Saturday, April 06, 2019

Away Note/Travel Update/Interna

I will be away next week, giving three talks at Brookhaven National Lab on Tuesday, April 9, and one at Yale April 10.

Next upcoming lectures are Stuttgart on April 29 (in Deutsch), Barcelona on May 23, Mainz on June 11, (probably) Groningen on June 22, and Hamburg on July 5th.

I may or may not attend this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate meeting, and have a hard time making up my mind about whether or not to go to SciFoo, because, considering the status of my joints, it’s a choice between physical and financial pain, and frankly I’d rather chose neither.

In any case, I am always happy to meet readers of my blog, so if our paths should cross, please do not hesitate to say Hi.

It follows the obligatory note about slow traffic on this blog while I am traveling: I have comment moderation on. This means comments will only appear after I have manually approve them. Sometimes I sleep, sometimes I am offline, sometimes I have better things to do than checking my inbox. As a result, comments may sit in the queue for a while. Normally it does not take longer than 24 hours.

Let me also mention that I no longer read comments posted as “Unknown”. I have no idea what Google is doing, but the “Unknown” comments are today what anonymous comments were a decade ago. The vast majority of those are spam, and most of the rest are insults and other ill-informed nonsense. I do not have time for this and therefore collectively forwarded them straight to junk.

There have also recently been some (?) people who tried to post random strings of letters or, in some cases, single letters. I am assuming this was to try if the comment feature works. I will not approve such comments, so it is not a useful method to figure out what is going on.


  1. Our thoughts are with you, Sabine. PLease take care of yourself.

  2. Very sorry to hear about your joint pains and do hope you find a cure for it. I found that during the winter I am prone to consuming lots of sugary foods - anything with chocolate, in particular - and avoiding fruits. This would be followed by an increase in aches and pains in some joints (knees and feet). But with the arrival of warmer temps I am back into fruit consumption in the form of 'smoothies'; various fruits mixed in a blender with water. A favorite is a combo of pineapple and mango, but strawberries also mixed in at times. Very quickly the joint pains diminished and disappeared. Another odd thing is almost daily exercise (cycling) in conjunction with a smoothie every other day accelerated the healing.

    1. Indeed, whether it works for any particular disease or not, the best thing we can do is eat like these people do:

  3. Is there a possibility that I, as a "not physicist" and now 61 years old, can attend your lecture in Stuttgart?

  4. Happy Trails, Dr. Hossenfelder.

    And I agree with Denis: Please take care of yourself. I hope and think you will. If there is a first rule, first do no harm.


  5. Probably a spider robot following links and scraping screens looking for a comment box, and then testing to see if they can post a random string (which they remember) and see it come up as a comment in the next few hours.

    If it shows up it means comments are automatically approved, so they have another free outlet to advertise products on your blog to earn some money. I've also seen nonsense sentences used for this purpose; generated by a Shakespearean next-word predicting neural net; I think it is from example code for the Keras over TensorFlow neural net system (which is free) trained on a database of Shakespeare's work.

    But then it looks kind of like a real comment that can get past a more sophisticated filter.

  6. Of some relevance to your last several blog issues is an article in the May edition of Scientific American, "7 Radical Energy Solutions."

  7. SA May issue also has relevant articles on Lost Galaxies and Octonions.

  8. Like ships at night, our paths almost cross! I'll be in the NYC area the following week :(

  9. Hey, nice speaking engagements, congrats!

  10. Bee - just watched your talk at BNL (hope you got to look in on NLS II). Thought you summarized your book nicely though had hoped you might get a little more technical given the location/audience.

    So two administrative observations: a) you probably walked a mile or two on the stage! :) b) in the q&a, it would be good if you could summarize the question before answering - the audience audio is near impossible to hear. That probably also applies for non-broadcast talks in larger halls.

    Thanks again for the heads up you were going to be at BNL and the chance to listen in, really enjoyed the talk and seeing you (almost) in person.

    1. Hi Snowboarder,

      Happy to hear you liked it. Well, it was a public lecture. I have another, more technical, talk about naturalness, but I think the main point I am making is indeed not technical.

      I walk around simply because it keeps blood circulating and I live in constant fear of fainting if I don't. I usually check that the audio and light system will be able to cope, in this case I was pretty sure it would: They didn't have spots on me & mics in the room, not only at the desk.

      I didn't realize that one wouldn't be able to hear audience questions in the broadcast, sorry about that :/ Will make sure to check that in the future.

  11. Saw your lecture at Brookhaven via the web. Make sure your joint pain is not rheumatoid arthritis. Take care.

  12. Hi Sabine,

    For those followers of your blog who missed the live stream of the lecture that you gave earlier today (i e., 9 April 2019) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, they will be happy to know that they can watch a YouTube cashed version of it here:

    The actual lecture starts at about the 3:30 mark into the video, after the introduction of you by the gentleman at the very beginning of the talk.

    I was fortunate enough to have bookmarked this video while electing to watch it on YouTube directly, as there seems to be no 'post lecture' links to this video available anywhere else; either on Brookhaven's own website, or on their YouTube live stream channel "BNL Live Video".

    And I might also add that you did your usual superlative job of challenging the audience to ponder the possibilities that lie outside the current confines of the reigning paradigm of 'beauty physics'!

    Nick M.

    1. Hi Nick,

      Thanks for the link. The person who introduced me is Berndt Mueller.

  13. I am very sorry to hear about your joint pains - you are far too young for such problems.

    My only brush with serious joint pains (and cramps) turned out to be caused by my prescription for statins. I think you are too young to be prescribed these (supposed to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke), but I just thought I should warn you. It is a very common side effect, much discussed on the internet. I don't take statins any more.

    If this is not relevant to your condition, feel free to discard this comment.

  14. David, Denis, Robert, Phillip,

    Thanks for your kind words regarding my joints. I had no idea those are more interesting than even the plans of physicists for building a larger particle collider!

    I don't want to give you reason to worry, so let me clarify that I have a connective tissue weakness with the awkward result that my joints tend to not stay in place, especially the hips, knees, and (due to an earlier injury) some of the upper vertebrates. In practice this means if I sit with my legs crossed for some while, I'll probably dislocate my hip and tear some ligaments around my knees. Sounds funny, I know, not like sitting on the couch is an extreme sport, but it's pretty painful.

    Adds to this that and I am prone to excessive inflammation (probably an auto-immune issue - I read it's rather typical for women my age), and has the consequence that the swelling may linger around for weeks. Unfortunately it's likely to become a chronic condition at some point.

    Taken together it just means that traveling is usually literally painful and I try to avoid it. It helps, of course, to fly business, but the costs are usually prohibitive.

    Unpleasant as that is, it's probably not going to kill me, and normally doesn't affect my every-day life all too much. Except that I'm not supposed to lift heavy things, but then I have a husband for that ;) So, in sense, I consider myself lucky that it's a manageable condition.

    1. I don't think your condition sounds funny at all - positively excruciating even to read about. You have to wonder if a tiny fraction of the money that may be spent on the FCC, were spent on research on your condition, what might emerge.

  15. Dear Dr. B:
    There is something that is not entirely clear to me about the gravity of a black hole after the event horizon and the impossibility of light escaping. Let's suppose a star sufficiently massive to become a black hole at the end of its life. During its "normal" life, the star has a certain mass, exerts a certain gravitational field, and in those conditions a ray of light can pass close enough to the star to follow its trajectory (curved by the way) but escaping without problems of the star. Now, the same star at the end of its life loses mass during its supernova stage, collapses, becomes a black hole, and now its gravitational field is so powerful that even light does not escape. How is it possible? Is it because of the close relationship between gravity, mass and the fabric of space-time? Or is gravity related in some way to the density of a certain mass?

    1. Guillermo,

      Not sure I understand the question correctly. Gravity is a local theory, which means that it is really caused by the density of energy/mass, not by the total energy/mass. It's just that, if you are outside of the energy/mass distribution you merely see the net effect, ie you quantify the strength by the total mass. However, if you are inside of the distribution (say, inside the star), the gravitational field depends on the distribution of the mass.

      Now what happens if a star collapses is that the energy/mass density increases. The total mass usually decreases because some amount is blown off, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that at some point the total mass will be compressed so much that its extension is within a certain radius, that is the Schwarzschild radius. Then a horizon forms.

      If you are at a fixed distance to an object of a certain mass (say, planet Earth), you cannot tell whether or not it's a black hole just by the gravitational pull at that distance. It would be the same regardless of the density (provided it's spherically symmetric).

      It is for this reason that the idea that black holes are "vacuum cleaners" is very misleading. Really what's peculiar about black holes is not their gravitational pull, it's that they don't have a surface that stops stuff from falling. Best,


    2. Hi Sabine,
      - all apologies for delay. ( I wanted to wish you well in your travels and lectures)
      -Ich habe gehort, dass es ihnen gut geht. ��
      I'm trying to keep up with the lectures. I'm hoping,at some point, they are posted in one by place.��
      - Guillermo, I would like to help him out, but I don't want to make this too technical.

      * as a side note,
      Im sorry to hear about your joint pain. - if you find one, smoke it.
      (the medicinal value is valid)
      - in the best advice given to or taken from 'our' Einstein.
      " In and amongst your works, ..
      .. don't forget to
      Have Fun.

      All Love,
      A.C. The

    3. Hi Sabine,
      Hope you're doing well.
      * small note,
      to clarify; your reply to Guillermo was in reference to an 'ad hoc' or
      ' standard' star.
      - not a ' collapsing'
      star ?

  16. Dr Hossenfelder,

    There is an individual on reddit, youtube, and their own website called Optimum Institute who is claiming a "unified" theory of physics based on a cellular automaton he made in Microsoft Excel. He claims you have personally approached him with interest in this and are "in talks" with him over it. Is this true? At one point he was attempting to charge people money to see some paywalled content on his site, but then backed off from doing so.

    1. Felix,

      I have never heard of this person or is institute and I am certainly not "in talks" with anyone about their unified theory of something. If you can send me references, I'll pass this on to my lawyer, thanks for pointing out.

    2. Thanks. We all consider him a run of the mill crackpot (and so probably not worth legal action) but still had to check.

      The reddit account is at

      Website is

      He frequently deletes stuff, but what follows is a characteristic comment of his (which will also get you to the youtube):

      I literally want people to build the automaton and improve it. Infact, my CA has been going viral for weeks!!! People have been building it inside of super computers and even inside of Minecraft! I've been approached in good faith by the Wolfram team and Sabine Hossenfelder! Do you think they don't get it, or maybe do you think that you are the one who does not get it? I am producing a new video showing all the improvements that people have been making to my automaton, but you can see a small sample from a few days ago, here, and if you want to know why I am so salty over r/physics, I explained that in a previous comment:

    3. Hi Felix,

      Thanks. Seems to be located somewhere in Israel. Please take note that I have certainly never endorsed such nonsense.

  17. Sabine,

    Somehow I stumbled upon a video by a physicist, David de Hilster, in which he praises your stand against the FCC:

    He also seems to go somewhat further by saying that CERN are reluctant to release the data that supposedly demonstrates the Higgs particle, for fear others will prove it is nothing but noise!

    He also gives support to the even more dissident Alexander Unzicker.

    He speaks at a rather absurd speed, while pulling faces, but I wonder what your view is of him and Unzicker?

    1. David,

      Thanks for pointing out. I know neither de Hilster nor Unzicker and I am therefore afraid I don't have any view on these gentlemen.

    2. On further exploration it would seem that Hilster is a pretty strange individual - probably best forgotten.

  18. Thank you!! You really understood my question, even with my bad English and Google translator not helping so much. Best regards!!

  19. If you are in New York, please do a Secret Science Club preso in Brooklyn to a group of highly engaged lay peeps. see

    Adam Frank did it!

    You get a bar drink named for the lecture, I think "Fizzics" has been used, so how about a "Cosmicpolitan"?


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