Tuesday, December 30, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Czech army physician returns NATO medals

Translation by L.M., original here; RT story

This is an example of gestures that are either weakly or strongly endorsed by roughly 50% of Czechs. I partly agree with the spirit of the letter – long-time TRF readers probably know where I would disagree, too.
Dr Marek Obrtel: open letter to the defense minister

Dear Mr Minister,

due to the reasons I elaborate upon on the attached 3-page letter which is an attachment to this document, I urge you deprive me of the badges of honor from the military operations of the Army of the Czech Republic performed under the NATO umbrella.

I thank you for your understanding and assertively request your endorsement of my application.

Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Marek Obrtel MD
with his own hand

Top Slovak moderator, Czech Globe classmate, and climate hysteria

This blog has been extremely quiet during the (post-)Christmas week. There have been many things to write about but even at those moments when I wasn't otherwise engaged, I decided not to be saving the world all the time. ;-) Whether you are a Christian or not, I hope that you have enjoyed Christmas.

I won't be writing about tons of personal experiences in the recent days, about Neil deGrasse Tyson's idiotic tweets about Christmas or his equally idiotic populist tirades against string theory, papers and news reports nonsensically claiming to "unify" the uncertainty principle with the wave-particle duality (be sure that everything about these basic concepts and nothing else has been understood for almost 90 years), or about 50 different provoking things in the media.

And I will also postpone some interesting results of my quantum gravity research – as well as some fun about linguistics and many other things I wanted to write about. Instead, let me offer you a slightly relaxing but potentially infuriating story. Alexander Ač, a climate alarmist weirdo who sometimes visits our TRF community as well, just wrote his most popular blog post ever. It is his

Open letter to Ms Adéla Banášová (orig. SK)
It has 50,000 views and 200+ comments right now. The microscopic reason is that someone (...) placed the blog post at the main page www.sme.sk of the leading Slovak newspaper. But we may still ask: Why was this topic so attractive?

Ms Adéla Banášová (*1980) is Slovakia's most popular female TV and radio host and moderator – and one could argue that she is actually the most popular female TV host and moderator in Czechia, too. (Check YouTube.) She became particularly well-known because she has hosted the "Czech and Slovak American Idol" along with Mr Leoš Mareš. She boasts not only a larger nose and a degree in culturology but also higher intelligence than Mr Mareš who is funny but sort of childish and they did a good job. And it was surely her, and not him, who added some maturity to the mix. ;-)

Equally importantly for our purposes, she was a high school student of Alexander Ač, our local special Czecho-Slovak climate hysteria weirdo.

Saturday, December 27, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Johannes Kepler: an anniversary

Johannes Kepler was born prematurely near Stuttgart on 12/27/1571. His grandfather was a mayor of their town but once Johannes was born, the family's fortunes were already dropping. His father was a mercenary and left the family when Johannes was five. His mother was a healer and a witch which has also led to some legal problems.

Johannes was a brilliant child with early inclinations to astronomy. In Graz (1594-1600), he was defending the Copernican heliocentric system. At that time, there was no clear difference between astronomy and astrology. Therefore, Kepler also invented the ADE classification of planets orbiting the Sun. ;-) This attempt resembled, but was not identical to, Garrett Lisi's hopeless attempt to unify. Kepler also wrote that the Universe had to be stationary.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Only temperatures, not temperature changes, may be dangerous

A Lumo Christmas playlist

Gavin Schmidt wrote a RealClimate.ORG blog post about the difference between the temperatures and temperature anomalies – or temperature changes – and which of them is known, predicted, and important.

Absolute temperatures and relative anomalies
Just to be sure, the temperature anomaly is the difference between the temperature and the "average" temperature recorded for the same place (or region) and the same date or month or season (if applicable). The average is computed (from the data at the same place and the same date[s]) over a period, like 1951-1980 or 1980-1999 or something like that, and this base line is often being changed which makes things confusing.

If the temperature were the changing to the same values every January and every February etc. (at a given location, or globally), the temperature anomalies would be equal to zero.

The global mean temperature is something like 14.5 °C or 15 °C. No one can really determine the value at this amazing, subdegree accuracy. Different methodologies – and indeed, different detailed definitions of the global mean temperature – produce different answers.

Every theory of quantum gravity is a part of string theory: a partial proof

A successful test in \(AdS_3\)

The first hep-th paper today is

String Universality for Permutation Orbifolds
by Alexandre Belin, Christoph A. Keller, and Alexander Maloney who are at McGill and Rutgers University, my graduate Alma Mater (I know A.M. from Harvard). Note that Christopher was terrified by the disagreement between the other two authors when it comes to "-re" or "-er" in their first name, so he erased it from his name altogether. ;-)

Serin Hall, Rutgers University, NJ

We sometimes say that string theory is the only consistent theory of quantum gravity. It's the only game in town. This is an observation mostly based on various types of circumstantial evidence. Whenever you try something that deviates from string/M-theory, you run into inconsistencies. Sometimes you don't run into inconsistencies but something else happens. Many good ideas that were thought to be "competitors" to string theory were shown to be just aspects of some (usually special) solutions to string theory (noncommutative geometry, CFT, matrix models, and even the Hořava-Lifshitz class of theories have been found to be parts of string theory), and so on. And decades of attempts to find a truly inequivalent competing theory have utterly failed. That's not a complete proof of their absence, either, but it is evidence that shouldn't be completely ignored.

But that doesn't mean that the statement that every consistent theory of quantum gravity has to be nothing else than another approach to string/M-theory is just an expression of vague feelings, a guesswork, or a partial wishful thinking. We don't have the "most complete proof" of this assertion yet – this fact may be partly blamed on the absence of the completely universal, most rigorous definition of both "quantum gravity" and "string theory". But there exist partial proofs and this paper is an example.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Did Vladislav Voloshin (UA) shoot down MH17?

A month ago, I mentioned a photograph purportedly showing a Ukrainian SU-27 or Mig-29 that is just shooting down the Malaysian aircraft in Donbas. The picture could have been shown to be fake – too many details were wrong – and some readers helpfully provided us with links to the relevant evidence.

I am hoping that a similar response may emerge now. The new accusations don't come with any high-resolution photograph – it's just an eyewitness – but they are more concrete because they name the boy who is claimed to have shot the airplane by accident.

Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian, TV version, an English translation) published the interview with the alleged eyewitness, a former employee of an airbase in Dniepropetrovsk. I am not sure about his or her name – it may be Yuri Shevtsov, the guy who gave this testimony in August, or someone else, like Alexander someone. Most sources say that he is still a "secret witness". Who knows.

2015: arXiv identifiers get a new digit

Paul Ginsparg began to maintain xxx.lanl.gov – the server later renamed as arXiv.org – in Summer 1991. Since that time, the number of papers submitted each month would be growing.

You can see that despite the mild acceleration in recent 5 years, the increase was much closer to a simple linear increse from 0 in Fall 1991 to almost 9,000 in recent months (the latter number may be translated to 400+ papers on an average "live" day). Because 9,000 is rather close to 10,000 which is 10 to the fourth power, you may be worried about the identifiers of the papers.

Since April 2007, the users of the preprint repository were using a system that only allows 10,000 papers a month, a threshold that is likely to be surpassed sometime in 2015 or 2016.

Monday, December 22, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Cutting ties with Klaus: CATO jumps on the totalitarian PC bandwagon

...and the knee-jerk Russophobia...

The Czech media informed us about the article

Vaclav Klaus, Libertarian Hero, Has His Wings Clipped by Cato Institute (The Daily Beast)
by James Kirchick, a Berlin reporter of the Haaretz and a few other left-wing news outlets. The text is dedicated to the divorce between Václav Klaus and the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank. Václav Klaus became a Distinguished Senior Fellow in March 2013 and he was silently "fired" sometime in September 2014, apparently mainly because CATO joined the new wave of the mindless Russophobia that is crippling almost the whole mainstream foreign policy discourse in the U.S. these days – while Klaus knows what he is talking about in this context, too.

In February 2007, after I translated an interview with Klaus about global warming that became the main story of the day at the Drudge Report and was mentioned by Fox News and other sources, our then president invited me to Washington D.C. A group including me, Klaus, and several prominent U.S. climate skeptics had a lunch together. It was actually my first – and (so far?) only – visit to the U.S. capital. I liked it and saw lots of the sightseeings, too.

One of the buildings I visited – because of a talk by Klaus – was the CATO Institute at 1000 Massachusetts Avenue. This is a nice address to remember. You know, in Cambridge and Greater Boston, I would both live and work meters from another Massachusetts Avenue as well so I was distracted by the idea that it's actually the same Mass Ave ;-) – a grand hypothesis that hasn't been "safely" falsified for me yet but feel free to do it LOL.

Sunday, December 21, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Discrete spacetimes contradict Unruh effect

Two young Indian men, Golam Mortuza Hossain and Gopal Sardar, wrote a paper about loop quantum gravity and similar "discrete" models of quantum gravity whose mathematical argumentation seems vastly better than that of an average paper about similar subjects:

Absence of Unruh effect in polymer quantization (gr-qc)
Yes, the Unruh effect isn't reproduced by those theories, they say. "Has loop quantum gravity been proved..." sensibly asserted that if the paper is right, it's a way to prove that these theories are dead. Well, it's about the 500th proof that they are wrong, I would say.

These two guys' mathematical and theoretical physical advantage over an average author of "loop quantum gravity" papers seems self-evident. Show me loop quantum gravity papers that actually manipulate with the Mathieu equation, elliptic cosine and sine functions, Riemann zeta function, and even with a simpler mathematical operation in modern physics – the Bogoliubov transformation.

Saturday, December 20, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

PC revolution, Altair 8800: 40th anniversary

Fourty years and one day ago, the PC revolution started when Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS) released its Altair 8800 personal computer.

In 1994, this guy, Bill Gates, said a few words about his and Paul Allen's decision to write BASIC for that machine (which was released in early 1975). Note that BASIC was invented as a popular language at a New Hampshire school in 1964.

I was just one year and two weeks old when the model was introduced. But even for those of you who are older, it must feel like some mysterious pre-history of the PCs because almost no one bought it. It was using the Intel 8080 microprocessor that is, up to relatively minor variations, still around in Windows PCs. That microprocessor was introduced in 1974, two years after Intel's first microprocessor, Intel 8008 (see its restricted instruction set).

Friday, December 19, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Alternative teaching of mathematics: three problems

Mathematics is not just the mechanical elimination of a finite number of answers

Two days ago, I spent hours, literally, by discussions at aktualne.cz about the Hejný alternative method to teach mathematics to the kids.

Off-topic: A group of 100+ engineers is actually building Hyperloop, Elon Musk's mach-one train that gets from San Francisco to L.A. in 30 minutes.

If I try to summarize some key points really concisely (some exchanges helped me to crystallize some of the points): mathematics is not just about the lessons that a human derives from the experience, but about the accumulated knowledge that dozens of generations of mathematicians have extracted from the experience and, even more correctly, from their pure thought. So mathematics can't be left to the rediscovery of each kid.

Now, there are differences between the kids and they will show up. Whether the kids at the top in a given subject – mathematics, in this case – master the subject well is more important than what the others do because those at the top are actually likely to use it. One may reduce the differences by forcing the kids who were not so good to spend much more time. But I actually think it is counterproductive. Kids – and adults – should better focus on things that make them happy and that they are good at. So I think that in a healthy situation, the less talented kids in mathematics will spend less, and not more, time with mathematics than their talented counterparts. Consequently, the gap will be even larger than it would be if everyone spent the same time with everything.

Thursday, December 18, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Ellis', Silk's undemanding chatter on falsifiability in Nature

Scientific American joined the community of low-brow, ideologically driven, anti-science tabloids some decade ago. Nature was keeping its traditional quality (well, almost) for much longer but recently, it is turning into another venue for mediocre pseudointellectuals to attack science – and especially quality science.

Two days ago, Nature published a rant by an average physicist and a physicist who really sucks titled

Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics (by George Ellis, Joe Silk)
Similar offensive, intimidating rants love to use the word "defend". It reminded me of "Science defends itself against The Skeptical Environmentalist" in Scientific American (2002).

It's a usual tirade about "falsification" by people who couldn't make it to the top of science by doing real technical work so they decided to spit on the top scientists and collect points among the stupid, science-hating part of the populace by misleading populist texts without any valid technical content.

Let me be somewhat more specific about the reasons why I consider this text (and its authors) to be crap or worse.

Bitcoin: up to noise, the eternal downward trend is very likely

On November 28th, 2013, I wrote a blog post about the Bitcoin with some explanation what the money supply of the Bitcoins is and how the value may evolve. I said many things about the substance that I still believe to be true but I also included a prophesy – which was also included in the title – that the Bitcoin bubble would probably await some new peaks before it bursts.

With the hindsight, I tend to think that my prophesy was completely wrong. I am not a good prophet – because there are probably no good prophets allowed by the laws of physics. November 2013 when I wrote the blog post was actually the month when the price of the Bitcoin peaked. On November 17th, 2013, the price surpassed $1,200 at MtGox but it was before I wrote the blog post where I already talked about the "current price near $1,000", so you couldn't earn any more money by the extra investments.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Bang or bounce: a new idea on cyclic cosmology

Guest blog by Paul Frampton

Dear Luboš, thank you for the kind invitation to contribute as a guest on your remarkable blog. My subject is cyclic cosmology and will be based on a recent paper archived at 1411.7887 [gr-qc] although I will provide only a non-technical description without many equations and will begin with the interesting history of cyclic model building.

One surprising and interesting output is that no inflation is required to explain the observed flatness and homogeneity of the universe.

A philosopher's quantum mechanical delusions

It's been weeks since I was infuriated by nonsense about the foundations of quantum mechanics. A nice time, at least from this point of view. It's over now because a "philosopher" named Chip Sebens wrote a blog post at his co-author Sean Carroll's blog about his and their quantum mechanical fantasies and misconceptions:

Guest Post: Chip Sebens on the Many-Interacting-Worlds Approach to Quantum Mechanics
This babbling is "inspired" by quantum mechanics and especially all the wrong things that are being written about quantum mechanics in the popular books. So some of the sentences are similar to the truth even though they are always slightly wrong – it's never right.

I will try to focus on the things that are wrong and you should be aware of the fact that they were cherry-picked to a certain extent and you could cherry-pick some assertions which would make Sebens' essay look less bad. But such fundamental mistakes shouldn't be there at all, so his text is bad, anyway.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Shrinking ruble: Russian calmness impresses me

Thanks to the excess oil (not only) from fracking, the price dropped below $59 for the first time in a long time.

And because of this drop combined with the Russian dependence on the income from fossil fuels and because of sanctions against Russia that have almost cut the world's largest territory from loans, plus the hysteria surrounding these moves, the Russian currency dropped from 32 rubles per dollar in October 2013 to the high of 93.5 rubles per dollar earlier today. The ruble has recovered some ground since that time (to 80 now) but it may have been temporary.

The drop from some moment in Fall 2013 is by the factor of three. A crook named Michael Mann should look at the graph above if he wants to see what a real-world hockey stick graph should look like. And the graph doesn't even show the high at 93.5 today. Every day, the ruble seems to lose over 10% of the value. The half-life (in the sense of radioactivity) is about three days.

Meanwhile, in these extreme conditions, the Russian Central Bank is doing what is right – except for some interventions that always proved to be highly temporary. The last action was the increase of the interest rates from 10.5% to 17% less than one day ago.

Everyone else seems to be calm in Russia. There doesn't even seem to be any anger. I have tried to look at Russian newspapers but I wouldn't even see a single text that would blame the U.S. for this havoc. The Central Bank boss tells everyone to embrace the new financial reality while a region in Central Russia banned the word "crisis" in the public. I am just impressed by all of that.

Kids: most new methods to teach mathematics are dangerous pseudoscience

Czechia's most influential (?) news server iDNES.cz has been bombarding the readers with hype about new revolutionary ways to teach mathematics to schoolkids.

I placed this blog post at the top again after I discussed with the advocates at aktualne.cz.
This stuff is combined with constant calls to eliminate mathematics from the mandatory subjects in the high school final exams. Folks from a despicable Faculty of Humanities at the Charles University – a tumorous department that shouldn't exist at all – are constantly involved. You can imagine that I am terrified by all that and you haven't even heard any details.

Today, an 80-year-old chap called Milan Hejný is promoting his and his father's "new method" to teach mathematics (how "new" is a method whose founder was born in 1904?) in an interview titled The kid has mathematics inside itself, just listen to him or her, the father of a revolutionary method says. Quite an uncritical title, right? However, the content of the interview is trash.

Landscape of some M-theory \(G_2\) compactifications: 50 million shapes

The first hep-th paper today is

The Landscape of M-theory Compactifications on Seven-Manifolds with \(G_2\) Holonomy
by David Morrison and James Halverson. The most important classes or descriptions of superstring/M-theory compactifications (or solutions) that produce realistic physics are
  1. heterotic \(E_8\times E_8\) strings on Calabi-Yau three-folds, string theorists' oldest promising horse
  2. heterotic Hořava-Witten M-theory limit with the same gauge group, on Calabi-Yaus times a line interval
  3. type IIB flux vacua – almost equivalently, F-theory on Calabi-Yau four-folds – with the notorious \(10^{500}\) landscape
  4. type IIA string theory with D6-branes plus orientifolds or similar braneworlds
  5. M-theory on \(G_2\) holonomy manifolds
There are various relationships and dualities between these groups that connect all of them to a rather tight network. All these compactifications yield \(\NNN=1\) supersymmetry in \(d=4\) at some point which is then expected to be spontaneously broken.

Halverson and Morrison focus on the last group, the \(G_2\) compactifications, although they don't consider "quite" realistic compactifications. To have non-Abelian gauge groups like the Standard Model's \(SU(3)\times SU(2)\times U(1)\), one needs singular seven-dimensional \(G_2\) holonomy manifolds: the singularities are needed for the non-Abelian enhanced group.

They are satisfied with smooth manifolds whose gauge group in \(d=4\) is non-Abelian, namely \(U(1)^3\).

Monday, December 15, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Afghanistan war costs exceed $1 trillion

...15-year spending matches 30 years of GDP...

After 9/11, the U.S. had a self-evident moral capital to organize a revenge. The terrorist attacks that took place half an hour before my PhD defense were brutal, shocking, saddening, and spectacular.

This picture of Kabul makes the place look richer than it is.

The immediate damages to the infrastructure exceeded $10 billion but just by a little. On the other hand, the war in Afghanistan that was justified by the attacks has already surpassed $1 trillion (ten to the twelfth power), see CNBC, which beats the immediate damages caused by 9/11 by two orders of magnitude.

(The Soviet Union has spent lots of money for a futile conflict in Afghanistan as well – but it was surely less than a trillion dollars.)

Despite this asymmetry, the operations in Afghanistan seem far less spectacular – that's why I have included the provoking adjective above. One could argue that the money has been almost completely wasted.

Wolfgang Pauli: an anniversary

Wolfgang Pauli was born in Vienna, here in Austria-Hungary, in 1900, and he died on December 15th, 1958, in Zurich.

His 1945 Nobel prize was given for the exclusion principle but he has contributed many other things and he had the potential to discover all of quantum mechanics by himself, his friends Bohr and Heisenberg would agree.

LHC to restart in March 2015: \(13\TeV\)

Now it's the last month of 2014. So far the last proton-proton collisions – at \(8\TeV\) – occurred in late 2012. The gadget went to Two Years' Vacation and as you have known since your school days, vacations are over very quickly. It takes about two years for Two Years' Vacation to be over.

Iveta Bartošová, Two Years' Vacations (1988). Lyrics: "You [the beam] used to say: I will be back right away. It's just two years' vacation, nothing more." Well, OK, it was originally two years of military service but I found the pop song relevant, anyway.

The collider is designed for the center-of-mass energy of \(14\TeV\). I guess that it's still the plan to get to that level – maybe sometime during 2015. However, March 2015 will begin the acceleration to a somewhat lower energy, \(13\TeV\) which means \(6.5\TeV\) per proton. Collisions used by physicists should be available from May 2015. See some Google News.

Saturday, December 13, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Entropy, temperature are not fixed linear operators

Similarly fields in GR. A simple demonstration of "state dependence" in quantum gravity

Kyriakos Papadodimas and Suvrat Raju have demonstrated that it's possible to embed operators describing the fields in the black hole interior into the Hilbert space of a black hole so that all the usual principles approximately hold.

Their construction doesn't imply that certain questions about the perceptions of the infalling observer have unambiguous answers – indeed, one may worry about the non-uniqueness implied by their construction. But I am convinced that the existence of the embedding proves (and it's not the only proof) that various AMPS-like arguments that the black hole interior can't exist in a consistent theory of quantum gravity – e.g. in string theory and its AdS/CFT – are just wrong.

The state dependence of the field operators \(\Phi(x,y,z,t)\) describing some fields in the black hole interior has gradually emerged as the epicenter of the controversy that prevents some physicists from confirming that Papadodimas and Raju have settled the broad AMPS-like questions.

Many previous blog posts – e.g. in August 2013 and August 2014 – unmasked my personal certainty that the concept of state dependence of the field operators is right. We must choose a realistic subspace of the Hilbert space – states that differ from a reference state \(\ket\psi\) at most by the action of some simple enough polynomials of the local operators – and within this "patch" of the Hilbert space, the field operators work exactly like quantum mechanics demands. However, the field operators don't have a broader range of validity – they can't be well-defined on the whole Hilbert space. After all, even the topology of the spacetime is variable which means that there can be no "universal" coordinates parameterizing the spacetime.

Here I want to promote a more obvious argument why the state dependence is inevitable. We know state dependence from statistical physics and the state dependence of the field operators is just a translation of these facts into the quantum gravitational language via the standard Bekenstein-Hawking-like dictionary.

A typical recent climate alarmist PhD

Gerrit Holl: a mindless parrot on a mission to spread the "consensus"

A week ago or so, I wanted to look how many of my 1,900+ answers at Physics Stack Exchange have a negative overall number of "upvotes minus downvotes". There is a hundred of zero-score ones (some of them have been accepted, however) but only two answers boast a negative score.

In one case, a guy was confused about the spontaneous symmetry breaking, the difference between two configurations' being the same and their being related by a symmetry. If the degree of confusion exceeds a critical threshold, it's hard to help these people because they don't have a clue what they are even asking about. They want to reshape the incoming information in their way which is incoherent and protect themselves against any coherent understanding. Minus one for me.

The second negative-score answer, also at minus one (2 pluses, 3 minuses), was about the rainfall according to global warming. It's not a coincidence. This part of physical sciences has been totally politicized. OK, so the question was:

Why we should observe an increment on the mean intensity in rainfalls and an increment on mean dry days with global warming?
The first, one-sentence answer, sends the author of the question to a propagandistic website with zero quantitative information and some vague claims about models that may predict that something is positive or negative – but the thing you should believe is that there is definitely a problem.

Friday, December 12, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Energy conditions from entanglement-glue duality

One of the great conceptual insights in the research of quantum gravity of the recent 5 years or so was the realization that the geometric connection of two regions of the spacetime – according to a theory that respects the postulates of quantum mechanics and allows the spacetime to be curved, too – is physically equivalent to the entanglement between the degrees of freedom that lived in these previously separated regions of the spacetime geometry.

Folks like Mark Van Raamsdonk deserve to be credited for the original discovery of this broader concept. The Maldacena-Susskind ER-EPR correspondence is a particular, simple, well-defined example of the general concept. It claims that the Einstein-Rosen bridge – more generally, a non-traversable wormhole which is a pair of two black holes whose interiors are connected or identified – is equivalent to two perfectly entangled black holes. A high degree of entanglement is capable of changing the "most useful" spacetime topology used to describe the situation. But the spacetime topology itself isn't a well-defined or unique observable on the Hilbert space – it is emergent and one may only mention that it is "easier" to describe one situation with one topology than with another.

Because this realization is a tight link between the quantum information theory on one side; and spacetime geometry within a gravitating quantum theory on the other side (on both sides, we have a quantum theory: we just "visualize" their Hilbert space[s] in two geometrically distinct ways), we may construct dictionaries between various rules, conditions, and concepts in quantum information theory and in general relativity.

Thursday, December 11, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Fiat money has been a great invention

It allows accurate, impartial financial planning and makes the economy more efficient than other arrangements

The recent discussions about the Bitcoin and the gold standard have made it clear that the opposition to the fiat money is rooted in many parts of the TRF readership – I would even say that this question divides our community across the usual ideological lines.

Some Czech crown banknotes

Many of my remarks in these exchanges were enumerating the reasons why the gold or the Bitcoins couldn't be a viable replacement of fiat currencies we are using today. But now I think that it may be much more logical to try to present all my points positively – because the essential message I want to convey is positive, after all.

Net neutrality, off-topic: 60 companies including IBM, Intel, Cisco, D-Link, Qualcomm, and Panasonic NA sent a letter to the FCC opposing net neutrality. With this group, do you still misunderstand why I classify the champions of this ideology as anti-capitalist mujahideens?
So why does the society need any money? Why the fiat currencies are better than other setups? What makes a fiat currency system better than others? And why are some of the most widespread criticisms of the whole concept of fiat money unjustified and immaterial?

RealClimate's opinion on the WUWT widget

Two months ago, it has been ten years since this weblog was founded. Two months later, a group of fraudulent proponents of the climate hysteria founded RealClimate.ORG, a domain designed to spread misinformation about the climate issue.

I never planned to celebrate the 10th birthday because I find such celebrations stupid and I am shy – but if you want to drink some whiskey at home, be my guest! After these ten years, this blog run by one person (but made so inspiring and kind by many of you, thank you!) has welcomed the same number of visitors as RealClimate.ORG which is run by a dozen of folks, about 50% of the "global community" that wants to force the mankind to pay trillions of dollars. Not bad.

Congratulations to the 10th birthday of RealClimate.ORG.

Lacking the Lumoesque shyness, modesty, and focus on the beef, the RealClimate.ORG website has published not just one but three Happy 10th Birthday blog posts.

Meanwhile, their friends celebrated, too. All of them flew to Peru, Lima and set a new world record in the money wasted for a hysterical climatic conference. Their Greenpeace comrades, also in Peru, damaged and desecrated the Nazca lines by an ancient civilization that have been carefully protected for 1,500 years. (Ironically enough, the most irreversible damage has been done by the Greenpeace officials' footprints, too. The Peruvian government normally demands special shoes etc. for all the visitors.) The similarity of this vandalism to the liquidation of heritage by the Islamic State is way too obvious.

The Peruvian government is suing Greenpeace and because of the pricelessness of these geoglyphs, the Latin American nation undoubtedly has the moral right to liquidate the disrespectful terrorist organization. But my realism prevents me from believing that this outcome will actually materialize. But I want to discuss the previous RealClimate.ORG blog post – one about a... widget.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

MIT's terror against Walter Lewin's lectures is unacceptable

Banned lectures and rewritten history resemble Nazism

Update: Jason seems to claim that all this MIT-wide scandal was caused by one sentence that Walter Lewin tweeted, "queefing [=vaginal farting] is yours", in a childish conversation about a plan to create a water company that two girls started with him. If true, it's quite unbelievable.
Prof Walter Lewin has been a hero of the open courses. His online MIT courses on physics – usually "rather elementary" physics – have attracted millions of viewers. You may perhaps find some cool videos on YouTube or you may directly go to an otherwise obscure backup at VideoLectures.NET.

I recommend you e.g. this lecture on mechanical energy where Lewin offered his life for the claim that the energy is conserved. He said "if I don't succeed in giving the heavy ball the zero speed, this will be my last lecture". The world is a šitty place, however, so the zero speed wasn't a sufficient condition.

Dilaton has noticed an MIT press release (see also NYT) that proudly informs that a student has complained about some online communication with Lewin. A committee has determined that he has violated a "sexual harassment" regulation at MIT.

The result? They removed all of his videos from MIT websites and declared that his title "professor emeritus" is no longer valid.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Gold: a 6000-year-old bubble

On November 30th, 2014, Switzerland held three referenda.

Spoilers alert: all of the results were "No".

It's funny I told you the results before I explained what the questions were. One of the proposals demanded the Swiss National Bank to hold at least 20% of its assets in gold, and demand Swiss gold to be returned from New York. 77% were against the proposal; a "yes" result was capable of increasing the gold price by 5%.

The Swiss gold repatriation may have been a reply to similar imminent plans to repatriate the Dutch gold.

The current gold price is about $1,200 per [troy] ounce (0.0311 kg), about 1/3 below the peak above $1,900 per ounce in August 2011. The drop of savings by 1/3 may be unfortunate but the quadrupling of some people's wealth was even more fortunate.

Because of these events, provoking comments by Citi's chief economist Willem Buiter have induced some discussions and responses.

Monday, December 08, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Why most minority rights NGOs oppose net neutrality

Zero rating: unlimited Facebook data for cell phones

Yesterday, The New York Times wrote an insightful text about the minority activists' opinions about the net neutrality meme.

Obama’s Net Neutrality Bid Divides Civil Rights Groups
The Grey Lady says that it is usually expected that net neutrality is favored by the far left-wing fringe of the Democratic Party. However, the real-world data suggest something else.

The conservative judge Antonin Scalia has supported this egalitarian concept for a decade. But most of the "civil rights groups" that The New York Times enumerates actually oppose net neutrality:
  1. N.A.A.C.P.
  2. National Urban League
  3. Rainbow/PUSH Coalition [Jesse Jackson]
  4. League of United Latin American Citizens
  5. National Organization of Blacks in Government
and others (45 NGO and professional groups have met and voiced the opposition to net neutrality at a meeting). The article only mentions two pro-net-neutrality groups of a similar kind, ColorofChange.org, a black political coalition, and the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Also, 32 Academics sent a letter to the FCC where they oppose Obama-style net neutrality.

Dimensionful universal constants are unphysical cultural artifacts

Michael Duff has released a hep-th preprint

How fundamental are fundamental constants?
about a topic I consider elementary and I understood it when I was a high school student. The realization is that the numerical values of dimensionful (having units) universal constants of Nature depend on arbitrary and physically unimportant human decisions and don't really affect the character of the physical laws.

By a more economic parameterization of the physical observables, e.g. the choice of \(1=c=\hbar=\epsilon_0=k=G=\dots \) units, one may completely eliminate the symbols of these constants from the equations describing the laws of Nature. This choice can be made even in situations when some people say that the "constants are evolving in time". To summarize, the number of physical fundamental dimensionful constants that would affect the laws of physics is always zero.

You may compare Duff's paper with some texts of mine such as
Dimensionless Constants in Physics (Physics Stack Exchange, answer, 2011)

Changes of dimensionful quantities are unphysical (TRF 2009)

Let's fix the value of Planck's constant (TRF 2012)

Parameters of Nature (TRF 2004)
and elsewhere. I am sure that he would agree that we fully agree. More precisely, Duff would say (2011):
As a fresh member of the Royal Society, I am grateful to my overlords and I am ready to trample on politically incorrect babies in order to be admitted to as many similar societies as possible. So I will happily start by saying that I do not share Lubos Motl’s extreme views on politics, global warming, and sometimes not even string theory. However, he occasionally has some good physics summaries, including a recent one giving a nice history of the triumphs of unification [26]
Yes, Mike, this introduction of yours was despicable, utterly unethical, and you will be grilled in Hell throughout the infinite asymptotic future. But yes, we agree on the units.

Saturday, December 06, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Political correctness makes some racial problems unsolvable

Unfortunately, the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere in the U.S. continues. During the 10 years I spent in America, I was mostly exposed to environmental bubbles where no open racism existed – except for some reverse racism. But my understanding is that despite the legal arrangement that guarantees equality of people of different races, some manifestations of racism are bound to exist in 2014. They are a part of the human nature. They have some reasons that will never disappear.

But some problems associated with the co-existence could disappear or become better. They haven't been improving for quite some time – and from many viewpoints, the things became worse. The picture above appeared among some fresh photographs from Harvard published in The Harvard Crimson. The folks' banners say #BlackLivesMatter and I agree with that. However, this slogan is too superficial to solve anything.

Friday, December 05, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

2015 Breakthrough Prize: videos

Free Einstein: Fred Singer has informed me about a wonderful birthday gift, "Digital Einstein" to all the readers who have managed to have their birthday on December 5th – e.g. Werner Heisenberg, Shelly Glashow, or your humble correspondent. The Princeton+HUJI collection contains thousands of (scanned...) Einstein's papers – for free. ;-) Info. It's amazing to see how the 1896 papers' fonts look just like \(\rm\LaTeX\).
The 2015 Breakthrough Prize has gone to three experimental teams led by Perlmutter, Riess, and Schmidt who discovered the accelerating expansion of the Universe about 15 years ago.

It's a change of the policy – they were experimenters and they came in large groups. While this diluted outcome may look less interesting, it adds some balance to the prize.

Merkel against net neutrality

It is well-known that net neutrality is just another communist plot by people who are detached from reality and who advocate egalitarianism at every level and in every aspect of the human lives, being completely unable to comprehend that differences are crucial for the system to work efficiently and to make people happy, safe, and prosperous.

Their proposals – encapsulated in childish, pleasingly sounding propaganda – threaten not only the further progress of the Internet but even the efficiency and safety of the Internet as it has marvelously developed in the recent decades. There are very good reasons why some types of data should enjoy a higher priority than others. The reasons why this inequality is being introduced may be presented as the efforts of the Internet providers to increase their profits. But there's really nothing "dirty" about profits: the Internet providers – ISPs – increase their profits because they optimize how their service works for others.

Left-wing politicians – such as Barack Obama and most of the folks in the European Parliament – love to uncritically promote "net neutrality", a government-imposed equality between all packets. However, this concept has earned a rather formidable foe: the most powerful woman on Earth, Angela Merkel.

Thursday, December 04, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Weird German climate commercials

German sex: only dressed and in the dark

My homeland belongs to the broader German civilization space. Germans are ahead in many things. What is waiting for us if we pursue their strategy to "fight the climate change"?

Barbara Hendricks, the German minister of the environment (SPD), has spent $2 million of the taxpayer money to produce the Together Is the Climate Change (my translation can't be perfect, can it?) video clips.

What can we learn from our German neighbors? Well, in this video, the wife – a musician – closes the window because she doesn't want to listen to the zombies who are devouring her hard-working husband in their garden.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

SUSY and extra dimensions together are more compatible with LHC data

In the morning, I read the daily papers on the arXiv and exactly one paper stayed open in my browser:

Auto-Concealment of Supersymmetry in Extra Dimensions (Stanford-Oxford-Airforce Collaboration)
Eminent physicist Savas Dimopoulos along with his pals (Howe, March-Russell, Scoville) argue that the LHC data don't imply that the superpartners – new elementary particles implied by supersymmetry – have to be as heavy as usually assumed. Instead, they may be rather light and such a theory yields predictions that are compatible with the LHC data – so far compatible with the Standard Model – anyway.

A possible reason why it may be hard for the collider to see SUSY is known as "compressed spectra". What does it mean? There are always some superparticles that are predicted to be produced rather often (if they're light enough). Why aren't they seen? Because they decay into products (including the lightest superpartner, the LSP, at the end) which have nearly equal masses (approximate degeneracy) which is why little energy is left for the "missing transverse energy".

And Savas et al. are proposing a clever microscopic explanation why the spectra might be compressed. Extra dimensions. They mean pretty large dimensions – much larger than the usual Planck length but much smaller than a millimeter, extra dimensions comparable to the size of a nucleus (or larger than at least 10% of a fermi, the nuclear length scale).

Yale/Oxford/MIT/Rockefeller theoretical physicist to lead Pentagon

Not too original news from Planck: inflation constraints, \(n_s= 0.9652 \pm 0.0016\) and \(r\lt 0.09\) (including dust-cleaned WMAP9 low \(\ell\) polarization), via Mathew Madhavacheril. Ongoing ground-based experiments will either guarantee discovery or impose \(r\lt 0.01\).
Chuck Hagel resigned as the U.S. Secretary of Defense last week and no one wants to succeed him. Well, it seems that it's just "almost no one".

After quite some time, I am impressed by the credentials of the likely pick (the credentials don't guarantee great outcomes, of course, but I still care about them). So far, Ashton Carter (*1954 Pennsylvania) has been the Deputy Secretary of Defense, a CEO of a sort, overseeing $0.6 trillion in expenses and supervising 0.0024 billion people.

He's an expert in Star Wars, cyber warfare, and all real-world high-tech systems that America possesses right now. Those things are unusual but not too unexpected for a Pentagon pick. However, the Academic background is unusual. After being the president of the honor society at his high school, he got a theoretical physics PhD at Oxford (1979) where he has been a Rhodes scholar – a prestigious scholarship paid to the best student from the U.S.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

UAH AMSU: 2014 probably 3rd or 4th warmest year

RSS AMSU rank: 6th-9th

Even in the heretical Czech nation, the media recently published articles such as

This year will be the warmest one in the history, U.S. climatologists have calculated
I don't know what they smoke, whether the difference is due to the general satellite-surface deviations, or due to the satellites' inability to see the very vicinity of the poles but the article above won't correspond to the reality as determined by UAH AMSU, a satellite dataset.

A new weather building at UAH

We should be using the lower troposphere (near-surface) UAH dataset v5.6 and supplement the first column with the +0.33 °C anomaly for November 2014 that Roy Spencer revealed an hour ago.

Black ice kills electric transportation across Czechia

Up to the end of November, Czechia managed to avoid any snow and ice in 2014. I haven't recorded the weather in any detail but I think that for several years, we didn't have such a late arrival of the winter.

In Fall 2014, it wasn't really "warm" but the temperatures managed to stay above the freezing point all the time.

Well, it's dangerous to extrapolate.

Monday, December 01, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

James Watson, world's #1 biologist, mostly forced to sell Nobel medal

Many people have received a Nobel prize in medicine. Whom would you consider the most important living laureate?

Well, I think that there's very little doubt that James Watson, a co-discoverer of DNA and a co-winner of the 1962 Nobel prize in medicine, would be chosen by the largest number of respondents. Several years ago, James Watson would be declared an unperson for having pointed out – in a rather straightforward, unfiltered way – that different groups of people differ in their abilities, too. Note that the TRF blog post has attracted almost 200 comments.

Let me emphasize that he didn't join just the "Untermenschen". This hero of life sciences has joined the "Unpersons". He still gets some basic income related to his Academic career but he stopped receiving any other money – from talks etc. – and I find it conceivable, although not guaranteed to be true, that this man (who has probably gotten used to some luxury) is feeling some financial pressure and that's the reason why he decided to sell the Nobel prize medal and some related things through an auction, in a move that is expected to bring several million dollars to him. A part of the revenue would be sent to some of the institutions that have allowed his scientific research to proceed.

Sunday, November 30, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Planck all-sky polarization data out: Mon-Fri

Update: For some data announced on Monday, see e.g. Spergel's Twitter

ESA's Planck spacecraft is two orders of magnitude more expensive than the BICEP2 experiment (a telescope at the South Pole) that ignited so much excitement in Spring 2014.

Planck: live broadcast

With various expectations, people are waiting what Planck may say about the polarization data of the CMB – and the foregrounds.

In comparison with BICEP2, Planck should have some advantages. Between 2009 and 2013, it was mapping the whole sky. Also, it should be looking at nine frequencies. Finally, two days ago, ESA promised us results in the coming 5 days:

Conference announcement: Planck 2014 — The Microwave Sky In Temperature And Polarization
From Monday through Friday, the Planck 2014 conference will take place in Ferrara, Italy.

You may bookmark this list of 6 live broadcasts from the conference, assuming that you will survive that those Italian chaps have misspelled the name of Planck everywhere. No, Max Planck was a relative of neither plankton nor Newton.

Saturday, November 29, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Google breakup: the MEPs are fools

A few days ago, the European parliament voted (75% yes) to recommend the huge search engine(s) to be unbundled from the commercial services – which means to break Google.

These efforts vaguely followed from a 2010 complaint by Google's competitors who argued that the Google search results favor Google-related products and pages. Well, they probably do but they're allowed to use any formula, I guess.

The broader claim is that Google is "nearly" a monopoly. In many European countries, Google boasts 90% of the search engine market; the share is below 70% in the U.S. In Czechia, Google has slightly above 50%. Almost 40% goes to Ivo Lukačovič's Seznam.cz (the word means a "list" or a "directory"; the company which runs its clones of many services you know from Google started as a Yahoo-style directory of web pages – I've met the founder during our hike to Ještěd on Liane BBS real-world session over 20 years ago LOL, he almost certainly recognizes my name).

Friday, November 28, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

The gender imbalance in IT results from laws of Nature

Off-topic, related to computers: ATLAS@home looks for beta-testers at CERN
Someone retweeted a tweet with a hyperlink pointing to The Register,
The gender imbalance in IT is real, ongoing and ridiculous

The Z80 and 6502 generation wore the sexist stereotype, now it's up to them to fix it,
where Mark Pesce – an IT entrepreneur, futurist, and author – blasts the gender asymmetry among the programmers and other IT folks. It was started by the nasty generation of the fans of the Z80 and 6502 microprocessors and they have to fix it, too. He has noticed that the fifth graders are the oldest group in which the girls are visible. It's unacceptable for him which is why he will start to do that: he will refuse to attend conferences that don't fulfill his gender quotas.

His text is quite hysterical and entertaining. Of course, I was mostly attracted by the subtitle that mentioned Z80 and 6502. I've done quite some machine programming for both (and for 8080, more than Z80) which is why I am co-responsible for this "evil" world in which women are underrepresented.

Thursday, November 27, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Higgs hunters: a weird citizen science project

The ATLAS Kaggle Higgs contest made a lot of sense. Today, some NYU+Oxford folks from ATLAS – working with the Zooniverse – have presented something similar. Except that I have no idea how I could usefully help them:

It's particle-hunting season! NYU scientists launch Higgs Hunters Project (Phys.ORG)
The press release above promotes the website
where you may sign up (with Zooniverse) and start to classify collisions.

This new ATLAS picture isn't really from the contest but it's fun: it's showing a cosmic ray particle going through the magnetic fields in the detector.

An 1985 documentary on entanglement

If you have 40 spare minutes, here is a 1985 documentary about quantum entanglement. It begins with a rather cute discussion of the Einstein-Bohr debates.

I wanted to see what the people were saying in the documentary because it was shot shortly before I began to learn quantum mechanics myself – and it's "in the middle" between the 1950s when the professional physicists were sensible about the foundations of quantum mechanics and the 2010s when the idiocy seems to prevail.

So what will we get if we make an observation in the middle?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Kremlin and anti-Brussels parties in Europe

Another reason to be thankful to Russia?

The writers in The Independent, The EU Observer, and many others have agreed on a new story.

Marine Le Pen and Dmitry Rogozin

Putin is conquering Europe by funding anti-EU or far right or populist parties – the descriptions slightly differ in various articles. Most importantly, Le Pen's "Front National" in France received a EUR 9 million loan from a small Moscow bank, The First Czech-Russian Bank. (I would say that the word "Czech" appears in the name in order to beautify the name. It's the second best proposed name they had after "The First Luboš Motl Memorial Russian Bank".)

Various types of less explicit support for Jobbik, a far right party in Hungary, and a pro-Russian party in Latvia, and for FPÖ in Austria (which attended a summit in Moscow) is being mentioned, along with some vague comments involving AfD, the Alliance for Germany (a moderate anti-eurozone party in Germany).

Bell's and sycophants' criticism of von Neumann's hidden-variable no-go theorem is misguided

John Preskill wrote a blog post, Bell’s inequality 50 years later, which argues that "without Bell, the broader significance of quantum entanglement would have unfolded quite differently and perhaps not until much later." Preskill concludes: "We really owe Bell a great debt."

Is every catchy song or paper written using modern tools "intrinsically original"?

Your humble correspondent is much less convinced that the 1964 Bell's paper was either new or pushing the physics research in the right direction. I am closer to Feynman who would say that it is not a theorem that anybody considers of any particular importance in quantum mechanics. Everyone knew that it [the difference between the/any classical local and quantum predictions] would happen, he just demonstrated it mathematically, Feynman says. (See also page 485 here where Feynman just mentions Bell's inequality without even calling it in this way.

It is a nice undergraduate textbook example very explicitly showing the differences between the quantum mechanical predictions and predictions of some simple "local realist" theories a beginner could expect to be relevant. Some people could have still believed that the question whether the probabilistic character of the physical predictions has to be intrinsic would become forever undecidable and that was shown to be wrong.

However, I strongly believe that

  1. the fathers of quantum mechanics could collectively solve the particular thought experiment and see the incompatibility of the quantum vs local realist predictions; even without that, the amount of evidence they had supporting the need for the new, quantum core of physics has been overwhelming since the mid 1920s
  2. much of the explicit findings and slogans about entanglement had been known for 29 years, since the 1935 works by Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen; and Schrödinger
  3. Bell's results didn't really help in the creation of the quantum computing "engineering industry" which would only start in 1970 and which has little to do with all the quasi-philosophical debates surrounding entanglement
  4. most frustratingly, Bell's correct results were served in a mixed package along with lots of wrong memes, unreasonable expectations, and misleading terminology and the negative price of these "side effects" is arguably larger than the positive price of Bell's realizations
Concerning the last point, Bell really remained a champion of the fundamentally flawed Bohmian ways to think about – or classically model – quantum mechanics. He was the man who made it popular for the laymen and deluded physicists to think that quantum mechanics was new because it was "non-local" even though the truth is that the quantum laws controlling Nature are local, thanks to relativity – but they are "non-classical" or "non-realist", if you wish. He has proved that "locality" and "realism" couldn't have been simultaneously true – but he kept on making the fundamental error in deciding which of these two principles is actually right and which of them is wrong.

In some sense, while the anti-quantum movement should have been almost completely killed by Bell's results, it was actually re-energized because one of its members, the quantum mechanics hater called John Bell, was able to write a moderately famous paper. So a cult of personality of a sort was created around this mediocre physicist. The fact that the paper was just another piece of evidence that the main idea underlying the movement is fallacious wasn't a problem for these folks.

More generally, Bell was arguably the main person who helped to degenerate much of the physics culture into the popular-book-driven and media-tainted contest between media fads of the current, postmodern type whose success is being decided by millions of readers who don't have a clue and who routinely interpret physical results exactly in the opposite way than what the results actually imply.

Petr Hapka (1944-2014)

A top Czech composer of dozens of film music scores (e.g. The Virgin and the Monster or Boys the Masters), Petr Hapka, died at age of 70, due to Alzheimer that has annoyed him for a year. The lyrics for his songs were usually written down by Michal Horáček. November 2014 is a negative month for Czech music – Petr Skoumal, another composer, died a few weeks ago.

This duet, "May the earth rest lightly on me", is unfortunately the most natural summary of the sad event. Hapka himself was singing – which is what those Czech composers and actors, who are not professional singers but who are not tone-deaf, do rather frequently. My English translation was obtained from Czech via an intermediate step in Latin. Latin rules.

We would sometimes sing this song with an ex-GF of mine which made sense because I was Czech and she was Slovak, like Jana Kirschner who sings in the video above. Just the age difference was exaggerated by the factor of \(\pi\) or \(2\pi\).

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

PRL: life in 90% of galaxies is killed by GRBs

Science Magazine describes a provoking paper by Piran (HUJI Jerusalem) and Jimenez (U. Barcelona, Harvard) accepted for publication to prestigious Physical Review Letters two weeks ago:

Complex life may be possible in only 10% of all galaxies (Science)

On the role of GRBs on life extinction in the Universe (arXiv, PRL)
The basic claim is rather simple.

This extraterrestrial citizen works with Alza.cz and Alza.sk and spreads tablets and other things all over our homelands. The negative feedback suggests that the Czechoslovak folks may suffer from green xenophobia, after all.

The extraterrestrial ethnic minorities face another problem: (long) gamma-ray bursts, likely to be close to centers of small enough galaxies, take place too often and kill (the ozone layer and) complex life too early. Only 10% of galaxies – typically those that are large enough and sufficiently metallic, similarly to the Milky Way – has a chance to pass this cataclysmic test, and life seems to have a chance far away from the center only.

Kuperberg and a physician vs a thinking smoker

Scott Aaronson has reposted a "parable" that mathematician Greg Kuperberg posted on his Facebook profile. Kuperberg wants to repeat the usual story that the climate alarmists' recommendations are just like the physicians' advises to their patients.

In the parable, a doctor wants her patient to stop smoking but she's unable to answer any questions (clearly meant to be quantitative questions) about the degree to which smoking is harmful. Surprisingly, although Aaronson's is a far left blog addressed to the Cambridge MA Lumpencafé, most commenters seem to realize that

  1. the certainty about the harmful impact of smoking is vastly higher than the certainty about any harmful impacts of CO2 in the atmosphere
  2. most readers seem to be "climate alarm solution skeptics", i.e. they don't think there exists a good rational basis or justification to "fight CO2-caused climate change"
  3. most of the readers actually seem to agree with the patient-smoker, anyway.
This discussion has lots of aspects – whether the particular technical claims about smoking and/or CO2 are right; what the impact actually is; how to behave in the typical situation when the scientific conclusions are statistical in character – and uncertain, too; what is legitimately included in people's and nation's decision making; whether experts' opinion is always the superior one; whether physicians and climate policy experts may be considered full-fledged scientists, and many others.

Sunday, November 23, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Anton Kapustin: Quantum geometry, a reunion of math and physics

I think that this 79-page presentation by Caltech's Anton Kapustin is both insightful and entertaining.

If you are looking for the "previous slide" button, you may achieve this action simply by clicking 78 times. Click once for the "next slide".

If you have any problems with the embedded Flash version of the talk [click for full screen] above, download Anton's PowerPoint file which you may display using a Microsoft Office viewer or an OpenOffice or a LibreOffice or a Chrome extension or Google Docs or in many other ways.

Spoilers are below.

UN: Ukraine, Canada, and U.S. officially endorse glorification of Nazism

Yesterday, we were allowed to learn (from the news or Vineyard) about a rather stunning Friday vote in the United Nations. A group of post-Soviet, Latin American, African, and other countries proposed a resolution (initiated in early November)

Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (full PDF text, 7 pages)
You may read the whole thing, it's not too long, and as far as I can see, the bulk matches the title perfectly. The U.N. members are aware of the harmful impact and rise of the pro-Nazi groups such as skinheads, the celebration of Waffen SS, the destruction of memorials remembering the anti-Hitler coalition. It encourages them to outlaw racially motivated crimes, and so on.

What was the result of the plentary vote? It passed, of course, and will be adopted by the U.N. general body in December (not that such things matter too much). 115 countries including BRIC, Israel, Argentina voted Yes. 55 countries including all EU members, Switzerland, and Japan abstained. (Serbia, an EU candidate, voted Yes.) And 3 countries voted No: Ukraine, Canada, and the United States of America.

I find it shocking that such a standard sequence of comments against Nazism became so controversial. I am flabbergasted by the fact that the U.S. and Canada teamed up around the heart of the pro-Nazi axis of the current world, Ukraine, to create the new axis.

Saturday, November 22, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Chilean telescope finds a "mysterious" 2.5-sigma alignment of black holes

I think it's unlikely that there's something really new in the observations

Two days ago, the Daily Mail (plus colleagues) has excited many readers by the following esoteric article:

Mystery of the 'spooky' pattern in the universe: Scientists find that supermassive black holes are ALIGNED
The Very Large Telescope has found some weird pattern in the locations of quasars and the rotation of the central supermassive black holes. And these patterns are far-reaching – seem to correlate objects that are billions of light years away from each other, i.e. distances comparable to the size of the visible Universe.

This is just an artist's depiction of an alignment.

The probability that such patterns emerge by chance – according to the current models with their probability distributions defining chance – is said to be 1 percent.

WaPo's meddling with allies' internal affairs is despicable

One month ago, I discussed a U.S. entry ban for Hungarian officials, an intervention into an ally's internal affairs that I find unacceptable.

During the following weeks, it was becoming increasingly clear that my own country is a target of this "activism", too. The main underlying reason for these anti-Hungarian, anti-Czech, and other assaults is the widespread opposition against the trade war with Russia in these Central European countries. One could argue that in all the countries of the former Austrian-Hungarian monarchy (and perhaps also in Italy, if not Germany), most people and business interests prefer constructive relationships with Russia.

Someone doesn't like it. Various actually unimportant events, like the Czech president's expletives voiced in his radio show, are used as excuses to meddle with our internal affairs. Zeman has been an outspoken guy for decades. In a recent traditional interview "Monologues from the Lány Chateau" (which Havel used to record every week), he mentioned that Karl Schwarzenberg, his opponent in the presidential elections 2 years ago, uses the word s*it in every other sentence. He would say that the lawmakers have scr*wed the Public Service Bill. And he said that the Pussy Riot ladies aren't really political prisoners but rather b*tches and puss*es (well, his translation was closer to c*nts) who were arrested for a riot, not for their opinions. As you may imagine, lots of reactions do occur after such words. His translation wasn't "quite" accurate and his pronunciation of "p*ssy" was wrong (pahsy) but the broader point was morally right.

Four days ago, The Ron Paul Institute told us that the NED president Carl Gershman, a de facto U.S. "regime change tsar", is working on toppling of the Czech president. When I participated in a recent public debate with the new U.S. ambassador, my impression surely was that he might be thinking that it's his legitimate job to influence the politics in his host country in similar ways.

Friday, November 21, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

An evaporating landscape? Possible issues with the KKLT scenario

By Dr Thomas Van Riet, K.U. Leuven, Belgium

What is this blog post about?

In 2003, in a seminal paper by Kachru, Kallosh, Linde and Trivedi (KKLT) (2000+ cites!), a scenario for constructing a landscape of de Sitter vacua in string theory with small cosmological constant was found. This paper was (and is) conceived as the first evidence that the string theory landscape contains a tremendous amount of de Sitter vacua (not just anti-de Sitter vacua) which could account for the observed dark energy.

The importance of this discovery should not be underestimated since it profoundly changed the way we think about how a fundamental, UV-complete theory of all interactions addresses apparent fine-tuning and naturalness problems we are faced with in high energy physics and cosmology. It changed the way we think string theory makes predictions about the low-energy world that we observe.

Thursday, November 20, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Secret Science Reform Act of 2014: a step towards transparency

An effort to eliminate shamans and would-be scientific pressure groups possessing no verifiable evidence from the EPA decisions

President Obama has threatened to employ dictatorial strategies and completely circumvent the lawmakers during his divine personal mission to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal our planet.

If hired by the government as a researcher, a shaman is enough to serve as an "adviser" and the basis of the EPA decisions as of today.

After all, isn't it enough to control the EPA and to borrow a Michael Mann from the Penn State [I know that the überjerk is elsewhere now] and a Peter Gleick from the State Penn and use this administrator to cripple whole sectors of the economy – while saying that this is what has healed the planet?

CMS releases 1/2 of 2010 data to the public

Hours ago, the CMS Collaboration – one of the two major detectors at CERN's LHC collider – has made a cool announcement via Twitter.

A part of the complete data on the collision became public:

CERN makes public first data of LHC experiments (press release)

CMS releases first batch of high-level LHC open data (an extra CERN news article)

OpenData.CERN.CH (CMS subset, policies)
So far, what we're given are just the high-level data from Run B in 2010. Recall that the center-of-mass energy was \(7\TeV\) at that time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS sees excess of same-sign dimuons "too"

An Xmas rumor deja vu

There are many LHC-related hep-ex papers on the arXiv today, and especially

Searches for the associated \(t\bar t H\) production at CMS
by Liis Rebane of CMS. The paper notices a broad excess of like-sign dimuon events. See the last 2+1 lines of Table 1 for numbers.

Monday, November 17, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

RHIC and a shower: how stand-up comedian Frank Wilczek suffered for science

I think that this 19-minute video at the World Science Festival (the "Moth" series) shows that Frank Wilczek could make the living as a stand-up comedian. At least it seems to me that he is a more natural entertainer than the comedian who introduced him.

The video was posted 3 weeks ago but it was recorded in 2010, I think.

He tells us two stories, a longer one and a shorter one, how he has suffered for science.

RHIC, black holes

First, sometime around 2000, Walter Wagner – the same Hawaiian high school teacher who would sue the LHC later – would question the RHIC experiment in Brookhaven. It was supposed to create a black hole. Frank Wilczek wanted a Nobel prize for some related results so he wanted to be the go-to guy who answers all questions.

So when the P.R. department of the Brookhaven Labs got the complaint, he was asked to write the reply – see e.g. this preprint. The black hole would be too small, too quickly evaporating, and the Earth has survived billions of years of similar collisions. We learned that the "strangelet scenario" was added by Wilczek himself because he wanted to make the threat more spicy and more likely (but still easy enough for him to disprove it). With the strangelet twist, it became a text he was proud about.

Sunday, November 16, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: locally 2.6 or 2.9 sigma excess for another \(560\GeV\) Higgs boson \(A\)

And there are theoretical reasons why this could be the right mass

Yesterday, the CMS Collaboration at the LHC published the results of a new search:

Search for a pseudoscalar boson \(A\) decaying into a \(Z\) and an \(h\) boson in the \(\ell^+\ell^- \bar b b\) final state
They look at collisions with the \(\ell\ell bb\) final state and interpret it using the two higgs doublet model scenarios.

You may still buy Matt Taylor's shirt

Matt Taylor's shirt has instantly become one of the modern symbols of the fight between science, achievements, freedom, dedication to one's work, and meritocracy on one side and oppression, bullying, parasitism, feminism, humorlessness, cruelty, and superficiality on the other side.

The feminist bullies have apparently broken Matt Taylor, a scientist-in-chief of the Rosetta mission that succeeded in sending a module to a comet and in drilling it – all the data from the drilling got back before the battery went to the standby mode. But the legend has it that the poor guy said "and yet it moves". And even if he hasn't, you know very well that it moves, anyway, don't you?

Lightnings may increase by 12% per 1 °C of warming

David M. Romps, Jacob T. Seeley (Berkeley), David Vollaro, and John Molinari (Albany) published a report in Nature whose title reads

Projected increase in lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming
that was quoted in hundreds of media outlets.

Let me tell you: I find this number conceivable.

They decided that the lightning frequency is approximately equal to the product of the precipitation rate and a potential energy (CAPE). It probably isn't exact but it's probably good enough for some estimates. Combined with some empirical data, 1 °C of warming adds 12% to the warming strikes. When combined with some nonsensically overrated projections about the rise of the mean temperature in the rest of the century, they may get a 50% increase of lightnings.

Saturday, November 15, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Zeman: Velvet Revolution started by the rumor about the death of student Martin Šmíd

The student of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics is doing fine

The current and previous Czech presidents, Zeman and Klaus, were debating about the Velvet Revolution and related topics.

Martin Šmíd from my Alma Mater is the main hero of this blog post.

To remind you, the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia – the Velvet Revolution – began exactly 25 years ago, on Friday, November 17th, 1989, when the police used some amount of violence against the peaceful student rally in Prague (where all the events in this blog post took place). The students of the Charles University, my Alma Mater (that was later, I was a high school student at the revolutionary times), would be remembering the 50th anniversary of the Nazi murder of 9 Czech students in 1939.

Is our galactic black hole a neutrino factory?

When I was giving a black hole talk two days ago, I would describe Sagittarius A*, a black hole in the center of the Milky Way, our galaxy, as our "most certain" example of an astrophysical black hole that is actually observed in the telescopes. Its mass is 4 million solar masses – the object is not a negligible dwarf.

Accidentally, a term paper and presentation I would do at Rutgers more than 15 years ago was about Sgr A*. Of course, I had no doubt it was a black hole at that time.

Today, science writers affiliated with all the usual suspects (e.g. RT) would run the story that Sgr A* is a high-energy neutrino factory.

Why now? Well, a relevant paper got published in Physical Review D. Again, it wasn't today, it was almost 2 months ago, but a rational justification of the explosion of hype in the mid of November 2014 simply doesn't exist. Someone in NASA helped the media to explode – by this press release – and they did explode, copying from each other in the usual way.

Friday, November 14, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Shocking MH17 shotdown photo passes some tests but failed in others

One hour after I posted it, a commenter's URL convinced me that the photo is fake. See the featured comment below the post.

But you still want to see what I wrote before that, right? ;-) Here it is.

The MH17 aircraft was shot down above Eastern Ukraine on July 17th around 13:20 UTC. A ground-to-air missile or an air-to-air missile are the leading "technical" explanations of what happened. The ground-to-air missile theory (probably using a Buk missile; recently vaguely endorsed by the German intelligence) would leave the question "who did it" and "why" open. The air-to-air missile theory would have clearer implications – the post-Maidan Ukrainian government would be behind it.

Click the picture for a 7406 x 5000 very high resolution photograph.

Hours ago, ITAR-TASS (and later The Daily Mail and a helpful blog; I know it from the Czech media) brought us the photograph above.

Rosetta scientists are allowed to wear their favorite shirts

Sad news: Alexandre Grothendieck, one of the 20th century best mathematicians, died.
Philae was the first man-made object that landed on a comet (thrice), after it made two "unnecessary" jumps (a two-hour jump plus another eight-minute jump). But an important British member of the team (he's really the #1 scientist-in-chief in Rosetta) is already finding himself under some heavy criticism, as BMWA1 pointed out.

Try this video, and go to 1:42, to see an interview with this man. His tattoos are all about Rosetta.

This man was acknowledged to be important enough to be a spokesman for the media as well and CNN wrote a story (!) called
Philae researcher criticized for shirt covered in scantily clad women
Holy cow. Many other left-wing media including The Washington Post and The Guardian wrote hysterically negative "stories" while the center-right Telegraph and The Daily Mail reported on Taylor's appearance mostly positively. Pathetically enough, the far left-wing The Independent attempted a character assassination based on the claim that "Taylor can't park his car".

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