Tuesday, July 31, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Prof Matt Strassler and global warming

Prof Matt Strassler who blogs at ProfMattStrassler.com made an excursion into our favorite topic which is an inferior scientific discipline at the same moment, namely to the climate change science:

Humans, Carbon Dioxide and Climate
He's been instantly conjectured by Twistor 59 to be Dr Luboš Motl because he blogs both about physics and the climate. As you will see, this conjecture may be intriguing but it is incorrect; the difference is that Dr Luboš Motl doesn't write nonsense about climate change. What do I mean?

Try the minimalistic template.

Prof Matt Strassler (yes, I will repeat the titles as often as Prof Matt Strassler does so that even the people who like titles will soon be driven up the wall by this pretentious way to talk about the people) discusses the recent bold claims by Prof Richard Muller of Berkeley.

Prof Matt Strassler describes Prof Richard Muller in this way:
But he’s one of the most famous, now, because he was also a loud skeptic not long in the past.
Except that a rudimentary knowledge of the facts is enough to realize that the proposition above is false. Prof Richard Muller himself has described his past attitudes to the climate change in an interview for The Huffington Post:
It is ironic if some people treat me as a traitor, since I was never a skeptic – only a scientific skeptic. [...] But I never felt that pointing out mistakes [in Gore's movie] qualified me to be called a climate skeptic.
So the claims that Prof Richard Muller has been a climate skeptic are indefensible; they are malicious lies, a part of an orchestrated propaganda campaign. Let me admit that because of Prof Matt Strassler's references to blog articles that have irritated him, I find it hard to believe that Prof Matt Strassler hasn't encountered the information that Prof Richard Muller hasn't been a climate skeptic yet. It seems clear to me that he is spreading this misinformation deliberately while he is aware of its invalidity.

Nine physicists win $27 million in total

The first Milner fundamental physics prize for advances in delving into the deepest mysteries of physics and the universe

One million dollars. Each winner has received three similar piles of paper trash.

Yuri Milner, a graduate physics school dropout, earned a few bucks [interview] via Internet games such as Facebook, Zynga (yes, I was just playing Mafia Wars for a few minutes), and Groupon and created a new prize:

9 Scientists Receive a New Physics Prize (The New York Times)
Each of the nine winners has won $3,000,000, more than twice the Nobel prize. The choice of the winners is very sensible; the selection is impressive, showing that Yuri Milner still understands what's shaking.

Monday, July 30, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Have Muller or Watts transformed the AGW landscape?

I don't think so.

But let me add a few more words.

In recent days, we witnessed two major salvos in the climate wars as well as many minor repercussions. Both of them are claimed to be equivalents of the battle of Stalingrand in the climate wars. A frustrating aspect of the hype surrounding both salvos is that they came from the opposite camps but they are very analogous, anyway.

I will start with Richard Muller – which seems as the worse example among the two – and continue with Anthony Watts.

Sunday, July 29, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Permutations join twistor minirevolution

I have finally found the time to watch Nima Arkani-Hamed's excellent Strings 2012 lecture.

Scattering Amplitudes and the Positive Grassmannian (four formats, 40 minutes)

(Flash video, PDF only)
I recommend you the Flash video; the PDF file without Nima's words and handwaving is vastly less comprehensible, it seems to me.

Let's hope that this toasted twister is an OK symbol of Nima's talk. It's similar to snack wrap chicken in McDonald's

You may be pretty sure that the talk gives us the hottest information about the state of the twistor minirevolution.

The readers may want to watch it as many aspects of the BCFW and similar formulae that looked very complicated get clarified. Suddenly they have a reason. Lots of arbitrariness disappears. Different, equivalent diagrams boil down to the same invariant structure that the physicists are starting to see in front of their eyes and touch by their hands.

So what are the points you shouldn't miss while watching the talk?

Saturday, July 28, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Strings 2012, a few words

On Saturday, I added a link to the 51-minute public lecture by Edward Witten above (Flash, PDF only): click the screenshot. In the right lower corner, there is a "full screen" button. On the left side from it, there is another button to "embiggenify / mediocrize / elsmolinify Edward Witten". The dimensions of the slides change inversely to those of Witten.

Olympic Czechs w/ wellies: climate in London hasn't changed

According to The New York Times [+pic], the two most memorable aspects of the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony were Ralph Lauren's and the Czech athletes' outfits. (A live NYT blogger has two different winners, the wellies and Danny Boyle's speech.)

Irish Independent, LBSports, UKPA and tons of #wellies tweeters [realtime] have also noticed the wellies and umbrellas which they opened simultaneously. As you can see, the Czech designers have carefully read the warnings in the Daily Mail.

Click to zoom in. See a gallery I with 5 pictures or gallery II with 31 pictures. The march was led by badminton player and cancer survivor Mr Petr Koukal. If the German team had the same shoes, it wouldn't be original because the same shoes have already been preferred by Irma Grese. :-)

Friday, July 27, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Watts up with that Anthony's major announcement?

About his project unrelated to health, FOIA, politics, society

Update Saturday: Wow, the last paragraph in Wikipedia contains what I consider the most likely answer to the mystery:

According to the Heartland Institute 2012 fundraising plan document, they agreed to help Watts raise $88,000 to set up a website, "devoted to accessing the new temperature data from NOAA's web site and converting them into easy-to-understand graphs that can be easily found and understood by weathermen and the general interested public."

LM: BTW the Guardian plans to publish a significant news at the same moment: it may be the same thing.

Update Sunday: It was related to NOAA but it turned out to be a paper claiming that NOAA incorrectly doubled the late 20th century warming trend in the U.S. See James Delingpole's summary that I found more comprehensible than Anthony Watts' press release.

Well, it's fine but yes, I am disappointed. I wouldn't agree that this has a global importance; the U.S. is 2% of the globe, after all. Also, it's just another paper claiming something about those matters. Let me admit that its importance may be a bit inflated because Anthony is still excited about publishing a paper somewhere.
The world's most visited climate blog, Watts Up With That, just interrupted the publishing of new posts for two days. An inner circle of the Earth's 11 climate skeptics including your humble correspondent was informed about the interruption by e-mail at the same moment.

We are told to expect a major announcement of an unprecedented and controversial event on Sunday around 9 pm (Pilsner Summer Time: I suspect Anthony also meant noon Pacific Daylight Time and not Pacific Standard Time), one that led Anthony to cancel vacation plans, will arguably attract the attention of the whole planet, overshadow the Olympic games, reconstruct or destroy the United Nations, and perhaps even delay the war in Iran.

And believe me, Anthony generally doesn't like much hype and big words (similarly tome) so this is either his unprecedented hype that may turn out to be a dud or a really big story.

Anthony also told us he wouldn't respond to our e-mails before Sunday so I honestly don't know what it is and I can't find out (I guess). Moreover, the symmetric position of my e-mail inside the list suggests that other people in the list such as Steve McIntyre don't know what's going on, either. If you try to Google search for anthony watts major announcement, you will quickly get stuck in a TRF infinite loop, too. ;-) Three more speculative threads are hosted by Bishop Hill, Steve McIntyre, and Suyts.

Greek triple jumper and political correctness

Voula Papachristou is the hottest among the top Greek athletes who defended her 2009 European gold a year ago (July 2011) in Ostrava, Czechia.

She also has a Twitter account where she showed that she isn't just a pile of protein; she is apparently rather creative and intelligent.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Euler characteristic

Topology is an important branch of mathematics that studies all the "qualitative" or "discrete" properties of continuous objects such as manifolds, i.e. all the properties that aren't changed by any continuous transformations except for the singular (infinitely extreme) ones.

In this sense, topology is a vital arbiter in the "discrete vs continuous" wars. The very existence of topology as a discipline shows that "discrete properties" always exist even if you only work with continuous objects. On the other hand, topology always assumes that these features are "derived" – they're some of the properties of objects and these objects are deeper and that may have many other, continuous properties, too. The topological, discrete properties of these objects are just projections or caricatures of the "whole truth".

The sphere – the surface of a ball – can't be continuously deformed to a torus – the idealized two-dimensional inner tube inside a tire. The torus has a hole in the middle. So they're topologically distinct two-dimensional manifolds. We may prove that they're topologically different if we find a "topological invariant" – a number or a more complicated quantity that doesn't change by any continuous deformations – that has different values for both manifolds. Of course, the "number of holes" (known as genus) is a way to distinguish a sphere from a torus.

CO2 may lag temperature just by 400 years or so

Phys.ORG is among the most science-oriented outlets that inform about the new paper

Tightened constraints on the time-lag between Antarctic temperature and CO2 during the last deglaciation (full text PDF)
by Pedro, Rasmussen, and Ommen published in Climate of the Past. The content of the paper is simple.

Lisa Randall: Higgs discovery, e-book

The Power of Empty Space

If you have a Kindle you should click at the link on the left side, learn by another click how to make purchases, and buy one of the world's most famous particle theorist's short e-book offering her views on the discovery of the Higgs boson and her memories from the relevant days.

After all, spending three dollars in similar ways is why you bought your Kindle in the first place. ;-)

I have had the pleasure to read the book while it was being written and it surely stores lots of things that an extra informed laymen wants to know. Attached are chapters from Lisa's classical books, the Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven's Door.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Paul Frampton's Argentine sweetheart revealed: a Czech-born model

The content of this blog entry is extremely light and a favorite physicist of some of us is the only justification why it's here: so I discourage serious readers from reading the rest of this text

In March, we learned that Prof Paul Frampton, a TRF guest blogger and a later diagnosed beautiful mind (his ex-wife quantified his emotional age as three years), was arrested in Argentina with cocaine.

He went to meet a woman who fell in love with him. Who was that? Based on my knowledge of Paul's taste and what he can afford, I guessed her name was Valeria Mazza.

I wasn't too far from the truth. Well, I should have known that the right one wasn't blonde. More importantly, it turned out that the truth was much closer to me than I thought: she is Czech.

Czechia wins the European alcohol contest

The London Olympic Games only start on Friday but Reuters has already handed out the most important medals:

Spirited Traveler: The party doesn't stop in Prague
Czechia has Europe's largest amount of alcohol drunk by an average person, 16.6 liters per capita and per year, the World Health Organization proudly reported. When I try to think about it, it's somewhat sick especially if the average includes children (I am not sure whether it does).

Yes, it is true that while I was in Massachusetts, it was normal to go to a law school canteen and expect folks to buy no beer for lunch. The beer is a healthy multi-compound for many reasons. But what my compatriots are doing may be too much of a good thing.

Monday, July 23, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Calabi-Yau tree of life and XY chromosomes cut by K3 fibers

Today, there are several very interesting papers but I am maximally fascinated by the first hep-th paper,

An Abundance of K3 Fibrations from Polyhedra with Interchangeable Parts (by Philip Candelas, Andrei Constantin, Harald Skarke),
which is purely mathematical – it is a paper about higher-dimensional shapes – but its relevance for high-energy physics is obvious. Philip Candelas in particular is a pioneer of the applications of Calabi-Yau manifolds in string theory. He's also highly active these days. Aside from the newest paper, you may be interested in a paper from December 2011 in which they construct a heterotic string model that produces the MSSM with three generations and absolutely nothing else at low energies!

The today's paper is dedicated to the memory of Maximilian Kreuzer († November 2010) of Vienna who has done lots of work and let me say that I haven't seen a more original work dedicated to a recently deceased person for quite some time.

Sunday, July 22, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

James Weatherall's limitations

Two hours ago, The Boston Globe released an article written by James Owen Weatherall, The Higgs boson ‘nightmare scenario’. It tries to sell the preposterous interpretation of the Higgs discovery as a sad event if not a possible sign of the end of the discipline.

There are lots of dishonest statements made in the text – for example, the hardcore crackpot Lee Smolin is described as "an expert on attempts to develop a unified theory of gravity and the Standard Model forces" (wow!) – but the main demagogy used to support the central message of the article is hiding in the last sentence.

Saturday, July 21, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

New York Times: We are all climate change idiots

The leading U.S. left-leaning daily has finally made a confession that many of us have eagerly expected for years:

We’re All Climate-Change Idiots (The New York Times, Beth Gardiner)
Well, yes, you are. And if some readers were still feeling uncertain about the proof of the proposition in the title, all their doubts evaporated after they read the first two sentences written by the lady.

Relative strength of HEP experiments, phenomenology, theory

A few years ago, the experiments at the LHC were getting started. Decades of thirst for the new experimental data – started especially by the sour 1994 U.S. Congress' decision to abolish the 40 TeV Superconducting Supercollider – were superseded by a new era producing lots of data.

The 126 GeV Higgs boson is the most concrete new result coming from this recent exciting activity. But we shouldn't forget that the LHC's confirmation of hundreds of predictions by the good old Standard Model is incredibly impressive, too.

The first anthem of students of high-energy physics, Russian chanson Marsh fizikov (The March of the Physicists), was composed in 1964 (the year of the Higgs boson papers) and sung by Vladimir Vysotsky, an unofficial yet immensely famous Soviet songwriter with some dissident links. Paradoxically enough, we received a book with his lyrics in 1988, when we were 15, as a gift to guarantee that we would join the Socialist Youth Union, SSM. I took the book but didn't join because I was not obliged to obey unwritten rules of corruption despite its being common in the criminal organization.

The expectation of the meaningful experimental activity was reflected in the job market, too. Experimental groups hired new people and they assured everyone that there was some work for them to do. Among the non-experimenters, almost all the new hires went to phenomenology – they hired people who were able to professionally analyze the data coming from the LHC (and other ongoing experiments).

Friday, July 20, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Mostly good news on the Fermi \(130\GeV\) line

Dark matter may be starting to shine in front of our eyes

Someone at the Physics Stack Exchange asked about the recent status of the \(130\GeV\) line located in the Fermi gamma-ray data by Christoph Weniger in April 2012 (a confirmation).

It's one of the most exciting and potentially emerging signals of new physics – signals of dark matter. I answered as follows.

Global spam dropped 50% in two days

Grum has been demolished, Lethic harmed

I've never considered spam to be one of the greatest problems. Even when my primary e-mail account belonged to the domain of a countryside university that just didn't have resources to protect the HEP physics users against spam – I think it was called the Harvard University – I was getting something like 30 spam e-mails a day and the peak was short.

When spam was born... This 1970 Monty Python sketch (filmed before Al Gore invented the Internet) is the actual reason why e-mail spam is called spam. The similarity was recognized and the term spam was coined by trolls who spammed early Internet forums by many copies of the word "spam". :-)

With an efficient enough mail client where I could simply press "D" 30 times, the problem was equivalent to losing 30 seconds a day.

Gmail and other major providers have sophisticated methods to filter spam. I could still observe something like 1,000 mails redirected to the spam folder each month. The filtering worked very well, perhaps too well; a more problematic issue were the rare problems in which a non-spam mail was classified as spam but I think that I have already setup the white lists to avoid such things. What about you?

Recently, the spam folder would only contain 800 e-mails or so. Chances are that in a month, it will only have 400. What about your numbers?

Diphoton Higgs enhancement as a proof of naturalness

The first hep-ph preprint today is a paper I've known about since the July 4th Higgsfest and I've been looking forward to see it. The title is

2:1 for Naturalness at the LHC?
The score "2:1" has a double meaning: it either refers to a soccer match in which the home team won (Plzeň defeated Rustavi of Georgia 3-to-1 last night, however); or it refers to the 100% excess of the Higgs decays to two photons.

The authors, Nima Arkani-Hamed, Kfir Blum, Raffaele Tito D'Agnolo, and JiJi Fan (who will be referred to as Nima et al. because I don't know any of the co-authors, as far as I know) propose a connection between a priori very different features or possible features of Nature:
  1. naturalness, essentially the opposite thing to the "anthropic principle" – one of the most conceptual principles we know in contemporary particle physics that may still be wrong (it says that dimensionless parameters shouldn't be surprisingly tiny unless their small or vanishing value is justified by a valid argument, ideally an enhanced symmetry)
  2. seemingly elevated diphoton branching ratio of the July 4th \(126\GeV\) Higgs boson, one of the boring yet distracting 2+ sigma anomalies and the only slight deviation of the observed God particle from the Standard Model predictions that has survived so far and that may be talked about
The probability that the Higgs boson decays to two photons (also known as the branching ratio) was observed by ATLAS+CMS to be about 1.8 times higher than the Standard Model prediction. Because the measurements of the precise branching ratios require lots more data than the very discovery that there is a new particle, these branching ratios have a large error margin and the 80% excess is therefore just a 2+ sigma effect at this moment.

But it could have profound consequences, Nima et al. argue.

Thursday, July 19, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Generation X not concerned about AGW

People come in different shapes and ages. Concerning the latter quantity, they may be categorized into

  1. sucklings
  2. teenagers on crack and anyone below 30, for that matter
  3. Generation X
  4. baby boomers who are getting senile
  5. the good oldest generation, the dominant TRF readers, who will never get senile but they are unfortunately dying away
As you can see, if you want a realistic plan to preserve the civilization, you have to rely on Generation X. Lots of media including Phys.ORG promoted the research by Jon Miller of Michigan, The Generation X Report. In its newest edition, it was pointed out and backed by various polls etc. that our generation is thankfully unconcerned about the global warming fearmongering and it is getting increasingly unconcerned.

Comparisons of the Higgs boson and global warming

Bob Ryan, a concerned weatherman with a weather blog, did something we've done many times: he compared particle physics and the climate science.

Global Warming and the Higgs Boson
The only difference is that he reached the opposite conclusions than the conclusions that may be reached by rational thinking.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why there had to be a Higgs boson

Looking at the history of the weak force from a more inevitable viewpoint

The Atlantic published an article (plus an audio interview) trying to explain why some physicists such as Stephen Hawking made bets against the Higgs boson. I haven't really understood the answer.

The story started in Jáchymov/Joachimstahl, a Sudeten Czech town with lots of pitchblende. Marie Sklodowska ordered some of this stuff. (In the 1950s, the mines in the local uranium mines would host lots of political prisoners of Stalinism. Four centuries earlier, the town minted silver thalers/tolars – which the dollars were later named after.)

Instead, I was offered an explanation why Lawrence Krauss was skeptical about the Higgs. Well, I didn't need any assistance on this puzzle: the reason is that Krauss is an idiot, of course. Instead of trying to clarify the mysterious logic that led to a wrong answer, it may be more useful to analyze the correct logic that led to the correct answer. ;-)

Fine, so why have people like me been certain that there had to be a Higgs boson somewhere in the remaining corners?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why the Standard Model isn't the whole story

The Standard Model is an impressive achievement of science. Numerous anti-scientific crackpots – all those Shmoits Lite, not to mention the Hardcore Shmoits themselves – often misrepresent the relationship between top phenomenologists and theorists and the Standard Model.

Competent physicists aren't studying theories that go beyond the Standard Model because they consider the Standard Model to be wrong or because they dismiss it. On the contrary, physicists who really go beyond the Standard Model view the Standard Model as a beautiful woman they have slept with in every possible sexual position. They love her, they know her, but they have also decided she is not the last word. Aside from sex, one also needs to eat vitamins, at least when he gets older, and perhaps educate the children who were born from that relationship.

(If you expected me to promote adultery, you were proved wrong.)

If they were dismissing the Standard Model, they would call their research "Around the Standard Model" or "Against the Standard Model" (ASM), not "Beyond the Standard Model" (BSM). After all, I couldn't have won the $500 bet if I didn't know why the Standard Model had to have the basic story right, including the Higgs sector. However, it's still not the complete theory of everything.

Diversity of observables in quantum mechanics

A question at the Physics Stack Exchange has reminded me about a philosophical preconception that "helps" to prevent many people – including people such as Brian Greene – from appreciating and understanding the foundations of quantum mechanics and the wonderful ways in which they radically differ from the foundations of classical physics.

In classical physics, there are some objective physical quantities – such as positions and velocities of all particles; or the values of several fields at each point and their time derivatives – and all observers may agree about their values, at least in principle. Moreover, all other things that can be in principle measured are simple real functions of these real, commuting variables.

Monday, July 16, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Poincaré disk

Almost everyone knows the sphere. However, the fame of a close cousin of the spherical geometry, the hyperbolic geometry, is much more limited. How many people know what is the Poincaré disk, for example?

Using the politically correct speech, people are discriminating against geometries of mixed signature. Let's try to fix it.

Sunday, July 15, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

53rd IMO: Problem 2

A solution was added at the end

The 53rd International Mathematical Olympiad is taking place in Mar del Plata, Argentina, the same country in which Prof Paul Frampton is still expecting to be freed. He's had a cold ten times in 2012 but already published 5 peer-reviewed papers. Check some words from Paul.

Mar del Plata

The kids have already solved the problems (a few days ago) and results will be announced today. (Update: The new results have been published. Korea incredibly won before China, U.S., Russia, Canada tied with Thailand, and Singapore. Czechia sucks at the 47th place, 3 stairs below our Slovak brothers; our best guy was again our Vietnamese Czech of Tachov, Mr Anh Dung Le, who got the only silver medal just like he did in 2011. After decades with USSR, USA, Romania, and others at the top, the dominance of East Asian mathematicians starts to be self-evident and can't be hidden even inside the Czech team.)

I was attending an international mathematical olympiad exactly 20 years ago – in Moscow – after I co-won the Czechoslovak round so it's fun to check what's shaking. By the way, I screwed one problem, was incorrectly graded another one, lost many other points for unclear reasons, so with 4 times 7 points, I only got a bronze medal.

Our team – the last federal Czechoslovak IMO team – was criticized for the 2nd-3rd tied worst result in the national history: 13th place. Unfortunately, one may check that except for 1993 when Czechia was 10th, the Czech team was much worse after the Velvet Divorce every single year, about 40th place in average.

Saturday, July 14, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sheldon Glashow on apocalypse

Promoting hysteria during a visit of the skeptical nation of Czechia

Nobel laureate Sheldon Glashow whom I know pretty well from various parties (and from Sidneyfest where I took his picture used at Wikipedia: the fingers standing on the shoulder of the giant belong to Kenneth Lane) – and who was born on the same date as your humble correspondent and Werner Heisenberg – was visiting my homeland and lecturing at the Czech Technical University in Prague.

Yes, of course that the local students confused him with Sheldon Cooper.

In this Thursday interview for Ekonom (The Economist), he offered his own doomsday scenario, aside from some surprising memories.

Friday, July 13, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

ATLAS: a 2.5-sigma stop squark excess

A week ago, I discussed an intriguing excess of events in the CMS' search for top partners. Some graphs showed clear excesses that were not discussed in the paper and unusual arguments to ignore parts of the parameter space were employed.

What about the CMS' competitors, ATLAS? Do they see some stop-squark-related excesses in the published preprints, too?

Thursday, July 12, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Have we observed the Higgs imposter?

Dozens of outlets including The Daily Mail were attracted by an interesting paper with a catchy title,

Have We Observed the Higgs (Imposter)?
by Ian Low, Joseph Lykken, and Gabe Shaughnessy. Having had the office next to Ian for quite some time, I know him rather well. ;-)

A decade ago, Ian Low Imposter (right) was a component in a triplet (with Matt Headrick and their secretary) that drinks Pilsner Urquell of my hometown (yes, I had bought it) and a Pilsner Urquell Imposter called Czechvar (because crazy U.S. judges don't allow the intermediate, softcore imposter beer to be sold in the U.S. under the original name Budvar in Czech or Budweiser in German that has been locally hijacked by a hardcore Budweiser Imposter called Anheuser-Busch).

In fact, the title and main message was so attractive that days after I had seen the preprint, I was alerted to this paper even by Fred Singer, one of the world's most famous climate skeptics.

Land biosphere's absorption of CO2 skyrockets

The Global Warming Policy Foundation has pointed out seemingly sensational news reports that are however confined to New Zealand (you should ask why), to media outlets such as The New Zealand Herald.

A landscape in New Zealand. You should rotate your LCD panel by 180 degrees to have a better idea about the orientation of it in space. ;-)

Ms Mikaloff-Fletcher is an expert in carbon sinks. Together with others, she studied the changes of the uptake of carbon dioxide in recent 20 years.

Should experimenters bet on their own experiments?

Tommaso Dorigo of CMS indirectly tells us that his ex-wife he recently divorced has a pretty good lawyer:

The SM Rules: Four Bets Won, $1200 Claimed
So one of the things he urgently needs is $1,200. He would like to declare victory in two or four of his 2006 bets. And no, they're not Higgs bets.

Knowledge and passions: why various physicists started blogging

I started this blog on October 10th, 2004.

It wasn't any big transition: my previous experience with scientific interactions on the Internet had been intense and included Bulletin Board Services (BBS), USENET groups, and an unknown Czech-language blog in the same blogspot.com domain (started in 2003 or so), among other things.

If there were no Internet servers dedicated to science, I wouldn't have sent my early papers to arXiv.org and I would probably never have the crazy idea to work in America or something like that. It was surely not a plan I would ever be independently thinking about.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Brian Greene: The Hidden Reality (in Czech)

In April 2011, when I was serving as a jury member at an academic film festival in the historical city of Olomouc, I got a call from a woman I collaborated with ten years earlier. The question was whether I wanted to translate Brian Greene's third major popular book, The Hidden Reality, first discussed on TRF in January 2011.

After a couple of sentences and after I was informally promised that I wouldn't be responsible for the renumbering and resorting of the index (and indeed, she did those things at the end, spending almost a month with these mechanical steps, and I am grateful for this work of hers), I said Yes. The bulk of the job was completed in 2 months; it was intense work in Spring 2011, indeed.

A close relative of my editor was seriously ill which didn't have a happy end (on the Christmas Eve...) so the project got delayed by 7 months or so. She returned to work in early 2011 and in February, I was doing a new wave of corrections. The final ones were completed in June. String field theorist Martin Schnabl agreed to become an independent scientific corrector, thanks to him, too.

The publisher's website indicates that the book will or should be published soon, probably in August 2012.

Texas nationalizes the atmosphere

Soylent Green Jr has linked to an article at Grist with news that seem rather incredible.

Cowboy of Teplice City, a 1995 song by Mr Kamil Střihavka (CZ) that happens to describe the health of a Texas district judge, too.

A group of children (run by adults who aren't ashamed of using children as shields, of course) has filed a lawsuit claiming that the atmosphere is a "public trust". What could a stupid district court judge do with it?

Monday, July 09, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Landscape wars: David Gross vs Brian Greene's PBS program

Next month, my translation of Brian Greene's third major popular book, The Hidden Reality, should be released in the Czech Republic.

It's a good book and I still consider Brian to be a top physics writer but I plan to write down a blog entry summarizing the book, its content and scientific misconceptions, its format, its philosophy, a comparison with The Elegant Universe I translated a decade ago, and the evolution of my feelings about the usefulness of the promotion of advanced science in general.

But before I do so, let me inform you about an interesting 90-minute debate that took place at David Gross' KITP in Santa Barbara two weeks ago. It was about the controversies in science and the right journalists' reactions to them.

Two papers: no bacteria use As to grow

At the beginning of December 2010, I was excited by claims by Ms Iron-Lisa Wolfe-Simon that she had found bacteria that used arsenic instead of phosphorus to grow. Note that phosphorus is one of the five main elements for life.

Sunday, July 08, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Buckley, Hooper: Higgs decay deviations due to \(300\GeV\) stop squarks

We may already be looking at the first signs of supersymmetry at the LHC

No one was too interested in the Higgs $500 bet I won – and was paid yesterday – but I have a more interesting outstanding bet against Adam Falkowski in which I would win $10,000 if supersymmetry is found.

Of course, the actual value of supersymmetry as a clever idea indisputably working somewhere in the foundations of Nature is higher by orders of magnitude.

However, I would only lose $100 if it is not found. You must be a true fundamentalist if you bet 100-to-1 in a bet about top-down particle physics, moreover against a person who knows 100+ times more about these issues than you do – and yes, I mean against your humble correspondent.

Physics Central has brought the readers' attention to the strongest evidence yet that indicates that I may very well win the bet:

First the Higgs, Next Supersymmetry?
It is about a preprint that will become visible on Sunday night. I will only read it on Mondary morning, European time.

Saturday, July 07, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Obama SSN: the question to which the answer is 042 is simple

What is the Connecticut prefix for SSNs in the late 1970s?

Exactly one year ago, I was intrigued by some interesting digital observations about Obama's birth certificate and then, just a day later, I figured out how the strange patterns could have been created in such a way that nothing illegal had to occur.

I apologized for the suggestions that had naturally emerged from the incomplete evidence but that suddenly acquired a mundane explanation. And I was disappointed by those birthers who didn't want to understand the explanation.

So while I am not quite sure where Barack Obama was born, I wouldn't accuse him because I don't see any evidence that hasn't been shown invalid yet.

However, there is another interesting thing I've never heard of: Obama's social security number. If you can explain some of the things to me, it could be useful.

LHC Higgs: does it deviate from the Standard Model too much?

A textbook pedagogic exercise on chi-squared distributions

On the 2012 Independence Day, the world of physics has made a transition. The question "Is there a Higgs-like particle with mass near \(126\GeV\)?" has been answered.

Weinberg's toilet, i.e. Glashow's model of the SM Higgs boson. Explanations below.

The ATLAS Collaboration gave a 5-sigma "Yes" answer; via the rules of the normal distribution, this translates to the risk "1 in a million" that the finding is noise i.e. that it is a false positive.

Even CMS, despite its inability to use the correct Comic Sans fonts, has been able to do the same thing: 5 sigma discovery, "1 in a million" certainty. If you combine the two independent experiments, the risk of a false positive multiplies: the LHC says that there is a 7-sigma (via the Pythagorean theorem), or "1 in a trillion" (via a product), risk of a false positive. Compare it with 1-in-10 or 1-in-3 or 9-in-10 risk of a false positive that is tolerable in the climate "science" or various medical "sciences".

Once this question is answered, the new question is: What is the right theory that describes the precise behavior of the new particle?

Friday, July 06, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Higgs bets: I won $500, Gordy Kane won $100 from Stephen Hawking

Update: I just received my $500. Thanks to the trustworthy losing party! ;-)

Now I must tidy up my living room. I foolishly made a bet that they would produce *a* Higgs boson but I forgot that they could produce many of them...

If you didn't watch the July 4th, 2012 Higgs talks, here they are recorded to be replayed.
Just hours after the yesterday's discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN, my counterparty contacted me by e-mail, conceded defeat in our 2007 bet, and requested the relevant contacts or banking numbers to pay $500.

So I sent the data and I haven't heard from him again after that so far but I hope it will get fixed because the story about the bet is already a topic in the Czech media. ;-) (The interview will be visible to the public on Monday, to avoid low traffic in the two post-Independent-Day Czech national holidays.)

Thursday, July 05, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stephen Wolfram on Higgs, particle physics

A Moment for Particle Physics: The End of a 40-Year Story?

Guest blog by Stephen Wolfram, a trained particle physicist, entrepreneur, and software designer

The announcement early yesterday morning of experimental evidence for what’s presumably the Higgs particle brings a certain closure to a story I’ve watched (and sometimes been a part of) for nearly 40 years. In some ways I felt like a teenager again. Hearing about a new particle being discovered. And asking the same questions I would have asked at age 15. “What’s its mass?” “What decay channel?” “What total width?” “How many sigma?” “How many events?”

Václav Havel's heart melted by global warming

I included a photograph of a sculpture of Havel by a local Pilsner student and sculptor because I consider it a more nontrivial piece of art than the sculpture discussed below but it is not the actual star in this story.
Global warming – which hasn't been seen for 15 years – is nevertheless causing at least 882 horrible as well as not-so-horrible things but Marc Morano has found out that it's doing something really devastating these days.

CMS: tantalizing excess of top partners

Update: Tommaso Dorigo has boasted that he would lose $1,750 in bets if new physics were found by the LHC in the first 10/fb of collisions. He would win if there were no new physics. Another reason why I am inclined to think that the steps leading to the conclusion that the search below saw no excess were indeed fraudulent.

Melbourne: dozens of SUSY talks were scheduled for today, the PDF files are accessible under the yellow rectangles here... Please tolerate security warnings in your browser: it's a safe CERN. You may pick the newest ATLAS stop squark constraints...
A few hours ago, the CMS Collaboration released five new papers, mostly about the search for supersymmetry. In general, you could say that they universally conclude that "we see nothing so far".

However, a more detailed review could lead you to think that this conclusion could be premature.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Compact formula for all tree \(\NNN=8\) SUGRA amplitudes

Update: A few weeks later, a proof of the formula explained below was posted on the arXiv.

Even though many of us expected the Higgs discovery today, it's been a very intense day and it's not yet over.

IAS director and my ex-co-author Robbert Dijkgraaf starts a Higgs celebration at Princeton. The champagne was paid for by Nima Arkani-Hamed. ;-) Via Graham Farmello

I was told that 30 people at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey gathered in the rooms previously occupied by Albert Einstein and similar colleagues and started to watch the CERN seminars at 3 am East Coast Time. (Some of them may have attended because of the champagne only, however.) I know that many of you stayed up, too. But it's here: a new particle that so far exactly matches all the predictions for the Standard Model Higgs boson was discovered at 5 sigma by ATLAS and independently at additional 5 sigma by CMS.

I had to do lots of computer-related things linked to the Higgs (including e-mails with IBANs needed for a bet I have just won) and the same is true for many of you but it doesn't mean that nothing else happened on the 2012 Independence Day. Congratulations to the U.S. readers, by the way. (I left the job to create a more detailed congratulatory message to the Americans to my president who's paid for such things.) Advanced formal theory hasn't been sleeping at all, either.

Freddy Cachazo and David Skinner of the Perimeter Institute (I know Freddy from Harvard) just published a new remarkable paper claiming to have a compact formula for all tree-level amplitudes in the maximally supersymmetric, \(\NNN=8\) supergravity in four dimensions, a descendant of the eleven-dimensional supergravity.

Higgs has been discovered: a chat box

Executive summary: CMS has discovered a new particle fully compatible with the Standard Model Higgs boson (so far: all channels are within 1 sigma from the Standard Model) at 5.0 sigma at diphoton and ZZ channels; when all the other channels are included, the significance drops to 4.9 sigma. Their Higgs mass is 125.3 ± 0.6 GeV.

ATLAS has made a 5-sigma discovery, too. The same channels, the mass is around 126.5 GeV. All ATLAS' channels exactly agree, within 0.5 sigma, with SM+Higgs predictions except for diphoton channel that is almost 100% above predictions. Gianotti hasn't been scared by Comic-Sans haters and used the same font again. Papers with details by the end of July.

Congratulations to everyone involved! Lisa Randall just wrote me that I was right about the coming discovery, so small congratulations to me, too. ;-)

Tuesday, July 03, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why a \(125\GeV\) Higgs boson isn't quite compatible with the Standard Model

David Gross made a similar point as the article below, but in a funny way, during a Lindau gathering of the Nobel prize winners.

Breaking Higgs news: A 7-minute video about the discovery of a new particle (so far) compatible with the SM Higgs that the tired but excited CMS boss Joe Incandela of Santa Barbara will be recording tomorrow (July 4th) was already leaked today, thanks to CERN's time machines. He says that they have just found enough data to be sure that it's almost certainly there and won't go away (the sentence implicitly means 5 sigma, I think).

The particle has a clear sharp peak in the diphoton channel, clear signal in the ZZ channel, inconclusive behavior in other channels, and extra tests are needed to find out whether it deviated from the Standard Model which it should. See the transcript.

Sarah Kavassalis and others were told by CERN that the European laboratory has "filmed all eventualities" in parallel universes in which there were different outcomes of the experiment. ;-) Sarah (and your humble correspondent) will only believe this explanation by CERN once they also show a video claiming that they had found Carmen Sandiego.
I was shocked by an article written for Wired whose basic point – affecting the formulation of pretty much every sentence in the text – is a downright lie. In its most concentrated form, the lie is contained in the following sentence:
Furthermore, all indications are that scientists will find that the Higgs weighs \(125\) gigaelectronvolts (\(\GeV\)) – or about 125 times more than a proton – which means that it sits exactly where the Standard Model expected it to be.
\(125\GeV\) – the expected Higgs mass plus minus one \(\GeV\) – is really 133 times the proton mass, not 125 times the proton mass, but that's just the smallest problem with the sentence above.
A remotely related poll: Imagine you're in charge of a regional science museum, let's call it Techmania ;-), and you may fight to get a LEP cavity. Would you struggle a lot? How much would you pay for it from your budget?
What's more important is what Adam Mann wrote that the value says about SUSY. In reality, \(125\GeV\) sits exactly where the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model allows the Higgs boson to sit but it sits outside the interval that allows the Standard Model to be a complete and consistent theory of all non-gravitational interactions in Nature.

The sentence above is exactly the opposite of the truth, it is a lie. It's partly due to Adam Mann's being a sucking journalist that may be blamed for the wrongness of the whole text; and it's partly due to his previous discussions with hardcore dishonest jerks such as one codenamed Lawrence Krauss that leads to the propagation of this kind of utter misinformation.

Monday, July 02, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

François Englert: a hero of the Higgs mechanism, SUSY, and strings

According to an incognito ATLAS member who spoke to Nature, they have a discovery without any doubts. Pure elation that will culminate on Wednesday morning.

TRF recommends you to buy up to 180 Higgs shares per $6.99; you will be given $10 for each at the end of the year, thus making a $540 profit. A chance for John Ramsden to earn the money for his $500 bet against me.

François Englert of Brussels is one of the few (or two?) guys whose Nobel prize should be pretty much guaranteed once the discovery of the God particle becomes official, assuming he is very careful about his health.

In 1964, before all the well-known papers written by Peter Higgs were released, he published a paper with Robert Brout – who unfortunately died in May 2011 – in which the foundations of the Higgs/BEH/God mechanism were built.

Tevatron: DØ has made a lot of Higgs progress

Papers: , CDF
There was a 90-minute-long webcast at the Tevatron today. This is how their combined searched looked a few months ago:

The excesses were over 2 sigma. The peak is fuzzy largely because of the energy uncertainty in events with a W-boson decaying to neutrinos, among other particles.

Especially the DØ collaboration has made some progress in recent months – they worked on the finer details, were improving systematic uncertainties, Monte Carlo etc.

CO2 will turn savannahs to forests

A current press release reviewed a paper by a German-affiliated duo published in Nature:

Atmospheric CO2 forces abrupt vegetation shifts locally, but not globally
Steven Higgins and Simon Scheiter of Frankfurt acknowledge previous experimental measurements of the CO2 fertilization (increase just by dozens of percent) didn't exhibit a large impact on the natural ecosystems.

However, they claim that this conclusion depends on the location.

Sunday, July 01, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An interview with Arkani-Hamed on SUSY

Higgs news: The Daily Mail claims that CERN will only announce 4-sigma near-discoveries on Wednesday, short of the 5-sigma discovery claim. Of course, two single-detector 4-sigma claim imply a 6-sigma overall evidence for the God particle. Five God particle founding fathers were invited to the seminar so you may better buy the "I \(\heartsuit\) Higgs" T-shirt now.
A reader nicknamed Synchronize has brought my attention to this almost excellent Science Watch interview with Nima Arkani-Hamed.
Nima Arkani-Hamed on maximally supersymmetric theories
They start by explaining that Nima is a big shot who doesn't belong to the bottom 99%. He says that SUSY is so fundamental that everyone works on that in one way or another. Then he criticizes string theorists for having been insufficiently stringy some years ago – for spending too little time with the most marvelous and supersymmetric vacua such as one described by the maximally supersymmetric gauge theory relatively to the more complex and less supersymmetric compactifications.

In a rather technocratic method – which is surely superior in comparison with the bullshit promotion of crackpot papers by the armchair physicists in the media – they ask Nima about his two most cited papers in the last decade (so that the large extra dimensions are excluded).

U.K.: energy smart meters will monitor your sex habits

Marc Morano has pointed out the following interesting article in the Guardian:

Energy smart meters are a threat to privacy, says watchdog
By 2019, British citizens are obliged to install new, "smart" devices to measure the energy consumption. The detailed consumption patterns will be evaluated locally and sent to an energy-saving official dedicated to your street in the utility's headquarters.

Note that the device allows you the home temperature either at 16 °C or 20 °C.

She or he will tell you whether you should take a shower or a bath and how much energy you save by having sex in the morning rather than evening, in your bedroom or your living room. Based on the graphs from individual light bulbs and other devices in your apartment, she or he will recommend you a new diet and a new partner, too.