Saturday, October 25, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Many interacting worlds approach is an original, equally flawed cousin of Bohmian mechanics

All the major "realist" attempts to reform the foundations of quantum mechanics – de Broglie-Bohmian mechanics, Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber-like collapse theories, and Everett-style many worlds – are known to suffer from serious diseases. To a large extent, "realism" itself is the problem.

Off-topic, physics: In Physics World, Sylvester Jim Gates Jr explains why he is Sticking With SUSY. Doing something else would be as unwise as to conclude that giant sequoia trees don't exist after looking at the U.S. East Coast only. Supersymmetry, a Bose-Fermi symmetry, is really needed to "deeply" explain the established fact that the quantizations of fermions and bosons are so analogous; and to cancel lots of destabilizing divergences.
I am still willing to admit that there is no truly "rock-solid proof" of the statement that "there cannot be any realist reinterpretation or 'improvement' of quantum mechanics". This sentence is composed of words and we don't really know what the "most general type of a theory we would naturally consider realist" looks like. We can't define it. Maybe a way to reformulate quantum mechanics "smells" realist and all the "novelties" of quantum mechanics are traded for another feature of the reformulation that seemingly does something else than to refute realism. I find the existence of such a "realist" reinterpretation – even in this vague, generalized sense – extremely unlikely but I can't really "prove" that it doesn't exist.

So I am always open-minded when I read about a "completely new" approach to the reform of the foundations of quantum mechanics. Every such an approach may only be abandoned after we actually identify its lethal flaw if it exists. Of course, the lethal flaws are well-known for the most notorious "alternative approaches" and most articles about such matters share these flaws. However, when something is sufficiently new, one has to look at it with a "new dose of potential enthusiasm". That was also the case of the "new interpretation of quantum mechanics" (note that before this sentence, I've managed to avoid the word "interpretation") that was hyped in Nature yesterday:
A quantum world arising from many ordinary ones (Nature, popular)

Quantum Phenomena Modeled by Interactions between Many Classical Worlds (by Hall, Deckert, Wiseman, Physical Review X, PDF)
I must have heard of "Physical Review X" ("X" probably stands for "XXX", or porn for short) but the shortage of meaningful papers in that outlet has made me forget about the existence of the journal again.

Friday, October 24, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Warren Buffett's vicepresident donates $65 million to UCSB visiting theoretical physicists

Charles Munger, the vice-president of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., donated over $65 million in stocks to the University of California in Santa Barbara. It's the largest individual gift to UCSB ever, beating the previous record $50 million in 2012. The university doesn't quite understand the concept of "holding stocks" so it immediately converted them to cash.

Munger wants the money to be used to house visiting physicists. He is impressed by the achievements of the physicists over there.

EU 40% CO2 reduction by 2030 is a plan to destroy the whole system twice

A damp rag nicknamed Herman Van Rompuy (yes, check what is the most popular YouTube video about him) and his apparatchik friends have finally agreed about an insane 15-year plan (a 3 times more ambitious time scale than Stalin liked to "command")

EU leaders agree CO2 emissions cut
It's an atrocious piece of communist planning. Poland and others probably agreed with this insanity because they were promised a few bucks (negligible $3 billion dollars over a decade in the case of Czechia) as a compensation.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

House and energy, a conference

I just returned from Bohemian Budweis – just to be sure, my dear American readers, it's the town that gave the name to the beer and if someone tries to convince you about a different story about the origin of the name, you're being had! ;-)

The town is nice, a smaller Pilsen of a sort, a town with some extra traces of the rural Czech aristocracy. Unlike the cities in Northern Bohemia which used to belong to the Sudetenland, there is no obvious "traumatic feeling" of a post-war decline associated with the depopulation and repopulation.

Linguistically, Southern Bohemia was defined as the "healthy (rural) core" of the Czech nation so the people over there define what the Czech language without any accents or dialects looks like. They have the credentials to make fun of the accents and dialects of everyone else, and of course, they did exploit this capital in some friendly conversations with your humble Pilsner correspondent. ;-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

POLARBEAR announces detection of B-modes

Focus of the March paper is mostly orthogonal to the BICEP2-Planck dispute

You are often being told that polar bears love the chilling weather and thick ice but POLARBEAR is a CMB experiment located in a desert in Chile (although the altitude is over 5 kilometers). Californian cosmologists from Berkeley and San Diego are the main members of the collaboration.

A few hours ago, it announced a "breakthrough" that was reported in the media:

POLARBEAR detects B-modes in the cosmic microwave background: Mapping cosmic structure, finding neutrino masses (Science Daily, news)

A Measurement of the Cosmic Microwave Background B-mode Polarization Power Spectrum at Sub-degree Scales with POLARBEAR (Astrophysical Journal, arXiv)
A problem with the hype is that the paper producing the story is nothing else than the March 2014 preprint that many of us have seen a long time ago. But let me discuss this as if the story were really new because no blog post has been dedicated specifically to POLARBEAR yet.

They describe themselves as the most accurate ones, and so on.

Peter Thiel talks to Glenn Beck

Peter Thiel is arguably the world's most ingenious venture capitalist. He is a co-founder of PayPal, the first major Facebook investor, a hedge fund boss, a libertarian, an excellent chess player, and one of the most influential folks in Silicon Valley.

He believes that there is an education bubble and he actively (by significant felllowships) encourages smart kids to escape from the conventional, left-wing-politics-dominated academic system, and become builders of an independent, competing, more pro-freedom framework for the elite.

I admit that my discussions with him in Nice may make me a bit biased. As far as I remember, no other dollar billionaire has ever invited me to a luxurious place for a week and no other billionaire has asked me so many good questions about the expectations at the LHC etc. (Those 4 years ago, I happened to have a "flu" over there which, I became almost certain later, was always caused by Candida, not by viruses or bacteria. I have pretty much chased those "flus" from my life.)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lisi, triality, postmodernism, and Hawaiian beaches

After the merchant of smear Ms Naomi Oreskes, Edward Witten has another "peer" who has also been interviewed by John "End of Science" Horgan: the surfer dude also known as Garrett Lisi:

Surfer-Physicist Garrett Lisi Offers Alternative to String Theory—and Academia
The absurdity of this company is self-evident and comical. Horgan begins by an explanation why Garrett Lisi is "famous". In November 2007, Lisi submitted a paper on a theory of everything. Lee Smolin added him to his short list of 17 "geniuses" (which included 5 people whom Smolin hasn't slept with; I make no statements whether Lisi belonged to that group) – crackpots who were Smolin's "proteges" and hopefuls to become the "next Smolin" i.e. the world's most celebrated crackpot at a given moment. This "endorsement" was clearly sufficient for tons of low-brow journalists to run stories about a surfer dude who revolutionized physics.

Surfer babes

The paper boasted Lisi's ability to notice some of the basic relationships among the Lie group \(E_8\) and its subgroups – Lisi was demonstrably unfamiliar with most of the basic facts from this class even several years after his preprint – and he distorted many of the group-theoretical facts underlying GUT quantum field theories and heterotic string theory model building to "incorporate" gravity into the "grand unified force" in unorthodox, namely wrong, ways. A key tool to sell the paper was a simple visualization of the weights of \(E_8\). The model suffered from some elementary flaws that a good graduate student could have seen within minutes. He misunderstood – and the model ignored – the spin \(j=2\) of the gravitons and the chirality of the Standard Model fermions, among many other basic things.

Alarmists argue about the 5-year plan

The alarmist party is split to a joule wing and a kelvin wing

Three weeks ago, Mr Victor and Mr Kennel admitted in Nature that the 2 °C "warming target" is a plain idiocy. In the climate alarmist movement, even such obviously valid observations turn out to be immensely controversial.

So Stefan Rahmstorf published another memo on RealClimate.ORG,

Ocean heat storage: a particularly lousy policy target
The tirade starts with a 2027 article in the New York Times where they announced that the 2 °C target was replaced by the 1024 joule target after the 385th gathering of the climate alarmists on the Bahamas. If I suppress all the redundant junk, Rahmstorf's article says that it's bad to replace kelvins by joules in the deep ocean because no one cares about the deep ocean and it takes centuries for the heat to penetrate to the ocean.

(Incidentally, neither Rahmstorf nor a single other participant of the RealClimate.ORG exchanges knows that the units such as joules and kelvins are written in lowercase letters. So the answer to the question "Are you smarter than a 5th grader, climate scientist?" may very well be "No.")

Monday, October 20, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Paul Dirac on dimensionless constants and the "large number hypothesis"

Paul Dirac (see TRF biography) died exactly 30 years ago, on October 20th, 1984.

He was an eminent physicist, a co-father of quantum mechanics, the author of the Dirac equation, and a man who was convinced that the

Physical law should have mathematical beauty.
He wrote down this important sentence in capital letters on a blackboard during his 1955 lecture in Moscow. ;-)

U.S. entry bans for Hungarian officials are abuses of power

Everyone who knows my long-term views on the history and politics of Central Europe must know very well that I am pretty unlikely to defend some "political idiosyncrasies" of Hungary, especially those that are flavored with nationalism.

Our Slovak brothers would sometimes have problems with Hungary, partly due to the large Hungarian minority that stayed on the Slovak territory, despite Hungary's losing status after the Second World War. I think that when Czechoslovakia was created in 1918, it was wise for the Western powers to incorporate the "potentially controversial" territories into (Czecho)Slovakia because (Czecho)Slovakia had a much higher potential for democracy and respect towards ethnic minorities than Hungary, as the following decades helped to confirm. I think that Slovakia was right to argue that a Hungarian-Slovak treaty about the Gabčíkovo-Nagymarosz dam was valid, despite the nationally flavored backlash by the Hungarian greens and their allies. And so on.

But the way how Hungary and its most powerful party, Fidesz, along with its boss, prime minister Viktor Orbán, is being treated by many politicians in the West is unacceptable.

Sunday, October 19, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Would it be wise for Russia to conquer Sweden?

Well, the historical record is surely encouraging for Russia. It hasn't lost in numerous wars (mostly in the 18th century) against Sweden – the last one, the 1808-1809 "Finnish War", meant that Sweden had to transfer Finland to Russia.

We're told that Sweden has glimpsed some foreign submarine(s) 50 km away from Stockholm and detected emergency radio signals from the submarine(s) on one side and the Kaliningrad region on the other side. The idea is that Russia is beginning to violate the sovereignty of Sweden.

Of course, one must be careful about far-reaching interpretations.

The submarine hunts in Swedish territorial waters have been common for decades and the most famous one – sensationally involving the U 137 "fine-structure constant" Soviet submarine – occurred in 1981. Some of those operations may have been NATO false flag operations designed to affect the public opinion in "neutral Sweden", it may be true now as well, and all these things are very complicated.

Just to be sure, I believe that it is extremely likely that the newest submarine incident near Stockholm doesn't mean anything important. However, it seems reasonable to me to think about the possibility that it could mean something more important.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

ETs, hippies, loons introduce Andrew Strominger

...or a yogi and another nude man?

Exactly one week ago, Andrew Strominger of Harvard gave a Science and Cocktails talk in Christiania – a neighborhood of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The beginning of this 64-minute lecture on "Black Holes, String Theory and the Fundamental Laws of Nature" is rather extraordinary and if you only want to see the weirdest introduction of a fresh winner of the Dirac Medal, just listen to the first three minutes of the video.

Paper: feminists are authoritarians with a hyper-male ratio of finger lengths

A study indicates that feminists shouldn't be clumped together with women

Every sane adult has been able to notice that there exist profound biological differences between men and women that go well beyond the "obvious shape of some organs" and affect pretty much everything, including very fine correlations describing the behavioral patterns. The feminist movement is partly based on the denial of these basic facts. Why are they doing these things?

They often say that they are fighting to improve the conditions for women. However, as the paper below states, only a minority of women in modern societies count themselves as feminists. Certain folks think that this is paradoxical – it's been named the feminist paradox. Why do most women think that feminists suck if feminists claim to fight for women's conditions?

A Swedish-Belgian paper in Frontiers of Psychology gives a rather clear potential answer (thanks to Doug K. for the URL):

Feminist activist women are masculinized in terms of digit-ratio and social dominance: a possible explanation for the feminist paradox (by Guy Madison, Babe Ulrika, John, and Michael)
The answer is that the feminists mean something else by the word "women" because the members of the feminist movement have significant differences from the true, typical, feminine women. In some sense, the paper is a somewhat more rigorous description of the well-known observation that feminists are ugly yelling men-like bitches.

Friday, October 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lorentz violation: zero or 10 million times smaller than previously thought

One of the research paradigms that I consider insanely overrated is the idea that the fundamental theory of Nature may break the Lorentz symmetry – the symmetry underlying the special theory of relativity – and that the theorist may pretty much ignore the requirement that the symmetry should be preserved.

The Super-Kamiokande collaboration has published a new test of the Lorentz violation that used over a decade of observations of atmospheric neutrinos:

Test of Lorentz Invariance with Atmospheric Neutrinos
The Lorentz-violating terms whose existence they were trying to discover are some bilinear terms modifying the oscillations of the three neutrino species, \(\nu_e,\nu_\mu,\nu_\tau\), by treating the temporal and spatial directions of the spacetime differently.

Annapurna circuit trekking route: Western companies should build better GSM coverage

One week ago, Cyclone Hudhud landed in Eastern India and it brought some bad weather to the Himalaya Mountains, too. October is very popular with the courageous visitors of Nepal. However, meteorologists must have failed to predict that such a cyclone is likely to bring lots and lots of snow to the highest mountains in the world.

As you must have heard, unexpected avalanches killed at least 29 people yesterday even though 220 people have been saved. The casualties include 4 Canadians, 4 Nepali guides, 3 Nepali herders, 3 Indians, 3 Israeli, 3 Poles, 2 Slovaks, and some people with unknown nationality.

Thursday, October 16, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An overlooked paper discovering axions gets published

What's the catch?

Sam Telfer has noticed and tweeted about a Royal Astronomic Society press release promoting today's publication (in Monthly Notices of RAS: link goes live next Monday) of a paper we should (or could) have discussed since or in March 2014 when it was sent to the arXiv – except that no one has discussed it and the paper has no followups at this moment:

Potential solar axion signatures in X-ray observations with the XMM-Newton observatory by George Fraser and 4 co-authors
The figures are at the end of the paper, after the captions. Unfortunately, Prof Fraser died in March, two weeks after this paper was sent to the arXiv. This can make the story about the discovery if it is real dramatic; alternatively, you may view it as a compassionate piece of evidence that the discovery isn't real.

Yes, this photograph of five axions was posted on the blog of the science adviser of The Big Bang Theory. It is no bazinga.

This French-English paper takes some data from XMM-Newton, X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission installed on and orbiting with ESA's Arianne 5's rocket. My understanding is that the authors more or less assume that the orientation of this X-ray telescope is "randomly changing" relatively to both the Earth and the Sun (which may be a problematic assumption but they study some details about the changing orientation, too).

With this disclaimer, they look at the amount of X-rays with energies between \(0.2\) and \(10\keV\) and notice that the flux has a rather clear seasonal dependence. The significance of these effects is claimed to be 4, 5, and 11 sigma (!!!), depending on some details. Seasonal signals are potentially clever but possibly tricky, too: recall that DAMA and (later) CoGeNT have "discovered" WIMP dark matter using the seasonal signals, too.

Feminists vs computer games

Computer gaming belongs among the human activities with the most obvious gender gap. I have experienced this gap clearly among all the contemporaries of myself in the environments that have surrounded me and I observe this gap on my niece-and-nephew, 5-year-old twins, too. This software (even more so than "most software") is predominantly produced by male programmers, and overwhelmingly played by male gamers. The difference between the male and female attitude to computer games is expressed in a song called Computer Games by the LHC, too.

Physics would be attacked by the feminists for being male-dominated. These ladies don't actually want to learn the Feynman path integral – of course, almost none of them could do such a thing – but they love to harm others and their important sophisticated activities. I was unsurprised to see that the computer gaming industry has become another target of the feminists' anger.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lockheed Martin promises fusion plants by 2024

Off-topic, music: the Macbook of Acapella Science, Tim Blais, the author of "Bohemian Gravity", got stolen along with non-backed-up music data. He is under financial pressure and was asking people for help. Well, within 2 days, he has already collected 3 times his goal to buy a new laptop.
Just in the last week, three self-confident reports on progress in fusion were published – and be sure that I don't count the new "independent test" of Rossi's cold fusion miracle.

What I do count is the dynomak, the Z-machine improvement, and... a today's intriguing announcement by a major aerospace and defense company:
Lockheed Martin Pursuing Compact Nuclear Fusion Reactor Concept (press release)

Aviation Week (good detailed text), Google News
We're told that they bet that their compact nuclear fusion reactor (CFR) – see the diagram above – will power the mankind within ten years.

A good popular text on gravitons and its limitations

In recent 24 hours, I saw a couple of news reports and popular articles about particle physics that were at least fine. For example, Physics World wrote about an experiment looking for WISP dark matter (it's like WIMP but "massive" is replaced by "sub-eV", and axions are the most famous WISPs). The Wall Street Journal wrote something about the RHIC experiment – unfortunately, the text only attracted one comment. The lack of interest in such situations is mostly due to the missing "controversy" and thanks to the technical character of the information.

But I want to mention a text by a "daily explainer" Esther Inglis-Arkell at

What are Gravitons and Why Can't We See Them?
which is pretty good, especially if one realizes that the author doesn't seem to be trained in these issues. Before I tell you about some flaws of the article, I want to focus on what I consider good about it because that may be more important in this case.