Monday, February 22, 2010


I'll be visiting Perimeter Institute the coming three weeks. If I manage to get to Toronto that is. I'm flying with Lufthansa, but Lufthansa decided they'll go on strike, starting today. According to newspaper reports two thirds of their flights were cancelled, mine among them. I managed to rebook on a partner airline, but since the flight is operated by Lufthansa, I'm still not entirely sure I'll actually make it to the other side of the ocean. Not to mention that the rebooking implies I'll have to get up in the middle of the night, which doesn't lift my mood. Reason for the strike is apparently that the labor union of pilots is afraid Lufthansa will increasingly outsource services and insists on having a say in the decisions which routes will remain for Lufthansa pilots. The employer says this request is "not negotiable." Sympathies for the pilots are limited though because it's a tremendously well-paid job. For what I am concerned, well, next time I'll fly Delta.

In any case I'll probably be stuck in transit for a while. Should I make it to Canada you'll get an update on the building construction at PI.

Some of our readers might enjoy having a look at our last week's colloquium by Jan de Boer, a string theorist from the University of Amsterdam, on "Holography, quantum gravity and black holes" (video and audio here.) I found his talk was somewhat too basic even for a colloquium, it would have been more suitable for a public lecture but it was well delivered and is very accessible indeed. You'll have to take this talk with a grain of salt though. I can basically see some of you'll have their hair stand up with statements like "string theory is right now the only consistent theoretical framework which contains both quantum mechanics and general relativity."Anyway, it will give you an idea why string theorists are excited about the AdS/CFT duality and what it's good for, see also these earlier posts, so forgive the man some overstatements.


  1. "string theory is right now the only consistent theoretical framework which contains both quantum mechanics and general relativity."

    Nine out of ten science journalists agree. What is the percentage of Physicists? I vote this expression as the most over-used hype expression in Physics in the last 10, 20, and 30 years. If there's a more over-used expression, do tell.

    Bee, do you have a link to Lee's paper explaining that AdS/CFT can also be explained by Loops?

    "Who decided a 'conjecture' should be promoted to a 'principle'?"
    ... Roger Penrose, "Road to Reality", 2004

    Also, good luck finding a flight across the big pond. If worse comes to worse, I'm sure they still run cruise ships out of Southampton. Good luck.

  2. Steven: I don't know, I didn't make a survey. Most physicists probably don't care one way or the other. I've said that many times before, but despite the attention the topic gets in the media, it is only a small fraction of the community that is concerned with obscure topics like quantum gravity.

    You might be talking about this paper. But please don't ask me what it says because I didn't read it.

    How far is it to America? Shut up, keep swimming :-p



  3. Hi Bee,

    I've always found it curious that most unions believe the best way to get an employer’s attention is to piss off the customers who are the ones that actually pay their salaries. The end result of such action is to have the customers go elsewhere with job losses among their membership as a result. It has one to stop and think what if any progress has been made in the way employees and companies deal with one another. When will all involved come up with methods of negotiating for which the end result doesn’t amount to shooting themselves in the foot. That said I do hope you manage to navigate your waythrough it all as finally to have had a nice visit.



  4. Well, the idea is that the workers show their employer who really has the power, ie if the employees don't do their job the bosses will see dramatic losses. In most cases customers have sympathy for the unions' fights, at least in Germany it's just part of the way the system works. In this case however it seems quite a dumb idea. Basically the pilots are trying to convince their employer not to outsource their jobs by behaving as badly as they possibly can. What consequences would you draw? Best,


  5. Hi Bee,

    I’m well aware it’s a power thing, yet it all seems so primitive, counterproductive and never changing. When will it come down to deciding how much of the gross revenues are considered to belong to the employees and have the workers both represented and responsible for the decisions that affect the well being of the companies they work for. Also when are companies going to consider their employees not to be no different than being commodities rather than the primary reason to have them exist. It seems that words like transparency and inclusiveness are just that, only words.

    I don’t know if you have followed the local news this way since you left, yet recently tensions have been rising rapidly between our public transport employees and the general public to the point that its getting pretty ugly with no end in sight of relieving the tension. I’ve always liked to believe that our species was one whose destiny was not to have it be ultimately defined only by who rules and who serves, yet rather of ideals and purpose reflective of a higher plane. Then again perhaps this requires an act of evolution with our kind just representing another link in the chain to having it be realized.



  6. Great video. What I found interesting is the reason that de Broer seems to think CFT is more fundamental than AdS. If it does turn out that AdS and CFT are dual theories, then they are two equivalent ways of characterizing the Universe. But de Boer continually refers to the CFT interactions on the boundary of spacetime as causing gravitational interactions in the interior, and not vice versa. Why?

    His main argument seems to be that this picture provides a solution to the quantum information loss problem. All evolutions on the boundary are unitary, since they're just governed by QFT. But they "give rise to" non-unitary developments in the interior, such as information loss in black holes. However, if CFT is more fundamental, then the "real" evolution is unitary -- which is the most desirable state of affairs -- and the appearance of non-unitary evolution is just a secondary, "non-fundamental" effect.

  7. Basically the pilots are trying to convince their employer not to outsource their jobs

    Non negotiable? Everything's negotiable. But imagine putting a stumbling block in the process immediately and you see the consequence. It's a given for some to assume this in principle is okay without understanding negotiation.I guess some do not understand leverage as well? You take that away and what do you have?

    The success of the non-unionized wage is the people "who do negotiate" from a certain position. Govern-mentally, you can take that leverage away and then you have "sheep all over.":)

    And, a source of income that would exist below minimum wage. It's funny that one could leave the wage issue in anothers hands and think the employee will be so considerate. Sort of like dropping the cost of food stuffs along with the decrease in cost of fuel transport, eh?

    How about one divides up those who are unionized and those who are not, and see if capitalism works so that the shift in dollars spent by consumerism is a choice taken by each group, one side or the other?

    How about such leverage encouraging the FederaL Gov. to think about retirees without pension plans to help them live above poverty? Encouraging pension plans from investing wisely( in line with cost of living or high risk in the market place?), instead of supporting infrastructure that seek to control population over the simple necessity of living, like water?

    In concert with health care reform in the US "is this next question" of how we will treat those seniors who have very little in the advancing years.

    Not only do the unfortunate experience complete devastation from the "inevitable sickness that will over take them," but let's ensure they suffer more when it comes time to make way for another to come into the work force?

    Some people have no idea.

    Yes of course there are peaceful means and strategies, that would seem more sensible, but setting the tone immediately when fractionating the company to smaller entities to contract out, one understands how it is that they can break up that solidarity, eh?:)

    One has understand that a group of people who call them self a union are democratically working within the principals with which laws had been developed to allow such organizations to exist. In some minds "non profit" would be better wiped off the map, then to seek itself become a force of anything. That, is very undemocratic.

  8. Anyway back to the idea of unitary. Might someone explain this better.

    I am under the impression, that from a standpoint of what is measurable, lets say from a perspective of how one uses the calorimeter to set up "the measure of information" is information from a source(interior of the black hole). Is a means in which to measure "the collapse" beyond the horizon? Information, about quantum gravity.

    Ideally then, it is this measurable facilitating(unitary?) that one likes to encourage in a process for such measure?


  9. Bryan: I don't know why the way he expressed it his explanation seems to contain a causation from the boundary to the bulk. Since both are (conjectured to be) dual, you could equally well speak of a causation the other way 'round. Regarding the black hole information, the duality tells you the bulk evolution has to be unitary too. Best,


  10. String theory is not physical.

    All string vacua demand the Equivalence Principle (through BRST invariance uniting the effects of a massive body and an accelerated inertial observer). Ended them all with a bench experiment whose non-zero net output would meticulously not contradict any prior observation in any venue at any scale.
    Somebody should look.

    Teleparallel gravitation embedded in Weitzenböck spacetime with torsion not curvature is politically nekulturny. To date, there is no reason why it cannot be correct and many reasons why it is necessary.

  11. How galling that Lufthansa are going on strike! My husband just booked a ticket for a conference, and chose Lufthansa because he thought that his other option, British Airways, might cancel the flight because of strikes. Irony.

  12. Uncle Al,

    Let me help you.

    A sock cannot identify feet. A left shoe cannot identify a left foot, but a right foot is anomalous.Lubos has been good to you

    Equivalence Principal New Wash Pendulum

    Equivalence principle' at the University of Washington, What does 'The Eöt-Wash Group' really observe, measure and describe?

    In contradiction to the above presented interpretations, the reviewers(Journal of Geodynamics) of the article
    "1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes; 16 June 1819; 26 January 2001 Republic Day and 26 Dec. 2004 Sumatra-seaquake confirm the west drift of "Tectonical Death Zone" write: Quotations:
    1. "…The centrifugal force does not exist at all..."
    2. "Now, I have a terrible news for the author... May be he should sit before continuing the reading...There is no such a thing as “centrifugal force” (...) So, centrifugal force cannot be a force, as there is nothing creating it, and there is no reaction force."


  13. There is an interesting discussion off a T. Dorigo (just added to my FBFs!) post about how many fundamental particles there really are, which has turned to string theory and the relativity (general concept) of what's really "fundamental":
    Scientificblogging QDS thread

    Watch out, LuMo is there! His answers are rather interesting and intelligent sounding. I get the impression he has thoughtful notions of his own, but doesn't "get" or appreciate other people very well many times.

    BTW I recommend checking the scientificblogging site too, not just science blogs.

  14. Plato, the blog analysis of Eot/Wash is wrong. Eot/Wash is the best apparatus, the best people, and rigorous analysis, 47.6° latitude vs. optimal 44.952° (WGS84). Given PSR J1903+0327, there is no composition, quantum, or relativistic EP violation. Only one case remains - in chemistry.

    Lubos and I are cordial. I propose the EP will fail for chemically identical, opposite geometric parity atomic mass distributions. That contradicts no prior observation. If the EP is true, quantized gravitation is not unreasonable. If the EP fails, rewrite physics.

    Opposite parity test masses are single crystals in enantiomorphic space groups P3(1)21 versus P3(2)21 or P3(1) versus P3(2). Petitjean's ab initio quantitative geometric parity divergence software agrees. (QCM configured stereocenters chemistry cannot name.) The lowest formula weight and tightest atomic packing mounts the largest number of smallest shoes within the rotor's weight limit. Vapor pressure (rotor in hard vacuum) suggests alpha-quartz then gamma-glycine. Both space group pairs offer many lesser candidates.

    No EP violations occured in 420+ years of looking. Only one massed divergence remains untested, spacetime geometry challenged by test mass geometry. Theory is no better than its postulates. Bordeaux, France is 44.83 N, then east across Europe. Somebody should look.

  15. Since the video Bee links to in this post presents what the speaker calls indirect experimental evidence of the correctness of the string approach i.e. the ability to apply the AdS/CFT correspondence to solve certain quark-gluon plasma and superconductivity problems, I think it's appropriate to quote what Bee said in her original Black Hole Information Loss Paradox post (June 24, 2008). This is a verbatim quote, as she went through various proposed solutions to the paradox and her problems with the solutions:

    Solution: Since the AdS/CFT conjecture relates black holes (in AdS space) to a quantum theory one knows is unitary on the boundary, this would mean the evolution in the bulk is also unitary.

    Problem: As long as the conjecture is unproved one could equally well consider the information loss problem, if real, as a counter-example for the validity of the conjecture. (Also, I personally would find it unsatisfactory would this only work in AdS space).

    Bee's "problem" with the proposed solution seems to me to be puzzling. She says that the "information loss problem, if real" can be considered "a counter-example for the validity of the conjecture". Wait a second, there!! You have a paradox created by two plausible lines of argument coming to antithetical conclusions: 1) Hawking's analysis that his thermalized radiation will cause the permanent loss of "information" without its ever being obtainable and 2) quantum theory requiring that all "information" be obtainable in principle. AdS/CFT provides a resolution of this "paradox". How can Bee claim that simply asserting that a problem might continue is a counter-example that would impugn the validity of the proposed solution? She is, in essence, saying "But if we assume the information loss to be real, then the solution is invalid." No kidding, but that's hardly an argument against the proposed solution. In fact, it's classic "circular reasoning". It's like someone arguing against General Relativity in 1918 saying, "But if next year's solar eclipse experiment shows that light is not bent nearly to the degree Einstein claims, then GR is invalid. Therefore, I've provided a counterexample refuting GR." No you haven't, you've just stated the obvious tautology that if evidence refutes a theory, then the theory is invalid. But until such evidence is procured, you must show some possible questionable assumptions or logical flaws in the conjecture to undermine or invalidate it.

  16. Giles: There's nothing circular about what I said, it's a logical inversion. The argument is: AdS/CFT => unitary black hole collapse and evaporation. What I'm saying is: non-unitary black hole collapse and evaporation => no AdS/CFT. Besides that, you kind of forget that in physics "proposing" a solution isn't sufficient, you also have to show it's indeed the right solution. And for all I know there's no observational evidence whatsoever for what actually happens in Nature. Best,


  17. Bee, I am stunned to read your response! Your invocation of the equivalence between a statement and its contrapositive (or what you called its "inversion") is true but completely irrelevant. The AdS/CFT analysis adds a logical, explanatory and predictive framework (note how the speaker in the video you linked to cited its very successful application to the quark-gluon plasma and superconductivity problems) in ingeniously reconciling two plausible and SEEMINGLY contradictory lines of reasoning. What you did in your "refutation" was simply say, "If it turns out that its predictions are wrong, then the conjecture is wrong." With all due respect, that's true, but, unlike what AdS/CFT contributes, your response adds nothing but a partial statement of the scientific method. It's nice to be reminded of it, but that does NOT constitute a counter-example. AdS/CFT offers a brilliant, logically-compelling solution to a puzzle, with certain implications. You say in effect "if those implications are false, the solution is false". Do you really believe that leaves AdS/CFT and your response to it on an equal footing? Two things can be a statement and its inversion, but that doesn't mean that's ALL they are! If someone provides a brilliant 100-page theoretical argument, and says it proves X, and you say, "If X is not the case, then the 100-page proof is false", those two are a statement and its inversion, but that isn't ALL they are. One, if correct, is a great contribution, and the other is an always-true and therefore meaningless comment. Sorry for my bluntness, but if you're going to resist the truth then I have to be blunt.

  18. Giles: I made a statement. You agreed the statement is correct. End of discussion. The rest of your comment is a construction of things I never said, which you then want to get upset about. I never said it's a "refutation," I never said that's "all there is," and so on, and so on. If you want to complain about things I never said, please do so elsewhere, but spare me the fuzz. Thanks,


  19. I love this comment Bee makes, and I quote:

    "Giles: I made a statement. You agreed the statement is correct. End of discussion."

    No, madam, I agreed the statement is correct but "completely irrelevant". The fact that you omitted that qualification shows your desperation at this point, as you struggle to maintain a pulse in your terminally ill argument.

    A person who tries to end a discussion not by administering a logical coup de grace to her opponent's ACTUAL argument but by presenting a patently false representation of his argument and simply declaring, "End of discussion", is not a skillful debater confident of her position, but an authoritarian personality who seeks to silence those who successfully rebut that position.

    Read Einstein's biography, and see how the great ones respond to their own blunders.

  20. Giles: I actually don't care very much whether you find it relevant what I write or not, but if not why are you here? I don't even know which "argument" I made is "terminally ill." I made a statement, we agree it is correct, I don't even know what you're arguing about or with whom. I was not presenting a "false" representation of your argument, I told you that you're constructing things I never said so you have something to argue about, and I'm not interested in that.


  21. Dear Bee,

    I think the mathematician who wrote on Peter Woit's blog that physicists should start using the word "conjecture" was exactly right.

    AdS/CFT is still a conjecture, right? Despite all the supporting evidence so far. So real information loss would rule out the AdS/CFT conjecture. Since we don't have a mechanism for information to be preserved, real information loss remains a possibility. Seems Giles Goat Boy is assuming that AdS/CFT is an established fact.

    Reminds me of an old joke about a prime number conjecture.

    The engineer notices, 3,5,7 are primes and so pronounces - all odd numbers are primes.

    The physicist is a bit more careful. He notes 9 is not a prime. But is not discouraged and continues, 11 is prime, 13 is prime, 15 is not prime, 17 is prime, 19 is prime. Aha, he declares, within experimental errors, all odd numbers are prime.



  22. Bee said: "Since both are (conjectured to be) dual, you could equally well speak of a causation the other way 'round."

    Excellent! It's clear that the idea that quantum field theories are somehow more fundamental than gravity is just prejudice. If we are going to argue about this, we can't do it on the basis of what is alleged to be an exact equivalence. You *might* do it by looking at which side is more successful at explaining features of the other. As de Boer makes very clear, all of the applications of AdS/CFT involve using gravity to account for aspects of field theories. So clearly quantum field theories are not fundamental, they are just EMERGENT by-products of gravity. HA!

  23. Lubos,

    I have deleted your comment. You can try to post it later again when Sabine is online again, so she can reply.

    In the meantime, you should know perfectly well that I am just completely disgusted by your endless distortion of other peoples statements, if only this serves your own agenda. Defamation and falseness, that's your business now, as I see it.

    Moreover, as I have neither time nor interest to deal with the dirt that comes from the Reference Frame, I'll shut down the comments here until Sabine is online again.

  24. The Standard Model via the Higgs, SUSY, SUGRA; dark matter, dark energy; all quantized gravitations of all classes and models contain no reproducible experiment that has validated or falsified any of them. (If the SM requires the Higgs and there is no Higgs, the SM is a heuristic.)

    We are a universe wherein weak interactions display parity violation. Weak gravitation should be massed sector parity-odd. Theory postulates the vacuum began and remains parity-even. Rigorous derivation from incomplete founding postulates dinged Euclid and Newton. Yang and Lee went to Sweden having demonstrated particle physics was wrong (for obvious parity-even reasons).

    Teleparallel gravitation naturally separates mass from weight. I offer four bench experiments therefrom testing for massed sector vacuum chiral anisiotropy. Non-predictive theory is not defensible beyond its derivation. Observation tells theory what to predict. Somebody should look outside inert theory.

    If Uncle Al is the voice of reason, you should re-examine your basis sets. "8^>)

  25. Little did I realize what I was stumbling into, when I made what I believed was an innocuous correction of an error on Bee's part!!!

    I have only been aware of Bee's blog since around Feb. 7, when I was trying to learn more about the information loss paradox and Bee's blog post of that date was a search result. I read it, and her related 2008 post to which she linked, and after watching the de Boer video yesterday I was certain she had made a logical error in the way she challenged AdS/CFT in the 2008 post. I'm not a physicist, by the way, just (I hope) an intelligent person fascinated by developments in the field who is trying to learn at least the contours of the various arguments. I am, however, someone capable of critical analysis and it was evident to me that the way Bee handled AdS/CFT in the 2008 post was LOGICALLY flawed. Not personally acquainted with very many physicists, I did not anticipate the amount of ego some physicists invest even in a mere blog post. I foolishly believed Bee would instantly see the inadequacy of her 2008 response when I pointed it out, would acknowledge it (perhaps a little embarrassedly), and would produce, if possible, a better one. Instead she adamantly clung to an indefensible position, increasingly replacing argument with invective and disdainful, dismissive comments. Her last remark to me, where she begins, "Giles: I actually don't care very much whether you find it relevant what I write or not, but if not why are you here?" is downright silly, since I was saying a particular argument she advanced was irrelevant, not her writing in general. Obviously she knew that, but was so upset by how badly things were going for her that she descended into reasoning clearly unworthy of her.

    Only today have I become acquainted with Lubos Motl and his blog The Reference Frame, and I have no idea of the history between Lubos and Bee. Stefan, like any devoted husband would, gallantly rushed to Bee's defense when Lubos evidently had some unkind things to say about Bee, although I think deleting Lubos's comments and temporarily shutting down all further responses was excessive.

    In today's blog post (Feb. 23, 2010) on The Reference Frame, Lubos discusses my debate with Bee, and I think very deftly advances and fleshes out my viewpoint with an interesting analogy. It is true that he has some harsh things to say about Bee. Though I am perhaps not really competent to judge, it seems to me that both Bee and Lubos are highly intelligent people who have a great deal to contribute to the world of physics--at least, when in a calm and rational frame of mind!!!

    Bee, I think you're far too smart not to fully realize by this point the mistake you made. If you really don't, then if you can bring yourself to read Lubos's post on the subject I think you'll find his (and my) arguments logically irresistible. The fact that you had a temporary lapse in the 2008 post does not make you anything but a fallible human being, which we all are. And for some further consolation, I heartily recommend a wonderful article by Steven Weinberg in the Nov. 2005 Physics Today, in which he chronicles SOME of Einstein's errors--they were too numerous for all of them to be contained in a single article!!!! (It's available online in a separate PDF, just google "Steven Weinberg Einstein's Mistakes".) As you would say Bee,

    Best, Gilesgoatboy

  26. Gilesgoatboy,

    frankly, I do not believe a single word of your story.

    Bee is not available at the moment, so please be a bit patient to get an answer from her.

    But as you are around, please tell me, I am curious:

    What makes a seemingly intelligent person assume that what one can read on The Reference Frame is anything else than distortion of facts, slander, or outright lies? Why should I take serious anyone who seems to take serious TRF as a source of information? Can you explain that to me?

  27. gilesgoatboy: Though I am perhaps not really competent to judge...

    The one true statement in that long comment.

  28. Stefan, you say, "frankly, I do not believe a single word of your story." Stefan, what story?????? You seem to imply that I have some secret agenda and what I said in my post was a "cover story", that I'm part of a conspiracy perhaps. It sounds like fun, I kind of wish it were true, but actually it's nothing more complicated or sinister than what I said in my post: I was interested in learning more about the information loss paradox, read Bee's posts, and when I learned enough about the subject realized Bee had made a logical error in her challenge to AdS/CFT. I then thought she might be interested in having her mistake pointed out. (BIG MISTAKE ON MY PART!!!)

    You ask,"What makes a seemingly intelligent person assume that what one can read on The Reference Frame is anything else than distortion of facts, slander, or outright lies? Why should I take serious anyone who seems to take serious TRF as a source of information? Can you explain that to me?"

    Stefan, my first and only reading of The Reference Frame was today's post, Lubos Motl's discussion of the debate between Bee and myself. I have absolutely no knowledge of the blog or the man beyond that. I can say that in his comments on the debate he was eminently reasonable and persuasive. I do admit to being shocked by his comments about Bee, but I have no idea what may have occurred in the past between Bee and him, and which of the two is responsible for the obviously extreme acrimony between them at the present time. It seems a shame that such is the case.

  29. Gilesgoatboy it's you who are making an error, you assume that AdS/CFT holds, when it is in fact an unproven conjecture and so cannot be used to prove anything.

    The facts are simple - BH calculations show information is lost while AdS/CFT shows it is conserved, since neither has been confirmed experimentally (or proven mathematically) neither can be used to overrule the other.

    This was the point Bee was making - just as you might want to claim AdS/CFT solves the paradox by showing that information is conserved, I can claim that this is rather a proof that AdS/CFT is wrong, since neither side has experimental support neither side is right.

  30. Dear Giles, please do respond to Stefan's question: "Why should I take serious anyone who seems to take serious TRF as a source of information? Can you explain that to me?"

    The point is this: if LM behaves in such an extreme way towards SH, and you can see also that his views on climate change are equally bizarre [he would *welcome* an increase of 13 degrees because while that would kill millions of people, it would make winters in Czechia more comfortable] do you think that his views on physics are to be trusted? Or is it likely that his overall extremism causes him to make errors in that field too?

    As a matter of fact, there are factually erroneous statements in his article. For example, he says

    "In the very same way, the AdS/CFT correspondence - which preserves the information in the AdS space - is enough to show that black holes - even astrophysically large black holes in asymptotically (nearly) flat space - do preserve the information."

    I guarantee you that if you asked any physicist, including string theorists, they would tell you that there is absolutely no basis for this statement. What is true is that we hope to prove something like that in the [remote] future. LM is incapable of distinguishing what he wants to be true from what is true. In fact, *many* of his writings, including very technical ones, contain errors about physics. LM is a very clear confirmation of the following general principle:

    "There is no limit to the accuracy with which arrogance can simulate incompetence."

  31. tspin, you misunderstood my argument. I'm assuming NOTHING about the actual validity of AdS/CFT, and also, I'm dealing mainly with logic and only a little bit with physics, which is why I feel I'm entitled to comment. I tried very hard in my posts to explain why you could not regard AdS/CFT and Bee's alternative as being of equal status, i.e. each legitimately being a counter-example undermining the other. Since I failed to convince you, may I suggest something? (I know from Stefan's post that I'm already suspect--I feel like the Cary Grant character in the Hitchcock movie "North By Northwest", the innocent man going about his business who's mistaken for a conspirator and has his life turned upside down-- and this suggestion won't help allay his suspicions but...) Lubos Motl does a terrific job of illustrating, with impeccable logic and a very good analogy, exactly why what Bee did was completely unacceptable as a challenge to AdS/CFT. Please try to disregard the crazy hostility between the two of them and just read the argument he presents. Then come back here and tell me your reaction. By the way, what the heck is the reason for their attitude towards one another? Perhaps I'm naive, but it doesn't seem right that two practitioners of a noble, cerebral profession should feel such insensate rage towards one another.

    To Rastus Odinga Odinga (a most regal-sounding name, sir!! I find myself reflexively genuflecting!): I don't know anything about Lubos Motl beyond his extremely cogent analysis of the issues I debated with Bee. ( I assume he was kidding about accepting the deaths of millions for the sake of a warmer Czech Republic.) I noticed that, although you pointed out a factual error you say he made, you didn't comment on the overall argument he offered. Do you find it flawed? If so, why would you omit such a crucial matter from your post. If not, don't you think you owe it to Truth (am I being too corny?), to acknowledge Motl's and my argument was correct? I gather that it's not just Bee and Lubos that are at war, but the readers of the respective blogs, too. So I understand it might be difficult for you, Rastus Odinga Odinga, to make such an admission. But royalty like you should not be so easily intimidated!!

  32. Black holes and information loss (and w.r.t. evaporation): I brought up a question in previous thread/s, and apparently there isn't really a good answer: what happens if a charged black hole evaporates down to the nub, then what can carry the residual charge? Either something specific (determined by what?) is left over to carry the charge, or a single quantum +/-e can hold up the complete evaporation of a BH (unsettling discontinuity?) etc.

    LuMo made an IMHO curious implication about AdS/CFT, in stating (but I may be distorting out of context): ..."(non Q implies non P) is equivalent to the original Q implies P"... From that, he complains of a tautology. But we have to be careful about logical propositions if "sometimes" states are included. Suppose we know that if there is no Q, there can't be any P. But suppose that Q only sometimes leads to P. In that case, Q does not have to imply P, but "it might." Not only does the purported equivalence claim smack of "converting a conditional," but noting caveats about inconsistent consequences is part of real evidence testing. I think the history of logical, focused on pure states and pretended certainties has been misleading. That may not impact the issue directly, I put it as cautionary note.

    In any case Lumo's broadside against Bee is pointlessly bitter and imputive of ill motive. Even if someone does make a logical mistake that seems fundamental, otherwise good thinkers can have odd blind spots and so it wouldn't show bad faith anyway. But sadly, once a feud starts it seems to keep going in a contentious and bitter rut. Just note there were rotten feuds between Newton and Liebnitz (and others, Newton was rather bitter and perhaps petty), and in US politics; Jefferson and his detractors.

  33. Aye yai, yai. Time for Lubos 101 school.

    Perhaps I'm naive, but it doesn't seem right that two practitioners of a noble, cerebral profession should feel such insensate rage towards one another.

    You're naive. Welcome to the wild and wonderful world of Mathematical Physics, where the only thing everyone agrees on is that everyone disagrees. I was that way once. I figured (incorrectly) that since we're talking about MATH and SCIENCE then how can one dispute anything so basic? Surely these world's most intelligent people would agree on the basics! Wrong. In any event, we're talking about cutting-edge Physics. There are turf wars and reputations to defend. It can get ugly, and Lubos' attitude is the ugliest of them all. The man lacks couth and class. He adopts the Karl Rove/Rush Limbaugh model of shining a light on one's enemies to avoid having light shown on oneself.

    I don't know anything about Lubos Motl beyond his extremely cogent analysis of the issues I debated with Bee.

    You're very young. Lubos presents experimentally verified facts mixed with opinions incorrectly presented as facts. How is that cogent?

    ( I assume he was kidding about accepting the deaths of millions for the sake of a warmer Czech Republic.)

    Assume nothing with him. He's also called for the immediate bombing of Iran. Who's the crackpot?

  34. I have never made any mistake of the type Neil or anyone else on this thread has indicated.

    I wrote that "P implies Q" is equivalent to "non Q implies non P". The latter is called the contrapositive of the former statement. They're fully logically equivalent - that was the point of SH, too - except that she misunderstood - or pretended to misunderstand - that there's no physics in her tautological observation.

    Note the opposite ordering of the letters P,Q in the two logical propositions.

    I insist that whoever disputes that these 7,000+ articles or so that followed Maldacena's pioneering work contain nearly indisputable evidence that the correspondence works (or whoever even pretends that there is no evidence over there at all) and that the original arguments "proving" the information loss have a loophole is either a crank or a fraudster.

    I insist that the AdS/CFT shows that the black holes in AdS preserve the information, so they must be able to propagate the signals to the exterior regions of the space. If the black holes in AdS are able to do so, black holes in other asymptotic backgrounds are able to subtly violate locality, too. There is no wishful thinking in this conclusion: this is about a basic application of an insight to the region where the black hole resides and the "regional questions" are identical in all backgrounds. Strict locality in the presence of a black hole is broken if the space around is AdS, so it must surely be broken otherwise, too.

    I insist that SH is trying to defend an indefensible position, and all the evidence indicates that she does it for a personal interest. She lacks basic scientific integrity.

    My previous comment that was erased didn't contain these personal conclusions. It was erased because it debunked the errors that appeared above my deleted comment - simply because it was inconvenient.

    I understand that Stefan is SH's husband and Aruns and Colyers and similar stuff are far leftists who have purely political reasons to help to defend the indefensible but that can't change the fact that what they're doing is deeply immoral, too.

  35. Lubos,

    ...husbands, leftists.. very entertaining. They make you a true martyr of THE TRUTH.

    Your previous comments was deleted by me for the only reason that in my opinion any of your comments should be deleted immediately, it's kind of a reflex: comment from TRF, cannot be anything else then propaganda, defamation or insult.

    If someone is interested in the views of TRF, they have no problem finding it. Even if there might be some interesting discussion of physics going on there, it's not worth all the dirt that sticks to it.

  36. Motl is assuming in his analogy that AdS/CFT is as firmly established as the 650,000 layers of ice in the Vostok ice cores.

  37. To be called immoral by Motl is a high accolade.

    Oswaldo Zapata Marin has some interesting sociology of AdS/CFT.

  38. Dear Lubos,

    Reading these comments now that I've arrived in Canada, I can only find it very sad. Yesterday I remarked to Stefan you almost managed to mention me without feeling the need to insult me for some invented reason. But it seems you're back to your old silly game.

    It's always the same, isn't it? I am making a statement. I am being exact. It doesn't agree with your philosophy, but since you realize I'm correct you invent an alleged opinion of mine and go on to make fun of it and tell everybody I'm stupid for saying something I never said. Just that you are attacking opinions I don't hold. It's a logical fallacy called straw man argument. I told you that several times already.

    It's the same dumb game that gilesgoatboy was trying above, so I'll just repeat my reply in case you missed it: I neither have the time nor the patience to defend myself against attacks on opinions that I don't hold but have been assigned to me by others.

    In this case, just to be clear, we all seem to agree that the statement I made is correct. So what are you arguing about? You and your goatboy habe assigned to my sentence some sort of judgement for how likely I regard this or any other solution, which is something I've never done. You know and most of our readers know that I'm not a string theorist. I am following these developments with interest. If I say something about it, I usually refrain from judgement, I stick to what I am sure is correct. Thus my statement. Period. There isn't more to it.

    You are right in that I haven't "found any problem." The problem with the proposed solution is simply that the AdS/CFT conjecture is still unproven, which implies the statement I made. I am not claiming originality on this either. You probably know that it's one of the soundbites that go around in discussions of the subject. I can't recall where I heard it first, otherwise I'd have mentioned it.

    You probably noticed by now that it's Stefan deleting your comments. As long as you're only insulting me I'd probably leave them standing because you provide yourself the best documentation of your inability to lead a straight argument. Your remark that "no one is interested in [an explicit proof of the AdS/CFT conjecture] too much because people know that the correspondence is true" is plainly embarrasing to be made by somebody with a PhD in physics. If scientists would believe because they "know" what is true without proof, we'd still "know" heavier objects fall faster than lighter ones.

    Either way, your urge to invent reasons to discredit me is pathetic. Excuse me for not reading your second blogpost, the chances that it contains anything of interest are negligible. Best,


  39. Hi Bee, that was a fast swim across the Atlantic!

    Refuted Conjectures in Mathematics is cautionary.

    E.g., on the Prime Number Theorem:

    For small n, it had been checked and always found that pi(n)<Li(n). As a result, many prominent mathematicians, including no less than both Gauss and Riemann, conjectured that the inequality was strict. To everyone's surprise, this conjecture was refuted when Littlewood (1914) proved that the inequality reverses infinitely often for sufficiently large n (Ball and Coxeter 1987; Havil 2003, p. 199).

    For mathematics the standard is proof, and for physics the standard is nature.

  40. Gilesgoatboy:

    "why what Bee did was completely unacceptable as a challenge to AdS/CFT [...] I feel like the Cary Grant character in the Hitchcock movie "North By Northwest", the innocent man going about his business who's mistaken for a conspirator and has his life turned upside down

    Gosh, could you please get your feet back on the ground? I'll repeat it once again what I've told you three times already. What I've "done" is making a statement that we all seem to agree on is correct. What you have done is to read something into that statement which I have never claimed there to be. You are making up some "refutation," or "a challenge" and so on. I never said anything like this, not here and not anywhere. I'll repeat it once again: I'm not interested in what you think about things I didn't say. Why don't you go over to Lubos if you're more interested in constructing other peoples opinions than finding out what they had to say in the first place? Best,


  41. Strong Law of Small Numbers has some interesting examples too, of the second strong law of small numbers: ""When two numbers look equal, it ain't necessarily so.""

  42. gilesgoatboy said:
    "Lubos Motl does a terrific job of illustrating, with impeccable logic and a very good analogy, exactly why what Bee did was completely unacceptable as a challenge to AdS/CFT."

    Haha, comparing information loss to 6000 year old Earth and AdS/CFT to physical reality of 650,000 layers of ice in Vostok ice cores is "an impeccable logic and very good analogy" according to you?

    Sorry, but it proves beyond reasonable doubt that you are either trolling or an idiot, in either case you should no longer "feel entitled to comment."

    As for Lubos, hes just a ranting lunatic, bitter that his pet string theory turned out to be completely worthless making his life long contributions to physics exactly zero, he now spends his time rabidly attacking everyone he sees as a threat to ST orthodoxy. Unfortunately Bee is an easy target since she usually tries to reason with him instead of just banning him outright.

  43. Lumo is right about the logical ordering principle, not necessarily the "issue" per se. At, we find the following:

    * statement: if p then q
    * converse: if q then p
    * inverse: if not p then not q
    * contrapositive: if not q then not p

    They say:
    If a statement is true, the contrapositive is also logically true. Likewise, when the converse is true, the inverse is also logically true.

    Hence: "If p then q" implies that "if not q, then not p." That is not the same as "if not p then not q." Sorry I misquoted. I think I picked up some pieces the wrong way with a mouse grab, or misread and interpolated when I didn't get it all. If so, my apologies for that.

    BTW LuMo's broadsides can grate on me too, but he often gives helpful answers on various blogs (such as recently, Dorigo's thread about ultimate constituents.) I appreciate that much, despite irritation about other things here and there. A talented thinker, with "issues"? But enough of that "issue" for now from me.

  44. tspin, I ask (just sticking to physics per se now): are you sure that LuMo's string theory is discredited (by some evidence or clear argument, not in a "sociological" sense) I knew any kind of ST is hard to prove (last I heard) but that doesn't mean there were specific clear reasons to doubt it in general or some examples in particular. And sorry I didn't have time to read Arun's "superweb" link. What do you know?

  45. Please excuse this schoolmasterly interjection, but somehow I feel compelled to add some remarks on the meta level of the conversation.
    This is a cross-language, cross-culture conversation, so every party should expect misunderstandings and expect to be insulted by the others, no matter how hard they try not to.
    Instead of repeating oneself resp. fighting back, maybe it would be more helpful to try to understand the reasons for the misunderstandings and to try alternative explanations of the points one tries to make.
    Using natural languages it is impossible to be exact - no one can anticipate and counteract all possible misunderstandings.
    HTH, if not with this thread and some of it's contributors, maybe with some of the following.

    Back down to earth and @gilesgoatboy: If you are interested in the history of both the feud and
    the subject itself, it's all in the blog archives, if you have time to browse them.

  46. To be called immoral by Motl is a high accolade. ... Aruns [sic]

    You mean I'm not not the only one who came to that conclusion? Cool, and high-five.

    ... Aruns [sic]and Colyers [sic] and similar stuff are far leftists who have purely political reasons to help to defend the indefensible but that can't change the fact that what they're doing is deeply immoral, too. ... Dr. Lubos Motl, Ph.D. (in what?), Rutgers University

    What's "immoral", Lubos? Criticizing a criticizer and ad hominem personal attacker such as yourself? In Karl Rove's world, "criticism" should work only one way, and THAT's Politics, baby!

    In his world. You should watch the film, "Bush's Brain," in which Rove, on camera, explains his political strategy of shining a light on the opponent to make your guy win an election. Or do your friends at John Birch and at Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. tell you not to? Who's "the man" if you don't at least consider the other guy's opinion. Not you if you don't, obviously.

    I'm not "a lib", Lubos. I'm a moderate. It might pleasantly surprise you how many ways I agree with some of your not-extreme thoughts, and even some (but not all) of the extreme ones. But let's talk Lubos, about your favorite subject.

    As many have said here and elsewhere, you are an excellent teacher until one comes upon that subject where you toss objectivity in the fireplace: Superstrings Theory. There ARE alternatives, Lubos, but rather than explore them you attack not just the theories, but the theorists themselves.

    That's unprofessional, rude, crude, crass, uncouth, and classless. It is also, as stefan stated, entertaining ... but only to a point. Is that why you do it? For hits at your website? Are you that insecure as a person? Isn't it enough that SciAm's George Musser mentions only 4 websites that people should read to understand Superstrings Theory in his book "T.C.I. Guide to String Theory", and those four are BackReAction, Cosmic Variance, The Reference Frame, and Not Even Wrong? Isn't it great to be one of those four? Isn't that sufficient?

    As a fellow Scarlet Knight (2 degrees) who is currently indebting/bankrupting himself sending his two oldest children to Rutgers as well, I humbly beseech you to represent our alma mater better, i.e. and to whit, grow up.

    Btw, I mention you at my latest post, here. I sincerely hope you're not offended. I look forward to further discussion between us. Ski in the high Tatras? Beer in an outdoor cafe in Pilzn? A motor tour of Bell Labs-Murray Hill, Serin Physics Lab, The Hill Center for Mathematical Sciences, Fine Hall and Fuld Hall, lunch with Peter Woit at Times Square's Hard Rock Cafe? All are within 30 miles of my house. All are possible.

    To Neil Bates: good points, mate.

    Colyers {sic]

  47. Hi Tim,

    Well, if you have a suggestion please let me know how I can stop people from making fanciful reinterpretations of what I say. I already use short sentences with simple words. I hate to say it but I believe the reason is simply that these people just pretend to misunderstand me because they are bored and look for something to fight about. That's a game I'm not interested in, thus I'm not engaging in it. I end up repeating what I said originally in various ways, more often than not to no avail. It's terribly frustrating because I actually put some effort in making what I write as accurate as possible. Of course I don't always succeed, but what's worse than being wrong is being right and being reinterpreted to being wrong.

    I suspect that one of the reasons for this problem is exactly that sometimes I do not offer an opinion or judgement when I write about science, especially not if it's a topic so much in flux like the one under discussion here. Some people have a hard time figuring out what I'm saying if I don't explicitly add: That's bad, that's good. Best,


  48. Good points, Tim. Also, FWIW - now that we straightened out the logic per se, note that something called a "tautology" is still a valid line of reasoning, no matter how unnecessary it may seem to be said. And noting even an "obvious" contrapositive is still a valid inference. If all such direct inferences were tautologies, then even syllogisms would be.

  49. Wow. I mean, wow. In the replies at his article, Lubos just called Bee and stefan "complete and utter scum."

    I'm thinking hard about how a person can get much lower than that ... thinking .. thinking ... sorry, I got nothing. Bad form, "LuMo."

    Yes, good points Tim, and Neil, and Bee. Tautologies do count under certain conditions, but they never provide proof. Or disproof. More like a direction in which to aim your experimental instruments.

  50. Sorry, technically he said:
    "They're dishonest and evil scum."

    Which is worse, if you think about it.
    Take some maturity pills, Lubos.

  51. Hi Bee,

    meta level:

    ...please let me know how I can stop people from making fanciful reinterpretations of what I say.

    You can't, that's the point. If you get suspicious that they do it on purpose, stop the communication. But more often than not this suspicion is unwarranted (that is my personal prejudice).
    Telling them about your suspicion won't help.

    I end up repeating what I said originally in various ways...
    If someone repeats herself/himself that is often an indication that the reaction (s)he got in the first place was not what her/him expected.
    Sometimes it helps to repeat what the others said instead of repeating oneself, to signal interest (sometimes that degenerates to some sort of nondirective therapy, but it does not have to be this way :-).

    And of course you should not take offense if anyone here attacks you personally (hoping I'm preaching to the choire here).
    end of meta level
    (And no: I'm not a mainstream talk show moderator).

    With regard to the AdS/CFT conjecture: There has been much discussion about this, both offline and online, so there seems no hope to settle this here...
    Ok, there has been no experimental evidence, and there has been no mathematical proof - so strictly speaking we do not know anything about it, but on the other hand there is
    much "computational evidence" - which has led to a) a wide acceptance of it's validity and a decline in interest of a "proof" of some kind.
    That is a new situation in theoretical physics, if my knowledge of 20th century science is complete in this regard.
    No surprise that this is very controverial.
    Your opinion about AdS/CFT reflects your epistemological viewpoint, which is much more subjective and ambiguous than a traditional education in physics makes you believe.
    At least that is one of my favourite prejudices.

  52. Cleaning up a bit, and back to basics:

    "string theory is right now the only consistent theoretical framework which contains both quantum mechanics and general relativity."

    Opinion presented as fact, therefore possibly wrong, and therefore a possible irresponsible wrong thing to say.

    Substitute "oldest" for "only consistent" and the statement is true, as so:

    "String theory is right now the oldest theoretical framework which contains both quantum mechanics and general relativity."

    ... and therefore ... the most developed ... to date.

    Truth. Loops et. al. came after Strings/Superstrings.

    Logic rocks.

  53. Neil B., Zapata traces in the literature how AdS/CFT went from being a conjecture to being an accepted fact.

  54. Not every string theorist oversells their case, I think one shouldn't weigh the bad examples too heavily. Look eg at Polchinski's talk on AdS/CFT and BH information loss pirsa:08040001 (esp min 44 and thereafter), he's very clear with his statements. Best,


  55. Bee, before I look at that, let me state I have no problem whatsoever with Juan Malcedena and Anti-DeSitter Space/Conformal Field Theory aka AdS/CFT.

    It's great speculation, possibly even real. My only problem is the usual assumption by Superstrings Theorists that it backs up THEIR theory, where OK that's possible, that is not necessarily the ONLY theory that can explain AdS/CFT, if true.

    In the long run, I think the whole
    AdS/CFT = Superstrings misunderstanding is borne of the fact that in Fuld Hall, a golf course West of Princeton University, Malcedena's office is a few down the hall from Ed Witten's.

    But I may be wrong!

    I'm only speculating.

  56. This post will have a very narrow focus: What conclusions can be drawn about the nature of this blog's Prime Mover on the basis of her responses to my comments (and Motl's comments) on her LOGIC in dealing with AdS/CFT. The details of the physics and the actual validity or invalidity of AdS/CFT have always been irrelevant to the discussion of the flaw in Bee's LOGIC, in my original analysis (see my first 3 posts on this thread and Bee's responses) and in Motl's subsequent discussion of this issue in the first portion of his Feb.23 The Reference Frame blog post on this subject.

    I won't reiterate the substance of that discussion, anyone interested can check the posts cited above. Here I want to concentrate on just one point: Bee's responses, and what they say about her as a human being. It's very simple to describe her responses. First, she pointed out that in her analysis of AdS/CFT, the interpretation she favored was the logical "inversion" of the original statement (what some of us call the "contrapositive"), and therefore was its logical equivalent. This is correct, Motl and I immediately agreed. Then, ALL her subsequent responses, repeated many times, have amounted to this: "You (Gilesgoatboy) and Lubos Motl have agreed that what I said was 'correct', therefore why is there even a discussion anymore?" She has never, in substance, varied from, or expanded upon, that single utterance.

    Anyone reading my three initial posts, and Motl's extensive subsequent analysis would know that REGARDLESS OF THE MERITS OF MY ARGUMENT AND OF MOTL'S ARGUMENT, her relentless repetition of this single response as though it is adequate, appropriate, legitimate, etc. is both absurd and deeply dishonest. While of course I think Motl's and my arguments are correct, even if they are COMPLETELY WRONG, it is STILL both absurd and deeply dishonest as a response. I hope the reader will clearly understand this crucial point.

    Why is it absurd and deeply dishonest? Because Motl and I grant ONLY that Bee is TRIVIALLY and MEANINGLESSLY 'correct' and go on from there to show how she is using a substantively logically fallacious approach. Bee knows this. Bee knows that each statement by either of us that she is 'correct' comes in phrases like "trivially correct", "meaninglessly correct", "correct but completely irrelevant". She knows that our acknowledgment of her trivial correctness is just the starting point of a logical refutation of the substance of her approach. But she never even acknowledges or attempts to deal with our refutation of her substantively logically fallacious approach. Instead she just repeats, "You said I was 'correct, you said I was 'correct', end of discussion."

    Does the reader of this post grasp that whether our refutation of her approach is valid or not, her mantra-like invocation of "You said I was 'correct', there's nothing left to discuss" (as though we have conceded the whole argument to her) can only be seen as the act of a fundamentally dishonest person who is hoping that by such a repetition the casual readers of this blog will falsely conclude that she is actually and meaningfully correct?

    Most people want others to think they're intelligent, that they don't make fallacious arguments, etc. and a theoretical physicist probably experiences this desire with much greater urgency and intensity than ordinary folks. So I understand Bee's reluctance to admit to a significant error in logic. But does such an understandable reluctance justify repeated dishonesty to avoid ultimately having the error exposed? I'll let the reader make that judgment himself.

  57. Hi gilesgoatboy,

    I'll let the reader make that judgment himself.

    That's a very reasonable suggestion.

    In the meantime, I wish you a great time exploring The Reference Frame. You will have fun, and I won't miss you.

    Best regards,

  58. For completeness, here are the arguments Motl has brought forward in the comments I have deleted:

    The "AdS/CFT conjecture" is a term that has actually been used, but only in 709 articles or so.

    The AdS/CFT correspondence appears in 10,100 papers, and for a good reason. It captures what the insight actually is.

    Only very bad scientists can suggest that the AdS/CFT is "fundamentally" invalid in 2010. This result wasn't clear in early 1998 when I saw the first lecture by Witten about the topic - but it is
    surely clear in 2010 when 5,000 papers show that the CFT gives the right gravitons, their scattering at higher loops, excited string states, their interactions, wrapped and unwrapped branes, phase diagrams of black holes linked to superconductors, and so on. It simply works. The evidence shows that. It's likely that one can also construct an explicit proof but no one is interested in that too much because people know that the correspondence is true.

    Your proposal that people should return to a "conjecture" is completely isomorphic to the creationists' comments that evolution is "just a theory".

    While it may be true given some definition of the words, it leads to a completely distorted impression about the importance and validity of the insights. Evolution is a completely essential insight about biology and its history - and AdS/CFT is a pillar of our understanding of quantum gravity (and the microscopic, quantum structure of black holes).


    One more comment about experiments.

    Experiments (I mean real experiments doable today or in a foreseeable future) have nothing to do with this discussion about the information loss. Experimentally, even the very Hawking radiation hasn't yet been observed, so there's no "experimental proven" paradox of information loss (during the Hawking evaporation) to start with.

    Hawking's arguments that led him to believe that the information had to be lost were purely theoretical arguments - calculations within semiclassical general relativity - so it is very clear that any resolution or correction must be a theoretical argument, too.

    Hawking made an approximative calculation where the information was lost because the causal structure of the background was fully respected, not appreciating that the background was a fluctuating set of observables, too. He conjectured that the loss held exactly, even in the exact theory, while the AdS/CFT and Matrix theory etc. showed that this extrapolation of his qualitative conclusion was incorrect. And Hawking obviously agrees - even though he had to give up a prestigious bet against Preskill et al. He cares about the truth and he sees that it has been found, and it doesn't confirm his old expectations. He knows that the world is prettier if the information is conserved, too.

    It's a completely nonsensical fog if someone starts to talk about experiments during discussions about these purely theoretical issues - issues that are likely to remain purely theoretical for quite some time. Theoretical physicists must be finding the answers to all such questions indirectly, and it has been a working strategy if many cases.

    Whoever thinks that it is impossible to calculate anything, without being given the answers to every individual question from the experiments, shouldn't do (and cannot do) theoretical physics. But she or he should still give a break to those who actually know how to think and calculate.

    This sounds reasonable, but obviously he had a weak moment, as he forgot to openly insult Sabine in the last paragraph.

    For the record:

    I will take the freedom to happily delete any comment by Motl, irrespective of actual content. This is the only sensible way of interaction with him that I see, apart from hard scattering of my fist with his teeth.

  59. Gilesgoatboy: So you're calling me "deeply dishonest" because I'm sticking to what I said originally? Interesting terminology. There is nothing "logically fallacious" about what I said, just possibly about what you want to believe I said. I don't know what you think is absurd about my reply. Sure, the statement I made is tautologically true. Sometimes it's interesting what stir you can cause with tautologically true statements. You should try it sometime. Some people get really confused if you're putting things backwards. Anyway, to explain my reaction: You kept accusing me of making claims I didn't make, I told you to stop it. You never cared to actually ask for my opinion, did you? I would recommend you think about your behavior before you continue to make a fool of yourself. Best,


    PS: Sorry for mistakenly calling it "logical inversion," which evidently was the wrong word to use. I hadn't looked it up. Since I stated what I meant I hope it didn't cause you confusion.

  60. Hi Stephan,

    Even though you are a devoted husband, you are also an honorable man. And as such I notice that you couldn't bring yourself to dispute my conclusion that Bee's single response of "You said I was 'correct', there's nothing left to discuss" in the context of this debate was absurd and deeply dishonest.

    Best regards,


  61. Gilesgoatboy: As an honest woman let me tell you that your struggle is highly amusing.

  62. stefan wrote ...

    In the meantime, I wish you a great time exploring The Reference Frame. You will have fun, and I won't miss you.

    LMAO !!! :-)
    Best ... quote .. ever ... in Physics, right after Isidor Rabi's quote about being in this field and being middle aged, to whit ...

    "I know that when I was in my late teens and early twenties the world was just a Roman candle - rockets all the time ... You lose that sort of thing as time goes on ... physics is an otherworld thing. It requires a taste for things unseen, even unheard of - a high degree of abstraction ... These faculties die off somehow when you grow up ... profound curiosity happens when children are young. I think physicists are the Peter Pans of the human race ... Once you are sophisticated, you know too much - far too much. Pauli once said to me 'I know a great deal. I know too much. I am a quantum ancient.'" - Isidor Rabi

    Big thanks to Andrew Thomas for that. :-)

  63. There is no need for such a stir about a "tautology", as I said before. First of all, such an inference is at least "true" and not false - that's the most important base to cover. Hence gilesgoatboy is literally incorrect to say "fallacious arguments" and "significant error in logic." It is not an error, it is the essence of being technically correct - but only perhaps therefore not worth saying. (Furthermore, a contrapositive is more a direct and simple consequence - as are simple syllogisms - than merely a simple tautology.)

    It may be ill advised to make a point by headlining a "tautology" instead of just pivoting upon it to refer to the various specifics - that depends how well the presentation is done. If you are reviewing the basic logical traits of a situation, like the P implies Q etc., you ... review it. Sure the reader could infer it, but it can be part of presentations to go over that for background. It's not "wrong" unless you pretend you've made some special insight with that alone.

    Indeed, if we thought everything that could be logically inferred directly was superfluous to state, then the entire body of what is analytically derivable from given evidence should just remain unsaid. That's a sort of reductio of the abhorrence of making "obvious" points. Hence tautologies are matters of discretion, subjects of rules of thumb and usage and not to be banned like fallacies etc.

  64. Hi gilesgoatboy,

    was that last question addressed to me? Sorry to see that you are orthographically challenged, that can happen.

    To be honest, I didn't read your comment, so it is premature for you to conclude that I approve or disapprove of anything you wrote in that comment.

    Of course, you are free to put words in my mouth I have not said - just go ahead, you are in good company.

    Best regards, Stefan.

  65. Hi gilesgoatboy,

    sorry, I was imprecise. I did not read all of your last comment. Actually, just the very last sentence had caught my eye, and I thought it was a good and productive suggestion.

    Best, Stefan

  66. Bee said:

    Gilesgoatboy: As an honest woman let me tell you that your struggle is highly amusing.

    Lord have mercy upon my soul! Sabine, are you really a theoretical physicist in 2010 or Carole Lombard in a dizzy-blonde, madcap Hollywood movie from the 1930's? At this point I almost have to admire you for the utter brazenness of your dishonesty!! If we strapped you into a polygraph, the needle wouldn't jiggle a jot as it traced out lovely sine curves betokening honesty. Lying is the new telling-the-truth for our Sabine.

    For the rest of humanity, the most sophisticated Fourier analysis would be hard-pressed to reproduce the jagged function of our polygraphs, because normal people are nervous even when speaking honestly. So sure, go ahead and be highly amused Sabine. The situation is sad enough for that.

  67. I'm actually an alien from K-pax, you wouldn't see anything on your polygraph. In any case, since the intellectual value of your comments is zero, further content-free utterances of yours will vanish in digital Nirvana. Good-bye,


  68. gilesgoatboy said:
    Most people want others to think they're intelligent, that they don't make fallacious arguments, etc. and a theoretical physicist probably experiences this desire with much greater urgency and intensity than ordinary folks. So I understand Bee's reluctance to admit to a significant error in logic.

    Well, most people are sure that they are very intelligent and want others to realize that.
    But why this should be more prominent with theoretical physicists escapes me, and it contradicts my experience.
    In fact, theoretical physicsists are right behind mathematicians in their readiness to admit mistakes, in my experience.
    And they are very unboastful. I, for example, are probably one of the most unboastful humans of the planet.

    gilesgoatboy said:
    Here I want to concentrate on just one point: Bee's responses, and what they say about her as a human being.

    Aren't you a bit short of data for thus far reaching conclusions?

    LM wrote about a post by Stefan:
    Your proposal that people should return to a "conjecture" is completely isomorphic to the creationists' comments that evolution is "just a theory".

    That seems to be a game of words only, judging from the rest of the discussion:
    We can agree to call a statement a conjecture, if there is neither experimental "proof" nor "mathematical proof".
    Mathematicians are happy to "play around" with conjectures, assume they are true and prove corollaries etc.
    "Conjecture" does not have to imply that the statement is some wild speculation.
    Maybe we need a new word denoting a statement that is a "conjecture" in the sense above, but is widly believed to be true due to what physicists would call
    "shown internal consistency proved by lots of calculations", like, e.g. golden conjecture?
    Is there agreement that AdS/CFT is a golden conjecture?

  69. Bee and Stefan: I suppose that, like me, you had a good laugh at LM's constant bracketing of matrix theory [which is ancient history now, but which was the cause of LM's rise to eminence, such as it was] with AdS/CFT. eg

    "....while the AdS/CFT and Matrix theory etc...."

    HAHA! Try telling a string theorist that matrix theory is somehow in the same league as AdS/CFT!

    Try playing LM's favourite game: compare the number of papers mentioning matrix theory with the number mentioning AdS/CFT... my estimate is that it is about 3 orders of magnitude lower!

    I wouldn't bother, but it shines a rather funny light on LM's constant claims to be virtuous and above all personal aggrandizement etc!

  70. Hi Steven,

    “They're dishonest and evil scum."

    You are certainty correct as this is indeed representative of a truly horrible and unwarranted slandering of a person’s character. However I must admit that when someone behaves such as this to want to believe it's be more attributable to their nurture rather than anything innate of their nature. Then looking again I noticed his comments aren’t exactly original yet similar to words spoken by Alec Guinness many years ago in Star Wars. Then it hit me perhaps Lubos is a victim of post traumatic stress brought on by watching the film too often as a child. It also dawned on me that as a result he may have then had involuntarily taken on the personality of one of its most infamous characters . Let’s only hope that a cure can be found in time to spare him from suffering a similar fate when such a twisted and tortured soul messes with the wrong woman:-)



  71. Well, I'm still not fully clear on the degree to which evidence supports/disproves (along the scale which is not all slam-dunk) any of these string theories. I gather that maybe some particular notions are now doubtful or more likely etc., but nothing clear about whether we should really believe in "strings", which approach better etc. Haven't things been mostly in a rut for awhile, other than appreciation of neutrino mass and changes, the challenge of DM and DE, etc? That should change with ever more HEP results from our newest devices, but I wasn't aware we had a lot to celebrate.

    LuMo - Maybe he feels cheated out of recognition for some reason. There's a lot of people like that. In many cases around the world it's true, and they were wrongfully thwarted of their goals (by election fraud, stolen ideas, ideas were right but not appreciated at the time, etc.) I propose a Union for the epitomes of such people: The Union of Disgruntled Thwarted Deservees. ("Deservees" is formed from usual -ee suffix, as for draftees, attendees etc. - someone who does or is done to, so someone who deserves something. I sadly did not coin the word.) Not everyone thwarted deserved something, not every thwarted deservee is disgruntled; etc. - so there can be splinter groups too. Well after all this mess it's hard to stay serious.

    BTW I may have confused gilesgoatboy's other logic complaints with the initial charge of "tautology", sorry for yet more confusion if so. But he et al griped a lot about that, and I didn't clearly see developed what else was being complained about, such as it is.

    PS - tech note: Phil's links don't show as such here, but in my Gmail CC I can actually see the YouTube links as picture screens.

  72. Neil B said:
    Well, I'm still not fully clear on the degree to which evidence supports/disproves (along the scale which is not all slam-dunk) any of these string theories.

    For convenience I'll choose the singular and say string theory. String theory has not and does not predict any experimental result, as LM himself pointed out. It does incorporate quantum field theories in a certain sense, including one aspect of gravity, so there are certain postdictions (I don't no if this word was coined to accomodate the string theory discussions, but it certainly came in handy). There are calculations that show consistency with other calculations that themselves are speculative. And it certainly is not a mathematical corollary of an established theory.

    There is certain hope to someday formulate and prove the AdS/CFT Maldacena conjecture in a mathematical precise sense, but this is somewhat unrelated to string theory.

    Neil B said:
    I gather that maybe some particular notions are now doubtful or more likely etc., but nothing clear about whether we should really believe in "strings", which approach is better etc.

    That is very subjective, so my answer is: We don't know, and it's okay to be confused about this.
    A carreer advice of mine would be: Try to specialize in an area that uses mainstream sophisticated mathematics, then maybe you can get a job in a math department if things don't work out :-) (That's easier to do if you avoid quantum gravity altogether and go for mathematical aspects of quantum field theory instead).

  73. Real life has repeatedly intervened, so only now can I reply to those who 1)took thoughtful exception 2)voiced furious objection 3)suggested by their words and tone they'd really like to slit my throat.

    I'd like to respond to a couple from the first two groups and assure the third group that some of my best friends sometimes experience the same impulse towards me as you so I know just how you feel.

    Tim van Beek quoted me thusly: "Most people want others to think they're intelligent, that they don't make fallacious arguments, etc. and a theoretical physicist probably experiences this desire with much greater urgency and intensity than ordinary folks" and then said:

    "Well, most people are sure that they are very intelligent and want others to realize that. But why this should be more prominent with theoretical physicists escapes me, and it contradicts my experience."

    Tim, I am extremely envious of the circles you apparently travel in, where "most people are sure they are very intelligent"! In my experience, people of average intelligence often feel stupid, and many people of exceptional intelligence harbor recurrent doubts about their abilities. And people whose life depends on their having a high IQ and using every single point of it, like theoretical physicists, are more acutely conscious of their cognitive performance (and of the perception of that performance by others) than are ordinary folks, who could lose 20 IQ points and not have their lives affected a bit.

    tspin first quotes my recommendation of Motl's post on this debate, and then says:

    "Haha, comparing information loss to 6000 year old Earth and AdS/CFT to physical reality of 650,000 layers of ice in Vostok ice cores is "an impeccable logic and very good analogy" according to you?"

    I certainly hope for your sake tspin that you are never required to take the Miller Analogies test for career advancement, because apparently, when you are analyzing an analogy, you cannot get beyond the superficial characteristics of the items being compared. And remember, Motl and I were analyzing the LOGIC of Bee's original statement, not the physics. That's why Motl can compare "information loss to 6000 year old Earth",etc. It's a matter of the logical relationships, not the particulars.

    Stefan said, after I addressed him as "Stephan":

    Sorry to see that you are orthographically challenged, that can happen.

    "Orthographically challenged"? That's the most elegantly-phrased insult directed my way in years, I thank you for it!

    Then, in a slightly less charitable mood, he said:

    "In the meantime, I wish you a great time exploring The Reference Frame. You will have fun, and I won't miss you."

    Stefan, apparently you remain unshaken in your belief, expressed in your first words to me ("Frankly, I don't believe a word of your story") that I am a covert accomplice of Lubos Motl, conspiring with him to sully your wife's reputation.

    What is the actual motivator of my actions? Perhaps I'm a bit like Diogenes, but without his single-minded fervor (Remember Diogenes, carrying a torch in search of a man with true, uncompromisable integrity?) When I encounter a potentially admirable person, and there is an opportunity to test their virtue, I sometimes utilize that chance. In this case, Sabine, in my brief time reading Backreaction, seemed to combine intelligence, seriousness, and playfulness in a way that made her potentially admirable. When I noticed the mistake she made, I thought, "Here's a chance to see if she possesses the rare asset of being able to rise above vanity and admit error." The fact that she can't doesn't make her a terrible person, it just makes her a typical person. I was hoping for better.

  74. Giles: I am ready to admit error, and if you'd been reading this blog for some longer time you'd know that. Just that in this case I haven't made an error. I am really tired of repeating it, but you are still talking about "errors" in statements I haven't made, you find opinions "absurd" that I don't hold, etc etc. I am really wondering what your problem is. Best,


  75. I am really wondering what your problem is.

    He doesn't realize that other people may come to the conclusion that he's a pompous and narcissistic windbag ;-)

    But I like his openness about his motivation to waste your time by playing idle games.

  76. When I encounter a potentially admirable person, and there is an opportunity to test their virtue, I sometimes utilize that chance.

    I'd say - a really massive ego.

  77. Stefan said: "But I like his openness about his motivation to waste your time by playing idle games."

    Stefan, why is testing people's fundamental character "wasting time by playing idle games"?

  78. Giles: This thread isn't about testing anybodies "fundamental character." Your babbling just clogs our comment section. If you urgently want to psychonanalyze mine or anybody's comments, please do so elsewhere. On that occasion, maybe ask them for an opinion on your own comments. You had plenty of chance to clarify which of my statements you have allegedly found some error in, but evidently you have nothing of content to say. I'll delete further off-topic comments of yours. If that is an indicator for any "fundamental character" of mine you can summarize it as "I don't like wasting mine or anybody elses time." Best,


  79. Neil Bates, this may seem weird, but I actually LIKE Lubos, and what I mean by that is I actually like his PASSION for Physics. I may not agree with him 100%, but I do not disagree with him 100% either. He is, after all, a member of our community, a "Brother in Physics" as it were. No, a "Brother in Science", which is an ever greater thing. So I care about him.

    What I do NOT like is his attitude, specifically, his "name-calling." I mean, how dare he call Sabine and Stefan "evil scum." That is uncalled for.

    Einstein and Bohr disagreed a lot, but they were always friends. They were able to put professional disagreements aside from personal feelings. This is important to me, if serious discussion about what we ALL feel are important issues are to progress. To do otherwise is to regress the advancement of Humanity and our collective long-term survival, IMO.

    For example, I care what you write as well Neil (indeed, at least your own personal theory suggests a real experiment to prove or falsify), and I've read what you wrote at Lubos' thread. Very diplomatic on your part, well done.

    But more importantly, it's more in keeping with how Bohr and Einstein discussed things. Even if Bee was tautologically wrong and Lubos is completely correct as you imply, that important fact becomes lost when an important person in this discussion accuses the other as being "evil scum", as Lubos does.

    It's not only not necessary, it hurts Human progress.

    Lubos doesn't have to discuss his views in a common decent humanely respectful manner, but he should, and for the sheer betterment of Humanity via Human understanding of reality and the progress that would be made therewith, grow up.

  80. Excuse my jocularity; but is it ironic that the Stephen Hawking Centre is being built at the Perimeter Institute, since he is the man who basically said the universe is unitary when he conceded to Susskind on his bet about the black hole information paradox...a concession that was made possible by ADS/CFT?

    It just seems that most of the ADS/CFT skeptics/deniers seem to be connected to the PI.

  81. "It just seems that most of the ADS/CFT skeptics/deniers seem to be connected to the PI. "

    Really? Name one.

  82. Steven, that's about exactly my take on LuMo. He will take time to make long comments to explain things, and can be very helpful outside of his quirks such as they are. But yes, too mean to his targets. However, I didn't imply that Bee was tautologically wrong (I'm not sure what that would mean. A tautology is something trivially true and thus "not worth mentioning." Not the same as "wrong.") My point rather, was "so what if someone makes a tautology", it's a valid inference and a way to headline something will other, real substance. They had other complaints but I'm not sure what. I don't know who is right about AdS/CFT and only understand it in middle brow terms.

    As for my own notions, pls. drop back in. Like I say, my repetitive measurement thought-experiment is more interesting than the DI one. And indeed, bitterness gets things off badly. I don't want to keep pounding on a certain critique of my DI post (that experiment you mention), but it was disturbing and must have put me in a bad light - and topical to your comment. I take some blame for teasing Chad O. a little and for having a poor presentation at first. However, he indulged in presumption via irritability, and had to retract the claim I made an error (aside from "relevance.") (Later made some admissions of having misinterpreted some people.)

    Also, he thought I was challenging conventional QM. But no, I was defending it against DI. I say, we can experimentally distinguish between Copenhagen QM and radical DI, and that old QM is right. It's like saying, you've found a way to disprove MWI etc. In any case I don't consider it a continuing "feud" to the extent I can help it. I still comment there and try to keep it cool, even if some reminders of that. Sadly I don't think LuMo can let go.

  83. Brother in Science??? Really? For that, climatology needs to be excluded from science.

  84. Steven, BCAdmin, Neil etc:

    Can you please look for another place for your exchange? I am really sick of this pointless babble.

    Thanks, Stefan

  85. Just a remark: there's a trackback below this comment section leading to this post which claims

    "The statement 'P implies Q' is logically equivalent to 'non-Q implies non-P' , but when 'gilesgoatboy' pointed this out to Bee a very heated discussion followed..."

    I can't comment there, so I'll leave my comment here: It was actually me who pointed out the both statements are logically equivalent, just read my first reply to goatboy. I'm really sick of being misrepresented in such utterly dumb ways. Besides this, there's nothing "heated" about this discussion since we weren't actually arguing about anything. Just read it, the goatboy and Lubos are talking past me and about me, but not with me. Best,


  86. To Neil B. and Steven Colyer (and everyone else, too):

    Neil B., I had wanted in my last comment to respond to your post, but as you know we are limited to 4096 characters, and I was brushing up against that max as it was. First, let me say I welcome someone actually making the effort to understand the argument I raised (and Motl then ably illustrated). And Steven, for someone to dare to praise Motl, even in as highly qualified a way as you do, on Backreaction is an act of rare moral courage, and I salute you.(Of course, to Backreactors, being saluted by gilesgoatboy is deserving of even more censure and opprobrium than complimenting Motl, so I don't envy you your life in the next 24 hours.)

    Neil--amazingly, to me, you and apparently everyone else, still do not grasp my (and then Motl's) basic argument. I'm beginning to think Bee's error in arguing was a very unusual one, and thus my detection of it was a highly uncommon if not original act. And because of the error's very rare nature, the innate or acquired Fallacy Detection System that intelligent people (including this blog's readers) possess, which only detects conventional fallacies, failed to sound an alarm when they read Bee's 2008 post. And even when I, and then Motl, elaborately pointed it out, it evidently is still too subtle for even smart people to grasp.

    I'm therefore going to make another attempt (with some added points to clarify concepts I see that people are misunderstanding), but because of the 4096 character limit I must do so in a post that immediately follows this one.

    Incidentally, for those coming late to this debate, or those who have forgotten Bee's original 2008 blog post argument, or those who are just confused and need a refresher, go back to my two initial posts on this thread and then read or re-read Lubos Motl's lucid analysis on The Reference Frame.

    (See continuation in my next post.)

  87. Continuation of prior post

    First, SOMETIMES, if a person has asserted P implies Q, if you then point out that "not Q implies not P", it IS worth doing. (Of course, they are always logically equivalent. The issue is: does pointing it out add anything meaningful to a debate, or is it just trivially correct and therefore meaningless.)

    HERE'S WHEN IT IS WORTH DOING: If you have two lines of highly plausible reasoning that lead to a fundamental contradiction (for example, the semi-classical black hole analysis that leads to a conclusion of information loss, and the quantum unitarity analysis that denies information loss) and someone says, as Hawking did for years, "My analysis says there is information loss, so therefore there must be information loss" then IT IS WORTHWHILE to remind Hawking that, in essence, not Q implies not P-- in other words, that there is an equally plausible line of reasoning (QM's unitariness) that would lead to the opposite conclusion about information loss, and that he (Hawking) does not have a basis for preferring one over the other, and declaring his viewpoint 'correct'.

    HOWEVER, in other situations, asserting "not Q implies not P" is completely meaningless, and that is exactly the case with Bee's 2008 blog post. So, suppose you have a status quo with two plausible arguments leading to various apparent contradictions, and then someone comes along with new empirical evidence, OR an ingenious new perspective on the whole situation ('t Hooft and Susskind and Maldacena) that has many surprising ramifications that mesh beautifully with existing physics (and in some applications ingeniously reconciles the two plausible lines of argument, and in some applications resolves the contradiction definitely in favor of one side--as it does with the information loss paradox). If that is the case, then it is completely meaningless to respond to this new perspective by simply re-asserting one of the initial plausible lines of argument from earlier and saying "not Q implies not P" and that you have a "counter-example" that leaves the status quo stand-off on the information loss paradox intact. No, the new perspective has changed the status quo, and if you want to re-establish it, then you must show how the new perspective is WRONG--internally inconsistent, uses unwarranted assumptions, or is contradicted by some new empirical evidence just acquired. Otherwise, the status quo has indeed been changed, and that must be recognized. Note carefully that I'M NOT ASSERTING THIS NEW PERSPECTIVE IS CORRECT, only that its introduction has established a NEW status quo as to the PROBABILITY of each side being correct on the information loss paradox. That means, that AS OF THIS MOMENT, the NEW status quo favors resolving the information loss paradox in favor of unitarity. Of course, it can always shift again, by 1) showing a flaw in the new perspective's analysis or 2) providing new empirical evidence or 3) by offering an even NEWER perspective that subsumes the 'old' new perspective like GR did Newtonian gravity and looks at the information loss situation in a different, currently unimaginable light--perhaps Bee will be the person to provide that even NEWER perspective. But simply saying "not Q implies not P" accomplishes nothing in this context.

    Consider the children's riddle: What becomes wetter the more it dries? When 't Hooft and Susskind and Maldacena come along and say "A towel", for someone to re-assert one element of the original apparent paradox (after first re-phrasing the riddle as two contradictory statements) and say it's a counterexample that argues against "A towel" would be just plain silly. Or it might be "trivially correct" but meaningless in the face of the new status quo that the new perspective of "A towel" provides.

  88. Gilesgoatboy: Do you actually read any of my replies to your alleged "highly original detection of error?" And if so are you able to understand what I have now told you a dozen or so times? This can't be so hard to grasp: I never said or even hinted at anything like a "refutation" a "challenge" or, as you put it in your recent comment "a change of status quo." You are making this all up to hide behind 8000+ characters that there is no error to be detected in what I've said. You are still creatively inventing interpretation of what I've said, which is apparent by a total lack of reference to what I've written. What do you think you'll reach with that besides making a fool of yourself? Best,


  89. Hi All: With apologies to those of you who actually wanted to discuss science, I am closing this comment section. I don't see it as my task to repeat the same thing till the end of time.

    Gilesgoatboy: It is painfully clear to everybody here that you're a little overexcited about believing you have found some mistake in what I said. There are very likely many mistakes in what I'm saying, but you're finding mistakes in what I didn't say and then bother me with it. And as if that wasn't bad enough already, you're insisting on assigning opinions to me that I don't hold, even after I repeatedly told you your guesswork is off target. I strongly recommend you reread what I told you and think about it carefully. Best,