Thursday, April 27, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Like James Bond, Nature loves to walk a micron from the cliff

Inconsistencies, like the death of 007, are often avoided by microns or "almost" miracles. Nature abhors arbitrary bans on "potentially dangerous" things.

If you are a realist and you watch a movie about James Bond or a similar film, you may be annoyed by some scenes that seem very unlikely. In the real world, you may argue, the hero would have died about 20 times throughout the movie. It's implausible that the hero could have survived so many lethal challenges. And if he has survived them, it would be much more likely that he escaped them an hour, and not a second, before the last moment.



These movies may be said to be "unrealistic" and you could rephrase the adjective as "unnatural". James Bond's survival is "unnatural", some people could say. The word "unnatural" indicates that this is not how Nature normally behaves. And when you apply this reasoning to the laws of physics, you may be led to think that Nature actually avoids this last-minute and last-micron salvation, all the miracles that keep the likes of James Bond alive – and that allow him to beat the foes. Nature is insured and many layers of insurance policies are protecting Her from being fatally hurt – from being inconsistent.

But you would be completely wrong. Nature loves to survive – and Her laws are consistent – but She doesn't have numerous levels of insurance. She actually is and loves to be similar to James Bond. Her goal is to survive, not to "safely" survive, and She does it, often walking an infinitesimal distance away from a cataclysm.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Google Translate made a stunning AI quantum leap

Translators will have nothing to eat. Soon.

As I learned from Technet.cz, Google Translate was switched to a revolutionary new version of itself on the night between April 18th and April 19th. It's rather likely that you may already see the improvements now. The new software should result from the September 2016 scholarly work submitted to arXiv.org.

Up to that moment, Google Translate was exploiting more or less old-fashioned computer algorithms. However, it uses deep neural networks now. Google had to create its own processing units, the TPUs. Those "tensor processing units" are counterparts of GPUs, "graphics processing units", and they are capable of performing the tasks effectively. These TPUs have trained themselves by looking at millions of texts, including the corpus available through Google Books. They can "automatically", in an emulation of the human brain, learn some patterns and rules how to work not only with individual words and groups of words but even very complex sentences.

Marine Le Pen's victory is unlikely but not very unlikely

Many of us were carefully following the first round of the 2017 French presidential elections.



Dark blue Le Pen won much of the East or Northeast, yellow Macron won much of the West or Southwest, red Mélenchon was #1 on some islands and two spots near Spain, and light blue Fillon scored a victory in a spot West from Paris and in the French "Middle East" – although he was predicted to take Paris.

At the end, the results almost exactly agreed with the predictions – which has been unusual in recent times. Centrist Macron (24%) and patriot Le Pen (21.30%) made it to the second round while mainstream post-Sarkozy Republican Fillon (20%) and the holographic green Bolshevik Mélenchon (19.5%) had comparably good results. Socialist Hamon (6%) was the winner among the losers.

Because of the lack of surprises, the euro jumped by 2% relatively to the dollar and the European markets added some 3% on top of that on Monday. It's generally believed that Macron will beat Le Pen roughly by 60-to-40 percent in the second round on May 8th.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Berkeley pop scientist denies the orbital cause of ice ages

Thankfully, the March For Science was a dud. A couple of extremists showed their childish banners such as this one by computer scientist Scott Aaronson. Indeed, the two claims on the banner are as unrelated as two sentences in a typical leftist demagogic rant. Moreover, I think it is strategically misguided for a Jewish scholar to claim that a non-Jewish man "stinks", or vice versa. It can backfire easily because the numbers aren't on your side, Mr Aaronson.

On the same day, "the Earth Day", someone attempted to assassinate climate skeptic John Christy in his office (Roy, WUWT). Seven shots were fired on Lenin's birthday against a climate skeptic who recently testified in the U.S. Congress and who issued an inconvenient press release just days before the shots. While it's rather self-evident that a foe of the "deniers" wanted to turn The Earth Day to a Night of Broken Glass, the local police investigation decided that these seven shots in the same window of the skeptic were just "random shooting, nothing to see here". A gun randomly quantum tunneled, jumped in front of the climate scientists' office, and then the trigger quantum tunneled and shot at the same window of Christy seven times. That's the most likely explanation that the cops were capable of producing.

For years, I have stressed that the climate alarmist groups were dangerous terrorist organizations but I am afraid that lots of people will have to die before the society will realize this obvious point, outlaw them, execute their leaders, and treat them on par with the likes of Al Qaeda.

Monday, April 24, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How and why strings generalize geometry

Erwin reminded us how excited he was by the fact that string theory provides us with a quantum generalization of the rules of geometry. What does it mean and how does it work?

Well, all previous theories in physics have used the classical manifold geometry (whose definition will be sketched momentarily) as one of the basic prerequisites that the theories had to accept and elaborate upon. This made the classical manifold geometry and its calculations directly relevant for all these theories and the rules of the geometry were therefore rigid dogmas.

In other words, the theories followed the template:

Dear theory, listen, here you have a classical manifold with some shape.

What can you achieve with this pre-existing shape?
And the theories just couldn't do anything else. They were dependent on the geometry of a classical manifold. If there were no manifold, there was no physical theory. And if two manifolds were geometrically different, the physical theories on them had to be distinguishable, too.

Before the discovery of special relativity, physics was also dividing spacetime to the absolute time and the space that exists with it. That meant that the "spacetime" as we understood it today had to be basically factorized to \(\RR \times M^3\) where \(\RR\) was the real axis representing time and \(M^3\) was a purely spatial manifold (OK, some time-dependent fibration with a different \(M^3(t)\) at each moment time was sometimes allowed, too). At most, you could have picked time-dependent coordinates on that \(M^3\) in order to celebrate the Galilean relativity.

Saturday, April 22, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Einstein's job in 1911: he liked the city of Prague, not so much the people of Prague

The new series about Einstein will start to be aired (in CZ) tomorrow

Two years ago when I switched my Internet provider and cable TV to UPC, the European (much more beloved) counterpart of Comcast, I could pick a bunch of bonus channels for free. Most people pick the sports channels, unless the fans of the erotica channels obfuscate what they have chosen ;-), and you could predict that I chose the science documentary channels which include National Geographic, among many others.

Well, I must admit that I have spent virtually 0 minutes in these two years by watching them – and I would have watched the sports channel much more than that (even though I am in no way a sports junkie). But things could change tomorrow. At 9 pm, the "Genius" TV series about Einstein starts at my National Geographic #89 channel. I hope that I won't forget to watch it because I am sort of looking forward to it. The serial was filmed almost entirely in Czechia, including my hometown of Pilsen (mostly in Prague – several schools, two ministries, galleries etc. but also: the Elbow/Loket castle area, campuses in Pilsen and Brno, the town of hops Saaz/Žatec, Northern Bohemia Reichenberg/Liberec and the Warm/Teplá Monastery). Meeting Einstein in Pilsen is an offer I can't refuse – much like meeting Richard Lindzen (and his wife) in Pilsen in early May 2017.



Metro.cz, a daily sold in the Prague subway, just published a fun interview of journalist Pavel Urban with one of my undergraduate instructors of general relativity, Dr Jiří Podolský:

Einstein liked Prague
Even though I have previously written about Einstein in Prague, let me translate it because it's pretty insightful.

March For Science is deeply misguided, unethical

Comrade Vladimir Lenin celebrates his birthday in his mausoleum today (I have been there) – congratulations to all left-wing readers. Some activists have chosen this date associated with a man who believed he had a "scientific thinking" (although he believed that each electron is an inexhaustible galaxy with small electrons inside, and then smaller ones inside, like in a Matryoshka) but made a huge impact on the world of politics as the date for the "March For Science".



The rally in D.C. should be decent; the accompanying 500 rallies across the world are pretty much guaranteed to be tiny. See a live report from Asia. For example, the picture above is the full group photo of the participants in Tokyo: it includes 50-60 people depending on how many babies in the carriage you count.


The march in Busan, the second largest city of South Korea, is similar: this is the picture of participants 20 minutes before the march began. ;-) Despite their diversity, none of the four cute scientists looks Korean to me, by the way.

Friday, April 21, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Physicists, smart folks use same symbols for Lie groups, algebras for good reasons

I have always been amazed by the sheer stupidity and tastelessness of the people who aren't ashamed of the likes of Peter Woit. He is obviously a mediocre man with no talents, no achievements, no ethics, and no charisma but because of the existence of many people who have no taste and who want to have a leader in their jihad against modern physics, he was allowed to talk about physics as if his opinions mattered.

Woit is a typical failing-grade student who simply isn't and has never been the right material for college. His inability to learn string theory is a well-known aspect of this fact. But most people in the world – and maybe even most of the physics students – misunderstand string theory. But his low math-related intelligence is often manifested in things that are comprehensible to all average or better students of physics.

Two years ago, Woit argued that

the West Coast metric is the wrong one.
Now, unless you are a complete idiot, you must understand that the choice of the metric tensor – either \(({+}{-}{-}{-})\) or \(({-}{+}{+}{+})\) – is a pure convention. The metric tensor \(g^E_{\mu\nu}\) of the first culture is simply equal to minus the metric tensor of the second culture \(g^W_{\mu\nu}\), i.e. \(g^E_{\mu\nu} = - g^W_{\mu\nu}\), and every statement or formula written with one set of conventions may obviously be translated to a statement written in the other, and vice versa. The equations or statements basically differ just by some signs. The translation from one convention to another is always possible and is no more mysterious than the translation from British to U.S. English or vice versa.

How stupid do you have to be to misunderstand this point, that there can't be any "wrong" convention for the sign? And how many people are willing to believe that someone's inability to get this simple point is compatible with the credibility of his comments about string theory?

Thursday, April 20, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The O'Reilly Factor was the #1 news program in history

Fox News has fired the veteran journalist Bill O'Reilly. He was supposed to return from vacations in Italy on April 24th but "according to an agreement" of both sides, he won't. The agreement clearly wasn't as symmetric as the Fox News P.R. demagogues paint it because O'Reilly said he was "disheartened" by the decision.

The O'Reilly Factor was renamed to The Factor and Tucker Carlson will be taking the slot, anyway. This is weird because just weeks ago, Tucker Carlson was announced to take the slot from Megyn Kelly. Megyn Kelly could have worsened the situation of Bill O'Reilly. Nevertheless, Fox will have neither O'Reilly nor Kelly and this may be a detectable loss, indeed. However, if you want me to predict whether these changes will lead to the bankruptcy of Fox News, I don't think so. But you know, Carlson is a good journalist and I praised him in several recent blog posts. But the experience of watching him isn't in the O'Reilly category.

O'Reilly's program – called The Report in the first two years – began in 1996 when Fox News was a relatively newborn TV channel itself which focused on some of the widely discussed topics of the (first and only) Clinton presidency. I believe that he has contributed to the growth of Fox News. You shouldn't imagine that I am a regular viewer of The O'Reilly Factor – it's hard and far, especially from Central Europe. But there was a period of my life, in the first half of 2000, when I actually was a regular viewer of O'Reilly's show at least for several months.

I was in Santa Cruz, California, and the channel with the O'Reilly show was just conveniently located on a TV I found in my room, and I loved it, despite the fact that – with hindsight – I must say that I always disagreed on some issues with him. In my eyes, O'Reilly is at most a global warming lukewarmer. And I also count him as one of the knee-jerk Russophobes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

All of string theory's power, beauty depends on quantum mechanics

Wednesday papers: Arkani-Hamed et al. show that the amplituhedron is all about sign flips. Maldacena et al. study the double-trace deformations that make a wormhole traversable. Among other things, they argue that the cloning is avoided because the extraction (by "Bob") eliminates the interior copy of the quantum information.
String/M-theory is the most beautiful, powerful, and predictive theory we know – and, most likely, the #1 with these adjectives among those that are mathematically possible – but the degree of one's appreciation for its exceptional credentials depends on one's general knowledge of physics, especially quantum mechanics.



Click to see an animation (info).

Quantum mechanics was basically discovered at one point in the mid 1920s and forced physics to make a one-time quantum jump. On the other hand, it also defines a trend because the novelties of quantum mechanics may be taken more or less seriously, exploited more or less cleverly and completely, and as physics was evolving towards more advanced, stringy theories and explanations of things, the role of the quantum mechanical thinking was undoubtedly increasing.

When we say "classical string theory", it is a slightly ambiguous term. We can take various classical limits of various theories that emerge from string theory, e.g. the classical field theory limit of some effective field theories in the spacetime. But the most typical representation of "classical string theory" is given by the dull yellow animation above. A classical string is literally a curve in a pre-existing spacetime that oscillates according to a wave equation of a sort.

LHCb insists on tension with lepton universality in \(1\)-\(6\GeV^2\)

The number of references to B-mesons on this blog significantly exceeds my degree of excitement about these bound states of quarks and antiquarks but what can I do? They are among the leaders of the revolt against the Standard Model.


Various physicists have mentioned a new announcement by the LHCb collaboration which is smaller than ATLAS and CMS but at least equally assertive.

Another physicist has embedded the key graph where you should notice that the black crosses sit well below the dotted line where they're predicted to sit


and we were told about the LHCb PowerPoint presentation where this graph was taken from.

Monday, April 17, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Climate whackos abandon NYT because it hired a skeptic

The Gray Lady is a left-leaning daily which is immensely unpopular with many of you and with a big part of the Republican base.

But I must admit that I have always considered The New York Times a mostly credible, conventional daily which has sometimes joined the left-wing witch hunts but which always kept more decency than most of the truly ideological counterparts. Maybe their article about me in 2001 has contributed to this relative respect of me, maybe Dennis Overbye's articles about physics did so many times afterwards, who knows. But I am convinced that even their pieces about politics are more tolerable in average – although I have seen a lot of the very bad ones, too.

But despite the superficial similarity, I have grown a significantly different attitude to The New York Times and The Washington Post, to pick the most obvious benchmark for a comparison.

Well, there's another reason not to abandon The New York Times now. It has hired a new op-ed writer, Bret Stephens, who is still in the Wall Street Journal now but will join The New York Times since the early May. Stephens is a Pulitzer prize winner (for commentary in 2013), he is a conservative opponent of Donald Trump. But what is more important now is that he is a climate change skeptic. And that makes quite some difference.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czechia absorbed 12 out of 1600 proposed refugees, that's it

The Czech politicians would prefer to pay fines

Czech minister of interior Mr Milan Chovanec (formerly a vegetable clerk, local politician here in Pilsen, and a fast alumnus of the notorious local law school here) gave an interview to a leading news server Novinky.cz (and the associated printed daily Právo):

Chovanec: Out of the quota for 1,591 (which arose after the first agreed upon quota for 1,100 was raised once), we took 12 refugees, we won't increase that number anymore
He talks about terrorism, the results of the quota program, and the Czech plans to deal with it in the future.

What I find remarkable is that the only reports about this development in the English language seem to be written in the Russian sources: RT, Sputnik, and TASS. It really looks like the Anglo-Saxon and Western European media are playing a dirty propaganda game of hiding all facts that are inconvenient for the grand plan to Islamize Europe. They just don't want to show calm, rational nations that nevertheless think it's common sense to fight against mass migration.

So much for the claims that the press freedom in Russia is worse than in the traditional Western countries.

Saturday, April 15, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

My Windows Creators Update froze at 82%

Every year, Microsoft is upgrading its "last" operating system for PC, Windows 10. Sometimes there are two medium-size upgrades a year. The first upgrade was the Anniversary Update and the coming one is the Creators Update.

They are gradually offering the update via Windows Update to selected subgroups of users across the world – to be sure that the Microsoft servers aren't overloaded and to hire the first users of the new update as guinea pigs. I was moderately looking forward to have the update – with things like the 3D paint and other things for creators and gamers. My upgrades from Windows 7 to Windows 10 as well as the upgrade to Windows 10 Anniversary Edition were straightforward and free of visible problems – but still very time-consuming, eating some two hours per update "away from the desktop screen".

Unfortunately, I was among the selected ones who were offered the Creators Update this week. First of all, the download ended up with errors on two previous days. I haven't gotten Windows Update errors for a long time – maybe never with Windows 10 – but the Creators Update download and preparation ended up with an error 5 times – with at least 3 different error codes.