Friday, December 31, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Science expected in 2011

Happy New Year 2011. Yes, it is a prime number. The probability that a number comparable to 2011 is a prime is 1/ln(2011) = 13%. So this coincidence proves global warming at a 87% confidence level. ;-)

The BBC has provided us with their perspective on science expectations for the year MMXI:

A science news preview of 2011
They chose five main topics:
  1. Hospitable planets
  2. Privatization of the cosmos
  3. The LHC: Higgs, SUSY
  4. Quantum computers
  5. Analyses of Mars & life
See also a similar preview of 2011 - with many more entries - in Nature and one more at Fox News.

Extraterrestrial life

Some people are searching for ever more Earth-like planets that could be hospitable for life. The year 2010 has seen some probably valid discoveries as well as bogus reports but it's obvious that as the people are seeing newer and newer planets, the most Earth-like ones among them are becoming more Earth-like than their predecessors. ;-)

Chuck Norris in Czech commercials

Everyone in the Czech Republic knows Chuck Norris. In the 1980s, most Norris movies were actually smuggled into the country but he has already been well-known at that time. "Walker, Texas Ranger" was also among the first typical Western TV shows (thanks Mike) officially broadcast after the fall of communism.

Two months ago, T-Mobile Czech Republic, a Germany-based top cell-phone-service and satellite TV provider, ran a series of commercials that became hugely popular - millions of views at YouTube which is not bad for a commercial in a country of 10 million.

Norris was paid about $400,000 for the ads. His Czech colleague, actor Mr Valouch whom you will see, has received a free cell phone and became a new life-long Chuck Norris fan. ;-) While T-Mobile was most successful in the Christmas time, its competitors had creative ads, too. Vodafone has shot a few ads with Christmas trees that call each other while O2 has created origami paper cell phones.

The hostess says "Master!?" However, he refuses to kill the carp. What happens afterwards could be misinterpreted: Chuck Norris didn't faint; he just showed the floor who the boss was. ;-)

Thursday, December 30, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Arsenic bacteria and climate disruption: a comparison

Four weeks ago, a press conference at NASA presented the claims by Ms Felisa Wolfe-Simon et al. who argued that during their searches in the Californian Mono Lake, they had found a bacterium that was able to replace phosphorus by arsenic (which is abundant in the lake - for natural reasons, which is why no one talks about this interesting lake) in its vital molecules, including the DNA that is normally built around a phosphate backbone. The paper eventually appeared in Science:

A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus (full text PDF)
During and right after the press conference, your humble correspondent believed that the claims were likely to be true - partially because Ms Iron Lisa Wolfe-Simon was cute (I am not 100% immune against such things) and there was nothing "obviously wrong" with it. Arsenic is right beneath phosphorus in the periodic table and there was no reason why a random young passionate yet naive scientist and a former performance oboist couldn't have discovered such a new life strategy.

During the very press conference, critics argued that the arsenic compounds were much less stable than their phosphorus counterparts which made it impossible to use them in the DNA and other molecules and these critics turned out to be right.

Mr Steve Benner has pointed out that arsenate-based DNA would hydrolyze in water within 10 minutes (see also Mr Alex Bradley) - a claim that Wolfe-Simon et al. seem to agree with. That's not a good way to store the genetic information and indeed, building life around a similar unstable "memory" would be similar to building the Library of Alexandria - an eternal storage of human wisdom - with books out of sand. You know, this defect is pretty hard to "compensate".

Wolfe-Simon replied with some vague slogans about her claimed stability of As-DNA but her qualitative arguments are almost certainly wrong.

Burt Rutan on global warming

Burt Rutan is quite an amazing engineer who has designed original, efficient, unusual-looking, and record-breaking airplanes, some of which are not far from competing with NASA. Rutan has formed The Spaceship Company with Richard Branson.

But he is also a global warming lecturer. Rutan is not just an ordinary global warming skeptic who becomes important by inventing a new, crisp expletive for CAGW. He is actually giving talks based on a 95-slide presentation of the whole topic:

Burt Rutan on CAGW v4.0:

PDF, PDF to HTML, PowerPoint
We appreciate Gene's viewpoints on science but one can say that Gene has been a scientist. It's comparably refreshing to see how an engineer who actually worked with engines :-) looks at the difference between science and engineering, especially when it comes to the responsibility and the frequency of errors.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The globe cooled by 0.56 °C in four days

Throughout most of 2010, The UAH AMSU daily satellite temperature data have been showing almost each date to be the warmest one since 1998 or 1999. That was pretty much universally the case from January till the end of August.

However, even as recently as on December 16th, the day in 2010 was the warmest day with the same date since 1998. (The 1998 daily UAH data on that website only begin in August 1998 so the record-breaking warm H1 of 1998 is not included.)

This pattern has changed in the most recent week, however. On December 23rd, 2010, the global brightness near-surface temperature reached a local maximum of -16.75 °C. That was the fourth warmest reading since 1998 for that day after 2003, 2009, and 2006.

Monday, December 27, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The big book of brain games: a puzzle

Ultimate spoiler:

A record solution that TRF reader bbzippo found a few years ago: 23 extra linkages, no intersections. Only previous record holders are discussed in detail here:

This solution of mine uses 31 extra edges or, if you allowed frictionless intersections and if you could shorten the lower left detour by one small triangle, it would use 29 extra edges. Go to the end of the article for comments why this is a valid solution.

Phil Gibbs' blog that I regularly read and learn from - and that actually doesn't irritate me in any way - posted a very cool Christmas puzzle from “The Big Book of Brain Games” by Ivan Moscovich. Most of the puzzles are claimed to be easy but puzzle number 331 is subtle and very interesting:
Draw a square consisting of four equally long connecting line segments hinged at the vertices. Such a structure may degenerate into a rhombus if you apply some pressure. How many additional interlinks of the same length must be supplemented to prohibit this excessive degree of freedom and to prevent the square from being tilted? The interlinks must belong to the same plane as the quad and each one may only be pegged to others at the endpoints.
So far, I can't link to the original blog now because you would find a solution. The owner of the blog and his fastest reader found a solution with 43 extra linkages. After I was told what it was, your humble correspondent found a generalized solution of the same kind that only uses 29 extra linkages, if you allow me to draw frictionless intersections, or 31 extra linkages, if you don't.

Sunday, December 26, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Richard Alley: Climate sensitivity is 16-20 degrees

Richard Alley (on the picture) is a mentally ill hippie so it shouldn't be surprising that he became a professor of climatology at Penn State University, the same place where Michael Mann cooked his fraudulent hockey stick pseudoscience. Michael Mann remains at large.

After some years, Justin Gillis, a watermelon blogger at the New York Times, asked Alley about his research:

Climate Change and ‘Balanced’ Coverage
Alley mentioned that he gets annoyed if people think that 5-6 °F could be an overestimate because such an opinion reduces the holiness of the global warming cult. How does he fight against this undesirable heresy? Well, he invents a new number that could play the role of those 5-6 °F. What is it?

According to Mr Alley, a doubling of the CO2 concentration produces a 16 °F warming. The number was originally reported as 18-20 °F but the figure became a subject of a "correction". Now, despite the Obamacare, the new American socialist healthcare system wasn't able to offer Mr Alley a place in a psychiatric asylum that he unquestionably deserves.

Friday, December 24, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Merry Christmas

New articles are being posted below this one, so don't stop reading...

Merry Christmas to the TRF community!

Percentage of girls: a puzzle

Try to solve this puzzle:

Steve Landsburg gives a wrong answer, different from 50%, while CommunistStalinistSwine gives a correct one, 50%.

Thursday, December 23, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Single-Higgs-doublet supersymmetric standard models

In the old-fashioned supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model, we need at least two Higgs doublets: see why the God particle may have five faces.

However, Arvind Rajaraman and two Californian collaborators whom I don't know argue that it doesn't have to be this way:

Does Supersymmetry Require Two Higgs Doublets?
People usually parrot two reasons why the two Higgs doublets are needed: one has to bring masses to upper and lower quarks and leptons; and gauge anomalies have to cancel which wouldn't be true with a single chiral Higgs doublet added to the Standard Model.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

HadCRUT3: 2010 will be 2nd-5th warmest year

Phil Jones' mailbox has already been unmasked while James Hansen's mailbox has not.

It just happens that since the ClimateGate, Jones' team is indicating a much lower warming trend than Hansen's team: Phil Jones' HadCRUT3 dataset is attributing November 2010 the coolest rating among Novembers and among the four datasets - with a 0.43 °C global anomaly, it was the 7th warmest November - while the GISS dataset says that November 2010 was the warmest November on record.

The satellite datasets sit in between: November 2010 was 3rd for UAH and 6th for RSS.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

LHC confirms a modest stringy prediction on black holes

Comments about the mass of smallest black holes

As David Gross said, string theory is really the Wild West of Physics. At the same moment, it is the most conservative - and the only conservative enough - extension of the well-established principles of quantum field theory.

A physicist who tries to find new conceptual frameworks for physics is walking on a rope that is really thin: while he wants to escape from the boring old waters that are filled with the familiar phenomena and equations, he must also avoid the waters that are too new so that everything would break down. It is not too surprising that there is only one viable framework that goes beyond the achievements of local quantum field theory.

For years, science haters and various assorted ideologues and liars would claim that string theory was bad because except for supersymmetry, string theory didn't predict any spectacular new effects for the LHC and similar easily doable experiments.

The reason is simple: string theory is actually the correct description of the real world and there are no qualitatively new, non-QFT effects below one TeV. So string theory must obviously say the same thing, otherwise it would be wrong. And be sure it is not wrong.

Did a Jesuit priest discover the Coriolis force?

The Physics arXiv Blog uncritically promotes a preprint with an insanely long title,

The Coriolis Effect Apparently Described in Giovanni Battista Riccioli's Arguments Against the Motion of the Earth: An English Rendition of Almagestum Novum Part II, Book 9, Section 4, Chapter 21, Pages 425, 426-7
in which Christopher Graney, a physics instructor at a Kentucky community college, argues that the Italian Jesuit Giovanni Battista Riccioli (1598-1671) discovered the Coriolis force in 1651. The Physics arXiv Blog even adds that Riccioli was "centuries ahead of his time".

Given the fact that Riccioli's argument was nothing else than a traditional salvo of the Aristotelian pseudoscience against Copernicus' heliocentric theory in particular and against the emerging discipline of physics in general, I can only say: holy cow.

Friday, December 17, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

SUSY: CMS exclusion limits way beyond Tevatron but lower than expected

So far, each major LHC detector has acquired about 47/pb of data and 43/pb i.e. 92% of the events have been recorded. The "slash pb" thing should be read "inverse picobarns" if you need to know.

While only tiny fractions of one picobarn were analyzed in the talks presented at the LHC First Data in Michigan, we're entering a much more generous Christmas season.

By now, 35/pb - i.e. a big majority - of the CMS data have been analyzed. Today, CERN organized the LHC end-of-year jamboree. For non-native speakers, jamboree is a kind of a wild party.

Update: In January 2011, CMS will release a preprint (click) on the new limits
As the previous link reveals, Philipp Schieferdecker (KIT, Karlsruhe, Germany) spoke about the CMS 35/pb data. Obviously, the most excited slide is 22/40:

Click to zoom in.

Reading level of science blogs

Search engines were not created equal. Google became a dominant brand, largely because of its ability to find the most relevant pages for given keywords.

One of the abilities of this search engine is to see that science blogs were not created equal, either; Google can divide the websites according to the reading level. I have no idea whether this rating is done automatically or whether it is based on some human input.

As Jorge Pullin has recommended me, go to and type something like
to the search box. Right beneath the "Search" button, you may find "Advanced Search". Click at it and you will get to this page. In my case, I had to replace "hl=cs" by "hl=en" in the URL because the Czech advanced search options don't include the reading level.

Under "Need more tools?", select "Annotate..." in the "Reading level". Then click at the "Advanced Search" button at the very bottom. This will tell you the percentage of "basic", "intermediate", and "advanced" paragraphs on the website. Take 30+1 of the science blogs you know and compute the average score.

"Basic" is counted as 1 star, "intermediate" is counted as 3 stars, "advanced" is counted as 5 stars. Compute the average. What will you get?

Event horizons and thermodynamics: more than an analogy

Black holes' exceptional thermodynamic properties have been gaining prominence for 35+ years

Warning: the difficulty of this article is average among the TRF blog entries:

Thanks to Jorge P. for the screenshot. Click to zoom in.

The concept of black holes began as "frozen stars" that Einstein and others noticed to be possible according to general relativity. However, whether they would be created in the real world, remained controversial. Only in the 1960s when John Wheeler gave "black holes" their catchy name, people had the courage to realize that their birth is inevitable, even in relatively mild conditions. Singularity theorems made this "inevitability" very concrete.

Black holes used to be thought of as the ultimate cemeteries. If you fall into one, you're permanently doomed. Once you're fully swallowed and destroyed by the singularity, nothing is moving inside the black hole anymore. So there's no temperature, either. The region of space is totally empty and structureless.

However, things began to change in the early 1970s. Stephen Hawking was able to show that the total area of the event horizons never decreases.

When black holes swallow some surrounding matter, their mass and area obviously increases. But even if two black holes merge, the total area goes up. In 3+1 dimensions, the black hole mass is proportional to the radius. So when two mass M black holes merge into a single mass 2M black hole mass, the radius doubles and the final area is 4 times greater than an initial black hole's area i.e. 2 times greater than the total event horizon area at the beginning.

Mobile version of The Reference Frame

The mobile version of TRF at has become largely obsolete today.

In fact, at some moment in the past, a program told me that was insecure so I removed the redirecting scripts from the TRF template (although it may have been a false alarm).

Google now offers a simplified and much faster mobile version of all the blogs. They look like this: (click)
Note that the "m=1" parameter is added automatically if you use a mobile device but you may also add it by hand. (In URLs that already contain a question mark, "?m=1" should be replaced by "&m=1".) If you change the URL to "m=0", you will restore the large version of the blog that is used for immobile devices.

Thursday, December 16, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

CERN: CLOUD nucleates clouds as expected

Previous TRF articles about the experiment:

Sep 2006, Jun 2009, Nov 2009
The Nature Climate Blog has informed its readers that the first results of the CLOUD (cosmics leaving outdoor droplets) experiment at the Center of Europe for the Research of Nuclei (CERN) are ready to be published. The writer of the blog entry was probably shown the results.

The summary? They confirm that the clouds are being nucleated by the radiation at the rate that was expected in the newest models, whatever these models are (and be sure I would like to see some details, too). So the effect is surely nonzero.

Henrik Svensmark told me a year ago that the CLOUD experiment is somewhat redundant because the existence of the basic effect behind cosmoclimatology has already been pretty much established by their own experiments in Denmark. But it may be true that the CERN logo is needed for some additional people to notice.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Joe Romm about Bjørn Lomborg's movie

Marc Morano has agreed with a text that überalarmist Joe Romm wrote on Climate Progress:

Still Bjørn: Now that his movie has bombed, Lomborg is back to telling folks “Go Ahead and Guzzle”
I completely agree with the initial part of Romm's article, too. Another example of an awkward "centrist", Lomborg has no natural audience. His message is actually incoherent:

Perfect fluids, string theory, and black holes

The omnipresence of very low-viscosity fluids in the observable world is one of the amazing victories of string theory. The value of the minimum viscosity seems to follow a universal formula that can be derived from quantum gravity - i.e. from string theory.

The story of this insight is quite remarkable. But let us begin with two recent scientific announcements to see that this is a good time to revisit this topic.

Recent reincarnations of perfect liquids

Four weeks ago, the ALICE experiment at the LHC announced its first results from the lead-lead ion collisions. It was very fast, see e.g.

ALICE announces the first results (Symmetry Magazine)

Charged-particle multiplicity density at... (preprint)
The LHC confirmed the previous findings that the Universe in the initial superhot nuclear state acted like a liquid (Google News), a nearly perfect fluid. This insight was previously known from RHIC - as well as from string theory. The viscosity was very low. So the environment was nothing like a gas; I will discuss the viscosity of gases later.

Six days ago, Duke researchers measured the viscosity of lithium-6 atoms at temperatures of 10^{-9} Kelvins or so:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

No Labels, No Point

After some time, I agree with Sean Carroll again:

No Labels, No Point (Cosmic Variance).
A group of moderate Democrats, Republicans, and Independents decided to establish a new centrist party: No Labels (Wikipedia). Their website is NoLabels.ORG.

Because they didn't want to create any new labels, they stole the logo of another centrist group, MorePartyAnimals.COM. But is there room for a centrist party in the U.S.?

Monday, December 13, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

New director of the American Geophysical Union: Chris Mooney

Willie Soon has sent me an incredible link that raised up my adrenaline level by several orders of magnitude; it has just blown me away:

AGU board of directors
Chris Mooney, a holder of an English degree, is one of the AGU directors. No kidding. Click at the page above.

Sunday, December 12, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Michigan: combined Tevatron sees 3-sigma MSSM Higgs bbb excess

Yesterday, on Saturday, the University of Michigan ice-hockey team defeated Michigan State University, 5-to-0, in front of 113,411 fans - which is a new world record for the number of ice-hockey viewers. One day later, is witnessing another interesting event.

The University of Michigan is organizing an interesting conference in the biomedical sciences' Kahn Auditorium at exciting times:

LHC First Data (official web)
The event began today and it will end on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the participants will hear the two key talks about the first LHC data as analyzed by the ATLAS and CMS detectors. We will see whether the folks have been very fast and whether Nature decided to behave as an exhibitionist during the first 47 inverse picobarns collected by each detector.

However, Tom Wright of the Fermilab - whose older talk was previously discussed on this blog in the context of the bottom-quark-related Higgs rumors - is going to give an interesting talk tomorrow, at 11:20 local time:

Saturday, December 11, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The scale of the Universe

A funny zoomable illustration of scales from the Planck scale to the Hubble scale which differ roughly by 60 orders of magnitude. Note the big desert right after the string scale.

Well, the authors - Cary and Michael Huang ( - could have included some GUT scale and intermediate scales etc. but their simplified version might be morally right.

Do GOP scientists need affirmative action?

My answer is "No" but you surely want to hear some details, too.

A writer named Daniel Sarewitz wrote a text for Slate:

Lab Politics

Most scientists in this country are Democrats. That's a problem.
It's being mentioned that only 6 percent of the U.S. scientists classify themselves as Republicans. Sarewitz suggests that this fact leads the public to distrust the institutionalized science. He even notices that the leftist scientific community has systematically defended scientific conclusions that support the idea that the government should be bigger. And he even dares to ask whether it is a coincidence or a sign of causation.

Of course, he is not brave enough to offer the obvious answer. ;-)

Well, try to answer this question yourself. Invent about 20 independent scientific questions that may determine a policy. What is the probability that all of the right answers support a bigger government? And what is the probability that the scientists are honest if they choose this "bigger government answer" despite the fact that in at least 15 of the questions, it's been established that the opposite answer was right?

Friday, December 10, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Beauty of Dirac equation and its extensions

Many people consider the Dirac equation - and sometimes Einstein's equations of general relativity - to be the most beautiful equation of physics.

I understand where they're coming from. When I was 15 years, there would be lots of Einstein's equations written in beautiful fonts at many places of my notebooks. ;-) When I appreciated the Dirac equation a year or two later, I was already too old for mindlessly writing equations just to appreciate their beauty. :-)

Euro GPS: Galileo's headquarters in Prague

Today, the ministers of the European Union unanimously confirmed a two-day-old decision about the location of the administrative headquarters of the European (and Israeli) refined competitor of the Global Positioning System (GPS). Ours will be called Galileo and will begin its operations in 2014.

Those 30 satellites included in the EUR 3.4 billion system will be able to do what the GPS is doing but more accurately so. Unlike the GPS, Galileo won't be operated by the military; unlike GLONASS, it won't be supervised by the Russian bear. The low-precision basic service will be available for free while the high-precision services will be paid.

Thursday, December 09, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

NASA, NOAA: total climate sensitivity is below 1.65 °C

A team of experts from NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and NOAA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has joined the community of climate deniers or, as they are called by Sean Carroll, the Republicans (Carroll notes that the more educated a person who is not a left-wing activist is, the more skeptical he or she is about the man-made climate disruption):

Quantifying the negative feedback of vegetation to greenhouse warming: A modeling approach (GRL)

New NASA model: Doubled CO2 means just 1.64°C warming (The Register)
The article by Lahouari Bounoua and six co-authors in Geophysical Research Letters combines their climate model with the feedbacks linked to vegetation, especially evapotranspiration - the sum of plant transpiration and evaporation from leaves.

What is their result?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Bob Carter in Prague

A few comments about the talk have been added at the end

This is just a two-sentence announcement of an event that takes place in Central Europe:

Dr Bob Carter, a leading Australian climate skeptic and the author of "Climate, the Counter Consensus", is giving a talk in Prague today. Dr Václav Klaus is the moderator. The talk begins at 5 p.m. in the Autoklub, 28 Opletalova Street.

All Czech TRF readers (3% of all the readers) are invited. I suppose that earphones will be available if you need them. See the CEP event web page for details.

EU LGBT bureaucrats attack Czech arousal test

(Czech band) Nightwork: Global warming - I am gay. The song was marketed as a gay anthem and the band as well as the singer, Vojta Dyk, scored high in the most recent Czech Nightingale national music contest.

Homosexual activists officially paid by the European Union have attacked a sensible test that has been introduced in my homeland:

Czech Republic Denounced For Using Arousal Test on Asylum Seekers

Czech Dick Test

Czechs using sex arousal test on asylum seekers
Czechia has become a destination of various asylum seekers. And because of the inherent tolerance of the Czechs towards various non-standard types of sexual orientation, the list of asylum seekers includes many gays who claim to be harassed by homophobes in their previous countries.

Clearly, we cannot afford to admit an unlimited amount of immigrants who could use any excuse to get here. There have to be some tests that remove at least most of the "false positives". In the case of gays, the relevant procedure is known as "phallometric testing" and was introduced by Kurt Freund, German-speaking Jewish Czech-Canadian physician, in the 1950s to fight "fake gays" who didn't want to serve in the Czechoslovak army (gays were banned).

Tuesday, December 07, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Shoveling snow may be fun

We have lots and lots of snow in Central Europe.

Meanwhile, as Roy Spencer reports from the very place, Cancún in Mexico experiences the Gore Effect. They are living through the coldest December 7th on record.

Surviving Indian supersymmetric island

Supersymmetry is an exceptional mathematical structure, and if identified in Nature, its discovery will become one of the greatest achievements of science ever and the most specific evidence supporting string theory.

This achievement could very well take place within months although those 6.8 billion people who don't read this blog and who are not professional particle physicists are totally ignorant about this possibly coming huge event. The media are silent and even most of the physics fans seem to have no clue.

However, we haven't seen supersymmetry yet. Various experiments have shown new effects to be pretty small, making it statistically impossible for the supersymmetric parameters to occupy any point in a "majority" of the parameter space that is being used to describe some basic quantitative properties of SUSY in Nature.

Is there any point left that hasn't been excluded yet?

Monday, December 06, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How many degrees of freedom are there in Nature

...and how they are organized...

A very large number of people still believe that Nature is discrete in some sense, equivalent to a physical system that can only be found in a finite number of configurations. Every localized object is determined by a sequence of bits, they think: it is represented in a similar way as a taxpayer in the IRS database.

I have tried to understand why people like to believe such self-evidently incorrect ideas but I have largely failed. As far as I can say, they must believe that Nature is "economical" in the same sense as an environmentalist family. Nature has to produce everything out of cheap trash. It is very difficult for Nature to calculate, especially with complex continuous objects.

RSS: 1998 will remain the warmest year

Update, RSS: The RSS AMSU November data are out, 0.312 °C, coolest in 2010 so far. The average temperature anomaly 0.551 °C recorded in 1998 will only be beaten by 0.489 + Dec/12 in 2010 if the December 2010 anomaly, Dec, will exceed 0.738 °C which is virtually impossible.

With the likely December value around 0.3 °C, 2010 will stay a marginally significant 0.035 °C cooler than 1998 but safely (by 0.14 °C) beating the bronze year, 2005. A near-record 2010 seems to be a purely UAH AMSU result. RSS AMSU will conclude that the 1998 leadership will stay unchallenged by 12th following year in a row.

UAH: December anomaly above 0.42 °C would make 2010 hottest

Roy Spencer has released the November 2010 UAH AMSU temperature anomalies. The global temperature anomaly is 0.38 °C, the coolest month of 2010, which is followed by the previous month, October 2010. The tropics have significantly cooled down during 2010 - by 0.7 °C or so - but the two hemispheres dropped by 0.2 or 0.3 °C per year only.

Sunday, December 05, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Czech daily grills Rahmstorf during interview

A full translation has been added...

People's Newspapers (Peopers) - or Lidové noviny (Lidovky) in Czech - is a leading, liberal conservative Czech daily whose circulation is 75,000. It was founded in 1893, banned by the Stalin-Gottwald leftists in 1952, and resuscitated by the dissent in 1987. Two years later, it would become legal again.

On Saturday, they printed a long interview with Stefan Rahmstorf of RealClimate.ORG and the Potsdam Fearmongering Institute (PFI). The title is somewhat ambiguous:

Climatology is under attack by interest groups (autom. transl. from Czech)
But yes, aside from the IPCC, only the WWF and other NGOs are groups that are individually mentioned in the interview so perhaps the title is not really ambiguous. ;-)

Friday, December 03, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

BBC lecture: Brian Cox maliciously attacks Martin Durkin

I have always considered Brian Cox, ATLAS experimental physicist and rock musician, to be a problem-free shallow promoter of science who doesn't teach you much but whose boyish looks at least give science an O.K. image in the U.K. and beyond. See e.g. Cox's interview with Leonard Susskind on string theory.

However, the statement that he has never made me angry ceased to be true today.

Go to the individual page if you see no video above.

The playlist above - 15+15+10 minutes - shows The Royal Television Society Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture from 1st of December, 2010, as aired on BBC2. Most of it is the same relatively problem-free, superficial babbling about some philosophy of science and the basics of physics that can't irritate (or enrich) anyone and that Brian Cox is known for.

Slippery Lube

This is not a real blog entry, just a page posted on December 30th, 2010, as a reply to Steve Landsburg on his blog. His entry is called "Slippery Lube". The title is very funny but that's where the quality of the article ends.

He is trying to defend a wrong solution to a simple problem about the proportion of girls in a country where the son has to be the last child in each family.

My comment is below (it's just for me and the people who Google search for "Slippery Lube") - and obviously, he is not approving comments that disagree with him:

Dear Steve,

honestly, I really don’t enjoy neverending debates and arguments about trivial issues which is why I de facto closed the thread and I surely don’t plan another blog entry about this trivial puzzle. The issue is totally clear. It’s clear that every long enough sequence of births will produce exactly 50% of girls and 50% of boys, regardless of the parents’ superstitions and their algorithms to stop reproduction at various points.

Why is the muonic hydrogen Lamb shift wrong?

Jester at Resonaances returns to the anomalous observations of a hydrogen atom with the electron replaced by the muon:

Update on muonic hydrogen
Recall that in Summer 2010, a Nature paper written by many authors claimed that "the size of the proton is different than previously thought":
The size of the proton
If you assume that all terms contributing to the frequency of the Lamb shift (the energy difference between two levels that would be zero even according to the exact Dirac equation but is nonzero because of QED effects of virtual photons) are safely known and the only variable you are free to modify is "the size of the proton" (that influences the muon's motion when it's near the center), the team found a 5-sigma deviation from a previous "size of the proton". Theirs is 0.84 instead of 0.88 fermi. Is it a big deal?

Thursday, December 02, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

NASA's Felisa Wolfe-Simon found life and DNA with As replacing P

...although some people hoped we would be shown aliens :-)...

Update: Dr Rosie Redfield wrote a very meaningful criticism that has turned me into a "mostly skeptic" concerning the claim that the arsenic got incorporated into the biological molecules. See also Dr Alex Bradley.

At any rate, NASA will hold a press conference at 8 p.m. Prague Winter Time (11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time) where panelists will discuss a finding that will "impact the search for evidence of extra-terrestrial life". ;-)

It turned out to be GFAJ-1, a bacterium in the Mono lake that incorporates arsenic instead of phosphorus into its body, including the DNA. The rest of the text became a bit obsolete after the press conference.

Fox rumors say that NASA will announce the discovery of biological activity - photosynthesis, in particular - on Saturn's moon Titan. It sounds simple enough and if the rumor is right, I plan to analyze the findings in detail.

Czech verses to memorize the periodic table

I wonder whether the English counterparts of the verses below exist. But we have a whole sophisticated system to remember the whole periodic table.

Translations of the Czech verses into English are attached. Unfortunately, they are not excessively useful to memorize the elements unless you know the Czech language. But I hope that some readers will appreciate how realistic and witty the little stories are.

Truth to be told, the Czech users also need to know a couple of English and German words - including "because", "air", and "lehrer" - to fully appreciate the product. :-)


H Li Na K Rb Cs Fr

Helenku líbal na kolínku robustní cestář Frantík.
Helene was being kissed on her knee by the robust road-mender Francis.

Why Penrose and Gurzadyan cannot see "beyond" the spherical harmonics

In two recent articles, I discussed the new claims by Penrose and Gurzadyan:

Penrose's CCC cosmology is either inflation or rubbish

What Penrose and Gurzadyan have rediscovered is the L=40 excess
Hours after I wrote the second article, I became convinced that they couldn't possibly rediscover even the L=40 excess because if they had found it, they would know about the angular scale. Mr Gurzadyan has made it very clear in our e-mail correspondence that he doesn't have a clue about any preferred scale.

So even though the rings they showed had the right spacing corresponding to the bump in the WMAP graph - 4.5° or so - it was a complete coincidence that they drew the rings with this spacing and not another (maybe they cherry-picked exactly those rings, without informing the reader that this is how they selected the points for their graphs).

Climate: are models better than theory?

Judith Curry wrote an essay about climate models:

Climate model verification and validation
While it's a nice reading and I don't disagree with too many comments too resolutely, I am not in harmony with the overall tone. Let us summarize the crucial issues into several points:
  1. Does "sanctioning" of models by institutions matter?
  2. How many types of experimentally known facts should be verified?
  3. Is a model universally superior over a theory or an explanation or an Ansatz that doesn't require powerful computers?
  4. Do the existing climate models actually teach us something that is both new and true?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Tunneling goes through conifold points

A six-member team from Columbia Universe, Cambridge U.K., and Haiti that includes Brian Greene has submitted a very interesting preprint:

Conifolds and Tunneling in the String Landscape
They looked at the internal Calabi-Yau geometry during a quantum tunneling process - usually employed in "eternal inflation" - more carefully than anyone has previously done.

In the "moduli space" of the Calabi-Yaus - a space of possible shapes of Calabi-Yau manifolds of the same topology - you usually find some "conifold points". At those points in the space of shapes, the Calabi-Yau manifold becomes singular by itself. It develops a "conifold singularity" that is locally diffeomorphic to a cone with an S^2 x S^3 base instead of a patch of the smooth space.

James Hansen's talk at IAS Princeton

A friendly correspondent of mine located at Princeton has reminded me of a talk that James Hansen of Columbia University gave at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton, the place where Einstein worked and that still employs some of the smartest people on the planet, including a powerful group of string theorists.

The 70-minute talk by the man who was repeatedly arrested in recent months and years - a rather unusual fact about a speaker at the IAS - was given on November 19th:

Human-made climate change: a moral, political, and legal issue (click)

Watch online, download low-res, download high-res
In the words of the person who told me about the talk - and who attended it - it was very strange.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

U.N. climate boss: at least the weather will be better

...than the freezing mess in Eurasia and America we will describe...

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), made an unusually honest statement for a U.N. climatic crook while vacationing in Cancún, Mexico:

At least the weather will be better.
And Spiegel even managed to leak this sensitive diplomatic cable. ;-) Given the fact that the climate is nothing else than the weather scrutinized over longer timescales, one may also conclude that the climate would be better in a hypothetically warmer world.

Together with her fellow climatic bureaucratic parasites, Figueres is enjoying 28 °C which is, helpfully, equal to 82 °F in the Moon Palace resort above. The Europeans and Americans may compare "her weather" with the weather they are experiencing right now.

HERA excluded R-parity violating squarks up to 275-290 GeV

There are many experimental particle physics preprints on the arXiv today.

The CMS experiment at the LHC studies die photon Bremsstrahlung which may be useful for various future calibration purposes etc.

HERA tunnel

BABAR has looked at two-photon physics and complicated decays of charmonium states.

In a widely publicized result, ATLAS at the LHC publishes its results about the dijet asymmetry in lead-lead collisions. Some jets - fraternities of hadrons arising from a single quark or gluon - apparently lose lots of energy by going through a hot, dense medium. This QCD effect can't be seen in the proton-proton collisions.

A London physicist defends the "simple" measurement of all resonances between 1.91 GeV and 2.41 GeV.

D0 at the Tevatron measured the WW and WZ production. It all agrees with the Standard Model and excludes new W-prime bosons and Randall-Sundrum gravitons up to 700 GeV or so.

The Tevatron teams including both D0 and CDF publish their extended Higgs boson search. Taking 12/fb of combined p-pbar data into account and looking at many channels, they exclude the modest interval 158-175 GeV we've heard about previously.

WikiLeaks diplomatic cables: a summary

A young U.S. intelligence analyst - or anyone else - could have been behind the leak of 250,000 cables from U.S. embassies all over the world.

Whoever it was, he or she is obviously playing with fire and the WikiLeaks founder himself may be charged with espionage; Julian Assange is also investigated for rape in Sweden. More generally, it has both advantages and disadvantages to "measure" the intermediate stages of various processes. Note that in quantum mechanics, much like in diplomacy, such a measurement may influence the final results.

Obviously, the influence may be both "positive" as well as "negative", depending on whether the "secret work" is more constructive than the opinions of the interceptors who may interrupt it in the middle - which may include the whole public.

To get the honest quantum mechanical results for the original question, you must sum over all conceivable histories. It is often better for sensitive processes, research, and negotiations not to be interrupted and distracted in the middle.

However, once the diplomatic cables are published, I don't think that they're excessively shocking. We have still learned something, namely that

Monday, November 29, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

What Penrose and Gurzadyan have rediscovered is the WMAP excess at L=40

...the abundance of all other patterns ("random concentric circles") they may be observing statistically coincides with the standard WMAP prediction...

I have been making more explicit and quantitative calculations of the claims by Penrose and Gurzadyan and I finally understood what they actually see.

The explanation why the effect is there remains mysterious but what the effect actually is, in the usual terminology of cosmologists, is totally clear to me now. First, let us ask what is the spacing of their concentric circles.

Click to zoom in.

The graph above is borrowed from their paper. There are several similar graphs in the paper. You may see that the apparent radii of the concentric circles may be estimated as 4°, 9°, 14°, 19°. So the spacing between the concentric circles' radii as seen in the skies is 5° or so.

Susskind on supersymmetry, grand unification, and string theory

If you have one thousand spare minutes and an iDevice, you may open iTunes (not App Store!) in your iDevice and search for

Supersymmetry, Grand Unification, and String Theory,
a sequence of ten 100-minute lectures (for free) delivered by Leonard Susskind to the Stanford Continuing Studies Program. They uploaded it to iTunes in July 2010.

Climate conference is beginning in Cancún

One year after the farce in Copenhagen, the climate negotiators have sacrificed themselves and decided to meet again, namely in Cancún, Mexico.

Saturday, November 27, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Penrose's CCC cosmology is either inflation or gibberish

Concentric circles, if real (which is unlikely), may come from cosmic strings or domain walls that were "exploding" during inflation

See also a new article:

What Penrose and Guzardyan have rediscovered is the L=40 bump in the WMAP data
Vahe Gurzadyan of Yerevan and Roger Penrose of Oxford have submitted an ambitious preprint,
Concentric circles in WMAP data may provide evidence of violent pre-Big-Bang activity (arXiv).
Echo chamber: BBC, UPI, Science News, Phys Org, Pop Sci,, Physics World, Phil Gibbs
The authors claim that some concentric circles observed in the WMAP 7-year data at the 6-sigma confidence level provide us with evidence supporting Penrose's idiosyncratic version of pre-Big-Bang cosmology. (Their arithmetics clearly has to be checked by a serious person because 6-sigma corresponds to the 2 x 10^{-9} probability rather than 10^{-7} as they state.)

For a couple of years, Penrose has been saying that there was a period of cyclic events when the Universe was much smaller than it is today. The model is called Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (CCC).

Friday, November 26, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Huge EU funds plan to corrupt Czech science and fabricate Czech alarmists

The percentage of the Czechs who are climate alarmists is negligible today. Passionate desires to "save the planet" are virtually non-existent among the generic people which is also why the media rarely write about the topic and if they do, their approach is balanced in average.

Even in the academic system, there are just a few IPCC-faithful alarmists - right now, I can only think of Mr Ladislav Metelka as a clear example - and the number of skeptics is arguably higher: for example, Dr Miroslav Kutílek has just received a presidential medal. ;-) The alarmists are confined to the extreme environmentalist movements.

Of course, our president, Václav Klaus, is probably the most powerful climate realist among the world's politicians. Also, the party he founded - ODS - which is the main party forming the current government coalition - is "softly" on Klaus' side, too. Interestingly enough, the list of Klaus' soulmates more or less includes the current minister of environment. ;-)

However, this may change as people get paid from the EU.

As a Prague Post blog and lots of Czech media reported, the education minister has accepted a EUR 25 million - or USD 35 million - subsidy from the EU that will create a huge research team, "CzechGlobe", composed of 150 people in Brno, the second largest city in the country.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Maxwell's demon cannot do useful work

...and information is not energy in any sense...

Sean Carroll has the remarkable ability to give a wrong answer to every single important question in thermodynamics and statistical physics. He has argued that the arrow of time must have a dynamical origin linked to cosmology - instead of the statistical properties of purely local physical systems whose probabilities also have to respect the logical arrow of time.

Instead of repeating my crisp and totally indisputable proofs that this is not possible, I will refer you to an authority because for many people, it's unfortunately more important than rational thinking. In a 2005 paper, Robert M. Wald, the author of a famous book on general relativity, proved that "it is not plausible that these special initial conditions have a dynamical origin."

In the best case, such explanations end up being examples of circular reasoning.

Maxwell demon

But incredibly enough, in a new text, Sean Caroll de facto argues that the perpetual-motion machine of the second kind is possible:

Using information to extract energy
He's convinced that an experiment has been made - and published in Nature - that was “using information to extract energy from a heat bath.” Holy crap. ;-)

What is this stuff all about?

DDR stole 40,000 little heatballs

During communism, people had to smuggle lots of basic things if they wanted to have them. For example, my father had to smuggle Commodore 64 twice for me. ;-)

The communism collapsed by 1989 - in most of the socialist Europe. However, DDR has actually swallowed West Germany, updated its socialist ideology a little bit, and continues to terrorize the people who exchange goods and ideas in between the nations.

Mr Siegfried Rotthäuser and his brother have sold about 4,000 heatballs in the past. See
What is a heatball? It is a miniature source of heat - clearly a perfectly legal device according to the existing law. In order to guarantee that you won't heat your room when you don't want to, it also emits light to inform you that the heatball is turned on. An advantage of this piece of operational art is that you can use the sockets for (fluorescent) light bulbs. I am using several 100-Watt heatballs in my apartment, too.

Monday, November 22, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How Czech politicians are stopping the solar insanity

The former largest - as of 2007 - Central European solar power plant in Ostrožská Lhota, the Czech Republic (near the Slovak border), occupies 40,000 m^2, produces 1.5 MWp (megawatts at peak conditions - that's just 37.5 Watts-peak per m^2), and its cost was CZK 100 million (CZK 2500 per m^2).

During the first year of its life, it produced 711 MWh (normal people would only pay CZK 3.5 million for this amount of energy - the payback period would be 30 years which is not far from the lifetime of solar cells - however I've been neglecting lots of other expenses): that's about 2 MWh a day in average which corresponds to 1.5 hours of peak traffic every average day only. ;-) Your humble correspondent did those calculations for you.

New power plants built on arable land have been de facto banned - see also below.

The Global Warming Policy Foundation reprints a November 17th article in Die Presse (Austria) about the newest decisions attempting to stop the insane solar boom in the Czech Republic:
Eastern Europe Puts Emergency Brakes On Solar Energy
A few years ago, the Czech politicians joined the bandwagon and introduced breathtaking subsidies for solar energy. Our subsidies and conditions were particularly generous. As a result, my homeland has probably seen the world's greatest annual percentage increase of the solar sources within the last year: by a whopping one order of magnitude per year!

Penn & Teller Bullshit: Global Warming

If you have 2x 15 minutes for some great fun, here is the Penn & Teller show on global warming:

See the playlist on YouTube... Go to the individual page if you see no video above.

It's hilariously entertaining and most of the people who fight against global warming in various ways - by stones in their pocket indulgences, and walking along one-choice spiral "labyrinths", among others - are just unbelievable. I can't believe that there are so many people who are so stupid and so easily robbed of their money.

Saturday, November 20, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Extra dimensions, the LHC, and the real world

CERN has (almost) promised us to discover the extra dimensions in 2011:

ZDNet, Popular Science, others.
That could sound as a piece of crazy populist pseudoscience except that remarkably enough, it is not completely crazy.

My estimate of the likelihood that the extra dimensions are accessible the the LHC has always been around 1-2 percent which is, by the way, hugely higher than the probability that global warming will cause significant O(1) problems to the mankind, the world economy, or the biosphere in this century.

It would be absolutely spectacular if the extra dimensions were discovered. It's unlikely but it's not impossible because there are models with observable extra dimensions which are consistent with all the known observations - and that may even offer some advantages such as the ability to explain certain mysteries. In this text, we will look at some basic possible incarnations and properties of extra dimensions.

Friday, November 19, 2010 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

What grand unification can and cannot do

Among the physics fans, there's still a lot of confusion - sometimes deliberately propagated confusion - about the basic questions surrounding gauge unification.

So what is grand unification and what it can do for us?

Aside from gravity described by Einstein's general relativity, there are three non-gravitational forces: the electromagnetic interaction - unified in the 19th century; the weak nuclear force; and the strong nuclear force.

The last two interactions include the adjective "nuclear": that's why you need to look at the microscopic world and to use quantum mechanics to appreciate what they really mean. And that's the reason why Einstein never understood anything about them. He thought that the goal was to unify electromagnetism and gravity only; his attempts to construct a unified field theory had no chance to succeed because gravity is the last force that may join the other forces - but only a long time after one understands the unification of electromagnetism with the two nuclear forces.