Friday, August 31, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

EU: all incandescent light bulbs banned tomorrow

In the article aptly titled "Light-Bulb Ban Casts Shadow over EU Democracy", The Spiegel reminds us, the Europeans, about an important change that will affect our continent starting from tomorrow, Saturday, September 1st, 2012. No, Germany isn't invading Poland in the same way as it did on September 1st, 1939.

But maybe it is...

Starting from Saturday, it will become illegal to import any incandescent light bulbs to the EU or produce them at the territory of our continental confederation.

Harvard course: 125 students copy a take-home exam

B Chimp Yen has informed me about a mass cheating scandal at Harvard; see e.g. these sources. BBC and other outlets wouldn't tell you the name of the course.

However, good enough Internet users need approximately 1 minute to find out which course it was. Yes, it was "Introduction to Congress" (Government E-1310 23500) taught by Matthew Platt.

Thursday, August 30, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

German offshore wind turbines: hiding all the disadvantages

Most of the otherwise rational German nation was scared by the Fukushima non-disaster and decided to close all of its nuclear power plants by 2020 or so.

Germany is also at the top of the fight against the CO2 emissions so both major sources of electricity seem to be doomed. So far, the doom is hypothetical because the policies have actually led to an expansion of coal power plants. But we may imagine that Germany gets really serious about its drinking of the Green Kool-Aid.

Yesterday, the German government approved a plan to speed up the construction of offshore (i.e. on-the-sea) wind power plants, see e.g. DowJones/WSJ. What does the decision mean? Is it wise?

London built a new paralympic LHC collider

The opening ceremony of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London was apparently a cool event.

At the beginning of this 4-minute preview, you may listen to a 70-year-old athlete, Dr Stephen Hawking, who also talks about another hobby of his, the search for a theory of everything:

His audience included Her Majesty the Queen, Boris the Mayor, and 62,000 similar closet physics fans.

But Dr Stephen Hawking is far from being the last piece of physics you could have found in the ceremony.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Moonlanding was staged, 74% of climate alarmists say

Update: poll results

You may still vote but analogously to the Lewandowsky poll, I decided that a sufficient number of votes have been submitted and we may reveal the final results:

You see that out of the 219 votes, 84% of the people are climate skeptics. Among the climate skeptics, 3% are conspiracy theorists. Among the people alarmed by climate change, 74% are conspiracy theorists. ;-)

You get the point, don't you?

Just to be sure, I am not saying that the results of this "poll" should be taken seriously. And I hope you realize what's the main reason they shouldn't. However, I surely do claim that the "poll" by Lewandowsky et al. was exactly as "serious" as this one.

Off-topic, breaking news: TRF is getting hundreds of hits from to this 2010 TRF article on the elixir of youth, well, a fraudulent Harvard stem cell research claiming to have found one. Ms Shane Mayack was finally found guilty of misconduct today:, Nature News
Original article posted 15 hours ago:

Conformal Standard Model and the second \(325\GeV\) Higgs boson

Does Peter Higgs (or God) have a secretive brother?

Křištof Meissner and Hermann Nicolai released a short preprint

\(325\GeV\) scalar resonance seen at CDF?
in which they use a strange accumulation of four events of the type\[

p\bar p \to \ell^+ \ell^- \ell^+ \ell^-

\] observed by CDF, a detector at the defunct Tevatron, that happen to have the invariant energy \(E=325\GeV\) within the detector resolution, to defend some interesting models in particle physics. The probability that four events of this kind are clumped this accurately is (according to the Standard Model and some simple statistical considerations) smaller than 1 in 10,000. I would still bet it's a fluctuation. But it is unlikely enough for us not to consider the authors of papers about this bump to be leaves blown around by a gentle wind.

Three previous TRF articles have discussed possible signals near \(325\GeV\): this very four-lepton signal, a different signal at D0 indicating a different particle, a new top-like quark, and some deficits near that mass at the LHC: yes, a convincing confirmation of the \(325\GeV\) by the European collider doesn't seem to exist.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Alan Guth and inflation

Alan Guth of MIT is one of the nine well-deserved inaugural winners of the Milner Prize. He has received $2,999,988 because Milner failed to pay the banking fees (Alan Guth was generous enough not to have sued Yuri Milner for that so far).

As far as I know, Alan Guth is the only winner of a prize greater than the Nobel prize who has ever regularly attended a course of mine. ;-)

I have taken many pictures of Alan Guth, this is the fuzziest one but I think it's funny to see a young Italian physicist showing a finger to Alan Guth in the New York Subway during our trip to a May 2005 conference at Columbia University.

Under the name Alan H. Guth, the SPIRES database offers 73 papers, 51 of which are "citeable". That's fewer than some other famous physicists have but the advantage is that it keeps Alan Guth in the rather elite club of physicists with about 200 citations per average paper.

Crackpots are patient while sending texts to journals

In November 2011, a group of three physicists/mathematicians wrote the 3,635th paper suggesting that there had to be something wrong about the foundations of modern physics as redesigned by the founding fathers of quantum mechanics. Or at least this is how the paper was interpreted by some journalists.

None of these 3,635 papers has ever offered any successful description of experiments by an alternative theory that isn't equivalent to proper quantum mechanics and most of these papers contain statements that are manifestly false. Everyone knows that this whole anti-quantum program has been a giant waste of time and a miserable failure but people keep on writing similar garbage because the human stupidity and bigotry knows no limits.

Sunday, August 26, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Neil Armstrong: 1930-2012

Neil Armstrong, an unusually modest professional who considered moonwalk to be a job just like any other job, took this New World Symphony by Antonín Dvořák to his trip to Earth's only large natural satellite.

Friday, August 24, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Simple proof QM implies many worlds don't exist

A vast majority of the people who write popular books, blogs, and comments at discussion forums about the foundations of quantum mechanics are peers of the stupid monkeys.

A week ago, Scott Aaronson wrote that he is a champion of the "Many Worlds Interpretation" (MWI) even though MWI is slightly more frail than heliocentrism. That's what I call an understatement on steroids.

The term "MWI" is notoriously ill-defined, it may mean everything or nothing or something in between and there is no actual theory of physics that would deserve this name and that would work. But let's assume that the proponents of MWI mean that there exist many worlds and different mutually exclusive properties of a physical system are realized simultaneously.

In the following 40 seconds, let's see that it ain't the case.

Ordinary SUSY quantum mechanical theories don't allow any superqubits

Two days ago, Scott Aaronson was rightfully confused by some bizarre statements in the literature on "superqubits" and he asked:

Two very intriguing papers recently appeared on the arXiv, claiming that one can use "superqubits" -- a supersymmetric generalization of qubits -- to violate the Bell inequality by more than standard quantum mechanics would allow. (That is, they claim one can violate the Tsirelson bound, which says that the CHSH game can be won quantum-mechanically with probability at most \(\cos^2(\pi/8) \sim 0.85\).) The first paper is by Borsten, Brádler, and Duff and the second is by Brádler. (LM: Kamil Brádler is a quantum information theorist trained at my Alma Mater in Prague.)

Alas, I remain deeply confused about the physical meaning of these results, if any. As the authors define them, "superqubits" seem to involve amplitudes that can be Grassmann numbers rather than just complex numbers. While I know next to nothing about the topic, that seems like a fundamental departure from "supersymmetry" in the sense that high-energy physicists use the term! I take it that supersymmetry is "just" a proposed new symmetry of nature, alongside the many other symmetries we know, and doesn't involve tampering with the basic rules of quantum mechanics (or with spatial locality). In particular, in supersymmetric theories one still has unit vectors in a complex Hilbert space, unitary transformations, etc.

If that's correct, though, then what on earth could superqubits have to do with supersymmetry in physics---besides perhaps just repurposing some of the same mathematical structures in a totally different context? Is there any possibility that, if nature were supersymmetric in such-and-such a way, then one could do an actual experiment that would violate Tsirelson's bound?

Thursday, August 23, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Strange claims about a new \(38\MeV\) boson

Originally posted on August 22nd in the morning

In February 2012, Eef van Beveren and George Rupp released a provocative preprint based on their February 2011 work

Material evidence of a 38 MeV boson
in which they argued there is some evidence in the data from BABAR, CDF, CMD-2, CB-ELSA, and COMPASS experiments that there could exist a new particle whose mass is just \(38\MeV\) or so. This new hypothetical beast was called \(E(38)\) and it primarily manifested itself in some "apparently too regular" periodicities (by \(76\MeV\): they're supposed to be caused by interference effects) in some quantities measured by BABAR and others.

Prague Castle and AGW after Václav Klaus

Three days ago, Václav Klaus gave the "Magistral Lecture" at the International Seminar on Planetary Emergencies, organized by the World Federation of Scientists, Erice, Sicily, Italy:

The Manmade Contribution to Ongoing Global Warming Is Not a Planetary Emergency (full text)
See also Klaus' Italian article in La Stampa (EN) that was published on the following day.

Klaus in Sicily

He has implicitly chastised the proponents of the global warming doctrine for their human fanaticism, false pride, and lack of modesty. Among other things, he pointed out that a true revolution in the "CO2 efficiency" won't arrive anytime soon so the advocates of the global warming policies should honestly tell the people that what they're defending is an economic decline, a necessary condition for the global warming fearmongers' plan to become a reality. It's a good speech but I think that many similar speeches were discussed in detail here so I won't do it again.

The conference was attended by people from many "ideological camps" and Klaus believes he has convinced many participants that the global warming doctrine is a greater threat than climate change itself.

The federation that had organized the event is led by Antonino Zichichi, a prominent organizer in nuclear physics (and co-author of many supersymmetric, grand unified, and other papers himself).

The Czech official climatology has endorsed Klaus' opinion that the AGW-inspired policymaking is economically irrational.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Larry Summers: government is guaranteed to grow

Summers' ode to an ever greater government is based on circular reasoning

Larry Summers wrote a piece to The Washington Post and Financial Times that made me ROTFL:

Government we can't afford (full text, free, titles differ)
See also a response in The National Post which only reviews the article and says "a dramatic change is what the Tea Party wants".

Summers says that no matter who wins in the U.S. presidential elections, America's public sector will continue to increase as the fraction of the GDP.

Monday, August 20, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Peter Shor on deterministic fakes of quantum mechanics

Well over 90% of visitors to threads such as this Stack Exchange question by Gerard 't Hooft asking why professional physicists consider his research in the last 10+ years to be wrong are either unwilling or incapable of rational thinking or ignorant about the basics of modern physics.

Pretty much every forum about fundamental enough physics questions on the Internet is completely overwhelmed by cranks and the market of popular books on quantum mechanics and newspaper articles isn't much different.

That's why one must be kind of happy to see every single person who hasn't lost his mind completely and who is still willing to "speak" in public. In this case, it's Peter Shor of MIT. He answered 't Hooft's question as follows:

Sunday, August 19, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Arctic warming: a 1947 hysteria

A hotel at Spitsbergen

Steve Goddard found a pretty interesting article from the Saturday May 31st, 1947 edition of the West Australian published in Perth,

ARCTIC phenomenon: Warming Of Climate Causes Concern
It's interesting to observe these things especially this summer when the NH sea ice anomaly stands at –2.2 million squared kilometers or so which means a significant deficit but the sea ice is so far well above the late Summer 2007 minimum.

Saturday, August 18, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hard work vs groundbreaking discoveries in HE physics

I want to focus on one important aspect of the Milner Prize, namely the recognition of unexpected and original, creative research that goes beyond hard work.

Matt Strassler has been trying hard to make the boundary look more fuzzy or non-existent. But the boundary is still there.

There are findings in physics

  • that could be planned, whose relevance is immediately obvious, but that require hard work that someone unsurprisingly does and someone should pay for via grants
  • that are unexpected, qualitatively change the landscape and thinking, redirect the character of the future research, but still may be supported by solid evidence.
Both of these categories of physics papers are important but the elements of the second group are obviously rarer; that's also why the authors of such conceptual breakthroughs are celebrated e.g. by the Milner Prize.

Let me begin with a comment by "dude" that I subscribe to.

Friday, August 17, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

String theory is underestimated even by the enthusiasts

Matt Strassler has written a rant attacking the core of the state-of-the-art theoretical physics as well as the Milner Prize and its inaugural winners:

From String Theory to the Large Hadron Collider
He claims that the Milner Prize has generated a "controversy". What is it exactly supposed to mean?

Has someone presented some good reasons why great theoretical physicists shouldn't be getting awards? Or has someone summarized reasons to think that the inaugural winners aren't among the world's top theoretical physicists? If it's neither, what the controversy is about?

It's preposterous and Strassler knows it. There isn't any controversy here, just an indefensible and irrational screaming attempting to diminish the prestige of the greatest academic award in the world. The right word isn't controversy but jealousy.

He continues with this statement:
[String] theory’s been spectacularly over-hyped...
But this is a silly laymen's misconception. In reality, the richness of string theory is underestimated even by the enthusiasts, as Edward Witten has pointed out.

Freeman Dyson and William Press' minirevolution in game theory

Prisoners facing a dilemma recommended not to cooperate any longer

Fred Singer (*1924) has pointed out an interesting Physics arXiv Blog's review of a new preprint by Adami and Hintze that mainly builds on the important March 2012 paper

Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma contains strategies that dominate any evolutionary opponent (PNAS) review by William Poundstone (with interviews)
and that, aside from more important things to be discussed momentarily, challenges the stereotypes that creative scientists and math thinkers should be below 30 or 40. Fred is almost 88 years old and you may think that he would refer to somewhat younger people's research but you would be wrong. The paper above was written by William Press (*1948) and Freeman Dyson (*1923). ;-)

Researchers in game theory are currently fixing the holes in their lore. If you want to excite the community of game theorists, the 2012 data suggest that the optimum age for you could be 89 years or 64 years. ;-) What happened?

Thursday, August 16, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Two-state systems: MASERs

The Feynman lectures on physics are special for many reasons.

Feynman delineates the big picture rather clearly; is able to be very concise about various points that make many other authors excessively talkative; isn't afraid to address questions that some people incorrectly consider a domain of philosophers even though they have become a domain of physics many years ago; isn't afraid to clarify many widespread misconceptions and explain why e.g. Einstein was wrong about quantum mechanics; offers some original cute research which may have had pedagogical motivations but that is more important than that e.g. the derivation of general relativity from a consistent completion of the coupling of the stress-energy tensor to a new spin-2 field (it was a really beautiful, pragmatic, modern, and string-theory-like approach to general relativity); and for many other reasons.

Two-state systems are among the topics in quantum mechanics that Feynman dedicated much more attention than most other textbooks of quantum mechanics which is one reason why Feynman's students were much more likely to understand the foundations of quantum mechanics properly.

Cohen, Happer, Lindzen in WSJ and colors of noise

Try the thrifty mobile template, too.

Physicists Roger Cohen, William Happer, and Richard Lindzen wrote a calm and sensible text about weather extremes in the Wall Street Journal:

'Climate Consensus' Data Need a More Careful Look
They mention that the optimum CO2 concentration is probably significantly higher than the present one and enumerate some climate skeptics who are not conservative, among related sociological things.

But the bulk of the article is dedicated to clarifications of the fact that there's no unusual trend in the weather extremes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Israeli plans to strike Iran

Grid, Internet will go out of business; satellite, automatic invisible airplanes will complete the job; automatized shock-and-awe conflict could take 30 days and lead to 500-5,000 casualties only

Let me admit that in the recent week, I was spending at least one hour every day by reading news about the escalated Iranian-Israeli tension and the possible Israeli preparations for a conflict. If you don't follow the situation closely, let me say that (Israeli PM) Benjamin Netanyahu and (Israeli defense minister and trained physicist+mathematician+economist) Ehud Barak seem to be ready for a strike against Iran.

Or at least they are trying to make everyone believe that it's their plan and it's their mood.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why quantum mechanics has to be complex and linear...

...and why (near) energy eigenstates are the "most real" among equally allowed states in the Hilbert space

Many physics beginners, physics fans, armchair physicists, young undergraduate students, as well as assorted physics Nobel prize winners who used to be the best quantum mechanical practitioners in the world but who have already forgotten all the basic physics have a problem with some fundamental, rudimentary, and universal features of the laws of Nature, namely with the postulates of quantum mechanics (QM).

They are ready to tell you that they want to construct – or, in the more hopeless cases, they have already constructed – a theory that is able to do everything that quantum mechanics can but it only allows some preferred states to be "truly realized"; the superpositions are less real. Or they tell you that they may reproduce quantum mechanics even though they only deal with real i.e. non-complex superpositions.

Every single comment of this kind is totally childishly wrong, of course. The superposition principle – which says that every linear combination of two allowed states (e.g. initial conditions) is equally allowed – is a totally rudimentary principle of quantum mechanics. That's also why Paul Dirac dedicated Section I/1 in his Principles of Quantum Mechanics to this insight.

Monday, August 13, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

ATLAS released 10 papers today

Update: Wow, by the end of the day, there would be 15 new papers posted but the extra five are on lead-lead collisions and will be ignored below.

The ATLAS collaboration at the LHC released ten papers today:

ATLAS Conf Notes
Six of them are based on the \(7\TeV\) data from 2011; four of them already use the \(8\TeV\) data collected in 2012.

But before you buy the cherished libertarian book with "ATLAS" in the name (one that happens to have stunning 2,651 reviews at, you are surely interested in the results of these studies. Have they found something surprising?

Sunday, August 12, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Paul Ryan, an apparently bright man of principle

Mitt Romney has picked his running mate.

It's Paul Ryan (*1970), a trained political scientist and economist, a member of the House and the boss of the budget committee over there. But given Mitt Romney's... well... ambiguity on many issues, this choice has been a very good surprise for many folks. I won't discuss all the reasons because I don't know Ryan too well...

CIA declassifies deep-sea-sunk spy satellite

MSNBC posted an interesting story on the CIA efforts to monitor the whole territory of the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. A spy satellite codenamed Hexagon that actually managed to photograph the whole communist empire was declassified right now.

It took pictures of everything with such an accuracy that the U.S. experts could determine the locations and type of all rockets of certain types and their precise identity. The final step was to allow the satellite fall into the ocean near Hawaii. The parachutes broke so a secret box has sunk to 5 kilometers of depth.

Saturday, August 11, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Olympic medals, fame, and genuine values

Something like one-half of the people in the West uncritically accept what they read and hear in the mass media. The percentage is probably higher in less developed countries and it may be higher in the West, too.

Today, I fully appreciated how much your humble correspondent – who could be called a maverick by some of you even though I consider myself as "centrist" as you can get – has been a victim of this pressure, too. At least in one particular episode.

Friday, August 10, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

\({\mathcal F}\)-\(SU(5)\): LSPs, stops, and proton decay could be seen soon

The "aromatic" papers by Li, Maxin, Nanopoulos, and Walker have been discussed many times on this blog. They have a new preprint today,

A \(125.5\GeV\) Higgs Boson in \({\mathcal F}\)-\(SU(5)\): Imminently Observable Proton Decay, A \(130\GeV\) Gamma-ray Line, and SUSY Multijets & Light Stops at the LHC8
Once again, they update their best fits involving their favorite stringy inspired supersymmetric grand unified scenario, the \({\mathcal F}\)-\(SU(5)\) models, and announce that the recently measured data and tiny excesses could be mutually consistent and suggest the looming discovery of several new effects.

Thursday, August 09, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Nancy Pelosi spoke to ghosts of Susan B. Anthony et al.

NASA may have been communicating with a vehicle on Mars but NASA is an apolitical organization so its science and its communication technologies can't possibly be as advanced as those of the self-described owners of science, the leftwingers.

In the video above, former spokeswoman of the House of Representatives "swears" that during her visit to the White House, she was sitting on the same chair as the ghost of Susan B. Anthony, a 19th century activist struggling for women's voting rights in the U.S., and they were chatting with each other.

We learn that that a very gracious man, George W. Bush, was surprised whom she was talking to but she didn't care. "At last we have a seat at the table," the dead women (including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Sojourner Truth) said.

President Klaus vetoes an insane bill on energy-efficient buildings

This fast translation from shows what kind of legislative junk is flowing from Brussels to Czechia these days...

Click the picture for an older (2010) TRF article on EU bans of heated houses.

President vetoed a bill on energy performance of buildings

Dear Ms Spokeswoman of the House,

Degree of climate skepticism in Czechia

The server, a center-right outlet that I consider the most powerful one on the Czech Internet news market and that almost certainly belongs to the top 3, published a controversial "main story" today in the morning:

Dry springs, flooded summers: extreme weather will become a norm in Czechia
Dr Jan Pretel, the boss of the Department for Climate Change of the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute and the former leader of the Czech delegation in the IPCC offers some results of their "research" in the last 5 years.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Dirac, Lawrence, Mott, Penrose: anniversaries

Today, on August 8th, we celebrate anniversaries related to three British and one American scientist. (Thanks to Gene for his reminder about the calendar.)

Ernest Orlando Lawrence was born in South Dakota in 1901, i.e. 111 years ago, to a family with Norwegian roots. He studied in South Dakota, Minnesota, Chicago, and Yale. That experience made him one of the first important scientists who were fully educated in the country of Vinetou (I guess that the Americans won't know what country it is!).

He would work on the photoelectric effect in the mid 1920s but in the late 1920s, this member of the Bohemian Club (no relation with my nation!) would already be known as the Atom Smasher.

Olympic medals per capita, GDP, team size

The Data Blog at the Guardian's sport section has printed interesting tables of Olympic medals that take the nations' population or GDP or team size into account.

Just to be sure, the table of unadjusted gold+silver+bronze medal scores at the Summer Olympics is led by China (34+21+18), U.S. (30+19+21), Britain (22+13+13), Korea (12+5+6), Russia (10+18+20), France (8+9+11), Germany (7+15+9), Italy (7+6+4), Hungary (6+2+3), Kazachstan (6+0+1), and let me stop at this point.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Earth 2100: a review

Sorry, I won't proofread the text below because I found the program extraordinarily stupid and decided that I have already wasted way too much time with it. Apologies for all the mistakes in the text below that remain uncorrected.

An hour ago, the History channel (now called just "History") aired the 2009 catastrophic movie called Earth 2100. (Hat tip: Popular Technology.) If you have 84 spare minutes, you may watch it below.

Monday, August 06, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Curiosity rover and excitement at NASA

I just spent two hours by watching NASA TV that covered the landing of the Curiosity Rover, the cleverest part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), on Mars.

The landing maneuvers (those "7 minutes of terror": diagram) were unbelievably sophisticated (more than any other previous landing procedure); watch the video above (it looks like from a science-fiction movie, doesn't it?).

At some moment, the NASA folks in blue shirts became pretty much sure that things were fine; you could see their certainty on their faces. Of course, we didn't know whether their optimism was justified. But they're probably experts – and the probability seems to be supported by pretty impressive empirical data at this point – such that each of them really knew what was going on at each step and what the remaining risks were, too.

Pakistani water-powered car

Update: Amer Iqbal recommended me three physicists' critical articles about this fraud, including his own. See Tribune I, Tribune II (his), Dawn.
During the weekend, I was informed by a Facebook contact of mine who lives on the Indian subcontinent that Pakistan is excited by the invention by Agha Waqar Ahmad, an engineer, who has "managed, by the grace of Allah, to produce a car that runs on water". While doing so, he was allegedly inspired by uranium enrichment scientist Qadeer Khan. See a "demonstration" of the "breakthrough" or a 40-minute TV program.

The new messiah of Pakistan. He made a Suzuki motorcycle that runs on a fuel you've been thinking about when you were in the kindergarten: water.

The nation that has gifted Abdus Salam, the co-father of the Standard Model, to the world has forgotten about its great scientist (well, he became unpopular because of some sectarian conflicts and his belonging to the "wrong" sect) as well as basic physics itself. Most people who have heard about the water-run gospel seem to be excited. First, do they have a reason?

Sunday, August 05, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why stringy enhanced symmetries are natural, important, and cool

A TRF reader expressed the following sentiment:

I would have liked to see the gauge symmetries of standard model emerging purely from the 10-dim geometry.
In other words, he would have liked if string theory were nothing more than the Kaluza-Klein theory (general relativity with extra dimensions) from the 1920s. Well, the bad news for him is that string theory also contains... strings, for example, and they actually have physical consequences. It is not just Kaluza-Klein theory and the word "string" isn't just a marketing trick. ;-)

The quote above is just one example of the widespread prejudices and excuses by which people who don't like to learn new things about science try to justify their frozen closed minds.

The most generic group of those folks would say: "I would have liked string theory if it just said that everything is made out of five elements, earth, air, water, fire, and aether." A more sophisticated subgroup – one that has already figured out that the world is more subtle than just five elements – would have liked the current physics if it said that everything were just classical mechanics; or classical field theory; or non-relativistic quantum mechanics; or a simple quantum field theory, and so on.

Polar bears may have been around for 4-5M years

Three days ago, we discussed the claim about palm trees in the Antarctica aproximately 52-53 million years ago. There's one more paper about a similar topic that was published in recent two weeks. The New York Times wrote the following story about it:

How Brown and Polar Bears Split Up, but Continued Coupling
See other articles that mention the study's co-author Charlotte Lindqvist.

At any rate, the media reports refer to a paper in PNAS.

Friday, August 03, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

UAH, first 7 months: 2012 was 6th warmest

In July 2012, the UAH global temperature anomaly was 0.09 °C cooler than in June 2012, at 0.28 °C.

The June 2012 anomaly was, much like the July 2011 anomaly one year earlier, at 0.37 °C. This month-on-month cooling occurred despite the apparently emerging 2012-2013 El Niño.

This is the barchart of the average temperature in the first 7 months of the years 1979-2012.

Thursday, August 02, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Antarctic palm trees: 52M years ago

Fox News and others just promote a new paper in Nature

Persistent near-tropical warmth on the Antarctic continent during the early Eocene epoch (by Jörg Pross + 16 co-authors)
which claims the discovery of traces of palm trees that apparently lived in the Antarctica 52 million years ago.

A photograph of the Antarctic beaches that Al Gore and Jasoň Mráz could have taken 52 million years ago.

The trees were apparently close relatives of the tropical Baobab trees (pictured above) that may be found in Madagascar these days.

John Christy's climate testimony

Anthony Watts posted the 7-minute video of John Christy's testimony in the U.S. Senate.

Well, about 2 minutes at the beginning are dedicated to an introduction – explanations why Christy is really good. ;-) So he only has had about 5 minutes but he said almost everything that is important about the climate science, especially from the viewpoint of policymakers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hackers fight against algebra in the New York Times

While hackers in various cybercriminal organizations are sophisticated enough to use some algebraic tricks to break into other institutions' computers, hackers hired by the New York Times seem much less intelligent.

Willie Soon has reminded me about an unusually dumb article by one of these low-brow hackers named Andrew Hacker:

Is Algebra Necessary? [Hacker answers "No."]
I've previously noticed comments about this unusually weak article at Clifford Johnson's blog which also recommends you to read a criticism of the NYT article at Good Math Bad Math.

Relatively to typical U.S. rightwingers, I have enough respect for the Grey Lady, especially when it comes to their writing about complicated enough science which they cover much more sensibly and cleverly than other sources, especially other left-wing sources. But this article is just horrible. Why?

Ashoke Sen and tachyon condensation

Some CERN and FNAL news: The latest Higgs paper by ATLAS has the significance level of 5.9 sigma. I find it silly to write articles about every new increased number of this sort. The significance level will clearly keep on increasing with the square root of the number of collisions. You could have learned about this simple fact as well as the proportionality factor on TRF since December 2011.

More interestingly, the Tevatron has published evidence for the Higgs boson in events involving bottom quark-antiquark pairs, a rare discipline in which the Tevatron could have competed with the LHC (or beat it for a while). This signal pretty much erases speculations that the July 4th Higgs-like particle refuses to interact with bottom quarks etc. It does interact and the available data make its properties more or less identical to the Standard Model Higgs predictions.
Ashoke Sen (yup, I took this Wikipedia picture of him in front of ex-Glashow, ex-my, and now-Randall office) is one of the nine winners of the inaugural Milner fundamental physics prize. And he deserves it a great deal.

You will find something like 250 papers he has written and 20,000 citations those papers have accumulated. The list includes 22 papers with at least 250 citations – and his most famous papers talk about the counting of black hole microstates in many contexts, D-brane actions, Matrix theory, S-duality, subtleties of heterotic string theory, and others.

Still, despite the fact that strong-weak duality was quoted as the main justification of his $3 million award (Sen figured out that the Montonen-Olive duality had to apply e.g. to heterotic compactifications to 4 dimensions as well), there's another theme in string theory he is the true father and main stockholder of: tachyon condensation. He started this minirevolution by his visionary 1998 paper Tachyon condensation on the brane-antibrane system.

Gerlach and Osheroff: birthdays

Two well-known enough physicists were born on August 1st: Walter Gerlach in 1889 and Douglas Osheroff in 1945.