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?

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, 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.