Important upcoming deadlines

As part of our ongoing service to the quantum information community, we here at the Quantum Pontiff would be remiss if we didn’t remind you of important upcoming deadlines. We all know that there is a certain event coming in February of 2014, and that we had better prepare for it; the submission deadline is fast approaching.
Therefore, let me take the opportunity to remind you that the deadline to submit to the special issue of the journal Symmetry called “Physics based on two-by-two matrices” is 28 February 2014.

Articles based on two-by-two matrices are invited. … It is generally assumed that the mathematics of this two-by-two matrix is well known. Get the eigenvalues by solving a quadratic equation, and then diagonalize the matrix by a rotation. This is not always possible. First of all, there are two-by-two matrixes that cannot be diagonalized. For some instances, the rotation alone is not enough for us to diagonalize the matrix. It is thus possible to gain a new insight to physics while dealing with these mathematical problems.

I, for one, am really looking forward to this special issue. And lucky for us, it will be open access, with an article processing charge of only 500 Swiss Francs. That’s just 125 CHF per entry of the matrix! Maybe we’ll gain deep new insights about such old classics as \begin{pmatrix} 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 1 \end{pmatrix}, or tackle the troublesome and non-normal beast, \begin{pmatrix} 0 & 1 \\ 0 & 0 \end{pmatrix}. Who knows? Please put any rumors you have about great new 2×2 matrix results in the comments.

El Naschie works on entanglement now

El Naschie (top), shown photoshopped in with three Nobel laureates.

The Journal of Quantum Information Science will not be getting any of my papers starting today, because today is when I learned that they recently published the following gemA Resolution of Cosmic Dark Energy via a Quantum Entanglement Relativity Theory, by M. El Naschie.
Upon closer inspection, it isn’t hard to see why they published this paper. It’s because  “El Naschie is very highly regarded in the community” and is “always spoken of as a possible Nobel prize candidate”. And as the great man himself has said, “Senior people are above this childish, vain practice of peer review”, so there was no need for that.
Oh, but despite the apparent lack of peer review, they do have a $600 article processing charge for open access. I wonder what costs these charges are meant to offset if the “submit” button just puts the article straight into the publication? Hmmm, I hope that the journal didn’t simply accept money in exchange for publishing the paper under the pretense of “open access”! Golly, that would be unethical.

More cracks in the theory of relativity?

When the OPERA collaboration announced their result that they had observed neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light, it rocked the entire physics community. However, despite the high statistical certainty of the claim, any sober physicist knew that the possibility of systematic errors means that we must patiently wait for additional independent experiments. Einstein’s theory hasn’t been overthrown yet!

Or has it?

Enter the good folks at Conservapedia, a “conservative, family-friendly Wiki encyclopedia.” They have helpfully compiled a list of 39 counterexamples to relativity, and noted that “any one of them shows that the theory of relativity is incorrect.” In fact, relativity “is heavily promoted by liberals who like its encouragement of relativism and its tendency to mislead people in how they view the world.” That is already damning evidence, but you really must look at the list.

A few of them actually have some partial grounding in reality. For example,

6. Spiral galaxies confound relativity, and unseen “dark matter” has been invented to try to retrofit observations to the theory.

Most of them, however, are either factually challenged or irrelevant:

14. The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46-54, Matthew 15:28, and Matthew 27:51.

18. The inability of the theory of relativity to lead to other insights, contrary to every extant verified theory of physics.

Why are these scientists at OPERA wasting tax payer’s money on their silly experiments when they can just check this list? And to Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh: please post your predictions for the LHC to the arXiv soon, before all the data gets analyzed.

Update from Aram: Ironically, conservativepedians don’t like Einstein’s relativity because of its occasional use as a rhetorical flourish in support of cultural relativism. (I agree that using it in this manner constitutes bad writing, and a terribly mixed metaphor.) But by denouncing relativity as a liberal conspiracy along with evolution and global warming, they’ve demonstrated their own form of intellectual relativism: the idea that there is no objective truth, but that we are all entitled to believe whatever facts about the world we prefer. At the risk of improving the credibility of Conservapedia, I made this point on their talk page. Let’s see how long it lasts.

Geocentrism Revival

Robert Sungenis is an idiot.Seriously?

A few conservative Roman Catholics are pointing to a dozen Bible verses and the church’s original teachings as proof that Earth is the center of the universe, the view that was at the heart of the church’s clash with Galileo Galilei four centuries ago.

I can confidently speak for all of the quantum pontiffs when I say that we reject the geocentric view of the universe. I never thought I would have to boldly stand up for these beliefs, yet here I am.

… Those promoting geocentrism argue that heliocentrism, or the centuries-old consensus among scientists that Earth revolves around the sun, is a conspiracy to squelch the church’s influence.

This sentence nearly made my head explode.
First of all, heliocentrism is of course not agreed upon as scientific fact. As readers of this blog surely know, General Relativity teaches us that there are an infinite number of valid coordinate systems in which one can describe the universe, and we needn’t choose the one with the sun or earth at the origin to get the physics right (though one or the other might be more convenient for a specific calculation.) 
Second, you’ve gotta love the form of argument which I affectionately call “argument by conspiracy theory”, in which any evidence against your position is waved away as the work of a secret organization with interests aligned against you. Oh, what’s that? You don’t have any evidence for the existence of this secret society? Well, that simply proves how cunning they are and merely strengthens the argument by conspiracy theory!

“Heliocentrism becomes dangerous if it is being propped up as the true system when, in fact, it is a false system,” said Robert Sungenis, leader of a budding movement to get scientists to reconsider. “False information leads to false ideas, and false ideas lead to illicit and immoral actions — thus the state of the world today.… Prior to Galileo, the church was in full command of the world, and governments and academia were subservient to her.”

So in case you were wondering: yes, this guy is serious. In fact, he is also happy to charge you $50 to attend his conference, or sell you one of several books on the topic, as well as some snazzy merchandise like coffee mugs and t-shirts that say “Galileo was wrong” on the front. (Hint: they don’t say “Einstein was right” on the back.)
To Mr. Sungenis and his acolytes: I implore you. Please just stop. It’s embarrassing for both of us. And if you’re worried about your bottom line, then consider going into climate change denial instead, which I hear is quite lucrative.

Occupational Arrows of Time

One of the subjects of great debate in physics goes under the moniker of “the arrow of time.” The basic debate here is (very) roughly to try to understand why time goes it’s merry way seemingly in one direction, especially given that the many of the laws of physics appear to behave the same going backwards as forwards in time. But aren’t we forgetting our most basic science when we debate at great philosophical lengths about the arrow of time? Aren’t we forgetting about…experiment? Here, for your pleasure, then, are some of my personal observations about the direction of time which I’ve observed over my short life. Real observation about the direction of time should lead us to the real direction of time, no?
(With apologies to Alan Lightman)
Continue reading “Occupational Arrows of Time”

Black Hole Bets Of a Different Kind

So you really think the LHC is going to swallow up the Earth by creating a black hole or a quacking duck with X-ray super powers? Why don’t you put your money where your mouth is? Not to be confused with other famous black hole bets.