The previous article about theoretical biology was an interview with Franziska Michor. Below, you find a completely unedited article by Mohammed. The links to at least three reactions to the article below are listed here.
Thanks to Lubos for the opportunity to write on this blog. Naturally, many potential topics presented themselves, but I ultimately chose to write about the subject that is dearest to my heart, and that is the emerging hard science of biology. I said emerging because while biology as a scientific discipline has certainly existed for many decades, and in some sense centuries, it has only recently started acquiring status as a genuinely hard science. The next few paragraphs will concern themselves with the challenges and opportunities that face us today as biologists, as we embark on formulating a quantitative theoretical foundation for biology.
The previous article about theoretical biology was an interview with Franziska Michor. Below, you find a completely unedited article by Mohammed. The links to at least three reactions to the article below are listed here.
The last hep-th paper tonight was written by Thomas Thiemann and it is called
The title is meant to be a parody of the modest title of the most cited 2005 paper on loop quantum gravity called
that was written by Nicolai, Peeters, and Zamaklar. We have discussed the paper on this blog. Thiemann repeats his bizarre opinion that Nicolai et al. are "outsiders" while he is an "insider" about five times in his paper. Needless to say, I think that his opinion is unrealistic because Nicolai et al. know what they're talking about, unlike Thiemann himself.
Let me try to explain. We will start with some details.
Spin foam fad
In the middle of page 21, Thiemann criticizes Nicolai et al. because they didn't spend enough time with the spin foam models. That's quite a cute criticism because Thiemann dedicates approximately one page, namely page 38, to these models. The section about them contains one displayed equation, namely an ill-defined path integral with the delta-functions (4.50). For comparison: Nicolai and Peeters dedicate 1/3 of their newer paper to the spin foam models.
One of Thiemann's many amusing constructions appears on page 45. Thiemann confirms that he, apparently with the rest of the loop quantum gravity community and perhaps also the algebraic quantum field theory community, disagrees with the rest of the physicists how to quantize the harmonic oscillator. Helling and Policastro have shown that if the loop quantum gravity methods are applied to the harmonic oscillator, we don't obtain the usual spectrum "(n+1/2) hbar.omega" that has been derived in a dozen of formalisms, tested experimentally, and that has become one of the main textbook results of quantum mechanics. Robert Helling adds some comments and links about this work in the slow comments.
Luca Baiotti and Luciano Rezzolla propose a paradigm that could conceivably become a breakthrough in numerical relativity. When you're numerically integrating equations of general relativity, you must tell the computer what coordinates should be used. Even with well-defined initial conditions, the solution is only determined up to coordinate transformations. Which coordinates should you choose? Moreover, physical singularities may form - what should you do with them? Normally, the regions around likely singularities are amputated and a gauge choice is used for the rest. The present authors use different coordinates and keep the singularities, arguing that this setup is good to calculate gravity wave emissions by collapsing stars and perhaps even the quasinormal ringing modes. The usual calculations would collapse much earlier, they argue.
Louis J. Rubbo introduces the Bayesian reasoning but especially more general assumptions to the analysis of detection of gravity waves. Instead of assuming a particular waveform as most people nowadays do, he uses the Bayesian inference to find a more refined Ansatz for the profile. The experimental discussion focuses on LISA. Be sure that I am not irritated by the Bayesian terminology because it looks like a good strategy to me. Bayesian reasoning is often a good framework to choose a strategy to analyze data and look for fits (and win probabilistic games); it is not a good framework for presenting and defending the final answers. Scientific results are only solid if they're independent from the strategies how they were found.
You could ask: who are the people who visit this blog? Surely it can't just be just the set of my e-friends, nice women plus the e-non-friends and the crackpots and other nasty folks whom all of us know and who e-reproduce on the dumping ground of the blogosphere. Let me avoid a description what they must be e-doing before you e-reproduce. ;-)
Instead, let us start differently. Anousheh Ansari, a 39-year-old Iranian American multimillionaire who has earned a lot of bucks in the telecommunication industry and who is the chairwoman and co-founder of Prodea Systems Inc., will pay a symbolic fee of a few million dollars to become the world's first female space tourist. I suppose that it is harder to earn the fee than to master everything you need to know to become a space tourist. You see that although there are no female CEOs of Dow Jones companies, Ansari doesn't need any affirmative action, despite being a member of at least three minorities: the birthplace in the Axis of Evil might be the strongest handicap among them. :-)
I don't know whether she reads this blog; the 600,000th unique visitor of the blog is Mohammed AlQuraishi. If you look at his screenshot, you will see that Internet Explorer 7 looks kind of nice, it has tabs, and the rankingblogs.com icon still doesn't work! ;-)
According to the freely available data, he is an interesting person, too. When he was 6 years old, he started to make computer programs. As soon as he entered the high school, he founded a company in the Bay Area that created software for wireless and small electronic devices. Having received degrees in IT engineering, biology, and logic, his goal is nothing less than to transform the core of biology into a rigorous member of the family of exact sciences.
Recall that Quraish was the Arab tribe that was the strongest opponent of the prophet Mohammed (PBUH) throughout his life: it was his own tribe. (A similarity with Jesus and Jews is rather obvious.) If you're Mohammed AlQuraishi, that's quite a combination. ;-) Because Mohammed is the 600,000th unique visitor - the uniqueness means that at most 1 visit from an IP address is counted every day - he can also contribute any uncensored posting he wants or postpone this right to someone else.
Off-topic - anniversary: On Monday night, it is expected that the counter in the sidebar will show 600,000. The first person who sends a screenshot with 599,999 or 600,000 can post an article or give this right to someone else. Also, all people with 5,000+ hep-th citations are granted a free access to make postings on this blog (submitted by e-mail or new accounts) up to 1 posting per day, so they shouldn't be ashamed if they have something to say.
Let me start with a paper by Radford Neal, Professor of statistics, on a math arXiv:
Statistician comments on anthropic reasoning
It should be interesting for everyone who has been thinking about these issues to see what statisticians would tell us. The author resolves various doomsday paradoxes and other paradoxes of the anthropic reasoning by emphasizing that all known facts, not just the existence of intelligent life, should be taken as assumptions and corresponding conditional probabilities should be evaluated instead of the normal probabilities.
That's a perfectly principled approach of a statistician and, to some extent, the only non-religious method to decide which things we are allowed to assume and which we aren't. ;-) But it's the same approach that Stephen Hawking had proposed on a conference. David Gross summarized Hawking's idea as the "extreme anthropic principle" because the message to the experimentalists is "don't measure anything else: every new measurement is a new problem for us because we will have to add its results into our increasingly awkward list of conditions".
One week ago, The Sunday Times have given us a rather explicit example that string theory is not the only target in a new jihad declared by a coalition of fringe physicists, scientific zombies, postmodern crackpots, and journalistic hyenes, using some catchy words of the former social-democratic Czech prime minister, Miloš Zeman, a big fan of fancy herbal alcoholic drinks. :-)
A journalist called Jonathan Leake didn't like Alan Guth's opinions about the cyclic universe and related ideas. Most of the broader community of cosmologists including me tend to agree with Alan Guth that the cyclic universe seems much less convincing and promising a direction for cosmology than the inflationary framework. Alan Guth may perhaps have some additional personal sentiments in this story.
One of the most provoking recent thoughts of Leonard Susskind about the philosophy of science can be summarized by a quote that appeared in a January 2006 issue of Nature:
- It would be very foolish to throw away the right answer on the basis that it doesn’t conform to some criteria for what is or isn’t science.
This statement has many aspects - sociological, philosophical, and scientific ones. Let me sketch the basic points that will be discussed more carefully:
- I completely understand where Susskind is coming from - he primarily criticizes those who have naive and narrow-minded ideas about the methods how evidence can be accumulated in science. Most of the article will be dedicated to this point.
- It was absolutely understandable that Susskind's idea was going to be misused by creationists, including some co-authors of "Traipsing into Evolution", an ID book, who have mentioned the quote on CSPAN2 today (thanks for TheGraduate for the information).
- Susskind probably couldn't predict the twists and turns how his ideas were going to be misused.
- You humble correspondent agrees with the creationists that if there were two isomorphic situations, we should be making correspondingly isomorphic decisions.
- The Reference Frame, however, thinks that the situations are very far from being isomorphic.
Okay, let's start with a more detailed discussion.
First of all, Lenny Susskind is convinced that the picture of eternal inflation involving a gigantic set of string-theoretical vacua is a well-established consequence of our theories that have been supported by sufficient, albeit indirect, evidence.
Doubts about the landscape and eternal inflation
I happen to disagree with him in this point. When we use Occam's razor properly, the very process of quantum tunneling in between two vacua is something that breaks the usual notions of time, space, and causality, and it is very questionable whether science can ever talk about the "moments before our bubble was created" and their mutual causal relationships. More concretely, we don't have too many convincing papers that would study string theory during these unusual transitions.
Also, I view the evidence for the large number of metastable non-SUSY vacua to be insufficient. More importantly, I think that there is no evidence that we won't find a more complete selection mechanism.
Technicality: a reader has asked how to increase the size of the fonts. Try to press ctrl/+ (ctrl/=) many times, and/or go to View/TextSize/Largest in your internet browser. I don't plan any major changes in the design right now.
Many recent controversies that involved science in one way or another have shared the following basic question:
- If there exist different opinions about a scientific question, should the public believe the insiders or the outsiders?
We could end up with this punch line but such an analysis would be far too short and incomplete. Even though no simple sociological rule that would produce 100% correct scientific answers can ever be found, there are still many approximate rules that can help anyone to have more reasonable opinions about many questions. And there are also many myths and wrong rules that help to spread wrong opinions.
Emperor's new clothes vs. independent and neutral arguments
The first fact that we should always be aware of is that only the arguments of those people who know what they're talking about and who look at the scientific questions sufficiently carefully matter.
If someone tries to intimidate you with millions of people who believe in creationism, be sure that there exists no rational reason to accept their opinion. If someone tries to convince you that there is, you're being cheated.
If someone else wants to impress you with thousands of people who have random science PhD degrees and who have voted in one way or another in a poll about the climate or particle physics or anything else, be sure that what you see may be just an exercise in discipline or groupthink.
As far as I know, this information has not appeared in the blogosphere yet.
The Fermilab is scheduled to be closed in 2010. The most likely step that would change the dark future of the facility after the Tevatron is the International Linear Collider (ILC), a widely discussed 18-mile-long lepton machine that would paint a much more accurate picture of physics at a TeV than the LHC will be able to do.
Incidentally, the LHC security will depend on biometric readers à la James Bond.
has submitted a proposal to build the ILC. According to the document, the university would be an equal partner with
while several other institutions would have oversight advisory roles:
This posting is written using the new Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, Release Candidate 1. One month ago, Microsoft released the beta 3 of the program. I was still using the beta 2 version.
If you download the program from the
you won't have to uninstall the previous beta versions of IE7 because an automatic uninstall is now part of the software. After a minute with the genuinely annoying but straightforward validation procedure, the installer will urge you to reboot and it will finish the installation after you log in again twice.
The new IE7 will be offered as an optional critical update later in 2006; it is conceivable that it will be identical to the present RC1 version. An up-to-date IE7+ program will also become a part of the new operating system Windows Vista to be released in 2007.
The program works very well and real fast. All bugs I sent to the Microsoft IE guys who also have a blog have been fixed - e.g. the switching in between the keyboards by ctrl/shift now works. Some users have reported an incompatibility between IE7 RC1 and some external newsreaders such as Sharp Reader and FeedReader. Minor CSS-related layout problems occur with technically defective websites such as cosmicvariance.com.
Democracy may be a tough thing. Last week, we reported about the proposal to have 12 planets.
Figure 1: The dwarf planet Pluto and its friends
However, 9000 astronomers who gathered in Prague have just voted differently. The vote was overseen by Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and her teddy bear. It is still true that a planet is an object that is spherical because of its gravity that orbits around the star. However, a new adjective was added.
Which adjective? The asteroid Ceres was promoted to a dwarf planet. Pluto was downgraded to a dwarf planet. Charon, previously known as Pluto's moon, was downgraded from a moon to a "small solar system body". On the other hand, the piece of rock 2003 UB313 was promoted to a dwarf planet, too.
The adjective "dwarf" means that the celestial body is not large enough to clear its orbit from other objects.
Mirek Topolánek (50), the likely future prime minister and the chairman of the most powerful Czech political party, the center-right Civic Democratic Party, has had an affair with Lucie Talmanová (39) who is a deputy for his party and who is single.
What's unusual is the reaction of his wife, Pavla Topolánková (51) - see the figure - who is a successful businesswoman herself. Instead of selling her husband's wine collection or cutting his tuxedo, she decided to become a candidate for the Senate and to run for a rival political party, namely Politika 21. Politika 21 is a small right-wing party of Jana Bobošíková, a deputy of the European Parliament who has been the main hero of her 2001 battles with lazy, whining, confused, and politically correct journalists in the Czech public TV when she became their boss.
Mr. Topolánek himself says that he is surprised but not devastated because he must clearly understand that he deserves it. Meanwhile, other party officials of his party are furious about the hostile act of the chairman's wife and the British journalists in the Telegraph and the Guardian are grateful for a good story about a new iron lady. ;-) See also a response from Turkey.
A closely related topic: the readers interested in sociology may want to read why the Western-style feminism is not welcome and will not be welcome in the Czech Republic - by gender studies scholars like
Link: Steve McIntyre offers a newer look at statistics of the 2006 hurricane season. I also have a newer article about the weak 2006 hurricane season.
If you compare the predictions about the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season with reality as of August 23rd, 2006, you will see an incredible example of a breathtaking bias in the media - a good toy model of the media's manipulation with the climate in general.
Let us start with the predictions.
In March 2006, USA Today (and Reuters) told their readers that the "2006 hurricane season could be worse than the 2005". To "prove" their point, they quoted a United Nations bureaucrat:
- "We have reason to fear that 2006 could be as bad as 2005," Jan Egeland, the undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs who coordinates U.N. emergency relief, told Reuters last week.
This is apparently what they call scientific evidence. The same prediction has been repeated in virtually all media you can imagine. For example, you could read it in the Insurance Journal. Some predictions relied on experts, namely Dr. William Gray from Colorado. For example, he said:
- "Information obtained through November 2005 indicates that the 2006 Atlantic hurricane season will be much more active than the average 1950-2000 season. We estimate that 2006 will have about 9 hurricanes (average is 5.9), 17 named storms (average is 9.6), 85 named storm days (average is 49.1), 45 hurricane days (average is 24.5), 5 intense (Category 3-4-5) hurricanes (average is 2.3) and 13 intense hurricane days (average is 5.0)."
By August 23rd, 2005, we had seen 12 storms. They started with the letters A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,10,J,K. Five of them have been hurricanes. Emily and Katrina were category 5 hurricanes and Dennis was a category 4 hurricane - still a strong major hurricane.
The Kyoto protocol has been ratified by 164 countries, as of July 2006. That's quite a high number. What can you do to democratically refute this madness based on bad science, very bad politics, and a horrible combination of these two?
Yes, you need 165 countries. :-) If you study the orange counter in the sidebar of this blog, you will see that this is exactly the number of countries that have visited this blog since February. Consequently, The Reference Frame declares the Kyoto protocol to be illegal since August 23rd, 2006.!>!iframe>
It turns out that the terrorist superstar is obsessed with a U.S. Catholic who used to be a Baptist. At least, this is what we have learned from a former Sudanese girlfriend of Osama's who was raped by the master mind 10 years ago. The killer considers one of the most bestselling female symbols of the capitalist entertainment industry to be the most beautiful woman who has ever lived.
To make things worse for bin Laden, Whitney Houston has joined the Israeli sect called the "Black Hebrews" around 2003. Nevertheless, Osama's plan was easy: to kill Bobby Brown, Houston's husband, and to convert Whitney to Islam. Meanwhile, he forgot that he has been converted to the ideals and values of Catholicism, judaism, and consumer capitalism. It's time for Osama's collaborators, including Allah, to realize that their glorious leader has changed their religious movement to a ridiculous type of the Titanic and to cut his throat.
The 2006 Fields medals have been distributed in Madrid. See news.google.com.
As the world learned from The Reference Frame in February 2006, one of the winners is Terence Tao. See his 117 papers on arxiv.org.
Another one is Grigori Perelman whose important contributions to the proof of Poincaré's conjecture were discussed intensely during the last weeks. He becomes the first wise man in history who declines the award. See his 3 papers on arxiv.org.
Andrei Okounkov is also Russian. While Perelman's contributions are methodologically related to string theory, much of Okounkov's work is related to string theory directly. Recently, he used four-dimensional supersymmetric gauge theories to quantify random partitions. With Iqbal, Vafa, and Nekrasov, he found the well-known relation between topological string theory and melting crystals or quantum foam; see also his work with Vafa and Reshetikhin about the Calabi-Yau manifolds and classical crystals. Okounkov, whose Motl number is two, has also written about the Virasoro constraints for target curves, the dimer models, and Gromov-Witten theory much like Seiberg-Witten theory (with Nikita Nekrasov). Okounkov, who always wanted to see the world as physicists (=string theorists), has also co-authored a famous paper about measures on symmetric groups. See his 46 papers on arxiv.org.
Because this question seems mysterious for all people around, I try this communication channel: does anyone know anything about a description of gravitino vevs in N=1 supergravity? Is there a counterpart of the Veneziano-Yankielowicz work with gauginos replaced by gravitinos? Alternatively, can you summarize how you would modify the paper to do it for gravitinos, or why it's not an interesting question?
Update: thanks to Jean-Paul for his immediate reaction. He has pointed out this article to me. Please only click after you pay money to Elsevier. ;-)
Just a link to pages linking to the
MOND is ruled out as the full explanation of the facts that are normally explained by dark matter, much like all known theories that don't involve additional dark matter. At least, the MOND theories whose modified gravity depends exclusively and additively on the mass distribution are probably ruled out.
It turned out that Grigory Perelman, a Russian genius who has made the crucial steps to prove the famous problem in mathematics, lives with his mother as an unemployed from about $50 a month. He doesn't care about his fair fraction of the $1 million prize from the Clay Institute. What a cool guy.
Dennis Overbye had a nice article about the Poincaré conjecture. On Friday, he answered many questions of the readers about this topic. The answers are somewhat impressive. They're comprehensible for many readers but full of Thurston's geometrization conjecture, correspondence with Edward Witten, string theory, and many other things. What a remarkable difference from the lousy science journalists such as Susan Kruglinski, Sharon Begley, Robert Matthews, John Cornwell, John Horgan, Paul Boutin, Dietmar Dath, and dozens of others who prefer to write about bitter, non-technical, vague, and deeply flawed attacks against science rather than science itself: medieval bigots who dream about witch-hunts against the scientific heretics.
At the beginning, Dennis Overbye et al. correct the myth that rabbit is topologically a sphere. Of course, its surface is a torus because of the tunnel between the mouth and the "hole below its tail", to put it politely. I would say that genus one is probably an underestimate because there are two more holes in the nose. At least, this would be true for humans but after I saw some pictures of rabbits, I am less sure about the "g=3" lemma for rabbits.
Many people including David Gross, Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, and Lee Smolin have compared theoretical physics to mountain climbing. The idea is that the Physics Mountains around us represent the possible ideas about the physical world and the theoretical physicists' goal is to get to the top of the highest peak called Mount Nature.
What is the best strategy to get there? I think that the answer is obvious. If you already have experimental data that tell you everything you need, these are your maps. In that case, you think for a few hours and find the most straightforward path towards the beloved peak: you simply construct the right theory that matches the experimental data.
If you don't have any maps but you want to get to the peak, it is also clear what you need to do: you try to climb as much as you can. If there is a cliff on your way that you can't make, you try to find a local bypass and circumvent it. But you must still realize that your direction is upwards. If you're forced to move downwards for a while, you must have evidence that such a motion is temporary. This strategy will bring you to a local peak. If you're lucky, this peak is nothing else than Mount Nature. If you're less lucky, you will still benefit: it's because you will be able to see the scenery of the Physics Mountains from the top of the local peak.
Elementary facts about the extrema of functions guarantee that you will be able to see at least one peak that is higher. If it is so, you can sketch your map and prepare another trip for tomorrow. Chances are that you may even be able to see which of the other peaks is the highest one. You will also see that the tomorrow's peak is similar to today's peak, and you will be able to apply many skills that you have learned today. If you do things right, you will indeed reach a higher peak tomorrow than the peak that you have conquered today. If you repeat this strategy several times, we can eventually reach our destination.
Ira Flatow's new audio about theoretical physics is out:
- NPR page of the program (35 minutes)
Click "Listen" - and I am sure you will be able to do the rest. Ira Flatow, a favorite host of mine, makes an entertaining and reasonable introduction. Lee, who is a bit nervous, is doing a fair job in spreading all of his strange misconceptions that science should work like a democratic society; string theory has been unsuccessful and all kinds of people always thought so; that he has even been working on string theory now and then; and all this spleen and material destined to be recycled.
Brian Greene, on the other hand, makes a great job in explaining how things actually are and why certain ideas make sense. Greene, who is on the phone, says that we always want the progress to be bigger than it is but the reality has actually exceeded his personal expectations from the mid 1980s. Brian offers an elementary introduction to string theory.
Smolin claims that string theory makes no predictions - this extraordinarily dumb wide-spread myth is even "not controversial", he says - and he disagrees with Brian about the expectations, and insists that experiments proving theories must always be found within 5 years because it's been always like that. This is such an incredibly silly comment that I won't honor it with detailed feedback except for saying that the theory of atoms has waited for a proof for about 2,000 years. The interference of light in double slit experiments was observed a few centuries after the light was described as a wave. The photons were waiting for the ultimate proof - the Compton scattering - for 25 years since Planck's calculation of the black body spectrum. The electroweak gauge bosons were discovered 20 years after the first reasonable theories that included them. There are dozens of other examples but even if there were no examples, it would be incredibly stupid to argue that there must exist such a deadline. Deadlines and ultimatums belong to politics but Nature does not care about this kind of nonsense.
Special welcome for the readers of Cosma Shalizi's blog. Yes, I am also flabbergasted how fanatically irrational the professors in Michigan can be. Some particular comments about this story appear at the end of this article.
The weather in Boston is nice, among many other things, but certain details are always responsible for a culture shock.
Let me tell you an example. In Czechia, media often do an interview with Czech blacks. They are usually very temperament and happy people and they tell you many stories - for example that the Czech children first thought that they were devils. The blacks enjoy that they are different. Some of them live just like the Czechs and they face no problems if they choose this path - but they don't have to.
Now take the Friday edition of The New York Times and find the article
The article tells you that six years ago, rigorous admission policies were adopted at New York City's five best colleges. The article, however, focuses on elite high schools in New York - Stuyvesant High School, the Bronx High School of Science, and Brooklyn Technical High School. A specialized exam tests applicants' math and verbal skills. Also, ten years ago, the City has created an institute that is supposed to prepare blacks and Hispanics for these difficult tests.
Which of these two events do you think will have a higher impact on the racial composition of the student bodies and what the impact will be? Everyone who knows something about race and intelligence - and even Wikipedia can tell you these things - knows that the percentage of East Asians will increase while the percentage of Hispanics and especially blacks will decrease below their percentage in the general society - which is not too far from their representation at times before the tests became rigorous. The sharper and the more selective the cutoffs will be, the more pronounced differences will occur.
What a surprise that the data confirms the known Bell curves. The article mixes the high schools and colleges but argues that the trends are similar. Here are the trends for the high schools. Since 1994-95, the percentage of Asians at Bronx science have increased from 40% to 60%. The percentage of blacks has dropped two-fold or three-fold at these three schools since 1994-95:
- at Bronx Science, from 12% to 5%
- at Brooklyn Technical High School, from 37% to 15%
- at Stuyvesant, from 4% to 2%
The numbers show whatever they show. It is certainly not a negligible effect that can be handwaved away and similar numbers in the past have been indicating similar patterns. Yet, the city officials such as Andres Alonso will tell you that the figures are "extraordinarily surprising". And others will immediately suggest institutional racism even though the very point of the new tests is that they test merit and nothing else.
If someone is unable to make elementary logical deductions from the data, she or he will almost always be extraordinarily surprised by any hard data from reality except for the doctored data. Her or his contributions to the society can never be positive because her or his approach to reality is neither a scientific one nor a rational one. If they want a higher ratio of blacks or any other group, it is clear that they cannot accept students just according to rigorous tests simply because different skills are not uniformly distributed among all groups.
These offices whose responsibility is nothing else than a healthy composition of schools simply don't do their job right. It seems that not a single bureaucrat over there has done a calculation what the new system of tests is expected to do with the racial composition. Most of them are apparently nothing else than politically correct bureaucratic parasites. The article in The New York Times makes it clear that they even misunderstand that the relation between the average scores and the percentage of blacks is non-linear.
Instead, they should try to learn from La Griffe du Lion. For example, a very relevant calculation is described in
Some people simply have such an incredible high ratio of bigotry divided by intellectual skills and integrity that they just can't - or don't want - to understand any of these things. For example, Prof. Cosma Shalizi is convinced that constants are variables. His or her goal is not, of course, to evaluate some subtle time-dependence of some quantities describing the IQ that is irrelevant at any foreseeable future. The goal is to deny the existing zeroth-order knowledge of the basic facts. The goal is to find pseudoarguments that will lower the dumb readers' confidence in solid science and fill their skulls with fog.
The difference between the average black IQ and the average white non-Hispanic IQ is about -1.1 standard deviations. This number is so entirely reproducible and constant that some people call it the fundamental law of sociology. However, in Michigan, you may become a professor of sociology despite your complete ignorance of some very basic and rather essential sociological facts. More precisely, you become a professor because of this ignorance. How does it work? Shalizi gives us a clue. Whoever is able to think or evaluate the hard data is failed already as a freshman: those of us who know something about the Stalinist regimes know quite a lot of details of such policies. What a surprise that most sociologists turn out to be ungifted dumb bigots.
While the difference between the IQ of sociology students and physics students is -15, experience seems to indicate that at the level of scholars, this difference must be doubled. Sociology: what a brand of breathtaking morons.
This is just a link. Incidentally, I have not yet linked to the recent article in The New York Times about the Poincaré conjecture and the elusive Grisha Perelman. Politics aside, The New York Times are simply better in science than other newspapers. Or at least Dennis Overbye is a higher category of a science journalist than his colleagues in WSJ, FT, Time, FAZ, and other inferior - I want to avoid the adjective "shitty" - sources of popular information about science.
Except for a six-hour delay in Milan, the 24-hour-long trip from Pilsen to Cambridge has been straightforward; it was not an extraordinary flight, in a sense, although you would need a lot of fantasy or insanity to call such flights a pleasant experience. ;-) Good news for travelers: you can always take your laptops on board.
At Prague's new and beautiful Terminal 2, a blonde female official was pretty confident about that, and even though several men told me later that they were either not sure or they thought that the Italians in Milan were going to destroy the laptop, I trusted her and we were right. It seems that even the passengers in Great Britain are allowed to take their notebooks on board.
The departure from Milan was instantly rescheduled from 10:30 am to 3:00 pm but the aircraft eventually left Italy around 4:00 pm. The immigration officer was pleasant and funny. So far, Greater Boston looks very nice, especially the weather. Central Europe has been experiencing a very cold August so far - unlike the hypertropical July - but the weather here deserves to be called summer.
The International Astronomical Union gathered here in Prague. What problems do the astronomers have? Do they have to face mentally challenged articles that astronomy is just a passing fad on a daily basis?
Your guess is right. The astronomers don't have any problems. So those 2,500 guys and ladies discussed whether Pluto is a planet. Yes, no, what of it? Nevertheless, the original proposal to downgrade Pluto has been killed. Instead, a broader definition of a planet was accepted:
- every object that has been brought into a spherical shape by its own gravity and that orbits around a star directly is called a planet.
With this definition, there are 12 planets in our Solar system. You can see Dennis Overbye's report for more details. In fact, Pluto's status as a planet was saved because of the astrologers. Initially, the global convention of astronomers denounced Pluto as a dirty chunk of meaningless space crap. But the Universal Association of Astrologers and Star-Gazers has condemned the move abruptly. See more information about this dirty political game here. ;-)
The new definition must be approved by a vote next Friday. Clearly, it won't solve everything. How spherical is spherical enough? If a moon is almost as large as a planet - or if you have a binary planet - will you count both of them as planets or none? At any rate, I am sometimes jealous about the jobs where they don't have any serious problems and they don't need any deep thoughts. On the other hand, it could become boring quickly.Besides 9 planets that everyone knows, the new definition would upgrade the asteroid Ceres to the planet status, much like Pluton's Charon as well as a distant object called poetically "2003 UB313". Expect additional controversies.
This title seems rather exciting although the content is somewhat different than what you might be dreaming about:
What's the matter? Using the X-ray Chandra observatory, they have seen an explosion that probably threw visible matter and dark matter in different directions. I guess that we won't learn what the dark matter actually is but what we may get is a new, more direct proof of the existence of dark matter.
Actually, you can see more accurate information about the discovery in this abstract.
Thanks to Sabine.
The process svchost.exe is doing many kinds of tasks and consequently, there can also be many sources of the error. You have to investigate a bit...
Update from February-March 2007: First, try to follow the instructions at Microsoft KB 931852 related to Windows Update and the Catroot2 folder. If it doesn't fix your problem, try the following recipes, too.
Update from January 2007: Start/Run the command called regedit.exe (Registry editor). Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\
CurrentControlSet\Services\NetBT\Parameters and on the right side, double-click TransportBindName - press delete and give it an empty value. That will close port 445. Also, go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Microsoft\OLE and change the value of EnableDCOM from Y to the value N - that will close port 135. If you know how, you may also disable NETbios. Restart the computer and the bug might be gone.
Update: the most efficient way to fix the error in most cases is to install the update offered on this Microsoft page even though this page doesn't explicitly mention the error: choose the update for your correct operating system. It works for 50% of users. Are you among them? Let us know by clicking "fast comments" at the end of the article.
Another hope: Also, 25% of the users can fix the bug by: turning off automatic updates in the Control Panel; going to update.microsoft.com; manually installing the updates there; rebooting. You can turn on the automatic updates again and pray.
If it doesn't fix the problem but you think you have a problem with svchost.exe and Windows Update - e.g. you're getting an access violation error and/or svchost.exe eats 100% of your CPU time - install KB 927891, to be released as a standard update in May or June 2007. If you add this patch, you should also manually update to the update client WSUS 3.0 and pray.
Original text from 2006:
I was alerted that the "be very afraid" Time magazine has joined the broad family of people and institutions that I simply can't have any respect for because of their complete lack of intellectual integrity. On
The previous article about the relations of mathematics and physics was here.
Many mathematicians are rigor addicts. Bourbaki are their true ancestors. What distinguishes a mathematician from a physicist is that she really enjoys when her proofs are proved so that the statements become completely undisputable and independent of any arguments that are not based on pure logic.
This is not the kind of ideas I want to talk about in this text. The main reason is that rigor is about the form how the ideas are expressed and dealt with. It says very little about the bloody content. Moreover, rigorous proofs typically require the mathematicians to make many choices when they are building their proofs and these choices are not unique. A physicist could say that these choices are analogous to gauge choices in gauge theories. These choices are not yet "physically" or "invariantly" important. The truly important results - the essence of mathematics - is the quotient of the proof and the groupoid of all possible changes of the chosen details that constitute the proof. Clearly, many technologically gifted mathematicians will disagree because they consider every trick used during a proof to be a piece of art, but I think that they are not right.
While I only have a magister (Mgr, MSc equivalent) degree from the Charles University in Prague, Fidel Castro has a doctorate. He received an honorary degree during his 1972 visit of Prague. Although the current leadership of the university would like to cancel the honor, the existing laws make such a cancellation rather difficult. ;-)
At any rate, I wish a good health to Dr. Castro and a lot of democracy and freedom to Cuba.
Unlike July 2005, the British intelligence forces were able to prevent a terrorist attack on the British soil. The prepared high-tech attacks relied upon chemical compounds that would becreated on board. They were directed against as many as 10 airplanes flying from the U.K. to the U.S. The suspects - or let us call them the organizers - were British citizens.
Consequently, the security measures on the airports had to become even more strict than they have been ever before. In Great Britain, you are not allowed to take any personal belongings to the aircraft, except for a transparent plastic bag with your money and your passport. At other places, you have to prove that you can drink all the liquids you want to take with you. That's annoying and I hope that things won't be that severe on Thursday when I hopefully return from Prague to Boston via Milan, Italy. Otherwise I am not sure what to do with my laptop, among other things.
All these regulations are annoying and the islamofascists are exclusively responsible for all this mess - but on the other hand, I am of course happy that thousands of lives were probably saved. Allah doesn't seem to be behind these defective brains and broken hearts anymore. This was not the first attack that was thwarted.
Because the last elections in Italy have replaced the charismatic and permanently young Jesus Christ of politics, namely Silvio Berlusconi, by an old sourball named Romano Prodi whose enthusiasm in the war on terror is much more modest, I think that Italy might be removed from the list of principal targets. On the other hand, the Czech Republic is still an ally although most Czechs think that terrorism is something that has nothing to do with us.
Why is the country a U.S. ally? America plans to build a missile defense facility in Central Europe and the places that are being considered are in Poland and in Czechia. No doubt, most people are somewhat stupid: as much as 80 percent of the Czechs oppose such facilities. On the other hand, a majority of the voters of the neoliberal conservative Civic Democratic Party (ODS) supports such a facility. That includes your humble correspondent.
ODS would now win as much as 41 percent of the votes in new early elections. Such early elections are not too unlikely, after all. More than two months after the last parliamentary polls, it is still not clear who will be composing the new government and even the chief of the new Parliament is still unknown. The new preliminary answers that have crystallized today are: a minority government of ODS plus non-partisan technocrats, and Jiří Quimby Paroubek, the outgoing prime minister and the boss of the social democrats, as the chief of the Parliament.
We just saw the Pirates of the Carribean. The tricks were truly impressive. I am reading several physics book that will be released soon.
Joe Lieberman has always been a favorite Democrat of mine. As you know, most of the Connecticut Democrats have decided to agree with the recommendation of the radical left-wing blogs and punish Lieberman for being a good and respectable Gentleman who is not infinitely far from the president: they have replaced one of the most reasonable and well-known members of their party by a businessman who is so far a colorless political nobody, assuming that a majority of Connecticut citizens will digest their problematic game and elect Ned Lamont instead of the Republican candidate or (possibly) Lieberman running as an independent.
As your humble correspondent's humble correspondent pointed out, the leading far left-wing blogs went far beyond the replacement of Lieberman by a politically correct anti-war nobody. Their goal is nothing less than to invent enough lies and create sufficient emotions to destroy him, humiliate him, and make his life unlivable. Tom Jones from the Daily Kos community wrote:
- As everybody knows, Jews ONLY care about the welfare of other Jews. We might better ignore all that Jewish propaganda about participating in the civil rights movement.
I did not see anyone who would disagree with these ideas on that page. Well, in reality, the radical left-wing fringe of the society is very much the same thing as the anti-Semitic corner of the same society. They're also very much the same people who tend to produce so many lies about theoretical physics and other fields but that's a different issue. ;-)
I normally don't like hatred but it is simply impossible not to despise these radical bloggers and commenters, especially the anonymous ones. In the Wall Street Journal, Lanny Davis, a liberal anti-war Democrat, has analyzed the radical left-wing blogosphere and concluded that the emotions of McCarthyism that used to be associated with right-wingers are now becoming a characteristic feature of the political Left.
Well, your humble correspondent could write 144 articles similar to Lanny Davis' text with lots of other examples how the hateful acts of the extreme liberal and politically correct activists contaminate our lives, including the life of the Academia. They are doing everything to make the life of all the good people who are not ashamed for being good unbearable, and this is why I dislike them so much.
This doesn't seem terribly serious to me but it's fun. Jim Matthews has decided that understanding of dove population dynamics is just like like understanding of
- string theory, global warming, or women.
See news.google.com. Consequently, reading this blog is equivalent to understanding of dove population dynamics. Who could have thought.
This is not a real article, just a link to another
about the plans of DESY to produce dark matter assuming that dark matter is composed of axions. This experimental axion stuff, outlined more accurately in the paper by Andreas Ringwald, Ulrich Koetz, and Thomas Tschentscher (why can't he write Čenčer?)
is also related to the magneto-optical experiments done by the PVLAS collaboration that we described in March. Both teams are clearly excited by the same possibility.
This article will close the German week on The Reference Frame.
Steve McIntyre has pointed out a colorful article written in German in which German and Swiss scientists reconstruct the forest border in Alps. What have they found? Let me be brief.
Figure 1: This is what you see today...
Charles Tye has pointed out the following news that will close the German week on The Reference Frame together with the following article about the green Alps.
As physicsweb.org reports, Claus Rolfs et al. from University of Bochum used their local accelerator to speed up or slow down the fusion rate of individual protons, deuterons, and other light nuclei. The authors argue that if the particles are encased in metals, the process is faster than with insulators.
Besides fusion, they have proposed a similar method to speed up the rate of both alpha and beta+- radioactive decay. Rolfs' explanation is based on electrons near the nuclei that accelerate positively charged particles towards the nuclei. Blah blah blah.
The cyclic universe must normally start with a finite - although large - number of cycles because the entropy grows according to the second law of thermodynamics.
From: Aaron Sheldon [KGB, 2006 edition]
To: Cosmic Variance, Not Even Wrong, and most other blogs linking The Reference Frame
Sent: Friday, August 04, 2006 10:18 AM
Subject: A Request to Remove Links to Lubos Blog
It does not give me any pleasure to make this request; however I am ethically obliged to ask that you remove any references to the Lubos Motls Reference Frame http://motls.blogspot.com/
In light of Lubos support for the continued victimization and predation of the most vulnerable members of our society [in this case, prostitutes who plan to earn 1000 times more for 1% of what they normally do, comment by LM] in his post [about Jeffrey Epstein] he has lost any legitimacy in the discussions that form our society.
I am sorry to trouble you with this, but this is my responsibility.
... [end of quote] ...
LM: It does not give me any pleasure to admit it but until the ideological fanatics, terrorists, and the hardcore informers of KGB and its modern counterparts are going to be arrested or otherwise neutralized, we can be neither free nor safe.
These people who are "responsible" for intimidation and attacks against people who can't support the informers' narrow-minded and radical political ideology are dangerous for the society and for millions of individual citizens in particular. During the 20th century, these people have killed tens of millions of people. They have no respect to elementary human rights, freedom, and the human dignity. They will do everything and anything to control the society completely. In fact, they have already done so many times in the past.
You know, in Czechoslovakia whose population was 15 million, ten percent were members of the communist part and one percent of the people were agents of StB, the Czechoslovak counterpart of KGB. They were doing exactly the same things as the author of the e-mail above: they were informing the "authorities" every time they have found someone in their environment who was not convenient for the "official" ideology so that the authorities could invent some consequences for the "anti-socialist elements".
After 1989, we neither executed nor arrested this moral bottom of the society, and I was always proud that our revolution was a Velvet Revolution. The only thing that was done against them in Czechoslovakia was the lustration law according to which the informers were not allowed to enter politics. Many times after 1989, I had many reasons to doubt that the Velvet Revolution was an optimal approach. But at any rate, it is a part of the Czech and Slovak national history.
The class of the informers is not only hyenic but also completely unrealistic. Even if all the links are removed from the "politically correct" blogs, it won't influence the number and composition of the visitors of this blog much because people clearly want to look at this blog and they are typically doing so because of different reasons than random clicks at some other, usually less important, blogs.
You can't just make a thing disappear by pretending that it's not there, dear KGB/PC agent. The only way to achieve the things you are dreaming about is to make a coup and grab the full control over the police, military, courts, and all other parts of the broader government. But I think - and I hope - that you will be killed before you succeed to do all these things. Good luck. ;-)
Whoever is interested in the conjecture by Ooguri, Strominger, and Vafa should not miss this proof based on the addition of the 11th M-theoretical circle:
Update: Louann Brizendine, a rather attractive author and researcher, has just released her new book
that has made it to top 50 and maybe top 10 of amazon.com books. See also
that discusses the biological origin of the differences between the behavior of men and women. The biological explanations experienced a comeback as a generation of utopian sociological ideologues is retiring and experiments show that their speculations about the environmental origin of the differences can't stand an observational scrutiny.
More non-trivially, they also explain that it is the female brain that is the "default" state of a human being. It may be transformed into a male brain (or the extreme male, autistic brain) by the action of testosterone. The different behavior between boys and girls can be observed during the first day of their life. During the first year, different choices of toys may be observed, too. Denial of these differences is a genuine mismeasure of woman.
Some other facts are repeated: grey matter has a higher percentage in the female brains and white matter dominates the male brains. The connection between the two hemispheres is considerably weaker in male brains than it is in female brains. These anatomical differences imply behavioral differences although the causal chain is indirect and hard to analyze.
As Benjamin has told me, BBC has informed that the British progressive think-tank called
has released a report that criticizes media for what they call "climate porn" based on alarmism, feelings of helplessness, and chaos.
It's a nice model, isn't it? In fact, it's a Matrix model. ;-)
Figure 1: Matrix M-theory. Click the picture for a review.
A reader has pointed out that Toyota will offer a new model of Toyota Corolla for 2007 whose name is
Jeffrey Epstein, a rich philantropist and a generous sponsor of sciences, was
I think that these stories always share the same background. The kids and others who have had some kind of contact with various billionaires almost always think of possible ways to get a lot of money from their partners. The billionaire always thinks that every single act is consensual and supported by mutual feelings and permanent confidentiality - except that the non-billionaire frequently reveals that everything has been a theater. Another step in this play is to "improve" the story and file a lawsuit.
of my life so far occured yesterday in Prague, and thanks to those who have organized it and paid for it. It was a lot of fun. Given the fact that we used to have $50 and perhaps $100 dinners in the Society of Fellows, you might be surprised that Prague could beat it but it probably did. ;-)
Dear Benjamin, yes, I have beautiful pictures of Prague and you could also be told all the details about the dinner but I chose not to publish these things.
Today, my bike speedometer, reset in Summer 1995, showed 17,000 kilometers. If the bikes were used to move along the geodesics instead of oscillations between different parts of Pilsen and its vicinity and various parts of Greater Boston, I could have reached, your humble correspondent could have gotten to virtually any point on Earth such as North Korea. But who cares about North Korea anyway. ;-)
After a boiling July when temperatures surpassed 35 degrees Celsius almost every day, we have a freezing August with the temperatures quite safely below 20 degrees. Meanwhile, the East Coast faces temperatures such as 38 degrees.
Two months after the elections, the Czech Republic still doesn't have a new government and/or a boss of the new Parliament. And frankly speaking, no one cares. The invisible hand of the free market is what really matters and this hand is managing things quite well.
Viktor Kožený's bombshell
Viktor Kožený who might be extradited from the Bahamas is preparing a bombshell that will "terminate the political career of many Czech politicians and change the historical interpretation of their personalities". I am quite curious and it could be a lot of fun.
Yesterday, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - a German counterpart of The New York Times - published an
on the first page of their culture section about the controversy between Peter Woit and your humble correspondent involving fundamental questions in theoretical physics. It is not exactly a thoughtful story but I think it is a much better story than the weird recent texts in The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal because a sufficiently bright reader may figure out that most of the celebrated critics of string theory are crackpots or simpletons who produce either nothing or garbage science. He or she will figure it out not from the physics content because there is no physics content in the text but from the sociological links that are sketched.
The author of the German article does not exactly know America well: his "University of Cambridge is Massachusetts" is actually called "Harvard University".
I am afraid that the last sentence of the text is true. Compromises with very stupid people and crackpots - compromises that will destroy the very essence of science - will only be impossible as long as there are people like me. As you know, virtually all well-known theoretical physicists think the very same things about these "alternatives" and "critics" as I do. But they won't tell you because they are convinced that the "alternatives" and "critics" are not even worth their words.
The only exception is Lenny Susskind who has described (nice audio about the vacuum energy and other things, go to 2:56) the basic facts about a new book by another physicist with initials L.S. - The Trouble with Physics by Lee Smolin - quite accurately:
- There’s another fellow who has his own theory, I won’t tell you who his name is or what his theory is, but he writes lots and lots of theories and his theories go glub, glub, glub to the bottom of the sea before he even gets a chance to put them out there. Physicists don’t take him seriously, he’s angry and so he’s also writing a book complaining...
Susskind also mentioned Not Even Wrong the book:
- You’re talking probably about some of the books and blogs that have come out in very very big criticism of [string theory]. Well, I think one would have to say that some of it is due to a certain kind of grumpiness of people who... um...
Well, for example, there’s one fellow who failed as a physicist, never made it as a physicist, became a computer programmer, has been angry all of his life that he never became a physicist and that physicists ignore him, so he’s now taking out his revenge by writing diatribes and polemics against string theory.
Such a policy of saying no comments is a typical consequence of the famous physicists' life in intellectual isolation. When crackpots combine their forces with journalists relatively to whom even P.W. is "intelligent", you may guess what will happen.
Some people wanted me to be even more detailed what's wrong with a certain book called Not Even Wrong. Here is a 17-page-long summary of problems, or a