Tuesday, September 30, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Glimpsed second Higgs at \(137\GeV\) OK with BLSSM, not MSSM

Fifteen months ago, I discussed a very interesting paper by CMS that has seen a 2.73-sigma or 2.93-sigma (depending on details) excess suggesting the existence of a second CP-even neutral Higgs boson at mass \(m_{h'}=136.5\GeV\).

Three months later, I mentioned some weak dilepton evidence in favor of this new particle. Today, W. Abdallah, S. Khalil, and S. Moretti released a hep-ph preprint that tests the incorporation of this hypothetical second Higgs boson into supersymmetric models:

Double Higgs peak in the minimal SUSY \(B-L\) model
It may be the most interesting paper on the arXiv today.

Hong Kong's homogenization within China is unstoppable

"Pro-democratic" protests in Hong Kong continue to cause havoc in that province – and the global markets.

I find most of the chaos and the attention to these protesters incomprehensible. Apparently, they are protesting the planned non-democratic character of some 2017 elections (or perhaps I should say "appointments"). Some sources say that they just want to express sympathies with the protesters in Ferguson, too. ;-) These two explanations seem very different but no one is quite sure which of them is more accurate.

I couldn't learn how to walk on such a street, let alone how to learn the 3,000 Kung Fu characters. At least, when two Chinese Germans asked me how to get to a river in Ejpovice, I could teach them that here in Czechia, it's not a "livel" but a "rrrriverrrrrr". :-)

First, some basic background. I would isolate three "more capitalist provinces" of Greater China – places that we would know from the "MADE IN ***" on lots of electronics products since the 1980s. First, there is Singapore. 75% of its 5 million people are Chinese but Singapore is a tip of the Malay Peninsula (the peninsula consisting mostly of Malaysia and connected to the thicker peninsula of Indochina – with Vietnam, Thailand etc.). Singapore isn't "too close" to mainland China but it's heavily Chinese because China has used it for trade.

Monday, September 29, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Peacefully redrawing Middle East borders

Several years ago, Dr Sheldon Cooper FTW outlined a clever plan to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Dr Gablehauser said that Dr Cooper was a nut but everyone knows that Sheldon's IQ is 187 which means something.

This map is perverse but it also shows that these loons have some visions, unless most of the civilized world.

Here, we are going to solve not just one problem of the Middle East but all of them. ;-) A general problem is that the existing borders don't really reflect the conditions on the ground too well which is why there are civil wars and why the current borders are being questioned. Despite the constant interventions, the U.S. and others have no clue how they want the region to evolve and what the supposed political map will be in 2030, for example.

On the other hand, the Islamic State has drawn ambitious maps – see the example above. What I am going to present is less ambitious but much more reasonable and could actually win the support of a large fraction of the people in the region as well as the international community, thus reducing the desire of everyone to fight. Of course that the regional and/or international armies would have to co-operate to bring the planned rearrangement into reality. The plan was prepared from the viewpoint of maximum pragmatism which isn't something that many people in the region (and even in the West!) are used to but they may get used to it, anyway.

A surge of attacks against classical GR

A decade ago, an organized movement of hardcore crackpots began its public assaults against string theory.

Because most of the central results of the string theory paradigm have been established with as much rigor as you may ever get in natural science, it was pretty clear to me that given someone's semi-successful efforts to obfuscate some of the pillars of state-of-the-art science, it would soon or later become possible to attack any result in science and team up with journalists who will do the job.

The deterioration of the public discourse was faster than I could imagine. To quantify some of these processes, note that the resistance to string theory requires one to reject some of the most important results of science of the 1990s and sometimes the 1980s. You could say that they're still "recent enough" so that the people interested in science haven't had enough time to absorb them yet – 20 or 30 years may be considered "too short a period".

However, what we saw later was the escalating questioning of the very basic postulates of quantum mechanics which is really a framework of modern physics almost fully uncovered in the 1920s. That's almost 90 years ago. We have been seeing totally idiotic articles about the foundations of quantum mechanics in the media that call themselves "science media", pretty much on a daily basis.

Influence of parity violation on biochemistry measured

Parity violation could matter in biology, after all

Up to the 1950s, people would believe that the laws of physics were invariant under the simple left-right mirror reflection. However, neutrinos were found to be left-handed and other processes linked to the weak nuclear force that violate the left-right symmetry were found in the 1950s. You know, the direction of the electron that leaves a nucleus after it beta-radiates is correlated with the nucleon's spin even though the velocity is a polar vector and the spin is an axial vector – such a correlation couldn't exist in a left-right-symmetric world.

A prejudice has been falsified. Ten years later, the CP symmetry was shown to be invalid as well although its violation in Nature is even tinier. The combined CPT symmetry has to hold and does hold (at least so far), as implied by Pauli's CPT theorem.

Bromocamphor, to become a player below

With the help of chiral spinors (and perhaps self-dual or anti-self-dual middle, (\(2k+1\))-forms i.e. antisymmetric tensors if the spacetime dimension is \(4k+2\)) particle physicists learned to build left-right-asymmetric theories and it became a mundane business. The electroweak theory included in the Standard Model is the most tangible real-world example of a left-right-asymmetric theory.

We also observe some left-right asymmetry in the world around us. Most of us have a heart on the left side – which could be an accident. But such left-right asymmetries exist at a more elementary level. Amino acids and other molecules look different than their images in the mirror – and all the life we know seems to use only one of the two images, typically a "left-handed-screwed" version of such molecules.

Is there a relationship to the violation of the parity at the fundamental level?

Saturday, September 27, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

RT: Dawkins on biology, psychology of ISIS, religion

I've liked some of the intellectual videos about atheism (like Jonathan Miller's Atheism Tapes with Steve Weinberg and others) but it just happens that these profound enough intellectual debates began to be moved to places such as the Russian media in recent years.

Russia Today has just posted this video of its program "Worlds Apart" hosted by Oxana Bojko. I am confident that she is so advanced that she will be able to peacefully read my comment that there are hotter babes on Russia Today – both those from the post-Soviet realm as well as those imported from the U.S. But holy cow, she is intelligent, indeed. To say the least, she looked like a peer of Dawkins'.

Hartle, Srednicki on foundations of QM

In August, there was a workshop on the foundations of quantum mechanics (see 12 videos) where lots of nonsense has been said but there were smart and reasonable people, too. Santa Barbara is a nice and sunny place in California but it's also a source of almost reliably sensible comments on quantum mechanics.

Because we discussed Murray Gell-Mann's comments about quantum mechanics a few days ago, I think it's natural to start with Gell-Mann's co-father of the Consistent Histories, Jim Hartle. He gave a talk about the emergence of classical physics.

I could obviously describe the talk in the usual detailed TRF way but let me avoid it this time. The main points is that the default behavior of physical systems is the quantum behavior, classical physics is just a limit, and whether this limit is relevant must be judged by the approximate validity of the classical dynamical laws as extracted from the probabilities of some coarse-grained histories. The degree of "classicality" may be quantified and Hartle was discussing some relationships between classicality and complexity.

Thursday, September 25, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bash ShellShock: upgrade your Linux-like platforms

I have often emphasized that Linux is an example of non-commercial, communism-based software architecture where no one is financially motivated to take his responsibility for the quality and safety of his products seriously.

Today happens to be a day which makes my words much more important than they have been for many previous years. Yesterday, a serious bug that the media often declare to be worse than Heartbleed was found in Bash, the world's most widespread command line shell for Unix (a Unix counterpart of DOS, you could say).

The bug affects all versions of Unix and Linux released between 1994 and 2014 (yesterday) and everything that is sufficiently Unix-like so that it incorporates "Bash" in some form – in particular, lots of "things" on the Internet of things, routers, Apple's MacOS X system, but in principle also Android and iOS – and applications that may call "Bash" during their routine tasks.

Everything with "*nix" and "*nux" in it is in danger; the only exception is Richard Nixon who is already safe. He died in 1994, exactly when the flaw was introduced to the Unix system by Brian Fox (not Cox) who was ordered to create "Bash" by the hardcore communist named Richard Stallman. Thank you, comrade. So much for the claims that open-source software is safe because everyone can look into it. The problem is that almost no one does because this extra work creates no profit.

The mobile devices with Android and iOS – like the newest bendable iPhone 6 Plus – are less likely to be targets because "Bash" isn't used that often. However, MacOS X is a full-fledged target. Attacks against the vulnerabilities have already been detected and because "Bash" is comprehensible to millions of people, the creativity of the attacks is likely to grow exponentially in coming weeks.

Czech ex-PM Nečas: stop hostility towards Russia

Related: see also "The lies Europe tells about Russia are monstrous" by Czech ex-president Klaus in The Spectator (where they called him – generously yet deeply pessimistically – the last outspoken leader in the West)
There are folks in Czech politics who enjoy repeating the mindless Obama-style, and sometimes even Bandera-style if not Hitler-style, hateful proclamations against Russia and designing silly methods intended to harm Russia (which is often the goal even if they also harm themselves or their citizens or allies).

But I think that it is getting increasingly clear every day that the majority of the Czech political representatives do view Russia as a partner. It's true about President Zeman, Ex-president Klaus, PM Sobotka, the billionaire and deputy PM Babiš, and, we were just reminded by the Czech and Slovak media and by RIA, among others, former PM Nečas (2010-2013, see the picture).

Petr Nečas, a guy with a PhD in plasma physics, was the boss of ODS, the Klaus-founded conservative party (for decades after 1989, the main Czech right-wing party) that became much less conservative a decade ago when it diverged away from Klaus and that turned into a small party a year or two ago. I met him on Klaus' birthday party in June, he was smiling and was shaven, having reverted his temporary image from the times when he was harassed by some malicious and frivolous Czech investigators.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Murray Gell-Mann on foundations of quantum mechanics

Last Monday, Murray Gell-Mann celebrated his 85th birthday: congratulations!

As far as I remember, I have never published a blog post that would be primarily dedicated to Gell-Mann's comments about the foundations of quantum mechanics. So this is the first time. The 17-minute-long video monologue above was taken from multi-hour interviews with him (and analogously, many others) on the "Web of Stories".

Smug condescension, other signatures of Sagan, Tyson eras

Honza U. sent me a link to a wonderful text by Robert Tracinski,

Neil deGrasse Tyson and the Science of Smug Condescension (thefederalist.com)
That website seems to be all about Neil deGrasse Tyson whom I don't consider too important in one way or another (perhaps just because I have never been exposed to his recent TV program: I have no idea whether I would like most of it!) but he plays the role of the "symbol" of some undesirable trends in the attitude to science that the laymen are being led to in this world.

Neil deGrasse Tyson – and before him, to some extent, even Carl Sagan – often create the picture that it's important for the viewers to get familiar with the scientific thinking, have appreciation for it, and ignore the invalidity or inaccuracy of the facts that are sometimes sold to make a "bigger point".

But as Tracinski rightfully mentions, the respect for the facts – and for accuracy – is really a cornerstone of the actual scientific method so there's no way for the Tyson "facts-ignoring" and "facts-twisting" style to educate people to think in a way that is actually scientific. Instead, these methods only strengthen the point that "it is the show that matters" and create low-brow cults of personality and not really any understanding for science. If a presenter is as smart and as educated as an average undergrad, he is also likely to err equally frequently – but the cult of an "infallible science guy" prevents some people from understanding this simple point.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An interview with Edward Witten at a bizarre place

Most events in the "science journalism" of the recent years have been really strange, to put it extremely mildly. So the following thing is probably just another example of the rule. But listen.

John Horgan is a loud, violent, and obnoxious critic of science who believes that science has ended. In fact, he has also written extensive texts about the end of mathematics. The oppressive numbers, functions, and groups have collapsed and all this fantasy called mathematics is over, Horgan has informed his readers.

Before he published a loony "book" titled "The End of Science" sometime in the mid 1990s, he would also interview Edward Witten (in 1991). Well, the word "interview" is too strong. Horgan himself had to admit that it was a childish yet brutally malicious assault on theoretical physics in general, string theory in particular, and Witten as a person.

Now, in the wake of the Kyoto Prize that Witten won – congratulations but no surprise – we may read another interview with Witten in the Scientific American's blogs hosted by... John Horgan.

Physics Titan Edward Witten Still Thinks String Theory “On the Right Track”
I don't actually know whether Witten knew that he was being interviewed by the e-mail but the text surely makes you believe that he did and we're told that some "publicist" behind the Kyoto Prize had to choose Horgan as the "interviewer". Oh my God.

Monday, September 22, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why I remain a BICEP2 believer

Because I can see the non-dust pattern with naked eyes...

Just three days ago, I wrote a blog post about BICEP2. So I wasn't terribly excited to write down another blog post once the Planck Collaboration published a paper claiming that the BICEP2 could be due to dust, especially because I don't find the Planck paper to be terribly new, interesting, insightful, or game-changing.

A random image, taken from Perceiving randomness: egalitarian bias

They've been saying similar things since the spring and the arguments they presented today don't seem stronger than the previous ones.

Their fits don't seem to be too good without the error margins and as far as I can say, they are inflating the errors by inventing various kinds of "extra errors" (such as the "conversion error") in order to dilute and obfuscate the signal that they may have failed to discover, despite their superior gadgets and huge funding. This production of spurious errors sort of reminds me of Gerhard Schröder's invention of new taxes such as the environmental tax, the beverage tax, the bad weather tax, and others (Schröder wasn't a sufficiently arrogant hardcore thief to propose a carbon tax, however!).

Much of this tension is a clash of personalities. I think that what BICEP2 has shown is the experimental science of the best kind and unless some embarrassing error emerges (I really mean something like a loosened OPERA cable: it hasn't emerged so far), I will continue to think of them highly even if their discovery is ultimately reduced to dust (or another background). Like proper stereotypical experimenters, they didn't really believe a word that the theorists like to say (all proper experimenters think that gravity is actually caused by leprechauns and GR is just a theorists' fairy-tale for babies to sleep smoothly; but if a theorist needs the experimenters to empirically determine something, the good experimenters are as reliable as a vacuum cleaner). However, after they spent a very long time by efforts to show that their signal is due to something else, they published a paper with the discovery claim and it was undoubtedly right that they did so. Science couldn't operate if the publication of a discovery were viewed as a blasphemy.

A simple explanation behind AMS' electron+positron flux power law?

Aside from tweets about the latest, not so interesting, and inconclusive Planck paper on the dust and polarized CMB, Francis Emulenews Villatoro tweeted the following suggestive graphs to his 7,000+ Twitter followers:

The newest data from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer are fully compatible with the positron flux curve resulting from an annihilating lighter than \(1\TeV\) dark matter particle. But the steep drop itself hasn't been seen yet (the AMS' dark matter discovery is one seminar away but it may always be so in the future LOL) and the power-law description seems really accurate and attractive.

What if neither dirty pulsars nor dark matter is the cause of these curves? All of those who claim to love simple explanations and who sometimes feel annoyed that physics has gotten too complicated are invited to think about the question.

NYPD was only able to arrest 100 "climate" communist criminals so far

...along with 1 polar bear...

Off-topic: the 8th season of The Big Bang Theory was started yesterday. If you have missed those episodes, don't miss the next ones.
On Sunday, "The People's Climate March" took place in Manhattan. According to their counts, it was attended by 310,000 communist and socialist hecklers; the figure includes about 100,000 hecklers who were actually observable in the visible spectrum.

These individuals brought the world another clear piece of evidence that the global warming movement has nothing whatever to do with science, despite the often repeated outrageous lies that it has; it's all about the extremist ideology and some people's straightforward strategy to make profit out of this political junk that controls the hearts of a not quite negligible fraction of the bottom of the contemporary human society.

According to their yelling and banners, most of the demonstrators wanted to undermine and burn capitalism and corporations and establish communism or socialism or the same inhuman regime described by other words. It's very clear that the extremist communist fringe of the political spectrum is what represents the "grassroot movement" behind the delusions about "climate change". These people have been loud, obnoxious, and manageable – but they may potentially become dangerous.

Meanwhile, Avaaz and 350.org, two fraudulent organizations promoting the climate hysteria, have abused the large amount of rabble that has accumulated on the streets of New York to get some extra funding. The immorality of all these mechanisms couldn't be clearer.

Sunday, September 21, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A conversation with Nima Arkani-Hamed

On behalf of the Science Museum in London, science historian Graham Farmelo hosted a conversation with a top particle physicist of his generation, Nima Arkani-Hamed, on November 14th, 2013.

A 55-minute video of excerpts from the event was posted just two months ago. You may speed the video up by a factor of 1.25 or 1.5, if you wish ("options" wheel).

Nima has said lots of interesting and important things about theoretical physics of the 20th century (it's easy to highlight the breakthroughs of the 20th century in 3 minutes: relativity, quanta, and their cooperative applications: as a team, relativity and QM are hugely constraining), the recent past, the present, and the future; the LHC and the Higgs boson, and lots of related things. What the fundamental laws can and can't explain (the theories are effective and hierarchical)?

We're at a rather special era because we're beginning to ask a new type of questions that are deeper and more structured, Nima said.

Kaggle: quantifying the African soil

If the most important task for the mankind and the computerkind (the fourth best friend of man's, after puppies, books, and women) was to recognize tau-tau semileptonic decays of the Higgs boson, the second most important task was to

predict the properties of the African soil.
Currently it's the only open Kaggle contest whose data aren't huge – in gigabytes – and that also offers the winners a few bucks.

You download a 13 MB training file and an 8 MB test file – an order of magnitude smaller files than what one needed in the Higgs contest.

Saturday, September 20, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Antarctica is a climate denier, too

Absolute record high in sea ice area improved by a few percent

These days, the climate alarmist media are full of tirades against the penguins.

Children should only be allowed to play with the polar bears and not the penguins, we often read, because penguins are evil conservatives, anti-Gore and anti-Stalinist mavericks and contrarians paid by the Koch brothers and the dirty Big Oil. Why did the climate alarmist whackos begin to hate these cute animals (and even erase Linux from their hard disks and stop rooting for the ice-hockey team in Pittsburgh)?

If you open the Cryosphere Today and especially a graph of the absolute Southern Hemisphere sea ice area, a graph from the places where the penguins live, you will see that these days, the sea ice area is surpassing the all-time record high. Well, "all-time" only means the recent 35 years but this period of time is still longer than most people's memory.

It's apparently politically incorrect for ice to accumulate and to say "f*ck you, you f*cked up alarmist aßes". A well-behaved ice with civil awareness should melt away and scream "help to save the planet and introduce a new tax and new bans!".

Friday, September 19, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A pro-BICEP2 paper

Update Sep 22nd: a Planck paper on polarization is out, suggesting dust could explain the BICEP2 signal – or just 1/2 of it – but lacking the resolution to settle anything. A joint Planck-BICEP2 paper should be out in November but it seems predetermined that they only want to impose an upper bound on \(r\) so it won't be too strong or interesting, either.
It's generally expected that the Planck collaboration should present their new results on the CMB polarization data within days, weeks, or a month. Will they be capable of confirming the BICEP2 discovery – or refute it by convincing data?

Ten days ago, Planck published a paper on dust modelling:
Planck intermediate results. XXIX. All-sky dust modelling with Planck, IRAS, and WISE observations
I am not able to decide whether this paper has anything to say about the discovery of the primordial gravitational waves. It could be relevant but note that the paper doesn't discuss the polarization of the radiation at all.

Perhaps more interestingly, Wesley Colley and Richard Gott released their preprint
Genus Topology and Cross-Correlation of BICEP2 and Planck 353 GHz B-Modes: Further Evidence Favoring Gravity Wave Detection
that seems to claim that the data are powerful enough to confirm some influence of the dust yet defend the notion that the primordial gravitational waves have to represent a big part of the BICEP2 observation, too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

AMS in PRL: the positrons do stop increasing

...but the evidence for an actual drop remains underwhelming...

In April 2013, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02), a gadget carried by the International Space Station that looks for dark matter and other things and whose data are being evaluated by Nobel prize winner Sam Ting (MIT) and his folks, reported intriguing observations that were supposed to grow to a smoking fun proving that dark matter exists and is composed of heavy elementary particles:

AMS-02 seems to overcautiously censor solid evidence for dark matter

AMS: the steep drop is very likely there
I had various reasons for these speculative optimistic prophesies – including Sam Ting's body language. It just seemed that he knew more than he was saying and was only presenting a very small, underwhelming part of the observations.

Poroshenko in the U.S. Congress

The Americans' stupidity is staggering

I have always belonged to the top 1% of my nation and other environments (including the Harvard environment) when it came to the defense of America, Americans, their record, their views, and their values. Of course that I often had to point out some other, bigger advantages that compensate most of the Americans' complete misunderstanding of the world geography and the reality outside the U.S. borders in general.

After I completed watching this 43-minute speech of Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko in front of the U.S. Congress, you will probably believe me that in my whole life so far, I have never considered the overwhelming majority of the Americans to be this breathtakingly stupid – dangerously stupid and pretty much uniformly stupid, in a very bipartisan way.

A top 2% Kaggle Higgs solution

Guest blog by Hongliang Liu (UC Riverside)

This blog is for describing my selected top submission sent to the Kaggle Higgs competition. It has the public score of 3.75+ and the private score of 3.73+ which has ranked at 26th. This solution uses a single classifier with some feature work from basic high-school physics plus a few advanced but calculable physical features.

1. The model

I choose XGBoost which is a parallel implementation of gradient boosting tree. It is a great piece of work: parallel, fast, efficient and tune-able parameters.

The parameter tuning-up is simple. I know GBM can have a good learning result by providing a small shrinkage eta value. According to a simply brute-force grid search for the parameters and the cross-validation score, I choose:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ambulance-chasing Large Hadron Collider collisions

Guest blog by Ben Allanach on the impure fun of rapid-response physics

B.A. is a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Cambridge. He is a supersymmetry enthusiast, and is always looking for ways to interpret data using it. You can watch his TEDx talk giving some background to the LHC, supersymmetry and dark matter, or (for experts) look at the paper that this blog refers to.
“Ambulance chasing” refers to the morally dubious practice of lawyers chasing down accident victims in order to help them sue. In a physics context, when some recent data disagrees with the Standard Model of particle physics and researchers come up with an interpretation in terms of new physics, they are called ambulance chasers too. This is probably because some view the practice as a little glory-grabbing and somehow impure: you’re not solving problems purely using your mind (you’re using data as well), and even worse that that, you’ve had to be quick or other researchers might have been able produce something similar before you. It’s not that the complainers get really upset, more that they can be a bit sniffy (and others are just taking the piss in a fun way). I’ve been ambulance chasing some data just recently with collaborators, and we’ve been having a great time. These projects are short, snappy and intense. You work long hours for a short period, playing ping-pong with the draft in the final stages while you quickly write the work up as a short scientific paper.

A couple of weeks ago, the CMS experiment released an analysis of some data (TRF) that piqued our interest because it had a small disagreement with Standard Model predictions. In order to look for interesting effects, CMS sieved the data in the following way: they required either an electron and an anti-electron or a muon and an anti-muon. Electrons and muons are called `leptons’ collectively. They also required two jets (sprays of strongly interacting particles) and some apparent missing energy. We’ve known for years that maybe you could find supersymmetry with this kind of sieving. The jets and leptons could come from the production of supersymmetric particles which decay into them and a supersymmetric dark matter particle. So if you find too many of these type of collisions compared to Standard Model predictions, it could be due to supersymmetric particle production.

Global billionaire political power index

The Czech and Slovak media were somewhat excited about a fun new "index" by the U.S. sociologist Darrell West:

The global billionaire political power index
The 15 world's politically most influential dollar billionaires are said to possess these faces:

You see that the fifth one is a Slovak-born food industry mogul and Czech vice-PM Andrej Babiš, the leader of a somewhat kitschy "apolitical" Czech movement ANO (=YES).

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Does only NATO, and not Russia, enjoy the right to send weapons to Ukraine?

In the last week, after a decision from the previous Friday, a ceasefire regime was established in Ukraine. People are still killing each other in the Donetsk Region but the shooting may be interpreted as "sporadic" which is why both sides of the civil war continue to officially respect the ceasefire.

While these advances towards peace are promising and all ethical people in the world should want the de-escalation of the situation to continue, some warmongers and lunatics in the EU and Washington D.C. have introduced new sanctions against Russia exactly during these promising days – sanctions against a country that they labeled the culprit of all the evil in the world. They openly said that the sanctions may depend on their satisfaction with the developments in Ukraine. This is incredible because this comment implicitly means that Russia (which is not really a party of the conflict at all, as a country) is automatically classified as the culprit of all failures in these people's lives and their friends' lives. Not even the Nazi party was treating the Jews in this simple way.

On one hand, fuzzy satellite photographs from wrong times and wrong places produced by a Google-Earth-serving photoshop company – photographs with speculative probabilistic interpretations that have already been taken down from the web – are the only "evidence" that the Russian Federation as a country is helping the anti-Kiev militias, and this seems like enough for the warmongers to cripple the international trade and to treat Russia as a criminal country. On the other hand, the standards are very different.

The defense minister in Kiev has literally boasted that his side of the civil war in Ukraine is already receiving arms shipments from NATO member states. It's exactly the same thing on the other side of the conflict – except that in this case, the deliveries are obviously real because they have been officially confirmed. However, the Western press doesn't urge everyone to cut the U.S. and other countries who are doing that from the international trade, to isolate the country, and similar things. A bit of double standards, right?

Kaggle Higgs: lessons from the critical development

Vaguely related: Mathematica Online (in the cloud) became available yesterday, see Wolfram's blog. Unfortunately, it's not quite free.
When the Kaggle Higgs contest switched from the public 100k "public" (preliminary) collisions to the official 450k "private" (final) collisions a few hours ago, your humble correspondent's team (including Christian Velkeen of CMS, with a 15% share) dropped from the 1st place to the 9th place (correction: it's 8th place now, Friday Sep 19th). This corresponds to the hypothesis that the changes of AMS will be comparable to the "full combined noise" 0.1 or so.
Fun link: See all of my/our 589 submissions' preliminary scores, final scores, filenames, and comments (with a somewhat funny and esoteric terminology). It's the last, HTML file over there; save it and open locally.
Because the "random" changes of the score were generally this high, you could say that chance decided about the winners, and the 0.045 gap between the winner and my team was our bad luck. Still, I feel that the three guys at the top – Melis, Salimans, and the marijuana guy – didn't become winners by pure chance. All of them are professional big-data programmers of a sort. It's true of everyone in the top 10 and almost everyone in the top 100, too. I am not aware of anyone who was significantly helped by some physics wisdom.

I still think it's clear that much (well, almost exactly 1/2) of my/our improvements done from the public xgboost demo – whose score actually increased from the preliminary 3.60003 to the final 3.64655 – was genuine. After all, those who only used the basic xgboost code ended up at the 357th-450th place, well below my 9th. But instead of an increase to 3.85060 as seen on the preliminary leaderboard, the actual increase was just to 3.76050. The efficiency is lousy because my methods to rate the improvements were amateurish: the preliminary AMS is much better than nothing but it isn't a good enough measure to safely beat the top players.

Sunday, September 14, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Higgs the mass killer: in defense of Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking was brought to deep financial troubles when he lost $100 against TRF guest blogger Gordon Kane after the two men have agreed on a bet that the Higgs boson would or wouldn't ever be discovered, or something like that. (I have won $500 for an analogous bet: yes, the Higgs boson has been discovered.) So evil tongues could argue that it's the reason why Hawking says that Higgs has made physics less interesting – and now why he accuses the Higgs particle of the plan to destroy the world.

Will it destroy the world?

Probably not but the threat, while small, has a totally legitimate scientific justification.

Yahoo News were among the tons of sources that have offered the disturbing prophesy by the famous physicist. Matt Strassler and especially Don Lincoln (full) wrote nice texts that try to calm the public and present Hawking's warnings as scientifically misleading.

I wouldn't be equally critical.

George Kukla (1930-2014)

A well-known Czech American climate skeptic
This happened already 3 months ago but wasn't really covered in the blogosphere...

I re-learned from Willie Soon that George Kukla died at age 84 of an apparent heart attack. His Columbia University wrote a biography of him with a somewhat insulting title.

Kukla received a Medal of Merit from Czech president Václav Klaus in 2011.

Jiří (=George) Kukla was born in Prague in 1930. His journey around the world was colorful. In the 1960s, he would manage to be an adviser to Fidel Castro. But he would also work in China, Chile, Antarctica, and Eastern Europe.

I. P. Pavlov: 165th birthday

A Russian patriot and anti-communist whom communists had to nurture

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, a pioneer of physiology, was born in Ryazan (200 km Southeast of Moscow) in September 1849. At Technet.cz, Karel Pacner published a fascinating chapter of his book about the geniuses of the 20th century.

Friday, September 12, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Extracurricular activities are indeed just "extra"

I am happy to report that I agree with Scott Aaronson – and obviously with Steve Pinker – that the universities should focus on the learning and scholarly work while sports and similar things should be treated as cherries on a pie.

Also, I agree with them that the standardized tests are – if you allow me to use a quote we invented along with Winston Churchill – that the standardized tests are the worst method to "rate" applicants except for all other methods that have been tried. ;-)

Thursday, September 11, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

One-half of CO2 doubling achieved

Detectable impacts on the climate are yet to be seen

When the CO2 level in the atmosphere surpassed 400 ppm a short time ago, many alarmists would celebrate this symbolic achievement. Oh, the CO2 concentration is so high! It's a signal from the heaven, a shot from the Aurora telling us to start another world revolution because our previous one, that of 1917, has already faded away and it wasn't enough for us, anyway. The number is so round, and so on. Of course, nothing new happens when the CO2 level reaches 400 ppm – it's just another number that only looks special because of an arbitrary decadic numeral system we happen to use today. The Earth has seen concentrations around 6,000 ppm as well and 4,000 ppm would be just fine for all life forms we know today. By far the closest worrisome CO2 concentration is 150 ppm in which most existing plant species stop growing (ice ages have only forced them to easily withstand 180 ppm or so).

Another numerically special value of the concentration was achieved two years ago or so but unlike 400 ppm, it wasn't hyped by anyone. The hypothetical effect of CO2 on the temperatures (well, almost certainly real effect theoretically; hypothetical from an empirical viewpoint because the effect is so incredibly weak) is often quantified – converted to numbers – when we talk about the "climate sensitivity", i.e. the increase of the global mean temperature caused by a doubling of the CO2 concentration.

The doubling defines more natural benchmark values of the concentration because it suggests that we should look at the behavior of the temperature assuming the exponential growth of CO2. That's natural because the temperature increase is approximately (very accurately) proportional to the logarithm of the CO2 concentration increase (thanks, John). Consequently, every time you double the CO2 level, the temperature increases by the same amount (ignoring non-CO2 drivers). The global mean temperature as a function of the CO2 concentration is\[

T(c) = 14.5^\circ {\rm C} + {\rm sensitivity} \times \frac{\ln (c/280\text{ ppm})}{\ln 2}

\] The temperature 14.5 degrees Celsius is the holy "optimum" global mean temperature that the climate alarmists want to see forever (yes, they will also protect our blue, not green planet from future ice ages when the temperature would otherwise drop by 8 °C as many times in the past) because it was how things probably were in 1750 although no one can really reconstruct the temperature in 1750 with a sub-degree accuracy (and even today's "global mean temperature" depends on so many technicalities that it's fair to say that it isn't defined at a sub-degree accuracy, either). The ratio of logarithms may also be written as the "base two logarithm" but I wanted to use basic functions only. Note that \(\ln 2\approx 0.69315\).

The coefficient "sensitivity" is theoretically equal to 1.2 degrees Celsius if we ignore all the feedbacks. The total figure when feedbacks (especially those related to various forms of water in the atmosphere) are included is unknown and it may be higher or lower than 1.2 degrees Celsius. One of the unjustified assumptions of the climate change ideology is that the full figure has to be higher. The higher value of the climate sensitivity you defend, the greater influence over the climate alarmist paramilitary movement you achieve. If you believe that the value of the total climate sensitivity is below an offensive threshold, you are a heretic. The offensive threshold used to be 3 degrees Celsius but the alarmists were forced to lower the threshold of heresy to 1.5-2.0 degrees Celsius because those values are obviously consistent with all the known data (and probably still overestimates).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Should junior people be equally loud during seminars?

A man named David Chalmers wrote down some norms of the right behavior during philosophical seminars and Sean Carroll responded, in a surprisingly moderate way. The recommendations are things like

  1. be nice
  2. allow the junior people to speak more than you do
  3. the time one spends by talking during a seminar should be proportional to the product of the number of his or her X chomosomes and the number of men that he or she has sex with
and so on. Moreover, if you want to avoid a sexual harassment lawsuit, you should follow several simple rules:
  1. be handsome
  2. be attractive
  3. don't be unattractive
Well, I admit, this is not directly related to the main topic but I wanted the blog post to be self-sufficient. The funny video under the latest hyperlink shows the actual decisive factors – and hypocrisy – behind most of the similar laws.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bohr, Heisenberg, Landau wouldn't find QBism new

David Mermin posted the text of his talk

Why QBism is not the Copenhagen interpretation and what John Bell might have thought of it (arXiv + video)
that he gave in Vienna 3 months ago. The conference was dedicated to John Bell and the 50th anniversary of his theorem. I agree with many statements that Mermin is making (and was making, in recent years) about the foundations of quantum mechanics. But that's not the case of some of the focal points in this talk.

First, I don't think that John Bell was such an important physicist that we should spend too much time with speculations what he would think about some ideas proposed after his death. Bell didn't discover quantum mechanics, he wasn't even in the top 100 ring of its co-founders and their first-generation followers, and his expectations about the fate of quantum mechanics turned out to be wrong. He didn't coin QBism and related concepts, either. Would Bell like QBism? Yes, no, who cares?

It was a conference about Bell which may (at least partially) explain why Mermin cared.

Also, the talk was meant to be nice to Fuchs and Schack, two guys behind the QBism meme, which may explain why Mermin tried to present QBism as a new idea – even though it is not a new idea – and, in fact, as an idea that the notorious critics of proper quantum mechanics such as Bell may have liked - even though Bell and others would almost certainly hate QBism, too.

But let me discuss the 14 pages of the arXiv preprint a bit more systematically.

Monday, September 08, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Vafa: supergroups, non-unitary cousins of CFT, and black hole puzzles

Cumrun Vafa has a very interesting new paper,

Non-Unitary Holography
You may start with a simple question. What happens if you replace gauge groups derived from \(U(N)\) by their supergroup counterparts, \(U(N+k|k)\)?

Well, the supergroup has more degrees of freedom – many of those have a negative norm (anticommuting but spin-one components of the "gauge bosons") and may produce negative probabilities. But Cumrun says that it doesn't affect anything you encounter at any order of the perturbative expansion in \(1/N\) i.e. in the string loop expansion. The effect of the extra \(k\) bosonic dimensions added to the original \(N\) is cancelled against the new \(k\) fermionic ones.

Scottish independence may be a non-event

Next Thursday, the Scottish voters will be asked whether Scotland should become an independent country. Some Scots support the independence efforts. Many Englishmen such as Stephen Hawking and Paul McCartney have urged the Scots to vote to preserve the union. Peter Higgs, an Englishman in Edinburgh, was undecided quite recently. The result of the referendum seems completely uncertain now – the odds are 50-50.

Lyrics of the Czech jingle that I would hear rather often as a kid, despite socialism: The Scot has skirts, pipes, and the lake where a mysterious secret has been hiding for a long time. They say that an evil monster resembling a dragon is living there. Only Matthew and Pauline know what it looks like. In fact, there are numerous monsters there, they are not evil at all, and none of them is certainly monstrous. Who wouldn't like the Ness Family and who wouldn't like to play with them? They are wonderful friends.

The United Kingdom has been a whole for many centuries and changes of the state borders are so rare that many of us tend to instinctively think that the dissolution of the U.K. would be a big deal.

Saturday, September 06, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Genesis according to Kerry: you shall save the Muslim world from global warming

What an interesting combination of insanities

As you may have noticed, I am very busy these days and it will continue to be so for 9 more days because several things have overlapped. So it may be a time for easier blog posts.

When I was reading a title by Anthony Watts,

Is John Kerry mentally ill? "Scriptures Commands America To Protect Muslims From Global Warming"
I was thinking that Anthony had to misinterpret Kerry's words or heavily exaggerate, or something like that. But then I pressed "play" on this 90-second video:

In the State Department, they follow the slogan "religion matters". Moreover, all religions are really brothers and all of their scriptures, starting from Genesis, command us as follows:
You shall save the Muslim world and the blessed children of God such as the ISIS from the anthropogenic global warming.
OK, I added the ISIS but otherwise it's there. I agree with those who say that if the socialist U.S. Obamacare really works, John Kerry should be immediately assigned several psychiatrists for free.

Friday, September 05, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

President Zeman demands real evidence of a Russian invasion

It's been estimated that the Czech sanctions against Russia would cost us about $1 billion if they continued in 2015. It's a lot of money which is one reason – and the lack of any good outcomes of the sanctions so far is another – why sensible politicians are skeptical towards sanctions, much like the top Slovak politicians.

Zeman and Putin. Yes, Zeman is currently the tallest head of a country in the world.

On behalf of their countries, Czech and Slovak PMs (Sobotka and Fico) won the right not to join future EU sanctions or their parts. President Zeman said that harder sanctions could be OK but he demands a real proof that a Russian invasion into Ukraine is underway. If there won't be real evidence, Zeman will oppose the sanctions, too.

(The deputy prime minister Babiš, a former communist agent codenamed "Bureš" and a billionaire who founded an "unideological" party ANO, also tends to be against the sanctions, partly because he is a food industry mogul. The foreign minister Zaorálek, a typical hateful socialist demagogue, insists that "we are always obliged to agree with the majority of the EU". Lots of would-be right-wing politicians – currently in the opposition – are supporting the sanctions.)

Zeman was a target of a verbal assault that shows that typical participants of the NATO summit refuse to discuss these serious issues seriously.

Thursday, September 04, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Brain-to-brain communication

Science Alert and many others bring us the gospel about the research reported in PLOS in which thoughts were sent directly from one brain to another brain, using no other human organs, over the Internet. The two sides of the communication were located in France and in Spain or India.

Except for a couple of extra wires in between, the technology is really nothing else than telepathy.

They were sending binary messages (they have used "Ciao vs Hola" instead of "zero vs one", probably because they confused France with Italy LOL) and the input side has typed the words by the power of her will – by moving a ball on the screen via electromagnetic fields detected around her skull.

Correct me if I am wrong but I think that the whole Internet middle part of the experiment is pure marketing – they just sent the information over the Internet in the most ordinary way so of course that there may be thousands of miles in between. The receiving side obtained the information by "phosphenes". Electrical pulses near various parts of the skull are interpreted by the brain as flashes (I mentioned this fact 10 days ago when I talked about the Russian guy who used a collider beam instead of Botox. Bacon's cipher was used, too.

Kaggle Higgs: view from Mt Everest

Update Sep 16: ninth place, people couldn't compete against the machine learning gurus who knew what they were doing from the beginning. I am / we are ninth at the end. Also, the winner has 3.805 (although everyone else is below 3.8) so I apparently lose a "below 3.8" $100 bet. Heikki is very lucky, isn't he? ;-)

A minor update Sep 15: I just wanted to experience the fleeting feeling of our team's look from the top of the preliminary leaderboard where we (shortly?) stand on the shoulders of 1,791 giants.

You see the safe gap of 0.00001 between us and the Hungarian competition. ;-)

Today, the "public" dataset of 100,000 events will be replaced by a completely disjoint (but statistically equivalent) dataset of 450,000 "private" ATLAS collisions and our team may – but is far from guaranteed – to drop like a stone. And even if it doesn't drop like a stone, there will be huge hassle to get convinced that the code has all the characteristics it should have. I am actually not 100% sure whether I want to remain in the top 3 because I dislike paperwork and lots of "small rules".

Text below was originally posted on September 4th as "Kaggle Higgs: back to K2"

The ATLAS Kaggle Higgs contest ends in less then two weeks, on September 15th or so, and I wanted to regain at least the second place among the 1,600 contestants seen in the leaderboard – because I still believe that it is unlikely for me to win a prize.

After many and many clever ideas and hundreds of attempts, my team returned to the second place where I have already been for one hour in June.

Gábor Melis is ahead of my team by 0.005. I am learning Hungarian in order to revert this gap.

Brian Cox's incompetence

Like Sean Carroll, Brian Cox pretends to be a scientist but in reality, he is confused about some very rudimentary facts about modern physics and science in general.

It's not just the lunar phases or locality or the exclusion principle that he totally misunderstands (be sure that I haven't discussed every misconception of his that has made me very angry). He actually doesn't build on science; he builds on licking the rectums of the powerful and those who are brainwashed by currently fashionable political deviations. Cox is a kitsch for the least demanding audiences.

Yesterday, The Guardian published a diatribe under the title

Brian Cox: scientists giving false sense of debate on climate change
I agree with this title. Genuine science doesn't have significant doubts about the fact that the climate panic is a pile of rubbish and it's pathetic for the media hosts and others to keep on inviting assorted alarmist loons and fraudsters whenever the topic is related to the climate or the energy policy.

But you surely know that the message that should have been conveyed by the title was upside down.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

China will build a 52-kilometer collider by 2028

Joseph S. has reminded me of this fascinating plan:

China pursues 52 km collider project (Physics World)
The world's #2 economy's biggest collider right now (one in Beijing) has 240 meters in circumference (about a quarter of a micron per capita) so they plan to improve their national record by a factor of 200+. ;-)

Poroshenko ceasefire deal is great news

Update: Today, the Czech nation was sort of "bloodily" introduced to the internal conflict in Ukraine when two Czech men were killed by the pro-Kiev troops. These two men are Ivo Stejskal, the teacher of Brno previously mentioned on this blog, and Vojtěch Hlinka, a driver of Žatec who shared the name with the legendary Czech national ice-hockey coach. It's no accident because the anti-Kiev warrior had married Hlinka's ex-wife and adopted her surname. I wonder when the defenders of the Kiev junta will go to sacrifice their comfort and lives as well, instead of sacrificing other people's money. Rest in peace.
One hour ago, Vladimir Putin called his Ukrainian friend Petro Poroshenko and they largely agreed about the procedure needed to stop the fights in Eastern Ukraine – conditions for a "permanent ceasefire" with the local militias. That's how the Ukrainian president's office interpreted the call.

The markets welcomed the news from Kiev – the Moscow index jumped by 4 percent or so. A few minutes ago, the ceasefire was officially declared by Poroshenko. However, Putin quickly denied the proposition about ceasefire from Poroshenko. Putin can't agree with a ceasefire because he wasn't a party to the conflict. It's clear that Putin has to remind everyone of this position while Poroshenko wants to say that Russia was a party to the conflict but otherwise I think that Poroshenko's claims that they have agreed what a sensible future solution could look like are correct claims.

In the video, a pundit claims that Poroshenko's announcement is just a lie, a trick to gain time to reorganize his forces that were badly beaten by the local militias in recent weeks. Let me assume that this prophesy is too pessimistic.

The anti-Kiev warriors have previously announced that they would even tolerate their membership in a Ukrainian state assuming certain political concessions.

First Czech modern capitalist theater opens in Pilsen

Even though the local social democrats were working hard to threaten the project (just because of a few percent of the budget), the new $40 million theater opened here in Pilsen last night – Smetana's Bartered Bride was the first thing that the viewers saw.

Most of the fans of arts seem to be happy with the appearance (initially designed by Portuguese architects) as well as the acoustics. That's good news because the Pilseners are a conservative bunch. Well, there are some Pilseners – like the local ice-hockey guru Marty Straka – for whom the theater is still too modern.

The white wall with the bubbles is supposed to represent a "curtain dividing the real world from the virtual one". The plays take place in that part of the building; the other, more ordinary black part of the building is for maintenance and technical purposes.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Gavin Schmidt's analogy ceasefire

...I agree with him...

Shockingly enough, the climate fearmonger Gavin Schmidt of RealClimate.ORG wrote something that I agree with:

On arguing by analogy
Climate skeptics often like to say that the climate alarmists are analogous to the defenders of Lysenkoism, phlogiston, phrenology, and eugenics, while the climate alarmists themselves love to compare themselves to Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and maybe even Paul Ehrlich who has predicted that hundreds of millions of Americans would starve to death by the year 2000.

Schmidt's main point that I agree with is that these analogies are pretty much worthless for the debate about the substance because these analogies are only relevant for someone who already accepts the basic points about the substance. If one already knows (or at least assumes) that the climate panic is hogwash, he will know that the skeptics' favorite analogies are approximately right while the alarmists' analogies are misleading. If she still believes that the climate is dangerously changing, she will refuse the skeptics' favorite analogies and buy the alarmists' ones.

50 years of Bell's theorem: watch Zeilinger's talk

Well, I don't really count Bell's theorem among the top discoveries of physics but it was still a result that showed the irreversibility of the quantum revolution more clearly than previous arguments.

Anton Zeilinger is a wise guy (not to mention that he is the president of the Austrian Academy of Sciences) and he is just giving a talk at CERN that you may watch live:

From John Bell at CERN to Quantum Communication and Quantum Computation (video)
The screen under the link above has two parts, one with the speaker and one with the transparencies.

Monday, September 01, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

It's always harmful to attach negative adjectives to quantum mechanics

Sabine Hossenfelder attended a global summit dedicated to the question whether it's right for science writers to present quantum mechanics as spooky, strange, and weird. Imagine how much fuel would be saved if the participants could have stayed home and responded with the right answer which is

There is really no room for long yet intelligent debates and diatribes. Quantum mechanics was surprising to the physicists and is still surprising to the beginners who are learning it today. But as Giotis mentioned in the first comment under Sabine's blog post, it is not really surprising that a deep enough theory is surprising because humans and their ancestors have been trained by experience where effective, superficial, and conceptually misleading laws are enough to understand what is going on.

Production of vacuum cleaners above 1600 watts banned in the EU

In November 2013, I reminded everyone that the EU had an incredibly irresponsible plan to simply ban all vacuum cleaners above 1600 watts of the input power.

(The equivalent figure that Americans would use is 110 times smaller because the voltage is 110 volts and in amps, so 1600 watts is equivalent to 14.55 amps.)

Today, on the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, the ban came to force. I didn't want to believe that it would ever become valid but it really has. Czech media say that it's still OK to sell them and the retailers have huge inventories, indeed. Some Western European media suggest that it is no longer legal to even sell them – but the sale really seems to continue in Czechia, a country that is telling the EU overlords "screw you, Ken".