Monday, September 30, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: \(2.5\)-\(\sigma\) excess in top+Higgs production with dileptons

If real, it's one of the most universal signs of the gluino

The CMS experiment just released a new paper which I mention because it explicitly claims an excess, unlike the overwhelming majority of papers that agree with the Standard Model almost perfectly:

Search for the standard model Higgs boson produced in association with top quarks in multilepton final states (CMS PAS HIG-13-020)
The heaviest known elementary particle is the top quark, \(t\), along with its antiparticle. Their mass is \((173\pm 1)\GeV\) or so. The second heaviest known elementary particle is the Higgs boson, \(h\), whose mass \((125.7\pm 0.4)\GeV\) is the only completely new number that the LHC has taught us so far.

In the search discussed in the paper above, they looked for events in which these three fatties (\(t\bar t h\)) were produced simultaneously and they subsequently decayed into final states with many leptons. And the Standard Model wasn't too perfect.

Partial U.S. government shutdown

There may be two looming "U.S. government dysfunction" stories coming this month.

The first one is the partial government shutdown. Unless some fix appears within hours, and it seems more likely than not now that no fix is coming, the U.S. government will have to tell about 1/3 of its 2 million public employees – the non-essential personnel – to relax for a little while. The G.O.P. that dominates in the House was trying to use the opportunity to delay the Obamacare health law. However, the shutdown was found more acceptable to Obama and the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Sunday, September 29, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bohr's dramatic escape: 70 years ago

Exactly 70 years ago, on September 29th, 1943, the Danish underground movement received the message. Brothers Niels and Harald Bohr – who had a Jewish mother but that wasn't the only sin – would have to be arrested and transferred to Germany.

So far, Bohr would be often invited to emigrate but he would be refusing it with words resembling Zeman's "Why should I leave? They should leave!"

But the new situation was way too serious so both brothers and all of their offspring and families had to escape Denmark. So Bohr and his wife Margareta are suddenly walking on a Copenhagen street and meet a biochemistry professor they know. He is a part of the resistance movement and gives them a secret sign, everything is fine.

They go to a Copenhagen dwellers' popular recreational beach with fancy buildings outside of the capital. Harald, his wife, and children are there in a moment, too. The boat needs two hours. The fishermen, also belonging to the underground, know the schedule of German patrols so they may optimize the trajectory. On Thursday, September 30th, they finally reached a Swedish village.

Saturday, September 28, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Accelerator inside a bumblebee

Californian and Colorado experts finally began to build it: early successes

Particle accelerators at the energy frontier are large and expensive. Yesterday, Google Maps revealed its StreetView visualization of the LHC tunnels and detectors. Those readers who have walked through the whole 27-kilometer tunnel by clicking their mouse are surely proud to be achieved e-tourists.

These devices are also expensive; the total cost of the LHC exceeded the annual budget deficit of the Czech Republic. We often think that things have to stay this way – and this belief also shapes our expectations about the experimental inaccessibility of certain questions – but we may be wrong. The microscopic structure on the finger above is what could replace the LHC, ILC, and their pals on a sunny day in the future. Perhaps. ;-)

Friday, September 27, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Conference celebrating Dyson's 90th birthday

Freeman Dyson will be celebrating his 90th birthday in December 2013 (congratulations!) and the Institute for Advanced Studies where he has been employed for 60 years (I really mean six zero: think about how long this quantity is) is organizing a conference today and tomorrow. It's called Dreams of Earth and Sky.

The schedule with the live video is here (click).
Yes, I took the picture in Harvard's Jefferson J253.

IPCC AR5 WG1 report out: a non-event

A busy evening: I was giving a one-hour talk about the Higgs discovery on the (European) Scientists' Day tonight. Before it began, I was ordered by the Czech Public TV's main news channel, ČT24, to be a guest (via video chat from Pilsen, with the Pilsner Tower in the background) in the #1 news story at 10 pm (the IPCC report) along with two more well-known Gentlemen on the alarmed side of the climate debate, Dr Tolasz and Prof Moldan. I resisted for quite some time but then I said OK. It was a better experience than I was afraid of. The host did a good, balanced job, I think. The hiatus wasn't discussed at all but other things were – even without me, he grilled them about the fact that the humans may still be causing just one-half of the climate trends and I could say some words about the decreasing IPCC figures (lower bound from 2.0 to 1.5 Celsius) as a proof of exaggerations before, how long the CO2 elevation will last, how many errors could have been there in AR4 aside from Glaciergate, some sea level rise and whether it's dangerous or unprecedented (it's nothing compared to 100+ meters in the last 20,000 years), the CO2 residence time in the atmosphere (even if CO2 were a problem, it would be a temporary problem at most for a century or so and then CO2 largely drops back), and a few others. Prof Moldan who used to be in the center-right ODS ironically turned out to be much more enthusiastic alarmist than Dr Tolasz who is largely apolitical.
The summary for policymakers has been released. It has been expanded from 31 pages to 36 pages because a different layout was used but there seems to be no significant change one should waste his time with given the insignificance of the document. So there's no need to discuss these IPCC issues again.

Some journalists have responded with the usual hype. For example, the Times wrote
Scientists blame man for climate change and warn of more freak weather.
If we forgive them the obsession with the hypothetical human impact, shouldn't they be more polite and blame the woman as well, at least sometimes? ;-)

Thursday, September 26, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Windows 8, the lack of progress, and the end of the PC era

For the first time, I could have spent a few hours with a Windows 8 computer (although I have played with an emulator of it last year). Well, I had to first-boot someone's new HP laptop and install some basic software and hundreds of Windows and driver updates. It took many hours. Fortunately, no blue screens of death were a part of the experience.

The system starts with the tiles and it's sort of cleaner and I wanted to know whether it would have a WOW effect on me. Sadly, as a long-term Microsoft fan and Windows person, I must say that it didn't. Maybe the decrease of my excitement from the last year is due to my having seen many cool(er) things that tablets and smartphones routinely manage to show.

Windows 8 is a smartphone-inspired coating on top of the almost unchanged Windows desktop – that has nevertheless been stripped of some normal Windows things, apparently with the goal to make the user more annoyed.

Guest blog: on applications of holography

By Andreas Karch, physics professor at University of Washington

Having recently made my first appearance in the comment section of a physics blog about the general question of "what has AdS/CFT done for us lately?", Luboš offered me the opportunity to write a guest post about the general topic of "AdS/anything", which I'll prefer to call "Applications of Holography". This entry will be loosely based on variety of very similar colloquium level talks I've given about this topic in the last two years. While I'll try to keep this blog post mostly free of technicalities, readers interested in a slightly more detailed version can refer to my Proceedings for my talk at the PANIC 11 or to the slides for my talk at STRINGS 12.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ocean heat content: relentless but negligible increase

0.065 °C in 45 years

Stefan Rahmstorf posted a text on the Real Climate called

What ocean heating reveals about global warming
where he shows some graphs of the global ocean heat content. He postulates that "ideologically motivated skeptics will deny the data, reject millions of stations", and so on.

Well, your humble correspondent is clearly not an "ideologically motivated skeptic" according to Stefan Rahmstorf because I believe that Argo is a good piece of work and the graphs of the global ocean heat content are probably trustworthy and could actually be much more reasonable than the weather stations (and maybe even more reasonable than the satellites) in quantifying how much "warming" (or, in other times, "cooling") has been taking place on Earth.


Munich Betrayal: 75th anniversary

Because Andreas Karch wrote an exciting article about the applications of holography yesterday, I find it appropriate to mention a story in which Germans didn't play quite the same positive role. ;-)

In the Anglo-Saxon world, you probably know the events through this September 30th, 1938 speech by Neville Chamberlain, "the peace for our time" (the name of the video above is wrong: "peace in our time" comes from Anglican prayers). Once he returned from Munich, this clueless conservative boasted that he befriended Herr Hitlər which would bring the eternal peace to everyone. His equally clueless audience applauded.

Note that the peace was "guaranteed" by having solved the "Czechoslovakian problem", a phrase that ethical leaders are unlikely to use for their allies. Czechoslovakia and its assertive, self-confident, U.S.-style democracy quickly found out it had no friends. Because I have used the acronym "U.S." in the previous sentence, you could have thought that Czechoslovakia could have been thinking at least about the U.S. support. Not at all. When Franklin Roosevelt heard Chamberlain's words above, he sent him a telegram with two words: Good man. ;-)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Leaked IPCC report, summary, June 2013 version

The summary for policymakers will be officially out on Friday but the nearly final version completed in June 2013 had been leaked – some people say that it was leaked deliberately to prepare the obedient alarmist inkspillers in the media to make their hype easier.

Long after these journalists, we could finally obtain the document, too. I have to start with the usual disclaimer before I give you the link:

Disclaimer: All events, data, and mechanisms appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real events, past or future, is purely coincidental.

Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis: Summary for Policymakers (PDF via WUWT)

Update: Final version of the summary is here.
As previously announced, the summary's PDF file has 31 pages.

Monday, September 23, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Anniversary of Lambert who proved that \(\pi\) is irrational

Tomorrow, we commemorate the death of Swiss mathematician Johann Heinrich Lambert (26 August 1728 – 25 September 1777) who left school when he was 12, remained creative, and when Frederick II of Prussia asked him in what science Lambert was best at, he humbly answered "All". So the king sponsored him. In some sense, the simplicity of the 18th century funding schemes could serve as an inspiration for the overly bureaucratic present era. Has the progress really been positive?

I don't want to write Lambert's biography here which you may find elsewhere. Instead, I want to spend some time with the irrational numbers, especially with the proof that the number\[

{\Huge \pi \approx 3.14159\dots}

\] is irrational, a proof that Lambert presented in 1761, i.e. 252 years ago. What people could have achieved in the 18th century is pretty amazing. I wonder how many people know the proof that \(\pi\) is irrational.

Should down-to-earth citizens fund high-brow science?

My short answer is No.

Several days ago, we had an exchange with Lucretius who was arguing that to honestly explain that the ordinary people won't enjoy any applications from the string-theory-like research and they won't even be able to understand the evidence that the theory is right (which also implies that they won't be able to verify that they're not being cheated) means to converge towards a "noble defeat". One has to be a populist and distort the facts, he effectively said. He implicitly suggested that the high-energy-physics research should be framed and interpreted as something different than what it is. And perhaps parts of its should be "sacrificed". The history is written by the winners.

Well, I disagreed and disagree with the message.

The history is written by the winners but the "winners" isn't necessarily the same thing as the "stupid majority". Stupid majorities got defeated whenever the whole society made some advance. I will use the term "stupid people" for those who believe that something must be wrong with string theory. The topic of this text is supposed to be more general than just the sociology of string theory research and I do understand that these "stupid people" may be educated or bright in various other respects but I do think that the "stupid people" is an excellent approximation to describe the kind of trolls who visit the hateful blog written by a superannuated teaching assistant at Columbia University, to mention a major example.

Well, the regular readers of that blog aren't exactly "stupid people"; they are imbeciles on steroids. But "stupid people" might be a politically correct, diplomatic description of that group of individuals.

Sunday, September 22, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

IPCC AR5 WG1: preemptive indoctrination

Alarmist journalists already know how everyone will react and should react to an unknown report

The almost final draft of the IPCC AR5 WG1 [physical basis] report will be handed to politicians tomorrow in Stockholm. It's my understanding that minor details may still change in the text, under the political pressure. Their summary for policymakers will be out on Friday and the whole report will be out on the immediately following Monday.

TV, off-topic: Sheldon Cooper won his third Emmy for the best lead comedy actor. He gave this speech. ;-)
These documents have leaked – I don't have the final copies! – so many journalists already know what's inside. Despite claims that the document will acknowledge that the climate models have failed miserably (using a more diplomatic language, however), the warming trends for the previous 20 years were overstated by more than a factor of two or three, sensitivity by more than 50%, and that natural variability was neglected and shouldn't have been neglected in previous reports, it seems that the main point – screaming that a dangerous climate change is underway or around the corner – will be preserved or even strengthened, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

So they left-wing media act as if the report were already released. For example, the Guardian wrote an article on Saturday,
Climate change: IPCC issues stark warning over global warming
which tells us that the hysteria should be stronger than ever before and we should do everything we can to quickly dismantle the industrial civilization, and so on. You may read kilobytes of this junk but you won't learn anything because you have already seen and heard thousands of similar dishonest, vacuous, ideological, hysterical articles.

But another British article from Saturday, Will Hutton's rant in the Observer,
To fight climate change, we must trust scientific truth and collective action
has a new, quite incredible twist so I decided to share a few more words with you about that.

Czech president talks about rodents in EU politics

Czech president Miloš Zeman gave an interview to the Financial Times,

Czech president takes swipe at Europe’s ‘great mice’
and it's an example of the funny events that improve my mood (which was already pretty good to start with) – a part of the reasons why I voted for him in the presidential elections.

The nominally center-left politician who is sometimes nicknamed "the badger" mentioned that there is a difference between personalities and persons. In the EU politics, there are lots of persons but almost no personalities.

The persons are great mice, party apparatchiks. Zeman, a pro-EU person, meant the wet rag Herman Van Rompuy and other rodents some of which are chipmunks, jerboas, hamsters, and nasty squirrels.

Saturday, September 21, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Diaperhedron can't match amplituhedron

Has the amplituhedron sparked a revolution in physics?

Scott Aaronson wrote a satirical, condescending parody of the news stories about the amplituhedron called

The Unitarihedron: The Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Computing
I had to laugh because I found it somewhat funny – and because the "revolutionary tone" Nima chooses when he talks about his and Jaroslav Trnka's wonderful new insight is detectably stronger than the tone I would choose. At the end of this essay, I will explain why.

But that's where my agreement with Scott Aaronson ends.

He wrote about the unitarihedron, diaperhedron, and other polyhedrons that are equally or more unifying, beautiful, revolutionary etc. as the amplituhedron that they contain. Aaronson's concepts are meant to overthrow all the paradigms in computer science but they are claimed to contain physics and the amplituhedron, too. You may imagine the stuff he probably wrote.

A hardened rivet

This blog entry is completely unimportant so I urge all busy readers to stop reading now.

Indeed, it's not my goal to inform you about every tomato I pick from a shrub (another one today!) or every roll I bake in the oven. ;-) Those things are mundane, boring, about 7 billion people is encountering similar things, and I don't have too many comparative advantages when it comes to these matters – perhaps a slightly enhanced talent to entertain you.

But the title I choose allows me to merge two distinct down-to-earth-topics into one blog entry: music and bicycles.

U.S. threw two H-bombs on North Carolina

The Guardian brought us some chilling news:

US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document
A B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air near Goldsboro, North Carolina, and the detonation mechanism of one of the bombs the bomber carried was ready to do its job.

Its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

Friday, September 20, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Politicians, nations argue, cry over spilled, cooled milk

Politicians' manipulation with this scientific research reaches comical proportions

I had to laugh when I was reading Tamara Cohen's comments about a political IPCC document leaked to the Associated Press. (See also related stories in The Telegraph, Boston Globe/AP, Forbes, others. Fox News calls it Climategate II: scientists pushed to hide data.)

Next Friday, the 31-page Summary for Policymakers of the WG1 (first working group, physical basis of the climate hysteria) will be officially released although many of you already have it at home. It seems that during the next week, minor and localized corrections to the document will be done by politicians. Three days later, the full (less political, more objective, more boring, less socially "interesting") 1,914-page report of that group will be out, too. In March and April 2014, WG2 (impacts) and WG3 (mitigation) will release their work and all of them will be combined in October 2014.

The topic of Cohen's article is simple. Political employees were assigned the task to fine-tune the summary. A "minor" problem is that the report should talk about the ongoing warming whose rate may even be dangerous but according to the observations, there hasn't been any warming for 17 years (the trend is still negative for the last 16.83 years). Too many people have already noticed that this main actor, global warming itself, didn't arrive to the stage.

So politicians from many nations committed to the climate panic were crying over spilled milk and proposing various original solutions what to do with the milk, milk that seems to be cooling down on the floor every second. If someone can't figure out from this story that the key claims by the IPCC are politically dictated and that the organization is constantly covering up key evidence, then nothing will ever make him to see the simple reality.

Thursday, September 19, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Matt Strassler's debate with anti-string conspiracy theorists

Matt Strassler decided to waste some hours with a lengthy discussion with activist crackpots (Dilaton did some work to improve the general decency of the participants, thanks),

Did the LHC Just Rule Out String Theory?!
Apparently for the first time, Matt saw someone stating something like “Results from the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] have blown string theory out of the water” (such insane statements have been around for years, however!) so he decided to elaborate on the basic explanations why such claims are utterly preposterous.

The first weird and manifestly pathological feature of these obsessed anti-string activists is that for years, many of them (especially the "leaders" of the movement) have been saying that string theory was untestable. Quite suddenly, it was tested and "blown out of the water". Holy cow. If you can't falsify a theory, how can you suddenly falsify the theory? The IQ of the individuals who are unable to notice this basic inconsistency must be closer to the IQ of an average chimp than to the IQ of an average human.

Strassler repeats all the basic observations that have been explained hundreds of times on this blog and elsewhere. It's my guess that it won't change anything. He says that string theory is being connected with the world of phenomena at least in two ways – as a unifying quantum theory of gravity and other forces (and matter), something that real string theorists actually find important; and as a mere tool to produce new calculational techniques for the strong nuclear force etc. (something he has worked on).

The anti-string critics are mixing these things all the time. They also confuse a prediction that may be tested in principle (and string theory is full of those; and this is what makes it indisputable that it is a scientific enterprise) with a prediction that may be tested in a particular experiment of a foreseeable future. String theory as a unifying theory is of course a long-term goal, a new framework for theoretical physics that's here to stay for decades or a century or permanently, so of course that some particular excitement with an experiment that is performed on Friday morning or in 2012 isn't the primary determinant of string theory's fate – and it has never been.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hansen: Europe standing tall against rogue state of Canada

It seems that no other climate skeptic is paying any attention to James Hansen and his home page anymore. The guy has retired and he's irrelevant, the underlying assumption probably says.

Well, I sometimes follow the page because in some sense, I still consider him the most important single person of the climate alarmist movement. Al Gore has sold his soul to Arab oil sheikhs for hundreds of millions of dollars and well before he did so, his climate alarmist empire incredibly shrank by 80% or so.

Pachauri is widely viewed as a politically appointed engine driver of a sort who is perhaps OK at writing porn novels while Michaels Männer, Gavins Schmidten, Ben Santers, and similar folks must spend most of their time by pretending that they're not the scientific fraudsters that they are. While it's annoying that these people are harbored by places such as Penn State rather than the State Penn, there are millions of other people in the world who enjoy something that they shouldn't in an ideal world.

But if you're thinking about the kind of threat to the modern industrial capitalist civilization that the climate alarmism arguably represented several years ago and you want to keep this movement genuinely dangerous for the modern civilization as we know it, you need someone who isn't an obviously obsessed simple-minded activist, who isn't a mediocre researcher self-evidently fighting for his or her grants and manifestly obscuring his previous predictions that have failed, who isn't an opportunist like the unknown folks in the IPCC today (they will change their tune as soon as it will look profitable to them), who isn't a politically appointed engine driver or porn writer, who isn't a failed politician and failed manager of a TV station, who isn't a conspiracy theorist who has joined too many similar but already failed hysterical movements (like Paul Ehrlich). Instead, you need someone who has been a genuine OK scientist at some point of his life, who seems to believe what he says, who is ready to undergo some sacrifices (e.g. be arrested), and who just "feels" like an independent enough person. Hansen was it.

He's completely crazy, too.

Amplituhedron: wonderful P.R. on new Arkani-Hamed+Trnka papers

Autom. translation to Romanian

Spacetime is doomed and its murderer has finally been spotted

Update: See this newer essay whether the amplituhedron is revolutionary
In December 2012, Nima Arkani-Hamed along with Bourjaily, Cachazo, Goncharov, Postnikov, and Trnka released a very interesting paper
Scattering Amplitudes and the Positive Grassmannian
on a new way to calculate planar amplitudes of four-dimensional gauge theories using some generalized higher-dimensional "polytopes", more precisely "positive Grassmannians" (see previous TRF articles on that concept). This development arose from the twistor minirevolution sparked by Witten's 2003 paper although the twistors turned into a small part of a greater story with many more important mathematical structures.

The tesseract isn't quite the same as the objects talked about here (the amplituhedron should be a jewel in an infinite-dimensional space, in fact) but it's close enough and I just liked the animation.

While the locality in the four-dimensional spacetime is being obscured by the new formalism (even the existence of time: the mathematical structure is "timeless"), and so is the unitarity, in fact, the new formalism unmasks many other fascinated symmetries (associated with the integrability of such models: the Yangian) and related mathematical properties of the scattering amplitude which are behind the physicists' ability to calculate amplitudes previously uncalcalculable even with the best computers (due to their complexity) on a sheet of paper.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

String theory is a complete theory of quantum gravity

I've been aware of the unmatched internal consistency, richness, and predictive power of string/M-theory for something like two decades even though my understanding of the theory's unique features was growing pretty much every year since then.

Bohemian [not Czech] Gravity [not Rhapsody]. (Alex Maloney's student) Tim Blais' Queen-based musical video edition of Joe Polchinski's string theory textbook (1,000+ pages compressed to 8 minutes). 70,000+ views in 2 days (and 370,000+ in 3 days); I guess that his master thesis he was writing at the same time will be read by "somewhat" fewer folks.

But as recently as a decade ago, I was also immensely impressed (and, later, proud about) the intellectual strength of the string theory community. What I mean is that I wasn't aware of a similarly large, comparably well-defined group of people who would have the same or higher education, IQ, and especially integrity and patience to evaluate an intellectual problem in depth, avoid easy but superficial and ultimately wrong answers and solutions. It was the only "community" I knew that would avoid group think or that would only accept well-established theses as a basis of something that others could call group think.

It's not clear whether I continue to enjoy the latter excitement today. A decade ago, many people began to write lots of self-evidently stupid, soft-science-styled, and scientifically indefensible things about the anthropic principle and "typicality". It was annoying but it could have been a downward fluke. In recent five years or so, it has become so tolerated – and we should perhaps say "fashionable" – to write and say so many fundamentally wrong things about so many topics that I would no longer claim that it's a "community" that is in charge of the fantastic insights that have been accumulated. The insanities haven't avoided some famous names in the field.

Monday, September 16, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Organized bullying against Larry Summers, Rebecca Ann Sedwick

When I woke up today, I opened (a dozen of mails including) a mail from Gene who informed me that Larry Summers became a victim of the political correctness again. He withdrew himself from Fed consideration by sending a letter to Barack Obama that said:

I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation’s ongoing economic recovery.
He clearly wanted the job. He was a right man for the job. But if you have watched the responses in the media and the Internet, you must realize that the attacks against Summers – mostly from the extreme Left – were overwhelming. It's a pure speculation when we guess whether Larry's reluctant conclusion came from his own head or whether he was encouraged by a "boss" (yes, it does seem to me that Obama's reply on Sunday was prepared too quickly) but it seems almost certain to me that a confirmation process would have been full of hysteria and could easily turn out to be unsuccessful, indeed.

One could think that that the attacks are irrelevant because most of them come from unimportant groups of subpar individuals such as the feminists – who have still been unable to accept the indisputable fact that the lower average and especially lower variance of their mathematical aptitude makes it far less likely for a woman to become a top person in STEM fields than it is for a man. But this ain't really the case. Even such people matter and various individuals who have a much stronger – and more legitimate – influence on the selection process are led to join the feminists, the radical pro-regulation warriors, and similar lunatics. Certain Democrat Party lawmakers belong to the hysterical progressive movement, others don't have their opinion so they copy it from similar movements.

It's hard to say whether those who can't forgive Larry his deregulation policies were more important for Larry's final decision than the feminists. I would actually bet that the stories and stereotypes spread by the feminists were more important in this case, too.

Sunday, September 15, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Klein and Gell-Mann: birthdays

Today, we celebrate the birthdays of two true heroes of physics, at least according to the hitparades administered by your humble correspondent. 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.

Saturday, September 14, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

When 99.99% of people don't work, is it communism?

Sean Carroll promotes a quote by Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983, an American futurist/philosopher) that promotes a society in which technology allows a vast majority of people avoid any work:

We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living.

We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors.

The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.

"The New York Magazine Environmental Teach-In" by Elizabeth Barlow in New York Magazine (30 March 1970), p. 30
I added the source – Carroll wouldn't even tell you that it comes from a pro-hippie article from 1970.

Sean Carroll likes the quote and he even says that it isn't a socialist idea because it doesn't violate the rules of the free market. Wow.

IPCC AR5 will reduce sensitivity by 30% or so

In two weeks, one third of the remaining traces of the climate hysteria will evaporate within a day

Spanish translation is here (click).

Matt Ridley wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal (and Anthony Watts' blog) where some information about the upcoming IPCC report is leaked.

Image courtesy of

The fifth assessment report (AR5) about the physical basis of the climate hysteria (Working Group 1) will be released in Stockholm on Friday, September 27th. It will have 1,914 pages plus 31 pages of the summary which is what will be enough for "most readers".

Their estimate of the warming produced by an increase of the CO2 concentration has been substantially lowered relatively to the year 2007.

Friday, September 13, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Feynman lectures on physics: Volume I now free

Some kind folks at Caltech have made the legendary 1964 Feynman Lectures on Physics (book by Feynman, Leighton, Sands) available online for free. Well, so far, you may only read Volume I but Volumes II and III should be added in a foreseeable future.

Neil Turok's crisis in physics is a hallucination

Update: Hamish Johnston wrote a blog entry for Physics Today describing Turok's talk rather accurately as one that reignites the string wars. Your humble correspondent is also linked to.

For visitors who came here from that source: clicking at the pirate "flag" near the title of this article will show you this text in the minimalistic, mobile template.
Cosmologist Neil Turok, the new (but already reelected) director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada, gave this 82-minute welcome speech (well, only 1/2 of it is his presentation) to the participants of the 2013 Perimeter Scholars International. It's been discussed in Macleans, a Canadian newspaper, where an equally large article is dedicated to the Perimeter school canteen.

The beginning of the talk is a fine but not too original promotion of physics as a science. Some comments about his institute's being unique are exaggerated. Look e.g. at all topcite 250+ papers from the Perimeter, ever, and compare the number and list with those at Harvard since 2003 or something like that. Perimeter may only be beginning to be competitive. Perhaps.

After 4 minutes, however, Turok's speech became an anti-physics tirade of a sort in which we hear many wrong things and many wrong things that are troublesome at the same moment. We learn that physics is at crossroads by which he means a "very big crisis". We don't have to wait much for Turok to clarify why he thinks so.

Thursday, September 12, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Luminogenesis and permanent dark matter domination

Creativity in a prison: Paul Frampton co-writes a new paper

The latest 2013 Planck data tell us that about 68% of the averaged energy density \(\overline{T_{00}}\) in the Universe is composed of dark energy (as far as we can say, it's a positive cosmological constant), 27% is dark matter, and 5% is visible matter.

For a few billion years, "we" have been gradually entering the cosmological-constant-dominated era. The percentage of dark energy will converge towards 100% as the remaining types of matter will be diluted. The absolute magnitude of the energy density carried by the cosmological constant has been and will be constant; that's why the cosmological constant is called a constant. The energy density carried by other components decreases as \(1/a(t)^n\) for various exponents \(n\) which means that they are guaranteed losers at the end.

In the future, the expansion of the Universe will be approximately exponential; the linear dimensions of the Universe (distances between galaxies) will double each 10 billion years or so. The future is bound to be ever more boring and the global cooling will continue exponentially. The cosmological constant is essential for this future boredom; however, dark matter was much more important for the structure formation etc.

An interview with Brian Greene

If you have 15 spare minutes, here is an interview:

TV Real's interview with Brian Greene (click)

The video with some supplementary article (click)
He talks about the history and the (oscillating) value or non-value of the popularization of science – while I have been doing similar things, I tend to be mostly closer to Sheldon Cooper's opinion from Sheldon's dialogue with Brian about the very same issue. Just kidding, a big fan.

Incidentally, my Czech translation of The Elegant Universe is getting ready for the imminent 2nd edition after 12 years.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Australia to be decarbontaxified

First, a technical poll. Odiogo was producing the "listen now" button under the titles that could "read" the texts. Snap previews were thumbnails of the linked to page that appeared whenever you hovered over a link.

Which evaporated widgets do you miss? free polls 

Results: At some moment, up to 97% of voters ("consensus") said "good riddance to both". I still tend to think that the Odiogo's users were importantly hurt and apologize to them. [...]

Congratulations to all conservative Australians and those who were not friends of the carbon tax (AUS $23 per ton of CO2 equivalent on selected sources).

The younger ones aren't Tony Abbott's mistresses; they're daughters.

Remarkably enough, the (so far) modest new tax became a key political question in Australia. It's arguably the main reason why the Labor Party experienced the worst results in 80 years.

A guy from Mississippi won the HEP P.R. contest

Three weeks ago, I asked you to watch four videos in which physicists explain why particle physics is important.

For various content-based and emotional reasons, I voted for University of Mississippi Associate Professor Breese Quinn (above).

Tuesday, September 10, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: \(3\sigma\) deficits in search for vector-like \(b\)-like quarks

This blog and other sources occasionally mention excesses, possible (or real?) deviations of the observed quantities away from the theoretical predictions. They're extremely rare and we expect most of them to go away when more data is collected, anyway. But the idea that some of of them are real is surely what keeps many people going.

However, in most of these discussions, one subtlety is neglected: deviations from predicted values may have two signs. Plus and minus. So in principle, deviations from the Standard Model may be either excesses (surpluses), or deficits (shortages) of events.

I actually feel that the possible deficits are generally underestimated, understudied, and perhaps completely overlooked as hypothetical routes by which Nature may show that She's more complicated and subtle than Her currently valid caricature.

Thomson, Compton, Bloch: anniversaries

George Paget Thomson (1892-1975) died exactly 38 years ago. Arthur Holly Compton (1892-1962) was born exactly 121 years ago. And Felix Bloch (1905-1983) died exactly 30 years ago. I wrote some biographies of these men, especially Compton, in 2007.

While these September 10th men were not the ultimate fathers of the quantum theory or quantum mechanics, they surely belong to "next to the front line" of the 20th century quantum revolution. In this blog entry, I want to avoid their personal lives and focus on their key discoveries, especially in the context of the permanently persisting doubts that quantum mechanics holds everywhere in Nature.

TRF, the Earth's 10th-13th most central climate blog

If this blog were primarily or even exclusively a blog dedicated to the climate, which is the case of all the colleagues and competitors listed below, I would find the results mediocre. But because it's primarily a theoretical particle physics blog, the results are OK. ;-)

According to

Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere (full paper in PDF)
by Amelia Sharman, The Reference Frame is the 10th "most central" skeptical climate blog on this blue, not green planet, tied with 3 more blogs.

Monday, September 09, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Edward Teller: anniversary, interview

Edward Teller died exactly 10 years ago. See the biography I wrote 100 years after his birth and other TRF articles mentioning Teller.

In this 30-minute interview taped on August 5th, 1974, he talked to James Day.

Sunday, September 08, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Democrats of Europe, wake up!

Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a notorious Franco-German leftist.

In 1968, he would be a fighter at the barricades of Paris; his nickname has been Danny the Red (Dany le Rouge) ever since. In the 1970s, he would "love" children in an "anti-authoritarian kindergarten" which is why he also fought for the sex with the children to be legalized in the 1980s. Germany's Green Party recently made a huge U-turn and it now seems to claim that it was "unacceptable" to demand the legalization of peadophilia.

In a normal society, such a man would probably oscillate in between a mental asylum and a prison but we live in countries that have incorporated themselves into the European Union so this chap is much more than a rank-and-file member of the European Parliament. He co-leads the Greens-Marxists in the EU legislative body and is just planning to create a new, modern incarnation of the Communist International that should overtake Europe.

Saturday, September 07, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Confusions about the relationships of special relativity and general relativity

Sabine Hossenfelder wrote about the confusions surrounding the relationship of Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity and Einstein's 1915 general theory of relativity. Edward Pig Measure is one of the laymen who are somewhat confused; many others are vastly more confused.

First of all, I find it very important that all the discussions on the two blogs above are about physics topics that have been settled for 100 years, about the high-school understanding of relativity. I think it is desirable to emphasize this point because much of the confusion arises when complete crackpots such as Lee Smolin say or write totally wrong things about relativity and they sell these totally wrong things as a cutting-edge research.

Yo-yo banned in Syria

Blamed for drought by Muslims

BEIRUT (Syria), [date]. Drought and severe cold is disastrously affecting the cattle in Syria, and the Muslim chiefs at Damascus have attributed the wrath of the heavens to the recent introduction of the yo-yo.

They say that while the people are praying for rain to come down from above the yo-yo goes down, and before reaching the ground springs up through the subtle pull of the string.

Friday, September 06, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Snowden: Internet encryption useless against eyes in NSA, GCHQ

Both HTTPS, SSL, and VoIP only good against little fish

Edward Snowden has provided The New York Times and The Guardian and others with some eye-catching revelations:

N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web (NYT)

NSA and GCHQ unlock privacy and security on the internet (Guardian)
The two U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies "are investing in groundbreaking cryptanalytic capabilities to defeat adversarial cryptography and exploit internet traffic" according to Director of National Intelligence who was quoted in the latest Snowden document about the $52 billion black budget. See also skeptical, technically sophisticated remarks by Wired. HTTPS, SSL, and VoIP are no longer safe; the correctly implemented strong encryption seems fine.

Of course, I got a bit excited: Have the agents finally built operational quantum computers? Have they made some progress that proves that \(P=NP\), after all?

Thursday, September 05, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A universal derivation of Bekenstein-Hawking entropy from topology change, ER-EPR

I have been intrigued by topology change in quantum gravity, especially its Euclidean version, for 15 years or so. Since the beginning, I liked a sketch of a derivation (that I invented) of the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy of a black hole that was based on a wormhole connecting two tips of the Euclidean black hole in the \(rt_E\) plane.

Ignore the wormhole-related captions.

Before the ER-EPR correspondence, I would interpret the two planes on the picture above (lower, upper) as spacetimes in the ket vector and the bra vector, respectively, and this need to double and complex conjugate the whole spacetime made the details of the argument confusing because the thermal calculation (which is inevitably connected with the cigar-like Euclidean black hole pictures) inevitably involves a trace over ket vectors (or bra vectors but not both).

Fortunately, one may now present the whole argument without any bra vectors. Thanks to Maldacena and Susskind, the doubling of the spacetime (note that there is the upper and lower plane on the picture above) may be interpreted as the presence of two distinct spacetimes or two faraway regions of one spacetime – or two faraway regions of the same spacetime; it won't really make a difference. With this reinterpretation of the pictures, I am more satisfied with the argument.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Nathaniel Craig's State of the SUSY Union address

I have known Nathaniel Craig since he was a brilliant Harvard undergraduate who was attending graduate courses – at least my string theory course (I believe he was the best student in the room). This young Gentleman has written 37 papers or preprints (if you subtract some namesakes) and the last one among them is sufficiently pedagogic for you to be interested in it:

The State of Supersymmetry after Run I of the LHC
These 71 pages are based on his talk at a June 2013 workshop.

Did soot melt glaciers in the 19th century?

Media including NBC focused our attention to a paper in PNAS,

End of the Little Ice Age in the Alps forced by industrial black carbon
by Thomas Painter and 5 co-authors from Caltech, Michigan, Innsbruck, Davis, and Boulder. The claim is easy: the post-little-ice-age melting of glaciers in the 19th century started well before CO2 could possibly matter which is inconvenient so a different explanation has to be found. The explanation is dirty snow from the industrial revolution.

Well, I find it plausible. Throughout the late 18th and the whole 19th century, they didn't care about the clean air at all. In some sense, they were happy people who hadn't devoured the apple of knowledge yet.

Likely: latest Atlantic hurricane-free date at least since 1941

Originally posted on September 4th. Now, 5 days later, it seems that one of the currently active systems will grow to the Hurricane Humberto (Eastern Atlantic, near Africa) so the records won't be broken – the 1941 late date wasn't beaten (the difference was just a day or so) but it's the latest first-hurricane birth date since 2002.

Remotely related: Henrik Svensmark et al. have a new paper (press release) on cosmoclimatology in PLA, experimentally arguing that the UV rays increase the aerosol production from ozone, sulfur dioxide, vapor by the same factor even for nuclei above 50 nm of diameter – which may already be called cloud condensation nuclei. This strengthens his claims that the cosmic rays influence the climate and falsifies some theories about the chemistry of the atmosphere. Via WUWT. See previous TRF text on cosmoclimatology.
I have manually checked the dates of formation of the first hurricanes on Wikipedia pages about the 1851 Atlantic hurricane season (older, sparser data, are available at most on the "one page per decade" basis) through the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. You should be able to manually edit the year in the URL to get to all the other pages.

This is what I found.

The first 2013 Atlantic hurricane hasn't started to form yet; only two 20-30 percent "glimpses" of a possible depression can be seen and they're likely to be destroyed by their collision with the land (and if they won't be, they will still be too weak for a hurricane). It's September 4th. The probability is therefore high that this situation will continue past September 9th, i.e. next Monday. If that's so, 2013 will beat 2002 (Sep 9th) and the "most recent" hurricane season that could beat our present are 1941 (Sep 17th), 1922 (Sep 13th), 1914 and 1907 (the only two recorded hurricane-free seasons with 1 and 5 named storms, respectively), 1905 (Oct 1st), 1877 (Sep 14th), and 1876 (Sep 12th).

Tuesday, September 03, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

16 out of half a billion: elite Calabi-Yau manifolds with a fundamental group

Heterotic phenomenology seems to converge to an excitingly sparse shortlist of candidates

Heterotic compactifications represent a convincing – if not the most convincing – class of superstring vacua that seem to pass the "first great exam" for producing a theory of everything. A week ago, I discussed \(\ZZ_8\) orbifolds but now we return to smooth Calabi-Yau manifolds, the nice creatures you know from the popular books and from the girl who has a 3D printer.

The reason is a new hep-th paper by He, Lee, Lukas, and Sun (of China, Korea, and Oxford):

Heterotic Model Building: 16 Special Manifolds

...Mathematica supplements... (will be posted later)
These 16 manifolds are really special; they seem to have something that the remaining more than half a billion of manifolds in a list don't possess.

Lev Pontryagin: 105th anniversary

Lev Semenovič Pontryagin was born in Moscow, Russian Empire, on September 3th, 1908, i.e. 105 years ago, and died in May 80 years later, about 25+ years ago.

Interestingly and sadly enough, a primus stove explosion made him legally blind at the age of 14. That didn't prevent him from becoming a top mathematician.

On the other hand, it didn't stop him from being a jerk of a sort, either. In 1936, he warned the Soviet officials that the mathematics community was full of counter-revolutionaries in the so-called Luzin affair. People were losing jobs. He was not only an aggressive commie, he was a sort of fascist, too. During mathematical conferences, he would scream that a pro-Israel Jewish scientist named Nathan Jacobson was a mediocre mathematician and racist because he was a Zionist. Another, even better Jewish mathematician, Grigory Margulis, won the Fields medal but couldn't get the permission to leave the USSR after Pontryagin painted him as a dirty Jew, too.

Much like other anti-Semites, he would claim that he wasn't one – he was just an anti-Zionist, everyone was told. Good try but my suspicion isn't quite gone (although I made a different conclusion 5 years ago).

The 50 to 1 project

Topher (*1982) is the commercial brand of an Australian host and filmmaker who had 6 siblings, was educated at home, and decided that movies – and later movies about political issues etc. – were his real passion. Using some "amateurish" money, including some funds from Lord Monckton – as I understand it – he shot a series of interviews with skeptics called

The 50 to 1 Project
Thanks to Anthony W. and Honza U. for leading me to watch some of the videos. The ideas, graphics, and especially the content look very good. The videos include a 10-minute introductory video and interviews with Nova, Evans, Watts, Essex, Laframboise, Morano, Singer, and Ergas. Evans' interview is the one that I have listened to most carefully (Honza recommended me 9:30-12:00 of that video).

However, I was intrigued by the particular figure "50 to 1" that is used as the title of the project. It's supposed to say that "the price of mitigation exceeds the price of adaption by the factor of 50". Where did the number 50 come from? I quickly learned that it was extracted from the 2006 Stern report. In some counting, mitigation would cost 80% of the GDP while adaptation would cost 1.6%.

Well, nice, and given some interpretations, plausible. However, the Stern report was complete junk as a piece of economics (especially because of the totally unrealistic treatment of the discount rate) and one may get any number he wants. It seems bizarre to me when skeptics borrow such numbers from such badly constructed pillars of alarmism – even if the number from the alarmist report proves that the attempts to "wrestle" with the climate change are a preposterous waste of efforts and resources, anyway.

Monday, September 02, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ukrainian ex-porn star wins legal residence in Czechia

Anastázie [Pavlivna] Hagenová née Hryšajová (*1985), known as Wiska, is a Ukrainian-born porn actress who stopped working in the field two years ago and she no longer finds the job fulfilling. (However, I was told that she shot another film, Vizi Solitari 2, in Italy half a year ago.)

I watched some Ukrainian officials who screamed that she was the only source of porn that the country was producing and therefore she had to be stopped. So she was at risk that they would arrest her or something like that for her past work that is perfectly legal in much of the West.

In similar respects, Czechia is an indisputable part of the Western Europe – the people's opinions about similar topics are comparably relaxed to the opinions of the Dutchmen if not more so. However, we also have some understanding for the very different values of the Eastern nations.

An apologia for ideas from Hawking's BH bet concession

In Summer 2004, Stephen Hawking conceded his and Kip Thorne's bet against John Preskill: Preskill was the only one among the three who said in 1974 that the information about the initial state was preserved after a black hole evaporates. This blog is relatively ancient according to the blogospherical standards so there was already a story about the concession in late 2004.

Off-topic: Israel Gelfand would celebrate his 100th birthday today.
Kip Thorne hasn't conceded yet; I think that his position has become indefensible over the years.

In July 2005, Hawking wrote a paper (TRF comments) in which he presented his own arguments why the qualitative outcome was different than he used to think. Even though Hawking would admit that the developments in string theory and especially AdS/CFT were the main advances that made him change his mind, his 2005 ideas were presented as great new insights by Hawking and some of the journalists. Your humble correspondent and most experts in the field were skeptical. I wasn't hiding my skepticism either but it seems clear that I was more sympathetic to those ideas than most others.

Sunday, September 01, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Feminists demand gender quotas for bodies buried in Panthéon

A 2006 article about the feminist totalitarianism attracted hundreds of Slovak visitors today because it was linked to in a discussion under a remarkable Slovak newspaper article about some incredible demands by the French feminists.

The story sounded like a hoax but Reuters was among the many well-known news agencies that ran the story which made me believe that in spite of its nearly comical content, the information is legitimate.

Panthéon, Paris was built sometime in the middle of the 18th century (I've been there once but that's enough). Between 1791 and 2011, 74 French figures were buried there. There are two women among them: the double Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and Sophie Berthelot. The latter is there only because she joined her chemist spouse Marcellin Berthelot; I don't know either of the couple.