Sunday, August 31, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Science paper: null results should be printed

Null results are 1.4-1.6 times underrepresented in social science literature

Three days ago, Annie Franco, Neil Malhotra, and Gabor Simonovits of Stanford published a paper in Science that discusses an issue that's been often covered on this blog:

Publication bias in the social sciences: Unlocking the file drawer
See also TIME, SciAm, and others.

They looked at some NSF-funded body of social science research – TESS surveys among the U.S. citizens – where one knows how much research was actually performed, how much was written down, and how much was published.

Czechs, Slovaks won (possible) exemption from new EU sanctions

I urge Moscow to treat EU countries separately, too

A summit in Brussels chose the successor to the EU "president" von Rumpuy. It's no one else than Donald Tusk, center-right prime minister of Poland. He will take the lead in December.

As this 2008 Polish parody "Donald Marží" (Donald Is Dreaming) of a funny 1978 Czech song Joey from the Swamps (the #1 song of your humble correspondent from the kindergarten years; there is even a Japanese parody of the Polish parody) reminds us, Tusk is known as the guy who has ludicrously promised the Poles to completely eradicate corruption and to create another Ireland in Eastern Europe. Well, I still think that the replacement of von Rumpuy by Tusk represents progress in the positive direction.

The Polish coat of arms shows a duck, in order to celebrate Mr Kaczynski and Mr Donald Duck-Tusk.

Radek Sikorski, a former Polish minister of foreign affairs and a staunch Russophobe (not too many other things define his identity), could have been the replacement of Catherine Ashton. But the new EU "minister" of foreign affairs will be Italian social democrat Federica Mogherini who actually has pretty peaceful relations to Russia (and was important in an Italian-US society, too).

Saturday, August 30, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Don Lincoln's introduction to particle detectors

Fermilab's Don Lincoln has recorded a couple of videos promoting and explaining physics concepts.

In this new 10-minute film, he presents particle detectors as subatomic bomb squads.

Friday, August 29, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CSTO ready to take over Ukraine

I've spent lots of hours by following the events in Ukraine and worrying about them, too. The Western propagandist outlets have informed their undemanding audiences that Russia has finally invaded Ukraine. Well, it wasn't the first time when we heard such a thing. What strategy did Russia choose to invade Ukraine yesterday?

It has sent about 10 soldiers above. They must have supernatural powers if they're supposed to conquer a country with 40+ million people. Perhaps, it wasn't just the ten folks. There may be a thousand of Russian citizens fighting over there. Soldiers on vacations, retired soldiers, and perhaps other volunteers. What a shock. Do you really expect the Kremlin to exterminate people in their military for these hobbies? The Kremlin understands the emotions behind these hobbies. There is a comparable number of Americans (or at least one hundred) on the other side – who have really no business to be there at all – too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Borexino: photographing the Sun using neutrinos

Technical: Windows 7,8 64-bit users are definitely recommended to download the stable 64-bit version of Chrome which has twice lower instability rate and is faster, not to mention some new abilities. The installer will automatically update your (now 32-bit) Chrome. Perhaps you have to run it twice, closing Chrome perfectly in between. At the end, "About Chrome" should show "Version 37.0.2062.94 unknown-m (64-bit)".
Physics World and most of other MSM science news sources inform us about the observations by Borexino, an Italian experiment located in Gran Sasso (the word could mean "boring former baby") that observed the \(pp\) neutrinos, the neutrinos created during\[

p + p \to \text{d} + e^{+} + \nu_e

\] i.e. the fusion of proton pairs in the Sun (which produces about 99% of the solar output), for the first time.

A five-minute 2009 video promoting Borexino. Is her accent Italian?

To achieve the goal that wasn't guaranteed from the beginning, they had to use a thousand of tons of water buried 1,400 meters beneath the surface, in order to shield some of the backgrounds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Kaggle Higgs contest: the solution file for everyone

Well, an approximate one

Have you ever searched for the solution file for the Higgs Kaggle contest? Have you ever asked why the organizers don't just publish it so that everyone is smarter? ;-)

Did you ever want to be able to estimate your submission's score without sending it to the Kaggle server? Have you ever been confused by the normalization of the weights?

Because I just got a permission from my teammate and it is allowed for the contestants to be generous and share their wisdom with the whole Internet and all the competitors, I just decided to help everyone – and, perhaps, to re-energize the contest a little bit.

Cristobal, Marie on animated global wind map

Finally, one may see some exciting realtime pictures on the global wind map (click here to get the interactive app; TRF instructions are available, too).

Yes, the hurricane approaching the Bermudas (East of Florida) is called Cristobal. The Pacific hurricane West of California is called Marie.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Visiting Triton

In the most recent week, the American, European, as well as Russian space programs suffered from bummers.

Elon Musk's new SpaceX F9R rocket self-detonated over Texas. Something went wrong and we're told that this rocket's suicide was their mundane Plan B. It's sort of hard to believe that they really planned such a "maneuver" but maybe it's right. One can't get rid of the feeling that these attempts to privatize the space research are perhaps "too cheap" for them to succeed.

Triton, to be discussed later

The second bummer is linked to the unAmerican competitors of the GPS system. A year ago, a Proton-M rocket carrying a GLONASS (Russian GPS) satellite exploded shortly after it was launched.

Monday, August 25, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A curious traffic accident

Sunday, a day of playing e.g. with my 5-year-old nephew and niece, was probably more likely a day than Monday for such an injury. But I classified an event in which I was injured an hour ago to be a traffic accident.

A curious one, indeed. Some people who drive cars or bikes hit other cars. In 1999, a friend of mine from Prague and Rutgers, mathematician Petr Čížek, was killed by a truck that they had crashed into while his lively Russian female friend was driving on a seemingly empty road in Minnesota (I didn't go to that expedition, mostly due to the qualifying exams).

The underpass going to the soccer stadium after a fan association named Ultraside gave a permission to itself to paint it. ;-) It used to be prettier than at random moments – the city hall should have hired them to paint the underpass regularly.

People may collide with other people of different occupations and races. The individual I hit an hour ago was a boxer. And it's a race, not an occupation. ;-) Well, I know that the native speakers actually call it a "breed", not a "race", but I will use the word "race" because it's the same concept as the human races, isn't it (well, except that the separation to breeds was mostly bred i.e. man-made), and I am Czech who has never attended any dog races so there is no room for confusions.

Sunday, August 24, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Irradiation of face by LHC beam is better than Botox

Like other trained particle physicists, I have often been asked what would happen if you decided to insert your hand or head or another part of your body right to the LHC beam.

I wasn't sure about the right answer because it's a complicated interdisciplinary question combining particle physics, radiation safety, biology, and some condensed matter physics and thermodynamics. To be sure, I recommended people not to try this experiment because it would almost certainly be lethal.

These charts of Anatoli Bugorski's skull resemble the investigators' map of the JFK assassination scene.

Three weeks ago, Extreme Tech brought us a story that I didn't know and that may actually force us to change our minds. The experiment has already been tried 35 years ago and the guy is still around.

What happened?

Saturday, August 23, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Europe's support for the Islamic State

"The Islamic State" terrorists are so cruel that at one point, Osama bin Laden had ruled out any collaboration with them.

Off-topic: Czech readers may listen to an episode of Planetarium where they interviewed me about string theory. The program (archive) was aired on Czech Public Radio North on Saturday 18:05 Czech Summer Time.

Volcano: Bárðarbunga began to erupt, so far subglacially, but you may watch the webcam and it may get more interesting.
These überjerks show that when you calibrate your moral sense to the situation of Syria, Bashar Assad is the good guy. The Islamic State is the "real Islam that matters" in the region. Their acts humiliate everyone who has been spreading ludicrous PC fairy-tales about Islam as a religion of peace. There may be people who are peaceful and call themselves Muslims but they are unfortunately irrelevant. What's relevant and "truly Islamic" are groups like the Islamic State – and whether you like it or not, their attitudes are supported by much of the Quran, too. Islam is a form of fascism – and it has been almost nothing else for something like 1300 years.

These monsters are murdering lots of peoples including the Yezidis, an eclectic church sometimes considered as an Islamic sect and sometimes a hybrid of shamanism and Christianity. Those mostly Kurdish people worship Melek Taus, an angel considered to be a "fallen angel" by the Muslims (and probably others) because he refused to lick Adam's aß at one point. Count me as a fan of Melek Taus, too. Adam was just a transitional fossil between mutated apes and homo sapiens – no need to worship this ancestor of ours.

Also, the Islamic State has a P.R. department that is doing pretty much the same thing as MSNBC and other cheap sources of "news" (brainwashing of the undemanding audiences) we know in the West. They use clever tricks to spread their message on the "social media" and they have a superior technology capable of filming hours of professional footage containing dozens of types of murders as well as the warriors' distribution of ice cream among children and they obey many rules of the PC P.R. media as well as Hollywood to impress some people.

Friday, August 22, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Ashoke Sen: elementary particles are small black holes

Three string theorists added as Dirac Medal winners

On August 8th of every year, the Abdus Salam Institute in Trieste, Italy chooses up to three recipients of the Dirac Medal. (It's the anniversary of Dirac's 1902 birth. There exist three other awards called the "Dirac Medal" which I will ignore because they're less relevant for this blog's audience.)

Of course, the medal tries to decorate deep minds who are doing a similar kind of profound research as Paul Dirac did which is why dozens of string theorists have already won it. The Dirac Medal shows what the Nobel prize would look like if the committee weren't constrained by the required explicit, dynamite-like demonstration of the physical discoveries.

In 2014, i.e. two weeks ago, the Italian institute avoided all experiments and awarded just three string theorists:

Ashoke Sen, Andrew Strominger, Gabriele Veneziano
Congratulations! Of course, Veneziano is the forefather of the whole discipline (the intercourse that has led to the birth was Veneziano's encounter with the Euler Beta function), Andy Strominger is a lot of fun and a perfectly balanced top thinker in one package and I know him the best of all, of course ;-), and Ashoke Sen is among the most brilliant minds, too. He has previously won the Milner award, too.

The Hindu printed a short yet interesting interview with Ashoke Sen yesterday:
‘Elementary particles may be thought of as small black holes’
It's funny – the title is actually a sentence I have included in almost every general physics talk I gave in the last decade, perhaps 30 talks in total. Sometimes I talk about the panic about the LHC-produced black holes and emphasize that only experts may distinguish a small black hole from an elementary particle such as the Higgs boson – and its evaporation from the Higgs decay etc.

It's true that the Hawking radiation of a "larger than minimal" black hole has a higher number of decay products (particles) so it's more uniform but for the truly minimum-size black holes, there's no difference.

All 365 Sierra Leona ebola casualties due to a herbalist

The Daily Mail and everyone else mentioned the sad and bizarre statistical fact: all 365 people (3/4 of the victims are women because they're more "the social glue" of their communities, caregivers) who died due to ebola (a lethal cousin of flu) in Sierra Leone caught the disease from a herbalist. What an irony.

The mass infection began in Guinea (patient zero has probably been correctly identified) and lots of the infected ones came to the herbalist in Sierra Leone – which used to be a healthy country. She got infected and many others caught the disease from her, many of them during the funeral.

Thursday, August 21, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

David Gross: why do we have faith in string theory

David Gross has given lots and lots of vision talks at various string conferences but this time, in June 2014, he focused on string theory and the scientific method in his 21-minute-long vision talk:

At the beginning, he would enumerate five of his favorite talks, said that Andy Strominger's vision talk brought Gross almost to tears, and he finally concentrated on the explanations why the people in that Princeton room have faith in the theory despite some outsiders' opinions that they shouldn't.

(Paul Steinhardt, a speaker at Strings 2014 who has delivered some "strange" statements to the audience, was chosen as the only named prototype of the critics.)

Nikolay Bogoliubov: 105th birthday

In Czechia and Slovakia, August 21st is primarily remembered as the anniversary of the 1968 occupation by the "brotherly armies" of the Warsaw Pact that ended the Prague Spring, a period of liberalization of socialism in Czechoslovakia. The invaders' actions 46 years ago look kind of moderate to me today, from the perspective of events in Ukraine and elsewhere, so I won't discuss the year 1968 today.

However, physicists are dying and being born on August 21st, too. In 1836, Claude Louis Navier (of the hydrodynamics fame) died. On August 21st, 1995, he was followed by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

However, I want to spend more time with Nikolay Bogoliubuv who was born on August 21st, 1909.

An alarmist embraces the label "alarmist"

There have been many discussions about the ways how the climate realists are being called. We're skeptics, contrarians, mavericks, and shills, among other things. I have always agreed with Richard Lindzen about the word "denier".

While it has been coined with the obvious purpose to link the climate realists to the "Holocaust deniers", it is actually an accurate term, too. In particular, I am a climate denier, not a climate skeptic. The term "skeptic" often indicates that there is a serious "case" to be made about the bold hypothesis and that one is seriously open-minded to both possibilities. Well, I am not. There won't be any CO2-driven global catastrophe in the next 50, 100, or 200 years. I deny the claims that there exists a scientific or otherwise rational basis for the climate panic which clearly makes me a "denier".

While climate realists haven't been as occupied with inventing names for the climate alarmists as the alarmists have been occupied with expletives directed at the skeptics, probably because the realists prefer to focus on the essence and not the propaganda, it is still interesting to watch how some climate alarmists react to various labels, including the word "alarmist" itself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Adimensional gravity

Natalie Wolchover wrote a good article for the Simons Foundation,

At Multiverse Impasse, a New Theory of Scale
about Agravity, a provoking paper by Alberto Salvio and Alessandro Strumia. Incidentally, has anyone noticed that Strumia is Joe Polchinski's twin brother? The similarity goes beyond the favorite color of the shirt and pants.

At any rate, the system of ideas known as "naturalness" seems to marginally conflict with the experiments and things may be getting worse. Roughly speaking, naturalness wants dimensionful parameters (masses) to be comparable unless there is an increased symmetry when they're not comparable. But the Higgs boson is clearly much lighter than the Planck scale and in 2015, the LHC may show (but doesn't have to show!) that there are no light superpartners that help to make the lightness natural.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Maldacena's bound on statistical significance

When Juan Maldacena began his Strings 2014 talk after so many speakers who have displayed their eloquence back in June,

JM: Geometry and Quantum Mechanics,
he was feeling like a soccer player who had to play against Argentina. ;-) The audience exploded in laughter; Juan is clearly an Argentine patriot. Despite his personal modesty on steroids, the 13-minute talk was filled with inspiring thoughts.

Many of them have been discussed on this blog repeatedly. But let me focus on a rather new thing that starts to be covered around 6:00.

Munich city hall: Linux transition was a failed political experiment

The Bavarian capital likely to restore Windows

For decades, I have been emphasizing that the people aggressively recommending Linux to common users and spreading conspiracy theories about the alleged reasons why Windows hadn't died yet were loud ideologically motivated anti-market terrorists who didn't hesitate to make most of the people suffer.

A building without windows looks rather sad. Well, let me admit: this is not a picture from Munich, it is a big fridge in Minsk. I guess that these days, the building is being used to produce high-quality Belorussian food by attaching new stickers to high-quality Western European food.

In the U.S., I mostly had to work with the Linux stuff for a decade, too. I learned it well enough but I remain as uncomfortable with it as I was before I became a Linux user, if not more so.

It seems that my words have been vindicated by officials from a city that has something to say about the problem, namely the first major city in the world that has decided to dump Windows and replace it by Linux a decade ago: Bavaria's Munich.

Monday, August 18, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

An emotional movie on Stephen Hawking: Theory of Everything

In November 2014, a new emotional movie will hit the cinemas.

A trailer plus a review. The talkative reviewer thinks that the filmmakers were cheating when they suggested that Hawking and his wife were saints who transcended the disease. True but the most ambitious movies like that aren't documentaries, anyway.

"A Theory of Everything" is a film about Hawking's life, work, and medical disorder. But it is primarily a movie about his love life, a movie focusing on Jane Hawking, his wife through 1995.

Sunday, August 17, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A looming civil war in Kiev?

The Czech media such as Tyden.CZ (The Week) quickly informed about a new development in Northwestern Ukraine – perhaps, we should say that these developments took place on Facebook. ;-)

A criminal and de facto minister of interior of Northwestern Ukraine Arsen Avakov – who has been arrested in Moscow for his usage of illegal means of warfare and mass murders of civilians but Moscow isn't able to put him in jail so far – has attacked Dmitry Yarosh, the boss of the Nazi paramilitary movement "The Right Sector" that has played the key role in the recent coup in Kiev.

I can't see these reports outside the Czech media, except for a very poorly formatted text on RIN's server in Russia, so let me mention what is going on. (Update: There is a report on Russia Today now.)

Current weather most similar to the weather 5 years ago

For half an hour, I was now playing with an amusing meteorological question. If you want to use the approximation that the global weather is repeating itself, what is the previous year that is most similar to Summer 2014 and the previous year or so?

I don't want to reveal my full methodology because you're invited to test your own approach to the question. But I took the RSS data from 1979, and reduced to the periods "minus two or three years" up to "a July", and compared these periods for different years on one side and "the period up to July 2014" on the other side. I first subtracted the most recent global temperature anomaly, and then summed the squared differences (including the regional columns).

The squared differences from the monthly data "well before the final July" were suppressed exponentially, so that the weight decreased 2.718 times when you returned by a year or two.

Saturday, August 16, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Al Jazeera's interview with Andrei Linde

Two weeks ago, Al Jazeera America – a TV station that Al Gore sued yesterday even though it has paid huge money to him for his worthless crappy pseudo TV station – talked to Andrei Linde about the beginning of time:

A 25-minute video

Linde started by explaining why inflation is revolutionary – why it makes the unreasonably huge and accurate explosion required by the Big Bang moderate and natural, requiring no immense amount of matter ("explosive") to start with a requiring no fine-tuned initial state.

Friday, August 15, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

EU courage moved from Czechia to Slovakia, Hungary

Some years ago, when Václav Klaus was the Czech president, my country would be the ultimate headquarters of those who are not afraid to say what is crucial and importantly wrong about the contemporary European Union.

Well, at least the headquarters for the central and Eastern portion of the EU, but sometimes beyond this subset. I couldn't have hid my pride about those matters.

Thankfully, Klaus was succeeded by Miloš Zeman who has at least some balls (and when it comes to the Ukrainian matters, he at least opposes the sanctions). His opponent in the elections, Karel Schwarzenberg, is a good-nurtured charming aristocrat, I think, but with him as the boss of the Prague Castle, we would be the ultimate European sycophants.

Our new center-left government is a připosraný one, however. (My English is far from sufficient to allow me to translate this adjective: apologies. But it's something like "wearing preemptively partially šitted pants".)

Hire your CERN and click at your discoveries

If you want to assure yourself that you're capable of doing all the work that is done by people at CERN – from the Director General to the PhD advisers, detector technicians, statisticians etc., you may simply open this CERN game:

CERN particle clicker
You must click at buttons to discover the CP violation and do many other things.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

RC: 20 million Russian black holes needed for methane emergency

One month ago, a very large crater was found on Yamal Peninsula in Siberia.

Where did the black hole come from? What was the cause? These questions were mysterious for us but now it seems that experts have reasons to say that there's lots of methane in the hole and the hole was a result of a methane bubble under the ground that found its way to the surface. Cool.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Joe's weird objections against state dependence

The state dependence is a simple example of effective superselection sectors; Joe's firewall confusion is linked to his sleeping beauty mistakes

I have finally found some time to watch more videos from Strings 2014. You may download them from the conference web page about talks or watch many/most/all of them on the GraduatePhysics YouTube channel.

The talks by Joe Polchinski, Kyriakos Papadodimas, and Suvrat Raju are among those that talk about the black hole interior. This blog's fans want to see Suvrat's talk, 25:40-25:50. ;-)

What Suvrat and Kyriakos say makes sense. I looked at Joe Polchinski's dissatisfaction, e.g. in his slides (PDF). Pages 20-24 and some of the following ones are dedicated to Joe's objections against Suvrat's and Kyriakos' picture. I find the causes of Joe's apparent unhappiness strange. He believes that Suvrat and Kyriakos ("PR") violate some general rules of quantum mechanics but all the contradictions quoted by Joe actually arise because Joe, and not PR, violates some laws of quantum mechanics.

First female Fields medalist

Off-topic: If you want to learn how – as a conference speaker – you should refer to a very nice blog post in a way that is both accurate and entertaining for the audience, see Suvrat Raju's Strings 2014 talk, 25:40-25:50. Thanks, Suvrat. ;-) Some of the people are laughing because by mentioning "a very nice blog post", Suvrat had offered them too little information – approximately by \(k\ln(6,000)\) because as of today, there are 6,000 very nice TRF blog posts. ;-)
Using the normal distribution, La Griffe du Lion has predicted a female winner of the Fields medal, the most well-known prize in mathematics, to surface once in 103 years. If you have won a Fields medal yourself, you may calculate that four winners are announced every 4 years which means that it's \(4/4=\) one winner per year in average.

After 70 years of the award, we have the first female Fields medalist. Maryam Mirzakhani is Persian, was born in Tehran in 1977, was trained at Harvard and received her PhD in 2004, and is currently a Stanford professor.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

My nearly velvet divorce with Bank of America

Off-topic: If you want to make one click with a bigger impact, you may boost a user (me) above the reputation level of 100,000 literally by one click unless you're late. ;-)
Except for a dramatic event, it was smooth

A Czech proverb due to the Daddy President of Czechoslovakia T.G. Masaryk teaches us that as many U.S. banks have served you, as many times you are a human being. Well, the original version was counting languages you can speak but that's so stupid that I wouldn't reproduce it on this blog. ;-)

Bank of America on Harvard Square (technically on 1414 Mass Ave). By a not so unlikely coincidence, the picture also shows something that is so common in Cambridge, MA that it's a waste of time to comment on it. Hardcore left-wing whackadoodles, in this case a "City Life Vida Urbana" group, protests against greedy investors in front of a symbol of capitalism. Idiots like that are everywhere around the Harvard campus but one must walk for several miles – and indeed, I had to walk for several miles pretty much every day – to get to the nearest McDonald's.

Well, even though I have only opened accounts in 2 banks, I have been a quintuple human being. It's because my decade-long stay in the U.S. may be viewed as a history book of the U.S. banking industry. In New Brunswick, NJ, I would open an account in CoreStates (in 1997) but that would be eaten by First Union and later by Wachowia Bank. My branch of the Fleet bank at Harvard Square, Massachusetts became Bank of America in 2005.

Even though I haven't been to the States since July 2007, I was keeping the account open over there. A few dollars (or dozens of dollars) per month would be flowing there from Amazon Associates. And I found the account convenient when I had to pay some extra taxes after an evil left-wing junta – that would later hijack much of the Massachusetts and U.S. federal government – audited two of my tax returns.

Controversy about the \(3.5\keV\) line

A year ago, we would sometimes watch the disagreement of experimental astrophysicists concerning the existence of sub-\(10\)-\({\rm GeV}\) dark matter particles which was suggested by DAMA, CoGENT, CDMS Silicon, and others. LUX finally showed that those hints had to be due to some overlooked boring phenomenon because even with the superior sensitivity of the South Dakota detector, the graphs are as clean as you can get.

Someone seemed to be sending X-rays from the Central Milky Way.

Another potential intriguing signal has become questionable. Jester would write about the neutrino dark matter seen in the \(3.55\keV\) X-ray signals. The same Jester now wrote a blog post titled

X-ray bananas
about two new papers, a positive one and a negative one.

Nigel Calder: 1931-2014

Nigel Calder's blog which you may find in the right TRF sidebar hasn't been updated for two years and I felt nervous about it. Now I learned something sad that I should have learned 6 weeks ago. Nigel Calder is no longer with us.

Sunday, August 10, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Sleeping beauty thirders' rudimentary Markov chain error

Last time when I talked about the Sleeping Beauty Problem a week ago, I wanted to convey two points.

One of them – the woman's visit to Guantanámo Bay – was that the belief in \(P=1/3\) is equivalent to a major flaw in thinking that turns many people into conspiracy theorists: they think that even if some scenario is very unlikely (e.g. that the woman is transferred to the facility in Cuba), the low value of the probability may be "beaten" and made irrelevant by inventing "huge implications" such as a very long sequence of torture and interviews.

But it isn't the case. If the probability of her transfer to Cuba is just \(1/5,000\) per week, the 50,000 interviews on Wednesday only share the tiny probability that she's transferred to Cuba in the first place. They can't be added up because they're not mutually exclusive. The message is that if some evolution is insanely unlikely so that it happens much less frequently than once per the lifetime of the Universe, you may just assume that this event is impossible regardless of the potentially huge hypothesized consequences of the unlikely scenario.

Another yet related point I wanted to make is that the Bayesian inference implies \(P_{\rm tails}=1/2\) if you do it right even if you include the "hypotheses about your state" among the competing hypotheses. "Doing it right" involves realizing that "Monday heads" and "Tuesday heads" aren't really mutually exclusive possibilities. You may have been confused why I divided some probabilities by two at some point but I think that Bob Walters (see also his bonus text), with some help from Nicoletta Sabadini, makes all these points clearer than I did.

Kaggle Higgs: approaching 3.85

If you follow the preliminary leaderboard of the Higgs ATLAS Kaggle contest where 1,288 teams from various places of planet Earth are competing, you may have noticed that I have invited Christian Veelken of CERN to join my team. He kindly agreed. I believe he is one of the best programmers who reconstructs the Higgs properties from the tau-tau decays in the CMS team, the other big collaboration at CERN aside from ATLAS whose folks organize the competition.

The current decision is that so far the viable scores were obtained predominantly by me so I own 90% of the team which is enough not to ask the minority shareholders whether they like the name of the team. ;-) Of course that it may change in the future. My belief is that the relative importance of members of such a team has to be based on the preliminary scores and their contributions to the high ones. It's not a perfect way to rate things but it's better than all others, for reasons I could explain. This question is analogous to the question whether managers' incomes in companies should depend on the profits, revenues, and the stock price. Even though there are risks and things can go wrong, I would answer Yes because this arrangement rooted in imperfect yet measurable data at least guarantees some correlation between the salary and the future of the company and some motivation for the manager to fundamentally improve things.

For the first time in the human history, Christian has applied the CMS' methods to evaluate these tau-tau decays (SVFIT) to the ATLAS data, the data of his intra-CERN competitors. It works. So far, it doesn't produce detectable improvements in the AMS score by itself (or in combination with the ATLAS methods): SVFIT, although more sophisticated, behaves almost identically to ATLAS' MMC. Christian has some really professional ideas what to do and I also believe that if they fail to produce high scores, he will help me to professionalize the codes that I used to get where I/we seem to be because, as you can imagine, the codes have become messy.

Meanwhile, however, I kept on improving the score. Our best one currently stands at 3.83674, just 0.014 below the current leader Gábos Melis. That's exactly equal to my last improvement and I got two of them in the last 24 hours so feel free to estimate how much time it should take to take over. ;-)

Friday, August 08, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Sum rule constraint on BSM models

Guest blog by Paul Frampton, paper by PF and Thomas Kephart

It is good to back after my unexpected sabbatical of 2 years and 4 months in South America. During that time the BEH scalar boson (called \(H\)) was discovered on July 4th, 2012 at the LHC by both the CMS and ATLAS groups. The subsequent experimental study of the production and decay of \(H\) provides particle phenomenology with the first really new data for decades. Physicists who are less than 50 years old cannot remember the excitement in particle phenomenology of the 1970s. In the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s which included the important discoveries of the \(W^\pm\) and \(Z^0\), and the top quark the interplay between theory and experiment was nevertheless less exciting than the 1970s. Now the study of \(H\) again is.

Thursday, August 07, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

The only Czechoslovak citizen behind the first nuclear bombs

By Karel Pacner, a partial transl. by LM

It's another Hiroshima anniversary and this article is rather interesting, I thought.

The only Czech who was assisting during the birth of the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima

Almost nobody knows that one emigrant from Czechoslovakia was called to the narrowest team of the Manhattan Project by Robert Oppenheimer. His name was George Placzek.

A photo from Leipzig, 1931. The unsung hero of physics George Placzek sits on the left side from Bohr.

He was born in Brno, Moravia, in a mostly German-speaking Jewish family but the family was a proper Czechoslovak family which means that they spoke Czech at home, too.

A summer school

I've spent two days at a summer school, preaching about strings and black holes in two talks for mathematics-and-physics-enhanced schoolkids from Northern Bohemian basic schools and high schools.

"Genoa" where the school took place, like other towns in this mountain range, is full of pensions of all kinds and sizes. Incidentally, "Venice" is nearby, too.

It was fun, the people were very interesting and the Jizera Mountains in the Western Sudetes are a good place to visit, too.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Climate disagreements: do PR firms matter?

Off-topic: Sheldon, Leonard, and Penny have tripled their income to $1 million per TBBT episode. Wow but probably deserved. has picked a story of the day, an article in the Guardian
World's top PR companies rule out working with climate deniers
written by Suzanne Goldenberg and Nishad Karim. The title is dramatic, including the Holocaust-resembling expletive that similar inkspillers enjoy using, but if you read the article and even if you trust it, you will see that the content doesn't match the title. I know that you expect this discrepancy under any article signed by "Suzanne Goldenberg" (I am not aware of an honest article that this "lady" would have ever written) but I am just making sure that you don't forget about it.

Numerous PR companies, including the world's largest independently-owned P.R. company called Edelman (in the U.S.), indicated that they're fine with helping clients who are climate realists.

At any rate, I think that
  1. we have been drowning in the ocean of climate alarmist lies whose significant portion was produced or managed by P.R. firms
  2. it seems that this expensive attempt to brainwash the public isn't really working.
While the outrageous lies and demagogy supporting the climate hysteria is what is making many of us upset, we seem to think that this junk doesn't really matter. It means that the P.R. firms that are collaborating on this climate hysterical propaganda are both dishonest and parasitic because they're not really helping their clients.

Monday, August 04, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

The spin about the 438 deserted Ukrainian troops

Lots of dramatic and worrisome events keep on taking place in Ukraine.

A million of users saw the monologue by Bogdan Butkevich, a pro-Kiev journalist and a self-described musician, who said (months ago) that people like him knew what the Ukrainian national interests were and 1.5 million people in the Donetsk region (probably referring to all the ethnic Russians) were "useless people" who needed to be killed. "Gentlemen" like this one define the contemporary political mainstream in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, four days ago, the Donetsk People's Republic's minister of defense, Igor Strelkov, who would be a keen battle reenactor before his real-world military career, said that Kiev plans a giant false-flag operation of exterminating much of Donetsk and Luhansk by bombing 160 and 120 tons of chlorine in the local water chlorinations facilities. Depending on the wind, the clouds would kill more or less than tens of thousands of people. The Auschwitz-like operation would be attributed to the local militias, Strelkov argued. I hope that these are just fantasies but if they're not and someone is seriously planning things like that, it is horrifying.

Sunday, August 03, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Another CMS 2.6-sigma SUSY excess

Edge at \(m_{\rm inv}=79\GeV\) in dilepton events

There were virtually no deviations of the LHC from the Standard Model a month ago. But during the last month, there has been an explosion of so far small excesses.

Off-topic: Have you ever played 2048? Flash 2048. A pretty good game. Cursor arrow keys.
One day after Tommaso Dorigo presented another failed attempt to mock the supersymmetric phenomenologists, he was forced to admit that "his" own CMS collaboration has found another intriguing excess – namely in the search for edge effects in dilepton events.

The detailed data may be seen in Konstantinos Theofilatos' slides shown at ICNFP2014 in Κολυμβάρι, Greece (if the city name sounds Greek to you, it's Kolimvari; Czech readers may call the place Kolín-Vary) or at a CMS website. The paper hasn't been released yet but it's already cited in the thesis by Marco-Andrea Buchmann (no idea about his or her sex but he or she looks like a boy) whose chapter 5 (page 49) is dedicated to this search (see also the reference [95] over there). On page ii, Buchmann mentions significance of the edge at 2.96, almost 3 sigma.

What's going on?

Saturday, August 02, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Comparing Obama's, Putin's 10-minute monologues

I was just listening to two recent monologues, a speech by Obama and answers by Putin during a press conference:

President Obama announces expanded sanctions on Russia in Uk

Vladimir Putin on US Sanctions and Ukraine – English Subs
The differences are striking. Putin is a calm, extraordinarily rational and pragmatic professional who doesn't really contribute anything to the escalation of the emotions and who seems aware of the major principles that underlie the Western values and the Western understanding of justice, too.

That's very different from Obama who only offers emotional, hypocritical, not reality reflecting, sometimes one-sided and sometimes downright untrue accusations of Russia and the Russian people and who is boasting about his desire to hurt that nation. Nothing that Obama says indicates that he is balanced, merciful, that he has some sensible or realistic plans in what direction he wants to push the world in the future, or that he understands anything nontrivial about the world of politics or the human society in general, for that matter.

Sleeping beauty in Guantánamo Bay

If Alice could have been to Wonderland, why shouldn't the Sleeping Beauty visit Gitmo?

I've concluded that the elementary mistakes that lead some people to say that the correct answer to the Sleeping Beauty Problem is \(P=1/3\) is the primary cause of these people's totally invalid claims about the arrow of time as well as the anthropic principle as well as their irrational fear of the Boltzmann Brains.

When I was a kid and as recently as 15 years ago, I wouldn't feel that there exist similar controversies about similarly trivial issues. I swear that various mathematical olympiads would solve analogous problems, many people presented wrong answers but the organizers and otherwise "adult" people who were expected to know agreed what the right answers actually were, and they would generally agree with me. These days, we hear lots of self-evidently wrong things from pundits who should know better.

Before we get to Gitmo, we should review the original problem.

Friday, August 01, 2014 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Do stringy electrons spin faster than light?

No. String theory's resolution of the old paradox is a sign of the hidden cleverness of string theory.

After he read some of my essays on the electron's spin, Tom W. Larkin asked an interesting question:

Does string theory resolve the paradox of (post-)classical physics that the electron, if imagined as a spinning ball of a very small radius, has to rotate faster than the speed of light for its spin to be \(\hbar/2\)?
One natural, fast, legitimate, but cheap reaction is to say: the electron isn't really a rotating ball. The spin may be carried even by a point-like particle, without any violations of relativity, as QED shows, so the paradox has never been there.

Of course that a string theorist is likely to answer in this way, too. Quantum field theory is a limit of string theory so any explanation that was OK within quantum field theory may be said to be correct within string theory, too. The paradox doesn't exist because the electron isn't a classical ball that gets the mass from the electrostatic self-interaction energy.

However, string theory does represent the electron (and other elementary particles) as some kind of an extended object which is qualitatively analogous to the rotating ball so some version of the "superluminal spinning" paradox may be said to reemerge in string theory. Does it cause inconsistencies within string theory?

Outbreak of PC in science media

Along with Hank Campbell, the manager of, Alex Berezow wrote the 2012 book

Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left
He also runs RealClearScience.COM where he recently published a text
Outbreak of Political Correctness in Science Media
He starts with some numbers indicating that 80-95 percent of science journalists are leftists and then he mentions some consequences of this particular pandemics.

A SciAm blogger was fired because he or she "dared" to defend a non-left-wing book on genetics as well as a non-feminist physicist Richard Feynman. But there are also other examples.

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