Friday, January 31, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

From all viewpoints, string theory is "just right" to go beyond QFT

From QM to QFT to ST

Tomorrow, the Physics Stack Exchange should experience a silent completion of a Holy Trinity. Users are given a golden "tag" badge when the answers by a single user to questions with a particular tag reach the score 1,000.

I have just learned it has to be from at least 200 questions now. A third "tag" is waiting to join the elite club; it had the score 998 and 195 questions today. After the daily update, it should break through both thresholds, unless I am overlooking some other condition in which case I apologize for the wrong rumors in advance (update: it did happen).

For the sake of simplicity, the "tag" badges are being collected by the same user. Just to be sure, the prominent "tags" are:

string-theory (waiting)
The moment to applaud would be now! Troglodytes...

Quantum mechanics (QM) has arguably represented the most important conceptual revolution in the 20th century physics (although relativity was novel and important, too). Quantum field theory (QFT) allowed us to construct quantum theories that were compatible with Einstein's special relativity and reach the "theory of nearly everything" (TONE), using Lisa Randall's terminology, namely the Standard Model. String theory (ST) is the last step (at least so far) that allows us to add the newest insights and ingredients so that gravity and general relativity (GR) may be reconciled and some inadequacies of the whole QFT framework may be fixed.

Thursday, January 30, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czech surgeons: Schumacher's chances to be what he was before nearly zero

The dishonesty of the defenders of helmets

I would love if they turned out to be wrong. But several independent Czech neurosurgeons were interviewed and independently of each other, they quantified Michael Schumacher's chances to wake up as a sane capable human to be nearly zero. Four weeks is just too long. The neurons are dying, and so on. The experts are saying that Schumacher is unfortunately more likely to follow the example of Ariel Sharon. I've been informed about some impressive operations by these folks so I trust their expertise quite a lot. Their top British colleague Richard Greenwood says that Schumacher won't be the same man even if he survives.

A problem with DISQUS comments? free polls 

Two thirds of TRF readers don't see DISQUS comments and can't post them. Sorry for that. I have no idea what is the cause or how to fix it. Hat tip: Bill Z.

Recall that it's claimed that speed didn't play much role. He was brought to an artificial coma to reduce the pressure and oxygen within the brain. I feel that they should have tried to wake him up earlier. Recent reports say that they were trying to wake him since Tuesday and the initial reactions looked encouraging but the rumors were mostly rejected by the Grenoble doctors so they're probably inaccurate, to say the least.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Escape from camp 14

I am just reading (Wednesday: I have finished reading) Blaine Harden's book

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West
and it is powerful stuff. It was published in 2012 by an American who shared the royalties with a guy named Sin who seems to be the world's only person who has ever escaped from the camps in North Korea (he was born in one such camp). We can learn quite something from him, at least if we believe that he is telling us the truth.

There are between 150,000-200,000 people "living" in these camps. The conditions are horrible. I don't want to tell you about the details. Hundreds of thousands of people have probably prematurely died or were killed in these camps that have existed for a longer time than Gulags and much longer than the Nazi concentration camps.

Monday, January 27, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

It is immoral for Al Gore to organize "fertility management" for other nations

Various influential and would-be influential people have gathered at the annual meeting in Davos. Folks like Al Gore and Bill Gates are among them. These two participated in the panel

Changing the Climate for Growth and Development (video)
Bill Gates represented some kind of a relatively traditional charity guy who has really helped people in poor nations and who noticed that there's been a huge improvement. He also predicts that there won't be any poverty in 20 years. Well, maybe, it depends on the definition of poverty.

Al Gore started to talk around 14:55 in the video above and advocated "fertility management" in Africa, something that sounds scary. You could think that he has explicitly talked about forced sterilization but he actually hasn't – he has left the issue of the methods ambiguous. At any rate, it is very clear that he is obsessed with the idea of the reduction of the number of Africans and in this sense, he is no different than the German Nazis who wanted to gradually phase out Slavs on their stolen territories.

Sunday, January 26, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bizarre Hawking: black hole work was my biggest blunder

By rejecting event horizons, Hawking has morphed into a hardy defensible maverick

A few days ago, Stephen Hawking wrote a paper arguing that firewalls are pure crap (so far so good) because they violate CPT, much like black hole remnants (it's no good anymore: these objects are wrong but not because of CPT violation).

The world's most famous theoretical physicist along with his high-tech friend

But he also says that event horizons violate CPT as well, they can't exist (see the media echo chamber that puts Hawking into the black holes don't exist category), and the right resolution is that the surfaces of black holes are chaotic like turbulence and predictions are as impossible in practice but possible in principle as (long-term) predictions in meteorology. Well, I would say that "surfaces this chaotic" would act as firewalls. Moreover, event horizons that are as perfect as in classical theory violate CPT but event horizons which allow the Hawking radiation (unlikely but in principle allowed violation of the causality) are compatible with CPT!

So I don't really believe that Hawking's criticism of event horizons is kosher.

Saturday, January 25, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Euroskeptics may take over EU Parliament

...but differences between them start to emerge...

Yesterday, Russia Today released a story – perhaps a slightly exaggerated story – painting Nigel Farage's UKIP, The United Kingdom Independence Party, as the strongest party in the U.K. according to recent polls.

This claim suggests that there are nonzero chances to win the May 2014 elections to the European Parliament and perhaps some later national polls, too. That's quite a success for this relatively new, Euroskeptical and climate skeptical party. They may overshadow the Conservatives, the Labor Party, and the Liberals, too. Meanwhile, lots of other fun discussions surround the UKIP. Nigel Farage claims that all the weird UKIP politicians (who say that trains have to be repainted, ladies can't play board and card games, and – most interestingely – floods were caused by gay marriages) have been imported from the Conservative Party. ;-)

Friday, January 24, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Quantum gravity in AdS/CFT is inevitably stringy

One of the favorite lies emitted by the coalition of the dishonest, deluded, and brainwashed anti-stringy demagogues and imbeciles is the claim that the AdS/CFT correspondence doesn't really "need" string theory. See this question to check that this myth is alive and kicking.

Leonard got it right – and he got the well-deserved reward, too.

The truth is that everything in the AdS/CFT has to be stringy for both sides of the duality to work and for their equivalence to hold. After all, one of the sides in AdS/CFT is a quantum theory of gravity in an Anti de Sitter space and string/M-theory is the only known consistent quantum theory of gravity – and most likely, the only mathematically possible theory of quantum gravity.

Thursday, January 23, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Realtime global wind, temperature, cloud, rain, pressure map

The ultimate realtime weather map for the inhabitants of our blue, not green planet

One month ago, we learned about Cameron Beccario's excellent global wind map.

Overlay: none

He's been improving the web page at (you must click this!)
and it boasts many new functions. Note that you may always click the label "earth" in the lower left corner of that page to get settings, legend (meaning of colors: hover over a color on that scale for a second to see the corresponding numerical value!), or make the settings disappear again.

Overlay: wind. Winds nearly 100 km/h currently exist on the Southern side of the Janus vortex (Northeast from Canada). The winds become stronger and more uniform as you increase the altitude; 250 hPa seems like the prettiest Goldilocks elevation.

The settings allow you to switch between local vs universal time, see the legend (the colors), learn about the source of the data, change the moment, go to your actual geographic location, choose the height according to the pressure (applies to the wind and temperature data; the water measures are always "inclusive" while the pressure is always translated to the sea level and its height-dependence is mostly trivial, anyway), choose the overlay mode, and pick your favorite projection (there are 8 choices, many of them allow you to see the whole surface at once and the deformations are funny).

Undergrads discover closest supernova since 1980s

It was named SN 2014J

If you're an undergrad and you are being shown a telescope, watch carefully. You may very well find one of the most important dots that temporarily appears in the skies. The BBC was among the first ones that informed the public about the new observation:

Nearby supernova dazzles astronomers
The supernova was spotted during a telescope class at the University of London Observatory led by Steve Fossey who may be expected to lick enough milk from the kids' discovery to build his own Milky Way. That's what I call good luck. Since that time, the new supernova was confirmed by the International Astronomic Union.

Realtime Twitter buzz about the exploding star

The beast is located in Messier82 or M82, a prototype (irregular) nearby starburst cigar galaxy that is 12 million light years away from us (the supernova has the same distance, of course). That galaxy is about 5 times more luminous than our Milky Way homeland.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Feynman lectures on physics: all volumes now free

This is a continuation of the announcements of the free Volume I and Volume III.
Electromagnetism and elementary condensed matter from a top guru

Finally, all three volumes of the Feynman Lectures on Physics are available for free.

Deer are constrained by the Iron Curtain

In Southwestern Bohemia and Northeaster Bavaria, you may find hills with deep forests that are known as the Bohemian Forest, Bavarian Forest, or Šumava [shoe-muh-vuh] in Czech. This national park has resisted human attempts to cultivate it but it is one of the canonical places in Czechia for skiing, too. See Google Maps, Mapy.CZ. A vast majority of the national parks is on the Czech side but the Germans still captured the highest peak, among other things.

When I was a kid, however, the hills were a major symbol of the Iron Curtain. An approximately two-mile band on the Czech side from the actual border between Czechoslovakia and West Germany was a forbidden area. We would be told that if we step behind a particular line, we would be shot, and these warnings weren't accurate but they weren't lies, either.

My dad's brother and his family emigrated to Nuremberg in 1980 (or 1981?). My father and – at different moments – my paternal grandmother managed to visit them a few times during the 1980s. Independently of that, my other uncle i.e. my mom's brother has lived in Melbourne, Australia since 1969. My mother was allowed to meet him in Munich once in 1980 or so; I (a fresh schoolkid) was invited as well but the comrades didn't allow me to go.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A recursive evaluation of zeta of negative integers

arXiv: David Berenstein released a review of TeV strings that discusses stringy braneworlds where the excited strings may really be seen at the LHC. He offers some intro to strings, D-branes, effective actions, gauge groups, large extra dimensions, warped geometry, singularities, orbifolds, deformations, and constraints from LEP and proton decay and others and concludes with mostly negative concluding remarks that tend to disfavor this "excessively testable" class of stringy models.
The evaluation of the sum of positive integers may be viewed as a special example of the calculation of the Riemann zeta function\[

\zeta(x) = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^x}.

\] For \({\Re}(x)\gt 1\), the series above converges in the usual sense but the meromorphic function may be uniquely defined for all complex values of \(x\). The only single pole appears at \(x=1\) where we have \(\zeta(1)=\infty\).

Riemann zeta function in the complex plane as colors; black is zero, white is infinity, red is positive, other colors (hue) indicate other phases.

The values of the zeta function of other positive odd integers, like \(\zeta(3)\) or \(\zeta(5)\), are notoriously transcendental numbers, while the zeta function of positive even integers may be calculated and the result is a rational multiple of \(\pi^x\) in that case. For example,\[

\zeta(2) &= 1+\frac {1}{2^2} + \frac{1}{3^2}+\dots = \frac{\pi^2}{6}\\
\zeta(4) &= 1+\frac {1}{2^4} + \frac{1}{3^4}+\dots = \frac{\pi^4}{90}.

\] The last value is needed when you evaluate the total heat emitted by a black body (when you look for the constant in the Stefan-Boltzmann law by integrating the Planck curve).

Geoengineering: IPCC (yes) stands against Gore (no, mad)

First, I want to start with the way in which a blogger hosted by the Guardian, Dana Nuccitelli, informed about the U.S. Senate testimonies by two climate scientists, Judith Curry and Andrew Dessler:

Climate scientist to US Senate: 'Climate change is a clear and present danger'
Belief in an instant planet-wide quick-fix, such as blocking sunlight with sulphur, is delusional, US activist declares
Andrew Dessler presented the usual experimentally falsified crackpottery about the alleged "climate threat"; Judith Curry pointed out that in contrast with the untrue slogan and fabricated \(p\)-values about the "higher confidence", the newest IPCC report reduced the confidence in most of the claims about the climate alarm – because of the reduced estimates of the climate sensitivity, the warming hiatus since the late 1990s, and the mostly growing Antarctic sea ice, among other reasons.

Nevertheless, Nuccitelli only mentions the name of Judith Curry thrice while Andrew Dessler is quoted 14 times (and he owns both the title and the subtitle). This is particular weird because relatively to Judith Curry who is the chair of Earth Sciences at the Georgia Tech and whose name appears in 650 papers with over 4,000 citations from the top ten, Andrew Dessler is – using refined diplomatic jargon – an unlikable screwed unhinged bald bespectacled weird prick and a relative scientific nobody with just 280 papers mentioning his name and less than 1,000 citations from the top ten.

Nuccitelli's soulmates have full mouths of women's rights but when it comes to the real world with an ideologically inconvenient woman, they dedicate the space to her and an irrelevant prick in the ratio 1:6 even though the right ratio would be 5:1. This is how all the lies about the "climate threat" and "consensus" are being fabricated. The climate alarmists have no integrity whatsoever. They're ethical pollution that should be removed from the human society; by constantly harming decent people, they have already depleted their moral right to live.

Monday, January 20, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Virtual tour to 7 power plants

Originally posted on 1/13. On 1/20, you may visit the nuclear power plant. Don't click at "i" buttons which make the facility explode.

There are 430 nuclear reactors but so far, there has been no comprehensive virtual tour into the nuclear power plants' interior. The dominant Czech power utility company ČEZ is changing that. For seven weeks, it will be presenting a new

virtual tour to one of its power plants (click, main web).

The Štěchovice dam (1945).

Eta function and the sum of positive integers

In the previous articles, I described various calculations of the sum of positive integers and discussed the context in which it is right to say that the sum is equal to \(-1/12\). Here, I want to sketch a justification of the value that is perhaps more morally justifiable than (even) the zeta-function regularization and other regularizations – a derivation that is rooted in the symmetry transformations of some physical quantities.

The derivation will be based on the properties of \(\vartheta\)-functions (vartheta functions), especially the Dedekind \(\eta\)-function (eta function). I recommend you some mathematics pages about these functions and identities they obey or some string theory textbook, e.g. Joe Polchinski's "String Theory", especially pages 209-216 of Volume I.

Saturday, January 18, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sum of integers and oversold common sense

P.Z. "Pharyngula" Myers, a self-described randomly ejaculating biological godless liberal (can't this disorder be cured?), decided to write a blog post – well, something like eight sentences – about mathematics:

The sum of all natural numbers is not \(-1/12\)
It's not hard to see that the title is in some "tension" with at least one of the titles of older TRF blog posts about this issue,
Zeta-function regularization (2007)
Why is the sum of integers equal to \(-1/12\) (2011)
These texts of mine were actually linked to by some Pharyngula's readers who are my semi-fans – folks who would say how brilliant I am but who would never avoid mentioning that "thee shall not read any Lumo's articles on the global warming" and "he is a [right-wing] as*hole" of a sort. These untrue libels are apparently mandatory in the current Academia.

At any rate, Pharyngula's "contribution" doesn't say much more than the title. He also copies a segment of a text by Mark Chu-Carroll,
Bad Math from the Bad Astronomer,
who didn't like the regulated value of the sum, either. The only person among these notorious over-the-edge left-wing activists who liked the regulated sum was the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, according to his enthusiastic article
When Infinity Is Actually a Small, Negative Fraction (Slate),
which was supplemented with an extra disclaimer after an avalanche of dissatisfied reactions from some other randomly ejaculating liberals.

Friday, January 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

\(Na_3Bi\), a three-dimensional cousin of graphene, discovered

Synchlavier, a FB contact of mine, has focused my attention on a Berkeley Lab press release:

Natural 3D Counterpart to Graphene Discovered:
Researchers at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source Find New Form of Quantum Matter
It promotes an October 2013 experimental paper
Discovery of a Three-dimensional Topological Dirac Semimetal, \(Na_3Bi\) by Z.K. Liu and 11 co-authors (arXiv, PDF, APS meeting)
This unusual molecule involving sodium and bismuth is claimed to have similar, but three-dimensional, properties that make it a higher-dimensional counterpart of the miraculous two-dimensional carbon-based material called graphene (one layer of hexagonal carbon atoms).

AGW inquisition burns a journal, Pattern Recognition in Physics

One sentence in Scafetta's paper on solar/climate patterns was too much for the AGW loons and their cowardly slaves and collaborationists

The only justifiable concern connected with the climate are the climate alarmists' efforts to suppress the freedoms – the economic freedoms, the academic freedoms, and sometimes basic human rights including the free speech. Three days ago, I discussed the climate alarmist UNFCCC boss' praise for Chinese communism and criticism of the U.S. democracy and Willie Soon just informed me about a new story of a similar kind.

Burning of Mister John Huss for heresy, July 6th, 1415.

Climate extremists such as Phil Plait sometimes bitingly quip when they ask why climate skeptics don't publish in the established scientific journals. The answer has been well-known to pretty much everyone at least since the ClimateGate in 2009: when they do, either their papers are eliminated or destroyed by the alarmist mafia, or the authors are destroyed by the climate mafia, or the journals are destroyed by the climate mafia.

The new story is another example of the latter category.

Thursday, January 16, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

IPCC WG3 plans to suck excess CO2 and kill 1 billion people

Yesterday, Alister Doyle of Reuters informed the world about some leaked documents of the Working Group 3 of the IPCC that should release its new report in April 2014:

REFILE-World may have to suck gases from air to meet climate goals-UN (Reuters)
The "mitigation" group discusses technologies for CDR, the carbon dioxide removal. These people are completely disconnected from the reality. Of course that the CO2 concentration will continue to increase for many decades if not longer (see carbon dioxide fits).

But the removal is unrealistic. You must realize that CO2 like any other compound is spread all over the atmosphere. You can't "filter" CO2 out of the air by "localized devices" because they would have to suck and blow almost all the air in the atmosphere – 4.2 billion cubic kilometers or 4.2 billion billion cubic meters etc. – or at least a significant fraction of it.

At most, one may try to enhance processes that are absorbing or consuming CO2 across significant percentages of the surface of the globe, like planting new forests or fertilizing whole oceans with iron to support the growth of algae etc.

ER=EPR trivializes in 3D topological field theories

Today, two papers are related to the information preservation and topology change in quantum gravity.

My former advisor Tom Banks, Willy Fischler, and two junior collaborators discuss the holographic spacetime paradigm and offer some provocative theses about the "mirage becoming a reality" for the infalling observers and "unhappening events" in quantum mechanics.

They talk about similar things to those discussed in some previous blog posts but despite the "corrections" to their model of the black hole interior, I think that some claims they make are still not quite right and several claims that are vague and partly incorrect may be replaced by some "fully provable" and robust ones.

In a very interesting gr-qc paper, John Baez and Jamie Vicary study three-dimensional topological field theories in

Wormholes and Entanglement.
What does Maldacena's and Susskind's ER-EPR correspondence imply in this special context?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Scientific theories need to be falsifiable

...but the adjective automatically includes "in principle"...

I have discussed several answers to the annual (and problematic) question Which scientific ideas should be retired? but Sean Carroll's answer wasn't among them.

Falsifiability needs to be retired (Carroll's answer at

What Scientific Ideas Are Ready for Retirement? (Carroll's blog)
Sean Carroll mentioned his answer on his blog, The Preposterous Universe, and he got largely criticized, especially by commenters like Doc C, Bruce Caithness, Dan, John Duffield, Andy Odell, and DEL. I mostly oppose these critics (who got most of the positive votes) and sympathize with Carroll's spirit but I would still disagree with the main thesis that "falsifiability may/should be retired".

Israel joins CERN

For the first time since 1999, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has accepted a new (21st) full member.

CERN press release, Jerusalem Post, Israel National News, Interactions.ORG
Israel culturally belongs to Europe and the work of the Israeli physicists is actually very important so the expansion seems like a no-brainer even though Israel is currently the only full member from outside geographic Europe.

Aside from the slight Asian "accent", Hatikvah sounds more or less "ours", especially to Czech ears that recognize the theme borrowed from Smetana's Moldau.

Plans to redefine 1 ampere

I discussed this topic in April 2012 in

Let's fix the value of Planck's constant.
The SI system of units is based on 1 meter, 1 second, 1 kilogram, 1 kelvin, 1 ampere, 1 candela, and 1 mole. They have some definitions that are not really optimal yet.

I claim that a theoretical physicist prefers units in which a maximum possible subset of the universal fundamental constants of Nature such as \(\hbar,c,\epsilon_0,e,k_B,N_A\) and perhaps even \(G\) have well-known values. In theory papers, we really want to put them equal to one but that requires one to use natural (e.g. Planck) units that are numerically different from what the people are used to.

If these constants are set equal to a precisely specified numerical value, it's equally good – up to some simple multiplication. For example, the speed of light \(c\) was set to a fixed constant, \(299,792,458\,{\rm m/s}\), in the early 1980s when the relative error in the measurement of \(c\) using the older definition improved to one part per billion, \(10^{-9}\), or so. Since that time, the accuracy with which times and distances are being measured has increased and due to the fixed value of \(c\), this progress is automatically reflected in the accuracy of times and distances, too.

In 2012, I proposed to do the same thing for \(\hbar\) and redefine one kilogram.

Science can only falsify, not retire, ideas

In late 2012, I explained why

There are no hospitals for theories.
Surprisingly, unusually, and happily, I was in agreement with Matt Strassler (well, we would agree in a much higher majority of questions if the "ensemble of questions" were picked by a different algorithm than the choice of interesting topics for the blogosphere).

In science, we work with hypotheses and theories and only abandon them when they have been proven wrong – by the analysis of empirical and theoretical data – at a sufficient confidence level. There is nothing in between. In particular, a scientist cannot and mustn't abandon a possible explanation that seems just slightly – e.g. 5 times – less likely than another according to some counting; that would be like "elimination at the 80 percent confidence level" which is just way too weak. The "retired idea" may very well be correct and the correct explanations usually are explanations that could be abandoned by a similar sloppy, prejudiced methodology.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

UNFCC boss: democracy is "very detrimental" for war on AGW

Chinese communism is the best decision-making system

A widget-free version of this blog post is here...
Bloomberg published a remarkable story yesterday:
Top Global Emitter China Best on Climate Change, Figueres Says (main link, click)
The chairwoman of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Ms Christiana Figueres of Costa Rica has concluded that "the political divide in the U.S. Congress has slowed efforts to pass climate legislation and is very detrimental to the fight against global warming" while "China is also able to implement policies because its political system avoids some of the legislative hurdles seen in countries including the U.S.".

The totalitarian system rocks while democracy sucks!

Monday, January 13, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Wilhelm Wien: 150th birthday

Wilhelm Carl Werner Otto Fritz Franz Wien was born on January 13th, 1864, to a landowner father in Prussia and died in 1928. He received the 1911 Nobel prize in physics for his work on the black-body radiation.

Over his lifetime, he was affiliated with German universities in Giessen, Würzburg, Munich, Aachen, Göttingen, and Berlin as well as with Columbia University in New York (in April 1913; yes, 7 universities for his 7 names). His PhD adviser was Hermann von Helmholtz. He would always work on experiments related to light and electromagnetic radiation but he would try to propose his theories, too.

Sunday, January 12, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ayn Rand on science, altruism, and the U.S. businessmen's treason

Ayn Rand (1905-1982; she moved from the USSR to the U.S. in 1931) was an originally Russian Jewish, later U.S. author, philosopher, and a libertarian guru. Several folks have pointed out to me that her thinking was close to mine.

I have never been exposed to her work and thoughts – a fact that is not too surprising given my 16 years in a communist country plus 10 years in the U.S. Academia. But finally today, when Willie Soon recommended me the 52-minute talk above – named "The Sanction of the Victims" – that she gave in 1981, a year before she died of a heart attack (it was her last public talk), I decided to listen to the whole talk.

Saturday, January 11, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Will Helmholtz coils allow fusion reactors?

Ariel Sharon died, RIP, the new (and optimal) Czech ambassador to Slovakia, Livia Klausová, is facing tons of vitriol from 95% of the Internet commenters – a screwed rabble – but I will talk about some potentially pleasant developments in the fusion research. (Some local good news: the babe MP who was the victim of a recent acid attack in Pilsen seems to be out of lethal danger. The tubes are gone, she can talk, and is interested in their puppy. Some extra good news: Google cooled its relations with an ex-German leader and freshly renamed Berlin's Adolf-Hitler-Platz to Theodor-Heuss-Platz.)

First, a political advance. Science Magazine mentions that the European grant agencies will no longer throw the money to the fusion research without any feedbacks. Instead, some of the sponsors have apparently realized that the construction of a working fusion reactor (before 2050) is a goal. The apparatchiks' brains must be really fast if they only needed 60-90 years for this realization. ;-)

The Z-machine (see the 8-minute intro video above) will be discussed below the following paragraph.

In unrelated news, MIT boasts that the 2010 MIT paper I-Mode: An H-Mode Energy Confinement Regime with L-Mode Particle Transport in Alcator C-Mod. by D.G. Whyte et al. (journal) has won a prize from the International Atomic [sic: should be Nuclear] Energy Agency. It's about an improved confinement technique, much like the story I want to focus on in the rest of this blog post.

Friday, January 10, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Italian animal activists' threats

Italy was the homeland of Galileo Galilei, the father of science as we know it.

I have to remind you of this ironic fact because in the past, I've discussed several stories that painted a very different picture of Italy. Nuclear energy was banned in the country while seismologists were sentenced to 6 years in prison for their blasphemous inability to prophesy a particular earthquake.

Unfortunately, we are just witnessing another battle between Italy and science. wants AGW health warning on gas pumps

We got used to health warning on cigarettes but led by Bill McKibben (and named after a nonsensical number in a crackpot preprint by James Hansen et al.) wants allegedly analogous warnings on gas pumps

San Francisco environmentalist group wants global warming warning on gas pumps (Fox News, competition)
The content of the proposal warning isn't too simple.

Standard Model, Higgs with \(\NNN=4\) extension via noncommutative IKKT ellipsoid

Viennese physicists Harold Steinacker and Jochen Zahn completed their interesting hep-th paper

An extended standard model and its Higgs geometry from the matrix model
which is proposing a (slightly less than) semi-realistic Standard Model extending to the \(\NNN=4\) gauge theory at high energies (well, this energy scale is close to the electroweak scale so far but they hope to raise it).

They are building on a classical solution to the Japanese IKKT matrix model. I have some trouble with that, partly because it is not a light-cone gauge description of any string theory vacuum and I don't know what all the DLCQ insights could be replaced with. But they suggest that it could work in the proper American BFSS matrix model, too.

Thursday, January 09, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hamiltonians, not dogmas, pick the right bases, prices, and rates

What big-government advocates and hidden-variable cranks have in common

This blog post will combine diverse topics – including the philosophy of science, economics, general quantum physics, quantum field theory, and string theory. It will try to answer the following question:

What is the most widespread general error that prevents people from acquiring the rational and/or correct understanding of problems?
My answer is that a vast majority of people constrain themselves by dogmas, assumptions, group think, and stereotypes – while they should try hard to impartially look for the answers to all the relevant questions.

Even more concretely, they think that the right answers to pretty much everything (and the relevant bases, right prices, and optimal rates, among similar pieces of information) are predetermined in some way; instead, the world chooses the optimal answers dynamically, according to the "Hamiltonian".

I am going to discuss the organization of the society as well as several topics in physics to make the point. Someone could protest that it's strange to correlate economics with physics. They're independent subjects, aren't they? Well, partially. They're independent to the extent that the answers to questions in both disciplines are not "guaranteed to perfectly agree" according to a dictionary that would be universally valid. And someone may understand physics and misunderstand economics (or the other way around).

On the other hand, there are lots of correlations. As I will try to argue, many people are making closely analogous mistakes when they are thinking about economics and when they thinking about physics.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Five HEP papers

The visitor number 10 million came to this blog around 11 am, Central European Time, today, from the domain. Congratulations (it was 5 am locally over there!). It's a coincidence because most of the recognizable visitors' domains seem to be academic and during the European morning, U.S. visits in general score less than 10% (over 50% when all times are included, however).
I will just mention five new papers on the arXiv – two hep-ph papers and three hep-th papers.

Chul Kim, Ahmad Idilbi, Thomas Mehen, and Yeo Woong Yoon discuss another interesting possible route for the supersymmetric particles to have escaped the detection at the LHC:
Light Stop Pair Production and Decays at the LHC
The top squarks may be as light as \(200-400\GeV\), long-lived, and they may form positronium-like bound state, the stoponium. These hydrogen-like particles may decay and leave footprints in the \(\gamma\gamma\) and \(ZZ\) decay channel data. They perform some sophisticated calculations and claim that while these long-lived bound-state-loving stops are invisible in the \(8\TeV\) run, they may become visible in 2015 when the \(13-14\TeV\) run begins.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Cold weather: comments welcome

In previous days, we in Central Europe have experienced near-freezing (0 °C, 32 °F) temperatures with a very small amount of snow. Things improved today: we enjoyed an almost sunny day with temperatures reaching almost 10 °C, 50 °F. Slightly more than 1/2 of the TRF readers are located in the U.S. (which I still consider the leader of the civilization, greetings). North America has suffered a weather that is almost a mirror image of what we have in Europe.

The purple color feels chilly; it is near 0 °F.

One may perhaps blame this asymmetric fate on the counterclockwise winds in the Northern Atlantic. It no longer looks like a vortex but it's clear that the winds are mostly coming from the South to Europe – but mostly from the North to the Northeast and Midwest of the U.S.

The current temperatures in Boston are slightly above 0 °F, i.e. –18 °C. The webcam looking at the Harvard physics department where I have worked for 6 years looks normal to me, however. Some places near the Great Lakes etc. are getting up to 70 inches, or 175 cm, of snow.

Monday, January 06, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Trinary star won't disprove the equivalence principle

Today, science writers were busy to write about the newest death of a pillar of modern physics, in this case Einstein's theory of relativity: Google News, Physics World, BBC, dozens of others...

Video by Anne M. Archibald, a PhD student and a co-author of the discovery

All this buzz is based on a newly published article,

A millisecond pulsar in a stellar triple system by Scott Ransom and 20 co-authors (Nature)

arXiv copy of the paper (free PDF)
which reports some observations of a star system called PSR J0337+1715. In the very abstract, they decide to "hire" this multiple star as a tester of the "strong equivalence principle" and the media copy (and usually amplify) this point.

Puppies poop in the direction of the magnetic field

The Christian Science Monitor and lots of other news outlets inform about a seemingly crackpot-sounding yet fascinating Czech-German (well, mostly, 10:2, Czech) research published in Frontiers in Zoology,

Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth's magnetic field (PDF full)
Incidentally, do you agree that the "mainstream" media on the Internet prefer not to link to the original papers even though they're freely accessible and it's easy to link? Readers who are gullible sheep that have to rely upon "interpreters" are apparently more attractive for the journalists.

But back to the result. During defecation, dogs apparently prefer to sit along the North-South direction.

I found the Table 3 on Page 7 of the paper to be the most informative summary of the results.

Sunday, January 05, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Earth probably has no dark matter ring

Three days ago, Nude Socialist was probably the first source that mentioned a provocative suggestion.

In the article GPS satellites suggest Earth is heavy with dark matter, Anil Ananthaswamy mentions an unpublished proposal voiced by Ben Harris at a recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

RSS AMSU 2013: 10th warmest year on record

Roy Spencer et al. claim that 2013 was the fourth warmest year of their 35-year-long satellite era. Their satellite friends/competitors at RSS AMSU which has been my primary source of temperature data since the beginning of this blog seem to disagree.

RSS, 1979-2013, graphics by Mathematica.

According to the RSS AMSU data, 2013 was actually the tenth warmest year – quite a difference for two datasets using "almost" the same methodology.

Saturday, January 04, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Free will is hard to define but it exists

Sabine Hossenfelder wrote an essay arguing that the free will doesn't exist even though she can't quite define the concept. To decide whether the free will "exists", I think it's almost necessary to define what this concept means. Wikipedia says:

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices unconstrained by certain factors. Factors of historical concern have included metaphysical constraints (such as logical, nomological, or theological determinism), physical constraints (such as chains or imprisonment), social constraints (such as threat of punishment or censure), and mental constraints (such as compulsions or phobias, neurological disorders, or genetic predispositions). The principle of free will has religious, legal, ethical, and scientific implications.
So the free will is the ability to make choices so that the choice wouldn't be done by "someone else". What we mean is that other, alternative spacetimes with the same past but different future seem to be compatible with all the knowledge (there are options!) but the choice of one particular possibility or another isn't determined by factors that we consider "external" relatively to the agent whose free will we are discussing. The term "free will" has many levels that differ by the inclusiveness of the factors that we consider "external".

For example, we talk about the "free will" in the political sense. Citizens of free countries and/or honest scientists have (and need) the free will – the freedom to make decisions about their life and about their experiments that are not determined by others. Citizens of North Korea are mindless screws in a squeaking machine so they don't have the free will. Alarmed climate scientists don't have the free will, either; their decisions are dictated by the external "cause" so regardless of the evidence and their personal views, they behave in a way that has the potential to maximize the climate panic and to please Al Gore and his accomplices.

Friday, January 03, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Nima Arkani-Hamed debates a novelist

...on differences between science and arts...

The Science Museum organized a 55-minute conversation of Nima Arkani-Hamed with Ian McEwan, an English novelist. Note that Nima is dressed in an unusually elegant, formal way, to show that physicists are culturally superior. Relatively to him, McEwan is dressed like a rank-and-file physicist. ;-) The female host mentions that Nima is an avid reader; she doesn't even have to say that he is a spectacular piano player, too.

The video starts with a 16-minute test of patience. Jump to 15:45 if you're sure that you would be able to pass the test. ;-)

The novelist thinks that the society undervalues science relatively to arts. He also feels compassionate about the scientists because they need to race, to be the first ones, while novelists may always write a derivative book that will be said to be unique, anyway.

Thursday, January 02, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Wormholes into the past

Last night, Nova Cinema, a Czech TV station, aired Frequency, a 2000 sci-fi thriller. Beware spoilers.

It's 1999 and John is still devastated because of his dad's death 30 years earlier. The father, Frank, was a firefighter. On the night before his fatal fire in 1969, he would turn his ham radio on. And the man on the other side was John calling from the year 1999 and from the same ham radio. It just happens that both men could listen to Brian Greene on TV who was just explaining that string theory had 10 or 11 dimensions and perhaps, the number of time dimensions could be higher, too. It is not explained in the movie how a mature Brian Greene got to 1969 when the actual Brian Greene was 6 years old. Maybe we should send an e-mail to Brian who could explain how he managed to do that.

This communication across time was possible due to the aurora borealis (northern lights) that surrounded their house both in 1969 and 1999, we're told. After an irritated beginning of the conversation, they convince each other that they're indeed the "father and son" calling from the same house across the 30-year time barrier.

Using valid "predictions" of baseball games, John ultimately convinces his father that he is the son calling from the future and tells him to choose a different escape route from the fire. Frank survives as a result and they create a new branch of the spacetime in which Frank didn't die in the fire. Instead, he would die of cancer 20 years later. Another detail: the son also convinces his dad to quite smoking 30 years earlier. However, Frank's wife i.e. John's mom is killed by a serial killer in the new branches, a consequence of the modifications they have caused. Finally, John (a cop) and his dad (firefighter) team up and neutralize the killer, a bad cop of a sort.

Finally, they manage to produce a satisfactory draft of the spacetime in which they are together in 1999 – including John's boy that wouldn't otherwise exist due to John's bitterness, either. A friend of John – a boy from 1969 named Gordo – was also given a great gift by the old John through the intertemporal ham radio. It was a secret word: Yahoo. In the optimized draft of the spacetime we see at the end, Gordo would probably buy stocks of Yahoo before they dropped.

My Antarctic diary

Guest blog by Dr Alexander Ladislav Mrdelka

As a member of the Czech Globe, an EU excellence institute proving that the Earth is dying, I was honored to have been the only Czech researcher who participated on the Antarctic mission. Our goal was to demonstrate that the last ice in Antarctica is melting away. Due to the unsustainable crime against Nature known as the "economic growth", Florida and other states and countries will soon be submerged.

We were intrigued by the photographs from the previous expedition that investigated the impact of global warming on Antarctica.

Also, I wanted to get some suntan. In December, it's summer in the Antarctica. If you combine "summer" with "global warming", you get some pleasant temperatures. The Antarctica may already be the last inhabitable place on the planet; everything else is melting away and burning.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Palestinian ambassador to Prague lethally played with explosives

The year 2014 began dramatically in Prague. The top Palestinian diplomat in Czechia, Jamel Mohammed al-Jamal, was playing with a safebox in his new residence next to the embassy at the International Street, Prague-Suchdol.

The Palestinian ambassador with the new (tall) Czech president Miloš Zeman

The safebox was moved to the new residence from the offices of the old Palestinian embassy. At some moment, while he was playing, the explosives in the safebox detonated. He was moved to a hospital where he died in the afternoon, due to injuries that were incompatible with life.