Sunday, May 31, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

As an ally of Israel, Obamaland sucks

There are many issues where Barack Obama has already demonstrated that his left-wing supporters have been detached from reality. For example, Gitmo can't be abolished as "humanly" as some people would love to believe (and as he may have been promising). However, the U.S. attitude to the Middle East questions has significantly deteriorated since Obama's oath.



Hillary and Obama have demanded that all Israeli citizens stop any expansion of their settlements in Judea and Samaria, including the legal ones. At the same moment, it seems that the current U.S. administration is simply satisfied with the expansion of the Arab settlements at the disputed territory. In this sense, Obamaland is not only failing in being an ally of Israel: it is becoming a moderate enemy.

Many people who are more familiar with the situation, e.g. Prof Paul Eidelberg, have given lots of explanations why the policy to support a new Palestinian state is based on a wrong evaluation of the history, the present, and especially the future. I would be repeating his (or others') arguments - which is what I am going to do, after all.

Saturday, May 30, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Waldemar Matuška: RIP

Sadly, Czech singer Waldemar Matuška (born 1932 in Košice, Slovakia, emigrated to the U.S. in 1986) died of pneumonia and heart failure today in Miami, Florida.



Nightingales of Madrid and 30+ other songs. See additional songs or more LM playlists.



Václav Klaus and the Holy Father

The Czech president met with the Holy Father in the Vatican today. They agreed about most things in the world. There are some differences. In one of them, I share the opinion of the Pope rather than our leader: the origin of species.

While the administration of Benedict XVI recently endorsed Darwin's theory and slighted Intelligent Design, Václav Klaus finds it impossible to consider Intelligent Design articles to be trivial silly texts because they appear in his favorite journals.

Friday, May 29, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

String theory: a middle way?

Peter F. has kindly brought my attention to an article that Jessica Griggs wrote for Nude Socialist,

What string theory is really good for,
that primarily focuses on the application of AdS/CFT methods to condensed matter physics.

She did a fair job in describing the history of string theory, its role in unification, holography, AdS/CFT, its application to condensed matter phenomena, especially high-temperature and "holographic" superconductors, and related issues. And it's pretty clear that she had to pay a lot of attention to the testimonies of her informers, real physicists like Sean Hartnoll or Clifford Johnson.

However, the article also repeats many widespread laywomen's rudimentary misunderstandings about theoretical physics.

Let me start with the issues that are simple to understand. The first one appears in between the lines of the first paragraph. String theory - you love it or loathe it. Well, indeed. What the lady failed to report is that the two groups are not quite isomorphic: the people who "love" it are usually those who have studied it, did (or are doing) research on it, and whose average IQ may be around 145.

Those who self-confidently scream how they "loathe" the theory are uniformly pompous fools who have no idea what they're talking about and whose average IQ may be around 95. When it comes to their sociology, be sure that your humble correspondent is the world's #1 expert in these people - a social scientist who has researched them, one by one, in thousands of interactions that took thousands of hours. And you can be sure that every single one of them is a crackpot or a whackadoodle. I could spit hundreds of their names here but let's not transform this article into white pages with whackadoodles. :-)

This general principle about the origin of the difference between the two groups had to be clear even to Jessica Griggs because it directly follows from the stories she reported but she wasn't able to deduce the proper conclusion. Jan Zaanen, a Dutch condensed matter physicist, was annoyed by the fact that the string theory talks were the only ones he couldn't understand. Unlike many others, he decided to study the theory and fell in love with it.

This story is, of course, completely general. Those who haven't appreciated the breathtaking intellectual power of string theory either haven't studied it at all, or are not capable enough to collect the "critical mass" of its inner workings and squeeze it into their brains. Although many of them seem to be proud about their ignorance and the limitations of their memory, creativity, and imagination, there is really nothing to be proud about.

At any rate, Ms Griggs counts herself as a member of another group that believes a "middle way", a universal method used by many people to feel wise. Well, being "in the middle" is a good recipe to be a mediocre person but it is surely not a good strategy to converge to the right answers in science where the truth is rarely in the middle of the people's opinions. In fact, the truth often exceeds the expectations of the most extreme group of scientists - but it is not a priori clear in which direction. ;-)

The previous paragraphs talked about simple sociological issues. But there are many basic technical misconceptions that Ms Griggs promotes.

The first one is her suggestion that the tiny magnitude of the length scale where quantum gravity becomes relevant is some kind of a recent disappointing discovery. Well, it's surely not. Natural units began to be understood in 1881 when George Stoney put universal constants G (Newton's constant), c (the speed of light), and the electric charge equal to one. They were extended to Planck units by Max Planck in May 1899 when he added Planck's constant.

From that time, it was clear to every competent physicist that the natural scale where the speed of light, the novel quantum phenomena, and gravity simultaneously matter is close to 10^{-35} meters, a ludicrously short distance. In other words, every adult physicist born in the 20th century who was "surprised" by the observation that the fundamental length scales are tiny and hard to be directly probed - after he got his physics degrees - has badly messed up with the gears and wheels in his skull.

Another bizarre concept in the article is that Maldacena may not fully deserve the credit because another disappointing discovery showed that the spacetime in his correspondence is not the Universe around us. Well, such an idea is crazy, too. The AdS/CFT correspondence has never been studied as a part of phenomenology. The conjecture originated from a detailed analysis of coincidences involving branes and black holes in highly unrealistic backgrounds of string theory, usually with 8, 16, or 32 supercharges (at most 4 supercharges are acceptable as a starting point in phenomenology).

No one has ever thought that this new kind duality should be relevant for model building tomorrow or on the day after tomorrow (and various unparticles and conformal windows are the closest projects to become counterexamples). It was always a part of the conceptual research of one of the paramount questions, "What is string theory and quantum gravity". Sean Hartnoll has even made it clear to Ms Griggs that string phenomenology is just a relatively small part of the research of string theory (one that he was never too thrilled by) but she's still not getting it.

It turned out that the AdS/CFT is helpful for heavy ion physics, superconductors, atomic physics, and many other disciplines.

But these applications have emerged as a "bonus" and they are in no way essential to justify the research of fundamental conceptual issues about quantum gravity. The latter are being studied because they are arguably the deepest part of science of the early 21st century, a part that is likely to keep (or expand) its fundamental importance for decades or centuries, not in order to construct one particular dirty experiment in condensed matter physics that will be fashionable for two weeks.

Most science journalists still seem to be unable to distinguish pure research driven by concepts that are going to be taught for centuries to come from the applied research that is justified by more short-term, often practical needs.

The typical reason is that they're completely unfamiliar with the first, purely theoretical group of activities. They just can't distinguish quantum gravity from their desire to have a tastier cheeseburger on Friday night. The cheeseburgers keep on distracting them. They don't understand how a theoretical question unrelated to food or sex could keep scientists busy for decades or a century - or for millenia, if I include the Greek philosophers.

The article also includes a comment showing the anti-landscape bias. What do I mean? String theory has countably many stabilized solutions - and a (probably) finite but very large number of them (people like to say 10^{500} even though the calculation behind this number is not terribly canonical, well-defined, accurate, or important) are a priori semirealistic. Does it mean something for the validity of string theory?

Because we can't determine the "right" number of vacua in the multiverse - we can't measure it - it clearly means nothing. Even after all those years when this basic question was intensely discussed at all conceivable levels, many people still don't understand this basic point. The anthropic people think that a scenario realized by a (much) larger number of vacua is (much) more likely to be true. The anti-stringy crackpots scream that a metascenario (in this case, the whole string theory) that is realized by a (very) large number of vacua is, on the contrary, (very) bad.

Of course, as we have repeatedly explained, both of these groups are being completely irrational. The counting may only become relevant for our estimate of the probability of a theory (or a scenario) once we find out an independent way to derive the correct number of vacua admitted by the equations of the world we inhabit. Because the latter is not empirically known today (and it is not known from other, independent theoretical considerations either), the particular structure of the landscape (or its size) is just a prediction of a theory that has been neither verified nor refuted.

Ms Griggs also suggests that the condensed matter applications suggest that people study a different string theory or that the theory has different properties than what is expected from its being a unifying theory of all forces of matter. That's another nonsense, of course. As we have explained many times, it is easy to see that "the" string theory appearing in the AdS/CFT correspondence is the same theory that is studied in the context of the unification: these two subdisciplines of string theory just focus on different parts of the set of its solutions.

There are many other misunderstandings that are written either explicitly or implicitly, between the lines, in Ms Griggs' article, even though this article is incomparably better than the junk that we used to see two years ago when certain two crackpot books were so popular with the media. (The blue one was released in the Czech language three weeks ago but fortunately, almost no one has noticed its publication.) But let me conclude with another widespread misunderstanding about all of science. People don't distinguish active disciplines on one side and theories that are likely to be true on the other side.

These are totally different things. There are many theories that are no longer active because they have either been completely settled or they have been settled (or, on the contrary, not-so-settled) to the extent that seems realistic given the toolkit that is accessible today. People are working on other questions because they see a greater potential to make progress over there.

Mathematicians are no longer classifying finite groups because the task has been completed. It doesn't mean that there is something wrong with the classification of finite groups: quite on the contrary, it's totally and beautifully completed which makes it kind of dull, too.

In natural sciences, things are usually never "quite" completed. But nevertheless, good theories often reach the point where their agreement with the empirical world is satisfactory enough and attempts to make it substantially more satisfactory seem too difficult. For example, biologists "roughly" understand the evolution of birds and they are relatively satisfied - even though their picture of the evolutionary tree leading to birds is incomplete, somewhat inaccurate, and maybe even slightly uncertain. But most of them are simply looking to other questions because they seem to have some ideas how to make progress. But that doesn't mean that they immediately start to believe that birds haven't evolved from small theropod dinosaurs.

The same forces operate in theoretical physics, too. Some people study string phenomenology, others investigate conceptual issues of black hole physics or higher-dimensional geometry, while yet another group does research of the applications of holography in low-energy physics. Each of these groups has many subgroups and people are jumping in between them.

But the amount of activity is not a measure of the immediate value of the probabilities that various hypotheses in the given subdisciplines are true: the amount of activity may be comparable to the expected rate of changes - i.e. the time-derivative of the probabilities (which can come with both signs). But if there's no activity relevant for a particular question, it means that the probabilities of different answers to the question are not changing; it doesn't mean that they go to zero (or one - or another number that an external demagogue could find convenient as his interpretation of the "silence").

For example, as of 2009, the Standard Model is quite surely the correct effective theory below 100 GeV while string theory is very likely the correct unifying theory of all forces and particles. One needs progress to refute one of these claims or to increase the probabilities, but no progress means no change of the probabilities.

Some people would like to change scientists' beliefs about particular questions without making any research and without presenting any scientific results. That's simply not possible in science and every person who is not an idiot should be able to understand why.

And that's the memo.

Chu and Terminator wrestle with nuclear fusion



Tom Trevor sent me this amusing article in FoxNews:

Giant laser reactor unveiled in California.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steven Chu had to show up when a new "The National Ignition Facility" (NIF) - attempting to maintain thermonuclear fusion by 192 giant lasers in a sphere of radius of 5 meters - was officially launched in Livermore (near San Francisco).

Thursday, May 28, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Don’t modify gravity: understand it

Mark Trodden and Dmitry Podolsky wrote about a gravitational conference in Cleveland, Ohio that they have attended.

Some talks have focused on experimental tests - but for these tests to make sense, there should also exist a rational or semi-rational reason to expect some deviations from the theories we use today. And people have had different opinions about this point, as we will see, even though only one opinion is correct. ;-)

Dmitry reported that Newton's law is now known to be valid at all distances above 56 microns. He is linking to some interesting animations of high-velocity collisions of black holes and the resulting radiation. And finally he tries to propagate some confusion about the quantum coherence in the black hole context - a confusion that he has already tried to share with Samir Mathur who has promoted fuzzballs (see also his recent short paper about the tunneling rates into the fuzzball states).

Eggs for Paroubek in every town

The Czech socialist leader Mr Jiří Paroubek has been doing very bad things for quite some time. The removal of the Czech government in the middle of our EU presidency was one of the latest mean tricks by this rotter.

Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Some people in smaller Czech towns began to pelt him with eggs. But you know, these small towns are small and not necessarily too anti-socialist. You may guess what happens if this new popular public game arrives to Prague which is both large and a right-wing stronghold.

Well, you can see how the socialists attempted to have a rally in Prague. ;-)



The socialist Big Cheeses were hit by hundreds of eggs and they mostly deserve it. See

Google News, FoxNews
19 pictures (click "Další" for "Next")
The Invisible Dog videos
Stream TV about ParoubEgg
The Huffington Post (readers have a lot of fun with their comrades' problems)
Mr Topolánek, the Civic Democratic leader, said that his party had nothing to do with the attacks. And he is almost certainly right (even though he must be enjoying the events at home, just like everyone does haha!). This new form of entertainment is mostly driven by young people who are not affiliated with any party.

Many of them are not too interested in politics - they may be doing similar things as they do in the pub or as ice-hockey fans. And a few of the young people are still upset because Paroubek broke up a techno music festival four years ago. And for most of them, Paroubek simply looks disgusting and sleazy, especially in combination with his new young wife and his dictatorial kind of speech.

President Klaus has denounced the egg attacks as attacks against democracy. And such attacks can be dangerous for democracy, indeed, especially if there is a risk that the eggs may become stones tomorrow. But there are other dangerous things, too, and creeping, behind-the-scenes negotiations meant to reinstall Paroubek are examples.

There exist certain reasonably balanced laws in our country and the police seems to be able to enforce them right now. For example, such exercises with the eggs are classified as an offence that can be punished by a fine around USD 50 or so. Such a punishment looks appropriate, sensible, and many people have already paid it. Police pays a lot of attention to these eventst.

It is very clear that if the situation were getting uncontrollable and if it threatened the health or even life of some people, the laws would have to be enforced more vigorously or they would have to be modified.

A new Facebook group, Eggs for Paroubek in every town (cache), has already attracted 50,000+ members. My feeling is that these mostly young people are actually decent. They carefully think about the consequences and don't want to hurt anyone. Some of them are even thinking what their activity will do with the results of the elections. The founder of the group and an early egg-thrower, Mr Matěj Forst, is planning to stop the group because in his opinion, the activity has gotten too dangerous.

(The elections to the European Parliament on June 5-6th are widely viewed to be just a minor training for the real, national parliamentary elections in Fall 2009.)

Many of the people who participate in these events are kids who have only lived in democracy. Such kids may have many oversimplified opinions about the previous regime. Some of them think that communism is the same thing as democracy, others are led by their parents and others to realize that it was a sad and humiliating period and that the socialists want something similar to return.

The latter group who is closer to the truth is also unfortunately more likely to throw eggs at the socialist leaders, especially when this activity became pretty popular. I wish - and believe - that this activity won't become truly violent. If these hopes are true, then the egg attacks are a positive development that may prevent the socialists from repeating their outrageous left-wing populist lies that in their dumb and hateful speeches, they speak on behalf of all the people.

They certainly don't speak on my behalf, or the behalf of the 50,000+ members of the Facebook group, or the behalf of a majority of the citizens of Prague, for that matter. They only speak on behalf of the supporters of the social democratic party and the latter group doesn't have too many things to be proud about.

And that's the memo.

Bonus: flash game

You may play an egg-throwing Flash game at jiriparoubek.cz.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Operation Anthropoid: 67 years later

In 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, the acting protector of Bohemia and Moravia, was supposed to survive. In fact, the so-called blonde beast was chosen by the most famous environmentalist of the history, Adolf Hitler, as his likely successor.

The Czechoslovak government in London begged to differ.

While much of the Czech population was compatible with the German rulers and many Slovaks were kind of happy with the quasi-freedom they received on a Third Reich's orbit, a couple of brave soldiers - one Czech and one Slovak - parachuted into their homeland to organize the end of the blonde beast.



Exactly 67 years ago, after some unplanned glitches, they managed to kill the protector with 30 pounds of plastic explosives; the gun malfunctioned. It was perhaps the most visible symbol of the non-vanishing Czech resistance during the war. The assassins - who hid in a church rather than in a hotel in downtown Prague - were ultimately killed by the Germans and two villages had to be completely flattened and exterminated because of the death of a guy - a family man, a violinist, and a chief planner of the "Final Solution" - who didn't deserve anything else than death.



They just opened a new memorial at the place of the assassination.

Steven Chu will paint the world white

As The U.K. Times have informed us, Steven Chu, a physics Nobel prize winner who became the U.S. secretary of energy, was inspired by his wife's hair and has found a new Al Gore Rhythm to save the world: just paint the world white! ;-)

While darkish surfaces absorb about 80% of the solar radiation, lightish surfaces absorb 20% only. The difference is over 1/2 of the solar radiation. The majority of those 342 Watts per squared meters can't be eliminated everywhere because much of the Earth's surface are oceans or forests that are hard to change.

But it's enough for the humans to apply the new "light" policy and transform about 3% of the land, i.e. 1% of the planetary surface, from 80% to 20%, and the absorbed energy decreases by 50% * 1% * 342 W/m^2 which is over 1.5 W/m^2. That's enough to compensate for the CO2 warming accumulated in a few centuries.



A white roof. All cheered as the tarps came tumbling down for the last time. The final roof panels are in place, this historic day, 27 July 2008. We're weathered in! Hallelujah!

Using your roof as a fridge of the Earth

And you know, such a policy would indeed be much cheaper a method to cool the planet than the attempts to regulate carbon dioxide, as we will see.

Proliferation of crackpots on hep-th

Several years ago, an indisputable crackpot paper on the hep-th archive would be a rare and refreshing event. We would be entertained, enjoying the increased diversity that a particular dense had author brought to the community. However, it seems that the times have changed. Lots of stupid people have learned how to use the machinery on the web, they gained some technological self-confidence, and percolated the system.

These days, it is not unusual to see three or more full-fledged crackpot hep-th papers a day. These crackpots apparently seem to plan to take over the arXiv. To see an example, let's look at some of the papers that appeared yesterday.

Non-relativistic gravity: OK but unmotivated papers

Like every day, there are about three papers about the Hořava gravity. I am not counting those to the crackpot category. This is just a relatively meaningless fad that has activated many people who have never understood why the equivalence principle, the diffeomorphism symmetry, or the local Lorentz symmetry are so paramount in any modern theory of gravity.

There is no new evidence that they are less paramount than what was determined by the key insights of the 20th century science. However, sociology has changed for a while. Some people began to write papers ignoring these essential principles of modern physics, so many other people suddenly find it OK to expose their own ignorance, too.

But let's look at some other, less serious topics.

Kober's Ur objects

Martin Kober studies Ur objects, such as Pilsner Urquell (the beer). He is convinced that every Hilbert space must have a dimension that equals a power of two - because "quantum theory must be constitutive for human knowledge". He also believes that this qubit structure of all Hilbert spaces implies a flat Minkowski space or general relativity.

Needless to say, every single proposition in this long sequence is nonsensical or wrong. It would be enough for one of them to be wrong for the structure to collapse. But these crackpots always surpass the minimum required amount of nonsense at least by an order of magnitude.

The Hilbert spaces don't have to have dimensions that are powers of two. Large Hilbert spaces never have to have any exact tensor product factorization to smaller spaces, and they usually don't. The human knowledge isn't based purely on base-two qubits. Even if it were, properties of the human knowledge don't necessarily become constraints on the laws of Nature. Whatever the answers to all the previous sentences are, they have nothing to do with the Minkowski space or general relativity. To summarize, the paper is just a pile of nonsense, peppered by randomly permuted rudimentary formulae from field theory.

Bert Schroer vs crossing symmetry

Mr Bert Schroer believes that particle physics has been in the crisis for 50 years or so, approximately since its birth. String theory is the universal villain for him - but his papers always choose an additional villain. In the past, he has chosen e.g. path integrals of Richard Feynman as the ultimate symptom of moral decadence.

Mr Schroer has no idea how the path integrals actually work and why they work so well, so he has claimed that they break down even in simple contexts, not realizing that the only thing that has broken down is Mr Schroer's brain. This time, he chose another unlikely foe: the crossing symmetry. For Mr Schroer, this is a new symbol of the crisis.

In reality, crossing symmetry is one of the key consequences of relativistic quantum mechanics, or relativistic quantum field theory, if I use the more "special" language. The wave equation has solutions with both positive and negative energies. The negative-energy solutions are linked to antiparticles but because they arise from the same fields, their properties have to be connected to the properties of the ordinary, positive-energy particles.

See 70 minutes of a Feynman lecture explaining the reason for antiparticles.

This relationship is encoded into identities that involve the analytic continuation of various amplitudes to negative energies. Such a rule is general and it holds non-perturbatively. Antiparticles - and antimatter - are important and the crossing symmetry is a basic feature that defines them and constrains their properties.

Mr Schroer doesn't like it exactly because it's been so profound and important in physics of the last 50 years - and physics of the last 50 years is what he hates so much. He waves his hands, arguing that a modular localization of states shows some bug with the crossing property but his words make no sense. The coherence length scale, above which any rational relationship between the propositions and arguments evaporates exponentially, is comparable to 1 sentence in his text.

Incidentally, the crossing symmetry is an obvious part of string theory. In perturbative string theory, since its very birth, the crossing symmetry has been supplemented by a related but stronger principle, the worldsheet duality (that's the duality after which string theory used to be called "dual models" 40 years ago). This duality not only relates diagrams where external legs are interpreted both as particles and antiparticles, but it even relates tree diagrams with s-channel, t-channel, and u-channel exchange.

The evolution has been clear: as people have been unifying their understanding of physics, the quantities describing an increasingly diverse collection of processes were computed from an ever smaller number of independent diagrams. We insert less - but we obtain more. This is what the conceptual progress in theoretical physics is all about. Some of us are amazed by this property of Nature, others are devastated. ;-)

Thomas Larsson and jets

Finally, Thomas Larsson, a commenter on the blogosphere, discusses anomalies in QJT - which stands for Quantum Jet Theory. This is supposed to be an observer-dependent generalization of Quantum Field Theory that forces you to add additional terms of Taylor expansions to the quantum fields. Except that, as you might expect, such a generalization only exists in Mr Larsson's imagination. In this sense, QJT is fully analogous to Matti Pitkanen's TGD.

That can't prevent Mr Larsson from discussing anomalies and their dependence on the regulator in QJT. Throughout his text, he assumes that the reader believes that QJT makes sense and is, in fact, superior to QFT. The second physicist who believes that QJT makes any sense has yet to emerge. Larsson's propositions about QJT are analogous to similar basic statements about QFT, except that he randomly combines 50% of correct statements with 50% of wrong statements.

Let me summarize. I used to say that the non-peer-reviewed character of the arXiv didn't hurt. Clearly, this bold proclamation reflected the actual reality that existed at that time and that reflected the actual community of people who were able, allowed, and willing to submit papers to the arXiv. There has never been any guarantee that such a filtering procedure would remain forever unnecessary. In fact, as the concentration of pure crap is increasing on the arXiv, the need for a more constraining filtering procedure is gradually becoming urgent.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Jenney: Artificial Intelligence chatterbox

You may try Jeeney. Here is a dialog: "You" is your humble correspondent. She is more thoughtful than at least 50% of the left-wing blogosphere. ;-)

Monday, May 25, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Is Pipi Quinlan into technology?

Pipi Quinlan (3) learned how to use a PC two weeks ago or so. One week later, she managed to win an auction at TradeMe (NZ).

This Kobelco digger or a similar digger became hers for NZD 20,000 and it could replace the insufficient model above.

Google News
Would you be able to win the auction and order the vehicle? What about your parents? :-)

Larry Summers would have surely bought the digger for his daughter, just like the trucks, and another one for her sister if applicable. They could play the game "daddy digger carries the baby digger". ;-)

However, Pipi's mother, Sarah Quinlan, not only decided to cancel the successful transaction but she even banned her prodigy trader and technologist daughter from trading online! What a shame. ;-) To make things worse, Ms Sarah claims that her daughter is kind of a "girly girl".


By the way, Microsoft is likely to rename "Kumo" to "Bing". That sounds much better, especially because "bing" can be used as an assertive verb. Instead of "to Google something", you may simply "bing it". Microsoft has to resolve a minor trademark issue with Bing Mobile Inc. A way to do so is to buy the trademark, perhaps together with all the employees, families, and their houses and cars. ;-)

Climate and Morlet wavelet transform

I was kind of intrigued by some colorful pictures in a paper by

Basil Copeland and Anthony Watts
and decided to develop a more colorful version of their pictures.

I take some time series, e.g. GISS, and compute the inner products with three kinds of localized wavelets of different frequencies. I actually use the ground state and first two excited states of a quantum harmonic oscillator - so they're not quite Morlet wavelets (Gaussians multiplied by plane waves) but rather Motlet wavelets. ;-)

The frequencies are going to be logarithmically encoded on the y-axis: they determine the typical time resolution. The three inner products are rotated in a three-dimensional space so that a uniform warming (shift of the graph in the temperature direction) only changes the brightness.

Finally, they're squeezed into the standardized 3D cube by three Tanh functions and interpreted as RGB colors. The procedure is somewhat clear if you look at the Mathematica notebook. Here are some results:
Jump to the Picasaweb gallery...
Shift/click any picture below to zoom in...
This is how the "purple" global cooling with some white noise looks like:



On the contrary, the color of global warming with white noise is essentially green or cyan and looks like this:



This is how the image should look if the climate were dominated by "global warming". A minimum in the middle is blue:



White noise is still being added. The corresponding maximum would be yellow. It is more useful to look at a warming curve combined with sinusoidal waves (with a 30-year periodicity):



So far, all the datasets were fake. How does the real global mean temperature graph since 1850 look like? Here is the GISS curve:



The NCDC curve is similar but distinguishable. Note the beautiful balance of the Nature.

Sunday, May 24, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

NASA: Bolden, Garver

Barack Obama has chosen former astronaut Charles Bolden as the next NASA chief. He's a black general who has logged 6,000 hours of flight. Here's his inspirational description of space from the space shuttle - and why you should urinate 2 liters to get comfortable with "g=0".



I don't quite understand how this charismatic Gentleman and BSc in electrical science will make qualified decisions about the future projects of NASA, including the scientific ones and their technical and strategic aspects.

These comments are even more obviously true for Lori Garver, the proposed future deputy administrator who is MA in public policy and BA in political science and economics. I think that average female political lobbyists of her kind should only be employed as custodians in NASA.

They simply don't look like sensible leaders of a large team of rocket scientists to me. One obvious observation is that the leaders' IQ, around 100, will be 40+ points below that of the top-tier technical experts in the agency. The future of NASA seems uncertain - and I also have a suspicion that this feeling is deliberately planned to become a reality.

Saturday, May 23, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

John Bardeen: a birthday

John Bardeen was born on May 23rd, 1908 (101 years ago), in Madison, Wisconsin, to a family of a professor of anatomy and a mother who was diagnosed with cancer when he was twelve. He had four siblings.

His father tried to hide the mother's illness, so John was shocked when she died. A new mother, namely his dad's secretary, wasn't accepted by the kids as warmly as expected.

John chose engineering because he was annoyed by the academic pomposity of his father's environment - and for a while, he has worked as a geophysicist for an oil company. However, the genes and the education at home couldn't quite be eliminated so he eventually ended up in a maths and physics graduate program at Princeton. ;-)

Nevertheless, he remained a very modest, ordinary guy who liked to cook and organize picnics for his neighbors and play golf: that's a major reason why the media largely ignored him. That didn't prevent him from earning two Nobel prizes for inventions and discoveries whose importance can't be overstated.

In 1956, he shared the award with Shockley and Brattain as a co-inventor of the transistor, the fundamental building blocks underlying the whole modern world of electronics. They invented the device because they were ordered to do so in 1945 - to replace the fragile glass vacuum tube amplifiers by something more robust - by Bell Labs where they worked.

The Bell Labs fundamental physics program was unfortunately terminated in Summer 2008.

Shocks in mathematics and physics

Edward Witten recently posted a written version of his talk on the 2008 Raoul Bott celebration.

Its goal is to explain the mathematical audiences why the Langlands duality becomes a pretty much inevitable - if not obvious - a fact in the context of field-theoretical limits of string theory.

That's a good opportunity to say a few words about the large differences between mathematicians and physicists in their appraisal of surprise.

The Langlands duality relates, among other things, properties of the root lattice of one group and the weight lattice of another group. It implies the existence of lots of "independent" relationships between various mathematical structures whose "a priori" probability to hold would be essentially zero. So they're very shocking.

But are they? Well, it depends how you calculate the probabilities. Once you show that all these statements are consequences of one unifying principle, it follows that they're not really independent. Because they're not independent, you can't show that their probability to simultaneously hold is a large power of a small number: it's just one small number - which is not too small. We have encountered this issue in a recent discussion about confidence levels in physics initiated by David Berenstein.

Thursday, May 21, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Global warming 512 times worse than previously thought

That's the summary of nine most recent reports that "global warming will be twice as bad as expected". The newest wave of nonsense in the media was sparked by an MIT article:

Google News, MIT press release (click)
abstract, full paper in PDF (click)
These prophets wrote in Journal of Climate that the warming in the next 91 years will exceed 5 °C even though the real figure is around 0.3 °C - 1.0 °C.



Shift/click the cartoon to zoom in. Via Clifford Johnson.

To make it really obvious that the work is addressed to the superficial people in the media rather than scientists, they have included this "climate roulette" defining your chance to get one warming or another depending on your choice to adopt some "policies":



How nice and convincing. ;-) But only for some people.

You can see that it doesn't matter whether a policy is adopted: at any rate, this work predicts a ludicrously and clearly unrealistic warming. What's remarkable is that the media have learned to use the adjectives "more accurate" and "higher warming" as synonyma. In reality, the further a prediction is from those 0.3 - 1.0 °C per century, the less accurate the paper is.



There cannot possibly exist a rational, balanced argument that would generate 5 °C or 7 °C per century. To see why, shift/click the Mathematica screenshot above for the most elementary calculation of the bare greenhouse effect.

The no-feedback logarithmic formula implies 1.2 °C of warming per CO2 doubling. You see that the warming is slowing down as the concentration increases. The second graph shows the CO2 concentration for different years, starting with c=385 ppm in 2009 and assuming a 1.8 ppm/year growth rate that is generously assumed to speed up by 1% every year: this acceleration, while matching the slightly slower acceleration of the U.S. CO2 output, is probably an overestimate because there are signs that the oil production began to stagnate.

Also, the Earth is absorbing an increasing fraction of the "excess" CO2 as the concentration increases which slows the increasing trend of the concentration, a detail that we also generously neglected in the second graph. Nevertheless, this second function is speeding up and it may continue to do so until we really "run out of oil".

When you combine them, you get an approximately linear warming as a function of the year on the third graph. The no-feedback warming between 2009 and 2100 is around 0.8 °C. This no-feedback assumption is compatible with the observed data from the past and there exist very good reasons to think that the actual net feedbacks are negative.

My graphs included above are roughly compatible with the all-time satellite-observed warming (e.g. UAH) that would predict 1.3 °C per century from the lower troposphere but only 0.4 °C per century in the mid troposphere where the warming, according to the greenhouse-dominated models, should actually be faster than near the surface.

Claiming that the warming in the next 90 years will "more likely than not" exceed 5 °C, even though it was negative in the last decade, among other things, and even though there doesn't exist a slightest piece of evidence supporting such an amplification by a factor of six or more, is just preposterous. The authors say that in the past, the CO2 warming was masked by things like volcano eruptions. Except that there has been no major eruption in the last decade while the warming was still non-existent. And on the other hand, the number of eruptions in the future can actually be higher than what we have recently seen.

If many adjustable, uncontrollable ingredients are added into a model, it is easy to shift the result in the "desired" direction by adding a tiny bias into each ingredient. But an unnecessarily complex model is not necessarily a good starting point to get a more accurate result. If one cheats ten times a little bit, the result may be as meaningless as if you cheat "brutally" and once. Also, the cheating divided to dozens of authors may be small. But if all of them cheat in the same direction, the resulting mistake of the paper may be as devastating as it is in the case of this paper.

The people who write this catastrophic stuff are manifestly either crackpots or fraudsters whether they're harbored by the IPCC, the MIT, a mental asylum, or your local prison.

And that's the memo.

Bonus: a question

I have done a lot of elementary simulations, assuming different scenarios for CO2 growth, proper nonlinear relationships between CO2 concentration and temperature etc. If you want the Mathematica notebook, let me know. You can't ever get a result that would be worrisome.

But there has been a trivial issue that has confused me: the vertical profiles of the CO2 concentration. Because the CO2 molecule is heavier than N2 or O2, the dominant gases in the atmosphere, it is "localized" in a thinner layer of the atmosphere, isn't it? The potential energy U, appearing in the exp(-U/kT) distribution, is more rapidly dependent on the altitude.

When I assume that the surface concentration of CO2 is 385 parts per million of volume, this figure diminishes with the altitude, implies that the effective thickness of the CO2 segment of the atmosphere is 4.5 km only or so, and the total mass of CO2 in the atmosphere that I get in this way is only 1.45e15 kg, instead of 3.0e15 kg that e.g. Carbon dioxide article on Wikipedia says (among many other sources). I feel that the figure 3.0e15 kg is obtained from the assumption that 385 ppm of volume holds at any altitude which seems wrong to me.

Could you help me? Who is right? Or is 385 ppm averaged over the whole atmosphere in some way, instead of describing the surface?

Global warming hits Prague



On May 22nd, 2009, global warming took the form of hail or ice pellets in Prague, Czech Republic. ;-)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Murder at Harvard: Justin Cosby of Cambridge, RIP

Update: The murderer is Jabrai Jordan Copney (20 year old, a musician from New York) or one of his two companions. The reason were USD 1,000 and a pound of pot. Two female Harvard students were connected both with the victim and the killer(s).
Between 2001 and 2004, we would have a meal (as well as some creative exchanges of ideas, wine, and fun) with the Society of Fellows in the Eliot House thrice a week. You walk along the Dunster Street and the Kirkland House is on your right side. See the map of Harvard houses.



The picture above shows the Kirkland House on the right side while the Eliot House is on the left side. See also Street View at Google Maps (click the "x" to exit the Street View mode).

The house wasn't particularly important in my life. But because I took 200+ similar pictures of the area during the Springfest 2003 (you can have them if you really want them!) - and a comparable number of pictures in later years - the Kirkland House is actually the house that appears on the maximum number of photographs I have ever taken.

1% of GDP just for third world's CO2 reduction

LiveMint (WSJ) describe the spirit of the negotiations about the CO2 regulation that will continue in Copenhagen, in December 2009.

China and India have called for 1% of the developed world's GDP to be paid for projects to reduce CO2 in the third world.

This is a natural consequence of the current ideological atmosphere in the world. It's clear that the third world can't pay - and shouldn't be forced to pay - for the insane programs to regulate carbon dioxide. So it is up to the developed countries. After all, wealth redistribution is what many proponents of this terrifying policy want, anyway.

Can you imagine how much is 1% of the GDP and what it will mean?

According to this graph, China is the world's #1 producer of CO2. But developing countries only account approximately for 1/3 of the CO2 output, depending on your definition of the developing countries.

VirtualTravel.CZ: 2481 virtual tours


VirtualTravel.CZ (click)
is a server with 2,481 virtual tours from the whole Eurasia, especially from Czechia (1801 tours), especially from Prague (342 tours).

That includes Pilsen (89 tours).

Every tour may be moved in all directions, zoomed in/out (mouse wheel), and extended to the full screen mode. A fast direct link for a representative presentation:
Entering the Prague Castle (click)
Pyramids (click)
Hluboká Chateau (click)
Additional panoramic views of Prague are available at norc.cz. And by the way, Google has been mapping the streets of Prague so "Street View" of the city will be added to Google Maps by the end of 2009, making Czechia the 10th country with the service or so.

Monday, May 18, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Chancellor keeps Austria in CERN

A battle against climate alarmists

King has pointed out that the Austrian media have reported that the Austrian CERN exit has one formidable foe, aside from 30,000+ signatories of a petition against the decision (which include the bulk of the Austrian hard science community).

Because Werner Heisenberg and Richard Feynman have been gone for quite some time, the closest approximation is Werner Faymann, the current Austrian Chancellor (Social Democrats).

Reuters (orig. English)
Earth Times (orig. English)
Google News (in German)
Kurier (autom. English)
ORF (autom. English)
Wiener Zeitung (autom. English)
He said that the exit from the top discipline would harm Austria too much. Unfortunately, it is Hahn who will probably make the final decision so there's a risk that the Chancellor's voice will not be heard.

Hard sciences vs climate whackadoodles

The Kurier article makes a very characteristic observation about the typical enemies of particle physics in the Austrian academic circles. Well, the most vocal ally of Hahn's decision has been Ms Helga Kromp-Kolb, a top Austrian climate alarmist and whackadoodle. Click the link to see that she is one of the media types that most scientists generally despise. And no, TRF doesn't recognize her doctorate, so the name correctly began with Ms.

She cackled that there were more important things than particle physics to be solved. The Kurier informs that people like her would like to erase many more research expenditures besides hard sciences and that she justifies the destruction of the advanced civilization by "climate change", "depletion of energy", and the "crisis". It may be argued that similar pseudoscientific, uncultural, fearmongering fraudsters - like Al Gore himself - were the main force that killed the Superconducting Supercollider in Texas.

The pockets and banking accounts of these immoral people have yet to show the first signs of the "crisis".

Can Hořava gravity flow to Einstein gravity?

Fifty papers have been written about the Hořava-Lifshitz gravity (NYU about it). Aside from the first author - Petr Hořava - and the most recent group of authors, everyone in this list seems to have gotten carried away.

Those 48 papers just seemed to have joined a bandwagon, without thinking about the real issues. They knew that someone would refer to them, whatever they write, so they often (incorrectly) connected the new bandwagon to their older work and/or offered solutions that would only be interesting if the theory actually worked - and produced General Relativity at long distances out of a Lorentz-breaking renormalizable UV starting point. But does it?

The fiftieth paper,

Strong coupling in Hořava gravity
by Christos Charmousis, Gustavo Niz, Antonio Padilla, Paul M. Saffin has returned to the primary question, namely whether such an unusual UV starting point can produce Einstein's theory at long distances. By realizing that the answer can be Yes or No and by quantifying the general problems explained in my previous two articles about this topic, the authors answer the question. The answer is No.

Diffeomorphism group

Petr assumed that the full spacetime diffeomorphism group can be broken down to a subgroup and the correct long-distance limit can be reproduced, anyway. This is, of course, a very bold assumption because the diffeomorphism symmetry plays a very important role in General Relativity.

Saturday, May 16, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Boston landfills

Anthony Watts writes about the artificial land created in Boston. It's a topic that I have always found amazing, so I can't resist to write this simple text.



The Back Bay: the Trinity Church (1903) and the glassy Hancock Tower.

When I moved to Boston at the beginning of September 2001, I had a few days to get familiar with the city. As far as I remember, it was either Sunday September 2nd, 2001 or Monday September 3rd, 2001, when I went to the observatory at the Hancock Tower. The visitors could listen to the pilots landing at the Logan Airport.

Friday, May 15, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Wolfram|Alpha starts tonight



Unless a small snag with a non-linear behavior of the throughput will become a big snag, Wolfram|Alpha (click!) will be activated tonight, at 8 p.m. Boston Summer Time (Saturday 2 a.m. Prague Summer Time). A webcast is ready. What I recommend you to see already now is this:

Screencast (detailed visual examples of search/knowledge/computation queries)
These examples are enough to amaze me. Also, see all TRF articles about Wolfram|Alpha and the Wolfram Alpha blog.


Saturday: running

The gadget is now running. Well, I am obviously not going to complain that WA doesn't find Swedish blondes or define basic words because this is not what this engine was created for. Some people still haven't understood what it is. Here are some queries I did which show that it will be helpful for me:
Complex number multiplications
zeta function
area of a particular sphere
triangle with 3 particular vertices in 3D
order of the monster group
completing our recent recursion relation
melting point of wolfram
voltage, current (numbers)
this blog's URL
President of Czechia
President of Czechoslovakia in 1990
Velvet Revolution date
Pilsen
Weather in Pilsen
next solar eclipse in Pilsen
Weather on 9/11/2001 where I was
current time in London
Distance between two cities
location of Hubble
compare two countries
linear regression of my geological warming
... check: base two
thermal radiation at 6000 °C
calories in beer
carbon dioxide
density of 3 metals
Sexmission
Newton vs Leibniz
meaning of life
Of course, I have gotten a lot of expected "We don't know what to do" as well as "Holy Cow, dear Dave, we're overloaded" messages and some errors, for example wrong minus signs in the speeds of wind and temperatures.

The long-term economic data (GDPs etc.) tend to be obsolete (2005-6) while the traded numbers are fresh.

Also, Czechoslovakia had to be retroactively renamed as the Czech Republic: I don't mind - our Slovak brothers may. :-) Global mean temperature was 27 °C instead of 14.5 °C - a lot of warming haha.

Life on intersecting heterotic fivebranes

There are many interesting hep-th papers on the arXiv today: reinterpretation of instantons as bound states of partons, a discussion of right-handed neutrinos in F-theory phenomenology, the complete (finite!) Ansatz for the four-graviton four-loop scattering amplitude of N=8 SUGRA, a refinement of the 1997 Cherkis-Schwarz derivation of the heterotic string from a K3-compactified fivebrane, and others.

While the rest of Asia seems to be working on the Hořava-Lifshitz gravity, Tetsuji Kimura and Shun'ya Mizoguchi are proposing a brand new phenomenological scenario to obtain a realistic gauge group and matter spectrum from string theory:

Yet another alternative to compactification - heterotic five-branes explain why three generations in nature
Recall that there exist several methods to obtain a realistic spectrum in 3+1 dimensions: heterotic strings on Calabi-Yau manifolds, Hořava-Witten heterotic M-theory on Calabi-Yau manifolds, F-theory singularities, M-theory singularities inside G2 manifolds, type IIA intersecting braneworlds, and generic F-theory compactifications in the "landscape" that generate the right spectrum "by chance".

I have included the last category only because it is favored by the anthropic people but I personally find it the least motivated one because its agreement with the detailed features of the observed Universe is minimal.

Paper: Greenland melt will add 18 cm by 2100

The arXiv blog has brought our attention to a new paper by Ralf Greve and Shin Sugiyama of Sapporo, Japan,

Decay of the Greenland Ice Sheet due to surface-meltwater-induced acceleration of basal sliding (PDF)
They study how much Greenland ice will melt until 2100 and even 2350.

The authors decide that the most important feedback mechanism to study is the lubrication of glaciers by the meltwater which accelerates their motion towards the ocean. The picture I added (shift-click to magnify in a new window) shows the surface velocity (in meters per year) obtained by their best model. You can see that this effect matters primarily near the West Coast.

See also the change of the surface topography between 1990 and 2350.

Even though they assume an unrealistically high warming by 3 °C per century (and stabilization of CO2 at 1,000 ppm later), their simulation rules out catastrophic hypotheses about the melting ice in Greenland, e.g. those by James Hansen (do you remember scientific reticence where he waved his hands about similar feedbacks and predicted 10-meter rise of sea level per century?). The simulation predicts 18 centimeters of rising sea levels by 2100 from this major source.

Thursday, May 14, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Global warming regulation: next 1984

A good new video campaign by CEI, see a press release.



By the way, if you've never seen a film version of 1984, you should watch this Google Video with the U.K. film 1984 directed by Radford and shot in ... 1984. ;-)

Thanks to Sam K.

Google Empire was down

An hour ago, a significant fraction of the Internet, including your humble correspondent, couldn't see any Google services for an hour or so. They were either completely unavailable or slowed down by an unimaginable redshift factor. It sucked, indeed.

That included Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, Google Reader, Blogger.com, Google Analytics, and many others. Roughly 1/2 of the activities on the web were impossible.

I am kind of interested about the logic and patterns. If you were affected, please write a comment about your location and, if you don't care, your Internet provider. If you were not affected, you can also write something, but it will be somewhat less valuable.

My location was in Pilsen, České radiokomunikace.

Update: AT&T was the culprit. And maybe a traffic jam in Asia. Try Just Ping to see that most packets are still being lost in major cities. Compare Google with a relatively well-behaved server, e.g. www.klaus.cz, that only sees 10% of packets lost in 3 cities.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Pen Hadow et al. give up

The Catlin Arctic Survey has surrendered: see Google News. Less than 50% of their goal to get to the North Pole has been realized. They have been taken off the ice today. This is what our readers had predicted:


The adventurers already seemed to be fed up by the harsh conditions so they didn't fight with the pilots. It means that while 97% of the TRF readers were qualitatively correct - that Hadow et al. clearly wouldn't reach the pole - only 23% of them could imagine that the expedition would peacefully give up.

(Sorry, the number jumped above 23% only because people voted after the right answer became known. Please don't feel bad if you had to vote again and you have just twisted the score - but the software doesn't allow me to stop the poll, and the two-week timing didn't work.)

EU Commission steals 1 billion euros from Intel



A hardcore anti-capitalist mafia in the European Commission, led by Ms Neelie Kroes, has decided to steal 1.45 billion U.S. dollars from Intel Corporation:

New York Times, Google News
Because Intel's net income in 2008 was 5 billion dollars and Europe amounts to 30% of Intel's market, you could say that the fine approximately destroys one full year of the European profits of the company. Unfortunately, it seems sensible to imagine that such an anti-market intervention may occur every year.

Google Skymap



Did you ever want to know the name of a star that you see in the skies? Or did you want to know where is Venus right now? If you have an Android phone (a phone with Google's Java-based OS), Google Skymap will do it for you.

Also, you should try to click "Show options" right below the Google logo in a search page in the upper left corner - to get new ways to sort the pages.

GoogleLabs are also preparing Google Squared, a gadget that will generate a spreadsheet out of the data. That's slightly similar to results that can be found by Wolfram|Alpha - which will probably start on Monday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Confidence levels in theoretical physics

This text is a moral continuation of the article about

Probabilities of various theories in physics
where I listed some estimates of the likelihood that various statements in theoretical physics are valid.

Today, Oswaldo Zapata presented himself as a historian of science with his preprint
On Facts in Superstring Theory. A Case Study: The AdS/CFT Correspondence (PDF)
He tries to semi-quantitatively analyze how the theoretical physicists' belief in various hypotheses - such as the AdS/CFT correspondence - is changing as the new evidence is emerging.

Oswaldo believes that the acceptance of facts depends on the existence of a community. In principle, I disagree with this conclusion. Every physicist is (or should be: but yes, I think that even in the real world, he or she mostly is) using rational arguments to determine which hypotheses should be taken seriously, which of them are likely enough to be considered as facts, and which of them are likely enough to be studied as mere possibilities.

In reality, some people or most interact with the community so intensely that they modify their vocabulary according to the average member of a group that is expected to read a given paper.

David Berenstein is the first co-author of the so-called BMN minirevolution (2002) that has considerably increased the probability that Maldacena's AdS/CFT correspondence is exactly correct. That's why the BMN paper plays an important paper in Zapata's analyses, too.

Obama's OMB: CO2 regulation seriously hurts



Barack Obama with Peter Orszag, the OMB boss, in the Oval Office.

When Barack Obama visited Prague and talked to Czech President Václav Klaus, Obama told his Czech counterpart that his environmental offices are filled with people who have no sense of economic reality when it comes to carbon regulation.

The Monopolar Expedition

Off-topic: thank God, Donald Trump decided that Miss California keeps her crown

Episode 2x23 of The Big Bang Theory, the last episode of the second season:

Watch it on TV (click)
Sheldon won an NSF grant so all the boys are going to the (Magnetic) North Pole, in order to detect magnetic monopoles in a way that will confirm string theory.



Environmentalists Pen Hadow et al., or the Catlin Arctic Survey, tried to do the same thing (with the high-energy segment replaced by reading a thermometer and pendrilling ice). However, after moving by less than one half of the desired distance, they will give up this week. 97% of TRF readers correctly guessed that the team wouldn't reach the pole.

We will see whether they're lucky enough for the surrender to be safe (23% of readers expect so): it's been weeks after the previous "deadline", the latest day when pilots think it's safe to land in the Arctic, and the summer melt is getting started.

Their green brothers in faith were lucky when their carbon-neutral yacht was saved by an oil tanker five days ago. The people concerned by the fossil fuels were extremely relieved just to be alive, surrounded by 0.68 million barrels of oil. ;-)

Monday, May 11, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Hubble Service Mission

Today, at 8:01 pm Prague Summer Time, Atlantis the Space Shuttle was smoothly launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida for a service mission to help the Hubble Space Telescope, a gadget that has brought us the most beautiful (see this PowerPoint within your browser) - and sometimes scientifically revealing - pictures from the outer space.

The mission had been scheduled by Mike Griffin in October 2006. A trailer:



They should replace the gyroscopes, batteries, a part of the thermal isolation, and add WFC3 (Wide Field Camera) and COS (Cosmic Origins Spectrograph). The ambitious mission should return life to Hubble until 2014 or so when it becomes obsolete because of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Watch NASA TV (click).
Watch the launch (from NASA TV, YouTube).
Check Google News (click).
Endeavour, another space shuttle, is ready to be launched to help Atlantis if needed. Atlantis faces a 0.5% risk of a collision with the cosmic trash, near the upper bound of tolerance.

Planck and Herschel

On Thursday, ESA will send both Planck and Herschel from French Guiana (South America) to outer space. Update: the launch was flawless; see YouTube videos.

Planck will supersede WMAP (the telescope that has mapped the Cosmic Microwave Background) by having a larger sensitivity (but smaller angular scales!).

Herschel will look into the far infrared and sub-millimeter spectrum and will supersede NASA's Spitzer in doing so.

Much like with the LHC, Europe is getting ahead of America with Planck and Herschel. Unfortunately for the U.S., this process is likely to continue.

The White House is currently giving a hard time to NASA which is not exactly good news for them. "Reviews" are fine and they always find some genuine problems - except that there exist hundreds of places that deserve to be "reviewed" much more than NASA does.

Saturday, May 09, 2009 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Feminist cutting edge science: demand for female flesh

Science is often discussed on this blog. For the sake of balance, let us look at some social sciences and humanities. One of the hottest disciplines are women's studies. What are these people are up?

Let's follow one of the most ingenious scholars pursuing this breathtaking new kind of science, Prof Shira Tarrant, who has asked the most mysterious question that baffles all experts in her cutting-edge science:

So why are so many men paying women to take off their clothes? (Click...)
It's a true enigma. And the question must be even deeper if you're one of America's leading gender experts - who would never use those obsolete, male, chauvinist methods to answer questions, such as asking someone else or even thinking. ;-)

Dr Tarrant has written a new book, Men and Feminism. If you wonder, the men on the cover are three feminists. The book explains that the idea that men are visual creatures who are hardwired to get aroused is not thoughtful but rather pseudo-scientific in character. For example, this flawed hypothesis doesn't explain why women don't get erection. Instead, the observation that the stripping industry exists proves a crisis of masculinity.

According to Dr Tarrant, the only way for men to terminate the crisis is to stop watching nude women and listen to the lectures by Rafael Casal instead. This one is a very deep lecture. This male feminist and Tarrant's intellectual peer who was scientifically determined to be smokin' hot could become a president of a university, too (right after his or her castration).

Her ideas are so profound that if you're a man and you're at least a little bit promising, female, and therefore homosexual, you must inevitably develop a demand for the female brain flesh of this 21st century genius. Fortunately, glimpses of her stunning intellect are slowly beginning to penetrate an inferior discipline called physics, too.

The April APS meeting that took place in May (an enlightened gathering inspired by the October Revolution in November 1917? Sabine Hossenfelder thinks that the delay proves global warming) has invited scholars who were talking both about women in science and about the violations of Lorentz symmetry (thanks, Gordon). The disciples of Prof Shira Tarrant lived in Sheraton Downtown Denver, in order to match their intellectual importance with some appropriate accommodation.

World War II ended 64 years ago

At least in Europe...

The best days of Angela Merkel's most famous predecessor were over 64 years ago. Prague was the city where the Germans managed to continue one day after the official surrender, until May 9th.



0:00 Liberation of Prague (title)

0:15 Citizens of Prague, Prague must not become the last fortress of the German defense. It cannot be handed over to depredation and destruction. Prepare an uprising in arms.