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".

Sunday, August 31, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Science paper: null results should be printed

Null results are 1.4-1.6 times underrepresented in social science literature

Three days ago, Annie Franco, Neil Malhotra, and Gabor Simonovits of Stanford published a paper in Science that discusses an issue that's been often covered on this blog:

Publication bias in the social sciences: Unlocking the file drawer
See also TIME, SciAm, and others.

They looked at some NSF-funded body of social science research – TESS surveys among the U.S. citizens – where one knows how much research was actually performed, how much was written down, and how much was published.

Czechs, Slovaks won (possible) exemption from new EU sanctions

I urge Moscow to treat EU countries separately, too

A summit in Brussels chose the successor to the EU "president" von Rumpuy. It's no one else than Donald Tusk, center-right prime minister of Poland. He will take the lead in December.

As this 2008 Polish parody "Donald Marží" (Donald Is Dreaming) of a funny 1978 Czech song Joey from the Swamps (the #1 song of your humble correspondent from the kindergarten years) reminds us, Tusk is known as the guy who has ludicrously promised the Poles to completely eradicate corruption and to create another Ireland in Eastern Europe. Well, I still think that the replacement of von Rumpuy by Tusk represents progress in the positive direction.

The Polish coat of arms shows a duck, in order to celebrate Mr Kaczynski and Mr Donald Duck-Tusk.

Radek Sikorski, a former Polish minister of foreign affairs and a staunch Russophobe (not too many other things define his identity), could have been the replacement of Catherine Ashton. But the new EU "minister" of foreign affairs will be Italian social democrat Federica Mogherini who actually has pretty peaceful relations to Russia (and was important in an Italian-US society, too).

Saturday, August 30, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Don Lincoln's introduction to particle detectors

Fermilab's Don Lincoln has recorded a couple of videos promoting and explaining physics concepts.

In this new 10-minute film, he presents particle detectors as subatomic bomb squads.

Friday, August 29, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

CSTO ready to take over Ukraine

I've spent lots of hours by following the events in Ukraine and worrying about them, too. The Western propagandist outlets have informed their undemanding audiences that Russia has finally invaded Ukraine. Well, it wasn't the first time when we heard such a thing. What strategy did Russia choose to invade Ukraine yesterday?

It has sent about 10 soldiers above. They must have supernatural powers if they're supposed to conquer a country with 40+ million people. Perhaps, it wasn't just the ten folks. There may be a thousand of Russian citizens fighting over there. Soldiers on vacations, retired soldiers, and perhaps other volunteers. What a shock. Do you really expect the Kremlin to exterminate people in their military for these hobbies? The Kremlin understands the emotions behind these hobbies. There is a comparable number of Americans (or at least one hundred) on the other side – who have really no business to be there at all – too.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Borexino: photographing the Sun using neutrinos

Technical: Windows 7,8 64-bit users are definitely recommended to download the stable 64-bit version of Chrome which has twice lower instability rate and is faster, not to mention some new abilities. The installer will automatically update your (now 32-bit) Chrome. Perhaps you have to run it twice, closing Chrome perfectly in between. At the end, "About Chrome" should show "Version 37.0.2062.94 unknown-m (64-bit)".
Physics World and most of other MSM science news sources inform us about the observations by Borexino, an Italian experiment located in Gran Sasso (the word could mean "boring former baby") that observed the \(pp\) neutrinos, the neutrinos created during\[

p + p \to \text{d} + e^{+} + \nu_e

\] i.e. the fusion of proton pairs in the Sun (which produces about 99% of the solar output), for the first time.

A five-minute 2009 video promoting Borexino. Is her accent Italian?

To achieve the goal that wasn't guaranteed from the beginning, they had to use a thousand of tons of water buried 1,400 meters beneath the surface, in order to shield some of the backgrounds.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Kaggle Higgs contest: the solution file for everyone

Well, an approximate one

Have you ever searched for the solution file for the Higgs Kaggle contest? Have you ever asked why the organizers don't just publish it so that everyone is smarter? ;-)

Did you ever want to be able to estimate your submission's score without sending it to the Kaggle server? Have you ever been confused by the normalization of the weights?

Because I just got a permission from my teammate and it is allowed for the contestants to be generous and share their wisdom with the whole Internet and all the competitors, I just decided to help everyone – and, perhaps, to re-energize the contest a little bit.

Cristobal, Marie on animated global wind map

Finally, one may see some exciting realtime pictures on the global wind map (click here to get the interactive app; TRF instructions are available, too).

Yes, the hurricane approaching the Bermudas (East of Florida) is called Cristobal. The Pacific hurricane West of California is called Marie.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Visiting Triton

In the most recent week, the American, European, as well as Russian space programs suffered from bummers.

Elon Musk's new SpaceX F9R rocket self-detonated over Texas. Something went wrong and we're told that this rocket's suicide was their mundane Plan B. It's sort of hard to believe that they really planned such a "maneuver" but maybe it's right. One can't get rid of the feeling that these attempts to privatize the space research are perhaps "too cheap" for them to succeed.

Triton, to be discussed later

The second bummer is linked to the unAmerican competitors of the GPS system. A year ago, a Proton-M rocket carrying a GLONASS (Russian GPS) satellite exploded shortly after it was launched.

Monday, August 25, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A curious traffic accident

Sunday, a day of playing e.g. with my 5-year-old nephew and niece, was probably more likely a day than Monday for such an injury. But I classified an event in which I was injured an hour ago to be a traffic accident.

A curious one, indeed. Some people who drive cars or bikes hit other cars. In 1999, a friend of mine from Prague and Rutgers, mathematician Petr Čížek, was killed by a truck that they had crashed into while his lively Russian female friend was driving on a seemingly empty road in Minnesota (I didn't go to that expedition, mostly due to the qualifying exams).

The underpass going to the soccer stadium after a fan association named Ultraside gave a permission to itself to paint it. ;-) It used to be prettier than at random moments – the city hall should have hired them to paint the underpass regularly.

People may collide with other people of different occupations and races. The individual I hit an hour ago was a boxer. And it's a race, not an occupation. ;-) Well, I know that the native speakers actually call it a "breed", not a "race", but I will use the word "race" because it's the same concept as the human races, isn't it (well, except that the separation to breeds was mostly bred i.e. man-made), and I am Czech who has never attended any dog races so there is no room for confusions.

Sunday, August 24, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Irradiation of face by LHC beam is better than Botox

Like other trained particle physicists, I have often been asked what would happen if you decided to insert your hand or head or another part of your body right to the LHC beam.

I wasn't sure about the right answer because it's a complicated interdisciplinary question combining particle physics, radiation safety, biology, and some condensed matter physics and thermodynamics. To be sure, I recommended people not to try this experiment because it would almost certainly be lethal.

These charts of Anatoli Bugorski's skull resemble the investigators' map of the JFK assassination scene.

Three weeks ago, Extreme Tech brought us a story that I didn't know and that may actually force us to change our minds. The experiment has already been tried 35 years ago and the guy is still around.

What happened?

Saturday, August 23, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Europe's support for the Islamic State

"The Islamic State" terrorists are so cruel that at one point, Osama bin Laden had ruled out any collaboration with them.

Off-topic: Czech readers may listen to an episode of Planetarium where they interviewed me about string theory. The program (archive) was aired on Czech Public Radio North on Saturday 18:05 Czech Summer Time.

Volcano: Bárðarbunga began to erupt, so far subglacially, but you may watch the webcam and it may get more interesting.
These überjerks show that when you calibrate your moral sense to the situation of Syria, Bashar Assad is the good guy. The Islamic State is the "real Islam that matters" in the region. Their acts humiliate everyone who has been spreading ludicrous PC fairy-tales about Islam as a religion of peace. There may be people who are peaceful and call themselves Muslims but they are unfortunately irrelevant. What's relevant and "truly Islamic" are groups like the Islamic State – and whether you like it or not, their attitudes are supported by much of the Quran, too. Islam is a form of fascism – and it has been almost nothing else for something like 1300 years.

These monsters are murdering lots of peoples including the Yezidis, an eclectic church sometimes considered as an Islamic sect and sometimes a hybrid of shamanism and Christianity. Those mostly Kurdish people worship Melek Taus, an angel considered to be a "fallen angel" by the Muslims (and probably others) because he refused to lick Adam's aß at one point. Count me as a fan of Melek Taus, too. Adam was just a transitional fossil between mutated apes and homo sapiens – no need to worship this ancestor of ours.

Also, the Islamic State has a P.R. department that is doing pretty much the same thing as MSNBC and other cheap sources of "news" (brainwashing of the undemanding audiences) we know in the West. They use clever tricks to spread their message on the "social media" and they have a superior technology capable of filming hours of professional footage containing dozens of types of murders as well as the warriors' distribution of ice cream among children and they obey many rules of the PC P.R. media as well as Hollywood to impress some people.

Friday, August 22, 2014 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ashoke Sen: elementary particles are small black holes

Three string theorists added as Dirac Medal winners

On August 8th of every year, the Abdus Salam Institute in Trieste, Italy chooses up to three recipients of the Dirac Medal. (It's the anniversary of Dirac's 1902 birth. There exist three other awards called the "Dirac Medal" which I will ignore because they're less relevant for this blog's audience.)

Of course, the medal tries to decorate deep minds who are doing a similar kind of profound research as Paul Dirac did which is why dozens of string theorists have already won it. The Dirac Medal shows what the Nobel prize would look like if the committee weren't constrained by the required explicit, dynamite-like demonstration of the physical discoveries.

In 2014, i.e. two weeks ago, the Italian institute avoided all experiments and awarded just three string theorists:

Ashoke Sen, Andrew Strominger, Gabriele Veneziano
Congratulations! Of course, Veneziano is the forefather of the whole discipline (the intercourse that has led to the birth was Veneziano's encounter with the Euler Beta function), Andy Strominger is a lot of fun and a perfectly balanced top thinker in one package and I know him the best of all, of course ;-), and Ashoke Sen is among the most brilliant minds, too. He has previously won the Milner award, too.

The Hindu printed a short yet interesting interview with Ashoke Sen yesterday:
‘Elementary particles may be thought of as small black holes’
It's funny – the title is actually a sentence I have included in almost every general physics talk I gave in the last decade, perhaps 30 talks in total. Sometimes I talk about the panic about the LHC-produced black holes and emphasize that only experts may distinguish a small black hole from an elementary particle such as the Higgs boson – and its evaporation from the Higgs decay etc.

It's true that the Hawking radiation of a "larger than minimal" black hole has a higher number of decay products (particles) so it's more uniform but for the truly minimum-size black holes, there's no difference.

All 365 Sierra Leona ebola casualties due to a herbalist

The Daily Mail and everyone else mentioned the sad and bizarre statistical fact: all 365 people (3/4 of the victims are women because they're more "the social glue" of their communities, caregivers) who died due to ebola (a lethal cousin of flu) in Sierra Leone caught the disease from a herbalist. What an irony.

The mass infection began in Guinea (patient zero has probably been correctly identified) and lots of the infected ones came to the herbalist in Sierra Leone – which used to be a healthy country. She got infected and many others caught the disease from her, many of them during the funeral.