Monday, April 24, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How and why strings generalize geometry

Erwin reminded us how excited he was by the fact that string theory provides us with a quantum generalization of the rules of geometry. What does it mean and how does it work?

Well, all previous theories in physics have used the classical manifold geometry (whose definition will be sketched momentarily) as one of the basic prerequisites that the theories had to accept and elaborate upon. This made the classical manifold geometry and its calculations directly relevant for all these theories and the rules of the geometry were therefore rigid dogmas.

In other words, the theories followed the template:

Dear theory, listen, here you have a classical manifold with some shape.

What can you achieve with this pre-existing shape?
And the theories just couldn't do anything else. They were dependent on the geometry of a classical manifold. If there were no manifold, there was no physical theory. And if two manifolds were geometrically different, the physical theories on them had to be distinguishable, too.

Before the discovery of special relativity, physics was also dividing spacetime to the absolute time and the space that exists with it. That meant that the "spacetime" as we understood it today had to be basically factorized to \(\RR \times M^3\) where \(\RR\) was the real axis representing time and \(M^3\) was a purely spatial manifold (OK, some time-dependent fibration with a different \(M^3(t)\) at each moment time was sometimes allowed, too). At most, you could have picked time-dependent coordinates on that \(M^3\) in order to celebrate the Galilean relativity.

Saturday, April 22, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Einstein's job in 1911: he liked the city of Prague, not so much the people of Prague

The new series about Einstein will start to be aired (in CZ) tomorrow

Two years ago when I switched my Internet provider and cable TV to UPC, the European (much more beloved) counterpart of Comcast, I could pick a bunch of bonus channels for free. Most people pick the sports channels, unless the fans of the erotica channels obfuscate what they have chosen ;-), and you could predict that I chose the science documentary channels which include National Geographic, among many others.

Well, I must admit that I have spent virtually 0 minutes in these two years by watching them – and I would have watched the sports channel much more than that (even though I am in no way a sports junkie). But things could change tomorrow. At 9 pm, the "Genius" TV series about Einstein starts at my National Geographic #89 channel. I hope that I won't forget to watch it because I am sort of looking forward to it. The serial was filmed almost entirely in Czechia, including my hometown of Pilsen (mostly in Prague – several schools, two ministries, galleries etc. but also: the Elbow/Loket castle area, campuses in Pilsen and Brno, the town of hops Saaz/Žatec, Northern Bohemia Reichenberg/Liberec and the Warm/Teplá Monastery). Meeting Einstein in Pilsen is an offer I can't refuse – much like meeting Richard Lindzen (and his wife) in Pilsen in early May 2017., a daily sold in the Prague subway, just published a fun interview of journalist Pavel Urban with one of my undergraduate instructors of general relativity, Dr Jiří Podolský:

Einstein liked Prague
Even though I have previously written about Einstein in Prague, let me translate it because it's pretty insightful.

March For Science is deeply misguided, unethical

Comrade Vladimir Lenin celebrates his birthday in his mausoleum today (I have been there) – congratulations to all left-wing readers. Some activists have chosen this date associated with a man who believed he had a "scientific thinking" (although he believed that each electron is an inexhaustible galaxy with small electrons inside, and then smaller ones inside, like in a Matryoshka) but made a huge impact on the world of politics as the date for the "March For Science".

The rally in D.C. should be decent; the accompanying 500 rallies across the world are pretty much guaranteed to be tiny. See a live report from Asia. For example, the picture above is the full group photo of the participants in Tokyo: it includes 50-60 people depending on how many babies in the carriage you count.

The march in Busan, the second largest city of South Korea, is similar: this is the picture of participants 20 minutes before the march began. ;-) Despite their diversity, none of the four cute scientists looks Korean to me, by the way.

Friday, April 21, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Physicists, smart folks use same symbols for Lie groups, algebras for good reasons

I have always been amazed by the sheer stupidity and tastelessness of the people who aren't ashamed of the likes of Peter Woit. He is obviously a mediocre man with no talents, no achievements, no ethics, and no charisma but because of the existence of many people who have no taste and who want to have a leader in their jihad against modern physics, he was allowed to talk about physics as if his opinions mattered.

Woit is a typical failing-grade student who simply isn't and has never been the right material for college. His inability to learn string theory is a well-known aspect of this fact. But most people in the world – and maybe even most of the physics students – misunderstand string theory. But his low math-related intelligence is often manifested in things that are comprehensible to all average or better students of physics.

Two years ago, Woit argued that

the West Coast metric is the wrong one.
Now, unless you are a complete idiot, you must understand that the choice of the metric tensor – either \(({+}{-}{-}{-})\) or \(({-}{+}{+}{+})\) – is a pure convention. The metric tensor \(g^E_{\mu\nu}\) of the first culture is simply equal to minus the metric tensor of the second culture \(g^W_{\mu\nu}\), i.e. \(g^E_{\mu\nu} = - g^W_{\mu\nu}\), and every statement or formula written with one set of conventions may obviously be translated to a statement written in the other, and vice versa. The equations or statements basically differ just by some signs. The translation from one convention to another is always possible and is no more mysterious than the translation from British to U.S. English or vice versa.

How stupid do you have to be to misunderstand this point, that there can't be any "wrong" convention for the sign? And how many people are willing to believe that someone's inability to get this simple point is compatible with the credibility of his comments about string theory?

Thursday, April 20, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The O'Reilly Factor was the #1 news program in history

Fox News has fired the veteran journalist Bill O'Reilly. He was supposed to return from vacations in Italy on April 24th but "according to an agreement" of both sides, he won't. The agreement clearly wasn't as symmetric as the Fox News P.R. demagogues paint it because O'Reilly said he was "disheartened" by the decision.

The O'Reilly Factor was renamed to The Factor and Tucker Carlson will be taking the slot, anyway. This is weird because just weeks ago, Tucker Carlson was announced to take the slot from Megyn Kelly. Megyn Kelly could have worsened the situation of Bill O'Reilly. Nevertheless, Fox will have neither O'Reilly nor Kelly and this may be a detectable loss, indeed. However, if you want me to predict whether these changes will lead to the bankruptcy of Fox News, I don't think so. But you know, Carlson is a good journalist and I praised him in several recent blog posts. But the experience of watching him isn't in the O'Reilly category.

O'Reilly's program – called The Report in the first two years – began in 1996 when Fox News was a relatively newborn TV channel itself which focused on some of the widely discussed topics of the (first and only) Clinton presidency. I believe that he has contributed to the growth of Fox News. You shouldn't imagine that I am a regular viewer of The O'Reilly Factor – it's hard and far, especially from Central Europe. But there was a period of my life, in the first half of 2000, when I actually was a regular viewer of O'Reilly's show at least for several months.

I was in Santa Cruz, California, and the channel with the O'Reilly show was just conveniently located on a TV I found in my room, and I loved it, despite the fact that – with hindsight – I must say that I always disagreed on some issues with him. In my eyes, O'Reilly is at most a global warming lukewarmer. And I also count him as one of the knee-jerk Russophobes.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

All of string theory's power, beauty depends on quantum mechanics

Wednesday papers: Arkani-Hamed et al. show that the amplituhedron is all about sign flips. Maldacena et al. study the double-trace deformations that make a wormhole traversable. Among other things, they argue that the cloning is avoided because the extraction (by "Bob") eliminates the interior copy of the quantum information.
String/M-theory is the most beautiful, powerful, and predictive theory we know – and, most likely, the #1 with these adjectives among those that are mathematically possible – but the degree of one's appreciation for its exceptional credentials depends on one's general knowledge of physics, especially quantum mechanics.

Click to see an animation (info).

Quantum mechanics was basically discovered at one point in the mid 1920s and forced physics to make a one-time quantum jump. On the other hand, it also defines a trend because the novelties of quantum mechanics may be taken more or less seriously, exploited more or less cleverly and completely, and as physics was evolving towards more advanced, stringy theories and explanations of things, the role of the quantum mechanical thinking was undoubtedly increasing.

When we say "classical string theory", it is a slightly ambiguous term. We can take various classical limits of various theories that emerge from string theory, e.g. the classical field theory limit of some effective field theories in the spacetime. But the most typical representation of "classical string theory" is given by the dull yellow animation above. A classical string is literally a curve in a pre-existing spacetime that oscillates according to a wave equation of a sort.

LHCb insists on tension with lepton universality in \(1\)-\(6\GeV^2\)

The number of references to B-mesons on this blog significantly exceeds my degree of excitement about these bound states of quarks and antiquarks but what can I do? They are among the leaders of the revolt against the Standard Model.

Various physicists have mentioned a new announcement by the LHCb collaboration which is smaller than ATLAS and CMS but at least equally assertive.

Another physicist has embedded the key graph where you should notice that the black crosses sit well below the dotted line where they're predicted to sit

and we were told about the LHCb PowerPoint presentation where this graph was taken from.

Monday, April 17, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Climate whackos abandon NYT because it hired a skeptic

The Gray Lady is a left-leaning daily which is immensely unpopular with many of you and with a big part of the Republican base.

But I must admit that I have always considered The New York Times a mostly credible, conventional daily which has sometimes joined the left-wing witch hunts but which always kept more decency than most of the truly ideological counterparts. Maybe their article about me in 2001 has contributed to this relative respect of me, maybe Dennis Overbye's articles about physics did so many times afterwards, who knows. But I am convinced that even their pieces about politics are more tolerable in average – although I have seen a lot of the very bad ones, too.

But despite the superficial similarity, I have grown a significantly different attitude to The New York Times and The Washington Post, to pick the most obvious benchmark for a comparison.

Well, there's another reason not to abandon The New York Times now. It has hired a new op-ed writer, Bret Stephens, who is still in the Wall Street Journal now but will join The New York Times since the early May. Stephens is a Pulitzer prize winner (for commentary in 2013), he is a conservative opponent of Donald Trump. But what is more important now is that he is a climate change skeptic. And that makes quite some difference.

Sunday, April 16, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czechia absorbed 12 out of 1600 proposed refugees, that's it

The Czech politicians would prefer to pay fines

Czech minister of interior Mr Milan Chovanec (formerly a vegetable clerk, local politician here in Pilsen, and a fast alumnus of the notorious local law school here) gave an interview to a leading news server (and the associated printed daily Právo):

Chovanec: Out of the quota for 1,591 (which arose after the first agreed upon quota for 1,100 was raised once), we took 12 refugees, we won't increase that number anymore
He talks about terrorism, the results of the quota program, and the Czech plans to deal with it in the future.

What I find remarkable is that the only reports about this development in the English language seem to be written in the Russian sources: RT, Sputnik, and TASS. It really looks like the Anglo-Saxon and Western European media are playing a dirty propaganda game of hiding all facts that are inconvenient for the grand plan to Islamize Europe. They just don't want to show calm, rational nations that nevertheless think it's common sense to fight against mass migration.

So much for the claims that the press freedom in Russia is worse than in the traditional Western countries.

Saturday, April 15, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

My Windows Creators Update froze at 82%

Every year, Microsoft is upgrading its "last" operating system for PC, Windows 10. Sometimes there are two medium-size upgrades a year. The first upgrade was the Anniversary Update and the coming one is the Creators Update.

They are gradually offering the update via Windows Update to selected subgroups of users across the world – to be sure that the Microsoft servers aren't overloaded and to hire the first users of the new update as guinea pigs. I was moderately looking forward to have the update – with things like the 3D paint and other things for creators and gamers. My upgrades from Windows 7 to Windows 10 as well as the upgrade to Windows 10 Anniversary Edition were straightforward and free of visible problems – but still very time-consuming, eating some two hours per update "away from the desktop screen".

Unfortunately, I was among the selected ones who were offered the Creators Update this week. First of all, the download ended up with errors on two previous days. I haven't gotten Windows Update errors for a long time – maybe never with Windows 10 – but the Creators Update download and preparation ended up with an error 5 times – with at least 3 different error codes.

Friday, April 14, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

John Preskill's strange anti-quantum zeal

On his blog, I've had some exchanges with John Preskill concerned with the black hole information puzzle. He knows a lot about these matters and he has done some nontrivial research as well so much of the time, you're inclined to think that he agrees with the general rules of the game – the postulates of quantum mechanics and things like that.

But at some places, you get some suggestive evidence that it isn't the case. The first time I noticed some anti-quantum zeal inside John Preskill was in late 2014 when he hysterically celebrated John Bell. As far as I can say, John Bell hasn't done any important thing in the foundations of quantum mechanics in his life. He has just proposed another experimental setup in which classical physics and quantum mechanics gave different predictions. Well, classical and quantum physics give differing predictions at almost all times. The difference between classical and quantum physics is absolutely obvious and has been absolutely realized by everybody since the first moment when quantum mechanics was formulated. You don't need – or you shouldn't need – another example of that phenomenon every day to appreciate the difference.

His theorem was an inequality that only worked with the classical side of this comparison. So John Bell has never really applied the laws of quantum mechanics to calculate or explain anything. And if you look carefully, you will easily convince yourself that John Bell didn't believe quantum mechanics; and he didn't understand quantum mechanics. So while his theorem about the local classical theories was correct, he had no understanding of the laws of Nature beyond classical physics. He always assumed the world to be classical which is why he – absolutely incorrectly – interpreted his theorem as evidence of nonlocality in Nature.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

When black hole remnant nonsense is sold as science

One of the things I simply couldn't stand – and still cannot stand – about the university environment was its complete inability to do something about 100% self-evident fraudsters that live as parasites on the system. Competent people want to be "nice" which means that much of the environment is controlled by filth like Lee Smolin that has nothing whatever to do with the professional science.

Genius: Off-topic, there is a new cool 2-minute excerpt from Genius showing how Einstein met Mileva Marić, his first wife, after she trumped him in a physics exam and some ancient Greek physical philosophy. ;-)
In early 2009, Smolin and another crackpot often mentioned on this blog wrote a paper promoting hippie non-solutions to the black hole information paradox which they laughably called "conservative solutions". More or less every aspect of that paper was completely wrong and ludicrously wrong – Smolin's co-author recently admitted (bragged, I would say) that she realizes that every paper she has ever written on quantum gravity has been worthless garbage but she wrote them, anyway, because she was able to actually get money for this garbage.

I think that fraudulent scumbags like that should be spending years in prison or minutes on a rope. The reality is different: actual physicists can't even shout at this scum. In fact, they are even afraid of publishing their name while overly politely criticizing them, as we will see momentarily.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Nature Magazine applauds Hitler's occupation of a part of Czechoslovakia

Willie Soon sent me the PDF file with the original layout of a Nature Magazine article applauding the Munich Treaty, the September 30th 1938 agreement between the four main powers of Europe. Here you have a HTML version of the one-page text:

The Promotion of Peace (Editorial, Nature, vol. 142, No. 3597, October 8, 1938)
I didn't know about that text. It is a great example showing how bad idea it may be for magazines such as Nature to write about things they don't really understand – especially politics. Willie also sent me three articles published in Nature between 1939 and 1940 – those were significantly more pro-Czech and anti-Nazi. But let me discuss The Promotion of Peace.
The agreement arrived at by the four-power conference, which met at Munich on September 30 to find a peaceful solution of the conflicting rights of Czechs and Germans to territory assigned to Czechoslovakia by peace treaties which followed the Great War, ...
This half-sentence tries to sound as a neutral, matter-of-fact historical proposition but it's very far from it. Since 1918, both Czechs and Germans who lived in the Sudetenland were citizens of Czechoslovakia and they only had "rights to territory" that are expected for individual citizens. And the laws of Czechoslovakia guaranteed that these rights simply couldn't be conflicting.

Collectively, only Czechoslovakia as a whole had a right to the territory. Czechs and Slovaks were a majority in Czechoslovakia which meant that they had the upper hand – but this asymmetry was nothing else than the mirror image of the role of German-speaking folks and others within Austria-Hungary up to 1918.

The sentence above is also highly misleading because it indicates that the Prague control over the Sudetenland was invented after the First World War. While the loss of Germany and Austria in the Great War implied their reduced political power after 1918, it is simply not true that the Sudetenland belonged under Prague because of peace conferences after the First World War. The Sudetenland had had a local capital in Prague for the previous 900 years or so. Bohemia was never split into pieces in that period.

Sometimes, Prague was just an autonomous local capital while the main capital was the imperial one in Vienna. Sometimes, Czechia was independent. Twice, Prague was the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. And the Bohemian Kingdom sometimes lived in the personal union with the Poles or the Hungarians and it sometimes controlled territories up to the Baltic or Adriatic Sea. During the late 19th century, Austria-Hungary respected many autonomous rights of the nation states within the empire so many bureaus were located and many decisions affecting the Czech lands were made in Prague, anyway.

Marshall plan for North Korea

Russia and Iran have issued a joint statement that they will attack the United States if the superpower repeats something like the – ineffective – raid against the Syrian government airbase. Under some circumstances, the Third World War may really be just a tweet away.

I want to believe that the U.S. won't do it. In fact, I want to believe that Trump has made the exercise – which has alienated his numerous supporters – in order to get rid of the criticisms that he is a puppet of Putin's if not Assad's. While many of us are disappointed by what Trump has done, most of the people who have said that Trump was a Russian agent look like idiots now. Well, they have always looked like idiots (because they really are idiots, after all) but a much larger number of people may see this trivial point now.

North Korea may ultimately be more dangerous and the tensions have risen, too. The official TV of the crazy country has threatened a nuclear attack once again. If the U.S. warships don't behave, the North Korean nukes can show their muscles.

I would find the occupation and normalization of North Korea very intriguing. South Korea doesn't seem to be too enthusiastic about doing anything about their Northern brothers. It could be up to others. Well, North Korea might be an example in which I would recommend the politics of carrot to be tried first. Has it been tried at all?