Monday, July 23, 2007

This and That

  • I am very proud to report that I eventually managed to install a recent-comments-box in the sidebar!! Thanks go via several detours back to Clifford.

  • Flip has an excellent post on The Braneworld and the Hierarchy in the Randall Sundrum (I) model

  • Hey America, Germany is catching up.

  • Idea of the day: I suggest that journals which reject more than 70% of submitted manuscripts should offer a consolidation gift. What I have in mind is a shirt saying "My manuscript went to PRD and all I got was this lousy T-shirt".

  • Ever felt like your brain is too small? Think twice (if you have capacity left): Man with tiny brain shocks doctors

  • Coincidentally, I came across the German version of Lee Smolin's book Warum gibt es die Welt? (Life of the Cosmos), which I found somewhat disturbing (I mean, even more than the English version). Among other things (that concern Japanese surfer) I learned that New York is the largest city on the planet (such the re-translation). Apologies to the translator*, but should you consider buying that book, I strongly recommend the English version (to read the original sentence go to amazon, and search inside for "irrelevant content" - amazingly the result is only one hit).

  • Quotation of the day:

    "The days come and go like muffled and veiled figures sent from a distant friendly party, but they say nothing, and if we do not use the gifts they bring, they carry them as silently away."

    Ralph W. Emerson, in Society and Solitude [Vol 7], Chapter VII: Works and Days

* It turned out my husband knows him personally. It's a small world...


  1. Your ring-binding background image is nice but at 1024 pixels width it's not quite wide enough (it repeats when you stretch your browser to the right). You should increase the width of the white space in the background image to maybe 1500 or 2000 pixels.

  2. Hi Andrew: Thanks for letting me know. Now that you mentioned it, I remember I did the same thing with the old background but forgot about it when I changed it. I set the width to 2000px, would you give it a second try and let me know whether it's better? Best, B.

  3. hmm, I could instead just set the background img to no-repeat x on color #fff?

  4. Dear Bee,

    Please see Michael Moore's Sicko and then pray that not Germany and not any other country catches up with America in that respect.


  5. Man with tiny brain shocks doctors - I'm sure the literature from N years ago documents such cases because I've read of similar things before. Probably the shock is seeing it for oneself in real life instead of in the literature.

  6. Hi Arun,
    While reading about the empty skull, I had the vague impression of having heard a similar story of water bubbles inside the brain before - so thanks for confirming my sense of deja lu. When I browse the internet, I often have this sense of stories re- and re-re-surfacing after periods of 3-4 years.
    I have an ex-boyfriend who keeps pointing out Moore's movies too ... maybe I should indeed give it a try (the only one I saw was bowling for columbine).
    Reg Potter: Since I own the first 6 Potter's in German (more or less accidentally), I will wait for the last part to be translated (sometime October or so). Though I suspect it will be almost impossible to avoid every spoiler until then... every newspaper I open screams Potter, its totally nuts.


  7. About the recent comments feature: Happy to help. You're too kind though... I think I merely stated that it was possible.


  8. I think I merely stated that it was possible.

    See - that's all it takes...

  9. The recent comments feature is great :-)

    Best, stefan

  10. I am unfamiliar with the scientific community's ideas regarding Life of the Cosmos (haven't read it myself)... is it that bad?

  11. Dear Domenic,

    well, I am not the scientific community, but let me clarify that I didn't mean to say the book is not recommendable - I just found the German translation somewhat, aehm, funny. I have to admit I didn't even finish the book: I made several attempts, but each time I managed to finish a page I felt like I had to think about it for a week or so. There is just too much stuff packed together.

    After a while though I figured out a good use for the book: Open it randomly at some page, read out an arbitrary sentence, and I assure you'll have a topic to discuss the whole evening ;-) Let me give that a try... okay, here we go: "[Mathematics] is the only religion, so far as I know, no one has ever killed for." (p. 179). Or, the one I mentioned above "In Japan I am told there are indoor pools for surfers." (p. 132).

    More seriously: the scientifically relevant stuff you also find in Lee's papers, though the appendix of the book is useful there. If you're asking about CNS - I can't make very much sense out of it, but the line of thought that leads there is worth following anyhow. At least the English version is a nicely written pop sci book that is worth a read as it discusses several questions of contemporary cosmology (though one should keep in mind the book is already 10 years old, so the newer developments are missing).



  12. Thanks Bee. I was responding in particular to "which I found somewhat disturbing (I mean, even more than the English version)." Now that you mention it, I remember you talking about having to think about each page in the past.

  13. Ha! At least I'm self-consistent :-) I might have added the one or other page since then though. Best - B.

  14. [Mathematics] is the only religion, so far as I know, no one has ever killed for."

    "I have the leisure to study without the distractions of having to support myself. I view prison as a sort of utopia with constraints."

    - Theodore Streleski

  15. About the recent comments feature: Happy to help. You're too kind though... I think I merely stated that it was possible.

    I state that a quantum theory of gravity is possible. Please credit me in your Nobel Lecture. :)

  16. [Mathematics] is the only religion, so far as I know, no one has ever killed for."

    It is said that Hippasus was drowned by the Pythagoreans for his discovery of irrational numbers. So now you know better.

  17. Bee: Your husband knew Ralph Waldo Emerson? :)
    I see that Lubos has given you the
    Christine Dantas treatment. While I like reading his memos, if something isnt entirely stringy, watch out for the squid defense--he disappears in a cloud of cantankerous ink.
    Given that I was almost censored for mentioning that maybe Lee S wrote the review of the Einstein biogs because he admired Einstein rather than that he was promoting LQG, I dont really understand why he has allowed a garrulous, offensive crackpot to taint his blog threads
    ( Dartiere, not you :) )

  18. Dear Bee,

    Michael Moore makes a good documentary, but you can watch Sicko just for the factual content and not the movie. The point is that health care is one area where no one should emulate the USA.


  19. I dunno if you've heard Tom Lehrer, I think from the 60s. Somehow Uncle Al's comment reminded me of the song, of which the presentation is below.

    For many years now, Mr. Danny Kaye, who has been my particular idol since childbirth, has been doing a routine about the great Russian director Stanislavsky and the secret of success in the acting profession. And I thought it would be interesting to stea... to adapt this idea to the field of mathematics. I always like to make explicit the fact that before I went off not too long ago to fight in the trenches, I was a mathematician by profession. I don't like people to get the idea that I have to do this for a living. I mean, it isn't as though I had to do this, you know, I could be making, oh, 3000 dollars a year just teaching.

    Be that as it may, some of you may have had occasion to run into mathematicians and to wonder therefore how they got that way, and here, in partial explanation perhaps, is the story of the great Russian mathematician Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky.

    Who made me the genius I am today,
    The mathematician that others all quote,
    Who's the professor that made me that way?
    The greatest that ever got chalk on his coat.

    One man deserves the credit,
    One man deserves the blame,
    And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach-

    I am never forget the day I first meet the great Lobachevsky.
    In one word he told me secret of success in mathematics:

    Let no one else's work evade your eyes,
    Remember why the good Lord made your eyes,
    So don't shade your eyes,
    But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize -
    Only be sure always to call it please 'research'.

    And ever since I meet this man
    My life is not the same,
    And Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach-

    I am never forget the day I am given first original paper
    to write. It was on analytic and algebraic topology of
    locally Euclidean parameterization of infinitely differentiable
    Riemannian manifold.
    Bozhe moi!
    This I know from nothing.
    What-i'm going-to do.
    But I think of great Lobachevsky and get idea - ahah!

    I have a friend in Minsk,
    Who has a friend in Pinsk,
    Whose friend in Omsk
    Has friend in Tomsk
    With friend in Akmolinsk.
    His friend in Alexandrovsk
    Has friend in Petropavlovsk,
    Whose friend somehow
    Is solving now
    The problem in Dnepropetrovsk.

    And when his work is done -
    Ha ha! - begins the fun.
    From Dnepropetrovsk
    To Petropavlovsk,
    By way of Iliysk,
    And Novorossiysk,
    To Alexandrovsk to Akmolinsk
    To Tomsk to Omsk
    To Pinsk to Minsk
    To me the news will run,
    Yes, to me the news will run!

    And then I write
    By morning, night,
    And afternoon,
    And pretty soon
    My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed,
    When he finds out I publish first!

    And who made me a big success
    And brought me wealth and fame?
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobach -

    I am never forget the day my first book is published.
    Every chapter I stole from somewhere else.
    Index I copy from old Vladivostok telephone directory.
    This book was sensational!
    Pravda - well, Pravda - Pravda said: (Russian double-talk)
    It stinks.
    But Izvestia! Izvestia said: (Russian double-talk)
    It stinks.
    Metro-Goldwyn-Moskva buys movie rights for six million rubles,
    Changing title to 'The Eternal Triangle',
    With Ingred Burgman playing part of hypotenuse.

    And who deserves the credit?
    And who deserves the blame?
    Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name.

  20. Bee, where does Lee
    say Q Gravity came from?

  21. Dear Bee,

    A question which you don't have to answer - why do you care about LuboŇ° Motl's opinion?

    If you know where to search, you will find that I have a (debating) presence on the Internet for the last 17 years or so. Two lessons you may learn from my experience is:

    1. Don't waste time on the Internet.

    2. If you feel compelled to spend time on the Internet, then ruthlessly ignore a certain kind of person, an example of which is mentioned earlier.


  22. Arun, maybe Bee oughta consider having a Lubotomy. Recall, not too long ago, CIPig seriously considered going under the knife to rid himself of Lubos -- until I mentioned a few less invasive, yet equally effective alternatives to brain surgery.;-)

  23. I did a search on T. Streleski & was shocked to find When Student-Adviser Tensions Erupt, the Results Can Be Fatal

    There is even a case of a professor killing other professors in the dept, because of tenure denial! This gives frightening perspective to R. Knop's verbal outburst on his blog.

    Another reference here:

    In The Ph.D. Trap, Cude tells about Theodore Streleski, a doctoral candidate in math at Stanford University in California. After 19 years of work toward his PhD, his marriage had collapsed, he was near financial ruin, and still had no PhD At that point he took a hammer and bludgeoned his thesis supervisor. When police opened his briefcase, they found the hammer and a list of names that included his thesis supervisor, the department chairman, the dean, the president of the university.

    "Stanford University took 19 years of my life with impunity, and I decided I would not let that pass," Streleski said.

    Cude says, "Though we agree the system is unjust, we certainly differ on our methods of dealing with it. Streleski used a hammer, I use a pen." Cude is finishing a sequel, The Ph.D. Trap Revisited. It updates the information, and draws on the letters Cude has received from fellow victims and other critics of PhD programs.

    Moore starts his book with mention of the fact that when Theodore Streleski bludgeoned his committee chairman to death with a ball peen hammer at Stanford, frustrated with how long things were taking, he had been in the Ph.D. program for 19 years. Moore suggests that it would have been hard to find a jury of Streleski's peers that would convict him!

    Here's the Time Magazine story. I have read that for a while, Stanford physics students would bring ball peen hammers to their dissertation defenses.

    I was shocked to find quotes from people saying that "Stanford abuses grad students". During grad-school, I recall my office-mate laughingly showing me a Stanford PhD thesis which said under Acknowledgement: "Nobody". But wait, I knew this myself as a grad-student at my university..I call Academia an "abusive environment".

    T. Streleski came up in my own "research" on Academia. I asked a UIUC math professor (from Germany whose dad was Max Plancks PhD student, who co-proved 4-color Theorem by computer) about suicide/murder rates. He immediately brought up T. Streleski who was an alumni of UIUC math dept (?), & possibly my high-school (!): University High School (UIUC campus, famous for "New Math" program along with Stanford Univ). The latter (like Harvard, Caltech, Stanford) has had some high-profile suicides & related scandals.

    "pressure-cookers lead to implosions"

    The latest is Billy Cottrell/Caltech (Physics grad student in String Theory, Ooguri's student), who is languishing in federal prison for "environmental terrorism". Unfortunately, he is being harassed & can't do research (like Streleski was able to do).

  24. Hi Gordon:

    The * refers to the translator of Lee's book. Turns out he was Stefan's supervisor.

    Hi Arun:

    That poem is great! If I can come up with sufficient cities that rhyme I should try a Western version :-)

    why do you care about LuboŇ° Motl's opinion?

    What makes you think I care?

    Hi Cynthia:

    It's called projection. Evidently, you are the one whose world revolves around what Lubos says and does.



  25. Hi Quasar:

    Bee, where does Lee
    say Q Gravity came from?

    i-dont-know-coz-i-did-not-read-the-book. I have the vague impression though that at least the recent papers say its the other way round. like, everything comes from QG. Best,


  26. Hi Bee,
    I know everything in the observable universe is said to come from the Q Gravity epoch.
    I meant where do Lee and Bee say the Q Gravity came from ...

    Did all the mass of a sister (or parallel) universe pass thru a macrostate blackhole, or could it simply bee that it came from a great singularity or ball.

    See bee if nothing falls into a microstate blackhole, and everything radiates back, then all the energy would have been left in the sister (or parallel) universe.

    If all the mass via gravity can be compressed into a great ball - and harry potter used his wand to make it expand, then gravity with great mass you'll always find, scattered in dense clusters of stars and galaxies throught the known Uni-verse

    Gravity on my brane, gravity all the same
    Gravity is the game, great mass the plane
    Gravity in the frame, massive is the 'drain'

  27. Dear Bee,

    Tom Lehrer sings this very well with a pseudo-Russian accent and piano accompaniment. Maybe I can get a MP3 across to you.

    You expended effort defending yourself on the Reference Frame. Hence my conclusion that you care.


  28. Dear Quasar:

    I meant where do Lee and Bee say the Q Gravity came from ...

    Well, regarding the Bee: for me the question is not so much where QG came from, but where it went to.

    or could it simply bee that it came from a great singularity or ball.

    It's not that quantum gravity 'came' from a region of strong curvature, but that in this regime its effects would be much more significant than they are today.

    See bee if nothing falls into a microstate blackhole, and everything radiates back, then all the energy would have been left in the sister (or parallel) universe.

    To my best knowledge, nobody has ever seen energy leaving our universe. I am not even exactly sure what you mean with universe? Do you mean the inside of the black hole should no longer be thought of as being part of 'our' universe?

    Please understand that I don't want to speculate on what opinion Lee might have.

    Dear Arun:

    You expended effort defending yourself on the Reference Frame. Hence my conclusion that you care.

    Well, I can't say I am very happy about Lubos' post, but I addressed his grossest misinterpretations - not so much because I care about his opinion (he's not going to change it anyhow) but because one or the other reader might end up with a very distorted picture if his writing were left uncommented.

    Besides this, it's a well known and widely used technique to use arguments in a dialogue for making a potentially boring topic more lively and accessible to the reader ;-)



  29. Hey Quasar: I just only saw the photos you linked to! These are great. Though it reminds me more of spin networks than of M-branes ;-)


  30. Hi Bee,
    I didn't mean you to speculate on Lee's opinions, I meant to debate on Lee's 'theory' or theories.

    "To my best knowledge, nobody has ever seen energy leaving our universe. I am not even exactly sure what you mean with universe? Do you mean the inside of the black hole should no longer be thought of as being part of 'our' universe?"

    Bee, I thought it was on this matter where debate was hottest or even 'revolved' around.
    Does anything going thru a hole without a singularity, leave our four dimensions (or this brane) into a fifth dimension - or even to a parallel (sister) universe. Or does it simply fall thru the hole into another place in 'our' universe or spacetime.

    You know like if something could fall through a hole in the earth, and come out the other side.
    But what would make it fall into the hole if there is no gravity there, and what would drag it (kicking and screaming) into the hole if there were no massive gravity pulling it in?
    Maybe nothing falls into the hole, and maybe there is no hole.

    As for the pics, the spiders certainly spin a web - lol!
    But there can be a hundred spiders spin their webs into a thick mesh in the same place - yet each one will respond only to prey which falls on its web (or membrane).
    I'll try to get you a better pic, but pretty much like mobile phone communications, except these spider webs have actual tensions, vibrations and other M-brane like qualities.

  31. Hi Quasar:

    Bee, I thought it was on this matter where debate was hottest or even 'revolved' around.

    Not in the part of the universe that I live in ;-) The inside of the black hole is still a part of 'our' spacetime, just that nothing can come out of there. I wouldn't call that another universe. To our best current knowledge, the black hole evaporates, leaving nothing behind but the emitted radiation with the well known problem of information loss. As far as I know, CNS doesn't take black hole evaporation into account. In this regard, you might want to look at Lee's recent paper.


  32. Bee: Yes, I know about the *--I was being facetious, but then I forgot about the famous German sense of humor :)

  33. sorry :-) Sometimes humor isn't easy to convey in written form. The only thing my humor is famous for is being mistaken for suicidal tendencies.

  34. So there is no 'massive' gravity inside the blackhole.
    And any mass & gravity is emitted as radiation. Mass & gravity is (atomised) evaporated or dispersed across the Universe.

    Or, the singularity inside the blackhole pulls any matter within reach, until there is no matter within its attractive force to either pull in and/or emit as radiation at the bh boundary.

    The subtle difference is still that at the subatomic level and at short distances gravity is or can be overpowered by the other forces, whereas in the bulk it can become so massive to overcome them.

    PS - Thanks for the link to Lee's paper. The bounce becomes interesting if even that which is being emitted as radiation at the boundary of a blackhole is attracted again & again, and ultimately it falls into the blackhole, until eventually you are left with the whole universe in a singularity or ball. By sheer design or accident, at this point again the whole (perpetual?) process begins, with no need of information loss - don't forget time is contained in the universe that emerged, in a cyclical universe TIME would be contained in the next universe that emerges ..+..+..+..+
    they would not be occurring in any arrow of time, since time itself is contained within the bounces.

    All the best

  35. Speaking of blog backgrounds, I really loved the one with the flashing dots that kind of looked like neurons firing or something.



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