Monday, November 30, 2020

Most accurate in the history of science

New paper:
Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) is considered the most accurate theory in the history of science. However, this precision is limited to a single experimental value: the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron (g-factor). The calculation of the electron g-factor was carried out in 1950 by Karplus and Kroll. Seven years later, Petermann detected and corrected a serious error in the calculation of a Feynman diagram; however, neither the original calculation nor the subsequent correction was ever published.Therefore, the entire prestige of QED depends on the calculation of a single Feynman diagram (IIc) that has never been published and cannot be independently verified.
If this is really the most accurate and impressive prediction in the history of science, you are probably thinking that the theorists and experimentalists worked independently. Nope.

The theorists, who did it wrong, knew about the experimental value they were supposed to match. And they matched it, but the experimental value was wrong. The theoretical value happened to be also wrong in the same way. Then the experiment got redone to give a more accurate value, and an embarrassing disagreement with theory. So the theoretical value was redone, with this knowledge, and the new theoretical value matched the new experiment. The details were never published.

I have heard of experiments being cooked to match the theory. The history of this seems to be the opposite.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Bohm and his groundbreaking ideas

I just got an email (ie, spam) saying:
If you are considering a gift to a family member or a friend this THANKSGIVING, why not consider the gift of David Bohm and his groundbreaking ideas. Bohm’s ideas are an enduring gift to mankind, enabling a paradigm shift for the transformation of self and society.

PURCHASE GIFT
The recent and current political events taking place in the United States and the Covid-19 pandemic has given us all time to reflect on the vulnerability of our Political, Economic, Spiritual and Social structures. David Bohm’s enduring answers to mankind’s big questions opens a door to coherence, wholeness and interconnectedness. We just need to pay more attention!

So once again we want to THANK YOU all so much for your support and encourage you to share INFINITE POTENTIAL with family, friends and those who you feel would appreciate the gift of Bohm.

Wow, is that a reference to Pres. Trump challenging the vote count in several states? That and some flu-like virus are supposed to make me purchase a movie about David Bohm and give it to a friend for Thanksgiving?!

Let us be clear about his groundbreaking ideas. He believed in (1) Communism; (2) determinism; and (3) spooky action-at-distance. Each of these is fundamentally wrong, and we should be happy that we live in a world where they are wrong. The world would be a depressing place if any of these were correct.

But do they "opens [sic] a door to coherence, wholeness and interconnectedness"? I don't know what there nuts are even thinking, and I watched the movie. I post this in case anyone else wants to try to figure it out.

For more reading, try his biography, or philosophical essays. I previously posted a link to the movie, but it has been taken down.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The dark state is erased

Mikhail Gromov, one of the greatest living geometers, once wrote:
This common and unfortunate fact of the lack of an adequate presentation of basic ideas and motivations of almost any mathematical theory is, probably, due to the binary nature of mathematical perception: either you have no inkling of an idea or, once you have understood it, this very idea appears so embarrassingly obvious that you feel reluctant to say it aloud; moreover, once your mind switches from the state of darkness to the light, all memory of the dark state is erased and it becomes impossible to conceive the existence of another mind for which the idea appears nonobvious.
This is actually a common view among mathematicians, but only mathematicians. It is one of the things that makes Mathematics difficult for outsiders.

Monday, November 23, 2020

SciAm says: Always trust the experts

SciAm reports:
To Understand How Science Denial Works, Look to History

The same tactics used to cast doubt on the dangers of smoking and climate change are now being used to downplay COVID

By Naomi Oreskes | Scientific American December 2020 Issue ...

But while the events of 2020 may feel unprecedented, the social pattern of rejecting scientific evidence did not suddenly appear this year. There was never any good scientific reason for rejecting the expert advice on COVID, just as there has never been any good scientific reason for doubting that humans evolved, that vaccines save lives, and that greenhouse gases are driving disruptive climate change.

SciAm blogger John Horgan posts a somewhat contrary opinion.

There certainly was good scientific reason for doubting expert advice on COVID.

First of all, much of the advice has been contradictory, such as whether to wear face masks.

Second, none of their predictions have come true.

Third, there was never much scientific support for their policies, such as closing the schools.

As I write this, there is a new set of lockdown orders. I believe that they are doing more harm than good. As far as I can see, there is not even any good published analysis to support these policies.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

The experiment that made Einstein famous

Einstein became world-famous on 7 November 1919, following press publication of a meeting held in London on 6 November 1919 where the results were announced of two British expeditions led by Eddington, Dyson and Davidson to measure how much background starlight is bent as it passes the Sun. Three data sets were obtained: two showed the measured deflection matched the theoretical prediction of Einstein's 1915 Theory of General Relativity, and became the official result; the third was discarded as defective. At the time, the experimental result was accepted by the expert astronomical community.
This made Einstein world-famous, as the NY Times headline was:
LIGHTS ALL ASKEW IN THE HEAVENS; Men of Science More or Less Agog Over Results of Eclipse Observations. EINSTEIN THEORY TRIUMPHS Stars Not Where They Seemed or Were Calculated to be, but Nobody Need Worry. A BOOK FOR 12 WISE MEN No More in All the World Could Comprehend It, Said Einstein When His Daring Publishers Accepted It.
There has long been some controversy about this, as they discarded the result that would have agree with Newtonian gravity. It is often cited as an example of scientists seeing what they want to see.

This paper argues that the orginal eclipse experiment was legitimate.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Many religions do reject free will

Evolutionist Jerry Coyne posts commonly against theism and free will, and complains
about a video on the physics of free will:
O’Dowd seems hung up on predictability as an important part of free will. But all of us, including hard determinists like me, realize that we will never be able to predict human behavior with 100% certainty. Not only do too many factors impact our brains and behavior, but, as O’Dowd points out, the uncertainty principle bars us from even knowing certain fundamental properties of quantum-behaving particles (although those may have a negligible effect on behavior). But whether or not we can predict behavior seems to me irrelevant about whether or not we have free will.
Coyne denies free will because he believes in determinism, but he oddly says predictability is irrelevant.

I was more surprised by this statement:

And, of course, libertarian free will is an underpinning of all Abrahamic religions.
No, it is not.

See the Wikipedia article on Free will in theology. Islam is always talking about the will of Allah determining everything. Humans have no free will. Free will plays no role in Judaism.

Catholics and Mormon believe in free will. Protestant Christians have varying views, but many of them partially or wholly reject free will.

The video says free will is “the most directly verifiably real thing you will ever observe”. [at 12:30] I agree with this. You can just close your eyes and make a choice. You can sense your free will more directly and you can sense the Sun rising in the East.

Coyne acts as if he has to disprove all the religions, and then convince everyone that they do not have free will, in order to teach them some superior atheist world view. The truth is more nearly the opposite. Religion is encouraging a denial of free will, and then bad morals.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Covariant with respect to Lorentz transformations

Philosopher Harvey R. Brown has a nice new paper on Noether and symmetry. He comments:
Einstein's 1905 derivation of the Lorentz transformations rested on two fundamental symmetry principles: the relativity principle (dynamical equivalence of inertial frames) and the isotropy of space, alongside the postulate governing the constancy of the speed of light with respect to the "resting" frame.74 The justification of all these principles did not rest, for Einstein, on any a priori notions about the structure of space and time, but was based on "plenty of experiential knowledge" related to mechanics and electrodynamics.75 Later, he would stress that the theory of special relativity could be summarised in one principle: "all natural laws must be so conditioned that they are covariant with respect to Lorentz transformations".76 This allowed Einstein to say that the theory transcended Maxwell's equations, and what he saw as the awkward emphasis on the role of light in his 1905 formulation.77 Special relativity is essentially a constraint in the sense that a symmetry is being imposed on the fundamental equations of all the non-gravitational interactions.
These EInstein opinions are from 1940 and later, long after that 1905 paper.

The principle that all natural laws must be so conditioned that they are covariant with respect to Lorentz transformations was written by Poincare in 1905 and Minkowski in 1907, but not endorsed by Einstein until about 1915. If that is really the essence of special relativity, then all the credit should go to Poincare and Minkowski, as Einstein contributed nothing to this line of thought.

This is the biggest reason I believe Einstein should not be credited with the discovery of special relativity. It is not just that others had the formula earlier. It is that the essence of the theory is Lorentz covariance, and Einstein did not even understand the concept until many years after others had published it and gained widespread acceptance.

The Brown paper does have a good discussion of the history of Noether's theorem. Nowadays, conservation of momentum and energy are considered synonomous with symmetries of spacetime. This was one of the most important insights of XX century Physics.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Scientists aghast as Trump not repudiated

Nature, the leading British science publication, endorsed Joe Biden and now reports:
Scientists aghast as hopes for landslide Biden election victory vanish With so many votes cast for Trump in US election, some researchers conclude that they must work harder to communicate the importance of facts, science and truth.

As the possibility of a land-slide victory for US presidential candidate Joe Biden vanished in the wee hours of 4 November, some scientists saw the deadlocked election as a sign of their own failure to communicate the importance of science, evidence and truth to the general population.

“This election is not going to be a decisive national categorical repudiation of Trump, regardless of who wins the presidency,” says James Lindley Wilson, a political scientist who studies elections and democracy at the University of Chicago. ...

But as in 2016, Trump outperformed polls suggesting that his opponent was positioned for a potential landslide victory. ...

“Evidently a lot of Floridians are in denial about climate change,” says Oreskes. “How do we fix that? I don’t know, but obviously what we’ve been doing has not worked.”

Michael Lubell, a physicist at the City College of New York who tracks science policy, worries about what the results of the election say about the value that many Americans put on truth.

The article was written before Biden claimed victory.

I am a big believer in science, evidence, and truth, but never had any understanding of any scientific issue, ever before he went senile. There was no scientific reason to prefer Biden over Trump. The election was decided over other issues.

I am aghast at how the scientific establishment has been politicized, and signed onto a left-wing agenda.

Biden's first act, as apparent President-elect, was science-related:
A professor with the Yale School of Medicine will serve as a co-chair of President-elect Joe Biden’s task force on the coronavirus, according to a report from CNN. ...

According to her biography on the Yale School of Medicine website, Nunez-Smith’s “research focuses on promoting health and health care equity for structurally marginalized populations with an emphasis on supporting health care workforce diversity and development, developing patient reported measurements of health care quality, and identifying regional strategies to reduce the global burden of non-communicable diseases.”

Pres. Trump appointed experts for their competence in the field. This is obviously being appointed for her skin color, sex, and attention to "structurally marginalized populations", whatever they are. Her research does not even involve communicable diseases, and may not know any more about COVID-19 than I do.

If these scientists and science organizations were really so focused on "science, evidence and truth", then they would be criticizing this appointment. They will not.

Update: Scott Aaronson celebrates the Biden-Harris win, and says "I would love for Twitter to deactivate Trump’s account". No mention of any possibility of new policies that would make America a better place.

The comments point out that the Trump administration lacked the foreign policy disasters of the previous Bush and Obama administrations. One comment points out that 70 million citizens voted for Trump, and they certainly did not believe that Trump was sent by God to fight Satanic pedophiles, as Aaronson had claimed. It is clear that his support for Biden was just Trump hatred.

Another comment says:

I don’t see how anyone who has listened to Trump’s diatribes over the past four years and still chose to vote for him could be anything other than a right wing authoritarian.
So we have 70 million right-wing authoritarians? No, I don't know any.

If Trump were really an authoritarian, he would have used the COVID-19 crisis to seize new powers, and to order compliance with his policies. He did not. Instead, Joe Biden has promised to order dictatorial mandates such as wearing masks.

Friday, October 30, 2020

SciAm: 7 Presidential differences

SciAm lists 7 ways the election will affect science issues. I paraphrase:
Pandenmic. Biden's plan is essentially the same as what Trump has done, with the main difference that Biden says that he will order a national mask-wearing mandate. However, Biden's web site omits mentioning the mask mandate.

Clean air. The Trump administration has brought the cleanest air ever, but Biden promises to reduce CO2 by shutting down the fossil fuel industry.

Health care. Trump has reduced medical and drug costs, and expanded health care options. Biden promises a "public option" so that govt plans would replace private health insurance.

Peace. Under Trump the world has been the most peaceful ever. Biden says that he will end the sanctions against Iran.

Immigration. Trump has reduced legal and illegal immigration. Biden would move toward open borders, and policies that systematically replace American jobs with foreigners.

Space. Trump has us going back to the Moon. Biden may kill that.

Federal land. Trump has used federal land to gain energy independence. Biden will shut that down.

It is notable what SciAm does not say. There is no claim that Trump failed to fund some important area of science, that he censored any good science, or that he failed to follow expert advice on COVID-19 or anything else. It does criticize him with comments like this:
His own chief of staff recently admitted that “we are not going to control the pandemic.”
That's right, we are not going to control it. The pandemic is going to run its course. Some policies have probably reduced its spread, and some treatments have improved, and we may soon have vaccines. But none of these things will eliminate the virus.
If Trump remains in power, his administration will likely continue to restrict people born elsewhere from entering the country, driving many stars of artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other fields to take their valuable talents elsewhere.
There is no complaint about the billions of dollars that Trump is pouring into AI and QC. The complaint is that too much of that money is going to Americans, and Biden will give most of it to foreigners.

Of all the science issues to bring up, why AI and QC? AI threatens to enslave us all to robot overlords. QC threatens to destroy our secure communications. These are just the things that we should not be putting under the control of foreigners.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Coyne responds to free will video

Jerry Coyne responds to an amusing video attacking his opinions on free will:
Hunter goes off on all kinds of antievolution tangents in this video, failing to stick to the promised critique of determinism. That’s probably because his critique can be summed up very simply: “There’s no evidence for determinism — it’s just a weird and bizarre pronouncement of scientists like Cohen, and constitutes “scientism.” ...

I can rebut both of these claims very briefly.

There’s no evidence for determinism. This claim is absurd. The response is that everything on Earth, and, as far as we can tell, in the solar system, in the Milky Way galaxy, and in Universe, has uniformly obeyed the laws of physics since the Big Bang. That’s not a speculation, but an empirical conclusion ...

We can have no confidence that we can find truth if determinism be true. The rebuttal of this can be conveyed in two words: natural selection. Animals, including us, could hardly survive if we had sensory systems that didn’t give us a fairly accurate representation of reality: where the dangers lie, where the food is, what happens if we jump off a cliff.

The discussion has religious overtones, as "Cohen" seems to be a reference to Coyne being a cultural Jewish atheist.

To the extent that free will is a religious or philosophical issue, they are all entitled to their opinions. I just want to address the science.

Saying that the Milky Way galaxy obeys the laws of physics, and deducing determinism and a lack of free will is illogical.

Monday, October 26, 2020

How leftist philosophers censor scholarly work

Massimo Pigliucci is a biologist-turned-philosophy-professor who is very opinionated about the philosophy of science. He used to have a large web presence, and I have commented on his blog many times, but I quit because he would arbitrarily delete my comments if he did not agree with them.

He is a good example of what is wrong with today's philosophy of science. I have explained some of his erroneous thinking several times on this blog.

Now Pigliucci has lauched a campaign to censor another scholar for some race-related work.

Nathan Cofnas wrote Research on group differences in intelligence: A defense of free inquiry, and it was published in a respected journal.

They argue as follows.

First, Pigliucci and his coauthors argue that it is an error to even talk about human races because no races were ever completely pure, isolated, and phylogenetically distinct for an evolutionarily prolonged time. This is a strawman attack, because neither Cofnas nor anyone else ever said that they were.

Second, they say that Cofnas is the one making the strawman attack, because "Allegedly, Cofnas felt compelled ... He seems to think ... perspective is significantly out of tune". In other words, they are doing some mindreading, and criticizing what is in Cofnas's head instead of what is in his paper.

Third, they attack the editors for publishing a paper that undermines leftist policy goals.

They demanded, and ultimately pressured the journal to accept, publication of their criticisms without any rebuttal from Cofnas. The rationale was that since the whole point of the criticism is to censor Cofnas for discussing a taboo subject, it would be inappropriate to let him respond.

This while thing is just another example of how leftist creeps have corrupted academia. Pigliucci  knows enough biology to know that races are scientifically meaningful. After all, you can send your spit to a DNA lab, and it will tell you what race you are. Many scholars have apparently decided that they can insulate themselves from accusations of racism if they pretend to subscribe to a fiction that races do not exist.

It will not work. The academic race scholars of today say that race is a social construct, but still say that all Whites are inherently and immutably racist. That argument is being used to say White people should pay reparations to Black people, and we even have a Presidential candidate whose web site endorses appointing a commission to make such recommendations.

The biggest selling academic racism book of the last several years has been White Fragility. It argues that the worst racists of all are Whites like Pigliucci who deny the reality of race. I am not endorsing that opinion, but pointing that he cannot avoid racism accusations by denying the reality of race.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Professors are living in a Leftist bubble

Today's American professors are living in a bubble, where everyone they know is a leftist Trump-hater.

Professor Jerry Coyne writes:

I don’t know what prompted this, but I don’t think most members of the American Left want to abolish the Constitution. And because one branch of the Left is behaving in an authoritarian and illiberal manner, Lindsay is going to vote for TRUMP??????? Has he considered what four more years of a Trump administration would be like compared to a Biden administration? Does he think it would be better, or is he simply sending some kind of petulant signal to the regular Left? And what does it mean to say that he’s “unhappily voting Republican, including Trump.” Unhappily? Why is he voting at all?
It appears that Coyne does not know any Trump supporters, and fails to understand why another academic at another university might vote for Trump.

63 million Americans voted for Trump in 2016. Yes, many smart people compare the Trump administration to that of Obama or to what Biden promises, and prefer Trump.

In last night's debate, Biden did promise "science over fiction". But there is no example of him or his campaign being more scientific about anything. He also tried to claim that the corruption charges against him and his family were some sort of Russian conspiracy!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Dr. Bee on Bohmian pilot wave theory

I posted a criticism of a new movie on David Bohm and pilot wave theory. Unfortunately, it has now been taken down, as the producers are using it for fundraising.

Now Dr. Bee has posted a more detailed criticism of the theory.

One of the big disadvantages of Bohmian mechanics, that Einstein in particular disliked, is that it is even more non-local than quantum mechanics already is. That’s because the guiding field depends on all the particles you want to measure. This means, if you have a system of entangled particles, then the guiding equation says the velocity of one particle depends on the velocity of the other particles, regardless of how far away they are from each other. ...

[Reader:] The argument against Bohmian mechanics is that it is non-local, and QFT requires locality. But didn't Bell prove that the universe is non-local (for most physicists at least; I realize you have an alternative explanation for his results)?

[Sabine Hossenfelder:] First, you cannot use a mathematical theorem to prove how the universe is. What Bell proved is that theories of a certain type obey an inequality. Experiment shows that this inequality is violated. It follows that one of the assumptions of Bell's theorem must be violated.

A violation of one of these assumptions is qua definition what people in quantum foundations call "non-locality". It is an extremely misleading use of the word and has nothing to do with that particle physicists call "non-locality" which refers to non-local interactions.

These two different types of non-locality have caused so much confusion I really think we should stop referring to quantum mechanics as "non-local". Some have suggested to instead use the term "non-separable" which makes much more sense indeed.

In any case, Bohmian mechanics violates Bell's inequality and is thus non-local in Bell's sense. This is fine and not the problem I was talking about. The problem is that the ontology of Bohmian mechanics is non-local in the QFT sense (as I explained in the video). This is not necessarily a problem, but certainly one of the reasons why it's been hard to make a QFT out of it. The other problem is Lorenz-invariance (which I refer to as the "speed of light limit).

This is an important point.

Bell nonlocality is an abuse of terminology that only confuses people. Bohm's theory is truly nonlocal in a way that no scientific theory is. It is a fringe theory that no one has found useful for anything.

Sometimes someone claims that Bohm's theory is more intuitive, but that is nonsense. The nonlocality makes it more counter-intuitive than any other textbook theory.

When she said the "historical context is relevant", I thought that she was going to tell us that Bohm was a Commie. It is funny how he has a cult following. There is some weird ideology driving support for his theory, but even after watching the movie, I cannot figure out what it is.

Another comment:

Bohm's theory is convinient for quantum cosmology, since it avoids the problem of the system and the observer which are necessary in the Copenhagen interpretation so that the Copenhagen interpretation cannot be applied to the whole universe.
The theory is nonlocal, so events in one galaxy can depend on subtleties in another galaxy. And that is supposed to be convenient for cosmology? I doubt that it has ever been of any use to cosmology.

Update: Here is a new PBS Space Time video addressing some of these issues.

Monday, October 19, 2020

First prize to a mathematical physicist

Giving the Nobel prize to Roger Penrose is striking because it is so rare that the prize has gone to the mathematical physicist. He might be the only one, altho an argument could be made that Wigner and 'tHooft were also examples.

You are probably thinking that there have been lots for prizes for theoretical physicists, such as Einstein, Dirac, Pauli, Feynman, etc. And they all use heavy mathematics.

But not really. There is a big difference between theoretical physicists and mathematical physicists.

Wikipedia explains:

The term "mathematical physics" is sometimes used to denote research aimed at studying and solving problems in physics or thought experiments within a mathematically rigorous framework. In this sense, mathematical physics covers a very broad academic realm distinguished only by the blending of some mathematical aspect and physics theoretical aspect. Although related to theoretical physics,[3] mathematical physics in this sense emphasizes the mathematical rigour of the similar type as found in mathematics.

On the other hand, theoretical physics emphasizes the links to observations and experimental physics, which often requires theoretical physicists (and mathematical physicists in the more general sense) to use heuristic, intuitive, and approximate arguments.[4] Such arguments are not considered rigorous by mathematicians, but that is changing over time.

Penrose's work is squarely within mathematical physics.

Nobel prizes were not given for this before. For example, a prize was not given for CPT symmetry, even tho it is considered a fundamental theorem.

Articles about this year's prize raise the related question -- why give a relativity prize to Penrose when Einstein did not get prize for relativity?

For example:

Even when an award goes to the right person, it may be for the wrong -- or at least arguable -- reasons. Such is the case with Albert Einstein, whose 1921 physics Nobel was bestowed not for the theory of relativity but for his work on the photoelectric effect.
That article describes dubious prizes given for inventing poison gas and the lobotomy.

But Einstein was still not a mathematical physicist. The essence of Penrose's prize-winning contribution was a mathematical proof, but no one would say that about Einstein's contributions.

In the case of special relativity, Einstein's contribution is not considered mathematical because all those math formulas had been published already by others. Those who credit him credit him for a metaphysical view, as the math was not new, and the physical consequences were not either. The Nobel committee does not give prizes for metaphysical views.

Perhaps Einstein could have gotten one for general relativity, and it might have been shared with Grossmann and Hilbert. Maybe the committee had trouble assessing what Einstein really did, since he hid his sources so well.

Another comment from a biology professor:

Darwin’s theory is, like Einstein’s, amazing because of its sui generis character — because it didn’t involve much standing on the shoulders of giants who came before. And that is why we celebrate Darwin (and, to a lesser extent, Wallace), and don’t hail Arabic scholars as unrecognized harbingers of evolutionary theory.
I don't get this at all. Einstein's work depended very heavily on earlier work. So did Darwin's, and Darwin acknowledges it.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Another journal endorses Joe Biden

The British journal Nature, maybe the top science journal in the world, editorializes:
On 9 November 2016, the world awoke to an unexpected result: Donald Trump had been elected president of the United States.

This journal did not hide its disappointment. ...

Trump claims to put ‘America First’.

There is the heart of the gripe -- a bunch of non-Americans complaining that the American President puts America first.

Getting to more specific gripes:

In the pandemic’s earliest days, Trump chose not to craft a comprehensive national strategy to increase testing and contact tracing, and to bolster public-health facilities. Instead, he flouted and publicly derided the science-based health guidelines set by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the use of face masks and social distancing.
No, the CDC told us repeatedly that face masks were useless, and not to wear them.
With the nation’s death toll now exceeding 215,000, the coronavirus has killed more people in the United States than anywhere else.
The coronavirus is listed as the cause of death in only 6% of these. The rest had other comorbidities.
No president in recent history has tried to politicize government agencies and purge them of scientific expertise on the scale undertaken by this one.
Not even one example of a scientist fired.
Trump has also promoted nationalism, isolationism and xenophobia — including tacitly supporting white-supremacist groups. ...

The United States’ reputation as an open and welcoming country to the world’s students and researchers has suffered.

Now we are getting to the real gripes.
Joe Biden, by contrast, has a history in the Senate as a politician who has reached across to his political opponents and worked with them to achieve bipartisan support for legislation
His best-known examples are the Crime Bill, which he now disavows, and the Iraq War, which no one wants to talk about.
He has pledged that decisions on the pandemic response will be made by public-health professionals and not by politicians; and he is rightly committing to restoring the ability of these professionals to communicate directly with the public.
Trump regularly put Fauci and other "public-health professionals" on TV. But yes, the decisions were made by elected officials.

It is sad how these scientific journals have been politicized. I am not sure I will ever trust them again.

It would be one thing if the President said things which were scientifically false, or fired scientists and replaced them with astrologers, or somehow sabotaged scientific works. But nothing like that is even alleged. He has funded the most worthy scientific projects, and promoted science. In his handling of COVID-19, he was open, transparent, and following the advice of the best experts. No one can explain how he could have done any better.

This is all political, and it has very little to do with science. Trump is hated for other reasons.

Update: Other Nature articles are political, such this recent obituary of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It is not clear why a science journal would publish an obituary of a judge in another country. The only specific opinion of hers mentioned was her very-partisan dissent in favor of recounts that were thought to favor Gore in the 2000 election.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Kid thinks that Earth is on fire

SciAm opinion column:
I’ve never known an Earth that wasn’t on fire.

I’m 23 years old, and I’m not alone. My entire generation has come of age in a world so defined by climate change and human destruction — by forests burning and glaciers melting, by extinguished species and rising seas — that it’s sometimes been hard to fathom what an even more dismal future might look like.

That is, until the pandemic reared its ugly head, bringing about the kind of worldwide lockdowns and upheavals of daily life that have given terrifying prescience to the term “global emergency” while still falling far short of what scientists say will be the worst environmental catastrophes that await us. The fate of nature, like so much else, has been an agonizing side-story to the virus — a real-time plot that is being followed most closely, I think, by those of us young enough to one day see the worst of it. ...

Here in the U.S., though, the chorus is louder now than it’s ever been—as some of the worst wildfires on record tear through the American West, painting the sky orange, and as hurricanes ravage the South, leaving behind apocalyptic fields of ruin. In today’s pandemic moment, nature’s storyline has reached a low point.

I could not bear to finish reading this nonsense.

This kid should ask his grandparents about life during World War II. And maybe they could relay stories from their grandparents about famine, disease, and the lack of what we consider today to be basic necessities, such as clean water and electricity.

How did we get such a generation of miserable spoiled brats?

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Dr. Bee says diff-eqs imply determinism

Sabine Hossenfelder is a superdeterminism, and she made a new video saying that the concept of free will makes no sense:
But first, let me tell you what’s wrong with this intuitive idea that we can somehow select among possible futures.

Last week, I explained what differential equations are, and that all laws of nature which we currently know work with those differential equations. These laws have the common property that if you have an initial condition at one moment in time, for example the exact details of the particles in your brain and all your brain’s inputs, then you can calculate what happens at any other moment in time from those initial conditions. This means in a nutshell that the whole story of the universe in every single detail was determined already at the big bang. We are just watching it play out.

These deterministic laws of nature apply to you and your brain because you are made of particles, and what happens with you is a consequence of what happens with those particles.

She makes it clear that she is no relying on neuroscience or any other scientific knowledge. She also explicitly rejects philosophical rationalizations of free will, like compatibilism.

In other words, she is a full believer in Laplace's Demon.

Free will is mostly a philosophical question. Superdeterminism cannot be disproven, just as the simulation hypothesis cannot be.

So I am criticizing her reasoning, more than her conclusion.

First, the brain is not made of particles. It is made of quantum fields.

2nd, differential equations are only approximations, and do not predict peoples' choices.

3rd, differential equations are often used with stochastic processes, and are not determinist.

I can predict that some people who didn’t actually watch this video will leave a comment saying they had no other choice than leaving their comment and think they are terribly original.
Ha, ha, but she did not leave the post open for comments, so her prediction turned out wrong.

Here is my biggest disagreement:

What about quantum mechanics? In quantum mechanics some events are truly random and cannot be predicted. Does this mean that quantum mechanics is where you can find free will? Sorry, but no, this makes no sense. These random events in quantum mechanics are not influenced by you, regardless of exactly what you mean by “you”, because they are not influenced by anything. That’s the whole point of saying they are fundamentally random. Nothing determines their outcome. There is no “will” in this. Not yours and not anybody else’s. Taken together we therefore have determinism with the occasional, random quantum jump, and no combination of these two types of laws allows for anything resembling this intuitive idea that we can somehow choose which possible future becomes real. The reason this idea of free will turns out to be incompatible with the laws of nature is that it never made sense in the first place. You see, that thing you call “free will” should in some sense allow you to choose what you want. But then it’s either determined by what you want, in which case it’s not free, or it’s not determined, in which case it’s not a will.
No, this is completely wrong. Random just means that it is not predicted by the available data and theory. It says nothing about whether something else might be determining the outcome.

If I have a Schroedinger cat in a box, then it appears random to me whether the cat is alive or dead. But someone else may have peeked, and know the answer. The randomness just applies to my knowledge. Likewise, your decision making may seem random to me, because I cannot predict it, but to you it is driven by your free will.

She seems to have some very strange idea about what "fundamentally random" means. It does not mean that there can be no free will involved. There has never been any scientific work to support that.

That being said, a lot of people are brainwashed, or otherwise fail to show much free will. There is even evidence that drugs can be used to alter political beliefs:

Increased nature relatedness and decreased authoritarian political views after psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression ...

This pilot study suggests that psilocybin with psychological support might produce lasting changes in attitudes and beliefs. Although it would be premature to infer causality from this small study, the possibility of drug-induced changes in belief systems seems sufficiently intriguing and timely to deserve further investigation.

The way the entire academic establishment has lined up politically this year, leads me to believe that they do not have free will.

Update: Scott Aaronson says it doesn't matter if we are living in a simulation, as we would not know. I do think that believing the world is a simulation, or a dream, or a superdetermined scenario, are all about the same belief. They are all just denying reality and pretending that everything is some sort of fiction.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Superdeterminism forbids human free will

A new paper promotes superdeterminism:
The violation of Bell inequalities seems to establish an important fact about the world: that it is non-local. However, this result relies on the assumption of the statistical independence of the measurement settings with respect to potential past events that might have determined them. Superdeterminism refers to the view that a local, and determinist, account of Bell inequalities violations is possible, by rejecting this assumption of statistical independence. ...

However, most physicists do not seriously consider superdeterministic theories as interpre-tations of Bell inequalities — although, importantly, they often the superdeterminist loophole cannot, as a matter of principle, be closed. ...

But Bell goes further and claims that free will could not exist in a superdetermin-istic world. He suggest that the experimenters’ capacity to freely choose the measurement settings comes under attack when operating in the background of a superdeterministic theory. Superdeterminism is hence characterised as an ‘absolute determinism in the universe’, equated with a ‘complete absence of free will’.

The paper goes on to argue that other determinists have ways of explaining away free will, so superdeterminists should be able to do so similarly.

Superdeterminism really is incompatible with free will. If you believe in superdeterminism, you have to believe that when an experimenter turns the dials on his apparatus, his choices are constrained by a need for an outcome that was predetermined 14 billion years ago.

The error in this paper is right at the beginning, where it says that Bell proved that the world is either super-deterministic or non-local. The more sensible conclusion is that the world is governed by local quantum field theory, and that humans have free will. The world has stochastic aspects whether human choices are involved or not.

I don't know how anyone can believe in super-determinism, and believe in the scientific method at all. It would all hypothesis testing is just an illusion.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

More leftist academics endorse Biden

The NY Times reports:
Throughout its 208-year history, The New England Journal of Medicine has remained staunchly nonpartisan. The world’s most prestigious medical journal has never supported or condemned a political candidate.

Until now.

In an editorial signed by 34 editors who are United States citizens (one editor is not) and published on Wednesday, the journal said the Trump administration had responded so poorly to the coronavirus pandemic that they “have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”

The journal did not explicitly endorse Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee, but that was the only possible inference, other scientists noted.

The editor in chief, Dr. Eric Rubin, said the scathing editorial was one of only four in the journal’s history that were signed by all of the editors. The N.E.J.M.’s editors join those of another influential publication, Scientific American, who last month endorsed Mr. Biden, the former vice president.

This is from the journal that had to retract a high-profile Covid-19 study because the data in it were so obviously bogus.

This is transparently political, as they don't even attempt to explain how Biden is going to do any better.

The SciAm editors are doubling down with another political rant:

Instead of thinking about whether to vote Democratic or Republican in the upcoming U.S. election, think about voting to protect science instead of destroying it.

As president, Donald Trump’s abuse of science has been wanton and dangerous. It has also been well documented. ...

Alarmingly, many of the attacks involve the most immediate and long-term threats to people on earth: the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. In September, for example, Politico reported that Trump’s political appointees in the Department of Health and Human Services were editing weekly reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the pandemic prior to publication. Ten days later, U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette asserted that “no one knows” whether human activities are causing climate change — a refrain that is so tired it has become silly.

I looked up the guy's quote, and here is what he actually said:
Scientists say a lot of things. I have scientists inside of the Department of Energy that say a lot of things. Look, the bottom line is we live here, so we must have some impact. The question is, what is the exact impact that we’re having? And that’s the question that has not been resolved.
None of the arguments in NEJM or SciAm hold any water. I would think that these journals would be run by smart guys, but they cannot find any example of any harm that Pres. Trump has done.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Arguing that the Universe is pure Math

Economics professor Steve Landsburg has a good lecture arguing for Max Tegmark's notion of mathematical universes. I posted several times on Tegmark's book, when it came out a few years ago.

At 34:00, he describes mathematical truth.
At 35:00, he describes mathematical Platonism.
At 40:30, he says physical theories are approximations to truth.

I can accept all of that, but then at 40:50 he says:
"The one hypothesis that underlies every viable physical theory is that the Universe is a mathematical object."

Here is where I differ. I don't think that our Universe is a mathematical object, or that any of our theories assume that it is. Our physical theories are mathematical approximations to a non=mathematical object.

This puts me at the opposite extreme from Tegmark's hypothesis. While he says all mathematical objects are universes, I say that none of them are.

My skepticism is based primarily based on:

(1) All of the interesting mathematical statements are about infinities, but there are no infinities in the physical universe.

(2) We don’t really even have any candidate for the Universe as a mathematical object. There are those who talk about having a quantum wave function of the Universe, but they end up talking about many-worlds and other ideas that have never made any sense or had any predictive value.

(3) Attempts to realize the world as a mathematical object are what led Bell to believe in local hidden variables. We now know that local hidden variables are impossible, so maybe the assumptions that led to that belief are also wrong.

Penrose has given lots of interviews, and will probably give some more now that he is a big-shot Nobel prize winner. I don't remember him giving an opinion on this issue, but it is possible. He is as close to being an authority on this as anyone.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Roger Penrose wins Nobel Prize

I am surprised that Roger Penrose won the Nobel Prize in Physics, for his mathematical physics of black holes. People always said that Hawking would not get a Nobel because his work was too theoretical, but Penrose's is more so.

I cannot think of any other mathematician to get a Nobel. The closest I can think of is Eugene Wigner, who did foundational work on group representations in quantum mechanics.

Perhaps they were eager to give another black hole prize, or to have another female co-winner, I don't know.

Usually prizes are not given to astronomers either. Last year, Peebles shared a prize for some theoretical cosmology work. Maybe that was a signal that attitudes have shifted.

I do think that Penrose's contributions to physics are much greater than most of the Nobel prizes. Congratulations to him.

Most of the articles about this year's prize talk about Einstein a lot, even tho:

“Einstein did not himself believe that black holes really exist, these super-heavyweight monsters that capture everything that enters them,” the Nobel Committee said. “Nothing can escape, not even light.”
Karl Schwarzschild discovered the black hole equations in 1916. It appears that it was not understood mathematically until decades later. That is, only later did they figure that there was an event horizon dividing the interior from the exterion, and that there was no metric singularity there.

After a few more decades, astronomical evidence of black holes was found, and now gravititational waves from collisions have been observed. A Nobel was given for that in 2017, so now 3 of the last 4 years have had Nobels going to cosmologists and astronomers.

Update: Here is the Nobel citation, which nicely explains the history of work related to this year's prize. A footnote makes reference to Einstein not getting the prize for general relativity. It is ambiguous whether Hawking would have gotten a share, had he still been alive. It does credit Penrose with first changing physicist thinking about black holes.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Gerber had Mercury formula before Einstein

People often give Albert Einstein credit for General Relativity because he deduced the big consequences -- deflection of starlight, precession of Mercury's orbit, and redshift of light from moving stars. Maybe also gravitational waves, black holes, and the big bang, but those were mostly done by others.

Paul Gerber published in 1898 and 1902 a theory for the precession of Mercury's orbit, including this formula:

Ψ = 24 π3 a2 / (τ2 c2 (1 - ε2))
This is identical to what Einstein published in 1915. The difference is that Einstein based it on relativity, and Gerber just assumed that the speed of gravity was the same as the speed of light.

It is considered a consequence of relativity that gravity propagates at the speed of light, and since Gerber did not know relativity, he must have made some other hidden assumptions.

Here is Einstein's 1920 repudiation:

Mr. Gehrcke wants to make us believe that the perihelion shift of Mercury can be explained without the theory of relativity. So there are two possibilities. Either you invent special interplanetary masses. [...] Or you rely on a work by Gerber, who already gave the right formula for the perihelion shift of Mercury before me. The experts are not only in agreement that Gerber’s derivation is wrong through and through, but the formula cannot be obtained as a consequence of the main assumption made by Gerber. Mr. Gerber’s work is therefore completely useless, an unsuccessful and erroneous theoretical attempt. I maintain that the theory of general relativity has provided the first real explanation of the perihelion motion of Mercury. I did not mention the work by Gerber initially, because I did not know about it when I wrote my work on the perihelion motion of Mercury; even if I had been aware of it, I would not have had any reason to mention it.
Einstein is famous for not citing prior work, and here we see him defending the practice. He says that he would not cite Gerber's correct formula, because his derivation was not a real explanation.

So maybe this is why he didn't cite Lorentz or Poincare or Hilbert or others whose work he plagiarized. He was claiming priority for the first real explanation, and did not want to dilute that with an acknowledgement of prior work.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Infinite Potential, the movie

A new move, Infinite Potential - the Life and Ideas of David Bohm, is available on YouTube.

The movie gives the impression that David Bohm figured out quantum mechanics several decades ago, but a conspiracy of closed-minded physicists blackballed him. He is compared to Einstein, and considered one of the great underrated geniuses of the XX century. He is shown consulting with Eastern mystics, as if no one in the West were enlightened enough to appreciate him.

His theory led a revolution to help man reach a higher state of consciousness that is happy with the oneness of the universe.

The day he died in 1992, he told his wife, "I feel that I am on the edge of something."

So what was his great discovery? A theory of nonlocal hidden variables.

This is all crap, of course. The theory of nonlocal hidden variables was a dead-end research project that has led to no new physics, no better understanding of quantum mechanics, no advantages over the Copenhagen interpretation, and certainly no philosophical enlightenment.

The movie makes a few references to him being ostracized for political reasons. There is some truth to this. He was a Jewish Communist, and an American traitor. His politics was even more abominable than his physics.

So why is Bohm such a great hero that someone spent a lot of money making a movie about him?

I cannot explain it. There is so little physics in the movie, that the makers were not trying to explain some physics. It doesn't explain his politics either, so I don't see how it could be a Communist propaganda movie.

My guess is that the movie makers are Leftist mystics, and Bohm's Communism was a motivator for the movie.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Quantum radar is overhyped and useless

There are many quantum technologies that get gushing write-up in science magazines, but have delivered no practical benefits. These include quantum cryptography, quantum computation, quantum teleportation, etc.

Another is quantum radar.

AAAS Science magazine reports:

A mini–arms race is unfolding in the supposed field, initiated by press reports in 2016 that China had built a quantum radar—potentially threatening the ability of stealthy military aircraft to hide in plain sight from conventional radars. ...

But to really make the scheme work, physicists must also preserve the retained microwave pulse until the reflected pulse (or the background replacing it) returns. Then, both pulses can be measured together in a way that enables the quantum waves to interfere. So far, however, nobody has done that. Instead, they’ve measured the retained pulse immediately and the returning pulse later, which in the experiments wipes out any gain from the quantum correlations.

Even if experimenters can overcome the technical hurdles, quantum radar would still suffer from a fatal weakness, researchers say. The entangled pulses of microwaves provide an advantage only when the broadcast pulses are extremely faint. The extra quantum correlations fade from prominence if pulses contain significantly more than one photon—which is overwhelmingly the case in real radar. “If you crank up the power, you won’t see any difference between the quantum and the classical,” Barzanjeh says. And cranking up the power is a much easier way to improve the sensitivity.

Such considerations suggest quantum radar will never be deployed for long-range uses such as tracking airplanes, says Fabrice Boust, a physicist at France’s aerospace agency, ONERA, who specializes in radar.

A lot of people are convinced that long-range entanglement is a form of quantum magic that will drive 21st century innovation. It is not.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Black holes have no singularities

Lubos Motl writes:
But pretty much everything that used to look "singular" about black holes has completely disappeared in our modern understanding of black holes. The singularity at the event horizon is just a coordinate singularity, an artifact of coordinates. The singularity at the black hole center may be "more real" but you can't really measure its properties by apparatuses that survive for a suffficient amount of time. The black hole itself doesn't qualitatively differ from other "kinds of matter"; ...

The main message is "Please don't send me would-be deep e-mails about black holes if you still believe that the singularity is what is important in a black hole." Everyone who believes in this misconception is a 100% layman who hasn't started to understand general relativity (let alone quantum gravity) at all.

I agree with this. There seems to be a widespread belief that a new theory of quantum gravity will be needed to understand black holes. I think not.

On the outside, a black hole just appears like a heavy black planet. We can only see what is outside the event horizon. The event horizon requires tricky spacetime coordinates, but there is no singularity. If you go in past the event horizon, you cannot get out.

Inside that black hole, there is a much smaller (as viewed from the outside) region with a theory horizon. If you go in past the theory horizon, then our physics theories break down, and we have no idea what happens. Maybe there is a singularity on the inside, maybe there is infinite volume on the inside, maybe there is unification of all the forces, maybe there is supersymmetry, we just don't know. And we will never know, because we cannot get past the event horizon and report what we see.

Some wise guy is probably going to ask me why I have another blog called Singular Values if I do not believe in singularities? The answer is the title does not refer to infinities.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

No text info comes out of burning books

In Mindscape 115, Sean M. Carroll gives this explanation of the black hole information paradox:
That's why it is different from just throwing a book into a bonfire, for example. ...

Somehow, it's weird. That information in the book -- maybe a lot of people don't get how natural this is to physicists.

We would say that literally all the information about where the ink marks were on the lettters in the book somehow affects the light and heat and ash that comes out of the fire, and that doesn't seem to be what happens in a black hole.

His guest agrees with this.

This is bizarre. First, his claim that the letters affect what comes out of the fire is not something that has ever been corroborated by any experiment or required by any theory. It is almost a religious belief, like believing that the human soul survives death of the body.

But then he jumps to saying that black holes are different!

This is like a theologian saying human souls go to heaven, but then being puzzled about why space aliens from the Andromeda galaxy don't have souls.

Carroll gives good explanations of a lot of standard physics, but then he goes off the rails with these statements that seem to have nothing to do with science. This shows how theoretical physics has gone astray.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Endorsing Biden, stating no good reason

You would think that if our nation's smartest men were making a public policy endorsement, then they would have hard facts or analysis to back up what they are saying. Nope, their statements are as dopey as CNN commentators.

81 Nobel Laureate endorse Biden:

During his long record of public service, Joe Biden has consistently demonstrated his willingness to listen to experts, ...
24 Turing Award Laureates say the same:
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris listen to experts before setting public policy, essential when science and technology may help with many problems facing our nation today. As American computer scientists and as US citizens, we enthusiastically endorse Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for Vice President.
Really? This is pitiful. After 4 years of Pres. Trump, can't they find some specific grievance against him, or some explanation of how Biden will do better?

Saying that Biden listens to experts is the lamest endorsement imaginable. The laureates do not even pretend that Biden brings any competence to the White House. They seem to be just saying that Biden is a puppet, but he is a puppet of the forces that they are ideologically aligned with.

I am sure all these geniuses have the intellectual capacity to say something substantive and/or original. My guess is that "listen to experts" is some sort of code phrase for "controlled by the Deep State".

I think what is most notable is what they don't say. No complaints about the economy, or foreign policy, or science funding, or energy policy, or trade policy, or even about George Floyd. I wonder if they even believe what they say, or if they are just going thru the motions to please their colleagues.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

SciAm joins partisan politics

I have pointed out how science journals have become increasingly preoccupied with leftist politics, and not
Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.

The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. ...

Trump has hobbled U.S. preparations for climate change, falsely claiming that it does not exist and pulling out of international agreements to mitigate it. The changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths and an increase in severe storms, wildfires and extreme flooding.

Joe Biden, in contrast, comes prepared with plans to control COVID-19, improve health care, reduce carbon emissions and restore the role of legitimate science in policy making. He solicits expertise and has turned that knowledge into solid policy proposals.

This is pretty crazy. I have been reading SciAm all year, and it never suggested any better way of handling COVID-19.

Of those 200k deaths, COVID-19 was sole named cause of death in only 6% of the cases. The vast majority were elderly with multiple other co-morbidities. The changing climate did not cause the California wildfires.

The NY Times has an article saying "conservative media stars dismiss climate change — which scientists say is the primary cause of the conflagration". For its source, it links to a 2018 NY Times story saying that climate change was the source of the 2018 fires, and the paper updated that story to refer to the 2020 fires. That story blames the fires mostly on immigration, but also says that a changing climate can lead to changing fire conditions.

Biden is senile, and controlled by leftist nuts. He has not said anything sensible about either COVID-19 or the climate or any scientific subject. Nobody seriously thinks he has the competence to be President.

This endorsement is just another sign that our academic and scientific establishments have been taken over by leftist ideologues.

Update: One of SciAm's complaints against Trump is this memo:

The memo obtained by media outlets says, in part, that "several White House officials are concerned about the number of times Dr. [Anthony] Fauci has been wrong on things."
SciAm calls this a "despicable attempt".

What goes here? Fauci has indeed been wrong on many things, and such knowledge should be considered by the public when relying on his advice. Assessing the accuracy of the pronouncements of an expert is a very pro-science thing to do. SciAm editors obviously just hate Trump, and attack whatever he does.

Update: Scott Aaronson writes:

For the past few months, I’ve alternated between periods of debilitating depression and (thankfully) longer stretches when I’m more-or-less able to work. Triggers for my depressive episodes include reading social media, watching my 7-year daughter struggle with prolonged isolation, and (especially) contemplating the ongoing apocalypse in the American West, the hundreds of thousands of pointless covid deaths, and an election in 48 days that if I didn’t know such things were impossible in America would seem likely to produce a terrifying standoff as a despot and millions of his armed loyalists refuse to cede control.
This is lunacy. Millions of people are buying guns because Democrats are allowing and even encouraging race riots in the cities. The Democrats are the ones trying to abolish free speech on social media, and to take over the govt and abolish the filibuster rule.

Update: Here is a Slashdot discussion. The Trump Derangement Syndrome is amazing. Some commenters point out that there is no hard evidence that Trump's COVID-19 policies were any worse than the Democrats or than the Europeans.

It used to be that the main complaint from academic scientists about Republicans was that favorite projects were not being sufficiently funded. However, that complaint is absent this election year. Apparently Trump is funding all the good science the professors want. They just don't like his personality.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Nature mag pushes sex propaganda

Nature magazine is the leading non-American science journal, and it often has articles reporting on some difference between men and women. Apparently this is problematic for today's Left. So now these articles insert this disclaimer:
(Nature recognizes that sex and gender are not the same, and are neither fixed nor binary.)
This is just nonsense, as many of those articles use the words sex and gender interchangeably. And sex certainly is binary.

For example, one article is on The gender gap in cystic fibrosis. If sex and gender are not the same, then it should be titled "the sex gap in cystic fibrosis". And the article is filled with statements treating sex as binary, and none about anyone ever changing sex.


A medical journal has published a proposal for converting our medical schools to anti-White propaganda machines. One of the three authors looks as if she could be White, but she is actually the Jewish daughter of a Yale law professor. They have a 7-point plan to insure that all medical students will be committed to leftist anti-White causes. The only alternative they mention is to try to re-education on race an colonialism.

Friday, September 11, 2020

We desperately need another Einstein

Israeli-American astronomer Avi Loeb is interviewed in Salon:
To start, let's talk about some of Einstein's contributions to science. What compelled you to help curate this celebration of Einstein's legacy?

Well, to start, Einstein's special theory of relativity revolutionized our notion of space and time.

No, Einstein's space and time was the same as Lorentz's, and years behind the Poincare and Minkowski view that is popular today.
I've wondered, say, if Einstein were born 30 years later, would someone else have figured out relativity, and the photoelectric effect, and so on?
Relativity was figured by others. Not sure about the photoelectric effect.
[String theorists] are still advocating that they're the smartest physicists — although they're not doing physics, because in my book, physics is about testing your ideas against reality, with experiments.
That's right, but the string theorists adamantly argue that they are following Einstein's example.
the most natural versions of supersymmetry are ruled out. So here's an idea that was celebrated as part of the mainstream — not only celebrated, but it was the foundation for string theory.

And so I asked the experimentalists, "how long will you continue to search for WIMPs, these weakly interacting particles, since the limits are orders of magnitude below the expectation?" And he said, "I will continue to search for WIMPs as long as I get funding."

So we do need — we desperately need another Einstein. There is no doubt.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

SciAm rewrites quantum supremacy history

Neil Savage writes in SciAm:
When researchers at Google announced last fall that they had achieved “quantum superiority” — a point at which a quantum computer can perform a task beyond the reach of regular computers — some people wondered what the big deal was. The program, which checked the output of a random number generator, was of limited practical value and did not prove that the company’s machine could do anything useful, critics said.
This use of quotation marks is curious, because the same author wrote in SciAm last year:
Hands-On with Google’s Quantum Computer

Staking its claim for “quantum supremacy,” the company pulls back the curtain on its landmark Sycamore chip ...

All this chilling and vibrating, Google’s quantum team says, has allowed it to achieve quantum supremacy, the point at which a quantum computer can do something that an ordinary classical computer cannot.

Apparently SciAm has decided that the word "supremacy is racist, because it invokes images of white supremacy, slavery, lynchings, and the KKK. So it has purged the word, and retroactively gone back and changed quotes.

Another SciAm article declares:

The Idea that a Scientific Theory can be 'Falsified' Is a Myth

It’s time we abandoned it ...

Falsification is appealing because it tells a simple and optimistic story of scientific progress, that by steadily eliminating false theories we can eventually arrive at true ones. ...

But if you propagate a “myth-story” enough times and it gets passed on from generation to generation, it can congeal into a fact, and falsification is one such myth-story.

It is time we abandoned it.

Maybe it is time we abandoned Scientific American as a source of hard science news and developments.

Update: Evolutionist professor Jerry Coyne attacks the latter article, as SciAm argued that evolution is a theory that cannot be falsified.

Friday, September 4, 2020

City-Sized Ultrasecure Quantum Network

SciAm reports:
Quantum cryptography promises a future in which computers communicate with one another over ultrasecure links using the razzle-dazzle of quantum physics. But scaling up the breakthroughs in research labs to networks with a large number of nodes has proved difficult. Now an international team of researchers has built a scalable city-wide quantum network to share keys for encrypting messages. ...

Instead of building a network in which each of the eight nodes is physically connected to all the other nodes, the researchers created one with a central source that sends entangled photons to the eight nodes, named Alice, Bob, Chloe, Dave, Feng, Gopi, Heidi and Ivan. Each node is only connected via a single optical fiber link to the source, making a total of eight links—far less than the 28 that would be required for traditional QKD with no trusted nodes.

So even though the nodes are not physically connected, the protocol the researchers developed establishes a virtual link between each pair of them via the magic of quantum entanglement such that each pair can create a private key.

The central source has a so-called nonlinear crystal that spits out a pair of photons that are entangled in their polarization. ...

Adding a new node is simple: just connect it to the central source, which only has to modify its channel-splitting-and-multiplexing scheme. ...

Future large-scale quantum networks will have to solve at least two major problems: One is that they must interconnect an arbitrarily large number of users. Secondly, such networks have to span vast intracontinental and intercontinental distances—something that requires using either quantum repeaters to extend the range over which one can distribute quantum states or satellites to beam down qubits or entangled particles to nodes on the ground.

So they can create a central source to share a key over fiber optic lines to 8 nodes.

Of course it still has to use conventional cryptography to send any messages. And there is no way to authenticate the sender. And there is no way to scale up to more users or more cities. And there is no way to protect against your hardware from leaking information.

Underlying all this is a myth that analog hardware cryptography is inherently more secure than digital software cryptography. It is not, and it cannot be. You can trust your PC or phone to add digits correctly, but you can never trust it to send an analog signal perfectly.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

New funding for AI and quantum computing

VentureBeat reports:
The White House today detailed the establishment of 12 new research institutes focused on AI and quantum information science. Agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have committed to investing tens of millions of dollars in centers intended to serve as nodes for AI and quantum computing study.
They are not really new institutes, but funding programs for elite universities and govt labs. Some of the labs may have outlived their usefulness, and are looking for something for their engineers to do.

For info on the AI plans, see AI.gov.

The article mostly complains about how Europe, China, and Korea are passing us up in AI and quantum computing/information.

Monday, August 24, 2020

How IBM lost technology leadership

Dario Gil writes in SciAm:
I am the director of IBM Research. When I speak, I speak with an accent, just like all of my foreign-born colleagues. ...

Take quantum. This technology of the near future is set to revolutionize the world of computing and will likely deeply impact our society and economy. Having been confined to research labs for years, it’s finally emerging as a nascent industry. For specific tasks, quantum computers promise to unlock processing power much superior to traditional, classical, computers. With continued progress, they should be able to perform calculations and generate simulations of unprecedented complexity at a fraction of the time it would take a classical computer. They should even be able to deal with problems a classical computer could never solve. The implications of quantum for security, chemistry, material design, financial markets, AI and machine learning are immense.

And now look at the people driving this quantum revolution in the U.S.; ...

Our country and the world are full of talent. We should embrace diversity and foreign highly skilled workers as much as we embrace the emerging technology that they bring us.

No, this is foolishness. Quantum computers are not going to revolutionize anything.

IBM led the computer industry for decades, and it did it with American workers. Now it hires mostly foreign workers, and it has fallen behind in all the significant sectors.

IBM claims to have proved quantum supremacy, but all they really did was generate some random numbers in a way that is hard to duplicate. They haven't used to machine to solve any problems faster than a classical computers. It is all just useless hype.

Monday, August 17, 2020

WSU: Space, Time, and Einstein with Brian Greene

Brian Greene has a good new expository lecture on Space, Time, and Einstein. He starts off saying it is all due to Einstein, but nothing he says is really original to Einstein. It was all said better and earlier by others.

Friday, August 14, 2020

$100k offered to crack a Zip file

A Wired article alludes to me:
Zip is a popular file format used for "lossless" compression of large files, like the little drawstring sack that can somehow contain your sleeping bag. ...

"The zip cipher was designed decades ago by an amateur cryptographer — the fact that it has held up so well is remarkable." But while some zip files can be cracked easily with off-the-shelf tools, The Guy wasn't so lucky.

That's partly why the work was priced so high. Newer generations of zip programs use the established and robust cryptographic standard AES, but outdated versions—like the one used in The Guy's case—use Zip 2.0 Legacy encryption that can often be cracked. The degree of difficulty depends on how it's implemented, though. "It’s one thing to say something is broken, but actually breaking it is a whole different ball of wax," says Johns Hopkins University cryptographer Matthew Green.

I was that amateur cryptography. The attacks are described in this paper.

Update: You can view the DEFCON lecture on the crack on YouTube, or download the lecture and Q&A from the DEFCON site.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Quantum hype comes to kindergarten

Reuters reports:
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said on Wednesday the Trump administration is launching a national education partnership to expand access to K-12 quantum information science (QIS) education with major companies and research institutions. The public-private initiative with the National Science Foundation includes Amazon.com Inc’s Amazon Web Services, Boeing Co, Alphabet Inc’s Google, IBM Corp, Lockheed Martin Corp , Microsoft Corp, the University of Illinois and University of Chicago. The National Science Foundation is also awarding $1 million to QIS education. The initiative is designed in part to help introduce students to quantum information themes before college Last month, the White House announced the award of $75 million for new institutes at three U.S. universities to boost quantum information research. Quantum computing aims to operate millions of times faster than today’s advanced supercomputers. Experts have said the promising technology, still in its infancy, could have a major impact on healthcare, communications, financial services, transportation, artificial intelligence, weather forecasting and other areas.
This technology may still be in its infancy a century from now. It is hard to imagine what "quantum information themes" will be taught to K-12 students. Probably just a few buzzwords. There is no demonstrated applicability to any of those subject areas listed above.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

COVID informs us on race

SciAm reports:
Nine Important Things We’ve Learned about the Coronavirus Pandemic So Far ... [8] Racism, not race, is a risk factor. The pandemic should put an end to the common misconception that race, a social construct, is a biological explanation for health disparities. COVID-19 has disproportionately killed people of color in the United States. This is not because of genetic differences but because of systemic racism that has isolated and impoverished many Native American people and made Black and Latinx people more likely to have “essential” jobs that expose them to infection, a greater burden of stress and less access to high-quality health care.
I am just noting how certain racial attitudes now permeate our most respected scientific publications. This is like saying COVID-19 mostly kills old people, and that proves that old people are just as healthy as young people. Or that there must be systematic ageism. The British journal Nature is also politicized. See this letter where three Black Stanford make a political statement.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Plan To Build a Quantum Internet

Report
U.S. officials and scientists unveiled a plan this week to pursue what they called one of the most important technological frontiers of the 21st century: building a quantum Internet. From a report:

Speaking in Chicago, one of the main hubs of the work, they set goals for forging what they called a second Internet -- one that would function alongside the globe's existing networks, using the laws of quantum mechanics to share information more securely and to connect a new generation of computers and sensors. Quantum technology seeks to harness the distinct properties of atoms, photons and electrons to build more powerful computers and other tools for processing information. A quantum Internet relies on photons exhibiting a quantum state known as entanglement, which allows them to share information over long distances without having a physical connection.

David Awschalom, a professor at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, called the Internet project a pillar of the nation's quantum-research program. "It's the birth of a new technology. It's becoming a global competition. Every major country on earth has launched a quantum program ... because it is becoming clearer and clearer there will be big impacts," he said in an interview. The United States' top technology rival, China, is investing heavily in quantum technology, a field that could transform information processing and confer big economic and national security advantages to countries that dominate it. Europe is also hotly pursuing the research. The Energy Department and its 17 national labs will form the backbone of the project.
No, this is just foolishness. Nothing like this will ever have an impact.

Meanwhile, there has been progress toward post-quantum public-key crypto standards. This is likely to be used by government agencies with a mandate to keep secrets for 20 years. Only after 20 years, when everybody sees that there are no quantum computers, will it be apparent that the post-quantum crypto was all a waste.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Bee credits Einstein for thought experiments

Dr. Bee writes:
Einstein’s greatest legacy is not General Relativity, it’s not the photoelectric effect, and it’s not slices of his brain. It’s a word: Gedankenexperiment – that’s German for “thought experiment”.

Today, thought experiments are common in theoretical physics.
As the comments point out, thought experiments have a long history of being used by Galileo, Newton, and every other famous theoretical physicist.
Einstein also liked to imagine how it would be to chase after photons, which was super-important for him to develop special relativity, and he spent a lot of time thinking about what it really means to measure time and distances.

But the maybe most influential of his thought experiments was one that he came up with to illustrate that quantum mechanics must be wrong.
No, Einstein did not develop special relativity, and did not show that quantum mechanics must be wrong.
A thought experiment that still gives headaches to theoretical physicists today is the black hole information loss paradox.
I don't think that this even qualifies as a thought experiment, as no part of it is testable.

So it is ridiculous to credit Einstein for the thought experiment.

But Einstein did popularize a style of thinking that has infected theoretical physics. It is the idea that physicists can do some abstract thinking about how the universe ought to be, write down some equations, and declare them to be physical laws. This thinking guided his own fruitless research into unified field theories, and modern work on strings. And work on multiverses and a lot of other ideas that are sillier than string theory.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Goedel did not destroy Math foundations

Natalie Wolchover writes in Quanta:
In 1931, the Austrian logician Kurt Gödel pulled off arguably one of the most stunning intellectual achievements in history.

Mathematicians of the era sought a solid foundation for mathematics: a set of basic mathematical facts, or axioms, that was both consistent — never leading to contradictions — and complete, serving as the building blocks of all mathematical truths.

But Gödel’s shocking incompleteness theorems, published when he was just 25, crushed that dream. He proved that any set of axioms you could posit as a possible foundation for math will inevitably be incomplete; there will always be true facts about numbers that cannot be proved by those axioms. He also showed that no candidate set of axioms can ever prove its own consistency.

His incompleteness theorems meant there can be no mathematical theory of everything, no unification of what’s provable and what’s true. What mathematicians can prove depends on their starting assumptions, not on any fundamental ground truth from which all answers spring.
Lubos Motl liked the essay.

This description of Goedel's theorems is common, but I doubt that Goedel would agree with it.

In spite of the above, ZFC set theory is a perfectly good foundation for mathematics. It is logical, consistent, and good enough to prove all the theorems in your favorite math textbooks.

Yes, ZFC is incomplete in the sense that you cannot use it to program a computer to answer any mathematical question. Life is not so simple.

This reminds me a little bit of Einstein's complaints that quantum mechanics is incomplete. Somehow the theory is good enough to explain the physics underlying about a trillions dollars worth of global production, but somehow it does not answer every question in the way that Einstein thought should be answered.

Supposedly Hilbert was the one who wanted an axiom system that was consistent and complete. I am not sure he did. He did say he wanted an axiom system that was demonstrably consistent, but I don't think he ever said that the consistency proof should be within the axiom system.

If he did, then he made a minor misstatement of what was possible. But the larger goal of axiomatizing mathematics has been very successful, and Hilbert and Goedel played roles in that.

All these articles saying Mathematics and Physics have faulty foundations are wrong.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Einstein heads list of historical frauds

Larry Romanoff writes:
One of the greatest mythical frauds in history is that of Albert Einstein, the famous physicist who invented the Theory of Relativity, E=mc² and so many other esoteric things. But this is all fabrication. The claims about Einstein inventing any theory of relativity, or light and photons, or time, are false. Almost every claim – almost everything – attributed to Einstein is simply a lie. Einstein was an inept who contributed nothing original to the field of quantum mechanics, nor any other science.
This is largely true, but exaggerated. Einstein did make some worthwhile contributions.

Henri Poincaré was the foremost expert on relativity in the late 19th century and the first person to formally present the theories, having published more than 30 books and over 500 papers on the topics. Extensive documentation exists that Einstein and his associates had studied Poincaré’s theories and mathematics for years, yet when Einstein published his almost wholly-plagiarised versions he made no reference whatever to these other works.
Mostly true. Lorentz and others also did work on relativity.

Einstein’s papers, theories, mathematics, documentation, were almost 100% plagiarised from others. He combined the prior published works of several people into one paper and claimed ownership of all of it.
His relativity papers are plagiarized in the sense that nearly all the original ideas were taken from others, and he did not give credit to his sources. And he continued to lie about it all of his life.

Perhaps the most damning evidence was when in 1953 Sir Edmund Whittaker published a very detailed account of the origin and development of all these theories and equations of physics, with extensive reference to the primary sources, documenting beyond doubt that Einstein had no priority in any of it, and clearly stating so. Einstein was alive and well when Whittaker published his book, yet he offered no dispute to the conclusions, no refutation of Whittaker’s claim that he (Einstein) had been irrelevant to the entire process. Einstein made no attempts in his own defense but simply hid in the bushes and refused to make any public comment whatever.[9]
This is true, and so it is old news that Einstein was not really the inventor of special relativity theory. This was all detailed in 1953, and Einstein was unable to refute any of it.

I thought that I was making a big discovery when I learned that Lorentz and Poincare had all of special relativity before Einstein, but Whittaker explained it all long ago. This is known to all the historians and everyone else who bothers to learn.

Einstein was almost certainly the greatest fraud and plagiarist in modern science, an unashamed intellectual thief but, according to sources like Wikipedia, this is all just a minor “priority dispute” about who said what first in the realm of relativity physics. These sources misleadingly imply that several people made a discovery independently and more or less simultaneously, and we are simply debating who went public first. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
This is an important point. There are a lot of priority disputes where great ideas are independently discovered. In the case of relativity, we have reason to think that FitzGerald and Lorentz independently discovered the contraction. But there is no reason to think that Einstein independently discovered any of it.

I think Einstein did discover the gravitational effect on time. But he got nearly everything else from others.

It is hard to tell what Einstein should be credited with, as you cannot trust Einstein's writings or historians.

The real question, to me, is why everyone goes to such extremes to credit Einstein. I do not have a good answer for that.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Paper retracted to avoid political pressure

Retraction Watch:
The authors of a controversial paper on race and police shootings say they are retracting the article, which became a flashpoint in the debate over killings by police, and now amid protests following the murder of George Floyd.

The 2019 article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), titled “Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings,” found “no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.” It has been cited 14 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science, earning it a “hot paper” designation.

Joseph Cesario, a researcher at Michigan State University, told Retraction Watch that he and David Johnson, of the University of Maryland, College Park and a co-author, have submitted a request for retraction to PNAS. In the request, they write: ...

Although our data and statistical approach were valid to estimate the question we actually tested (the race of civilians fatally shot by police), given continued misuse of the article (e.g., MacDonald, 2020) we felt the right decision was to retract the article rather than publish further corrections.
The death of George Floyd is currupting academic research.

Apparently it is too sensitive to publish data on the race of civilians fatally shot by police.

If the data showed that police were killing Blacks disproportionately, then it would be fine. The supposed "continued misuse of the article" is just some academic argument about the significance of the findings.

No one is allowed to say that George Floyd died of an overdose, or that the police treat similarly situated perps the same. Everyone must say that there is a White supremacist plot to kill Blacks. The above authors are just tried to save their careers from the angry mobs.

Update: For an example of an anti-free-speech essay in the press, see this HuffPo essay.