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

Superconductive Leon Cooper: birthday

Sheldon Cooper is named after two people: physicist Leon Cooper and – with apologies to Sheldon Glashow – the film actor and producer Sheldon Leonard.

Today, on the last day of February 2013 and the last day of a 700-year-long popeful period, the first man in the list celebrates his 83th birthday. Congratulation to Leon Cooper! He is of course most famous for his and BCS theory of superconductivity for which they received the 1972 Physics Nobel Prize.

Czech president's alleged high treason: a childish yet harmful game

Even followers of stations such as Fox News could learn about a story that makes my homeland look like a banana republic:

Czech president could face high treason charges for his controversial amnesty
Czech president Václav Klaus will leave his job in 9 days – after 10 years which he spent at the Prague Castle by bringing inspiration and ideas to everyone and by impressively defending common sense, conservative values, and the Czech national interests – and the Club of Czech Klaus haters has prepared a nice gift for the economist: a trial to investigate whether Klaus has committed high treason by having declared a partial amnesty in the New Year Address. And perhaps by other things that Klaus' mindless, euronaive critics have considered politically incorrect for quite some time.

Needless to say, the accusation is completely absurd and the hypothetical "sins" have nothing to do with high treason. Most of the proponents of the trial know that it's absurd and unjustifiable. Nevertheless, they're complete slaves of their infinite hatred and the ends always justify the means in their eyes.

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

Sir Ranulph Fiennes' frostbite highlights global warming

There have been numerous stories of the same kind (even on this blog) but they apparently never stop coming. Sir Ranulph Fiennes (63) decided to become the first human to cross Antarctica in winter:

Sir Ranulph Fiennes to Attempt First Wintertime Trans-Antarctic Trek
The page above and many others revealed that a key purpose of the event was to promote the global warming panic:
But this trek is not merely another notch in Fiennes’ belt (which, presumably, is comprised entirely of notches). Ironically, the expedition team hopes ‘The Coldest Journey’ will draw attention to global warming — namely, the effect that climate change has wrought upon the polar ice cap. Fiennes additionally intends to raise $10 million for Seeing is Believing, a charity organization that assists the blind.
This motivation has been behind many similar treks so you may be able to guess what the outcome is. ;-)

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

Learning physics is futile without practicing

LHC news: CMS released two papers with 20/fb of the 8 TeV 2012 data. Remarkably enough, both the dijet paper (Figure 5) and the dilepton paper (Figure 5) show 2-sigma excesses for a possible new object of mass 1,750 GeV or so. They're much weaker signals than what is expected from the typical theories for the objects searched in these papers but the overlap of these excesses is still a bit interesting.
After a break, I answered a package of questions at the Physics Stack Exchange. It's sometimes fun and some of the questions are even interesting but there are also some omnipresent sources of frustration.

Let me mention some of them.

Pretty much every day, there is a question or two that tries to announce the discovery that quantum mechanics has been overthrown and/or may be employed to send faster-than-light signals, and so on. See e.g. user1247 yesterday. Or another question by the same user that tries to overthrow the postulates of quantum mechanics within quantum field theory "only". Or joshphysics who is convinced that observables can't be observable. And so on.

Mauritia: microcontinents must have been around for eons

And pairs of opposing large continents may have been more typical than a single unified one

Tons of articles including one at NPR have been written about a new finding.

Lava sands with zircon xenocrysts found on the beaches of Mauritius (island which is East from Madagascar) support the idea of a microcontinent dubbed Mauritia that existed between the continents (...) of Madagascar and India for tens of millions of years sometime 70 million years ago. I don't want to be excessively accurate because I don't think that their reconstructed layout may be trusted this accurately.

Mauritia is supposed to be just a tiny sliver inserted between India and Madagascar in the left upper corner. At that time, the liberals in San Francisco belonged to the African union with Congo and were Hispanics. Baltic states haven't been occupied by Stalin yet and they had the Amazon forest in their yard. ;-)

The papers by Torsvik et al. and Niocaill et al. have appeared in Nature Geoscience; they're linked to at this Nature review. Although the precise arguments leading to the dating and other claims aren't comprehensible to me, it still seems like too much hype given the importance of the finding.

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

A pro-firewall paper

The black hole firewall saga has continued with several new papers. Since the last blog entry about the topic, three Japanese authors proposed something that they call a self-consistent model of the black hole evaporation, probably without any firewalls. Because a starting point is semiclassical gravity, the paper can't be self-consistent, however.

Rodolfo Gambini and Jorge Pullin propose that loop quantum gravity "solves" the firewall problem by producing some new degrees of freedom. They extend the LQG algebra to a Lie algebra. I guess other LQG proponents won't like such a heretical modification but one must realize that in LQG, one may add, modify, or erase any degrees of freedom and any terms in the constraints and equations of motion because they're completely ill-defined and arbitrary and they don't change the quality of the theory because of the GIGO principle (garbage in, garbage out).

These adjectives must be considered on top of the fact that regardless of the choices, LQG is inconsistent and amazingly dumb, too. At any rate, an attempt to find new degrees of freedom in a theory is very modern – and I would say stringy. Kudos to the authors for that.

Today, there's a new pro-firewall paper.

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

Mauna Loa carbon dioxide: a fit

I wanted to find a nice function that gives a satisfactory description of the carbon dioxide concentration as a function of time.

Mauna Loa, one of the five volcanoes underlying Hawaii, a middle Pacific state of the U.S., is the most standardized place where the concentration is measured. See this NOAA page on Mauna Loa weekly and the raw data I have used.

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

Unstable Universes: guest blog

Guest blog by David Berenstein, Assoc. Prof. in Santa Barbara

It’s a fine day for the Universe to die, and to be new again! Well, maybe not, but the Internet is abuzz with a reincarnation of the unstable universe story. (You can also see it here, or here, the whole thing is trending in Google). In other words, this is known as tunneling between vacua. And if you have followed the news about the Landscape of vacua in string theory, this should be old news (that we may live in a unstable Universe, which we don’t know). For some reason, this wheel gets reinvented again and again with different names. All you need is one paper, or conference, or talk to make it sound exciting, and then it’s Coming attraction: the end of the Universe …. a couple of billion years in the future.

Ludwig Boltzmann: a birthday

Off-topic: Yuri Milner, Facebook's Zuckerberg, and Google's Brin launched a Life Sciences counterpart of the Milner Prize, the same money. Because it's about life sciences, the chairman of the foundation is the chairman of Apple.
Ludwig Boltzmann was born on February 20th, 1844, in Vienna, the capital of the Austrian Empire. He hanged himself 62 years later, on September 5th, 1906, near Trieste, (then) also in the Austrian Empire, where he was on vacations with his wife Henriette von Aigentler and a daughter. They had 3 daughters and 2 sons; Boltzmann probably suffered from undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

I consider Boltzmann to be not only the #1 person behind classical statistical physics but also the latest "forefather" of quantum mechanics. His name appears in something like 100 TRF blog entries.

The Balkans aren't ready for investments

Bulgarian government collapsed due to Czech-controlled electricity

ČEZ, the Czech Power Group, is Central Europe's largest listed company with market capitalization exceeding $17 billion. Its 70% remains state-owned but the rest is large enough so that it's one of the two main movers of the Prague Stock Exchange. Anyone trading stocks in Prague probably has some stocks of ČEZ. The price is now just slightly above CZK 600.

Three power companies share the Bulgarian grid. ČEZ and Energo-Pro have headquarters in Czechia (the latter also does business in Georgia, Armenia, Turkey), EVN is Austrian. All three operators became targets of silly protests.

It's running the healthy Czech grid and six nuclear reactors as well as many coal plants, a significant part of one of Europe's most overbloated (and irrationally located) collections of photovoltaics, and many other things. In Czechia, consumers pay about $0.30 per kWh of electricity. Owners of solar panels sell their energy for a guaranteed $0.60 per kWh or so. Remarkably enough, the consumers pay just $0.10 per kWh in Bulgaria.

And they're still complaining.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Nicolaus Copernicus: 540th birthday

Off-topic, Higgs: Fox News, BBC, and others are suddenly excited by the possibility suggested by the Higgs boson mass that our Universe is intrinsically unstable. See some 4-month or years old TRF blog entries.
Mikołaj Kopernik was born on February 19th, 1473 – half a millennium and 9.5 months before your humble correspondent – into a rich family in Toruń (thorn) in Royal Prussia, a part of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland.

At that time, the nationality of the people was more associated with the territory and not with ethnic groups: modern European 19th century nation states weren't born yet (American readers will forgive me but they still haven't invented the concept as of early 21st century).

However, Nicolaus spoke Polish, German, and Latin very well and equally well; he also spoke Greek and Italian. At some school, he was pretty much led to register himself as a German which doesn't mean much. His father was a successful copper trader at the Wall Street, selling the commodity to Danzig. His mother died when Nicolaus was a small boy but she was a member of a very rich dynasty.

Monday, February 18, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

AMS-02 dark matter results in 2-3 weeks

...and they may be pretty exciting...

The BBC and The Globe And Mail (via Gordon) bring us some details about the looming dark matter announcements.

In particular, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a $1.5 billion gadget operating from the International Space Station, should reveal their first results in two or three weeks or so, i.e. probably in early March. And I would say that Samuel Ting, a 1976 Physics Nobel Prize winner and the boss of AMS, is trying to increase our suspicion that the AMS-02 results could be damn interesting although he remained able to leak no detail whatsoever, too.

Nima at STScl: don't modify gravity, understand it

...because it is a moral issue...

It's not the first time when Nima Arkani-Hamed gave a "totally negative" talk on a similar issue but it's a fun time.

Twelve days ago he came to The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland – the terrestrial headquarters for Hubble (past) and James Webb Telescope (future) and a loose part of Johns Hopkins University – and had the following things to say.

Sunday, February 17, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Branes as a generalization of charged particles

As a "theory of everything" (TOE), string/M-theory contains all good ideas in physics. During the 20th century, people realized that the framework of quantum field theory is a "theory of nearly everything" (TONE).

Not surprisingly, quantum field theories play an important role in string theory. They approximate its dynamics at long distances (effective field theories in the spacetime), exactly describe the ultimate long-distance limit of various theories on branes, and underlie the only "truly well-defined" systems of equations that define string/M-theory itself (two-dimensional world sheet CFTs, CFTs from AdS/CFT, gauge theories used as matrix models, string field theory as a QFT with infinitely many fields, and so on).

Whenever we try to deduce the stringy predictions for spacetime physics, we start by analyzing the spectrum – the fields (especially those that produce light or massless particles) whose presence in spacetime is implied by string/M-theory. These fields are conveniently classified by their spin, i.e. the maximum allowed value of e.g. \(J_{12}\) in a multiplet.

Saturday, February 16, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Nick Cave: Higgs Boson Blues

I have listened to lots of songs by Nick Cave because he's been among the most favorite musicians of my former German Australian roommate (this is how he moved in except that I didn't have that much furniture yet). ;-) Your humble correspondent only became fond of his duet with Kylie Minogue that Oscar Pistorius apparently picked as his role model. The "pure" Cave & Bad Seeds songs are too wild for me.

At any rate, Sean Carroll noticed an interesting new Spring 2012 song, Higgs Boson Blues.

Sean's version of the video contains the lyrics rather than a live concert.

Be careful: it's 8 minutes long. Why Cave recorded a song about a new particle that hadn't yet been found in the Swiss cave is a controversial question. He claims that he was just looking for curiosities and exotic Wikipedia entries. I must appreciate that the song was created before the official July 4th, 2012 discovery.

Ernest Moniz, MIT: Chu's successor?

TRF knows the name of the next energy secretary

Some sources including Reuters speculate – or spread rumors – that Barack Obama is considering a nuclear physicist at MIT, Ernest Moniz, as a replacement for Steven Chu.

I don't think I have ever met him. His CV reveals that he's worked both on nuclear power and nuclear weapons. He is a nuclear bull. His publication record is non-empty yet modest – surely relatively to e.g. Steven Chu.

Al Gore, president of Earth Inc, didn't mention climate for 1 minute

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore uploaded a new video to YouTube – the first video on his YouTube channel – in which he announced a new company, Earth Inc.

The video has attracted more than 1,000 viewers in three days. Well, it was probably 200 viewers seeing it 5 times but it's still impressive for a former vice-president and a major party's presidential candidate in a country with 300 million people. We may be going to double the number of views. ;-)

Al Gore advertises printers that may print whole houses within a day as well as new Al Gore Rhythms that increase the efficiency of law firm assistants 500 times. He seems to partially take credit not only for the Al Gore Rhythms but maybe for the 3D printers, too. If you told him about plans to 3D print buildings on the Moon, he would take credit for them, too.

Friday, February 15, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Should we build a defense system against meteorites?

We were promised that today, the 2012 DA14 asteroid would pass just 27,700 km away from the surface of Earth today (watch live later tonight). That would be the closest distance recorded by humans for an object of this or larger size (diameter about 50 meters).

Also, we were told that no object would actually hit the surface of Earth on Friday 15th, 2013. Technically speaking, that was wrong. ;-) An unrelated meteor (Google News) was seen – and affected – the Chelyabinsk region in central Russia, 300 km South from our (Pilsen's) twin city of Yekaterinburg (formerly Sverdlovsk, named after a bloody communist murderer of the tzar family) where I spent July 1988. See a collection of amateur videos (plus YouTube) of this meteorite that is said to be the largest one since the 1908 Tunguska event (yes, Russia seems to have a monopoly in this field: Gagarin was just a minor example of this fact).

Despite the "uniqueness status" of both objects and their taking place on the very same day, these two events are almost certainly unrelated. The speed of DA14 relatively to the Earth was about 7.8 km/s while the speed of the Russian meteor relatively to the surface was about 15-30 km/s. It's remarkable that no one can provide us with more accurate numbers. It must be possible to extract the exact velocity vector from the amateur videos, right?

It's also being said that the direction of the Russian meteor was different (almost opposite) from that of the 2012 DA asteroid: DA14 went from South to North, the Russian rock went in the opposite direction.

Galileo Galilei: an anniversary

Galileo Galilei, the father of science, the scientific method, physics, modern physics, and astronomy, among other things (including 2 daughters and 1 son, all of them out of wedlock), was born on February 15th (Julian calender i.e. Old Style), 1564 in Pisa, a town in the Duchy of Florence.

His father Vincenzo Galilei was an achieved lutenist (like an obsolete guitar player) and music theorist and the family was doing fine. Nevertheless, this father needed lots of money for some dowries and extra expenses needed for Galileo's younger brother Michelagnolo Galilei (another lutenist, one who never earn any real bucks with his music). Despite the relative wealth and fame, one could say that Galileo (who became a lutenist himself) needed extra income and many of his early inventions were actually motivated by the thirst for extra money.

Despite his prestigious background, I would count him as a self-made man who shared many of the typical character features with great folks who come from poor families.

SSC Naples - Viktoria Pilsen

The soccer team in my hometown, FC Viktoria Pilsen (web), has already brought some quality moments to its fans in Pilsen, in Czechia, and beyond.

After decades in which it struggled on the boundary of the top Czech league and the next-to-top league, the team (now led by the new stellar coach, Mr Pavel Vrba) won the top Czech league two years ago (it was second on the following year) and showed the best Czech team results ever in the super prestigious UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League.

A year ago, they once played 2-2 against AC Milan, defeated Atlético Madrid two months ago, played as peers against FC Barcelona, the world's best team according to most soccer fans, and beat many teams that don't sound as luxurious as FC Barcelona but that were still expected to smoothly prevail. But last night, the level of joy that the Pilsner players may bring to their fans has been upgraded to a brand new level.

They played the first match (the rematch will take place in Pilsen next week) against SSC Naples. The winner of the bi-match will advance among the top 16 teams of the UEFA Europa League, the second most prestigious league on the continent. Based on the information below and no other data, infer and discuss your estimate for the final score last night.

Thursday, February 14, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Engineers, geoscientists: only 36% believe in CAGW

Fritz Zwicky would celebrate 115th birthday today. He was quite a character.
James Taylor's blog at Forbes points out an interesting peer-reviewed survey
Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change by Lefsrud, Meyer (PDF)
in Organization Studies, a SAGE journal. 1,077 geoscientists and engineers in Alberta (yes, I suppose that those who are good in searching for oil are generously represented), Canada were asked about their opinion on the climate change debate. A cute detail is that the survey takers themselves are alarmists who enjoy using words such as "deniers".

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Klaus on abdication of Benedict XVI

I was sorry to learn about the reports that Benedict XVI resigned. Whatever the reasons behind the Pope's surprising decision were, the decision makes me sad.

Goddard, Watts vs Tamino: Arctic ice

Grant Tamino Foster funnily and angrily reacted to an innocent observation by Steven Goddard and (later) Anthony Watts.

They pointed out, without too much ado, the innocent fact that since the beginning of the observations in 1979, the year 2013 has seen the greatest increase of the Arctic sea ice area relatively to the previous year's summer minimum.

That drove Tamino up the wall! Some people – deniers – can't be reasoned with, we learn.

Susskind, Hrabovsky: The Theoretical Minimum

Sean Carroll locates and praises a new book by Leonard Susskind and George Hrabovsky. (Funny, in the Czech spelling, Jiří Hrabovský is a rather famous guy in the Czech TV News and P.R. industry.)

This book's goal is to teach you everything you need to actually follow and do physics – including equations – but it is not a textbook. One may be surprised how a book with equations may refuse to be a textbook and what the word "textbook" really means ;-) but whatever it is, it is surely successful. For example, it's #150 at (and it was #4, we hear) and #1 in "science for kids" right now. I am sure that Leonard...

Hofstadter bought the book – which borrowed the title from Lev Landau's famous entry exam – for Penny, too. However, the book is now hopelessly sold out at so if you order it, you may have to wait for 1-2 months.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Scientific genius isn't extinct

...just the number and influence of stupid people who don't care about it and who don't even try to see it has increased...

I am going to (mostly) agree with a Western European blogger after quite some time:

The end of science is near, again (B.-R. blogspot blog)
She discusses a January 30th essay in Nature written by self-described "distinguished professor" Dean Keith Simonton,
After Einstein: Scientific genius is extinct (Nature, behind a paywall)
The author's points are good; see also another critical Big Think comment by Ross Pomeroy.

What does Mr Simonton actually want to say?

Monday, February 11, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A proof of Intelligent Design?

I hope that the title isn't too provocative. ;-)

Bill Z. has brought my attention to a December 2012 nuclear physics paper that was updated 3 days ago,

The fate of carbon-based life as a function of the light quark mass
They (Evgeny Epelbaum, Hermann Krebs, Timo A. Lähde, Dean Lee, Ulf-G. Meißner) try to determine the precision with which God or non-God had to fine-tune the average light quark mass – a parameter defined as \((m_{\rm up}+m_{\rm down})/2\) – in order to guarantee that there would be enough carbon, oxygen, and other elements that are crucial for the type of life that is recommended by 4 of 5 dentists.

The detailed calculations are concerned with the Hoyle state. What is it and what did the authors of the new paper conclude?

Czech taxpayers will pay a trillion for the solar mistake

...trillion of crowns, of course...

Because the dear reader probably doesn't know how much the Czech koruna, the peso of ours, is worth, I must tell you that 1 U.S. dollar is about 19 crowns. Still, a trillion is a large number.

Czech media published the disturbing calculation by the environment ministry yesterday. The total amount of money that the Czech taxpayers have already paid or will have to pay for the past solar subsidies and the unavoidable pledged solar subsidies in the future will probably reach a trillion of crowns or $50 billion.

News: Pope Benedict XVI is resigning as the boss of the Catholic Church. You are surely asking what is the actual reason. Wolfgang has a possible explanation. ;-)
That's quite a lot for the not-to-large Czech economy – which became Europe's #3 solar superpower in the absolute sense (not just on per-capita basis!). Multiply the number by 60 (the U.S/Czech GDP ratio) or so to see what it would do with the U.S. economy if it were equally generous: the solar subsidies in the U.S. would surpass 3 trillion dollars! No wonder, the Czech Republic has 35.5 times more solar per capita than the Sunshine State, Florida.

Sunday, February 10, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

James Weatherall: Physics of Wall Street

When an arrogant would-be physicist and philosopher writes about trillions whose transfers he can't trace or understand...

I know James Weatherall primarily as a student of mine who was always too sloppy and lazy to learn the subject properly but who was also breathtakingly self-confident, ambitious, and eager to talk about the questions he considered most important.

At various points of time, he would team up with various hardcore crackpots to assault state-of-the-art theoretical physics. But his ambitions are also behind the new book that was brought to my attention by a mathematical physicist in Munich (let me know if you want your name to be here!).

If I summarize the book, in Physics of Wall Street, Weatherall claims that "physicists" invented all the modern financial tools but these tools have been known for thousands of years at the same time; advanced algebra is needed to calculate the inflation indices but almost everyone should learn those; and all knowledge of the financial markets' working boils down to the random walk.

Saturday, February 09, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Are tensor products in QM unnatural?

Off-topic: Your humble correspondent will be incorporated in the next edition of the Holy Scripture
One aspect of quantum mechanics that makes beginners – including permanent beginners – feel uncomfortable is the fact that its "space of possible states" seems too large to them. The Hilbert space may seem large and if we want to describe composite systems, we need to employ a tensor product of the smaller Hilbert spaces. This product seems both large and mathematically complicated.

For example, a user named Joe asked a would-be historical question that made is sound as if the tensor products in quantum mechanics were very unnatural and they had to be randomly encountered after some long history of trials and errors.

UV/IR connection: link between God and His inverse

Whether some people like it or not, science has demonstrated that reductionism works. The laws governing the evolution of increasingly complex – and, typically, geometrically larger – objects (laws that are increasingly vague, riddled with uncertainties, errors, and exceptions) may be reduced to the laws describing ever smaller and ever more elementary building blocks (i.e. to laws that are increasingly more fundamental, accurate, and universal).

In fact, one may approximately list the disciplines of science in a hierarchical tree in which the arrow ↑ means that the discipline at the beginning of the arrow may be reduced to the discipline at the end of the arrow.

Friday, February 08, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Nature, Reuters: Amazon forest will thrive due to CO2

Alister Doyle of Reuters, Green Optimistic,, and others dared to blasphemously discuss a heretical paper in Nature,

Sensitivity of tropical carbon to climate change constrained by carbon dioxide variability
by Peter Cox and 6 co-authors.

Their new modeling concluded that the Amazon forest will keep on growing throughout the 21st century, mostly due to the fertilization by carbon dioxide that is going to beat all hypothetical negative terms that some people may want to associate with CO2 or anything else (fires, release of carbon induced by warming, and so on).

Fermiophobic, four-generation Higgs ruled out

Just a short link.

The \(126\GeV\) Higgs boson whose status has been "officially discovered" since July 4th, 2012 continues to be excessively too well-behaved. Its interactions and decays are so far almost perfectly consistent with the minimal model, the so-called Standard Model. This is also highlighted by the following new paper:

Searches for Higgs bosons in pp collisions at \(\sqrt{s} = 7\) and \(8\TeV\) in the context of four-generation and fermiophobic models (CMS, arXiv)
One may extend the Standard Model by adding the fourth generation of quarks and leptons. The behavior of the Higgs boson changes a little bit. Well, it changes substantially enough so that this Higgs boson in a larger model may be distinguished from the Higgs boson according to the Standard Model.

One may also modify the Standard Model in another way: make the Higgs boson fermiophobic. Phobia is the (pathological) fear of something. Fermiophobic particles aren't scared of Enrico Fermi; instead, they are repelled by the particles named after him, the fermions. In particular, a fermiophobic Higgs boson is one that doesn't interact with the fermions (leptons and quarks) at the tree level (the fermion masses have to be produced more indirectly). The interactions with the W-bosons and Z-bosons are still essential for the consistency of the theory.

Now, what happened in the recent paper?

Snowstorm: comparison with the 2005 blizzard

American readers hear about the looming record-shaking snowstorm in the Northeast. But will the event live up to the hype?

I would like to hear from the readers in the region whether the snowstorm is indeed more formidable than an ordinary blizzard we experienced in January 2005:

2005 Blizzard in Boston, Cambridge (a photo gallery)
Some of the pictures are pretty cool. All the pictures will be uploaded approximately by 2:40 pm Boston Winter Time.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Steve Hsu: Alice is Schrödinger's cat who may have fallen to a black hole

...or not...

The black hole firewall saga continues. The original paper by AMPS has collected 35 citations according to SPIRES. Most of the recent 10 are papers that are primarily about issues that different than black hole firewalls.

However, Stephen Hsu who is also a blogger (article about the topic; don't confuse him with Steven Chu although there may be some similarities here, too) just posted a new, 3-page preprint that attacks the essential error done by AMPS:

Macroscopic superpositions and black hole unitarity
I believe his basic line of arguments is equivalent to what I've been saying and it's also compatible with the Raju-Papadodimas paper and Nomura-Varela-Weinberg papers. What's the basic fact that Hsu realizes and AMPS overlook?

Lubošification of Scott Aaronson is underway

In 2006, quantum computing guy Scott Aaronson declared that he was ready to write and defend any piece of nonsensical claim about quantum gravity or string theory if he gets paid for it. The highest bidder wins. Your humble correspondent was dissatisfied with this attitude for ethical reasons.

Now, in 2013, Scott Aaronson recalls that exchange and adds a comment about the positive developments:

Yeah, this paper is pretty uninformed even by the usual standards of attempted quantum-mechanics-overthrowings. Let me now offer three more general thoughts.

First thought: isn’t it ironic that I’m increasingly seeing eye-to-eye with Luboš Motl—who once called me “the most corrupt piece of moral trash”—in his rantings against the world’s “anti-quantum-mechanical crackpots.” Let me put it this way: David Deutsch, Chris Fuchs, Sheldon...
It wasn't Sheldon Cooper. I had to terminate the quote at some point, right? The comment above means that we're seeing eye-to-eye with one another when it comes to foundational issues of quantum mechanics (which the rest of Scott's article confirms) – but maybe his good news was supposed to be more general than that.

Monday, February 04, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Skeptical Swedish climatology

Global warming only visible under a microscope

As noted by Pierre Gosselin (via another blog), a prominent senior climate scientist Lennart Bengtsson whose publication and citation record is rather formidable has said something that you must have heard many times from your humble correspondent:

We Are Creating Great Anxiety Without It Being Justified…there are no indications that the warming is so severe that we need to panic.

‘The warming we have had the last a 100 years is so small that if we didn’t have had meteorologists and climatologists to measure it we wouldn’t have noticed it at all.’

The Earth appears to have cooling properties that exceeds the previous thought ones, and that computer models are inadequate to try to foretell a chaotic object like the climate, where actual observations is the only way to go.
A commenter mentions that this could have been the first time when the Swedish media interviewed an actual achieved climate scientist rather than an activist.

Hendrik Antoon Lorentz: an anniversary

Hendrik Antoon Lorentz died 85 years ago, on February 4th, 1928. He was born in Summer 1853, almost 160 years ago, to a wealthy nurseryman who re-married when Hendrik's mother died. Educated as a protestant, he was a natural freethinker and his career was fast as he was already the boss of physics in Leiden at age of 24 (Johan van der Waals was offered the job but picked Amsterdam).

He has tried to make contributions to hydrodynamics, victims of the war (these efforts led to no genuinely helpful outcomes), and scientific bureaucracy but we of course remember him primarily because of his improvements of the electromagnetic theory, his help to the eradication of the luminiferous aether by showing how to derive Maxwell's equations in materials from the vacuum ones, the Lorentz force acting on a charged particle, and early formulae for the Lorentz contraction and Lorentz transformations that would become essential in Einstein's special theory of relativity a few years later.

He was also one of a few enthusiastic supporters of Einstein when he was looking for the general theory of relativity.

Sunday, February 03, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

High energy physics jobs: terror against formal theory

After some time, I checked the work of all the people listed in shortlists at the

Theoretical Particle Physics Jobs Rumor Mill
And I think that the composition of the folks is scary. Even though the page claims to list "theoretical" jobs, I haven't found a single person – among the dozens – who is primarily a formal theorist in high-energy physics – i.e. who mostly posts to hep-th. Correct me if I have missed someone. It's not just about the attribution to the archives; none of the people in the list is clearly thinking in the top-down way.

Saturday, February 02, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Longest match in Davis Cup

Being a sports fan may be an amazing waste of time, especially if you get stuck in a pond with black swan matches.

Today I decided to watch the Davis Cup doubles, Czechia vs Switzerland, played in Geneva, a few miles from the LHC. A reason was that some friends and relatives did the same. That was quite a silly decision, I am afraid!

Previously, the longest match in the Davis Cup was the 1982 match between John McEnroe (USA) and Mats Wilander (SWE), 6 hours and 22 minutes. Now, the today's match Berdych-Rosol (CZE) – Wawrinka-Chiudinelli (SUI) has been played for 7 hours and 1 minute. The match ended a minute ago.

You see that the record length finds itself in a whole new category which was unknown in the 1980s. This new kind of an extreme event is clearly a new proof of global warming. ;-)

Steven Chu quits, misunderstands the end of Stone Age

Physics Nobel Prize laureate Steven Chu is leaving the chair of the U.S. energy secretary.

Energy Secretary Chu steps down, blasts climate-change skeptics (Yahoo News)
His final words are all about the climate skeptics. He boasts that "only" 1% of the nonsensical green projects he has funded have gone bankrupt. Well, these are low standards, indeed. A project should only make one happy when it repays all the initial investments, expenses, and subsidies, not while it manages to avoid bankruptcy by exploiting the "nest" that's been given to the project at the beginning. Of course, he prefers not to say how much money his pet green projects have actually earned or wasted in total.

It seems sort of weird that the Department of Energy has been morphed into an activist organization promoting negligible, ideologically justified, uneconomic sources of energy. In the past, the department actually had to care about the "bulk" of the energy in the U.S., right? For example, it had to supervise the construction of genuine, feasible, technologically new sources of energy such as nuclear power plants, right? When did the transition to "energy doesn't matter, just the renewable one does" occur?

But I want to spend some time with Chu's comments about the Stone Age.

Friday, February 01, 2013 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

France bans light at night

François Hollande became many French conservative women's most favorite socialist politician of all time. Not only his government attacked the Islamists in Mali but they have also decided to expel some radical imams from France.

Well, the second event is a positive one and I am somewhat less enthusiastic about the first one because the situation in Mali is mostly incomprehensible to me and I am not an instant fanatical supporter of anyone who just happens not to be a Muslim. And the 75% tax for the rich in France is just insane and it will be harmful to the country, too.

Prague at night, taken a few days ago by Kevin Ford from the International Space Station. Altitude 400 km, speed 27,000 kph. Picture with geographic local names.

But what the Czechs are stunned by is this plan:

Lights out – France to force shops and offices to go dark overnight
From July 1st, shop windows won't be allowed to be illuminated at night. The same is true for offices after the last workers leave and so on. During Christmas, you will need paperwork from local bureaucrats for Christmas tree lights that would violate the rules. Paris could soon seem very different than it looks now – and very different than Prague on the picture. It could resemble North Korea that permanently celebrates the Earth Day.

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