My condolences to the friends and families of the (so far) 21 innocent victims of a suicide attack (involving a home-made explosive device with nails) in Manchester's MEN arena. The victims were mostly kids and young teenagers, fans of Ariana Grande (*1993), an American singer.
The explosion occurred at 22:32 local time, Monday night. Few hours before the massacre, at 18:28 and 18:32 local time, the Twitter account @Owys663 warned in broken English that "the just terror" was coming to the #ManchesterArena – this hash tag was included in one of the two relevant tweets.
My condolences to the friends and families of the (so far) 21 innocent victims of a suicide attack (involving a home-made explosive device with nails) in Manchester's MEN arena. The victims were mostly kids and young teenagers, fans of Ariana Grande (*1993), an American singer.
The 1996 Sokal hoax has shown that the social scientists' journals considered prestigious didn't have any standards, the "research" done by that community had no content, and its editors were indeed unable to distinguish absurd satirical nonsense from something they were ready to call "true scholarship".
You could have thought that the publication of Sokal's ludicrous article was an anomalous mistake and nothing of the sort would be repeated because the editors in similar journals would become more cautious. However, this improvement hasn't happened. In fact, it couldn't have happened because there is really no well-defined difference between the work done by scholars in "gender studies" and the jokes that you may invent about them in minutes to mock them. The jokes about these "social scientists" are funny because they are true.
As Breitbart, WUWT, CFACT, and others told us, a new hoax of the same kind was just published in "Cogent Social Sciences", a peer-reviewed journal in sociology.
About two weeks ago, my broker (similarly to at least some others) increased the margin requirements for CZK-based pairs by a factor of 20 – the justifiable reasons seem non-existent to me. It was the 4th annoying shocking change of the rules (and the most far-reaching one) so I decided that it was no longer usable and closed my position – and extracted all the money – with a nontrivial but modest 50% return on the money I reserved for that account. The plan was at least 300% – and even by this point, I could have easily achieved 200% if I were a little bit less cowardly.
I am not rich but I am more impartial now which is a more precious value. ;-)
You may still make big profits if your broker is more well-behaved. This is the chart of EURCZK since Fall 2004. Click to magnify the graph. You see that at the end of 2004, one euro was some 31 crowns (CZK). It was strengthening by some 4% i.e. one crown per year and reached the low of 23 crowns per euro in mid 2008. The Lehman Brothers-like events weakened the crown almost up to 29 in 2009. CZK strengthened back towards 24 or so by 2011 and was expected to return to the 4% strengthening per year.
Objectivity of the truth is separate, unnecessary, and non-existent
For various psychological, metaphysical, and quasi-religious reasons, many people find it insanely hard to understand an extremely simple fact – namely that quantum mechanics allows you to reason to pretty much the same extent (when it comes to the applicability) as classical physics did before the birth of quantum mechanics; but it fundamentally rejects the idea that there are statements about Nature that are objective in character.
I say it's simple and it really is. The point is that the laws of a quantum mechanical theory are tools to produce lots of statements of the form
"IF... THEN..."These two words, "IF" and "THEN", basically cover everything that you need to understand the basic character of quantum mechanics. You don't need 43 pages of rubbish about Jesus Christ, John Wheeler, and random statements by 150 philosophers and physicists.
Quantum mechanics requires that you know some assumptions – the propositions behind the "IF". Those are the latest measurements that you, an observer, did in the past. And it allows you to derive or calculate some conclusions – the propositions behind the word "THEN". Because of this structure, "propositions are derived from others", we may say that the reasoning is deductive.
Well, the conclusions sometimes include the word "probably" or "with the probability \(P\)" where \(P\) is a number. For this reason, it may sometimes be better to say that some of the quantum mechanical reasoning is inductive or abductive. But the differences between the adjectives inductive, abductive, and deductive are not what really matters.
What matters is that it's normal that there are some assumptions or inputs – the observations that have been made – and one shouldn't be surprised that there is no objective way to decide whether the assumptions are right. The truth value depends on the observer's perspective.
Astro breaking news: Tabby's star is dropping againWhat our finance minister Mr Babiš has been doing – and how our president has provided him with his marginally unconstitutional support – was pretty bad but in recent days, I was reminded of the poor level of the political culture in the world's only superpower. Some of the events that have followed Trump's decision to fire the FBI's boss Comey look incredible to me.
Under a Washington Times article about some events, I added my vote "Yes, it's the greatest witch hunt in the U.S. history". 77% of the readers of that news outlet have answered in this way. I answered not because I am certain that it's the greatest one – I have also been to the Salem, Massachusetts museum of the literal witch hunts ;-) which is another fact that makes me uncertain – but it seems as the greatest witch hunt among the obvious ones I can think of right now.
The Washington Times article says that an investigation of Comey's departure has turned into a "criminal investigation". In a similar context, what can this phrase possibly mean outside a banana republic? The only act that has taken place is Trump's "you're fired" for Comey which was partly powered by Trump's dissatisfaction with Comey's harassment of Flynn that the president considered inappropriate. And so did I: if I were the U.S. president, I would probably order waterboarding of those who gave Mr Flynn such a hard time for no good reason. It seems utterly obvious to me that according to the laws, Trump has had the right to fire Comey – he has extracted this political power directly from the American electorate. Aside from Trump, no one else has done anything that would matter.
There are a whopping 23 new hep-th papers today, not counting the cross-listed ones, and some of them are very interesting. For example, Kachru and Tripathy find some cute number theory inside the engine of \(K3\times T^2\) compactifications of type II string theory. Max Guillen shows the equivalence of the 11-dimensional pure spinor formalism to an older one.
Dvali studies the chiral symmetry breaking, a physicist named Wu presents a theory of everything based on "gauge theory in a hyperspacetime". Some paper answers whether patience is a virtue by references to cosmic censorship LOL. But mainly the following two papers look like they belong to the black hole (or spacetime's) quantum information industry:
Spacetime has a `thickness' (Samir Mathur)Mathur wrote a (silver medal) essay for a "gravity foundation" and the point is right. However, the suggestion that these are new ideas is not really valid. He says that the spacetime (or its state) isn't just given by a shape. One must also specify the "thickness" of the wave functional defined on the configuration space (the space of 3-geometries).
Classical Spacetimes as Amplified Information in Holographic Quantum Theories (Nomura, Rath, Salzetta)
[The 4th prize in the same contest went to Shahar Hod, also cross-listed today, who claims to have proven our weak gravity conjecture as a consequence of "generalized Bekenstein's" [I wouldn't use these words] second law of thermodynamics within quantum gravity. The second law implies that the relaxation time is \(\tau\gt 1/(\pi T)\). When the imaginary parts of quasinormal models of a charged black hole are used to extract the relaxation time, one proves the weak gravity inequality. If it were a correct paper, he would have repaid my proof and our proof of his log-3 numerical observation. Well, I would still view it as "another" proof among many – similar to the proofs we already had in the original paper. It's surely personally intriguing that he has combined two things I've studied, the quasinormal modes and the weak gravity conjecture.]
If you think just a little bit, you will realize that it's an equivalent statement to my 2013 observation that coherent states form an overcomplete basis which implies that that field operators in QG cannot be localized in a background-independent way. Derivations with similar or stronger consequences have appeared in papers by Raju and Papadodimas, Berenstein and Miller, and a few others.
Even if the content of papers like Mathur were totally right, it's an unfortunate development – trend towards Smolinization of physics – for researchers not to follow their colleagues' work.
Sheldon Cooper is arguably the centerpiece of The Big Bang Theory which has been the most successful TV sitcom in the world in the recent decade. Jim Parsons – who just got "married" (the quotes indicate that the verb is incorrect according to the conventions in which I live) – was getting the same $1 million per episode as "Leonard" and "Penny" but he's had a little extra X-factor.
Watch the trailer at IMDB (5:16)It was therefore logical for CBS to build on his success. As I mentioned in March, Iain Armitage, a 9-year-old literary critic, became the filmmakers' boy of choice to star as the young Sheldon. The TV station chose the most obvious no-nonsense name for the new series that will actually compete against the 11th season of The Big Bang Theory, namely Young Sheldon. I would have recommended them the same title.
First, off-topic news from particle physics:
A new paper looking for a Z'-boson in the quark-quark-jet channel finds a modest excess (2.9 sigma locally, 2.2 globally) for the Z' mass around \(115\GeV\). No, the bump is not exactly the at the \(125\GeV\) regular Higgs' place. But record that LEP as well as some early LHC hints suggested a new boson at \(115\GeV\) in some easier channels.
Today, the Parliament of the European Union – whose members are "lawmakers" that are not allowed to propose any laws – has adopted a new pathological resolution directed against Hungary (393 yes, 221 no, 64 abstain). Hungary's minister of foreign affairs has already classified the resolution as a new attack by the Soros network. The EU-Hungarian exchanges sound like a post-modern addition to the Hungarian dances.
Aside from Hungarian dances, don't forget about the Slavonic ones, either. The latter may be a bit less spicy, much like Czech cuisine is more bland than the Hungarian one (and except for Dumka, all of them are in X-major, not X-minor), but they're underappreciated in the West, anyway.
Recently, Hungary adopted laws allowing the migrants to be transferred to Serbia and laws regulating foreign NGOs and foreign citizens' owned universities on the Hungarian territory. The algorithm proposed by the EU Parliament to blackmail Hungary was described in a press release.
The members of the Soros network don't like the Hungarian laws – or any common sense let alone signs of a European country's sovereignty – so they decided to harass Hungary as a nation state. They claim that Hungary is violating Article 2 of the EU treaty which should lead to the activation of the Article 7(1) of the EU treaty – preliminary work on sanctions that could strip Hungary of the voting rights and/or EU funds, among other things.
I am still a bit overloaded (also because the new phone I bought yesterday had a defective charging/battery and speaker so I returned it). So let me post some material that deviates from the most typical genre. John Archer wanted some report about Lindzen's talk in Prague. Here you have a fast translation of an initial draft of a report in Czech that I have to write.
Richard Lindzen's talk in Prague
Richard Lindzen, prof emeritus at MIT, is the most famous atmospheric physicist among the climate skeptics. I know him from Greater Boston, and because he spends several months in every year in Paris, I have convinced him that Czechia (Prague but even Pilsen) is worth seeing.
Quantum Bayesianist Christopher Fuchs wrote a laughable, 43-page-long reply (titled Notwithstanding Bohr, the Reasons for QBism) to two blog posts of mine,
and Luboš Motl for showing off just how poor the scholarship on this subject can be in some corners of physics [116, 117].Because of an extreme time and sleeping deficit (days of hosting Richard Lindzen and his wife, including a rather intense yesterday's trip to Prague where Lindzen gave a wonderful talk masterminded by your humble correspondent, hosted by Czech ex-president Václav Klaus, and we ate in two expensive restaurants and meeting with a top archaeologist at noon and Václav Klaus and his aides in the evening, new phone I just received, and many other things), I won't read this preprint carefully and I think that credible physicists won't read it, either, but the abstract will be enough for them to be rather certain that I am right and Fuchs is wrong: He just hasn't added anything on top of Bohr that would make sense.
Tonight, National Geographic CZ airs the fourth episode of "Genius" about Einstein. (I will have to watch it later because of another cultural event.) There's physics in it but the series is obviously focused on Einstein's relationship to other people, especially (but not only) women.
Ms Emily Jordan at Salon.com was inspired by the series yesterday and she published a piece titled
Two days ago, I wrote about two open letters about the cosmic inflation published in Scientific American. In February, critics ILS claimed that it wasn't even a science. Days ago, GLKN (Guth, Linde...) along with 29 other heavyweights who just signed defended the inflationary cosmology.
There have been some reactions in the pop science media.
First, Amy Adams wrote a Stanford press release:
Despite a popular media story, rumors of inflationary theory’s demise is premature, Stanford researchers sayIt was later copied to Phys.Org. You may see that Amy Adams is working for Stanford which is proud about Linde, so it is a pro-Linde, pro-inflation story – which is reasonable. Similar comments apply to the text in the Stanford Daily
Aside from some self-evidently credible technical research on inflation, Stanford is also one of the hotbeds of the anthropic reasoning which I don't find so nice. But it's clear that it's a kind of metaphysics that is somewhat naturally suggested by the technical results surrounding inflation – and its realization within string theory – and Stanford is arguably contributing the more rational things to the anthropic reasoning, too.
I believe that I have encountered the name "Tim Maudlin" of a self-described "philosopher" before 2011 but Fall 2011 was the first season when I was first fully exposed to his staggering arrogance combined with his utter stupidity. As discussed in Tom Banks and anti-quantum zealots, Maudlin was the most combative troll in the comment section of a guest blog about the foundations of quantum mechanics written by my former PhD adviser on Sean Carroll's blog.
Maudlin's name has appeared in the following years several times. But I honestly don't remember anything special about this particular "Gentleman's" opinions about quantum mechanics. He is just another anti-quantum zealot who accepts classical physics as a fact and says all the wrong things that "therefore the world is surely nonlocal" and the stuff that the anti-quantum zealots share. Mr Maudlin, don't you think that if it were enough to be a worthless peabrain like you that only understands the rough basics of classical physics to solve all problems in modern physics, the physicists would have already noticed?
Well, his "answers" to all questions in quantum mechanics based on the dictum that only classical physics is allowed wasn't enough for him. He decided to address a famous puzzle in contemporary decades, the black hole information paradox, too. The result was the fresh paper (Information) Paradox Lost whose content is equivalent to the following sentences:
The final slice after a black hole evaporated isn't a Cauchy surface – because some timelike trajectories don't quite get there (they end in the singularity). That is why this late surface shouldn't be expected to hold the whole information about the spacetime. Some information got clearly lost in the singularity. My solution is so straightforward that I refuse to call this trivial thing a "paradox" and all people working on complementarity, ER=EPR etc. have been idiots.Maudlin is a stuttering moron so he needs 25 pages of rubbish to convey this point. The pages are full of trivial introductions to some aspects of the black hole geometry, repetitions, and variations of the basic claims that theoretical physicist are idiots.
So has Maudlin given us the right answer to the questions about the information loss so that we may stop thinking about it? Well, he hasn't. His answer is simple but a slight problem with it is that for some two decades, we have known for certain that it is wrong. The information is not lost.
Because the inflation revolution is analogous to having eaten a forbidden apple
In February, three critics of inflation Ijjas, Steinhardt, Loeb (ILS) published a diatribe in Scientific American titled "Cosmic Inflation Theory Faces Challenges". They tried to defend the seemingly indefensible – the claim that there exist reasons to abandon the inflationary cosmology. They combined various unflatteringly sounding, mostly irrational sentences about the experimental status of inflation as well as its theoretical underpinnings.
As Sean Carroll and Peter W*it have mentioned, a day or two ago, dozens of authors signed under the response (also) in Scientific American named "A Cosmic Controversy". Note that ILS's title already tried to summarize their opinion while the title of the pro-inflation article doesn't make it clear that it's pro-inflation. This pattern can be seen repeatedly: Wrong statements often appear as titles but correct ones almost never do. Why is it so? I think that the journalists believe that more readers are attracted when the title is a wrong proposition.
The new pro-inflation text was penned by folks like Guth, Linde, Kaiser, Nomura (GLKN) but also by famous folks like Hawking, Witten, Maldacena, Susskind, occasional TRF guest bloggers Randall, Silverstein, but also by Sean Carroll, among others.
Most cosmologists would agree that the inflationary cosmology is a vital fundamental building block in most of the thinking about cosmology in the modern era. In its rather general form, the theory of inflation says that the Universe has undergone a period of intense, approximately exponential expansion driven by a scalar field that was away from the minimum where it's sitting now. The previous sentence is a huge insight but it's not a complete theory so most of the detailed questions may remain – and indeed do remain – unanswered even if you deduce all derivable consequences from the paradigm that I have already described.
I have written critical blog posts about the political culture, the atmosphere of cowardliness, collective irrationality, and the evaporating democracy in Germany. So it's somewhat refreshing to see a series of events in the Czech basin that make Germans think and behave in a more civilized way than Czechs. Such events show that the world is still alright. ;-) The West is in the West and the East is in the East.
Czech billionaire (second wealthiest Czech after financier Petr Kellner who [also] funds the Klaus Institute but is otherwise not interested in politics) and former Slovak communist snitch Mr Andrej Babiš has been a villain in numerous scandals and about one-half of them emerged in the recent weeks or a month. First of all, he shouldn't have become a minister because he was a snitch and the "lustration" law declared it impossible for these 160,000 citizens (1%) of Czechoslovakia who were reporting their politically inconvenient compatriots to become ministers or similar top politicians.
He also became a billionaire – his Agrofert Holding, held through a trust since February, is worth some $3 billion. Babiš is about as wealthy as Trump. Lots of recent data show that he simply stole the assets of the communist company Petrimex. He also stole the share of his former classmates in Switzerland. Yes, during communism, much like in the case of Kim Jong Un, the elite communist parents sent their spoiled brat to study to Switzerland.
The PBS spacetime is a textbook example of a pop-science channel that collects and sells the most widespread laymen's and journalists' misconceptions about science as if they were real science. Sometimes the videos summarize the insights or views of the somewhat informed laymen, too, but more often, they don't. I have criticized their takes on the foundations of quantum mechanics and other things.
Just to be sure, there are also some episodes on elementary enough things that are basically OK and maybe even helpful to educate the public.
In this 6-days-old episode, the main host Matt invited Neil deGrasse Tyson, probably to attract some truly superficial viewers who consider this obnoxious moron to be a symbol of science. Relatively to Tyson, Matt talks like a genius. Tyson is reduced to offensively idiotic comments about an extraterrestrial or futuristic teenager in their parents' garage. This kind of a talk is probably expected to make the whole picture "hip" and that's enough for it to be widely accepted among the degenerated youth that pretends to be "into science" but they are really "into pseudoscientific stupidities".
As The Independent and dozens of other sources told us, Stephen Hawking has "improved" his previous recommendation on a recently aired BBC program.
Half a year ago, he said that the mankind had to leave the Earth in 1,000 years if it wants to survive. He has corrected the number and what he says now is the following: all the men have to shoot themselves to another celestial body in 100 years if the mankind and/or the Earth wants to survive.
The stupidity of all these proclamations seems breathtaking to me.
Right now, I believe that my statement that the "Macron defeat wasn't very unlikely" was incorrect, after all. It's still being predicted, based on partial results, that he will score a 65-to-35 victory over Le Pen. If something changes dramatically, I will revise or delete this blog post.
But the data available now do indicate that some 3-sigma fluke was needed so the probability of a Macron victory was close to 99.7% and the bookmakers have overstated the chances of a surprising result. I hope that Tom Vonk has kept his bet and won some modest interest. On the other hand, my condolences to John Archer who has made a bet on Le Pen.
On Friday, we spent almost five hours in Techmania, Pilsen's science center built on the land that belonged to Škoda Works: the Pilsner episode of War of Tanks (where tanks can fly) is taking place almost exactly in Techmania. The only Czech 3D planetarium is a part of the facility. With a friend, we went to the planetarium last year or so.
But I haven't seen the main expositions for more than 2 years. So yesterday I could see that things got much more polished (even though you can still see in most of the area that the place used to be a factory), some gadgets were added. Sadly, some helpful gadgets have apparently disappeared, too.
Two days ago, the Czech prime minister Sobotka announced his intent to resign – and, according to the traditions, this includes the removal of the whole government. The move was unexpected for almost everybody including myself (we assumed that he could only say "it's OK" or "fire Babiš only"). People have lots of opinions about the usefulness or legitimacy of the step.
I think that my opinion that it was a potentially ingenious chess move is a rare one but some other pundits, like the former ideologue of center-right ODS Vlastimil Tlustý, seem to agree with my view. It's rather likely that a similar government will complete the term that ends by the Fall 2017 elections but the details matter, the events may be spun in totally new unexpected ways, and there exists some chance that the elections will end up very differently than the outcome that people have been taking for granted for years.
The unexpected plan to resign was similar to the decision of an ice-hockey coach to remove the goalkeeper to increase the chance of a victory. The "temperature" increases and so does the probability of otherwise unlikely events.
The populist billionaire Babiš would normally be expected to get some 30+ percent of the votes but things may be very different because of the havoc that started on Tuesday. To say the least, Babiš seems extremely anxious. Things aren't evolving according to his plans.
Ann Nelson is a physics professor in Seattle. I think that she is a very good particle physicist and when I was visiting their place, I wasn't forced to abandon the implicit assumption that she was basically a sensible person. Well, like so many women in physics, she became a part-time feminist activist. In the May issue of Physics Today, she "enriched" us with the following diatribe:
After a few sentences about shame, forced guilt, and self-celebration of this self-anointed pioneer of the female penetration to physics departments, Nelson writes:
I often get asked, “Why are there so few women in physics?” That anyone would ask that question shows how oblivious many people are to the sexism and bias that permeate our society and physics culture.If you often get asked why there are few women in physics, it's pretty painful that you have made no progress in understanding the answer – even though it's so simple. The average women's IQ is only smaller by 2-3 points than men's and wouldn't make a big impact. What's more important is that the IQ distribution (much like distributions of many other quantities) is wider among men, by about 10%, relatively to the women. And this makes the number of men above the (math-related) IQ score of 140 greater than the number of women by almost one order of magnitude. See e.g. this article by La Griffe du Lion for some simple numbers extracted from the normal distribution.
...and a metaphor for the exceptional structures in algebra, theoretical physics, string theory...
The most mentally demanding gift I received for our spring Xmas last night ;-) is the "Great Minds Aristotle's Number Classic Wooden Puzzle" which you may buy at amazon.com. Aristotle must have not only played with that – I think that he invented it. Unless it was invented by the Chinese because it's also sometimes named the "Lo Shu puzzle". And it may be just a modern (Chinese?) invention inspired by more primitive work of Aristotle's, I am not sure. If you hate Sudoku, you will hate this puzzle because it's Sudoku on steroids.
At those times, thinkers must have played with such wooden pieces and marbles a lot. I just verified that up to the obvious 12-element symmetry transformations, the solution to this puzzle is unique. This fact seems rather shocking. Why is the number of solutions exactly one? How could he invent it?
More than three years ago, the Czech social democracy won the elections ahead of the populist billionaire Andrej Babiš's "ANO" (="YES", an acronym for "Alliance of the Pissed-off Citizens") – it was almost a tie. A calm, uncharismatic leader of the social democrats, Mr Sobotka, a life-long politician, became the prime minister because the ANO's result was just slightly worse than that of the social democrats. But it has been generally understood that the "de facto prime minister" was the somewhat charismatic, aggressive billionaire Andrej Babiš, the finance minister.
This wasn't the first time when the finance minister was considered the "de facto prime minister". In the government of center-right plasma physicist Mr Petr Nečas, the finance minister Mr Miroslav Kalousek was the by far louder and more controversial and combative guy. Kalousek is not only Babiš's predecessor as the finance minister – but also the "personification of all evil" that Babiš constantly talks about in his sermons addressed to his brain-dead quasi-religious sect. Babiš and his sheep seem as obsessed with Kalousek as some believers are obsessed with the Devil.
In late 2013, the Christian Democratic Union – the Czechoslovak People's Party (yes, they keep this name) – became a junior coalition partner. They liked to join most governments after the 1989 Velvet Revolution.
OK, when Sobotka joined forces with Babiš, the social democracy wanted to build on what they have in common: the hatred towards the small businesses, populism, licking of the aßes of the losers who are always easier to be manipulated than the people who depend on themselves. But there were lots of differences and time bombs. Babiš sometimes acts as if he were a rightwinger – all owners of "very big corporations" unavoidably do so at some times. More seriously, Babiš is a completely "apolitical" politician who has no values, no ideology, no spine. That's different from the social democrats who try to extend the tradition of a party that has existed for more than a century.
Beneath the blog post about Google Translate, Gerry told us about a postcard that his wife's grandparents stored in the attic since 1895.
They didn't have time to read it up to May Day 2017 ;-) but Gerry is rather certain that the writing is in German. Well, I am rather sure as well. In fact, my German is more or less enough to understand what's going on.