Tuesday, October 06, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Neutrino oscillations aren't near the top of particle physics

The 2015 Nobel prize in physics went to Takaaki Kajita (University of Tokyo, 1/2) and Art McDonald (Queen's University, Ontario, Canada, 1/2), for their discovery of the neutrino oscillations – which may also be interpreted as the discovery of the neutrino mass. Congratulations!

I don't think that I know the Gentlemen in person. Of course, I know their achievements in cooking. A fajita is a flavored meat strip. And it's sensible that fajitas got the prize along with the hamburgers. McDonald's restaurants have repeatedly saved my life, for example in Santa Cruz, California. While I was at Harvard, I often walked a mile towards the Central Square, away from the hard core of the People's Republic of Cambridge which de facto bans corporations such as McDonald's. (This attitude of the pompous far left-wing bigots offends my nationalist feelings as well – McDonald's only became a big chain when it was bought by Ray Kroc, 1902-1984, a Czech American whose father was born 10 miles from my home.)

But back to the prize. It's a prize in particle physics and one that is totally legitimate but I am sure that lots of top particle physicists will be left a bit unexcited by that prize, too. For example, Nima Arkani-Hamed – who, as a Westerner, is primarily Canadian, just like McDonald – has explicitly stated that neutrino physics – something that the Fermilab has pretty much promoted to the core of the institute's activities – isn't an adequate flagship for the particle physics enterprises in a country that is as great as the U.S. I have always shared this view.

Monday, October 05, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Frank Wilczek's book on beauty

Spoiler: this blog post is full of spoilers'

Ann has sent me Frank Wilczek's new popular book, "A Beautiful Question" (thank you again, Ann!) and it is very nice, entertaining, multi-dimensional, and mostly correct. The question reads "Is the Universe built upon beautiful ideas?" and Wilczek's highly secret answer is a combination of the letters Y, E, S.

If you don't know the name, Frank Wilczek is a Twitter follower of mine. (You probably despise honors but he is also a 2004 Nobel prize winner.)

The book describes the history and recent developments in "generalized physics" and is nicely built around the condensation nucleus called "beauty". It's possible but sometimes, one can see that the presentation of the topics is a bit stretched. Is the history of physics a history of beauty? The answer is as ambiguous as in the case of history of physics as the history of light. Yes, no, a little bit, perhaps. Well, the beauty is great if you see it in the laws of Nature. But if you don't see it, it's likely that it's your fault, not Nature's. A person's sense of beauty is only a good guide to understand Nature if the person has a good sense of beauty, one that is correlated with Nature's. ;-)

Saturday, October 03, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Metaphysics is needed, should face competition, too

Days ago, I discussed Lawrence Krauss' tirade slinging mud at the concept of a theory of everything.

I have also mentioned another text in the same issue of the e-magazine, Life Is a Braid In Spacetime, by Mad Max Tegmark, but I think that it's even more vacuous than his well-known texts about the Mathematical Universe. His text is equivalent to: There is a spacetime. Something is mathematical about it. Sometimes it's the future, sometimes it's the past. If one is a bird, he can look from a bird's perspective. If he is a frog, he may have a frog's perspective.

If it won't be raining, we won't get soaked. (The previous sentence is from a popular Czech children's song that was the template for Smetana's The Moldau ;-) and that I began to use as a symbol of tautologies and "easy prophesies".)

Life is complicated. World lines of living things are complex, too. Yup but where's the beef, Max? Thed text is like Gigi's Puzzle in the Fio Bank's TV commercial: Which of us is me: he... or me...? – He [while each solver points at a different man]. – The solver #1 is a moron moron, the solver #2 is an imbecile moron.

Thursday, October 01, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The trouble with Krauss' criticism of TOE

Nautil.us has published a rant by a fanatic named Lawrence Krauss,

The Trouble with Theories of Everything.
Most of it is an attempt to explain the important idea that most theories we use in physics are effective theories that are optimized for certain scales – for phenomena whose typical energy or typical length belongs to a certain fuzzily defined interval. It would be great if someone were explaining this important point, an unsung scientific revolution, as Krauss correctly calls it.

But he stops short of doing it right – and goes well beyond that, too. The insights about the renormalization groups aren't the goal of his tirade. Instead, they are just some new tools in Krauss' lame attacks against state-of-the-art theoretical physics.

Anti-diesel hysteria emulates witch hunts in Salem, MA

HTTPS: a technical detail: Blogger.com allowed me to activate https://motls.blogspot.com/ and I did so. The HTTPS URLs are no longer redirected; they are safe. Some widgets may be missing in HTTPS but I guess no one will miss those. ;-) HTTP works as it did before.
This text is a continuation of the Volkswagen story.

Petrol engines and diesel engines are comparably important. In the U.S., diesel isn't too popular but in Europe, the percentage of diesel engines in newly sold vehicles has actually surpassed 50%. The fuel economy of the diesel engines has traditionally been better (you may see lots of 2-liter diesel cars that run on less then 4.5 liters per km); but the diesel cars end up being a bit more expensive. Petrol and diesel engines have comparable bodies of supporters, however.

Environmentally, the two groups of engines are roughly similar but the details are very different. Diesel engines produce – and the producers have to care about – particulate and NOx emissions. NOx is harmful to the human health, especially lungs. As far as I can say, the most important measurements are the measurements of the NOx concentration at the most contaminated places of our cities. We know that the NOx concentrations have dropped considerably in recent decades.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Trouble with The Core Theory

A sweet New England reader has sent me a copy of Frank Wilczek's new "beautiful" book (thanks so much, Ann!) and I will discuss many ideas from that book when I finish reading it, which won't be too soon.

But I want to spend a few minutes with one isolated proposal of Wilczek's, one that was also endorsed by Sean Carroll. Frank wants to rename "The Standard Model" – a term that was coined by Steven Weinberg who also wrote the final version of its "weak" part – as "The Core Theory". And he wants to "include" the Einstein-Hilbert action to it, too.

Would I agree with that?

Russia's imminent solution of Syria's problems?

The following text was written hours before the Russian lawmakers okayed the airstrikes in Syria. Those began just a few hours later.

The U.N. General Assembly has listened to many talks. Obama wants to remove Assad because that leader has already been labeled as politically incorrect in the U.S.; Putin wants to keep him because he's the head of the only significant force in Syria that has a chance to defeat the extremists. You may see a difference between a rational politician and a politician with hay filling his skull.

I do believe that it must be an easy, straightforward task for a power to destroy ISIS. The U.S. failures in doing so indicate that Obama's White House doesn't actually want to do so.

But maybe the failures are due to a complete incompetency and the characteristically American misunderstanding of geography outside the U.S. border. For example, the result of a half-a-billion-dollar U.S. program to train Syrian opposition warriors is that there are five ("5", using digits) troops left who may want to fight. Wow, what an army.

At any rate, Russia seems increasingly active in Syria and its contributions may accelerate very soon. Russia has a naval base in Tartus. Lots of weapons and humanitarian aid have been brought there, perhaps the most Western port in Syria, as well as Lattakia. So far, it's only Assad's forces that are stronger thanks to Russia but Russia may offer a more direct military aid, too. So far, Russia has been refusing the idea of its ground troops operating in Syria, however.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Enrico Fermi: a birthday

Enrico Fermi was born 114 years ago, on September 29th, 1901, in Rome. He died on November 28th, 1954 in Chicago, thanks to the stomach cancer. He was most likely the second most important Italian physicist after Galileo Galilei (check this list). Apologies to Rovelli, Dorigo, and others who would place themselves above Fermi and maybe Galileo.

When he was 17 and he was entering the college in Pisa, he wrote an essay about a Fourier-series analysis of solutions to the partial differential equation describing... waves on a string. The examiner interviewed Fermi and determined that the essay would have been good enough for a PhD in Pisa. That was probably no overstatement because the analysis was largely equivalent to a big part of the first or second chapter of any string theory textbook.

Before he was 20, he learned quantum mechanics so well that he was already hired to lead a seminar on it. He went on to master the tensor calculus and GR later. At some moment, he wanted to study mathematics but switched to physics rather soon.

Aspects of Merkel's suicidal policies

While the Central European ex-socialist countries are presented as villains by most of the Western "mainstream" media and e.g. Hollande's suggestions that we could very well be expelled from the EU for having a different opinion are being amplified by those not-so-independent sources of information, the opinions about the migrant wave and the role of top Western European leaders such as Merkel and Hollande are very, very different in countries like Czechia.

Recently, Angela Merkel has dedicated much more energy to selfies with illegal migrants than to work for her Vaterland. Click the image for hundreds of other selfies. 1.6 billion folks with their cameras are still waiting for their selfies – and to be fed and entertained by the German government for the rest of their life.

The Schengen area – the European Union's unified visa zone – seems to be failing. Ten days ago, Politico.EU presented their list of politicians who are responsible for the bad condition of the Schengen area. It's Assad, Orbán, Erdogan, Bush 43, Obama, Cameron, smugglers, Le Pen, Ayoub el-Khazani, Nemmouche, Afewerki, and al-Baghdadi. Some of the contestants' presence makes sense, others (e.g. Orbán and Le Pen in particular) are absolutely preposterous.

Monday, September 28, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

No-transmission principle, antiholographic LQG

I want to mention two recent conceptual, not too technical papers about the connection of holography to seemingly local theories.

Today, Netta Engelhardt and Gary T. Horowitz released their paper

Holographic Consequences of a No Transmission Principle
which argues that whenever a gravitational spacetime dynamics is described by quantum field theories, their background spacetimes have to overlap for them to be able to influence each other and transfer energy. This assumption seems to imply
  1. ban on certain bounces
  2. ban on the resolution of certain black hole singularities
  3. ban on traversable wormholes
Here, the third ban seems to be right and desirable and the first two are "plausible" so if you judged their principle by its selected consequences, you could be tempted to say that it should be a correct one. However, this is not a logically valid method to decide about the validity of a claim. If a claim implies some correct implications, it doesn't mean that the original claim is correct, too. ;-)

Saturday, September 26, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

LHC13: the first inverse femtobarn collected

In the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, David Gross and Ed Witten promoted Nima's Chinese \(100\TeV\) collider. But let's back to the LHC.

In 2012, at the \(8\TeV\) center-of-mass energy, the Large Hadron Collider has collected something like 27 inverse femtobarns of data per detector out of which about 20 inverse femtobarns is being analyzed by the papers.

The 2015 collisions at \(13\TeV\) were rather slow but if you look at the LHC luminosity chart of the LHC control panel, you may see that the LHC tends to nicely collect about 0.1/fb i.e. 100/pb at a time – in a fill that lasts 11 hours or so. The data is currently being collected at the rate about 100/fb/year i.e. 3000/μb/sec.

Friday, September 25, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

History of physics as history of our evolving understanding of light

Tonight, the Scientists' Night was celebrated at numerous organizations that popularize science. Pilsen's Techmania Science Center was no exception. However, the events took place at the Pik Gymnasius, the very high school that I had attended 25+ years ago. They had better chairs and the classrooms tend to have some projectors etc. as well but otherwise my feeling was that not much has changed in those 25 years.

Because the U.N. turned this year into the International Year of Light, the event was mostly dedicated to light and I was giving a talk about the history of light in physics. The Czech PowerPoint presentation plus some videos I often use may be found in this folder. Even though I was expected to shorten this naturally 90+ minute talk to 45 minutes plus discussion ;-), it worked sort of OK and the applause intensity suggested that the people liked it. Some speed is desirable for audiences not to fall asleep.

The Arab-Nazi connection

The special attachment of the Muslims to Germany has deep historical roots

Three days ago, The Frontpage Magazine published Daniel Greenfield's article

Germany's refugee quota plan is a 2nd invasion of Eastern Europe
which argues that for the first time since the Second World War, Germany is trying to invade Czechia (plus other countries). You may ask: What kind of a German invasion is it if it is the Muslims whom Germany wants to spread all over Europe?

The point is that the Muslims identify themselves with the Germans and vice versa. You may have wondered: Why do the migrants in this migrant wave always talk about Germany? Couldn't they have found out that other countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the U.K., and perhaps even France etc., among others, have similar (and sometimes higher) GDP per capita and similar welfare systems?

Thursday, September 24, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Two women guessed for the 2015 Chemistry Nobel Prize

The big Nobel prize week won't come next week but it will be the week after that. Reuters shares the predictions of its associated Thomson Reuters unit

Nobel Prize predictions see honors for gene editing technology
with us. Since 2002, they were making "1 guess per prize" based on the so-far-unawarded people with the highest citation counts and 37 scientists in this list have indeed received the Nobel prize even though most of them on a different year than when they were predicted.

These are the most interesting ladies in the predictions for 2015.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Islam in Slovakia would be an absurdity

I've followed the early consequences of the insane decision on the migrant quota in detail. There are hundreds of arguments why the decision is hugely counterproductive; there have been lots of angry reactions by the Czech and Slovak politicians and a hugely elevated comment activity at the Internet forums. Something like 98% of the population and 98% of politicians agree that the quota vote is a terrible decision that will solve nothing and create huge new problems. The animosity towards the EU has jumped to unprecedented levels.

At any rate, the interior ministers of Slovakia, Czechia, Romania, and Hungary voted against the quota yesterday while Finland abstained. The EU succeeded in breaking the Visegrád Group apart. In the last minutes, the Polish government revised its position and voted in favor of the quota. A Czech European Parliament deputy has claimed that Poland was the main focus of the pressure especially because Donald Tusk, a Pole, is a top European leader of a sort. Poland will probably get a much more anti-immigration government after their October 25th elections.

The Baltic countries were persuaded to support the quotas by some economic promises, we were told.