Tuesday, July 28, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Ask a question to Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking believes that artificial intelligence is dangerous: those robots may revolt and become our landlords. He co-authored a new letter with Elon Musk (text) demanding all man-made machines to be at least as stupid as a Tesla car to avoid "arms races" with the robots. Hawking himself has become much more powerful when his biological underpinnings have been enhanced by computer technology.

He must believe that he has become much more effective in answering people's questions. That's why he agreed to answer questions posted at reddit.com/r/science:

Science Ama Series: I am Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist. Join me to talk about making the future of technology more human, reddit. AMA!
So far, there are over 8,000 comments over there.

Hillary's 500 million solar panels

In my opinion, Hillary Clinton is the most likely Democratic candidate to win the nomination and the most likely candidate to become the U.S. president. She's been moderate from many points of view. But she has apparently decided that a viable Democratic candidate needs the unhinged far-left base to win and because these extremists have largely adopted the most radical memes of the environmentalism, including the climate alarmism, as well, she decided to outline her great "renewable energy" plan.

Barack Obama had promised a similar plan to save the world and to stop the rise of the oceans in the Universe. Hillary Clinton is proposing her plan to reduce the workers' electricity bills. There are some similarities but you may see that Hillary is a bit more down-to-Earth.

Hillary, referring to herself as "just a grandmother with two eyes and a brain", decided to do the same thing as every lady whose husband prefers to bill-and-monicoo with other women: to reduce the CO2 emissions.
Well, maybe two eyes and a grandmother's brain aren't enough to find the actual solutions to any problems.

Monday, July 27, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Barack Obama and Uhuru Kenyatta on gays in Kenya

Barack Obama has visited his fatherland, Kenya, and he didn't resist the temptation to promote one of the fads of the contemporary America, namely homosexualism (this is a favorite word of Czech ex-president Klaus; Kenyans surprisingly talk about gayism, too).

Kenya is a nation of 45 million people in East Africa. The official languages are English and Swahili. I actually found the response by their president, Uhuru Kenyatta, rather impressive. It sounds weird that this president's English and his rhetorical skills exceed those of any current top Czech politician.

Sunday, July 26, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Can oil companies be eliminating concerned Arctic researchers by lightnings?

In April 2013, I noticed that two of the co-authors of a paper about the Arctic accidentally died within a short period of time. A pretty lady collided with a truck while biking; and a man got drunk during a New Year Eve's party and fell from the staircase.

They were sad events but I semi-seriously proposed that those accidents weren't quite accidents.

Peter Wadhams, an old colleague of those folks who previously claimed that methane bubbles in the Arctic will erase 1/2 of the mankind's wealth, liked my idea and publicly articulated it yesterday. These people must have been assassinated by the "oil lobby workers".

Saturday, July 25, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

TTIP: can there be EU-U.S. free trade?

I am actually surprised that the European Union is negotiating a free trade pact with the United States, TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Effectively, the United States could join the most useful "layer" of the European Union, the European free trade zone.

For decades, the EU bureaucrats have been inventing increasingly complex regulations on names, genetically modified foods, concentration of one nutrient or another in each food, and so on, and so on. And suddenly, they would effectively allow the U.S. products that don't have to obey these conditions? Have they forgotten their past? Has there been a revolution in Brussels that has replaced socialists by free marketeers?

Obviously, as a free market champion, I am a defender of TTIP. The new competition could be threatening for some but it would be an advantage for others and the latter would prevail in the overall tally. Free trade makes growth faster. It pushes the people, companies, and nations to do things they're really good at. It gives the consumers more diverse options, more luxurious options, and/or cheaper options. And if corporations and consumers may become stronger relatively to the governments, it's surely good news.

How you surely can't recover information from a black hole

Lots of papers that make it to the arXiv these days (but maybe a minority) are completely wrong. Some of the most crazily wrong papers that make it through the arXiv filters are those that are soon hyped by the blogs and the media. That's also the case of the preprint

How to Recover a Qubit That Has Fallen Into a Black Hole
by Aidan Chatwin-Davies, Adam S. Jermyn, and Sean M. Carroll which has been "promoted" by a guest blog written by the first co-author on the blog of the third co-author. Holy cow. This short paper is just so incredibly wrong in such an incredibly stupid way!

Friday, July 24, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Fearmongers threaten with attacks if Lomborg's center opens in Australia

Tony Abbott became Australia's prime minister in 2013 and since the beginning, he was aware of the utter irrationality in his country's and its universities' previous attitude to the "climate change" gospel. He wanted some scholars in his country who study topics such as related "global threats" rationally and honestly.

However, he doesn't quite have the balls so he didn't dare to open a center run by truly sensible people when it comes to these issues – climate realists. He wanted to appease the extreme left-wing activists who have contaminated almost every corner of the university environment. So his center had to be led by

  1. a lukewarmer, not a true climate skeptic
  2. someone with some other "minority" credentials, e.g. a gay
This puzzle had a unique solution: Bjorn Lomborg. So the Australian government decided to pay $4 million and establish a new research center that rationally studies "global problems", an Australian branch of Lomborg's Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star

Could it harbor human-like aliens in Škoda-like cars?

Yesterday, NASA announced the discovery of the most accurate impersonation of the Earth-Sun system so far.

Kepler-452 is a G-class star (like the Sun) with almost the same surface temperature as the Sun, 10 percent larger in diameter, 4 percent larger in mass, and 20 percent brighter than the Sun. As you can see, it is almost the same thing as the Sun. But it is also 30% older than the Sun, about 6 billion years.

Thursday, July 23, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

ECJ: utility discriminated against gypsies by making it harder for them to steal electricity

ČEZ is the dominant Czech power utility. More than 50% of the company is state-owned but the remaining stocks are enough to make ČEZ one of the two most intensely traded stocks at the Prague Stock Exchange.

ČEZ owns various power plants and grids in the post-socialist Europe, too. And a complaint in the Bulgarian town of Dupnica/Dupnitsa has led to a rather incredible EU court verdict (see the full judgment here) that has shocked those Czechs who cared.

Because my text would be almost identical to that of Dr George X [not Rachel] Doležal in the Reflex Magazine, I will translate his viewpoint instead.

George X. Doležal: ČEZ has discriminated against the Romani. It didn't let them steal power.

The European Court of Justice has made a groundbreaking verdict against our ČEZ. To steal electricity is, as the judges implicitly state, a democratic right. The provider of power isn't allowed to place any technical hurdles that would prevent the consumer from stealing electricity. If the provider does so, it is discrimination.

Žižkov rocket finally launched to space

Fun reading in the Guardian: life and personality of John Conway, the world's most charismatic mathematician
Russians and Americans are employing cosmodromes that are well-separated from the main centers of the civilization.

The #3 country in space research, the Czech Republic (recall that Czechoslovakia was also the #3 country with a man in space, Mr Vladimír Remek, now the Czech ambassador in Moscow), decided that this setup was uneconomic. That's why our modern cosmodrome was built in Prague, in the neighborhood of Žižkov [zhish-koff].

See Google Maps

This decision was made in order to simplify the inflow of cash, fuel, and signatures that are needed for cosmic operations.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Identity theft: the thief of Lubos_Motl turns out to be a well-known man

John Cook found a "simply clever" albeit not quite ethical (and legal?) way to raise his IQ by 60 points

Steve McIntyre has informed me about some amusing discussions in 2011 and I simply can't resist to brag about them ;-) especially because this incident says quite something about the integrity of the climate doomsayers (more precisely about the non-existence of it).

John Cook is the founder of one of the world's most famous "Sky Is Falling" websites about global warming, SkepticalScience.COM. The name of the web wants to express the point that the climate skeptics shouldn't even be allowed to use the term "skeptics". They only deserve expletives while the "true skeptics" are the champions of panic such as Cook himself. He is a typical example of the alarmist "grassroots movement" who has no relevant education (his top academic achievement is to have been a "former student" – in other words, a dropout) and no significant intelligence but whose persistent activism – in combination with the pathologically corrupt atmosphere in many institutions that favor "a certain kind of views" – has allowed him to become something like an "honorary scientist" and to have earned a huge amount of money, too.

Sometimes in 2010, he began with his "essay debunking skeptics' 100 or so talking points" which I decided to reply to at one moment. It was largely a waste of time but it's true that the TRF blog post I just linked to has collected 13,000 views, significantly above the TRF average. You find a dozen of additional TRF blog posts with his name.

When a high-speed train collides with a truck

In the morning, at 7:43 Czech Summer Time, a very ugly accident took place in Studénka, a town 20 miles from the Polish border and 10 miles from Czechia's 3rd largest city, the Northeast industrial city of Ostrava (300,000 people). The top 4 cities are Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Pilsen.

The King of the Road, sure...

In the case of the 5 Czechs abducted in Lebanon (yes, the identities I figured out have been confirmed, up to the ambiguous first name of Mr Pešek, the bodyguard), we know nothing about the kidnappers or details how and why they were taken (some beheading by the ISIS in coming days can't be excluded).

In this case, we know everything. But this knowledge can't save the human lives. Two people have died, several others are in critical condition, a dozen more are injured.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A new LHC Kaggle contest: discover "\(\tau \to 3 \mu\)" decay

A year ago, the Kaggle.com machine learning contest server along with the ATLAS Collaboration at the LHC organized a contest in which you were asked to determine whether a collision of two protons was involving the Higgs boson (that later decayed to the \(\tau^+\tau^-\) pair, one of the taus is leptonic and the other is hadronic). To make the story short, there's a new similar contest out there:

Identify an unknown decay phenomenon
Again, you will submit a file in which each "test" collision is labeled as either "interesting" or "uninteresting". But in this case, you may actually discover a phenomenon that is believed not to exist at the LHC, according to the state-of-the-art theory (the Standard Model)!

The \(2\TeV\) LHC excess could prove string theory

On Friday, I praised the beauty of the left-right-symmetric models that replace the hypercharge \(U(1)_Y\) by a new \(SU(2)_R\) group. They could explain the excess that especially ATLAS but also (in a different search) CMS seems to be seeing at the invariant mass around \(1.9\TeV\), an excess that I placed at the first place of attractiveness among the known bumps at the LHC.

A random picture of intersecting D-branes

Alternatively, if that bump were real, it could have been a sign of compositeness, a heavy scalar (instead of a spin-one boson), or a triboson pretending to be a diboson. However, on Sunday, six string phenomenologists proposed a much more exciting explanation:

Stringy origin of diboson and dijet excesses at the LHC
The multinational corporation (SUNY, Paris, Munich, Taiwan, Bern, Boston) consisting of Anchordoqui, Antoniadis, Goldberg, Huang, Lüst, and Taylor argues that the bump has the required features to grow into the first package of exclusive collider evidence in favor of string theory – yes, I mean the theory that stinky brainless chimps yell to be disconnected from experiments.

Monday, July 20, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Yuri Milner pays $100 million to find ETs

This ET entrepreneur established e-stores alza.cz and alza.sk

During an event that was made special by both Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking (video), it was announced that Yuri Milner is paying $100 million to the search of extraterrestrial civilizations in the next 10 years. Obviously, it is the largest donation to the SETI paradigm ever (before you beat it). See also:

A Russian billionaire just donated $100 million to help find alien life (VentureBeat)
The money is going to be used by SETI folks to access the Parkes Telescope in Australia and West Virginia’s Green Bank Telescope. Instead of one or two days per year, they will be able to use it for a month or two each year – stealing the telescope time from "more mundane" astronomers.

Sunday, July 19, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

70 years after Beneš decrees: gestures of reconciliation

I am sure that most readers don't find German-Czech relationships to be important enough to deserve two TRF blog posts in a row. But I do so here's the second one.

Seventy years ago, on July 21st, 1945, Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš began to release his post-war "Beneš decrees" which, most importantly, meant that almost all of the 3 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia. It was an act of the government-in-exile (in London) that was retroactively approved by the Czechoslovak Parliament a year later. The expulsion was a specific implementation of some reorganization of Europe that was "implicitly" assumed by the Potsdam Conference.

Today, Mr Pavel Bělobrádek, the education minister and a deputy prime minister (and the boss of the Christian Democratic Union which is traditionally the smallest coalition party in most of the post-Velvet-Divorce Czech governments) visited Munich. He paid the honor to the Sudeten German victims of the expulsion.

He's been criticized by many politicians and enthusiastically praised by the Bavarian press. While I am generally closer to those who say that it's right to defend the national interests and who won't ever overlook the historical context that led to all these events, I don't have any problem with his acts.

Volkswagen should focus on profits, not kindergarten pissing contests of brands

Sound business practices more helpful than nationalism

The Czech media began to discuss an increasingly urgent issue recently raised by the prestigious Automotive News Europe magazine (ANE): the VW-owned Czech subsidiary, Škoda, is doing much better than the other brands in the corporation.

Škoda Vision C concept. The new generation of Škodas got pretty close to that. The design – contributed by the Škoda chief designer Jozef Kabáň who is Slovak – may beat other brands by its similarity to BMW etc. The vertical ribs on the front grille belong among the details that make it sexier, I think. The horizontal ribs of VW, Opel etc. help to make these brands mediocre.

Volkswagen has plans to become the world's #1 carmaker by 2018 or so. Can it be achieved? Lots of numbers were promising. But June 2015 has shown a 8.6% year-on-year drop in sales which is worrisome. One brand at least managed to stay above zero (at least a month earlier), Škoda. Its annual production is safely above 1 million cars and the growth rate remains substantial. In H1, it produced 544,300 cars, a year-on-year increase by 4.2%.

Saturday, July 18, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Who are the 5 Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon

Three weeks ago, after the attack in Tunisia, I claimed that the Muslim world isn't safe for Western tourists. Sadly, five Czech passports were found in an abandoned car in Lebanon today. According to one source, the kidnappers demand their brother held by the Czech police to be freed.

The press never tells you the exact names – in the Latin alphabet (except for Munir Taan, the Lebanese driver whom they hired including his car and who is also missing) – but I think that I got much further than that. This page in the Arab script provides us with a transcription of the Czech names to the Arab script. It will get interesting soon, be patient.

UPC Wi-Free: cool ISP services

220,000 new free Wi-Fi hotspots in Czechia for me

When we talked about the "net neutrality", I noticed that much of the support for this anti-market meme comes from some general animosity of consumers towards their Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – see e.g. these cartoons. I had no idea where these sentiments come from – and I am convinced that most Czechs share my feelings.

The ISPs work as well as other industries that were rejuvenated by capitalism and liberalization – and perhaps even better than that. The rate at which our Internet connectivity has been evolving seems amazing to me.