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 iDNES.cz and Novinky.cz 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.

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