Sunday, December 13, 2009

Interna

Tomorrow it's my turn to bring the cake for our Institute's weekly social event. Thus, I spend an hour turning Ingrid's kitchen upside-down trying to figure out where she might store the the mixer and the baking tin. She has a huge collection of sticky tupperware but no baking tin. But, well organized German that I am, I do have an original Dr. Oetker baking tin that I imported to the US of A. You can't trust them with baking over there, you see. Whatever they do, it always comes out half-baked. They call it "chewy." American bakery just doesn't crumble properly. Maybe that's why so many of them are overweight. It's all the crumbles that they don't miss.

It only takes another hour to find the right moving box and undust the baking tin, well organized German and all. While searching I also find the laptop speakers and think it might be nice to have some Christmas songs in the background. Well, I sold my stereo and Ingrid's looked like the ghost of tube-radio's past, so I opted out. The speakers I think I bought from somebody at PI who was about to move - what was his name again and where is he now? After disentangling the cables it occurs to me that, needless to say, the plug won't fit into the European outlet. But, the organized German does of course have an adapter. Somewhere. More sorting through boxes. Having found the adapter, I figures there's no outlet left. But surely Ingrid has a splitter somewhere? Yes... it's probably right next to her baking tin.

Who is Ingrid you might wonder. Jah-ha. You see, the reason for my writing today is an instance of christmassy gratefulness to the readers of my blog and the hospitality of the Swedes. If you remember, I had trouble finding a place in Stockholm which, as I meanwhile learned, is quite a common problem. As a reaction to my blogpost, a kind reader from Toronto wrote to the helpless female blogger and got me in contact with his sister-in-law, living in Ontario but originally from Stockholm. This reader's sister-in-law turned out to have a friend whose father's wife, by name Ingrid, was looking to sublease her apartment. And this is where I live now. This is way to abstruse for me to make it up. So if you were wondering what blogging is good for, now you know. Wonderful things happen if you blog! Like Clifford showing me around LA, or a local reader near Rome offering me her clothes to wear when Al Italia forgot my bag in Palermo. Yes, blogging taught me the world is full of lovely people.

It takes some getting used to subleasing though. While I appreciate not having to buy new furniture and equipping a new household, the abundance of blue-and-yellow colored things in this apartment is astonishing. For example the bedsheets with MILLENIUM on it. (Let's just store them in the other apartment till the next millenium party.) The hook in the bathroom is engraved with "Ingrid," and if the morning is early or the night late this causes me some identity issues - what's my name again and where am I now?

And then there's the plants. I suddenly own two dozen plants. I desperately waved my frequent-flyer card trying to indicate the plants and me might not make happy flatmates, but to no avail. Now every time I come home there's the plants in the corners saying bad girl, bad girl, haven't watered me, bad girl. Reason why I'm not watering the plants is that, well, Ingrid's watering can must be with the baking tin and the splitter.

Back to my baking efforts, I meanwhile managed to decipher the Swedish baking recipe, or so I hope (Häll smeten i formen. Grädda kakan i nedre delen av ugnen.), and the cake is happily burning while I am blogging to the tune of the Carol of the Bells. Icing sugar on it, et voilà. (Come on, icing sugar was invented to hide the burned spots, no?) Now where does Ingrid have the aluminium foil?

Besides my cake, the news of today is that Sundance has joined the bloggers! You find him with his girlfriend Yana at Meandering Marsupials or "Where the bloody hell are we?" where you can follow them on a bike-tour from Ontario to California.

80 comments:

rikard said...

That's a completely normal way to get an apartment in Stockholm, which doesn't have a functioning rental market. Contacts, buying a rental contract on the black market, or waiting in line for years seem to be the options. This is unlike other largish cities in the world, and it sucks...

Bee said...

I've been wondering how come?

Georg said...

Ah,
I always thought that "Back-Reaction"
is English.
Georg

Bee said...

:-p There wasn't much action in that cake though.

Plato said...

A toothpick shoved in the center of the cake does wonders for consistency of measure.

"Subjectively" it makes sense?

stefan said...

I always thought that "Back-Reaction" is English.

;-)... that took me a while to understand!

Dear Bee,

the cake looks great - Cheers, Stefan

Arun said...

:)

-Arun

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

Is there not a single task you need to perform that doesn’t require an exponential degree of complexity? Perhaps it’s an indication that entropy is not only a persistence of nature, yet also it intensifies to be able to overcome the force of order it opposes. Then again there has always been a reasonable explanation for the common complaint as to why everything is always found in the last place one looks; that being of course that after you find it you stop looking:-) Also as I admire your creation I’m reminded that we cannot have our cake and eat it to.

Best,

Phil

Bee said...

Hi Phil,

I'm afraid it's become impossible for me to bake a cake without pondering the nature of irreversible processes. It's a side-effect of a PhD in physics that somebody should have warned me of ;-) Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Weekly social event on a Monday?? Usually the take place on Friday; with the weekend ahead you certainly are in a better mood.

Bee said...

Yes, that's true. Otoh, if it's on Monday it makes the start into the week less gruesome ;-)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Giotis,

Perhaps it indicates that theorist’s relish their work as much as their leisure. Then again it may be simply consistent with them knowing that with their unorthodox work habits and life style it may be their last meal for some time:-)

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

Or maybe Phil it's part of the tradition of these ideal Nordic societies we are hearing so much about, where everybody is happy all the time:-)

rikard said...

Bee: I wish I knew. I also suspect you would get very different answers if you asked someone on the left or on the right...

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

”I'm afraid it's become impossible for me to bake a cake without pondering the nature of irreversible processes.”

Yes I can imagine this could form to be a problem. With that in mind then I would advise you move the cake well back from the edge of the counter while cooling, so that it might continue its intended course leading to increasing its disorder, rather than one it wasn’t.:-) This furthers to demonstrate that not all actions of entropy is indicative of an underlying lack of intent; simply that outcome depends primarily on whose intentions are being fulfilled.

It was Murphy’s observation that if a buttered piece of bread fell from ones hand to the floor, it had a better chance of landing on the buttered side. I always wanted to test this hypothesis yet thought it better I not, since it would only further serve to increase the overall entropy resultant the work required to clean up the mess. Then again perhaps I should since I’ve always been curious if disaster may indicate that while entropy demands an increase in disorder that it may not be a random process. That’s to wonder if there might be a inequality to be found in the action of falling buttered bread :-)

Best,

Phil

Uncle Al said...

Whiskey walnut pound cake with dark baking chocolate ganache frosting decorated with white chocolate mini-kisses. Sprinkle of confectioner's sugar atop. Soak the chopped walnuts in all the Maker's Mark whiskey rather than in half and add half.

The trick is to beat (mixer on "high") the ganache as it cools to fold in air and, as if my magic, phase-invert the lipid-gas emulsion in water to water-gas in lipid. The viscosity suddenly zooms. You then quickly have about 5 minutes maximum to frost the cake and set in a lattice of white chocolate kisses before the now chocolate butter-creme sets like mortar through crystallization.

Baking time and temperature are critical. Uncle Al could post a recipe. Do you have a lab coat, chemical handler's gloves, safety goggles, and a respirator?

Wayne Farmer said...

Does Werner Heisenberg have anything to say about locating the position of a baking tin surrounded by entangled electron paths?

jr said...

Let them eat Strudel !

Anonymous said...

This morning I was playing around with the basic Kerr relation between M, J and G:

J = aGM2/c.

If you solve for M and treat "a" as a quantized parameter [= ...2, 1, 1/2, 1/3/ 1/4,...], and if you set the proton mass as the n=1 mass, then you can predict the masses of Pion, K, eta, Xi, Omega, D , D(s), Lambda(c) at the 85% to 95% level. Fits are at the 95% level for M > proton mass.

Given that the Kerr formula is a very rough approximation which neglects the effects of EM, these results seem promising.

If anyone thinks this is worth pursuing, I will be happy to provide a more detailed derivation of the hardon masses.

Maybe something new for a new decade and a new century?

RLO

Anonymous said...

Ok, so that would be derivation of the hadron masses, not the "hardon masses" something completely different.

I gotta get an editor!

Bee said...

If you draw all the masses of known particles, elementary and composite, on the real axis and lay a regular series over it, how likely are you to hit N within 85% of accuracy?

Andrew Thomas said...

It reminds me lot of Bode's Law (which is really spookily accurate, < 5% error).

Anonymous said...

What if you could predict the mass of any hadron at the 95-99% level, combined with no predictions of non-observed particles. As in completely and definitively unique.

This will be done with a full Kerr-Newman solution of the Einstein-Maxwell equations, by physicists who understand the discrete self-similar scaling of gravitation.

You could sit back and watch, or you could participate.

Is not nature a thing of unsurpassed beauty?

RLO

Bee said...

I'll sit back and watch. Good luck, B.

Andrew Thomas said...

"You could sit back and watch, or you could participate."

Yes, I've bought my popcorn as well. But good luck indeed.

Andrew Thomas said...

motls.blogspot.com/ - "The blog you were looking for was not found."

Andrew Thomas said...

Seriously, it's no joke if they can take down people's blogs just like that.

Bee said...

You're right. "Det gick inte att hitta bloggen som du letar efter." I wouldn't be too concerned about that though, probably a server glitch.

Anonymous said...

OMG! OMG!

The problem set up yesterday has been taken one step further and has a much improved set of solutions.

We propose that the masses of subatomic particles can be retrodicted approximatey [1st approx.] using a Kerr solution of GR.

Basic equation is: J = aGm^2/c

Rearrange, assume a = 1/n, assume unit J = 1/2 hbar.

You get M(n) = [n]^1/2 [constant]. Think it through.

The [constant] = the corrected Planck mass [= 674 Mev], which I have showed you how to calculate several times.
Or see: http://arxiv.org/ftp/astro-ph/papers/0701/0701006.pdf

Then:
Planck mass: n=1
proton : n=2
Xi: n=4
Omega(-): n=6
D: n=8
D(s): n=10
Lambda(c); n=12
KAON: n=1/2
PION: n=1/25

I think we are now uniformly at the 90-95% level after two 45 minute efforts.

Is nature not the most magnificent perfection!

Big fun for any scientist who wants to join in,
RLO

Anonymous said...

Don't gag on your popcorn, but you can add the muon to the list of particle masses I can retrodict at the 95% level using my GR-based method. No adjusting required.

Notice that I do not call a press conference, even though it is considered de rigeur today [the CDMS people call one for a 75%-level result; are you kidding!].

Poor things are on a Fool's Errand since the dark matter is stellar-mass black holes and WIMPS are a total fantasy.

RLO

Anonymous said...

I did a more careful comparison of the theoretically "predicted" masses and the empirically measured mass values for 11 of the most well-known particles.

The retrodictive agreement ranges from 94% to 99.9%, with an average agreement of 97.1%

For a 1st approximation test with the Kerr solution that is probably as good as it gets. When the full Kerr-Newman solution is tested in this way I expect even more remarkable results.

I also expect to get almost no encouragement from the physics community. To be realistic, I can predict substantial hostility. This will not stop me, or the coming of the new paradigm.

RLO

Bee said...

RLO: Look, I really do not mean to discourage you. But before you waste more of your time you might want to think about what I said. It is not much of a surprise that, if you take all the particles in the particle data booklet, elementary or not elementary, you can find some "almost-regular" series for some of them, that "reproduces" some of the masses to some accuracy. That's a numerical game, not science. To make it science you'll have to reproduce ALL particle masses. And that still wouldn't be a prediction, but a postdiction. And if you do so, please go an publish it in Nature and not on this blog. Best,

B.

JimV said...

That's not the real "Carol of the Bells" - this is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pW34kHnpo1g

Anonymous said...

Ms. H,

Look, the General Relativity-based model I am working with already does better than QCD.

In less than two hours one person is retrodicting particle masses with one simple formula.

QCD has had decades to perfect its Ptolemaic model, and 1000s of grunts "adjusting" it into conformity, and it takes multiple supercomputers working for days to gets results that I can do in an afternoon with paper and pencil.

You got that straight? Or do I need to spell it out more clearly for you?

Obviously there are no open-minded thinkers here, so I will not waste my time further.

Enjoy your pseudoscience. You richly deserve it.

Sincerely,
RLO

Bee said...

RLO: You are making a complete fool out of yourself by calling QCD "pseudoscience" and your numerical game a "GR based model that does better than "QCD." You got that straight? Or do I need to spell it out more clearly for you? Did you at least think about my advice? Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Jim,
Thanks for the link. Reminds me of some seminars I've been siting in ;-p Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

RLO, seriously man, ease up on calling theories that disagree with yours: psudoscience. I can provide a link to John Baez' The Crackpot Index if you wish.

RLO, what a wonderfully simplistic and beautiful world this would be if ONLY General Relativity explained everything. Or Quantum Mechanics (which led to QFT and therefore QED and QCD, both of which are falsifiable but have yet be proven wrong, yet, have been proven right over and over again).

But like it or not, and you obviously do NOT like it, we live in a Universe in which GR and QM exist simultaneously. The quest of Scientists like Bee is to find compatibility with these seemingly incompatible theories, one developed from experimental results (QM), and the other from thought experimentation that was then proven by experiment (GR).

But for you and others to dismiss QM and claim that GR has all the answers ... now THAT's Pseudoscience!

Steven Colyer said...

Can anyone guess who my new avatar is? Heh, I'm feeling impish today.

Anonymous said...

Ms. H, Steve, and other dim bulbs,

Robert is no longer coming to this circle-jerk, but he has given me permission to repost a comment he added to a CosmoCoffee thread.

Robert is quite right. QCD is a Ptolemaic mess. Ugly, needlessly complicated, and has trouble predicting anything.

Se Robert's message below, and keep on smiling.

General Omar Windbottom
----------------------

Here is your question:

"So, to be absolutely clear, you are saying GR is all there is (no QCD, no quarks, no electroweak interactions, no Higgs), except the value of G grows abruptly at some distance threshold(s). Correct? "

And here is my answer.

"I am saying in the most explicit manner possible that all of the heuristic phenomena relating to the topics you mention will have a simple and elegant explanation within the framework of General Relativity + classical EM + the discrete self-similarity of Discrete Scale Relativity. The new paradigm is far, far, far, far more than just discrete scaling of G. Sigh."

My answer identifies the main ingredients of the new paradigm, and it states what I believe it has the potential to accomplish. If you studied what it has accomplished already [and has been published] with an open mind, you might be quite surprised at the merits of the new paradigm.

Your obvious role is to defend the old paradigm. From your reference frame it is essential to deny any merit or potential advantage of the new paradigm. Galileo's oponents acted in exactly the same way: (1) using ignorance of the new paradigm to foster the false idea that it necessarily conflicts with empirical evidence, (2) ad hominem attacks, (3) arm-waving denials that anything is wrong with the old paradigm, (4) arm-waving denials that anything is right about the new paradigm, etc.

My role is to teach people about the new discrete self-similar cosmological paradigm.

Let the best paradigm win; let the scientific method be adherred to strictly, and may nature be the final arbitrator. What scientist could complain about that?

RLO

Steven Colyer said...

I take the greatest of pride in being singled out as a "dim bulb" by General Windbottom. Always consider the source.

RLO, or Anonymous Windbottom, whatever, I have no problem with you personally, man. YOU however seem to have great problems with the accomplishment of the awardees of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics: David Politzer, Frank Wilczek, and David Gross, with a big assist by Politzer's mentor, Sidney Coleman, for their 1973 CORRECT prediction of QCD behavior known as Asymptotic Freedom.

If the maths are too hard for you, I can't help you. But the information is out there. Look it up, thanks.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

I wished I’d been called a ‘dim bulb’ as I could have considered the resultant decreased carbon footprint as my contribution to the Copenhagen accord. I just hope in the end it makes more sense then the interpretation :-)

Best,

Phil

Steven Colyer said...

Hey, Phil, OK I'll indulge you.

You're a "dim bulb" Phil, as well. LOL

And the REASON that you're a "dim bulb" as critics would say, is that you (and Plato the Blogger of Dialogues of Eides fame) have THE NERVE to introduce Platonic (WHY?) "Philosophy" into the Socratic HOW which is of primary importance to most of Bee's and Stefan's readers (guilty as charged),who are Philosophers themselves thereby but won't/don't admit it (unlike me ... and hopefully others than you and Plato and me), most of whom do NOT understand the importance of Platonic thinking.

Hypatia did, remember?

I could go on, but George Musser in his wonderful review of state-of-the-art Quantum Gravity contrast of String Theory, Loop Quantum Gravity, and Causal Dynamical Triangulations (Buckyspace) with an assist to Causal Sets, said it best, so I will conclude this post in his words in his wonderful tome "T.C.I. to String Theory" (really, QG), and I hope you can relate, and comment, from pages 293-294 of same, as so:

"Historically, the greatest difficulty in scientific revolutions is usually not the missing piece but the extraneous one - the assumption that we've all taken for granted but is actually unnecessary. Philosophers are trained to smoke out these mental interlopers. Many of the problems that scientists now face are simply the latest guise of deep questions that have troubled thinkers for thousands of years. Philosophers bring this depth of experience with them. Many have backgrounds in Physics as well.

"On questions regarding the nature of time and the foundations of quantum theory, academic philosophers have done at least as much work as physicists. They have flagged issues that need to be studied better, such as whether the concept of a law of nature even makes sense. They have also done some thinking about what an ultimate theory will look like."

... George Musser

There's more, but I rest my case there. Today.

Good stuff, unlike the 18 inches white stuff I have to shovel out this morning just to take my car anywhere!

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Steven,

Well thanks for that as I was beginning to feel neglected:-) As you’ve noticed I hold sort of a Platonic view about things, yet not so much from Plato’s concept of the existence of perfect form, yet rather the perfection that’s to be found in the potential of seemingly imperfect ones. In fact I find the whole concept of potential the most fascinating and yet the most widely ignored. As for instance with regard to the constants that have been the discussion of discourse of late here, what in the end are they other than an expression of potential, as are so many other things that shape our natural world.

Best,

Phil

Anonymous said...

FROM: Joy N. Peese
RE: The General's Outburst + ???

Please excuse the General but your comments make the veins stand out on his forehead and he starts throwing his bayonet at the old picture of "Worst" on the office wall!

The General asked me to forward the following, which is incomprehensible to me.

It might be advisable not to respond, since he is beginning to look up addresses. I will do my best to calm him down.
-------------------------------
If you don't mind I'll get back to the science of this thread.

Kerr solution: J = aGM^2/c

m(n) = [n]^1/2 [constant]

where a = 1/n and constant = corrected Planck mass = 674 Mev

-n--n]^1/2[constant]---Empirical mass--Agreement

1/36---112.3--muon 105.7--94.0 %
1/25--134.8--pion 134.98-99.9 %
1/2---476.6--kaon 497.7--95.8 %
3/4---583.7--eta 547.8--93.4%
1----674----Planck mass -----
2----953.2--proton 938---98.3 %
2----953.2--neutron939.2?--98.5%
2----953.2--eta' 958---99.5 %
3----1167.4-Lambda 1115.7-95.4 %
3----1167.4-Sigma 1192--97.9 %
4----1348.0--Xi 1314.8-97.5 %
5----1507.1--N ~ 1450--96.1 %
6----1651--Omega 1672.5--98.7 %
7----1783--TAU 1784.1--99.95%
8----1906.3-D 1864.---97.8 %
10---2131.4--D(s) 2112.2-99.1 %
12---2334.8--Lam(c)2284.9-97.8%

Well, that is the 16 most common and stable of the particles observed, with the exception of the electron which has n = 1/(1319)^2 and I want to study that a bit more. Maybe only a full K-N solution will suffice here.

My argument is that this high degree of ordering demands an explanation. The fact that it was achieved with the admittedly very approximate Kerr solution makes things even more interesting. The fact that Discrete Scale Relativity is definitively required to determine the crucial value of the corrected Planck mass should be fully appreciated.

Barking dogs may now start barking. Scientists will undoubtedly start thinking.

Happy Winter Solstice [33rd anniversary of DSR]
Robert L. Oldershaw
www.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw

Bee said...

Okay, Robert, I will say it one last time and then delete all further of your self-promotional comments: Your numerical game is a backward construction. You take two particle masses, take the square of their ratio, and take the next closest integer. There's no physics in that. Come to think of it, you don't even restrict yourself to integers. Needless to say, you have "particles" missing in the series (for all I recall after 8 there's a 9 and not 10), and a proton is evidently the same as a neutron. How do you "explain" the neutrino masses and where are the some billion particles corresponding to numbers on the way to there? And so on. So please stop bothering us and our readers with your nonsense. Bye,

B.

Christine said...

Hi Bee,

Phew.

Congratulations. You are incredibly patient.

One thing that I find a little annoying is how a very good blog like yours can be marred by such insistent crackpot stuff in the comments section. Crackpots simply do not understand how embarrassing they become the longer their insistence, and the evidence of their misconceptions.

This is tragic because these people do have a keen interest for science, but apparently are unable to follow the correct path, which is of course to study, to doubt his/her own concepts, to exchange a conversation, to attempt to really learn. No. They *do* think they are the next Einstein. Or the next persecuted Galileo. They can never admit that they can be wrong. A true scientist cannot be like that.

Sure, it is difficult to "defy the mainstream". But if one has something to contribute, then the first thing to do is gain respect. As simple as this. But they just embarrass themselves.

With science blogs, crackpotism became quite evident.

Baez's crackpot index is incredibly "accurate", but at the same time useless -- by the very fact that crackpots cannot get out of their box and see the whole embarrassment, how much they score high in the index. They simply cannot see.

Best,
Christine

Andrew Thomas said...

I've been running my own "blog" now for about three years and one of the things which has pleased (and surprised) me the most has been the wonderful quality of the comments which people have submitted. I have no idea why that is, but I just seem to get polite questions, interesting suggestions, and sometimes really original ideas. It has genuinely thrilled me.

I don't think I have ever been on the receiving end of what you might call "crackpot" stuff (I still think that's rather an insulting term).

This blog, however, seems to take a real battering and Christine is right that it does spoil things about, especially as she says when people become "insistent". I do feel sorry for you, Bee. Especially when people seem disrespectful. I think a person's blog is like their house, and when you're in in you should be polite as if you are in their house. After all, the blog author has done all the hard work.

However, Bee, I think your liberal tolerance and love of free speech definitely goes too far, and you don't make things easy for yourself. I really think you should change your approach to the comments section. I would delete any off-topic comments (such as this one) immediately. If anyone is disrespectful, I would delete their comments immediately and effectively ban them. I think you need to wield the whip a lot more than you do. I think it's getting a bit silly, otherwise. I'm sure it drives people away and stops other more reasonable people from commenting. I think you need to knock this back into shape.

I really don't know why you bother doing this blog sometimes. If it had been me, I would have packed it in years ago. I'm sure you must be very busy and don't need the stress.

(I've actually had a personal email conversation with Robert and he seems like a decent bloke, but he has a tendency to go right over-the-top sometimes).

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

It's difficult. I don't think it helps to just label them "crackpot," it only pushes them into the defensive. On the other hand, who wants to spend the time with people whose every sentence is just an expression of their arrogance and ignorance?

The other day, I was talking to some colleagues how come it's theoretical physics (and to a lower extend math) that attracts the vast bulk of these people. I think it's because of the unfortunately still prevailing "genius myth," that in these fields one can make a large impact without much effort (why study physics? why read a textbook?). And that, I am afraid, we have to some extend to blame on ourselves, on all the pop-sci books that with cartoons and oversimplified metaphors sell physics as trivial and something children can do on their drawing pad. To some extend I hope that blogging shows better that physics is a job and requires a solid education like all other jobs. Best,

B.

Bee said...

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the advice. We only have these problems recently, I'm not sure why. You are probably right, I should weed them out more thoroughly, it is really getting too stupid. Also, I have the impression it's a positive feedback (nonsense tends to attract more nonsense). I find it very sad though. I'm trying to reason with these commenters because I'm hoping in the long run it will cause less work, but I can just see it's not working. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

As strange as it might seem I think you may find a parallel between the truly religious and the religious extremist, with the difference being with the truly religious it’s the struggle to understand what’s right through the consideration of others, while with the extremist it is have one's truth to be the only one considered by way of the exclusions of all others, as seeing only their vision could possibly be the right one. That has the first being a search as to lend meaning to their lives, while the second being only purposely meaningless righteousness.

Best,

Phil

Christine said...

It's not really my intention to "insult" people calling them crackpots, although I realize that I may have over reacted here. I am myself a person full of mistakes and I do my best to acknowledge them and to learn something in the process.

It's just that... I am a reader of this excellent blog for a long time and lately I have seen Bee having to respond over and over again -- not a clarification of a certain concept, this she does very well and is appreciated -- but having to deal with pure insistence and sometimes even bad education!

I see no reason for Bee having to stand such things in her own blog, as well as readers having to watch such a flow of unreasonable comments. I could not resist in trying offer some word of support.

As I have written, I think this is all very sad because the genuine interest for science should result in an attempt at learning but all we have here is not a learning process at all.

(Sure, Andrew, you're right!)

For what is worth, anyway, the message is: please leave your own theories elsewhere, and let Bee "fly free"; she has much more interesting things to write and do, and I am sure that is all the intelligent readers look forward.

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Thanks, Christine, your support is much appreciated. Best,

B.

Arun said...

Dear Bee,
I did a google on "Why does physics attract crackpots" and came across this physics-forum thread. There was an amusing comment there:

Quoting a bit: "I think that it is easier to spot a crackpot in science, and in physics/chemistry/math in particular. Most of the time, these crackpot use rather strange notation and language, they mix and match terms but in very weird form, and they often make simple, basic mistakes. So for many of us who know the field, and even for many students who have had elementary introduction to physics, we can spot them from a mile away.

It is more difficult to spot crackpots in other fields, such as politics, economics, social sciences, etc.......So yes, other fields are inundated by crackpots as well. It is just that they can be spotted very clearly in physics, whereas in other areas, they become TV personalities."

Christine said...

Bee wrote:

To some extend I hope that blogging shows better that physics is a job and requires a solid education like all other jobs.

That would be a very important achievement, and if blogs can help in that direction then the effort is quite worthy.

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Arun: *lol* excellent point. Also a bit scary. But it's true, I sometimes wonder how come these people aren't aware how obvious their lack of knowledge is?

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Christine,

Would you settle then for having them be called scientific extremists, as although they take on the mantle of the discipline, they hold no interest in actually following its demands? In this respect I find empathy with Bee’s dilemma as at what point are we able to distinguish one's own practice as not the same as those whom with which we have problem. For me this is the point when someone is not listening, yet only talking. as understanding can only be realized if the first serves to have things properly and earnestly considered and the second to acknowledge that one has.

Best,

Phi

Christine said...

Maybe I'm going quite off-topic here, but another issue that is delicate and worrisome, I think, is the rise of very speculative and untestable theories in certain fronts, and this have been leaving room for a recent phenomenon that I have noticed. "Crackpots" have been arguing that their theories are simpler and "testable" as compared to those speculative (but yet mainstream) theories. So professional scientists would have no right -- they argue -- to criticize them as crackpots! (Something that I have noticed in the comments section here as well). So even though crackpots may offer completely wrong theories, they insist on their simplicity and testability as being unsurpassed virtues, above even obvious flaws.

This is specially worrisome in view of educational issues for the public understanding of what science is.

Best,
Christine

Christine said...

Hi Phil,

Whatever they are called, I only hope there is room for mutual understanding and learning.

Best,
Christine

Bee said...

Hi Christine,

Yes, I noticed the same. I think there's quite some misunderstanding going on there what it means for a theory to be scientific and what a prediction is. It is quite astonishing how outright hostile many of these people are (where you would think they should be interested). Maybe a good topic for a separate post. Best,

B.

Giotis said...

Personally I would prefer to live in a society that could tolerate and listen such voices than to live in a dictatorship of the experts. The citizen has the right to participate and express his opinion about everything. Authority uses the overspecialization of the scientific fields to persuade the people that their opinion has no value since they lack the necessary expertise. Instead they are advised to trust the experts. That's bullshit and very, very dangerous. Look how the 'experts' fucked up the economy. I say don't trust blindly the experts, first of all trust yourself and make up your own mind; read, get informed, investigate, communicate, participate.

Andrew Thomas said...

Giotis said: "Personally I would prefer to live in a society that could tolerate and listen such voices than to live in a dictatorship of the experts."

Fair enough. I just wish they'd post their stuff on blogs I don't have to read instead of screwing-up every thread which Bee puts together. There's a time and a place for everything. But it isn't here.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Christine,

I would agree there exist a danger as you express, yet not from them being falsifiable as to be better yet although even if proven to be wrong, that in some way correct considered superior to ones that have problems of falsification at this point . That’s to recognize that while on one hand GR is superior to Newtonian mechanics this doesn’t have the latter as completely wrong , as in serving no purpose and lending no insight; yet rather it becomes a limited case of the former. The same could be said of the new theories where it first must be shown where their predecessor’s are not so much wrong, but rather limited cases in themselves.

The only problem I have with the current program is they all appear to have one theory as representing the greater level of truth over the other, as say quantum theory as opposed to GR or the other way around. Therefore my admittedly unscientific feeling in regards to all this, is there is a lack of making the attempt to not being swayed one way or another, as to consider perhaps that both theories may be indicative that each holds a truth not able to be found common with the other . This then would have true holism and true discreteness both exist as elements of reality and not one simply masquerading as the other

That’s to say for me nearly all of the current approaches hold semblance to when the battle raged, where many said nature was consistent with being resultant of the actions of particles, while some others as it being only waves; only to find later both must be considered as having a degrees of truth. I confess to having no reasonable or crackpot theory that supports this, only the haunting thoughts lent me resultant of history and thus I’m always listening in hope someone(s) might have actually found a way.

So I would propose as long as those curious, yet if self admittedly wanting of skill, for the most only listen, perhaps a balance of tolerance can be struck between those that search in earnest and those who wait in hope of having gaining a greater understanding of what has been and what may eventually be found.

Best,

Phil

Giotis said...

Andrew, that's Bee's decision and this is her blog. If you look the thread, Bee has responded to every single post and each answer triggered another post. So these long, exhausting debates are her choice.

Andrew Thomas said...

Yeah, like I suggested earlier, she should just delete these posts immediately and not enter a discussion. That is only in agreement with the rules at the bottom: "If you want to introduce a topic different from the one that is posted, please consider starting a blog of your own instead." Otherwise, all these grim comments are going to strangle this blog, which would be a real shame.

Bee said...

Yah. You see, I'm old enough to have learned rational argumentation doesn't always work, but I still think it's at least worth a try. You're right however in that too much tolerance makes reading these comment threats a real pain. The problem is if I go on and delete the stuff without even trying to explain why, I am afraid it will just encourage these people (Galileo! Censorship!). Best,

B.

Bee said...

Comment threat, well, that is one of my more amusing typos :-)

Andrew Thomas said...

"I go on and delete the stuff without even trying to explain why" - if they break the house rules, you are perfectly at liberty to do it.

If Galileo posted something grossly off-topic on my blog, I'd delete it and ban him. I am feeling more sympathy for the inquisition every day.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

I would suggest there is a difference between tolerance and surrender, that some on both sides fail to recognize. This not only applies to policies of conduct with respect to blogs , yet more importantly the greater world that they stand in reflection of.

Best,

Phil

Plato said...

Sean Carroll:These folks aren’t crackpots, but they still face the challenge laid out in the alternative science respectability checklist: “Understand, and make a good-faith effort to confront, the fundamental objections to your claims within established science.” Tell me right up front exactly how your theory explains how a force can point somewhere other than in the direction of its source, and why your theory miraculously reproduces all of the predictions of the dark matter idea (which is, at heart, extraordinarily simple: there is some collisionless non-relativistic particle with a certain density).

I know for sure not to judge another based on their personal opinion about life, even while you hold a science degree:)Shall I weight all further perspective based on that?

Mission statements are like a sign post ahead to hopefully help one to form an opinion in principle. A Principle to which one would like to adhere too, in all endeavors.

To be "Lead by Science" was not a to difficult a task to formulate as a Principle. To "Lead by Science" would not be to difficult either. I am sure all else would follow.

Best,

Plato said...

Lead and lead, are used in different contexts but express the same thing.

The Universe I am sure does not care which.:)

Best,

Andrew Thomas said...

Sean Carroll also makes some interesting points about comments on blogs here. I particularly enjoyed: "You know of whom I speak: the guy who has read the first chapter of The Elegant Universe and come away convinced that he knows more about how spacetime really works than these groupthinking string theorists, or the gal who constructed a model from ordinary household appliances that predicts the masses of all the particles in the Standard Model. (Neither of these examples refers to actual people, at least not to my knowledge; but I wouldn’t be surprised.)"

Phil Warnell said...

All I can say as a personal reflection is if I held as deep a conviction about a theory as some here claim having, I would go to almost any length to have it published; even if it did require some minimal attainment of the credentials to have it be so considered. If this where to fail I would search for someone who was so qualified as perhaps they would champion the idea, even if it meant I may never be recognized for having it. I would however not suffer the pains in having my ideas dismissed time and time again, yet persist in the search of other possible candidates as to have it be accepted.

Of course this only my own way of thinking as to do otherwise would suggest my connection with an idea to be more important than the idea itself and thus what value could it truly hold for me. I’ve always thought this expressed if not the mind certainly the heart of a true theorist and be the only sound reason to have them pursue such a daunting task. That would stand true particularly today since notoriety is so easily attained in so many other ways which would require far less ability, commitment and effort.

Now I think this may be my own cue to just shut up and listen for awhile :-)

Giotis said...

Andrew, well again I prefer Bee's approachability and her willingness to spend effort and time to explain things, than these arrogant, ironical remarks. This demonstrates clearly the unique character of Bee. That being said, it's not that I don't find this kind of clogging of the comment threads annoying sometimes. I do:-)

Andrew Thomas said...

Phil: "I would however not suffer the pains in having my ideas dismissed time and time again, yet persist in the search of other possible candidates as to have it be accepted."

It would be better to figure out why the theory was dismissed, and ask a few hard questions of yourself, before you go submitting it unchanged to someone else.

The thing is, there really isn't a conspiracy of scientists trying to keep these ideas repressed. Everyone wants to know the secrets of the universe, and if you or anyone else comes up with the theory then there are thousands of people who would want to bite your hand off to get at that theory. A good theory stands out a mile.

Rather than having to struggle to get a theory accepted, if you or anyone else was to happen upon the great theory of the universe it would be the simplest thing in the world to get it accepted!! Everyone would want it and they would be battering down your front door.

I always think this when people complain that its hard to get ideas taken-up by companies, be it for inventions or for TV show ideas or for physics theories. That couldn't be further from the truth. Great ideas mean money and fame, and there's people out there in corporation land would love great ideas as everyone gets rich and famous.

The truth is, it is hard to get bad ideas adopted. It is the simplest thing in the world to get a good idea, or a good theory, adopted. If you dreamt-up the theory of inflation of the universe, or symmetry breaking in particle physics, people jump on the idea. Unfortunately, really great theories just don't come along very often. (But bad ideas come along all the time.)

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

”I always think this when people complain that its hard to get ideas taken-up by companies, be it for inventions or for TV show ideas or for physics theories.”

First let me make it clear that I hold no empathy for those of which some have complained, yet quite the opposite. However, this statement of yours I’ve noted indicates a naïveté that I would not have suspected of you. I think also it would be safe to say that Bee herself would disagree with such a notion when it comes to science and I would draw upon my knowledge of science history in additional support.

As for the everyday world this is where you are most mistaken and I can say this from personal experience. That being since the methodology for having an idea to be realized is not simply a hypothesis of mine, but rather one I’ve actually proven personally. The only thing I can say to those that might find this not palatable is that if you have enough good ideas that you sacrifice to be initially thought as those of others most often will have them in time eventually have little choice other than to recognize your value and to admit their own success was as a result at least in part. That’s not because they feel obligated, yet they become fearfully of loosing you as a resource.

Best,

Phil

Andrew Thomas said...

Hi Phil, like I say, good ideas mean big bucks, which is why the American system of venture capital is so strong. People get rich on good ideas - there's a huge demand for good ideas. I don't care if it's technology or physics.

"is not simply a hypothesis of mine, but rather one I’ve actually proven personally."

Well, if you'd had the idea for web-based email in 1995, or a Google-style search engine in 2000 I can assure you you'd have been enjoying the fruits of your success.

But, like I say, great ideas are few and far between. If an idea is rejected repeatedly, the logical conclusion is that it's a bad idea - not "Who else can I send it to?"

Phil Warnell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Warnell said...

Hi Andrew,

Well I can see you’ve tempered your view, which is indicative of a quality which I made no mistake about and that is your ability to listen and consider. Also, I’m not claiming to have had earth shaking ideas, yet rather have had myself recognized over time as both bit of a innovator and go to guy when it comes to problem solving. You might also find it strange to learn that as I grew older I became more resistant to accepting promotion, especially if it meant I would have less opportunity to spend time on ideas and their implementation. That’s simply a result of me liking ideas better then glory or monetary gain.

As to the examples you gave they are primarily connected with the internet and the web. I would point out that other then Sergey and Larry those that profited the most had liitle or nothing to do with the technical innovations, with Gates and Jobs being the most prominent examples. Rather they held or where given a vision as where things were headed and manoeuvred their way into positions where they not only shaped the vision, yet largely controlled its development. So in most respects it’s a synthesis between those that have ideas and those that envision their utility and value. With theoretical physics however it’s a liitle bit different, since more often those with the ideas are also required to carry the vision. However, this serves to makes things often more difficult, rather than easy, since instead of only having to find benefactors, you instead have to cultivate patrons, much the same as the art community has often to do.

As to your last point, I would agree if more than a single or few people reject your idea it’s more likely indicative that them being wrong. However there are many examples in science where the only salvation of an idea was found in the the weight of experiment, for if it were left up to your fellow scientists to decide such ideas would have been thoroughly dismissed. That’s why I find physics in such tenuous times, since more is accomplished through consensus of opinion, rather than the vindication found only in experiment.

Best,

Phil

P.S. I'm sorry for mu last deletion yet I found what I wrote wasn't quite true to my my intended meaning

Anonymous said...

It's really quite simple.

Whoever controls the blog can define "nonsense" and
"correctness" however he/she sees fit.

If you don't like the local definition, move on and stop wasting our time!

Ulrich

Plato said...

Sean:So the question is: how can the comment sections be better? To decode this for our more innocent readers: how can we increase the signal-to-noise ratio? Increasing the signal is one obvious way, but that’s hard.

It is obvious as a layman I have or made no claim to bother scientists with email or such. To in fact "be lead by science" or why be here?

Yes I have read a lot of books.:)

These experiments are therefore done deep underground — to shield from cosmic rays which stream through us all the time — and with the cleanest and purest possible materials — to avoid contamination with both both naturally-occurring radioactivity and the man-made kind which has plagued us since the late 1940s

What becomes self evident then is the measure of, and not the time meet by "arrogant behaviour."

That's part of getting past "the noise" to actually hear what is being said.

The part about how "cheap ideas can be" is really the process of creative endeavour, while the rest is 90% sweat to bring it to fruition.

Search the market place for the viability of the idea. Do a projective cost for a couple of years with the expectation of at least making a profit. If you don't and you done it a couple of years with all losses then, it's not a very good idea. This should have come out in the research?

As one gets older, these bright ideas along with sweat helped perspective to narrow down the cost to viability and whether one would rather take the time to spend it understanding scientists and their work, or to flog some innovation that clogs up their comment section.

I'd rather like to understand scientists and their work then loose sight of "how human they actually are." Truly subjective beings of the times, while the trade calls to them.

While it may work in the research and perspective valuations it is another to meet they own self with such a standard.

Best,