Tuesday, February 21, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Iodine-131 news are being misinterpreted, overhyped

A few days ago, a commenter linked to an alarmist and Russophobic article in The Sun about the radioactive iodine-131 over Europe. I happen to think that the Czech journalists are doing a better job than the the world media in most of these stories combining science and politics which is why I decided to translate a Czech report in Novinky.cz, a mainstream left-wing server.



Our high school physics teacher was playing songs by this excellent band for us instead of one lecture. He was a fun guy – and he has also faced some sanctions for romantic relationships with his female student. ;-)

A part of Europe including Czechia informs about the radioactive iodine-131 in the air, the source is unclear

In Czecha and six other European countries, measuring stations have detected a tiny amount of the radioactive isotope of iodine, iodine-131. Its concentration is, according to the French IRSN Institute for Defense Against Radiation, negligible and doesn't pose a threat for human health. The source of the isotope must be linked to the human activities but its location is unclear.

Monday, February 20, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Why robots shouldn't pay income taxes

Bill Gates has done many cool things and even earned some money. But I simply had to laugh when I saw an interview in Quartz (see also a response in Fortune, Google News) where he says that robots should pay income taxes. The most important paragraph says:

Bill Gates: Certainly there will be taxes that relate to automation. Right now, the human worker who does, say, $50,000 worth of work in a factory, that income is taxed and you get income tax, social security tax, all those things. If a robot comes in to do the same thing, you’d think that we’d tax the robot at a similar level.
The motivation behind similar monologues is obvious – people think that jobs are threatened by robots, people may become unemployed, and social problems may result from that. Some mechanisms to slow the progress down could be helpful and the extra resources could be used to reeducate the workers etc. (I actually disagree with all these general philosophical starting points as well but they won't be the topic of this blog post.)

It's the detailed calculation of the "punishment for robots" that I found hilarious. Gates explicitly says that
a robot should pay the same income tax, social security tax, and probably health insurance as the human worker(s) whom the robot replaced.
LOL. That's entertaining by the concentration of the complete misunderstanding of the technological progress, mechanisms of taxation, goods that one gets for inflation, and everything else.

Saturday, February 18, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Return Crimea to Ukraine? Return to Earth, please

In the first month of his presidency, Donald Trump did many things that were nice surprises to me – because I was far from certain that the campaign pledges could have been taken seriously. He basically does what he promised when it comes to immigration from the Middle East and Mexico, the wall, trade deals, climate hysteria, and other things (which will hopefully include tax cuts in the next two weeks). However, his relationships with Russia are disappointing so far.

Days ago, his guy Flynn was basically professionally assassinated by the intelligence services for some probable contacts with some representatives of Russia (the Russian embassy?). I do think that guys like Flynn should interact with various Russians very frequently. It didn't help him that he had to lie about some of the contacts.

However, the insanity conservation law seems to be approximately obeyed when it comes to unrealistic U.S. demands from Russia. In particular, I was shocked when Rex Tillerson – often identified as a man with highly constructive relationships with Russia in the past – basically demanded Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine. Even many folks in the Obama team managed to learn not to say similarly stupid things in the recent year or so. It's even more disappointing when you hear such things from Trump himself because this demand is totally dumb.

Euler's disk on TBBT

If you're watching the tenth season of The Big Bang Theory, you must know that the latest episode started with Euler's disk, a supersized spinning coin. Here's a very helpful 2016 video about Euler's disk:



The disk is usually sold as a big and heavy cylindrical steel with chrome on it along with a mirror that has a shallow hole so that the "big coin" stays near the center. You should definitely buy the bestselling $35 Toysmith Euler's disk – which has 251 reviews (it almost looks like the heroes of The Big Bang Theory were using this exact shiny $35 product, or was it this one for $40?) – and also the #1 bestselling fragrange on Amazon.com, the Ivanka Trump spray. The #2 bestselling thing in beauty is the Ivanka Trump Roller Ball, whatever it is. Not bad for a woman who isn't even a real climate skeptic and who teaches her kid Chinese instead of Czech.

Friday, February 17, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Entanglement: why two schoolkids always answer questions oppositely

More than a week ago, I discussed an article by Natalie Wolchover who was apparently shocked that when some optical data from the stars are used to produce pseudorandom numbers, an experiment testing entanglement with some random choices for the detectors produces the same results as the experiment where only terrestrial gadgets are used as the pseudorandom generators.

What a surprise: numbers that look like some random mess with the same distribution lead to the statistically identical outcomes whether or not they were calculated from stars or dice. Come on, people. This is totally basic common sense. There can't be any correlations of the terrestrial experiments with the random stellar data. To believe that there are such correlations – that the experiment cares whether the stellar data were employed – isn't just analogously silly as astrology. It really is a special example of astrology! This is what astrology really means: local events on Earth do care about some immediate properties of the celestial bodies! Well, they don't. None of the data from local, repeatable experiments on Earth can be correlated with some independent data about the celestial bodies.

You may also say that the belief in these correlations with the stars is on par with the Movie Pi where the digits of \(\pi\) were assumed to know all the information about the movements of the stock markets and prophesies of the Jewish Bible, among other things. Please, give me a break. It may be an inspiring movie but everyone who has spent at least some time by looking at the actual relationships between events in the world, not necessarily the "physical laws" in the narrow and technical sense, must know that this is the kind of a relationship that cannot exist and elementary evidence is enough to justify this assertion.

Now, an appendix to Wolchover's article about the stellar entanglement conspiracies (that were "surprisingly" not detected by an experiment)

How to Tame Quantum Weirdness
was written by Pradeep Mutalik, a writer who was previously mentioned because of a confusingly ambiguous article about the Sleeping Beauty Problem. The title talks about taming of quantum weirdness but I think the actual purpose is to spread the illusion or delusion that quantum mechanics and the entanglement are weird.

Children trained to behead Western men... in Chicago

All of us have gotten used to the beheading of people in the Muslim world. Sadly, it was often the real people who were beheaded – such as Western visitors or this 12-year-old boy. Our ancestors enjoyed similar exercises some 700 years ago – and in some cases, much more recently. The Muslim world is still socially living in the Middle Ages so we shouldn't be surprised that certain practices look disturbing to us.

Some two years ago, this culture has spread to a country that is much closer to us, Ukraine. Here, in Ivano-Frankivsk, Western Ukraine, people burn an effigy of Putin and children were happily dancing around the burning man. Ukrainians are almost people just like us. They speak a Slavic language that Czechs partly understand and Ukraine is the most important source of gastarbeiters in our economy. But their homeland lives in a different atmosphere. You may find numerous videos about badly treated effigies of Putin in Ukraine.

OK, the Daesh territory and Ukraine still belong to the "East". This is not how masses of people train their children in the West, is it? Oh, wait a minute.

Thursday, February 16, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How anti-Asian prejudices helped to poison symplectic geometry

In a recent blog post discussing a recent Quanta Magazine article on symplectic geometry, I told you that I was rather confident that feminism and lesbian activism has affected the stories, and how they were presented.

This contribution wasn't 100% and in this text, I want to argue that another part of the "identity politics", namely the unpopularity of the Asian mathematicians within a certain clique of Western mathematicians, has been important, too.

First, let me remind you that I am confident that feminism and related politics has influenced the tone of the Quanta Magazine article about symplectic geometry because the author admits that he hasn't interviewed the main heroine, Dr Katrin Wehrheim, but he read an "MIT Women in Mathematics" article about her which was all about the beauty of affirmative action and where Dr Wehrheim also claimed that it is a characteristically female virtue to focus on things that she doesn't understand (in mathematics). So she basically identified her critical attitude to proofs by Dr Fukaya as a feminist, women's contribution to mathematics that men are less capable of making. Kevin Hartnett has demonstrably read that feminist profile and I know too much to have serious doubts that it was a main reason why he decided about the "heroes" and "villains" in the way he did. He shouldn't have taken sides at all because he doesn't understand these technical issues at a sufficiently deep leve.

But Dr Wehrheim and Mr Hartnett aren't the only players in this strange confrontation in the symplectic geometry circles.

Winston Churchill, the astrophysicist

Winston Churchill was one of the most consequential leaders of the 20th century. Some months ago, I watched a movie about him that claimed that Churchill did many of the impressive things in order to prove to his father that he was no loser. It worked rather well because I don't have a clue who his father was.

Aside from the successful resistance to the Third Reich, Churchill supervised the construction of the British radar and their nuclear program. His focus on science and technology in warfare was self-evident. As early as in 1931, he wrote a text estimating the amazing power hiding in the fusion of hydrogen nuclei – most people would be incapable of estimating these things (and maybe even knowing qualitatively what's going on) today. He was also writing about evolution. Already as a young man, he pointed out that Islam was the most retrograde force in the world, an insight that some people failed to get even one century later.

But he's been an essayist, too. A new issue of Nature (thanks, Willie Soon!) printed astrophysicist Mario Livio's text

Winston Churchill’s essay on alien life found (a free copy via SciAm)
which mainly discusses a 1939 text by Churchill about astrophysics and life in the outer space. And he was rather amazing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Trump, Bibi seem to be a promising couple for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

I have just watched the press conference of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, on RT. They have known each other for years – and Netanyahu has known Trump's Jewish son-in-law since he was a (big) kid. They seem to talk to each other in a way that makes sense, that doesn't need to hide anything.

For example, the Donald was asked what he would do with the settlements. He answered that he would like them to be suspended or slowed down or something like that. He turned his head to Netanyahu and said this thing to Netanyahu's eyes. It was refreshing. I think that the old-era PC politicians don't behave like that. They only say compliments and convenient things to other people's eyes. And when they get home, they say something different, much more hostile towards the host whom they just visited. Sadly, I think that Theresa May is still an old-era politician.

Trump seems to speak rather consistently. At least that's my feeling.

A story about Roger Penrose

Philip Ball visited Roger Penrose (85) in Oxford, talked to him, and wrote the profile

Roger Penrose and the vision thing
in the Prospect Magazine. It's fun reading but I surely have mixed feelings. Penrose is a very creative guy who has done some cool things and I agree with many of his views about the organization of the research and "style" that is being suppressed. On the other hand, his views on many important technical questions – and not just difficult ones – are childishly wrong and the self-congratulatory tone of the article is undoubtedly excessive.

Much of the article is about the funding and researchers' freedom to think. I sort of agree although my agreement has its limits, as I will discuss momentarily. People are being overwhelmed by bureaucracy and the expectation to publish regularly which is why they spend lots of time by writing papers, often papers that almost nobody reads, instead of working on potentially bigger things with an X Factor that could wow everybody – and they could do these things in a more relaxing atmosphere.

Penrose or Ball also complains that things are too polished, you need pizzazz, and state-of-the-art facilities. Well, I don't think so. I – and others I know – didn't have a problem to largely denounce polish and pizzazz. And state-of-the-art facilities aren't that bad. They just naturally come with the growing wealth of the society. I assure you that I would be doing just fine as a homeless guy – and this is not meant to be an exaggeration or a joke. On the other hand, I don't see how state-of-the-art facilities could hurt.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Stop the hate: don't compare Trump to Hitler

By Václav Klaus, Ladislav Jakl, Jiří Weigl, from Czech

This translation does mean that I endorse the content. Clearly, other politically immature people such as Leonard Susskind deserve the same criticism. And the same criticism has been voiced by many, including a Holocaust survivor.

People's News ("Lidové noviny", a top Czech daily for and by the PC elites) published a nearly unbelievable article by its editor Mr Petr Zídek titled "The End of Certainty" which is all about comparisons of Trump to Hitler and which ends by the words "the election of Trump means the same for Czechs as the arrival of Hitler did".

We are familiar with texts boasting a similar content and full of insults against the democratically elected president of the U.S. who took his office just a few weeks ago. They are being written to the image of the journalism of the darkest, protectorate (1939-1945) and normalization (1968-1989), eras.

In what sense Greene's causality hovering slinky explanation is right

I woke up, read some comments, and understood how to read Greene's explanation of the slinky behavior in the previous blog post so that it isn't self-evidently wrong. In fact, it's strictly right given some natural understanding and parameterization.

An effective partial differential equation describing certain variables in the falling slinky does resemble a wave equation with a very low "speed of signals" which is why I think it's right to apologize for the overreaction. Sorry, Brian, your comment may be read so that it conveys a true statement.

Every point of the slinky is indeed hovering in mid-air up to some point and this statement is exact in a good enough approximation of the problem. How does it work?

Monday, February 13, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Brian Greene's spring trick and his weird explanation based on locality

Update: A blog post basically arguing that Greene is right was published hours later.

Esquire has argued that one third of the U.S. employees have been less productive since Trump's triumph because they were distracted by political posts on the Internet. I guess that Hillary's supporters were more affected than Trump's fans. In particular, unless he is joking and unless I misunderstood something, Brian Greene has forgotten the lectures of classical mechanics that he took at the elementary school.


His daughter is dropping a spring. A camera records what's going on and the (slowed down) recording shows that the bottom of the spring remains at a fixed place – before the top of the spring arrives and the whole spring starts to fall down. At least that's what it looks like.

So far so good. It's not quite trivial to notice that something like that is going on and record it.

Oroville dam risks may be underreported

I consider most of the risks that the media focus on heavily overhyped if not utterly fabricated – I am talking about things like "climate change" or "the risks of nuclear energy" – but yes, when it comes to the worries about the Oroville dam, it seems that the media and the viewers are less agitated in average than I am.



A random good video was embedded to describe some technicalities. Don't get me wrong: I still think it's very likely that things will be fine. But the risk that they won't is nonzero and the consequences would be regionally dramatic.

Roy Spencer is convinced that the dam won't fail and he tells us why.

Note that the Oroville Dam was being built between 1961 and 1968. Its height 230 meters makes it the highest dam in the U.S. Lake Oroville was created in this way whose area 65 squared kilometers holds some 4 cubic kilometers of water.

Sunday, February 12, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Do Slovak women still have the right to use their books as toilet paper, fuel in the forest?

The SJWs in the Czech media began to hysterically discuss a viral video that a Slovak woman born in 1992 recorded a month ago. Before you watch it, I must warn you: If you're a child, a Muslim, or otherwise incapable of watching videos freely, skip the video right away. Thanks for your understanding.



In total, copies of this video have received roughly one million views. People have noticed but it hasn't been a top viral video of the history.

OK, Ms Adriana Meleková who currently lives in Finland has obtained a copy of the Quran. She has complained about the undesirable behavior of the Muslims before she tore a few pages from the book, used a page as toilet paper, urinated on the book, and put it on fire using a flammable substance. The Slovak flag shouldn't confuse you. As a woman born in Czechoslovakia during its last year, she considers herself a Czechoslovak patriot. She will keep on expressing her views, fight against the Muslims who can't behave and who are parasites worse than mange, and if someone will stand in her way, she will neutralize him. She will fight on behalf of her homeland and when it comes to the people who have harassed her using lawsuits etc., she will hunt them on a one-by-one basis.

I am reporting these commitments of hers for you to have a chance to think twice before you dare to criticize her. ;-)

Now, I am impressed by her courage, she is sort of cute, but her way of talking is too rough for me and if I find some roughness of women charming, it's a bit different roughness. At any rate, you may surely be sure that this genre isn't really my cup of tea and I wouldn't record a video like that.

Saturday, February 11, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

How feminism helped to poison and politicize symplectic geometry

An appropriate topic for February 11th, the "Women in Science Day"

Perhaps a more important interpretation of the date: Exactly one year ago, the first gravitational wave detected by LIGO was officially announced

Kevin Hartnett wrote the article

A Fight to Fix Geometry’s Foundations.
He did some good work and it wasn't a waste of time for me to read it. But the bias that penetrates the article, starting from the title, is something I simply cannot accept. Like in so many other cases, the journalist has simply decided who is "right" in a confrontation and we're sort of not surprised that the "heroes" were the side that looked more politically correct to him while the other side were the "villains".

The title already suggests that there is something wrong with the "foundations of geometry" as a subfield of mathematics. Well, first of all, it's not all of "geometry" that's been accused of that lethal disease. It's just symplectic geometry. Second, whether there's something fundamentally wrong – more serious than some minor bugs that can be fixed – was the topic of the fight. Hartnett implicitly decided that those who say that things are basically fine must be wrong even though he seems to believe that they're the majority of researchers in that field. What has led him to that conclusion isn't described but yes, I am 99% confident that it's some dishonesty of the PC writers.

Friday, February 10, 2017 ... Français/Deutsch/Español/Česky/Japanese/Related posts from blogosphere

Right-wingers are a major force driving the Silicon Valley

And Trump is making the innovators more influential than the previous PC admins

The Guardian has published a nontrivial investigative article about the right-wingers in the Silicon Valley and their connections (hat tip: Lisa Randall)

Meet the rightwing power players lurking beneath Silicon Valley's liberal facade
Julia Carrie Wong reported from San Francisco. As a whole, the Bay Area is highly if not obnoxiously extremely left-wing and PC. (I've spent half a year in Santa Cruz and visited Stanford 5 times or so.) And we've heard about companies that have fired their leaders for voting to oppose gay marriage, among many other insane excesses. However, when you look at the people who actually matter and who made the Silicon Valley so special, their distribution of political opinions is very, very different.



I had to choose a picture with an ambitious project by the Bay Area conservatives. This is a floating libertarian colony that Thiel wants to build near the San Francisco coastline.

Wong describes all these people as a bunch of friends of Peter Thiel. That's a powerful point, of course, because Thiel's opinions about politics are the clearest ones and he's also the only one whom I have talked to in person. So it makes some sense to present him both as the ideological beacon and the social glue. But even if this beacon didn't live in the Silicon Valley, the political opinions would be very different from the stereotype of wealthy people whose opinions otherwise coincide with those who break windows and burn cars at Berkeley to protest Trump, or similar things.