Thursday, January 19, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Brno, Czechia joins plans to build Hyperloop

Ten months ago, I mentioned that our Slovak brothers – with the unmatched support from the Slovak government – decided to seriously work on plans to build Hyperloop between Bratislava, the Slovak capital, and nearby cities like Budapest and Vienna.

Brno [pronounce: burn-naw] is well-known for the Masaryk racing circuit/automotodrom, some industrial exhibitions, Brno's giant penis statues, as the golden ship filled with pretty girls (orig.), crooked spire on their city hall saying something about the justice over there, the Špilberk castle with a prison, functionalist villa Tugendhat, and as the place where Gregor Mendel discovered the laws of genetics, among other things

Today, Czech media and Wired (and other English-language outlets)

Slovakia's Hyperloop moves a step closer to not being a joke
told us that my homeland has finally joined this experimental movement. Brno (DE: Brünn), the modern capital of Moravia (an ex-margraviate formally outside the Czech/Bohemian kingdom) and Czechia's second largest city (400,000 people and twice as much in the broader area), signed a declaration with HTT vowing to work on Hyperloop.

They would like to connect Brno with Prague – the Czech capital hasn't signed anything (and the Czech government finds Hyperloop too experimental) – but as far as the city halls' OK goes, you could at least connect Brno and Bratislava which are 70 miles away. That's not terribly helpful because it only takes some 80 minutes by car to go from one city to the other.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

GISS: 1998-2016 comparison suggests a trend of 2 °C per century

Thursday update: British HadCRUT4 have completed their 2016 data, too. The last column contains the annual averages. The difference from GISS is significant. 2016 was only 0.013 °C (GISS: 0.13 °C!) warmer than 2015. December 2016 was 0.432 °C (GISS: 0.30 °C) cooler than December 2015. And 2016 was 0.237 °C (GISS: 0.36 °C) warmer than 1998, indicating just 1.3 °C (GISS: 2 °C, satellites: 0.11 °C) of warming per century!
While Czechia is enjoying the best skiing season – when it comes to the snow conditions – in years (Ore Mountains and the Bohemian Forest often provide skiers with up to 150 cm of snow) and I've exploited this fact as well, The New York Times told us about a press conferences by NOAA and NASA today that finally announced the temperature data for 2016.

GISS temperature anomalies, 1880-2016, in multiples of 0.01 °C

On January 3rd, I mentioned that both satellite-based teams quantifying the global mean temperature (UAH AMSU, RSS AMSU) concluded that 2016 was 0.02 °C warmer than 1998. These were otherwise very similar "end of a strong El Niño years" separated by 18 years. According to these numbers and nothing else, one could estimate that the warming per century is some 0.11 °C, a negligible amount.

The GISS data derived from surface measurements (weather stations for the land and some other gadgets in the ocean) ended up with a very different number than 0.02 °C for the difference between the temperatures in 2016 and 1998.

Maybe tariffs are not worse than taxes

And all sensible "protectionist fees" in the whole economy are basically tariffs

While I sympathize with most plans of Donald Trump's – and his philosophy about many things – it's likely that the potential worsening of the international trade is something that I have the biggest trouble with. His protectionist measures may hurt those who export to the U.S. They may also lead to more or less symmetric responses so the exporters from the U.S. will be hurt, too, like all consumers.

But is it so bad? Am I really scared or disturbed?

Tariffs are worse than nothing, I thought – for those who trade internationally. But they're also an extra income of the government. If the total income by the government is kept constant, the tariffs may really replace some other sources of the government's income – which is mainly taxes.

When I think about the protectionist matters in this way, in this context, tariffs look much less bad. Tariffs are just another form of taxation, one that is robbing a particular group of people – the foreign exporters or the domestic importers who are in between or the domestic consumers buying the foreign goods. (Which of these three participants in the international transaction really pays is a purely administrative detail that doesn't change anything about the essence and impact of these fees.) Is it better or worse when the money is collected from these groups of people – relatively to the taxation which collects the money from all the domestic folks and companies for their sins known as paid work?

Monday, January 16, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

By his Euroskepticism etc., Trump is helpful for most Europeans

Two days ago, I wanted to discuss Black Lives Matter and DisruptJ20, a terrorist organization that plans to disrupt the inauguration on Friday (not to mention the traffic in D.C.), maybe ignite a new U.S. civil war, and that instructs its member terrorists how to deal with cops, courts, and prisons. But at the end, I think that these radical loons will stay irrelevant and the following topic is more important.

Donald Trump has given an interview to Bild,

I don't know how long my trust in Putin will survive (paywall),
which was fortunately summarized in a tendentious (but that doesn't matter) article in WaPo. Like the PC WaPo inkspillers, the Eurosoviet apparatchiks are shocked and they talk about a looming trans-Atlantic split!

But Donald Trump didn't say anything that the Europeans should be scared of. He just makes sense. Much of what he's saying just reproduces what wise Europeans like me have been saying for many years.

Does an increased number and exposure of traders slow down convergence of prices to fair values?

I don't think so, markets with lots of motivated traders are equally fast and more accurate

Here's another thought about the currencies, especially the Czech crown. As I approximately predicted, the December 2016 reading for the year-on-year inflation rate was 2.0%, in precise agreement with the Czech National Bank inflation target, which leads to fundamental reasons to exit the intervention regime.

Inflation rates are rising in Germany, the Eurozone, the U.S. – across the world where bankers were (unjustifiably) scared of deflation. The anomalous era of deflation and especially negative interest rates simply had to end. It's ironic that what central banks couldn't do after purchases of trillions of dollars in bonds and other things for several years (the efforts to increase the inflation rate), the dead squirrel on Donald Trump's head was capable of achieving within a month and for free. (He has also cooled down the Earth and Nature had to pay for it.)

In Czechia, the recent steep jumps in the inflation rate were also helped by the EET Big Brother monitoring of all cash receipts that has already been introduced to the restaurant+hotel industry and will spread to the rest of the businesses receiving cash (and payment cards) in three more waves. But most of the revived inflation is more global, has various reasons (including the non-weakening of oil in the recent year). But yes, I think that Trump's "fresh wind" is the most important single global reason for the growth of the inflation and inflation expectations across the Western world. He's already returned some common sense. It's common sense that you pay positive and nontrivial interest rates for loans. So it will probably be so under common-sense Trump. It's also common sense that a government capable of borrowing – and perhaps intimidating creditors – will probably do so which is why it may be reasonable to expect that despite his affinity to the fiscal responsibility, Trump will run big budget deficits and further increase the inflation rate in this way.

During November 2013 when the floor "EUR/CZK shall be above 27" was introduced, the Czech National Bank reserves jumped from 35 to 41 billion euros (euros are relevant because that's where a majority of the reserves are denominated). By the end of 2016, they stood at 81 billion – more than doubled since late 2013 – because the central bank had to print (both electronic and physical) crowns and buy euros (and euro-denominated bonds and other things) in exchange. In October 2016, the jump was 5 billion euros.

Both in November and December, the buying was close to 0.5 billion euros per month. But that post-Trump-victory slowdown dramatically changed in early 2017. In the first two weeks of the year, 10 billion euros were poured into the Czech currency. At the end of the month, the ČNB reserves may be up to 30 billion or so higher than in the previous month because they also needed to add some 10 billion because of some EU regulation and there are two more weeks.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Princeton climate realist Happer meets Trump

The media reported that Will Happer, a wise Princeton physicist and climate skeptic whom I have exchanged a couple of nontrivial e-mails with, has visited the Trump Tower in New York and met Donald Trump. Google News. I guess that Happer's background is sufficiently different from Trump's but I think it's vital for the soon-to-be U.S. president to keep some interaction with scholars like Happer.

If you're not familiar with Happer, you should listen to this 31-minute 5-weeks-old interview. He's an important guy in a coalition of friends of CO2 (I've never memorized the exact name, maybe just the CO2 Coalition), has been famous in science for figuring out how to suppress the sodium-line-based twinkling in the telescopes by lasers, and was interested in the environmental and climatological issues since his service in the DOE under Bush Sr. See also this written interview via WUWT and Climate Depot's useful collection of hyperlinks about Happer.

Friday, January 13, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Klaus on Shevarnadze's RT show

Viewers with common sense can distinguish the nuances

Czech ex-president Václav Klaus traveled to Moscow because Russian became another language in which his and his aide Weigl's recently penned book about the "Migration Period v2.0" (which has a removal van on the cover in Czech and some other languages which use the same word for migration and moving) so he used the opportunity to give an interview for SophieCo, an RT show.

Web page of the show and transcript, YouTube backup

In Fall 2015, he already talked to RT's Oksana Boyko at the Worlds Apart show. I think that both young women do their job very well but both have shown some kind of unfamiliarity with the intellectual discourse that Klaus and similar people represent.

Sophie Shevarnadze, the granddaughter of the well-known Soviet minister of foreign affairs Eduard Sh., is considered the hottest woman in Russia by many people. I think she's primarily very smart and her business-like short haircut emphasized that point and reduced the room for distractions. ;-)

Volkswagen #1 carmaker again, Fiat-Chrysler and Renault harassed for emissions cheating

In September 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began its holy war against the Volkswagen Group which has used a "defeat device", a clever software-hardware gadget that reduces emissions (but also efficiency of the engine) during the emissions testing, but is turned off otherwise.

This war has led to the resignation of the VW boss as well as a brutal collapse of the stocks. Look at the graphs of VOW3, the main publicly traded Volkswagen stock, what it looked like in September 2015. In the month, it collapsed from €170 to €90 or so, almost by one-half. For a year, Volkswagen also lost its yellow shirt for the #1 carmaker to Toyota.

But things are different in early 2017. Volkswagen is the world's #1 automaker again and the current price of the stock is €148, much closer to the September 2015 maximum than the minimum. VW has already paid over $17 billion to U.S. car owners – which I find insanely high but it wasn't lethal. In comparison with that, the 2-day old news that VW would pay $4.3 billion to the U.S. government looked like good news.

Thursday, January 12, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Rex Tillerson, a lukewarmer, stands out like a sore thumb in the new era

Donald Trump has said that global warming was a hoax invented by the Chinese in order to weaken America. And believe me, Trump isn't a great fan of China so this link between China and the man-made global warming movement wasn't meant to be a compliment for the latter.

He has chosen numerous folks for his administration whose climate realist credentials seem indisputable: Scott Pruitt for the EPA, Cathy McMorris Rodgers for the Interior Department, and Rick Perry for the Department of Energy. Given the fact that Rex Tillerson has served as a CEO of ExxonMobil, you would think that it's similar with this guy. Except that it's not.

All climate jihadists who have been fighting "climate change" and ExxonMobil should notice: If you have a relative ally in the Trump administration, it's the former CEO of ExxonMobil! ;-) What an irony. But the green morons don't understand it – instead, they are terribly alarmed by Tillerson. Don't get me wrong. He is not as superficial and insane as his predecessor – he should be an improvement relatively to John Kerry. However, his views are mixed.

Czech president allowed to say many things in WaPo interview

In recent months, The Washington Post has emerged as a flagship among the media outlets that don't hesitate to aggressively promote the misleading and sometimes utterly ludicrous memes associated with the outgoing politically correct U.S. administration. They published an interview with someone on the opposite side of these cultural wars, Czech president Miloš Zeman.

And I would praise the interview for one important quality: Zeman gave his answers to some of the most important questions or questions most often associated with him. One may say that he was not being censored. However, there is a flip side. The journalist was basically trying to mock Zeman from the beginning to the end. At least in between the lines, almost every comment or question contains a suggestion that the reader shouldn't take Zeman seriously.

Let me rephrase the interview in a language that is just a little bit exaggerated.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

What does Obama's drivel tell us about the Science magazine

"For the editors, the left-wing cult is a higher priority than science"

Yesterday, Willie Soon sent me a weirdly placed article in the Science magazine,

The irreversible momentum of clean energy (full, abstract)
signed by one author named Barack Obama. The author's e-mail is – so you could also say that the author is a press department – and in 10 days, the new e-mail will be – so the people will be recycled to the former president's 44th office. It's not bad for a redundant person like that to have 44 offices.

Some naive media admire Obama, the first president to author an article in Science. He's joined elite scientists such as Chinese ex-president Wen Jiabao, Prince Albert of Monaco, Kofi Annan, and yes, also former chemistry postdoc Angela Merkel. Just like Willis Eschenbach, I must say: How infantile you have to be to believe that the presence of an article by Obama in a science magazine implies that Obama is prepared to do scientific research?

Tuesday, January 10, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

CMS: a small Higgs to \(\mu\mu\tau\tau\) decay hint of a \(19\GeV\) boson

Statistics hasn't ceased to hold in 2017, even though the latter is a prime integer. So excesses keep on appearing in the LHC experiment, including the newly published CMS preprint about an analysis based on 20 inverse femtobarns of the 2012, i.e. center-of-mass energy \(8\TeV\) data:

Search for light bosons in decays of the \(125\GeV\) Higgs boson in proton-proton collisions at \(\sqrt{s} = 8\TeV\) (by Aaallah and 2000+ co-authors)
They only look at events in which the Higgs boson discovered in 2012 is produced – the number of collisions of this type (which were not known at all before late 2011) is so high that the experimenters may look at small special subsets and still say something interesting about these subsets.

Off-topic but fun chart of the day. Source.

So they focus on events in which the \(125\GeV\) Higgs decays to four fermions, as if it were first decaying to two lighter bosons, \(h\to aa\). The final states they probe include "four taus", "two muons plus two taus", and "two muons and two bottom quarks". It's not quite clear to me why they omit the other combinations, e.g. "two taus and two bottom quarks" etc. (except that I know that "four muons" was focused on in a special paper), but there may be some mysterious explanation.

Monday, January 09, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Intelligence report on "Russian hacking" is embarrassing

I followed the claims that Putin and his evil Russia have somehow lost the elections for Hillary Clinton. Lots of crackpots were spreading these news but days ago, we got the opportunity to read the 25-page U.S. intelligence report about the "Russian hacking",

Background to “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections”: The Analytic Process and Cyber Incident Attribution (PDF, NYT browser)
and I have quick read it, too.

The U.S. intelligence community is receiving some $80 billion a year, a staggering amount, and this community has basically signed under this document about this widely discussed theory related to the intelligence agencies' work. So you would expect at least something meaningful in there.

Your expectation would be completely wrong. There's absolutely nothing relevant in the 25-page-long document. Rather than the report of a $80 billion industry about an important accusation, it reads like a homework exercise of an undergraduate left-wing crybaby from a U.S. college that has turned into an indoctrination center nurturing students in a bubble – well, almost all colleges are like that these days. And the student would still deserve a failing grade.

Disappointing composition of top-cited 2016 HEP papers

Stephen Hawking celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday, congratulations! Lots of other websites remind you of the basic facts. He's well-known to the physicists primarily for the Hawking radiation of black holes and related insights about black hole thermodynamics; but also for his and Penrose's singularity theorems and other things. He's also revolutionized the popular physics book market. As Hawking mentioned, he has sold more books about physics than Madonna has about sex.

The experimental counterpart of this statement isn't quite true. We have observed fewer evaporating black holes than Madonna's sex scenes, however, namely zero.

I found it interesting to look at the 2016 data papers on high energy physics that already have over 100 citations according to INSPIRE, the database of particle physics papers. This particular search finds 126 papers right now.

Saturday, January 07, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Only probabilities, not observables, are spherically symmetric around singlet states

Physicist and spy Klaus Fuchs has expressed the opinion that Born's rule (squared complex amplitudes are interpreted as probabilities or probability densities) could be derived from something deeper. I think that this wishful thinking is demonstrably impossible. Why? We just don't have any method or theorem in mathematics or physics that could allow us not to assume any statement of the sort

the probability is \(f(\theta)\)
and deduce the conclusion of the form
the probability is \(f(\theta)\)
For example, think about an electron whose spin is prepared to be aligned "up" with respect to an axis, and then measure the projection of the spin \(j_z\) with respect to the \(z\)-axis. The angle between the two axes is \(\theta\), the amplitude is \(\cos(\theta/2)\), up to a phase, and the probability to get "up" again is therefore \(\cos^2(\theta/2)\).

How could you possibly derive that from something "deeper"? We don't have anything "deeper" than probabilities that probabilities could be constructed from. At most, we may define probabilities as \(N/N_{\rm total}\), the frequentist formula by which we measure it – which would give us rational numbers if \(N_{\rm total}\) were some "fundamentally real" options. And we may deduce that the probability is \(p=1/N\) if \(N\) options are related by a symmetry. Or we may say that each state on a "shell of the phase space" – quantum mechanically, a subspace of the Hilbert space – has the probability \(p=1/N\) to be realized during a random evolution as envisioned by the ergodic theorem.

None of those Ansätze can produce the statement "the probability is \(\cos^2(\theta/2)\)" and there are no other candidates of the "methods" in mathematics and physics. So I find it rather clear that unless someone finds a totally new mathematics that finds completely new definitions or laws for probabilities, and e.g. calculates probabilities from Bessel's function of the number of Jesus' disciples (which seems like a quantity of a different type than probability, and that's the main reason why this example should sound ludicrous), it is clearly impossible to derive statements like "the probability of 'up' is \(\cos^2(\theta/2)\)" from something that says nothing about the values of probabilities.

The people saying "Born's rule smells like it's derived" never respond to the argument above – which I consider a proof of a sort. I think that if one carefully looks at the task, he will agree that the only way to deduce that the probability is a continuous function of some variables is to make at least some assumptions that the probability is a continuous function of some variables. Quantum mechanics including Born's rule is making statements about Nature of the form the probability is a continuous function of some variables. But if you have nothing like that as a fundamental law of physics, you just can't possibly derive any conclusion like that.

Quantum mechanics and its statistical character can't be "emergent". The statements about the values of probabilities have to appear somewhere in our derivations for the first time. So the only way how a physical theory may make predictions of probabilities at all is that it contains an axiom with the formula telling us what the probabilities are, namely (in the case of quantum mechanics) Born's rule. Such a rule can't be born out of nothing or out of something unrelated to probabilities, it's that simple.

Friday, January 06, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

It's not racism to favor domestic models

I think that Lidl is the best supermarket chain in Czechia although my view may be biased due to my getting used to a nearby new Lidl. But I've been to other supermarkets very many times and the reasons to think that Lidl does a better job are too obvious and numerous. Low prices, weekly themes with special products, fast cashiers supported by effective systems to add or remove employees etc.

Well, some flame wars have erupted in which I am not quite on Lidl's side. Well, the story is simple. In the weekly flyer for this week (an XXL week at Lidl), a black model has appeared twice, on pages 22-23. I did see the flyer a week ago for the first time and I didn't react. I obviously don't have a problem with a black model at all. I don't really care about models of any color or type. If you had asked me about the photographs, I would probably say that Lidl is making the flyers for the whole Europe and the incorporation of the black model is mostly driven by the political correctness in Germany.

On the other hand, some Czechs did care and they criticized Lidl for this choice. While I am not one of those critics, I find it essential to respect their right to have opinions. After all, in a truly free market, models should be chosen so that the target audience likes to look at them or is otherwise satisfied with them or encouraged to buy more etc. If they don't like a model or a group of models for any reason, blonde hair, thin muscles, high age etc., it's their choice. You can't change people's aesthetic preferences.