Wednesday, October 31, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Halloween: Mooney and Moonbat


Happy Halloween and enjoy the flash animation featuring Chris Mooney (the blue Gentleman who raises not only consciousness) and George Moonbat (the brown hybrid of a gremlin and a moon bat).

However, don't be too frightened: both characters are just ludicrous bugaboos and everything they ever show is plain fiction that can only scare little children. If you want to scare your friends a little bit more, you will have to create Forbes' mask of the anti-Christ. ;-)

Incidentally, Gore's grades at Harvard have placed him in the weakest 20% of students for two years in a row. This student who ate hamburgers and smoke marijuana in the Dunster House received a "D" in Natural Sciences 6 (Man's Place in Nature) and "C plus" in Natural Sciences 118. There were many other "C" grades, too. Yes, I talk about the guy who tries to teach others about man's place in Nature.

Invisible tanks

The British military seems to be the fastest institution to develop and use the invisibility cloak that we discussed previously. John Pendry who wrote articles about similar systems is the main voice of science. See

A subtle system of mirrors and projectors allows soldiers, guns, and tanks to be invisible from a certain region of space.

On the picture above, only one half of the tank was made invisible. ;-) YouTube offers you a video with similar technology making Japanese guys invisible. ;-)

Japan: Kyoto is another Hiroshima

As Benny Peiser informed us,

Japan will pay USD 10.5 billion for Kyoto permits.
That's something like 1 percent of their general annual budget. The economic damages of the latest huge earthquake in July 2007 was about USD 10.5 billion, too. I think that is is obvious that if Japan cannot quit Kyoto at this moment, paying the bill is much cheaper a method than to try to reduce CO2 emissions by 8 percent. If the CO2 emission reductions were cheaper, Japan would have already made them.

Now, there is no real problem with Japan because the Japanese have been servile for 60 years and maybe even during the war. They will effectively pay an additional USD 100 tax per person and everything is fine. But I assure you that if such a difficulty occurred in a country whose citizens have a somewhat higher self-confidence, it could be a real problem. Well, former Japanese politians (and their voters) are the only ones to be blamed for the Japanese signatures under the Kyoto protocol.

It has always been very clear that the emissions wouldn't be dropping and any decrease would be linked to a decrease of the GDP. Only post-socialist countries that had a lot of useless heavy industry waiting to be phased out could have benefitted from Kyoto. But the politicians who were signing the protocol were usually thinking about their image rather than the actual economic implications of the treaty.

David Gross: The coming revolutions in fundamental physics

A similar talk by Gross: Stringfest in Israel

Separate page...

The video of the lecture from 10/19/2007 at UC Berkeley where he studied is 98 minutes long. The woman who introduces him says that he was awarded a nice award: Gross became one of 800 students who were arrested in 1964 for the free speech movement's Sproul Hall sit-in.

Frances Hellman, the boss of physics at UC Berkeley, thinks that it is the most important achievement of Gross's. Incidentally, I can't resist to point out a sad fact that Hellman's recent article was an anti-Summers rant in Science back in 2005 written with roughly 100 feminist co-authors.

Gross begins to speak at 3:40.

Cartoons and memories

Gross says that the beginning of his physics life was more important for him at Berkeley than some other events at the same school. He shows his favorite cartoons, including some recent ones that were influenced by two "rather silly books". Gross was depressed by the "Harvey's place" cartoon until someone sent him the "String theory: When physics gets physical" ad that restored his confidence in the American media. ;-)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Religiosity vs wealth

... Deutsch ...

Sean Carroll comments on several points from this extensive survey about the attitudes towards immigration, free trade, moral values, gender issues, democracy, and religion in individual countries of the world. There's a lot of interesting data in the 144-page-long report.

But I will focus on religion and related values, too.

Many graphs like that, including time evolution, dozens of quantities, and all countries in the world may be drawn with Gapminder (direct link).

Sean presents the U.S. as the bad boy because it is more religious a country than other rich countries. In the graph above, religiosity is drawn as a decreasing function of wealth. Sean thinks that Kuwait is away from the curve because the only reason why this country is rich are its oil reserves and I tend to agree with this guess.

Well, in the purple circle of Eastern Europe, you can also find the richest and least religious country, namely the Czech Republic. They have calculated religiosity from several polls.

Mukesh Ambani: richest person in the world

According to Indian media, Mukesh Ambani born in Yemen - who is a citizen of India - just became the wealthiest man in the world. With USD 63 billion of oil-related assets, he is now ahead of Carlos Slim as well as Bill Gates who only have around USD 62 billion each.

Monday, October 29, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pagebull: search engines with screenshots

I guess that a certain fraction will find this search engine better than Google. Try
and a search query, for example CO2 lags temperature. You immediately see how the pages look like. For example, if you see the "Veritas" ("The Truth") logo in the upper left corner, you know that the page is trustworthy. :-) You may configure the number of thumbnails on the screen and the location of the pages.

Resurrection of Austria's doomed ski resorts

Figure 1: Schladming, Austria (see 1 week ago)

Last year, we would be reading dozens of articles arguing that ski resorts in the Alps are doomed because of climate change. For example, The New York Times wrote in December 2006:

Imagining the tenth dimension

Well, I don't quite follow what the guy is trying to say above the fourth dimension but he seems to think that 10 dimensions is the maximum number he can imagine using his Möbius strip-based framework. If you understand this fun clip, please explain it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czechoslovakia born 89 years ago

Czechoslovakia was born 89 years ago. The country that we call "The First Republic" (1918-1938), an island of democracy, music, and prosperity in the sea of emerging totalitarian regimes was created on the recycled material of the beloved Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, k.u.k.

Figure 1: Yes, this 1928 map also includes Ruthenia in the East, an underdeveloped multinational territory that chose to join the Soviet Union in a referendum after the war (not a smart move). I remember a small demonstration on the Prague's Wenceslaus Square of people from Ruthenia back in 1992. They wanted to join Czechoslovakia again. Because it was a few months before the Velvet Divorce, they were not able to explain us what they wanted to do with Slovakia in between us. ;-)

Saturday, October 27, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

End of science

On May 5th, 1997, a book called "The End of Science" by John Horgan was released. Since the moment when this Gentleman announced the end of science, the following discoveries, among thousands of others, were made.

In high-energy physics, I only include some results usually with more than 500 - and in almost all cases, more than 1,000 - citations:

  • it was found that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating; the cosmological constant problem got more serious because the constant is apparently nonzero
  • neutrino masses and oscillations were finally measured, including some accurate numbers; later, sterile neutrinos were excluded
  • the WMAP satellite provided us with detailed evidence of scale invariance of the spectrum, supporting inflationary cosmology, and measured deviations from scale invariance for the first time
  • the holographic AdS/CFT correspondence was found, evidence for it was collected, and its implications were studied in 5,000 papers
  • among these results, string theory was used to calculate properties of the quark-gluon plasma in heavy ion collisions at RHIC more accurately than older methods, putting ancient stringy interpretation of strong interactions on a firm ground
  • noncommutative geometry and K-theory were derived as limits of string theory
  • the entropy of many black holes included in string theory has been calculated to all orders in a perturbative expansion
  • it was realized that the additional dimensions of space may be as large as many microns; later, it was also realized that the additional dimensions may be warped which even allows them to be infinite in size
  • a large number of AdS and metastable vacua of string theory were constructed, leading to the prediction of a landscape, possibly consistent with the cosmological constant at the top,

and so on. In climate science, the predictions got roughly 100 times more catastrophic than ever before. The newly found incredible clarity of the subject has even allowed the former vice-president Bc. Al Gore to become the leader of the field and win a Nobel prize for it. ;-)

OK, for entertainment purposes, I had to include a rotten apple. Nevertheless, I think that even climate science has made progress - it is just elsewhere than in the reports served by the mainstream media.

In genetics, the first animals were cloned, the human genome was fully scanned, and the genetic origin of hundreds of diseases, conditions, and characteristics of organisms were identified. I could continue for a long time and include other disciplines.

Nevertheless, the author of the stupidity from 1997, after those ten years that have demonstrated that his stupidity is among the greatest stupidities that have ever been pronounced by homo sapiens, has the stomach to come in front of a conference in Portugal and repeat the same stupidity.

Skin color gene

A remarkably high number of people have suggested that James Watson was referring to a field that is outside his field of expertise - or even unrelated to DNA. I don't know how many of those people actually believe that race is not encoded in DNA but the number of people who have verbally contradicted basics of elementary school biology in this fashion is incredibly high anyway. Color of plants and color of other things are the first examples that are discussed whenever genetics is taught at school.

The skin color gene

Let me be very specific. The relevant gene is called SLC24A5. The acronym means that it is included in the solute carrier family and it is the member 5. The gene has 21,420 base pairs (plus minus one because of two possible deletions). See the sequence. If you care where it is, it is on the long (q) arm of chromosome 15, on position 21.1, starting from base pair 46,200,461 and ending on 46,221,880 (no Java).

Friday, October 26, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Left brain vs right brain

Click to get a more economical page with the animation.

Is she rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise?

If clockwise, your right hemisphere is more active which makes you oriented towards big picture, fantasy, religion, philosophy, spatial perception, and risk taking.

If counter-clockwise, as most people, your left hemisphere is more active which makes you oriented towards details, logic, words, order and pattern perception, strategy forming, practicality, and safety.

Science: Climate uncertainties cannot go away

Science magazine has just released a peer-reviewed paper by Gerard Roe and Marcia Baker,

Why is climate sensitivity so unpredictable? (full text)
The authors argue that during the last 20 years, no significant progress has been made to reduce the uncertainties about the climate, especially the climate sensitivity, despite skyrocketing numbers of scientists, funding, and computer power. Moreover, they think that this fact won't change in the future. More concretely, they say that even if various things will be known more accurately, we won't be able to say more unambiguously what is the probability that the climate sensitivity is very high, e.g. higher than 4.5 Celsius degrees. The invent a probability distribution for the climate sensitivity that decreases slowly for large values of the sensitivity and proclaim that this is the ultimate form that won't go away.

Nude Socialist, American Thinker, and others assume that skeptics will be enthusiastic about these claims. What do I think?

Thursday, October 25, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere


I don't expect that I will revive the license when it expires...


But you may try to click this relatively well-known planet for two weeks. The daily visitors are shining. ;-)

James Watson resigns & support from Nigeria

James Watson (click and see the previous story and a video of his talk at Google Inc.) has resigned as the boss (and member of the board) of his laboratories after a bloody attack by the politically correct. He wrote:

  • Closer now to 80 than 79, the passing on of my remaining vestiges of leadership is more than overdue. The circumstances in which this transfer is occurring, however, are not those which I could ever have anticipated or desired.

Well, exactly. 79+ years is a good enough age to retire but the circumstances are rather unimaginable and certainly unpleasant. It's bad but some people feel super.

Al Gore's friends probably behind wildfires

The fire in San Bernandino has been officially declared arson and another fire was almost certainly arson, too. One suspect - a 27-year-old from Arizona - has been shot dead by the police and another one - John Hund (48) of Hesperia - was arrested.

Figure 1: FBI warning had included prospect of attack with flames. The person on the picture above is not necessarily the culprit.

Arnold announced a USD 50,000 reward for arsonist arrest: not so much in comparison with USD 1,000,000,000 of damages. I think that private detectives in Nashville, Tennessee can also win it. ;-)

Évariste Galois: 196th birthday

Évariste Galois was born on October 25, 1811 and died 20.5 later - mostly because of a woman although the story has been made more romantic than it actually was. While the time interval that this staunch Republican ;-) has spent on this planet seems short, he became a co-father of modern algebra nevertheless. He both invented the concept of group and gave it its name.

The most well-defined task that has led him to these discoveries was the question whether the equation of fifth degree can be solved in radicals - whether there exists a compact formula that includes various roots (sqrt and higher) to calculate the roots (solutions) of the quintic equation.

At the high school, I was also obsessed with this problem - although, frankly speaking, I abruptly found it less crucial when I refocused on physics. Eventually, my formula for the equation of fourth degree was written on two pages - also because I didn't set the cubic coefficient to zero. A week later, I realized that it could have been a good choice but I already wanted to finish the general case. And I was only able to find a satisfactory proof that the quintic equation can't be solved in radicals because I knew the result. ;-)

Let me just mention a popular, truly elementary version of these arguments.

Quadratic equation

Solve the equation

  • x^2 + bx + c = 0

I have set "a=1" which you can easily do by dividing the original formula by "a". How do we find the roots? Well, we realize that if "x" is equal to one of the roots "x1" or "x2", then "x-x1" or "x-x2" vanishes. It follows that "(x-x1)(x-x2)" vanishes, too. But "(x-x1)(x-x2)" is clearly the only quadratic function of "x" starting with "x^2" that vanishes if "x" is either equal to "x1" or "x2", assuming that the roots differ. The same property is shared by "x^2 + bx +c", so they must be equal.

I probably had to use the fundamental theorem of algebra - that every equation of n-th degree has "n" complex solutions - but we're going to discuss more fascinating aspects here that depend on the degree of the equation more intimately.

Nature: Time to ditch Kyoto

Journal Nature has finally published something sensible about the Kyoto protocol:

Time to ditch Kyoto
Two economists say that while Kyoto might be a symbol of something, it is not a working tool. It has had no positive results and no positive results can be expected in the future either. They also warn against a bigger version of Kyoto. See also a story in the National Post.

Hat tip: Marc Morano

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An Inconvenient Truth: 23 minutes

Update: The full propaganda movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is now freely available. See these 9 parts per 10 minutes (the list is upside down) with Spanish subtitles.
Because Al Gore has become a prophet, this blog offers you 23 more minutes of An Inconvenient Truth, including Czech subtitles. ;-) In Czech, it is called "Nepříjemná pravda" (An Unpleasant Truth).

Part 1 - Part 5

In Part 1, Al Gore argues that American carmakers are unsuccessful in China because ... they can't meet the Chinese environmental standards. I kid you not. ;-) In real China, unconstrained pollution by anything and anywhere is the ultimate golden standard - see e.g. Chongqing Steel and Iron Factory - but for Al Gore, it is the unreachable example for the U.S.

I wonder whether he has ever heard that labor is cheaper in China - and in Germany where it is not cheaper, they produce popular powerful and less environmentally friendly cars such as BMW and Mercedes.

Wildfires: due to global warming?

Update: Al Gore's pals probably behind wildfires
It was inevitable. The terrible fires in California are being used by some people to promote global warming. Scott Pelley of CBS, Michael Oppenheimer at NBC, Barbara Boxer (D-California), and Harry Reid (D-Nevada), Senate majority leader, were the less surprising culprits. CNN moderately predicted a "century of fires". FoxNews may be more surprising but at least they also admit that fires deposit nutrients into the soil.

Meanwhile, Bill O'Reilly II thinks that the fires are part of illegals' reconquista. ;-) More seriously, one of the great fires has already been declared arson!

Whenever something bad happens, we hear that it is due to global warming and it is now going to occur very frequently. Hurricane Katrina was linked to global warming and such devastating hurricanes were predicted to occur every year. In reality, Katrina had nothing to do with global warming and it was devastating because it managed to hit a city that wasn't ready. There has been no splash of hurricanes and sensible people don't expect a splash of hurricanes in a foreseeable future. In the same way, there won't be any strengthening splash of wildfires.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week

This week, politically sensible students and other people at the U.S. universities participate in a protest that is called

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.
It was organized by several right-wing pundits such as David Horowitz. According to the organizers, the main goal is to point out two big lies shamelessly promoted by the academic left, namely that

D0: new limits on fermionic superpartner masses

D0, a consensus of 500 scientists listed on the first two pages ;-), decided that inside 1.1 inverse femtobarn of data, there are no SUSY femions. At 95% confidence level, the lightest neutralino is above 125 GeV and the lightest chargino is above 229 GeV. As expected, the MSSM Higgs Conway bump around 160 GeV has disappeared, too, debunking not-too-careful rumors. Nevertheless, an introduction to MSSM and the Higgs is included in the article below.

CDF, the other detector team at Fermilab, has measured the width of the W boson as 2.032 GeV, in a good agreement with the Standard Model.

ILC, the International Linear Collider, has created a slick brochure (passport) promoting their future project:

Flash, PDF

MSSM and Higgs: introduction

There has been a bump in the data around 160 GeV. The bump is gone. Nevertheless, let us say a few general words about the minimal supersymmetric standard model (MSSM), its Higgs sector, and supersymmetry.

In the early 1970s, it was known that physical states of strings in string theory had to be invariant under all angle-preserving i.e. conformal transformations of the worldsheet. The group of such transformations is infinite-dimensional because they can be identified with complex holomorphic functions and such functions are given by an infinite set of Taylor coefficients, if you wish. A particular generator - the overall scaling - in this "Virasoro algebra" is called L_0. It turned out that the condition that L_0 annihilates a physical state is equivalent to the condition

  • p . p = m^2

i.e. the usual relativistic relationship between energy, momentum, and the rest mass. The squared rest mass m^2 is calculated as a certain total number of internal excitations of the string, in appropriate units. Well, this was how the old bosonic string theory worked. That theory only allowed bosonic excitations of a string i.e. it only predicted bosons in spacetime, including the obnoxious tachyon.

Pierre Ramond wanted to see that fermions were a part of string theory. Fermions are a part of reality and because reality is described by string theory, it was pretty clear to him that they had to be included in string theory, too. So he realized that the condition

  • p . p = m^2

was nothing else than the Klein-Gordon equation for the bosons in spacetime and the natural counterpart for fermions should be the Dirac equation. However, the Dirac wave function has to transform as a spacetime spinor. You may obtain spacetime spinors by quantizing fermionic zero modes on the worldsheet: the spinors are a representation of the algebra of gamma matrices and you obtain the same algebra if you replace the gamma matrices by the zero modes of the fermions in the vector representation.

Monday, October 22, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Virtual Earth 3D: Cambridge

If you have a computer that is at least as powerful as mine, large memory (over 1 GB), and an internet connection that is at least as fast as mine, you must certainly try the new version of Microsoft Virtual Earth 3D:
They have added quite many features and cities that you can view including the 3D models of all houses and other non-planar structures. Among them is Greater Boston, including Cambridge.

Figure 1: Click at the Memorial Hall to see a more detailed picture where the Science Center, Memorial Hall, Jefferson Lab, Terry Terrace, and 1 Chauncy are indicated. (The last two places is where I have lived for some time.)

Google Earth is still faster and smoother in some sense and it offers Panoramio, the photographs associated with places in the map, among other things, and various 3D models (plus the realistic but photograph-based StreetView of a few cities in, but Microsoft has certainly surpassed them in the quality of the three-dimensional models of whole cities.

Higgs as the inflaton

Bezrukov and Shaposhnikov argue that they have revived "economical" models where the inflaton is represented by the Higgs boson: the Standard Model would be enough to inflate. They do so by including the "Higgs squared times Ricci scalar" term with an intermediate dimensionless coefficient between 1 and 10^{17}, in order to avoid problems with cosmology as well as particle physics.

Sunday, October 21, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

James Watson: an inconvenient father of the double helix

I have put this week's most discussed text at the top and added this fascinating Google talk:

Video 1: Google talk about biology. The introduction starts at 6:50, the main speaker starts at 10:40, and the questions start at 50:50. Google has chosen one of the most authoritative biologists, James Watson, and asked him to talk about a very appropriate topic, namely "DNA and the brain". Dr. Watson explains that the key to uncovering the causes of brain disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, fragile X syndrome, Alzheimers, etc. is in our genes. He depicts the strides being made by scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a research institution in the biological sciences, as they search to find the genetic basis of neurological disorders. CSHL scientists search to root out disease genes related to mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia...

Saturday, October 20, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Daniel Botkin: Global warming delusions

Two days ago, Prof. Em. Daniel Botkin, the former chairman of environmental studies at University of California in Santa Barbara, the author of many books, and my fellow Rutgers PhD alumnus, wrote an article in in the Wall Street Journal,

Global warming delusions.
He unmasks various myths about the hypothetical negative impacts of assumed warming on life. For example, among the mammals, only a few megafauna species went extinct during the ice ages and interglacials of the last 2.5 million years. Botkin criticizes the idea that models replace reality and their limitations are suddenly ignored.

Warming is not always bad, not all bad things are caused by warming, and Erik the Red would surely agree. ;-)

Botkin explains that the temperature is not really correlated with malaria, ice at Mt. Kilimanjaro, or the favorite holiday destinations of mockingbirds (who really moved to New York City because of the arrival of some exotic plants). He shares the opinion of many other wise men that such warming, if it exists, should be looked at with the help of a careful cost-benefit analysis.

The global warming hacks at RealClimate.ORG are irritated and respond by pointing out the highly relevant assertion that George W. Bush apparently kills people before they disagree with him for the third time (see the conclusions of their article). David Archer also writes that an animal needs millions of years to adapt to climate change (interesting that most animals live for a few years or decades only and their genes haven't changed substantially for millions of years).

Carbon health warnings for new cars

Next week, loads of dopes who have been elected as members of the European Parliament are probably going to approve a new fantastic regulation. Twenty percent of each new advertisement for a new car must be dedicated to a cigarette-style health warning. See

The Times, Reuters

Figure 1: Commercial. Škoda Joyster kills. If you buy this car, you will become a dirty stooge of the oil industry. But the car only kills 2/3 of the people killed by the new Mercedes or BMW.
Related: Bill Steigerwald's interview with Fred Singer
I tried to exaggerate but the percentage of space dedicated to environmental warnings in my ad actually fell short of the required 20 percent. Wow. The complementary sane news is that the new draconian limits on grams of CO2 per kilometer will be postponed.

Friday, October 19, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Grünberg: honorary citizenship getting ready

The Pilsner deputies are going to vote about the honorary citizenship for Dr Peter Grünberg, a new Nobel prize winner, on their next meeting, probably November 15th. It shouldn't be surprising that such proposals can only be raised by big cats ;-), so I chose the mayor, Mr Pavel Rödl (ODS) and he liked the idea.

Thursday, October 18, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hermann Nicolai: Back to basics

Prof Hermann Nicolai wrote a two-page story for Nature:

Back to basics
He talks about the AdS/QCD correspondence. Subscription is unfortunately required so it might be hard for you to see the full article unless you want to pay USD 18. Nicolai's article is nice but you can save USD 8 if you pay USD 10 by to your humble correspondent, read my story about AdS/QCD, and keep the change. ;-)

ABC: John Stossel on global warming myths

Update: The full video of Stossel's program
"20/20" libertarian co-anchor John Stossel, the winner of 19 Emmys for exposing con-artists, is going on the attack against "experts" who warn about manmade global warming – along the way berating Al Gore for saying the debate over climate change is over.

ABC, Friday 8 p.m. Eastern time.

He is going to discuss misinformation in Gore's movie, as recently summarized by a British court, talk to children who are being brainwashed and scared about polar bears and the sea ice level, and argue that only nuclear energy, not new light bulbs, is a known and realistic method to reduce consumption of fossil fuels today.

More details here.

Hat tip: Marc Morano

Video 1: John Stossel about AGW at FOX News (4 minutes)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Croatia vs Czechia, 95:91

Because of the renovation and other work, I can't post much. Croatia was elected as a temporary member of the U.N. security council, together with Libya, Vietnam, Burkina Faso, and Costa Rica. Costa Rica beat the Dominican Republic while Croatia has defeated Czechia: it was the closest race.

As I previously indicated, a membership of some Czech bureaucrats in this body is one of the last thing I would care about. Moreover, I have virtually nothing against Croatia. It was the most popular destination of Czech tourists and I have been there many times. Some people have been to dozens of hotels in Zagreb, Croatia, too. However, the Czechs are getting pretty rich so many of them start to choose more luxurious destinations.

Figure 1: Krk, Croatia

Nevertheless, Croats remain the culturally closest people to the Czechs who have access to a nice sea! ;-) Croats were the Yugoslavs who were (and are) always closer to fascism than communism. But because Croats were not those who were doing the worst crimes during the war, I am far from certain whom I would support in the context of battles in Yugoslavia 65 years ago or so.

Back to 2007.

While Czechia has received 91 votes, Croatia has gotten 95 votes. Some diplomats have suggested that Václav Klaus' skeptical speech about the climate could have added a few votes for Croatia that could have changed the final result. I find it perfectly plausible that a few votes were changed in this way while other votes could have been influenced by other events. But the membership in this body is the first thing I would sacrifice for my president's right to say what he thinks in the U.N. headquarters.

If our representatives were not speaking their mind but rather a sequence of universal colorless politically correct clichés, why would we care who is elected anyway? Despite all these speculations, Karel Schwarzenberg, the Czech secretary of state, assumed responsibility for the "U.N. flop". Given the fact that it is not necessarily "purely" his fault, I find his reaction generous. This is the kind of behavior expected from decent aristocracy and I feel that I would enjoy certain aspects of feudalism although most others could have been pretty annoying! :-)

This posting as well as the previous posting may be used for a general discussion about climate and politics.

Monday, October 15, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Climate news

Some critics of Al Gore's award:

Let us abolish the IPCC:

  • Vincent Gray, a fresh co-winner of the Nobel peace prize, proposes to abolish the IPCC because the whole process is a swindle
  • David Henderson: scientists are not in charge of the IPCC (Wall Street Journal)

Maestro has grave doubts about carbon trading:

  • Alan Greenspan thinks that the cap-and-trade carbon market either destroys the economy or won't work

About Osama's motivation:

  • Timothy Ball recommends to be skeptical about Kyoto because Osama bin Laden has correctly figured out that it could seriously hurt the West

Amazon shaman fights green colonialism:

  • Davi Kopenawa, a shaman, visits Britain and blames the anti-greenhouse religion for sickness, depression, suicide, obesity and drug addiction of the indigenous people


Eco-hypocrisy admitted:

Gore is jealous:

  • Britney, OJ, Paris get more media attention than global warming (count hits), a fact that drives the prophet up the wall

News from Marc Morano, thanks!

German company does geological work for the Brdy radar

We have made another bike trip to Míšov in the Brdy hills.

Today, it was very easy to check that we have found the right peak, 718 meters above the sea level. Intense and noisy work was in progress. The employees of a German geological company answered - in English - that they were just drilling a water well. They are perfectly trained to give the "right" answers, in a rather friendly way.

We were told by someone else that a German company was chosen instead of a Czech one because it was ... cheaper!

A steak and a beer in the Míšov grill was helpful after those 20 miles in the beautiful forests. The owner of the grill is an entrepreneur but she explains that virtually everyone else in the village (except for the mayor) is an anti-radar communist. The Czech government vowed to pay about USD 60 million of compensations. For this money, I would allow Putin to build a Russian radar in Pilsen. ;-)

Work in progress

I won't be able to post too much in the following two days because I began to replace the floor in my apartment. That requires me to remove lots of floor tiles and do many other things before a new floating floor may be installed. Sorry.

Sunday, October 14, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

12 people becomes 13 people

Count the people on the picture. You should get 12. Wait for 12-13 seconds. The people will permute their organs. Count them again. You should get 13. Write the best answer to the question "Where did the 13th person come from?" to the fast comments. ;-)

Czechia: record cold temperature

Figure 1: The Cathedral of Saint Vitus in 1887. The construction started in 1344 and ended in 1929. ;-) On Wednesday, we did a cool guided tour to secret places of the Cathedral and the Castle.

On October 14th, 1887, when the Prague Castle looked like the picture above, Prague experienced a pretty cold weather with -0.7 Celsius degrees of temperature. Today, 120 years later, the record was finally updated. And Šerák, a peak in Moravia, has seen the first snow. It is not clear whether the record is going to be broken tomorrow, too: On October 15th, 1784, Prague saw -1.5 Celsius degrees.

Figure 2: Temperatures today at 8 a.m.

This week I face the first freezing temperatures in Europe after 11 years because in September 1997, I left for a trip to the U.S. that was longer than expected. Because I was traveling to Europe every summer, I thought that I was in touch with everything that takes place in Czechia. And it was almost the case. But such an argument neglects a subtlety: seasons.

In fact, I've never been in the U.S. during one month after the Independence Day, and this is my first autumn in Europe after 11 years. There are interesting emotions associated with these experiences. Things are a little bit different during different seasons.

Equally importantly, the air in Pilsen is a little bit different than the air in Piscataway or Cambridge. Different plants are emitting their aroma. The level of humidity is different, too. Moreover, sometimes we can breathe a characteristic mixture of the oxides of sulphur, carbon monoxide, and other compounds. ;-) Don't get me wrong: the air is much cleaner - literally by orders of magnitude - than it used to be when I was a kid. But still, there exists a certain "fingerprint" that is able to bring one's memory back to the childhood.

There is one more difference related to aromas. When most people from Eastern Europe traveled to the West for the first time, they had to notice that there was much more perfume in the air in the shops and malls. Czechoslovak retailers just didn't want to fill the air with perfumes or they didn't care. Also, the bakeries were much less scented than their Western counterparts. Today, when the Czech shops and malls are more or less visually indistinguishable from their German or American counterparts, I still think that they are less fragrant.

The way how aromas are stored in the long-term memory of the brain must be pretty funny.

Saturday, October 13, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Doris Lessing on political correctness

Doris Lessing, the winner of the 2007 Nobel prize for literature, has been described as an epicist of the female experience. You might think that she is just another colorless feminist, the kind of literary foam that has been awarded many recent awards. That would be highly inaccurate, to say the least.

The New York Times
re-published her op-ed from 1992, the last year when her writing was readable, according to the newspaper. She describes political correctness as the most obvious legacy of communism that hasn't yet been eliminated. Language is the first aspect to see this fact: both spiritual frameworks like to fill pages with mind-deadening jargon that lacks any content.

Those of us who have lived through communism can surely recognize a few clichés such as the "interpenetration of opposites", a universal principle of Marxist dialectics. ;-) Lessing argues that many Western journalists have been writing in a purely Marxist style without realizing it. Needless to say, many more journalists and sociologists are doing so today.

Another part of the communist or politically correct writing is that the journalists assume that every writer (or everyone) should be doing the same thing - when they ask "What should writers do...?" A popular universal cliché from the Marxist discourse is "commitment" and its newer variation, "raising consciousness". Lessing uses exactly these words. It just happens that the IPCC and Al Gore have received a Nobel prize for "raising consciousness" yesterday. Only Lessing and a small percentage of enlightened readers of the New York Times realize that these are Marxist mind-deadening, propagandist pseudoideas.

Al Gore should get a proper thrashing rather than an award for these methods.

Apple has a fresh, brand new design. Click the picture to learn more. Thanks to Rae!

"Raising consciousness", "political correctness", and "commitments" are continuations of the old bully, namely the communist party line, she explains - even though this is certainly not a new revolutionary discovery for your humble correspondent. ;-)

Friday, October 12, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Affirmative action for rightwingers?

Greg Mankiw, a Harvard economics professor, looks at extreme findings by Larry Summers and others concerning the extraordinary suppression of conservatives in the Academia. The numbers are scary and I am sure that you don't have to see them to believe me.

Be sure that the real situation is even worse because some people describe themselves as "conservatives" only relatively to the far left environment where they live: the word "conservative" doesn't mean the same thing as it does in the general society.

The main question is, of course, whether it is a good idea to try to introduce affirmative action to support right-of-center scholars. Mankiw predicts that the leftists are more likely to endorse any kind of affirmative action, including this one, than the rightwingers.

As far as I am concerned, he is right. Any kind of discrimination, positive discrimination, irrational discrimination, complex discrimination, or another discrimination is a wrong thing. The problem with the Academia is not a lack of discrimination but a huge excess of it.

I am sure that if the academic officials and others were both honest as well as competent, no affirmative action would be needed or desirable.

The situation in reality is very different. The Academia is full of individuals and groups of people who shouldn't be there, who are not qualified, and who are being hired for ideological reasons. This is the primary wrong thing that should be fixed.

There are whole departments where people are quite generally incompetent and almost never reach the scholarly qualities of their colleagues in standard departments. All these departments of gender studies, African studies, and similar overspecialized and redundant constructs are artificially constructed to create a false impression of balance in questions where balance cannot exist because of facts of biology. These departments have become the key driving forces for politicization of the Academia. I think that responsible university officials should try to shrink these departments as much as they can but no one is actually doing so.

The perverse political opinions of the people in these departments are often imported to other departments, too. The infection rate is very high.

Meanwhile, wrong people are being absorbed to many standard departments, too. At all levels, ideological bias is huge. Members of racial and other groups that are likely to be extremely leftist are being hired more often than members of other groups. In the case of natural sciences, many women decide to go to science mainly because of their feminist ideological beliefs. Because there are not many responsible colleagues who would make it impossible, the percentage of feminist women in science also grows out of proportion, pushing the average further to the left.

Quite generally, the fields that are most brutally affected by the leftist political bias are the same fields where mechanisms to create this bias may be easily detected. In social sciences, politically correct myths about all kinds of pacifism, egalitarianism, and other -isms are considered to be a plus for people to be hired even though these myths have clearly nothing to do with the scholarly merit.

Entertainingly enough, the healthiest field are health sciences where Bush actually narrowly defeated Kerry in 2004. What is my explanation? In health sciences, hiring an incompetent individual for ideological or other reasons can have the same result: it can end human lives. And that is perhaps higher a price than what the people want to pay. On the other hand, people are ready to sacrifice quality of Earth sciences or even biological sciences - and, of course, social sciences - because of ideological goals.

In the most politicized fields of natural sciences, the situation is analogous. In climate science, incompetent individuals are constantly being hired and rewarded for their political attitudes rather than their skills and achievements. I can enumerate dozens of corrupt officials who are doing these things and dozens of wrong decisions where such tendencies dominated.

Once again: the scholarly world doesn't need more politicization and discrimination of various groups. It needs less of it and more meritocracy instead. The bad current situation is not a result of a missing special policy or regulation but a result of concrete bad decisions and acts done by very concrete, corrupt, irresponsible scholars and officials.

And that's the memo.

IPCC and Al Gore win Nobel peace prize for climate porn

Fairbanks Daily New-Miner, Tuesday, October 16th, 2007 (thanks to Gerhard Kramm)

Friday, October 12th, 2007 is a day that has transformed the Nobel peace prize into a gigantic joke at least for one year. People who are co-responsible for one of the most serious sources of international tension and whose goal is to keep the third world in poverty and to clip the growth in the first world were identified as heroes of peace.

A self-invited institution of mediocre and politicized scientists together with a hypocritical semi-educated individual were awarded for their "dissemination" of climate porn. Previously, they have convinced loads of dopes that the Earth faced a "planetary emergency" and earned a lot of money with this hoax that has impressed the Nobel peace prize committee, too.

EFTs and seesaw

Xi Yin explains how to calculate the partition sum of the monstrous pure 3D gravity in terms of gravitational instantons.

V.V. Kiselev and S.A. Timofeev discuss the cosmological constant seesaw mechanism. Their approach is exactly I meant: the mixing of the flat and AdS vacua occurs because of the analogous instantons that induce decay - except that the corresponding bubble in this case can't grow and only induces the mixing. They also discuss how this small vacuum energy may be generated in the context of gauge-mediated supersymmetry breaking.

Thursday, October 11, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

University officials vs alcohol

Harvard students are considering boycotting the inauguration of the new president. The immediate reason is not terribly deep: it is the undergraduate Party Fund, a negligible part of the budget that may have much more significant impact on the students.

It is surely not my main goal to promote drinking undergrads. On the other hand, I am convinced that the Harvard students could afford many more such parties and that this aspect of life deserves expansion in the Ivy League. Whether you like it or not, alcohol helps to create emotional links between humans, too.

I find the age restriction in the U.S. to be absurdly stringent and it seems even higher in the context of elite university students who are expected to get mature earlier than their friends. To summarize: the Party Fund is not the most respectable among the possible reasons to complain but I do understand them, after all.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Eat kangaroos, save Earth

Greenpeace urges consumption of kangaroos to save the world from global warming.

They argue that unlike cattle and sheep, kangaroos don't burp, don't fart, and don't clear the land. For example, this picture is an oil industry propaganda because kangaroos don't need any food.

It turns out that there are also people who don't burp, don't fart, and don't clear the land. Think twice before you decide what to cook today and save the Earth! :-)

Tuesday, October 09, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Mildly left-wing professor chastises conservatives

... and he is right!

Left-wing people are rarely right in politics. If they were right, they wouldn't be left. But this audio is a remarkable exception. A self-described mildly left-wing professor criticizes the British conservatives at their CPS Fringe Event and he is quite right.

What the British conservatives are doing in the context of climate change - such as the recently proposed plasma TV ban - is absolutely outrageous and it is very good that Philip Stott told them in his inimitable way.

Nigel Lawson, one of the brightest politicians in the U.K. history, speaks after Philip Stott.

Truck driver mostly beats Al Gore

Incidentally, while the leaders of the British conservative party lost their mind, the British judges still have some rational thinking left. Stewart Dimmock, a truck driver from the New Party, has sued the British education system because it wanted to indoctrinate children with Al Gore's propaganda movie.

Physics Nobel prize 2007: Fert and Grünberg

Magnetoresistance wins

I just watched Nice music. The room had thrice as many paintings than what would look normal. ;-)


The winners are Peter Grünberg (Germany) and Albert Fert (France) who discovered giant magnetoresistance, a phenomenon behind hard disks we use today. They have previously shared the 2007 Japan Prize so you can read the standard popular comments there.

I wrote that Peter Grünberg was German. That might be OK but he is actually my citymate. Peter Grünberg was born in Pilsen (Plzeň), the very town where I was born and where I live, on May 18th, 1939.

It used to be a town in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. I am afraid he is not in town because we expelled his whole community in 1945. Bad for us but it was their fault! :-) I have already encouraged the mayor to give him an honorary citizenship. Let me pre-emptively assure you that his father wasn't a Gestapo cop but an engineering graduate and they moved to Lauterbach, Hesse, after the war.

Namesti republiky 1940

The Square of the Republic, Pilsen, 1940

As we reported in 2006, Thomson Scientific predicted Grünberg and Fart as the second most likely group of winners a year ago but they didn't repeat this precious prediction this year.

Monday, October 08, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

2007 Nobel prize for medicine: gene targeting

Unfortunately, either hackers or incompetent employees eliminated the server a few minutes before the planned announcement so the server cannot tell you who is the winner.

We can. Mario R. Capecchi (US), Oliver Smithies (US), and Martin J. Evans (UK) share their prize for gene targeting in mice: homologous recombination can be applied to inactivate specific genes in embryonic cells. The accuracy is perfect. The methods are so far used for mice only but they always teach us things about life and aging in general.

The same gentlemen have received the 2001 Lasker Award so you can read an article about that prize.

US budget deficit drops to USD 162.8 billion

One of the quantities that was predicted to exponentially grow out of control - much like the global mean temperature, population, and other things - was the U.S. budget deficit.

However, the graph from 1993 shows something different. The fiscal 2007 deficit was smaller than the deficit of any of the years in this list: 1983-1986, 1990-1995, 2003-2006 even if you don't discount anything.

Lenny Susskind & census taker's hat

In his new long paper, Leonard Susskind tries to reconcile these assumptions:

  • inflation was long enough (50+ e-foldings) for us to know that the whole universe has at least 1000 times greater volume than the observable patch
  • because the cosmological constant has begun to dominate, the observable patch no longer grows and the previous point will hold forever
  • vacua in the string theory landscape are metastable
  • complementarity holds in quantum gravity and requires one to specify a causal patch for quantum mechanics to be well-defined: the degrees of freedom are stored on the boundary
  • inflation populates diverse pocket universes

These are pretty diverse assumptions. Moreover, Susskind wants to find a holographic version of the Wheeler-DeWitt equation.

According to him, his "obvious" assumptions imply that the universe has surely tunneled many times before it reached the present low cosmological constant. Where did it start? Well, it started in an "Ancestor" vacuum, Susskind thinks. He believes that the primordial background could be given these kinds of evidence:

  • the spatial curvature of the cosmos is negative
  • CMB has tensor modes but only with the minimum values of "l"

Together with his gang, Susskind considers eternal inflation, bubble nucleation, and a multiverse "all but inevitable". But he agrees that we lack tools to study this "most extravagant extrapolation in the history of physics", using Bjorken's words. So what does he do?

Costa Rica backs free trade

During the last 100 years, Costa Rica has been the most democratic country in Central America. It is thus not surprising that it is currently the most prosperous one, too.

Huge and intense demonstrations of up to 100,000 people opposed DR-CAFTA, the Central America Free Trade Agreement that includes the U.S., Dominican Republic (DR), El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

But the referendum was won by the silent majority rather than the loud minority. Almost 52 percent of voters supported "Yes": this camp included President Oscar Arias, the 1987 peace Nobel laureate. Good for them. It will allow them to sell and buy what they need more easily.

Costa Rica was the only place that held a referendum about the question and became the last one where the agreement was ratified.

The critics are right that the agreement will make it harder for some companies in Costa Rica, especially the state-run companies. They will indeed have to face tougher competition and it is a good thing, too, both for the rich and the poor.

Sunday, October 07, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Craig Venter: DNA-burners

As we reported in June, Craig Venter has decided that DNA-reading has become a trivial science and he was working on DNA-burners.

The Guardian informs us
that the first material result is a 381-gene-long chromosome with 580,000 pairs of genetic code based on Mycoplasma genitalium: Mr Craig was inspired by a bacterium created by his colleague, Ms Nature. The synthetic organism will be a microscopic parasite.

Video 1: Wall Street Journal interviewed J. Craig Venter a week ago. In the first part they talk about his personal DNA code that he has published so that you can create your own Venter in your lab. ;-) Since 3:00, they discuss the synthetic life - including genetic engineering of new fuels.

Figure 1: A more advanced result of his line of research. The corn develops an XBOX360 at the center. Patent pending. Hat tip: Viktor K.

Saturday, October 06, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Richard Dedekind: 176th birthday

On October 6th, 1831, Richard Dedekind was born.

Yes, this stamp is from East Germany. Click to learn more about him.

Dedekind was one of the mathematically inclined 19th century string theorists.

RSS MSU: September 2007 was 7th coolest month in this century

According to the new RSS MSU satellite data, September 2007 was the 7th coldest month among 81 months since January 2001. It has made it to the 9% of the coolest months of the 21st century so far. Their gadgets measure temperature at latitudes between -70.0 (S) and +82.5 (N) - about 94.5% of the surface if I compute well.

In the last month, the global temperature was just 0.12 Celsius degrees above the long-term average which means that it was 0.78 Celsius degrees cooler than the temperature in April 1998 when the anomaly was +0.9 Celsius degrees. The main reason is La Nina that is getting stronger and might continue to do so for a few months.

Friday, October 05, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Solvay Conference 1927: eighty years later

Brussels has been a good neutral place to meet for quite some time. The most famous Fifth Solvay Conference occurred in the second part of October 1927, right after some of the most dramatic advances in physics of all time took place.

The participants were not bad: Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac, Planck, Born, de Broglie, Curie, Pauli, Schrödinger, Lorentz, Kramers, Compton, Debye, Ehrenfest, Langevin, and a few others. It is likely that it won't ever be possible to gather that many people who are responsible for such significant breakthroughs.

Concerning quantum mechanics of particles such as electrons, there was a portion of physicists who knew very well what was going on - Bohr, Heisenberg, Dirac, Pauli, Born, Ehrenfest, Debye, and partly Kramers - while the majority of the attendants, despite their qualities, were confused.

De Broglie was there primarily because he had prepared the ground for wave mechanics of Schrödinger but Schrödinger himself didn't quite understand the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics or the equivalence of his picture with Heisenberg's matrix mechanics proven by Dirac. Einstein's admiration for determinism is a well-known story.

Richard Lindzen, an inconvenient expert

Juliet Eilperin, an alarmist correspondent of the Washington Post, has written a portrait of Richard Lindzen,

An Inconvenient Expert
for "Outside" and it's not bad. I apologize to Dick for putting her photograph here instead of his face. You can find his face in her article. Inside this blog, we prefer high quality of content as well as the form which is why in this case, we describe the words of Lindzen and include the journalist's photograph. ;-)

Lindzen predicts that in 20 years, it will be generally accepted that global warming will have been a non-issue. He thinks that everyone will be saying that they will have been saying these things all the time and other scientists might have to take credit for the prediction instead of Dick himself.

Ig Nobel prizes 2007

Glashow, Laughlin, Mello, and other Nobel prize winners have handed out the 2007 Ig Nobel prizes:

  • "Chemistry" - Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Centre of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin, or vanilla fragrance and flavouring, from cow dung.
    "She seems to claim if companies start using this method it might help with global warming because some of all the cow dung that causes problems in the atmosphere will start getting used," Abrahams said in an interview.
  • "Linguistics" - Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Nuria Sebastian-Galles, of Universitat de Barcelona - for a study showing rats sometimes fail to distinguish between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.
  • "Peace Prize" -- The Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio for instigating research and development on a chemical weapon, the so-called "gay bomb", that "will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other".
  • "Biology" - Dr Johanna EMH van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, for their census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi that share our beds at night.
  • "Economics" - Kuo Cheng Hsieh, of Taichung, Taiwan, for patenting a device in 2001 that catches bank robbers by dropping a net over them, known as the "net trapping system for capturing a robber immediately".
    The inventor, however, could not be found by Ig Nobel representatives in Taiwan "We had people in Taiwan looking for him. He's vanished. Somebody suggested to us the possibility that maybe the poor man was trapped inside his own machine," Abrahams said.

Thursday, October 04, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Svensmark and Friis-Christensen: reply to Lockwood and Fröhlich

The Sun is still alive

Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen wrote a reply to the article by Lockwood and Fröhlich. Many graphs are extended up to 2007.

I think it is an excellent paper because it seems to give hints how the climate actually works. Look at this extremely impressive correlation captured in their figure 2b:

The blue graph is the radiosonde temperature anomaly - a source of temperature data that Svensmark and Friis-Christensen consider to be the physically "cleanest" source. The word "anomaly" means that the effect of El Nino, the North Atlantic Oscillation, volcanic aerosols, and additional 0.14 K/decade warming trend was removed.

The "hardcore" skeptics will have to swallow the last entry in the previous paragraph. ;-)

The red curve shows the cosmic ray flux (upside-down) as a function of time.

You might agree that the result is quite impressive. The short-term details of the temperature anomaly that are reproduced by the negatively taken cosmic ray flux are arguably non-trivial enough to justify the choice of roughly four coefficients that have to be adjusted to reproduce the curve especially because the value of some of these coefficients are known from other considerations.

Think about a different four-parameter interpolation of some of the data points or about another non-linear regression, if you wish, such as a cubic polynomial or a combination of two cosines with adjustable frequencies and amplitudes. Surely, you wouldn't be able to match the curve so accurately.

Lederman: Global warming is the new Sputnik

Leon Lederman, the author of the term "God particle", promotes his "physics first" paradigm. Physics is based on simpler concepts so it should be taught before chemistry and biology. In the sense of compositeness, biology is more complex than string theory. I agree with that.

He also says that global warming is the new Sputnik. Exactly 50 years ago, on September 4th, the Soviet Union started cosmic research. The communist country showed that America was not necessarily as advanced in this human activity as you would expect from its wealth and other virtues. When it comes to individual problems, Russia could have been faster, stronger, more sensible, and more efficient. I think that global warming might be analogous.

Most Russian scientists don't believe the global warming orthodoxy. The Russian media prefer to talk to scientists who are convinced that the Sun is the primary driver of climate change. For example, Yuri Zaitsev from the Institute of Space Studies wrote an article for RIA Novosti. Climate has always been changing and the causes are not known.

Brian Greene vs a hippie physics critic

Wired magazine tries to import the idea of "consensus science" to high-energy physics. So they have organized a poll opened literally for everyone. People vote whether Brian Greene's general statements about string theory are better or worse than Lee Smolin's equally general but populist and emotional misconceptions.

Needless to say, 80% of the people who participate have no idea what theoretical physics is while most of the remaining 20% voted for the right answer by pure chance. ;-)

Let's face it: the number of people who can actually evaluate results of papers in high-energy theoretical physics in general and quantum gravity in particular is not 20%: it is smaller than one part per million (ppm) i.e. smaller than 6,500 people in the world. Anyone who is ready to take these polls seriously is crazy. The average participants' IQ is lower than the required one by 40 or more.

Most Americans believe creation and most people in the world believe that we face dangerous man-made global warming. People are ready to believe any stupidity you like as long as this stupidity is sold in such a way that they will find it attractive because this stupidity makes them feel smarter, nicer, and happier. These people want to believe that they're not "missing" anything - which is completely absurd - so they do believe it. Lee Smolin is not only a crackpot but a shameful crackpot if he uses these tactics - if he employs uneducated average people to leverage his influence in science that would otherwise be zero.

Hep-th papers on Thursday

Chialva, Danielsson, Johansson, Larfors, Vonk study the topology of the landscape, especially the connectedness of different vacua. It used to be thought that the landscape is made out of many "continents" in which the vacua are connected with each other but the "continents" are disconnected from each other. However, they show that the number of continents is much lower. How do they do it? They find methods how to continuously get from one vacuum to another vacuum, combining conifold-like critical transitions (applied even in the presence of fluxes) with monodromies.

Edward Witten generalizes some concepts of the Langlands program. In the simplest version of the program, one deals with flat connections on a Riemann surface. Adding simple poles in the connection is called "tame ramification" while adding stronger singularities is referred to as "wild ramification" which is the subject of Witten's paper. Stokes' phenomenon and isomonodromic deformation play a role in these new, largely heavily mathematical results.

Jafferis and Saulina compute BPS indices on Calabi-Yau manifolds equipped with two intersecting families of D4-branes. The intersection is a compact Riemann surface. They argue that their index, computed from a q-deformed U(M) x U(N) gauge theory, computes a jump of an index involving one D4-brane that can just split into two on a wall of marginal stability.

Silva and Landim looked at a two-form in a curved spacetime. By Hodge duality, the theory is argued to be equivalent to a scalar and this fact holds even if interactions are taken into account. The stress-energy tensor is calculated.

Sasakura verifies a relationship between (primarily) two-dimensional tori obtained as solutions of general relativity and fuzzy tori. For this two-dimensional theory, he verifies that the "R" term doesn't contribute to the momentum-dependence of the fluctuations because it is topological which is why "R squared" gives the leading nonzero dependence.

Splittorff and Verbaarschot falsify the Banks-Casher formula for theories with the sign problem and work out the arguably correct replacement in the special case of one-dimensional QCD with a chemical potential. The sign problem is a situation when Monte-Carlo evaluation breaks down because the average phase factor (in a one-loop determinant etc.) vanishes in the thermodynamic limit.

Kinoshita constructs a warped dS4 x S4 compactification where the sphere is deformed and connects this new branch of solutions to the conventional unwarped branch with ordinary spheres.

Kitazawa and Nagaoka study the IKKT model in the way that I always considered correct. The IKKT model comes from type IIB D-instantons and has no time coordinate. So you shouldn't be looking for a Hamiltonian. Instead, you should view it as a tool to generate the S-matrix amplitudes beyond the perturbative expansion. To do so, you need vertex operators. At generic couplings, only the supergravity multiplet forms stable asymptotic states. They construct the vertex operators for these graviton states and connect them with the perturbative superstring graviton vertex operators. The matrix vertex operators have exactly the same form I have believed to be correct, namely the supertrace of an exponential of the matrix (k.X): recall that X is a matrix in the model. The exponential is multiplied by polynomials in the fundamental matrix fields before the supertrace is evaluated. Your humble correspondent thinks that this is today's most interesting paper.

Maziashvili offers an entertaining interpretation of the gravitational loop corrections to the running gauge couplings: the naturally defined "spacetime dimension" slightly drops below four as you approach the Planck scale.

Schweigert and Tsouchnika classify equivalences between Wess-Zumino-Witten models and minimal models - the Krammers-Wannier dualities - and show that they only exist for small levels which is what you expected (or knew) anyway.

Castro, De Castro, Hott look at Dirac fermions in two dimensions coupled to scalars and pseudoscalars with (solvable) Pöschl-Teller-like potentials (tanh of a scalar etc.), with a special focus on how the dynamics depends on various signs in the potentials.

Morris shows that the essence of a recent geometrical idea due to Hitchin et al. has already been found by Warren Siegel in the 1990s. Recall that Hitchin et al. want to generalize geometry to make stringy T-duality O(d,d,Z) manifest by adding the "dual" (cotangent) dimension together with the "normal" (tangent) dimensions. They show that Siegel, in fact, went well beyond some geometric concepts when he studied an actual Lagrangian with these doubled degrees of freedom. Ten years ago, I was very attracted to these pictures where you add both "X" and "X-dual" at the same moment but I no longer think that these highly redundant descriptions are necessarily wise because one needs to impose a lot of constraints acting on the "extended space" that look unnatural (they're highly non-local, for example).

Fosco and Moreno look at three-dimensional noncommutative field theory with a scalar field and a certain interaction. The one-loop cosmological constant is expressed in terms of the coupling constant and a tree-level scattering amplitude. That's what usually happens for (n+1)-loop vacuum energy graphs... The rest of the one-loop effective action is derived, too.

NASA: Arctic melting due to winds

NASA experts have decided that the thinning of the Arctic sea ice in the last two years is due to unusual wind patterns. Note that their news release looks pretty serious and scientific: it doesn't contain the words "global warming" or "climate change" or "greenhouse". ;-) See the full paper.

Hat tip: Marc Morano and Brett Anderson

A fun video

Petr Mach has pointed out a video that you might find funny even if you don't speak Czech. Twelve years ago, we (members of various academic senates in Prague) were trying to kill the idea to create a "Faculty of humanities" of the Charles University because we were convinced that it would become a kingdom of various crazy individuals.

Our efforts turned out to be ineffective but our worries turned out to be right on the money. The department was created anyway and one of its scholars, Mr Ivan Rynda who is a "social environmentalist" who is also a member of the Green Party, tried to "debunk" Václav Klaus on TV. The content of his contribution makes Alexander Ač a genius in comparison. But would you agree that he is high on drugs? ;-)

He says he doesn't understand the climate but he is sure that we are causing global faults of the climate because we're breathing carbon dioxide and produce methane and only Václav Klaus doesn't get it. At the end, the staff cut Mr Rynda in the middle of a sentence and the TV host apologized that the interview ended up earlier than expected "because of understandable reasons". :-)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Blue screen: ntdll.dll

Several hours ago, my new Packard Bell desktop PC with Windows Vista experienced a lethal blue screen scenario. Without any good reason, the computer suddenly went into a blue screen mode and it was reset while I was innocently trying to open or something like that.

Next time, a similar situation occurred right after I logged in. Later, I could log in the safe mode and tried to check the disk. It looked flawless but the errors seemed to get ever more lethal. Different kinds of system restore were running and the worst point occurred when the computer was giving this scary blue screen message right after the startup:

STOP: C0000221 unknown hard error
Systemroot system32 ntdll.dll
The internet was full of people who couldn't get rid of this bug even after they sacrificed all of their data and tried to reinstall the operating system! ;-) Some web sources indicated that the error means that the file, ntdll.dll, couldn't be loaded. But several discussion forums also hinted that people could get rid of that error by disconnecting their DVD burners or even by adjusting cables that go to the DVD. Again: connectors.

I opened the box, played with the cables a little bit, turned it on, played with a Packard Bell system restore utility - a different one that suddenly occurred instead of the blue screen above. It got fully cured but I can't be certain what was the reason behind all these annoyances. Because the hard disk seems to be OK and there is no obvious reason why the files should have been getting increasingly corrupt, my guess is that all the problems could have been caused by a wrong contact in the DVD connector even though the DVD is not used at all. Bizarre.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Welcome, Physics World

Physics World, the journal that recently printed Matthew Chalmers' excellent review of the status of string theory, Stringscape, managed to construct a relatively fair and entertaining introduction to this blog.

Let me only make a single correction: the musings about physics - more precisely landscape, string theory as a theory of gravity, phenomenology, philosophy of science, mathematics, experiments, cosmology and astrophysics - that you can find on this blog are often dedicated to the public. They are written for the same public whom people like Lee Smolin address their books. The only difference is that my intent is to enhance the knowledge of all of us, including the readers, while the goal of Lee Smolin is to drag them to the bottom of the sea. A translation for an even broader public: glub glub glub glub. :-)

Nevertheless, the two simple-minded paragraphs above that were written by a temporary linker-not-thinker are not worth a memo. ;-)