Monday, December 31, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Prediction isn't the right method to learn about the past

Happy New Year 2013 = 33 * 61!

The last day of the year is a natural moment for a blog entry about time. At various moments, I wanted to write about the things that the year 2012 brought us.

The most important event in science was the discovery of the \(126\GeV\) Higgs boson (something that made me $500 richer but that's of course the least important consequence of the discovery) but those of us who were following the events and thinking about them rationally have known about the \(126\GeV\) Higgs boson since December 2011.

Lots of other generic popular science sources recall the landing of Curiosity and other things. But let's discuss something else. Something related to time.

Saturday, December 29, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Richard Dawkins vs Peter Higgs

The reverse fundamentalist vs the peaceful atheist

Two days ago, the Daily Mail, the Guardian, and other mostly British outlets amplified an amusing yet potentially serious battle between two famous scientists, Richard Dawkins and Peter Higgs:

Battle of the professors: Richard Dawkins branded a fundamentalist by expert behind the 'God particle' (The Daily Mail)

Peter Higgs criticises Richard Dawkins over anti-religious 'fundamentalism' (The Guardian)

Google News (other sources)
As you surely know, Dawkins is a proud militant atheist. In fact, he is a self-described Darwin's rottweiler. Last week, he concluded that it was worse to educate a child in a Catholic family than to let it be sexually raped by priests. ;-)

Peter Higgs has decided that the discovery of "his" boson has made him powerful enough so that his criticism may matter and in an interview with El Mundo (Spain, video), he criticized Dawkins as a "fundamentalist" for his "embarrassing" attacks on religion – or, if you wish, attacks on one of the individuals after whom the Higgs boson is also sometimes named, namely Mr God. ;-)

Incidentally, I think that many people's hateful reactions to the innocent term "God particle" reflects their anti-religious fundamentalism, too.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Amplitudes, permutations, Grassmannians

Back in July, I mentioned some new highly intriguing results by a group of physicists and mathematicians including Nima Arkani-Hamed and others:

Permutations join twistor minirevolution
That report echoed a talk at Strings 2012. Finally, the paper is out.

One of the 263 figures in the paper.

On the 154 pages of their new article,
Scattering Amplitudes and the Positive Grassmannian (PDF),
Nima Arkani-Hamed, Jacob L. Bourjaily, Freddy Cachazo, Alexander B. Goncharov, Alexander Postnikov, and Jaroslav Trnka expose the power of their new formalism based on the positive Grassmannians (a Grassmannian in this sense is a space of \(k\)-dimensional hyperplans in an \(n\)-dimensional hyperspace; the positivity condition means that all minors i.e. sign-corrected subdeterminants or minors have the positive sign).

Tuesday, December 25, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Christmas rumor: \(105\GeV\) dimuon excess at 5 sigma

Update: The best physicist on the territory of Argentina right now, Paul Frampton, wrote me that the signal could perhaps be a sign of a dilepton from the 331 models which enhance the electroweak \(SU(2)_L\) to an \(SU(3)_L\). The lower limit on the mass of such states also seems to be \(1\TeV\) but weaker coupling constants could perhaps work. Check e.g. this 2000 paper for a quick review of the particle content of the 331 models or, even more relevantly, this 1992 paper discussing dileptons in 331 models and highlighting Paul Frampton's own pioneering contributions (thanks, Joseph S.!).

Also, the 331 gauge group may be embedded into \(E_6\) GUT which offers additional possible explanations of like-sign dileptons, for example a leptophobic \(Z'\) boson.
I hope that the TRF readers are enjoying their Christmas, their Saturnalia, their Hanukkah, or at least their first days after the winter solstice (except for TRF readers in Islamic countries where all such pagan holidays are banned: those readers are wished to survive instead).

We have gotten used to the news from the LHC that meticulously and precisely confirms every small feature of every graph of every final state that may possibly occur when a proton pair collides. Because of this "habit" of ours, the following rumor may sound shocking, stunning, unbelievable.

Well, it's a rumor – and one posted at a highly unreliable place – so it should remain unbelievable for some time and at least to some extent. But it's interesting enough so that I can't miss it because if the rumor is true, it's an amazing Christmas gift from the LHC.

Phil Gibbs claims that he has been browsing through some really stinky garbage at a notorious crackpots' discussion forum led by an immoral sourball when...

Sunday, December 23, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Obama gives medal to Drell, Gates, Mazur

I hate honors but this list is kind of interesting. Barack Obama gave the National Medal of Science to 12 scientists and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to 11 technologists and innovators:

Obama names 23 scientists and innovators as medal winners (Cosmic Log)
The scientists include Sidney Drell, an accomplished violinist, hadron collisions specialist, and arms control expert at SLAC who is also the father of Persis Drell, the current SLAC director.

Saturday, December 22, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

SciAm, firewalls, and deterioration of the physics community

Jennifer Ouellette wrote a nice piece on black hole firewalls for the Simons Foundation and for Scientific American:

Black Hole Firewalls Confound Theoretical Physicists (via Synch).
Well, more precisely, it's nice and informative if you assume that her task was to uncritically promote the views of Joe Polchinski, Leonard Susskind, Raphael Bousso, and a few others. From a more objective viewpoint, the article's main message is wrong and the text misinterprets the state of the research, too.

Somewhat but not entirely typical Czech skeptical and blasphemous attitude to Christmas. Xindl X: Christmas Eve arrived when I guzzled at home. He feels like being in shackles, much like his Christmas tree. He also has a tip and hanging balls. No reason to celebrate another lost year, he wants to return to the Saturnalia again. By the New Year, he switched from guzzling to light drugs.

Over the last decade or so, my great respect for some of the most famous names in high-energy physics was diminishing and this trend has become undeniable by now. It seems to me that my previous worries about the apparent deterioration of meritocracy within the field have turned out to be a tangible reality.

Friday, December 21, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Subir Sachdev on AdS/CMT

Yes, it's the date of another major failed end of the world ;-)

My ex-colleague and fellow superhero, condensed matter physicist Subir Sachdev wrote a neat article for a mostly bad magazine called Scientific American,

Strange and Stringy
It does a good job in explaining one skill of string theory from a viewpoint of someone who was definitely not trained as a string theorist. In condensed matter physics, there are various phases of matter displaying numerous kinds of behavior (and critical behavior) and things can get very complicated. However, under somewhat general circumstances, when the complexity becomes really extreme, there is another, alternative description of the situation that becomes easy, at least once you know its formalism.

Thursday, December 20, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czechia opposes harsh anti-smoking EU policies

European health commissioner Tonio Borg (Malta) – who has been in this job just for one month – is behind the latest insanely harsh EU proposals to fight against the smokers. See e.g. The Guardian.

Horror-like pictures – such as the Australian graphics above – could become mandatory across the Old Continent. Flavored cigarettes – with menthol, vanilla, strawberries etc. – would also be banned, much like slim (and "natural" and "organic") cigarettes and much like packages with fewer than 20 cigarettes. That's no detail; for example, just slim and menthol cigarettes make 38% of cigarettes in Poland.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hawking, Nurse, Rees, lords demand Alan Turing's pardon

The Atlantic and others reveal that Stephen Hawking along with Paul Nurse, Martin Rees, and many lords I don't know wrote a petition to David Cameron in which they urge the leader to formally rehabilitate a British hero and top computer scientist, Alan Turing, who was born 100 years ago.

Even though this man invented the concept of a Turing machine, a cornerstone of computer science, and led the team of Enigma codebreakers during the war, he wasn't immune against accusations of active homosexuality, especially because they were manifestly true.

Energy from man-made tornadoes

Peter Thiel, a favorite venture capitalist of mine, just paid $300,000 to Louis Michaud, a Canadian inventor on the picture below who plans to build artificial tornadoes – the so-called [atmospheric] vortex engines: Wikipedia, Michaud's web – that may supply us with lots of energy.

This idea surely sounds provoking at first – way too close to a description of a perpetual motion machine – but I am already in a different stage in which I tend to think that this most elementary criticism is unjustified. However, it is still not clear how ambitious a change in the energy sector is being promised here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Anti-string delusions and political correctness

A science babe working for the Huffington Post left-wing website recorded a video interview with Mark Jackson who is now in Paris:

The title matches the first sentence of the interview and it is annoying.

Monday, December 17, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Victor Hess, Joseph Henry: anniversaries

Victor Franz Hess (24 June 1883 – 17 December 1964) was born to a royal forester in Waldstein Castle, Styria (South Austria proper). He attended various local schools and was interested in radiation.

His key work was done between 1911-1913. Hess wanted to show that, as expected, the radiation we detect decreases with the altitude – because it originates in the Earth and gets absorbed by the atmosphere. So he took risky balloon trips to 5 kilometers and found out that instead, it was getting stronger. Well, "cosmic rays", as Robert Millikan called them in 1925 when he verified Hess' claims. Their discovery brought Hess the 1936 Nobel prize in physics.

He married a Jewish wife, had to flee the Third Reich because of that, and became a U.S. citizen. After her wife died, he married her last nurse.

Exorcising Maxwell's daemons

And the lowest allowed power consumption of PCs

In our discussions about information and heat, James Gallagher said some of the usual wrong things about irreversibility – for example, he believes that the proof of the H-theorem is invalid because of the molecular chaos assumption (this assumption is a pure technicality allowing explicit calculations but the overall conclusion, the increasing entropy, is independent of any such Ansatz!).

However, he has also made a statement about an algorithm to reduce the entropy with the help of his PC:

I mean I can simulate deterministic dynamical systems on my computer and reverse all the dynamics at any time - which MUST then result in a decreasing entropy if the previous system had increasing entropy.
I assure you, James, that your method doesn't work. What you suggested has been known as Maxwell's daemon and the 20th century analyses have made it clear that no such proposed device may actually reduce the total entropy.

Sunday, December 16, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Taxes: Depardieu, Delon escape Hollande

Today, the Japanese voters ended a ludicrous 3-year-long experiment with the left-wing politicians at the top that began in 2009, after decades of right-wing governments that were able to rebuild Japan after the loss in the world war and bring its economy to the #2 spot.

Shinzo Abe of the LDP will return to the chair of the prime minister; the DPJ socialists have lost approximately 3/4 of their seats gained in 2009. The voters realized that the leftists emit lots of big words and promises but they're just dirty lies. Of course, the leftists faced some event they couldn't quite have influenced – e.g. the tsunami or the fact that China surpassed Japan as the world's #2 economy (probably a coincidence) but it's clear they were bringing nothing good to the country.

Japan has a reason for some more optimistic Japanese music – what about Vltava? :-)

Meanwhile, France has a left-wing government that codified a breathtaking 75 percent tax rate for the rich that should come into force in 2 weeks. Now, would you be pleased to work hard and pay 75 percent of your income to a group of dirty gangsters who call themselves the government? If you would, you are a psychopath; it's a kind of a psychiatric disorder that many other people may support you in having – for various not too mysterious reasons – but that doesn't change anything about the fact that you're profoundly sick. ;-)

Information and heat

When they're rather young, children learn about hot and cold things. They learn to say "heiss" when their tongue gets burned a little bit and "brrr" when they're freezing. Much like our ancestors, the Monkey Americans, little kids learn that they may heat objects up by fire; and they may cool them down in the refrigerator if they have one.

In ancient Greece about 2,000 years ago, Philo of Byzantium and Hero of Alexandria constructed the first thermometers when they observed that materials generally expand when the temperature is higher. People would eventually learn that the feeling "how hot or cold" an object is may be expressed by a quantity, the temperature, and objects in mutual contact love to converge to the state in which their temperatures are equal.

The industrial revolution has ignited the expansion of heat engines, steam engines, and many other kinds of engines. During the 19th century, a discipline of physics called thermodynamics began to thrive. It is a different type of physics than the physics in which one tries to find the most elementary laws that determine, as uniquely as possible, the evolution of Nature. Instead, thermodynamics is about some properties of temperature, heat, energy, entropy, and related quantities that are inevitably "emergent" but that emerge rather simply in any sufficiently complicated or macroscopic physical system.

Ordering ambiguities and renormalization ambiguities

Greta asked:

I have been told that \[

[\hat x^2,\hat p^2]=2i\hbar (\hat x\hat p+\hat p\hat x)

\] illustrates ordering ambiguity.

What does that mean?
I tried googling but to no avail.

Thank you.

Friday, December 14, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

IPCC AR5 not acknowledging cosmoclimatology

In a few years, the IPCC climate panel plans to release the fifth assessment report, AR5. Alec Rawls (firstname at lastname dot org) has leaked the current draft (he thinks it's 100% legal to do so) and he, much like other skeptics, seemed to be enthusiastic about the IPCC's finally admitting the existence of natural climate drivers, especially those related to the Sun.

Dana Nuccitelli, a notorious climate demagogue and fearmonger writing for Skeptical, wrote a guest blog for the Guardian blogs where he claims that the IPCC isn't saying anything of the sort even though he thinks it's possible to determine what the IPCC is saying by not looking in the IPCC draft at all – it's enough to look in some pet pro-alarmist maximally anthropogenic papers of himself, he thinks. The Earth isn't spinning, it's just the human hot air that matters. Is that really to hard for you, Mr Nuccitelli, to figure out that by your ostrich methodology, you simply can't determine what the IPCC AR5 draft is admitting and what is not?

I was agnostic about both claims but now I see that Rawls is surely having a point but my excitement is much weaker than his. In fact, I would say that not much is changing in the IPCC.

Nima Arkani-Hamed on visions of particle physics

If you have 100.25 minutes, you may want to watch Nima's Wednesday talk about naturalness and his favorite class of SUSY models in Santa Barbara:

Get the Flash Player to see this video.
Other formats via KITP. The player above has a fullscreen button.

A goal is to determined the interactions of the newly found Higgs boson. If its spin equals two, Nima will quit physics, and if the particle is a techni-dilaton, he will kill himself.

Thursday, December 13, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A schizophrenic Higgs mass?

Some readers have asked me what I think about the updated ATLAS, CMS Higgs results that were released today. I would say that they are as un-new as possible. The details will be discussed momentarily.

But at the beginning, let's say that it's not shocking that we don't get any game-changing data when the amount of collisions included into the analysis less than doubles. When the dataset is doubled, the relative errors of measured quantities should decrease \(\sqrt{2}\) times, the statistical significances in sigmas should increase by the same factor, the exclusion levels should strengthen as well, and so on. But these changes are averages and when one is "unlucky", nothing changes at all. And inconclusive questions may stay inconclusive.

And that seems to be the case of the newest update, too. The possible discrepancies stayed inconclusive and in this sense, the today's update was as uninteresting as possible.

U.N. vaguely votes to vaguely censor the Internet

ITU has made the first vote of the U.N. countries on whether or not the governments want to make the Internet more regulated and censored. If you click at the link, you will see that the answer is a worrisome "Yes".

How was the outcome determined? It was determined according to the "temperature in the room": I kid you not. That's how Mohamed Nasser al-Ghanim, director general of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, explained the outcome. Pretty much because of global warming, totalitarian opinions gained the upper hand in the U.N. In this way, the director breached several promises he previously made.

But we don't need censorship in Czechia: the temperature outside is –7 °C, well below the temperature in Dubai. The temperature they experience in the rooms of Dubai is just a local temperature.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Doomsday in 9 days

It's 12/12/12, 12:12:12 pm now, the Pope tweeted for the first time 12+12+12 minutes ago, and many people are worried about the doom that arrives in 9 days from now.

NASA even recorded a special 6-minute monologue by astronomer David Morrison that tries to disagree with the fearful predictions.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Yuri Milner adds some winners

Off-topic: Half a year ago, Alan Alda told folks to record clips explaining What is flame? to 11-year-olds. Now it's What is time? see a related TRF article for 25-year-old.
According to The New York Times and others, Yuri Milner has found a few more physicists to get millions of dollars.

A visualization of the big money – although Milner is so far giving away less than the U.S. debt. ;-)

When the inaugural prize was given away, I said that Stephen Hawking was somewhat anomalously missing in the list. The omission has been fixed; he will spend it on holiday at home and his autistic grandson. Another $3 million package is to be shared by seven physicists at CERN: Evans $1m, $1m split to CMS spokespersons Della, Virdee, Tonelli, Incandela; $1 split to ATLAS spokespeople Jenni, Gianotti.

Competitors for the next big prize are Polchinski, Polyakov, and a group of solid state physicists led by Charles Kane.

Bjørn Lomborg moves to Prague

I was told about a fun interview last night on the Czech Public TV Channel called ČT24 (a news channel of a sort). Click at the screenshot below to watch the 6-minute video:

Transcript (autom. EN)

The host asks about the Kyoto protocol (extended through 2020 in Doha, but covering a minority of the CO2 emitters only; U.S., Canada, Japan, China, and others are out, only the EU etc. will suffer) and they exchange a few words about the reasons of failure of similar efforts. He says that there are more important things to solve, such as the genuine pollution in the air and water.

All these things may have been expected but there's one piece of information that could be viewed as novel – a bombshell of a sort.

Monday, December 10, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Leonard Susskind: black hole wars

If you have 51 minutes, you may want to watch this July 2012 (and possibly much older) talk.

Leonard Susskind is offering a verbal version of the amusing story about black hole wars in which he and Gerard 't Hooft were defending the conservative side against the progressive chap named Stephen Hawking or Evil Karn Evil for short, while chatting in a house owned by a guy obsessed by self-promotion.

Klaus: speech at Euro Business Breakfast

Mlýnec Restaurant, Novotný's footbridge, Prague, December 7th, 2012
Translation from

Time flies very fast. It seems to me that our previous meeting didn't take place one year ago but just several weeks ago. And not only that. I feel tempted to say that it may be possible to repeat my contribution from the last year because I am afraid that the basic characteristics – the situation in our country as well as the situation in Europe – haven't changed during that year. And if they have, it was a change to the worse. Because diverse unfavorable trends have continued, the situation – and its amplified reflection in the thinking of the Czech citizens as well as the citizens of other EU countries, i.e. inhabitants of Europe – has self-evidently deteriorated. This is another initial thesis of mine. That's not due to any aprioristic pessimism or hostile undermining of our coalition government by myself, as we sometimes hear. Instead, it is a neutral analytic appraisal.

Sunday, December 09, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Snow covers Europe

Hundreds of countries signed an extension to the Kyoto protocol – it will annoy and steal from Europe and others (while bringing no benefits whatsoever) – until the year 2020.

Nature has seen how well-behaved all of us have been and it immediately rewarded us with a continental snowfall which replaced the temperatures going up to –30 °C at various places of Czechia (and Switzerland and other countries) in recent days.

For example, we think of Croatia as one of the Czech tourists' most typical summer destinations. It's warm over there because the Forefather Croat wasn't as lazy and stupid as Forefather Czech when he was walking to the South with his entourage. There's been no Forefather Croat but I hope you don't care because they do have some version of the Czech-Lech[-Rus] legend, too. ;-)

Saturday, December 08, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Last man on the Moon: 40 years ago

Some technologies such as the communication technologies have experienced unbelievable progress which seems to be continuing.

But there are some technological challenges in which the mankind has apparently become weaker. We may argue hundreds of times that it's silly and unscientific to send the humans into the outer space. But aren't you worried that we may have grown unable – or unwilling so that it's effectively equivalent to unable – to send the people to the Moon? Isn't it obvious that such a fading potency affects more useful dreams as well?

In total, 12 Americans have walked on the Moon – and no one else. The last folks walking on the Moon went there with the Apollo 17 mission that was launched on December 7th, 1972, i.e. fourty years ago. It's a pretty long time ago, isn't it? I wasn't born yet. In twelve days, it landed back on Earth.

The electron is spinning, after all

First, a brand new movie, Decay (2012), was released by the LHC students 12 seconds ago. If you have 75 minutes for a truly independent (I warned you!) underground bound state of comedy, unexplained quenches, VW New Beetles, unfaithful girlfriends, extra shifts ordered by CERN's Russian Director General (who may be less innocent than you think), LHC waking up spontaneously, radiation alerts, zombies running through the LHC tunnels (horror starts at 24:50 or so and then 26:50) and outside (1:02:00, 1:09:00), and Higgs bosons and Higgs bioentanglement, watch the video above. See also their website, Wikipedia, their Twitter, and HD downloads. To say the least, it's a great opportunity to look into the interiors of the LHC and how the "real people" use it. And let me admit, I was totally terrified when I was watching the film: you don't want to be an experimenter! ;-)

Now, to mention one of them in a less terrifying context, Aidan Randle-Conde of the U.S. LHC blogs is recording some kind of a particle physics advent calendar. For the December 5th, he talks about pentaquarks, and so on. December 7th was all about the spin:

Advent Calendar 2012 December 7th
He thinks the electron is not spinning in any way. Moreover, he thinks that the very term "spin" is just some blunder caused by historical misunderstandings and it perhaps depends on the outdated old Bohr model of the atom.

I disagree with these (widespread) musings and I view them as contributors to the general misunderstanding of quantum mechanics.

Friday, December 07, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

What is background independence and how important is it?

Bugmenot asked:

  1. What is background independence and how important is it?

  2. In order to be a theory of everything, will the final string-theory/m-theory have to be background independent?

  3. Does the current lack of background independence show string theory is currently NOT a theory of everything?
My understanding from Wikipedia is that the ADS/CFT shows hopeful hints. Are there any recent papers that have made progress in this direction?

I've tried google but get haven't been able to get a definitive answer to this question.

I found this interesting post by Lubos Motl, but it is from 2005.

Czech president won't sign ESM

When the Treaty of Lisbon was debated, Czech president Václav Klaus displayed some resistance, reflecting the will of all the Europeans who realize that such treaties are counterproductive. At the end, due to the nearly unanimous agreement of the "European political elite", he surrendered.

A related issue is being debated these days: ESM, the European Stability Mechanism known as the "eurowall" in Czechia (well, more precisely, "euroval" in Czech and Slovak but the similarly sounding English term is an almost exact translation, "val" is something like an embankment). It's been de facto working as an EU institution since October which is unusual because the Czech Republic hasn't ratified it yet. One hears diverse opinions on whether or not the ESM requires a modification of the Treaty of Lisbon.

This increasing vagueness of our legislative framework affected by the EU – even when it comes to rather big questions – seems worrisome to me.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sheldon Glashow, Werner Heisenberg: birthdays

Also celebrating: Arnold Sommerfeld, Cecil Frank Powell, Giuseppe Occhialini, Franco Rasetti (RIP 2001)

For some mysterious reason, maybe because I am too shy (and I will remain shy, as you will see below) ;-), I have never written about physicists' anniversaries celebrated on December 5th. While Czech children are served a trio of an angel, St Nicholas, and a devil tonight (only 20% of the Czech households ordered one this year, however),

people are being born and they're dying, too. Believe me, I know something about it – thankfully about the former only so far. The physicists born on December 5th could have felt discriminated against. Let's try to correct this injustice.

December 5th is a pretty black day for music: in 1791, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart died. In fact, many other composers made the same serious mistake – I would even call it a fatal mistake – on the same date. The day was dark for literature and painting as well: Alexander Dumas and Claude Monet died on December 5th. However, the day isn't so bad for physics.

Climate delegates in Qatar agree to wear gas masks

CFACT – via and Planet Gore – went to Doha, Qatar, and asked the delegates of the annual anti-climate-change conference to test a gas mask that "sequesters" carbon dioxide (which it didn't, of course):

You may watch the people from numerous countries of the world to agree that the horrible mask is comfortable, they're ready to wear it for hours a day and while they're sleeping, recommend it to children, pets, and so on.

What makes it even more amazing is that the pranksters say that they're from CFACT, Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. I think that everyone who follows the climate issue must kind of know that it's one of the rather visible skeptical groups. Those people don't have a clue.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hawking radiation: pure and thermal mixed states are a micron away

I think that the recent paper by Raju and Papadodimas (arXiv) is the most convincing and least confusing paper about the black hole information available to the infalling observer that has been written on this planet so far.

However, I also think that the initial sections with the precise formulae for the bulk fields written in terms of the CFT variables – while being a professional piece of work that shows that the authors have been heavily trained in the AdS/CFT technology – are too long and tedious and may discourage many readers from getting to the most conceptually important part of the paper that may appear in Sections 4 and especially 5 and 6.

Because their picture seems to be the final word on many general puzzles concerning the infalling observer and black hole information – and I think that the people who won't be familiar with the basic results in a month shouldn't be counted as world's top quantum gravity experts – it may be meaningful to write short and separate summaries of some clearest results that everyone may read in minutes.

The following discussion covers some results of Subsection 6.2.2. See the paper for their original discussion and/or references.

Can physics blogs reach the general public?

The Higgs boson, apparently considered to be a musician or athlete of a sort, was nominated as the Time Magazine person of the year 2012, among 39 other candidates:

Who Should Be TIME's Person of the Year 2012? (Higgs boson)
It's fun that particle physics has some impact on the mass culture; everything else that will be said about the nomination is going to be mostly negative.

Jeffrey Kluger wrote five sentences. Amusingly enough, Matt Strassler wanted to correct all the flagrant mistakes in these five sentences so he wrote something like a book (a somewhat angry book):
TIME for a Little Soul-Searching
See also Particles Are People Too.

Of course, I agree with Matt Strassler, well, almost entirely, but this particular thing just doesn't drive me up the wall as intensely as it annoys himself because it's been many, many years when I abandoned the idea that ordinary people – and ordinary journalists who are really just average people – could understand the meaning of cutting-edge fundamental physics. Since that time, I have only been angry about the ignorance of people whom I still expected to know better – but of course, my expectations are gradually decreasing with the people's knowledge, too.

Monday, December 03, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hillary wants to build (nuclear) Temelín 3, 4

Hillary Clinton is visiting Prague today – and even the official Iranian newspapers took notice. Her visit has one goal: she will try to convince Karel Schwarzenberg, her Czech counterpart, that Westinghouse, Toshiba's U.S. branch, is the better candidate to complete the Temelín nuclear power plant.

Both Clinton and Schwarzenberg are ministers of foreign affairs; both of them are potential future presidents, too. However, Hillary's candidacy isn't yet official while Schwarzenberg whose candidacy already is official doesn't have too high chances to win the office in the January 2013 direct elections.

Temelín in South Bohemia (Google Maps) has been running two 1,000 MW reactors for a decade; two more 1,000 MW are likely to be built. There were three candidates – French, American, Russian. France's Areva was said by our semi-state-owned electric utility company ČEZ not to obey the conditions of the tender. It was eliminated but appealed so its case is being studied by the anti-monopoly office now.

Saturday, December 01, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sea level rise is the most reliable way to see global temperature trends

Tonight, I skipped another (3-hour) catastrophic movie on TV, Flood (2007). Some skeptics are writing lots of e-mails about a silly study that says that the sea level rise proves man-made global warming – without a glimpse of evidence supporting the attribution. It apparently has some impact in the U.S.

I am already way too bored by this junk. People who keep on writing this stuff are inferior inkspillers and one of the goals of my writing about the climate in recent years has been to convince sensible people that they should pay no attention to these liars and idiots. So it would be hypocritical – and a sort of masochism at the same time – if I were reading much of the alarmist garbage that is being published.

Via NOAA. Battery, NY is named after artillery batteries that use to stand there to protect the settlers from David Cameron's predecessors. If you think the trend is only this straight in New York, try Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, and London.

But concerning sea level rise, I want to say one thing. It is a great benchmark to estimate the rate of something that could be called the global mean temperature – a better method than the manual averaging of weather stations or satellites. The main reason why I say such a thing is that unlike the graphs of the global mean temperature reconstructed from weather stations or satellites, the graphs of the sea level rise are unbelievably straight. And you don't need to measure the sea level at lots of places in the whole world. One place, e.g. Southwest of Manhattan – see the graph above – is enough.

Enrico Fermi started nuclear era 70 years ago

An unusually well written article appeared in the financial section of the Czech Press Agency's server. Here's the translation into Lumo English.

Chicago/Prague – Exactly seven decades ago, on December 2nd, 1942, the mankind found itself on the threshold of the nuclear era. A team led by Italian physicist Enrico Fermi managed to ignite a controlled nuclear reaction for the first time in the history. The experiment opened doors towards the usage of the mysterious energy from the cores of atoms which is able to both kill and help.