Saturday, January 31, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czech web users about Merkel and Greece

Angela Merkel ruled out additional debt write-off for Greece, after the 2010 bailout – which meant to artificially reduce some interest rates, too – and the 2012 haircut, i.e. orderly default. Germany will be kind to anyone who follows the rules, she wants Greece to stay in the eurozone if possible, but a new write-off is really not possible.

The BBC chose a picture of a frustrated meditating Merkel in the dark. The top Czech news server (CZ) decided that a very different picture is appropriate for this kind of news. ;-)

As you can see, even if you are surrounded by carnival Mädchen who are arguably more sexy than you are, you may still be the most powerful one – the most powerful woman in the world.

I found the most popular reader comments under the article entertaining (with some traces of the characteristic Czech humor) – and the consensus which probably applies to the whole Czech Republic is rather clear. Here is the translation of these comments. The header contains the author and the count of the helpful-unhelpful votes.

Planck+BICEP2+KeckArray: diluting the discovery

No certainty yet about the validity of the BICEP2's 2014 discovery

Two or three days before the preprint will appear on the arXiv, BICEP2/KeckArray have released their joint analysis with Planck:

Last March, the discovery papers were and still are offered at BICEPkeck.ORG.

The new joint paper is framed as a discovery of the B-modes at 7 standard deviations but these B-modes are presented as "dust and gravitational waves combined". This literally means that all probabilities of their model are obtained as sums (integrals, the so-called marginalization) over models with all possible values of the tensor-to-scalar ratio, \(r\).

When the high-depth, window-only BICEP2 data are mixed with the low-depth, global Planck data – just like if you dilute your favorite whisky in water at a 100-to-1 ratio, it becomes impossible to discover the primordial gravitational waves separately, the paper confirms. Instead, one may impose one of the usual Planck-like upper bounds on \(r\), namely \(r\lt 0.12\) at the 95% confidence level. This is slightly higher – more signal-like – than all the previous upper bounds coming from Planck.

Friday, January 30, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Will Russia bailout Greece?

The "mainstream" politicians in the EU countries – and the U.S. as well – lack not only the strategic thinking but also creativity, the ability to act cleverly yet surprisingly. We are pretty much facing a bunch of sterile, impotent, redundant, uninspiring, politically correct self-described "good doers".

Fortunately, there are other countries in the world as well. The Russian finance minister just said that he won't rule out that Russia will bailout Greece! Nice, that's what I call a twist. Greece may run out of funds as early as the end of February.

What does it exactly mean? I think it is rather unlikely that Russia will want to repay the Greek debt. At €320 billion, it is almost equal to all of Russia's foreign currency reserves! And the reserves turned out to be rather useful in the recent month when the rouble was under attack.

Well, surprising events may happen so one can imagine that Russia could even sacrifice all of its reserves for this move ;-) but I just find it unlikely.

Paul Frampton releases a book about his supermodel-drug story

For years, many of us have been following the real-life story of Prof Paul Frampton of North Carolina, a well-known physicist and a repeated TRF guest blogger, who ran into trouble in South America.

It all started very nicely.

Czech supermodel Ms Denisa Krajíčková or, if you wish, Californian supermodel Denise Milani fell in love with Paul. That shouldn't be shocking because theoretical physicists are very sexy, especially because of their sexy brains.

Thursday, January 29, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Deflategate: a view from Central Europe

Between 1972 and 1974, America was excited about Watergate. Similarly, the most important event that decides about the future of the United States in 2015 is the so-called Deflategate. In fact, Bill Nye the Science Guy has changed his occupation and began to give lectures about Deflategate rather than climate change, his previous favorite scandal that is – as he equally pointed out – approximately equally fatal as Deflategate.

During a semifinal game in a competition ("NFL") revolving around an esoteric sport named "football" although it is in no way "football" in the conventional sense, the team that I would have encountered in Greater Boston for six years, The New England Patriots (yes, if you wake me up at 3 am, I won't tell you the difference between The New England Patriots and The Boston Red Sox LOL), was found to have provided the game with underinflated balls. Well, 11 of the 12 balls had a lower pressure.

(Incidentally, Czechia is excited about low pressure these days, too: the pressure dropped to 970 kPa, close to the February 1989 record of 967 kPa.)

Because their January 18th, 2015 defeat of the Indianapolis Colts, 45-to-7, was apparently a statistical tie that could very well have ended up differently, people keep on repeating questions such as: Were the balls underinflated deliberately, to help the Patriots? Was it just negligence? Did the underinflation result from a low temperature or high humidity? And so on.

I find the spectrum of these questions to be ludicrous.

Ukraine: how Cyborgs' fame evaporated

The first month of 2015 is ending, various ceasefire treaties are being forgotten, and the meaningless Ukrainian civil war is gradually getting restarted.

When I wrote about the battles of the Donetsk airport in October 2014, I was implicitly assuming it would take days or at most weeks before Novorussia would get the Sergei Prokofiev International Airport, or whatever would be left of it.

Please don't allow kids to watch this 22-minute video.

Instead, it took more than three months. Last week, the Donetsk Militia was finally able to take control of the airport again. The Ukrainian troops who used to defend the airport for months have previously earned the status of legends. They were named the Cyborgs which means that they must have some superhero skills or be hybridized with killing robots.

If you watch the video above, you will see that Novorussia didn't allow these rather ordinary guys to enjoy their celebrity status. The well-known Novorussian commander Givi forces them to memorize his name – I am Givi, a big boy here (oh, you didn't know I was Givi? Slap!) – and he forces them to eat their Ukrainian medals and reveal their birth places. They are shown the devastation they have brought to the Donetsk Region and some of them are chosen for the "parade of shame" through the street during which the ordinary citizens of Donetsk treat these Banderistas in an unflattering way.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Value of Greece dropped by 15% in 3 days, 50% in 10 months

Bloomberg's page about the Athens Stock Exchange informs us about the significant changes in the Greek market in the wake of the catastrophic elections three days ago. The main index has dropped from 1,300+ in March 2014 and 840+ on January 23rd, 2015 to 711 today. The total damages of the elections on the capitalization of the companies exceed the total effect of all Greco-Persian wars by many orders of magnitude.

The Greek banks were doing worse, of course. They dropped by almost 70% in the recent year and by almost 40% years since the elections. Thankfully, the markets are behaving much more rationally than in 2010 or 2012 and most people seem to realize that Tsipras et al. is only a cataclysm for Greece, not so much for Europe or the world in which Greece is a small, unimportant, and largely disconnected territory. All major market players seem to be aware of the fact that Europe is pretty much ready to disconnect Greece formally, too, and it may be almost as smooth as the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, at least on the European side.

The holographic Da Vinci code and quantum error correction

Since the wrong 2012 papers, I have been encouraging

Dr Polchinski, tear down this firewall!
He's an exceptional physicist who has done cool things and can do many more so the earlier he can escape from the firewall, or extinguish it, the better. Finally, there is a fun paper about the holographic code co-authored by Polchinski that doesn't mention the firewall and it is pretty cool and, in my opinion, at least morally correct:
Bulk-Boundary Duality, Gauge Invariance, and Quantum Error Correction
by Mintun, Polchinski, Rosenhaus (Santa Barbara). Their primary question is how to reconstruct bulk operators from the boundary operators in AdS/CFT. But I actually think that closely analogous claims are valid for the microstates of the black holes and the black hole interior, too.

They try to clarify some previous ideas about the relationship between the holographic dictionary in quantum gravity on one side; and quantum error correction in quantum information science on the other side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czech president: a UNSC raid needed to erase ISIS from the face of Earth

Exactly 70 years ago, on January 27th, 1945, the worst extermination camp in the world history, Auschwitz, was liberated by the Red Army. Many politicians who came to that place have completely misunderstood the fact that the main official commemorative ceremonies actually don't take place in Poland but in Czechia – in Prague and Terezín, a smaller concentration camp – where they are organized by Moshe Kantor's ECJ (European Jewish Congress).

At the end, the two different ceremonies didn't overlap because they were remembering different events. In Czechia, people were remembering the war started by Nazi Germany and the liberation of the camp by the USSR. In Poland, they were recalling the Second World War according to Mr Yatsenyuk in which Russia invaded Germany and Auschwitz was liberated by Ukraine, troops from Lvov and Zhitomir.

The attendants were not overlapping, either. No top officials from Moscow were invited to Poland because Moscow didn't have anything to do with the liberation of Auschwitz according to the history favored by the Polish event. On the other side, the Czech events were attended e.g. by the Czech president Zeman, the Slovak president Kiska, and by Mr Yakunin, Zeman's friend and the boss of Russian railways who is on sanctions lists of some irrelevant countries (the U.S. and Australia).

Monday, January 26, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A reply to an anti-physics rant by Ms Hossenfelder

S.H. of Tokyo University sent me a link to another text about the "problems with physics". The write-up is one month old and for quite some time, I refused to read it in its entirety. Now I did so and the text I will respond to is really, really terrible. The author is Sabine Hossenfelder and the title reads

Does the scientific method need revision?

Does the prevalence of untestable theories in cosmology and quantum gravity require us to change what we mean by a scientific theory?
To answer this, No. Only people who have always misunderstood how science works – at least science since the discoveries by Albert Einstein – need to change their opinions what a scientific theory is and how it is being looked for. Let me immediately get to the propositions in the body of the write-up and respond.

Sunday, January 25, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Greeks have spoken: we want to nullify debt, live as Prince of Monaco, avoid work

Your counterparts in Zimbabwe want the same thing
Will the freeloaders finally be given the finger?

Greeks have been living well beyond their means for several generations. Responsible politicians whom mature, sensible voters could pick went extinct a long time ago - maybe during the life of Pythagoras. When Greece was using its own currency, the drachma, the invisible hand of the free markets was able to fix some of the harmful trends. The increasing nominal salaries paid by the populist governments were translated to less quickly increasing real incomes because the drachma was constantly losing value. This was restoring some of the competitiveness.

Syriza's mascot

When Greece managed to fraudulently obey the conditions and entered the eurozone, it lost its independent currency. The increasing nominal salaries in euros suddenly translated to increasing real salaries. The competitiveness was dropping like a stone. The public debt began to grow really quickly. It wasn't supposed to happen because the members of the eurozone were assumed to be nations with at least rudimentary responsibility and economic literacy. But it did happen.

Saturday, January 24, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Exile and dissent are emerging in America

Leftists', fearmongers', and warmongers' treatment of the opponents in the U.S. increasingly resembles the practices in totalitarian countries

Sometime in 1982 or so, when I was nine, I decided to play with the radio somewhat systematically. So I went through all the frequencies and caught assorted radio stations.

At one moment, I would hear someone who said (in Slovak):

This was our editorial commentary. You are listening to the Czech and Slovak broadcasting of the Radio Free Europe [station].
It just happens that I was recording that experiment on a tape so I still probably have these first words I heard from RFE somewhere. Listening to RFE became my standard daily exercise between 1982 and 1990. For this and other reasons, you could have counted me as a child dissident but at the (very good, then) basic school, I was really highly loyal and my opposition only became clear at the high school – where I also hated many other things.

Sometimes, the radio jammers were running at a full speed and the signal was bad but most of the time, I had no trouble to listen to the program. At any rate, your humble correspondent doesn't remember the time when the opponents of communism were routinely executed or something like that. By the 1980s, communism in Czechoslovakia ran out of steam and was becoming obsolete. No one was believing in it anymore. One could still be fired from schools and jobs for political reasons – and (with uncles on both sides in emigration etc.) I could only get to the high school thanks to the repeated victories in the mathematical and physical olympiads. But it was a diluted tea, indeed.

Czechoslovakia would have a few thousand of full-fledged dissidents (a small number) and 300,000 people fled Czechoslovakia after the 1968 Warsaw Pact occupation (and there was a similar "first wave" of emigrants after 1948 or at least after 1945). Many of those emigrants were economically motivated, of course. We like to think that the U.S. is a free country but I think it is accurate to say that this claim is becoming questionable and the rise of both "dissidents" and "exile" – especially very skillful Americans who are being rejected by virtually every "mainstream" institution connected with power and wealth in the U.S. for ideological reasons – is a clear symptom of the disappearing freedom in America.

Friday, January 23, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Tom Siegfried's delusions about the reality of the wave function

In recent days, I've received links to many texts that looked insultingly and fundamentally wrong. One of these hyperlinks was contributed by Bill Zajc. Tom Siegfried, a journalist who can be good at times, wrote

Physicists debate whether quantum math is as real as atoms
in ScienceNews.ORG. It's the second part of a series. The first part said some basic things about Bell's theorem and except that the importance of that paper of Bell's was overstated by an order of magnitude (and except for the popular derogatory "weird" adjective used against quantum mechanics), the content was marginally OK. That can't be said about the second part. I was seeing red for an hour after I read that thing. This text is just terrible and serves as a testimony of the catastrophic degradation of the intelligence of science journalists and some loud people calling themselves scientists, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Windows 10, Microsoft HoloLens, wow

I gave a near 3-hour interactive talk at a local Science Café tonight which was fun. Well, the number of guys who followed it at the technical level was close to \(\pi\) but everything was relaxed, no one was tired, so the talk could have been made entertaining even for those ladies and gentlemen who didn't really follow all those things about escape speeds, special relativity, general relativity, quantum mechanics, Hawking and Bekenstein, second laws and black hole entropy, Strominger and Vafa, ER=EPR, quasinormal modes, landscape and swampland, LHC destructive black holes, and so on. I won't bother you with all the jokes because some of them were childish but enough to make people laugh. ;-)

But I think that if I were giving the talk now, five hours later, it could have been affected by the latest Microsoft press conference.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

A new paper connecting heterotic strings with an LHC anomaly

Is the LHC going to experimentally support details of string theory in a few months?

Just one week ago, I discussed a paper that has presented a model capable of explaining three approximately 2.5-sigma anomalies seen by the LHC, including the \(\tau\mu\) decay of the Higgs boson \(h\), by using a doubled Higgs sector along with the gauged \(L_\mu-L_\tau\) symmetry.

I have mentioned a speculative addition of mine: those gauge groups could somewhat naturally appear in \(E_8\times E_8\) heterotic string models, my still preferred class of string/M-theory compactifications to describe the Universe around us.

Today, there is a new paper

Explaining the CMS \(eejj\) and \(e /\!\!\!\!{p}_T jj\) Excess and Leptogenesis in Superstring Inspired \(E_6\) Models
by Dhuria and 3 more Indian co-authors that apparently connects an emerging, so far small and inconclusive experimental anomaly at the LHC, with heterotic strings.