Another reason to be thankful to Russia?
The writers in The Independent, The EU Observer, and many others have agreed on a new story.
Marine Le Pen and Dmitry Rogozin
Putin is conquering Europe by funding anti-EU or far right or populist parties – the descriptions slightly differ in various articles. Most importantly, Le Pen's "Front National" in France received a EUR 9 million loan from a small Moscow bank, The First Czech-Russian Bank. (I would say that the word "Czech" appears in the name in order to beautify the name. It's the second best proposed name they had after "The First Luboš Motl Memorial Russian Bank".)
Various types of less explicit support for Jobbik, a far right party in Hungary, and a pro-Russian party in Latvia, and for FPÖ in Austria (which attended a summit in Moscow) is being mentioned, along with some vague comments involving AfD, the Alliance for Germany (a moderate anti-eurozone party in Germany).
Another reason to be thankful to Russia?
John Preskill wrote a blog post, Bell’s inequality 50 years later, which argues that "without Bell, the broader significance of quantum entanglement would have unfolded quite differently and perhaps not until much later." Preskill concludes: "We really owe Bell a great debt."
Is every catchy song or paper written using modern tools "intrinsically original"?
Your humble correspondent is much less convinced that the 1964 Bell's paper was either new or pushing the physics research in the right direction. I am closer to Feynman who would say that it is not a theorem that anybody considers of any particular importance in quantum mechanics. Everyone knew that it [the difference between the/any classical local and quantum predictions] would happen, he just demonstrated it mathematically, Feynman says. (See also page 485 here where Feynman just mentions Bell's inequality without even calling it in this way.
It is a nice undergraduate textbook example very explicitly showing the differences between the quantum mechanical predictions and predictions of some simple "local realist" theories a beginner could expect to be relevant. Some people could have still believed that the question whether the probabilistic character of the physical predictions has to be intrinsic would become forever undecidable and that was shown to be wrong.
However, I strongly believe that
- the fathers of quantum mechanics could collectively solve the particular thought experiment and see the incompatibility of the quantum vs local realist predictions; even without that, the amount of evidence they had supporting the need for the new, quantum core of physics has been overwhelming since the mid 1920s
- much of the explicit findings and slogans about entanglement had been known for 29 years, since the 1935 works by Einstein, Podolsky, Rosen; and Schrödinger
- Bell's results didn't really help in the creation of the quantum computing "engineering industry" which would only start in 1970 and which has little to do with all the quasi-philosophical debates surrounding entanglement
- most frustratingly, Bell's correct results were served in a mixed package along with lots of wrong memes, unreasonable expectations, and misleading terminology and the negative price of these "side effects" is arguably larger than the positive price of Bell's realizations
In some sense, while the anti-quantum movement should have been almost completely killed by Bell's results, it was actually re-energized because one of its members, the quantum mechanics hater called John Bell, was able to write a moderately famous paper. So a cult of personality of a sort was created around this mediocre physicist. The fact that the paper was just another piece of evidence that the main idea underlying the movement is fallacious wasn't a problem for these folks.
More generally, Bell was arguably the main person who helped to degenerate much of the physics culture into the popular-book-driven and media-tainted contest between media fads of the current, postmodern type whose success is being decided by millions of readers who don't have a clue and who routinely interpret physical results exactly in the opposite way than what the results actually imply.
A top Czech composer of dozens of film music scores (e.g. The Virgin and the Monster or Boys the Masters), Petr Hapka, died at age of 70, due to Alzheimer that has annoyed him for a year. The lyrics for his songs were usually written down by Michal Horáček. November 2014 is a negative month for Czech music – Petr Skoumal, another composer, died a few weeks ago.
This duet, "May the earth rest lightly on me", is unfortunately the most natural summary of the sad event. Hapka himself was singing – which is what those Czech composers and actors, who are not professional singers but who are not tone-deaf, do rather frequently. My English translation was obtained from Czech via an intermediate step in Latin. Latin rules.
We would sometimes sing this song with an ex-GF of mine which made sense because I was Czech and she was Slovak, like Jana Kirschner who sings in the video above. Just the age difference was exaggerated by the factor of \(\pi\) or \(2\pi\).
Science Magazine describes a provoking paper by Piran (HUJI Jerusalem) and Jimenez (U. Barcelona, Harvard) accepted for publication to prestigious Physical Review Letters two weeks ago:
Complex life may be possible in only 10% of all galaxies (Science)The basic claim is rather simple.
On the role of GRBs on life extinction in the Universe (arXiv, PRL)
This extraterrestrial citizen works with Alza.cz and Alza.sk and spreads tablets and other things all over our homelands. The negative feedback suggests that the Czechoslovak folks may suffer from green xenophobia, after all.
The extraterrestrial ethnic minorities face another problem: (long) gamma-ray bursts, likely to be close to centers of small enough galaxies, take place too often and kill (the ozone layer and) complex life too early. Only 10% of galaxies – typically those that are large enough and sufficiently metallic, similarly to the Milky Way – has a chance to pass this cataclysmic test, and life seems to have a chance far away from the center only.
Scott Aaronson has reposted a "parable" that mathematician Greg Kuperberg posted on his Facebook profile. Kuperberg wants to repeat the usual story that the climate alarmists' recommendations are just like the physicians' advises to their patients.
In the parable, a doctor wants her patient to stop smoking but she's unable to answer any questions (clearly meant to be quantitative questions) about the degree to which smoking is harmful. Surprisingly, although Aaronson's is a far left blog addressed to the Cambridge MA Lumpencafé, most commenters seem to realize that
- the certainty about the harmful impact of smoking is vastly higher than the certainty about any harmful impacts of CO2 in the atmosphere
- most readers seem to be "climate alarm solution skeptics", i.e. they don't think there exists a good rational basis or justification to "fight CO2-caused climate change"
- most of the readers actually seem to agree with the patient-smoker, anyway.
I think that this 79-page presentation by Caltech's Anton Kapustin is both insightful and entertaining.
If you are looking for the "previous slide" button, you may achieve this action simply by clicking 78 times. Click once for the "next slide".
If you have any problems with the embedded Flash version of the talk [click for full screen] above, download Anton's PowerPoint file which you may display using a Microsoft Office viewer or an OpenOffice or a LibreOffice or a Chrome extension or Google Docs or in many other ways.
Spoilers are below.
Yesterday, we were allowed to learn (from the news or Vineyard) about a rather stunning Friday vote in the United Nations. A group of post-Soviet, Latin American, African, and other countries proposed a resolution (initiated in early November)
Combating glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance (full PDF text, 7 pages)You may read the whole thing, it's not too long, and as far as I can see, the bulk matches the title perfectly. The U.N. members are aware of the harmful impact and rise of the pro-Nazi groups such as skinheads, the celebration of Waffen SS, the destruction of memorials remembering the anti-Hitler coalition. It encourages them to outlaw racially motivated crimes, and so on.
What was the result of the plentary vote? It passed, of course, and will be adopted by the U.N. general body in December (not that such things matter too much). 115 countries including BRIC, Israel, Argentina voted Yes. 55 countries including all EU members, Switzerland, and Japan abstained. (Serbia, an EU candidate, voted Yes.) And 3 countries voted No: Ukraine, Canada, and the United States of America.
I find it shocking that such a standard sequence of comments against Nazism became so controversial. I am flabbergasted by the fact that the U.S. and Canada teamed up around the heart of the pro-Nazi axis of the current world, Ukraine, to create the new axis.
I think it's unlikely that there's something really new in the observations
Two days ago, the Daily Mail (plus colleagues) has excited many readers by the following esoteric article:
Mystery of the 'spooky' pattern in the universe: Scientists find that supermassive black holes are ALIGNEDThe Very Large Telescope has found some weird pattern in the locations of quasars and the rotation of the central supermassive black holes. And these patterns are far-reaching – seem to correlate objects that are billions of light years away from each other, i.e. distances comparable to the size of the visible Universe.
This is just an artist's depiction of an alignment.
The probability that such patterns emerge by chance – according to the current models with their probability distributions defining chance – is said to be 1 percent.
One month ago, I discussed a U.S. entry ban for Hungarian officials, an intervention into an ally's internal affairs that I find unacceptable.
During the following weeks, it was becoming increasingly clear that my own country is a target of this "activism", too. The main underlying reason for these anti-Hungarian, anti-Czech, and other assaults is the widespread opposition against the trade war with Russia in these Central European countries. One could argue that in all the countries of the former Austrian-Hungarian monarchy (and perhaps also in Italy, if not Germany), most people and business interests prefer constructive relationships with Russia.
Someone doesn't like it. Various actually unimportant events, like the Czech president's expletives voiced in his radio show, are used as excuses to meddle with our internal affairs. Zeman has been an outspoken guy for decades. In a recent traditional interview "Monologues from the Lány Chateau" (which Havel used to record every week), he mentioned that Karl Schwarzenberg, his opponent in the presidential elections 2 years ago, uses the word s*it in every other sentence. He would say that the lawmakers have scr*wed the Public Service Bill. And he said that the Pussy Riot ladies aren't really political prisoners but rather b*tches and puss*es (well, his translation was closer to c*nts) who were arrested for a riot, not for their opinions. As you may imagine, lots of reactions do occur after such words. His translation wasn't "quite" accurate and his pronunciation of "p*ssy" was wrong (pahsy) but the broader point was morally right.
Four days ago, The Ron Paul Institute told us that the NED president Carl Gershman, a de facto U.S. "regime change tsar", is working on toppling of the Czech president. When I participated in a recent public debate with the new U.S. ambassador, my impression surely was that he might be thinking that it's his legitimate job to influence the politics in his host country in similar ways.
By Dr Thomas Van Riet, K.U. Leuven, Belgium
What is this blog post about?
In 2003, in a seminal paper by Kachru, Kallosh, Linde and Trivedi (KKLT) (2000+ cites!), a scenario for constructing a landscape of de Sitter vacua in string theory with small cosmological constant was found. This paper was (and is) conceived as the first evidence that the string theory landscape contains a tremendous amount of de Sitter vacua (not just anti-de Sitter vacua) which could account for the observed dark energy.
The importance of this discovery should not be underestimated since it profoundly changed the way we think about how a fundamental, UV-complete theory of all interactions addresses apparent fine-tuning and naturalness problems we are faced with in high energy physics and cosmology. It changed the way we think string theory makes predictions about the low-energy world that we observe.
An effort to eliminate shamans and would-be scientific pressure groups possessing no verifiable evidence from the EPA decisions
President Obama has threatened to employ dictatorial strategies and completely circumvent the lawmakers during his divine personal mission to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal our planet.
If hired by the government as a researcher, a shaman is enough to serve as an "adviser" and the basis of the EPA decisions as of today.
After all, isn't it enough to control the EPA and to borrow a Michael Mann from the Penn State [I know that the überjerk is elsewhere now] and a Peter Gleick from the State Penn and use this administrator to cripple whole sectors of the economy – while saying that this is what has healed the planet?
Hours ago, the CMS Collaboration – one of the two major detectors at CERN's LHC collider – has made a cool announcement via Twitter.
A part of the complete data on the collision became public:
CERN makes public first data of LHC experiments (press release)So far, what we're given are just the high-level data from Run B in 2010. Recall that the center-of-mass energy was \(7\TeV\) at that time.
CMS releases first batch of high-level LHC open data (an extra CERN news article)
OpenData.CERN.CH (CMS subset, policies)
An Xmas rumor deja vu
There are many LHC-related hep-ex papers on the arXiv today, and especially
I think that this 19-minute video at the World Science Festival (the "Moth" series) shows that Frank Wilczek could make the living as a stand-up comedian. At least it seems to me that he is a more natural entertainer than the comedian who introduced him.
The video was posted 3 weeks ago but it was recorded in 2010, I think.
He tells us two stories, a longer one and a shorter one, how he has suffered for science.
RHIC, black holes
First, sometime around 2000, Walter Wagner – the same Hawaiian high school teacher who would sue the LHC later – would question the RHIC experiment in Brookhaven. It was supposed to create a black hole. Frank Wilczek wanted a Nobel prize for some related results so he wanted to be the go-to guy who answers all questions.
So when the P.R. department of the Brookhaven Labs got the complaint, he was asked to write the reply – see e.g. this preprint. The black hole would be too small, too quickly evaporating, and the Earth has survived billions of years of similar collisions. We learned that the "strangelet scenario" was added by Wilczek himself because he wanted to make the threat more spicy and more likely (but still easy enough for him to disprove it). With the strangelet twist, it became a text he was proud about.
And there are theoretical reasons why this could be the right mass
Yesterday, the CMS Collaboration at the LHC published the results of a new search:
Matt Taylor's shirt has instantly become one of the modern symbols of the fight between science, achievements, freedom, dedication to one's work, and meritocracy on one side and oppression, bullying, parasitism, feminism, humorlessness, cruelty, and superficiality on the other side.
The feminist bullies have apparently broken Matt Taylor, a scientist-in-chief of the Rosetta mission that succeeded in sending a module to a comet and in drilling it – all the data from the drilling got back before the battery went to the standby mode. But the legend has it that the poor guy said "and yet it moves". And even if he hasn't, you know very well that it moves, anyway, don't you?
David M. Romps, Jacob T. Seeley (Berkeley), David Vollaro, and John Molinari (Albany) published a report in Nature whose title reads
Let me tell you: I find this number conceivable.
They decided that the lightning frequency is approximately equal to the product of the precipitation rate and a potential energy (CAPE). It probably isn't exact but it's probably good enough for some estimates. Combined with some empirical data, 1 °C of warming adds 12% to the warming strikes. When combined with some nonsensically overrated projections about the rise of the mean temperature in the rest of the century, they may get a 50% increase of lightnings.
The student of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics is doing fine
The current and previous Czech presidents, Zeman and Klaus, were debating about the Velvet Revolution and related topics.
Martin Šmíd from my Alma Mater is the main hero of this blog post.
To remind you, the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia – the Velvet Revolution – began exactly 25 years ago, on Friday, November 17th, 1989, when the police used some amount of violence against the peaceful student rally in Prague (where all the events in this blog post took place). The students of the Charles University, my Alma Mater (that was later, I was a high school student at the revolutionary times), would be remembering the 50th anniversary of the Nazi murder of 9 Czech students in 1939.
When I was giving a black hole talk two days ago, I would describe Sagittarius A*, a black hole in the center of the Milky Way, our galaxy, as our "most certain" example of an astrophysical black hole that is actually observed in the telescopes. Its mass is 4 million solar masses – the object is not a negligible dwarf.
Accidentally, a term paper and presentation I would do at Rutgers more than 15 years ago was about Sgr A*. Of course, I had no doubt it was a black hole at that time.
Today, science writers affiliated with all the usual suspects (e.g. RT) would run the story that Sgr A* is a high-energy neutrino factory.
Why now? Well, a relevant paper got published in Physical Review D. Again, it wasn't today, it was almost 2 months ago, but a rational justification of the explosion of hype in the mid of November 2014 simply doesn't exist. Someone in NASA helped the media to explode – by this press release – and they did explode, copying from each other in the usual way.
One hour after I posted it, a commenter's URL convinced me that the photo is fake. See the featured comment below the post.
But you still want to see what I wrote before that, right? ;-) Here it is.
The MH17 aircraft was shot down above Eastern Ukraine on July 17th around 13:20 UTC. A ground-to-air missile or an air-to-air missile are the leading "technical" explanations of what happened. The ground-to-air missile theory (probably using a Buk missile; recently vaguely endorsed by the German intelligence) would leave the question "who did it" and "why" open. The air-to-air missile theory would have clearer implications – the post-Maidan Ukrainian government would be behind it.
Click the picture for a 7406 x 5000 very high resolution photograph.
Hours ago, ITAR-TASS (and later The Daily Mail and a helpful blog; I know it from the Czech media) brought us the photograph above.
Sad news: Alexandre Grothendieck, one of the 20th century best mathematicians, died.Philae was the first man-made object that landed on a comet (thrice), after it made two "unnecessary" jumps (a two-hour jump plus another eight-minute jump). But an important British member of the team (he's really the #1 scientist-in-chief in Rosetta) is already finding himself under some heavy criticism, as BMWA1 pointed out.
Try this video, and go to 1:42, to see an interview with this man. His tattoos are all about Rosetta.
This man was acknowledged to be important enough to be a spokesman for the media as well and CNN wrote a story (!) called
The Washington Post and The Guardian wrote hysterically negative "stories" while the center-right Telegraph and The Daily Mail reported on Taylor's appearance mostly positively. Pathetically enough, the far left-wing The Independent attempted a character assassination based on the claim that "Taylor can't park his car".