the research and researchers behind them) and expected a backlash. The backlash was weak, they thought, so they banned all climate skeptics from reddit.com altogether.

Mr Allen recommends the whole Internet to follow the reddit.com "role model" and ban climate skeptics. It's a pretty tall order for a bunch of a few dozens of fanatical nuts like himself to cut something like five billion people from the Internet.

Math is the language of the true culture of modern times

...and math skills are unavoidable side effects of skills that turned some humans into heroes of natural selection...

Copenhagen: I haven't been to theaters in Boston too many times ;-) but it was at least once when we went to see Copenhagen. You may watch Bohr and Heisenberg in a 90-minute BBC-4 movie now. Via Joseph S.
Three days ago, a German blog published a text about the role of mathematics in the society:
Mathematics, the language of nature. What are you sinking about?
Edward Measure's brief response proved that mathematics plays a much smaller role in the society of pigs.

Reading and writing is considered a normal skill of a person who is not a complete loser. Nevertheless, most TRF "readers" will be unable to write down the words from the pictures that start with a given letter – even though most 4-year-old kids around me can do it. ;-)

To summarize her text, the author is trying to answer the question whether mathematics was vital for our ancestors; whether it is needed for average people and for us today (these are two different questions); and whether mathematics should be included despite the stupid people's negative attitude towards it. I was sort of happy to see that the writer's answers are the correct No, No, Yes, Yes.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Useless or harmful: hand soap, vitamin pills, raw milk

Today, the news outlets are full of reports that some "common supplements" of the modern life that are believed to aid our health are claimed to be useless if not harmful. I will mention three independent major stories:

FDA against anti-bacterial soaps
Papers against vitamin pills
Paper counting illnesses caused by raw milk
The common theme is that it seem incredible to me that after so many years and after the sale of tens of billions of these products for hundreds of billions of dollars, the question whether these things are helpful seems completely open.

A typical Czech raw milk vendor machine.

This uncertainty is a stunning testimony to the low standards of the soft sciences, the hunt for 2-sigma bumps, and similar things. When some calculation says that the chance is just 97% that something is good (or bad) for you, you should treat the number 97% as pretty much the same as 50%. It is not solid enough evidence. It may be just a fluke – or a fluke that "someone helped" to arise. If there is a genuine effect, it isn't much harder to get a 5-sigma i.e. 99.9999% certainty! I do believe that if the health sciences followed some rules of particle physics or other hard sciences – e.g. the requirement of 5-sigma deviations to claim a discovery – they wouldn't be in this mess.

When we come to details, I have mixed feelings about the individual stories.

Sunday, December 15, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

For uncertainty principle, against philosophy

Scott Aaronson was asked five questions about the "progress in philosophy". In this text, I will replace his talkative nonsensical answers by the concise and correct ones and clarify some of his minuderstandings of quantum mechanics, too.

OK, the first question is:

1. Why are you so interested in philosophy? And what is the social value of philosophy, from your perspective?
The social value of philosophy was hiding in its role of a subject that used to attract – and, to a lesser extent, still attracts – high-IQ people and makes them think about important questions. Historically, philosophy was therefore the ultimate "protoscience" and became the seed of science as we know it today, too. And that was good for the mankind.

However, its modus operandi is a flawed approach to learning the truth. The old philosophy was studied before the scientific method was understood; and the modern philosophers – by the very definition of philosophers – are still failing to use the scientific method. They don't understand that Nature is smarter than us which is why they still hope to "guess the important truths" without any accurate empirical input; and, more importantly, they fail to formulate their musings sharply enough and eliminate the falsified ones.

Therefore, we may say that philosophy as a human enterprise has a "social value" but philosophy as a body of knowledge, methods, and results has no "epistemic value".

Saturday, December 14, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Real-time global wind map

Programmers! See this web page with the source etc.

Update January 2014: New overlays with temperature, pressure, cloud, and rain were added!

I just saw an amazing tweet by Pakistani string theorist Amer Iqbal (whom I know from Harvard) and you have to see it:
Real-time global wind map (earth.nullschool.net)
It's beautiful, fast, and hopefully accurate.

Tycho Brahe: birthday

Another anniversary: Andrei Sakharov died on this day in 1989. A Russian dissident, a mastermind of their H-bomb, peace activist, and the author of the conditions needed for baryogenesis.
Today, the Google Doodle Booble reminds us of Tycho Brahe:

His name has appeared in nine TRF blog posts so this is the tenth one.

Tycho Brahe was born on December 14th, 1546, to a top-tier aristocratic family in Scania, Denmark (now South Sweden). He would attend a Latin school (age: 6-12 years; Latin is a subject for babies, of course), then study philosophy and rhetoric in Copenhagen (age: 13-16; typical subjects for children) and then the law school in Leipzig, DDR. When he was 19, he inherited lots of money so he had tons of time for his hobbies – alchemy and especially astronomy.

According to his memoirs, it's been decided for him to become a scholar when his uncle borrowed a 2-year-old Tycho and (without any parents' permission) remolded the baby into a scholar. As a rich guy, he would add the study of chemistry in Augsburg. In the 1580s, Tycho would possess about 1% of Denmark.

Friday, December 13, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Green, Schwarz win the 2014 Milner Prize

As John Preskill correctly predicted, Michael Boris Green and John Henry Schwarz won the 2014 Fundamental Physics Prize "for opening new perspectives on quantum gravity and the unification of forces." See The Guardian.

Congratulations to the well-deserved $3 million to each! The ceremony will take place on January 27th and will be aired since 9 pm by the Science Channel. To appease the San Francisco liberals, Green and Schwarz will be presented as psychics. ;-)

The names Green and Schwarz appear together in 94 TRF blog entries and even though they were the candidates I know least in person, I was suckled upon their papers, kind of.

Sometime in 1986 or so, I read a popular article in VTM (Science and Tech for Youth), my favorite magazine, called "Six Extra Dimensions or a Theory of Everything" which introduced the readers to the First Superstring Revolution and rightfully presented Green and Schwarz as the heroes. Two pictures of each of them was a part of the article – I would still recognize the pictures.

Avery-Chowdhury criticism of ER-EPR is plain wrong

Steven G. Avery (Brown) and Borun D. Chowdhury (Arizona) have released a preprint called

No Holography for Eternal AdS Black Holes
which claims to "disprove" the ER-EPR correspondence by Susskind and Maldacena and the earlier and more vague van Raamsdonk's glue-entanglement correspondence by "disproving" the 2001 "double CFT" treatment of the eternal black hole by Maldacena.

The only problem is that Avery and Chowdhury are just plain wrong.

North Korea reminded us what an undivided left-wing government looks like

Most events in North Korea are sad and the latest ones are no exception.

Recall that the communist regime was founded by Kim 1 (1912-1994), the eternal president, who was followed by his son Kim 2 (1941-2011). After his death, his young son Kim 3 (1983-hopefully_soon) took the power and he's showing us that he is a true heir to the world history's most famous socialists.

Kim 3's photograph according to his or its Twitter account.

Kim 3 just executed his uncle (1946-2013). Well, the uncle was a husband of Kim 2's younger sister since 1972. They had a daughter (1977-2006) who went to Paris as an international student. Her parents didn't like her boyfriend so she first refused to return to her homeland in Hell and then she committed suicide, too.

Thursday, December 12, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Does a snowfall mean more than that it is snowing?

A climate fearmonger called Jared Huffman (D-Calif) who is ironically employed as the U.S. Congressman has said some "audacious" things in the U.S. Parliament:

We've Reached The Point Where Climate Change Deniers Need To Be Reminded That It Snows Every Year (The Huffington Post)
He tried to "remind" his colleagues that "a snowfall in December does not disprove climate change".

Well, the only problem is that it does.

Prophets and prophecy-independent scientists

Today, the winner of the $3 million 2014 Milner Prize (see candidates) will be announced in San Francisco along with five winners of the $3 million Milner-and-few-pals Award in Life Sciences (I hope that I remembered the official name of the honor exactly). One $3 million prize for a psychic (no kidding) will be decided in January. Watch the news.
A week ago, Nima Arkani-Hamed gave a talk on a one-day symposium in Stony Brook; click here if the HTML5 video tag below doesn't work for you.

His talk about the exotic methods to calculate the scattering amplitudes in gauge theory (and the whole symposium) was dedicated to David Kosower, Lance Dixon, and Zvi Bern who recently received the 2014 Sakurai Prize.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Fresh Nobelist Schekman boycotts glossy journals

Various media have discussed the decision of the 2013 Medicine Nobel Prize winner Randy Scheckman of Berkeley (prize for the vesicles: public transportation within cells)

Nobel winner declares boycott of top science journals (Guardian)
His lab will no longer send articles to Nature, Science, and Cell. Schekman is the editor-in-chief of eLife and PNAS, "competing" journals.

Crippling of Czechia by the emergent left-wing government begins

While I emotionally prefer self-confident and readable right-wing Klaus-like governments, I actually do enjoy the life under technocratic and nominally "apolitical" governments, too. They feel that they are lacking some of the political support which is why they don't dare to intervene into people's lives too much. Sometimes they allow the citizens to enjoy more freedom they were used to.

Technocratic governments may also adopt responsible attitudes like the reduction of the welfare and other things that are needed, right, but unpopular among many voters – because their goal isn't to look for the political support of these people during the next elections.

The future prime minister Comrade Sobotka plans to suck blood out of all the "classes" and companeis that are unlikely to vote for his social democrats.

The relatively happy era of the apolitical Jiří Rusnok's government is slowly approaching its final days. Right-wing parties have made lots of mistakes – including their de facto support for the early elections by which the Left came to power a year before the original, fair schedule. They have been apologizing for things they haven't done and for good things they have done and so on. The Czech nation is going to pay dearly very soon.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

The first Amplituhedron paper is out

We've been using the word "Amplituhedron" since September 2013 but only now, the first preprint with this word in the title was released:

The Amplituhedron
The authors, Nima Arkani-Hamed and Jaroslav Trnka ["Yuh-raw-sluff Turn-kuh" if you allow me to bastardize a Czech name), are preparing two more papers, "Into the Amplituhedron" and "Scattering Amplitudes from Positive Geometry", as well as a third paper along with Andrew Hodges, "Three Views of the Amplituhedron".

IPCC models: Tolkien's Middle Earth threatened by global warming

Did you ever believe that the IPCC climate models have something to do with the reality? Were you ever tempted to think that the contemporary climatologists are able to write and publish anything if it helps their funding?

Researchers from the University of Bristol decided to settle the questions, once and for all. They used the climate models based on the same maths as used in the latest IPCC report and analyzed something that everyone knows to be damn real – the Middle Earth, a continent discovered by the explorer J.R. Tolkien.

Monday, December 09, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

American Dream: a Danish Reality?

High social mobility isn't a clear net positive

The American Dream is a national ethos of the U.S. Perhaps every third Hollywood movie describes the life story of a person born to poor conditions who makes it. The Americans themselves believe that this social mobility is one of the virtues in which the Americans beat other nations. The only problem is that the data suggest otherwise:

The myth of the American Dream (CNN Money)
Someone evaluated the "probability that you will be stuck in the same class as your parents", i.e. the social immobility of a sort. Denmark only has 0.15 so it's a country where the "dream" is true. Canada, Japan, France, Pakistan are between 0.3 and 0.5 but better than the U.S., the U.K. is slightly worse than the U.S., and Peru is much worse at 0.67.

What's wrong here?

Sunday, December 08, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Would it make sense for the current Academia to fire Peter Higgs?

He's a nice chap but my answer is Yes

Watch the live broadcast of the physics Nobel ceremony now.

I turned it off once a woman talked about "darkness" and mentioned energy-saving light bulbs, sorry, this was just over the edge. What does this junk have to do with the Higgs boson?

Wikipedia top: today, the main page of Wikipedia features the article on the AdS/CFT correspondence. I founded this article in May 2004 from my feynman.harvard.edu workstation at Harvard. See the original stub; "Lumidek" is also myself. Lots of work on that article has been done afterwords, indeed... ;-)
Two days ago, The Guardian published an interesting interview with Peter Higgs:
Peter Higgs: I wouldn't be productive enough for today's academic system
Let me make it clear that I find him nice, relaxed, pleasant to be with (I shortly shared an office in Santa Barbara with him) and I have never had the slightest doubt that the Higgs/BEH mechanism is right and the Higgs boson exists. I sympathize with his slight disrespect to the honors (like the knighthood in 1999) and disagree with him on tons of other things (later).

But he says he would have been sacked – and he has been almost sacked several times at a few points in the past – because he wouldn't be productive enough for the current system. I tend to think he is right and – although it will be inconvenient for the numerous fans he has earned – I think that the system might be right to fire him.

Saturday, December 07, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Salaries and wages since 1932-1934: uniform 30-fold increase

Some data suggest "almost no progress"

I was looking at some reality of the life in the U.S. of the "dirty 1930s":

Incomes and prices in 1932-1934
What I was amazed by is that there seems to be no progress in a vast majority of the entries here. If you just multiply all the prices and wages by a factor of 30 (30 per 80 years corresponds to 300.0125=1.043 i.e. 4.3-percent average annual inflation rate), almost all the entries seem to coincide with the values now, 80 years later!

(Dow Jones went from 50 or so to 16,000, i.e. by the factor of 300+, or the average 7.5% growth in these 80 years.)

Most employed people could buy this home (at least all the material) for 1 annual salary. Hat tip: Joseph Sykora

The only exception I am able to see now is the cigarette lighter for $0.39 – almost $12 current dollars in my conversion which would be too much – but that's it. Well, you may look at the autos: there aren't any cheap models available so they start at prices that are (at most) twice higher than the current ones and there are lots of very expensive cars.

But in some sense, they are anomalies. Well, some of the food entries looked significantly more expensive than today, but not all of them (please add your detailed comments).

Friday, December 06, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Reply to RealClimate's attack against the IPCC

Rasmus Benestad and similar hardcore green Marxists are dreaming about the past that will never return again

Since its initial fabrication in 2004, RealClimate.ORG was one of the most notorious websites of the climate propaganda, at least among those that attempted to look like an official arm of the scientists.

Because I wrote an essay about the IPCC report for the Václav Klaus Institute two months ago and the title was Fifth IPCC report: a blow of glasnost into the climate panic (where I compared the ongoing sizzling of the climate panic to the reforms in USSR under Gorbachev), I am not surprised that hardcore demagogues at RealClimate.ORG are offended by the toned down character of the IPCC report, especially the Summary for Policymakers that used to compete with the most radical Greenpeace booklets until AR4.

Rasmus Benestad made his unhappiness clear in the new RealClimate.ORG text titled

A failure in communicating the impact of new findings
where he claims that the writing of the summary followed wrong procedures, led to a wrong result, and should be completely changed. What Rasmus Benestad overlooks is a subtlety known as the "reality".

ER-EPR and distortions in the media

Lots of news outlets wrote stories about the link between the entanglement and wormholes, an insight that I find important, fascinating, and almost certainly true: TRF June 2013. But my excitement about the insight doesn't imply a satisfaction with the newspaper articles because they're just way too misleading.

The first question you should ask is: Why now? Why didn't they write a lot about the ER-EPR correspondence when it was first published? The answer is that the Maldacena-Susskind preprint from June 2013 hasn't appeared in any classical journal. The journalists aren't able to follow preprints on the arXiv, they have no knowledgeable informers, and they are probably ignorant about the importance of names such as Maldacena and Susskind, too. So they missed it. They almost always do.

Let me analyze an article in some detail and clarify why I consider pretty much every sentence misleading. It could be done with many newspaper articles but I will pick International Business Time, a newspaper I have mostly no trouble with. It's useful. A young writer named Charles Poladian wrote a story

What Is Quantum Entanglement? The 'Spooky Action' Of Quantum Mechanics Linked To Wormholes
for IBT. What's wrong with that?

Thieves of cobalt-60 in Mexico likely to die

Thanks for all the wishes, everyone! Yes, a celebration is a part of it but yes, I do think it's a day just like any other day – perhaps a better one than the average. ;-)
Today, 1/3 of the TRF visitors are Hungarians who came from this Hungarian server, index.hu, to my 2011 page about the radioactive source found in Prague's playground which was medically related.

The reason for the new Hungarian report – and many others in the whole world (e.g. Time) – is that some thieves stole a truck in Mexico. Stealing is wrong and these thieves are likely to learn it in the hard way because they're likely to perish because the truck had lots (40 grams) of cobalt-60 in it.

Doubly protected Higgs is naturally natural

Nathaniel Craig (now Rutgers) and Kiel Howe (Stanford) released an interesting preprint

Doubling down on naturalness with a supersymmetric twin Higgs
which provides a very nice explicit example why one should never be too ambitious when deducing consequences of naturalness – why "small unnaturalness" is never a problem or a problem that may be solved by a better model.

They consider an extension of the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model which protects the Higgs boson by two protection mechanisms. One of them is the supersymmetry, in the usual sense, and the other protection mechanism is (in their particular case) the twin Higgs mechanism.

Thursday, December 05, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Dark matter \(0.11\meV\) axion discovered in 2004 via Josephson junctions

Or at least some deviation may be interpreted in this remarkable way!

Two days ago, Nude Socialist's Katia Moskvitch (yes, it was a Soviet car) wrote an unusually useful article promoting a September 2013 hep-ph preprint by Christian Beck (Cambridge and London; a twin brother of Glenn Beck who is also a Christian, after all, both Mormon and Roman Catholic one) that we apparently missed:

Hints of cold dark matter pop up in 10-year-old circuit (NS)

Possible resonance effect of axionic dark matter in Josephson junctions (arXiv, free)
The probable reason why Nude Socialist managed to notice this interesting paper is that they may follow all papers in PRL where the paper appeared on Monday. And it seems very interesting, indeed.

Václav Klaus: French criticism of the global warming champions' fanaticism

Translation from Czech (by LM)

Review of Pascal Bruckner's book "The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse" by the Czech ex-president

Pascal Bruckner, a significant personality belonging to the contemporary generation of French writers, a member of the left-wing "nouveaux philosophie", wrote an important book for the French people but comparably important for us as well – us who were mostly suckled on the Anglo-Saxon reasoning and who tend to underestimate the French in the social-scientific fields or, to put it more precisely, who tend to associate the French with a very illiberal thinking.

Hexagonal shape of Saturn's vortex

Saturn's hexagon (a long-term storm near the North Pole) has been known to exist at least since 1988. See also TRF 2007.

NASA's Cassini mission has just revealed this picture of the six-sided jet stream.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Making exceptional symmetries of SUGRA manifest

I found at least two hep-th papers interesting today. Nathan Berkovits brings us some field redefinition that maps his pure spinor formalism to the RNS formalism, using a new method of "dynamical twisting". My understanding is that it's not sufficient to understand why the calculated amplitudes agree. But I will only discuss

Exceptional Field Theory I: \(E_{6(6)}\) covariant Form of M-Theory and Type IIB by Olaf Hohm and Henning Samtleben.
The names may sound German to you but it's technically a French-American collaboration. ;-) I don't know the authors but I know all 4 people thanked in the acknowledgements, Liu, Nicolai, Taylor, and Zwiebach.

Supergravity (or M-theory) compactified on tori produces lower-dimensional theories with non-compact exceptional continuous (or discrete) symmetries (called the U-duality group in the M-theory case). Exceptional groups are sexy and mysterious, too.

It has always been plausible that a decent understanding of the origin of these exceptional symmetries could provide us with a new, spectacularly clear view into string theory's deepest inner workings. It could be just a straightforward technical result without far-reaching implications, too. We can't know for sure.

Formulations that make duality symmetries of string/M-theory manifest became popular in recent years.

PNAS: male, female brains wired along different paths

Female brains don't separate the hemisphere much but they do divide front and back more sharply

I have been sure for decades that the biological differences between the male and female brains are significant and are the ultimate reason of the statistical differences in the interests, talents, and achievements of men and women. The evidence is formidable and growing.

Two days ago, PNAS revealed the online pre-publication version of a Pennsylvania-Princeton paper

Sex differences in the structural connectome of the human brain
by Ingalhalikar and 9 co-authors. The paper was discussed by all major media including the BBC, the Guardian, Fox News (video report where they spin the female specifics in a much more ludicrously positive direction than in the left-wing media), HuffPo, Forbes (on social implications), and many others.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Hurricane forecasts are worthless

I don't know the methods that folks in NOAA are using to forecast the number of Atlantic hurricanes and I am not interested in these methods because they clearly don't work. Pages such as this one (with different years in the URL) show you tables with the predicted and actual number of named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes for the relevant year.

Let us look at years 2001-2013 and focus on the actual numbers from NOAA in May. Note that the hurricane season includes months between June and November and the 2013 season has officially ended last Saturday.

Feynman lectures on physics: Volume III now free

Free online quantum mechanics course from a top guru

In September, I mentioned that some folks were transforming the Feynman Lectures on Physics to free web pages with MathJax, the same \(\rm\LaTeX\)-based system to write elegant mathematical expressions that has been used on this blog for two years or so.

Only Volume I was available at that time.

Neoworx, neocounter: RIP

I thought that the Neocounter in the right lower sidebar was the prettiest visitor counter on the market – because of the many types of geographic statistics and the pretty animations that many of you were surely hating (and you will cynically celebrate a few seconds by which the website speeds up!) – and I was paying over $50 annually for that reason. However, I was an exception and the counters went out of business today.

Your humble correspondent probably had an obsolete primary e-mail address in the database. However, other users received the following e-mail today:

Dear user,

It saddens me to inform you that after 9 years of services, I am stopping my web counter activity. The shift from blogs to social networks and the overwhelming competition of free services has dramatically decreased my customer base to the point where I can no longer pay for the hosting of my servers.

I will do my best to refund you pro rata of the time elapsed since your last payment. Please wait for an email from the designated company liquidator.

I thank you wholeheartedly for the interest you have shown in my products during all these years. It was a great adventure for me.

Please find here-after your most recent visitor count. I am sure that you will find a suitable replacement for my counters.

Well, I would like my list or database. In total, the counter was showing almost 10 million visits from something like 240 countries – many more than the folks in the United Nations are able to enumerate. ;-)

Monday, December 02, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Einstein and Eddington: a film

Joseph Sykora sent me a link to a 94-minute-long 2008 BBC Two film about Eddington and Einstein:

It's no documentary. Expect a drama movie that may be watched by those not too interested in physics as well. I liked it a lot (despite the artistic license to modify the history) and you should watch it, too.

Unconstrained MSSM: LSP is pure Higgsino or pure wino

There are several interesting hep-ph papers today, especially those about supersymmetry, but I chose to highlight

LHC and dark matter phenomenology of the NUGHM
by Maria Eugenia Cabrera, Alberto Casas, Roberto Ruiz de Austri, Gianfranco Bertone (Amsterdam, Madrid, Valencia). They calculate a probability distribution for various masses of electroweak superpartners given the current accelerator and dark-matter constraints (and numerical observables).

They work within NUGHM which is a rather generic MSSM with "non-universal gaugino and Higgs masses". This subset of the MSSM parameter space is much less constrained than e.g. CMSSM.

Ukraine's place in Europe is a subtle issue

Thousands of people rallying in the Ukrainian capital demand the resignation of the pro-Moscow president Yanukovitch after he refused to sign a pro-EU trade deal, apparently favoring a closer economic integration with Russia (Putin uses the carrot-and-stick approach to make sure that such an attitude may be rational).

The protests turned violent and some of the opposition groups claim that the violence was added to the mix by Yanukovitch's provocateurs. I am aware of no protocol to find out who is right.

One of 15 results of the quiz "name the countries of Europe" given to the Americans by buzzfeed.com. Ukraine is the territory labeled as "Kamchatka" elsewhere or "Mongolia" above (don't confuse it with the much more Eastern region labeled as "another Mongolia"; that's Kazakhstan and it's mostly in Asia). Click the map for other attempts.

Like during the "Orange Revolution" in 2004, many people in the West think that these events are very important. Well, I don't think so. People in the West love to think that all the nations of the Soviet bloc – and perhaps even all the nations of the Soviet Union – are free-minded Western-like nations who are being constantly suppressed by foul techniques of the Russians.

It ain't so. Especially in the U.S., many of the misconceptions boil down to a poor knowledge of geography. In fact, most of the republics in the USSR are intrinsically, culturally, and historically "more Eastern" than Russia itself. Ukraine is a marginal case.

Sunday, December 01, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Science writers' weird obsession with the resurrection of ISON

The comet has been doomed at least since the first moment when it looked so; claims to the contrary were always just some irrational religion

The good folks who were excited about the alleged resurrection of Jesus Christ were not too unreasonable. To say the least, they were not more unreasonable than most science writers who were producing stories about comet ISON's "survival" in recent days.

When I wrote the satire about the comet's destruction by global warming (yes, there were some readers who didn't understand it was a satire!), I took one claim for granted: the comet couldn't have survived, at least not to the extent needed for the comet to be visible by the naked eye e.g. today and the visibility of ISON's remains would be guaranteed to decrease quickly.

(The debris had magnitude plus 7 late yesterday which already made it invisible. NASA's JPL predicted a year ago that the brightness of the comet could be around minus 11.6 by now, brighter than the full Moon. That prediction has failed rather spectacularly, hasn't it?)

But you must have seen reports by pretty much everyone – Fox News, The Guardian, Matt Strassler, and thousands of others – who were completely excited with their thoroughly unjustified claims that the "comet has survived", "we have a hope", and so on – the similarity of ISON with Son of God is almost perfect.

Saturday, November 30, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Was Feynman cognitively lopsided and illiterate?

Stephen Hsu has discussed a long interview with Richard Feynman (AIP).

Feynman's cognitive style (Information Processing blog)
Because I pretty much share all the features that Hsu calls "Feynman's cognitive style" and because I find Hsu's comments fundamentally misguided, skewed, and unflattering, I decided it is important enough to respond.

Hsu starts as follows:
I have always felt that Feynman was cognitively a bit "lopsided" – much stronger mathematically than verbally. This might be partially responsible for his way of learning – it was often easier for him to invent his own solution than to read through someone else's lengthy paper. (Personality factors such as his independent streak, and his strong creativity, also play a role.) But this often left him with gaping holes in knowledge.
Feynman had a habit of rediscovering all the insights and physics that he would rely upon in his research – and thinking about Nature in general. Incredibly enough, Stephen classifies this habit as "lopsidedness", borderline illiteracy, and a vice. Sorry, Steve, but you only represent the group think of average scholars who mostly parrot others and are doing okay with that, scholars whose work is derivative at best and whose confirmations can't really be viewed as independent ones because their writing is always a borderline plagiarism.

Feynman was a charming and articulate speaker who could formulate sentences clearly. He knew how to read, too. But the true reason why he preferred to rediscover things and avoid reading other people's papers is that it is a safer, scientifically cleaner way to collect knowledge. It is a way that not everyone can afford because many other people would simply be incapable of rediscovering all the physics (and Feynman was ultimately unable to rediscover things in physics above a certain level, e.g. string theory, too).

But the scientists who can do it in their actual work like that – and Feynman was an example – should do it.

Friday, November 29, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

TOE movies: Wilczek, Tegmark, Strominger, Guth, ...

Off-topic, via Fred Singer: Weak Lensing Contest: Participate in the "great challenge" where you should design algorithms decoding weak lensing ("unwarping images of millions of galaxies") and show you're better than the experts; NASA quiz example (I did it right LOL); Science Daily. Ends in April 2014. Winner gets $3,000 in hardware.
Someone started a YouTube project of recording 2-minute interviews with famous physicists about a theory of everything,
facebook.com/toemovie (FB home page)

TOEmovie YouTube channel (videos)
So far, there seem to be eight videos in the channel.

Comet ISON destroyed by global warming

Nashville, Tennessee (Ceuters) – It was supposed to be the "Comet of the Century". Instead, it became yet another victim of the global warming.

On Thursday, Comet ISON was approaching the perihelion, the closest point to the Sun on its trajectory. Centuries ago, before the climate began to change, such a moment in the life of a comet would be an important event for the religious societies (for example, Virgin Mary gave a birth when she saw the Comet of Bethlehem – and virgins rarely give a birth while looking at the sky) but it would be an unremarkable event from the comet's viewpoint because the Earth used to greet the comets as a friend.

However, in a sign of the planetary emergency, Comet ISON was largely destroyed. The experts are not quite sure about the cause but most of the researchers mention the global warming. The Solar System is being catastrophically heated up by the man-made emissions of CO2, especially by those produced by the corporations in countries with GDP per capita exceeding $20,000, particularly those countries which tolerate a larger number of the climate change deniers, heretics, and other contrarians. In fact, some scholars propose an extension of the greenhouse effect, the phonetic greenhouse effect, that hypothesizes that the repetition of the climate deniers' talking points heats the atmosphere up by itself. These deniers sometimes call themselves "skeptics" but it is a preposterous naming scheme because a true skeptic is skeptical about the claim that our planet will exist even after the 2047 Earth Day.

Christian Doppler was born 190 years ago.
"One must be very careful while connecting any particular destruction of a comet with the global warming," John Kerry Manuel, a professor of aqua-astronomic emergency at MIT pointed out. "But in this case and many others in which the events are really harmful to the nations of the world and the claim about the global warming connection sounds sexy, the verdict is unambiguous: global warming did it." Manuel also revealed another argument why global warming is probably the cause of all these events: Whenever he wrote a paper claiming that the global warming is behind them, his grants went up. So this explanation must be valid, he believes, and he will increase the number of such papers in order to make the statement even more true.

Thursday, November 28, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Bitcoin will probably keep on skyrocketing

Bitcoins' deflationary problem

Disclaimer: I own no bitcoins while I am writing this blog post.

Bitcoins, a virtual currency, were proposed in late 2008 and started in early 2009. Those who have been in it for a year or more have seen remarkable returns – something like 8,000-percent returns in a year. Most of us have missed this opportunity but it's completely plausible that the rise will continue. I want to discuss these issues.

The bitcoin is a unit of wealth stored in the solution to a difficult mathematical problem that needs the brute force of computers to be found. So some computers are working to "mine" this new kind of gold. This gold, when found, may be transferred to others. You may sell actual products for bitcoins.

My experience is zero but perhaps, I would recommend you an online wallet service like coinbase.com
People who use the bitcoin payments often store the full blockchain – a multi-gigabyte public ledger that remembers all the transactions in the world (this will surely get highly impractical if the currency keeps on expanding). How many coins are there? How is their number evolving with time? What will the bitcoin-dollar exchange rate be doing?

Fermi-Dirac and Bose-Einstein statistics: amazingly different biological sisters

Enrico Fermi died exactly 59 years ago. (Click.)

This greatest Italian physicist after Galileo Galilei was also the ultimate example of a physicist who was both a great theorist and a great experimenter.

Fermi speaking in 1954

Fermi has done some amazing work on the nuclear bomb, nuclear energy. More theoretically, he's famous for the first theory of the beta-decay and for the Fermi-Dirac statistics as well as numerous other things.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Particle astrophysicist, PI commits suicide

Alberto Lemut worked in underground experiments

Just four weeks ago, we watched a press conference of an experiment in South Dakota, LUX, whose precision and sophistication allowed it to exclude all the hints of a light dark matter particle suggested by other experiments. Some really good work is taking place in the Sanford Lab.

Sadly, that didn't guarantee that everyone in Lead, South Dakota was happy. The police and media revealed the name of a 37-old man who shot himself dead last Thursday. It was assistant professor Alberto Lemut.

Sinkhole in Sanica, Bosnia

Help the Bosnians to explain the mystery

The village people in Sanica, Bosnia saw that all the fish suddenly disappeared. The puzzling nothingness took the water, too. Including some solid matter around it. YouTube.

A geologist could just say "a sinkhole". But – if you don't care about the scientific validity – other explanations are more intriguing. ;-) God could have simply been angry about the barbarian white rocket that is directed against Him on the picture above.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Iran deal: U.S. losing superpower status

A week ago, I suggested that the U.S. was moving closer to Iran by the negotitations, perhaps closer to Iran than Saudi Arabia and Israel, two of Washington's regional allies.

These concerns became much clearer now, once the Iran deal was signed. If you missed it, the deal should make it easier to inspect the nuclear sites in Persia. However, it has pretty much explicitly allowed Iran to enrich the uranium – up to 5 percent or so but the freedom to keep the capability is essential – and it will suspend most of the sanctions.

Hiroshima, global warming, and wakalixes

If you open the URL sks.to/heat or 4hiroshimas.com, you will reach the web page of this ugly widget:

The five buttons at the bottom allow you to express the total energy (satisfying some additional extra conditions that are not specified) collected by the whole atmosphere of the Earth in several additional "evil units of energy".

This ugly widget that doesn't even scale the fonts properly was created by the activists around John Cook and the doubly ironically named "Skeptical Science". Every second of this weblog's existence, we are pumping several Hiroshimas into the climate.

The Guardian gave some space to these jerks to promote their "work". I agree with Anthony Watts that it is a propaganda of the worst kind.

Monday, November 25, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

EU will throw €180 billion to the climate loo

Jo Nova has pointed out that the European Union plans to spend a staggering 20% of its budget for the years 2014-2020 for totally wasteful projects justified by nothing else than the climate pseudoscience.

You should understand that the EU is just an international structure "above" the member states so its budget is a small fraction of the total budgets of the individual governments. But the figure 20% still translates to unbelievable €180 billion i.e. €30 billion a year. And be sure that the EU clowns would love to be "role models" for national governments in the whole world, anyway.

Fred Kavli: 1927-2013

On Thursday November 21nd, Fred Kavli (86†) died in Santa Barbara after a surgery of a rare cancer that sucks bile from the liver. He was a famous sponsor of science institutes and science jobs.

Kavli was born in a small Norwegian village in 1927. During the Nazi occupation of Norway, he was 14 and and together with his brother, he began to build his bifuel corporation (well, wood pellet fuel for cars). He found his father's 13 years in San Francisco inspiring, so he wanted to move to California.

With no sponsor, his visa application was rejected. He first moved to Montreal, Canada, when he was 28, and continued to the U.S. a year later. With an engineering degree from Norway, he was hired as an engineer in L.A. and grew to a chief engineer there (feedback flight controls).

Saturday, November 23, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Electron electric dipole moment: moderately natural SUSY may come in 2015

Three weeks ago, the ACME collaboration (Jacob Baron et al.) improved (i.e. reduced) the previous, 2012 best limit on the electron's electric dipole moment by a factor of \(12\) (and by 3 orders of magnitude relatively to TRF 2011) in the article

Order of Magnitude Smaller Limit on the Electric Dipole Moment of the Electron (arXiv)
The experiment looks like this (click to zoom in):

OK, some exotic thorium monoxide molecules (which have the strongest known "internal" electric fields) with optical pumping via lasers in electric and magnetic fields are changing and the (produced) photons are (or could be, if they were produced) measured. Readers interested in the clever experimental setup will have to find a better source. Physics World, The Register, HuffPo, SciAm, and other semipopular media that covered it didn't discuss the method too much, either.

First, let us ask: What is the dipole moment that is being measured and how large is it?

Stagnation as an excuse for sustained high P/E

Bubbles will arrive before inflation

When I was six or so, I had an idea that many other kids – and many of you – probably have also arrived to. If one may buy anything for the money and someone is able to print the money, why doesn't he print an unlimited amount of money in order to make everyone happy and solve all the world's problems?

The Keynesians and similar folks believe that this is a great idea even when they are adults. But many of us have managed to figure out – or were told – why this isn't such a great idea. After all, the nominal information expressed in the units of currency means nothing. A dollar or a crown or a deutschmark is just a lame unit of wealth. If everyone owns 10 times greater an amount of money, everyone will also demand a higher price for his goods and services.

So I quickly realized that the fact that a dollar was 30 times greater than the Czechoslovak crown was just an inconsequential choice of the units, just like the difference between meters and feet. One may design physically and socially equivalent situations by simply multiplying all the prices by \(C = \exp(\lambda)\) – by reducing the money by the factor of \(C\).

This "financial gauge invariance" may be used even for a single currency which evolves in time. You may rescale all the prices and related quantities expressed in the units of currency, \(P_i\), by a function of time \(t\),\[

P_i\to P'_i= C(t)\cdot P_i = \exp[\lambda(t)] P_i

\] and it's quite possible that nothing really changes. There are things like "rates" – interest rates, inflation rates, and so on. They're defined as the time derivatives of some quantity \(P_i\) divided by the quantity itself. So if you switch from the numerical value \(P_i\) to \(P'_i\), the new rate will be\[

\frac{1}{P'_i}\cdot\ddfrac{P'_i}{t} &= \ddfrac{\ln(P'_i)}{t} =\\
&=\frac{1}{P'_i}\ddfrac{\zav{\exp[\lambda(t)] P_i}}{t} = \\
&= \frac{1}{P_i} \zav{\ddfrac{P_i}{t} + P_i \ddfrac{\lambda(t)}{t} }

\] by the Leibniz rule (for the derivative of a product).

Friday, November 22, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

JFK magic bullet: irrationality of conspiracy theories

Today, it's been 50 years since the assassination of JFK.

The murder took place on Friday, just like today. For generic two years, the probability is 1/7 that a given day occurs on the same day of the week. However, for a 50-year gap, the probability is approximately 1/3 because each of the 50 years shifts the day of the week by 1 plus 11-13 (mostly 12) from leap years (it may be just 11 because about 3/8 of the 50-year intervals include a non-leap year like 1900).

A historical movie from that day, 15 minutes. Death at 6:01.

The shift is therefore 60, 61 (most likely), or 62 days which is 5,6 or 7 modulo 7. For 1963-2013, the case 62 i.e. 7 occurred. So even the same day of the week isn't too shocking – the day of the week is almost as likely to agree as it is to disagree after 50 years. These two paragraphs were preemptively included to fight another conspiracy theory about the day of the week. ;-)

I wrote about JFK 5 days ago but now I want to avoid particle physics.

Thursday, November 21, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

It's harmful to teach wrong physics

In a discussion about the reasons of the accelerated expansion of the Universe (see also the first thread), a reader named BBB proposed that I was misunderstanding the goal of Carroll's claims that it's "wrong" to say that the negative pressure is the cause of the acceleration. Carroll's word "wrong" in "wrong way" doesn't necessarily mean that the physics is wrong, BBB argued; he may just say that it's "wrong" pedagogically and a completely different explanation "should" be presented instead.

Well, I think it doesn't matter for the indefensibility of Carroll's attitude. In fact, I think it's even worse when wrong claims are sold as physics to many people – while teaching or explaining physics to the laymen and beginners. When an individual believes a wrong idea about physics, he has the right to do so; no one is really infallible and the problem may be "localized". But when someone starts to teach wrong ideas as if they were physics, he is harming the whole society.

I will continue to use the would-be controversy about the "cause of the accelerated expansion" as my example – although I could think of hundreds of other examples that would be equally if not more apt and urgent. I am sure that Carroll must misunderstand some of the basic physics – that his proposal is not just about the obsession to spread lies among the laymen – but I will nevertheless pretend that I believe that he actually understands the physics and he only wants to make it "more popular".

Nuts and longevity: correlation isn't causation

For most people, their death is an unfortunate career move. It's been observed that children are born at most 10 months after their fathers' death and the IRS only collects the taxes for about 12 months after the death. Richard Feynman pointed out that he wouldn't like to die twice because it's so boring.

The eternal president and the dear leader in the representative halls of North Korea.

But there are exceptions. Kim Il Sung (1912-1994) was kind of promised to become an eternal president after he dies; the law was adopted in 1998. However, the Korean leader still liked some old-fashioned benchmarks to measure when the life ends, too. We just learned that he ordered his doctors to prolong his life to 120 years. They failed but 82 years isn't bad.

Harvard's IOP: global warming is caused by Prius owners

Various specific culprits of the global warming (which hasn't been seen for 20 years) have been proposed in the past: old white men, McDonald's consumers, the Poles, and especially we, the climate deniers, of course: the Koch brothers, Richard Lindzen, Bob Carter, and your humble correspondent, among others. Whenever we speak or write, the planet starts to boil.

But Harvard University's Institute of Politics has created a news and discussion platform called PolicyMic.com (which includes a mobile version boasting an infinite loop of URL redirects). On this forum, playwright Emmett Rensin has finally determined

The Unexpected Culprits of Climate Change Denial
He stresses that the IPCC has proved that in order to save the Solar System, it's time to become full-fledged psychopaths over global warming. Who is preventing the mankind from saving the Solar System? It's the Prius owners.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Shifting alliances in the Middle East

Will the U.S. become Iran's greatest ally?

Any war has seemed extremely far in recent months (if not years) but the situation in the Middle East, especially when it comes to Iran, seems to be shifting rather dramatically even though the exaggerated subtitle was only included to attract your eyes.

If you don't know, there are negotiations about the Iranian nuclear program in Geneva. It's more or less conceivable that they will end with an agreement that will freeze the Iranian program for half a year or so, soften the sanctions, but allow them to keep the enriched uranium and continue in the future (unless a tougher treaty materializes in the next 6 months).

The new Iranian president (R) and his boss (L).

This resolution wouldn't be enough for Israel. The election of the new Iranian president, Mr Rouhani, has made some impact on the impressions of many people in the West, including your humble correspondent, I admit. He looks sort of moderate; his country developed a charm offensive. It's possible they will achieve an agreement with the West that is pretty good for them. The Iranian official press already predicts an Iranian diplomatic victory. The mullah-in-chief promises that Iran won't back up by one iota.

Campaign against Miss Charles University

Feminist activists stress that women are ugly and stink

My undergraduate alma mater, the Charles University in Prague (founded in 1348), is witnessing a battle whose main spark is the Miss Charles University contest. Visit MissUK.CZ for the official web page of the contest, with some photos, trailer etc. I hope that the British readers will understand that the primary meaning of the UK acronym is "Univerzita Karlova" rather than some hypothetical faraway island or islands or whatever else it could be. ;-)

Well, there's actually a competing contest of the same kind, Miss Karlovka, too.

Markéta Majerová (23, Faculty of Philosophy, Didactics), the #1 contestant, was told to explain what improvements she would like to see at the university. She answered: "My fellow students, ask not what your university can do for you, ask what you can do for your university." Be careful during your visit to Dallas, Markéta! ;-) See the Miss UK YouTube channel and e.g. Dana Halušková's "muse" video similar to the one above.

The name "Miss Charles University" itself is being contested. The official university potentates shouted they had nothing to do with the beauty contest (or contests). They haven't done anything substantial to stop them, either. Some media write that it's not a contest organized by the Charles University. I think that this comment is already misleading; it is not a contest organized by potentates at the Charles University but many of the organizers, supporters, and all contestants belong to the body of students and alumni of the Charles University and every student of the university may compete. So it arguably is a contest of the Charles University, just one closer to the grassroots than the astroturf.

132 countries exit Warsaw climate talks

Thank God.

Poor countries walk out of UN climate talks as compensation row rumbles on,
we heard from the Guardian and many others earlier in the morning. These 132 countries were apparently expecting that they would be paid "compensations for extreme weather events". It seems that they took this meme (so radical one that we haven't even heard much about it in the richer parts of the world) for granted and already demanded a new U.N. bureaucratic body to "oversee" the compensatory payments.

Many of the countries are governed by shamans who believe that thunderstorms are created by witches. Almost all of these countries are dominated by folks who just don't grasp science, not even at the elementary level. The IPCC was produced to support these beliefs – that Exxon creates hurricanes, McDonald's creates typhoons, the Great Devil is responsible for the floods, and the Little Devil (renamed to the rabid dog by the mullah-in-chief today) brought the wildfires to the world. And everyone will be living in a happy paradise once the assets of these villains are confiscated and redistributed.

Well, science says something different. All these weather events – much like the Earth and the Solar System – have been around for 4.6 billion years. Up to noisy fluctuations and some potentially understandable, mild, regular, persistent climate cycles, not necessarily periodic ones, nothing has detectably changed about the frequency or probabilistic distributions of these events in the last several thousands of years. If we improve the theory by the glaciation cycles, nothing has changed for one million of years.

The qualitative nature of the climate has been really the same for 4.6 billion years although in details, it was always changing. But there has never been an era in which extreme weather events were absent. There has never been any "paradise on Earth". And the weather without extreme events wouldn't be a paradise, anyway. Many of the higher life forms wouldn't even arise and evolve in such a "paradise".

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