Saturday, May 31, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why are green advocates failing in climate debate?

Final results: Among 1292 voters, 64% think that it's because the greens are wrong and one can't defend wrong statements well; 18% think that they're overwhelmed by their "religion" or big ideas and can't see and learn the "details"; 9% think that they're obsessed with the change that prevents them from seeing the status quo (the previous two groups have twenty-seven percent in total); 5% think that the greens are not under the same pressure that forces the skeptics to be good to survive; 4% think that the greens are more ignorant or more stupid; 1% think that the greens have less at stake; 0% or 2 participants think that the greens are less passionate.
There seems to be one question in which the green advocates and climate realists agree, and it is this. Green advocates are failing in the climate debate.

Mark Seal is concerned about the climate. So he decided to create the TalkClimateChange forums where all the fantastic green arguments will be collected. He was afraid that there would be no skeptics. Finally, he summarized his experience on La Marguerite.

When I launched the TalkClimateChange forums last year, I was initially worried as to where I would find people who didn’t believe in global warming. I had planned to create a furious debate, but in my experience global warming was such a universally accepted issue that I expected to have to dredge the slums of the internet in order to find a couple of deniers who could keep the argument thriving.

The first few days were slow going, but following a brief write-up of my site by Junk Science I was swamped by climate skeptics who did a good job of frightening off the few brave Greens who slogged out the debate with. Whilst there was a lot of rubbish written, the truth was that they didn’t so much frighten the Greens away - they comprehensively demolished them with a more in depth understanding of the science, cleverly thought out arguments, and some very smart answers. If you want to learn about the physics of convection currents, gas chromatography, or any number of climate science topics then read some of the early debates on TalkClimateChange. I didn’t believe a word of it, but I had to admit that these guys were good.

In the following months the situation hardly changed. As the forum continued to grow, as the blog began to catch traffic, and as I continued to try and recruit green members I continued to be disappointed with the debate. In short, and I am sorry to say it, anti-greens (Reds, as we call them) appear to be more willing to comment, more structured, more able to quote peer reviewed research, more apparently rational and apparently wider read and better informed.

And it’s not just TalkClimateChange. Since we re-launched the forums on Green Options and promoted the “Live Debate“ on Nuclear Power, the pro-nuclear crowd have outclassed the few brave souls that have attempted to take them on (with the exception of our own Matt from TalkClimateChange). So how can this be? Where are all these bright Green champions, and why have I failed to recruit them into the debate? Either it’s down to poor online marketing skills, or there is something else missing. I’ve considered a range of theories as to the problem, none of which seem to fit - such as:

Greens are less educated? Nope.
Greens have less time? Nope.
Greens are a little reticent? Nope.
Greens are less intelligent? Definitely nope.
Greens are less passionate? Absolutely nope.]
Greens have less at stake? Clearly not.

The only feasible explanation that I can come up with so far is that perhaps Greens are less invested in the status quo, and therefore less motivated to protect it? The other possibility is that we are all completely wrong and we’re deluded - please tell me this isn’t so. So I am hoping that La Marguerite, with its insightful host and enlightened readership may be able to help shed some light on this peculiar phenomenon?

Sounds reasonable, doesn't it? Via Tom Nelson.

Let us try to figure out what are the main reasons why the skeptics are more well-informed and better debaters. Here is a poll that will expire in 2 weeks, around May 24th. Incidentally, if you want to answer that the Greens are bad in these exchanges because they are religiously motivated, you should vote for "Greens are overwhelmed by their big plans that don't allow them to see the details." If you think a bit, I believe you will agree it is essentially the same thing.


I tried to choose options that are more structured, well-informed, and organized. Oops. Once again I revealed that I am a skeptic. ;-)

The option "I disagree with Mark Seal because the Greens are actually very good" was intentionally omitted because it would transform the poll into the usual emotional battle of two sides. This poll is designed to encourage us, the readers, to think about slightly less emotional, more subtle, and less widely discussed questions.

After 1,000+ people have voted, around 60% say that "Greens are not right" while almost 20% say that "their huge plans (or religion) prevents them from seeing the details". A similar answer with "change and status quo" has 10%. 3% voted for "less intelligent or educated", 1% for "less at stake", and 0% (2 people) for "less passionate".

Australian ABC: Al Gore should die at age 3



Some news from the Goremon religion.

Planet Slayer (click!)
is a new website designed by the Australian ABC television station for children that calculates when a kid or another person should die (a newspaper report). A Mr Schpinkee who is clearly mentally challenged and who looks like a rabbit but who has nevertheless been hired as a professor ;-) asks you about the person's meat and gasoline consumption, his income, and flying habits, among similar quantities.

A capitalist imperialist pig on the picture is growing according to the person's "carbon footprint". At the end, it tells you when the person should die.

Good science is a slightly macho subject

Sean Carroll wrote a new, somewhat frightening, politically correct attack on Richard Feynman in particular and old-fashioned scientists in general and about 1/3 of his readers have joined the mudslinging campaign:

Charming (Cosmic Variance)
He begins with a story showing that Feynman had a truly egalitarian approach to women - he treated cooks, engineers, and presidents of companies in the same way. ;-)

Later in Carroll's text, Richard Feynman and similar people are blamed for the fact that women tend to leave science, engineering, and technology. Needless to say, it is Nature, not man-made atmosphere ;-), that is responsible for a vast majority of the observed sex differences. The main "culprit" is not only the innate aptitude discussed below but also - obviously - the care that women thankfully decide to dedicate to their children and families.

And the presence of Richard Feynman was mostly a reason for women to stay. Feynman has brought his love and care to several special women, starting from Arlene Feynman (whom he married despite her tuberculosis; I doubt that one of the PC champions is able to love this much), and he has propagated the excitement about physics and his sharp explanations into many corners, including his friends among prostitutes. Do these achievements sound too remote to you, Sean? Well, you might have no prostitute friends and you have contributed nothing to the path integral either. These are two defects of yours, Sean, that can't be compensated against each other.

Friday, May 30, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Chinese IQ river test: SWF

Via Arcade Temple

Full screen... (click)
The Japanese employers use this test to hire employees in the IT sector. You should get all the people to the other side of the river. Either learn Chinese (in which the game above is written) or click the blue disk for the game to start. Clicking a person moves him or her to or from the boat. Right-click the Flash and choose "rewind" to start from the scratch.

Rules:
  • The boat only operates with 1 or 2 people aboard; press a stick with the red button(s) to move
  • The mother, the father, or cop are needed for the boat to move
  • The prisoner kills any member of the family if the cop is not there as well
  • The mother kills a son if the father is not around
  • The father kills a daughter if the mother is not around
If you can't solve it for hours and it drives you up the wall, I recommend you to draw the tree of all possible moves. ;-) It is a very simple tree.

The Colbert Report with Brian Greene II



It's amusing although these Gentlemen might be laughing too much and too stupidly. But so was I. ;-)

See NY Times story about the science festival
Hat tip: Clifford Johnson

Wednesday, May 28, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Václav Klaus: Blue planet in green shackles

What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom?

Update: In D.C., Václav Klaus explained that he is no skeptic - instead, he is resolutely against it and the word "skeptic" is an understatement - and invited Al Gore to debate climate change (video of the full NPC event). Thanks to Benjamin, DrudgeReport
Finally, here are some facts about the new book written by the Czech President. English is finally joining Dutch, German, and Czech. When you're reading this sentence, Polish, Russian, and Spanish translations exist, too. Unfortunately, the clever picture of the blue planet in green chains doesn't appear on the cover.

CEI, the publisher, is now selling the book for USD 13 via Amazon.com, click on the left side! Only 17,000 copies are printed to start with. Because of an efficient use of paper, it only has 100 pages.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Osama bin Laden on K2

Usama bin Laden in K2 mountains

Click to zoom in...

CIA finally began to think a bit creatively. The second highest peak in the world, K2 in Northern Pakistan, is such a natural place for such a mountaineer!

Mount Everest Ascent

Fifty-five years ago, on May 29th, 1953, Edmund Hillary Clinton ;-) reached the summit of the world's highest peak together with Tenzing Norgay.

One-loop moduli in Schnabl gauge

The hep-th papers on the arXiv.ORG are much more interesting today than they are on the average day, even on the average Tuesday (which usually attracts more papers, submitted during the weekend and on Mondays).

I declare the paper by Zwiebach and Kiermeier to be the most interesting paper. But we will mention all 22 papers and classify them into groups.

String field theory

Michael Kiermaier and Barton Zwiebach discuss one-loop amplitudes calculated from string field theory, using Schnabl gauge. There are several "field-theoretical" approaches where the moduli can be extracted in various ways. For example, in the light-cone gauge, they are identified as functions of the interaction times and the fractions of p+, the longitudinal momentum, divided between various virtual strings.

In Siegel gauge, they are expressed as functions of the Schwinger parameters.

The same thing is true in Schnabl gauge. But there is one shocking surprise. In the previous two pictures, the functions mapping the moduli in different languages are messy. In Schnabl gauge, they can be explicitly calculated in closed form as functions of extra degrees of freedom resulting from the special midpoint of the open string! So Schnabl gauge is "simpler" and more natural to calculate amplitudes - and maybe even off-shell amplitudes - than both light-cone gauge and the old Siegel gauge of covariant string field theory.

Yutaka Baba, Nobuyuki Ishibashi, Koichi Murakami also study string field theory and they calculate the annulus diagram, too. They construct a state describing a collection of D-branes at different places in an OSp theory and calculate the annulus diagram out of these concepts, obtaining the same result of the first-quantized setup.

Monday, May 26, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Freeman Dyson vs RealClimate.ORG

Freeman Dyson reviews two books about the climate change policies - books written by William Nordhaus and Ernesto Zedillo, respectively.

David Archer of RealClimate.ORG responds. This exchange is mostly about policies which is why the extreme political colors of the RealClimate.ORG activists become even more obvious.

Let us talk about four main topics as summarized by Archer:

  1. Waiting for carbon sequestering technologies
  2. Estimating costs of removing CO2 emissions
  3. The validity of discounting in economics
  4. Attacks against climate realists
Carbon sequestering

Freeman Dyson expects that genetic engineering will soon lead to artificial plants that are able to remove CO2 from the atmosphere efficiently. Well, I find it conceivable but not guaranteed. At any rate, the possibility of a similar technological breakthrough should be considered as carefully as the possibility of a new efficient and widely usable energy source. Sometime in the future, one (or both) of these breakthroughs may take place. I don't know which one is going to be the first one. It is wrong to assume that we know it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

NASA: Phoenix's Mars landing

NASA TV: click (there was a video here, I removed it to avoid unexpected noise)
Double-click the video for full screen

Live coverage of the landing of the Phoenix spacecraft - that is expected to study water and conditions for primitive life on the planet - should begin here, on NASA TV, at 6:00 pm Eastern Daylight Saving Time (midnight Central European summer time). Signals about atmospheric entry should arrive to Earth around 7:46 pm EDT.

London-Brooklyn: a wormhole

If you're in London or New York, you should definitely check the telectroscope, a wormhole built by St George ;-) and connecting the Brooklyn Bridge with the Tower Bridge, and tell us how it works.



They say that there are no displays involved but probably a lot of optical fibers. Officially, there is a long tunnel. ;-) If this is not a kind of webcam, then I have no idea how it works. Can you imitate a lot of mirrors by fibers?

Christina Romer: Berkeley vs Harvard

Update: On November 24th, 2008, Romer was said to be nominated as the head of the Council of Economic Advisors by Barack Obama. You should also read a lot of stuff on this blog about Lawrence Summers.
Christina Romer is one of the most achieved female economists in the world. I wouldn't necessarily be thrilled by her politics (Obama's campaign etc.) but if you read some of her papers, it is clear that she is the real deal. You will have a hard time to find another female economist with papers with hundreds of citations and over 20 papers with more than 20 citations.

Together with her husband, they were planning to move from Berkeley to Harvard because the place had all kinds of logistic advantages (aging parents on both sides living in Massachusetts, kids moving to MIT). Everything seemed to work up to the moment when Drew Gilpin Faust, the new Harvard president who replaced Lawrence Summers after the feminists' uprising against his ability to think, vetoed the move.
Harvard Crimson
The new Harvard president remained silent about her motives, no one else knows the reason either, and no one has even suggested an understandable hypothetical justification. The people who know Romer seem to be upset.

We don't have the complete information but I would still offer two general comments:

Thursday, May 22, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

RealClimate vs Roy Spencer: non-feedback changes in clouds

Roy Spencer is a rising star and public face of climatology - not only because of his topseller, Climate Confusion, and occasionally inconvenient UAH MSU satellite data, but also because of his perfectionist recent theoretical work (including their recent work on cloud oscillations and several new papers that will be published soon) - and RealClimate.ORG has provided him with a positive feedback. ;-)

Ray Pierrehumbert: How to cook a graph in three easy lessons
When RealClimate.ORG starts to dedicate special articles to you (and plans to publish new ones), you know that you have made it. ;-)



Spencer's talk in New York overlapping with this text

When you Google search for Roy Spencer's name, the third hit leads to RealClimate.ORG's friends at ExxonSecrets.ORG and the fourth hit goes to DeSmogBlog.COM but Prof Spencer has surely learned how to live with similar things and he's doing fine.
Commercial break: Roy Spencer's answer to RealClimate.ORG is here
Pierrehumbert begins with an expected verbal procedure to mildly defame Spencer. Because Spencer's publications are rather impressive and, despite the huge recent alarmist bias, comparable to Pierrehumbert's record (which Gentleman is better depends on how you do the search), Pierrehumbert chooses a combination of the argument "Spencer is not so special" and "Spencer's papers don't contain any evidence of the skeptical viewpoints anyway".

SciAm prints Sean Carroll's fragmented pottery

At the beginning of the 21st century, fragmented pots are immensenly popular with the media. The old-fashioned discrimination of wrong ideas by the correct and promising ones, also known as the scientific method, has to go. There is urge to undo all this "injustice", previously known as science. Positive discrimination must be put firmly in place, most journalists think.

Thermodynamics and statistical physics

When it comes to thermodynamics and statistical physics, Sean Carroll is indisputably a good example of a fragmented pot. That's probably why the Scientific American magazine published his incredibly ill-informed piece:

Does Time Run Backward in Other Universes?

One of the most basic facts of life is that the future looks different from the past. But on a grand cosmological scale, they may look the same
Now, we have already seen his crazy statement that cosmology is behind the laws of thermodynamics. In this context, however, he has brought his basic ignorance to a completely new level of insanity. Not only cosmology is supposed to be the driver behind the thermodynamical phenomena. In fact, the regime where the difference between the past and the future is supposed to disappear is the "grand cosmological scale" itself!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Root for America

CNN Money thinks that Wayne Root will be the likely presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party - out of 5 options they consider. So I opened his campaign website,

Root for America
and he seems to be a fun candidate. He may be saying similar things as Ron Paul did but he seems more charismatic and articulate.

From his free-market-based recipes, I chose his comments about global warming:



Isn't it an energizing speech? By the way, Nigel Calder, a fellow skeptic as of 2008, is included among the environmentalists who have predicted crazy things in the past. ;-) Some of these examples (and many more) are summarized in Václav Klaus's new book. It almost looks like Root has already read it.

Frank Shoemaker & encrypted message



Fermilab's Wilson Hall after the discovery of the top quark; note the mysterious reflection in the water...

In March 2007, the Fermilab has received a mysterious, hand-written, encrypted message:

medium resolution, very high resolution.
It is apparently constructed out of three or four parts. The first part and the last part have been apparently decoded. At least "most of the information" in them has been translated into a "much more comprehensible" message than the gibberish you see on the paper.
Commercial: Chicago Tribune published a story about the cryptogram on July 11th, 2008
In the first part, the symbols I,II,III are interpreted as ternary (base-three) digits 1,2,0. These digits are subsequently clustered into triplets and the triplets 000, 001, 002, ..., 221, 222 are translated as [space], A, B, ..., Y, Z: note that there are exactly 26+1 = 3^3 letters in the English alphabet including the [space].

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

LHC: Every proton of you



Click for the lyrics and other information.

While the LHC band above is pretty hot, most of the other LHC is already rather cool:

LHC home page

31,072 American scientists against AGW

The Global Warming Petition (click!) was signed by 9,021 American PhD's and 22,051 additional American scientists.

Technical break: Firefox 3.0 RC 1 recommended
For the sake of balance, here is the list of 100 or so most prominent climatologists who believe man-made catastrophic global warming:

Monad CICY heterotic landscape: 7118

There are several hep-th papers today that I find very interesting.

Ho, Imamura, Matsuo, Shiba (Taiwan and Tokyo) continue in the membrane minirevolution and interpret the Bagger-Lambert-Gustavsson action as an M5-brane action in a 3-form magnetic field, with all kinds of the obvious answers you would like or expect.

Alex Buchel (Perimeter Institute) argues that their 2005 claims about a different subleading correction to the AdS/CFT-derived entropy-density-to-viscosity ratio were caused by a mistaken choice of the boundary conditions at the horizon. He fixes the mistake and the problem goes away: the new coefficient is confirmed.

Monday, May 19, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Unipetrol: we bet that common sense will prevail

In an online discussion, I asked the CEO of Unipetrol, a large Czech petrochemical and oil-distributing company owned by Polish PKN Orlen, about the impact of carbon regulation on their business. Here is the question and the answer.

LM: Good afternoon, up to what extent will Unipetrol be affected by global efforts to regulate carbon emissions and what do you think about the Kyoto protocol and similar policies?

François Vleugels: We have an extensive program underway to analyze our energy need-and-efficiency and develop a strategy that will address these questions. Basically, we assume that the post-Kyoto EU measures will be challenged and that common sense will prevail. What we try to do is to minimize our usage of energy, improve the efficiency of our energy production, and look at the combined impact of energy feedstock cost, feedstock availability/security, and carbon emission taxation to come to the 'right answer'. We clearly need extensive dialogue with the policy makers in Prague and Brussels to come to the right formula of 'preserving the world' and preserving our ability to be competitive.

Presentism vs eternalism

Sabine Hossenfelder who has demanded theories to be falsifiable in hundreds of her texts wrote an essay about

The Block Universe
that tries to solve the conflict between presentism and eternalism. Oops.

What do these words mean? These ideas in philosophy try to answer the question(s)
whether the past and/or the future exist.
Now, presentism claims that only the present exists while eternalism (also called "The Block Universe paradigm") claims that the whole spacetime including the past and future exists as well.

Who is right?

It is not hard to see that both opinions are textbook examples of unfalsifiable statements. How are you supposed to decide that the past doesn't (or didn't) exist? Clearly, this question depends on the definition of the word "exist" in a particular context. This word was not designed to settle similar ill-defined questions.

It was invented for people to be able to say whether a mammoth could be found somewhere in their local forest before they die of hunger. They didn't care whether they would find the animal in 5 minutes or 10 minutes but it had to take place before they starved to death. Later, people tried to give the verb a more accurate definition but it doesn't mean that they succeeded.

Analogously, the sentence "is the world three-dimensional or four-dimensional?" is a canonical example of sloppy formulations. The answer depends on whether "the world" in the sentence means a "slice of spacetime" or the "spacetime" itself. Both concepts, the slice as well as the spacetime, "exist" in the space of concepts. A priori, we can mean both things. Why the hell do some people find it important to answer questions that are clearly (and perhaps deliberately) ambiguously formulated?

Saturday, May 17, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Induction & how scientists think

Many people like to promote an interpretation of the scientific method - let me call it the "Popperian interpretation" - that I find naive, oversimplified, and incomplete. In this picture, scientists

  1. make guesses (create hypotheses)
  2. falsify the wrong ones by observations
and that's it. Well, in some vague sense, it is always the case. These two procedures may appear at some moments of the scientific process. We make some guesses, we are trying to eliminate the wrong ones, and we may ignore everything else that the scientists are doing if we're not really interested in it. ;-)
Commercial break: Sheldon Glashow's obituary of Sidney Coleman. Via Betsy Devine, thanks!
However, there are serious problems with this simple picture. It doesn't tell you how the scientists actually "invent" or choose their guesses and it doesn't tell you that the guesses are almost never abandoned in their entirety. Also, the very idea that the likelihood that the guesses are right can only decrease - but not increase - is logically untenable because if the probability of "A" decreases, the probability of "non A" must inevitably increase. ;-)

Friday, May 16, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Václav Klaus vetoes anti-discrimination act

Exactly 26 out of 27 member countries of the EU already have a bizarre legal construct called the "anti-discrimination act". There are vigorous efforts at the European level to do the same thing in the 27th country, the Czech Republic, too.

Because the bill has been "ordered" by the European bureaucrats and the country may face sanctions (let's say it: the Czechs may be discriminated against) if the anti-discrimination bill is not approved, most deputies in the Parliament actually voted to approve it. President Klaus has a different opinion and needless to say, your humble correspondent agrees with every word:


Dear Mr Chairman [Miroslav Vlček, the spokesman of the lower chamber of the Czech Parliament],

I am using my competence described in the article 50 of the Constitution of the Czech Republic and I am returning a bill stamped on April 24th, 2008, about the equal treatment and legal means to protect against discrimination and about the change of several laws (i.e. the anti-discrimination act) to the Chamber of Deputies.

You sent me the bill on May 2nd, 2008.

Justification:

I consider the bill to be a useless, counterproductive, and low-quality bill while its consequences seem to be problematic.

The bill contains nothing that would be entirely new for the Czech legal system. Most of the things included in the bill are already described in existing legal regulations (from the Czech constitution to the charter of human rights and freedoms to particular laws and special regulations). There is no need to create an "umbrella" bill for these legislative policies, a bill that would become, by its very character - much like the charter of human rights and freedoms - a superior legal construct above the other laws. If some of our laws are insufficient or inefficient in practice or if something is missing in them, the problems can be fixed by a novelization of a particular law or by the adoption of a new bill.

The ban on discrimination is included in the charter of basic rights and freedoms, more particular policies are codified in a plethora of international agreements that stand above our country's laws as well as in the ordinary laws themselves. This bill is - by its very essence - a kind of pedagogical anti-discrimination booklet, summarizing the content of other laws. Its goals are ideological, not legal. However, this is not the role that laws should play. They should define the rights and duties and not to propagate edification.

It's no secret and no justification that this bill was proposed and approved as a mandatory implementation of a directive of the European Commission. In my opinion, this fact is not fit to become an argument. The directives approved by the Council (together with the European Parliament or with the European Commission itself) are politically legal tools that express the interest to achieve certain goals of the Union in individual member states. Only their outcome is binding, the form and methods of the realization of these goals are up to the individual member states. The states are bound by the obligation to accept the regulation but they are not bound by a prescribed legal format that should achieve such a goal. It is up to them how they transform these directives into their legal systems. The format of an "umbrella" anti-discrimination law was chosen by our government, not by the European Union.

The Czech Republic is not discriminating against anyone, and it is thus unsurprising that this hypothetical discrimination is not the theme of the bill. Nevertheless, the bill gives the citizens the right to be treated equally in the relationships of the private and commercial sectors which is, by definition, impossible. In an essential way, it tries to interfere with matters that have been subjects to refinements by traditions and ethical standards for centuries. Using this legal construct, our government is trying to "codify a good behavior" and it tells us that the main driver behind our good behavior should be a bill, not the education in the family, generally accepted and unwritten formulae of behavior that are usual in our society, natural role models, traditions, etc. It is another attempt to regulate the human life by laws.

By its very philosophy, the bill denies the fact that every person is a completely unique ensemble of innate as well as learned skills, characteristics, and prerequisites. It denies that each of us can be expected to have a different level of success, a differently strong relationship to work, a different efficiency, and a different behavior. The bill is trying to remove inequality. The latter is, however, a natural phenomenon. Whenever we are deciding, we are considering our subjective preferences or our equally subjective experience. This bill wants our decision making to become objective which is nothing else than a politically correct utopia. The bill constitutes a fundamental violation of the basic right of individuals to create their own preferences and of their freedom of choice. The freedom of choice is, in fact, presented as a sort of exception by the bill. It may be expected that this bill will have a negative impact upon the legal warranties and on the interpersonal relationships in general. The bill is not only a bad one; it is dangerous as well. The idea that any bill will bring the state of equality, created on the drawing boards of social engineers, is - thankfully - a false idea.

In the context of our legal traditions, a completely new and unknown principle advocated by the bill is the presumption of guilt. The new version of §133a, paragraph 3, of the civic legal code that says: "When the accuser presents actualities in the court that could imply that the accuser was directly or indirectly discriminated ..., the defendant is obliged to prove that the principle of an equal treatment hasn't been violated" is utterly absurd. It contradicts our legal principles and traditions but also the European ones and it could lead to new wrongdoings and injustice.

Another questionable aspect of the bill is the shift of the enforcement of the law to the office of ombudsman. This institution was originally created to defend the citizen against the government organs. However, it would suddenly become able to interfere with the private and commercial relations. It would be a radical change of the competences of this institution.

The extraordinary and strange character of this bill is also reflected in the unprecedented additional disclaimer added by the Czech Senate before they approved it: "The Senate considers the anti-discrimination act to be a tool to implement demands that follow from the European law and that could lead to sanctions against the Czech Republic if they are not fulfilled. The Senate however doesn't identify with the character of the bill that artificially interferes with the natural evolution of the society, doesn't respect the cultural differences between the member countries, and puts the requirement of equality of outcomes above the principle of free choice. The Senate urges the government to disapprove attempts to impose further anti-discrimination regulations at the European level." These arguments of the Senate strengthen my conviction that I cannot sign this bill and I have to return it to the Chamber of Deputies. I believe that the Chamber of Deputies will seriously consider my arguments and that it will protect our legal system from being expanded by this fatally flawed bill.

Václav Klaus, Prague, May 16th, 2008

(Speedy rough translation: LM)

P.S. Ms Džamila Stehlíková who grew up in Kazakhstan (echoing the chairman and other officials of the Green Party) has criticized Václav Klaus because his decision threatens our place in Europe. ;-) The lower chamber will discuss and vote again. Before they sent it to Klaus, about 55% of the deputies supported the bill. They still need over 50% of the deputies to override Klaus's veto.

Maurizio Gasperini & cosmological constant

Besides Tony Zee's cute musings about the mysteries of gravity, one of the most inspiring (or at least entertaining) papers today is

Gasperini's prediction of SUSY at a TeV from his solution to the cosmological constant problem.
Sounds ambitious, doesn't it? ;-)

Recall from our discussions of the cosmological seesaw mechanism that the LHC scale, 1 TeV, is very close to the geometric average of the Planck scale and the cosmological constant scale (the fourth root of the observed vacuum energy).

A naive Planckian theory of quantum gravity would predict ρ to be of order ρ = Planckmass4. A naive (?) broken SUSY model at a TeV would predict ρ = 10-60 Planckmass4 which is better but we really need the observed ρ = 10-120 Planckmass4.

How do we fix the remaining 60 orders of magnitude?

Well, Gasperini borrows the old 1983 idea due to Rubakov and Shaposhnikov of "off-loading" of the gravitational effects of the cosmological constant into extra dimensions. Using the modern language, the idea is that the bulk is curved in the right way so that it compensates most of the vacuum energy on the brane. Yes, these guys were talking about the ADD-like braneworlds back in 1983.

The curvature scale L of the extra dimensions induced by this compensation technique for the brane-superpartner-induced TeV-scale vacuum energy must be given by Einstein's equations:
L-2 = 8πG TeV4 = millielectronVolt2
This millielectronVolt bulk curvature induces SUSY breaking in the bulk and the vacuum energy of this SUSY breaking is no longer cancelled by anything. Consequently, it gives you
ρ = millielectronVolt4
which is the observed value of the "dark energy" density. Things work well and besides the supersymmetry at a TeV, this scenario also predicts (marginally falsified) submillimeter extra dimensions. ;-)

Gasperini formulates the presentation as a proof of an inequality. Or a proof that we will see superpartners at the LHC or earlier, if you wish. ;-) The proof assumes that the brane-bulk compensation mechanism above is correct, of course.

First LASER

Aargon lite: full screen game... (click)
Nobel LASERs: full screen game... (click)
The first LASER started to operate on May 16th, 1960 at Hughes Research Laboratories. Theodore Maiman was the guy behind it. He died one year ago.

In my opinion, the most important discovery that has led to the LASERs was the 1917 paper by Einstein, "On the Quantum Theory of Radiation", that rederived Max Planck's law of black body radiation and defined the Einstein coefficients of absorption, spontaneous emission, and - yes, this is relevant here - stimulated emission.

For those who get here by clicking at the Google LASER logo: LASER stands for "Light Amplification [by] Stimulated Emission [of] Radiation" and this phrase pretty much explains how it works. In the 20th century theory of electromagnetic fields and light, called quantum field theory, it can be shown that the probability that a particle of light - a photon with a certain direction and frequency - is radiated (recall, hot object tend to shine light) is proportional to the number of photons that are already flying there (plus one).

Karl Popper and 21st century enemies of science

Nude Socialist has printed another venomous attack against theoretical physics that was written by an individual named Robert Matthews. He argues that science has to be "redefined" but unfortunately every single sentence written in his text is profoundly incorrect.

Astrology

At the beginning, he claims that the trouble with astrology is that it is not falsifiable. However, astrology is easily falsifiable. It has already been falsified many times. The real problem is that some people haven't yet noticed.

For example, when Antonín Baudyš, a top Czech astrologer and a former minister of defense, used celestial bodies to predict that George W. Bush would die in 2003, it was a prediction. This prediction was falsified on January 1st, 2004. Even if you decided to weaken the statements of astrology and say that it is "substantially more often right than what you would expect by chance", this statement is also falsifiable and has also been falsified, either by direct observations or by indirect arguments based on theories that are supported by other observations.

The actual problem with astrology is not that it is unfalsifiable. The problem with it is that it is wrong. Being wrong is the only problem one can find on any hypothesis that makes material but arbitrarily indirect - and arbitrarily detached from everyday experience - statements about the real world. The process of learning that a hypothesis is wrong is one of the key procedures of the scientific method. Comments that a physical statement is or isn't pleasing, politically correct, falsifiable, or whatever are not really a part of the scientific method.

Science primarily talks about hypotheses' being right or wrong. Whoever wants other adjectives to dominate in science is an enemy of science.

Thursday, May 15, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Female and male alarmists spam Nature

I've added "male" to the title to assure you that I see all of them. ;-) But the order matters, in this case.

After some time, I looked how the contemporary alarmist peer-reviewed literature about the climate looks like and I was absolutely horrified.

The following report seems to be special among the alarmist screams because of a technicality, namely the unprecedentedly high concentration of women. Let us start in the Financial Times. Fiona Harvey gave her article a very modest title:

Proof found of man-made climate change.
Well, such a title is eye-catching, to say the least. :-) The similarity with articles about "a surfer dude who has found the theory of everything" is far too obvious. Harvey's article contains neither the title nor the names of the authors of this apparently revolutionary article. It only quotes a Gentleman called Barry Brook who predicts up to 6.75 °C of warming in the 21st century. It's a lot - roughly 10 times more than what science actually predicts - so he must be a great scientist. ;-)

So it is not straightforward to find the actual research article. Fortunately, after some time, you can find another article about the article by another girl-turned-amateur-scientist, Emma Marris:
Warming world altering thousands of natural systems
Her article is highlighted by a huge advertisement on the title page of nature.com. She "explains" the "methodology" of the "proof". They look at 829 phenomena related to ecosystems and they find that some of them have not been changing significantly since the 1970s while others exhibit a trend. Among those where a trend is observed, 90% of cases are consistent with warming. And this is supposed to be a proof of AGW.

String or frayed braid?

A strategy to order a beer when it's hard

A string walks into the Black Hole Bistro at the Perimeter Institute with a few friends and orders a beer. The bartender says, "I'm sorry, but we don't serve strings here."

The string walks away a little upset and sits down with his friends. A few minutes later he goes back to the bar and orders a beer. The bartender, looking a little exasperated, says, "I'm sorry, we don't serve strings here."

So the string goes back to his table. Then he gets an idea. He ties himself in a loop (!) and messes up the top of his hair. Then he walks back up to the bar and orders a beer.

The bartender squints at him and says, "Hey, aren't you a string?"

And the string says, "Nope, I'm a frayed braid."

Hat tip: Maya's Mom

Tuesday, May 13, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Microsoft WorldWide Telescope



I think that Microsoft has just surpassed Google in one discipline. WorldWide Telescope is better than Google Sky. The latter is included in Google Earth.

WWT website (nice presentation!)
Download & install (don't be afraid to install DirectX 9, it won't destroy DirectX 10 on Vista)
My screenshot (there are better things to see)
A tour; how kids react
It works much like Google Earth/Sky but has many more textures in it and you can see many images that NASA folks are seeing via Chandra, Hubble, and other gadgets.

Get ready for all constellations, planets, moons, galaxies from Hubble, black holes, nebulae: everything you ever liked to see in the Cosmos. Guided tours are included. Thousands of pictures on their right locations.

John McCain's climate plan

I would like to know what you think about John McCain's climate plan:

Google News
He says that he was converted to the global warming religion when "he saw climate change in Alaska through his own eyes." Well, I agree with him that we should stop quabbling about this issue so let me say that if I were asked to judge a senior person who says something like that on his merits, I would say that he is probably a senile nutcase.
Roy Spencer's answer: McCain's assault on reason
He also wants to do all kinds of things from regulating the global temperature to reducing carbon emissions by 60% by "marked-based" regulation mechanisms that have been proven dysfunctional.



At least he is not supporting King Ethanol. The picture above is a rape seed crop field (for Czechs: "řepka olejka") that have covered about 10% of the Czech agricultural land. The yellow color is beautiful but the proportional jump of food prices is less beautiful. ;-) And it is just a "demo" without an actual climate impact that shows where the economy is going to go if we really begin to realize some of the insane plans to regulate carbon.

Climate change is not the only politically correct "hooray action", as we describe it in Czech, where John McCain has uncritically joined the far left groups. Most importantly, he is very close to them emotionally. While I could respect him for all kinds of other things, it is pretty clear that if I were a U.S. citizen, I couldn't vote for him and I would choose Hillary as a lesser evil (or maybe even as a good candidate?). She respects the principles and the people who are actually driving this modern world and yes, she is also the most manly candidate among the three.

Unfortunately, the voters won't be given this option in November.

Monday, May 12, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bosons are from Europe, fermions are from America

Jester from CERN who is a boson himself (well, at least one half of the time) helped to discover

Pauli's other principle.
Bosons, including photons, gluons, W and Z bosons, were experimentally discovered in Europe while fermions, including the muon, the quarks in general, charm quark, tau, bottom, top, and tau neutrino, were experimentally discovered in America.

I've made the lists more complete than Jester.



A map: Sorry if you think that anyons and especially Boltzmannions don't exist: continents' potentials are influenced by the laws of Nature.

One can easily see that the SSC would have discovered gauginos (gluinos, neutralinos, or charginos), gravitinos, or higgsinos (and maybe even some preons?) while the LHC will obviously discover the Higgs and maybe also the squarks, sleptons, Z' gauge bosons, axions, gravitons, and/or KK gravitons. Mini black holes should be discovered in Greenland because they are bosons and fermions 50% of the time, respectively.

Sunday, May 11, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Gore - Pelosi - Gingrich illegal commercial



Nancy Pelosi faces elections in June. Any coordinated expenditure (click this link, it contains the whole NY Sun story!) such as this commercial is legally understood as donation. Companies' (such as the Alliance for Climate Protection's) donations to candidates that exceed USD 2,300 are prohibited by the federal election law.

The last thing you have to check is whether the appropriate fraction of USD 300,000,000 is more than USD 2,300. ;-) I would guess it is.

The comments by Gore's people that they deserve an exception because it is a "non-partisan" issue are extremely bizarre. First of all, there is no loophole in the law for "non-partisan" promotion of the candidates. Second of all, this is in no way a non-partisan issue - it is a radical environmentalist issue promoted by Pelosi and a Republican egomaniacal blowhard sellout.

Boris Tadić's party wins Serbian elections

I didn't even expect it but Boris Tadić's pro-European Democratic Party won the Serbian elections. That's very good.



The results above are preliminary but it is unlikely that SRS, the Radical (Nationalist) Party, can eliminate the 10% gap. Moreover, LDP, the party of the "Serbian Obama" Jovanovič and the only bloc that accepts the Kosovo independence, has a big chance to make it into the Parliament.



This Gentleman was probably voting for DS, too. ;-)

Koštunica's DSS is around 12% right now. It is likely that Tadić's DS will be able to make a "small" coalition either with DSS or with the post-Miloševič SPS, the Socialists (if you also include 4 Hungarian minority deputies) - and no one else. DS and LDP is probably not enough. I don't think that the victory of the SRS would be a tragedy but in my opinion, the Serbian voters have nevertheless shown their maturity and the ability to think rationally in somewhat difficult times.

I am also impressed that the result of SPS is worse than the typical results of the Czech communists and I would definitely support their membership in the EU.

In the 250-strong Parliament, the expected composition will be:

  • 103 - DS (Tadić)
  • 76 - SRS (Nationalists)
  • 30 - DSS (Koštunica)
  • 21 - SPS (Socialists)
  • 13 - LDP (Pro-Kosovo)
  • 7 - Ethnic groups
DS+LDP+Ethnic groups is 3 votes short of a majority.

Richard Feynman: 90th birthday

... but let us begin with Dynkin, A.E. Becquerel, and Schwarzschild ...

Today, Eugene Dynkin celebrates his 84th birthday. Congratulations!

Dynkin lived in Leningrad until 1935 when the family was forwarded to Kazakhstan because his father was politically undesirable - a hypothesis that he confirmed by his support of Galanskov and Ginzburg in 1967. However, he didn't have to serve in the war and, thankfully, could do some maths.

In his previous life, he studied Lie groups and all of us know the Dynkin diagrams, beautiful gadgets that classify Lie algebras and all mathematical systems with the same spirit. If you forgot what they are, look here:



In the last 50 years, he studied statistics - since the late 1970s when he emigrated to the U.S., at Cornell University. For example, Dynkin's formula calculates the expected time when the Brownian motion leaves a ball.

Dynkin's system is a collection of subsets closed under complementation and under countable disjoint unions and it is important for uniqueness theorems in measure theory.

Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel died on May 11th, 1891. This French physicist studied solar spectrum, magnetism, electricity, and optics. He was the son of Antoine César Becquerel and the father of the radioactive Henri Becquerel.

In 1867-68, he wrote "Light, its causes and effects" (in French). And he also accumulated a lot of evidence supporting Faraday's law of electrolysis.

Karl Schwarzschild died on May 11th, 1916 (another anniversary) because of pemphigus, an ugly skin disease that he caught on the Russian front where he calculated the trajectories for German bullets.

However, the German Jewish physicist had to be born before that. It was on October 9th, 1873. When he was 16, he published a paper on celestial mechanics. He was interested in optics and described a power law for the optical density of photographic materials, involving the Schwarzschild exponent. He also cared about the quantum theory, instrumental astronomy, stellar structure and statistics, Halley's comet, and spectroscopy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Young and Fresnel: two interference anniversaries

Thomas Young was a British polymath who died on May 10th, 1829. He achieved a lot in the research of energy, solid mechanics, light, vision, physiology, medicine, music, and Egyptology.

He was born on June 13th, 1773 to a Quaker family. The children were like dimensions of the superstring and he was the eldest of these ten kids. ;-) When he was fourteen, he knew Greek and Latin and understood some French, Italian, Hebrew, Chaldean, Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Amharic. I don't even know that four of these languages existed.

He studied medicine, obtained a physics PhD, and inherited the estate of his grand-uncle that earned him financial independence. To protect his reputation as a physician, he published articles about medicine anonymously. Because of his medical practice, he also resigned as a professor of natural sciences (1801-1803) at the Royal Institution.

He has worked on many practical things including the dangers of gas infrastructure in London and life insurance. John Herschel, Albert Einstein, Lord Rayleigh, and Philip Anderson considered or consider themselves admirers of Young.

Friday, May 09, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ross McKitrick: The Devil is in the Generalities

Prof Ross McKitrick has an excellent article in Ontario's "Academic Matters" magazine. It is called

The Devil is in the Generalities
He encourages the public to stop using the word "environment" which is all-encompassing or, in other words, most sentences involving this word are vacuous truisms.

We should talk about more concrete things that can be operationally defined or even quantified. Statements about such things can be confirmed or ruled out.

Even the word "air quality" is too general and he discusses remarkable details about the diverse types of air pollution. Many of the environmental issues have improved dramatically but the vagueness and superficiality of the term "environment" is one of the main drivers behind people's flawed impression that we are facing an "environmental crisis".

CNN: Nima Arkani-Hamed predicts extra dimensions



CNN has a fun story, Colliding with Nature's best-kept secrets, about the LHC and about Nima who predicts extra dimensions to be seen at the LHC. The article has just become the most popular article at the CNN website. (It's also the most e-mailed one.) The Reference Frame wishes Nima, Savas, and Gia a lot of good luck. :-)



Nima starts to talk about the LHC collider and fundamental physics in 2010 at 4:45. The video is from the lecture at the Perimeter Institute, Canada, in 2007.

It's just so hot. Volcanic. (Ahead of the green puppy and everyone else.) Porn star. A manchild with sh*teating grin. :-)

The picture used by CNN (currently on the main page of cnn.com), the best picture of Nima in the world, was taken by your humble correspondent, of course. :-) The label "Courtesy Nima" is somewhat bizarre.

But other things besides photographs have their history, too. For example, the extra dimensions were introduced to physics by Theodor Kaluza and Oskar Klein.

PI goes ekpyrotic

The Perimeter Institute informed us that the new director would be

"an internationally respected scientist of the highest order."
So I thought it would be someone like Gerard 't Hooft who is just visiting the institute and who naturally unifies the interests in serious physics as well as alternative theories about the information and the quantum.

And because of the description above, I would have frankly made a bet that it couldn't be e.g. Neil Turok.

I was wrong. Quite obviously, different people have different ideas what it means to be an internationally respected scientist of the highest order.



Three papers by Neil Turok are famous and all of them are about the cyclic Universe which is a physically unmotivated, inexpensive fantasy. Unfortunately, Neil Turok is a good example of a scholar who is helping the journalists to promote Hollywood physics and various bizarre yet popular myths, for example
general statements that the expanding Universe is in trouble
the Big Bang is problematic just because it is the Big Bang (a weird Turok vs Guth audio)
something must be wrong with the cosmic inflation because Alan Guth thinks that Neil Turok is like a monkey
Mark Trodden agrees that the uncritical way how the journalists have often presented Turok's problematic theories is a case of bad journalism. See also Sean Carroll's criticism of cyclic and similar ideas.

Google Translate in 24 languages

Google Translate
has been upgraded and, among other things, it includes 24 languages. In the HTML template of this blog, I replaced the Italian flag by the Czech flag. It was a difficult decision but at the end, it turned out that Czechia seems to be more civilized than Italy by about 70% - as measured by the number of visitors to the Reference Frame.



I am impressed by the quality of the translation. It is the best automatic translation engine from English to Czech that I have seen so far. "Reference frame" should really be translated as "vztažná soustava", not "referenční rám", but the latter is OK as a literal, word-by-word translation. You may try the remaining languages here:


Google also offers you various toolbars for automatic translations of the pages you visit, a translated search focusing on pages in one language that are translated into another, a dictionary, and an engine that immediately translates the words under your mouse pointer; the latter only deals with English and 7 major languages.

Automatic detection is now among the input languages.

Thursday, May 08, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Dark Blue World



I just saw the Dark Blue World (2001), the most expensive Czech movie ever shot (EUR 8 million), for the first time. It is a powerful story.

Recall that over 2,400 Czechoslovak pilots have served in the Royal Air Force.

The movie starts in 1939 when Czechoslovakia has to surrender to the Third Reich. Many pilots have moved to England. A rather frustrating story about their friendship and love during those hard times is mixed with scenes from 1950 when the pilots-survivors were already arrested by the communist regime because they were too infected by the freedom and democracy.

In some sense, it was the least lucky group of heroes ever. They did the best thing they could, they have helped to win the war, and still, they were punished by everyone, including their girlfriends and their homeland. Sad and touching.

More YouTube videos.

Broken window fallacy & global warming

James Pethohoukis (U.S. News) talks about the positive impact that the global warming regulations are supposed to have upon the economy, according to Obama and Clinton.

Broken window parable

William Pizer, an IPCC economist, is quoted as being skeptical about the benefits of these "green-collar jobs" and similar inventions. In fact, the statements that the carbon regulation would be good for the economy is a modern example of the

broken window fallacy.
In a 1850 essay by Bastiat, a small boy breaks a window. They sympathize with the good shopkeeper until they realize that the event will create work for the glazier who will also have to buy shoes from the cobbler and bread from the baker. Everyone should therefore be happy. Right? ;-)

Not really. Such a calculation only includes the positive impact of the broken window and completely neglects the negative impact. More precisely, all these happy things will be paid from the shopkeeper's wallet. He will lose. He won't be able to buy new shoes or an extra bread for himself. So the cobbler and baker will have roughly the same profit but the shopkeeper will lose the price of one window which is approximately equal to the net loss induced by the bad behavior of the little boy.

Fun with John Moffat

Jester from CERN and Jacques Distler are making fun of an old Gentleman who used to paint landscapes.

However, he couldn't earn money so he sent mail messages to Einstein, presenting himself as a disciple. Finally, John Moffat ended up as a researcher at the Perimeter Institute. ;-)

He has co-invented many things such as the Variable Speed of Light and similar nonsense. He has also copied Einstein's silly papers about non-symmetric metric tensors, presenting them as his own. (It is a silly idea because the metric tensor is a kind of potential and its antisymmetric part is something like the stringy B-field, not the electromagnetic field strength.)

In this particular story, we talk about his

recent paper (and even more recent talk)
about the electroweak symmetry breaking without a Higgs boson. He replaces the Higgs by a loop-induced non-locality or something like that.




Superficially, the paper must look completely OK to anyone who is not an expert in particle physics. It has the right fonts, equations, Feynman diagrams, and some references in it. ;-) However, the devil is in the details - more precisely the aspects that laymen would consider to be details but physicists know that they are essential. The mechanism behind the basic statement is virtually unexplained but a lot of time is spent with trivial points. Various numbers are written down with an amazing, clearly unrealistic accuracy.

And the most absurd points of the paper are presented as a virtue. If you know something about particle physics, you probably also know that the Higgs boson must exist for the WW scatering to be unitary. So what does Moffat do about these arguments?

Well, he says that his (longitudinal) WW scattering amplitude vanishes above 1 TeV! Yes, he says it vanishes. It's supposed to be a conclusion of a paper that computes some Feynman diagrams. Needless to say, no calculation based on Feynman diagrams can give you a function that is nonzero at some energies and strictly zero at higher energies. Jacques Distler explains that such a function would also be non-analytic which would make the whole theory non-local. It violates various bounds that follow from causality, too.

Equally importantly, once again, such a result simply cannot follow from the Feynman diagrams he drew because they always lead to locally holomorphic functions of the momenta and energies. You don't need to read the paper in detail to know that it is wrong.

Do you think he says that the vanishing is a stupidity, an absurdity, or at least a very awkward feature of his theory? Not at all. On page 1, he calls it "an experimental signature". That is the right term that can sell a complete stupidity. On page 10, he dedicates several sentences to statements how "clearly detectable" his signature will be at the LHC. ;-)

Whenever your goal is to defend the Flat Earth theory, talk about the majestic waterfalls at the end of the world and the gigantic turtle beneath them. They're so spectacular and so testable! The Flat Earth theory is so much more falsifiable and thus (!!) scientific than the Round Earth theory that doesn't predict any spectacular turtles! :-)

If you need to sell a manifestly wrong idea, call it "an experimental signature". It surely makes a difference, doesn't it? It is so impressive and testable and falsifiable! :-) However, you should be warned that this marketing strategy will only work for those who don't have a slightest clue about particle physics, for example for the readers of Lee Smolin's books and the pornographic excrements from Peter Whore's blog.

Particle physicists might conclude that you are getting senile. Moreover, they would be almost right but not quite because you have probably been senile for many decades. :-) At any rate, if you are writing a paper or addressing a talk to the actual physicists, you should better avoid similar "experimental signatures" and "spectacular turtles."

And that's the memo.

Hep-th papers on Thursday

Krefl and Walcher derive the - likely - mirror duals of D-branes wrapping cycles of the weighted projective spaces similar to the case of the quintic. Recall that a real slice should be mapped to a holomorphic equation. There's quite impressive math in it. They also write the tensions as holomorphic functions of the moduli space, use the Gromov-Witten expansion, and extract some really cool Ooguri-Vafa invariants (very large integers). All this work can be done at the level of topological string theory.

Costa and Piazza argue that the Unruh effect doesn't exist. ;-) More precisely, the detector won't ever see any radiation, they say. I think that their problem is that they really don't know what it means to accelerate a detector. They write that the results are "model-dependent". Sorry but when you put jets beneath a detector and turn them on, something very specific will happen and a good physicist should be able to calculate it. When she does so, she will see that radiation is observed because a Bogoliubov transformation must be used to switch the two Hamiltonians as well as the the corresponding ground state and creation/annihilation operators.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Embed PowerPoint: Distance scales

The world both through a telescope and a microscope.



The source was a PowerPoint presentation even though PowerString is much better. If you upload yours to docs.google.com and click Publish, it becomes clear how to copy and paste the iframe segment of HTML. You may include it to your blog (blogger.com or others) or any other web page.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Russia, Georgia, Abkhazia: war?

Future article about a similar topic: war in South Ossetia
Some people are beginning to talk about a war. Although I find these comments highly premature, it is an explosive region.



Look at the map. Start with the yellow disk, a global perspective. We are discussing the piece of land (blue rectangle) in between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. There are Caucasus Mountains over there as well as many cacophonic pairs of nations. The region is as dangerous for the peace as the Balkans on the opposite side of the Black Sea. Note that Iran would have made it to the picture, too. Moreover, there is also Armenia & Azerbaijan as well as Chechnya on the East side of North Ossetia (inside Russia). ;-)

The main players right now are Russia with 140 million people, Georgia with 4.5 million people, and its province, a de facto independent Abkhazia with 170,000 people (just like Pilsen). They have been parts of the Soviet Union for nearly a century but they don't love each other right now.

Russia has USD 15,000 GDP per capita (PPP). The other ex-Soviet nations are much poorer. Armenia and Azerbaijan have around USD 6,000 while Georgia only has USD 4,000 or so. Abkhazia has won the 1992-1993 war for de facto independence against Georgia. Despite its Southern locus, Armenia is spiritually closest to Russia (because of Christianity; Armenia was the first country to adopt it in 301).

Most people in Abkhazia prefer links with Russia over those with Georgia, in spite of their linguistic proximity to Georgia. They also use the cute Georgian alphabet (ქართული დამწერლობა). :-) On the other side, Azerbaijan (on the East) is tempted to send mujahideens into Georgia to fight against the Russian (and Christian) influence i.e. against the independent Abkhazia.



Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia

Equally importantly, Georgia is trying to separate itself from Russia. It has applied for NATO membership. Two or four Georgian spy planes (without a crew) have been shot in Abkhazia this week. Russia is adding new troops to Abkhazia because "Georgia might try to seize Abkhazia with NATO-trained soldiers" which would force Russia to "defend its citizens" and it is upset about the Georgian plans to "betray" them. Georgian ministers say that the war is close while Russia rightfully sees Abkhazia as an appropriate revenge for the province of Kosovo that several Western countries decided to separate from Serbia, an ally of Russia.

Just two months after the U.S. does everything it can against Serbia's territorial integrity, the statement of Dana Perino - whom I otherwise like - that "the U.S. has firmly reiterated our support for Georgia's territorial integrity" sounds amusing, indeed. And I think it is legitimate for Russia to take into account the fact that the U.S. will not be able to interfere.

Phenomenology vs theory

Theorists and phenomenologists represent two approaches to high-energy theoretical physics. An analogous classification could probably be applied to other scientific disciplines, too.

Differences

Phenomenologists like to focus on the bottom-up strategy, adding small pieces of knowledge to the established description of physics at low energies and thinking about many speculations how science could look like "just behind the corner".

Theorists often prefer the top-down approach and look at the whole picture, emphasizing the importance and constraining power of consistency at high-energy scales that are not accessible to existing experiments. They are ready to go through a very indirect chain of reasoning to get from their high-energy scales to the accessible regime.

These two approaches complement each other. There were periods in which one of them was more successful than the other. The theoretical approach was more successful when both special and general relativity was being discovered.

The phenomenological approach turned more useful when the Standard Model was being constructed. In the last 30 years, especially with the triumphs of string theory, the theoretical approach became more successful again. And I would say that any hypothetical reversal that could be happening today or in a foreseeable future is so far unjustifiable by the actual results.

There is no universal way to say that one approach is superior. All these things depend on personal preferences and I would even say "moral values". Let me offer you the following poll.

Priya Venkatesan: a mad scholar sues her students

Priya Venkatesan is a classic case of a postmodernist nutcase. She studied humanities but decided to deconstruct biology. Read her

Yin, meet yang.
What did she learn in the graduate school? Let me quote the following paragraph:
In graduate school, I was inculcated in the tenets of a field known as science studies, which teaches that scientific knowledge has suspect access to truth and that science is motivated by politics and human interest. This is known as social constructivism and is the reigning mantra in science studies, which considers historical and sociological understandings of science. From the vantage point of social constructivism, scientific facts are not discovered but rather created within a social framework. In other words, scientific facts do not correspond to a natural reality but conform to a social construct.
I think that the pseudointellectuals who are behind these anti-scientific subjects ("science studies"?) in the graduate schools should pay for the tuition that has been wasted in this way.

You might imagine that your humble correspondent is not the only person in the world who is convinced that this woman - who also wrote a book deriving biology from French literature - is an incompetent and ignorant zealot. Nevertheless, shamefully enough, she was allowed to teach at a college. Postmodernism occurred in almost every sentence of hers.

Once upon a time, a student disagreed with her opinions about two particular postmodern hot-air disciplines called "French narrative theory" and "ecofeminism". He has made a very convincing case that women have benefitted from science and technology - he dared to disagree with her thesis that women haven't benefitted. (The most outspoken students in the class were girls.)

RSS MSU: April as warm as March

RSS MSU satellite data now include April 2008 which was, anomaly-wise speaking, 0.001 °C warmer than March 2008: a statistical tie.

Much like March 2008, April 2008 was cooler than any month in the 2001-2007 period except for July 2004.

Commercial break: an unusually balanced article about polar bears in Time magazine...
Between March and April, the Northern Hemisphere cooled down by 0.06 °C (remaining anomalously warm) while the Southern Hemisphere warmed up by 0.06 °C (remaining anomalously cool).



RSS MSU: 1997-2008. Click for more graphs.

The fastest warming in that period, by nearly 1.0 °C, occurred between 70°S and 60°S - the Southernest strip they measure, and in the continental U.S., by 0.6 °C. The 20°N-20°S tropical strip has warmed up by about 0.05 °C, too as La Nina is weakening, converging towards neutral ENSO conditions in a few months.

UAH MSU

John Reynolds has pointed out that UAH MSU has released their new satellite results, too. And they are rather different. April 2008 was 0.074 °C cooler than March 2008. The Northern Hemisphere cooled down by 0.25 °C.

The most significant difference comes from the tropics. While RSS MSU announced month-on-month warming, UAH claims a 0.04 °C of cooling, leading to the anomaly of -0.531 °C, the coolest reading since March 1989.

HadCRUT3

HadCRUT3 confirms UAH's 0.07 °C of cooling between March and April.

GISS

GISS plus sea surface temperatures, managed by James Hansen et al., reported a much larger 0.21 °C cooling between March and April but you should appreciate that their March reading was insanely hot so they just return closer to the trend lines observed by other teams.

Monday, May 05, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pioneer anomaly: 1/3 due to heat flux

The Pioneer anomaly, the excessive and unexplained 0.87 ± 0.13 nanometers per squared second Sunward acceleration of the Pioneer 10, 11 spacecrafts (which is now reducing the annual distance traveled by the probes by 5,000 km or so), may be caused by an asymmetric heat flux.

Slava Turyshev (JPL, NASA, preprint)
has performed a detailed analysis of the heat flux inside and outside the spacecraft (especially the heat produced by various components of the device).



The predictions of his model seem to agree with the temperatures measured at 100 points within 3 °C. The previously neglected effect can explain 28-36% of the anomaly. Turyshev believes that the probe could have been harmed by interplanetary dust which could have modified the heat flux and the whole anomaly could be explained in this way.

Sunday, May 04, 2008 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Visitor No. 2,222,222

The visitor number 2,222,222 was Google searching for Václav Klaus and the second hit after Wikipedia that he or she was offered was an interview with the Czech president.

See 89 more articles about Václav Klaus on this blog.
The visitor from XS4ALL.NL in Roosendaal, Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands used Windows 2000 with Internet Explorer 6.0 and JavaScript 1.3. Chances were that the browser could collapse. :-) But eventually it didn't because the user has displayed at least 5 pages on this blog. If he or she happens to see this page, he may write a comment and obtain the right to submit an article (or advertisement) here.

Average temperature vs average irradiance

Vincent Gray and Alan Siddons have been emphasizing an important point that the (arithmetic) average temperature is not the relevant quantity that should be substituted into various calculations of the heat and energy budget of Earth.

Why? Because what matters for the energy budget is the average radiated (or absorbed) energy. According to the Stefan-Boltzmann law, the energy radiated by a black body per unit surface area (also called "radiant emittance") is proportional to the fourth power of the absolute temperature.

When we divide the solar constant by four, to obtain 342 Watts per squared meter, we really average the irradiance over latitudes, seasons, and parts of a day. If the Earth were a black body, that would be equivalent to averaging the fourth power of the absolute temperature.

But the average value of the fourth power of temperature is something different than the fourth power of the average temperature!
The IPCC often seems to neglect this point. Similar non-linearities were also emphasized by Essex, McKitrick, and Andresen in their article "Does a global temperature exist?"

You might think that the difference between the two types of averages - average temperature and the temperature calculated from the average irradiance corresponding to individual temperatures - is negligible. Well, it is not. I ask you for some patience to look at the situation quantitatively.