Sunday, August 28, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

TBBT season 10: The Flash, Penny's mother Susan

This is not meant to be an important or full-fledged post but tens of millions of people watch TBBT and my guess is that the TBBT-TRF correlation is positive so you may want to know that:

The Big Bang Theory will start its impressive 10th season – which may be the last one, however, or not – on CBS on Monday, September 19th at 8 pm EDT.

Friday, August 26, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

The delirium over beryllium

Guest blog by Prof Flip Tanedo, a co-author of the first highlighted paper and the editor-in-chief of Particle Bites

Click at the pirate flag above for a widget-free version
Article: Particle Physics Models for the \(17\MeV\) Anomaly in Beryllium Nuclear Decays
Authors: J.L. Feng, B. Fornal, I. Galon, S. Gardner, J. Smolinsky, T. M. P. Tait, F. Tanedo
Reference: arXiv:1608.03591 (Submitted to Phys. Rev. D)

Also featuring the results from:
  • Gulyás et al., “A pair spectrometer for measuring multipolarities of energetic nuclear transitions” (description of detector; 1504.00489; NIM)
  • Krasznahorkay et al., “Observation of Anomalous Internal Pair Creation in 8Be: A Possible Indication of a Light, Neutral Boson” (experimental result; 1504.01527; PRL version; note PRL version differs from arXiv)
  • Feng et al., “Protophobic Fifth-Force Interpretation of the Observed Anomaly in 8Be Nuclear Transitions” (phenomenology; 1604.07411; PRL)
Recently there’s some press (see links below) regarding early hints of a new particle observed in a nuclear physics experiment. In this bite, we’ll summarize the result that has raised the eyebrows of some physicists, and the hackles of others.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Relocation of migrants: will Czech politicians say a clear Nein to Merkel?

The former Czech visiting chemistry postdoc Angela Merkel is visiting Prague tomorrow. The relationships between the countries remain very good and the cooperation just works in the economy etc. Moreover, the scars created by the dramatic history of the Sudetenland have been healed even more than ever before in recent years and months. The Czech political sphere finds it OK to send a friendly pro-German messenger to the Sudetenland Patriots Conventions, while this traditional organization of the Czechoslovak Germans has basically abandoned efforts to recapture the real estate in the Czech borderland.

However, the migrant issue has emerged as a new polarizing question and placed the two countries on the opposite poles of the European policymaking.

Postdoc Angela Merkel (4th from left) in front of the St Vitus Cathedral in Prague, 1982. From left: Kazyuki Tatumi, Rudolf Zahradník, Milena Zahradníková, her, Olga Turečková, Zdeněk Havlas. She was learning to cook Czech dumplings and was able to do basic communication in Czech.

Despite all the terror attacks, failure of efforts to employ the migrants, and other problems that are becoming increasingly more self-evident, most of Germans – and not just the strangely obsessed leaders of the largest European economy – arguably still believe that it's right to invite Muslims en masse and "yes we can". About 95% of the Czech public believes that we shouldn't admit large groups of migrants, not even temporary migrants from the battlefronts, and most Czechs would probably like to ban even the immigration of individual Muslims.

A majority of the mainstream politicians are basically "regular Czechs" to the extent that they naturally have the same opinions. Some politicians are forced to adopt the anti-migration attitude because the support for migration is simply politically incorrect, it's considered a form of treason, stupidity, and egotist assault on most Czechs. Czechs are carefully watching what's going on in the Islamization issue (plus the attacks and also "peaceful" annoying behavior of the Muslims) despite the fact that it avoids our homeland so far. In the 1930s, Czechoslovakia was living its happy, cultural, musical, free, and democratic life as well and could have made fun of Hitler etc. In 1938-1939, this period of freedom and democracy abruptly ended – Hitler's March 1939 threat that he would flatten Prague if President Hácha didn't surrender in hours was helpful in accelerating the transformation. Even though the times are different and Merkel is unlikely to bomb Prague, threats may still be dramatic and rationally thinking nations with significantly larger neighbors simply must realize that the neighbor may have some capacity to change the rules of the game against our will. I must admit that I believe that if Merkel threatened that if we don't accept 50,000 Muslims, Merkel will ban all Czech-German trade, the Czech politicians will almost certainly surrender. But is Merkel this close to Hitler, this destructive against both Czech and German companies?

President Zeman is already known as one of the most outspoken anti-Islamists in Europe and there are others who share very similar opinions although they don't want to be heard as clearly (I think that billionaire and very powerful finance minister Andrej Babiš has basically the same opinions, just prefers to be less loud). Prime minister Sobotka is trying to maximize the friendly relationships in Germany and is widely seen as a potential traitor. But he said that "we" didn't wish a strong Muslim presence yesterday – a statement that was often simplified (e.g. in Nigeria) to the claim that Muslims are not welcome to Czechia. So I guess that when Merkel and her comrades are reading these reports, they must think that he isn't obeying the orders from Germany too rigorously. ;-)

You may find a better Merkel's fifth column in a part of the opposition centrist TOP 09 party and among some greens and apolitical politicians – although TOP 09 is surely not unhinged enough to present opinions that would actually match Merkel's views. The Prague Café, an intellectual environment in Prague, is by definition politically correct and e.g. pro-Merkel. That means that the percentages of opponents of mass migration are surely lower in the (wealthier) Prague than in the rest of the nation. I would like to know more precise numbers. Be sure that you never become a part of a community that is too wealthy – your brain would be likely to decay rather quickly.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

After decades, Sean Carroll understood the "divergent distribution" problem with the simulations, anthropic principle

After many and many years in which Sean Carroll promoted the anthropic principle, the claim that we're the Boltzmann Brains, and the claim that we live in a simulation, he finally wrote a blog post

Maybe We Do Not Live in a Simulation: The Resolution Conundrum
in which he apparently understood a basic problem – well, a disproof by contradiction – with all these delusions. This problem has been pointed out in a large part of the TRF blog posts about the anthropic/simulation/typicality/BoltzmannBrain topics. The defenders of these misconceptions basically assume that there exists a uniform distribution on an infinite set (e.g. a countable set; or a continuous set with the infinite measure).

Because there exists no real number \(x\) such that \(x\cdot \infty =1\), the uniform distribution just cannot exist, and all reasoning based on the assumption that the uniform distribution exists is therefore flawed.

Clinton, foundations, NGOs, and corruption with a lipstick

The FBI kept on investigating and it has found over 14,000 additional e-mails that the serial liar Hillary Clinton has pledged not to exist. A fraction of these e-mails more or less unequivocally show that Hillary Clinton has been paid-to-play through the Clinton Foundation by various donors. I say "more or less" because the causal connection between a payment and a politician's decision can almost never be proven with certainty.

The prince of Bahrain has paid some $100,000 in total and obtained some special meeting with Hillary for that. There are probably many other known cases but most of the e-mails remain classified. A week earlier, hackers released 2,500 Soros files. Those show this megajerk's obsession with his plans to destroy the state of Israel but other things could have been seen, too. For example, George Soros bought the U.S. policy in Albania when Hillary was the secretary of state.

Monday, August 22, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Daesh invaded Prague's Old Town Square

48 years after the Soviet-led invasion, it was thankfully just a prank

South Bohemian Entomologist Assoc Prof Martin Konvička, the boss of the defunct Bloc Against Islam and the current leader of the Initiative of Martin Konvička, was the caliph and the main star of a happening that his IMK organized on the 48th anniversary of the August 21st, 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion into Czechoslovakia.

Some observers, like myself, consider the event a bit infantile but entertaining, many others reacted rather hysterically. The event was okayed by the Prague city hall and coordinated with the police – although both of these official legs of the government now claim that different events than the previously announced ones took place. Some tourists were unable to figure out that it was a hoax and the tension grew so at some moment, before Daesh was supposed to cut the head of a hostage – probably fake President Zeman – the police ended the event.

Saturday, August 20, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Rio pole vault event was obviously inferior

Russian track-and-field athletes were largely banned from the Olympic competitions in Rio. The explanation was the rather widespread doping among these Russian sportsmen. I am sure that the tolerance towards these "tools to improve the results" is much higher than in Russia than it is in another average country.

But the decision to apply the collective guilt principle is hugely morally problematic. Also, it's crazy to present the doping as a part of the Russian identity – in the ethnic sense. Before Germany was reunified, the relatively small country of East Germany was often the #1 country at similar contests. A huge part of these East German successes was due to doping. Obviously, their Aryan race didn't prevent our DDR comrades from cheating in exactly the same way as some Russian athletes in recent years. The degree of institutionalization of doping was almost certainly higher in East Germany than it is in Russia today.

Pole vaulter Ms Yelena Isinbayeva (who retired hours ago) became the main face of the athletes who consider themselves victims of an unfair decision. She has won some nine Olympic-level gold medals, holds the current world record, and is considered a legend and the top female pole vaulter of all time. No evidence of forbidden chemicals has ever haunted her.

In the video above, from late July 2016, she cried in the Kremlin in front of Putin because of this elimination of the Russian sportsmen. I feel that Putin didn't particularly like this "crying attitude" to those decisions but it's likely that her speech helped to rally the Russian nationalism to some extent, anyway.

Friday, August 19, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Consciousness: the trouble with Tononi's critics

In recent years, several readers have asked about my opinion about the Integrated Information Theory (IIT), a theory about "what consciousness is and where it is" started by neuroscientist Giulio Tononi in 2004. Some of them have expressed the opinion that IIT seems compatible with my understanding of the role of the ("conscious") observer in quantum mechanics etc.

My knowledge about IIT slowly grew and my opinions gradually strengthened. But it was the 2014 texts by computer scientist Scott Aaronson

Why I Am Not An Integrated Information Theorist (or, The Unconscious Expander)

Why Scott should stare at a blank wall and reconsider (or, the conscious grid)

Giulio Tononi and Me: A Phi-nal Exchange
that I only saw now (hat tip: Pig) have convinced me that despite my and our ignorance about most of the key questions, my opinions are already rather strong and my basis to be certain that e.g. Scott Aaronson's critique is a pile of šit is rather solid.

Thursday, August 18, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Critics of wave-particle duality are confused

Yesterday, a reader voiced his dissatisfaction with the principle known as wave-particle duality. This Wikipedia article seems good to me, by the way, and I will refer to it a few times.

This opposition is widespread and it looks crazy to me. The principle is not even a precise principle of modern quantum mechanics. It's something more qualitative and older than quantum mechanics. The principle is obviously true and I simply can't imagine how someone may understand much about modern physics without agreeing that the wave-particle duality captures an important part of the defining insights of modern physics.

Intra-European migration tops its exotic counterpart

Czech linguist Jakub Marián has created another interesting map:

See e.g. the Maltese Independent. The map – which is said to be valid even when the data up to June 2016 are added – shows the dominant source of foreign-born residents in each European country. In other words, the map answers the question "Where did the largest group of aliens who live here come from?"

Wednesday, August 17, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How pop science manipulates with the status of the Schrödinger equation

In a blog post, Sean Carroll says that you should love or respect the Schrödinger equation and you should appreciate that the Schrödinger equation may be applied in a wider range of situations, not just in the non-relativistic of mechanics of point-like particles.

I agree with these two points.

You could wonder why Sean Carroll hasn't written down the simple sentence in the first paragraph of this blog post and instead, added some three pages of redundant text. Well, it's because he needed to keep the percentage of misconceptions and distortions well above 50%, just like in almost all of his texts about quantum mechanics.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Cold summer, mushrooms, Czech wine, \(17\MeV\) boson

Central Europe is experiencing one of the coldest Augusts in recent memory. (For example, Czechia's top and oldest weather station in Prague-Klementinum broke the record cold high for August 11th, previously from 1869.) But it's been great for mushroom pickers.

When you spend just an hour in the forest, you may find dozens of mushrooms similar to this one-foot-in-diameter bay bolete (Czech: hřib hnědý [brown], Pilsner Czech: podubák). I don't claim that we broke the Czech record today.

Also, the New York Times ran a story on the Moravian (Southeastern Czechia's) wine featuring an entrepreneur who came from Australia to improve the business. He reminds me of Josef Groll, the cheeky Bavarian brewmaster who was hired by the dissatisfied dignified citizens of Pilsen in 1842 and improved the beer in the city by 4 categories. Well, the difference is that the Moravian wine has never really sucked, unlike Pilsen's beer, except for the Moravian beer served to the tourists from Prague, as NYT also explains.

Hat tip: the U.S. ambassador.

Monday, August 15, 2016 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Streamlining the world: Western Communities, privatization of Moon, recolonialization

It's not the most important story of the week but it is an annoying story, anyway.

For the first time in my life, a relatively small package of products I bought at in the U.S. made it to the customs. I had to send numerous documents because of this almost trivial but not quite trivial purchase and in the optimistic case, I will get the product and have to pay the value-added tax plus some fees etc.

It has never happened to me in the past. Maybe it's because the things always went through FedEx, DHL or another courier company – but it was sent through USPS now which is probably more likely to hit the customs. (Do you have some knowledge on that?) And maybe the finance minister Babiš has increased the intensity of the customs terror. The amount of hassle because of this thing is significant. The people who are against TTIP – the EU-U.S. free trade agreement – even though they won't lose any job or profits seem like a different species to me. Who can like the principle of this harassment by the government bureaus? It's pure tyranny.

TTIP could be a core part of a new North-American-European union. But in principle, I think it would be a good idea to formally invite the U.S. and Canada (and perhaps Australia, Israel, and a few others) to the EU once we will be able to dismantle the aspects of the EU that have grown out of control. Some unions between the Western countries will always be there. I think that the artificial barriers should be dismantled and the West should be acknowledged as an important part of our identity. My Czech nationality is more important than other parts of the identity. But the perceived membership in the West is more important for me than the membership in some artificial subset called the EU.