Saturday, August 31, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Argumentation about de Broglie-Bohm pilot wave theory

Guest blog by Ilja Schmelzer, a right-wing anarchist and independent scientist

A nice summary of standard arguments against de Broglie-Bohm theory can be found at R. F. Streater's "Lost Causes in Theoretical Physics" website. Ulrich Mohrhoff [broken link, sorry] also combines the presentation of his position with an interesting rejection of pilot wave theory. These arguments I consider in a different file. Here, I consider the arguments proposed in several articles of Luboš Motl's blog "The reference frame": David Bohm born 90 years ago and Bohmists & segregation of primitive and contextual observables, Anti-quantum zeal and in off-topic responses of "Nonsense of the day: click the ball to change its color". Below, we refer to Luboš Motl simply as lumo (his nick in his blog).

Friday, August 30, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pacific waters as an excuse for the warming hiatus

Most of the mainstream media offered us a bizarre "story" in the recent two or three days. The absence of global warming in recent years – well, it's really 17 years now – has been "explained" by the Pacific waters. Problem solved, the belief in the global warming ideology may continue unchallenged, we're de facto told.



PDO: warm and cool phase

The claims are based on the paper by Kosaka and Xie in Nature,

Recent global-warming hiatus tied to equatorial Pacific surface cooling,
which is bad enough but I will mostly focus on the journalists' added spin which is even worse. The Guardian's Fiona Harvey will be used as my sample but the comments below are applicable almost universally.

One can't background-independently localize field operators in QG

...because the "basis" of coherent states is overcomplete...

Let me begin with something simple. John Preskill asked you "What's inside a black hole?" and offered you four options:

  1. An unlimited amount of stuff.
  2. Nothing at all.
  3. A huge but finite amount of stuff, which is also outside the black hole.
  4. None of the above.
Well, the option (D) may have been at the beginning and an obvious suboption of (D), "The black hole interior is a region just like any other region and independent from others", should have been offered as a special choice (E). A surprising result is that (E) is almost certainly wrong. Instead, (C) is right – at least if we omit the very highly curved region near the singularity that could justify (A) in a complicated way and if we allow the definition of a black hole to cover its rare microstates – if we only allowed the most generic black hole microstates, the answer would be (B): the interior has to be empty.

Well, (B) may also be interpreted as a claim allowing a firewall, in which case it's wrong in general (the firewall isn't necessary or generic) but of course that there are rare black hole microstates that contain something that burns you near the horizon much like there are rare black hole microstates with a bunny in the interior.

This point is simple but often misunderstood. A black hole is defined by its event horizon but it doesn't follow that the interior has to be empty. There can be a bunny in it. However, among microstates of localized matter, a black hole with a bunny is an exponentially rarer class of microstates. Most of the mass \(M\pm \delta M/2\) black hole microstates look empty – that's why the entropy-increasing evolution converges towards these states as the black hole keeps on devouring the surrounding matter to clean its interior (and vicinity). But don't make a mistake about it: a bunny in a black hole (or a nonzero occupation number of freely falling field operator modes) is unlikely yet possible.

But let me switch to a more complicated question.

Thursday, August 29, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Two-sigmaish CMS multilepton excesses with a \(\tau\)

A possible hint of third-generation superpartners

Matt Strassler mentioned an interesting anomaly reported by CMS at a SUSY conference this week:

A Discrepancy to Keep an Eye On (Prof Dr RNDr Matt Strassler PhD CSc DrSc Dot COM)
It's small enough so that you may assume that it's just another example of a fluctuation that will go away with more data. But it's large enough for many of us to gain the right to be intrigued. ;-)



The excesses have something to do with multileptons. If you search this blog for multileptons, you find many articles, mostly from late year 2011 and early year 2012. The words "year" were inserted for you to notice that there were many hyperlinks in the previous sentence. It's plausible that those flukes have gone way during the 1.5-2.0 years.

What are the overrepresented events this time?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Imagine that the Universe is not expanding

Wetterich's cosmon claimed to be an alternative to the Big Bang singularity, inflation, and the recent apparent expansion



Image: NASA/JPL–Caltech...

Most papers trying to replace the usual cosmological concepts such as dark matter and dark energy by something entirely different may be shown to be wrong within minutes. As I learned from a Czech server called osel.cz ("osel" is a horse-like animal known as an ass: I don't know of a shorter way to explain that it's not the other ass), a rather achieved cosmologist Christof Wetterich posted an unusual clever yet apparently equally provoking preprint to the astro-ph arXiv at the beginning of this month:

Variable gravity Universe
Be ready for a wild ride: the proposed model claims to explain all the known observations, eliminate the Big Bang singularity, account for the patterns we attribute to inflation, the radiation-dominated era, and the matter-dominated era. And Wetterich also wants to boast that his construction "produces" the arrow of time – as if cosmology were needed for that (but that didn't make me stop reading). A single scalar field – the cosmon – may do all these wonderful things, the gospel say.

It's weird if not exciting, isn't it? ;-)

11-year-old quantum physicist enters a Texas college

Mr Carson Huey-You is a 11 years old boy who plays the piano and speaks Mandarin fluently. On 9/11/2001, the 75-pound, 4-foot-7 boy who finds calculus relaxing (basketball is OK, too) wasn't born yet but he wants to become a quantum physicist.



And as Fox News, TCU 360, Statesman, and others reveal, he just made a non-trivial step in order to become a quantum physicist.

He was just accepted to the Texas Christian University as a freshman physics major.

Light dark matter in NMSSM and non-diagonalization of BH evolution matrices

I want to mention two new papers today.

First, Jonathan Kozaczuk and Stefano Profumo of Santa Cruz discuss the possibility to embed the very light, sub-\(10\GeV\) dark matter particle (indicated by some of the direct search experiments) to the Next to Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (NMSSM: it's the MSSM in which the Higgs bilinear coefficient \(\mu\) is promoted a chiral superfield \(S\) which is, according to many criteria and physicists, more natural than the MSSM itself):

Light NMSSM Neutralino Dark Matter in the Wake of CDMS II and a \(126\GeV\) Higgs
They find out that there are regions in the parameter space of NMSSM that are able to produce this very light higgsino-singlino-mixed LSP dark matter candidate with a huge, spin-dependent cross section coupling it to the nucleons. The Higgs mass may be achieved sort of naturally, other "negative" constraints may also be satisfied, and the scenario produces some automatic predictions, e.g. a large invisible branching fraction of the Higgs decays.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Getting ready for a war against Syria

...robust Czechoslovak weapons unlikely to resist for too long...

The civil war in Syria sucks, like most civil wars. The rebels aren't saints (and Russia accused them of using sarin gas a month ago) but it's the Syrian government that may be expected to behave more responsibly. Given the strong indications that chemical weapons have been used, it's not surprising that the U.S. forces and allies are thinking about an attack that may begin as early as on Thursday.



Photo from syrianhistory.com

Such a reaction of the West is understandable but needless to say, the West may be playing with fire. And with Czechoslovak weapons, too.

Thiel-Kasparov debates

If you have 52 minutes, you may want to watch this video full of intelligent enough debates between the renowned chess player Garry Kasparov (a chronic world ex-champion and a sort of a political activist in Russia) and the renowned venture capitalist Peter Thiel (the founder of PayPal, the first major Facebook investor, a libertarian, and the supporter of world-changing projects, especially by college dropouts):



Video posted via Kasparov's YouTube channel

The topics include Google and its vision for the world, the replacement of humans by machines, the bad consequences of any looming nuclear war, politics in Russia, simultaneous chess games (in which Kasparov hasn't lost since 2001; Thiel is a very good player as well, he was surely strong enough in Nice a few years ago to beat your humble correspondent pretty much "reliably" back in Nice – but my chess scalp is surely not a source of pride for anyone who actually plays the game regularly).

Monday, August 26, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Lindzen's talk at DDP meeting

Alarming Global Warming: What Happens to Science in the Public Square

See also a written version of the talk in a journal...
Willie Soon sent us the newly posted video at the bottom, a 56-minute-long talk by Richard Lindzen at the (July) 2012 DDP meeting (Long Island Hotel And Conference Center). DDP stands for "Doctors for Disaster Preparedness" that sounds silly, the talk is 1 year old, and there has already been a 2013 DDP meeting.

RSS: a negative temperature trend in 16.67 years

Before you open this blog entry, you should make sure that all the nuclear power plants in your country are operational. You may need them because the text below contains a really long table (with 415 lines or so) which will be processed as \(\rm\LaTeX\) using MathJax. ;-)

About two years ago, Kevin Trenberth and others promoted a paper (Ben Santer and 16 co-authors, 2011) that claimed that one needs 17 years – what a precision – to determine the existence of a global warming trend. The purpose of the paper was to inject some patience to the minds of the alarmists and the undecided – 15 years of "no warming" isn't enough to notice the absence of any warming because you need 17 and not 15 years. Your humble correspondent wrote a tirade explaining that people like Santer and Trenberth were numerologists because there can obviously be nothing special about the 17-year-long interval. The whole continuum of the frequencies contributes to the temperature change and all the confidence levels etc. are depending on the duration continuously. There's no sharp "magic deadline" after which a hypothetical trend "must" show up.



At any rate, my preferred temperature record – the satellite-based RSS AMSU dataset – has approached a point in which the global warming trend in the recent 17 years is statistically insignificant and negligible. In fact, if you include the latest 200 months i.e. 16 years and 8 months (from December 1996 through July 2013 included) into your calculation of linear regression, you get a negative warming trend!

Promising class of heterotic \(\ZZ_8\) orbifolds

Edward Witten is 62 today, congratulations!
After many twists and turns and the birth of roughly five competing classes of stringy compactifications, I still consider the heterotic strings to be the most realistic category of the stringy vacua we know. Heterosis is a powerful tool.



Most of the time we mention the heterotic strings, we usually think of a compactification on a smooth Calabi-Yau manifold. The world may be described by one of the 10,000 or so known topologies of six-real-dimensional Calabi-Yau three-folds (each of which has several continuous parameters, the moduli). Those require interacting (not free) world sheet theories and the experts who study them quantitatively usually have to be hardcore mathematicians – very good geometers whose home is a higher-dimensional space full of bundles and sheaves. Until recently, they would find it almost impossibly hard to find some allowed and realistic vector bundles but with the help of line bundles, they've made lots of progress in this technical hurdle during the recent years.

But the world may be simpler than that. The spacetime coordinates describing the Calabi-Yau directions may be fermionized which leads us to a large subclass of free fermionic heterotic models. And even if these degrees of freedom remain bosonized, we may obtain free world sheet theories because the Calabi-Yau geometry may be based on \(T^6\), the six-dimensional torus. We actually need to consider orbifolds to break the unrealistic gang of 16 supercharges to the phenomenologically viable 4 supercharges.

Sunday, August 25, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Insiders and outsiders debate: fuzz or fire?

There is a KITP rapid response 10-day workshop on the black hole information puzzle in Santa Barbara: Complementarity, Fuzz, Or Fire?



Red fire or fuzz? asks a mad professor before she connects the wires and fires some red fuzz.

The speakers (click for all the talks in various formats!) include a great part of the most well-known researchers in the area plus some folks who are close enough to them: Marolf, Bousso, Polchinski; van Raamsdonk, Susskind, Maldacena, Sanford; Mathur, Turton, Bena; Harlow, Aaronson (intelligent outsider); Preskill, Oppenheim; Hawking (remotely), Unruh, Wald, Jacobson; Papadodimas, Raju, Nomura, Verlinde, Verlinde; Lowe, Silverstein; Giddings, Banks. It was easier to retype the full list of speakers instead of thinking how to pick, how to order the picked ones, and how to justify the choices. ;-)

Juan Maldacena's talk is the only one that I have watched in its entirety so far. He makes lots of jokes – like the comment that the more mathematically precise parts of their work with Lenny were already explained by Susskind (the audience explodes in laughter because Juan is among the most rigorous folks in the field while Susskind is one of the most representative hand-wavers of a sort, but this is not meant as a criticism!).

At the beginning, Juan says that paradoxes are normally resolved by realizing that we have been thinking incorrectly about some principles. For example, Loschmidt's paradox (the surprise that reversible fundamental laws are compatible with the irreversible emergent laws in thermodynamics) has been resolved because the irreversibility enters once we consider statistical propositions (Juan says the same thing about these arrow-of-time matters as your humble correspondent). Similarly, strange aspects of dualities were not resolved by abandoning dualities; instead, we figured out how to understand them better. Juan clearly means the usual principles of quantum gravity as well as AdS/CFT that isn't inaccurate or incomplete – as Joe Polchinski is trying to suggest.

Saturday, August 24, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Imagining 10 dimensions

Peter F. sent me a link to this video, Imagining 10 dimensions.



It has 104 minutes but based on various hints and a quick selection, I believe it must be a pretty good one for an apparent amateur creator! Correct me if I am wrong but I hope you won't! ;-)

Friday, August 23, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Boddy, Carroll: trying to save physics by sacrificing the Universe

...but no saviors are needed: their irrational Boltzmann Brain alarmism misunderstands what a hypothesis includes...

External discussion: Jacques Distler will write a few critical sentences about the Boddy-Carroll paper tomorrow. I completely agree with Distler – as he will reproduce some ideas from the text below (and others). It's not possible for hypothetical future events to influence the present; and there is no particular framework of probability theory into which sentences of the kind "we're likely Boltzmann Brains" may be justifiably embedded. Each of these two bugs is enough to identify the paper as crap and the authors as nuts.
On his blog, the Preposterous Universe, Sean Carroll promoted a paper by himself and Kimberly Boddy:
The Higgs Boson vs. Boltzmann Brains (his blog)

Can the Higgs Boson Save Us From the Menace of the Boltzmann Brains? (arXiv)
Last week, I was giving a popular physics talk in a planetarium in Northern Bohemia. It clearly turned out to be too complicated for the bulk of the audience (philosophers are sometimes annoying but a group of philosophers is more ready to listen to some almost real physics than a selected 1/1,000 fraction of the general public in a medium-size town!) but we've had some fun, anyway.

One of the longest discussions was dedicated to the phase transition that may destroy the Universe; the Higgs field instability is the most ordinary example of such a scenario. In a "seed of doom", the Higgs field (or, more generally, another usually scalar field) may penetrate to a new, lower energy state that is incompatible with life. This "seed of the new lifeless Universe" starts to expand almost by the speed of light and devour everything. You won't feel the pain because your nerves are slower than the inflating nothingness.



I wanted to calm the public. The Universe won't collapse anytime soon. At the end, however, I just couldn't tell them anything else than the truth. And the truth is that empirically, we only know that the approximate lifetime of the Universe after which the "seed of doom" starts to grow somewhere is unlikely to be much shorter than the current age of the Universe, 13.8 billion years. It may be comparable, it may be a bit shorter but it may also be much longer and infinite. If it is finite, it sounds sort of unlikely that it would be comparable to the current age of the Universe which means that it's probably much longer. Don't worry. But there's really no "solid" argument that would prove that the Universe won't start to disappear in the next 1 billion years.

You may find the "Higgs decay" scenario frightening. The Universe may die long before the Sun runs out of fuel in 7.5 billion AD and goes red giant. What a waste! It may be tomorrow. We're not able to present any solid enough proof that it won't happen. However, Boddy and Carroll are scared of something else: that the Universe won't die soon. So they claim that the unstable Higgs field is our savior from the genuine threat: the Boltzmann Brains. This fear is utterly irrational because the Boltzmann Brains aren't endangering us. They aren't endangering physics, either. The won't ever appear on the Earth (much like Category 6 hurricanes which are nothing else than another proof that Al Gore is a liar without any scruples). There's no reason to sacrifice the world (or billions of dollars).

Similar explanations have repeatedly occurred on this blog but here we go again.

Tohoku, JP wins the International Linear Collider

The project may still be cancelled...

In June 2013, I discussed the contest between the Sefuri mountains and the Kitakami mountains who will build the International Linear Collider if any collider will be built. Recall that the former offered a sexy 4-minute musical video; the latter offered a somewhat boring, 21-minute-long educational video.

The "boring" video guys won! ;-) Congratulations to Hitoshi Murayama et al.

Tohoku pitched for ¥1 trillion [$10 billion] collider (JP Times)

Miyagi, Iwate prefecture mountains picked as possible site for int'l particle accelerator (The Mainichi)
The Japan Times tell us that 50% of the cost should be paid for by the host country and there seems to be some degree of skepticism in the newspaper and in the ministry of education etc.



83% of the overall expenses are construction costs; the rest is paid for land acquisition, salaries, and the production of the equipment.

Aspects of Al Gore's lies on category 6 hurricanes

Two days ago, Al Gore gave an interview to the Washington Post

Al Gore explains why he’s optimistic about stopping global warming
in which he pretended to be optimistic that unhinged alarmists like himself may still morph from the hopeless dirty losers such as himself to winners. With his characteristic diplomacy, the former future U.S. president compared climate realists to champions of apartheid, to homophobes, and to an alcoholic father who explodes whenever the elephant in the room (more precisely, ethanol in the bottle) is being mentioned which is why his relatives prefer to be silent.



But it was his scientific contributions that led to the most widespread reactions:
Al Gore: ...Would there be hurricanes and floods and droughts without man-made global warming? Of course. But they’re stronger now. The extreme events are more extreme. The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6. The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.
Remarkably enough, pretty much all the climate writers on all sides of the conflict agreed – while using various words for the same proposition – that Gore is a shameful lying mongrel who should splash himself into a toilet.

Aside from expected critics such as Anthony Watts, Marc Morano, the Wall Street Journal, the Hill, Newsmax, Politico, The National Review, and many others, even the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, The Union of Concerned Scientists and Climate Skeptics' Dogs, and their likes pointed out that Gore's claim was a science fiction that isn't backed by any credible enough experts.

Thursday, August 22, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Chinese medicine is carcinogenic

The following insights look particularly ironic and make me think about the prescientific way of analyzing Nature.

One of the most omnipresent chemical compounds in Chinese herbal medicine have been aristolochic acids (AA) which are found in wild ginger, pipevines, and other long tubular flowers. AA I is almost omnipresent in Aristolochia species.



This European Asarum edition of wild ginger almost looks like a tumor itself.

The three hexagons plus a pentagon in the chemical formula don't look particularly healthy to me. ;-) But just to be sure, not all polycyclic compounds such as AAs are aromatic; aromatic compounds are only those whose ground state ket vector is a linear superposition of the formulae with several distributions of the single and double C-C/C=C bonds so that it's more accurate to indicate the alternating bounds by a circle inside the polygons. This allows the molecule to stregthen the binding relatively to the non-aromatic case and this also tends to make the compounds unhealthy. It's sort of remarkable that this class of organic compounds with an interesting two-state quantum mechanical effect were already named by August Wilhelm Hofmann in 1855. Some people are able to get very far in quantum mechanics without even knowing the symbol \(\ket\psi\). ;-)

For quite some time, the compound has been known to be carcinogenic – I didn't know about it – and probably more efficient in causing the disease than the UV radiation and smoking. As such, it's been banned in many Western countries. The tumors appear in the urinary tract, kidneys, and liver. The compound is probably behind the Balkan endemic nephopathy (nephro- means "related to kidneys").

A new paper

Genome-Wide Mutational Signatures of Aristolochic Acid and Its Application as a Screening Tool (Science)

Scientists Find Link Between Aristolochic Acid And Liver Cancer (Asian Scientist, review)
by Song Ling Poon and dozens of Taiwanese and Singapore-based co-authors was apparently able to identify some genetic fingerprints of the mutations caused by the compound which may turn out to be very useful.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Promoting HEP physics in the U.S.: a poll

Listen now: I disabled the Odiogo's "listen now" buttons because the company found out that there's insufficient demand for audio ads on the web and the service has to be a paid one, from $129 a year (since September 1st), which seems like too much to me. It's plausible that this blog could be free as a "personal" one but I don't want to investigate.
Joseph S. sent me a link to the Symmetry Magazine, Why Particle Physics Matters, that offers you four 1-minute-or-so videos explaining the Americans why HEP physics is worth their money. You may vote for your favorite.



I decided not to hide my preferences. This guy from Mississippi is my winner. His passion for learning and his particle physics built on Columbus' shoulders sound appropriate to me.

Three insightful BH information papers

...I mean papers on entanglement in quantum gravity theories...

Yesterday I discussed a paper on the black hole interior that I considered bad but today there's some better news, namely three papers that are interesting and not self-evidently wrong. Let me begin with

Black Holes or Firewalls: A Theory of Horizons
by Nomura, Varela, and Weinberg, three physicists who were previously pointing out that the black hole firewall arguments were flawed because they didn't treat the superpositions of macroscopically distinct states of black holes correctly, among related "interpretational" flaws.

Today, they present an explicit qualitative model of the black hole microstates that is compatible with the unitarity, the locality at long distances, and the equivalence principle. The firewalls are absent and a smooth horizon is present at all times with the probability 100%.

An important component of their construction is a tensor doubling of the Hilbert space to account for the interior modes. In that respect, the new paper is close to Papadodimas' and Raju's paper that is being cited as [28] and described, not too prominently, as a similar construction of the black hole interior operators.

They also use the eternal black hole and the doubling may resemble the second black hole from the Maldacena-Susskind ER-EPR correspondence as well. However, no paper by Maldacena is being cited (neither the eternal black hole, nor his recent paper with Susskind) which seems bizarre. Perhaps to compensate this surprising absence of Maldacena's papers in the list of references, Juan is the only person thanked for conversations in the acknowledgements. ;-)

Note that this is a sign of the typical Maldacena übermodesty. He probably saw the drafts of the paper but he wouldn't mention that it's strange that none of his papers are being referred to. I don't know too many well-known physicists who are this modest. ;-)

Monday, August 19, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bousso's pseudoarguments against \(ER=EPR\), black hole complementarity

...the vacuum can't be excited only if one assumes that it can't be excited...

When I was living my days in the "physics establishment", it was pretty much true that there was a connected theoretical high-energy theoretical physics community including professors, postdocs, and students that worked hard to learn everything it should learn, that cared about the important new findings, and that cared whether the papers they write are correct ones. You could have taken the arXiv papers from that community pretty seriously and when a paper was wrong, chances were that it would be corrected or withdrawn. A serious enough blunder would be found, especially if the paper were sold as an important one, and experts would quickly learn about it and reduced the attention given to the authors of the wrong paper appropriately.

You could have said that the people around loop quantum gravities and similar "approaches" didn't belong because they have never respected any quality standards worth mentioning. Everything was clear but the "pure status" of the community began to be blurred with the arrival of the anthropic papers after the year 2000 that suddenly made it legitimate to write down some very lousy, unsubstantiated, non-quantitative claims, often contradicting some hard knowledge. I tended to think that this decrease of the quality expectations and the propagation of philosophically preconceived and otherwise irrational papers was a temporary fluke connected with the anthropic philosophy – because it's so "philosophically sensitive".

However, it ain't the case. When one looks at the literature about the black hole information issues, i.e. a big topic that made a tremendous progress in the 1990s, a very large portion of the literature that is completely wrong began to develop. Raphael Bousso just released his 4-page preprint

Frozen Vacuum
and it's just so incredibly bad – and so far from the first preprint written by a similarly well-known name that is just awful.

In defense of five standard deviations

Originally posted on August 12th. The second part was added at the end. The third part. Last, fourth part.

Five standard deviations are cute.



However, Tommaso Dorigo wrote the first part of his two-part "tirade against the five sigma",

Demistifying The Five-Sigma Criterion
I mostly disagree with his views. The disagreement begins with the first word of the title ;-) that I would personally write as "demystifying" because what we're removing is mystery rather than mist (although the two are related words for "fog").

He "regrets" that the popular science writers tried to explain the five-sigma criterion to the public – I think they should be praised for this particular thing because the very idea that the experimental data are uncertain and scientists must work hard and quantitatively to find out when the certainty is really sufficient is one of the most universal insights that people should know about the real-world science.

Sunday, August 18, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

LIGO: improving sensitivity by squeezed states

Gravitational waves could become visible next year

On Friday, SciTechDaily wrote about an interesting recent article in Nature:

Improvements to LIGO Detector Will Allow Scientists to ‘Listen’ to Black Holes Forming (SciTechDaily, Daily Galaxy)

Enhanced sensitivity of the LIGO gravitational wave detector by using squeezed states of light by J. Aasi and 24 co-authors (Nature Photonics: full PDF paper here)

LIGO.org press release
LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, a large L-shaped instrument to detect the gravitational waves, hasn't seen anything yet but it may change soon and dramatically.



The authors of the new Nature paper – the whole LIGO collaboration – is sending special packets of light, the squeezed states, to one of the LIGO detectors and this modification is improving the sensitivity.

Saturday, August 17, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

95 percent confidence: in HEP vs IPCC

When I saw some reports about the IPCC's 95 percent "certainty" that the global warming is mostly man-made, I couldn't avoid thinking about the huge difference between hard sciences (such as particle physics) and soft sciences (such as the contemporary climatology).

Reuters saw documents saying something like that:

Drafts seen by Reuters of the study by the U.N. panel of experts, due to be published next month, say it is at least 95 percent likely that human activities - chiefly the burning of fossil fuels - are the main cause of warming since the 1950s.

That is up from at least 90 percent in the last report in 2007, 66 percent in 2001, and just over 50 in 1995, steadily squeezing out the arguments by a small minority of scientists that natural variations in the climate might be to blame.
This figure was discussed by Watts Up With That and The Hockey Schtick (via Climate Depot).

I am stunned how underwhelming such statements are and my being stunned has several levels.

Friday, August 16, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Krauss-Dent small C.C. from a Higgs seesaw

This idea is known to most physicists but it's not a full solution to the C.C. problem

Nude Socialist (via Joseph S.) published an article called

Dark energy could be the offspring of the Higgs boson
which mainly discusses a June 2013 preprint by Lawrence Krauss and James Dent,
A Higgs-Saw Mechanism as a Source for Dark Energy.
Funny and not terribly serious. And no, no followups to the paper appeared in the first two months.

The story quotes Frank Wilczek – without even mentioning his remotely related recent paper on Multiversality (which is somewhat more substantial). We learn that Lawrence Krauss was actually "a Higgs sceptic until the very end". What a poetic way to say "a stubborn moron".

At any rate, now Mr Krauss has apparently kindly accepted the belief that there exists a Higgs boson – something he should have learned and understood as an undergrad – so he and James Dent became convinced that they may solve all big problems of physics, too.

Thursday, August 15, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Arnold Schwarzenegger orders gas chambers for some conservatives

...with his thick Austrian accent...

The Terminator's comments at the National Clean Energy Summit were... unfortunate.

According to the Huffington Post (via Junk Science and Climate Depot), he has proposed a final solution to some disagreements with his opponents that seems to be highly popular among famous Austrian-born expats (let me not mention a former German chancellor by his name), perhaps even more popular than their irrational opposition to peaceful nuclear energy:

Speaking of greenhouse gas deniers: "Strap some conservative-thinking people to a tailpipe for an hour and then they will agree it's a pollutant!"
An interesting but not original (as visitors of a camp in Poland know) technique. But will it achieve what the ex-governor believes that it will achieve? Will the conservative-thinking people agree that CO2 is a pollutant?



Arnold admitted he used to be a big admirer of his countrymate Adolf and has been lying about this relationship for decades.

I don't think so. It seems more likely that they will agree with nothing because they will be dead and dead people can't agree with anything. Instead, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be tried for crimes against humanity – and I guess that the judges would agree that this method to terminate the lives of some conservative-thinking people is a crime against humanity. He will be shown that the Terminator's being human is a film propaganda and his abilities to escape justice indefinitely are movie fantasies.

Moreover, their death won't have anything to do with CO2. Why?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Some physics links

Carroll's QM, NYT's firewalls, Jester's whining on scales

Sean Carroll has unlocked the quantum chapter from his "Eternity" book,

Quantum Mechanics Made Easy,
which I found better than expected despite its misleading comments about the "collapse", "its" relationships with the "arrow of time", the meaning of the "Copenhagen Interpretation", the "many worlds" as the "leading alternative contender", and many other things (he omits Bohm etc.). Carroll's text is flawed in different ways than e.g. Brian Greene's musings about the interpretation of quantum mechanics but I wouldn't say it's "more flawed". I am still not aware of any popular presentation of the foundations of quantum mechanics that is done right.

Discussion about old and new theoretical physics forums

Update: Physics Overflow is live!
I am not taking any positions about these matters – and about the Stack Exchange forums, their contents, and their moderators, among related topics – but this blog entry was written with the only purpose: to allow the exchange of information and opinions between users who are interested in the debate about the sufficiency of the existing forums and about the possibilities to create and sustain new ones (and about their desirability and role).

Tuesday, August 13, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Steve Pinker is right to defend "scientism"

A week ago, Harvard's top evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker wrote an essay for The New Republic,

Science Is Not Your Enemy: An impassioned plea to neglected novelists, embattled professors, and tenure-less historians,
that defends the application of the scientific method to various fields, including those that used to be monopolized by the tools of humanities and other methods and non-methods. I think that both Pinker and your humble correspondent think that the would-be expletive "scientism" is being mostly used for the idea that scientific reasoning shouldn't be confined just to the traditional places but it should be extended to new realms.

If that's so, count me as a scientist! Or what's the word for the champion of scientism? ;-)

To be sure, I have met people who were applying naive, science-inspired models to very complex systems and they would deserve to be criticized or told why they were wrong. But in my experience, these were not the primary recipients of the label "scientism".

Pinker starts by saying that the great folks of the Enlightenment were scientists, science has improved our lives in many ways, the understanding itself is extremely valuable (in contrast with a despicable statement in the 2006-2007 Harvard general education requirement that offended me as much as it offended Pinker).

Erwin Schrödinger and his cat in Google Doodle

Erwin Rudolf Josef Alexander Schrödinger was born on August 12th, 1887, i.e. 126 years and 1 day ago, in our then capital, namely Vienna, Austria-Hungary (where he also died in 1961), to a German-speaking botanist and a mostly British daughter of a chemist. He was their only child.

This background may explain some of this physicist's deep interest in the foundations of biology. However, he had some more unusual interests related to Eastern religions and pantheism – religious symbols often appeared in his work. In my opinion, this fact boils down to his family background, too. He was brought up in a Lutheran family but called himself an atheist. What he really meant by the word "atheist" was a "heretic" which is why his generalized "atheism" also allows the Eastern religions and similar things.

Monday, August 12, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Both neutralino, sbottom may weigh less than \(20\GeV\)

Dark matter searches and LHC rumors may converge in a light sbottom-photino point

I decided that the most exciting hep-ph preprint today is

Supersymmetry with Light Dark Matter confronting the recent CDMS and LHC Results
by Alexandre Arbey, Marco Battaglia, and Farvah Mahmoudi. An interesting detail about the list of the authors is that all of them are partially affiliated with the CERN theory division. Why is it interesting? Because the LHC top squark rumor from February 2012 was later rumored to have arrived from the CERN theory division so these three physicists might know much more about the superpartners accessible to the LHC than the rest of us.



They are inspired by the "positive side" of the dark matter wars and investigate whether the MSSM (Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model) may predict the LSPs (Lightest Superpartners: the supersymmetric theories' candidates for the WIMP dark matter particle, in most cases) that are as light as \(10\GeV\) or so. Note that the most accurate figure suggested by the "coalition of the willing" is \(8.6\GeV\) by CDMS II Silicon.

Saturday, August 10, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Enrico Betti: an anniversary

Enrico Betti was an Italian mathematician and politician who was born in October 1823, i.e. 190 years ago, and died on August 11th, 1892 – we will have an anniversary tomorrow.

He is most famous for a 1871 paper on topology that explained the Betti numbers – a term that was later coined by Henri Poincaré – which I used in my fairy-tale about the Euler characteristic. While Betti was a one-hit wonder of a sort, his life was pretty interesting.

Detonation of the Sun

A frequent source of links has sent me the coordinates of a page

Explosion of Sun
introducing a paper by Alexander Bolonkin and Joseph Friedlander urging all the physicists to think about the possibility that a malicious regime will send a thermonuclear weapon into the Sun and speed up the reactions inside the Sun – effectively converting all of our beloved star to a giant H-bomb long before our main source of useful energy is expected to go red giant around the year 7.5 billion AD.



This picture contains just a real-world eruption! Via IO9.

In the authors' opinion, physicists and others have a moral duty to either exclude the possibility, or look for security measures that would protect us against such a rogue regime, or prove that such a protection is impossible.

First of all, is such an explosion possible?

Friday, August 09, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Skyrmions could make hard disks 100 times smaller

Remotely related: sci-fi gets real: tech junkies should look at 27 science-fiction concepts that morphed into reality in 2012.
Nature's Ron Cowen reviewed a technical paper in Nature that is one month old,
Writing and Deleting Single Magnetic Skyrmions (Niklas Romming and 7 co-authors from Hamburg).
See also reviews in Gizmodo and those via Google News. Thanks to Viktor K. for the link.



Skyrmions, some topologically non-trivial solutions of non-linear sigma-models first described by Tony Skyrme in the 1960s, may be thought of as tiny vortices of atoms. Because in this very recent breakthrough, Romming et al. became able to create and destroy them at will, it's plausible that they may be used in future magnetic information storage technologies.

I've been in love with skyrmions decades before I knew their name.

Thursday, August 08, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

SUSY, a scapegoat: different kinds of belief

...much of the anti-SUSY propaganda is unbelievable...

One week ago, I argued that it is totally inappropriate to use the adjective "speculative" for theoretical frameworks such as supersymmetry.

It's a topic that's being discussed at many places which is why now, one week later, I will reopen these issues. Two days ago, Alok Jha of the Guardian wrote his text

One year on from the Higgs boson find, has physics hit the buffers?
and it was discussed at a leading HEP crackpots' website where Giotis, Urs Schreiber, and others kindly debate some nasty and stupid physics haters. Incidentally, the subtitle in Jha's article calls SUSY "the elusive followup theory to the Higgs mechanism". First, it isn't the only or most accurate way to describe SUSY which is mostly independent of the Higgs issues. Second, it isn't "the" only followup theory to the Higgs mechanism. Third, if it were "the [right] followup", it shouldn't be shocking if we need more than 1 year after the discovery of the Higgs boson to discover SUSY. One year is a short time in the history of physics.

But the basic point that Giotis began to emphasize to these demagogues is that the existence of SUSY in Nature and the discovery of SUSY at the LHC are two completely different questions. The LHC is an accelerator that allows us to reach energies that are one order of magnitude greater than the energies accessible at the previous top collider, the Tevatron. But even at the logarithmic scale, you would need to make about 15 analogous steps to get close to the fundamental scale (or the string scale).

The LHC may look expensive to some people but it's just far from a tool allowing us to directly test the most fundamental questions about Nature. Whether this increase of the log(energy) by 1/15 of what we would like is enough to find groundbreaking discoveries isn't and couldn't be clear. The LHC has found the Higgs boson and it is not "impossible" that this is it.

Some hysteria about Czech politics in the media

The Czech media hype some articles, especially in the German-speaking media such as Die Presse, as evidence that everyone thinks that we have become a banana republic. The president has become a king, we're becoming a Putin-style democracy, and so on. A new Bloomberg article talks about a paralysis and other dramatic words.

I just don't understand what they're talking about. What happened?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ostragene: realtime evolution in a dirty city

Ostrava, an industrial hub in the Northeast of the Czech Republic, is the country's third largest city (300,000). It's full of coal mines and steel mills. ArcelorMittal is the world's largest steel producer and bought a major facility there. The air contains products of a chemical plant and some junk blown from the nearby Poland, too. The history of hardcore pollution in the region goes back to the 19th century.

Just to be sure, we're talking about real toxins, not bogus pollution like CO2. The air often contains things like benzo(a)pyrene, a carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, in concentrations severely (e.g. by 700%) exceeding the allowed maxima.



Yesterday I learned something I should have heard about in late 2011 but I had to miss it. But let me get to the point. One should expect that with this much benzo(a)pyrene, people in Ostrava will get many more tumors than those in Prague, for example. But they didn't. The life expectancy seems to be a bit lower in Ostrava but this difference seems to be associated with cardiovascular diseases. A paradox.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

CATO: against all public funding of science

Terence Kealey, a clinical biochemist at a private university (of Buckingham), wrote the lead essay for the new issue of the libertarian CATO Institute's magazine,

The Case against Public Science (CATO Unbound)
His text is deeply provocative yet insightful but ultimately wrong at many levels. While I have enough libertarian DNA in my blood so that I can imagine a better, more efficient world in which there is no public funding of science, I am also conservative enough to appreciate that the complete abolition of the public funding of science would represent a dramatic revolution and I am against such revolutions unless their positive impact is supported by really solid arguments.

In his interesting essay, Kealey overlooks many important things and makes implausible statements about others. So let's start to ask: Why is the taxpayer paying for the science?

Saturday, August 03, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A video on loop quantum gravity

Sabine Hossenfelder watched a 43-minute video on loop quantum gravity that was posted two days ago. She wasn't too impressed.

Well, I am always impressed by low-budget or no-budget teams that manage to shoot a semiprofessional video of this size but it's hard to avoid some criticisms. Most of them are really criticisms of the topic they chose to cover, loop quantum gravity, so they shouldn't be used against the creators of the video. And I will avoid detailed criticisms of the imperfect sound quality (noise filters were used too much at some places), the subtitles (and whether it makes sense to have a video if there exists a written form of it), and the speakers' limited rhetorical abilities.



00:00 It's strange that loop quantum gravity is being connected with the birth of stars etc. because it isn't really capable of explaining the particle spectrum and other parts of physics that are crucial for our understanding of the early Universe.

Friday, August 02, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ex-HEP climate scientist urged to get arrested, hesitates

This article in the Guardian offers us quite an amusing combination of climate science and particle physics:

Climate scientists must not advocate particular policies
That's the main message we hear from Tamsin Edwards, a climate scientist in Bristol. She reminds us of something you've heard many times on this blog: science cannot answer moral questions. It can't even tell you whether you should have a carbon tax or fight for a wetter atmosphere, among many other things. Scientists who violate this rule inevitably reduce the credibility of science in general, especially if and when there are sensible concerns that the political considerations and goals could have determined the scientist's manipulation with the data. Right.

A scientist is also a human with her human rights so she can think and say whatever she wants about many political and other issues – at least, in the genuinely free world, she can – but she just shouldn't sell her political opinions as conclusions of scientific research (or as "scientific consensus" as these political statements are often called). This interpretation is an abuse of science.

If you were ever denying that the climate scientists are being politically pressured, well, she reminds us that she and her colleagues are repeatedly urged to be persuasive, be brave, and get arrested ;-), whenever necessary. She apparently doesn't want to get arrested. By the way, you may learn several other embarrassing things about the climate pressure groups and their pathological interactions with the climatological community from her essay. So far, researchers such as herself aren't being collected in special AGW Kamikaze units.

Thursday, August 01, 2013 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Is supersymmetry a "speculative idea"?

Matt Strassler wrote a mostly sensible text

A Couple of Rare Events
on the media's reaction to the LHCb and CMS' measurement of the decay rate of the rare process \(B_{(s)}^0\to \mu^+\mu^-\). For the first time, the decay rate was measured to be nonzero and it agrees with the Standard Model within something like a 30% error margin. Matt correctly says that some media sell it as a breathtaking success of the Standard Model that nearly kills all the competitors. And he correctly points out that the media apparently think that the supersymmetry is the only competitor of the Standard Model.
Related: The Huffington Post wrote a story about the 4.5-sigma LHCb anomaly (TRF) pointed out by Descotes-Genon, Matias, Virto
I agree with much of what he says. In reality, there are other theories beyond the Standard Model; the precision with which the rare decay was measured isn't too great; some values of parameters of beyond-the-Standard-Model theories have been excluded while others remain perfectly fine, in contradiction with the main message of the media. Well, I have some understanding for the media's approach: supersymmetry is the #1 well-motivated theory for beyond-the-Standard-Model physics which is why supersymmetry is sometimes sloppily used as a shortcut for the whole set. In fact, the relative likelihood that SUSY is the first new physics that will be discovered is getting larger which means that this approximation of "Beyond the Standard Model physics" by "supersymmetry" is arguably becoming increasingly accurate.

However, there's one detail in Matt's text that I simply can't swallow. He uses the word "speculative" a whopping eight times for supersymmetry and all other ideas for beyond-the-Standard-Model physics. I think that this adjective – something that Matt has clearly adopted as a major part of his idiosyncratic language – is totally inappropriate for these theories. Why?

1,700 U.S. cities partially underwater by 2100

Some climate alarmists were celebrating a transmutation they have never seen in their lives: melting of ice. The ice around the North Pole melted and created a small lake. So wonderful! Mother Nature abruptly stopped the celebrations when it did something else that the climate alarmists couldn't have possibly expected: it refroze the water and the lake disappeared again.



As soon as Alexander Ač sees this picture, he will be re-energized and will run a long story on his blog about a U.S. city that was finally devoured by the ocean.

Shockingly enough, the Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, and the Universe survived this melting episode. No doubt, the water near the poles has done a similar flip-flop millions of times in the past. The end of the "polar lake" celebrations doesn't mean that the climate alarmists stopped producing gigatons of insane fantasies. Quite on the contrary. We were just told that

1,700 U.S. Cities Could Be Partially Underwater by 2100 Due to Climate Change
Climate Central, an organization whose mission is to answer every question by "climate change will destroy it", wrote a "study" – apparently taken seriously by the Pentagon – claiming that Boston, New York, Miami, and 1,700+ other U.S. cities will be at least 25% underwater by 2100, if measured by the percentage of the current population.