Thursday, February 27, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stringless, recursive calculations in string theory

Rutger H. Boels and Tobias Hansen of DESY, Hamburg released a very interesting 66-page-long hep-th preprint today,

String theory in target space
They are effectively generalizing the Britto-Cachazo-Feng-Witten (BCFW) techniques from the case of quantum field theory (gauge theory) to the case of perturbative string theory.

Slightly off-topic. Congratulations to Joe Polchinski who will be 60 in the spring but who already has the Joefest now; see Clifford Johnson and Matt Strassler. If you need a higer-res version of the picture, let me know.

One may say – and they probably say – that they're returning to the mode of reasoning that existed shortly after the birth of string theory (the publication of the Veneziano amplitude) before it was shown that Veneziano's amplitude followed from a theory of strings.

Viktoria Pilsen 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

FC Viktoria Pilsen, previously a mediocre countryside team and now the charismatic soccer team in my hometown whose international and national successes since 2010 or so have been shrouded in mystery, has been playing under a new coach, Dušan Uhrin Jr, for a month because the previous legendary coach Pavel Vrba was stolen by the Czech national team.

So far it looks like Pilsen can continue its miraculous crusades through the European soccer. The new strategy seems to be more defensive than Vrba's, and the offensive character of the game was a part of the special enigma, but today, the defensive game was so incredibly successful and efficient that we may get excited about the refreshed game style, too. (We also played with a new goalie, Mr Bolek, who hasn't played for more than a year but who still seemed like a more than impressive replacement for Mr Kozáčik; Bolek is Czech but he came from Senica, Slovakia.)

Pilsen played the second match against FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine. The team is a giant. For example, it won the last UEFA Cup in 2009 (before it was reorganized as the UEFA Europa League the teams were playing today). In another benchmark of quality, Donetsk is also incredibly good: eleven. That's the number of the Brazilian players (mostly offensive players).

The team is owned by Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine's wealthiest person, who would support Yanukovitch but recently suggested that he is ready to cooperate with the rebels if it's gonna be better for him. It's the kind of opportunism that is probably common among the rich people in general. Ukrainian politics will be discussed at the bottom.

Gestapo-like ADL raid on Roy Spencer

The Anti-Defamation League (originally ADL B'nai B'rith) was founded 100.5 years ago as an international NGO attempting to protect the Jews against libels and anti-Semitic memes and mass hysteria. Sometimes it was successful, sometimes it wasn't. Most of the time, its acts reflected the best values of the humanity; sometimes the other defenders of the best values of the humanity found ADL's decisions controversial or self-serving, to put it mildly.

But as far as I know, the ADL hasn't ever joined the climate debate. Let me be somewhat more specific about this claim.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Smart fitness bands to supersede smart watches

Smart watches haven't been greeted with too much enthusiasm but the freshly presented (in Barcelona, along with two old-fashioned smartwatch models) Samsung Gear Fit seems to be different – an instant leader in the industry of wearables according to many tech pundits.

Here it is pretended that the configuration of the background image for your watch so that it fits your outfit is the most important functionality of this $150 gadget. See also another hand-on video, other videos, CNET review, Google News.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Australian detector center promises gravitational waves by 2016-2017

Another topic, recommended IAS talks: Maldacena on emergent geometry and gravitational-QFT duality, Seiberg on emergent gauge symmetry and Seiberg duality, Witten on knots and Jones polynomials
The Conversation published an essay by Dr David Blair, a LIGO member and especially the director of the Australian International Gravitational Research Centre [sic] at University of Western Australia,
An end in sight in the long search for gravity waves

Copies: Live Science, Science World Report, Phys.ORG
Yes, you see that professionals such as Blair or Strominger or Silverstein have no trouble with the term "gravity waves" even though Germany's SS, a blogger (not to be confused with a paramilitary organization), urges you to be careful and not to mix up these gravitational waves with "gravity waves" which can "only" be waves on the boundary between liquids in a gravitational field.

Nevertheless, your humble correspondent will actually respect the recommendations by SS – not because I am afraid of anything. ;-)

LISA and gravitational waves. Don't lose your sleep so far; the proposed launch is 2034 AD now.

Blair briefly reviews the history of GR and the nearly 100-year-long history of the gravitational wave detection, starting with the maverick physicist Joseph Weber in the 1960s. In the following decades, people realized that some quantum properties of the macroscopic rods had to be understood. They added cooling to low temperatures, lasers, phonons etc.

No gravitational waves have been detected so far – given the limited sensitivity of the existing detectors, this fact is compatible with the predictions of GR – but that should change very soon, we are told.

Monday, February 24, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Can string field theory be a full definition of string theory?

Michio Kaku is 67 today. He's a well-known popularizer of science who often likes to talk about crazy futurist concepts, promote physics using shows and statements that look like excessive if not cheap commercials, and spread excessive fear about things that are not really worrisome. But I still think that many criticisms against him have been unfair and he has done lots of useful work.

In science, he's known primarily for a pair of 1974 papers written with Keiji Kikkawa that established string field theory. More precisely, it was the light-cone gauge bosonic string field theory. People like Green and Schwarz would develop and exploit the superstring version of the formalism in the early 1980s. Witten would initiate a different, covariant (i.e. with manifest Lorentz symmetry) "cubic" string field theory as well as the 1992 boundary string field theory.

I've discussed the status of string field theory in the past and reported various exciting results, like Martin Schnabl's explicit vacuum solution of CSFT proving Sen's conjectures. But let me add a few words.

Sunday, February 23, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Creatures with poor memory may time travel

Last night, I watched The Time Traveler's Wife, based on a 2003 novel by Audrey Niffenegger, so it's time for another crazy post related to Quantum gravity and afterlife and Wormholes into the past.

The host introducing the trailer says that the novel/movie is a work of "good love and bad science" and that Albert Einstein is undoubtedly spinning in his grave now. But I will argue that the general theme about the time-traveling librarian (or at least something remotely similar to it) is actually something that is suggested by Einstein's theory of gravity when combined with some results rooted in quantum mechanics.

A small boy sees his mother – a professional singer – die in a car accident. He escapes because sometimes, usually during moments of stress or excitement, his body disappears and time travels into a nearly random but not quite random point of spacetime, which is usually (surprisingly enough) near the Earth's surface in some relevant situation. The precise rules describing the timing of the disappearance and the spacetime locus of the new materialization are unknown. But just to be sure, only his "body proper" is tunneling in this way so he appears naked at random places and has to look for some clothes after every tunneling event.

Meanwhile, a cute 6-year-old girl who is playing on the meadow meets an apparent 40-year-old nude paedophile in the forest. She gives him her towel but he soon disappears again. Later, he reappears. The girl understands that the man is really able to travel in time. She is being told that she would marry the same person sometime in the future. She's getting prepared for the wedding. Finally, she's really excited and in love when she actually finds the young librarian who still has no idea that she's his partner for life. But he marries her and is becoming happier and more relaxed.

Friday, February 21, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Klaus, Weigl: on the situation in Ukraine

LM: I have never heard Klaus' thoughts on the political matters in Ukraine before I began to write down my impressions about it (newsletter with my remarks on that). Nevertheless, it just happens that I agree with 100% of his and his former chancellor's opinions.

VK+JW: political remark #18: on the situation in Ukraine

1. In its present form, Ukraine is – to a large extent – an artificially created entity that has only become an independent country thanks to the dissolution of the USSR two decades ago.

2. On one side, the country includes territories in the West that have never belonged to the Russian Empire (Subcarpathian Rus, Galicia, and others) and which were only annexed by Russia after the Second World War, territories influenced by the struggle for Ukraine's independence (including fighting on the Nazi side), and on the other side, there are territories whose character has been purely Russian since the 18th century (Crimea, Odessa, the East of the country) for which the independence of Ukraine meant the extraction from their original national entity.

Any SUSY is better than no SUSY

Orbifolds by R-parity could be neat, too
Optimized for the mobile template

Senior particle phenomenologist John Ellis was heard as saying the proposition about supersymmetry (SUSY) in the title and your humble correspondent agrees with that, whether or not he has actually said it.

If it is turning out that SUSY is broken near the Planck scale, it's just fine with me. I would still find a theory with such a high-scale SUSY breaking to be more likely than a theory with no SUSY at all. String theory simply requires SUSY at "some level". Even if lots of apparent fine-tuning (in the Higgs mass and the cosmological constant) remains when SUSY is broken at a higher scale, SUSY still improves the situation relatively to no SUSY. And SUSY makes it more likely that the coupling unification is achieved. The dark matter candidate is another reason.

Sometimes, I was trying to prove or disprove the assertion that a consistent theory of quantum gravity – or any fully consistent string vacuum – restores SUSY at energy scales above the Planck scale. This claim may seem potentially vacuous but it does say something about the spectrum of the black hole microstates. They should see a restored SUSY in some way.

Thursday, February 20, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Gross' QFT lecture at the Dyson 90 conference

Preaching string theory to infidels like Freeman Dyson himself

Last December, Freeman Dyson celebrated his 90th birthday and the conference that celebrated the anniversary took place at the Institute of Advanced Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 26-29 August 2013. I was obviously misled into believing that the conference would take place at IAS Princeton but the truth was more colorful.

David Gross' 69-minute talk above, Quantum Field Theory – Past, Present, Future – was posted to YouTube a month ago. It is one of the interesting videos by the World Scientific Publishing that we may now enjoy.

Brain scans: mathematical beauty acts just like artistic beauty

The concept of beauty in physics or mathematics has been discussed dozens of times on this blog. You may also find things like a two-hour debate about beauty in mathematics – this one features Barry Mazur, Brian Greene, Elaine Scarry, Mario Livio, and Eva Brann.

If it is supposed to be helpful at all, the concept of "beauty" is a problematic one because one must have the "right sense of beauty" which is usually inseparable from some talent as well as education in mathematics and physics in order to really "feel" the beauty of the beautiful laws and mathematical structures and to preserve the beauty's correlation with the truth. For other people, beauty and intuition may be as misleading as helpful.\[

{\Large e^{i\pi} + 1= 0}

\] This identity has been identified as the ultimate beautiful equation by the mathematicians interviewed by the BBC. I like it, too.

However, some neuroscientists have shown that there is one aspect in which the beauty of mathematics looks indistinguishable from the beauty of arts: brain scans:

The experience of mathematical beauty and its neural correlates by Zeki, Romaya, Benincasa, Atiyah (yes, THE Sir Atiyah, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience)

Mathematics: Why the brain sees maths as beauty (BBC)
Euler's identity above induces a similar activity in the (mathematicians') brain as the best works by Mozart, Shakespeare, and van Gogh. On the other hand, e.g. equations from papers about loop quantum gravity manifest themselves just like a painting of Joseph Stalin's buttocks created by Trofim Lysenko using cattle feces or a concert by Pussy Riot.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Erdös discrepancy conjecture proved for \(C=2\)

...but the proof is unreadable for humans...

As Mr Synchlavier informed me, a week ago, Boris Konev and Alexei Lisitsa of Liverpool released their new 8-page preprint

A SAT Attack on the Erdös Discrepancy Conjecture

Nude Socialist, IO9
They finally solved the Erdös discrepancy problem (1932).

Yes, it's the same Erdös who sits at the center of the "collaboration distance" between researchers; my Erdös number is four but of course e.g. my Hawking number is two. Erdös would offer $500 for a solution which wasn't spectacularly generous relatively to the awards you may win these days. What is the problem?

CMS reports a slight higgsino excess: no exclusions possible

The CMS collaboration at the LHC has released two new papers today (so far). One of them reinterprets some results on long-lived charged particles in pMSSM. The other one is arguably more interesting:

Search for electroweak production of higgsinos in channels with two Higgs bosons decaying to \(b\) quarks in \(pp\)-collisions at \(8\TeV\)
It is based on \(19.3/{\rm fb}\) of the 2012 data. They wanted to exclude the higgsinos with masses between \(270\) and \(350\GeV\). However, the exclusions couldn't be derived due to a "slight excess" of the relevant events. This is a seemingly exciting and surely unusual conclusion for an LHC paper – the LHC studies typically confirm the Standard Model with a precision that makes the Swiss watches look like a Soviet [anything].

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Strangelet commission: Tommaso Dorigo wouldn't care if the Earth were eaten

Physicists attacked for endangering the planet, for being less alarmist than the climate change cranks

Tommaso Dorigo of CMS discusses a new bizarre proposal to establish a U.S. commission that would evaluate the risks that the RHIC experiment will destroy our blue, not green planet:

New U.S. Science Commission Should Look At Experiment’s Risk Of Destroying The Earth
One of the two authors of the proposal in International Business Times above (a news outlet that is being cited by TRF positively in a vast majority of cases, but not this one!) is a law professor and the other one is an emeritus law professor. Recall that the destruction of the Earth by an accelerator "will" look like this:

Dorigo mentions several other scenarios by which the mad scientists called "physicists" plan to destroy the Earth and every molecule of it.

Emigration from America: new dirt in the U.S. tax system

3,000 renounced their U.S. citizenship in 2013

I have filed 10 U.S. tax returns in my life. Well, in fact, it was 11 – including the "less than 180 days" at the beginning.

Well before I began to be harassed by professional "discriminated" feminists, professional "discriminated" blacks, and similar atrocious scum sometime in 2005, I hated that experience. The tax returns had to be combined with almost annual exercises needed to get new visas, prolong them, get new stamps for them, and so on. As you know, it's not just about the federal tax returns. One must also file the tax returns for a state – sometimes two states (California, New Jersey). The very doubling (federal, state tax returns) represent a staggering inefficiency in the system. Couldn't the federal IRS or the states' offices just collect taxes at both levels and use one form?

In average, I would spend about 3 weeks – 3 weeks subtracted from anything else I could do – with this terrible stuff (INS+IRS) every year, although the 3 weeks would take the form of a "part time job" spread to something like 5 weeks. The procedure would get faster whenever it would be "mostly repetitive" but new subtleties and changes of the status would emerge almost every year so the reduction was mostly compensated by something else. I could do these things more quickly but the knowledge of the uselessness of these activities just sucked most of the energy from me. Professional tax aides could have helped as well but one would have to pay some additional 10% of the income to these parasites and I always decided that things just can't be that bad yet.

When I would be playing the episode of the Mafia PC game, I would be imagining that the shooting took place in the building of the IRS.

Monday, February 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Signal of neutrino dark matter

By Dr Adam Falkowski (Résonaances; Orsay, France)

The title of this post is purposely over-optimistic in order to increase the traffic. A more accurate statement is that a recent analysis

Detection of An Unidentified Emission Line in the Stacked X-ray spectrum of Galaxy Clusters by Esra Bulbul and 5 co-authors (NASA/Harvard-Smithsonian)
of X-ray spectrum of galactic clusters claims the presence of a monochromatic \(3.5\keV\) photon line which can be interpreted as a signal of a\[

\large{m_{\nu({\rm ster})} = 7\keV }

\]sterile neutrino dark matter candidate decaying into a photon and an ordinary neutrino. It's a long way before this claim may become a well-established signal. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it's not the least believable hint of dark matter coming from astrophysics in recent years.

Live air traffic map

Many of us like realtime maps, like the global wind map (updated every 3 hours).

Gene sent me a link to a mesmerizing truly realtime map of commercial aircraft all over the globe:

Flight radar 24: realtime air traffic map
The map offers you about 6 types of the background (map/satellite etc.: see the menus in the upper right corner). If you hover over a yellow jet, you will learn the name of the flight. If you click at the yellow aircraft, you will be shown additional data about the flight as well as the full trajectory. (Yellow jets are realtime, orange jets are delayed by 5 minutes.)

My challenge is the following: try to predict 2 airplanes above your head.

Saturday, February 15, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Galileo Galilei: 450th birthday

Off-topic. Finally some Czech gold in Sochi: a women's snowboard cross event. It is a violation of the rules to inject testosterone into the veins but a few years ago, a rookie and saxophone player named Ms Eva Samková found out it is perfectly legal to paint a nationally colored mustache above her lips and it has worked; she has won every stage of the competition. The only other duty she had was one during the ceremony – she had to dress the jacket inside out and use the golden liner the designers hid on the other side from the white cloth. So far, Facebook has failed to include "mustache woman" among the 10 officially recognized sexes. :-) Czechia is now 15th with the 1-2-1 medal tally; our Slovak brothers have 1-0-0 thanks to "their" biathlete Nastya Kuzmina who said she was grateful for the Slovak passport (after she was thrown away in her homeland) but Slovaks shouldn't get carried away because despite the passport, she's obviously still Russian! ;-) Due to the excess shame, I chose not to discuss the results of the Czech and Slovak ice-hockey teams.

Incidentally, another cute Czech snowboarder Ms Šárka Sharky Pančochová deserved a medal as well – according to virtually all observers – but the referees screwed it. A journalist and ugly, stuttering, favored spoiled brat Mr Pavel Novotný suggested that Sharky shouldn't whine. So Sharky offered you a prize: if you slap the spoiled journalistic brat into his face and if you record the well-deserved punishment and send it to Sharky, you will get a new snowboard from her including her signature and "thanks". Good luck; similar journalists should be beaten approximately 24 hours a day. ;-) You will need to be fast because lots of Sharky's fans have already found the address of the son of the famous host and comedian.

Galileo Galilei, the father of science, the scientific method, physics, modern physics, and astronomy, among other things (including 2 daughters and 1 son, all of them out of wedlock), was born on February 15th (unadjusted Julian calender i.e. Old Style), 1564 in Pisa, a town in the Duchy of Florence.

That's exactly 450 years ago today. Congratulations, Galileo!

See National Geographic for some fresh out-of-TRF article on Galileo.

His father Vincenzo Galilei was an achieved lutenist (like an obsolete guitar player) and music theorist and the family was doing fine. Nevertheless, this father needed lots of money for some dowries and extra expenses required by Galileo's younger brother Michelagnolo Galilei (another lutenist, one who never earn any real bucks with his music). Despite the relative wealth and fame, one could say that Galileo (who became a lutenist himself) needed extra income and many of his early inventions were actually motivated by the thirst for extra money.

Despite his prestigious background, I would count him as a self-made man who shared many of the typical character features with great folks who come from poor families.

Michio Kaku's theory of polar vortex

NewsBusters, WUWT, Climate Depot, and other skeptical websites have been mocking Michio Kaku's CBS shtick:

Kaku has "explained" the snowy Northeast and Midwest and the relatively dry Californian weather in recent months as the result of the same cause, the "instability of historic proportions" that affects the polar vortex. He could have added the floods in the U.K. as a consequence, too – so that his fairy-tale would become even more global. ;-)

The climate skeptics are making fun of the string field theorist's new book about futurism and the mind. Kaku seems to be keen on telepathy and ESP, according to some sources, which is insane.

Friday, February 14, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stronger voting rights for those who pay higher taxes

An MIT- and Harvard-trained venture capitalist has proposed a system in which the votes are proportional to the wealth, more precisely to the total income taxes you paid last time:

Tom Perkins' big idea: The rich should get more votes
By the way, a month ago, this pundit compared the war on rich that is taking place in the U.S. to the Nazi Germany's treatment of the Jews.

I've been thinking about similar types of "weighting" for 25 years but when I ceased to be a teenager, my excitement about them went down, a little bit.

Well, I've been also thinking about stronger votes for voters with a higher education, but this is a particularly problematic twist because not all schools are created equal. Education (and especially IQ) is hard to measure; it is too controversial.

I was discouraged by the apparent lack of support for the weighting but the main reason behind my decreasing excitement about these proposals was the observation (one that was probably surprising to me – but I have gotten used to it) that rich and formally educated people may do and believe some very stupid things – sometimes it looks like they are more brainwashed, more gullible, and so on.

As Richard Lindzen sometimes says in the context of the global warming gullibility, ordinary people have sense but academics don't. Sometimes it seems that the most stupid, atrocious concepts arise in the heads of the most educated and wealthiest people (like the Hollywood "celebrities"). It may be ironic but there's surely some anecdotal evidence that this is the case.

Thursday, February 13, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Universe is maths, but only some maths is relevant or true

Max Tegmark of MIT has released his book, Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality, a month ago and it just appeared in the Kindle edition, too.

I won't write a full-fledged review, especially because the book looks way too similar to Brian Greene's The Hidden Reality. Greene's latest major book talks about "parallel universes of all types" we find in physics and the most speculative ones, simulated universes and the universe of the mathematical totality as promoted by Tegmark, were described in the last chapters of Greene's book.

Off-topic: Dominique Gisin (Switzerland), a particle physics fan, visited CERN to see how the protons are accelerated to 99.9999% of the speed of light. This CMS enthusiast who thinks that ATLAS sucks in comparison has used the know-how to accelerate herself while downhill skiing in Sochi. Congratulations to the gold medal! She shared the medal with Tina Maze, Slovenian skier and piano player who must have been trained by ATLAS. Click the photo for more info.

Tegmark introduces the reader to some basic physics – including quantum mechanics and cosmology – and then begins to discuss inflation. He is led to define "Level N parallel universes" with different values of the integer label N.

Mammograms don't detectably save lives

I would recommend to scrap the policy of regular, semi-mandatory mammography screening

Overscreening, overdiagnosing, and overtreatment are three of the chronic diseases of the modern healthcare systems. The New York Times brought to our focus the results of an extensive, 25-year-long survey involving 90,000 Canadian women whose results just appeared in the British Medical Journal.

The results seem to clearly show that the use of mammograms doesn't reduce the breast cancer death rate. It is not the first study with a similar outcome – see e.g. this mammogram study one year ago – but it's arguably the most extensive, empirically rooted one.

EU bans "butter spread" in Czechia

Maoist comrade Barroso is celebrating another victory in his Blitzkrieg against freedom in Europe.

In 1977, a creamery in Liberec, North Bohemia began to produce the traditional butter spread known as "pomazánkové máslo" which became an instant hit with the Czechoslovak consumers (although the legend wouldn't ever spread abroad). Other dairies joined and began to produce it. The popular product survived the fall of communism, of course.

Let me mention that in the Czech language, "pomazánkové" is an adjective derived from the noun "pomazánka", a "spread"; "pomazánka" itself is derived from "pomazat", the verb "spread" (or "grease/lubricate [a surface of something, as indicated by the prefix "po-"; "maz" is the root for lubrication and related things; "-at" is just a widespread ending for an infinitive that gets totally changed when the verb is conjugated]).

"Máslo" is "butter", a solid-state milk product that melts at 33 °C or so and that is often spread on bakery products to lubricate them in the esophagus (have you heard this definition of a butter before). The Czech legislation has defined some standards for "pomazánkové máslo". It isn't really one of the no-fat substitutes. "Pomazánkové máslo" has to contain at least 31 percent of fats and 42 percent of dry matter and avoid vegetable fats. Of course, the Czech legislation was crafted sensitively not to damage products that "work" both for producers and consumers.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sochi, swimming, climate, activism

I guess that many TRF readers are following the Olympic Games.

Anthony Watts wrote about the attempt by the climate activists to politicize the event. Even the whacko-in-chief of Bill McKibben has endorsed the petition to fight the climate change.

However, it was only supported by about 105 Olympic athletes, mostly Americans. About 96% of the Olympic athletes silently endorsed the opinion that the climate activists are obnoxious self-serving jerks and scammers.

It is really crazy if some athletes were expecting harsh winter conditions in Sochi.

Will SETI find E.T. WiFi by 2040?

Fusion (off-topic): In October 2013, we were told about a positive energy balance at the National Ignition Facility near San Francisco, California. Today, The New York Times and everyone else spread hype about some further advances since October. I used the term "hype" because I didn't quite understand what the advance since October is supposed to be. The overall energy budget is still poor, only 1% of the energy burned by the lasers is recovered.
The Daily Galaxy is among those who bring us the new E.T. gospel: SETI's chief astronomer Seth Shostak (*1943) promises that by his 97th birthday in 2040, SETI will find electromagnetic signals sent by the extraterrestrial non-resident aliens.

I am afraid that if he's around in 2040, people will have forgotten about his promise and if they will remember, they won't spank the poor 97-year-old man, anyway.

He builds the prophesy on the quantification of the number of planets that are being discovered and analyzed, their percentage in the habitable zone, and some amazing assumptions about the "straightforward" evolution of the intelligent life if not the technological singularity.

Stephen Wolfram agrees and adds some comments that these clever ETs produce so complex and sophisticated artificial products that they become indistinguishable from the natural objects ("very advanced cars start to resemble trees", he essentially says).

I tend to disagree with all these guesses.

Weak gravity conjecture may forbid naturalness

See also Jacques Distler's blog post for a more technical review of the paper.

The Weak Gravity Conjecture (WGC) by Arkani-Hamed, Vafa, Nicolis, and your humble correspondent is arguably the most well-known example of Vafa's "swampland" restrictions – conditions obeyed in string theory and/or/i.e. consistent theories of quantum gravity that have no reason to be obeyed in general effective field theories. WGC and other swampland restrictions are testimonies of the bonus predictive power offered by string theory. (Ironically enough, WGC actually has more citations than the original swampland paper.)

WGC effectively claims that gravity has to be the weakest force (yes, just like it is the weakest one in the Universe around us). More specifically, for every other force, e.g. a \(U(1)\) gauge force, there has to exist a sufficiently light particle species for which the gravitational force between it and its identical partner is weaker than the gauge force. In normal variables, it means that a particle lighter than \(g_{U(1)}m_{\rm Pl}\) has to exist.

So very weakly coupled gauge theories may be "allowed" but they're disfavored in the sense that they inevitably have consequences for low-energy physics. The weaker gauge coupling you consider, the lower is the mass scale at which you may see additional consequences of the weak coupling.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Cardinality of bases doesn't matter for Hilbert spaces

Set theory, cardinals, ordinals, unmeasurable sets, and other pathological mathematical structures have no legitimate power in physics

Laymen (e.g. postmodern philosophers) interested in spirituality and physics (...) often talk about things like the "influence of Gödel's theorems about incompleteness on physics" and similar things. They usually want to believe that this theorem must imply that mathematics and science must be limited, leaving the bulk of the human knowledge to witches, alternative doctors, ESP experts, dragons, priests, and global warming alarmists, among related groups of unscientific charlatans.

A cardinal, Czech Catholic Boss Dominik Duka, is in the middle. He's now a fan in Sochi. Who believes in Christianity, may be helped; who doesn't, isn't hurt. ;-) At least that's what Miloš Zeman, the current Czech president (man on the right in the picture; just having virosis which has been misinterpreted as his being drunk) and the self-described clumsy mascot of the Czech athletes (now also in Sochi), said.

With their restricted resolution, "Gödel's theorem on imncompleteness" seems to be the same thing as the "Heisenberg uncertainty principle". However, the truth is very different. The mathematical insight by Gödel has no relationship to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle and none of the two imply that the laws of Nature cannot be pinpointed precisely, anyway.

When it comes to the irrelevance of Gödels theorems for physics, the truth is actually much more far-reaching. None of the major developments in the post-Cantor efforts to axiomatize mathematics and set theory has any implication for physics. This is partly related to physics' being fundamentally continuous. I want to dedicate this blog entry to this irrelevance.

Zeilinger's Newton Lecture on foundations of QM

On Sunday, Peter F. would send me a link to an obnoxious anti-quantum tirade by Adrian Kent. Except for some random uncontroversial spam about the discovery of nuclei and other things, it's nothing else than another salvo saying that quantum mechanics has to collapse because it is not classical physics – it is refusing to fulfill the obligation to say what is happening during the experiment. Well, quantum mechanics answers this question completely clearly and unambiguously when it says that it is physically invalid to ask about the measurable quantities before they're measured – they just don't have any specific properties. I decided that Adrian Kent didn't offer anything new and I've explained why folks like him are cranks too many times and it didn't make any difference whatsoever. Let me promote something more sensible instead.

In 2008, quantum information experimenter Anton Zeilinger of Vienna won the Newton Medal (U.K.). He gave a talk:

The video has 68+ minute. In the beginning, the host mentions that when Slovakia joined the EU, they would send a quantum message to the Slovak colleagues that would say – if I include the text in between the quantum lines – "Haha, you're finally back in the Habsburg Empire, you Slowakische Untermenschen!" ;-)

Saturday, February 08, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Juan Maldacena's NYU colloquium on QM, GR

Some hot promising yet divisive conjectures mentioned

Readers with 66 spare minutes are recommended to watch a colloquium that Juan Maldacena, an inaugural Milner Prize winner and the father of not only the AdS/CFT correspondence, gave at the New York University a week ago:

He's introduced and the sound quality improves immediately afterwards. In fact, it seems like the participants at NYU didn't enjoy the same quality as the YouTube viewers like you.

Friday, February 07, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An equation of intelligence

Alex Wissner-Gross' thoughts are probably too good to be true

Óscar Gómez asked me about a 12-minute November 2013 TED talk by Alex Wissner-Gross. He would talk about an equation or principle that produces all intelligent behavior.

I know Alex very well. We would often talk about his great inventions at Harvard where he was a PhD student. Now, he has degrees from physics, computer science, nanoscience, electric engineering, and various fields like that, and is an ambitious inventor and entrepreneur. Now he's affiliated with some Harvard and MIT artificial-intelligence-related institutes.

Some of his self-promoting paragraphs say that he's also trying to find a way "how to make people aware of climate change". That's of course distasteful, Alex. What about looking for a way to "make the people understand that the climate change activists are a dangerous terrorist pseudoscientific organization fighting a non-existing problem and trying to control the rest of the mankind"?

CERN may sometimes build its bigger SSC

The FCC (Future Circular Collider) would beat the cancelled collider in Texas

Physics World mentions a conference in Geneva that will start next Wednesday. Some important personalities will be discussing the long-term future ambitious plans of CERN.

The LHC is the small circle at the top. Its Southern "endpoint" could touch a new ring of circumference of 80-100 kilometers. Note that the SSC in Texas that was abolished in 1993 was supposed to have circumference 87.1 km so the proposed CERN collider is exactly in the same size category.

The SSC was supposed to boast energies 2 times 20 TeV (i.e. 40 TeV center-of-mass energies). However, the predictions for the same-size CERN collider sound better, around 100 TeV. This increase is due to the improvements of the magnet technologies in the last two decades. One must say that despite the absence of any "super" in the modest name of the LHC, it is using a more efficient (not just brute force) technologies to accelerate than the SSC was planned to use; and of course, the magnets are superconducting, too. The SSC was only "more super" than the LHC when it came to the size and brute force.

Study finds a huge discrimination against boys at schools

Science shows that the opposite of the feminist claims is true

In the famous Czech cartoon for kids, Mr Mach and Ms Šebestová (right) found a torn off telephone receiver. Comrade teacher Ms Kadrnošková (pink skirt) tends to treat Mr Horáček and Mr Pažout as two ultimate losers although they may be smarter than Ms Šebestová and she just dislikes their rebellious character. Episodes at YouTube.

Czech news server discusses a pair of new sociological papers about the favoritism in education:

Czech teachers disciminate against boys. A new study debunks the feminists.
Dr/Mr Petr Matějů, the currently most cited Czech sociologist and the dean of a Faculty of Social Studies, along with Dr/Ms Natalie Simonová, another sociologist (who is as pretty as her namesake with an extra diacritical sign, a model), wrote a paper to be printed in the March 2014 issue of Orbis Scholae (The Eye/Circle/World of Schools) titled
Who is disciminated against at school: boys or girls?
An extended international version written along with the Prague-based U.S. sociologist Michael L. Smith will appear in the upcoming issue of The British Journal of Sociology of Education.

Their research has analyzed the decade-old exams and grades from 2003 of 2,598 nineth-graders (*1987). The data included the reading and mathematical abilities in the international research tests PISA (where favoritism isn't possible), along with the grades from the normal school process where favoritism is possible. They were interested in various correlations of these numbers with the schookids' sex, socio-economic, cultural, and family background, and the kids' further plans.

Ukraine: can U.S., U.N. meddle with it while [having coitus with] EU?

Some comments related to Russia and Ukraine.

First, Madonna introduced the two freed Pussy Riot members in Brooklyn. She said that thanks to them, "pussy" became a sayable word in her household. Her 8-year-old kids are learning to speak and they are already saying "pussy" all the time, making their mom proud.

Madonna's behavior is an example of the pure cluelessness of the mass culture's "celebrities" about politics. Hours after the concert, the two Russian women were finally freed. More precisely, they were fired by Pussy Riot, i.e. by its remaining members (Cat, Garage, Headlamp, Goal, Seraphim, and Schumacher). The reason is that the two babes have talked about the prison rather than about feminism and the separatist resistance that really matters (not to mention that Madonna isn't a p*ssy but rather a c*nt for the group).

Well, the other members may be trying to preserve a part of the trademark and the fame. They have annnounced that the famous babes are not only fired but the group has "lost two friends" while the world has earned two interesting activists.

Thursday, February 06, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Life 15 million years after Big Bang vs anthropic principle

Harvard/Israeli astrophysicist Abraham Loeb posted a rather creative, playful preprint one month ago that was discussed by Shalom Life (plus others) a few days ago:

The Habitable Epoch of the Early Universe
When we talk about life in the Cosmos, we usually think about habitable zones around the stars where the temperature is "just right" to allow for liquid water and other compounds that are useful for life as we know it.

But Loeb pointed out that the right temperature was once found in the whole Universe so stars were not needed.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bill Nye debates Ken Ham

Evolution vs creation

If you have 2.5 spare hours, you may want to watch the debate between a creationist and an evolutionist.

The moving content begins around 13:00.

Bill Nye is known as "The Science Guy" who became famous after he stole Professor Proton's shtick (and Sheldon Cooper's wallet). Ken Ham is an Australia-born founder of various creationist facilities. A CNN host moderated the debate somewhere in Cincinnati.

Their yesterday's debate was sort of friendly. Once viewed as the prototype of a bitter intellectual war, the creation-vs-evolution cold war morphed into a pleasant piece of debate. It can't be compared with the climate change debate which is much more vitriolic. I think it's largely because of the societal implications of the climate panic – and because it's not clear where the front lines are. In the religion-based debates, everyone knows that everyone has heard most of these things and the believers or creationists have a certain concentration in some regions and it is only changing slowly. In the climate debate, the concentration of the enemies could be around the corner.

When it comes to the climate change, Bill Nye would be a hardcore Young Earth creationist who believes that the climate began to change not 6,000 but just 100-200 years ago. The climate was created to the man's image and nothing about it is natural, he believes. He is a complete lunatic. But when he talks about the longevity of the Universe and the Earth and about Darwin's theory of the origin of species, he is just fine. I think that he designed the case very cleverly.

Aristotelian teleology was never scientifically sensible

Sean Carroll believes many bizarre – more precisely, demonstrably wrong – things about the arrow of time. A few days ago, he decided to "humanize them" by partially defending Aristotle's teleology.

Reality, Pushed From Behind
Aristotle believed that events are happening in the way they are happening because of some purpose – because of some "mandatory" final state that everything must converge to. Carroll admits that science was being built on "dysteleological physicalism" but he still defends the musings by "smart cookie" Aristotle by many pseudoarguments.

If you think about the word "purpose" and if you realize that this is a favorite religious theme in the context of "God's plans", you can't be too surprised that Aristotle became a darling of the medieval Catholic bigots who have hijacked the education system and introduced the system of mindless mass indoctrination by worthless, dogma-based pseudoknowledge. This indoctrination was known as "scholasticism". This attitude was among the main reasons why the Dark Ages were so dark; why scientific, technological, and social progress has virtually stopped for many long centuries.

Monday, February 03, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

SUSY as a balanced budget amendment

Off-topic (via W. Zajc): Dennis Overbye of NYT wrote an article about \(1+2+3+\dots = -1/12\) which looks sort of decent to me. He's generally a very good science writer, I think. The cartoon is also amusing and, when interpreted correctly, insightful.
Just a link. Kyle Cranmer of NYU (and ATLAS) at Quantum Diaries develops a fun analogy between the government and the Higgs naturalness:
The Higgs Boson: A Natural Disaster!
The tax revenues are the positive contributions to the Higgs squared mass, the government expenses are the negative contributions. The budget surplus or deficit (well, usually the latter) depends on the year (well, it is getting worse) while the total Higgs mass depends on the renormalization group (RG) scale (the cancellation looks increasingly fine-tuned if you look at it from the viewpoint of lower and lower energies relatively to the cutoff scale).

Some RG effects are even compared to the inflation.

Sunday, February 02, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Reactions to Hawking's black hole denial

A week ago, we discussed the media buzz about Hawking's claims that event horizons don't exist.

In the following days, I've read numerous reactions of physics bloggers (in the blogosphere) and other physicists (in the e-mail). While I agreed with many detailed statements and much of the spirit of some people's reactions, there are still too many things that I disagree with; many things they haven't said; many things that seem orthogonal to things that matter; many confusions they still have about the actual way how black holes work, and so on.

There is clearly nothing such as a "broader quantum black hole community" that would live similar intellectual lives and evaluate the events and discoveries in a comparable way.

Here, I wanted to discuss some points in the replies by

Matt Strassler, Clifford Johnson, and Sabine Hossenfelder
as well as some extra comments by some of my e-mail correspondents who will remain anonymous (at least for a while).

Saturday, February 01, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Split country: understanding how West, East Ukraine actually differ

In a previous text about Ukraine, I would talk about the country as a single entity. It was the ultimate cradle of Russia and due to its orthodox religion, it belongs to the cultural East of Europe.

But the largely geographic tension between its two halves has been around for decades and it is apparently getting more serious and the "divorce scenario" starts to be discussed as a possibility which is why some "more divided, regional" perspective may be appropriate. Much of the information we are reminded of by the intelligent Czech media is arguably unknown to the typical people in the West who are being brainwashed by the idea that the "West Ukraine folks" must be the good ones (they're not told that they are the pro-Nazi, anti-Semites, homophobes etc.) while the East folks must be bad (they're not told that it's where the main industrial powerhouse is located, among other things).

Most of the polarization in the recent decade goes along this border between the official Ukrainian regions that could belong to the West Ukraine and to the East Ukraine; the particular map above shows the 2004 presidential elections. So I think (or propose) that the hypothetical division of the country would respect this boundary. However, I would argue that the historical border dividing Ukraine to two parts is very different, pretty much orthogonal to this one – and I mean that literally.

Rutgers giving credits for politicizing Beyoncé

I was defending my PhD on 9/11/2001, 9:30 am, about 43 kilometers from the World Trade Center, more precisely at the Busch Campus which belongs to the New Brunswick campuses of Rutgers. Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, also has campuses at two very different places, Newark and Camden.

Beyoncé: Halo

You could argue that the resulting PhD diploma is just a dirty piece of toilet paper and the following story that I was sent by Honza U. supports the validity of such a claim:

Beyoncé college course offered at Rutgers University
The Department of Whining Feminists, Sluts, and Bitches of Rutgers University in New Brunswick (I hope that I remembered its name accurately; if I have forgotten an article, I humbly apologize) is actually offering you college credits for "politicizing Beyoncé" which is – I kid you now – the title of the course.