Friday, October 31, 2008 ... /////

CDF sees dark unified SUSY in lepton jets?

An experimental proof of most low-energy signatures of string theory found?

Because the LHC has been delayed by six months, the American experiments at the Fermilab have half a year to find something interesting in their results.

See: Physics World
And it is conceivable that the CDF team just found something shocking.
CDF from October 29th (PDF)
They claim that they see quite a lot of dimuon events in which at least one muon is produced further than 1.5 cm away from the collision point, i.e. outside the beam pipe. In the Standard Model, muons are normally born much earlier i.e. much closer to the collision point.

There has to be another particle that lives for a while - about 20 picoseconds - until it decays inches away from the beam pipe. A scrutiny shows that it cannot be any known particle. Instead, a new paper by Giromini et al. claims that there seem to be three new states with energies 15 GeV, 7.3 GeV, and 3.6 GeV. The heavier states cascade decay to the lighter ones while the lightest one decays into a tau pair after 20 ps or so: so the 15 GeV particle should decay to 8 tau's! To say that the masses of some dark sector states should be fine-tuned to be 2m_tau, 4m_tau, and 8m_tau surely looks bizarre.

More generally, however, we do see a cascade decay into many leptons that tend to fly in the same direction: "lepton jets". Let's not get carried away here: "many" has been redefined to mean "two" for the purposes of these particular events. And so far, "leptons" means "muon" because they are much easier to be detected in the "jets".

Halloween 2008 Superdark Moose diagram

Now, you can get a fresh model that seems to generate - or predict - lepton jets:
Arkani-Hamed, Weiner (PDF): LHC signals for a superunified theory of dark matter
In this picture, dark matter is composed out of particles in a hidden sector: they're charged under a hidden group, G_dark, that is broken near a GeV. This assumption may explain some recent anomalies found by ATIC and PAMELA Anderson ;-) collaborations in terms of dark matter annihilation: see a good enough interpretation of the positron excess at PAMELA released yesterday:
Cholis, Finkbeiner, Goodenough, Weiner
(However, the positrons could also arise from nearby pulsars, which would be unrelated to dark matter, as the PAMELA team hints.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008 ... /////

Sarkozy about the Czech EU presidency

Click the button in the right lower corner to get English subtitles if they're turned off.

Nicolas Sarkozy has made some funny comments that he would like to extend his presidency over the EU to 2009, overshadowing the presidency of Czechia and Sweden in H1 and H2 of 2009, respectively, and erasing pretty much all rules and agreements of the EU at the same moment. The gummi politicians are making fun out of this story.

How media and blogosphere promote crap and mock good science

I would like to review two articles on the blogosphere that completely distort the information about the quality of two technical papers about physics.

Everyone knows that the media often help to ruin the quality control in climate science - a discipline that has become extremely politicized, overrun by ideologically-driven hacks and opportunists. But we can see that glimpses of such dynamics can also be found in disciplines that have not been politicized - cosmology and theoretical physics.

The point shared by all these examples is that P.R. techniques, hype, fear, and ignorant masses manipulated by inconsistent and irrational arguments are used to overshadow the strength of fair, technical arguments.

One of the two blog articles we will look at was written by Sean Carroll who promotes their own preprint about
Dark Photons
that, as I will argue, is not scientifically valuable and brings no interesting results.

On the other hand, Sabine Hossenfelder is trying to mock a fair article about Q7-branes as
Gibberish
because she doesn't have the slightest idea about professional theoretical physics.

In both cases, the bloggers use completely irrational pseudo-arguments to improve the position of weak science and hurt the position of good science. Many of their readers whose vast majority has no idea about physics either are irrationally adopting their bloggers' views and help to create the atmosphere in which bad research is more powerful socially than good research.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 ... /////

Snow in London, freezing Florida

In the morning, Londoners saw the first snow in October since 1934: This is London, Daily Mail, Blog Search. The snow that has overrun the Northern Ireland's roads is going to take over Wales tonight.

Meanwhile, vast portions of Florida experienced the record cold temperatures for this day: Google News.

Three days ago, Anthony Watts mentioned the record cold temperatures in 10 U.S. states, as a big snowstorm was going to close a major highway and schools in the Northeast, including PA, NY, NJ, and VT, catching everyone off-guard.

In New Jersey, it was the biggest October snowstorm since 1972. Thousands still lack power.

Yankees shouldn't complain because nearby Ottawa, Canada was hit by a snowstorm, too. Because of Ottawa's location, it's not shocking that it affected both Ontario and Quebec. The worst snowstorm on record in Tibet has made a recent 6.6-magnitude earthquake tougher.

The total Arctic sea ice area is currently almost 2 million square kilometers higher than one year ago. It is near normal for the end of October, humiliating some would-be "predictions" (self-serving and ideologically driven, unsubstantiated lies) of a new record low for 2008.

John McCain won't regulate greenhouse gas emissions if elected, Sarah Palin announced.

It is unfortunately not too likely but their newly revealed decision will probably not hurt the G.O.P. ticket because 82 percent of the Americans think that climate change is either non-existent, natural, or harmless.

Weather and warming

Because this question - what is the relationship between the weather and "climate change" - is repeating itself so often, let me give an answer once again. What do these weather events show?

The Founding Fathers on redistribution of wealth

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Joseph Milligan, April 6, 1816

“A wise and frugal government… shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” — Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” — Thomas Jefferson

Commercial break: Steve Sailer: Half-Blood Prince (PDF), an online book to be sold in paperback soon
“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” — John Adams, A Defense of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, 1787

Tuesday, October 28, 2008 ... /////

Czechoslovakia: 90th anniversary

Ninety years ago, on October 28th, 1918, the Czechoslovak National Council in Prague proclaimed the independence of Czechoslovakia.

The old Austrian-Hungarian monarchy was lethally weakened by the World War and it was time for a more modern setup - a democratic republic built upon similar principles as the Western democracies including the U.S.

Prof Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the first Czechoslovak president, had convinced his allies - including Woodrow Wilson - that Czechoslovakia would be a problem-free single-national entity because the Czechoslovak nation was dominant.

And he was almost right - at least for 20 years. The country was an island of happiness, freedom, and prosperity in the middle of a sea of anxiety, totalitarian plans, and crises. Things worked fine until the late 1930s when 90% of the German minority in the Sudetenland - 30% of the population - decided that they had always wanted to be a part of the Third Reich. Most Slovaks suddenly decided that they were a separate nation, too.

Monday, October 27, 2008 ... /////

Global warming caused by solar panels

This finding is kind of cute.

Alexander Ač has pointed out that a greenhouse gas emitted during the production of solar panels and HDTVs, nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) that is used for cleaning some parts of the gadgets, is about 17,000 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Google News, UC San Diego press release, Geophysics Research Letters (search for trifluoride)
The concentration of NF3 in the atmosphere was artificially increased by a factor of 20 during the last two decades. The measurements of the concentration surpassed the previous estimates by a factor of five.

Obama on redistribution of wealth

The most discussed YouTube video today has terrified me, too. And I am not even an American. What did Obama reveal about the ideas hiding behind his moderate face?

Sunday, October 26, 2008 ... /////

Czech entomologist freed himself in India

Six weeks ago or so, we mentioned the

lawsuit against two Czech entomologists in India.
They were collecting beetles in India. After very confusing legal proceedings, the more famous scientist, Dr Petr Švácha (left - a typical pure scientist, isn't he?), was ordered to pay a fine and released while his amateur assistant, Mr Emil Kučera (right - a practically oriented man, right?), was sentenced to three years of prison as well as to pay a fine.

Švácha publishes a lot while Kučera doesn't. Nevertheless, about 30 species are even named after Kučera.

Happily enough, Švácha should be released soon while Kučera is already back to Czechia. Mr Emil Kučera has used the general chaos in India and before a new wave of legal proceedings (he appealed, of course), he escaped from the legally unpredictable district: see DPA. Congratulations!

If you want to know more details, here are some comments from a recent interview.

He has contacted his girlfriend in Czechia and asked her for contacts in India, a credit card, plus his second legally held passport. ;-) After four kilometers in a Jeep, he spent two hours by getting into Nepal. Again a Jeep, and a bus, and a fine in Nepal for being there without visas. :-) Finally, he legally received the Nepali visas, after some discussions and 2,000 rupees (= USD 40) in bribes (an online interview with readers), and bought an air ticket to Bangkok, Frankfurt, and Prague from a travel agency. That's what I call transparency. :-)

Charlie Rose & Stephen Hawking

Well, much like Hawking, I also thought that Rose's question - "What did you mean by the analogy between Mt Everest and a theory of everything?" - was a very stupid question. How can someone possibly misunderstand what this means? ;-)

Imagine how Stephen Hawking in particular must feel when people overwhelm him with similar dumb questions that take long minutes to be answered.

Saturday, October 25, 2008 ... /////

Gravitons and decoherence

But gravity works - presumably, at some level - by massive objects constantly bombarding each other with gravitons, so we are also averaging over all the possible states of gravitons that we are not keeping track of, aren't we? That should cause decoherence too, shouldn't it?
The people at Cosmic Variance seem to be rather deeply confused and impressed by this question. Because I think that there is nothing confusing or impressive about it, let me tell you the correct answer. Of course, I will agree with Sean Carroll that photons, and not gravitons, are responsible for most of the observationally relevant decoherence but there are many other issues at stake here, too.

Electromagnetism and gravity

First of all, all the qualitative facts about gravity hold for electromagnetism, too. Both forces may be visualized as an exchange of intermediate, virtual particles - photons or gravitons. And both forces may be traced to a field in spacetime - the electromagnetic field or the spacetime geometry, respectively. These fields may be excited and the excitations behave as real particles - photons and gravitons. Large, coherent configurations of these particles behave as classical waves - electromagnetic waves or gravitational waves, respectively.

But in both cases, there is a difference between many real particles and many virtual particles.

Many real particles may carry a huge entropy S. This statement means that there exist many, N distinct microstates: S is approximately equal to ln(N) times Boltzmann's constant. The entropy carried by many particle never decreases macroscopically - that's the second law of thermodynamics that defines the thermodynamical arrow of time.

Obama: a natural-born U.S. citizen?

I learned about this story two days ago, from a Czech online newspaper, The Invisible Dog. At the beginning, the idea that Barack Obama was not constitutionally eligible to become the U.S. president sounded completely insane to me. Hasn't anyone among 300 million people noticed for 4+ years?

However, I soon realized that people don't really want to find problems that are inconvenient for them and many others are afraid to find any problems because they could become politically incorrect or "racist" in the eyes of the first group. These are circumstances in which the classic Emperor's new clothes may emerge in megalomanic proportions.

Back to 1961

Ann Dunham, a U.S. citizen, and Barack Obama Sr, a citizen of Kenya, married in February 1961 when she determined that she was pregnant. They only divorced a few years later. Now, the rules for Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship By a Child Born Abroad say the following thing about the situation:

Birth Abroad to One Citizen and One Alien Parent in Wedlock: A child born abroad to one U.S. citizen parent and one alien parent acquires U.S. citizenship at birth under Section 301(g) INA provided the citizen parent was physically present in the U.S. for the time period required by the law applicable at the time of the child's birth. (For birth on or after November 14, 1986, a period of five years physical presence, two after the age of fourteen is required. For birth between December 24, 1952 and November 13, 1986, a period of ten years, five after the age of fourteen are required for physical presence in the U.S. to transmit U.S. citizenship to the child.)
Now, 1961 obviously fits to the 1952-1986 interval so the last sentence in the parentheses is relevant. Because Ann Dunham was less than 14+5=19 years old, she wouldn't satisfy the requirement if the birth took place in Kenya and Barack Obama Jr wouldn't be born as a U.S. citizen.

Where was he born?

Fine. So the question whether he was born in Hawaii or Kenya is constitutionally important. His black grandmother in Kenya and half-siblings apparently believe that they were physically present during the birth in Kenya. It seems that they have indirectly convinced most of Africa about this point. See e.g. these African newspapers that celebrate a Kenya-born U.S. president.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008 ... /////

Gore effect comes to Harvard University

Special welcome to Drudgereport and Instapundit readers

A reader using the "trademark" of the Office of the President of Harvard University informed us about a hilarious event in Cambridge, MA, namely the Harvard Sustainability Celebration:

Green.harvard.edu: green is the new crimson
If they can change the color of the Harvard logo so easily, maybe their planet is also green, not blue, after all. The Harvard College Democrats ask why the "reduce reuse recycle rethink" posters are 4 times larger than the previous record holders.

But they are kind of obliged to be happy about the keynote speaker, Mr Al Gore, who is famous for his big house, jet, and the so-called Gore effect. Dictionaries explain the term as
The phenomenon that leads to unseasonably cold temperatures, driving rain, hail, or snow whenever Al Gore visits an area to discuss global warming. Hence, the Gore Effect.
It seems to be working again: see Weather Underground (no, it is not the leftist militant group that may have inspired Barack Obama: the name of the weather service is just a good joke).

Disclaimer: this picture is not real.

In Cambridge, the warmest October 22nd occurred in 1979 when the temperature climbed to 83 °F. Well, it doesn't look like what they see today. Even the average high temperature for this day is 60 °F which is still far too high. After the noon, the temperature in Cambridge is 44.5 °F. Tonight, it is predicted to drop to 34 °F, close to the record low of 28 °F measured in 1940.

(The weather in Pilsen seems almost identical now. Brrr.)

The forecast for Greater Boston from Sunday looked even more dramatic. Al Gore's speech was on Wednesday. Click the picture to see that on Sunday, they actually predicted snow for Wednesday. That didn't happen, after all, but nearby Vermont did receive its first snow this year today.

For Thursday night (the day after ... the speech), the temperature in Cambridge is forecast to drop below the freezing point to 28 °F which, if true, will beat the record low temperature set in 1883, which means exactly 125 years ago, when it was 29 °F. Not bad! (Sorry, during Thursday, the prediction of 28 °F for tonight was raised to 31 °F; not quite a record but still below freezing.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 ... /////

Predicting the spacetime dimensionality

In this text, I would like to expand Moshe Rozali's comments about string gas cosmology and clarify the difference between legitimate speculative work in physics and hopeless charlatanism. We will talk about the attempts to theoretically justify why the dimensionality of our spacetime is 3+1 and I will compare the following two papers:

Brandenberger & Vafa: Superstrings in the early Universe (1988)
Ambjorn, Jurkiewicz, Loll: Emergence of a 4D world from causal quantum gravity (2004)
The first program will be referred to as "string gas cosmology" (a modern term) while the second program will be referred to as "triangulation".

The problem

Most people can observe one dimension of time and three spatial dimensions. They seem to obey the laws of a smooth, quasi-Euclidean (or Minkowski) geometry, at least in some approximation. In particular, the three spatial dimensions seem to be nearly flat and smooth dimensions following the rules of the Euclidean geometry.

Northern Greenland: less ice 6,000-7,000 years ago

If you look at the recent pictures, you will notice that the northern beaches of Greenland are surrounded by ice throughout the year.

However, Norwegian (Astrid Lyså and Eiliv Larsen) and Danish researchers recently investigated raised beach ridges on the north coast of the island and determined the origin of the shores. Because pack ice and wave activity influence their formation differently, they could see that there has been a lot of waves over there. Also, dating techniques showed that these beaches molded by open water were born 6,000-7,000 years ago.

Science Daily (click)
It follows that in the middle of the hypsithermal, there was much less ice in the Arctic than today. In particular, the North Pole had to be periodically ice free for a long time.

Figure 1: Cold weather returned to the area 4,000 years ago and ruined the Independence 0 Culture. The stones are from a later Independence I Culture.

Now, you may ask what does it have to do with global warming. Had their findings been "convenient", you would surely read a lot of links with the current climate, gloomy predictions, and concerned calls to deliberately cripple the industrial civilization.

Monday, October 20, 2008 ... /////

PDO and temperature trends

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) was switching into cool and/or warm modes almost exactly when cooling/warming trends began in the 20th century.

This observation has been known to Joe D'Aleo and others for years. Roy Spencer is now completing a paper for Geophysical Research Letters in which he quantifies these relationships:

Weather Questions, Anthony Watts's blog
Spencer assumes that the cloud cover is affected by the PDO index - which is almost certainly the case, the only question is "how much". These variations influence the deeper ocean where the heat may be stored and mixed for many decades or a century. Finally, he puts these things together to optimally match the thermometer data.

You can see that the PDO-only model describes the temperature pretty well at the qualitative level, including the slight cooling between the 1940s and late 1970s. However, the fit gets improved if you add a term proportional to the CO2 concentration. However, such an addition only adds 0.2 °C to the temperature or so - close to the expected effect of CO2 throughout the 20th century. It shouldn't be shocking that the resulting CO2-induced warming for the 21st century is well below 1 °C, too.

Incidentally, the highly asymmetric (red) IPCC range indicates that what dominates their calculations of the sensitivity is not a full-fledged model of reality but a set of priors. If they had a full model, the 90% confidence level range would be pretty much symmetrically distributed around the most likely central value.

Sunday, October 19, 2008 ... /////

Ernest Rutherford: an anniversary

Ernest Rutherford died on October 19th, 1937, i.e. 71 years ago. Why? Because he needed an umbilical hernia repair. Since he was a baron (Baron Rutherford of Nelson), the feudal rules dictated that he had to be operated by a titled doctor. The delay killed him.

The message is that you should refuse to be knighted if you are at risk of needing this type of surgery. ;-)

But we should start at the beginning. Ernest was born as "Earnest" (because the hospital employees were illiterate) on August 30th, 1871, in New Zealand into a family of a farmer who immigrated from Britain. He studied at some local schools, presided over the local "debating society", and went to the Cavendish Lab in Cambridge, U.K. to get a PhD. He briefly became the world champion in the distance beyond which electromagnetic waves had been detected.

Ernest focused on radioactivity pretty soon. He invented the names "alpha, beta" for the types of radioactivity. Whenever things look mysterious, people use Greek letters or M to label them. ;-) In 1898, he became the boss of physics at McGill in Montreal. He demonstrated that the radioactive decay influences the bulk of the matter and the half-time is thus universal for each radioactive substance. That allowed the people to use the radioactive decay to measure time, proving that the Earth was older than previously thought, among other things.

Bizarrely enough, these discoveries earned him the 1908 Nobel prize in chemistry. At that time, people didn't realize that radioactivity was no chemistry. Why didn't they realize that it was no chemistry in 1908? Because they didn't know about the atomic nuclei yet. Atomic nuclei were famously discovered one year later, in the 1909 "Geiger-Marsden" experiment supervised by Rutherford himself. In this way, Rutherford has proved that his prize 1 year earlier was a mistake. ;-)

In this experiment, helium nuclei - alpha particles - are reflected from a thin gold foil into a zinc sulfide sheet that lights up when hit by an alpha particle. Because they could clearly see that the alpha particles are sometimes reflected exactly in the opposite direction, backwards, it proved that the atoms were not made out of "plum pudding" (the plums were the light electrons in this model while the positive matter, dominating the mass, was uniform!).

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar: a birthday

Padma Vibhushan Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, FRS, was born on October 19th, 1902, in Panjab Lahore (British India, today: Pakistan) into a Tamil brahmin family. The name, Chandrasekhar, is one of Shiva's appellations: it means "holder of the moon" in Sanskrit.

Quite a good name for a guy who calculated the force keeping solid celestial bodies from collapsing.

His father was an achieved musician while his mother was a translator. He was their first kid but because they wanted him to be a perfect kid - like a dimension in critical superstring theory - they had 10 kids in total. ;-) Chandra's uncle, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, was a physics Nobel prize winner, too (for the Raman effect, inelastic scattering of photons off vibrational modes of molecules).

Chandra studied various local schools, the Presidency College, and was sent to Cambridge, U.K. with an Indian government scholarship. He was admitted to Trinity College: Ralph Fowler became his adviser. Paul Dirac told them it was a good idea for Chandra to meet Niels Bohr so Chandra spent a year in Copenhagen, too.

In 1933, he got his PhD and began to talk to Arthur Eddington and Edward Milne. Three years later, he married a one-year younger classmate Lalitha whose support was a "central fact of his life". In 1937, he moved to Chicago - because of reasons to be explained below - where he stayed. During the war, he worked on ballistics.

Saturday, October 18, 2008 ... /////

Pascual Jordan: a birthday

Pascual Jordan was born on October 18th, 1902, in Hanover, Germany, into an old noble Spanish family where all first-born sons were named Pascual Jordan.

The oldest one served in the British cavalry in the wars against Napoleon. These are quite conservative family roots that surely explain a significant portion of his later political inclinations.

When Pascual was 12, his main project was to rewrite science so that it would be literally compatible with the Bible. ;-) But his moderate mentors of religion pushed him in a more conventional scientific direction. At Hanover University, he studied maths, physics, but also zoology since 1921. After two years, he switched to Göttingen which was a really powerful place at that time. He became an assistant to mathematician Richard Courant and later to physicist Max Born. To make you sure, both of them were Jews.

Jordan has worked with many Jews and they usually maintained mutual respect throughout their lives. Many of his colleagues were kind of compatible with him politically: for example, von Neumann and Wigner shared his staunch anti-communism.

He wrote the most famous papers of the mid 1920s together with Max Born and Werner Heisenberg. On a sunny day in June 1925, Heisenberg escaped hay fever to an island (Heligoland) in the North Sea. He was memorizing Goethe's poems and mountain climbing during the days. But at 3 a.m. he realized that non-commuting observables may make sense out of the spectral puzzles. He couldn't sleep so he left his house and waited for the sunrise at the top of a rock.

His ideas at that time were probably very vague. Born and Jordan helped to put these visions on a mathematically firm ground: see one of their papers. Later, all these three Gentlemen wrote the most important papers about matrix mechanics. In this context, matrix mechanics means the Heisenberg picture (with time-dependent operators) of ordinary quantum mechanics for particles where the operators such as X,P are usually written in the basis of energy eigenstates.

Friday, October 17, 2008 ... /////

Cuba adds 1% to world's oil reserves

This is a natural continuation to our discussions about peak oil.

BBC and others report that Cuba claims to have 20 billion barrels of offshore oil. This amount is twice as large as previously indicated. If true, Cuba's reserves will actually match all of the United States. Lucky commie bastards. ;-) The United States should surely try to add the post-Fidel Cuba into the Union.

Recall that the proven world's oil reserves are 1,240 billion barrels so the discovery - or a better geological analysis - increases the reserves by 1%. Because the proven reserves are enough for nearly 50 years of consumption, assuming current consumption, the discovery amounts to 6 months of global consumption.

LHC: 29 magnets broken

Pat and Mat (Czechoslovakia) were clearly hired by CERN.

A closer scrutiny has revealed that the "spilled helium" incident has mechanically damaged 24 dipole magnets (out of 1,232) and 5 quadrupole magnets (out of 392).

CERN report (click)
Forget about collisions in 2008: some sources even say that the LHC will be down through the end of May 2009. It's a lot of lost material: a dipole magnet (left on the picture below) is 15 meters long and weighs 35 tons. The quadrupole magnets (right on the picture below) are smaller, meant to focus the beams.

...

Thank God that the incident didn't blow up the detectors. ;-) The inauguration takes place on next Tuesday, anyway.

Thursday, October 16, 2008 ... /////

Third presidential debate

I was satisfied with McCain's performance, it was nice. Obama is an OK speaker but a lot of things he says are deep misunderstandings. If politics learns as much from experience as Obama does, people are pretty much bound to repeat all of their mistakes all over again.

The example of taxes is typical. In this tough economic atmosphere, it is very obvious that it is mainly the companies and the rich who are in trouble (and loss) from the beginning. The trouble may spread as they become less able to support an active economy. A regressive tax policy would be clearly much better an option for job creation and job preservation.

In plain English, typical employers have to have a lot of money to pay for salaries while the typical employers have to be thirsty to get them. That's the setup that keeps the motors running. The inverse setup would slow the machine down: the 2.8% month-on-month drop in manufacturing could be just a modest beginning. One of the easiest-to-see bad symptoms of the recent mortgage bubble was that wealth - the real estate - was distributed directly to the poorer people, instead of being trickled-down from the top. It can't work like that because no actual big wealth is directly created at the bottom.

Obama's left-wing populist remarks about the advantages for the middle class are completely off the mark. Egalitarianism itself won't help the societies to survive these periods. Let me just mention that Iceland was the fourth most egalitarian country in the world, with CIA Gini index at 25 in 2005.

By the way, this is the worst period for the U.S. dollar to be strong. With the weak local consumers, the U.S. producers will have to rely on exports but at this level, most of the products are unexportable. Much like in all such early recessions, the troubled countries should naturally try to talk their currency down. It's crazy that no one in the U.S. is doing so these days.

Also, both McCain and Obama are completely wrong if they want to simplify cashing of 401(k)'s for the people to "meet short-term obligations" (by canceling fees). For most people, 401(k) is the only resource negatively affected by the recent turmoil and it doesn't influence life now - so which obligations are threatened?

Such cancellations would lead to escalating panic, dropping equity prices, locked-in losses for the people who do it, and generally dark future. Quite on the contrary, the policymakers should do everything they can to encourage investment and to return the parameters - such as the general equity prices - closer to where they were when the economy looked more healthy. I don't say that this should be achieved directly by some social engineering. But the atmosphere must be such that it will happen naturally.

You have surely more relevant observations about the whole debate and I want to hear them.

Oil price

Meanwhile, oil price dropped below USD 68 for a while, increasing the loss from the July peak above 50% - a factor of 2+ decrease. The eighth newest posting on Alexander Ač's blog has the following title:

Dr Robert Hirsch: Oil may cost USD 500 per barrel?!
No, he hasn't posted any correction. Instead, he switched to other questions that can also be contaminated by complete stupidities. Environmentalists always do so whenever it is proven that their brains are made out of recycled garbage. The main problem is that the society is unable to see that certain garbage is unusable for certain purposes - e.g. answering policy questions - not even after the recycling.

EU climate plans close to death

A good long-term consequence of the turmoil is that it helps the crazy plans to "fight climate change" to die. See Times Online. Italy, Poland, together with Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, and Lithuania, oppose the deal. Welcome to New Europe, Silvio, ciao! ;-)

These countries' leaders are inventing various bizarre procedural tricks to explain why they don't have to follow their countries' previous positions. (The Czech Republic would probably benefit from the deal - because the goals talk about a 20% decrease below the 1990 levels which we have more than done around 1991 - which is probably the reason why our guys don't openly oppose it. See the tables of CO2 output per capita in countries.)

Nicolas Sarkozy who has emerged as an important European mujahideen against climate change begins to panic because he wants these crazy regulations to be approved before the Czech Republic takes over the EU in January. We are likely to scale back the centralized demands on the member states. I guess that Sarkozy will lose but the battle is not yet over.

Plants have rights to CO2 at 2,000 ppm

Chimpanzees are going to get human rights in Europe. They won't be real humans so far, just persons who must get their lawyers who can use anti-discrimination laws to protect their clients and who can bring their guardians new tax breaks. But John Christy is ahead of them:

Follow the logic. If flowers, trees, etc. have rights, then they should have the right to their original food supply (CO2) in quantities as it was when they evolved (about five times today's value).

Another follow the logic: If it is legal to commit the crime of vandalism on power plants to reduce CO2, then it should be legal to run stop signs and red lights because you reduce CO2 as a result. John C.
Indeed, half a billion years ago, the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was about 2,000 ppm. That's when the plants began to evolve. They have the right to get their optimum atmosphere that has been catastrophically stolen from them. ;-)

Anyone who prevents the CO2 from returning to 2,000 ppm should be arrested for damaging the basic human rights of billions of Tree Americans, Potato Americans, and other groups that have been discriminated against so far. :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 ... /////

Mind power & artificial nerves

BBC informs about a research done at University of Washington (Chet Moritz et al.) that allowed monkeys to send brain signals to muscles through artificial electric wires.

Nature: a popular review
It could be used for people to directly control machines by their mind power. It turns out that it is much harder to send signals back from the machines to the brain.

Oskar Klein & Murray Gell-Mann: birthdays

One month ago, we celebrated the birthdays of two great physicists. The timing is not that important: it's the content that matters here. :-) Oskar Klein belongs to the history textbooks but Murray Gell-Mann is happily with us. Congratulations!

Oskar Klein

Oskar Benjamin Klein was born near Stockholm to a rabbi's family on September 15th, 1894. You shouldn't confuse him with Felix Christian Klein, a Prussian mathematician who lived half a century earlier.

Oskar Klein was a student of Svante Arrhenius, the guy who found out that the greenhouse effect was logarithmic. Oskar worked at the Nobel Institute and wrote papers about chemistry as a high school student.

In 1914, he wanted to do research in Paris but as the number indicates, he was drafted to the world war. After a couple of years, his service ended so he returned to Arrhenius. But he also met Hendrik Kramers who was a student of Niels Bohr. In 1918, he began to visit Copenhagen with a fellowship. He fixed some bugs in Bohr's work on molecular collisions and wrote a thesis on molecular motion, extending the Brownian motion to ions, in 1921.

Stringy H-field alternative to dark matter?

Yeuk-Kwan Edna Cheung & Feng Xu (Edna is the lady below Stephon Alexander and on the left side from Nadiya Tkachuk on this TASI 99 picture - in the bottom row, she is the second from the left, not from right) propose a radical alternative to the theory of dark matter.

The most important evidence for dark matter are the galaxy rotation curves: the most crucial part of the mainstream explanation is the profile of the density of dark matter. The two physicists propose a completely different and simpler model:

mv2 / r = qHv + m Fgrav
Here, the new term "qHv" replaces the gravitational force of dark matter. In the absence of other forces, a constant "H" makes strings rotate with a constant frequency around a point. But if I understand the indices here well, such a rotating string would have to be radially stretched from the point to infinity.

But ignore my doubts. The proportionality of their force to the velocity "v" is what is needed to change the r-dependence of the velocities similar to the Solar System to the observed LP-record-like dependence with a constant angular velocity. By adjusting one new parameter, "Omega = qH/2m", they can describe the galaxy rotation more or less equally well as a dark matter model which has 2 more parameters. I don't even have to tell you which graph is which because they look equally fine (click to zoom):

Edna and Feng present the new force as a stringy effect. They say it is the Lorentz-like (velocity-proportional) force from "H_{txy}" (xy is the galactic plane) universally acting on strings. Yes, they mean the 3-form field strength of the 2-form NS-NS B-field. I don't quite see what "m" and "q" could universally be and what unnaturally tiny value "H" has but it is surely an interesting fit.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008 ... /////

Will Russia save Iceland?

There are only 313,000 people living on Iceland - Pilsen times two - but there have been many Icelandic people whom I ran into, including Gunnar Pálsson, a physicist and our housing manager at Rutgers, a boyfriend of a friend of mine, and others (Larus Thorlacius will represent Icelandic string theorists here).

Because the Icelandic financial troubles began to influence our lives, I looked what's going on. It's rather unusual.

The most developed country of 2007, according to the United Nations' human-development index, with USD 66,000 GDP per capita, is on the brink of national bankruptcy.

The national banks' debt was rather high so the government nationalized all of them. Payments were frozen and Britain got very upset about its savings.

I am amazed how eager everyone in the world is to let the most developed country of the world to sink next to Zimbabwe. Their currency became worthless, dropping to 20% of the value a year ago. The stock market re-opened today and dropped by 77%.

Where are all the people who are so eager to help? The only serious offer of help came from Russia. Before the war, comrade Stalin offered his hand to Czechoslovakia against comrade Hitler - when the Western allies didn't move their finger - so I don't find it that shocking.

Needless to say, Russia's motivations are probably not entirely idealistic. As Time magazine argues, the Icelandic herring popular in Russia is not the key reason.

Open Office 3.0.0 released

Yesterday, Sun released Open Office 3.0.0:

If their main server is overloaded, use the official Czech mirror that only offers the English versions of the software. I recommend you the full version for your operating system "wJRE".

Monday, October 13, 2008 ... /////

Economics Nobel Memorial Prize: Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman won the

Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
"for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity".

Well, I have no idea what are the important insights that Krugman is supposed to have discovered - I guess the work is going to be a pseudoscientific defense of protectionism - and I don't exactly count Krugman among the brightest and rational people on the planet but I realize that his work has been cited by many others, he is a well-known person, and I find his name to be a natural extrapolation of the recent trends. Unlike Gore and peace, Krugman at least clearly has something to do with economics, regardless of his being the same leftist as Gore.

So in my counting, the economics prize remains somewhere in between the three serious science prizes and the two prizes - peace and literature - that have become jokes attributed predominantly to clowns for political reasons and that I no longer care about.

Because Krugman is known to be a TRF reader - although far from being the first laureate in this category - let me say: congratulations. You may hear the same word from Arnold Kling, an American libertarian economist, even though his description of Krugman's "pioneering" achievements seems somewhat confusing not only for the Europeans as you can read over there.
As Rae Ann has jokingly pointed out, Krugman's award was good news for the stock market. Dow Jones jumped 936.42 points i.e. 11.08%, by far the biggest daily change ever - in the absolute sense (the previous absolute record jump was only 499 points from 2000, the end of the dotcom bubble; however, in 1987, a drop was over 22% while a jump above 11% occurred in 1969).

NASDAQ and S&P 500 jumped 11.81% and 11.58%, respectively. Not bad but 5 more days like that are needed for the stockholders to recover the recent 3-month losses. ;-)
Incidentally, Václav Klaus introduced the Polish translation of The Blue Planet in Green Shackles. Temperature graphs drawn by the Czech president are included.

The boundary state from open string fields

The best hep-th paper today is the first one, about string field theory.

Michael Kiermaier, Yuji Okawa, Barton Zwiebach (PDF)
The authors construct the boundary state - a description of a generalized state of D-branes in terms of a closed string state - from any solution of an open string field theory.

If you think that those 85 pages are too long, the main resulting formulae are (3.18) on page 18 with (3.14) on page 17 that you need to know:

In the second line, the combination of L_R and the graded commutator of Psi with B_R is very natural. In a ("background-independent") purely cubic string field theory, these two terms would come from Psi only: the purely cubic Psi i.e. "Q+Psi" generalizes Q to any background.

The path-ordered exponential, the exponential prefactor with "L_0" in it, and the choice of contours are things that, I believe, no person with IQ below 250 could guess without lengthy calculations. :-) Nevertheless, let me sketch why there are the two integrals. The closed string state is composed out of different points on the closed string - the closed contour integral - and each of these point contributions is able to link the point to any other point on the closed string - the open contour integral in P. The linking is given by open string evolution (the path-ordered exponential).

Amazingly enough, they show that in the Schnabl gauge, these formulae can be computed in analytic form and the resulting boundary states agree with the states you would expect for several known string field theory solutions.

At any rate, the paper improves the people's ability to directly translate between different descriptions of configurations of D-branes and their generalizations. They also increase our understanding of closed strings in open string field theory. These direct dictionaries are very important because they reduce the mystery why there are so many ways - choices of degrees of freedom - that describe the same stringy physics. Once you know the "field redefinition", the two descriptions cease to be "genuinely different".

All their formulae are "tangible" i.e. more than formal: they can be expanded in terms of string oscillators and all the coefficients are finite, unlike the case of some old misleading heuristic Ansätze.

Second paper

I would also say that the second best paper today is the second paper ;-) by Rolf Schimmrigk, "Applied String Theory", although it is far less technical (perhaps atypically for this mirror symmetry expert). He says that there is nothing new or bad about string theory's having many solutions: it's been known for decades and a good theory must describe all possible universes, not just ours.

Much like in previous cases of physics, experimental data are helpful to choose the correct vacuum and he explicitly mentions cosmological, gravitational, and other experimental constraints and future observations that will help to locate the right vacuum (or their class).

Friday, October 10, 2008 ... /////

The new version 0.3.154.3 or newer seems to fix this problem with long delays while opening certain websites:

Imploding markets

Well, the Dow Jones index is back at the 1997 levels - slightly above 8,000 points - and many people seem very anxious.

This is a thread for your opinions about the reasons of the chaos in the financial world; ideas what should be done and what shouldn't be done; predictions for the future.

If you want to see how hundreds of Americans react, see e.g. Housing Panic.

Even Lakshmi Mittal lost about USD 35 billion and may soon die of hunger, assuming that the remaining USD 20 billion are not enough to buy food. ;-)

Incidentally, this is a cute piece of history: on June 28th, 2008, we voted in a TRF poll what is the most serious threat to the world economy. Two percent of the respondents answered that it was the housing slump - which is how we called the current problem at that time. Well, it would probably be somewhat more today. Three months can make a lot of difference.

Three years can make some difference, too. Look at the November 2005 video above in which Ben Bernanke explains Paul Sarbanes (a skeptical Senator) how derivatives and hedge funds are sophisticated, safe, and creative. I suspect that his confidence would be somewhat lower today.

Observables in quantum gravity

Observables

The goal of every quantum-mechanical theory is to predict the probabilities that particular physical quantities - "observables" - will take one value or another value after some evolution of the system, assuming certain initial conditions.

For example, we are using Schrödinger's equation to predict the probabilities that a particle appears at a certain point of the screen in a double-slit experiment. Alternatively, we are predicting the probability that the (decay products of a) Higgs boson and/or superpartners will appear inside a pixel of the LHC detector, and so forth.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008 ... /////

Chemistry Nobel prize: green fluorescent protein

The 2008 chemistry Nobel prize was awarded for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP to

Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, Roger Y. Tsien.
All of them are Americans and will receive 1/3 of the prize. The green fluorescent protein may be found e.g. in sea pansy. It is used e.g. in fluorescent microscopy - you observe green light directly created by a (marked) cell out of the incoming blue light rather than reflected light.

This video explains GFP well. Thomson Reuters (TRF) had fluorescent proteins among its candidates but it expected one winner only, Tsien.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008 ... /////

Physics Nobel Prize: Nambu, Kobayashi, Maskawa!

After a 30-minute delay, the 2008 physics Nobel prize was awarded to

Yoichiro Nambu (1/2), Makoto Kobayashi (1/4), Toshihide Maskawa (1/4).
Yoichiro Nambu joins a long sequence of string theorists who have won the prestigious award: the average string theorist's chance to win the award exceeds 0.1%. For co-founders of heterotic strings, it jumps to 25% and it is over 33% for fathers of string theory, as we will see. ;-)

David Gross is one of his colleagues in this elite group. And I am not even mentioning many Nobel-prize-winning strong supporters of string theory such as Gell-Mann, Weinberg, or Smoot.

Nambu: string theory, color, and broken symmetry

Nambu, a Japanese-born American, is often described as one of the "fathers of string theory": the other two are Susskind and Nielsen. (Veneziano had the right formula but could see no strings.) Together with Goto, Nambu understood that the action of the string is proportional to the proper area of the worldsheet, analogously with the proper time of a particle's worldline.

I find it stunning that not a single media outlet or a blog besides TRF mentions who Nambu actually is. It's like if the word "relativity" were not mentioned in 1921 when Einstein picked his prize for the photoelectric effect. Well, newspapers and blogs are mostly piles of sh*t (except for Scientific American that happens to reprint a nice detailed 1995 story about the seer Nambu: and Nambu was the kind of seer whom sub-par craftsmen like Lee Smolin could not even see as a seer: a real one).

RSS, UAH: September was 0.1 °C warmer

Update: GISTEMP indicates that September 2008 - with the anomaly of 0.49 °C - was 0.01 °C cooler than August 2008. HadCRUT3 says the same thing: September 2008 was the coldest September in this century so far.
RSS MSU and UAH MSU have released their September data about the temperature.
Off-topic: In the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory, The Barbarian Sublimation, Penny revealed some sad aspects of her life to Sheldon who transformed Penny into a multi-user online game addict (Age of Conan). ;-) Incidentally, the two actors (Penny and Sheldon) are rumored to date in the real life: Kaley Cuoco prefers a copy over the original haha.
According to RSS, the month with its 0.211 °C anomaly was 0.07 °C warmer than the previous month. UAH, with a 0.16 °C anomaly, makes it 0.17 °C warmer. Let's focus on RSS. Despite the month-on-month warming, September 2008 was the coolest September in this century so far. The running average of the last 12 months, 0.047 °C according to UAH, was also the coolest one for all months in this century so far.

Many places such as Ireland have witnessed the coldest September in 14 years.

Incidentally, the Sun still seems pretty inactive which is why NASA has shifted the beginning of Solar Cycle 24 into the future again.

ENSO-neutral conditions persist in the Pacific Ocean although the circulation patterns are still closer to a La Nina, according to the weakly status.

A weak tropical storm, Marco, sits above the Eastern coast of Mexico and will evaporate very soon. The Arctic sea ice area is 2 million sq. km below the normal for this season which is still 0.5 million sq. km more than a year ago. The Antarctic sea ice area is at 14.5 million sq. km, near the normal figure of 15 million sq. km for early October but less than a year ago when the anomaly was highly positive.

See the satellite reports for August 2008, a month ago.

Monday, October 06, 2008 ... /////

Václav Klaus: Notes from American Northwest

Update: Now there are parts I-V, including the final portion about the Grand Canyon and the approved bailout.

Well, I obviously disagree with some comments of the Czech president about the financial crisis (as well as about the purpose of education, the future of IT, and the importance of elegance in clothing) but I still think it's interesting enough a collection of essays to quickly translate for you - and many readers will surely agree with all his points.

Notes I (Sept 29th)

On Monday noon we arrived to Portland, the major city of the state of Oregon: the flight from Prague took almost 14 hours. It's a nice summer weather over here, about 81 degrees, and from our Hilton Hotel we can see Mount Hood (11,249 feet) near the horizon. It's something in between Ararat and Popocatepetl: simply beautiful.

Portland is a city with half a million people. It has arguably too much industry, a river, hills around it, bridges, European-style villas, and Czech streetcars produced by Škoda and imported by Inekon. It is a city of the Democrats, more precisely the champions of the Democratic Party. It is said to be a "City of Roses" but I haven't seen any. Finally, it's the greenest U.S. city (in the ideological sense) that wants to produce 100% of electricity from renewable sources. It is also a city of microbreweries. It has its own "soul" that a European visitor can feel: it's not the emptiness of the cities of the middle America. The downtown is alive and pleasant. Much like in Boston or Philadelphia, one can walk here: in other words, it's not a city of cars and huge distances.

In the microbrewery Bridgeport that was recommended to us as a must-visit by Mr Láďa Jakl, a beer superexpert, you can get eight small glasses with specimens of beer on a plate and you should choose one. All of them were good. The idea about our (Czech) beer exclusivity is mistaken as I've known for some time.

Medicine Nobel Prize: cervical cancer, AIDS

Viruses that lead to important diseases have brought their discoverers the 2008 Medicine Nobel Prize.

Mr Harald zur Hausen (Heidelberg, Germany; left) gets 1/2 of the prize for his discovery of human papilloma viruses causing cervical cancer.

The other 1/2 of the award is shared by Ms Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (middle) and Mr Luc Montagnier (both Paris, France; right) for their 1983 discovery of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Sunday, October 05, 2008 ... /////

English pronunciation

Steven Pinker and John Conway write about the pronouncation in U.S. English, with an emphasis on Sarah Palin's idiosyncrasies.

Well, they may be baffled by Sarah Palin but I guess that most people in Central Europe are baffled by all Americans because the pronunciation rules in U.S. English seem completely fuzzy if not non-existent. You know, these things are particularly baffling for Czechs because we have a phonetic, WYSIWYH, system of pronunciation: what you see is what you hear.

Each letter corresponds exactly to one sound and there are about five completely general exceptions. For example, "ě" patalizes the previous consonant whenever possible (or otherwise is pronounced as "ye"); consonants lose their sound at the end of a syllable; and roughly three more rules. After an hour of training, you can completely master the rules how to correctly read written Czech text. In fact, this knowledge will also allow you to correctly and uniquely write words that you hear, up to a few notoriously difficult subtleties (not only) for kids, including the "i/y" dichotomy.

(In Czech words, there are "hard" consonants - h, ch, k, r, d, t, n - that are always followed by "y", others - ž, š, č, ř, c, j, ď, ť, ň - that are always followed by "i", and mixed ones - b, f, l, m, p, s, v, z - that are followed by "i" except for exceptional words and their derivatives where they are followed by "y": kids have to memorize the exceptional words, roughly a dozen of words for each mixed consonant. For verbs, "i/y" often distinguishes masculine/feminime forms at the end.)

If you want to be perfect in Czech spelling, it's a couple of rules to learn but you can master this discipline completely.

On the other hand, it seems that in English, you have to remember both the written form of every word much like its sonic counterpart. If you care about the details, they seem to be largely unrelated. Americans should adopt a normal phonetic way of spelling and comb their pronunciation, too. For example, John's first paragraph would be written in the following form:

Saturday, October 04, 2008 ... /////

Why canonical GR cannot work

A reader called Giotis at Shores of the Dirac Sea asked why we almost certainly know that canonical quantization of general relativity cannot work. Let me answer and carefully keep track of the statements that are established and those that have a chance to be changed in the future.

Classical gravity

First of all, when we talk about the canonical quantization of gravity, we must have the right starting point. By this point, I mean the general theory of relativity. It is a theory that postulates that each point in space and time is equipped with the metric tensor and this metric tensor satisfies certain equations.

Do we know it is true? Well, up to a very high accuracy, we know that it is true in all phenomena we have seen whose characteristic distance scale is macroscopic. The metric tensor in any region can be directly measured by sticks and clocks. The equations it satisfies - Einstein's equations - automatically imply Newton's gravity as the non-relativistic limit. All old-fashioned tests of gravity therefore support Einstein's equations. The detailed form of the equations is pretty much determined by the equivalence principle which is also established experimentally.

Once you go through these arguments, much like Einstein did, you may become certain that general relativity is on the right track and essentially correct at the classical level and dozens of experiments supporting it can't surprise you. The theory inevitably implies the existence of gravitational waves, black holes, and expansion of the Universe.

LHC inauguration: 10/21/2008

Double-click for full screen. See the schedule.

The video is temporarily posted at the top of the blog during the event. Tonight, the video will be removed and the posting will be returned to October 4th.

Yesterday, CERN launched the new grid.

The inauguration of the LHC on Tuesday, October 21st is not canceled:

CERN press release
Otherwise, October will be dedicated to warming the sector 34 up and fixing the problems. All components that are potentially damaged have to be replaced. In reality, the helium spill problem may only mean one month of lost collisions which is not bad after those 14 years.

Incidentally, all lawsuits filed by the LHC doomsaying nuts that I am aware of have been thrown to the trash.

Thursday, October 02, 2008 ... /////

Thomson Reuters: Nobel predictions

Off-topic: The House joins the Senate and passes the revised bailout plan. It helped that Nancy Pelosi avoided her hateful rhetoric, there were more people speaking in favor of the bill, many shareholders apparently called their congresspeople by telephone ;-), and Republican lawmakers explained that "Yes" meant "In God we trust", so even God supported the bailout. ;-) You may join fast-comment discussions about the bailout.
Thomson Reuters has presented its predictions for the 2008 Nobel prize winners (that will be announced next week). During the last several years, they were pretty unsuccessful but let's have a look, anyway.

In physics, they propose the following scenarios:
• Andre Geim, Kostya Novoselov for graphene
• Vera Rubin (only) for dark matter
• Roger Penrose, Dan Schechtman for quasicrystals
and possibly their previous guesses based on a blind interpretation of citation counts:
• Michael Green, John Schwarz, Edward Witten for string theory (that would be the second GSW theoretical physics Nobel prize)
• Alan Guth, Andrei Linde, Paul Steinhardt for inflation
• Emmanuel Desurvire, Masatake Nakazawa, David Payne for some work on optic fibers
• Martin Rees for something in cosmology (origin of CMB or galaxy formation?)
• Sumio Ijima for carbon nanotubes
• Arthur McDonald for neutrino physics
Some of the entries look really unlikely. Nevertheless, they have similar predictions for chemistry, medicine, and economics, too. I don't know those guys so let me avoid the lists of the names. In chemistry, Thomson Reuters has one correct guess: the prize will be awarded for fluorescent proteins. However, they only propose one name, Tsien, but there will be two more winners sharing the award.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008 ... /////

Steve Fossett's plane found

Steve Fossett (click for 12 scenarios summarized in 2007, the URL in the Guardian blog is wrong!) disappeared more than 1 year ago. Suddenly, tourists found his 3 ID's and ten USD 100 banknotes near the Mammoth Mountain, California.

It't not quite clear whether they found it near the Mammoth Mountain or the Minaret Lake area: at any rate, it was West from the Mammoth Lakes. Click to zoom in.

It sounds somewhat bizarre that the banknotes have survived for more than a year and they still look like banknotes.

Another funny thing is that a long time ago, a California highway patrol officer claimed to have seen Fossett's plane flying low near the Mammoth Lakes.

They were never able to trace this officer. But it's obvious that he or she has either seen the actual plane in the area and the airplane should be found, or the officer was cooperating with Fossett on faking his death. At any rate, it would be pretty interesting to find the officer. ;-)

Firefox crashes when exiting: fix

Does your Firefox crash and sends an error message when you exit it? In 95% of cases, the problem is fixed if you disable or uninstall Google Toolbar in Tools / Manage Add-Ons / 2nd tab.

Codpiece topology

In this episode of "The Big Bang Theory" (a CBS sitcom aired in 30+ countries, see 3 parts of this episode at YouTube), string theorist Sheldon Cooper is literally kicked out of his apartment because his roommate and friend, experimental particle physicist Leonard Hofstadter, wants to date Leslie Winkle, an arrogant female subpar scientist who actually believes loop quantum gravity, a slanderous supervillain with an advanced degree who should have been filtered out by the graduate school.

Blonde beauty of average intelligence, Penny, a former potential girlfriend of Leonard, underestimates Sheldon's ability to solve these inappropriate situations. Incidentally, if you need to know the figure, Sheldon's IQ is 187 which turns out to be 60 IQ points above the "smart" category. Sheldon, after quitting Super Mario, enters his apartment and creates the right environment in which Ms Winkle can show her true colors.