Saturday, May 18, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Australia: climate hysterical Labourists lose unlosable election

We have some great news coming from Australia. Just like Trump and Brexit-Leave were predicted to lose by the pollsters, the center-right coalition led by the current prime minister Scott Morrisson was predicted to comfortably lose the Australian federal election today. The pollsters were wrong in the Trump case, in the Brexit case, and they were wrong about Australia, too.

The pollsters were predicting at least a 52-to-48 edge for the Labour Party, relatively to the center-right coalition. In reality, counting the lawmakers (there are 151 in total), the center-right bloc won 74-to-66 or so, by more than ten percent (of the Labour Party's gain).

The winner, Mr Morrison, has already thanked "miracles he has always believed in" and the "quiet Australians" for the victory; the loser, Mr Shorten whose electorate was shortened relatively to the predictions, has already admitted defeat.

Friday, May 17, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Heckman, Vafa: QG bounds the number of hierarchy-like problems

Every competent physicist knows that fine-tuning is a kind of a problem for a theory claimed to be a sufficiently fundamental description of Nature.

Fundamental physicists have wrestled with the cosmological constant problem, the Higgs hierarchy problem,... and perhaps other problems of this kind. Fine-tuning is a problem because assuming that the fundamental "theory of everything" works like a quantum field theory and produces the couplings of the low-energy effective field theories via renormalization group flows, the observed hierarchies between the scales etc. seem extremely unlikely to emerge.

In principle, there could be arbitrarily many couplings and even fine-tuned couplings which could cause an infinite headache to every theorist. In a new paper, Cumrun Vafa – the Father of F-theory and the Swampland Program (where this paper belongs) – and Jonathan Heckman, a top young research on both topics, present the optimistic evidence that in string/M-theory and/or quantum gravity, the infinite fine-tuning worries are probably unjustified:

Fine Tuning, Sequestering, and the Swampland (just 7 pages, try to read all)
What's going on? Effective field theories outside quantum gravity may be built by "engineers". You may apparently always add new fields, new sectors, and they allow you to tune or fine-tune many new couplings. There doesn't seem to be a limit.

Leveraged cryptoexchanges probably encourage price fluctuations

After reaching $20,000 in mid December 2017, the Bitcoin price went mostly down, dropping near $3,000 in December 2018. It was mostly stable for months but started to show signs of life in the recent month or two and reached levels above $8,300 (more than a one-year-high) a day or two ago. Two hours ago, it suddenly saw a drop from $7,800 to $7,000 in a few minutes.

The price behavior is extremely unnatural, showing the mood swings. For a long time, you may see a virtually constant price. Suddenly, a flash crash or a pump takes place. The magnitude of fluctuations may suddenly change. Most of these changes result either from some unusually large traders or from psychological changes of the traders – or a combination of the two.

What's funny is that some cryptoexchanges saw a more brutal drop within those ten minutes today. Bitmex saw the price decreasing from $7,800 below $6,370, almost by twenty percent in minutes. Bitmex trades real U.S. dollars. But you saw similar swings down to $6,500 or lower at exchanges that trade the Tether (USDT) instead of the real dollar.

Incidentally, according to the current view of, the Tether pegged to the U.S. dollar is the most traded cryptocurrency now!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

I mostly do believe that Soph mentally beats average 20-year-old women

Trump vs censorship: The White House has launched a new website where Americans may report censorship on the Internet.
In recent 24 hours, I have watched several videos by the young pro-capitalist, Libertarian, old-fashioned right-wing YouTuber Soph T. – heavily censored YouTube channel, BitChute channel (yes, I can imagine that we will gradually move from YouTube – a soon-to-be-censored cultural Marxist hell – e.g. to Bitchute). Two blog posts ago, I mentioned her as the brilliant counterpart of the hysterical and unspectacular Greta Thunberg.

Soph T. – the surname is known to me – was born in September 2004 – the precise date is known to me – so she is 14.7 right now. She lives in an upper middle class suburb somewhere in the Bay Area. She's been creating unusually intelligent videos for a kid, mostly about gaming, when she was 9-11. She was gradually switching to more political topics. I find this evolution natural because I would also care about computer games at age 10-12 but politics became very important when I was 14-15 or so.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Student rabble has fired a top Harvard law professor

I think that I should no longer afford to host some great and young Californian visitors in Pilsen – so I was lucky and pleased that they have hosted me today. ;-) With their Irish Papamobile (a blue Škoda Rapid Spaceback), they took me to the Great Synagogue, the historical underground, Kozel the chateau, Radyně the castle ruin, the Salzmanns' restaurant, and more. One of my hosts has been a Harvard student in a different department during my Harvard years.

Well, I still sometimes follow The Crimson, Harvard students' newspapers (, and in recent years, I was stunned by the rapid increase of the percentage of articles that are dedicated to some extreme left-wing politics. It seems to be an overwhelming majority now. One of the most read articles in recent days was Winthrop Faculty Deans to Leave After Harvard Refuses to Renew Their Appointments. There have been other Crimson stories about the affair, too.

Ronald S. Sullivan Jr and Stephanie R. Robinson were fired, something seemed fishy, but I hadn't read the articles carefully which is why I didn't really know who the people were, what were the actual reasons, whether there was some justification, and so on.

EVs vs ICEs, NOx, critics of science as thought police, Ponzi scheme, Soph

There are too many terrible events happening in the world right now – every day, both famous and unknown people are getting fired and hunted for saying the truth or for not being far left extremists; scientifically illiterate snake oil salesmen are receiving the Hawking Prizes; media are bombarding us with lies against science and the Western civilization.

A major Dutch publication has written a text on the topic "is physics a Ponzi scheme?". My once co-author Robbert Dijkgraaf and Juan Maldacena are the only voices that actually and calmly explain the state of theoretical physics now. They're overwhelmed by critics who don't understand the field at the technical level at all and who are being presented as if they were equal – Maldacena is the top theoretical physicist of his generation and Dijkgraaf is, among other things, the director of IAS Princeton where Einstein used to work.

Those special attributes don't seem to matter to the journalists anymore. Random angry activists and hecklers who are allies of the journalists are often made more visible.

Monday, May 13, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Grothendieck's hermitian 70,000 pages: do they have a value?

TBBT in Long Island: Newsday (for EU readers harassed by GDPR) tells us that the string theorist Luis Álvarez-Gaumé, the Spanish-born director of the Simons Center, and others on the island are fans of The Big Bang Theory, like your humble correspondent. The article discusses the child-like personality of physicists, supersymmetry, Asperger, and whether the viewers laugh with the characters or at them, among other topics.
Last week, Le Monde brought us some information about the material left by Alexandre Grothendieck, a legendary mathematician. Here you have an English translation:
The elusive archives of Alexandre Grothendieck (Archyworld)
Grothendieck, considered the greatest 20th century mathematician by numerous smart enough folks, was born in Berlin in 1928 to anarchist Jewish parents and moved to France during the war. After the war, he started to do some deep mathematics and discovered fundamental insights in category theory, number theory, topology, algebraic geometry etc.

He has greatly influenced the "way of thinking" of professional mathematicians – and as diverse results as the proof of Fermat's Last Theorem as well as the Higgs mechanism in physics.

Saturday, May 11, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Neff: when reason is pushed to the corner

By Ondřej Neff, a Czech science-fiction writer and the editor-in-chief of The Invisible Dog

The World: When Ratio [Latin for "reason"; Czech spelling of Neff's: "racio"] Stands In a Corner
Environmentalism is nonsensical in the Western world. Let's be guided by facts, not emotions

The parallel between the communist and environmentalist ideologies is more obvious to the older, if not the oldest, generation. Even people who are in their 50s or 60s today haven't experienced the proper communist regime when people were hanged, tortured, and when prisons were overfilled – while, on the other side, there were polite, educated, idealist people who "knew" that even these mistakes (as they later called these acts) would lead to a new, better, more just world rich in prosperity and happiness.

Friday, May 10, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Pheno papers on \(96\GeV\) Higgs, trilepton excess, and \(60\GeV\) dark matter

I want to mention two new hep-ph papers about supersymmetry-like anomalies seen by the accelerators. In the paper

An N2HDM Solution for the possible \(96\GeV\) Excess,
B+C+Heinemeyer discuss some detailed models for the apparent weak signals indicating a new Higgs boson of mass around \(96\GeV\). Recall that the only well-established Higgs boson has the mass of \(125\GeV\).

Concerning the \(96\GeV\) little brother, the CMS has seen an excess in the diphoton channel; and decades ago, LEP has seen an excess in the bottom quark pair channel. Heinemeyer and friends say that these excesses may be explained by a two-Higgs model with an extra Higgs singlet. Is that surprising at all? There seems to be a lot of freedom to accommodate two independent excesses, right?

At any rate, concerning supersymmetric models, the NMSSM – next-to-minimal supersymmetric standard model – and its extension, µνSSM seem like aesthetically pleasing completions of the two-Higgs-plus-a-singlet models. In the model with the two Greek letters, the singlet is interpreted as a right-handed neutrino superfield and the seesaw mechanism is incorporated. These models look OK for the excesses – there are other reasons to prefer NMSSM over MSSM. But they're also less constrained and predictive than the MSSM, so I think the good news isn't remarkably victorious.

Thursday, May 09, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

"Lost German girl" didn't deserve better

On the contrary...

74 years ago, Prague was liberated by the Red Army. The Vlasov Army – Soviet soldiers who were captured and forced to fight along with the Germans – were actually critical for the liberation of Prague on May 9th. Note that the Prague Operation occurred one day after the German surrender – Bohemia was both the place where the Second World War "became unavoidable" in the first place as well as the last place where it ended.

In recent years, almost certainly because of the EU pressure, I perceive self-evident efforts to apologize Germans and the role they have played in the Second World War; and efforts to hide or understate the role of Russians in ending the war. I think it's obvious that the EU folks realize the similarities between the EU and the Third Reich – and the similar status of Germany in both – so they don't want to harm the image of "something similar to the EU" too much. I have a big problem with that.

When I searched for "Czech" on Twitter, the tweet above was the first one I got. A frustrated yet attractive "Aryan" girl with a black eye was probably badly treated. It's assumed that she had been previously raped by Czechs – probably Czech men. ;-) Everyone should be compassionate and angry about the Czechs – it's so bad what they did to her. She's so innocent.

And no one will ever learn about the fate of this "Lost German Girl" and her fate, the readers were told. It's so sad and they must have killed her, they were preprogrammed to say by themselves.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Dualities rule out "realism"

Edwin has observed that an interviewer sometimes speaks like a left-wing ideologue who (intensely or primarily) cares about feelings, appearances, and the duty of science to evolve in an ideologically predetermined direction of progress. Well, science doesn't have the duty.

Also, Edwin has correctly connected two other misunderstandings of the interviewer – who is both a "realist" meaning that he believes that quantum mechanics must ultimately be replaced with a classical theory again; and who seems to have a problem with the AdS/CFT correspondence. These two misunderstandings aren't independent, Edwin pointed out.

I think that this connection that Edwin emphasized is another argument in favor of both of the following statements, often advocated on this website:

  • String theory teaches us important conceptual things about physics
  • Realism in the sense of an opposition to the foundations of quantum mechanics as clarified in Copenhagen conflicts with most of the progress in 20th century physics
Well, as I wrote in the first point, string theory teaches us lots of things – including the second point. ;-)

Only courts and God should punish people for crimes

Lessons from an ice-hockey player's suicide

Right-wing journalist Laura Loomer has been banned from 190 websites including Lyft and Uber – concerning these two, she was dissatisfied with the absence of non-Muslim drivers and the companies were dissatisfied with her dissatisfaction! When Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram banned her last week, this journalism alumni – a brave Valedictorian from a not so prominent college – lost 90% of income and the sort of career she's been building for some five years. She started to suggest that she was thinking about suicide.

Many people love to blame suicides on psychological problems but in many contexts, there are very objective reasons why someone could make such a final decision. And with certain sufficiently serious objective problems (serious diseases are the most obvious ones), even people with rock-solid psychology could almost rationally decide that suicide is the best option. We may approach this issue using the probability calculus.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Carroll's interview with Susskind

On his Mindscape Podcast (RSS subscribe URL), Sean Carroll published an unusually good 74-minute-long interview with Leonard Susskind:

Episode 45: Leonard Susskind on Quantum Information, Quantum Gravity, and Holography (audio)

Both men are very good speakers and in this case, especially because he has avoided words like "many worlds" (he preferred "agnostic"), "Donald", and others, I could have subscribed to nearly 100% of Susskind's statements.

Susskind was introduced as a visionary, storyteller, mentor, a co-father of string theory who has done a lot in QFT, a popularizer etc. He prefers to call himself "a theoretical physicist" rather than a "string theorist" because it gives him more freedom to jump around, to be researching anything he wants, and to be bullšiting about anything he wants (the B-verb actually is Susskind's favorite word, but you can't know it if you don't know him in person and if you're not a TRF reader).

Monday, May 06, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Axion weak gravity conjecture passes an extreme Calabi-Yau test

The first hep-th paper today was posted 1 second after the new business day at started, indicating that Grimm and van de Heisteeg (Utrecht) really think that people should read their paper:

Infinite Distances and the Axion Weak Gravity Conjecture
The first thing I needed to clarify was "what is the exact form of the 'axion weak gravity conjecture'" that they are using. There must surely be a standalone paper that formulates this variation of our conjecture. And oops, the relevant paper was [4] AMNV. I have already heard the M-name somewhere.

Yes, of course I knew the main point we wrote about the "axion weak gravity conjecture". That point – discussed in a paper by Banks, Dine, Fox, and Gorbatov (and in some lore I could have had heard from Tom many years earlier, unless I told him) – had largely stimulated the research into the "normal" weak gravity conjecture itself.

The conjecture says that the decay constant of an axion shouldn't be too high – in fact, its product with the action of the relevant instanton is smaller than one in Planck units. This is a generalization of the "normal" weak gravity conjecture because the instanton is a lower-dimensional generalization of the charged massive point-like particles (higher-dimensional ones exist as well) and its action is a generalization of the mass/tension of the objects.

Saturday, May 04, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Farmelo's interview with Witten

Last year, physicists' (especially Dirac's) biographer Graham Farmelo interviewed Edward Witten. (Hat tip: John Preskill, Twitter.) If you have 27 spare minutes, it's here.

Farmelo speaks like an excellent host – the framing, background music, and intonation seem professional for someone who is mostly known as a writer. OK, Witten was relaxed and said he was interested in astronomy as a kid. Many kids were – there were astronauts and other things at that time. Witten mastered calculus at the age of ten or eleven (depending on the type IIA coupling constant – and yes, he is an M-theory guy with a high coupling LOL), it's a bit later than your humble correspondent, but OK. He couldn't quite hide that his mathematician father had something to do with this mathematical exposure.

He was interested in other things, worked on a failed Democrat Party candidate's presidential campaign (the victorious president above brought more smile to both men!), and realized physics was his cup of tea after the age of 20.

Friday, May 03, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Facebook purges and digital gulag

Lots of people wait for Donald Trump to save the Western civilization or...

The progressive totalitarianism is getting tougher at an accelerating rate. Last night, Instagram (which is about 1/1,000 of a kilogram) and its parent company, Facebook, banned Paul Joseph Watson and 6 other mostly conservative people. Louis Farrakhan, a far left Islamic fan of Adolf Hitler, was probably included in order to make the purge look more balanced.

Well, it's not balanced at all. What Facebook is doing is a full-blown war against conservatives, classical liberals, and outspoken people with common sense and political wisdom in general – against all the important influencers who have helped Donald Trump to be elected, and more. Pages of the Muslim Brotherhood, Antifa, and others are just alive and fine according to Facebook. The investigative journalist Laura Loomer, one of the banned pundits, wrote:

What’s the point of life anymore? I live in a digital gulag. Yesterday I wrote an article about how I was living in a digital gulag on Holocaust Remembrance Day. And today, even though I am a Zionist and have dedicated my life to combatting Jew hatred, these Nazis in Silicon Valley banned me during Yom Hashoah with vile Jew haters like Louis Farrakhan and Paul Nehlen. It’s disgusting. But I don’t expect anything less from these people who want me dead. They want to kill me, but I’d rather kill myself than to let them take the victory lap.
There's quite some irony in the Holocaust Rememberance Day story. But it is not the only irony. Today on May 3rd, when we discuss these massive purges, we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. Facebook has prepared nice fireworks to celebrate that day, indeed!

Looking at the quote above, some of you may have read similar quasi-suicidal hints from me, too. My feelings are very similar to those of this 25-year-old lady – because of another story that nevertheless fits into the general societal atmosphere. We're no snowflakes but we are litmus tests indicating what is happening to the Western society. Our worries and pessimism have very good reasons. When we're treated in this terrible way, our sufferings are just pilot projects before something similar will be done to huge portions of the society.

When something really bad happens to the host on this website, similar bad stories for the readers may be just months away.

Thursday, May 02, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

How string theory irreversibly changed our understanding of the physical laws

In the previous text, I tried to focus on the differences in the treatment of QFT (quantum field theory) that may discourage too naive students of "mundane QFT" when they are trying to switch to modern advanced QFT and string theory in particular.

This text is somewhat similar but it focuses on the "later differences" – what string theory actually tells us about the world and the physical laws that we didn't know when we were confined in the mundane QFT paradigm – or that we couldn't even imagine. There's some overlap with texts such as top 12 achievements of string theory – Joe Polchinski had added the last two – but here I am looking at the issue from a different, less marketing and more heureka, perspective.

So what do I see differently than when I was in the mundane QFT phase?

Wednesday, May 01, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

First stringy steps: how a young fieldist expands her mind to become a string theorist

And yes, "she" is probably but not necessarily a young man

Three days ago, I mentioned that a "string theorist" is a description of expertise that includes most of "quantum field theory" but it goes beyond it, too. Seeing the world in the stringy way opens new perspectives, new ways to look at everything, and unleashes new powerful tools to theoretically wrestle with all the world's scholarly problems.

In practice, string theory isn't some philosophical superconstruction on top of quantum field theory (QFT) that is very different from the QFT foundations. Instead, string theory calculations are almost entirely identical to QFT calculations – but QFT calculations with new interpretations and new previously neglected effects. Most of the fundamental insights of string theory are irreversible, nearly mathematically rigorous insights about previously neglected properties and abilities of QFTs and especially previously overlooked properties of some special QFTs.

What are the limitations of a QFT student that prevent her from seeing physics through the new, stringy eyes? Let me look at these matters a little bit technically.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Quantum mechanics and why Elon Musk's IQ is below 130

In Q1 of 2019, Tesla reported a loss of $702 million, far worse than all estimates, and this number is still a euphemism for the financial reality because if we omitted some sales of $200 million worth of carbon indulgences, the loss would be $918 million per quarter (or $1,140 million in cash). And there were apparently other "stretching cosmetic fixes" that have made the situation of Tesla at the end of March look better than the natural picture of the reality.

The cash dropped from almost $4 billion at the end of 2018 to $2.2 billion at the end of March – a part of the drop was the $920 million bond. The cash burn rate almost certainly accelerated dramatically in April – see e.g. the 80% drop of sales in Norway between March and April – which indicates that the company could run out of cash in May or early June. Meanwhile, it's being debated whether Tesla may collect new cash. There seem to be obstacles and given the decreased stock price, it would be more expensive than months ago.

What the 97% consensus looks like: 100 kids (metaphor of Tesla bulls) vs 3 professional soccer players (Tesla bears). If someone doesn't have good arguments or skills, a high number of 100 or more such people just doesn't help, an elementary point that the people from "Modia" don't seem to get. Goals are near 1:42 and 2:57. Watching it is actually more entertaining for me than a regular adult soccer match.

I am often looking at TSLAQ posts on Twitter. Most of the Tesla skeptics who use the $TSLAQ hashtag in their tweets are extremely reasonable, insightful, and quantitative. Many of them have studied the Tesla financial reports with a microscope and their detailed understanding of the company's situation is plain amazing. And most of their opponents are irrational bullies with low intelligence who only know how to talk badly about others but who have nothing to contribute. These people only know "Tesla fan good, Tesla skeptic bad". There seems to be nothing else in their brain whatever. The difference boils down to the integrity of TSLAQ.

Sunday, April 28, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

String theorists approach the status of heliocentric heretics

Galileo Galilei was legally harassed between 1610 and 1633. Most of us agree that the Inquisition was composed of dogmatists who were suppressing science. Some of them were rather smart but they were still dogmatists. However, what would be wrong to imagine is that Galileo was tortured in a dungeon.

Instead, this is how Solomon Alexander Hart (1806-1881) saw Milton's visit to Galileo when the latter was imprisoned. Galileo lived in a pretty fancy prison, right? He had what he needed to keep on thinking. You may compare Galileo's fancy spaces to the modest, prison-like office of Edward Witten's or, if your stomach is strong, to Alan Guth's office, voted the messiest office in the Solar System. ;-)

Facebook deactivated hundreds of Trump ads because he said "Ladies"

Thankfully, Czech media are still informing us about the basic events in the world and they don't avoid the topic of the ongoing degradation of the Western civilization by the political correctness and its shameless apologists.

Yesterday, all top newspapers including and reported on an Internet story that left at least 641+116 Czech commenters speechless. Correct me if I am wrong but it seems that this story has been completely censored by the Western mainstream media except for The Reference Frame.

The Trump campaign wanted to wish a happy birthday to Melania – April 26th, like the Chernobyl accident – so they ran lots of ads encouraging folks to send her postcards or something like that. Donald Trump called the expected audience of some Texan ads "Ladies" and... it was a problem! Ladies are banned on Facebook! ;-)

Friday, April 26, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Popper, a self-described anti-dogmatist, became a preferred tool of dogmatists

In recent years, we often heard that science is obliged to work according to the rules of Karl Popper. A whole religious movement has been created around this philosopher. Some sentences by this guy should be properly interpreted, analyzed, and in this way, the most important questions of contemporary physics can be answered. Is string theory correct? Do we live in a braneworld, a multiverse? Are the swampland conjectures correct? Is there low-energy supersymmetry, axions, inflaton? Can quantum mechanics be deformed?

Just read Karl Popper, these people basically tell us, it's all there.

I am baffled by the sheer irrationality of this thinking. The answers to the real scientific questions may only be settled by actual scientific evidence. And Popper has presented zero amount of this evidence. And so did Kuhn. And every other philosopher. What is the scientific value of a critic of physics or string theory? Zero, nada, nothing. Philosophers just talk, scientists do actual science. These activities have been separated for thousands of years. Scientists aren't assistants of philosophers who just complete some details about the philosophers' great visions. Scientists use their, scientific method to settle the biggest questions, too.

New York is banning hot dogs, processed meat

I thought that the story Willie sent me was a hoax. But it seems to be confirmed at many places:

NYC To Ban Hot Dogs and Processed Meats To Improve Climate
So far, government-run facilities such as schools, hospitals, and prisons won't buy processed meat – hot dogs, sausages, salami, and others. The consumption of processed meat in the city could drop by 50%. It seems clear that they eventually want to go further.

The previous NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is a leftist RINO. But those who thought that his policies were the most extreme policies possible were proven wrong. Newyorkers voted for a Democrat, Bill de Blasio, and he is beginning to show how much ahead of RINOs the Democrats are. His mission is to ruin the characteristic New York hot dogs in order to work on the... Green New Deal!

Why is he doing it? Because this 8-year-old girl, AOC, told him that cow farts cause global warming! So he thinks that to save the planet from the otherwise unavoidable death in 12 years (AOC incorrectly thinks that 29+12=37), he needs to ban hot dogs and similar life essentials.

Thursday, April 25, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Four interesting papers

On hep-ph, I choose a paper by Benedetti, Li, Maxin, Nanopoulos about a natural D-braneworld (supersymmetric) inspired model. The word "inspired" means that they believe that similar models (effective QFTs) arise from a precise string theory analysis of some compactifications but as phenomenologists, they don't want to do the string stuff precisely. ;-) It belongs to these authors' favorite flipped \(SU(5)\) or \({\mathcal F}\)-\(SU(5)\) class of models and involves new fields, flippons, near \(1\TeV\). The LSP is Higgsino-like and the viable parameter space is rather compact and nice. The model seems natural – one may get fine-tuning below \(\Delta_{EW}\lt 100\).

It's an example showing that with some cleverness, natural models are still viable – and Nature is almost certainly more clever than the humans.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Physicists' views have been confined to servers that no one else reads

A few days ago, The Symmetry Magazine published Falsifiability and Physics.

Folks such as Slatyer, Baer, Prescod-Weinstein, and Carroll argue that (and why) real physicists don't really pay attention to buzzwords such as "falsifiability" that have spread to the mass media as fire; and why they don't really consider Karl Popper as their infallible guru. The article also points out that Popper's targets weren't theories in physics but things like Freudian psychology and Stalinist history which is why the current critics of physics are really using Popperism outside its domain of validity.

Physicists are interested in statements that are falsifiable in principle and whether they may be falsified in practice and whether it can be done soon is at most secondary. Science cherishes the insights that are true, not those that are early. The thousands of years that the atomic hypothesis needed to be fully established is probably the greatest counterexample to the claim that "we only need theories with a fast complete confirmation".

Some of the names could produce some emotions in the TRF community. If I omit those with the greatest capability of igniting emotions, we are left with Baer and Tracy. Slatyer is an excellent Australian physicist and I was present when she was being admitted to Harvard – she has also worked at MIT and Princeton. Well, it just happens that she – and Baer as well – has also become a "progressive" activist although not as loud one as others. She is still an excellent physicist.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Thanks, CO2: the resilience of plants to drought is amazing

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the CO2 concentration has grown from 280 ppm to 410 ppm or so (ppm is a part per million, of volume, or equivalently, 0.0001% of the number of atoms/molecules in the atmosphere), i.e. by 45 percent. CO2 is primarily good as plant food – most of the mass of trees and other plants is made out of water plus carbon that is extracted from CO2 in the air.

So it's not shocking that agricultural yields have grown by 20% or so just because of the higher CO2 itself. The food is more easily available so plants grow more easily. But the microscopic explanation why plants are doing better also involves water. Because CO2 is more available, plants may afford fewer pores – the holes through which they absorb CO2 from the air – and this is good because the fewer pores also mean a smaller loss of water.

Sunday, April 21, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Why and how I understood QM as a teenager

First, because Ehab has reminded me, I must start with promoting my PhD adviser Tom Banks' December 2018 book on quantum mechanics. I have learned a lot from Tom, and if I didn't, our views on foundations of QM were aligned. The book discusses linear algebra and probability calculus as the background – Tom immediately presents the amplitudes and the main rules of the game as a Pythagorean-flavored probability calculus; "unhappening" is an essential new quantum feature; Feynman lectures and two-dimensional Hilbert spaces, the Feynmanian attitude (without continuous Schrödinger waves) to "start to teach QM" I have repeatedly defended; quantization of harmonic oscillator and the fields; more details on the QM linear algebra, eigenvalues, symmetries; the hydrogen atom and derivation of basic "atomic physics"; spin; scattering; particles in magnetic fields; measurement with Tom's favorite focus on collective coordinates; approximations for molecules; quantum statistical physics; perturbation theory frameworks; adiabatic and Aharonov-Bohm/Berry phases; Feynman path integral (!); quantum computation (!); seven appendices on interpretations of QM plus 6 math topics: Dirac delta, Noether, group theory, Laguerre polynomials, Dirac notation, some solutions to problems. I think there's no controversial Banksy visionary stuff in the book and if there's some of it, you will survive.

Now, switching to the dark side: Another book against quantum mechanics has been published – this time from a well-established, chronic critic of physics. Numerous non-physicists wrote ludicrous, positive reviews of that stuff for numerous outlets, including outlets that should be scientific in character. The book may be summarized by one sentence:
The only problem with quantum mechanics [...] is that it is wrong.
It doesn't look like a terribly accurate judgement of the most accurately verified theory in science. The contrast between the quality, trustworthiness, and genre of this anti-QM book and Tom's book above couldn't be sharper. Readers and their hormonal systems must be ready for hundreds of pages of comparably extraordinary statements. For example:
The risk, [the author] warns, is the surrender of the centuries-old project of realism...
So here you have it. "Realism" (which is called "classical physics" by physicists) "must" be upheld because it is a "centuries-old project", we are told.

In contrast to that, scientists are used to the fact that old theories are falsified and abandoned – events of this kind are really the defining events of all of science. All this worshiping of centuries-old projects is particularly amusing if you realize that the same author has previously claimed that research projects that are older than 5 years and don't produce a clear victory must be abandoned. The inconsistency is just staggering. There are tens of thousands of fans of this stuff who just don't seem to care.

Saturday, April 20, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Microsoft: substantial backlash to "diversity" pogroms

Most of the large Internet companies in the Silicon Valley may be classified as pure evil and the chances that they will become compatible with the basic values of the Western civilization are basically non-existent. For example, just three weeks ago, a famous young CEO wrote an op-ed urging the world's governments to escalate censorship and other Big Brother tactics on the Internet. If someone is going to defend your basic civil rights on the Internet, be sure that his name is not Mark Zuckerberg.

However, I have repeatedly pointed out that Redmond isn't a town in the Silicon Valley. It's pretty far – both geographically and spiritually. Most recently, I praised Bill Gates for realizing (thanks to his Czech Canadian friend Václav Smil) that the bulk of the electricity we use today cannot be replaced with solar and wind sources.

Now, we have an interesting story about Microsoft and "diversity". Quartz, USA Today, MS Power User (an insightful discussion), The Verge (long discussion), TimCast, and other media outlets informed us about the content of some internal Microsoft corporate message boards. Some of the titles say that the staff "openly questions" diversity. Can you also question it "closedly"? The word "openly" clearly shows that the writers-activists would like to treat those who realize that "diversity" efforts are harmful as heretics.

Friday, April 19, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Ad hoc "communities" working on proofs are turning science into a clash of cults

Genuine scientific knowledge changes according to results, not according to communities

Elsewhere: Tetragraviton wrote a wonderful essay, The Black Box Theory of Everything, about a time machine that throws you to the 1960s for you to present an unreadable code, including QCD simulators, the Black Box, as your theory of hadrons. It works. Does it make sense to suggest quarks and partons when the Black Box works and quarks and partons yield "no new predictions"? The Black Box is a counterpart of the Standard Model and Tetragraviton explains why it's unreasonable to say – as some critics of science do say (Tetragraviton calls their view "the high school picture" of science which I don't fully understand) – that a new, more unified or readable, theory giving the same predictions "is not science". What is and isn't science shouldn't depend on historical accidents. I subscribe to every word.
A day ago, David Roberts wrote a comment with a link to some topics in hardcore category theory, mostly related to the initiality principle, and implicitly suggested that everyone judging the value and validity of Mochizuki's work has to follow this particular hardcore category theory stuff.

I don't believe this claim at all. I think there exists no evidence whatsoever that this stuff is useful let alone crucial for understanding Mochizuki's work – or most other results in mathematics. In fact, I have serious doubts about any kind of usefulness or depth of the page mentioned by Roberts. It seems like an overly formalized talk about something whose beef amounts to almost nothing, a Bourbaki on steroids. And this kind of intimidation, "you have to study and worship some particular formal texts, otherwise you're not allowed to speak" is exactly the wrong atmosphere in Western mathematics that I have criticized.

Mochizuki's theory remains controversial but it passes basic tests, has smart enough advocates, and has actual papers with hundreds of pages of actual results. It's just a higher level of scholarship than a random webpage on a blog in Austin. Indeed, I am worried that the Western researchers – including mathematicians – are increasingly turning from proper scholars producing rigorous papers to fans of some web pages filled with superficial, ideologically or emotionally driven, claims.

Thursday, April 18, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Alessandro's essay in Quillette

The full Mueller report is out – 212+236 = 448 pages of PDF. Well, OK, parts of the pages are redacted out, ongoing matters. You may decide for yourself whether something is left from the Russiagate conspiracy theories.
Two days ago, Alessandro Strumia published the ultimate essay about his encounter with the "women in science" issue. It discusses lots of things, the bibliographic analyses, the two gaps they found, the reasons why he gave the talk, the bad treatment he has gotten, his wise decision not to sue although "Particle for Justice" and similar texts could give him many reasons, and more.

But I want to talk about something else.

Judeo-Christianity and the Greco-Roman culture are the two recognized roots of the European culture. But there's really a third leg we shouldn't forget about about, our old-fashioned Pagan traditions, those that you can still see in Czechia and Slovakia. Although these civilizations weren't terribly high-tech, they gave the Europeans something important, too. We were Pagans up to 863 AD or so (when missionaries arrived from the Byzantine Empire to turn us Orthodox for a while) – so these things are not so infinitely distant. See e.g. The Pagan Queen to understand (a somewhat Americanized story) how the proto-Czechs lived a century earlier.

Easter is here again. The Christian church was rather tolerant to the local cultures and traditions so our celebration of Jesus' final days on Earth also involves the whipping of the girls and women – our Easter (and similarly Christmas) became a hybrid of the Christian orthodoxy and some pre-existing traditions linked to the same seasons. First, to become a full-blown European who also stands on the third leg, the naturally Pagan one, you need to learn how to knit the Easter whip out of twigs. Or buy one. If you want to be a perfectionist, the whip may be 300 feet long.

When you're ready, you need to chase girls and women in your village or town and beat them. It's particularly appropriate if you are a fan of the MeToo movement. Be careful of the people who could call the Santa Cruz police – that's an extra lesson I learned in California. ;-) The beating must be vigorous enough to substantially modify the girl's flow of blood, otherwise it's a useless formality. As the foreigners above explain, you should also pour buckets of water on the women.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Notre-Dame fire: a symbol of so many sad trends of the present

I think that in the grand scheme of things, Notre-Dame de Paris (meaning: Our Lady of Paris) isn't a property of the French people only.

It's really something that the whole mankind, and especially the Christian and Western civilization, owns and a symbol of that civilization. The cathedral in the classic French Gothic style was built between 1163-1345. It has survived 650-850 years or so, including lots of continental wars, cruel regimes etc. Before yesterday, the worst devastation has been an angry French Revolution mob that was destroying the organ and sculptures. The cathedral became the workplace of Mr Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre-Dame in a novel by Victor Hugo.

Because that structure is so universally important, I feel that all of us deserve condolences – so it doesn't make much sense for some of us to express condolences to others. But if Notre-Dame has been much closer to someone's heart than mine, please accept my condolences. By the way, the fire has been completely extinguished – but it took some half a day. The rectangular towers survived but the stability has to be monitored.

It's my guess that most of the TRF readers have been there – I was – and about 1/2 of those have seen the interior, too. Geologist Bob Carter was there in late 2015 – he interacted with some young climate alarmists. Sadly, Bob died a month later... At some level, it's another cathedral – except it's a very old and very famous one.

Monday, April 15, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Modern young black hole researchers need this quantum BH textbook by Lüst and pal

I think that all young people thinking as theoretical physicists who are interested in black holes should simply buy this new 2019 book Black Hole Information and Thermodynamics (SpringerBriefs in Physics) by Dieter Lüst (Munich, the main author) and Ward Vleeshouwers (Utrecht, a young contributor). The book is basically a set of notes of some 2017 lectures by Lüst, as recorded by Vleeshouwers.

It's a book that looks at the black holes, objects predicted by Einstein's general theory of relativity, from viewpoints that are utterly modern. The book is available as Kindle or paperback.

Massie vs Kerry: a tense exchange on the climate

A week ago, RWA recommended me Congressman Thomas H. Massie, a robotics engineer (his Google Scholar record isn't bad!) and a Libertarian (R-KY). It just happens that YouTube offered me a 5-days-old video (boasting 1 million of mostly "progressive", CNN viewers) with this very Gentleman whose name I wasn't actively aware of just weeks ago:

John Kerry fires back at congressman: Are you serious? (video, 5 minutes)
Let me go through this exchange. OK, John Kerry called advisers to Donald Trump – starting with prominent physicist and retired professor Will Happer of Princeton – a "kangaroo court". Happer and colleagues should be replaced with "educated adults". As you can see, a hero of atomic physics Happer was fired by John Kerry from the chair of an "educated adult". Maybe Kerry will still allow you to be an assistant janitor, Will.

This is the kind of an insult that the likes of Kerry have been able to spread without much opposition in recent years because their befriended media repeat these insults every day and character assassinate everyone who dares to point out that such insults are utterly unjustifiable.

However, America still has a working republican system that goes beyond the monopoly of the mainstream media. So a lawmaker – a representative of the American voters – could have discussed this "kangaroo court" and "educated adults" and the existence or non-existence of a justification.

Sunday, April 14, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

"Abandon rational thinking" is too deep a paradigm shift for science

...but philosopher Wallace has understood many hard issues in physics correctly...

Philosopher David Wallace has previously written many things about the foundations of quantum mechanics that – I believe – no competent quantum physicist may subscribe to. However, if he carefully avoids this particular foundational topic, he may look very intelligent to me. In February, he wrote

Naturalness and Emergence (PDF, HTML).
The main conclusion is radical. He calls for a paradigm shift because the LHC null results and some facts about cosmology "undermine the entire structure of our understanding of inter-theoretic reduction, and so risks a much larger crisis in physics than is sometimes suggested". That's exciting!

OK, it is both exciting and ludicrous. But aside from these ambitious conclusions, he has written many things that seem correct to me – and that could earn an A grade if he were graded by someone like me.

Finland: first elections co-decided by the climate hysteria

The fight against the panic may lift the Finns Party to 15-20 percent

Today, both true and untrue Finns are choosing their representatives in the Parliament. According to the opinion polls, up to nine parties could be represented in the Parliament – Czechia has nine – but it's really five parties that are large, between 12% and 20% of votes. They are, in the order expected in the latest survey:

  • SDP, their social democratic party, that was suppressed in recent years but may return to the top
  • PS, Finns Party, the authentic right-wing party that was mainly anti-immigration but the theme has calmed down (except for some child abuse by foreigners which will help them) so they rediscovered themselves as an anti-green party
  • KOK, National Coalition Party, probably a CDU clone
  • KESK, the Center Party, some other nameless pro-EU party
  • VIHR, the Green League, the Finnish edition of the Far Left
PS+KOK+KESK teamed up to make the coalition after 2015. Due to the True Finns' internal chaos, the party split and a branch of theirs, Blue Reform, replaced the Finns Party, but the Blue Reform looks weak again now.

Since December 2018, the graph of the support for the climate skeptical Finns Party (previously True Finns) paradoxically looks like the hockey stick graph ;-), indicating a doubling of votes in 4 months.

Saturday, April 13, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Media simply invented the "creator" of the black hole picture

Instead of some reflection and errata, they defend their falsehoods with increased aggressiveness

Hat tip: Charles, Jaime, Rick, Connor, Samwise...

I haven't dedicated a special blog post to this topic but it seems like a classic story at the intersection of recurring themes of this weblog – and the questions have apparently been answered.

OK, who created the first photograph of the black hole?

Everyone who has a clue about this Big Science knows that the number of workers has been large – 348 folks in this case (click for a full list) but the lists contain roughly hundreds if not one thousand names in similar cases (and 2x 3,000 both for ATLAS and CMS) – and, while the individual contributions have been extremely unequal, many folks in this large set were really essential. The Event Horizon Telescope Wikipedia page describes the collaboration as one including 13 stakeholder institutes plus almost 100 "affiliated" institutes.

Some of the senior members of the collaboration were presenting the science during the press conference on Wednesday; see a list of some senior names here. Like in almost all similar experiments, men represented an overwhelming majority of the researchers.

Friday, April 12, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Black hole picture is mainly a triumph of engineering

There has been lots of excitement – and hype – surrounding the "first photograph of a black hole". Sensible people think beyond the mindless hype, of course, and they are really asking themselves: What has actually happened? Is that important or interesting? If it is, in what respect it is important or interesting? Which kind of work was hard? Which kind of information has it brought us or what can the method bring us in the future?

I think that despite the thousands of articles in the mainstream media, these basic questions aren't being answered well – or they're not being answered at all. Let me try to clarify some of the basic facts about the big picture.

Removal of Roger Scruton

With a delay of 1 day or so, the Czech press (especially Echo) informed us that the mob has gotten Roger Scruton on second try (that's the title chosen by the Washington Examiner). See also Roger Scruton's sacking threatens free speech and intellectual life (The Telegraph) and The real Roger Scruton scandal (Spiked) or The smear of Roger Scruton (The National Review); thank God these sources stood on the side of freedom and Sir Roger (something that wasn't guaranteed anymore).

A well-known British philosopher was a government adviser for housing (and previously for architecture) – an unpaid position – but the leftist mob doesn't want any conservative in the old-fashioned sense to be anywhere. So they were attacking him all time. It didn't work a few months ago. Now, Scruton (75) agreed to give an interview to a young leftist George Eaton (deputy editor of New Statesman).

And it was a trap – the interview was manipulated in order to make predetermined claims, "Scruton has said blasphemous things", and the left mob was joined by some conservative-in-name-only leftists around Theresa May's party who criticized Scruton for these "blasphemies" and Scruton was sacked.

Thursday, April 11, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Assange is (also) a terribly treated hero

I just independently used the same noun as Pamela Anderson, it turns out

Julian Assange has spent seven years at Ecuador's embassy in London. The new leader of the Latin American country Mr Lenin [no kidding] Moreno has never liked him too much so he abolished the asylum today. He could have allowed Assange to quickly run to another embassy but instead, he invited the British cops to the embassy – to the Ecuador's territory – and they dragged Assange to a British jail by force.

The event was probably ignited by a U.S. extradition request. In America, Assange faces a risk of death penalty for his publication of classified documents.

Clearly, Assange has been an insightful and important man – I've liked some tweets of his – but he's been also breaking some laws. Hacking computers must be treated as a crime and investigated, I think, and the same holds for the distribution of classified information and other things. In Sweden, he is also accused of rape.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Photograph of a black hole will be shown today

...just one but some of us expected two...

Today at 15:00 Prague Summer Time (9:00 Boston Summer Time), the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration will present its first photographs of two black holes:

NSF press conference on first result from Event Horizon Telescope project (NSF press release)

A Non-Expert’s Guide to a Black Hole’s Silhouette (Matt Strassler's intro)

LIVE BROADCAST (from D.C., at 15:00 my time, it's over, replay 63 minutes)

Google News
What does it mean to have a photograph of a black hole? Well, yes, it could be a completely black JPG file, like the photograph of five black cats in a tunnel. ;-) Yes, I have repaired this popular Czech joke to make it politically correct because I feel threatened a big time.

The EHT experiment was mentioned at TRF 3 years ago.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Should you worry about Candida Auris infections?

In Fall 2012, I realized that the source of numerous health – albeit sometimes cosmetic – issues of mine were yeast, most likely from the Candida family. Before that time, I didn't even know that yeast or fungus could be a health problem for humans (only viruses and bacteria seemed relevant) – maybe a fungus is a problem for an apple but humans?

The Candida genus shares certain traits and the accumulation of symptoms was so clear – along with some diagnosis – that I decided that extra information wasn't really "necessary". I've never known which Candida species was harassing me. The most widespread species is Candida albicans. Every human has it in his or her guts and it's mostly innocent. But it may also get to the bloodstream through a leaky gut (which may be caused by some Crohn's disease; vitamin B12 etc. recommended) and infect organs, skin, and lots of other things.

At some level, it doesn't matter which Candida species one deals with. The cure is similar. Except that in some cases it does matter. In the recent week, Google Trends show, the interest in the Candida auris skyrocketed.

Pilsner ice-hockey war: players vs fans

Core fans are a great net asset and shouldn't be reeducated

Pilsen has top teams both in soccer and ice-hockey. In the recent decade, FC Viktoria Pilsen won about 1/2 of the seasons – although it will be second now, after its main rival Slavia Prague. HC Škoda Pilsen is also very good. It was third before the play-offs... and it is now playing the semifinals against Třinec (which was second before play-offs).

Pilsen took a lead... but yesterday Třinec won and it's 2-to-2 by matches. Four winning matches are needed.

But what I want to talk about are Pilsner fans who are... special.

Sunday, April 07, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Category theory as an egalitarian religion

Several TRF essays have discussed the controversies around the Mochizuki proof of the \(abc\) conjecture, most recently in November 2018. The conjecture states that whenever integers obey \(a+b=c\), then the maximum number, let's assume it's \(c\), isn't parametrically larger than a (multiple of a) power of the product of all primes in \(a,b,c\). So it's some inequality linking both the additive relationship between \(a,b,c\) with some multiplicative one.

Šiniči Močizuki's solution is a corollary of a whole new ambitious theory in mathematics (possibly a flawless theory, possibly a flawed one at some point) that he has developed, the "Inter-Universal Teichmüller (IUT) theory" or "arithmetic deformation theory", these terms are synonymous. He claims to study some permutations of primes and integers etc. as if these permutations were analogous to continuous deformations.

Equivalently, he claims to disentangle the additive and multiplicative relationships between the numbers by looking from many perspectives, by using new terms like "Hodge theaters". I've read and watched many texts and promotional videos and they look incredibly creative and intelligent to me. I am of course far from being capable of verifying the theory up to the applications – one needs to master at least 500 pages plus some 500 more pages of the background etc. I am not motivated enough to go through, in particular because I don't really see why the \(abc\) conjecture should be important in the grand scheme of things.

But I am very interested in the general complications that great minds often seem to face – and things don't seem to be getting better. In the recent issue of Inference, I read the thoughtful essay by David Michael Roberts,

A Crisis of Identification.
Roberts' writing is highly impartial – after all, Adelaide, Australia is "just" 8,000 kilometers from Japan. He sketches some history of the proof, similar proofs in the past, the Grothendieck approach as a driving engine of many mathematicians on both sides, the social dynamics, and the philosophy of the category theory and its predecessors since the era of Hilbert.

Physics knows a lot about the electron beyond the simple "Standard Model picture"

Ethan Siegel wrote a text about the electron, Ask Ethan: What Is An Electron?, which includes some fair yet simplified standard conceptual facts about the electron's being a particle and a wave, about its properties being statistically predictable, and about the sharp values of its "quantum numbers", some discrete "charges" that are either exactly or approximately conserved in various interactions.

While his statements look overwhelmingly right, there is a general theme that I expected to bother me and that bothers me: Siegel presents a frozen caricature of the particle physicists' knowledge that could be considered "a popularization of the snapshot from 1972 or so". There doesn't seem to be any added value of his text relatively to e.g. the Wikipedia article on the Standard Model. After all, the images such as the list of particles above were just taken from that article.

Saturday, April 06, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Dimon's capitalism vs AOC's socialism

Many of us feel that the civilization is falling into the gutter.

Pillars of the society and nation states are being systematically attacked by numerous folks. Those of us who have been asking "why did the Roman Empire decline" see an answer in the ongoing repetition of the process. Too many people simply lose any attachment to everything that is good about the society and deliberately start to promote changes that are terrifying and destructive. In the absence of truly formidable competitors, great civilizations collapse simply because the people inside want that collapse and those who don't lose their power to prevent it.

One of the aspects of the anti-civilization movement are the increasingly widespread criticisms of capitalism itself – the freedom of entrepreneurship. The young generation is increasingly absorbing pathological opinions about a great fraction of the political and societal questions. The opposition to capitalism is an example. In 2018, less than one-half of Americans between 18 and 29 years of age said to have a positive relationship to capitalism – a drop by 12 percentage points in a few years. Given these numbers, is capitalism sustainable at all?

Three days ago, these challenges were discussed by the dean of the Harvard Business School. The obvious question is whether this anti-capitalist delusion is also widespread among the HBS students. I think it is and I think it is a systemic failure. A person who can't understand why capitalism is economically superior over socialism just shouldn't be allowed in the HBS buildings – at most like a janitor. The very name indicates that the school exists to nurture business, not to decimate it. Business is a defining activity of capitalism – in socialism, we weren't quite allowed to even say "business". The understanding of the creative power of capitalism is a matter of apolitical expertise (or rudimentary knowledge), not a political issue where you should look for both sides of a "story". The story may have two sides but one side is right and the other side is wrong.

Friday, April 05, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

"Search for holography in your kitchen" instead of the FCC is the return to alchemy

Anna has linked to a WUWT story about a $50 million fine that a fake journal has to pay. Much like Theranos, such fake open-access journals deceive their users about all the normal ingredients that are responsible for the quality control – about the identity or the very existence of referees, the existence of the review process, they heavily overstate the impact of the journal, and co-organize fake conferences (I really mean conferences whose scientific quality is non-existent but someone pretends it exists).

By the way, how many of you are getting daily "calls for abstracts" from some strange conferences that don't seem to be related to your interests?

Many armchair scientists who were ignored may suddenly find someone who wants to publish their texts, so they pay for the publication. Ambitious new "scientists" who can't publish, and therefore expect to perish, may suddenly survive. Some of them may even become "big leaders" after a few publications that appear in fishy outlets. At some level, people are happy – they get what they want. These "scientists" finally publish their stuff and the publishers get paid. The price is high – the whole ecosystem is being flooded with mostly wrong results and claims that pretend to be verified by someone who is careful but they are not. Readers get something else than they're told to get. Scientists waste time with bad papers – the wasted time is maximized in the ambitious yet truly marginal cases of papers that "almost" look like serious ones but ultimately turn out to be wrong for somewhat subtle reasons that would still be caught by a proper reviewer.

To some extent, this decrease of quality is an unavoidable consequence of the "open-access approach". While the "open-access" ideologues like to hide it, the "open access" – just like "open borders" – often reduces to nothing else than "the absence of a reliable enough quality (or security) control".

Thursday, April 04, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Time cannot be racist

Honza has brought me reasons to be proud of my Rutgers University PhD. ;-) Just days ago, Bill Zajc and I discussed the influence of philosophy departments over the interpretation of quantum mechanics. I mentioned an important character – Sheldon Goldstein – who is a philosopher of science at Rutgers. Well, he's formally a distinguished professor of mathematics even though his papers have been about the philosophy of physics, statistical physics, and perhaps some related topics.

Clock in a Droste effect. The exponential spiral is mixed with the cyclic time. This conflation is mathematically deep because the periodic functions may be generated from \(\exp(ix)\), a conceptually small variation of \(\exp(x)\).

While he is smart and appreciates some kind of logic very well, it's not quite enough to understand everything important that modern physics has found. So Goldstein, a leader of the Bohmian mechanics people, ends up being an ideologue who is successful because he is really serving his essays in "more welcoming" environment without actual big shot physicists who understand why his views on (and prejudices about) quantum mechanics are just wrong. I think it's wrong (not a promising way to organize scientific research) for the system to allow folks like Goldstein to build whole schools of disciples in "relaxed" environments where Goldstein isn't really facing competent, critical peers because they're focused on other disciplines.

But now we're going discuss a very different level of scholarship. Goldstein is wrong but it's still a "somewhat social science department approach to" physics. We will look at another lower category. There are natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. I think it's right to say that "humanities" are less rational and scientifically meaningful than "social sciences" – by a similar amount by which "social sciences" are less scientific than real, "natural sciences".

Maybe we should distinguish new levels on this ladder: natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and grievance studies. Maybe it makes sense to distinguish the "grievance studies" from generic "humanities" because there's a whole new level of scholarly fallacy that dominates in the grievance studies.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Klaus Jr kept as chair of the education committee

I have enough experience to know that over 90% of the expected TRF readers have virtually no interest in some events in Czech politics – or anything else that has something to do with similar holes in Europe. ;-) And the apparent irrelevance of this story may look even worse. It's about some committee of the lower chamber of the Parliament. And to make things really bad ;-), the main hero of this blog post, Klaus Jr, considered the vote (and the topic of this blog post) "less important than a soccer match" today!

But you know, I just find this to be the country's most important story of the day (or a week or a month), for various reasons.

Just to be sure, over a week ago, the old-fashioned right-winger and outspoken man Václav Klaus Jr was expelled from ODS, a party founded by his father in 1991 that I have voted for 27 years before I became a non-voter in March 2019. The last excuse for the expulsion – a partisan procedure we most typically associate with the communist party after the 1968 Soviet-led occupation when the "reformers" had to be told good-bye – were two apt but overly tense Nazi era metaphors for some current events related to the EU.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Activists must stop harassing scientists

Ms Peggy Sastre, a French writer who holds a PhD in philosophy of science (which already places her above 90+ percent of the popular writers about "science and society") has written a wonderful piece for Le Point which was translated for Quillette yesterday:

Activists Must Stop Harassing Scientists
A part of her text is dedicated to Alessandro Strumia's story – she didn't overlook that Galileo used to work at the same Pisa University as Strumia, to make the analogies between the harassment more visible to the slower viewers. Sastre also mentions the misrepresentations of Strumia's statements by activists such as Jessica Wade who started that particular disturbing witch hunt, by the BBC, and others.

Also, Sastre has been in contact with Janice Fiamengo who frustratingly concluded that the era of the objective science has decisively ended in the West.

Did the latest Bitcoin price spike depend on concentrated intelligent design?

A few hours ago, the price of the Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies underwent a rare massive upward explosion. Within less than an hour, BTCUSD went from below $4200 – where it was slowly growing in many days from a relatively stable plateau of $4000 – up to $5100+ or so, before returning to $4700 at this moment. In the most volatile moments, the spreads were huge and the price was jumping by $50 up and down thrice a second.

The "hockey stick graph" of the Bitcoin price looks extremely unnatural. After days in which the price only changes by some $10 a day, the price could generate a change of almost $1,000 in less than one hour. This discrepancy shows that there's certainly no reliable "order of magnitude estimate of the volatility per unit time" that you could reasonably use in any safe enough planning.

Monday, April 01, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

How the freedom of the 1990s didn't last

My country has been tamed by Nazism between 1939 (well, partly 1938) and 1945, and by communism between 1948 and 1989 (6+41 = 47 years, almost half a century). Folks like your humble correspondent have helped the communist system to collapse and we entered the 1990s, an unusually free decade.

People could say anything, try lots of things, travel across the world, and start numerous types of businesses. Political parties started to compete, communist companies were being privatized (and I think it was right to try to do it quickly although apparent imperfections couldn't be avoided), and others were started from scratch.

In 1992-1997, I was a college student in Prague (Math-Phys, Charles University). While I was always too shy to become a visible politician, I found it natural to be a member of the student senate most of the time. We were deciding about many things. For example, we tried to stop the process of creating the "Faculty of Humanities" at the university – which is the main source of certain ideologically extreme social phenomena today. Most of the Math-Phys people were against this "FHS", for reasons that weren't far from what we would say today (although we know much more today), but we failed. "FHS" was created. After all, we did realize that these folks – perhaps "cultural Marxists", using the present jargon – had quite some "momentum" after 1989. But at least, in the 1990s, no one would dispute we had the "right" to vote "No".

Skepticism about Standard Models in F-theory makes no sense

Four weeks ago, I discussed a quadrillion Standard Model compactifications that were constructed within F-theory by Cvetič et al. For some happy reasons, Anil at Scientific American wrote his own version of that story four days ago:

Found: A Quadrillion Ways for String Theory to Make Our Universe
I think that Scientific American hasn't been publishing this kind of articles about some proper scientific research – and Anil hasn't been writing those – for years. Some adult who works behind the scenes must have ordered this one exception, I guess. So I am pretty sure that the readers of SciAm must have experienced a cultural shock because the article is about a very different "genre" than the kind of pseudoscientific stuff that has dominated SciAm for years.

Sunday, March 31, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Occam's razor and unreality of the wave function

Right after the mid 1920s, every physicist who was up to his or her job (OK, let's not be kidding, no woman really understood QM in the 1920s yet) knew that the idea that "the wave function was a real wave, like the electromagnetic wave" was the most naive kind of misconception about the character of quantum mechanics that a layman could have about quantum mechanics. This knowledge continued for many decades. The second quantum mechanical generation – including Feynman and pals – still understood the things perfectly but they already started to express the things in ways that reduced the negative reactions of the listeners.

Now, almost one century later, after a few decades of unlimited proliferation of pop-science books and completely wrong articles, the "unreal character of the wave function" became one of the most misunderstood basic facts about the natural science among the members of the broad public. Almost all the people were not only pushed to buy the completely wrong "the wave function is a real wave" thesis but this delusion has been turned into a moral imperative of its own kind. You should not only parrot such wrong statements: you should morally despise those who dare to point out that these statements are wrong.

Also, the writers who just can't live with the end of classical physics have not only written lots of wrong and confusing stuff about the physics questions themselves. They have also rewritten the history of physics. If a generic person tries to quickly enough find out what the Copenhagen Interpretation was or what Bohr and Heisenberg actually believed about quantum mechanics (and Dirac, Pauli, von Neumann, Wigner, and a few others), they get almost unavoidably drowned in amazing distortions, demagogy, and downright lies. The amount of mess, censorship, and misinformation about these elementary things already trump the chaos and censorship by the Inquisition of the Copernican ideas.

The motivation for almost all these distortions are ideological in character. It may look surprising that such a technical, almost mathematical point may be affected by ideologies – but it simply is affected a lot. In particular, lots of people realize that some kind of Marxism or another unscientific superstition that they hold dear did really assume classical physics which is why classical physics has to be "saved" from the questioning.

Saturday, March 30, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

New Slovak president: Slovaks are more "generic" Westerners than Czechs

Slovakia is choosing its new president today.

In the 2nd round, Ms Zuzana Čaputová (who got 40% in the first round, age 45) faces Mr Maroš Šefčovič (20% in the first round two weeks ago, 53 years). The lady will almost certainly win – something like 60% by 40% of voters (bookmakers have odds over 10-to-1). Up to recently, this female lawyer has been a top official in the Progressive Slovakia movement.

Her male antagonist – the campaign contained almost no real fight, maybe he just gave up – has been a life-long diplomat who represents the mainstream "Smer/Direction" Slovak social democracy with its opposition to migrants and other things. Even that ambiguous guy would be extremely far from a "Slovak Orbán", however. After all, he's been an EU commissar and you know that this organ has never allowed any "true soulmates" of Orbán.

A very characteristic song for this blog post. "Words" have been played by radios from Summer 2017. I assumed it's some native speaker – there isn't a glimpse of "our" accent in the song that I could hear. It sounds roughly like Taylor Swift or Katy Perry... I don't really distinguish these women. It could be them, I thought. Only weeks ago, I was shocked when I learned that the singer is Ms Emma Drobná, a Slovak. We have singers singing in English in Czechia but none of them has simultaneously this flawless English and this huge exposure in mainstream radios. In total, the Czech audiences prefer the songs in Czech – more than the Slovak audiences, I guess. And the musicians have to adapt to that fact. Funny: When I completed writing the previous sentence, this very song started to play on the real Pilsner Hit Radio FM Plus.

Čaputová will become another attractive enough young female leader of a European country. Ideologically, the change will be minimal because her views are similarly "progressive" as those of Andrej Kiska, an old, rich, and male current president of Slovakia. But the hopes for Slovakia to move a few steps away from the progressive globalism will probably evaporate tonight.

Thursday, March 28, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Greta Thunberg: when discussion becomes impossible

I haven't dedicated a separate blog post to the "climate school strike movement" founded by Greta Thunberg, (now) a 16-year-old Swedish girl, because it's too sad and the people promoting this stuff are extremely far not only from science but from anything that we could call a rational approach to the world. But because it's still an example of a campaign that greatly influences the kids' education – and it is a good symbol of many other, comparably bad things that are happening at schools – I think that one needs to discuss this sad story.

OK, a girl – who claims to possess Asperger's syndrome – went to skip the classes in order to express her desire to save the world from climate change. This stunt was immediately covered by the Swedish mainstream media – where Greta was promoted to God, a position she still holds – and some two weeks ago, 1.4 million students across the world followed in her footsteps. They skipped the classes in order to save the world from the climate Armageddon. It's possible that the next strike will be much more massive than that.

I am using this language – including the "Armageddon" – in order to mock the people who support this pathology. But it's an example of a social phenomenon in which the differences between the parody and the seriously meant claims have totally evaporated because some of the people could describe it in the same words.

Some reasons why the West won't stop building colliders

Many reasons why it's right to keep on building larger, more powerful colliders are often described in rather mainstream articles. But I happen to think that some of them, while fundamentally true, sound like clichés, politically correct astroturf theses. Like the correct statement that the scientific research is a universal value that unites nations – and people from different nations peacefully cooperate on something that boils down to the same humanity inside both. Just to be sure, I totally believe it and it's important, too!

As you know, my emphasis is a bit different... and I want to start with the reasons that are related to the "competition between civilizations". The first assumption of mine that you need to share is that the decisions in the West and the decisions in Asia are done very independently and they may have very different motivations. In particular, the anti-collider activists in the West influence the thinking of the VIPs in China about as much as the P*ssy Riot group does. They're just another strange aspect of the Western mass culture.

China – as the place of the CEPC, a planned future collider – has its own discussions about the colliders but only big shots seem to matter in those. Chen-Ning Yang, a physics titan (Lee-Yang and Yang-Mills), turned out to be the most prominent antagonist. Yang's reasons are really social. He thinks China is too poor and should pay for the people's bread instead. Well, ironically enough, this social thinking won't necessarily be decisive for the leaders in the communist party. Shing-Tung Yau – a top mathematician who comes from a pretty poor family – is among the numerous champions of the Chinese collider.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Humanitarian bombardment of Yugoslavia: 20 years

With hindsight, it was the first major apple telling me "don't trust the West's establishment mindlessly"

On Thursday, during my short visit to Prague, a guy asked me where Florenc was. So I explained it to him – in fact, I was heading to Florentinum, a fancy palace in the Florenc suburb. He turned out to be Serbian and I could proudly show him my briefcase from a private university in Belgrade where I was once offered a job.
A coincidence. I have only visited Serbia once in my life, a decade ago (while we have repeatedly been to Croatia's Adriatic beaches; by the way, I was surprised how "Western" Belgrade's appearances were), but the purpose of this paragraph is to argue that I have some links to Serbia, anyway.

Belgrade, via Lonely Planet

Almost exactly 20 years ago, on March 24th, 1999, the humanitarian bombardment of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia began. It lasted through June 10th. The name "Yugoslavia" was already a big overstatement – it was just a federation of Serbia and Montenegro and Montenegro left it later in 2006, after a referendum. The term "humanitarian bombardment" is the most popular term used by Czechs – it's derived from the "humanitarian intervention", an official NATO description of the bombardment. I think that either Václav Havel or the Czechoslovakia-born Madeleine Albright or both have actually used the term "humanitarian bombardment" explicitly.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

It's irrational to both worship and completely distrust a thinker

People like Weinstein hide their fanatical desire to silence thinkers into some "flattering" mumbo-jumbo

Peter Thiel has hired Eric Weinstein as a part-time economist, part-time talking head about science – someone who produces far-reaching and emotionally loaded statements about the value of science, its future, the relationship between scientists and the establishment and, as we will see... the need for the majority society or the rich to conquer the scientists' brains and turn the scientists into obedient slaves.

Last week, Weinstein gave an 80-minute-long very unfocused interview about music, humor, labor... (I don't have patience for all this cheesy and distracting stuff and sorry to say, it is very clear that I don't belong to the target audience – it's just talk addressed to the mass culture) and after 50:00 or so, he talks about his "love-hate relationship" with theoretical physicists.

Monday, March 25, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

Can gravitinos form some Cooper pairs?

The cosmological constant problem is hard. Many people have said it was the deepest problem in physics, especially around 2000 when this proposition was fashionable. But there's no guarantee that its resolution would transform all of physics. The right solution could very well be an idea that is isolated from the rest of fundamental physics.

Why is the cosmological constant positive yet so small? Like \(10^{-122}\)? The most boring solution is the multiverse solution in which our Universe is chosen from a large number, of more than \(10^{122}\), potential Universes. Life can't form in the Universes with too large or too small values of the constants, so it's unavoidable that from the many choices, people end up here, wondering why the cosmological constant is so small. But it couldn't have been otherwise. This anthropic tautological explanation is unattractive for many of us.

There may be a quintessence, a scalar field that makes the cosmological constant decrease as the Universe gets older. Or there may be some totally new "fake dark energy" linked to holography or MOND or some non-local phenomena in the Universe.

Mueller probe and meta-justice powers

The Mueller probe seems to be completed. From 2017, Robert Mueller has been investigating the allegations that Donald Trump has colluded with Russia to become the U.S. president – and that he has been obstructing justice. The investigation was started by Rod Rosenstein, a deputy attorney general.

Attorney General William Barr has received the report and summarized it in a summary. No evidence of a collusion has been found. No more indictments will be made. Instead of clearly saying whether Trump has ever obstructed justice, Mueller wrote arguments on both sides and concluded that he doesn't want to make crisp statements and it's not enough for some prosecution. Clearly, the wording concerning the obstruction is more ambiguous – which is linked to the fact that the definition of obstruction is murkier.

Sunday, March 24, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: a 3.5-sigma excess in CP-odd Higgs to tops decays

The CMS collaboration has apparently resumed its mass production of deviations from the Standard Model. After the hints of a gluino in gauge-mediated supersymmetry breaking, we have a new anomaly:

Search for heavy Higgs bosons decaying to a top quark pair in proton-proton collisions at \(\sqrt{s} = 13\TeV\)
The excess is locally 3.5 sigma and globally 1.9 sigma.

Saturday, March 23, 2019 ... Deutsch/Español/Related posts from blogosphere

A strange "letter against statistical significance"

Anton wanted me to react to

Scientists rise up against statistical significance,
a letter written by 3 people and signed by 800 others (which may look high on the street but it's really an insignificant fraction of similar or better "scientists" in the world – surely millions). Two of the three authors have written a similar manifesto to a Nature subjournal in 2017. The signatories mostly do things like psychology, human behavior, epidemiology – mostly soft sciences. I see only 4 signatories with some "physics" on their lines and 2 of them are "biophysicists".

First, I found that text to be largely incoherent, indicating a not really penetrating thinking of the authors. There isn't any sequence of at least three sentences that I could fully subscribe to. If there is a seed of a possibly valid point, it's always conflated with some fuzzy negative attitudes to the very existence of "statistical significance" and I think that no competent scientist could agree with those assertions in their entirety.

Statistical significance may be misunderstood and used in incorrect sentences, including fallacies of frequently repeated types (I will discuss those later) and in this sense, it may be "abused", but the same is true for any other tool concept in science (and outside science). One may "abuse" the wave function, quantum gravity, a doublet, a microscope, or a cucumber, too, and this website is full of clarifications of the abuses of most of these notions. But just because people abuse these things doesn't mean that we may or we should throw the concepts (and gadgets) to the trash bin.

When it comes to the description of the "frequent abuse of statistical significance", I don't see a statistically significant positive correlation between their comments and my views – and the correlation is probably negative although I am not totally certain whether that correlation is statistically significant. ;-)

Clearly, I must start with this assertion that will also be the punch line of this blog post:
Sciences that have experimental portions and that are "hard sciences" at least to some extent simply cannot work without the concept.
A proof why it's essential: All of science is about the search for the truth. One starts with guessing a hypothesis and testing it. Whether a hypothesis succeeds in describing data has to be determined. The process is known as the hypothesis testing. The result of that test has to be quantitative. It's called the \(p\)-value (or similar, more advanced quantities). The term "statistical significance" is nothing else than a human name for a \(p\)-value or a qualitative description of whether the \(p\)-value is low enough for the hypothesis to get a passing grade. The very existence of science is really connected with the existence of the concept of the statistical significance although a few centuries ago, the significance often used to be so high or low that the concept wasn't discussed explicitly at all.

This is a mostly theoretical physics blog but there are hundreds of comments about 3-sigma this and 4-sigma that. You couldn't really express these ideas "totally differently" (except for switching from sigmas to \(p\)-values or using synonyms). We simply need to quantify how reasonable it is to interpret an experiment as an experiment in which the Standard Model has apparently failed.

You may click at Statistical significance to see that the Wikipedia provides us with a perfectly sound and comprehensible definition – which doesn't indicate that there's anything controversial about the concept itself. A statistically significant outcome is one that is unlikely to emerge according to the null hypothesis. That's why such a result makes it likely that there's something beyond the null hypothesis. This kind of the interpretation of the empirical data represents the building blocks of almost all the reasoning in quantitative enough empirical sciences!