Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Close orbit to Milky Way black hole

The Bad Astronomer (aka Phil Plait) writes:
Because in the paper, a team of astronomers show that they have observed a blob of dust sitting just outside the point of no return of a supermassive black hole, where the gravity is so intense that this material is moving at thirty percent the speed of light. And this wasn’t inferred, deduced, or shown indirectly. No: They measured this motion by literally seeing the blobs move in their observations. ...

Sitting in the exact center of the Milky Way is a supermassive black hole… and astronomers don’t use that adjective lightly. It has a mass over 4 million times that of the Sun, and all of that is squeezed down into a spherical region of space only 20 million kilometers across. The Sun itself is over a million kilometers across, so this is a tiny volume for all that mass. The gravity of such a beast is so immense that if you get too close, you cannot escape. Not even light, which travels at the fastest possible speed in the Universe, can get out. It’s like a dark extremely massive infinitely deep hole. ...

Their motions can be directly seen, and one, called S2, circles the center on an orbit just 16 years long, taking it to within a breathtaking 18 billion kilometers of the exact center.

Using Kepler’s laws of motion, the shapes and periods of the stars’ orbits can be used to find the mass of the object they orbit, and that’s where the 4 million solar mass figure comes from. Yet we see nothing emitting light there, no huge object, no star cluster. It really must be a black hole. Anything else would be extremely bright.
This is interesting, but it really doesn't much to do with relativity.

The way relativity is usually described, a black hole is a singularity, and not "a spherical region of space only 20 million kilometers across". The distance across is infinite. Or as BA says, "a dark extremely massive infinitely deep hole." And nothing comes within any finite distance of "the exact center", because the exact center is the singularity, with infinite distance to everything.

So I am surprised that BA talks about black holes as if they can exist in Euclidean geometry, without a singularity.

We don't see inside the black hole, so we don't really know. On the outside, it looks spherical. The above paper just describes a plain old Keplerian orbit as it might have been understood four centuries ago. Just one involving bigger masses and faster speeds than has been seen before. We don't see any light from the central mass, but that is just what would have been expected two centuries ago.

It is to BA's credit that he does not lecture us on how this confirms Einstein's view of black holes.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Horgan interviews Maudlin

John Horgan interviews philosopher Tim Maudlin for SciAm. I sometimes trash philosophers, including Maudlin, so I will emphasize where I agree with him.
Filmmaker Errol Morris hates Thomas Kuhn. What’s your take on Kuhn?

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions contains some nice observations on the nature of what Kuhn calls “normal science”, which makes it out to have none of the heroic aspects that Popper insisted on. But when Kuhn goes beyond normal science to “revolutionary science” the book is a disaster. It promotes an irrationalist view of scientific revolutions that is both false and pernicious.
Exactly correct. Kuhn's popularity is a large part of why I trash philosophy of science.
Overwhelmingly most philosophers are atheists or agnostics, which I take to be convergence to the truth. Most are compatibilist about free will and believe in it, which I also take to be convergence to the truth. Almost all believe in consciousness and most don’t have a clue how to explain it, which is wisdom.
This is reassuring.
What’s your take on multiverses and strings and the problem of testability?

Some people have been mesmerized by fancy math. It is not interesting physics in my view, and has had a very, very bad effect on the seriousness of theoretical physics as practiced.
Yes.
Does Gödel’s incompleteness theorem have implications beyond mathematics? Is it a worm in the apple of rationality?

No. Absolutely no one should have ever been surprised that mathematical truth cannot be equated with theoremhood in some finite axiomatic system.
Again, I agree. Godel's theorem is fascinating and profound for logic and the foundations of mathematics, but nearly all applications outside math in the popular literature are nonsense.

He lost me with his favorite interpretation of quantum mechanics. I have discussed that elsewhere. He also lost me with this:
What’s your position on the status of ethics? Do any moral rules have the same status as mathematical truths? Do you believe in moral progress?

Yes (with qualification) and yes. Already in Republic (Plato again!) we have an argument — a clear and compelling rational argument — that even the highest political office should be open to women. The argument? List what it takes to be a good leader of the state, then note the conditions that distinguish the sexes. There just is zero overlap between the two lists. That is as compelling as a rational argument can be, and it follows that opening all political offices to women (much less acknowledging in law that women should have as much right to vote as men) is objective moral progress. Similarly for invidious legal restrictions by race. The civil rights movement was strict moral progress. That’s as true as 2 + 2 = 4.
Wow. Because of some logical, almost mathematical argument, known to Plato, someone like Hillary Clinton should be President of the USA?!

Donald Trump has that list of qualities. Fearless. Honest. Loyal. Blunt. Likable. Strength of character. True to his word. Alpha. Not intimidated by his enemies. Maintain hundreds of friendships and political alliances. Forceful. Smart. Competent. Just enough of a narcissist Machiavellian sociopath to be effective. Strong moral compass. Unflinching about sticking up for the people he represents. Vision for a better future. Communicates his ideas well. Owned by no one. Shitlord.

Neither Hillary Clinton nor any other woman has these qualities.

Maudlin is probably a typical academic leftist Trump-hater who voted for Hillary Clinton, so I am sure he disagrees. But I do wonder about his list of what it takes to be a good leader of the state. Is there really such a list where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton do equally well?

Maybe Maudlin is making a joke here. He would probably be ostracized from his profession if he openly supported Trump.

When the thought-control police are forcing you to take a political stand, sometimes the best way is to give an argument that is so unreasonable that no one could take it seriously. Maybe Maudlin is doing that here, and trolling us. Can he really think that supporting Hillary Clinton is like 2 + 2 = 4?

He says he believes in free will. At least he says he believes Brett Cavanaugh has free will. We don't want any more pre-programmed automatons on the Supreme Court, do we? Did he say Cavanaugh has free will as a sneaky way of supporting him?

I should just agree with his arguments that made sense, and not try to decode his political sarcasm. I don't like to get political on this blog anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Physics rejects counterfactual definiteness

Lubos Motl rants, as part of a defense of string theory:
People enjoying terms such as the "counterfactual definiteness" have two main motivations. One of them is simply their desire to look smart even though almost all of them are intellectually mediocre folks, with the IQ close to 100. This category of people greatly overlaps with those who like to boast about their scores from IQ tests – or who struggle for 10 years to make a journal accept their crackpot paper, so that they can brag to be finally the best physicists in the world (I've never had a problem with my/our papers' getting published). The other is related but more specific: "counterfactual definiteness" was chosen to represent their prejudices that Nature obeys classical physics – which they believe and they're mentally unable to transcend this belief.

If something is called "counterfactual definiteness", it must be right, mustn't it? The person who invented such a complicated phrase must have been smart, listeners are led to believe, so the property must be obeyed in Nature. Wouldn't it otherwise be a giant waste of time that someone invented the long phrase and wrote papers and books about it? Sorry, it's not obeyed, the awkward terminology cannot change anything about it, the people who enjoy using similar phrases have the IQ about 100 and they are simply not too smart, and indeed, all the time was wasted.
He is correct that counterfactual definiteness is not obey in Nature, but I doubt that he is right about the term being invented to trick low-IQ ppl into falling for a false concept.

Believing in counterfactual definiteness is like believing in Many-Worlds. It literally means that your counterfactual fantasies have some definite reality. Things that never happened can be discussed as if they did.

Technically, nothing is really definite in Many-Worlds, so maybe it is not the best example. Newtonian mechanics is a better example of counterfactual definiteness.

It is opposite the more conventional quantum mechanical view that "unperformed experiments have no results". You cannot analyze the double-slit experiment by assuming that particles definitely went thru one slit or the other. If you do, then you don't see an interference pattern. We see the interference pattern, so counterfactual definiteness is wrong.

The essence of Bell's Theorem is that assuming counterfactual definiteness leads to conclusions that contradict quantum mechanics. The sensible conclusion is that counterfactual definiteness is wrong. There are some other possibilities, but they require rejecting more basic scientific principles.

Thinking sensibly about counterfactuals is the key to understanding quantum mechanics. Many of the paradoxes that make it hard to understand quantum mechanics are based on attributing some faulty meaning to a counterfactual.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Astronomers excited about black holes

NY Times science writer Dennis Overbye writes about the black hole at the center of the Milky Way.

The article mentions Einstein ten times, even tho he had almost nothing to do with the concept.

Black holes were first proposed in 1784. The relativistic equations for a black hole were found by Schwarzschild and a student of Lorentz's, but many mistakenly thought that there was a singularity on the event horizon. Some modern theoretical physicists still think that there is such a singularity, in order to preserve their intuition about information emerging from evaporating black holes.

Much as I like to see relativity research research, the astronomy work on black holes does not have much to do with relativity.
Black holes — objects so dense that not even light can escape them — are a surprise consequence of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which ascribes the phenomenon we call gravity to a warping of the geometry of space and time.
Not really. Since 1784 it has been understood that if gravitational force obeys an inverse square law, and the mass is sufficiently concentrated, then the escape velocity will exceed the speed of light and a black hole results.

Relativity does predict some strange things inside the event horizon of a black hole, but relativity also teaches that none of that is observable, so we will never know. There is no proof that there is any sort of singularity.

While general relativity is commonly described as explaining gravity as the warping of the geometry of space and time, that was not Einstein's view. He denounced this geometrical interpretation. And he did not believe in black holes.
“The road is wide open to black hole physics,” Dr. Eisenhauer proclaimed.
It is true that we are getting a lot more info about black holes. A few decades ago we were not even sure that they exist, and now they are crucial for theories of galaxy formation, for explaining the brightest objects in the universe, and for studying gravity waves.

But all that stuff about singularities, entropy, evaporation, firewalls, information conservation, and quantum gravity are completely out of reach.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Leaving true physics to wither

Bee quotes this NY Times article:
“Unable to mount experiments that would require energies comparable to that of the Big Bang genesis event, Dr. Chodos believes, growing numbers of physicists will be tempted to embrace grandiose but untestable theories, a practice that has more than once led science into blind alleys, dogma and mysticism.

In particular, Dr. Chodos worries that “faddish” particle physicists have begun to flock all too uncritically to a notion called “superstring theory.” […] Deprived of the lifeblood of tangible experiment, physicists will “wander off into uncharted regions of philosophy and pure mathematics,'' says Dr. Chodos, leaving true physics to wither.””
This was conventional wisdom among a lot of physicists in the 1970s. I remember hearing a lecture in the late 1970s explaining the exponentially increasing cost of particle accelerators, and how they will never get to the energies that they need to resolve the questions that they are really interested in. Finding some unified field theory would be a miracle of good luck.

It was known back then that even if susy had merit, there would be dozens of free parameters that would be hopeless to determine experimentally. The string theorists decided that they determine them by pure theory instead. By the year 2000 or so, it was established that the plan would never work.

Bee just wrote a book on how theoretical physics has lost its way, but it has been lost for 40 years

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Philosopher defends Many-Worlds

I mentioned the failure of many-worlds, but in fairness, here is a new philosophy paper with another view:
We defend the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (MWI) against the objection that it cannot explain why measurement outcomes are predicted by the Born probability rule. We understand quantum probabilities in terms of an observer's self-location probabilities. We formulate a probability postulate for the MWI: the probability of self-location in a world with a given set of outcomes is the absolute square of that world's amplitude.
There is no world's amplitude. This paper is just nonsense.

If MWI really predicted probabilities, or predicted any measurement outcomes, you would not need philosophy papers like this.

The whole point of every other scientific theory is to predict outcomes. If MWI does not, then what is it doing for you?

The paper claims that MWI can make predictions, but it is just a stupid hand wave. There are no physics papers that use MWI to predict and experimental outcome.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Creating the First Quantum Internet

Here is the misguided attempt at quantum crypto:
Scientists in Chicago are trying to create the embryo of the first quantum internet. If they succeed, the researchers will produce one, 30-mile piece of a far more secure communications system with the power of fast quantum computing. From a report:
The key was the realization of an unused, 30-mile-long fiber optic link connecting three Chicago-area research institutions -- Argonne National Lab, Fermi Lab and the University of Chicago. This led to the idea to combine efforts and use the link for what they call the Chicago Quantum Exchange. David Awschalom, an Argonne scientist and University of Chicago professor who is the project's principal investigator, tells Axios that the concept is difficult to grasp, even for experts.
MIT Technology Review elaborates:
The QKD approach used by Quantum Xchange works by sending an encoded message in classical bits while the keys to decode it are sent in the form of quantum bits, or qubits. These are typically photons, which travel easily along fiber-optic cables. The beauty of this approach is that any attempt to snoop on a qubit immediately destroys its delicate quantum state, wiping out the information it carries and leaving a telltale sign of an intrusion. The initial leg of the network, linking New York City to New Jersey, will allow banks and other businesses to ship information between offices in Manhattan and data centers and other locations outside the city.
However, sending quantum keys over long distances requires "trusted nodes," which are similar to repeaters that boost signals in a standard data cable. Quantum Xchange says it will have 13 of these along its full network. At nodes, keys are decrypted into classical bits and then returned to a quantum state for onward transmission. In theory, a hacker could steal them while they are briefly vulnerable.
This is really foolish. We have cheap reliable end-to-end encryption that has not been broken.

The quantum crypto methods are unable to offer similar assurances. They cannot authenticate messages. They cannot do end-to-end encryption, so they require trusted nodes. They are subject to hardware faults, and such faults have been used to break all the commercial equipment.

The big advantage of the quantum crypto is that you are supposed to be able to shut down the network if you detect a probability of an attack. Who wants that? The whole point of the real internet is to always transmit traffic, regardless of problems. The quantum internet will shut down at the first sign of a problem.

The whole idea of a quantum internet is a scam.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Stop doing fundamental physics

Lubos Motl writes:
The video starts boldly:
I will talk about string theory not because I think it's interesting but because it's uninteresting and we should stop talking about it.
Holy cow. String theory remains the only game in town and everyone who wants to scientifically investigate any physical phenomena that go beyond effective quantum field theories – whose limitations are self-evident and well-known – simply must learn string/M-theory. There is no known alternative. To "stop talking about it" is almost exactly equivalent to stop doing fundamental physics. ...

On the other hand, Hossenfelder clearly doesn't have any alternative to string theory. She doesn't have any quantum mechanical theory that agrees with Einstein's equations at long distances but preserves the information when the black hole evaporates. But she – and her brain-dead followers – just don't care.
Yeah, I just don't care about such a theory.

Einstein's equations at long distances are the same as for Newtonian gravity. Either way, you can add dark energy, altho, as Bee explains, much of string theory was based on dark energy being negative, and we now know that it is positive.

But string theory preserves the info when a black hole evaporates? That is just nonsense. It makes more sense to talk about the Biblical apocalypse.

Maybe fundamental physics should stop. It is going nowhere. All that brainpower could be put to more productive purposes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Krauss pushed into retirement

I posted before about physicist Lawrence Krauss being silenced.

BuzzFeed brags that it has hounded a physicist out of academia:
Lawrence Krauss, the celebrity physicist who faced dismissal from Arizona State University for violating sexual misconduct policy, has agreed to step down from the school.

In statements posted on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday, Krauss said: “I have chosen to retire from ASU in May, 2019, when I turn 65.”
I am not going to pile on here. I believe he is innocent until proven guilty. Among the accusations are that he made "sexist comments".

Krauss has written some worthwhile popular physics books. If I were going to be offended by his comments, then I would probably be offended by his leftist political views. Making sexist comments is not a crime. Not yet.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Explaining the failure of Many-Worlds

Philip Ball explains what is wrong with the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics:
The MWI is qualitatively different from the other interpretations of quantum mechanics, although that’s rarely recognized or admitted. For the interpretation speaks not just to quantum mechanics itself but to what we consider knowledge and understanding to mean in science. It asks us what sort of theory, in the end, we will demand or accept as a claim to know the world. ...

What the MWI really denies is the existence of facts at all. It replaces them with an experience of pseudo-facts (we think that this happened, even though that happened too). In so doing, it eliminates any coherent notion of what we can experience, or have experienced, or are experiencing right now. We might reasonably wonder if there is any value — any meaning — in what remains, and whether the sacrifice has been worth it. ...

It says that our unique experience as individuals is not simply a bit imperfect, a bit unreliable and fuzzy, but is a complete illusion. If we really pursue that idea, rather than pretending that it gives us quantum siblings, we find ourselves unable to say anything about anything that can be considered a meaningful truth. We are not just suspended in language; we have denied language any agency. The MWI — if taken seriously — is unthinkable. ...

What quantum theory seems to insist is that at the fundamental level the world cannot supply clear “yes/no” empirical answers to all the questions that seem at face value as though they should have one. The calm acceptance of that fact by the Copenhagen interpretation seems to some, and with good reason, to be far too unsatisfactory and complacent. The MWI is an exuberant attempt to rescue the “yes/no” by admitting both of them at once. But in the end, if you say everything is true, you have said nothing.
That's right. Ultimately MWI says nothing that you would want from a scientific theory. There are no facts, predictions, or confirming experiments.

MWI just says that everything that can happen does happen in some parallel world. It allows you to think and believe whatever you want. Probabilities are meaningless. Reality and facts are meaningless.

MWI is just the same as the child's fantasy. The proponents give the impression that it is a scientific theory that gives a detailed explanation of the worlds, with Hilbert space, wave function, Schroedinger equation, atomic forces, etc. Yes, but none of them can explain how all that apparatus tells you anything beyond the simplistic child's fantasy. There are no predictions or confirming experiments.

I used to to think that string theory was the epitome of unscientific thinking. But string theory is vastly more reasonable that MWI. String theory at least had some hope of getting some theoretical explanations. MWI explains nothing, and discards almost everything we know about science.

Update: LuMo writes:
Now, Ball has written a text about some conceptual and basically insurmountable problems of the "many-world interpretation" paradigm sometimes used to misinterpret quantum mechanics. Among other things, he focused on the impossibility to define what a "splitting of the Universes" is and when and how many times it takes place. This is of course one of the problems about MWI that I see and often write about – but there are others, too. ...

However, the comment sections are frustrating. Both articles have attracted over 100 comments by now. Pretty much all the most upvoted comments attack Wolchover's and Ball's texts. You can see that none of these people actually understands quantum mechanics and all of them assume that classical physics is right throughout their comments and lives.
I had not noticed that Quanta mag allows comments, because my adblocker blocks them.

I would not bother criticizing MWI, except that it has such a huge following, from leading physicists on down to the general public. Here is one of the dopey comments:
The fact is that the MWI is strictly adherent to the mathematics of quantum physics. There is no extra phenomenon like "observation" (that's just entanglement) there is no extra phenomenon like "waveform collapse" the entangled particle becomes part of a more complex waveform.

MWI doesn't have to justify adding any additional complexity to QM because it doesn't. Copenhagen, Pilot Wave, et. al. are the interpretations that add extra complexity that don't show up in the math, so they're the ones that have to justify that complexity. What the hell is an observer? What the hell is waveform collapse?
MWI doesn't have to define observers because it does not make any predictions.

The math of quantum physics makes predictions that are verified by experiments. MWI makes no such predictions. Therefore MWI does not adhere to the math of quantum physics.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

The decline of relativistic mass

Vesselin Petkov notes how the concept of "relativistic mass" has gone out of fashion:
These facts make the campaign against the concept of relativistic mass both inexplicable and worrisome. Instead of initiating and stimulating research on the origin of relativistic mass (and on the nature of mass in general) in order to achieve a more profound understanding of this fundamental concept in physics,7 the relativistic mass is not mentioned at all in many publications8 (see, for example, the well-known textbook [35]) or, if it is mentioned, it is done to caution the readers9, that "Most physicists prefer to consider the mass of a particle as fixed" [25, p. 760], that "Most physicists prefer to keep the concept of mass as an invariant, intrinsic property of an object" [32], that "We choose not to use relativistic mass, because it can be a misleading concept" [36] or to warn them [22, p. 1215]:
Watch Out for "Relativistic Mass"

Some older treatments of relativity maintained the conservation of momentum principle at high speeds by using a model in which a particle's mass increases with speed. You might still encounter this notion of "relativistic mass" in your outside reading, especially in older books. Be aware that this notion is no longer widely accepted; today, mass is considered as invariant, independent of speed. The mass of an object in all frames is considered to be the mass as measured by an observer at rest with respect to the object.
As he explains, this opinion is pretty arbitrary, and relativistic mass is analogous to length contraction or time dilation. Yes, it depends on the frame, and it can be a little confusing, but that's relativity.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Biologist defends de-publishing papers

Computational biology professor Lior Pachter writes:
In the case discussed in this blog post, the underlying subtext is pervasive sexism and misogyny in the mathematics profession, and if this sham paper on the variance hypothesis had gotten the stamp of approval of a journal as respected as NYJM, real harm to women in mathematics and women who in the future may have chosen to study mathematics could have been done. It’s no different than the case of Andrew Wakefield‘s paper in The Lancet implying a link between vaccinations and autism. By the time of the retraction (twelve years after publication of the article, in 2010), the paper had significantly damaged public health, and even today its effects, namely death as a result of reduced vaccination, continue to be felt.
He and his liberal colleagues have a funny idea of what science is all about.

Wakefield's paper did not damage public health. It merely suggested a health concern, based on some very limited data. The proper response would have been to do a more thorough study on measles vaccine safety.

Instead the medical authorities blamed Wakefield for reduced confidence in vaccination, so they retracted the paper and stripped Wakefield of his medical license.

Those who suspected a cover-up of vaccine risks had their suspicions confirmed. Nobody would every publish anything critical of vaccines again, or risk losing his medical license.

Pachter points out that papers on the evolution of sex differences go back to 1895, at least. So how is it that publishing another one will do real harm to women in mathematics? Pachter doesn't actually explain what is wrong with the paper, except that it is politically incorrect and fails to cite some previous work on the subject.

I do not get confidence in vaccines by having a ban on papers describing vaccine dangers. And I do not think that women should get encouragement in math by banning papers on variance in mathematical ability.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Claiming quantum mechanics is inconsistent

These is whole industry of physicists working in quantum foundations who make various arguments that quantum mechanics doesn't make any sense. They can't deny that quantum mechanics correctly predicts experiments, and yet they keep coming up with clever sleight-of-hand thought experiments and paradoxes that supposedly show that the theory does not work.

The whole enterprise is foolish. If there were really such contradictions, then there would be some failure to predict experiments.

Scott Aaronson pauses from his agony of being a Jewish leftist Trump-hating professor in a red state to explain:
So: a bunch of people asked for my reaction to the new Nature Communications paper by Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner, provocatively titled “Quantum theory cannot consistently describe the use of itself.” Here’s the abstract:
Quantum theory provides an extremely accurate description of fundamental processes in physics. It thus seems likely that the theory is applicable beyond the, mostly microscopic, domain in which it has been tested experimentally. Here, we propose a Gedankenexperiment to investigate the question whether quantum theory can, in principle, have universal validity. The idea is that, if the answer was yes, it must be possible to employ quantum theory to model complex systems that include agents who are themselves using quantum theory. Analysing the experiment under this presumption, we find that one agent, upon observing a particular measurement outcome, must conclude that another agent has predicted the opposite outcome with certainty. The agents’ conclusions, although all derived within quantum theory, are thus inconsistent. This indicates that quantum theory cannot be extrapolated to complex systems, at least not in a straightforward manner.
The paper authors separately argue that this proves the many-world interpretation.

That conclusion should be enuf to dispose of the argument. The MWI does not predict any experimental outcomes. There is nothing scientific about it. It is like some solipsist saying anything can happen in his imagination.

Aaronson explains the errors in more detail. So does Lubos Motl. Somehow this paper got published in a Nature journal. It has become respectable to trash quantum mechanics with silly arguments.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Fundamental physics is over

About the recent Nobel physics prize, someone commented:
that's not even applied science, that's technology

People do not get that fundamental physics is over (you would not call seriously "string theory" "scientific" would you?).

I know I am repeating what Lord Kelvin said to his embarrassment just before great discoveries in relativistic physics, quantum physics, etc.

Nevertheless, that's truth: everything ends, everything has limits, humanity has limits and science has limits.

The clear indication that we are close to the limit is absence of ANY fundamental discoveries since a long time ago.

We are gradually shifting towards applied science and mere technology. All of three fields, basic science, applied science and technology are essential for humanity, but the fact is that the first one is almost over or probably over already.

Call them for what they are: Nobel Prizes in Technology
I mostly agree with this.

Future historians will look back at the XX century and say that is when the fundamental problems of science got sorted out.

Sure, there are a few things that seem only partially understood, and that a better understanding seems likely or possible. But for many of those things, it is possible that they will never be better understood than they are today.

What do we have to show for this century? Faster lasers. Gravity wave detection. Higgs boson detection. Better telescopes. Etc. But we haven't had any significant advances in fundamental physics in about 40 years.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Physics was invented and built by men

A reader sends this BBC story:
A senior scientist who said physics "was invented and built by men" has been suspended with immediate effect from working with the European nuclear research centre Cern.

Prof Alessandro Strumia, of Pisa University, made the comments during a presentation organised by the group.

He said, in comments first reported by the BBC's Pallab Ghosh, that physics was "becoming sexist against men".

Cern said on Monday it was suspending Prof Strumia pending an investigation.

It stated that his presentation was "unacceptable".
LuMo compares this to persecuting Galileo here and here.

No woman would be fired for pushing the accomplishments of women or for whining about men. This man was fired for presenting some facts and opinions about men. So his firing proved his point -- physics is sexist against men.

I thought that his punishment was potentially justifiable because he was injecting political opinions into a scientific context. But his talk was to a gender politics workshop where all the other opinions complained about male oppression. They will never get to the truth as long as contrary views are censored.

The Galileo analogy is a little silly. Galileo was allowed to publish his arguments about the Earth going around the Sun. He got into trouble when said the official Bible interpretations had been proven wrong.

I am writing this as the Nobel Physics prizes are announced. Marie Curie got one about a century ago. I don't think that there have been any women since. As usual, three more men got the prize this year.

One of the three prizewinners was a woman, the first in 55 years.