Friday, March 14, 2014

Rumor: inflation-related primordial B-modes to be announced on Monday

BICEP2 near the South Pole might have found a gem
Update, Monday 4 pm: The rumor was 100% true. Ahead of the press conference, official data have been released. They measured \(n\sim 0.96\) and more importantly \(r=0.20\pm 0.05\) or so (see a new graph) and could exclude \(r=0\) at a 6-7 confidence level. The peaks are where we expect it from cosmic inflation, contamination by instruments seems very unlikely to them. See FAQ. See also a post-discovery blog post by Prof Liam McAllister.
In the morning, Sam Telfer asked Matt Strassler, Adam Falkowski, and myself about the new buzz related to the B-modes. It turns out that he was ahead of us. But now, all of us know what is supposed to happen soon, and it is exciting.

As an undergrad, your self-described non-athletic humble correspondent would be the sports commissar of the Academic Senate. I would establish a new "fitness gym course" that people could take instead of the logistically inconvenient volley ball and similar courses on the other side of Prague. I attended it myself along with mostly female fellow students. The female instructor stressed that without hormones, women can't really develop structured bicepses.

The rumor is all about BICEP2, a small experiment at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station in the Antarctica (BICEP1 concluded with this paper; see also BICEP2 status in 2012). Focusing on the frequency \(150\, {\rm GHz}\) i.e. wavelength 2 millimeters, it is trying to find the primordial B-modes, something that could be important to pick the winners among theories of cosmic inflation and possible alternative theories to cosmic inflation.

What are the B-modes?

They are one of the two components of anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background that may be separated by the Helmholtz decomposition (or its generalization for the celestial sphere). Well, not so fast.

Recall that the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is a thermal black body radiation (the most perfect natural black body radiation we have observed in the Universe) at current temperature \(2.7\,{\rm K}\). It used to be much warmer but it cooled down, because of the global cooling in the whole Universe (an inseparable consequence of the expansion of the Universe; no, there is no global warming in the Universe) that has lasted for 13.8 billion years.

The cosmic microwave background was only created about 400,000 years after the big bang. Around that moment, atoms were born and the ionized plasma turned into a nearly transparent gas of neutral atoms. Since that moment, the photons were propagating through space almost uninterrupted. Their wavelength was just expanding proportionally to the expansion of the whole Universe and because longer wavelengths correspond to a lower frequency, energy, and temperature, the CMB was cooling down.

The temperature (as given by the maximum-intensity frequency etc.) is almost constant in all directions, the variations only amount to (relative) 10 parts per million or so. The variations are nevertheless important, may be measured, and decomposed to spherical harmonics. Those graphs of the amplitudes as functions of \(\ell\), the orbital angular momentum, provide us with some of the most spectacular confirmations of our theories about the very young Universe (including the scale invariance).

So far, I have only talked about the intensity. But the microwave radiation may be polarized which means that one linear or circular polarization has a higher intensity (or, more precisely, a higher temperature by a microkelvin or two) than the other one. At some level, this polarization is inevitable. Because the CMB was created from a variable density \(\kappa\), we may deduce the main components of the polarization from derivatives of this density field \(\kappa\), see e.g. page 2 of this paper. Define\[

\nabla \kappa = \vec u

\] and try to separate the density field \(\kappa\) into \(\kappa^E\) and \(\kappa^B\) (yes, the letters coincide with the names of the electric and magnetic vectors in electromagnetism) so that\[

\nabla^2 \kappa^E = \nabla\cdot \vec u, \quad \nabla^2 \kappa^B = \nabla\times \vec u.

\] So that's the basic separation into E-modes and B-modes, something that may be expressed in various other ways. The E-modes and B-modes try to isolate the "gradient" and "curl" parts of \(\vec u\). These modes imprint themselves to the linear and/or circular polarization of the CMB in some way. There are two kinds of modes because there are two polarizations. In a plane, you could choose the usual bases but on the sphere, there is no universal x-polarization or y-polarization or right-handed polarization or left-handed polarization because you can't "comb the sphere". So the 2-dimensional basis has to be chosen more cleverly (in some sense, the problem is analogous to the addition of the angular momentum, \(\ell+1\)) and the E-modes and the B-modes happen to do the job well.

In some sense, the B-modes denote/quantify/measure the "vortices" or "whirlpools" in the CMB as measured by the polarization of the photons.

If I simplify a bit, B-modes are the part of the variable polarization of the CMB that has something to do with the "curl" and it's called in this way because it's the magnetic field's fault that any "curls" appear in Maxwell's equations, anyway. ;-) It's actually more accurate to define the B-modes not as the "curl-ful" part of the non-uniformities but as the "divergence-less" part (note that the divergence of a curl vanishes, \(\nabla\cdot(\nabla\times \vec u)=0\)).

You may find the review of the modes by Wayne Hu of Chicago or Peter Coles' blog post or John Kováč's 40-minute-long talk (B-modes from the ground) much more helpful and informative than my modest remarks.

The graph above was taken from this HHZ 2002 paper or some slides (page 2) and it is showing the relative strength of various E-modes and B-modes from different sources, as a function of \(\ell\). In general, there are "gravitational lensing" i.e. "mundane" B-modes but if the inflation scale is sufficiently high (close enough to the Planck scale), for example near \(2.6\times 10^{16}\GeV\) on the graph, the "primordial" waves prevail at lower values of \(\ell\). To be a bit slower:

The B-modes may have arisen "recently", from the self-attraction of the CMB photons (this is the mundane origin); or, more excitingly, "a long time ago" (these are the important "primordial" B-modes, probably created during inflation when the Universe was really, really young and we may be jealous about its GDP growth rate).

The "primordial" B-modes should be evidence of the gravitational radiation (i.e. gravitational waves) caused by the cosmic inflation itself and the numerical data about these "primordial" modes should tell us something about the characteristic energy scale of cosmic inflation which is mostly expected to be near the GUT scale, \(10^{15-16}\GeV\) or so. The closer the inflation scale was to the Planck scale, the stronger gravitational waves we expect. For any scale, there seems to be a maximum (bump) in the B-modes around \(\ell=90\) where BICEP2 and others may have focused (the "mundane" B-modes from gravitational lensing are elsewhere, near \(\ell\sim 1,000\)). In the early Universe, B-modes behave just like tensor modes (those related to the metric-like tensor field). The tensor modes are the only conceivable source of B-modes during the extreme childhood of the Cosmos. Their emergence in cosmology would be exciting because so far, we have only seen signs of the "scalar" non-uniformities of the matter density in the outer space (via the CMB).

Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The microwaves and millimeter waves are nicely observed at the South Pole because it's 2.8 km above the sea level – a thin atmosphere; because the atmosphere is stable as there are no sunrises and sunsets; the concentration of water vapor that could steal/absorb these waves is low.

In Summer 2013 (Nature, Science Daily, arXiv/PRL), the "mundane" B-modes were finally observed by the South Pole Telescope with some help from the Herschel Space Observatory.

BICEP2 focal plane with four detector tiles.

Now it seems rather plausible that less than a year after the detection of the "mundane" B-modes, BICEP2 may actually detect the exciting "primordial" ones, too. And the announcement may be just 3 days from now! The rumor may also suffer from a bug. A positive signal would be sort of surprising because it was generally expected that the Planck satellite would be the first experiment with a chance to detect the "primordial" B-modes (see the current status of the Planck measurements; note that Planck has died due to a helium heart attack but papers should continue to be published up to Summer 2014 or so). WMAP saw no B-modes. And the same thing more or less holds for POLARBEAR in Chile that published its results earlier this week.

Finally, the rumor.

Finally, I may show you that I can also be a linker-not-thinker and overwhelm you with ten more URLs to sources that discuss the rumor and some anti-rumors: March 17th Press Conference on Major Discovery [official title, no rumor! Note by LM] at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The Guardian: Gravitational waves: have US scientists heard echoes of the big bang? (By Stuart Clark)

The Trenches of Discovery: "A major discovery", BICEP2 and B-modes (by Shaun Hotchkiss)

Richard Easther's The Smoking Gnu [sic]

Bruce Bassett's writing: Should you hold your breath for B-modes?

Résonaances: Plot for Weekend: flexing biceps (Adam Falkowski)

viXra: Primordial Gravitational Waves? (Phil Gibbs)
Blank on the map: B-modes, rumours, and inflation (by Sesh Nadathur)

Preposterous Universe: Gravitational Waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background (by Sean Carroll, a rather clean and meaningful intro added on Sunday)

Prof Matt Strassler: Getting Ready for the Cosmic News (a brief comment added by an active particle phenomenologist on Sunday; see also his Brief History of the Universe, Saturday)
You are invited to read the articles now. Czech, German, Italian, Dutch, and Spanish readers get a bonus link. Five more bonus links: Hank Campbell, Universe Today, Raw Story, IO9, Sky and Telescope.

The first (Spaceref) article says that the Harvard-Smithsonian will be streaming a press conference on Monday at 5 p.m., Prague Winter Time (9 a.m., California Daylight Savings Time). Some contacts are mentioned there. You may already see all the secret data now (if you guess the right password).

The Guardian and the Trenches emphasize that it would be a huge, potentially Nobel-prize-winning discovery of gravitational waves (the Nobel prize could go to the experimenters, to my former student Alan Guth [interview on B-modes] and his competitor Andrei Linde [both are rumored to attend the press conference on Monday], or others). Gravitational waves need to have a source but in this case, cosmic inflation itself may offer a source. "Trenches" also suggest that this could be the greatest hard-science discovery in astrophysics although cosmologists will surely consider it a discovery in cosmology.

Twitter may sometimes make you feel that something is happening in a highly specialized topic every minute.

Richard Easther says a few words about the inflationary origin of the "primordial" B-modes and admits that the precise information in the rumor seems contradictory at this point. Some sources say that the discovered B-modes are stronger than other teams indicated, and therefore suggesting a contradiction or some really weird behavior of the early Universe; other sources say that the new observation is compatible with everything else.

Bruce Bassett tries to use a combination of Bayesian inference and psychology to determine how strong a signal they may announce. He considers the physical and experimental priors and the likelihood that a big signal would leak or that it would need rechecks, and tries to use some experience with some Planck and Opera announcements to check his musings. Well, it is amusing but a bit too speculative. Rumors are of course unreliable but in many cases, I prefer to believe that the rumor is essentially accurate over these vague Bayesian inferences which are nothing else than a guesswork using fancy words.

The graph includes both measurements and theoretical predictions. The horizontal axis is the primordial tilt \(n_s\approx 0.96\) (according to observations); the tilt (expected around one in "clean inflation"; more generally known as the spectral index) is defined as the exponent from \(P(k) = \langle \abs{\delta_k(t)}^2 \rangle\sim k^n\). The vertical axis is the T/S (tensor-to-scalar) ratio. You may see that e.g. T/S around \(r\approx 0.05\) is preferred (and hoped for) by proponents of the (violet) natural inflation.

Adam Falkowski at Résonaances wants you to look at this graph because it may be the last days when the graph looks like this. On Monday, it may change rather dramatically.

Finally, Phil Gibbs adds some pessimistic remarks. Not such a long time ago, we were disappointed by the pre-hyped press conferences of AMS, LUX, and others. He adds some comments about the decomposition of the waves.

And Sesh Nadathur is also skeptical, claiming that a truly positive signal would contradict the already published Planck and WMAP data: note that the \(r=0.2\) vertical line on the graph above is above the recommended big "hill" in the middle of the picture. Nadathur suggests that the rumor also says that the T/S \(r\approx 0.2\) which he finds incompatible with others but a reader says that both Planck and BICEP2 could be compatible with the real value around \(r\approx 0.1\). Note that BICEP1 measured \(r\approx 0.03\pm 0.25\) or so. It seems to me that the error margin of BICEP2 may be at most 5-10 or so times smaller, like \(0.03\), so for the claim about a nonzero \(r\) to be significant, the mean value should better be higher and close to \(r\approx 0.2\), indeed. This 2010 talk comparing BICEP2 with others claimed that BICEP would reach \(r\sim 0.03\) by 2013 so I wouldn't quite exclude the possibility that they will claim a discovery with a very low \(r\), either.

Stay tuned.

Originally posted on Friday, March 14th.

Update: On Monday after 4 pm, everything became clear as the BICEP server became accessible. See Andrei Linde who heard the news and will probably get very drunk (via Stanford). They announced \(r=0.20\pm 0.05\) or so, excluded \(r=0\) at 6-7 sigma or so, and \(n=0.96\pm 0.01\). This is consistent, for example, with the hilltop quartic inflationary model with many (60) e-foldings.


  1. Unfortunately, NATO has proven itself to be an offensive organization, rather than a strictly defensive one (e.g., Serbia). One can argue that NATO's presence in Afghanistan, which poses virtually zero threat to European countries, is yet another example. It would be nice if EU countries told the U.S. to "shove it" whenever some U.S. warmongers want to use NATO, but as long as the U.S. pays the bills for (most of) the EU defense, they seem inclined to go along with the U.S.

  2. In a conflict between David and Goliath, our sympathy is usually with David. I find it difficult to see Russia as David. Or the West, either.

    Many years ago I vacationed in Yalta, Crimea. I read an interesting account of some exiled revolutionaries arriving as foreign tourists and visiting rock towers of Ai Petri high above the city. A local guide showed them how to climb inaccessible rocks. They hanged several "Down with the Tsar" banners from the highest towers. Police did not dare to climb, so they asked for a military assistance. The army came with machine guns and actually shot down most the banners, except for one, which get caught on a rock spike by its bullet holes.

    I went to a local Intourist office to book a trip to Ai Petri. "Sorry, sir, the Ai Petri area is closed to foreign tourists".


  4. "The US never attacks anyone who can fight back, Lubos."

    You must be kidding, Cynthia. After all, the U.S. invaded Grenada... (also S. Dakota in 1890 to kill 300 Lakota :))

  5. Yes, political correctness will not work with Putin. Kerry and Obama lecturing Putin on morality is delusional. It is like a tourist lecturing a grizzly bear on its behaviour. Putin does not, unlike Obama, have the Hamlet syndrome.

  6. Dear Lubos,
    Since this will be yet another in my series of attempts at humor, I think it's only fair to let you in on the secret that I fairly often disagree with you but refrain from saying so because I lack the energy and/or - maybe - sufficient knowledge. (Examples: unemployment; Templeton prize winner; Galileo.) I just don't want you to be misled. :-) Also, I strongly favor Slavic-American friendship because, what with the confusion in 1991, the KGB forgot to stop funding me. :-)

    With my extraordinary talent for recognizing patterns :-) (you'll remember the bit about infinite series), I've just discovered, completely by accident,, a remarkable connection between Russian nuking of America and what I said about the letter K in "creatures with poor memories." It turns out that Johnny Cash (of all people!) wrote an SF story in 1953 about a Soviet nuking of America and a subsequent occupation in which the letter K plays a significant role :-), owing to Soviet destruction of the English language. It's called "The Holografik Danser" and it was published in 2000. I haven't read it, and it's not online, but it contains the following line: Fil Gravr sat at the bak ov the klasrum where he always sat, paying no particular attenshun tu the techir, Professor Ivan Klewicki.

    BTW, Cash was a talented telegraph copier in air force intelligence, and he was the first Westerner to copy the news of the death of Stalin. He didn't understand what he was copying, though.

    See Google Books.

  7. The proof that you are most probably right is in that he is now, after all, a politician.
    People pay this kind of people too much respect, IMO.

  8. LOL, I have read similar improvements of the English - and German - language.

    But once the anarchy in the Americas is cured, the correct spelling will be:

    Fil Grávr set et dz bek ov dz klásrům uér hý ólvejz set, pejing nou pártikjular etenšn tu dz techír, Professor Ivan Klevický.

  9. I think your fears are greatly overblown. Russian doctrine is to use nukes if attacked, because of the terrible state of Russian conventional forces. But those are *tactical* nukes to stop the attack, not a strategic conflict.

    Russia has way too much to lose in a strategic exchange, even if the US has more at risk. Part of MAD is to make leadership and command and control priority targets. Putin would very likely die. If he didn't, he wouldn't like the wreck he inherited. That the US was devastated would be little solace.

    If you research the effects of nuclear weapons, you'd realize how devastating a strategic exchange would be. It wouldn't be the end of the world, as the anti-nuke activists claim (but then, they were funded and pushed by the KGB). But it would be bad, really, really, really bad. Russia would suffer badly. The US would suffer badly. But more of the US would survive, because there isn't much of value in Russia outside of a small number of major cities, while that isn't true of the US.

    Unless Putin loses it (which is always possible), he isn't going to do this.

    Also, while the US is currently rather pathetic (which is why it is hectoring rather than acting), it has a history of savage response when attacked. Do not mistake the weakness of the current administration for a country which would fight almost to the last man to retaliate for an attack on the homeland.

    None of this is to justify the west acting too badly. But... in spite of the silly hectoring tone of our foppish President and Secretary of State, the US has a real interest in stopping Russia's misbehavior. The significant issues are not the Crimea, but Syria and especially Iran, where Russia has aided and abetted monsters who. In the case of Iran, those monsters fully intend to kill lots of Americans, beyond the thousands of American deaths they are already responsible. Should Russia invade the Ukraine proper, rather than just Crimea, the west would be forced to react strongly.

    I just wish the US leaders weren't so juvenile in how they speak about this. Russia isn't a child to be admonished, it's a pretty evil dictatorship, in a country which has been unimaginably evil in the not distant past - at least as evil as the Nazi's..

  10. Looking at the picture, her B-nodes don't seem adequately inflated to me.

    I won't comment on the physics, because I'm not qualified to do so.

  11. LOL, are B-nodes the breasts or something inside them?

  12. Do you consider this a greater discovery than the Higgs Boson, if true?

  13. The breasts, I hope!

  14. Yes, I actually do, mostly because this one is in no way clear a priori, while the existence of the/a Higgs boson has been clear for decades. This discovery would also allow us to see how the laws of physics are organized at vastly higher energy scales than the scales associated with the Higgs boson - we could be looking at the GUT scale.

    Of course, whether those things are true and how much we may learn depends on what will actually be announced. ;-)

  15. This is a different kind of discovery than what we are used to and thus people may have a hard time following. There would be more news if the south pole telescope gad discovered the planet Nibiru / Nemesis.

  16. LOL, but I think that it should have penetrated a little bit into the popular culture. Sheldon Cooper did some experiments in the North Pole. I am not sure why he didn't go to the South Pole for the monopoles etc. - one doesn't have to swim all the time in the South - but the idea that interesting observations of the cosmos may be born at the poles is something that shouldn't be an alien concept.

    The term "B-modes" would appear in almost every deep enough talk on cosmology, as one of the "dreams" about the future insights that didn't seem to be coming. Various theories would predict various wonderful things but all of them would be on paper so far. Suddenly, they could become real.

  17. Both the article and the experiment are very wonderful. Pleasure to read. :D

    Though I don't really understand much of this article. I have tried to read up a little on this (I tried reading the paper you linked, but couldn't get past the abstract). If possible, could you state what inflation models are ruled out or confirmed with considerable confidence based on the most likely result of this experiment?

    When you report the results on monday, I will find the relevant sections in my cosmology book and tear out the pages of the false models. And I will also cancel the same topics in the index with a marker. With all the recent progress in physics I shall have to mutilate all my books in similar ways, since I'm too stingy to update my collection. :D

  18. Your optimism is nice but I don't see anything "tactical" about the current tension. The problems look strategic and systemic to me. Tactical nukes are used when the foe makes a localized mistake somewhere in a corner of Russia etc. But what the U.S. leaders seem to be planning is a harm against the whole Russia. So far it's a cold conflict but a very strategic one, I think.

    Also, I don't believe that Putin would have a huge trouble if Russia were damaged a bit as long as he would become the most powerful person in the world.

  19. I always thought that the sources for each detected photon in the cosmic microwave background radiation are overly remote clusters of clusters of ancient galaxies beyond our cosmic horizon (one Hubble radius). Those sources would be so remote that we could only see one photon per each source at a time. I always thought those photons were produced in scattering processes of particles or in spontaneous (or induced) emissions of atoms or molecules. In your opinion, how many (and what kind of) sources are contributing to the production of the CMBR?

    Regards and congratulations for your contribution to the interesting buzz related to the B-modes

  20. WHAT - is Alan Guth A FORMER STUDENT of yours!!!
    Did he try to catch up on string theory? This is surprising since I thought he is at least 15 years older than you. (Just checked: He is 26 years ahead of you!)

  21. For people who don’t want to put on John Kerry’s rose colored glasses and conduct foreign policy as a utopian demagogue, the fact is that Putin has probably done us a favor in Syria and Ukraine as well as some other areas.

    You’ve got two choices in Syria at this time, Assad or Al Qaeda. That’s pretty much it. And those were always going to be the choices regardless of what the neocons say. Dreaming of another choice at this time does not make that choice realistic.

    Perhaps there may be some things the United States can do to help constitutional development take place in these areas over the next century or two. That doesn’t change the choices that are available now.

    It is hard to imagine the protests in Ukraine leading to an actual coup were it not for help from militants in the Svoboda and Right Sector parties. (The ousted President pandered to these parties, but apparently not enough.) Some idealists are claiming that these forces represent a small percentage of the protestors. That doesn’t matter. In an unstable country with no constitutional background, the people who move in after a coup like this are the people with the guns — which is why militants now occupy 8 cabinet level positions in the new government, including important positions in the military and outright control of the police.

  22. Yes, he wanted to be "in" in string theory so he attended my string theory course.

    While he slept throughout most of my monologues, he would still ask the best questions at the end.

    I am far from being the only one who reports the same combination of facts. ;-)

  23. The US is clearly the instigator of this crisis as revealed by Victoria Nuland's phone call to the US ambassador in Ukraine. Russia is a long way from perfect regarding personal freedom, human rights etc. but I cannot recall any expansionist incidents from them since Cuba. (Afghanistan is a local trouble spot to the Russians.) The US, on the other hand, has spread violence, destruction, and deceit the world over.

  24. Yes, this looks exciting indeed (from afar) :-) !

    Last week I got slightly out of synchronization with TRF, as I tried to take up my work again, too many spare time events, etc ...
    I have to catch up a bit with the nice things here now ...
    I think I will also accept the offer of my employer to work only part time for some weeks, to have more time to read TRF etc ...:-P.
    More seriously, I noted that things are still exhausting me still a bit more than I first expected ...

    At least it is the week end now, such that I have time to follow the links in this artilce too :-)


  25. Of course Putin doesn't want a war. It does him no good, and a lot of harm. Europe still needs natural gas. There's been some delusional silliness that they could get the energy they need elsewhere, but the infrastructure and supplies don't exist. Russia and China even more so have global power based on selling things people need, not military intimidation and coercion. All their interests are defensive in nature. Putin's military preparations are set against armed ideological insurgents who want to let NATO set up operations on Putin's front porch, not against NATO itself.

  26. "U.S. surprises oil market with sale from strategic reserve"

    This a very Anti-American thing to do, IMO. The strategic oil reserves are there for a REAL national emergency, not to be used as a poker chip in trying to illegally overthrow a government of a foreign nation.

  27. Hmmm, Klingon script....?

  28. There are powerful NeoconCrazies like McCane who think we can (and should) win a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia. Our country is largely controlled by madmen who pull the strings on their puppet, Obama. And yes, the NeoCrazies work for the Banksters. Their media has control over 80% of the American sheeple. We truly live in dangerous times. I thought Syria a few months ago could lead to WW3. This one is just as dangerous.

  29. That would never fly - it requires smartening up. Cash's only requires dumbing down.

    You do know that's Johnny Cash the famous singer, don't you?

  30. There is no doubt that what has happened in the last decade is surreal, the psychopaths have taken over and pulling off their masks and the people of the US just yawn or don’t notice. We in the USA are ruled by the likes of Insane McCain and surrounded by submissive sheeple, so don’t count on the US population to help in any meaningful way. If we can make it pass March, I don’t think this planet will end up a spinning ball of radiation. Keep you and yours safe and loved, because that is all that is meaningfully in the end anyway.

  31. McCain is having flashbacks again to those good old days when he spent time in the Hanoi Hilton after bravely ditching his jet and parachuting rather than shooting it out with the Vietcong.

    You should try knowing what you're talking about some time.

  32. That really takes the cake. As I said, you should try informing yourself.

  33. McCain's recent posturing along with many other members of "our" government should finally convince us that our "public servants" are more dedicated to keeping themselves in the news than in working at resolving problems to benefit the country.

  34. I think the U.S./EU will continue to support the neo-Nazis. But more and more people will gradually become aware of what Ukrainian nationalism actually stands for -- anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-Semitic -- the polar opposite of the "Pussy Riot demographic" that the West is trying to persuade to support its Ukrainian folly. This -- hopefully -- will lead to an erosion of what little support Obama currently has for this latest neocon escapade. ;~)

  35. Be sure to note that the above quote is clearly in the context of military conflict, not the trade war.

    The point is, i think, that Russia may not be that strong economically, but when it comes to war, it is quite good at and determined to ruin your interests when you choose to ruin theirs.

  36. Once a war criminal, always a war criminal. McCain was shot down over Hanoi while bombing civilian targets:

    "During the first six months of 1967, while McCain was part of an attack squadron of A-4 Skyhawks on the carrier Oriskany in the South China Sea, North Vietnamese officials said some 167 schools were bombed, along with 230 churches, three seminaries, and 23 pagodas. In late September—just a month before McCain's crash on his 23rd bombing run—U.S. planes managed to drop four massive container bombs (2,400 pellet bombs apiece) on a grade school in Thanh Hoa province, south of Hanoi. The school had just reopened after the summer recess and, according to Vietnamese reports, the attack killed 33 pupils, ages 8 to 12. Thirty more were wounded, including two teachers. That was a single incident. The American estimate is that the 1965-68 bombing campaign killed between 52,000 and 182,000 civilians; the Vietnamese claim the figure was several times higher."

    He also conspired to initiate the invasion of Iraq, which was without a doubt a war of aggression. He should be tried in the Hague and hanged.

  37. McCain wants all young soldiers to share his POW experience. He left his marbles in that POW camp. Let him and Lindsey Graham lead the attack force. Get that old nut away from me. The Arizona sun has fried his brain. If you can't fix a problem with a club, bomb, or bullet Senator McCain wants nothing to do with it.

  38. Eastern_EuropeanMar 15, 2014, 3:25:00 PM

    I'm just wondering if the Czech Republic belongs to Little Russia or Greater Russia?

  39. Neither. It never has. Little Russia has been, up to the early 20th century, the (main) name of the territory now called "Ukraine". Given your previous comments, I am not surprised that you don't know these basic things.

  40. Eastern_EuropeanMar 15, 2014, 4:31:00 PM

    So good for you although I heard some troops visited you in 1968. You think that the Russian imperialism will stop in Ukraine. Don't be so sure.

    btw your knowledge of history seems to be based on Soviet or Putin's textbooks.

    And todays' Russian people themselves are in complete information blocade when anti-establishment media are being closed.

    It seems to me you are a little blinded by your anti-americanism. I agree that American liberalism (with their PC, hysterical feminism, etc.) are things that can easily cause one to vomit but it is an entirely different issue.

    Never mind. Good luck to you, Czechs. The future will show everything. Don't be suprised if one day you will see some troops from the east.

  41. A fundamental spatial trace chiral anisotropy must not be acknowledged! Theory postulates the vacuum is absolutely isotropic over all time. Falsification is blackest heresy. SN 1054 never happened in Europe. The One True Church existed in unchanging heavens, by postulate.

    10^(-13) difference/average chiral divergence is the geometric Eotvos experiment, 90 days on a bench top in existing apparatus, signal twice background noise. It is a terrible outcome - but is it true?

  42. Lubos,
    The US will fold, as will the EU.
    Russia started this by buying up Ukranian politicians, and Ukranians woke up too late to resist.
    I find it ironic and sadly instructive to see that a child of the USSR empire like yourself, and whose grandparents suffered under appeasement to German demands inthe 1930's, would take the position you seem to take.
    Russia nuking the US over waht is turning out to be basically the US firmly lecturing against invading a country they specifically agreed not to invade is ridiculous. Sec. Kerry, many people agree, is a long winded pretentious buffoon. But he is not the one sabre rattling.
    He is in fact mostly talking about the *most important thing* in the world, global warming.
    And his boss is even sillier.
    My bet is that the first sanction Russia gets will be responded to by turning off the gas to Europe. Then it will settle down pretty quick.
    But maybe I am an optimist?

  43. You missed the point, Lubos.

  44. If this thing goes hot, Gordon, it's not gonna be like Iraq where we shot malnourished ragheads with 20 year old shotguns driving around in the back of 20 year old Toyota pickup trucks!

    I've learned a long time ago that when the US steps up to defend another nation, especially in the name of democracy and that country isn't Israel, the UK or France, I grab the encyclopedia. Why you may ask? Well, we do nothing unless it has a financial value.

    For example, Afghanistan's geographical location is a very important gas transit country. In fact the pipeline that is presently under construction to transport natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and India is a $8 billion project with origins as far back as 1995. Why would the US and Russia have such a interest in having a presence in a nowhere country? Do you really think it's for 9/11, Communism or Democracy?

    Ukraine is pretty much in the same boat with the exception that it is in Russia's backyard. Ukraine is the transit country for natural gas from Russia to Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Turkey.

    In addition, there have been recent discoveries of shale gas deposits.

    Russia will do everything it can to maintain some control of this country because not only is it in its backyard (and does not want a Western presence that close), Ukraine is also a patch of land between it and a decent revenue source.

    This rattling of sabers has nothing to do with the freedoms of people - just money.

  45. Calling the Ukranians 'neo-nazis' is not only factually incorrect, it makes you look like an ignorant bigot.

  46. I am a strongly pro-American person. You are just a deluded idiot.

  47. The point was to write a cheap, untrue, demagogic rant directed against myself, wasn't it? I understood the point very well.

  48. That is naive, Lubos. The impeached Ukranian President was a Putin sock puppet.

  49. Russia is no longer ruled by ideology, Gordon. It is now ruled by pragmatism. Putin would much rather keep selling gas/oil to Europe instead of fighting a war, but he's not going to sit idly by and watch the Western Jackals take bytes out of Russian flesh.

    He knows that Ukraine is just a trial for the takeover of Russia itself by the Western imperial hegemony. Obama may draw "red lines" with Michelle’s lipstick. Putin draws them in blood!

  50. Galaxy clusters don't produce perfect blackbodies, and they're not all at the same redshift.

  51. I am not a child of any USSR empire, fucking asshole. My country has always been independent from USSR and it was always ahead of it. It just happened to adopt communist for 40 years, much like 1/2 of Europe.

    And the reason that my grandparents - most notably, my maternal granddad, an academic painter - were harassed by the Nazi regime is one of my main reasons why my attitudes in this tension are so clearcut. This tension is really a revived proxy for the Second World War and my preference in that is totally clear - Allies including Stalin Yes, Hitler No.

  52. A lot of French and British and others thought the same about Germany' s leader in the 1930's.

  53. Do you think the Czechoslovakian Republic was a free agent in the Cold War, with no USSR stranglehold? A Soviet backed coup is a strange way to 'adopt' something. I respect your attitude and your points. And if I pushed buttons you in a personal way, that was not my intent. Please accept my apology.

  54. Kerry is a gasbag. Russia will do what it wants and Kerry et al will move on to much more critical issues like Climate Change. The American media will obligingly stop reporting much about Ukraine. I doubt 10% of Americans even know or care about this issue now. Nobody will remember or care when it fades.

  55. I wonder, what will be the reaction of Paul Steinhardt, Turok and other Inflation-bashing people?
    Although to be completely honest in their last paper they make it quite
    clear that their problem is with multiverse and measure so the probable
    detection of primordial gravitational waves isn't going to
    ring a bell for them whatsoever!

  56. LOL Steinhardt is a hater of inflation but he is its co-uncle, too. And a co-author of "natural inflation" that may very well be confirmed and he could very well be a Nobel prize candidate for something he bashes. ;-)

  57. if he a decline a Nobel prize that would be something!
    Cyclic cosmology is somehow a dual version of inflation in so many ways.
    But at the same time that dos not mean inflation doesn't have its own problems, do you see the mutiverse, eternal inflation and measure problem as severe as they consider it?

  58. Thanks for an unending stream of extremely bellicose "peace-mongering," vicious scapegoating, and hysterical apocalyptic drivel. And it's curious to see what happens to such bursts of righteous indignation when flowing from the mouth of a sewer.

  59. "[Putin] knows that Ukraine is just a trial for the takeover of Russia itself by the Western imperial hegemony [by "Western Jackals"]."

    While I've few illusions that the reactive bumbling of the Obama administration is pursuing sensible measures during the present Ukraine crisis (and I find Lubos Motl's perspectives worth noting), nevertheless, I don't find any sense or wisdom in your hysterical tirades either. So, c'mon, enlighten us--what territorial designs do these "Western Jackals" have on Putin's Russia?

  60. I agree that optimism can be dangerous. History shows that leaders and nations sometimes do stupid things.

    However, Russia would not be "damaged a bit" in a strategic exchange. It would be effectively destroyed. There wouldn't be enough left to stop an invasion by Latvia, much less China or other surviving powers.

    Tactical nukes can be used in a strategic situation. The "tactical" adjective refers to the usage (and to some extent, the size). A ground attack into Russia could (and would, per doctrine) be stopped with tactical weapons. The reason for this is that the use of strategic nukes is suicidal - as above.

    The doctrine you cite refers to existential threats - conditions where any nuclear nation would use whatever it had. Also, MAD requires that participants have a doctrine of, essentially, suicidal nuclear response to existential nuclear attack.

    However, there is nothing existential about current western threats. At worst, there would be significant economic hardship - not something one will blow up the world about. Furthermore, Russia has other ways of responding short of strategic nuclear war - such as cutting off European energy supplies, or more sharp meddling in the middle east, etc.

    There has been theorizing over the years of limited strategic strikes - such as nuking just San Francisco. I doubt any leader thinks seriously about such things - look at the immense US response to the mere bombing of a naval base not even in the United States in 1941 (Pearl Harbor).

  61. True. The Russian's military budget is the equivalent of 79.3 Billions Euros, whereas the US one is 406 Billions Euros. Putin is rising of 63% his military budget over the next 3 years(reducing on Health and Education).

  62. So this is the level of "observational" evidence required in modern science? You guys are all turning crackpot. If such an observation has been made, then, first we wait for Planck satellite confirmation, and in the postive or negative case we then think about models of the early universe that might explain such an observation - not just go with the fashionable one, which is hardly even close to "proved" by this observation.

    Also, they are quite rude to publish in such haste a very dodgy observation, and not wait for Planck to corroborate. I hope for Harvard's sake they haven't got a loose cable.

  63. Dear Skeptic, theories explaining the relevant cosmological observations have been studied, strengthen, refined, and refuted since 1980, i.e. for 34 years.

    Sometimes people have loose cables - note that I was sure in advance that the OPERA superluminal result had to be wrong.

    But many experiments may be just right and they don't have to be called Planck. It's really bullshit that no other experiment is "allowed" to make a discovery without waiting "what Planck says about it".

  64. Bullshit.

    No one really sensible has bothered with early universe models because it's barely science.

    NOW, if these B-Modes are confirmed (In the Summer by Planck) - a lot of competent people mught turn their atttention to this crazy corner of science - and hopefully bring some really stromg mathematical reasoning to the theories - which are currently mostly back of the envelope imaginings.

  65. I am sure there is a loose network cable on there somewhere. Or maybe the b and e cables are mixed up. Ha

  66. Well. After ams on the space station I am not even inclinclined to listen in on Monday.

  67. Again, first, experiments are not "obliged" to wait for other experiments. Maybe you are confusing science with a special school where they were waiting for retarded children left behind such as yourself but science is something else.

    Second, discoveries in physics may be either made first theoretically (with predictions for the experiments), or first experimentally (with theorists trying to explain the existing data later). Both scenarios have occurred in physics many and many times. There is absolutely nothing wrong about the first route and it is in fact the more scientific, the more exciting route intellectually.

    Third, almost everyone who has the capability has been thinking on cosmology. With the data, the theoretical research may become more directed but it doesn't have to become theoretically different.

    Fourth, cosmic inflation is as solid science as you can get and folks like Alan Guth and Andrei Linde have done at least the same kind of solid science as Peter Higgs and Francois Englert. Those are totally analogous things. Pompous stupid creatures don't understand either.

    I have banned you because at 5 sigma, I've excluded the hypothesis that you may ever contribute anything valuable to this forum or the mankind, for the matter: aggressive promotion of the stupidest laymen's delusions about what science is are not welcome here. Why don't you go to one of the thousands of websites fully dedicated to nasty imbeciles like you? What about Not Even Wrong?

  68. saying that we should wait until Planck confirmation makes me think that you might be in Planck team and you are annoyed that you've got scoped so you are saying something this nonsense. If there is a solid detection that we are going to find out about it on Monday there is absolutely no need to wait for Planck, of curse confirmation by Planck would be nice and welcomed.

  69. Planck and the south pole telescope don't measure the same thing. They have different spatial coverage and resolution of the cosmic microwave background.

  70. He was not sleeping, he was thinking :). Jack Steinberger would seem to be napping during presentations, but his questions also were always to the point.

  71. They will have no place in the coming Mexicrat faction just as blacks had no place in the old Dixiecrat faction of the Demcrat Party. Blacks and Asians will also need a new home.

  72. Milos , for my. " taste" you are a little bit "too eastern'" with your analysis , or I'd rather say very Russian and Serbian fanatic

  73. There is already a separatist movement among Mexicans? That’s pure crap, Bob.

    Having watched California’s ethnic makeup and California politics from the inside for 67 years I assure you that integration and assimilation are progressing nicely, just as for all the other ethnic groups that are blending together here. The only Californians that even give lip service to secession are those individuals on the far right who know their voices are dwindling into oblivion and who are unwilling to face reality.

  74. Hey, Cynthia, that’s my state you’re talking about. We welcome everyone, including you!

  75. Strangely enough, in ITALY there is a poll as important as in Crimea; however, mass media has decided or been instructed to totally ignore it.

    Four million Venetians will go to the polls and vote on whether Veneto, one of Italy’s three wealthiest regions, should secede from Italy and become an “independent and sovereign federal republic.”

    They also vote on leaving the EU with their new republic, leaving NATO, leaving the EURO.

    This must scare the EU leaders so much that they decided not to have it covered in the news, to not cause ideas in other regions as well.

    So far only very little coverage in the media:

  76. Mazikeen MorningstarMar 17, 2014, 12:48:00 AM

    lol oi vey, Lubos. That was brutal.

  77. I grew up in the segregated South, as well, and I completely agree with your assessments, cynholt. The government continues to work to let racism permeate its every move -- who else asks what one's race is on a form? The dullards in the left-wing media are accomplices, of course.

  78. You are ok I hope, Dilaton. (Remember me? I passed you on my way down while you were on your way up, several years ago? ha ha)

  79. where does any discussion of a secular government go when you refer to the ummah?
    the islamic people in france deserve all the deference and rights given to christians in saudi arabia. that is, none.

  80. We live in a reverse Jim Crow society. Institutional racism permeates
    all government and educational institutions. Certainly, Obama has made no
    effort to conceal his racism when he sticks his nose into legal cases
    he knows nothing about and imposes his anti-white prejudice. Of course,
    he won re-election, so this whole country has degenerated into something
    that repels me.

  81. Right, there is zero political backing in the US for military intervention in the Ukraine and very little for economic sanctions. What we are hearing is face-saving bluster. No one is seriously concerned about military confrontation with Russia. Putin knows all this, of course.

  82. way to go! I am still on other SE sites where it is a lot of real science discussions happening (e.g Chemistry), but, i won't go near Physics.SE site either

  83. holy crap! So they took out their 2nd highest contributor (I have read some of Ron's posts - very informative!), alienated many more contributors... no wonder several physics topics go unanswered! I asked a colleague of mine, a very experienced astrophysicist about Physics.SE... his response was an eye roll and said "there are better places" (I have told him about PO - he is intrigued :) ).

  84. Well written, Lubos. I know we have disagreed on a number of issues, but here you really are showing the world the way to go. Well done.

  85. the concentration of water vapor that could steal/absorb these waves is low.

    and the most powerful substance known, carbon dioxide? How could the detectors, which have to flee all the way to the ends of the Earth to escape water vapor, even hope to see through the glare of heat trapping carbon dioxide?


  86. LOL, a good question.

    Incidentally, this Antarctic logistics was linked to another topic remotely mentioned on this blog, in the second part of

    Antarctic explorers... During a talk by an explorer, I won several small prizes, e.g. for the answers what Antarctica is "best at". I said it was the most Southern continent LOL, which was new to him, but he wanted that it was the driest continent etc., too.

    NOW, CO2 only absorbs at higher frequencies, really infrared, see the charts

    The wavelength relevant for the CMB is about 2 millimeters so it's not really infrared anymore, it's between microwaves and radio waves. CO2 doesn't matter for those.

  87. They should have named them "God modes", not B-modes :-)

  88. LOL, B must stand for Bog/Bůh, the Slavic/Czech word for God.

  89. I guess I should never mind the fact that you seem to believe that McCain ditched his plane, that the "Hanoi Hilton" was a hotel, and that if he hadn't ejected he could have "shot it out with the Vietcong" in North Vietnam? Should I never mind the fact that if McCain is a war criminal, the same must be true of thousands of aviators of modern history, not only American? Should I never mind the problems with believing North Vietnamese authorities' statements at the time?

    Instead of posting all the stuff you have, you could make things a lot easier simply by posting, "I hate America."

    If you reply, I won't answer. Just try reading your own messages and asking yourself why anyone would get involved with you.

  90. No, only you and 10k+ users can see the thread now after deletion. Not all registered users can.

  91. Is it on the wayback machine? I think everybody should see what the SE Overlords ant their associated lynch mob are capable of doing...

    However, there are still enough examples of what they did to Math SE, Jeff Atwood behaving like a real asshole, insulting capable mathematicians who disagree with him, suspending pfofessors, etc ... You can find all this when searching for a thread with the title Threatening emails from Jeff Atwood and related discussions.

    Even though the SE Overlords strongly and negatively interfered with the mathematicians repeatedly, that community somehow (conversely to Physics SE) succeeded in staying rather free and independent and keeping its nice collegial community spirit.

  92. Mr. Motl here confirmed his close relation to late president of Czech Republic Vaclav Klaus. But, I don’t think that Motl’s or Klaus’ views are representative of Czech Republic or Eastern Europe inhabitants’ views.
    The truth is that Putin’s position was severally weakened by deposition of Ukrainian president Janukovich. Putin reaction was to take back what he sees as his own - Krym. Nobody seriously objected to this. Not even Ukrainians. Krym is Russian.
    What is in play right now is East Ukraine. Putin can still decide to take it back as well. However, by invading Ukraine Putin can expose himself to unsymmetrical military reaction. Obviously, Ukraine army is no match for him, but western secret services could support local Ukraine nationalist and make Ukraine living hell for Putin. Something like what Iraq was for US or Afganistan for USSR and NATO.
    The outcome won’t be nuclear confrontation between USA and Russia but low intensity conflict between Ukraine nationalists supported by western secret services and Russian police and army.
    If Putin takes Ukraine by force it will be great opportunity for CIA to play games not for US to launch nukes. Russia didn’t nuke US during its Afganistan campaign in 80s so why they should nuke US because of Ukraine?

  93. Dear Czech guy, "close relations" might be a bit too strong word.

    The views' being or not being representative of Czechia or Eastern Europe doesn't affect their being right. Incidentally, I didn't synchronize my views about Ukraine with President Klaus in any way.

    The Czech Republic is a country in Central Europe, not Eastern Europe, and by its historical experience, it belongs to the Western Europe. You probably wanted to say that it was a post-communist (European) country. That's something else than "Eastern Europe". Which kind of a source do you expect me to mention as a reference to correct your terminological problem?

    Good that you agree that Crimea is, by its character, a Russian territory.

    Good luck to your CIA Agent 007 games in Eastern Ukraine LOL. You're joking, right? For a "low-intensity conflict" in Eastern Ukraine, the agents would be almost useless. Such a conflict would really be just a business-as-usual work - the same kind of work as our cops' operations against the Czech skinheads in DSSS.

  94. It of course is on the wayback machine, but the latest version I have it's HTML backed up here:

  95. I think it's a toad, not a frog:)

  96. Hi Gene,

    I moved to California for work about 18 months a go to the Bay area.

    Until I moved here I guess I was susceptible to propaganda of California doom and gloom due to Mexican immigration.

    At least in NorCal I can attest that while Mexicans are very visible, they are mostly just as well integrated as the Chinese and Indian tech migrants who take a generation and a half to fully assimilate (not necessarily lose their cultural identity).

    Also, while they are obviously a major voting bloc, their progress in climbing up the socio economic ladder is not very fast, meaning that they are still under represented in political leadership. The ones that do establish themselves (like Mayor Villanueva of LA) seem to be well assimilated in American culture and way of thought.

  97. Thanks for telling your friend about PhysicsOverflow, he will be highly welcome :-)

    If I really cant hold questions back, I am at most spamming around on Astronomy a bit, but it sometimes helps not much, this site is going very slowly and I am not sure how long it will be tolerated ...

  98. Another very reasonable assessment of the situation by Paul Craig Roberts , takes an hour though :

  99. Very good! I agree.

  100. Lots of posts here, so I apologize if I'm repeating what anyone else might have said, but aren't their things that Russia could do to blunt Obama's foolishness without going to all out war? E.g., if the US puts sanctions on Russia, what will happen to this relationship? If I were Russia, I would be tempted to say "you're on your own, pal."
    Just a thought.
    Oh, and thanks to Lubos for the benefit of his experience and insights gleaned while behind the iron curtain.

  101. Holy cow, I just opened Russia Today on YouTube, something that I was doing pretty regularly in recent weeks, and see what I found:

    Unbelievable. You will have a hard time to convince me that this is a coincidence that it happened today. America is no longer the country of the free. This kind of censorship matches what we knew in the Soviet bloc.

  102. I had a look at Astronomy, looks interesting. A little out of my subject area. But, I am enjoying my 'main' site - Chemistry.and my 2nd site - Sustainable Living - there, the discussions are purely on the topics.

  103. In Czechoslovakia, the citizens have also had "highly non-uniform opinions" on whether the country should be split. Most Czechs would oppose the Slovak independence for quite some time.
    This deserves a comment. As I remember it, the opinions in the Czech lands (yes, I am including Moravia) and in Slovakia were pretty much homogeneous.
    A very significant minority of the same order of magnitude (around 40%) supported separation in both lands (f.ex but there were other polls giving similar results too).
    As anecdotic evidence I remember my discussions from that time too and in my Czech sample almost all people fluctuated between indifference and support for separation. Arguments for separation from the Czech part was mainly that one cannot live in the same country with somebody who is calling you " a colonial power" and you must surely remember that the Czechs were historically considered by the Slovak media and politicians as "colonial power" and "exploiters".
    Of course this argument was basically emotionnal and probably not shared by all Slovaks but it was not far from a 50% support either.
    Finally if one added those favourable for separation and those indifferent, it would certainly give a very similar figure above 50% in both lands so that if a referendum had been organised, a "Yes" for separation would have won in both lands with probably, as you wrote, a slightly higher margin in Slovakia.
    This is clearly seen in the apparent paradox that while "only" about 40% supported separation, a quasi unanimity considered that a separation will take place anyway.
    So it was this vastly shared indifference in the Czech and Slovak lands which enabled the separation to be velvet.
    If somebody asked me my opinion back then, I would surely say "If they want to leave, they may go. Who cares anyway ?" and I think the same thing today.
    Arguably the only negative consequence of the separation was ice hockey.
    Instead of having one top world class team able to beat on a regular basis Canda and Sweden, we have now 2 teams that are merely good without being top world class :)
    A second comment on :
    Your story about the contract in 1953 is funny, I have never heard of it. I assure you that since 1948 if not 1945, Czechoslovakia was the closest friend of the USSR, and it wasn't just on paper. The tight relationships were widespread.
    I have already noticed that you had a kind of light russophilia streak which is probably explained by your personnal history.
    However, and I am pretty sure that you know it, a crushing majority of Czechs that had at least 10 years in 1968 would passionnately hate USSR and the Russians, so that one can forget completely about any form of "friendship".
    For many it was already the case in 1948 - for instance my grand mother despite having lost her husband and brother in law in Terezin (Theresienstadt) was always speaking about "ty posrany bolsevici" and wouldn't definitely admit any qualitative difference between Hitler and Stalin.
    As she also lost a son in law in Jachymov, this opinion was justified and shared by many.
    Of course the analysis is relatively hard because in the post 1948 attitudes towards Russia was always a mixture of anti-communism (prevailing in Czechia, a bit less in Slovakia) and anti-russian/soviet empire yet at the same time one couldn't deny that we were ethnically if not culturally close.
    Personnaly I feel also a bit ambiguous. One one side I still remember those bewildered, stupid, helmeted young faces emerging from the red starred tanks and I know that I hate them. What is not clear is whether I hate them because they were arrogant, stupid and russian or because they symbolised the communism that we all hated too.
    Obviously when I am in Russia I feel rather close to the average Russian and with the significant exception of all kinds of militia, security and guards I even like them a bit.

  104. OK, Tom, but these are polls from the time when the split was already negotiated (October 1992). You can't use it as a measurement of the Czech opinions when it was being decided *whether* the federal state would be preserved. A vast majority of Czechs wanted to preserve the common state as recently as before the 1992 elections.

  105. I think you are letting the Czech experience color your views. Crimea is very important to Russia strategically. Its naval base had its lease extended by the last(and legally current) Ukrainian leader. Without that base, the Black Sea Fleet would have to leave until they built a new base.
    It doesn't stop with Crimea either. Much of Eastern Ukraine has Russian sympathies as well. And then Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia could follow, even though they are NATO members.

  106. Dear MikeN,

    it is a *duty* of NATO signatories to protect others who are attacked.

    Concerning the continuation of Russia to parts of Eastern Ukraine, well, you may be thinking that you are scaring me but you aren't because, indeed, I support the plans of Russia to gain some control at least over Eastern Ukraine, too. It would surely be better for the citizenry over there - and for the external world - than the current sketch of the failed government we may be seeing.

    Best wishes

  107. I hope that even when Russia attempts such a thing (but I still belive that it will not come to this because I am living in the states) US are well prepared to intercept incoming missiles. This is where their technological superiority comes to play...I really doubt that Russia has systems on this level.

  108. I doubt that SDI at this level is more able to defend than the Russian tools and technologies are able to attack. It must be so easy to fire a missile from a submarine or any other place so that there is almost no chance to intercept it in time...

  109. I just got this video:

    It has English subtitles, the Czech ones are here:

    Looks rather impressive. I may bet on Russia in the case of its high-level conflict with someone else.

  110. Well, am going to leave the entire SE network... tired of the whole opinion over science thing going on several sites. Any wonder many academics that I know do not regard SE as a viable scientific site

  111. spoke too soon - same thing on Chemistry.SE to a degree...

  112. I am afraid if we apply your assumptions to post WWII, we must reach the conclusion that the US destroyed the Soviets in a nuclear war, or vice versa. You seem to neglect the fact that Putin is not a figure of Sauron like self-sufficiency and power, but rather is a figure who is dependent on various people's support, who have, until now, benefited from Putin's tenure.
    If he becomes a detriment, his hold on power becomes far more tenuous. Putin my not care about external forces, but his power base does, acutely.

    We are in a period of high level confusion similar o that of the Carter years. Thanks to American democracy, a man was found who knew how to deal with a threat far greater than Putin's, and end it. Putin seems an intractable problem who must be appeased, because that is the thinking of Obama, and, therefore, the entire press corps. It is time or leaders in Congress to clarify what the US considers its vital interests vis a vis the world.

  113. Is it just me who remembers the invasion of Panama by the U.S. in 1990? I see this as having a similar situation to Ukraine. Although I'm an American and certainly sympathize with the Ukrainians (eastern European ethnic cousins, from my father's side), I think the U.S. should stay the (you know what) out of this, and apply only economic pressure (if they decide to).

  114. Put the nuclear U.S. missiles around Russia's borders, Let Putin push the first button.

  115. Lubos has made a lot of good points, but what I do not see discussed, (despite the length of his article) still surprises me. Did you forget about MAD? The US still has the capability to do horrific damage to Russia even if Russia launches first. US missiles are still more accurate, we do not NEED to cover the whole area of Russia, since so much of that space is uninhabited or very lightly inhabited. There is also good reason to believe, even though details are (of course) classified, that the US has kept its nuclear weapons in better shape.

    This is one thing the US and Russia have in common that Europe forgets: unlike Europe, we both have a lot of wide open spaces.

    But if any of this happens, it will be a disaster not only for both sides, but for the rest of the world. Putin knows this, so I really doubt he is going to use nukes -- unless the US goes first, which is also extremely unlikely. More likely, he is letting subordinates say rash things like that because it looks good in the Russian press. That is, he is letting them say this because it project the image of strength he wants to project in front of the domestic audience.

    Putin's approval rating is very high right now, he wants to keep it that way. Projecting that image of strength is the way to do it. Actually doing it (using nukes) would lose that approval rating -- and so much more.

    BTW: official Soviet policy was never to use nukes first, but to respond with everything they have got once even a single nuke falls on Soviet soil. Russian policy is still the same, mutatis mutandis -- despite what hotheads say for press attention.

  116. Russia has been having problems with capital flight since 1991. The first three months of this year were worse than all of last year (in terms of capital flight). It will only get worse now after what Russia has done in Ukraine, as would-be Western partners decide Russia is too risky for investment.

  117. Lubos, interesting conjecture. Reality is that if shooting starts, all lose. MAD is still a certainty. What Putin and Russia are gambling on is Western weakness displayed by Obama and Nato. Give Ukraine back the nukes which were removed with Budapest Agreement and this whole issue becomes moot. No war, no problem. Weakness assures aggression, Strength yields Peace.

  118. It's not optimism, it's reality.
    Putin would have absolutely no chance, not even a .001% chance of emerging the most powerful person in the world.

    Russia has a very minimal offensive nuclear force outside of silo and mobile-based launchers and all of their nukes reside in Russia.

    You're forgetting that the US has closer strike points to Russia's mainland than Russia has to the USA's mainland.

    You're forgetting that out Ohio-class submarines outnumber any of Russia's non-land based missile delivery systems in size, number, speed, power and payload.

    You're forgetting NATO's missile defense program.

    You're forgetting Aegis.

    You're forgetting programs that the public isn't supposed to know about, such as nuclear-tipped cruise missiles and nuclear B2 stealth bombers in Poland.

    You're forgetting the nuclear arsenal in Israel that has never been acknowledged.

    You're forgetting that no matter who doesn't like us, India and Pakistan thrive off of a healthy global economy and heavily foreign-dependent US economy, which will cripple their economies in the event of a nuclear war. Who would India and Pakistan likely target to prevent a WW3 and lose the world's largest stabilizer in terms of war and market? It sure wouldn't be the US that they target.

    Russia is large, but only a small percentage of the entire country is developed and inhabited. The structural, functioning land totals of Russia are MUCH, MUCH smaller than the country's vast land totals.

    Russia's Vice PM has even acknowledged that the American Conventional Prompt Global Strike (PGS) strategy is superior and faster than anything that Russia has.

    Don't forget the US has an arsenal that isn't in books, on YouTube and on Wikipedia. You think that stealth chopper in the Osama raid was the gist of America's unknown weaponry? Rest assured that the US has functioning hypersonic missiles and delivery systems that are constantly targeting the largest nuclear threats from Russia.

    Russia doesn't have a practical defense network against our nuclear strike, they can simply try to overload our defenses (Aegis, NATO missile defense, etc.) with a barrage of missiles which we would likely destroy the majority of in a first-strike scenario.

    Ohio-class submarines, B2 bombers, strategic bombers, nuclear tipped cruise missiles, missile silos and probable allies would be sending a volley of nuclear strikes against Russia that would obliterate the country, all while every Aegis system we have would be targeting in-flight ICBM's from Russia.

  119. I'm just completely confused by your logic.
    Keep thinking that the current administration is in control of the nuclear arsenal in the event of a war. An all out barrage would follow a Russian nuclear strike. I can't believe you'd even think there would be a hesitation or delay in US response.

    The US has an insane first-strike policy against Russia, but you think they're going to delay in a response? Every functional nuclear weapon would be activated against Russian targets.

  120. I've never claimed that the U.S. wouldn't send these arms to Russia. I just care somewhat less about it than about whether the West will be crippled by Russian weapons. And I simply don't want that to be the case. Nuked big cities in the West would be a huge problem and a nuked Volgograd wouldn't "fix" it for me - on the contrary, I would find it a terrible event, too.

    If the Western folks' thinking is at least slightly similar to mine, they will have to tolerate a Russian Crimea - and already perhaps do, except for meaningless moralizing propaganda which I ignore - and they will probably have to tolerate a Russian takeover of the whole Ukraine, too.

  121. All this is just some stuff on paper. And a cherry-picked one.

    Our perspectives are clearly not compatible at all. Like your silly claims about the 0.0001% chance for Putin to become the #1 person after a conflict. One could make a good case that Putin already *is* the most powerful person in the world now.

    A complete lack of strategic thinking under Obama has contributed to it. While Putin is pretty much free to retake the territories inside the ex-USSR, Obama has been reduced to take pictures with the wet rag Rompuy and the Maoist Barroso and claim that the whole West is united and Putin is isolated.

    But what is it supposed to mean? The Western countries' citizens are not united because they're democracies. For example, I stand largely on Putin's side in this tense situation, and so do dozens of percent of others in the West. And what does the isolation of Russia mean? Russia is the territorially largest country in the world. It's almost equally justified to say that Russia is isolated; and to say that the rest of the world is isolated. Moreover, it's not really the rest of the world that is isolated (by being against Russia), it's just the West. Russia is doing totally OK with China, India, Latin America, and many other places.

    What does it achieve for Obama to dismiss Putin "just as a regional power"? The relevant region for Russia is the whole Europe and Asia - and the U.S. isn't even a regional power when it comes to acts.

  122. Right, that's why there will be peace in Ukraine under the Russian control and why there can't be peace under the weakness-driven, EU-supported Maidan government etc.

    I don't think that MAD is certainty - there's still a huge distance from some random nuclear exchanges to a universal destruction - but what I am sure is that MAD is in no way a "tie" from my viewpoint. It is the ultimate catastrophe and I am much more willing for my own country to be controlled from the Kremlin than to see MAD.

  123. Neither one will come out the #1 on top. The fact that you think Russia wouldn't be turned to ash is just astounding.

    Both countries will be rendered functionally destroyed. Every other NATO member and super power will be in higher standing than the US or Russia.

    Russia has virtually NO way to prevent a first strike or even full-scale retaliatory nuclear strike.

    Have you not been following the US Air Force's clean up in the past six months and firing of officers in the nuclear program?

  124. Russia would be isolated from the world if they take over Ukraine.

    You think everyone will be bullied into maintaining trade with Russia because they have nukes?

    Russia takes Ukraine, all super powers place sanctions and cut all trade with Russia. You think just because Putin stomps his feet and screams and cries, that EU and the West will continue trade just to avoid an angry nuke threatening Putin?