Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Luboš Motl

I have delinked Luboš Motl.

Luboš has repeatedly insulted me, my husband and my friends. He has misquoted me, and used alleged quotations of mine to insult others. He has an incredible amount of times accused me of having said things I never said, only to then explain, based on this, that I am 'stupid', 'silly', and 'a crackpot' with 'crackpot friends'. He is in no way interested in understanding my opinion, or my point of view. He has proclaimed I should not have a Ph.D., that my 'female brain' only 'parrots nonsense' and all my papers are 'bullshit' - the latter evidently without having read them. He has treated others the same way previously, and will probably proceed doing so.

As to present date he has made a habit out of producing distorted echos of my posts or comments at other people's blogs. He never acknowledges discussions we have had earlier, which he usually ends with retreating to insults when he runs out of arguments. Luboš Motl either is indeed as unable to understand other people's opinions as he pretends, or he chooses to do so deliberately.

He prefers to use his own blog to publish his offensive writings instead of arguing at other people's blogs. At The Reference Frame, he often deletes comments. He has deleted mine, those of my husband, and occasionally I noticed he deleted comments that supported my point of view. In addition to that, Luboš Motl has the habit of editing posts after publishing which, taken together with deleting comments, makes others look stupid or out of place while supporting him.

Though I appreciate a good argument, and am not afraid of controversy, my patience is limited. Luboš is not fighting fairly, he is dishonest, and seems to have an enormous amount of time doing nothing than explaining how stupid others are.

The only way to counter him would mean for me to retreat to the same level of personal insults and deliberate, nasty, misinterpretations. This is a way I don't want to go. Besides this, I don't want to waste my time with it. I therefore have removed most links to his blog, with exception of some in earlier posts that are necessary for the context, and will ignore further rants of his.

In case you read one of his comments about my posts, or comments, opinions I allegedly have, or things I allegedly said, I want to kindly ask you to read what I actually wrote and make up your own mind.

Update July 22 2008: I eventually decided to upload a collection of Luboš' insults (word doc) for those of you who find I'm overly sensitive. I hope this clarifies why I refuse to even comment on anything he produces. If you still read his blog please ask yourself what you do with encouraging his behavior. For me it has the result that I won't put papers on the arXiv anymore before they are accepted for publication.

94 comments:

William said...

To paraphrase John Baez, it isn't easy to ignore Lubos, but it is always worth the effort.

John said...

William beat me to it.

I was always impressed by your forbearance when it came to Motl. I'm not surprised that you finally tired of it - it takes a lot of work ignoring his nastiness. And the sad thing is, it never pays off. He doesn't even seem to realize how much work it takes to keep being nice to him, and how useless it is. It's also a lot of work ignoring him - but it's worth the effort. If we all ignore him, he will effectively cease to exist.

Bee said...

well, what can I say. Stefan asked me to remove the links to Lubos' blog already last year. But I found Lubos deserves a chance despite all the nasty things I have heard about him. After all, it occasionally happens that people change for the better, and I didn't want to just take other people's opinions for true. Needless to say, he has confirmed everything I had been told. It doesn't personally upset me all that much, I'm used to shit and it's hard to take him seriously since his writings are so obviously totally off. But lately it takes too much time to read his nonsense and to clarify at least the worst accusations.

I honestly can't understand why he behaves like this.

Arun said...

I have met one other like that, and without even the partially redeeming virtue of high intelligence. Strangely also with a Rutgers Univ background.

Very nice in person (all reports are LM is very nice in person too), totally abusive on the net.

Haven't understood it at all.

Javier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Javier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

good move. i constantly wonder why nice, intelligent people keep arguing with ahem.. how should i phrase it - human being not acquainted with the most basic rules of civil conduct. actually, i wonder why he has not been sued to financial extinction for the things he said about other people already. does he have such an aura or what?

anyway, good move!

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

I sympathize.

Humans have a sprectrum of behaviors and personalities, and I am quite tolerant to those who happen not to be like me, but I can only conclude that LM is a tragic result of some mental illness. His attacks on, e.g., Manhdisa and myself, were completely gratuitous. Even if he is a nice person in real life, there is no clear answer to why he did what he did. "Internet persona" is no explanation for me.

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Interestingly my husband immediately guessed correctly why I set up this website instead of just deleting the links: I am hoping it will show up in a Google search for 'Lubos Motl'. By today, it appears as hit 26, which is not bad considered his web presence.

I guess that many people who read posts at TRF don't know why he is being widely ignored by other scientific bloggers. You could help in this matter of explaining the problems some of us bloggers have or had with his behaviour by

a) either setting up a similar website or, easier

b) link to this website

Thanks - B.

Count Iblis said...

I notice that you have categories for the bloggers you link to. So, why not think of an appropriate category to place the link to Lubos Motl in? :) :) :)

Bee said...

like what? the trashbin?

String Theorist said...

Hi Bee,
Lubos's abusive treatment towards you is really reprehensible and I think you're doing to the right thing by de-linking him. It seems like he must be threatened by you and other intelligent women for some pathological sick reason. If Lubos were to ever get married (or have a girlfriend), I can't imagine the the level of abuse she would endure.

Count Iblis said...

"like what? the trashbin?"


Why not? :)

Just think about it. Suppose that 500 years from now some historian is doing research on 21-st century physicists. Since this was the blog era, he will be reading old archived blog postings. If you delink Lubos, then he may miss some very interesting details about a physicist called Lubos Motl. :)

amaragraps said...

My favorite columnist (Mark Morford) gets his share of colorful comments too ... :-)

Bee said...

Hi Amara: Thanks, that increased my vocabulary significantly ;-) I find this one especially impressive:

Sir, you are absolutely classless, colossal slob, and if it were at all possible under any conceivable legal precedent, I would sue you to recover the wasted electrons that pinged off of my CRT monitor to display the swill that you vomited into the body politic. At the very least, had I a hard copy of your column, I would have headed directly to the bathroom and put it to suitable use, but your presence on the Web has denied me even that minor moment of utility.

-Tony L

Plato said...

Hi Bee,

I've been taking in your post and others "about characters" and have put together a post that you might bee:) interested in?

It's about our heroes in science and the disillusion one may encounter by seeing such character flaws overruling good science.

Christophe de Dinechin said...

Hi Bee,


I did some experimental sociology today, and I can confirm your findings. What is funny with Lubos is that it's quite easy to predict the result of thoughts experiments with him ;-)


Christophe

Anonymous said...

"Very nice in person (all reports are LM is very nice in person too), totally abusive on the net. Haven't understood it at all." - What's there to understand? In a face-to-face interaction, such behaviour would lead to a huge bill from a dentist. The net is more forgiving.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bee,

I had been trying to read Lubos comments. Most of them have been offensive. I guess, it is really wrong to call someone as stupid and comment on their IQ levels. It is good that we have the net so a layman like me can understand different ideas.

- A non-Physics grad student

halojones-fan said...

I've figured it out: Lubos is actually Robert McElwaine in disguise!

Dunkleosteus said...

You're certainly not his only victim, Mr. Motl's often introduces himself with an ad hominem attack against the blogger.

Once he posted an incoherent anti-global warming comment where he first questioned the intelligence of the blogger and then blamed him for ranting.

The bright side of this kind of behaviour is is that he is seriously undermining his own credibility... but on the other hand I wouldn't want to be the one he is supporting.

rrrADAM said...

Wow... What a drag that someone with such credentials, education, and who should be a free thinker with integrity, seems to be as fair and balanced as Pat Robertson or any other religious zealot.

It seems as if this man's integrity has been consumed by his fervor, and it seems he has deified his intelect in his own mind, therefore, whatever he thinks or does MUST be right.

Just goes to show ya that when one believes something with all one's heart, all one's head doesn't matter anymore... And reason is lost.

Other said...

I'm amazed, though perhaps I shouldn't be, to see the latest development in the Lubos Motl story [can I say, "Der Fall Motl"?]. Despite all his eccentricity, I have never seen him say anything about technical physics issues that was not mainstream: he's very conservative in that sense also. But a few days ago he put up a posting about his own personal theory regarding the Arrow of Time. This theory is so crazy that Anthony Aguirre, writing on The Reference Frame [until he was banned!] first assumed that it was some kind of joke. But it isn't: yes, LM has finally added "physics crackpot" to his many other distinctions. I'm not kidding: go take a look if you don't believe me. LM's theory is that the PAST is what we KNOW about, while the FUTURE is what we CARE about. It's total crackpottery; and what makes it worse is that LM seems to think that his theory is mainstream!

Arun said...

Other,

If you're talking about Motl's Dec 7 article, then you really have to learn to distinguish between being mistaken, not having understood something and being a crackpot.

There is nothing crackpot about the Dec 7 article.

Bee said...

Paint the world in black and white,
Rainbows made of wrong and right,
Good or evil, yes or no?
Life is simple, if you KNOW.

© B

(will change my imood to 'poetic' now)

Other said...

I'm sorry, but LM's "theory" of the Arrow of Time is not just "mistaken"; it is, to coin a phrase, "not even wrong". His claim is that the Arrow is not due to any particular *physical* effect, but rather to *the way we formulate questions about dynamics*. This is a classic example of post-modernist philosophizing; this from someone who criticised Smolin for post-modernism! A further sure sign of crackpottery is that he doesn't want to acknowledge that nobody believes his "theory" but himself.

I understand what you are saying, and certainly there would be nothing shameful in putting forward a mistaken new *physical* theory of the Arrow. But LM's efforts are not physics: he himself claims that the Arrow arises from "logic", not from the special boundary conditions of the universe. Furthermore, there is certainly nothing shameful about putting forward new ideas; but to claim that your new wacky idea is self-evidently correct and is believed by everyone, that Boltzmann committed suicide because of Loschmidt's paradox, that Sean Carroll's theory is actuated by political correctness, that everyone [including Brian Greene] who participated in the New York conference is retarded ---if all that does not amount to crackpottery, then what does?

It was really only a matter of time before LM's personal demons invaded his physics, and now it has happened, big time.

Anonymous said...

From the publisher's blurb for Motl's book "L'equation Bogdanov":

Lubos MOTL


Lubos Motl, professeur de physique théorique, est l'un des chercheurs les plus réputés en théorie des cordes. Il a été admis dans la prestigieuse Société des Chercheurs de Harvard (2001-2004), l'un des cercles de recherche les plus prestigieux au monde. Il est l'auteur d'un article considéré aujourd'hui comme fondateur de la théorie matricielle des cordes. Le Pr Motl figure parmi les meilleurs chercheurs sur les questions touchant aux problèmes du big bang.

Well if LM is one of the best researchers on the Big Bang, imagine what the worst must be like!

How do you say "giggle" in French?

Christophe de Dinechin said...

Dear Anonymous,


You asked: "How do you say "giggle" in French?". I believe that in that case, it would be "se marrer". I called my review "The Salvador Dali school of Physics Research", I hope it tells you something about what I thought of the book...


Christophe

Anonymous said...

Dear Christophe, thanks for your review. It is useful because it seems unlikely that Motl's book will ever be translated into another language, with the possible exception of Czech.

I still look at Motl's blog occasionally, but it is a depressing read, because nowadays it attracts fewer and fewer comments from serious scientists; only the pathetic crazies remain.

arivero said...

out at PF I have linked some pointers on Lubos's intenet life, or how to finish a Thesis and a Career the same month.

Anonymous said...

To my admittedly not-legally-trained eyes, some of Motl's recent rants look like things that could lead to a court case for libel. This particularly applies to his increasingly demented attacks on Lee Smolin. Without judging whether this would be a good or a bad thing -- and I'm sure that Smolin has much better ways to spend his time -- does anyone reading this know whether LM's activities are actually legal?

Lumo said...

I would actually be greateful for a legal case to defend the fact that Lee Smolin is a dishonest crackpot.

Anonymous said...

Hello Crackpot Motl, good to see that you read this site -- it's probably your one link with reality. If Lee Smolin were really a "dishonest crackpot" then he too would welcome a court case, since --- being one yourself --- you know that dishonest crackpots just love publicity. Alas, I think you are going to be disappointed in this case, since Smolin, who has an actual job, has much much less spare time on his hands than you. Sorry!

Bee said...

Anonymous: I don't tolerate anonymously made insults, not even on Lubos behalf. You either sign with a name if you want to call somebody names or stay polite. It's the overuse of anonymity for no reason other than cowardice that corrupts the atmosphere of discussions in the online world. If you think about it you will probably understand what I mean.

Anonymous said...

"If you think about it you will probably understand what I mean."

Actually, no I don't. What has "corrupted the atmosphere of discussions in the online world" is the presence of people like Motl and Woit whose blogs exist primarily to insult people. The fact that we know their names changes nothing whatever--who cares who they are? You should know this, since you started this page precisely in response to abuse from someone whose name is known to everyone. In fact, you would have been a lot better off if you had followed the example of Jester at Resonaances. This idea that it's ok to abuse the hell out of innocent people as long as you advertize your name is pure bullshit; it just makes things worse, since now we have people like Motl and Woit making a career out of it.

Thomas Larsson said...

One problem with insulting people anonymously is that it may be illegal, at least for US citizens.

Bee said...

Anonymous,

As it seems you indeed don't understand what I mean, so let me clarify. I did not say anonymity is the source of all evil. But it greatly amplifies the problem.

I don't know what example you think I should have followed.

People like Lubos who publicly distribute insults about other people are undermining the values of our societies, which is only possible because the legal situation in a global network is complicated. You can notice by the virtual smell sourrounding Lubos blog what publishing insults does to the atmosphere of discussion. It seems you are aware of this. I've checked out the option of suing for libel already some while ago, and from your above comment I see you probably have done so as well. According the Canadian as well as European law Lubos would make for a good case. He has numerous times 'damaged the reputation of another person (individual, corporation, society, etc.)' and 'communicated them to a third person'. The only reason nobody has actually done that is it takes time, energy and money, and since he has no money there isn't much to win. It is only a matter of time though until somebody will be pissed off enough to sue him into bankruptcy. (At least in Germany an individual can declare bankruptcy, so it gets you out of lifetime debt, not sure about the Czech Republic though.)

From his comment above you can see that he evidently isn't even aware that he has left the tolerance area already at least a year ago. This has nothing to do with free speech and isn't going to help him. He has all the freedom to criticise and express his disliking but name calling and insults in the manner he does it aren't covered by that. No newspaper in the world would dare to publish things like he wrote, because they can just simply not afford it. I am afraid though, he sees himself as a hero who has the courage to speak out. It is not actually clear to me why he fails to set the tone of his writing into perspective.

On my personal scale crackpot doesn't actually rank very high, I am not even sure if it has a precise meaning. He has made far worse remarks.

Either way, anonymous comments contribute their share to encouraging people to insult others. Not to mention that it's fairly easy to produce anonymous comments, and part of Lubos anonymous groupies are very likely just various copies of himself. Anonymous commenters can't even be held responsible for what they are saying, and the inhibition to say something potentially damaging is low. If somebody is afraid to publicly express an opinion, then maybe he or she should just keep his mouth shut. It's not that every anonymous commenter can claim being in danger of CIA investigation, so my understanding for anonymity is very,very limited. There are cases where people report about work issues/problems with colleagues/private problems where I can understand the wish for privacy, but anybody who thinks he has to proclaim that X is a crackput for no other reason than his own amusement and feeling cool or whatever, should at least sign with his own name.

See also

Thomas,


Try this: Web insults could be costly


Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

OK, interesting response Bee. I regret writing what I did. I just couldn't resist, not because I was angry, but because I just found LM's letter so hilarious --- it was really a laugh-out-loud moment for me. I also found it rather funny that LM evidently reads this site, which, by the way, is now on the first page of a google search. [Another laugh-out-loud moment: a couple of weeks ago LM wrote that he cannot be bothered reading your blog because of all the *personal attacks* on him! Haha, god, the irony meter went right off the scale there!]

Anyway, apologies aside, regarding anonymity: I agree that it can be bad. But on the other hand, LM and his kind *only* attract attention because they are not "anonymous". By this I mean that LM only attracted attention because he was a prof at Harvard. Had that not been the case, he would have been ignored as just another strange person on the internet. The proof of this is that, as others have pointed out, he is rapidly fading away now that he is no longer at Harvard. So he is a good example proving that NOT being anonymous can actually be harmful. Furthermore, the argument that putting down your real name "forces you to take responsibility" does not make sense. Has LM been "forced to take responsibility"? Do you know of anyone like him who has been? The only people who have suffered from being "non-anonymous" are innocent people like you.

Ideally, being anonymous forces people to focus on your argument and not on the person making it. Putting down your name is an invitation to your opponents to rush off to the arxiv, look at your papers, and then write a sneering article on their blogs. Apart from this, many institutions outside the US [or perhaps Canada] actually discourage or forbid non-anonymous involvement in such discussions, strange though that may seem.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Anonymous,

In as you defend the practice then I trust you won’t mind that I offer my own opinion on the nameless commenters of the world. That is other then not being accountable, the other major problem with anonymity is that one can never be certain if they be the one that spoke before or rather a different person or mind, as this is also a possibility. Your opinion is just not only disregarded, yet worse you are indiscernible. I don’t know how you feel but when I’m being addressed, rather it be in the cyberworld or the other, I prefer it not be as “hey you”. By using my name I at least know when to turn around and take notice. How about not only signing in here as anonymous, yet you might also consider submitting your papers the same. That would truly make you bullet proof:-)

Best,

Phil

arivero said...

I am surprised with this thread, it is menacing to become deeply philosophical. Individuation is widely recognised as one of the foundations of society and the problems are well identifyied. It is not easy to fight against, sometimes it is replaced by group identity (say Bourbaki, Luther Blisset, or "the physics of the perimeter"), by leader identity ("Chewist Physics"), or by plain nicknames, which in turn become new individuations. In fact the lost of identity has been considered as a kind of penalization (Damnatio Memoriae), and from this discussion it is easy to imagine how it could be useful (imagine Lubos not banned from the internet, but forced to post in a way that he can not be identifyed, even if asked!). It could have even devil variants: random identities in each posting, still traceable by the police but not by general public.
Fact is, almost every attempt to reject individuation has been historically a failure. Very deeply introduced in our logic-linguistic mechanism.
(Btw, note that the word comes from Lucretian physics. In-Dividua meaning not divisible, "atom").

Bee said...

Hi Arivero,

I am surprised with this thread, it is menacing to become deeply philosophical.

Yeah, it's a tendency threads at our blog seem to develop. I have the theory that long comment sections act as a filter. Those that make it to the bottom of the page are either those who didn't read anything at all, or those who actually read everything and then post a long reply. In addition, long comments seem to attract long comment, and short comments short comments, so either the comment section fuzzes out in one-line jokes or in lengthy philosophical essays (until they get too weird to follow).

Either way, if you (or anybody else) wants to offer an opinion about the question of anonymity on the internet, please do so in the comments to my post on

Anonymity

Feel free to blame it on my German genes, but I prefer to have some kind of order in these comments. It's just too many for me to recall all of them. If you follow this blog, you know that I occasionally quote comments in a posting, but I can only do so if I find them.

Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Anonymous,

By this I mean that LM only attracted attention because he was a prof at Harvard.

This sounds as if it is likely true. Well, at least it's unlikely to be his tremendously original writing style that attracts readers. Either way, I recently talked to a friend who mentioned something that I would like to pass on to you because it is an interesting aspect. Lubos has probably readers exactly because of his failure to produce reasonable and balanced criticisms, his behaviour causes a certain fascination with the phenomenon and one wonders how far he will go. (Well, the way my friend put it was less polite, but I think that's sufficient.)

Given that the working of his mind has been well documented in his 'weblog' for several years now, it wouldn't surprise me if he will become to be a topic for a PhD thesis in psychology at some point. He would certainly make for an interesting case study.

Another laugh-out-loud moment: a couple of weeks ago LM wrote that he cannot be bothered reading your blog because of all the *personal attacks* on him!

Gee, did he really say that? I can't but wonder what goes on in his head. This is either a deliberate lie to get his reader's sympathy, or he has just declared me the enemy and actually believes this to be true. Except for your above 'Crackpot Motl' you will have a very hard time finding any insults of his person on this blog, and if so certainly neither by me nor by my husband (I can't exclude something would pop up in the comments. I don't always read them as carefully as I should). If he thinks the sarcasm on my recent post is a 'personal attack', then I have to wonder how he would cope with 'personal attacks' in Lubos-Motl style. Sadly, this only shows once again that he doesn't properly put his writing into perspective.

Regarding the questions of responsibility: as long as the writer is not anonymous, he or she at least "can" be held responsible. As I mentioned earlier, the problem behind the "can" is one of the legal situation at case. In case the latter is complicated or just unclear, I would think the responsibility is shared within the community. This comes back to something Phil said earlier (in a different thread though). The phenomenom of bullying isn't all that uncommon. But if I map the bullying on the schoolyard to the present situation, then we have Lubos Motl who picks out his victims, and we have a large group of people watching with fascination, partly amused, who tell the victim later to just ignore his attacks. But maybe it's just me trying to figure out how come he isn't able to realize how inappropriate his behavior is.

Interesting, I just Googled for Lubos Motl, and indeed this thread is the 5th hit, which is pretty good. I have a whole collection of Lubos worst insults, and given that the occasional comment on this blog indicates that there are still readers who aren't able to put his personal attacks into perspective (you know, it's just a 'rough' tone and 'open words' etc), I wonder whether I should upload them? I.e. you above mentioned Peter Woit. I assure you Peter isn't always polite, but he has never ever even remotely dropped to a level as low as Lubos. Also, Lubos going around and complaining that I attack him is completely ridiculous, and if you'd see what he has written about some people including me this becomes very clear. Otoh, I don't want to unnecessarily distribute his writing. Though it's all publicly available in his archives anyhow, which is eventually exactly what makes it so annoying.

Best,

B.

Anonymous said...

" I have a whole collection of Lubos worst insults, and given that the occasional comment on this blog indicates that there are still readers who aren't able to put his personal attacks into perspective (you know, it's just a 'rough' tone and 'open words' etc), I wonder whether I should upload them? "

I think you should, if you are bothered by the fact that his insults are embedded in the internet for all time. The sad truth is that many people will think that "where there is smoke, there is fire" --- that is, maybe LM's criticisms of you and others are exaggerated versions of the truth, instead of being just completely crazy. This web page can be a permanent resource that will show up if anyone does a web search. Similarly it would be good to have a permanent record of LM's scientific errors, which could also be harmful since he presents them as if they were obvious and accepted by everyone.

Bee said...

Thanks for the feedback. I will think about it. If there's somebody who wants to read through Lubos' archive and collect scientific errors, that somebody certainly isn't going to be me.

Dr Who said...

OK, I too don't want to try to track down all of LM's physics errors, but if anyone out there is wondering about his strange ideas regarding thermodynamics, they can now consult Joel Lebowitz' article on Scholarpedia:

http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Time%27s_arrow_and_Boltzmann%27s_entropy

Lebowitz, a professor at Rutgers, is a world authority on the subject, and his article basically destroys all of LM's extremely eccentric ideas about it. Readers can also refer to Brian Greene's "Fabric of Reality" to get the standard view of the question. LM declares that Greene's entire chapter devoted to the subject is completely wrong. I guess I don't need to explain who Brian Greene is, or the improbability that he would write a completely [and "obviously"] wrong chapter about something as basic as this.

Andrew Thomas said...

Yeah, I had a little argument with Lubos about this subject at the bottom of this page. I actually thought he was quite restrained! I expected worse!

Dr Who said...

Hi Andrew, I saw your page; it is very good, and I am glad that the wikipedia page on the arrow has a link to it. My only complaint is that you describe LM as belonging to a "very small minority". Well, that minority consists of a single member, correct? :-) Do you know of anyone who agrees with him? I don't.

By the way, I got the name of Greene's book wrong: it is the Fabric of the *cosmos*.

CapitalistImperialistPig said...

I have been a frequent target of Lubos (including his suggestions that I should be shot or "cut" so I wouldn't counsel anyone to put up with him, but I do think he is a somewhat pathetic case - brilliant but deranged. It seems to happen sometimes to geniuses.

Andrew Thomas said...

You know how people sometimes get "road rage" in cars? How they can get very angry with other drivers? I sometimes think the internet has that effect as well. People who might be extremely polite to other people in real life sometimes get the "red mist" on the internet and get into screaming flame wars with other people. And I think Lubos is a classic case.

I think the metal shell of a car insulates and isolates us from other drivers to the point that we don't recognise them as people anymore, and the internet has that same insulating effect. People are much more inclined to be rude, angry, and offensive on the internet. Surely we have all come across this? And seen it sometimes in our own behaviour?

I hate to say it, but I think that sometimes we're revealing our true selves when we lose our temper on the internet or in our cars - we no longer feel the same constraints to be polite and respectful, all that artifice is stripped away. There's no need to act politely anymore, and all our worst traits (which we normally keep buried) can come out. Someone said Lubos is very polite in everyday conversation, but, if my idea is correct, maybe we see more of the true personality on the internet? I hope I'm wrong.

It's important for all of us to remember to be as polite and pleasant when we are on the internet as we are in our everyday lives. And that applies to our driving as well!

Anonymous said...

Lubos Motl's latest:

"Among the 14 pretty interesting hep-th papers above, there is only one (1) that includes authors affiliated with the U.S. institutions (van Baalen et al.). We are talking about a discipline that has been literally led by the U.S. for decades. I think that one of the key explanations is the lethal impact of Mr Woit, Mr Smolin, and similar breathtakingly dishonest far-left anti-scientific subhuman activist garbage. The American physics was just incapable to destroy these disgraceful, cheap jerks and liars, so these jerks are now free to destroy the American physics. This is where appeasement with scum may lead. An example where a death penalty is too little, too late."

So now you know the reason for the decline of American physics. It's all Lee Smolin's fault! Haha!

Anonymous said...

Lubos' latest rant about Sean Carroll is a masterpiece --- although, like many autistic types, he is getting more and more verbose and boring, and is suffering increasingly from delusions of grandeur. After yet another reiteration of his grandiose New Theory of Thermodynamics, somebody had the nerve to point out that his great theory is obviously and blatantly based on circular reasoning. Here is the great man's response:

"LM: Is it a "huge assumption" that we don't yet know the future? What the fuck? Because of this lunatic "critic" from Islamabad and a few other imbeciles, I have restored the full moderation regime, sorry. It's my private blog and I don't want my private blog to be a tool for self-promotion of breathtakingly idiotic anonymous trolls. It's just amazing how stupid so many people are. "

Just thought I would post that here in case someone googling for "arrow of time" makes the mistake of thinking that LM is anything but a total crackpot...

Anonymous said...

Lubos deleted comments where I tried to defend Peter Woit from being called a 'barbarian' by a commenter. I also said that what I found barbaric was Lubos' insults and I linked to this post. Of course, he deleted my comment and replied with:

"LM: Do you think that - or do you want others to think that - it is a part of a modern man's culture to visit the barbarian's blog you mentioned?

I surely beg to differ. It seems to me that the only purpose of your illogical remark was to use this thread to promote the barbarian's repetitive, redundant, idea-free, hateful rants and I will not tolerate this kind of spam and intimidation on my website. The barbarian managed to become a successful parasite of high-energy physics but I won't allow his failed 5th class blog to become a parasite of my website.

A comment added later: you continued with obtrusive links to hateful and disgusting websites and I've banned your cluster. If you're enjoying some nasty jerks who love to spread lies and attacks against science or against me personally, be my guest: you have the right to have any deviation you like. But I have the right to decide who can post here. You're not welcome to this blog. Please go away. By now, it should be very clear that our co-existence couldn't lead to anything positive, if I formulate this situation 'democratically'."

Tom O'Bulls said...

I'd just like to point out that Motl's latest post, "Black holes are politically incorrect", contains numerous elementary errors regarding the subject of white holes. White holes are indeed believed not to exist, but the reason has nothing whatever to do with Motl's misunderstandings of elementary statistical mechanics. The real reason we don't believe in them is that there is simply no plausible mechanism for producing them. Of course, this difference from black holes is indeed ultimately related to the second law of thermodynamics [which of course has a cosmological origin], but the latter does not directly forbid white holes. Motl's claims about this arise from his highly individualistic grand theory of the foundations of statistical mechanics, in which absolutely nobody but himself believes. Sorry, all of this is obvious to the experts, but I thought it should be set down in case some innocent does a google search for white holes and comes across Motl's authoritative-looking but *utterly nonsensical* writings on this and related subjects.

Tom O'Bulls said...

OK, noting down all of Motl's misunderstandings of simple physics is too time-consuming, but, very briefly: his remarks on bimetric theories of gravity are quite ridiculous. Of course any manifold that admits a semi-Riemannian structure will admit infinitely many others. This is simple --- just like something with the *topology* of a sphere can be deformed in infinitely many ways to produce other spaces with different geometries but the same topology, so you can do the same thing with the spacetime metric. Bimetric theories are just what you get when you imagine that some specific kind of systematic deformation of spacetime might have some physical significance. This may or may not be a productive idea, but it is ridiculous to say that you can "prove" that it has to be wrong. Put another way: on any manifold that satisfies certain simple topological conditions, you can always find infinitely many tensors that have the mathematical form of a metric tensor. Choosing one of them to *have a geometric meaning* [as a gadget that measures lengths and angles] means deciding to focus on a specific geometry. Choose two of them and you have a bimetric theory. LM's ignorant remarks about torsion show that he doesn't get this basic point.

Short version: you can add this subject to statistical mechanics as subjects where LM simply doesn't know what he is talking about.

Anonymous said...

Tom, Lubos is correct about *interacting* Bimetric theories in the sense that they typically are sick quantum mechanically. What he wrote is nothing new, and has been lore for a long time.

Its similar to higher derivative models of gravity, in that you really have to do quite a bit of extra work to show consistency and invent clever ways to cure the ills.

Thats really up to quantum gravity people though, and theres nothing wrong with a phenomenology paper looking at a particular classical solution.

Bee said...

Hi Tom, Anonymous,

Thanks for the heads up, I missed Lubos "comment" on my paper. Besides what the first line of his post suggests, he doesn't actually write anything related to my paper. As Anonymous mentioned, his post is about quantized interacting bi-metric models. It would have been necessary to actually look at my paper to notice it is stated explicitly there that I consier a purely classical model and as one can see from the action the both metrics don't interact. I didn't read Lubos' post too carefully but as far as I can tell it is reasonably accurate, though as so often it does not support the alleged criticism. I haven't had the time to read Joao's paper, but from a brief view that I've given it besides from the word 'bi-metric' there is about no relation to my paper. Best,

B.

Tom O'Bulls said...

If LM is *only* arguing that a theory with a pair of interacting spin-2 fields will have ghosts, then why does he bother? As anonymous says, that is old stuff. No, LM is as usual after something much more grandiose: he wants to "prove" that bimetric theories just don't make sense at all. Otherwise there would be no connection whatever with the "IP" paper, and not even LM could be unaware of that fact.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I promise I won't do this regularly, but here is a comment made by "Rebecca" at LM's blog. I just found it really hilarious and since LM will undoubtedly delete it when he wakes up, I thought I might preserve it here:

My oh my what a long post this is, Lubos. Sorry, I had to skim through it. You really got to get to the point, you know. Also, you have to know your audience. You don't honestly think that physics professors, grad students, and post docs actually read your blog, do you?

For example, see: http://asymptotia.com/2008/07/16...k-hole-battles/

From this post, a commenter said: "Sorry Clifford, but now everybody knows you do not read other blogs (Woit and Motl for example)..."
Clifford Johnson's response was: "Goodness me, it’s definitely not a secret that I don’t read those blogs. I’ve said that here several times. I thought it was common knowledge. Abysmal signal to noise ratio issues, rampant ignorance, deliberate distortions, outright lies, general unpleasantness, lack of time, and so forth. Frankly, I’ve too many more useful and pleasant things to do."

There you go, professionals don't read your blog, amateurs do, so you have to cut out all the jargon and explain things the Brian Greene way or the Leonard Susskind way. Plus, you have to explain (in plain english) why this paper is so significant, because amateurs (like me) can't really tell from your post. Know what I'm saying? I'm just trying to help you out, Lubos. By the way, notice how my comment is only the second one even though you posted this memo 4 hours ago? And the first comment wasn't even a comment about the paper, or even physics in general.

"What black holes do we consider? It is still a kind of 'general relativity in four dimensions coupled to other fields'. But it is useful to consider highly supersymmetric low-energy theories resulting from highly supersymmetric compactifications because the supersymmetric nonrenormalization theorems allow us to describe physics in many ways (including D-brane physics). The most helpful class of such compactifications is type IIA string theory on the four-dimensional Minkowski space multiplied by a six-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold.
The near-horizon geometry of these black hole solutions is eleven-dimensional, namely "AdS_3 x S^2 x CY_3" with M-theory in the bulk."

So what you're saying is that this paper considers (fictitious) black holes (having fictitious supercharges) on a fictitious background of extra dimensions compactified on a manifold, for which there is absolutely NO EVIDENCE, right? Sure, it may be "useful" to consider such black holes, but they are just fantasies. You're not going to run into a zoologist that writes papers on unicorns: they are fictitious, and there is not a shred of evidence that such animals exist. It is more useful for that zoologist to write papers about animals that do exist (like horses).

Also, no string theorist has yet found a string theory vacuum that reproduces the SM. So why should I care about this paper, Lubos?
When string theorists find a string theory vacuum that reproduces all of the experimental results of the Standard Model and whatever will be found at the LHC, maybe I'll listen.


"The new Benelux paper gives you a new and, in some optics, more concrete picture why not all of your classical fantasies are allowed."

Well, this paper talks about things which haven't even come CLOSE to being observed. Hence, they are fantasies.

Here's an idea: instead of giving money to string theorists, let us give this money to the poor and the needy. Let us donate this money to worthy causes: food, shelter, and education, to name a few. Instead, we're giving this money to string theorists so that they can write papers about fictitious types of black holes.
Rebecca

Andrew Thomas said...

Lubos writes some good articles, but the standard of comments on his blog is low. Because if you disagree with him he insults you! So everyone comes to Bee's blog.

H.M. Amir al-Mumenin al-Mutawakkil 'Ala Allah Rab ul-Alamin Imam Yahya bin al-Mansur Bi'llah Muhammad Hamidaddin, Imam and Commander of the Faithful, and King of the Yemen said...

Actually, it has been a long time since he wrote a useful article even about physics. Nowadays he just draws attention to certain papers on the arxiv for the sole purpose of scoring points against his enemies. eg Steve Carlip, who long ago committed the crime of revealing LM's incredible ignorance of basic general relativity.

Dr Who said...

LM's latest diatribe about the anthropic principle is even more [unintentionally] funny than usual. He begins by attacking two recent papers by luminaries such as Linde, Vilenkin, Bousso etc as being "obviously wrong"; in fact he claims that *every sentence* in their abstracts are wrong! Then he goes on to a chaotic and completely *demented* analysis of the papers in question, in the course of which he makes laugh-out-loud statements such as

" Is my brain normal? Sane method
First, we must understand what the question actually means. What does it mean for the brain to be normal? It is a question about the whole Universe:......"

Err...well no, Lubos, actually it's a much more local question in your case! But at least it is good that you have started asking yourself that first question...

Finally he concludes that all talk of Boltzmann brains is due to political correctness: people want to treat all brains as equal, when "in reality" some brains are better than others.......

Although LM is often extremely, in unintentionally, hilarious, I know it's not really right to laugh at crazy people; the fact that some crazy people are very nasty does not change this --- or does it? But anyway, as others have pointed out, it is still justifiable to point out LM's [many] errors in technical questions of physics. So to conclude: if you reached this page by means of a google search regarding some point of physics, you really need to know that Lubos's physics education, like the educations of many self-taught people, is extremely incomplete, and that most of what he says about topics outside a very narrow set of sub-topics in string theory is quite *wrong*. In particular, some of the things he says about statistical mechanics, including his rants about the anthropic principle, are not just wrong, they are really well inside crackpot territory. Please bear that in mind if you must read his stuff. You might begin by asking yourself how likely it is that world-renowned authorities would write papers in which every sentence is wrong........

Anonymous said...

Anyone who still has doubts about LM's incompetence should really look at Tommaso Dorigo's blog. Search for Lubos Motl's Apology.

Zephir said...

LuMo probably suffers by sort of Asperger syndrome. We should live with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

http://superstruny.aspweb.cz/images/fyzika/jokes/motlnew.jpg

Dr Who said...

Latest profundity from Lubos Motl:

"Every Universe that at least qualitatively resembles ours inevitably has a universal arrow of time."

That is, "Every Universe that has a universal arrow of time inevitably has a universal arrow of time."

Deep stuff.

Anonymous said...

"But it isn't: yes, LM has finally added "physics crackpot" to his many other distinctions. I'm not kidding: go take a look if you don't believe me. LM's theory is that the PAST is what we KNOW about, while the FUTURE is what we CARE about."

I read that post more than a year ago and it was so good that I can actually remember the single sentence you're talking about. He said "past" in the context of something before an experiment, and "future" in the context of after an experiment. Also, in the particular example of a scattering experiment, the only thing that makes the future different than past is that we average over the initial polarizations and sum over the final ones. The fact that we treat the before and after differently is what creates the arrow of time. This is absolutely mainstream, so please stop taking things out of context. You're crackpotness is showing.

Anonymous said...

I mean "your crakpotness is showing".

Anonymous said...

What an interesting collection of comments. Instead of all this whining about Lubos, why don't you try to come up with something at least half as smart as him. All you know is complaining about his treating you... I think it says more about you than him.

Tom O'Bulls said...

Anonymous said:
"Also, in the particular example of a scattering experiment, the only thing that makes the future different than past is that we average over the initial polarizations and sum over the final ones. "

Excellent! You have indeed grasped the core of Lubos' teachings! But with your permission, I will clarify your statement even further:

" the only thing that makes the future different than past is that we average over the past polarizations and sum over the future ones. "

Or clearer still: "The only difference between the past and the future is that the future is different from the past."

Sublime! Circular reasoning at its very best! Thank you! You are indeed a true disciple.

Ps: the correct spelling of "crackpot" does indeed include the c. You had best familiarize yourself with this word, because I think that you are going to see it *very* frequently....

Anonymous said...

A: you treat past and future differently
B: past and future look different

I said A implies B. How is that circular thinking?

Tom O'Bulls said...

A: you treat past and future differently
B: past and future look different

I said A implies B. How is that circular thinking?

Oh, I see. The future and the past are different *because* we treat them differently. Well, it's a lucky thing that we *already knew* what "before" and "after" mean, isn't it? Haha!

I wouldn't bother, but the truth is that you are right: Lubos' theories about the arrow of time *really are* just equivalent to this kind of thing, ie they are the result of ignorance and childish errors of logic.

Anonymous said...

"Oh, I see. The future and the past are different *because* we treat them differently."

Third time:
They _look_ different because we treat them differently.

Anonymous said...

From LM's blog:

"If Obama had become the U.S. president two years earlier than he did, I would have surely been very angry that a F-word N-word - which is the term I would probably be using secretly in the privacy -"

Still doubt that he's a F-word crackpot?

Just thought I'd preserve this in case google-searchers wonder how seriously they should take this guy.

Artful Codger said...

Another laugh-out-loud moment from Lubos Motl: talking about Sean Carroll, he says:

" But I suspect that at this moment, his position could be caused by something else than a naive misunderstanding. He's been just connected too tightly with this nonsense and the fear of admitting he was fundamentally wrong about all these issues might be too strong, to put it very politely."

Naturally it doesn't occur to him that that is precisely what everyone is saying about *his* crazy misunderstandings of elementary statistical mechanics! Because although I feel that there is a tendency to over-estimate LM's intelligence, surely even he can see all of the instances of circular reasoning in his latest diatribe....

Anonymous said...

LM seems to be quite obsessed with Sean Carroll --- he has *yet another* attack today.

Breaking news: LM doesn't understand proof by contradiction! He says, with regard to the standard Penrose/Carroll/ etc analysis of the second law of thermodynamics:

"The hypothesis that the Universe in the distant past should have a higher entropy than the current entropy is simply fundamentally wrong. It contradicts the second law of thermodynamics which holds according to all observations. It contradicts the proper theoretical derivations that are relevant for statistical physics and thermodynamics. Because the entropy increases with time, the entropy in the distant past had to be lower than today, not higher than today. "

No shit, Lubos. Of course, that is exactly what Carroll is saying! But unlike you, he sees the need to explain these facts.

Unlike the previous poster, I don't believe that LM secretly knows that the bullshit he excretes about thermodynamics really is bullshit. I think he really just doesn't understand undergrad statistical physics.

Anonymous said...

I think it's sad that a smart person like Lubos would just go nuts and destroy his own reputation so completely. I'm not a physicist but was curious to find out more about him after reading a blog in which he solved a problem in computer science while an undergraduate. A casual search of the first page on Google told me he's both bright and boorish.

I'm intrigued by Arun's observation about Rutgers. I happen to know at least one super-nasty mathematics graduate student at Rutgers (via another Internet site). I'm sure it's just a coincidence though. :)

My opinion is that until a person earns a Nobel or its equivalent in other fields, it is probably unwise to go postal on the Internet.

I'm also sympathetic to the ladies who were the unfortunate target of his misogynistic vitriol. But you must not take it personally as the attacker is clearly off his rocker and needs help.

Cheers, Random-Dude-Against-Internet-Abuse

Anonymous said...

I think you are attracted to Lubos.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we all?

Anonymous said...

Insane in the P-brane.

Anonymous said...

to make himself get "fired" from a harvard assistant proffesorship paints entirely the picture of Lubos Motl "mind". Whatever is doing now is many orders of magnitud more inefectual and unimportant than before. Let him swim in his vitriol.

Anonymous said...

Bee posted......But lately it takes too much time to read his nonsense and to clarify at least the worst accusations.

I honestly can't understand why he behaves like this.
Bee, the guy is off his rocker is loco or loca.

Tom O'Bulls said...

The key thing to understand in the LM saga is that, to *some* extent, the things he says reflect the thinking of *many* physicists, particularly string theorists. The difference is that most adults have better self-control than LM, and so are careful not to say these things openly. Here I'm not talking only about his statements about *people* like Smolin or Sabine H; I'm talking about the things he says about physics, which, despite the carefully cultivated air of expertise, are quite often extremely shallow. [Nobody *really* believes that he can understand all those papers in a matter of hours before posting about them, surely?]

If you read his blog carefully [I only read the articles which are allegedly about physics, not the even crazier ones about politics or climate] you will see that they *aren't* really about physics at all: they are about LM's emotional response to certain developments. He skims through the papers on the arxiv, decides whether they *feel* like they agree with his various prejudices, and then cooks up excuses to say technical things designed to make the paper look good or bad accordingly. In some cases he loses control completely, and says things which are just plain wrong or crazy [eg everything he says about the arrow of time] but more often he can make himself look reasonably serious. But then he gets a surprising amount of support from people like Moshe Rozali. They seem to find it convenient to have someone who expresses the general prejudices of the string community [their vague feelings that certain ideas, like Lorentz violation or modified gravity, are stupid, feelings which however they are unable to justify] but whose general nuttiness allows them to disclaim responsibility. N. Arkani-Hamed plays a similar role [at a vastly higher level of competence, of course]. It's depressing that physics research has had to sink to this level of vague feelings and high-level hand-waving, and still more depressing that the only way for the string community to abreact is by designating special nutcases to spread the word.

Anonymous said...

Lubos was recently the star, along with the freres Bogdanoff, of a major conference, titled

"La tête dans son cul, les pieds dans sa bouche".

See here:

http://www.villeneuve-yonne.fr/fr/agenda/tete_etoile.pdf

Archer of Time said...

Another long boring crackpot diatribe from LM about the Arrow of Time today. He's really obsessed about this; obviously Sean Carroll has done something that seriously annoyed him, since we all know that LM's "scientific" views are based entirely on his insecurities. Interesting fact: LM took a class from Joel Lebowitz at Rutgers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joel_Lebowitz

Lebowitz is one of the top two or three world experts on statistical mechanics. He has made his views on the Arrow of Time known at Scholarpedia, and of course everything he says there blows LM's crackpottery to pieces. Strange that LM seems to have learned so little from his great teacher. What was he doing in class --- sleeping? Blogging? Is there a difference in his case?

Archer of Time said...

Over at Cosmic Variance, Dieter Zeh remarks that "The author says in the first paragraph that irreversibility has been claimed to arise from decoherence. This is wrong: decoherence is an irreversible process that REQUIRES an arrow of time. In fact, he remarks at the end of page 3 (published version?) that correlations “build up” continuously, thus leading to decoherence."

Dieter Zeh is another world authority on this subject, and again everything he says contradicts Motl's babblings about the arrow of time. I really hope that students doing a web search for information about the Arrow can be alerted to the fact that Motl really, really doesn't know what he is talking about.

Arun said...

This at scholarpedia agrees with Motl - the paradox was resolved a hundred years ago.

Anonymous said...

Dear Arun, you have got it exactly wrong. Read the final part of Lebowitz -- the part about Initial Conditions. For example,

"Put differently, where ultimately do initial conditions come from? In thinking about this we are led more or less inevitably to introduce cosmological considerations by postulating an initial "macrostate of the universe" having a very small Boltzmann entropy. To again quote Boltzmann: "That in nature the transition from a probable to an improbable state does not take place as often as the converse, can be explained by assuming a very improbable [small ] initial state of the entire universe surrounding us."

Motl disagrees with all that, quite violently. In particular, he thinks that cosmology has nothing to do with the Arrow.

You can see more easily that Lebowitz completely contradicts LM in the following way: I suggest that you try posting the url of Lebowitz' article at LM's blog. It will be deleted instantly. I know this because I tried. [Of course it is entirely possible, in fact likely, that LM reads everything posted here, and so *won't* delete it, but I doubt that he has the self-control to conceal all evidence of that....]

Haelfix said...

Archer, I think a lot of the arrow of time fuss is semantic in nature, and if I understand Lubos's argument correctly I am in full agreement with him.

The following statement is afaics not controversial (essentially Feynmans view) except by a few holdouts.. The H theorem is correct, and together with the low entropy initial condition completely defines the arrow of time. No need for a cosmological scale factor or something like that.

Now, the asymmetric initial condition has to be there, one way or the other, or else we wouldn't be here, physics wouldn't exist. Asking why its there is thus a bit an exercise in tautology.

What is (I think) wrong, is when you have some cosmological model that you take a little too seriously, that can spontaneously reverse its arrow. Thats where the weirdness and the conflict with the thermodynamic arrow starts, and the sort of thing Motl rejects (Hawking for instance tried this in his big crunch framework before retracting the statement)

Archer of Time said...

"Archer, I think a lot of the arrow of time fuss is semantic in nature, and if I understand Lubos's argument correctly I am in full agreement with him."

No offence, but I'm pretty sure that you *don't* understand his argument. Which is nothing to be ashamed of, in view of his incoherence.

"The following statement is afaics not controversial (essentially Feynmans view) except by a few holdouts.. The H theorem is correct, and together with the low entropy initial condition completely defines the arrow of time. No need for a cosmological scale factor or something like that."

LM denies that the low entropy initial conditions are relevant. So you see that you *don't* actually agree with him.

Nobody claims that "cosmological scale factors" are relevant here --- that's one of LM's many straw men. The claim being made, which is so simple and obvious that it's hard to believe that *anyone* could disagree with it, is this. The entropy of any reasonably isolated system [or of the whole universe if you want to talk about that] was smaller in the past than it is now, and this statement holds for any "now". *Therefore* the existence of an Arrow must have something to do with the earliest times. Now it is true that "the earliest times" are usually the domain of cosmology ---but that's all. Nobody is claiming that the arrow we see now is some mystical cosmic influence at work. All we are saying is this: everything you see around you originated in the big bang. The Arrow has always been around, since then. Therefore, it can only be understood by examining conditions in the big bang.

LM denies all this. He claims explicitly that the early universe has nothing to do with the Arrow. I'm sure you disagree with that, as any reasonably sane person does.

I urge everyone to look again at Joel Lebowitz' Scholarpedia article. It represents the generally accepted view of the subject. I agree with it, and I can assure you that LM doesn't. You can decide who is right and who wrong on that basis.

"Now, the asymmetric initial condition has to be there, one way or the other, or else we wouldn't be here, physics wouldn't exist. Asking why its there is thus a bit an exercise in tautology."

The laws of physics have to take the form they do, or physics as we know it wouldn't exist. Asking for an explanation of *anything* is thus..... I mean, why do you bother to do physics if you don't want to explain things? The initial conditions of our universe were fine-tuned to a fantastic degree --- that's the meaning of the special initial conditions which you agree are necessary to have an Arrow. Don't you want to know why? This has nothing whatever to do with anthropic stuff, please don't drag that junk in here.

Lumo said...

Just to be sure, I agree with Haelfix 100%. We're saying the same thing.

I surely don't "deny" that the early Universe - and early anything - had a low entropy. In fact, I am pretty sure that the right number to assicate with it is zero. I just deny that it's everything one needs to derive the arrow of time; and I deny that the existence of a strict beginning is necessary for the 2nd law to hold.

The counterexamples to both things have been given. A logical arrow of time is needed to derive the H-theorem at every point of time. The low-entropy beginning of a Universe is just not enough to replace the arguments in the proof of the H-theorem. In fact, the proof of the H-theorem has nothing to do with the early Universe.

The obsession with the early Universe in these debates is completely irrational. The early *anything* had a lower entropy than the later one. It's true not only for the Universe but also for the Earth, solar system, or an isolated egg.

Let me make a metaphor. Someone wants to understand how chickens are being born out of eggs, and how hens produce eggs. To do so, he sees a chicken-or-egg paradox, and it must obviously be run backwards to the Big Bang.

Except that it doesn't. Extrapolations to the Big Bang are the maximum ones. But the timescale relevant for the understanding of biology of birds is much shorter. In the case of thermodynamics, it is much shorter, close to the microscopic timescales, and the events at the macroscopic scale are just irrelevant.

The other counterexample is that one can visualize universes without any beginning whatsoever - eternal inflation - but the 2nd law will still locally hold everywhere. It's a local principle of physics.

It is also wrong to say that the beginning is more important than the end. In fact, realistic cosmologies imply a pretty much sustainable increase of the entropy. So much like you say that the "very beginning" had to have a lower entropy than "everyone else", it's also true that the "end", the Big Crunch or the asymptotic empty de Sitter space, has to have a higher entropy than "everyone before it".

Still, no one would say that the "whole" explanation of the arrow is located in the infinite future. That's because reasons are never found in the future. Reasons are in the past. Yes, we have to have some information about the past, and once we have some information about the past, it's guaranteed that the entropy can't be maximum.

No question in science would be possible if we had no information at all. So as long as one agrees that science should manipulate with "some" information, it's just inevitable that the past states in our questions are almost never maximum-entropy states. It's a kind of tautology.

But the agreement between the logical arrow of time (that talks about the memory of the past, not of the future, etc.) and the thermodynamic arrow of time - and its universality - is slightly nontrivial. But it's proved in the proofs of H-theorem.

It's the only nontrivial kind of proof that one may show concerning the increasing entropy. All other proofs of this kind are guaranteed to be just variations of Boltzmann's original proof, with the equivalent inputs, equivalent methods, equivalent outputs. And the dreams about a completely different kind of proof of the arrow of time are guaranteed to fail simply because there's nothing else to prove. All other statements about the arrow of time are either equivalent to the second law as clarified by the H-theorem, wrong, or tautologies.

Cheers
LM

Plato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Archer of Time said...

LM has merely re-posted here the same stuff from his crank blog.

As I said: we can all read Joel Lebowitz' article in Scholarpedia, where it is said that the continuing evolution from low to high entropy that we see around us is due to the fact that the entropy was so extremely low at the big bang, and that ultra-low-entropy state is still unwinding. Everything about the Arrow was settled 100 years ago EXCEPT the fantastically low initial value of the entropy. The url has been posted here several times. All LM has to do is to tell us whether [like most people in this field] he agrees with that article. If not, he just has to fight it out with Lebowitz, who by the way has written over 500 papers on statistical physics. Good luck!

Short version: choose whom to believe, Joel Lebowitz [he's on wikipedia, look him up] or LM.

In conclusion, a couple of technical points: [a] There is nothing contradictory between the standard, normal view of these things and an eternal universe. In fact, Sean Carroll's theory of the Arrow is based on an eternal universe. Presumably LM hasn't read the Carroll-Chen paper. [b] Anthropic arguments don't help here, even if you are willing to tolerate that stuff: the entropy of the earliest universe was far too small to be explained in that way.

Bee said...

Guys, this is all well and fine, but this isn't the place to discuss the arrow of time. Could you please do this elsewhere? Thanks, B.

Matti Pitkanen said...

Lubos Motl brings to my mind a document film about child genius whose genius manifested as a superior ability in IQ tests. No wonder, since he had concentrated all his mental powers to IQ tests.

Amazingly, this young IQ genius was completely unable to understand what ordinary people talked to him. He also treated his mother in extremely cruel manner in a pubic occasion.



Was the reason for the strange inability to understand spoken language his extremely arrogant attitude towards all those who were not IQ geniuses?

Sometime ago Lubos made clear that he would never read any argument written by me because he had decided that I am a crackpot. I suggested that he gives some justifications for the claim but as a response he banned me from his blog.

Something similar I have observed during these years in the behavior of colleagues receiving monthly salary towards those the less lucky ones. The feeling of absolute superiority seems to make it absolutely impossible to listen and the outcome is an absolute idiocy for all practical purposes.

Ulla said...

I tried to remind Lubos of the fact that the important one is not IQ, but EQ. Emotions. Lubos acts very emotionally, but the fact that he refuse to deal with it makes him repeat and repeat forever his frustrations. Emotions must be assimilated and made aware, they cannot be neutralized by acting them out.

It seems the bad luck for M-theory at LHC exaggerates Lubos acting. As it would compensate for the failures.

Maybe it would be best for Lubos too if we simply ignore him? His acting must have an end. He is such an hard nut. Not even a departure from Harward was enough.