Thursday, August 21, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

David Gross: why do we have faith in string theory

David Gross has given lots and lots of vision talks at various string conferences but this time, in June 2014, he focused on string theory and the scientific method in his 21-minute-long vision talk:

At the beginning, he would enumerate five of his favorite talks, said that Andy Strominger's vision talk brought Gross almost to tears, and he finally concentrated on the explanations why the people in that Princeton room have faith in the theory despite some outsiders' opinions that they shouldn't.

(Paul Steinhardt, a speaker at Strings 2014 who has delivered some "strange" statements to the audience, was chosen as the only named prototype of the critics.)

Nikolay Bogoliubov: 105th birthday

In Czechia and Slovakia, August 21st is primarily remembered as the anniversary of the 1968 occupation by the "brotherly armies" of the Warsaw Pact that ended the Prague Spring, a period of liberalization of socialism in Czechoslovakia. The invaders' actions 46 years ago look kind of moderate to me today, from the perspective of events in Ukraine and elsewhere, so I won't discuss the year 1968 today.

However, physicists are dying and being born on August 21st, too. In 1836, Claude Louis Navier (of the hydrodynamics fame) died. On August 21st, 1995, he was followed by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

However, I want to spend more time with Nikolay Bogoliubuv who was born on August 21st, 1909.

An alarmist embraces the label "alarmist"

There have been many discussions about the ways how the climate realists are being called. We're skeptics, contrarians, mavericks, and shills, among other things. I have always agreed with Richard Lindzen about the word "denier".

While it has been coined with the obvious purpose to link the climate realists to the "Holocaust deniers", it is actually an accurate term, too. In particular, I am a climate denier, not a climate skeptic. The term "skeptic" often indicates that there is a serious "case" to be made about the bold hypothesis and that one is seriously open-minded to both possibilities. Well, I am not. There won't be any CO2-driven global catastrophe in the next 50, 100, or 200 years. I deny the claims that there exists a scientific or otherwise rational basis for the climate panic which clearly makes me a "denier".

While climate realists haven't been as occupied with inventing names for the climate alarmists as the alarmists have been occupied with expletives directed at the skeptics, probably because the realists prefer to focus on the essence and not the propaganda, it is still interesting to watch how some climate alarmists react to various labels, including the word "alarmist" itself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Adimensional gravity

Natalie Wolchover wrote a good article for the Simons Foundation,

At Multiverse Impasse, a New Theory of Scale
about Agravity, a provoking paper by Alberto Salvio and Alessandro Strumia. Incidentally, has anyone noticed that Strumia is Joe Polchinski's twin brother? The similarity goes beyond the favorite color of the shirt and pants.

At any rate, the system of ideas known as "naturalness" seems to marginally conflict with the experiments and things may be getting worse. Roughly speaking, naturalness wants dimensionful parameters (masses) to be comparable unless there is an increased symmetry when they're not comparable. But the Higgs boson is clearly much lighter than the Planck scale and in 2015, the LHC may show (but doesn't have to show!) that there are no light superpartners that help to make the lightness natural.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Maldacena's bound on statistical significance

When Juan Maldacena began his Strings 2014 talk after so many speakers who have displayed their eloquence back in June,

JM: Geometry and Quantum Mechanics,
he was feeling like a soccer player who had to play against Argentina. ;-) The audience exploded in laughter; Juan is clearly an Argentine patriot. Despite his personal modesty on steroids, the 13-minute talk was filled with inspiring thoughts.

Many of them have been discussed on this blog repeatedly. But let me focus on a rather new thing that starts to be covered around 6:00.

Munich city hall: Linux transition was a failed political experiment

The Bavarian capital likely to restore Windows

For decades, I have been emphasizing that the people aggressively recommending Linux to common users and spreading conspiracy theories about the alleged reasons why Windows hadn't died yet were loud ideologically motivated anti-market terrorists who didn't hesitate to make most of the people suffer.

A building without windows looks rather sad. Well, let me admit: this is not a picture from Munich, it is a big fridge in Minsk. I guess that these days, the building is being used to produce high-quality Belorussian food by attaching new stickers to high-quality Western European food.

In the U.S., I mostly had to work with the Linux stuff for a decade, too. I learned it well enough but I remain as uncomfortable with it as I was before I became a Linux user, if not more so.

It seems that my words have been vindicated by officials from a city that has something to say about the problem, namely the first major city in the world that has decided to dump Windows and replace it by Linux a decade ago: Bavaria's Munich.

Monday, August 18, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

An emotional movie on Stephen Hawking: Theory of Everything

In November 2014, a new emotional movie will hit the cinemas.

A trailer plus a review. The talkative reviewer thinks that the filmmakers were cheating when they suggested that Hawking and his wife were saints who transcended the disease. True but the most ambitious movies like that aren't documentaries, anyway.

"A Theory of Everything" is a film about Hawking's life, work, and medical disorder. But it is primarily a movie about his love life, a movie focusing on Jane Hawking, his wife through 1995.

Sunday, August 17, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A looming civil war in Kiev?

The Czech media such as Tyden.CZ (The Week) quickly informed about a new development in Northwestern Ukraine – perhaps, we should say that these developments took place on Facebook. ;-)

A criminal and de facto minister of interior of Northwestern Ukraine Arsen Avakov – who has been arrested in Moscow for his usage of illegal means of warfare and mass murders of civilians but Moscow isn't able to put him in jail so far – has attacked Dmitry Yarosh, the boss of the Nazi paramilitary movement "The Right Sector" that has played the key role in the recent coup in Kiev.

I can't see these reports outside the Czech media, except for a very poorly formatted text on RIN's server in Russia, so let me mention what is going on. (Update: There is a report on Russia Today now.)

Current weather most similar to the weather 5 years ago

For half an hour, I was now playing with an amusing meteorological question. If you want to use the approximation that the global weather is repeating itself, what is the previous year that is most similar to Summer 2014 and the previous year or so?

I don't want to reveal my full methodology because you're invited to test your own approach to the question. But I took the RSS data from 1979, and reduced to the periods "minus two or three years" up to "a July", and compared these periods for different years on one side and "the period up to July 2014" on the other side. I first subtracted the most recent global temperature anomaly, and then summed the squared differences (including the regional columns).

The squared differences from the monthly data "well before the final July" were suppressed exponentially, so that the weight decreased 2.718 times when you returned by a year or two.

Saturday, August 16, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Al Jazeera's interview with Andrei Linde

Two weeks ago, Al Jazeera America – a TV station that Al Gore sued yesterday even though it has paid huge money to him for his worthless crappy pseudo TV station – talked to Andrei Linde about the beginning of time:

A 25-minute video

Linde started by explaining why inflation is revolutionary – why it makes the unreasonably huge and accurate explosion required by the Big Bang moderate and natural, requiring no immense amount of matter ("explosive") to start with a requiring no fine-tuned initial state.

Friday, August 15, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

EU courage moved from Czechia to Slovakia, Hungary

Some years ago, when Václav Klaus was the Czech president, my country would be the ultimate headquarters of those who are not afraid to say what is crucial and importantly wrong about the contemporary European Union.

Well, at least the headquarters for the central and Eastern portion of the EU, but sometimes beyond this subset. I couldn't have hid my pride about those matters.

Thankfully, Klaus was succeeded by Miloš Zeman who has at least some balls (and when it comes to the Ukrainian matters, he at least opposes the sanctions). His opponent in the elections, Karel Schwarzenberg, is a good-nurtured charming aristocrat, I think, but with him as the boss of the Prague Castle, we would be the ultimate European sycophants.

Our new center-left government is a připosraný one, however. (My English is far from sufficient to allow me to translate this adjective: apologies. But it's something like "wearing preemptively partially šitted pants".)

Hire your CERN and click at your discoveries

If you want to assure yourself that you're capable of doing all the work that is done by people at CERN – from the Director General to the PhD advisers, detector technicians, statisticians etc., you may simply open this CERN game:

CERN particle clicker
You must click at buttons to discover the CP violation and do many other things.

Thursday, August 14, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

RC: 20 million Russian black holes needed for methane emergency

One month ago, a very large crater was found on Yamal Peninsula in Siberia.

Where did the black hole come from? What was the cause? These questions were mysterious for us but now it seems that experts have reasons to say that there's lots of methane in the hole and the hole was a result of a methane bubble under the ground that found its way to the surface. Cool.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Joe's weird objections against state dependence

The state dependence is a simple example of effective superselection sectors; Joe's firewall confusion is linked to his sleeping beauty mistakes

I have finally found some time to watch more videos from Strings 2014. You may download them from the conference web page about talks or watch many/most/all of them on the GraduatePhysics YouTube channel.

The talks by Joe Polchinski, Kyriakos Papadodimas, and Suvrat Raju are among those that talk about the black hole interior. This blog's fans want to see Suvrat's talk, 25:40-25:50. ;-)

What Suvrat and Kyriakos say makes sense. I looked at Joe Polchinski's dissatisfaction, e.g. in his slides (PDF). Pages 20-24 and some of the following ones are dedicated to Joe's objections against Suvrat's and Kyriakos' picture. I find the causes of Joe's apparent unhappiness strange. He believes that Suvrat and Kyriakos ("PR") violate some general rules of quantum mechanics but all the contradictions quoted by Joe actually arise because Joe, and not PR, violates some laws of quantum mechanics.

First female Fields medalist

Off-topic: If you want to learn how – as a conference speaker – you should refer to a very nice blog post in a way that is both accurate and entertaining for the audience, see Suvrat Raju's Strings 2014 talk, 25:40-25:50. Thanks, Suvrat. ;-) Some of the people are laughing because by mentioning "a very nice blog post", Suvrat had offered them too little information – approximately by \(k\ln(6,000)\) because as of today, there are 6,000 very nice TRF blog posts. ;-)
Using the normal distribution, La Griffe du Lion has predicted a female winner of the Fields medal, the most well-known prize in mathematics, to surface once in 103 years. If you have won a Fields medal yourself, you may calculate that four winners are announced every 4 years which means that it's \(4/4=\) one winner per year in average.

After 70 years of the award, we have the first female Fields medalist. Maryam Mirzakhani is Persian, was born in Tehran in 1977, was trained at Harvard and received her PhD in 2004, and is currently a Stanford professor.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

My nearly velvet divorce with Bank of America

Off-topic: If you want to make one click with a bigger impact, you may boost a user (me) above the reputation level of 100,000 literally by one click unless you're late. ;-)
Except for a dramatic event, it was smooth

A Czech proverb due to the Daddy President of Czechoslovakia T.G. Masaryk teaches us that as many U.S. banks have served you, as many times you are a human being. Well, the original version was counting languages you can speak but that's so stupid that I wouldn't reproduce it on this blog. ;-)

Bank of America on Harvard Square (technically on 1414 Mass Ave). By a not so unlikely coincidence, the picture also shows something that is so common in Cambridge, MA that it's a waste of time to comment on it. Hardcore left-wing whackadoodles, in this case a "City Life Vida Urbana" group, protests against greedy investors in front of a symbol of capitalism. Idiots like that are everywhere around the Harvard campus but one must walk for several miles – and indeed, I had to walk for several miles pretty much every day – to get to the nearest McDonald's.

Well, even though I have only opened accounts in 2 banks, I have been a quintuple human being. It's because my decade-long stay in the U.S. may be viewed as a history book of the U.S. banking industry. In New Brunswick, NJ, I would open an account in CoreStates (in 1997) but that would be eaten by First Union and later by Wachowia Bank. My branch of the Fleet bank at Harvard Square, Massachusetts became Bank of America in 2005.

Even though I haven't been to the States since July 2007, I was keeping the account open over there. A few dollars (or dozens of dollars) per month would be flowing there from Amazon Associates. And I found the account convenient when I had to pay some extra taxes after an evil left-wing junta – that would later hijack much of the Massachusetts and U.S. federal government – audited two of my tax returns.

Controversy about the \(3.5\keV\) line

A year ago, we would sometimes watch the disagreement of experimental astrophysicists concerning the existence of sub-\(10\)-\({\rm GeV}\) dark matter particles which was suggested by DAMA, CoGENT, CDMS Silicon, and others. LUX finally showed that those hints had to be due to some overlooked boring phenomenon because even with the superior sensitivity of the South Dakota detector, the graphs are as clean as you can get.

Someone seemed to be sending X-rays from the Central Milky Way.

Another potential intriguing signal has become questionable. Jester would write about the neutrino dark matter seen in the \(3.55\keV\) X-ray signals. The same Jester now wrote a blog post titled

X-ray bananas
about two new papers, a positive one and a negative one.

Nigel Calder: 1931-2014

Nigel Calder's blog which you may find in the right TRF sidebar hasn't been updated for two years and I felt nervous about it. Now I learned something sad that I should have learned 6 weeks ago. Nigel Calder is no longer with us.

Sunday, August 10, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Sleeping beauty thirders' rudimentary Markov chain error

Last time when I talked about the Sleeping Beauty Problem a week ago, I wanted to convey two points.

One of them – the woman's visit to Guantanámo Bay – was that the belief in \(P=1/3\) is equivalent to a major flaw in thinking that turns many people into conspiracy theorists: they think that even if some scenario is very unlikely (e.g. that the woman is transferred to the facility in Cuba), the low value of the probability may be "beaten" and made irrelevant by inventing "huge implications" such as a very long sequence of torture and interviews.

But it isn't the case. If the probability of her transfer to Cuba is just \(1/5,000\) per week, the 50,000 interviews on Wednesday only share the tiny probability that she's transferred to Cuba in the first place. They can't be added up because they're not mutually exclusive. The message is that if some evolution is insanely unlikely so that it happens much less frequently than once per the lifetime of the Universe, you may just assume that this event is impossible regardless of the potentially huge hypothesized consequences of the unlikely scenario.

Another yet related point I wanted to make is that the Bayesian inference implies \(P_{\rm tails}=1/2\) if you do it right even if you include the "hypotheses about your state" among the competing hypotheses. "Doing it right" involves realizing that "Monday heads" and "Tuesday heads" aren't really mutually exclusive possibilities. You may have been confused why I divided some probabilities by two at some point but I think that Bob Walters (see also his bonus text), with some help from Nicoletta Sabadini, makes all these points clearer than I did.

Kaggle Higgs: approaching 3.85

If you follow the preliminary leaderboard of the Higgs ATLAS Kaggle contest where 1,288 teams from various places of planet Earth are competing, you may have noticed that I have invited Christian Veelken of CERN to join my team. He kindly agreed. I believe he is one of the best programmers who reconstructs the Higgs properties from the tau-tau decays in the CMS team, the other big collaboration at CERN aside from ATLAS whose folks organize the competition.

The current decision is that so far the viable scores were obtained predominantly by me so I own 90% of the team which is enough not to ask the minority shareholders whether they like the name of the team. ;-) Of course that it may change in the future. My belief is that the relative importance of members of such a team has to be based on the preliminary scores and their contributions to the high ones. It's not a perfect way to rate things but it's better than all others, for reasons I could explain. This question is analogous to the question whether managers' incomes in companies should depend on the profits, revenues, and the stock price. Even though there are risks and things can go wrong, I would answer Yes because this arrangement rooted in imperfect yet measurable data at least guarantees some correlation between the salary and the future of the company and some motivation for the manager to fundamentally improve things.

For the first time in the human history, Christian has applied the CMS' methods to evaluate these tau-tau decays (SVFIT) to the ATLAS data, the data of his intra-CERN competitors. It works. So far, it doesn't produce detectable improvements in the AMS score by itself (or in combination with the ATLAS methods): SVFIT, although more sophisticated, behaves almost identically to ATLAS' MMC. Christian has some really professional ideas what to do and I also believe that if they fail to produce high scores, he will help me to professionalize the codes that I used to get where I/we seem to be because, as you can imagine, the codes have become messy.

Meanwhile, however, I kept on improving the score. Our best one currently stands at 3.83674, just 0.014 below the current leader Gábos Melis. That's exactly equal to my last improvement and I got two of them in the last 24 hours so feel free to estimate how much time it should take to take over. ;-)