Monday, October 13, 2014

ATLAS: two Standard-Model-only Higgs decay papers

Some hours ago, the ATLAS collaboration posted two papers on its website:
Evidence for Higgs boson Yukawa couplings in the \(H \to \tau\tau\) decay mode with the ATLAS detector

Observation and measurement of Higgs boson decays to \(WW^*\) with ATLAS at the LHC
Spoilers alert. Too late. The result is that all the basic figures are found to be in almost exact agreement with the Standard Model.

The first paper involving the \(\tau\)-leptons may be interesting because it's the same decay channel for which ATLAS organized the Kaggle contest. Recall that your humble correspondent dropped from 1st place to 8th place when the "private dataset" was used at the end.

Also CERN-related: a new CERN 5-minute video about the rise of the Standard Model.

The winner, Gábor Melis, was the only one who has used the neural networks to solve the challenge. Everyone else at the top, including myself, used algorithms based on the boosted decision trees (e.g. xgboost), and this paradigm was exploited in the newly revealed paper, too. However, there are almost no details so we can't know whether the authors of the paper would have a chance to compete with us in the contest. At the end, it doesn't matter. The significance level itself has some statistical fluctuation in it, plus minus one sigma, so whether a Hungarian guy had a score better than me by 0.04 really doesn't matter in physics.

The second paper is about the \(WW^*\) decays of the Higgs boson. It's a pair of two \(W\)-bosons but, as the asterisk indicates, one of them is virtual. Again, ATLAS finds the cross section to agree with the Standard Model extremely well. I feel that it could be bad news for the hint of new physics in the \(WW\)-decays of the Higgs.

Previously, ATLAS saw an enhanced cross section if both \(W\)-bosons are on-shell. If one of them is virtual, the excess seems to go away. It may look a bit strange and may be an indication that the excess in the on-shell \(WW\)-decays was a fluke. But maybe there is a reason not to expect an excess in the \(WW^*\) analysis...


  1. The company I worked for at the time sent me out to Sante Fe to attend one of the first cold fusion conferences in May, 1989. It was very entertaining. Some of the posters were hilarious. I recall one, in particular, that took the cake. Supposedly cold fusion was caused by muons. I don't recall where the muons were supposed to come from. In any case, these muons catalyzed 600 or 700 fusions, releasing the usual alpha particles in the process. These then went flying out through the surrounding material until they were stopped at the "Bragg peak." The resulting spherically imploding shock went barreling back in to the original source of the alphas, creating a "hot spot," causing yet more fusion. Additional alphas then moved out in a "burn wave," accounting for the observed "excess heat." Presumably the guys who came up with this brilliant scheme were actually paid to work as "scientists" by some unfortunate employer.

  2. It's amazing that Anthony Watts lends his blog to these hadcore cranks to write about their conspiracy theories and pseudoscience, especially because Anthony Watts' blog is supposed to have nothing to do with these disciplines.

  3. GEEZ--lets get back to Feynman's comments. I truly wish there were more characters like him around to tell the truth and to puncture all the PC bromides and cargo science that now infests North American and European societies. His cargo cult science lecture was magnificent. As an adult, he retained the child's ability to see when the Emperor had no clothes, and was not intimidated into silence about it.

  4. Muon-catalyzed fusion is certainly a real effect, with an interesting history of its own. It was the part about the antics of the alpha particles and shock waves I found amusing.

  5. Hmmm, bet you believe that male babies who were circumcised have all sorts of psychological hangups and damaged psyches that are directly caused by this...
    Only afew more boxes to check and you will earn your boy scout badge for PC.

  6. In my experience it is a lack of connection and boundaries that create the behaviors you describe. The point is to not let things go crazy in the first. Yes, I do believe the spanking can erode trust and make the child *less* compliant, and in fact rebel in frustration, or express the anger they felt from the treatment under other circumstances. I think you will find that hysterical children have hysterical parents, (or neglectful parents, and their hysterics may be a cry for attention; for children abandonment means death so any attention, also negative, is "better" than nothing at all to them).
    I consider the hole ADHD craziness as a horrible example of escaping responsibilities of parenting (ie it isn't our fault, he has a disease), and also because we impose unreasonable restrictions on especially male children, who have high energy and need to play a lot.
    It has nothing to do with second life when it actually works in practice. The energy you express, your approach to problem-solving, is so important for how the child behaves and see the world.
    Spanking isn't necessary, nor is hysterical yelling, nor is manipulation. It is quite a gift that it is possibly do without and it doesn't create hysterical children.

  7. I don't think they remember any of it, really. But it might make masturbation more difficult? I don't know, I am not circumcised, but yes, I don't think it is a choice a parent should make. I am happy no one took my foreskin, and if I want it removed there is still time, right?

  8. LOL, Michael, we are exceptionally on the same frequency here. I also feel that this must be the case. On the other hand, the survival of the nations with this medieval/hygienic habit suggests that they must be doing fine.

    But I still believe we must be right and that the masturbation is made harder - and this is what makes proper sex relatively more attractive or unavoidable, and that's why there is such a huge correlation between circumcision and population rate:

  9. :-). Interesting, thanks.

  10. Yup, it's quite a story, but maybe if they produced an animated film showing how it could work, it could become visually convincing. ;-)

  11. Alejandro RiveroOct 13, 2014, 8:19:00 PM

    There is some dynamical adjustment between scammers and 'buyers'. From the use of Nickel, my guess is that the initial plan was to claim something more sophisticated: the double beta+ from 58 Ni to 58 Fe, about 1.93 MeV. Then the scammer surely noticed 1) that beta decay is not fusion, so the main selling point becomes weaker amd 2) that the 'investors' do not really worried about concrete isotopes. So just dumped some purifyed nickel in.

  12. Dear Lubos, it is written here "" that LHC will start to run again in early 2015 by doubling energy. What do you expect (or hope) LHC to see ? (sorry if you have written a post about this)

  13. Why did I do the experiment instead of just talking to them? Because words lie, actions don't. They can say whatever they want, but if it's never actually acted upon, then one knows it's dishonest, nothing but fluff and bluster.

    Do you have any evidence that spanking is a slippery slope? For centuries, corporal punishment was used and you're claiming it leads to a slippery slope? I'm not seeing that. In fact, in my experience, outlawing spanking causes just as much problem. Parents have to be "re-educated" on how to parent, generally by the government. Another potential slippery slope. As is equating spanking with beating. You've already added "loud yelling" to your list. How many more items do you have to add in that? You do understand that a parent can be mean and spiteful in a very quiet voice, right? So next we demand parents only use certain words. Next, the government just take the kids and raises them so the evil parents don't hit them or yell at them. Talk about a slippery slope.

    You are not really asking that readers consider other options. You seem insistent that they simply stop doing what you disapprove of.

  14. Hi lubos. I sent you a twitter message about the free will theorum. I wanted to know does the John Conway free will theorum state particles have free will because they cause there behaviour in response to the measurement. Is this the general idea?

  15. I tried to find an email address for you but couldn't. I really need help with this as I have become really ill about free will and depression recentely . Does the theorum state what I mentioned? The electron causes itself to have spin down in response to the measurement?


  16. Please get back to me lubos. I look up to you. I need serious advice on this. Does it mean what I said it means the free will theorum...

  17. You sound mad. Do you feel like your cultist beliefs are challenged?

    Take a chill pill and show us on the doll where the big bad pseudoscience has touched you

  18. Strange, the energy seems to work out right.

    That's some pretty high level scamming skills right there.

    Assuming it all is a scam, it's a tour de force and worth watching for that reason alone. I mean the dude has scammed Industrial Heat out of millions and cons their engineers and scientists on a daily basis. And he's got those Swedish "scientists" on a string!

    You gotta admit, permitting months long testing on his magical toaster was pretty bold too. This guy deserves and academy award melted down and reshaped into a Nobel Prize! Or perhaps the reverse.

  19. If you could reply to me on here or send me an email to I would really appreciate it. The email is my sons name, Jane is my partners name that I use on here. Please get back to me ASAP lubos I really do need your help so badly,


  20. I certainly do not want the government involved in any of this. Absolutely not. I am also not advocating some "re-education" program, such programs always distort things. I am discussing this on the internet. The reason it's a slippery slope is simply that as soon as you legitimize it within *yourself*, it easily becomes a go to threat. Search the internet for spanking statistics, and you will find that it is absurd to think it is only used in the cases that could be considered "just". When it is used it is often used very frequently which also shows it often doesn't help, (why would it otherwise be necessary to continue)

    Again, I absolutely do *not* want the government involved in parenting (or anything else to be honest).

    Doesn't mean I won't share stuff, that I have become convinced can improve the lives of others.

    Is it really so evil to suggest that you re-consider this position. I don't want to hit people I love, can you live with that.

  21. Hi Jane Lee,
    Yes, this is precisely the meaning of a quantum theorum. But it gets better: Some electrons have recently admitted jacking off to positron porn and eating cheese nachos when unobserved. Worst of all, even all these years after levaing office, George Bush is trying to cover it all up.
    Stay safe,

  22. Dear Lee, for some comments about the free-will theorem, see the second part of

    The sketch of this result is that assuming that experimenters have the free will to push buttons and choose what they machines will do and measure (and assuming otherwise means to believe in conspiracy theories), then we must admit that elementary particles have free will, too. It is a colorful way to say that the decision what properties the particle will show us must be done directly at the moment when we measure it, and at the place where we measure it. This decision cannot be determined by some circumstances in the past of that particle.

    So we, and the particles, are "really" living our lives in the sense that the future may only be decided one event at a time.

    It sounds very cool and emotional and religious that particles also have a "free will", like us, but at the end, the true meaning of the phrase is a bit more technical and mathematically well-defined and not anthropomorphic at all.

  23. Dear John, I think that the probability is about 50% that the LHC will see nothing new in 2015.

    The odds are 50% that it will see something within that year. That includes 40% that it will see several superpartners - some new particles that are partners to the known particles, either new fermions for old bosons or (less likely, except for the stop squark and perhaps other 3rd generation sfermions) new bosons for old fermions.

    That includes 30% that these new particles will actually be seen within weeks of the new collisions in 2015. But it will take many months to evaluate the first results, anyway.

    I have a bet that would make me lose $100 in the case SUSY isn't discovered soon, but I should win $10,000 if it *is* discovered soon.

    There may be other things discovered and of course it's a matter of speculation to bet but the literature contains many proposals and some of them are more motivated and more likely than others. It's hard to summarize all of particle physics phenomenology - a big part of it is directly relevant for your question.

  24. So lubos the free will theorum does state that particles cause there behaviour in response to the measurement?

  25. Yes, it's what the theorem concludes using popular words. But you should understand that this human-like description is really just a cute translation of something that is mathematical and much less human-like.

    Please spell "theorem" instead of "theorum", and "their" instead of "there" wherever appropriate.

  26. Such that an electron initiates/determines its spin in response to the measurement?



  27. The slippery slope thing:

    related link:

    Many report spanking more than two times a week, some everyday, if its so effective this seems a little high

    here is a link showing spanking is correlated with the general frustration of the parents under a crisis

  28. I use that Feynman quote so often, I sometime worry people think I have a fetish for him...

    But more seriously, I agree with you and Feynman, that most of the people that are willing to believe in these kind of claims (or even more absurd one like astrology, reflexology and the like) simply are too lazy or looking for an easy solution to perceived problems. They dislike the main stream science explanations because they are to hard and inconvenient for them. It is a pity, because some of them (my social circle and family) are truly smart... but to lazy to be rigorous and skeptical.

  29. As an experimentalist myself (of the solid-state variety) I am pretty sure that all of the low-hanging fruit has been already picked. The likelihood of anyone discovering any new phenomenon in his garage workshop is, for all practical purposes, zero. It is overwhelmingly probable that any such discoveries will be both scientifically trivial and totally consistent with existing theory.
    This does not mean that such discoveries may not be of immense practical value. The Patent Office will be in business indefinitely.

  30. Amen, brother. Each, without the other, is just flopping around in la-la-land.
    Of course mathematics does not need experimenters so I guess it would be fair to say that theorists can project much further beyond the frontier than can experimenters. I think there are gobs of historical examples of exactly this.

  31. Actually, Lubos can’t get his message through to you, Michael, because you refuse to listen.
    Again, all that really matters is the motivation of the one doing the punishing. No loving parent would ever do permanent harm to a child. That does not preclude corporal punishment.

  32. I have looked at your post, you have said that Conway understood quantum mechanics. In that case I think you should read section 11.4 (p. 25) of .

  33. My mother was a loving parent who did a great job of preparing her three children for successful lives under difficult circumstances. I was spanked by her just once and it had everything to do with distinguishing right from wrong. Your analogy with striking ones spouse is asinine.

    I know that your mind is made up but you are wrong.

  34. Hmm, you obviously have not dealt with animals which are being controlled by their limbic system in sympathetic nervous system overdrive.
    ...when the pupils dilate and the flight and fight circuits are entrained. And dont tell me well bred properly brought up animals do not occasionally fall into this category. No, hysterical yelling is not a good strategy.
    Sometimes, manipulation is.
    What you do is use distraction to get the animal focus off of what it is focusing on. You do not simply let the animal (or child) simply run roughshod over everything and everyone. You seem to think that we all work on our frontal cortex all of the time.
    But as Lubos noted, this is getting exceedingly boring, and my pupils are starting to dilate....

  35. Thanks for your answer. I am happy to see that you see %50 chance for something new (I want to trust your analysis). It will be very good if they will find supersymmetry (or something really different than what is expected, of course), funding for string theory (and theoretical physics) is getting more and more scarce. Of course these are very obvious, I just wanted to say. (Today I learned that a young person who I value highly and who should get position at top universities, had found a position in northern europe, assuming he didn't prefer it, it seems the situation is very pessimistic)

  36. I have also raised two children and both are leading happy, productive lives today and raising children of their own, quite successfully. It happens that I never employed corporal punishment with my own offspring and I’m certain that their mother never did. But that does not mean that I would have avoided it had it been called for.
    I flat-out lied to my mother at a young age and I needed the lesson. Of course a child who constructively receives corporal punishment will be neither too young nor too old. The age window is fairly narrow.
    Your compassion is misplaced, Michael. What really matters is love and that can sometimes be hard love including corporal punishment.

  37. Hi Gene,
    If you were spanked just once, and it even contained a completely comprehensible message, you indeed had very good parents in this respect. There obviously much have been countless times where you broke some rules, yet it did not result in you being spanked. If they also didn't threat spanking in these cases, you are quite lucky.
    I remain convinced that it is unnecessary and I have come across too many stories of its destructive effects, to not argue against it.

  38. Yes, pacifism as a doctrine is far from harmless but as a personal matter it can be great. I have known many wonderful pacifists. I’m sure you have, too.

  39. You can do something destructive with good intentions, because you are convinced its the best thing to do. But what I really try to emphasize is that things tend to escalate more and become more aggressive, when this tool is in ones tool-box.

    It does to me, because the risk is so great that it erodes trust and creates unnecessary fear. I believe parent/child relationships would improve and often change its character, if this tool isn't considered. It just changes the way you view things.

    When you let your aggression out physically you tend to nurture that reaction in yourself, which is why spanking often gets worse over time.

    Lubos said he believes not spanking creates criminals, that the dishonesty of the "crook" child he described should be beaten so they can't sit for days. Sorry but the first thing isn't true and the second I just consider to be abuse.

    Spanking is not the only way and its a highly risky way. I don't know to say, we just don't agree.

  40. Hi again,

    "It happens that I never employed corporal punishment with my own offspring and I’m certain that their mother never did"

    You were only hit once and the next generation it completely disappeared. I am extremely happy to hear this. You are an example that parenting is possible to do without it. I don't care that you think its a good option if you don't actually use it in practice. Be sure that lots of parents would have physically punished your(their) children in many of the circumstances you have experienced with them. And be sure that it would not have made them better people.

    At least you consider it a small window, many hit their children all the way from before one (its a fucking baby!!) till puberty (when they become too big and strong?)

    I just wanna reduce the window to zero.

    I am really glad to hear you were a peaceful parent in practice, I am quite exhausted and actually somewhat sad after these discussions. That helped a little.

  41. You can do whatever you want. You live with the outcome and so do your children. On the other hand, if I spank, can you live with that? After all, tolerance runs both ways and I could make the same pleading to you (if I was the pleading type).

    If you had read what I wrote, I did note that I have a full cadre of ways to discipline without spanking. I am not claiming this is the only choice nor am I saying spanking works or every child or that not spanking works on every child. Nothing works on every child and I recognize that. One should always use the most effective punishment at hand and use it appropriately.

  42. Hi again, Gene also defended the spanking and he just told me that he never spanked his children. He did fine without in reality.
    I am starting to suspect you don't do it either, and that you only defend it because your parents did it.

    Does one test-spank to see if one has a child where this is the best option?

    Yes, I can live with it. Especially since it sounds like you don't actually do it.

  43. It is in particular the US who are throwing in the towel and pulling out of (theoretical and in particular experimental) fundamental physics ...

    To gauge this, other places on the globe may become better for doing fundamental physics ... ;-)

    Of course it is always bad if even very good physicists have to decide between leaving the field or tbe country, independent from where this happens ... :-/

  44. No analogy is perfect, and yes this one has some issues. There are societies where women are hit, we are *further* ahead, so we now consider it wrong. Hitting children is already in your mind reduced to being something one does within a small window only, and you never actually did it.
    We really aren't that far apart in reality.

  45. I have intelligent, well educated (in physics or engineering) friends who believe this stuff. I think that this sort of thing triggers a desire to believe in some people that is impervious to evidence. Con men have profited from this sort of thing for ages.

  46. Dear John, your emotions and goals are nice but the logic doesn't work too well.

    String theory research really *is* mostly independent of what happens at the collider. It is analyzing how Nature works under more extreme conditions - near the natural units for energy and distance etc. - and from this viewpoint, any progress at the colliders is tiny because the experiments are very far from the fundamental scale before and after the 14 TeV run. Of course measuring some details of SUSY or even extra dimensions or anything would help but the "minimal" laws of physics needed to describe whatever will be seen will still be just field theory, not string theory.

    String theory support by the society isn't decreasing because one result at the experiments or another. It is happening because the intelligent and wisdom of the societies in many countries is collapsing and there is a huge anti-science movement at many places.

    If Anthony Watts' blog (with 50,000 readers a day) that should be about the climate and has nothing to do with fundamental physics (and its owners and its readers know *nothing* about fundamental and particle physics) suddenly posts a Smolin-like rant that string theory and/or SUSY etc. is studied because the physicists suffer of "group think", you may be pretty sure that the intensity of the anti-science sentiment has reached rather dramatic proportions.

    Why don't these Wattses see that they know nothing about the issue, they are missing about 10 years of education and 30 IQ points to be capable of deciding about similar issues? Unfortunately, in this case, WUWT shows itself as a part of the general anti-science movement. It's not so much climate skepticism as a hatred against smart people who analyze things in detail and with heavy formalism etc., and of course that string theory which is at the top of science from this perspective must be unavoidably the most hated discipline.

  47. Your second link is from a blog named "Love, Joy, Feminism", LOL. Isn't it enough to see where this wind is blowing from? None of these studies are scientific in the Galileo-founded modern sense of "science". It is just some cultural values, and indeed, very analogous to the feminist ones, that are being *sold* as science.

  48. Just to reward you, by saying that: I, and I'm sure many others, have since long registered that you are admirably kind and patient when needed;
    A sign of almost exquisitely perfect tact, IM(<h)O ;-}

  49. Yup, my frequency of quoting Feynman is surely vastly above a "neutral" level. ;-)

    And I think you're right that there must be smart people for whom the proper science is just inconvenient. They've only learned other things, perhaps in disciplines where they may think that they know "everything important that can be known", and if e.g. all nuclear physicists are imagined to be just a bunch of savages who believe superstitions because of group think and in "reality", cold fusion is completely plausible, then they have a belief system that implies that they know *everything* important about the world.

    Of course, if they can't estimate the temperature needed for fusion and solve thousands of similarly basic tasks in science, they actually know next to *nothing* about natural science, but some experience and open-mindedness is needed to learn similar things.

  50. Disqus does not seem to permit me to write the shorthand version of "in my less than humble opionion". %-?!

  51. Very true, bro. ;-)

    Theorists may project things much further because mathematics works. But their may often be the "wrong mathematics" for Nature and experiments need to determine "which mathematics" is the right one.

    In the details, the relationship is very asymmetric. At the end, theorists may be given lots of data (often hugely redundant amounts) and they settle a relatively small amount of questions and parameters that determine the "right mathematics". And this right theory or "right mathematics" may be used to make tons of predictions and calculate lots of new data almost from nothing.

    Experimenters take these predicted data - from established theories and candidate new theories - and use them to see how to construct an experiment that actually has a chance to see something new.

    It's important to know that one can only give a good answer to "what is new" if he *has* some theory - and theorists who develop and use them. Without theories, every single act that a human (and experimenter) does would be "new" because you won't stand twice in the same river. All events would be uncorrelated.

    Theories connect increasing "bunches" of sobervations and interpolate in between them, derive them from ever more unified laws which have many implications so one can see that an experiment, even if it could look new to someone unfamiliar with the theories, is a nearly perfect copy of the tests that have already been done, or some simple combination of them.

  52. Thanks a lot, Gene, for being this charming and convincing spokesman. ;-)

  53. That's an interesting scaling comment. Does it mean that you believe that if you had enough money - trillions or whatever - it would become easy to build a fusion power plant with a positive energy gain just by making something well-known much bigger?

  54. Apologies, I don't follow, you are saying too many things some of which seem possible, some of which seem clearly wrong, and so on.

    The initiation energy may be defined to be some energy before you build the power plant. ;-) But the relevant energy is the energy right before the nuclei are supposed to be fused, and this has to be high to overcome the Coulomb barrier.

    The fusion rate at room temperatures is totally negligible with the full barrier, and it's still negligibly low if the Coulomb barrier is reduced by 10%. It follows that you need the barrier to be reduced by dozens of percent at least, or O(100%), and one already needs millions of kelvins for that. It's the temperature measured from the energy of the relevant nuclei but that doesn't matter. If you have a macroscopic amount of material that can dissipate energy, the energy of the nuclei around will be of the same order.

    So as far as I can say, there is no loophole or exception at all. You may be talking about some catalyzed *fission* or something of the sort. But if you really want nuclei (not neutrons) to get close to each other to make fusion - nuclear reaction that mostly "merges things" - you simply need a huge temperature around the nuclei at the moment of the fusion, whatever is the way how you obtained it.

  55. Fusion energy is a pipe dream, I think.

    All achievable fusion reactions breed and require tritium. Very lethal and very, very hard to contain.

    Physical design for fusion is very, very challenging. Energy flux is fast neutrons. Extract that energy from a very small volume, and then everything outside of that volume is activated by the gigantic thermal neutron flux.

    Fission energy is very easy and very safe. We can't do it today because of stupidity. E.g. Merkel shut-down Germany's nuclear electricity after a tidal wave destroyed a fission reactor built on/next-to the ocean. Just like all the fission reactors in Germany, built next to the oceans...

    (In the USA, we can't depose fission waste products in to the ground. The waste products might leak into the ground before 10,000 years in the future. 10,000 years is the USA nuclear waste legal standard or quantum of safe time(?). The site where we would put the power reactor waste is the same site where 1000 nuclear bombs have been exploded. The ground where 1000 nuclear bombs have been exploded is very contaminated. But we can't put fission power reactor waste fuel there, because it *might* contaminate the ground there...)

  56. Lubos,

    Thank you for the reply. I was not saying that there is cold fusion that multiplies energy. I was only saying that there is fusion of more or less cold ingredients. A very, very small amount of fusion.

    Rossi is very funny. Very funny. When Nixon or Ford was President of the USA, and there was a fuel shortage, there were many 'Rossi's. One of the 'Rossi's was a 6 foot 3 inch (2m) tall transvestite who was selling a three wheel car that "traveled 65 miles for every gallon of gas (petrol)".

    Some things never change. Never give a sucker an even chance...

  57. The obvious bullsh*t of Rossi is that the demonstration is always at a microscopic scale.

    'We can make enough energy to save humans. To show you what we say is true, we will heat a small cup of tea."

  58. Huh, are they really off-topically ranting about ST on that climate blog ...?

    This is very bad indeed ...

  59. Yup, Dilaton, google search for

    The Trouble with Physics – Another branch of science captured by groupthink

    Copy and paste. I am used to everything so if my nephew and niece will show me new dolls of Hello Kitty and Lee Sm*lin they received in the kindergarten, I won't be shocked. ;-)

  60. Of course I know that there will be some field theory which will explain new data, however even some physicists who understand general relativity and quantum field theory well despise string theory (primary example of them is Glashow I guess). I believe some evidence of claims of string theory will make them consider their prejudices again. I might be wrong but, I don't think what people like Anthony Watts think is very important for funding. I belive opinions of distinguished scientists like Anderson, Glashow or other scientists like the ones who decide what will be funded at NSF are more important. I understand that end of cold war was harmful but I think that negative reaction of other scientists are also important. Of course you know this issiues much better than me. But I have never thought that wisdom of societies was better 30-40 years ago when there was a lot money in science.

  61. Dear John, I loved Glashow as a very entertaining and charming dinner companion on numerous dinners and related social events where I met him in Greater Boston over the years.

    But I don't really think that his opinions about the important trends in physics matter much - and I don't think that they shouldn't matter much, either.

    He disliked string theory at some important point, in the late 1980s, or something like that, perhaps because he wanted physics to be much more down-to-Earth. After all, he largely dismisses the whole research of grand unification even though he co-started.

    And when Harvard began to heavily hire string theorists in the mid 1990s - as the epicenter of this amazing research was gradually and naturally moving from some "relative underdog" places such as Rutgers and Santa Barbara to the common-sense top universities, he just left for Boston University.

    One might say that it was a huge move and he was transferred along with all his fame and name. So he could have started a group that would rival and beat Harvard's group. But it simply didn't happen. They're doing nice research but they are in no way in the same league as Harvard. Physics simply doesn't work Glashow would suggest. He wrote many fine papers, like those about neutrino physics, but they're clearly in no way revolutionary or elite.

    So Glashow is a hero of physics but it's really mainly the physics that was hot 50 years ago. You just can't change that. The progress in formal fundamental high-energy physics was taking place around string theory. And I am sure that this is much more true today than it was 20 years ago when Glashow began to move.

    Today, you really cannot separate top research in fundamental physics from string theory. The vital role that string theory plays in settling all these things - especially about quantum gravity has become obvious to plain eyes and everyone who is young and trying to address similar questions while ignoring string theory is a self-evident crackpot.

    I say "young" because there are a couple of physicists who did something great and they are full of a wishful thinking that a similar fundamental research could or should be done without string theory. But it's just a wishful thinking. There is no such research that would make sense, that its authors could boast about and they would find other intelligent physicists who would join the pride parade.

    Glashow and Anderson and others have done cool things but they haven't done anything whatsoever that would contain a piece of evidence against the insight that string theory is the only game in town and an critical tool to understand gravity and unification.

    For those reasons, any effort to suppress string theory *is* an effort to suppress any actual meaningful research on fundamental physics or formal particle physics. There's simply no other research that would address similar questions and wouldn't be self-evident crap. The alternatives to string theory really *are* Smolin-like crackpot papers. You can't convince intelligent people with this stuff.

    Of course, one could hire idiots who don't do any research and who just offer talking points that physics may be done without string theory. But physics isn't really this degenerated to switch to this mode. The actual grant decisions are still done by people who distinguish valid or valuable or even exciting physics research from demagopgic rhetoric. The problem is that these people who are deciding about the expert grants are getting less important as the broader environment outside the discipline increasingly hates the whole discipline.

  62. Wow, Einstein was a hopeless mental cripple? That's a bold statement.