Friday, November 27, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Greene, Weinberg, Strominger, Vafa, González, Mathur debate GR

Reality since Einstein

This week, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the final form of Einstein's equations. In July 2015, the World Science Festival also known as Brian Greene hosted this 100-minute debate of top physicists.

You will do fine if you increase the speed 1.5 times in the video options.

Brian Greene, Andy Strominger, Cumrum Vafa, and Samir Mathur are string theorists and they were accompanied by Steven Weinberg and Gabriela González, the spokeswoman of LIGO. (I didn't know the name and couldn't resist thinking about the variation of the great quote from TBBT: Here in California, I am a janitor. But back home in Louisiana, I am a physicist. Please don't take it too personally.) Brian started with some stories, e.g. his excitement about a lecture by Stephen Hawking whom he didn't know. And a physics book that remembers everything that Brian has eaten over the years.

Greene – using his wife's eyeglasses – asked the guests the most obvious question that physicists are always asked, namely what they would like to be tattooed on their skin.

There would be curved spaces all over González, black holes on Mathur's skin, Einstein's equations on Strominger's back, and geometrized forces on Vafa. It was quite an over-the-edge celebration of the equations. Only Weinberg reintroduced some sanity when he pointed out that GR was no big deal because it's just another effective field theory governing spin-two particles. You have tattooed your bodies with generic junk, ladies and gentlemen.

Thursday, November 26, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Smolin's untrustworthy, misguided advice to Canadian PM Trudeau

One (or a country) must catch up before he (or it) becomes a leader

Justin Trudeau became Canada's new centrist prime minister and Lee Smolin has already prescribed

Ten steps to make Canada a leader in science
to the new prime minister.

In his notorious book attacking modern physics, The Trouble With Physics, Smolin self-confidently categorized himself as a "seer" (a revolutionary physicist). In his text addressed to Trudeau, he reclassified himself as a "rock star physicist". Too bad that he doesn't mention that most physicists at better places consider him a crackpot. Check e.g. this discussion of Santa Barbara physicists with journalist George Johnson. Download the 24 MB MOV file and go to 22:00 to check what the physicists think.

Mr Trudeau, it's obvious that for the investment in science to be great, one has to hire the ingenious, hard-working, right people. So Smolin's recommendation #1 is basically right and trivial. But one must avoid some traps, at least simple traps, and all the other nine advises that Smolin offers:

Don't trust the people because they try to pay lip service to your politics, like Lee Smolin who inserts seemingly unrelated comments about "climate change" to his essay how to fund physics research. Don't trust the people who paint themselves as full-fledged Canadians but who were born in the New York City, like Lee Smolin, and who ended up in Canada because they were not competitive elsewhere.

Don't trust the people who try to elevate their apparent importance by affiliations in the past because they have never achieved anything beyond the affiliations. Don't trust the men, like Smolin, who praise as "physics revolutionaries" pretty much exactly the same female third-class physicists who have "accidentally" had a romantic relationship or marriage with the man. A bright observer or sponsor of sciences should be able to notice such patterns and deduce the most likely explanation and its implications for sensible decisions.

Why not to get more girls into STEM

Shaun Maguire, a Caltech PhD student, wrote one of the hyper-PC texts

How to get more girls into STEM
that simply drive me up the wall. It is marginally understandable when a female feminist – whose broad framework of thinking is in between a clever man and an average ape and who is driven primarily by efforts to increase her own influence – emits this insane ideological junk. But when a man who managed to become a Caltech PhD student and who calls himself an entrepreneur does the same, it's breathtaking.

At the top, Shaun includes a photograph of three young men who sit in a classroom and try to "increase the gender diversity" (a euphemism for the increase of the percentage of females) in STEM fields. Well, the creators of The Big Bang Theory have filmed a scene that is more humorous than the average one but whose overall description of "what happens" during such outreach programs is remarkably accurate:

Almost all the female children are super-bored by the scientifically sounding stuff. They communicate with cell phones all the time. If something makes them alive, it's always the non-scientific insertions about rock stars or the social life that someone happens to add in between. Not even the word "astronaut" sounds intriguing to them in any way. And even aside from their detachment from science, it's very clear that the men who visited the classroom simply don't have and can't have any magic stick that could turn the girls to scientists. Some of their history may look helpful, some of it doesn't. It's always like that. Sheldon summarizes the visit by saying that he didn't know whether girls were actively discouraged from science but the three guys' outreach program surely did so. Efforts to pretend that the reality is something completely different than it is are almost always counterproductive.

The interest of a particular kid in STEM fields is mostly determined by Mother Nature and the part that isn't is mostly cancelling out up to a noise – the social interactions sometimes push a kid closer to and sometimes further away from STEM. Many great male scientists had to fight heavily for their right to do mathematics or physics. Their parents threatened them by disinheriting the kids, and so on. They became top minds, anyway. From this perspective, it looks really shocking what tiny effects are blamed by the feminist ideologues for the women's underrepresentation in STEM.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

100 years of general relativity

LHC is colliding lead ions whose lab energy is \(82\times 6.369\TeV\), a new record!

On Thursday, November 25th, 1915, exactly 100 years ago, Einstein presented the final form of his equations (defining the general theory of relativity) to the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences in the afternoon.

The building sits at the famous Unter den Linden 8 avenue (the big street that leads to the Brandenburg Gate from the East), see Google Maps, was designed according to the military tastes of Emperor William II, and it was inaugurated just a year earlier, in 1914. These days, the once only building of the Academy is used as one of the three homes of the (Berlin) State (formerly Imperial) Library or "Staatsbibliothek" ("Stabi" as Germans call it).

Einstein had prepared the final form of the equations for that talk and had to work hard, relatively to the standards of this "lazy dog":

One thing is for sure, that I’ve never been so plagued in my life,” wrote Einstein at the time. “Smoking like a chimney, working like a steed, eating without thought, sleeping irregularly.”
So much whining about some work that may be basically reduced to writing \(S=\int R\). ;-)

His wife Elsa remembered that he was absent-minded in the last two weeks or so and sometimes played the piano mindlessly or stared blankly to the space as if he were Witten. Einstein was exhausted and stinking of cigarettes during the talk (strangely, he only allowed to be photographed with tobacco pipes which "contributed to his calm and objective judgment", he stressed; Albert remembered that to beat his doctor, his grandfather smoke cigarette butts from the street) but he gave us his general relativity. The content of papers was more or less ready but they only appeared in 1916.

Institute for Advanced Study has organized an event, GR at 100, and this lecture by the IAS director and my once co-author (and an independent co-father of our matrix string theory) Robbert Dijkgraaf previously gave this October 2015 talk which was the only one whose video I could find two weeks ago.

But now, the IAS YouTube channel offers you 10 videos from the gathering. Search for "GR @ 100" on that page. A talk by Andy Strominger about his very recent findings is there, too.

Does dark matter clump to radial filaments?

Earth's dark matter hair?

Lots of media including The Washington Post, Popular Science, Space Daily, Christian Science Monitor, Russia Today, and Fox News bring us the happy news that Nude Socialist already hyped in August.

The Earth is sprouting hair – radial filaments of dark matter.

This claim is taken from the July 2015 paper by Gary Prézeau, an experimenter at JPL NASA in Pasadena and a member of Planck,

Dense Dark Matter Hairs Spreading Out from Earth, Jupiter and Other Compact Bodies (arXiv)
which has just appeared in the Astrophysical Journal (which produced the new wave of interest). He claims that the ordinary cold dark matter (CDM) is organizing itself in such a way that compact objects including the Earth or other planets develop radial thick enough filaments of dark matter, the hair.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Turkey is a problematic ally of NATO, everyone else

For centuries, the Ottoman Empire was the key power attempting to Islamize Europe. It was the regime that our ancestors had to fight against to protect the "European" values on our continent.

The Austrians, Hungarians, and others had to sacrifice their lives. Meanwhile, the interaction has led to a partial convergence of the Ottoman Empire and the European countries. We (at least in Bosnia, Czechia, and Greece) have learned to drink the Turkish coffee that almost no one drinks in Turkey. At the same moment, Turkey has imported tons of European civilization advances.

It seems obvious to me that the know-how that Turkey has gotten was far more valuable than the know-how that we have obtained from them. So when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the father of Turks, became the prime minister of Turkey in 1920 and the president in 1923, Turkey could reinvent itself as a modern secular state. The Western drift has stopped at some point and since those times, Turkey has been a country "in between" Europe and the Muslim World.

Point-like QFTs in the bulk can't be a consistent theory of QG

Dixon's research is impressive applied science using deep insights by others, mainly string theorists

Lance Dixon is a prominent particle theorist at SLAC. A few days ago, he gave an interview about quantum gravity.

Q&A: SLAC Theorist Lance Dixon Explains Quantum Gravity
He's been most tightly associated with multiloop calculations in quantum field theory (including some calculations at four loops, for example) and various tricks to climb over the seemingly "insurmountably difficult" technical obstacles that proliferate as you are adding loops to the Feynman diagrams. However, as a Princeton graduate student in the 1980s, he's done important research in string theory as well. Most famously, he is one of the co-fathers of the technique of the "orbifolds".

Also, most of his claims in the interview are just fine. But some of his understanding of the big picture is so totally wrong that you could easily post it at one of the crackpots' forums on the Internet.

Monday, November 23, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Could have a Nigerian teacher proved the Riemann hypothesis?

Not really, LOL, thanks for asking

The Clay Institute has announced its "seven millennium problems", a group of deep mathematical conjectures that had been neither proven nor disproven. To solve any of them means to win $1 million. Famously enough, Grigory Perelman has made the crucial steps in proving the Poincaré conjecture – a statement of the kind that "if something quacks and smells like a three-sphere, it is a three-sphere" – and rejected the bounty.

All six other problems remain unsolved so no money has been paid at all. I am among those who consider the Riemann Hypothesis to be the most profound conjecture among the seven. To say the least, I have spent much more time with efforts to prove it (and yes, I mostly believe it is true) than with the other six combined.

A week ago, all leading British media have brought us wonderful news: a Nigerian teacher named Opeyemi Enoch has solved the problem and will be paid $1 million.

Trump is obviously right on 9/11 Jersey City Muslim celebrations

During the weekend, Donald Trump said something that is considered common sense in my country. However, the hysterical reactions by the U.S. journalists and politicians proves that the discussions about similar fundamental issues have been turned into a big taboo in the "land of the free". Some people would obviously shut Trump's mouth if they could!

Donald Trump said that he remembers that thousands of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey were celebrating the 9/11/2001 attacks on that day. Is that true?

On 9/11/2001, your humble correspondent was defending his PhD at 9:30 am. The defense took place in the Busch Campus of Rutgers University, near Piscataway, New Jersey. After that, we went to the top of the Hill Center, the mathematics department at Rutgers, and saw the smoke above the World Trade Center which is 26 miles away (through the air). Those were terrible days for America.

Sunday, November 22, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pi found in the hydrogen atom

...and in every other hole and round corner of the Universe...

Less than two weeks ago, dozens of media outlets brought us wonderful news. The number \(\pi\approx 3.14159265358979\) has been found in the hydrogen atom. Enthusiastic, magic reports of this kind have appeared at Science Alert, Rochester News Service, Science20, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, Science Magazine, Space Daily, Physics World, and other places.

Saturday, November 21, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Tracking Muslims: bad but maybe better than alternatives

Those whose privacy is reduced could be compensated

Donald Trump has proposed a database for the citizens who are Muslims, some kind of a tracking system, and perhaps suppression of the mosques. Other candidates have criticized the proposal and Hillary called it shocking.

The "atoms" in Brussels' "Atomium" fail to behave as atoms according to the laws of quantum mechanics. Is this well-known structure among the potential targets?

But you know, in the current situation, Trump's proposal is one of the common-sense ideas that are ready to be at least considered. The actual support for this kind of ideas may be very strong even if people pretend otherwise – in order to look politically correct. Topics like that may very well become the driver that will move Trump to the White House.

Mamma Mia, the musical

Last night, we went to Prague's Congress Center to see the Czech eddition of Mamma Mia! The huge building formerly named "The Culture Palace" was opened in 1981 and the 16th convention of the Czechoslovak Communist Party was the first big event it hosted. (President Husák said the joke about his fall from a skyscraper during the 1986 17th convention.)

I am not some kind of a regular spectator of musicals but I like the genre. Some two decades ago, I went to Jesus Christ Superstar (CZ) which was great as well. Now, Mamma Mia! has in some respects become the most successful musical in the history. But that's partly due to the fact that the more recent, optimized world makes a big success easier even if the substance isn't necessarily better than it was in the older and old pieces.

Friday, November 20, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Find global warming, win $100,000

Mmanu_F has pointed out that Douglas Keenan, a climate skeptic who has done statistical calculations as a trader in New York and London, earned lots of money, and wrote some articles, has declared his own Kaggle-like challenge

Douglas Keenan's Contest 1000
whose winner will receive $100,000 (zero point one million dollars). The winner needs to be the fastest one; and send his entry before November 2016. An entry fee of $10 has to be paid so that non-serious contestants are suppressed.

Thursday, November 19, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Federica Mogherini, a personification of many evils of the EU

Ms Federica Mogherini, a would-be EU minister of foreign affairs, was supposed to arrive to Czechia yesterday or today. The visit was cancelled. For a while, people were led to believe that the reason was a leg injury of Mr Lubomír Zaorálek, our minister of foreign affairs.

But today, all the fog has disappeared and we have learned a more realistic explanation:

Mogherini shuns Prague also for its tying migrants to terror – Czech Public Radio
Her spokesmen etc. were heard as saying that
the atmosphere in the Czech Republic is not favourable for conducting a debate on foreign policy.
Wow. The atmosphere in any country is tautologically equally favorable for conducting a debate on foreign policy. And in free countries such as Czechia, the public is actually participating in this debate and the debate is calm, balanced, and reasonably intense. A more accurate description of the problem is that Ms Mogherini is unable to participate in a meaningful debate on foreign policy issues which is why she would feel out-of-place in the Czech Republic.

Intercontinental Wilson line as a proof of state dependence

Today, the hep-th arXiv offers us several noteworthy papers.

First, six authors including Heckman, Morrison, and Vafa study the little string theories – non-gravitational but non-local theories describing decoupled dynamics on NS5-branes (not to mention other equivalent definitions) – using compactifications of (Vafa's) F-theory in various geometric phases. They conclude that little string theories (at least those with two or more tensor multiplets) may be rather easily obtained from a six-dimensional superconformal field theory. Also, all six-dimensional superconformal field theories may be embedded in a little string theory. Little string theory's existence was pointed out almost 20 years ago and this beast seemed mysterious – and it's remarkable that people are befriending it and demystifying it in this way.

The remaining two preprints I will mention are dedicated to the black hole interior in quantum gravity.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

First-quantized formulation of string theory is healthy

...and enough to see strings' superiority...

As Kirill reminded us, two weeks ago, a notorious website attracting unpleasant and uintelligent people who just never want to learn string theory published an incoherent rant supplemented by misguided comments assaulting Witten's essay

What every physicist should know about string theory
in Physics Today. Witten presented the approach to string theory that is common in the contemporary textbooks on the subject, the first-quantized approach, and showed why strings eliminate the short-distance (ultraviolet) problems, automatically lead to the gravity in spacetime, and other virtues.

Witten's office as seen under the influence of drugs

This introduction is simple enough and I certainly agree that every physicist should know at least these basic things about string theory but at the end, I think that it isn't the case, anyway. Here I want to clarify certain misunderstandings about the basics of string theory as sketched by Witten; and their relationships, similarities, and differences from quantum mechanics of point-like particles and quantum field theory.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

FQ Hall effect: has Vafa superseded Laughlin?

A stringy description of a flagship condensed matter effect could be superior

Harvard's top string theorist Cumrun Vafa has proposed a new treatment of the fractional quantum Hall effect that is – if correct – more stringy and therefore potentially more unifying and meaningful than the descriptions used by condensed matter physicists, including the famous Laughlin wave function:

Fractional Quantum Hall Effect and M-Theory (cond-mat.mes-hall, arXiv)
Laughlin's theoretical contributions to the understanding of this effect are admired by string theorists and physicists who like "simply clever" ideas. But the classification of the effects and possibilities seemed to be a bit contrived and people could have thought that a more conceptual description requiring fewer parameters could exist.