## Saturday, December 31, 2016 ... /////

### The ER-EPR correspondence does deserve the time of Hollywood actresses

After a one-year-old 12-minute video about Stephen Hawking, Paul Rudd, and quantum chess that got over 2 million views, Caltech has released another 11-minute video

Quantum is calling
where actress Zoe Saldana along with Stephen Hawking promote Juan Maldacena's ER-EPR correspondence whose title page was kindly signed by Lenny Susskind, too. ;-) These short films also feature Keanu Reeves, Simon Pegg, and John Cho. I admit that I haven't watched either film in the entirety yet – I plan to fix the bug soon. Well, I still faithfully watch every second of The Big Bang Theory where similar stuff appears but that stuff is a part of a story I care about. I am not sufficiently motivated to watch similar film segments in isolation.

Tetragraviton claims that the ER-EPR correspondence does not deserve this kind of the "star-studded" Hollywood "treatment". Well, he is just wrong.

## Friday, December 30, 2016 ... /////

### Gauge symmetry: its virtues and vices don't contradict each other

Three physicists affiliated with Princeton (now or recently) published an interesting preprint,

Locality and Unitarity from Singularities and Gauge Invariance
I know Nima from Harvard very well, he's brilliant and fun. Jaroslav Trnka is a big mind and my countrymate. Although I am a French writer (a month ago, I had to memorize sentences like "Je suis un écrivain français" for my sister's BF, one of the 21 cops who shot the terrorist in Nice), I only know that both Laurentia and Rodinia were supercontinents about 1 billion years ago.

Laurentiu Rodina is a particularly interesting hybrid name of an author especially because the supercontinent Laurentia (basically Eastern 2/3 of North America now) was a portion of the supercontinent Rodinia. Laurentia was named after the St Lawrence River which was named after Lawrence of Rome. Rodinia is named after Rodina – a Slavic word meaning "the motherland" in Russian but "the family" in Czech. Yes, this "subtle difference" appears on the Czech-Russian edition of the false friends of a Slavist.

At any rate, the Rodinia was a motherland or a family of smaller supercontinents that included Laurentia. (Rodinia was a more ancient counterpart of Pangaea – a clumping of all continents into one – except that Pangaea existed between 300 and 200 million years ago, much more recently.) There's some redundancy in Laurentiu Rodina's name – and this redundancy and the subtleties linked to it may be similar to those of the gauge symmetry.

OK, after this silly geological introduction, we are finally getting to theoretical physics.

## Wednesday, December 28, 2016 ... /////

### John Kerry's bizarre anti-Israel rant

I hope that you have enjoyed the holinights or other holidays. If you feel somewhat socially exhausted, you are not the only one. There have also been lots of events that had to be cut and won't be discussed by us, the TRF community. But there's a random event that might be.

An hour ago, I received an e-mail alert and watched John Kerry's speech about Israel and Palestine. He tried to provide the audiences with a boringly longish, 72-minute-long sequence of repetitive excuses for the Obama administration's betrayal of Israel in a U.N. vote. A hopefully symbolic resolution drafted by an Arab state criticized the Jewish settlements. It was the kind of a resolution that the U.S. would veto at every moment in the past. But because the likes of Obama and Kerry are still in charge and their anti-Israel sentiments are culminating during the last month of their tenure, the U.S. abstained and the resolution passed.

At Fox News, Anne Bayefsky has argued that the Palestinians have hijacked all limbs of the U.N. and Obama+pals are encouraging that process. Thanks, Bill, for the URL. It's being said by the Israeli officials that while Obama and Kerry formally abstained, they're the true masterminds of the U.N. slap into Israel's face.

Israel has already stopped funding of the U.N. bodies. Donald Trump has already criticized Kerry's moves and promised Israel a radical U-turn back to friendship from January 2017. As far as ambitious and unlikely projects go, Trump may even dissolve the U.N. (withdraw the U.S. out of the U.N., kick the U.N. out of New York, and make the U.N. basically irrelevant).

## Sunday, December 25, 2016 ... /////

### Tragic death of the Alexandrov choir is a big loss for Russian culture

Way too many well-known people died in recent days. Physicist Sidney Drell and modern dark matter pioneer Vera Rubin. Fermilab co-father Edwin Goldwasser. George Michael. Carrie Fisher, Leia of Star Wars. Claude Jensac, Louis de Funes' movie "wife" from Saint Tropez. Astronauts John Glenn and Piers Sellers. Russian drinkers of methanol-based bath lotion (cause of death: high ethanol taxation). Czech actress Luba Skořepová was another.

Vesna Vulović, a Serbian flight attendant, died on the same day, December 23rd. She's been a remarkable entry in the Guinness book of records. In 1972, a Yugoslav aircraft exploded 10 kilometers above a Czechoslovak village miles from East Germany – village that is paradoxically called Sorbian Chemnitz [Stoneville] (Sorbs were the "other", now mostly assimilated, Slavs who have lived in East Germany – in the Czech language, we use the word "Srb" for both Sorbs and Serbs). The bomb was planted by the Croatian Ustasche fascist movement – that for some reason failed to evaporate in 1945. Imagine that. An explosion followed by a fall from 10 kilometers. Vesna Vulović survived it because of her fortunate location within the aircraft. She wasn't even shocked and didn't develop any phobia from flying. 46 long years of life were ahead of her.

By far the greatest catastrophe was the demise of a military Tupolev-154 aircraft near Sochi today. The passengers and crew weren't as lucky as Vesna Vulović and all 92 people – who were going to Syria – were killed soon after the takeoff. 64 of them were members of the Alexandrov choir. In Czech, we call them "Alexandrovci" or the "Alexandrov Ensemble of Songs and Dances". Except for 3 soloists, all the members of that music group are gone.

The ensemble was formed sometime in 1928 and as the music wing of the Red Army, it energized the Soviet warriors during the Second World War. Aside from Katyusha above, you should listen to their version of Kalinka, the other war-like motivating Soviet song. The white-dressed soloists nicknamed Mr Kalinka, Mr Vadim Ananev, survived because a son was just born to his wife. Let me remind you that the weapon was named Katyusha after the song that is all about the love between a man and a woman, not the other way around.

## Friday, December 23, 2016 ... /////

### Sidney Drell: 1926-2016

Stanford News and The New York Times brought us sad news yesterday. Sidney Drell died at home in Palo Alto (the town around Stanford) on Wednesday, December 21st, at age of 90.3.

The information was confirmed by his daughter Persis Drell, also a particle physicist and recently the director of SLAC (Sidney Drell has only been a deputy director of SLAC in his life). One more daughter and one son survived him, along with three grandkids.

I am old enough to remember his name primarily for the Bjorken-Drell textbook of quantum field theory. They wrote Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Relativistic Quantum Fields. The QFT textbook played the same role that was probably played by Peskin-Schroeder in the following decades. Its influence was huge. Among other things, the mostly minus convention for the metric has also been known as the Bjorken-Drell convention. That's a way to say that they basically defined the mainstream in particle physics.

Note that the first edition of Peskin-Schroeder appeared in October 1995, more than five years after I started to study QFT, so it's clear that I had to be led to an older text like Bjorken-Drell.

I remember that I was intrigued by the idea that the Bjorken-Drell textbook really explained everything I needed to fully describe both wave-like and particle-like properties of the electromagnetic field. But it took me some time to see through all the equations that looked complicated – to figure out that the quantum field with the "same" Hamiltonian that we know as the total energy of the field in classical electrodynamics is rewritten as a higher-dimensional harmonic oscillator which may be quantized into photons. This point is really so simple and the book made it look so hard (when I was about 16) so I tend to think that books have gotten more pedagogically edible.

Although it was my first QFT textbook I studied, I switched to other books, like Ramond's, rather early so I don't even remember whether Bjorken-Drell included a systematic treatment of the Feynman diagrams (my guess would be No). But I am sure that the strong and weak interactions are covered in a way that is hopelessly outdated today.

### What Germany allowed Anis Amri is stunning

Now, at 10:36 am, I learned that the attacker was finally shot dead at 3 am in Sesto San Giovanni in Greater Milan, Italy (840 km away from Berlin), after a shootout and an obligatory "Allah Akbar". After he was asked to show his documents, he replied with the Islamic expletive, so the Italian cops reasonably concluded that it was a wrong answer and shot him dead before he seriously injured one cop (shoulder). A photo, a slide show, Street View (all such things are from my research).

Anis Amri who was born in Tataouine (now a Daesh stronghold in the desert), Tunisia, on December 22nd, 1992, has been proven to be the perpetrator of the attacks (by fingerprints and other methods). It really seems that Angela Merkel and her folks sent a birthday pie to him yesterday, on behalf of all the grateful German people.

Naďa Čižmár [Nadya Chizhmahr], the Czech victim, was using the nickname Sedmikráska (Daisy, literally "Seven-beauty"), on Pinterest

The 2016 Berlin attack wasn't the bloodiest one among the recent Islamist terrorist attacks in Europe. But I think it's fair to say that it has been the closest one to the post-socialist Europe. Among the 12 victims, we find 7 Germans, one Polish driver, one Israeli, one Italian, one Ukrainian, and yes, a Czech woman, Naďa Čižmár who has worked for supply chain logistical "4flow Management GmbH" company in Germany for 2 years. Well, she's the third Czech victim of Islamic terror – tourist Mr Petr Kořán was killed in Egypt in 2005 and Mr Ivo Žďárek, the Czech ambassador to Pakistan, died in 2008. She's the first Czech victim killed on the European territory.

She's been missing since the attack and her husband (and their 5-year-old son) had to wait for 3 days to get the devastating news.

Čižmár is a Czech transliteration of a Hungarian surname (Csizmár or Csizsmár) – but that may mean as little as that 1/32 of her husband Petr Čižmár's DNA is Hungarian from a patrilineal ancestor a century ago – and she may have used the original, masculine form of the surname. But because the tally is Čižmár 106100 Čižmárová, most Czech women with this name bend it just like any other Czech name. The first name Naďa is a widespread Czech – and more generally Slavic – first name.

My condolences to her relatives. By the way, they wanted her identity to be released which I find sensible.

## Thursday, December 22, 2016 ... /////

### Santa Barbara dorms for KITP visitors to open in early 2017

Two years ago, I wrote about a gift by Charles Munger (who is 92), who must be used to be referred to as the #2 in Warren Buffett's company, to the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB).

A picture from September 2016 already looked nearly finished.

Today, The Santa Barbara Independent reminded us that the project is almost complete. I think that the money wasn't wasted, like Warren Buffett's gifts to Hillary. Note that Munger's $65 million was enough for the whole project. A seemingly wealthier Bill Gates only paid a part for the "William Gates Computer Science" building at Stanford – and he sent the rest of the money to an African jungle. ## Wednesday, December 21, 2016 ... ///// ### Consistent histories aren't inconsistent The prohibited inconsistency of histories in the formalism is synonymous with Bohr's complementarity The de Broglie-Bohm pilot wave theory and the many worlds interpretation are the two most widespread "alternative axiomatic systems" that are claimed to compete with the proper, Copenhagen or neo-Copenhagen, quantum mechanics. The Ghirardi-Rimini-Weber "objective spontaneous random collapse" theories are a distant third and other "frameworks" meant to replace the postulates of quantum mechanics are pretty much incoherent even at the level of the grammar. Both the pilot wave theory and the many worlds are irrational and both of them ultimately contradict important and well-established facts about the physical world. Both of them are motivated by the champions' attachment to "realism" – a euphemism for the observer-independent i.e. classical physics. If I had to choose, I would choose the Bohmists as the much worse physicists among the two. They're in a much deeper denial of modern physics. You know, one may divide those confused (and/or bigoted) people's efforts to deviate from quantum mechanics as formulated in Copenhagen into two levels: 1. Dissatisfaction with the philosophical conceptual "words" that Heisenberg, Bohr, Pauli, Dirac, Wigner, von Neumann, and others have been teaching us 2. Disagreement with some universal properties of the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics Both Bohmists and many-worldists suffer from (1). But only the Bohmists commit the sin number (2). In practice, most many-worldists prefer to say that the mathematical foundations of quantum mechanics are right and here to stay. They "just" believe that it may be and should be supplemented with some "more realist" set of words and more visualized "ways to imagine" what's going on. ### U.S. embassy sings a Czech carol Ivana Trump, the first wife who gave the name to the Donald, expressed her desire to become a new U.S. ambassador to Prague, a plan that is enthusiastically supported by the Czech president. But there's a problem. There also exists the old ambassador, Obama's former classmate Andrew Schapiro. And maybe he likes the job. It took me some time to see that the name of the video is "Veselé Vánoce, Happy Holidays". Needless to say, the translation of "Veselé Vánoce" to English is "Merry Christmas", not "Happy Holidays"... Thank God, there's been no war on "Merry Christmas" in Czechia. People from different cultures have to get used to it. After all, even Czechs – whose clear majority is basically irreligious – are showing their tolerance for the religious other people's traditions by using the term and the habits. So he's doing lots of things. In the Summer, he tandem parachuted with a professional skydiver, at the same airport where I did it years ago, too (but I needed to record a lecture about the black hole infalling observer during the fall; the camcorder battery froze and stopped the recording as we were crossing the event horizon, as required by causality). His employees had to wear short trousers to resemble Václav Havel – which may reflect his belief that it's something that the Czechs still care about. And today, they released the Christmas carol above. For amateurs who don't normally speak the language, it's pretty good. Better than Chuck Norris at killing of the Czech christmas carp (more). ## Monday, December 19, 2016 ... ///// ### Too many political events for a pre-Christmas Monday Many of us spend hours by buying some additional gifts but the political events do not stop because of that. First of all, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot dead in Ankara, a second before he was expected to begin to speak at an art exhibition, "Russian Through Turkish Eyes". The video of the murder of Andrey Karlov (the scenery just like the Mafia I game's grand finale), a career diplomat who has survived a job in North Korea, is rather dramatic. The assassin is a fanatical terrorist savage enjoying the religion of peace and yelling things like "Allahu Akbar" and "it is a revenge for [Russia's help to Assad in] Aleppo" (in Turkish, not Arabic). He was gunned down. Some EU folks are close to giving similar men the visa-free travel to Europe; I am somewhat closer to the eradicate-them team. What I find amazing is how much space this guy has had – and how closely he resembled a professional bodyguard. He could give a long speech. Weren't there any real bodyguards over there? Also, the recording of the video apparently continued without any interruption for quite some time, too. It looks so puzzling. Russia has called the assassination an act of terror and it's generally expected that it will have some consequences. Note that the countries have basically recovered from the Russian jet that was shot by Turkey. But another attack – and against a diplomat? I hope that if Russia invades Turkey, it will be kind to liberate the two Czech anti-ISIS warriors. I surely hope that some people in NATO don't expect e.g. us, Czechia, to help Turkey – formally a NATO member – when it's deservedly attacked or invaded. ## Sunday, December 18, 2016 ... ///// ### Czech L-159 jets destroy Daesh info center, arms depots Production of ALCAs was resumed A year ago, I wrote that 15 L-159 ALCA jets that were previously labeled "redundant" by the Czech Air Force were sold to the Iraqi Air Force. L-159 is a cute successor of L-59 (and therefore an older L-39 Albatros) – a training and combat aircraft. According to Wikipedia, the price should be around$10 million a piece but Iraq got it for $2 million. Well, that's very cheap, I think – we sort of subsidized the fight against Daesh, I think. (We're planning to donate them some extra ammunition, too.) It seems that the officials of the Iraqi Air Force love it – the most beloved things are sometimes gotten cheaply and easily. It seems that when they buy another package – the production of L-159 got resumed in Aero Vodochody (with a Honeywell engine) – it will be for$10 million or more, not $2 million. For decades, these toys – which are also able to seriously fight – were slow sellers of a sort. And the users of them were largely "learning to fly". Well, it has changed in recent months. ## Saturday, December 17, 2016 ... ///// ### Study: Hollywood-like dramatic style, not science content, brings citations to climate change papers One of the recent Phys.Org titles that I couldn't overlook yesterday was What makes influential science? Telling a good story Assuming a common (non-scientific) definition of a story (and this is the definition they mean, as we will see later), this headline basically says that influential research papers should try to emulate the style of the demagogic pop-science writers who work to impress the stupidest readers in the population. Well, if that would be the case in a scientific discipline, the scientific discipline would surely be absolutely rotten – it would cease to be a genuine scientific discipline. It would be a pop-science superstition masquerading itself as science. So I was curious what was hiding behind the headline – which discipline demanded researchers to resemble pop-science writers and why. Well, it wasn't so hard to find the answer. The headline wasn't supposed to apply to all of science, even though Phys.Org tried to create this impression. Instead, the Phys.Org article was promoting a PLOS ONE study whose title says Narrative Style Influences Citation Frequency in Climate Change Science (full PDF). So it's not really "science" that the Phys.Org article should have talked about. Instead, it is climate science. A big difference! ### Severe inaccuracies in media stories about Verlinde's speculations Last month, Erik Verlinde released another speculative paper that he intended to sell as a breakthrough to the media. It's his version of what I coined as the holographic MOND paradigm. Dark matter doesn't really exist. Instead, the effects attributed to it result from some modification of the usual laws of gravity that is guaranteed by "fundamental physics" in combination with dark energy (or cosmological constant). One consequence is that the parameters controlling the observations displaying "dark matter" and those displaying "dark energy" aren't independent. Verlinde uses different details in the justification but they're as speculative as holographic MOND and have similar observational consequences as other MOND papers. The Dutch media have persuaded themselves that it's the greatest event in science since the Big Bang. The journalistic class of the Netherlands – and other countries – is an echo chamber where some amazing group think is nurtured. I've been asked for interviews by 4 Dutch science journalists and rejected those offers for various reasons. The hype in the English-speaking media is much weaker than the hype in the Netherlands but it's still excessive. ## Friday, December 16, 2016 ... ///// ### Grand unification remains unproven, hot, likely, and persuasive Quanta Magazine's Natalie Wolchover wrote a status report about grand unification, Grand Unification Dream Kept at Bay Physicists have failed to find disintegrating protons, throwing into limbo the beloved theory that the forces of nature were unified at the beginning of time whose subtitle – which includes words such as "failed" and "limbo" – is much more negative than the available evidence suggests. No smoking gun – such as the proton decay – that would "almost" prove grand unification has been found. But no good reason to stop loving grand unification has been found, either, and that's why lots of particle physicists keep on thinking about grand unified theories. ## Thursday, December 15, 2016 ... ///// ### I approve the message of Aaronson's QM comic Scott Aaronson is a nutcase when it comes to politically loaded issues. He wanted (and begged a psychiatrist) to chemically castrate himself because he was persuaded that males without castration are weapons of mass destruction (Lily Rebecca Aaronson, you've been very lucky). After Trump won, he joined a jihadist resistance movement – and his political state of the mind resembles that of Keith Olberman who is giving speeches like Hitler after a meltdown from the frequently recycled and parodied film. But I think that among the real-world people who are being marketed as experts on foundations of quantum mechanics, he belongs to the 20% sanest folks. (The figure 20% and other positive statements about Aaronson here are meant to be neither excessive compliments nor "damning with faint praise", as TRF+Aaronson reader Zach Cox suggests, but as accurate appraisals as I can find.) This opinion of mine was just strengthened by Scott Aaronson's and Zach Weinersmith's comic "The Talk" (huge PNG) at SMBC-comics.com, announced at Aaronson's blog. In the comic, a mother – a smart lady who is no longer a MILF, sadly – is terrified when she discovers that her son is reading some pop-science nonsense about quantum mechanics. ### Arguments over DOE funding for HEP theorists The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is one of the agencies that provide American particle physicists with the research money – to cover salaries, postdocs, students, workshops, secretaries etc. Why are theoretical physicists – pure scientists – funded by a ministry whose name sounds so practical? Well, it goes back to the war and post-war era when physicists like that (including "truly theoretical" ones) have created the first nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants etc. The political establishment – including the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, respectively – concluded that it could be a rather good idea for a nation to pay theoretical physicists – some very practical things may come out of it. Whether this assumption is still true may be debated. If you want me to be more historically accurate, the Manhattan Project was actually masterminded not by the Department of Defense but by a predecessor of the Department of Energy. This predecessor was established in 1942 and Jimmy Carter reshaped it to the Department of Energy in 1977. Days ago, I was shown a letter Letter Re. U.S. high energy theory support where over 100+ signatories say that fundamental physics is important and attractive for masses and recommend Prof Andrew Lankford of DOE to stop the cataclysmic trend of recent years. Since 2011, the letter sketches, the total DOE funding for theorists may have dropped some 30% and 25% of the people previously funded have lost that DOE support. If you have had the feeling that the number of interesting hep-th or hep-ph preprints per day has decreased in a recent decade or so, it may be true and it may ultimately have some very material causes. I actually know most of the signatories in person – they include my PhD adviser, the later de facto boss, lots of colleagues from several institutions and dozens of physicists I have interacted at various places. Plus additional dozens whose papers I am familiar with etc. ## Wednesday, December 14, 2016 ... ///// ### Sam Ting claims that a $1\TeV$ WIMP is the only sensible theory matching the 5-year AMS data Addition December 14th: the recorded video of the lecture is finally available. Update: Some meaningful information overlapping with Ting's talk may be found in this AMS02 press release, Symmetry Magazine, and Astroblogs.NL. The text below was originally posted on the evening of December 8th. We're drowning in "fake news" stories about ("fake news" but also about) dark matter. Erik Verlinde has surely unified dark matter and dark energy in his own version of my holographic MOND. A would-be NASA rocket scientist suggests that his reactionless EM drive might give us flying cars that may also go to other galaxies. Some of his fans suggest that this invention of the millennium (which can exert a piconewton because a piconewton is the error of their measurement) is driven by dark matter. Well, while all the journalists are obsessed with assorted cranks and speculative physicists and their musings about dark matter, The Reference Frame is the only website in the world that seems to care what a$1.5 billion experiment designed to detect dark matter says about dark matter. Who could possibly care about a $1.5 billion experiment if we have a genius building intergalactic spaceships by reflecting microwaves inside a plunger? And as we will see, the AMS results are much further from "null results" than the results of underground experiments as well as the searches for dark matter at the LHC. As I mentioned at the top of the previous blog post, Bill Zajc, your humble correspondent, and others watched a CERN colloquium today (17:00-18:00 Prague Winter Time) where Nobel laureate Sam Ting promised to report some unexpected results of the 5-year run of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a gadget working on board of the International Space Station. See some previous TRF blog posts about the AMS experiment. ### Math-phys Alma mater is almost like shared DNA Last night, I enjoyed the pre-Christmas party of the Václav Klaus Institute (led by the Czech ex-president) in Café Mozart, a fancy business just a few steps from the Prague Astronomical Clock (Orloj) as well as from the amazing exchange office where you still get CZK 15 for one euro. There is a pretty Christmas tree at the Old Town Square this year – and it's nice when the place is so alive. Otherwise, in a cloudy weather, cities like Prague (or New York) suck. The Pilsner Urquell logo and the modern Pilsner Škoda Transportation streetcars are the only pretty things in much of Prague. What else would you expect a Pilsner patriot to say? Lots of famous people attend these events and I am much more familiar with them – political soulmates, if you wish – than I was years ago. Yesterday, among other things, I exchanged some nice and interesting words with a brilliant female economist HL, with a scholar and loyal worker of the institute ML, with the boss of bosses VK (he has worked on some exciting project) and his charming friend from Salzburg whose initials I will hide. But most of the time, I was talking to a main father of the Czech voucher privatization DT, mild-mannered sociologist PH who was recently known as an anti-immigration politician, and with JK, an ex-mayor of Prague. They are fun folks, said lots of interesting things, and they also have had many more positions and achievements than I suggested. ## Tuesday, December 13, 2016 ... ///// ### Syrian army liberates Aleppo Off-topic, business: Pilsner Urquell, the beermaker in my hometown that gave the name to 90% of the world's beer, was sold by SABmiller to Asahi, a Japanese beer company, for$7.8 billion, along with four less well-known post-communist European breweries. Because of anti-monopoly legislation, SABMiller+Anheuser Busch was forced to sell some breweries. The City of Pilsen, descendants of the old 19th century owners, and some Czech billionaires were among the prospective buyers.
The Battle of Aleppo is finally over. It lasted for more than four years – since July 2012. It's a very long time for this kind of suffering; the battle beats many big battles from the history textbooks, thus proving that the history hasn't "ended". Syria's second largest city – whose population exceeded 2 million before the war – was partly destroyed and lots of warriors as well as civilians have died.

Lots of people have celebrated Assad's victory last night. You may see that even the supporters of the government are full of God. This God stuff is everywhere in the region. None of them has noticed the positive regional correlation between "Allah" and "misery" yet.

The final outcome hasn't been clear for years. However, in recent months, it was rather clear that Assad would win. Look e.g. at this snapshot from September 2016. Most of the city was controlled by the Syrian government forces and a shrinking area in East Aleppo – with the population of 250,000 or so – was occupied by the Islamist rebels.

## Monday, December 12, 2016 ... /////

### Deceptive excuses for Bohmian mechanics

Three days ago, PBS Spacetime explained the event horizon. I have only watched parts of the video but I do believe that it does correctly explain what's special and what's not special about the black hole event horizon – and how the Penrose diagrams work.

Sadly, PBS Spacetime keeps on producing wildly deceptive videos about quantum mechanics. In late October, they promoted the many worlds "interpretation" which I discussed two weeks ago. The November 30th video embedded above promotes Bohmian mechanics – the pilot wave theory.

The 12-minute-long video (plus four minutes not related to the main topic) correctly sketches the meaning of this theory and some of the history. However, almost all the claims "evaluating" the theory or "comparing" it to proper quantum mechanics are highly problematic or downright deceptive. Let me discuss some of them in detail.

## Sunday, December 11, 2016 ... /////

### Against Trump, climate alarmists' lawyers are fighting the last war

John Kerry is a lunatic who has said and done many crazy things. He has also been a fanatical climate alarmist who tried to criminalize everyone whose hamburger was partly paid from the oil money. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a pleasure to report that John Kerry is likely to be superseded by Rex Tillerson, the CEO of Exxon Mobil, the largest fossil-fuel company in the world and a top 3-6 company in the world by capitalization.

Mr Tillerson, have you ever had a lunch that was paid by the oil money? That could be enough for John Kerry's heart attack. ;-)

The name of the future energy secretary isn't known yet. Kevin Cramer, a big friend of fossil fuels and a climate skeptic, is among the frontrunners right now.

Scott Pruitt – a veteran warrior against the overreach by the EPA – should lead the EPA, too. So far, climate skepticism seems to be a must for the secretaries. The Interior Department should be led by Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She has supported drilling in Native Americans' reservations and graded Al Gore with an "F" in science for his movie while he got an "A" for creative writing. Al Gore, the More Sore Whore Bore, will release a sequel next year.

## Saturday, December 10, 2016 ... /////

### Nature: LIGO may have seen echoes from a black hole firewall

It has become too common for journalists to write crazy stuff that they should be normally ostracized and spitted upon for

It's clear why Joe Polchinski had to win a Milner Prize. The reasons are the D-branes and similar things. However, some people around the prize have suggested that Polchinski could have gotten the award for the proposal that the black hole interior doesn't exist – the infalling observer unavoidably dies in a "firewall" instead of smoothly crossing the event horizon.

Well, whether Milner or Zuckerberg or anyone else made such a comment, I find it silly, and so do almost all fundamental physicists. The firewall paper by Joe – well, it was really Joe with 3 collaborators who couldn't quite be neglected if Joe were getting a prize for firewalls – is a nice piece of quantum information argumentation but like the assumptions, the conclusion is entirely wrong.

They assume that the locality has to be either exact or totally violated at the spacetime background with a black hole. In particular, the black hole complementarity (the failure of the black hole interior degrees of freedom to be independent) has to be banned. Not surprisingly, because the black hole interior wants to exist as a scrambled copy of the exterior and because they assume that it must be totally independent of the exterior if it exists at all, Joe et al. unsurprisingly "derive" that the black hole interior cannot exist at all, so the infalling observers have to be killed by the firewall.

A classic example of the "garbage in, garbage out" (GIGO) rule.

### Dekra: electric cars only reduce air pollution by 16%

Three decades ago, green, environmental, and especially global warming activists were viewed as fringe whackos who sleep at the treetops and whom no civilized people took seriously.

As you remember very well, they basically became a core component of the intrinsically left-wing establishment in recent years. We're hopefully enjoying the last six weeks before they regain their well-deserved status of fringe whackos, at least in the U.S.

During the years when these whackos controlled a big portion of the establishment, many of us – including otherwise skeptical folks like you and me – have been trained to accept all kinds of wisdom that isn't true. One of the most universally accepted assumptions is the assumption that the transition from combustion engines to electric cars makes the air cleaner so it becomes easier, more pleasant, and healthier for the urban people to breathe.

Is that true?

Dekra which has headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany is the world's third largest vehicle inspection company. Its 36,000 employees create the annual revenue about $2 billion. You shouldn't be surprised that this company works to influence various clean-air policies that are introduced in Germany, especially in Stuttgart itself. ## Friday, December 09, 2016 ... ///// ### Crazy denial of the revived Czech inflation Just like I expected (and as the central bank and many others failed to predict), the today's numbers – reflecting the prices in November – showed a huge increase of the Czech year-on-year inflation rate. One month ago, that rate has only climbed to 0.7%, after almost three years when it was closer to 0% than 1%. I predicted a significant rise and indeed, the year-on-year inflation rate based on November prices was 1.5%, we learned today. It's a 41-month high. This increase also makes it more likely that the interventions against the crown will be stopped sooner than previously believed – in agreement with my expectations. The ECB's decision to extend (but taper) their quantitative easing program can't be "essential" for the Czech National Bank which operates and basically has to operate domestically, independently of foreign events. ECB's asset buying programs are just one of many minor external events that affect the forecasts of ČNB board members. But the Czech bankers can in no way "parrot" ECB and they're not parroting it. The Czech National Bank's "tolerance band" for the inflation rate is between 1% and 3% – so the number has returned to this tolerated zone after a long time – and the target is 2%. The central bankers have repeatedly said that a reading above 2% that seems sustainable is the right moment to scrap the interventions that have kept – and are still keeping – the crown weaker than 27 crowns per euro (EURCZK has been 27.02 or so for a very long time now; a 0.3% fluctuation to 27.10 two weeks ago was the biggest one since 27.16 after the Brexit vote). These ČNB board members also promised not to remove the cap in 2016 – a commitment that could be broken as well – and softly "almost promised" that it wouldn't be in the first quarter of 2017. I think it's more likely than not that the cap will be scrapped in the first quarter of 2017 because the inflation has accelerated markedly and additional jumps should be expected. ## Thursday, December 08, 2016 ... ///// ### ArXiv.org to be modernized for$445,000

Live, hot, via Bill Zajc: at 5 pm CERN winter time – 11 am Boston winter time – Sam Ting will report "unexpected results" from the five years of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. See an abstract of the CERN colloquium, video page, a separate "camera" video window, previous AMS blog posts. I am a bit excited but be careful: Ting expected to make a big discovery so "unexpected results" may mean that he didn't discover anything interesting. ;-) Ting speaks in Chinglish which I understand well, probably because it's a dialect of Czenglish.
At the top of arXiv.org, the main scientific e-archive of preprints serving primarily high energy physics and other fields, you may read some occasional news.

For example, since 2017, the daily deadline for submissions will be changed to 2 pm, local New York time (either standard or daylight-saving, whichever is valid at the moment). So when you're competing for the first or last position among the papers in the listings, don't forget about this change.

Also, the Alfred P. Sloan foundation is paying some $445,000 for software work that should modernize arXiv.org over the following three years. After the upgrade, arXiv should become arXiv-NG – note that ST-NG stands for "Star Trek – Next Generation". ## Wednesday, December 07, 2016 ... ///// ### Scott Pruitt named the chief of Trump EPA A day ago or so, Ivanka Trump as well as Donald Trump met Al Gore. Al Gore claimed that they had an extremely interesting conversation. Well, I was worried about it. Why would Donald Trump accept such a meeting? What could come out of it? Al Gore has never accepted any request for a debate – and he has received very, very many. Now, when his era in the U.S. environmental policymaking seems to be really ending, he seems more willing to meet the people from the other side. Why? Doesn't he have some secret weapons to blackmail the U.S. president elect? Moreover, Ivanka is an amazing young woman but she's arguably left-leaning and perhaps a climate alarmist of a sort. This fact may be said to be paradoxical – given her dad's being Donald Trump and her mother's being Czech, one of the most skeptical nations on Earth. ;-) But right now, I reduced by worries by 90% or so. ### Methods that removed Mr Forejt are scary The name of Mr Jindřich [=Henry] Forejt appears in three previous blog posts. He was the director of the Prague Castle protocol or the Presidential Etiquette Steward, if you wish, a man who was deciding in what order visitors of the Czech president should be ordered and lots of similar issues. Search Google Images for "Forejt Bush" or any combination like that, you will see that he's been everywhere. He was sometimes known as Mr Forejt Gump because just like his approximate namesake, he has appeared on many more photographs of famous politicians than what you would expect by mere chance from a professional who should work behind the scenes. I believe that the first time I met Mr Forejt in person was in March 2007 when ex-president Klaus invited me and a few other skeptics to a lunch in D.C., a month after I helped to turn Klaus into a celebrity among the U.S. climate skeptics by translating an innocent interview that became a Drudge Report #1 story for the day and was therefore widely reported by other media including Fox News. The journalists especially liked to quote a sentence implying that Al Gore wasn't sane: this Fox News screenshot was based on my (somewhat spicy but basically accurate) translation. Due to the Drudgelanche, this blog received hundreds of thousands of visits on that February 2007 day. ## Tuesday, December 06, 2016 ... ///// ### When pop science hype against QM makes Indian cranks too self-confident Giotis has pointed out that there's a new physics.hist-ph preprint on the arXiv reporting another poll about "interpretations" of quantum mechanics: Surveying the Attitudes of Physicists Concerning Foundational Issues of Quantum Mechanics The abstract page suggests that the authors are Sujeevan Sivasundaram and Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen. I find Sujeevan Sivasundaramajarabalasubramaniankoothrappali's name too long so let us call him SS instead. SS is an earring-enhanced Indian student in Denmark and Nielsen is his adviser. Well, aside from the title, the list of the authors is the first big deception of the paper. In the acknowledgements, we read: First of all a big "thank you" is in place to my supervisor Kristian Hvidtfelt Nielsen. I know I am not the easiest person to work with, because of my erratic work method and lack of organization, but you have had the right sense of when to push and when to give me space. This was, and is, very much appreciated and I hope that is not lost on you. OK, so SS wrote the paper himself and he just thanks Nielsen. Nielsen shouldn't have been included in the author list because it's not even clear whether he agrees with anything that SS writes. ### Trump, Zeman trade invitations A chance for a special relationship to the U.S. is surely a currency in Czechia The Associated Press and the Czech media have told us about a telephone call between the Czech president Miloš Zeman and the U.S. President-Elect. Trump has appreciated that Zeman was the only EU head of state who publicly endorsed Trump before the elections. Sorry, if I have found a more handsome Trump-Zeman interpolation, I would have posted it instead of this ugly one. :-) They accepted the invitations to the White House and the Prague Castle, respectively. Zeman's trip to the White House is likely to take place at the end of April 2017 when Zeman is supposed to accept an award from a pro-Israel group, the same one that Trump won in 2016. The White House staff should be ready. Shortly after 9/11, Zeman visited the White House and he forced a militant anti-smoker George W. Bush to allow him smoke in the non-smoking places, by mentioning that both men were fellow Texans (an honorary one in Zeman's case) who must help each other. Up to 2001, that was one of the greatest achievements of Zeman's foreign policies. (In the video, late economist Valtr Komárek, a former aide to Fidel Castro, pointed out that Zeman wasn't the first one to smoke there. Before him, it was Monika Lewinski who gave the blowjob there – the same verb in Czech.) ## Monday, December 05, 2016 ... ///// ### Polchinski, Strominger, Vafa split well-deserved$3 million

Ten hours ago, someone asked me who deserved the Milner Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics last night. I couldn't write the answer in time and I don't have a clue who would be the right choice in mathematics (Jean Bourgain of Princeton's Institute won it and I am not sure I have ever heard the name; note that a special 2016 prize previously went to the three founders of LIGO) but my answer for fundamental physics would obviously be Polchinski, Strominger, and Vafa.

Strominger, Polchinski, and Vafa, 2016. I was actually sent and encouraged to use this picture by the Breakthrough organization. ;-)

This prediction – and this wish – was no rocket science let alone string theory. Already three years ago, these three men were candidates for the prize along with Green and Schwarz who have received the award.

A webpage on the Breakthrough Prize server explains that the men got it

[f]or transformative advances in quantum field theory, string theory, and quantum gravity
which are nicely chosen words. These words would be right for most of the big shot string theorists but be sure that there are at most a dozen or two whose work would really deserve these words and these three men belong to that top notch group.

The Breakthrough Prize also quotes their "acceptance remarks" in which the researchers summarize their work and explain their reasons why they feel the work is important. Cumrun Vafa also adds an impressive long list of more than 170 of his collaborators. Jonathan Heckman (whom I knew as a brilliant student at Harvard) has co-written incredible 29 papers with Vafa (and usually someone else). Your humble correspondent is in the bottom "also participated" portion of the list.

### Bulk of Czechoslovak MEPs demand apology, explanation for the EU officials' lionization of Castro

Most of the Czech, Slovak, and other post-communist world's political junkies were stunned by the only tweet that the boss of the EU commission Jean-Claude Juncker wrote about the death of the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro:

This "hero to many" description was his picked summary of a somewhat longer statement about Castro's death by Juncker.

Similar outrageous or at least bizarrely neutral remarks were made by other leftists including Trudeau (Canada's PM), Obama (lame duck U.S. president), and Corbyn (the boss of the U.K. Labour Party) but Juncker's lionization of Castro was almost certainly the most radical one of all.

## Sunday, December 04, 2016 ... /////

### Feynman vs Hawking on inequality in the world

Willie Soon has sent me an article that Stephen Hawking wrote for the Guardian,

This is the most dangerous time for our planet
The subtitle says
We can’t go on ignoring inequality, because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it.
Hawking starts by saying that he has lived his life in an "extraordinarily privileged bubble". Well, I am pretty sure that given his disease, billions of commonsense people in the world would disagree with that statement. But most of them would agree that he has lived on a very tall and isolated ivory tower.

Hawking sees the Brexit referendum and Trump's victory (which won't be supplemented with Hofer's victory in Austria – the leftist candidate will win – but maybe with a finger to Renzi in Italy today if we're lucky) as the public disapproval of his political beliefs and acts, too. I think he's sort of right, too. Then he incoherently and superficially mixes several buzzwords about "assorted problems of the present world" that may lead to a planetary problem (including the replacement of workers' labor by robots) and proposes that a greater global redistribution of wealth is what we need.

Please, give me a break with this garbage.

## Friday, December 02, 2016 ... /////

### Einstein's boxes: measurements don't occur "spontaneously"

Florin Moldoveanu discusses a thought experiment – but be sure that it may be turned into a real experiment – called "Einstein's box" (although it's not "the" famous Einstein's box setup from the Bohr-Einstein debates).

Are Einstein's Boxes an argument for nonlocality?
It seems unbelievable that an undergraduate problem that is so rudimentary is being "solved" incorrectly by the author of a book on foundations quantum mechanics as well as Moldoveanu himself.

The problem is the following: A quantum mechanical particle is located in a box. The wave function $\psi(x,y,z)$ isn't specified and both men pretend that they don't need to talk about it at all. But let's suppose that it's the ground state of a potential well – a wave function that is real and positive inside, e.g.$\sin x \cdot \sin y \cdot \sin z$ assuming that the box is defined by $\{x,y,z\}\in (0,\pi)$. I emphasize that the probability distribution $\abs{\psi}^2$ for the particle's position is in no way uniform – when it's in the ground state (lowest energy eigenstate), the particle is unlikely to be very close to the 6 walls (and much more unlikely to be close to the 12 edges and super-unlikely to be close to the 8 corners). Now, a barrier is inserted in the middle of the box, e.g. at $x=\pi/2$ in my conventions. The question is what is the wave function after this insertion and whether the wave function loses the ability to interfere – loses the information about the relative phase of the part of the wave function in the $x\lt \pi/2$ "B1" half-box and in the $x\gt \pi/2$ "B2" half-box.

## Thursday, December 01, 2016 ... /////

### Brainwashed millennials pose a threat to democracy

Indoctrination by Soros-distorted institutions is a primary culprit

The New York Times has published a highly disturbing graph developed over the years by Harvard's government scholar Dr Yascha Mounk:

It shows that the percentage of the people who think that it's "essential" to live in democracy is basically an increasing function of age. In the most extreme cases, while it reaches almost 80% for some of the oldest generations in some countries, it drops as low 19 percent for the millennials or Generation Y – the young folks born around 2000 plus minus 5 years or so.