Saturday, November 22, 2014 ... /////

Chilean telescope finds a "mysterious" 2.5-sigma alignment of black holes

I think it's unlikely that there's something really new in the observations

Two days ago, the Daily Mail (plus colleagues) has excited many readers by the following esoteric article:

Mystery of the 'spooky' pattern in the universe: Scientists find that supermassive black holes are ALIGNED
The Very Large Telescope has found some weird pattern in the locations of quasars and the rotation of the central supermassive black holes. And these patterns are far-reaching – seem to correlate objects that are billions of light years away from each other, i.e. distances comparable to the size of the visible Universe.

This is just an artist's depiction of an alignment.

The probability that such patterns emerge by chance – according to the current models with their probability distributions defining chance – is said to be 1 percent.

WaPo's meddling with allies' internal affairs is despicable

One month ago, I discussed a U.S. entry ban for Hungarian officials, an intervention into an ally's internal affairs that I find unacceptable.

During the following weeks, it was becoming increasingly clear that my own country is a target of this "activism", too. The main underlying reason for these anti-Hungarian, anti-Czech, and other assaults is the widespread opposition against the trade war with Russia in these Central European countries. One could argue that in all the countries of the former Austrian-Hungarian monarchy (and perhaps also in Italy, if not Germany), most people and business interests prefer constructive relationships with Russia.

Someone doesn't like it. Various actually unimportant events, like the Czech president's expletives voiced in his radio show, are used as excuses to meddle with our internal affairs. Zeman has been an outspoken guy for decades. In a recent traditional interview "Monologues from the Lány Chateau" (which Havel used to record every week), he mentioned that Karl Schwarzenberg, his opponent in the presidential elections 2 years ago, uses the word s*it in every other sentence. He would say that the lawmakers have scr*wed the Public Service Bill. And he said that the Pussy Riot ladies aren't really political prisoners but rather b*tches and puss*es (well, his translation was closer to c*nts) who were arrested for a riot, not for their opinions. As you may imagine, lots of reactions do occur after such words. His translation wasn't "quite" accurate and his pronunciation of "p*ssy" was wrong (pahsy) but the broader point was morally right.

Four days ago, The Ron Paul Institute told us that the NED president Carl Gershman, a de facto U.S. "regime change tsar", is working on toppling of the Czech president. When I participated in a recent public debate with the new U.S. ambassador, my impression surely was that he might be thinking that it's his legitimate job to influence the politics in his host country in similar ways.

Friday, November 21, 2014 ... /////

An evaporating landscape? Possible issues with the KKLT scenario

By Dr Thomas Van Riet, K.U. Leuven, Belgium

What is this blog post about?

In 2003, in a seminal paper by Kachru, Kallosh, Linde and Trivedi (KKLT) (2000+ cites!), a scenario for constructing a landscape of de Sitter vacua in string theory with small cosmological constant was found. This paper was (and is) conceived as the first evidence that the string theory landscape contains a tremendous amount of de Sitter vacua (not just anti-de Sitter vacua) which could account for the observed dark energy.

The importance of this discovery should not be underestimated since it profoundly changed the way we think about how a fundamental, UV-complete theory of all interactions addresses apparent fine-tuning and naturalness problems we are faced with in high energy physics and cosmology. It changed the way we think string theory makes predictions about the low-energy world that we observe.

Thursday, November 20, 2014 ... /////

Secret Science Reform Act of 2014: a step towards transparency

An effort to eliminate shamans and would-be scientific pressure groups possessing no verifiable evidence from the EPA decisions

President Obama has threatened to employ dictatorial strategies and completely circumvent the lawmakers during his divine personal mission to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal our planet.

If hired by the government as a researcher, a shaman is enough to serve as an "adviser" and the basis of the EPA decisions as of today.

After all, isn't it enough to control the EPA and to borrow a Michael Mann from the Penn State [I know that the überjerk is elsewhere now] and a Peter Gleick from the State Penn and use this administrator to cripple whole sectors of the economy – while saying that this is what has healed the planet?

CMS releases 1/2 of 2010 data to the public

Hours ago, the CMS Collaboration – one of the two major detectors at CERN's LHC collider – has made a cool announcement via Twitter.

A part of the complete data on the collision became public:

CERN makes public first data of LHC experiments (press release)

CMS releases first batch of high-level LHC open data (an extra CERN news article)

OpenData.CERN.CH (CMS subset, policies)
So far, what we're given are just the high-level data from Run B in 2010. Recall that the center-of-mass energy was $7\TeV$ at that time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 ... /////

CMS sees excess of same-sign dimuons "too"

An Xmas rumor deja vu

There are many LHC-related hep-ex papers on the arXiv today, and especially

Searches for the associated $t\bar t H$ production at CMS
by Liis Rebane of CMS. The paper notices a broad excess of like-sign dimuon events. See the last 2+1 lines of Table 1 for numbers.

Monday, November 17, 2014 ... /////

RHIC and a shower: how stand-up comedian Frank Wilczek suffered for science

I think that this 19-minute video at the World Science Festival (the "Moth" series) shows that Frank Wilczek could make the living as a stand-up comedian. At least it seems to me that he is a more natural entertainer than the comedian who introduced him.

The video was posted 3 weeks ago but it was recorded in 2010, I think.

He tells us two stories, a longer one and a shorter one, how he has suffered for science.

RHIC, black holes

First, sometime around 2000, Walter Wagner – the same Hawaiian high school teacher who would sue the LHC later – would question the RHIC experiment in Brookhaven. It was supposed to create a black hole. Frank Wilczek wanted a Nobel prize for some related results so he wanted to be the go-to guy who answers all questions.

So when the P.R. department of the Brookhaven Labs got the complaint, he was asked to write the reply – see e.g. this preprint. The black hole would be too small, too quickly evaporating, and the Earth has survived billions of years of similar collisions. We learned that the "strangelet scenario" was added by Wilczek himself because he wanted to make the threat more spicy and more likely (but still easy enough for him to disprove it). With the strangelet twist, it became a text he was proud about.

Sunday, November 16, 2014 ... /////

CMS: locally 2.6 or 2.9 sigma excess for another $560\GeV$ Higgs boson $A$

And there are theoretical reasons why this could be the right mass

Yesterday, the CMS Collaboration at the LHC published the results of a new search:

Search for a pseudoscalar boson $A$ decaying into a $Z$ and an $h$ boson in the $\ell^+\ell^- \bar b b$ final state
They look at collisions with the $\ell\ell bb$ final state and interpret it using the two higgs doublet model scenarios.

You may still buy Matt Taylor's shirt

Matt Taylor's shirt has instantly become one of the modern symbols of the fight between science, achievements, freedom, dedication to one's work, and meritocracy on one side and oppression, bullying, parasitism, feminism, humorlessness, cruelty, and superficiality on the other side.

The feminist bullies have apparently broken Matt Taylor, a scientist-in-chief of the Rosetta mission that succeeded in sending a module to a comet and in drilling it – all the data from the drilling got back before the battery went to the standby mode. But the legend has it that the poor guy said "and yet it moves". And even if he hasn't, you know very well that it moves, anyway, don't you?

Lightnings may increase by 12% per 1 °C of warming

David M. Romps, Jacob T. Seeley (Berkeley), David Vollaro, and John Molinari (Albany) published a report in Nature whose title reads

Projected increase in lightning strikes in the United States due to global warming
that was quoted in hundreds of media outlets.

Let me tell you: I find this number conceivable.

They decided that the lightning frequency is approximately equal to the product of the precipitation rate and a potential energy (CAPE). It probably isn't exact but it's probably good enough for some estimates. Combined with some empirical data, 1 °C of warming adds 12% to the warming strikes. When combined with some nonsensically overrated projections about the rise of the mean temperature in the rest of the century, they may get a 50% increase of lightnings.

Saturday, November 15, 2014 ... /////

Zeman: Velvet Revolution started by the rumor about the death of student Martin Šmíd

The student of the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics is doing fine

The current and previous Czech presidents, Zeman and Klaus, were debating about the Velvet Revolution and related topics.

Martin Šmíd from my Alma Mater is the main hero of this blog post.

To remind you, the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia – the Velvet Revolution – began exactly 25 years ago, on Friday, November 17th, 1989, when the police used some amount of violence against the peaceful student rally in Prague (where all the events in this blog post took place). The students of the Charles University, my Alma Mater (that was later, I was a high school student at the revolutionary times), would be remembering the 50th anniversary of the Nazi murder of 9 Czech students in 1939.

Is our galactic black hole a neutrino factory?

When I was giving a black hole talk two days ago, I would describe Sagittarius A*, a black hole in the center of the Milky Way, our galaxy, as our "most certain" example of an astrophysical black hole that is actually observed in the telescopes. Its mass is 4 million solar masses – the object is not a negligible dwarf.

Accidentally, a term paper and presentation I would do at Rutgers more than 15 years ago was about Sgr A*. Of course, I had no doubt it was a black hole at that time.

Today, science writers affiliated with all the usual suspects (e.g. RT) would run the story that Sgr A* is a high-energy neutrino factory.

Why now? Well, a relevant paper got published in Physical Review D. Again, it wasn't today, it was almost 2 months ago, but a rational justification of the explosion of hype in the mid of November 2014 simply doesn't exist. Someone in NASA helped the media to explode – by this press release – and they did explode, copying from each other in the usual way.

Friday, November 14, 2014 ... /////

Shocking MH17 shotdown photo passes some tests but failed in others

One hour after I posted it, a commenter's URL convinced me that the photo is fake. See the featured comment below the post.

But you still want to see what I wrote before that, right? ;-) Here it is.

The MH17 aircraft was shot down above Eastern Ukraine on July 17th around 13:20 UTC. A ground-to-air missile or an air-to-air missile are the leading "technical" explanations of what happened. The ground-to-air missile theory (probably using a Buk missile; recently vaguely endorsed by the German intelligence) would leave the question "who did it" and "why" open. The air-to-air missile theory would have clearer implications – the post-Maidan Ukrainian government would be behind it.

Click the picture for a 7406 x 5000 very high resolution photograph.

Hours ago, ITAR-TASS (and later The Daily Mail and a helpful blog; I know it from the Czech media) brought us the photograph above.

Rosetta scientists are allowed to wear their favorite shirts

Sad news: Alexandre Grothendieck, one of the 20th century best mathematicians, died.
Philae was the first man-made object that landed on a comet (thrice), after it made two "unnecessary" jumps (a two-hour jump plus another eight-minute jump). But an important British member of the team (he's really the #1 scientist-in-chief in Rosetta) is already finding himself under some heavy criticism, as BMWA1 pointed out.

Try this video, and go to 1:42, to see an interview with this man. His tattoos are all about Rosetta.

This man was acknowledged to be important enough to be a spokesman for the media as well and CNN wrote a story (!) called
Philae researcher criticized for shirt covered in scantily clad women
Holy cow. Many other left-wing media including The Washington Post and The Guardian wrote hysterically negative "stories" while the center-right Telegraph and The Daily Mail reported on Taylor's appearance mostly positively. Pathetically enough, the far left-wing The Independent attempted a character assassination based on the claim that "Taylor can't park his car".

Thursday, November 13, 2014 ... /////

Klaus in EU Parliament: 25 years after the fall of communism

Some readers may find 100 minutes to listen to a talk by Czech ex-president Václav Klaus in the EU Parliament that he gave yesterday:

The technicians at the Parliament were sabotaging the sound for a while but finally they failed and you may hear a big majority of what was said. Klaus and Farage were 22 minutes late – so others (Petr Mach...) speak at the beginning.

The title was "Europe 25 years after the fall of the iron curtain".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 ... /////

Rosetta: landing on the comet is underway

European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has been in outer space since 2004. Minutes ago, it began the maneuvers to send a fridge-sized module, Philae, to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that it's been "orbiting" for some time. (If you evaluate the previous sentence: do you think that Russia is invading Europe or vice versa?)

Note that Rosetta is named after the Rosetta stone, a stony document released by an ancient Greek king from the Ptolemy dynasty, and Philae is an island on Nile where something important with hieroglyphs on it (an object similar to the Rosetta stone) was found.

Rosetta and the space duck

The module should be approaching the comet at 130 kilometers per hour, a speed limit for cars on superhighways, and the comet's surface is 22 kilometers away. So it's just like a short trip with your car. The comet itself is also known as the "whiffy space duck", thanks to its shape. By the size, it's not too different from Manhattan, so today, ESA is planning something like a car trip from New Jersey to Manhattan.

However, ESA can't control the module in "real time": signals travel there (or back) for half an hour and Albert Einstein won't give an exemption from his laws and regulations to anyone, not even ESA! It's almost 4 AU away from us.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 ... /////

"Net neutrality" is just another communist plot

Barack Obama has endorsed some rather specific steps towards establishing bizarre principles that have been called "net neutrality".

Mr Obama is a U.S. citizen who contributed his opinion about this fad. FCC, the independent communications regulatory agency, promised not to discard this video diatribe and to add Mr Obama's rant in the queue behind 4,000,000 opinions of other citizens. FCC produced another proof that Mr Obama is not being ignored.

Ten years ago or so, I didn't know what the concept coined in 2003 was supposed to mean. A staunchly left-wing colleague whom I won't name was telling me it was such a wonderful thing. I wanted to know what it was but the answer I got was very vague.

It was some rule preventing the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from changing the flow of packets in any way that depends on the type of the data or servers that are participating in the communication.