Monday, September 27, 2021

Motion through the Restframe of the Universe

A lot of people think that the essence of relativity is that there is no rest frame, and no way to say that an object is at rest. This is not true. There is a preferred rest frame for the universe.

Dr. Bee explains it in her weekly podcast:

If the universe expands the same everywhere, then doesn’t this define a frame of absolute rest. Think back of that elastic band again. If you sit on one of the buttons, then you move “with the expansion of the universe” in some sense. It seems fair to say that this would correspond to zero velocity. But didn’t Einstein say that velocities are relative, and that you’re not supposed to talk about absolute velocities. I mean, that’s why it’s called “relativity” right? Well, yes and no.

If you remember, Einstein really had two theories, first special relativity and then general relativity. Special relativity is the theory in which there is no such thing as absolute rest and you can only talk about relative velocities. But this theory does not contain gravity, which Einstein described as the curvature of space and time. If you want to describe gravity and the expansion of the universe, then you need to use general relativity.

In general relativity, matter, or all kinds of energy really, affect the geometry of space and time. And so, in the presence of matter the universe indeed gets a preferred direction of expansion. And you can be in rest with the universe. This state of rest is usually called the “co-moving frame”, so that’s the reference frame that moves with the universe. This doesn’t disagree with Einstein at all.

What is the co-moving frame of the universe? It’s normally assumed to be the same as the rest frame of the cosmic microwave background, or at least very similar to it. So what you can do is you measure the radiation of the cosmic microwave background that is coming at us from all directions. If we were in rest with the cosmic microwave background, the energy in that radiation should be the same in all directions. This isn’t the case though, instead we see that the radiation has somewhat more energy in one particular direction and less energy in the exact opposite direction. This can be attributed to our motion through the restframe of the universe.

How fast do we move? Well, we move in many ways, because the earth is spinning and orbiting around the sun which is orbiting around the center of the milky way. So really our direction constantly changes. But the Milky Way itself moves at about 630 kilometers per second relative to the cosmic microwave background. That’s about a million miles per hour. Where are we going? We’re moving towards something called “the great attractor” and no one has any idea what that is or why we’re going there.

Relativity teaches that there is a symmetry transformation from one inertial frame to another. The laws of electromagnetism and other physics are transformed by covariance. But there can still be something that distinguishes a frame as being at rest, and that something is the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Friday, September 24, 2021

SciAm on Politically Correct Acronyms

Scientific American magazine used to be outstanding. Subscribers would save every issue as if they were treasured books.

Now it publishes this political essay that appears to be a joke, but is not:

Why the Term ‘JEDI’ Is Problematic for Describing Programs That Promote Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

They’re meant to be heroes within the Star Wars universe, but the Jedi are inappropriate symbols for justice work

The acronym “JEDI” has become a popular term for branding academic committees and labeling STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine) initiatives focused on social justice issues. Used in this context, JEDI stands for “justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.” In recent years, this acronym has been employed by a growing number of prominent institutions and organizations, including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. At first glance, JEDI may simply appear to be an elegant way to explicitly build “justice” into the more common formula of “DEI” (an abbreviation for “diversity, equity and inclusion”), productively shifting our ethical focus in the process. JEDI has these important affordances but also inherits another notable set of meanings: It shares a name with the superheroic protagonists of the science fiction Star Wars franchise, the “Jedi.” Within the narrative world of Star Wars, to be a member of the Jedi is seemingly to be a paragon of goodness, a principled guardian of order and protector of the innocent.

The Jedi are inappropriate mascots for social justice. Although they’re ostensibly heroes within the Star Wars universe, the Jedi are inappropriate symbols for justice work. They are a religious order of intergalactic police-monks, prone to (white) saviorism and toxically masculine approaches to conflict resolution (violent duels with phallic lightsabers, gaslighting by means of “Jedi mind tricks,” etc.). The Jedi are also an exclusionary cult, membership to which is partly predicated on the possession of heightened psychic and physical abilities (or “Force-sensitivity”). Strikingly, Force-wielding talents are narratively explained in Star Wars not merely in spiritual terms but also in ableist and eugenic ones: These supernatural powers are naturalized as biological, hereditary attributes. ...

This is an opinion and analysis article; the views expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

If I didn't know better, I would say that SciAm is gaslighting us with a Jedi mind trick.

Update: Scott Aaronson writes:

The sad thing is, I see few signs that this essay was meant as a Sokal-style parody, although in many ways it’s written as one. The essay actually develops a 100% cogent, reasoned argument: namely, that the ideology of the Star Wars films doesn’t easily fit with the newer ideology of “militant egalitarianism at the expense of all other human values, including irony, humor, joy, and the nurturing of unusual talents.” The authors are merely oblivious to the conclusion that most people would draw from their argument: namely, so much the worse for the militant egalitarianism then!
He then relates this to his favorite bugaboos -- feminists belittling his nerdishness, and how the supposedly authoritarian Donald Trump is taking over the world. Sometimes I wonder if Scott is trolling us.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Rovelli Defends his Favorite QM Interpretation

Physicist Carlo Rovelli has written a defense of The Relational Interpretation of Quantum Physics:
Relational QM is a radical attempt to cash out the breakthrough that originated the theory: the world is described by facts described by values of variables that obey the equations of classical mechanics, but products of these variable have a tiny non-commutativity that generically prevents sharp value assignment, leading to discreteness, probability and to the contextual, relational character of value assignment.

The founders expressed this contextual character on Nature in the “observer- measurement” language. This language requires that special systems (the ob- server, the classical world, macroscopic objects...) escape the quantum limi- tations. But nothing of that sort (and in particular no “subjective states of conscious observers”) is needed in the interpretation of QM. We can relinquish this exception, and realise that any physical system can play the role of a Copenhagen’s “observer”. Relational QM is Copenhagen quantum mechanics made democratic by bringing all systems onto the same footing. Macroscopic observers, that loose information to decoherence, can forget the labelling of facts.

Go ahead and read the 20 pages if you want, but I will save you some trouble. It is pretty much the same as the Copenhagen Interpretation that you find in textbooks.

Apparently it bugs him that some descriptions of Copenhagen refer to a conscious observer, and that offends him, so he just calls everything an observre and doesn't care if it is conscious or not. If it is not consicous, then it may not figure out what the wave function is supposed to be, but it doesn't have to match anyone else's wave function, so nobody cares.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Google Promises a Usable Quantum Computer in 2029

The WSJ reported a couple of months ago:
Google scientist Hartmut Neven said the company intends to invest several billion dollars to build a commercial-grade quantum computer that can perform large-scale, error-free business and scientific calculations by 2029.

Google's Sundar Pichai announced the project's timeline, and unveiled the new Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence (AI) campus in Santa Barbara County, CA, to develop the system.

The Internet search giant aims to deliver commercial-grade quantum-computing services over the cloud, while Neven said the company envisions applications ranging from building more energy-efficient batteries to accelerating training for machine learning AI.

Google said such applications will require a 1-million-quantum bit (qubit) computer.

Neven said one of the technical challenges will be to extend the length of time that a qubit can remain in its quantum state.

I doubt it, but this blog may not still be watching the issue in 2029.

This sounds like an impressive Google commitment, but there is a very long list of Google ambitions that have been abandoned. See Killed by Google for a list of 240 of them.

I got this article from the top US computer scientist association, and I see that they are gone anti-White in another article:

In June 2020, a community of Black people in computing from around the world published an open letter,a initiated by the authors, and a call for actionb to the global computing community. The letter began with, "The recent killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police has sparked a movement that began at the birth of our nation. Though George Floyd may have been the most recent instance, we should not forget the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Philando Castille, Tanisha Anderson, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Garner, Charleena Lyles, Eula Love, Michael Brown, Khalif Browder, Botham Jean, Tamir Rice, Latasha Harlins, Amadou Diallo, Mary Turner, Emmett Till, and too many other Black people who have been murdered …"

At the time, we reflected on this history of the killing of Black people in the U.S. and noted that these killings not only show the ultimate outcomes and harms that racist systems and institutions have on Black people, but they also spotlight the constant emotional and psychological strain that Black Americans endure. The accumulated experience of the Black computer science community highlights the magnitude of injustices that countless members of our community experience.

No, this is nonsense. I watched the Trayvon Martin trial on TV, and it was convincingly proved that he was not murdered. I watched the George Floyd trial also, and no evidence was even presented that race had anything to do with his death. If anything, the stories of George Floyd and others spotlight the constant strain Black felons and junkies put on our society.
Today, we are issuing another call to action to the individuals, organizations, educational institutions, and companies in the computing ecosystem to address the systemic and structural inequities
The ACM has no business raising these issues, but since it is demanding that these issues be addressed, I should say that it is all a big hoax, and that all of the racism is to the benefit of Blacks.

Officially, the US NSA is not worried about quantum computers:

Q: Is NSA worried about the threat posed by a potential quantum computer because a CRQC exists?

A: NSA does not know when or even if a quantum computer of sufficient size and power to exploit public key cryptography (a CRQC) will exist.

And it is negative about quantum key distribution:
Q: Are QKD systems unconditionally secure?

A: No. While there are security proofs for theoretical QKD protocols, there are no security proofs for actual QKD hardware/software implementations. There is no standard methodology to test QKD hardware, and there are no established interoperability, implementation, or certification standards to which these devices may be built. This causes the actual security of particular systems to be difficult to quantify, leading in some cases to vulnerabilities.

Q: Should I use a QKD system to protect my NSS from a quantum computer?

A: No. The technology involved is of significant scientific interest, but it only addresses some security threats and it requires significant engineering modifications to NSS communications systems. NSA does not consider QKD a practical security solution for protecting national security information.

This seems right to me. I have posted here many times that QKD has no practical value, despite the many millions going into it, and the proponent claims that it is the only provably secure cryptography.

The NSA looks 20 years ahead, and is keeping tabs on progress in quantum computers, and in defending against them. If it really htought that Google would have a commercial quantum computer with a million qubits in 2029, then it would be already converting to a quantum-resistant cryptography. Based on this FAQ, it see a quantum computer as speculative, and in the distant future, if at all.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Mathematicians Agree on the Fundamentals

It is commonly remarked that mathematicians agree on fundamental questions, but a philosopher disagrees:
Mathematical and Moral Disagreement
Silvia Jonas

The existence of fundamental moral disagreements is a central problem for moral realism and has often been contrasted with an alleged absence of disagreement in mathematics. However, mathematicians do in fact disagree on fundamental questions, for example on which set-theoretic axioms are true, and some philosophers have argued that this increases the plausibility of moral vis-à-vis mathematical realism.

She finds some minor disagreements, but only support the idea that they agree on the fundamentals.

She finds that mathematicians broadly agree on ZFC and first order logic as a suitable axiomitization of set theory and mathematics. The disagreements are about how much constructive proofs are to be preferred to nonconstructive ones, and the value of adding axioms to ZFC. Some regard the continuum hypothesis as a settled issue, while others look for new axioms to settle it.

This is like saying Democrats don't agree on whether to spend $3.5T or $3.6T.

These disagreements do not even affect what is publishable and what is not.

Wrong proofs do get published sometimes. Scott Aaronson

publicly confesses to his:

Continuing what’s become a Shtetl-Optimized tradition—see here from 2014, here from 2016, here from 2017 — I’m going to fess up to two serious mistakes in research papers on which I was a coauthor.
I am surprised that so many serious errors made it past the editors and referees, but that is just sloppiness, and not any disagreement over fundamentals.

Here is a YouTube panel discussion on Does Math Reveal Reality? Unfortunately, physicists do most of the talking. At 1:22:00, cosmologist Max Tegmark says;

That's right, they call that the Level 4 Multiverse.

So when we talk about something existing if we say pink elephants don't exist, what we secretly tend to mean by that is while don't exist here on Earth or anywhere where we've looked, but maybe there is another planet really really far away where you actually have pink elephants.

No, that is not what I mean by pink elephants not existing. Tegmark denies that you can ever talk about hypothetical or counterfactual objects. He says that if you can talk about it, then it exists in some parallel or distant universe.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Hsu Paper on Finitism and Physics

Professor Steve Hsu is a physicist, but is known better for trying to use genomics to better the human condition. He writes in a new paper:
Our intuitions about the existence and nature of a continuum arise from perceptions of space and time [21]. But the existence of a fundamental Planck length suggests that spacetime may not be a continuum. In that case, our intuitions originate from something (an idealization) that is not actu ally realized in Nature.

Quantum mechanics is formulated using continuous structures such as Hilbert space and a smoothly varying wavefunction, incorporating complex numbers of arbitrary precision. However beautiful these structures may be, it is possible that they are idealizations that do not exist in the physical world.

I would go further and say that probability does not exist in the physical world.
It may come as a surprise to physicists that infinity and the continuum are even today the subject of debate in mathematics and the philosophy of mathematics. Some mathematicians, called finitists, accept only finite mathematical objects and procedures [25]. The fact that physics does not require infinity or a continuum is an important empirical input to the debate over finitism.
Yes, but it is hard to prove much unless you assume mathematical infinities.

It is important to realize that the infinities are mathematical abstractions, and natural observations are all finite.

There was a concerted effort beginning in the 20th century to place infinity and the continuum on a rigorous foundation using logic and set theory. However, these efforts have not been successful. For example, the standard axioms of Zermelo-Fraenkel (ZFC) set theory applied to infinite sets lead to many counterintuitive results such as the Banach-Tarski Paradox: given any two solid objects, the cut pieces of either one can be reassembled into the other [23].
No, this is wrong. ZFC is a perfectly foundation for mathematics, and is widely accepted. Those Banach-Tarski subsets are not measurable, and do not undermine ZFC.
Post-Godel there is no general agreement as to what is meant by "rigorous foundations"...

No, this is a common misconception. Mathematics was on shaky foundations in the 1800s. Basic concepts like real numbers and sets had not been rigorously defined. Goedel helped show that first order logic had the properties that mathematicians needed, and helped prove that axiomatizations of set theory could be used for foundations. Soon mathematician settled on ZFC as a suitable foundation for all of mathematics.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Von Neumann's 1932 quantum proof was correct

A new paper starts:
The impossibility of theories with hidden variables as an alternative and replacement for quantum mechanics was discussed by J. von Neumann in 1932. His proof was criticized as being logically circular, by Grete Hermann soon after, and as fundamentally flawed, by John Bell in 1964. Bell's severe criticism of Neumann's proof and the explicit (counter) example of a hidden variable model for the measurement of a quantum spin are considered by most researchers, though not all, as the definitive demonstration that Neumann's proof is inadequate.
Yes, Bohm and Bell each have their cult followings, and they attack quantum mechanics conventional wisdom. They say that the theory went bad with von Neumann's work in 1932.

As this paper shows, von Neumann was right in 1932.

Bohm supposedly reinterpreted QM as a hidden variable theory, contradicting von Neumann. But as this article explains, the interpretation is unphysical and is only of obscure academic interest.

Bell did propose hidden variable theories, but they have been disproved by experiment.

This paper explains it all. A 2010 paper by Bub also argued that von Neumann's argument was correct. Those who work in Bohm or Bell theory have been making negative progress since 1932.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Yes, Mathematics is a Meritocracy

The science journals have become leftist propaganda more and more, and SciAm reports:
Modern Mathematics Confronts Its White, Patriarchal Past

Mathematicians want to think their field is a meritocracy, but bias, harassment and exclusion persist ...

Racism, sexism and other forms of systematic oppression are not unique to mathematics, and they certainly are not new, yet many in the field still deny their existence. “One of the biggest challenges is how hard it can be to start a conversation” about the problem, Sawyer says, “because mathematicians are so convinced that math is the purest of all of the sciences.” Yet statistics on the mathematics profession are difficult to ignore. In 2019 a New York Times profile of Edray Herber Goins, a Black mathematics professor at Pomona College, reported that “fewer than 1 percent of doctorates in math are awarded to African-Americans.” A 2020 NSF survey revealed that out of a total of 2,012 doctorates awarded in mathematics and statistics in the U.S. in 2019, only 585 (29.1 percent) were awarded to women. That percentage is slightly lower than in 2010, when 29.4 percent of doctorates in those areas (467 out of 1,590) were awarded to women. (Because these numbers are grouped based on sex rather than gender, that survey did not report how many of those individuals identify as a gender other than male or female.)

No, that is not evidence of oppression.

It claims to have an example:

Furthermore, he notes that at this time “there was a towering figure in topology”—Robert Lee Moore of the University of Texas at Austin—“who was well-known for saying he did not want Blacks in the field, he did not want Jews in the field, he did not want women in the field.
But Moore's Wikipedia article says he had Jewish and female grad students that he supervised and encouraged.

There is also a story about a Black mathematician who got a PhD and did not follow an academic career. But that is true about most White PhDs also. Three mathematicians write in Quillette that Mathematics is becoming less of a meritocracy because it is becoming so anti-White:

The second reason for concern is that the nationwide effort to reduce racial disparities, however well-intentioned, has had the unfortunate effect of weakening the connection between merit and scholastic admission. It also has served (sometimes indirectly) to discriminate against certain groups—mainly Asian Americans. The social-justice rhetoric used to justify these diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs is often completely at odds with the reality one observes on campuses. The concept of fighting “white supremacy,” in particular, doesn’t apply to the math field, since American-born scholars of all races now collectively represent a small (and diminishing) minority of the country’s academic STEM specialists.
In other words, Math was a meritocracy until it favored non-whites and women under affirmative action demands.

Another SciAm article:

Denial of Evolution Is a Form of White Supremacy ...

The global scientific community overwhelmingly accepts that all living humans are of African descent.

Not only that, but we are all descended from African apes. A lot of apes have white skin and black hair, so those African apes could have been white skinned.
I want to unmask the lie that evolution denial is about religion and recognize that at its core, it is a form of white supremacy that perpetuates segregation and violence against Black bodies.
This is pretty nutty stuff.
At the heart of white evangelical creationism is the mythology of an unbroken white lineage that stretches back to a light-skinned Adam and Eve. In literal interpretations of the Christian Bible, white skin was created in God’s image. Dark skin has a different, more problematic origin.
Maybe Adam and Eve were light skinned, but nobody claims that they were white Europeans.
My hope is that if we make the connection between creationism and racist ideology clearer, we will provide more ammunition to get science into the classroom—and into our culture at large.
Do you remember when scientists and science publications just tried to explain how the world works, and did not twist everything to fit some ideological goal?

If you want examples of evolution denial, you could look at the current Journal of the AMA, a top medical journal:

Race and ethnicity are social constructs, without scientific or biological meaning. The indistinct construct of racial and ethnic categories has been increasingly acknowledged, and concerns about use of these terms in medical and health research, education, and practice have been progressively recognized. Accordingly, for content published in medical and science journals, language and terminology must be accurate, clear, and precise and must reflect fairness, equity, and consistency in use and reporting of race and ethnicity. (Note: historically, although inappropriately, race may have been considered a biological construct; thus, older content may characterize race as having biological significance.)
The whole theory of Darwinian evolution is that the origin of species is the differential survival of different races. There is no theory without races.

Update: Jerry Coyne adds:
As we all know, Scientific American is changing from a popular-science magazine into a social-justice-in-science magazine, having hardly anything the science-hungry reader wants to see any more. I urge you to peruse its website and look for the kind of article that would have inspired me when I was younger: articles about pure science.  Now the rag is all about inequities and human diseases. ...

After reading it, I have two questions: Is mathematics structurally racist? And why has Scientific American changed its mission from publishing decent science pieces to flawed bits of ideology?

Comments:
The truth is that, in the physical sciences in English-speaking academia today, there is strong bias and discrimination in favour of advancing women and blacks.

And, on a similar theme to this article, this week’s Nature has a woke article: “too many scientists still say Caucasian”, arguing the usual “race is entirely a social construct”.

Race cannot be a social construct so long as you can predict somebody’s “socially constructed” self-identified race with near perfect accuracy using a couple hundred DNA markers.

Coyne points out that the Amer. Math. Society now trains agents to police behavior at conferences. I am curious about what they will report.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Linear Pre-Kuhnian View of Scientific Progress

One of the byproducts of George Floyd dying of a fentanyl overdose is that professors can show off their anti-racism by citing Black researchers. Only a Jewish woman in a Chicana Studies department would disagree.

The College Fix reports:

Called CiteBlackAuthors.com, it was started in the wake of the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of police.

“Help us spread the word and the WORK of Black, academic professionals,” Faas wrote.

But one member of the department, Professor Elizabeth Weiss, offered a contrary viewpoint.

“Although the intent of Cite Black Authors may be well-meaning,” Weiss, who is tenured, wrote back to her colleagues, “as a scholar in search of objective knowledge, I encourage researchers to look for the best source material and realize that an author’s ethnicity, race, or color of their skin has no actual bearing on the validity of their contribution.”

Months later, Weiss’ department chair, Roberto Gonzalez, would publicly criticize her, saying she responded to the Cite Black Authors email in an “extremely insensitive way.”

So it is insensitive to ignore race, and search for objective knowledge.

This opinion was so offensive that her past work is being scrutinized, and teed up for cancelation.

“After having carefully read the book, I disagree with both the substance and style of Repatriation and Erasing the Past, including its dismissal of Native American epistemologies and [indigenous] scholarship, its Victorian-era approach to anthropological inquiry, and its linear, pre-Kuhnian view of scientific progress,” Gonzalez wrote.
I try to stick to Physics on this blog, because other academic subjects have degenerated into total foolishness.

But Kuhn's view of scientific progress was only about Physics. Actually he believed that revolutions like the Copernican model of the Earth's revolution about the Sun were not really scientific progress, but rather irrational (or arational, he would say) physicists shifting from one paradigm to another.

Before that, scholars had a linear view of progress, where science gets better over time.

I post this to show what professors now argue about.

“Can you imagine the reaction of graduate students reading this kind of thing from a fully-tenured professor?” Gonzalez said. “It was devastating.”
No, I am unable to imagine a grad student being devastated by any of this.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Some Degree of Belief in Many Worlds

I posted about The Underground Cult of Many-Worlds.

Steve Hsu is in the cult:

I listed a number of prominent theorists who have expressed some degree of belief in many worlds. ...

Q1. (largely mathematical): Does the phenomenology of pure state evolution in a closed system (e.g., the universe) reproduce Copenhagen for observers in the system? ...

I believe the evidence is strong that the answer to #1 is Yes, although the issue of the Born rule lingers ... 

[He calls Y* the belief in Many Worlds time evolution, possibly without the ability to make predictions.]

I believe (based on published remarks or from my personal interactions) that the following theorists have opinions that are Y* or stronger: Schwinger, DeWitt, Wheeler, Deutsch, Hawking, Feynman, Gell-Mann, Zeh, Hartle, Weinberg, Zurek, Guth, Preskill, Page, Cooper (BCS), Coleman, Misner, Arkani-Hamed, etc.

But there is a generational issue, with many older (some now deceased!) theorists being reticent about expressing Y* even if they believe it.

So he advocates Many Worlds, but note carefully what he is saying.

First, Many Worlds rests on a mathematical hypothesis that has never been proved. These theorists believe in pure state evolution, but there is no known way to make that correspond to what is observed. It is just a conjecture that some people believe in.

Second, there is the "issue of the Born rule". That is, there is no known way to make any predictions from Many Worlds theory.

Third, all the big-shots believe in Many Worlds, but are embarrassed to publicly admit it!

Presumably, Many Worlds will take over when the big-shots die off, and the next generation cites it as conventional wisdom.

The idea that Feyman, Gell-Mann, and Coleman spent their whole lives explaining quantum mechanics, but were too insecure to spell out their true beliefs, is bizarre. I don't believe it.

Those men ought to be embarrassed, if they believed that some theory reproduced quantum phenomenology, without the ability to make predictions. The concept does not even make any sense. If a theory does not make predictions, then it is not reproducing any phenomFurthoerenology.

The whole thing is bizarre. Hsu seems like a man who is grounded in reality, but this is all one big fairy tale. I don't know who anyone can take it seriously.

Evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne writes:

Among the accusations were these:

a. You can’t prove atheism. This amuses me because atheism is simply the failure to accept the existence of gods, mainly because there’s no evidence for them. But yes, you can’t prove that there’s no god because you can never prove a negative like this. But you can’t prove that there are no fairies, either, yet I remain an a-fairyist. ...

e. Atheism is a faith, like religion. This old chestnut is equally risible. Atheism is LACK of faith, for faith is believing in something without sufficient evidence. Atheism rejects belief in god because there is no good evidence for him (or her or it).

I used to agree with this, as a legitimate scientific view. It seemed reasonable that a hard-headed scientist would deny anything that lacks solid evidence.

Not any more. Now I learn that all those big-shot atheist scientists cling to beliefs that have no more evidence than fairies.

Furthermore, they are all Leftists. You cannot convince me that Atheism is non-political, if every single intellectual atheist leader is a Trump-hating Leftist. These intellectuals just have their own fairy beliefs.

I guess it is possible that some of them are closet Trump-supporting Christians, but are embarrassed to admit it, just as they are embarrassed to wholly endorse Many Worlds. If so, we should stop listening to them on anything, as they would be cowards afraid to speak their minds.

While all these smart physicists disclaim any need to define or predict probabilities, ie, Born Rule, I wonder if anyone takes the notion seriously anymore. I see our most prestigious Science journal has published:

Trading of animals susceptible to bat coronaviruses is the likely cause of the COVID-19 pandemic ...

The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 has properties that are con- sistent with a natural spillover (9). Although carriage from a bat cave of a sarbecovirus close enough to SARS-CoV-2 to be the pro- genitor as a research sample to the WIV [Wuhan Lab] is theoretically possible, such a scenario would be extremely unlikely relative to the scale of human-susceptible animal contacts routinely taking place in animal trading. Alternatively, bat guano (feces) is collected for use as fertilizer, again on a much larger scale than irregular research visits to bat caves, consistent with rare but ongoing SARSr-CoV transmissions to humans in rural areas (7, 12).

It is just not clear what they mean by "likely" and "unlikely". These terms have definite meanings in Mathematics and Statistics, but I am not sure the terms are being used in the same way. They don't seem to have any evidence that the virus did not start in an animal, and then get modified by the Lab.

The authors are British and Chinese. That should not matter if the article had data to back up what they say.

Update: Here is another paper claiming evidence against a Wuhan Lab leak. I haven't studied it.

Monday, August 16, 2021

The Underground Cult of Many-Worlds

I have lamented the trend toward reputable physics adopting the many-worlds theory of quantum mechanics, including high-profile popularizers Scott Aaronson and Sean M. Carroll.

Now I find this 2008 Steve Hsu blog post:

After the talk I had a long conversation with John Preskill about many worlds, and he pointed out to me that both Feynman and Gell-Mann were strong advocates: they would go so far as to browbeat visitors on the topic. In fact, both claimed to have invented the idea independently of Everett.
This is heresy. Feynman and Gell-Mann wrote a great deal about quantum mechanics, including about interpretations, and as far as I know, neither wrote anything positive about many-worlds. They did not push it in lectures either.

Preskill coined the term quantum supremacy, and quietly admitted support for many-worlds in a recent interview.

Weinberg died without endorsing many-worlds, but he was heading in that direction, with more and more denunciations of Copenhagen Interpretation in his old age. He discusses many-worlds in this 2016 video, and says he finds it hard to stomach.

What goes here? Is many-worlds an underground physics cult that many or most physicists belong to, but are embarrassed to admit publicly?

I don't know. I can imagine physicists being closeted Christians or Trump-supporters, as these beliefs would invite derision from their colleagues. But can the same be true about belief in our world being one of many worlds, which are all described by the unitary evolution of a universal wave function?

Monday, August 9, 2021

Vafa predicts less than eleven dimensions

Peter Woit writes:
The Lex Fridman podcast has an interview with Cumrun Vafa. Going to the section (1:19:48) – Skepticism regarding string theory) where Vafa answers the skeptics, he has just one argument for string theory as a predictive theory: it predicts that the number of spacetime dimensions is between 1 and 11.
Vafa also says that string theory "post-dicts" gravity, because both string theory and conventional wisdom predict a spin-2 graviton.

I am not sure this means anything. A spin-2 particle could be a composite of two spin-1 particles. Maybe the conjectured graviton is such a composite. If so, string theory does not help.

He also said string theory tells us about possible universes. It allows examining a universe where electrons are 1020 more massive, and gravity is stronger than electromagnetism. If so, then black holes would not evaporate. We believe black holes evaporate, over trillions of years, so that explains why electrons are so light. Or so he says.

Vafa is asked about Einstein's greatest accomplishment, and says special relativity. General relativity is more complex, but is largely the consequence of special relativity and Riemannian geometry.

Vafa mentions, and dismisses, that it was the 1907 idea that gravitational acceleration is just like other acceleration. I think that may have been his best idea. Yes, it is obvious, in retrospect, but nobody else at the time noticed that gravity would affect time.

But special relativity was not Einstein's discovery at all. Vafa specifically credits Einstein for saying that the speed of light was constant, but I think the record is fairly clear that Einstein got that from Lorentz.

Vafa is a physicist, not a historian, but most of his argument for string theory was a series of historical anecdotes about physics discoveries of the past.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Bird names are racist, just like everything else

Here is an example of foolish woke thinking in science.

A new paper in an avian science journal is on Towards redressing inaccurate, offensive and inappropriate common bird names:

nglish common names are widely used in ornithological research, birding, media and by the general public and, unlike other taxa, often receive considerably greater use than scientific names. Across the world, many of these names were coined from 18th and 19th century European perspectives and are symbolic of a time when this was the only worldview considered in science. Here, we highlight formal efforts by ornithological societies around the world to change common names of birds to better reflect the diverse perspectives of scientists in the 21st century.
Why stop at birds? The same could be said of any scientific terms, and of the use of the English. It all reflect perspectives of another era.

The examples are extremely silly:

A consistent theme influencing the common names of North and South American birds is ignorance of the bird or of the Americas in general. The Inca Dove is arguably the most ignorantly ssnamed bird in North America. First described by René Lesson in 1847, the Inca Dove ranges from the southwestern USA to Costa Rica, and in no way overlaps with the former area of the Incan empire (NACC 2011c). It is probable (not entirely provable, but no alternative explanation exists) that Lesson, ignorant of the geographical location of Indigenous Nations, selected the Incan empire for the name, thinking that Incas lived in Central America (Choate 1985).
Okay, so some guy in 1847 did not know where the Incas lived centuries earlier. Who care s? Why does this bird name have to match Inca geography?

This is like complaining that butterflies do not eat butter.

I am just noting how scientists are getting sidetracked into leftist political nonsense. Probably no one will defend bird names, because he would be called racist.

The journal Nature now has an editorial on The lack of people of colour in science images must be fixed. You may have noticed that the advertising world is putting pictures of people of color everywhere, and Nature would like to do the same, but it does not have enough pictures to print.

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Academic Left is in Denial

Physicist Alan Sokal is mostly known for 1996 Sokal's Hoax, where he mocked non-physicists using physics metaphors. He does indeed expose some nutty academic work, but he is silent about physicists who say things just as nutty.

I thought that he was trying to de-politicize science, but he is not. In a Jan. 22 essay, he argues:

Furthermore, 47 percent of Republicans characterized the storming of the Capitol as “mostly a legitimate protest,” with an equal number calling it “mostly people acting unlawfully.” ...

PBS/Marist also asked: “Do you trust that the results of the 2020 election were accurate, or not?” Fully 72 percent of Republicans thought that the election results were not accurate, compared to 36 percent of Independents and 2 percent of Democrats.

He says that he would agree with the protests, if he were a right-winger and thought that the election were stolen.

He blames postmodernist academics for denying objective truths.

Sorry, but the election was stolen in the sense that Trump only lost because his enemies changed the election rules as never before. If we had a free and fair election, then the votes would have been cast and counted on Election Day, and we could all accept an objective outcome.

Politico, a Trump-hater site, admits that Democrats need more election chicanery:

“If there isn’t a way for us to repeat what happened in November 2020, we’re f---ed,” said Nsé Ufot, CEO of the Stacey Abrams-founded New Georgia Project.
Even today, the Democrats are holding hearing on the Jan. 6 protests, but refusing to allow Republicans to participate, and refusing to release the 15,000 hours of surveillance video.

I am sure many of my readers hate Trump also. That's fine, you are entitled to your opinions. But those postmodernist academics who deny objective truth are all left-wingers. So are most physicists, and most journalists.

Scott Aaronson has emerged from blog hibernation to tell us that he is grateful that Texas legislators have left the state in order to supportt he democracy. They want to stop Republicans from voting on a requirement to present ID to vote. When pressed for details, it is clear that he is just following the Democrat playbook.

If these academics really wanted to pursue objective truth, they would be urging freer, transparent, and verifiable elections. Europe and Canada are able to run much cleaner elections. The USA ought to be able to do as well.

Another big source of press complaints about people not accepting scientific truths comes from covid and vaccination. No one on Facebook is allowed to say anything contradicting Anthony Fauci, even tho he says wrong stuff all the time. For example, he recently made the widely publicized claim that 99.2% of the covid deaths are in unvaccinated people. This turns out to be a lie, because it is based on data from before vaccines were widely available.

Last year, 100% of the covid deaths were in the unvaccinated, and in Feb. 2021, it was about 99%. The percentage has to be a whole lot less now, but the CDC has not released the necessary data.

Fauci undermines confidence in the system when he lies like this. Here is a Ben Shapiro video explaining how Fauci and CDC officials have been lying to us.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Brian Greene Still Clings to String Theory

Physicist Brian Greene used to be the public face of string theory, and on a recent video Q&A, he was asked:
Is it true that physicists are losing their hope in string theory?
The answer is obviously yes, but he refuses to admit it.

Greene's answer is amusingly weak. He is unable to point to any theoretical or experiment progress in string theory. He just babbles.

He starts by getting a drink of water, emphatically saying the answer is no, and claiming that the string theory critics need psychotherapy!

He goes on to defend the multiverse, even tho that was not really the question. He says string theory does not require a multiverse, but he argues for the multiverse, as that were essential to his belief in string theory.

He implies that only a narrow-minded person would only believe in one universe. He admits that it is desirable to have physical evidence for physical theories, but says that evidence for part of a theory (ie, one universe) can be taken to enhance a belief in other parts (ie, other universes.

He ends by saying that the state of the field is one of excitment.

Watch the above video from 42:00 to 46:00 if you think that I have distorted him.

If I knew nothing about string theory, I would say that this is a con man promoting goofy ideas that no one could believe. If I watched the rest of the video, I would see that he undertands a lot of physics, and is good at explaining textbook physics, and I would be very confused.

Dr. Bee's latest video says that string theorists have given up on their original goals, leaving an overhyped research program. The multiverse is so silly it is not even science. She challenges a lot of modern theoretical physics as too speculative to be worthwhile.