Monday, January 26, 2015 ... /////

A reply to an anti-physics rant by Ms Hossenfelder

S.H. of Tokyo University sent me a link to another text about the "problems with physics". The write-up is one month old and for quite some time, I refused to read it in its entirety. Now I did so and the text I will respond to is really, really terrible. The author is Sabine Hossenfelder and the title reads

Does the scientific method need revision?

Does the prevalence of untestable theories in cosmology and quantum gravity require us to change what we mean by a scientific theory?
To answer this, No. Only people who have always misunderstood how science works – at least science since the discoveries by Albert Einstein – need to change their opinions what a scientific theory is and how it is being looked for. Let me immediately get to the propositions in the body of the write-up and respond.

Sunday, January 25, 2015 ... /////

Greeks have spoken: we want to nullify debt, live as Prince of Monaco, avoid work

Your counterparts in Zimbabwe want the same thing
Will the freeloaders finally be given the finger?

Greeks have been living well beyond their means for several generations. Responsible politicians whom mature, sensible voters could pick went extinct a long time ago - maybe during the life of Pythagoras. When Greece was using its own currency, the drachma, the invisible hand of the free markets was able to fix some of the harmful trends. The increasing nominal salaries paid by the populist governments were translated to less quickly increasing real incomes because the drachma was constantly losing value. This was restoring some of the competitiveness.

Syriza's mascot

When Greece managed to fraudulently obey the conditions and entered the eurozone, it lost its independent currency. The increasing nominal salaries in euros suddenly translated to increasing real salaries. The competitiveness was dropping like a stone. The public debt began to grow really quickly. It wasn't supposed to happen because the members of the eurozone were assumed to be nations with at least rudimentary responsibility and economic literacy. But it did happen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015 ... /////

Exile and dissent are emerging in America

Leftists', fearmongers', and warmongers' treatment of the opponents in the U.S. increasingly resembles the practices in totalitarian countries

Sometime in 1982 or so, when I was nine, I decided to play with the radio somewhat systematically. So I went through all the frequencies and caught assorted radio stations.

At one moment, I would hear someone who said (in Slovak):

This was our editorial commentary. You are listening to the Czech and Slovak broadcasting of the Radio Free Europe [station].
It just happens that I was recording that experiment on a tape so I still probably have these first words I heard from RFE somewhere. Listening to RFE became my standard daily exercise between 1982 and 1990. For this and other reasons, you could have counted me as a child dissident but at the (very good, then) basic school, I was really highly loyal and my opposition only became clear at the high school – where I also hated many other things.

Sometimes, the radio jammers were running at a full speed and the signal was bad but most of the time, I had no trouble to listen to the program. At any rate, your humble correspondent doesn't remember the time when the opponents of communism were routinely executed or something like that. By the 1980s, communism in Czechoslovakia ran out of steam and was becoming obsolete. No one was believing in it anymore. One could still be fired from schools and jobs for political reasons – and (with uncles on both sides in emigration etc.) I could only get to the high school thanks to the repeated victories in the mathematical and physical olympiads. But it was a diluted tea, indeed.

Czechoslovakia would have a few thousand of full-fledged dissidents (a small number) and 300,000 people fled Czechoslovakia after the 1968 Warsaw Pact occupation (and there was a similar "first wave" of emigrants after 1948 or at least after 1945). Many of those emigrants were economically motivated, of course. We like to think that the U.S. is a free country but I think it is accurate to say that this claim is becoming questionable and the rise of both "dissidents" and "exile" – especially very skillful Americans who are being rejected by virtually every "mainstream" institution connected with power and wealth in the U.S. for ideological reasons – is a clear symptom of the disappearing freedom in America.

Friday, January 23, 2015 ... /////

Tom Siegfried's delusions about the reality of the wave function

In recent days, I've received links to many texts that looked insultingly and fundamentally wrong. One of these hyperlinks was contributed by Bill Zajc. Tom Siegfried, a journalist who can be good at times, wrote

Physicists debate whether quantum math is as real as atoms
in ScienceNews.ORG. It's the second part of a series. The first part said some basic things about Bell's theorem and except that the importance of that paper of Bell's was overstated by an order of magnitude (and except for the popular derogatory "weird" adjective used against quantum mechanics), the content was marginally OK. That can't be said about the second part. I was seeing red for an hour after I read that thing. This text is just terrible and serves as a testimony of the catastrophic degradation of the intelligence of science journalists and some loud people calling themselves scientists, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015 ... /////

Windows 10, Microsoft HoloLens, wow

I gave a near 3-hour interactive talk at a local Science Café tonight which was fun. Well, the number of guys who followed it at the technical level was close to $\pi$ but everything was relaxed, no one was tired, so the talk could have been made entertaining even for those ladies and gentlemen who didn't really follow all those things about escape speeds, special relativity, general relativity, quantum mechanics, Hawking and Bekenstein, second laws and black hole entropy, Strominger and Vafa, ER=EPR, quasinormal modes, landscape and swampland, LHC destructive black holes, and so on. I won't bother you with all the jokes because some of them were childish but enough to make people laugh. ;-)

But I think that if I were giving the talk now, five hours later, it could have been affected by the latest Microsoft press conference.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 ... /////

A new paper connecting heterotic strings with an LHC anomaly

Is the LHC going to experimentally support details of string theory in a few months?

Just one week ago, I discussed a paper that has presented a model capable of explaining three approximately 2.5-sigma anomalies seen by the LHC, including the $\tau\mu$ decay of the Higgs boson $h$, by using a doubled Higgs sector along with the gauged $L_\mu-L_\tau$ symmetry.

I have mentioned a speculative addition of mine: those gauge groups could somewhat naturally appear in $E_8\times E_8$ heterotic string models, my still preferred class of string/M-theory compactifications to describe the Universe around us.

Today, there is a new paper

Explaining the CMS $eejj$ and $e /\!\!\!\!{p}_T jj$ Excess and Leptogenesis in Superstring Inspired $E_6$ Models
by Dhuria and 3 more Indian co-authors that apparently connects an emerging, so far small and inconclusive experimental anomaly at the LHC, with heterotic strings.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 ... /////

Norway's theft of two Czech boys is a shocking story

The image of Norway in Czechia has dramatically deteriorated and may be compared to that of Afghanistan or the ISIS right now, except that we don't care about the latter two so much.

Two boys stolen from their Czech parents are the reason. Most compatriots including your humble correspondent endorse an invasion of the special units of the Czech army that would kill the members of "Barnevernet" (which translates as "The Pedophiles" to Greek and the institution is the Norwegian counterpart of Lebensborn in Germany up to 1945), a child kidnapping ring that operates legally at many places of Norway, and bring the boys back to their homeland.

In 2011, Mrs Eva Michaláková and her (now former, much older) husband Joseph Michalák who is deaf-mute (due to an explosion in the wake of the 1968 Warsaw Pact occupation) lived in a Norwegian village; all these 4 people are Czech citizens. A police came to their house claiming that some folks in the kindergarten decided that one of the boys must have been sexually abused because of the color of his stool. This accusation was shown to be invalid by tests in the hospital as well as additional police experts but this fact has apparently had no effect on the following events.

Prof Collins explains string theory

Prof Emeritus Walter Lewin has been an excellent physics instructor who loved to include truly physical demonstrations of certain principles, laws, and concepts.

After you understand string theory, don't forget about inertia, either. ;-)

When the SJWs fired him and tried to erase him from the history of the Universe, a vacuum was created at MIT.

Sunday, January 18, 2015 ... /////

Freedom: the difference between brains and machines

Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking teamed up to fight the rise of evil, artificially intelligent machines that are about to conquer the world. At least, the world revolution seems imminent according to the PayPal-Tesla-SpaceX entrepreneur who has paid \$10 million to fight the threat in order to make his words louder.

The annual Edge.org question was "What do you think about machines that think?". Some of the answers were nontrivial and interesting. In fact, I actually liked the answer by James O'Donnell, a classical scholar, who said that "no one would ask a thinking machine what it or he or she thinks about machines that think", and he actually warned about the sloppy diverse ways in which the verb "think" is being used.

Octopuses from the 2nd floor (full), "the blue male one" and "the green female one", also known as Formeláks, were famous Czechoslovak 1986 examples of artificial intelligence. Yup, the mother would marry Václav Havel a decade later but when the movie was shot, she was as loyal to the communist regime as you can get.

Many people just stated the obvious – that brains and machines are analogous to some extent. Sure, they are. Every science-fiction-fed kid can write stories about that. But there are actually big differences between "what we call brains" and "what we call machines" as well and these differences are totally crucial for a qualified attitude to the question whether artificial intelligence is about to threaten us.

NOAA, NASA: 2014 was probably not the warmest year on our record

A direct proof that the professional alarmists are intentionally lying

As I discussed in detail, the surface temperature record significantly disagrees with the satellite datasets when it comes to the question whether 2014 was a warmest or near-warmest year.

Satellites answer this question with a clear "No": 1998 was 0.3 °C warmer than 2014. This difference (decrease of temperature) is rather safely greater than their error margin which allows you to say that the global mean temperature as defined and calculated via the RSS methodology, for example, almost certainly didn't peak in 2014. (If it did, it would be no big deal, anyway, but it did not.) The year 2014 was tied on the 6th and 7th place among the 36 according to the RSS AMSU satellite methodology, for example.

On the other hand, NOAA's NCDC and NASA's GISS ended up with the mean value of the global mean temperature for 2014 to be about 0.02 °C higher than the second warmest year on their record, with their (different) definition of the global mean temperature, and the second year on their record is 2010 (closely followed by 2005).

Immediately, sensible people – including several climate scientists – were telling them that this difference – 0.02 °C – is so tiny that it is easily beaten by the error margin which prevents you from acquiring any confidence while deciding which year was actually *the* warmest one.

Saturday, January 17, 2015 ... /////

There is nothing extreme about anti-Islam groups

When the Western societies became secular, religion was largely downgraded to a personal spiritual issue of every individual that only affects his or her own decisions and not the lives of others, at least not directly. Christianity turned out to be capable of this transformation.

This is not the case of Islam which keeps its very strong "political Islam" branch and wants to dictate how people should live, what they cannot do, what they cannot say or draw, what they learn about everything, who cannot win in the court, and who has to be stoned to death.

That's why all citizens must have the right to reject Islam as a short-term political proposal as well as a long-term political proposal.

Pilsen: it's no easy task to install new bells

If you need to install new bells to the St Bartholomew's Cathedral, it is harder than to overwrite a few MP3 files by new ones.

The logo has been optimized for those artists who haven't quite learned the digit "5" yet. It's replaced by a more intuitive character.

You need the new physical bells (I was actually there also when the bells – paid for by private sponsors – were installed to the cathedral some month or two ago), a son of film director Miloš Forman (named Petr) as the director of the show, you need lots of big LCD displays, projectors for a monstrous videomapping on Czechia's largest near-square-shaped square and Czechia's tallest church tower, a Swiss ropewalker, a huge mechanical robotic angel controlled by about 6 puppet masters, several bands and dozens of weird dancers and musicians, and about 50,000 people (not a strict subset of Pilsen's 170,000 inhabitants) who watch it.

You will only enjoy this 100-minute show if you click at the "full screen" in the right lower corner and increase the brightness and contrast of your display.

I was there – and the show that kickstarted Pilsen's role as the 2015 European capital of culture was more impressive than what I expected.

Friday, January 16, 2015 ... /////

Papers by BICEP2, Keck, and Planck out soon

...and other news from the CMB Minnesota conference...

Off-topic: I won't post a new blog post on the "warmest 2014" measurements and claims. See an updated blog post on RRSS AMSU for a few new comments and a graph on the GISS and NCDC results.
The Twitter account of Kevork Abazajian of UC Irvine seems to be the most useful public source where you may learn about some of the most important announcements made at a recent CMB+Pol conference in Minnesota (January 14th-16th, 2015).

Is BICEP2's more powerful successor still seeing the gravitational waves?

Thursday, January 15, 2015 ... /////

Artificially engineered jumps of currency exchange rates are uncivilized

...they hurt financial planning, create easy profits and easy losses...

In Fall 2011, the €1 euro was worth CHF 1.2 Swiss francs and the franc had the tendency to climb further towards parity. The Swiss Central Bank decided to protect its domestic importers and pegged the currency to the euro. For 15 months or so, the euro was worth CHF 1.2.

Leonhard Euler (not Gauss, LOL, thanks) only appeared in the seventh series of the banknotes, one printed in 1984. The current eighth one, printed in 1995, contains no mathematician or scientist whom I can recognize. Am I overlooking someone?

Some lucky-yet-realistic folks must have known that the peg wouldn't last forever. They bought lots of francs – or shorted the euro against the franc. They waited – and they were vindicated today. The peg was abolished, the Swiss franc jumped over 15 percent within minutes. Due to some instability, the CHFEUR exchange rate was up to 30 percent stronger than yesterday at some moments.

In similar circumstances, people who have the "right currency" benefit a lot and quickly – and those who have the "wrong currency" lose. It's wrong for numerous reasons.