Monday, December 05, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Polchinski, Strominger, Vafa split well-deserved $3 million

Ten hours ago, someone asked me who deserved the Milner Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics last night. I couldn't write the answer in time and I don't have a clue who would be the right choice in mathematics (Jean Bourgain of Princeton's Institute won it and I am not sure I have ever heard the name; note that a special 2016 prize previously went to the three founders of LIGO) but my answer for fundamental physics would obviously be Polchinski, Strominger, and Vafa.

Strominger (L) and Vafa (R), (C) LM 2003

This prediction – and this wish – was no rocket science let alone string theory. Already three years ago, these three men were candidates for the prize along with Green and Schwarz who have received the award.

A webpage on the Breakthrough Prize server explains that the men got it

[f]or transformative advances in quantum field theory, string theory, and quantum gravity
which are nicely chosen words. These words would be right for most of the big shot string theorists but be sure that there are at most a dozen or two whose work would really deserve these words and these three men belong to that top notch group.

The Breakthrough Prize also quotes their "acceptance remarks" in which the researchers summarize their work and explain their reasons why they feel the work is important. Cumrun Vafa also adds an impressive long list of more than 170 of his collaborators. Jonathan Heckman (whom I knew as a brilliant student at Harvard) has co-written incredible 29 papers with Vafa (and usually someone else). Your humble correspondent is in the bottom "also participated" portion of the list.

Bulk of Czechoslovak MEPs demand apology, explanation for the EU officials' lionization of Castro

Most of the Czech, Slovak, and other post-communist world's political junkies were stunned by the only tweet that the boss of the EU commission Jean-Claude Juncker wrote about the death of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro:

This "hero to many" description was his picked summary of a somewhat longer statement about Castro's death by Juncker.

Similar outrageous or at least bizarrely neutral remarks were made by other leftists including Trudeau (Canada's PM), Obama (lame duck U.S. president), and Corbyn (the boss of the U.K. Labour Party) but Juncker's lionization of Castro was almost certainly the most radical one of all.

Sunday, December 04, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Feynman vs Hawking on inequality in the world

Willie Soon has sent me an article that Stephen Hawking wrote for the Guardian,

This is the most dangerous time for our planet
The subtitle says
We can’t go on ignoring inequality, because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it.
Hawking starts by saying that he has lived his life in an "extraordinarily privileged bubble". Well, I am pretty sure that given his disease, billions of commonsense people in the world would disagree with that statement. But most of them would agree that he has lived on a very tall and isolated ivory tower.

Hawking sees the Brexit referendum and Trump's victory (which won't be supplemented with Hofer's victory in Austria – the leftist candidate will win – but maybe with a finger to Renzi in Italy today if we're lucky) as the public disapproval of his political beliefs and acts, too. I think he's sort of right, too. Then he incoherently and superficially mixes several buzzwords about "assorted problems of the present world" that may lead to a planetary problem (including the replacement of workers' labor by robots) and proposes that a greater global redistribution of wealth is what we need.

Please, give me a break with this garbage.

Friday, December 02, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Einstein's boxes: measurements don't occur "spontaneously"

Florin Moldoveanu discusses a thought experiment – but be sure that it may be turned into a real experiment – called "Einstein's box" (although it's not "the" famous Einstein's box setup from the Bohr-Einstein debates).

Are Einstein's Boxes an argument for nonlocality?
It seems unbelievable that an undergraduate problem that is so rudimentary is being "solved" incorrectly by the author of a book on foundations quantum mechanics as well as Moldoveanu himself.

The problem is the following: A quantum mechanical particle is located in a box. The wave function \(\psi(x,y,z)\) isn't specified and both men pretend that they don't need to talk about it at all. But let's suppose that it's the ground state of a potential well – a wave function that is real and positive inside, e.g.\[

\sin x \cdot \sin y \cdot \sin z

\] assuming that the box is defined by \(\{x,y,z\}\in (0,\pi)\). I emphasize that the probability distribution \(\abs{\psi}^2\) for the particle's position is in no way uniform – when it's in the ground state (lowest energy eigenstate), the particle is unlikely to be very close to the 6 walls (and much more unlikely to be close to the 12 edges and super-unlikely to be close to the 8 corners). Now, a barrier is inserted in the middle of the box, e.g. at \(x=\pi/2\) in my conventions. The question is what is the wave function after this insertion and whether the wave function loses the ability to interfere – loses the information about the relative phase of the part of the wave function in the \(x\lt \pi/2\) "B1" half-box and in the \(x\gt \pi/2\) "B2" half-box.

Thursday, December 01, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Brainwashed millennials pose a threat to democracy

Indoctrination by Soros-distorted institutions is a primary culprit

The New York Times has published a highly disturbing graph developed over the years by Harvard's government scholar Dr Yascha Mounk:

It shows that the percentage of the people who think that it's "essential" to live in democracy is basically an increasing function of age. In the most extreme cases, while it reaches almost 80% for some of the oldest generations in some countries, it drops as low 19 percent for the millennials or Generation Y – the young folks born around 2000 plus minus 5 years or so.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Clash of interests: Trump vs Babiš

Our Slovak-born finance minister, Andrej Babiš, is a billionaire whose net worth is some $3 billion. The U.S. president-elect is a billionaire whose net worth is about $3.7 billion. Both of them have had Czech partners. None of them is a real intellectual, both of them speak a kind of language that many ordinary people understand. Both of them have become rich in industries that are not exactly hi-tech and practical man's skills and common sense were their main weapons to do so. It's unavoidable that people tend to compare such people.

Well, there are some differences, too.

Donald Trump has never been a member of the communist party or the communist secret police. His father Fred Trump wasn't a communist, either, and they haven't disinherited an uncle for his emigration to the West. Donald Trump hasn't written a tweet "I really don't support Trump despite the comparisons". Donald Trump isn't preparing a scheme that would allow him to monitor all payments in hotels and restaurants in real time starting from tomorrow.

(I wonder: Is some generous soul searching Google for words "order DDoS" and paying some $25 per hour for one hour of DDoS attack against and/or tomorrow? To make the evil scheme collapse and be abandoned? Hundreds of thousands of Czechs would really appreciate it. This paragraph is pure information, not my cooperation with a generous soul. I can't even think about any cooperation with anything like that. Also note that tomorrow, all restaurants in Czechia will be 10% more expensive in average.)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Would you use a nuclear waste diamond battery in your smartphone?

University of Bristol, U.K., published an inspiring press release a few days ago,

‘Diamond-age’ of power generation as nuclear batteries developed
And they added the following video yesterday:

Graphite blocks are used to moderate reactions in nuclear reactors. If you study what's happening with them, you will find out that some of the ordinary carbon-12 in these blocks is turning into the radioactive carbon-14, especially on the surface of these blocks.

Monday, November 28, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Three papers on information in quantum gravity

I want to briefly mention three recent papers on the fate of the information in quantum gravity.

First, a week ago, Raphael Bousso argued that there is a simple

Universal Limit on Communication.
When you are sending the information by photons, one photon of frequency \(\omega\) must occupy the time at least \(\Delta t \sim 1/ \omega\) and transmits \(\O(1)\) nats (or bits) of information, e.g. a bit from the polarization of the photon. The energy of the photon is \(E=\hbar\omega\).

You might think that the number of bits per photon may be increased arbitrarily because the information may be carried e.g. in the precisely determined angular direction of the photon's motion. But Raphael argues that due to the unavoidable appearance of some quantum effects that are there despite the seemingly classical setup, the recipient of the information (whose name is Bob and who surrounds the source, Alice, by a big sphere) will actually not be able to extract much more information, and the total transmitted information can't be above \(E \cdot \Delta t / \hbar\), after all.

There have been various limits involving the information and entropy etc. Some of them seem to be universal in quantum mechanics, not just results in quantum gravity. This bound doesn't explicitly depend on Newton's constant \(G_N\) and even though the "cultural context" of the derivation seems like quantum gravity (just like some Bekenstein-related bounds), I think it's right to say that this is a non-gravitational result (if it is true).

Swiss voters chose to keep nuclear power plants

I generally think that frequent referendums aren't a good way to organize societies – or at least nations such as mine – because I do think that detailed decisions should be made by selected people with special knowledge and skills and the median voter isn't one of them. That's why a competition between "potential experts" – politicians who fight against each other – which is judged by the median voter i.e. the representative democracy sounds like a more sophisticated scheme.

On the other hand, I am repeatedly impressed by the results of the referendums in Switzerland and the political maturity that they display. Almost one thousand years of referendums could have made the Swiss more sensible. One shouldn't denounce the possible explanation that the Swiss are simply better at this business – and what could be harmful to other nations may be beneficial for Switzerland.

The latest referendum was one about the nuclear energy.

Sunday, November 27, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Was Hillary defeated by Kremlin-paid propaganda agents?

I used to consider The Washington Post as a daily that an average intelligent person could see as one of his information sources. But this picture was diminishing over the years and three days ago, it dropped hugely because of the article

Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say
In this most viewed article on WaPo's site on Friday, Craig Timberg teaches us that Donald Trump didn't win because of his personality, his program, his campaign strategy, preferences and values of a majority of the U.S. public, and their genuine dissatisfaction with the trends that America has been following in recent years. Instead, Hillary was partly if not mainly defeated by
Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts...
Wow, just wow. See some reactions at 21stCenturyWire, ZeroHedge, Truth Feed, The Intercept, Fortune, RT video, RT text, and others, more.

Saturday, November 26, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Fidel and Czechoslovakia

90 years is a blessed age to die and the Cuban Marxist leader was fortunate to live that long. Donald Trump just tweeted that Castro is dead. Almost all Cubans in Florida are celebrating. They're obviously right about the overall sign of the sentiment. He was a dictator that was responsible for many crippled lives and the erasure of some 90% of the Cuban GDP. But in some way, it doesn't sound "cool" to celebrate the death of this no longer dangerous "hip" character from the world history.

My country had a special relationship to Castro. Like other kids in the Soviet bloc, we were trained to recognize him as a hero. But the relationships were more special. For example, a very large percentage of the machinery used in Cuba was produced in Czechoslovakia. Among many other things, that included a car owned by Fidel, Tatra 603, typically a car of the Czechoslovak VIP communists. At some moment, he switched from Tatra and Soviet limousines to Mercedeses, however.

In 1968, Castro needed to improve his bad relationships with Moscow so he – unlike the Romanian, Yugoslav, Albanian, and Chinese comrades – endorsed the occupation of Czechoslovakia even though he didn't send any actual tanks. For this attitude, Cuba was allowed to export sugar or something like that.

Friday, November 25, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Turkey updated its position to full blackmail

I hope that the U.S. readers have enjoyed their Thanksgiving. Turkey seems like a natural topic these days.

I am not a fan of Daniel Landa and it seems right to classify his singing as out-of-tune (plus plain talk) but this well-known Czech song is titled "Thanksgiving" so it may get the right to look for fans outside Czechia. Music: Petr Hapka. Lyrics: Michal Horáček, Prague Café's presidential candidate.

For some years, I have observed that Turkey was a problematic ally that Europe shouldn't rely upon, and I have criticized Turkey's relationships with ISIS vs the Kurds, among other things.

Thursday, November 24, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

"Popular vote" and "number of electoral votes" don't commute

I have dedicated several blog posts to the attitude of Trump critics to the elections. The biased media coverage and polls (yesterday, during a public debate in the bank, I noticed how much the anti-Trump and similar self-evidently unjustified biases are widespread even among top bank analysts etc.) and the emotionally immature reactions by the leftists were given some room.

But there's another unsurprising dimension of the leftists' denial of their loss: attacks on the mathematics. While Scott Aaronson sent thousands of dollars to sponsor a recount in three states (WI, MI, PA; leftists' dealing with the taxpayer money is even more wasteful when they get in front of the steering wheel), Brian Greene included himself among the embarrassingly sore losers by questioning the U.S. democracy itself:

Well, that's a painful tweet, Brian, one that shows how sick political positions are considered normal in the Western universities.

I have tried to explain to him that "democracy" generally means "the participation of the most general public at power" but the detailed implementation of this general concept requires additional laws and the U.S. implementation involves the electoral votes. There's nothing non-democratic about this recipe: the "demos" still rules by picking a sensible number of electoral votes etc. During the presidential elections, the U.S. democracy is defined by the rules involving the electoral votes. The rules involving the electoral votes aren't a "curious" flavor of democracy but the "U.S." flavor of democracy, perhaps the world's most celebrated flavor of democracy.

Leftists are used to bending and twisting the rules whenever they can (also changing the rules during the game) – e.g. when they are selectively hiring women or people of color or other privileged groups at the U.S. universities or when they harass conservatives in the Academia – and they seem to be shocked that the same dirty tricks can't be easily done after the presidential elections.