Saturday, December 30, 2006

Do I Want to See Saddams's Execution?

I have been waiting for the release of the execution video. After getting into some unexpected site, I was made aware of my strange intention to see a dead man.

I guess there is not much to gain by seeing this event. At this point I do not feel like seeing the video.

Saddam Hussein RIP

You can read the story in Wikipedia:

Execution of Saddam Hussein.

Friday, December 29, 2006

From Copernicus to Hawking-Penrose

I am reading Lee Smolin, "The Trouble with Physics". Copernicus started us in a quest to understand our place in the Universe. First it was small, now it is huge. Even though Hawking and Penrose are not active in string theory and its cosmological implications, I feel that they are the ones that better understand the mathematics of the whole She Bang. In any way, in my mind they set a landmark for thinking.

Officially what Hawking-Penrose are recognized for, is the mathematical proof that Einstein's General Relativity is incomplete. That forces theoretical physicists to search for the unification of quantum and cosmic phenomena. Maybe our small minds won't be up to the task, even if such unification exists. I refuse to believe that though.

A unified theory of the Universe may be as elusive to our minds as an understanding of consciousness. Maybe our minds can only get glimpses of the big light that could explain the whole Universe.

In any case to make this case I have to present Marvin Minsky. He thought about intelligence all his professional career, now he published what I believe is his last word on the subject in his new book, The Emotion Machine. One can read there that instead of a single site in the brain where our self resides, the collective behavior of the different parts of the brain are perceived by us as a single entity we call our self.

In this light, the theory of the very small, and the very big, seem to us as a single Universe, but they are disconnected as our brains are, or at least, if Minsky is right, they will appear to our brain as disconnected as it itself is. No unification here. We might have gotten to the end of our road.

Steven Wolfram in his book "A New Kind of Science", maybe is pointing in the same general direction when he says that after a threshold of complexity, all universal computers are indistinguishable from each other.

I just saw my son playing with his Nintendo Game Cube. He was playing " Chibi-Robo". A simple robot does simple tasks all over the house, that is all it does, and that is all that is expected of it.

For the whole multiverse, we may just be one of those simple robots, and the Multiverse does not expect us to do more than we have done so far.

Unless we rebel and become something completely new.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Many years ago Roberto Peccei and Helen Quinn, presented a neat idea. A Higgs like object that did not look the same when looked through a mirror. The mathematics is compelling but this object was not found for thirty years.

Now Professor Jain from the State University of New York, at Buffalo finally has some convincing photographic emulsions to prove its existence. This particle has a mass around seven Million electron Volts (7 MeV), and a lifetime of around 10-13 s.

This particle is less massive and lives much less than the neutral objects that could have so far been observed with past experiments.

Professor Jain's results were accepted for publication at JOURNAL OF PHYSICS G:NUCLEAR AND PARTICLE PHYSICS. The title of the article is "Search for new particles decaying into electron pairs of mass below 100 MeV/c2".

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Good Shepherd

Matt Damon as Edward Wilson in this spy movie is an intelligent man. He falls in love at least once and cannot follow his heart because forces at Yale take him towards a life of secrecy in Skulls and Bones. As a high operative in the American spy agency his private life is destroyed, and I wonder if he accomplishes anything.

The cold war ends and he looses the Bay of Pigs battle with Fidel Castro. Now Fidel is dying a hero among his people, and I wonder if Edward Wilson, or whoever this character stands for, is appreciated by the American people he was supposed to be defending.

At this point in my life the battle of the third world seems more relevant for humanity's survival than the mess the capitalist barons put us in. I squarely put the blame at the environmental degradation that has the potential to destroy us, on the laps of the Rockefellers, the Fords, and the assorted class of stupid white men that destroyed our Earth.

State of the World

I have been living in the suburbs of Chicago for over ten years. I do not know if it has always been this warm around here. I think I have been through some record hot days during this time. The question is, is it going to get cooler?

It seems that the answer is no. In average it is likely that the temperature would be hotter. I am assuming that Senator John McCain has not lost his mind and that we should worry about global warming. If this is so, what is my best course of action?

I am originally from Mexico City, I think that part of the world is going to bet hotter in the coming decades and malaria may appear there. At this point it seems that my best course of action is to stick around, until I see more clearly in which direction the temperature is moving.

My conclusion is then, that the World is getting hot.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The shorter the word the more we have to say to explain it. Those are the words we are all supposed to know, and we ask ourselves the meaning of those words since we are young. We give ourselves a simple operational answer and that is the end of the story. Time is what a clock tells us. That is enough for most of us.

As I grew older though, that element of my worldview became more relevant. To this day I am not satisfied with my answer to the question, what is time? I have written two posts on the Pulse of the Universe, now I retake the question and add an element I find intimately linked to this one: Information.

Time and Information

We happen to be in a bubble universe that has a memory of the moment of inflation. The event horizon is accelerating and it seems that we will never see the collision with other bubble universes hitting around our own. This bubble, for the most part seems isotropic, uniform, and homogeneous, but there is actually a preferred reference frame and a preferred point in time when everything relevant to us started.

If that is so, as Guth et al. are telling us, as I reported in The Pulse of the Universe (Second Part), then Information is a natural consequence of that fateful moment. Since there is a past, then there is a future, and therefore a probability that an event may or may not happen, alas that is what information is. If the Sun comes out tomorrow, we do not get that much information, but if it does not, then there is a lot of information received.

Does Information have weight?

As much as the record of the beginning of time has weight. Maybe within Guth's recent theory, one could calculate the energy content of the initial mark, "the persistence of memory'.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Immigration Law for the New Year

The New York Times

December 26, 2006
Bipartisan Effort to Draft Immigration Bill

WASHINGTON, Dec. 25 — Counting on the support of the new Democratic majority in Congress, Democratic lawmakers and their Republican allies are working on measures that could place millions of illegal immigrants on a more direct path to citizenship than would a bill that the Senate passed in the spring.

The lawmakers are considering abandoning a requirement in the Senate bill that would compel several million illegal immigrants to leave the United States before becoming eligible to apply for citizenship.

The lawmakers are also considering denying financing for 700 miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, a law championed by Republicans that passed with significant Democratic support.

Details of the bill, which would be introduced early next year, are being drafted. The lawmakers, who hope for bipartisan support, will almost certainly face pressure to compromise on the issues from some Republicans and conservative Democrats.

Still, the proposals reflect significant shifts since the November elections, as well as critical support from the Homeland Security Department.

Proponents said the prospects for such a measure, which would include tougher border security and a guest worker plan, had markedly improved since Nov. 7.

The Senate plans to introduce its immigration bill next month with an eye toward passage in March or April, officials said. The House is expected to consider its version later. President Bush said last week that he hoped to sign an immigration bill next year.

The major lawmakers drafting the legislation include Senators Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, and John McCain, Republican of Arizona, along with Representatives Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and Luis V. Gutierrez, Democrat of Illinois. The four met this month, and their staffs have begun working on a bill.

“I’m very hopeful about this, both in terms of the substance and the politics of it,” said Mr. Kennedy, the incoming chairman of the Senate Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee.

Mr. Kennedy acknowledged that there would be hurdles. But he and other lawmakers say Republicans and Democrats are now more likely to work together to repair a system widely considered as broken.

House Republicans blocked consideration of the bill that passed the Senate this year, saying it amounted to an amnesty for lawbreakers and voicing confidence that a tough stance would touch off a groundswell of support in the Congressional elections. The strategy largely failed.

Hispanic voters, a swing constituency that Republicans covet, abandoned the party in large numbers. Several Republican hardliners, including Representatives John Hostettler of Indiana and J. D. Hayworth of Arizona, lost their seats. After the dismal showing, House Republicans denied F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. of Wisconsin, the departing chairman of the Judiciary Committee and an architect of the House immigration approach, a senior position on any major committee in the new Congress.

Domestic security officials have voiced support for important elements of the framework under consideration. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has repeatedly raised doubts about the effectiveness of border fencing in remote desert areas. Mr. Bush signed the fence bill this year, but Congress did not appropriate enough money for it. Officials say they would also prefer a less burdensome process than the original Senate bill outlined.

That bill divided the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants into three groups, those living here for five years or more, those here for two to five years and those here for less than two years.

All but the illegal immigrants living here for five years or more, roughly seven million, would have to leave the country briefly to be eligible for legal status. Those here for fewer than two years would have to leave the country and would not even be guaranteed a slot in a guest worker plan.

Domestic security officials said the original plan would have been enormously difficult to administer because many illegal immigrants lacked documentation to prove how long they had been in the United States.

The officials said it would have fueled a market in fraudulent documents as illegal immigrants scrambled to offer proof of residency.

The three-tiered approach would also discourage millions of illegal immigrants from registering, driving millions deeper underground.

“We do have concerns over breaking it down into that tiered system,” said a domestic security official who insisted on anonymity. “When you do that, you run the risk of people trying to create false documentation that would get them the highest benefits.”

Also expected to have prominent roles in the debate are Representatives Zoe Lofgren, the California Democrat who is likely to head the House Immigration, Border Security and Claims Subcommittee; Howard L. Berman, a California Democrat who has followed immigration issues closely for many years; and Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who is set to lead the House Homeland Security Committee and has said he plans to re-evaluate the 700-mile fence.

But Mr. Flake described himself as optimistic, saying the elections had disabused many Republicans of the notion that opposing legalization and guest worker plans would win widespread support.

“That illusion is gone,” he said.

The percentage of Hispanics who voted for Republicans fell to 29 percent, from 44 percent in 2004, and some Republicans say passing immigration bills is a crucial part of the effort to win them back.

Mr. Flake warned that some Republicans might balk at proposals like broadening the number of illegal immigrants eligible for a less burdensome path to citizenship, making passage of bipartisan legislation potentially “politically more difficult.”

The prospects for a bill that contains such a proposal remain particularly uncertain in the House, where many prominent Democrats want to ensure broad bipartisan backing as part of their efforts to maintain their majority in 2008, Congressional aides said.

The House Democrats are concerned about protecting newly elected moderate and conservative Democrats, some of whom had campaigned against legalizing illegal immigrants.

It is also unclear whether Mr. Gutierrez and Mr. Flake will produce the only House legislation on immigration and whether their plan will ultimately become the basis for the bill that emerges.

In the Senate, Mr. Kennedy’s bill certainly has the backing of the Democratic leadership, Congressional aides said.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, argued that expanding citizenship eligibility and abandoning financing for the fence would alienate moderates in both parties. The three-tier legalization system, a hard-fought compromise, was critical for moderate Republican support for the original bill.

The plan under consideration would allow 10 million or 11 million illegal immigrants to become eligible to apply for citizenship without returning home, up from 7 million in the original Senate bill. To be granted citizenship, they would have to remain employed, pass background checks, pay fines and back taxes, and enroll in English classes.

“I think it’s a nonstarter,” said Mr. Cornyn, who opposes a path to citizenship for illegal workers, but supports a plan for temporary workers that would let foreigners work here temporarily before returning home.

Congressional aides and lawyers familiar with the proposed bills emphasize that it will be very difficult for a smaller group of illegal immigrants, those who arrived after a certain date, perhaps 2004, to become citizens. The aides said the bill might include incentives for illegal immigrants to leave the country. While they hope such elements may ease concerns, many challenges remain.

Some powerful unions, which expect to exert more leverage in the new Congress, remain deeply opposed to the temporary worker program in the Senate bill. The unions say it threatens American jobs.

Officials at the A.F.L.-C.I.O. say they can scuttle such a plan next year, even though Mr. Bush and businesses say it is critical to ensure an adequate labor force.

There is also the political clock to consider. Supporters of immigration measures acknowledge that the prospects for a bipartisan bill will dim significantly if a bill is not passed before the presidential primaries of 2008 are in full swing.

Some Congressional aides and immigrants’ advocates worry about the commitment of Mr. McCain, a likely presidential candidate in 2008.

Mr. McCain has long supported legalization that would not require illegal immigrants to leave the United States. Some advocates fear that his ambitions may lead to a shifting of that stance to avoid alienating moderate Republicans.

A spokeswoman for Mr. McCain said last week that he was not available to comment on the bill being drafted.

Many lawmakers say their hope is growing that Congress will pass an immigration bill next year.

“There are going to be hard choices that are going to be made, because we need to build a bipartisan, broad-based coalition,” said Mr. Gutierrez, who leads the House Democratic immigration group. “But I’m hopeful that in the environment in which we’re working now we can get it done.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

Neutrinos at Fermilab (Second Part)

"Long-baseline neutrino oscillation physics in the U.S. is centered at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (FNAL), in particular at the Neutrinos at the Main Injector (NuMI) beamline commissioned in 2004-2005. Already, the MINOS experiment has published its first results confirming the disappearance of νμ’s across a 735 km baseline. The forthcoming NOνA experiment will search for the transition νμ→νe and use this transition to understand the mass hierarchy of neutrinos. These, as well as other conceptual ideas for future experiments using the NuMI beam, will be discussed. The turn-on of the NuMI facility has been positive, with over 310 kW beam power achieved. Plans for increasing the beam intensity once the Main Injector accelerator is fully-dedicated to the neutrino program will be presented."

This is Sacha Kopp abstract in his recent "Long-Baseline Neutrino Physics in the U.S." talk at NOW 2006 in Italy.

He ends his talk like this:

The NuMI line is commissioned and performing well. As the Tevatron collider ramps down, Fermilab will be a dedicated neutrino facility, and the accelerator complex will be re-commissioned toward higher beam power.

MINOS is still operating at Fermilab. A beam of neutrinos is sent to Minnesota and detected there, in the way the neutrinos oscillate and thus their mass difference can be measured. This is the result of close to twenty years of great work by the scientists involved. This was the first experiment of its size, now there are several either in operation or in construction in different parts of the world.

Neutrinos do not decay, they just change from one type to another, only when a detector is in their way they appear as one type or the other, as a class though, neutrinos are forever.

The US is fortunate to have an experiment of such transcendence operating in its territory. Internal sources tell me that it was approved, even if it sounded so difficult, because other expensive facilities, like the SSC in Texas, were not supported.

Now the next best thing is the NLC (Next Linear Collider), let us hope that American taxpayers see the importance of keeping these big experiments in the US.

It is interesting how a hadron collider is turning into a lepton source.

On his turn José Valle writes in the summary talk at NOW 2006:

The progress in the physics of neutrino oscillations in the last few years has been truly remarkable. Oscillations are now established, implying that neutrinos have masses, as first suggested by theorists in the early eighties, both on general grounds and on the basis of various versions of the seesaw mechanism. This is a profound discovery that marks the beginning of a new age in neutrino physics.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Pulse of the Universe (Second Part)

"... our own universe does not seem to be approaching a Minkowski vacuum. Rather, it appears to be accelerating again, and collisions with other bubbles may forever remain hidden behind the cosmological horizon. ... This means that we are very unlikely to be hit by a bubble at any time in the future."

Jaume Garriga, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, have recently published an idea that leads to the above statements.

They go on to state:
"Dipole anisotropies and memory of initial conditions are not commodities one usually expects from inflation. Although we find this result to be rather shocking, the effect is real."

Before I go on to explain what I think Garriga et al. are saying, I want to give a little background information on the whole issue of the meaning of time.

Time is both an a-priori condition to knowledge, as Kant wrote more than two hundred years ago, and a a member in its full right of the Real World Out There (RWOT). Our time depends on the time of the Universe. There is no way we can keep a beat, if the whole bubble universe we inhabit, does not have a beat also.

Alan Guth invented inflation, and in the work I am using here, he finds that if there is inflation, then there should be some memory of this inflation. They call that: "Persistence of Memory". In their view we are inside one of many bubbles. These bubbles collide with each other, and then they have to answer the question of what is the probability that we will be hit by other bubbles. Inside their model, it is possible to live for a long time without any collisions with the "outside world", and besides, that our bubble "remembers" how it all started in our region of the multiverse. There is hope that we will measure this cosmic event, i.e. that our bubble remembers where was the explosion that led to the inflationary phase we are experiencing. This record is essential for my idea of time to acquire meaning. Without our bubble remembering how it all began, we could not have a sense of time.

Guth and friends find out that it is possible to have a bubble with a preferred origin and with a very small possibility of other bubbles bumping us out of existence. These are good news.

The article is in Los Alamos.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


At school, for young people, the best is experience. More than getting all the equations and minus signs right, one should get the experience. Do something in the lab; send a laser beam to the screen through the side of an index card and get a diffraction ring on the blackboard.

Most of all the guide, should be into it. He or she should really want to see the result of the experiment; be it the detection of a cosmic ray, or the boiling point of water, it really doesn't matter; but the guide should deeply care about the result of the search.

Next in importance in my mind, is to equally focused, the guide should try to connect what was just found with the rest of everybody's experience.

Mathematics, on the other hand is more of a pure mind exercise, it should strengthen our mind "muscles'.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

New Year

Three hundred and sixty five days, means as much as one thousand years, nevertheless we choose to pause and consider, how are we doing?

We just passed one millenium mark a few years ago. On this part of the world, the birth of Jesus Christ is important for us.

One thousand years, though, is as meaningful as 999, or 1001, or actually any number in between. Nevertheless here are my thoughts on this year that ends December 31.

I came in contact with many adolescents during this year. Some very intelligent and responsible, some not so much. With many I did not have the influence I wanted, they did not study physics or mathematics. Here I will write some actions that may help me next time around.

o Tell them what to do when

o Tell them why they should do it

o Get so involved in my work with them that they will start to wonder why

I am sure countless of teachers have thought of countless of ways to pass human knowldege to the next generation, but as far as I can see, we will keep doing this for as long as we are around. I hope we will be around for more than one thousand years.


"Tlaltecuhtli, deidad que luego de 500 años emerge de ultratumba, está ya entre nosotros."

The deity Tlaltecuhtli, that after 500 years emerges from the underworld, is now among us.

Thus ends a beautiful article written today in La Jornada in Mexico City by Monica Mateos Vega.

The great Mexican historian Alfonso Caso wrote several years ago that this creature could be the "pejelagarto".

"Quizá es el llamado ''pejelagarto'' de los ríos del Golfo, escribió Alfonso Caso".

It did not escape me that Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, current leader of the Mexican opposition is called "Peje" by his followers, because of this animal that lives near his birthplace, Tabasco.

This discovery was announced on October the Second, also of great political importance to Mexicans, since in 1968 more than 500 innocent people were killed by the Mexican government in Tlaltelco, in Mexico City that day.

Finally this deity can be interpreted as the Goddess of the Earth, in other parts of the world, this archetype is called Gaia.

Several interesting coincidences, that do not have connections I know about, but that nevertheless, I want them to remind us, that Mexico is going through one of the most trying periods of its history, and that the Earth, Gaia, is also in deep distress.

Let us all Mexicans and the rest of the World, now that the year is ending carefully ponder if we continue as we are going or participate in political movements to face the dangers we perceive.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

One of the Ten Important Discoveries in Archaeology

5.) Aztec Altar and Monolith Found in Mexico
In early October, archaeologists recovered an Aztec altar depicting the image of their rain god, and an 11-foot monolith, while digging in the heart of Mexico City. Spanish conquistadors destroyed the Aztec's capitol and built Mexico City on it's foundation. In the center of the city stands one of the few remaining temples of the Aztec nation, the Templo Mayor.

According to Christine Senter from the Associated Content Internet Site, this year's discovery of an Aztec Altar in Mexico City, is one of this year's Ten Important Discoveries in Archaeology.

The Spaniards did their best to hide the glory of old Mexicans, but they are coming back. Mexicans are claiming their Indian Origin.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Looking for Big or Little Patterns?

Doing scientific research one looks for patterns. A single observation, may connect with another one, and then another, until we have a set of observations that may indicate the existence of a bigger pattern, maybe a theory, like General Relativity.

One interesting aspect of these mathematical and physical theories is that sometimes they hung together with a single principle. Einstein's Theory of Gravity is the quintaessential physico-mathematical theory glued together by a simple principle. Galileo discovered that objects of similar size but different weights fall at the same rate, Einstein saw geometry behind it, and postulated that the presence of matter bends space and time causing all nearby objects to follow the paths of minimal length.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Pulse of the Universe

Space without time and time without space are unthinkable within Minkowski's vision of spacetime. Einstein (1879 - 1955) was the first to see this, and his teacher Hermann Minkowski (1864 - 1909) was the first to state it mathematically.

As Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804), from Germany, had already observed in the same part of the World, space and time go hand in hand in our mind. The other Germans, Einstein and Minkowski, though, put Kant's ideas up side up. Space and time are not a priori objects inside our heads, they exist in the real world out there (RWOT).

Within this realist view of time, I try to see where time is. I imagine a big heart, the Pulse of the Universe. Our little hearts are fractal copies of this big time. Einstein used to say that God does not play dice, I say that there is no time without a live universe. Just like James Lovelock, I believe that the material world around us is more alive than we have so far imagined, not just Earth as Gaia, but the Universe as Gaia.

Theoretical physicists have to get in tune with this big clock, because we can hope to go beyound the big impasse we find ourselves in at this point in time, only when we understand that we are part of the Universe. We are not outside the Universe.

What Can we Expect from G. W. Bush?

This is a time for reflection; a new year is about to start. Time magazine chose Us as persons of the year. We the People, not Bush or any other influential individual. Maybe they mean that the accomplishments of people like our President are too meager to make a big deal out of them.

In any case, what do I expect from this man?

The country is divided almost in half. If one senator gets sick, "the balance of power" changes. That basically means, that there is no way to know what will happen in politics in the near future. Nevertheless this is what I expect; Bush:

o will not pull out all the troops from Iraq in 2007

o will insist on making tax breaks permanent

o will sign any immigration proposal coming from Congress and Senate deliberations

o will recognize China's role in setting American economic policy

o will direct his administration to include the remaining Axis of Evil members, North Korea and Iran, in public diplomatic dialog

In the long run, I see the USA declining as an imperial power.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Trouble with Physics

Professor Lee Smolin from the Perimeter Institute in Canada, published a book on the state of High Energy Physics. He laments that since 1983 when the W and Z bosons were produced in high energy physics laboratories, nothing has happened in the theoretical or the experimental aspects of this discipline.

I have not been supported to do research in this area since 1998, when I resigned as Physics Professor from the Autonomous University of Puebla in Mexico, and joined Bell Labs in Naperville Illinois.

It is with mixed emotions that I read from Professor Smolin, that nobody has succeeded in doing what I wanted to do. Even some physics departments in the United Kingdom are closing down for lack of support. No results, no support.

What worries me the most, is that we are approaching a state of environmental catastrophe, when more scientists working in all branches of theoretical physics would be a huge asset.

We are not ready to face the mess that people with money put us in. Fermilab in Illinois may not last more than ten years as a leading center of the enlightenment, the new cathedral of the modern era, that it once was. Not even Bell Labs is an American institution any more, now it belongs to the French company Alcatel.

Dangerous times are coming.

Friday, December 15, 2006

End of Empire

"What we are watching across the whole region is the steady but increasing collapse of American imperial power. It will not be a joyous event. It may prove to be terrifying. It will definitely be bloody. And Lebanon may now be the mirror that proves it all true."

These are wise words by our eyes and ears in Lebanon, Robert Fisk. This half western half eastern man living in Lebanon is our best thermometer of what is happening there. He says that it is hot an getting hotter.

He sees beyond Lebanon though. The American Empire may be ending.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Salvador Allende

"Trabajadores de mi Patria, tengo fe en Chile y su destino. Superarán otros hombres este momento gris y amargo en el que la traición pretende imponerse. Sigan ustedes sabiendo que, mucho más temprano que tarde, de nuevo se abrirán las grandes alamedas por donde pase el hombre libre, para construir una sociedad mejor. ¡Viva Chile! ¡Viva el pueblo! " Salvador Allende 11 de septiembre de 1973

"Workers of my Fatherland, I believe in Chile and its destiny. Other men will overcome this gray and bitter moment in which treason tries to succeed. Keep on knowing that, much earlier than late, again the great oak tree lined avenues where the free man passes to build a better society will be open. Long Live Chile! Long Live the people!" Salvador Allende September 11, 1973.

I was twenty three years old when President Allende said these historic and prophetic words. I was in the US Embassy in Mexico City, applying for a student visa to go to the University of California at Santa Barbara. As always life is a contradiction, I agree with President Allende, but I was asking the government of the country that had more to do in the whole world with the murder of the Chilean democracy in the person of that great man, to please let me go into that country.

Augusto Pinochet was the traitor that now has his well deserved place in ignominy.

Rest in Peace Traitor General Augusto Pinochet, Long Live Salvador Allende!

Drunk Parents Syndrome

I have not been drunk in my life to a degree that I interact inappropriately with those I love. Nevertheless many times I treat others in ways that I later regret. To the extent that I feel guilty, I feel that that is the way alcoholic parents feel when they let down their children.

I try to compensate by being extra nice. I guess even a referee that made a bad call in a sports game feels like paying back the error. This is wrong.

Maybe an apology would be useful, but there is no need for being extra nice to compensate.

Psychology is not a hard science, and I have not studied this area of human knowledge to contribute here something interesting. For what is worth, this is my first 'advice', I hope I do not make a habit of this.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

When Does a Boy Want a Date?

I was in middle school, maybe 13 maybe 15 years old, I do not remember now. Cristina Abdala was a beautiful girl. We danced at school, and I avoided her the rest of the year. Now Cristina is not alive, when she was young a iatrogenic event ended her life.

Eventually I got the courage and dated other girls, some relationships were good, but we did not stayed together, and one time it worked. Today is my twenty seventh wedding anniversary.

And life goes on.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Augusto Pinochet is dead.

Europe has a very hot fall season.

Wii is outselling PS3

Wii outsells PS3 in US
Correspondents in San Francisco
DECEMBER 11, 2006
NINTENDO'S WII outsold rival PlayStation 3 by more than double in the US in November as the freshly launched video game consoles challenged the Xbox 360 for market share.

Nintendo sold 476,140 of its Wii consoles in the US in November while Sony managed to sell 196,580 of its new PlayStations, according to industry tracking group NPD.

During the month, Microsoft sold 511,300 of its Xbox 360 consoles, which it brought to market a year ago. Wii and PlayStation 3 were released for sale in the US in mid-November.

Manufacturing problems curtailed the number of PlayStation 3 systems available for the US and Japan launches and prompted Sony to postpone the consoles' Europe debut next year.

Consumers in Europe snatched up Wii consoles quickly after their debut in Europe on late last week as the innovative system, which features motion-responsive controllers, achieved status as the must-have video game.


Agence France-Presse

What is relevant?

If I ask my son it will be the third item. I think the question is meaningless without context. What I want to do is to make Riemann's Surface relevant for my son and all the kids I teach at high school.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

If you are in highschool, have a 3.0 GPA and are latino, you could ask for financial aid to the Hispanic Scholarship Fund

There are several requirements: three essays, around 600 words each, letters of recommendation, and filling several financial aid forms. Is this too much to ask?

It is more a matter of culture than abilities, it seems to me. If the academic expectations are low, one expects less interest in the hard work required to excel intellectually.

Is it possible for a highschool teacher to remember 150 students and their names?

It is hard for me, but I feel that an important aspect of teaching is to know who you are teaching. Some students draw attention more towards what they do wrong than towards what they do right. When they want a recommendation letter, what is more likely for me to rememeber?

I feel responsability towards my students, even more towards the ones failing. I hope I can serve them all.

Iraq War

Finally the Baker report is out. Yesterday I browsed its contents at Borders. Does the report state that the US citizens are protected by this expensive war effort? No.

What to do? The report has 79 recommendations. The report did not show polls to tell us how does the Iraqi civilians in the street feel. Do they want American troops, and how many?

As far as I can tell they recommend to reduce troop levels to half. Saudi Arabia will welcome that, they do not want to fight against Iran alone. Baker has received a lot of money from the Saudis, I do not believe that he is an honest broker telling it how it is.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


When one hears this word several things come to mind. As an electronics and communications engineer one idea that appears in my mind is probability. Claude Shannon at Bell Labs founded information theory. This theory turned out to be similar to Boltzmann's and Maxwell's. Clausius defined entropy and Boltzmann found the relation to probability.

Now black hole theory brings us back to these old ideas. I will write more about this in future posts.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Immanuel Wallerstein (Second Part)

I have mentioned this American intellectual before. Now he is in Mexico giving a set of lectures; I have read an interview with him, and some comments follow.

Wallerstein sees divisions inside Mexico and inside the United States. In the case of Mexico, there are at least two popular movements that present an alternative to the Mexican government of the past seventy years. In the case of the United States, the two main parties do not seem to agree on next steps.

The movements in Mexico are: in Oaxaca (APPO), and nationally (AMLO). If you have been reading my blogs you know what those initials stand for. These movements in the eyes of Wallerstein have the potential to make the work of the present Mexican president, Felipe Calderón, difficult to execute.

A common thread between these Mexican and American divisions could be the millions of Mexicans now living in the US, both legally and illegally. These Mexicans were able to influence the recent American election.

The way I see it; these several Mexican movements in Mexico and the US, have to be understood in the context of the current elite's political forces inability to control the popular forces in both countries.

Also in Central and South America, Bachelet, Chávez, Morales, da Silva, Kirschner, Correa, Vázquez and Ortega; represent the same face of widespread disillusionment with the US economic system.

I think that the global environmental disaster has also a role to play in these hard times that Wallerstein is warning us about.

For those that want to hear to intellectuals, and not only the shallow analyses of the American media, we have to start to prepare for hard times.

Mexican-Americans like me are being called to play an important role in years to come.

Just a last point. AMLO's supporters already opened an alternate consulate in Chicago, if I want to renew my passaport I have a choice, I can ask Felipe Calderón's friends or López Obrador's

We are living in interesting times.

Creativity and School

Last year I asked students to come up with a school project for our class, even though I was disapointed with some of the work, done in haste; I was impressed by some either very intelligent or creative students.

There could be intelligent and creative people, I'm thinking here of Albert Einstein. but staying with these two separate classes of people I see the following traits.

The intelligent student understands fast what is required from her, and does it almost flawlessly; the creative one, can hardly concentrate on the material presented. Not much homework, and plenty of smart remarks. When a free assignment is given, in the case I am thinking of, one dazzles with different skills and ideas not presented in class, applied to the task at hand, the other does a well organized and thoughtful presentation, that covers the material successfully. Who gets a higher grade?

I gave both an A.

Chávez and Calderón

Two faces of the new Latin America. American citizens usually only see the face of the likes of Felipe Calderón, new president of Mexico. But there are at least two faces of Latin America. One is the face of Europe, the other the older face of American indians, and mestizos.

Chávez won with more than 60% of the vote, Calderón won by an statistical fluctuation. Less than one percent difference. Chávez has his country behind him, Calderón does not.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Two Presidents in Mexico (December 1, 2006)

Today Calderón went to San Lázaro, the Mexican Congress, to officially become President of Mexico. López Obrador was officially made President of Mexico by the National Democratic Convention on September 16. Both Presidents coexisted peacefully today.

It seems to me that at least during six years, López Obrador will start a new stage in Mexican politics. At the end of the day only the Mexican People will decide if the alternative government will have power or not.

Interesting times.

Relevant Science (Meaning)

The name of this blog was explained in the first postings. I want to present links to results and reports of scientific disciplined inquires into the world we live in. I am afraid I have spent too much blog space for politics, which of course can also be considered part of the world, and therefore in the realm of disciplined studies. Nevertheless my analysis, whenever has been presented has not been very systematic.

I want people to read and come back, because what they read was relevant for them. What is interesting, what is relevant?

One motivator of this effort is the lack of interest I notice in high school students in what I know. My intention is to address interesting topics for young people in a scientific way.

What is behind my intention is the meaning of information. If I have read several books on black holes, I will see more in a recent research report on these objects, than if I just happened to be told what a black hole is. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

High school students know a little more than middle school students, that in turn know a little more than grammar school students. They act though, like if they know a lot of things, and sometimes they couldn't care less about what I am saying.

My intention is to show them that it is related to things they know,that they can learn what I know, and that it is relevant.

Meaning, then becomes an important part of relevancy. No meaning, no relevance, meaning, relevant.

Am I glad hat I am not teaching today? In a sense yes. I can now keep looking for information relevant for me. Are the students happy that they do not have to listen to me? Yes.

Snowed Out and Witnessing History

Today I did not teach. The snow did not let my students come in; I was there though, but that is not enough, you need two to Tango.

I came home and there they were; on commercial TV in Spanish here in the US, Vicente Fox Quesada and Felipe de Jesús Calderón Hinojosa. One handed the presidential sash to the other, without giving it first to the head of Congress, they corrected themselves, and the sash went to the proper person, who dutifully gave it to Calderón. This man breaking protocol put the sash around his neck all by himself, as if it were a Boy Scout medal or something. That was the most important political symbol of power in my country!

A sad and historic moment. Mexico is divided and incompetent people are in charge. Vicente Fox acted like the simple rich man that he is, and Felipe Calderón, as the eager economist with one year at a finishing school in Cambridge Massachusetts, named Harvard University.

We give ritual so much importance, and thinking about it, it might as well had been the good Boy Scout medal, from the head of the troop, to the best little boy in the troupe.

Sad and historic day.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Middle East Interests of the US

The US has grown into the only superpower, more and more is done through Washington in the World arena. Power though corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Oil is a strategic input to the US economy, and right now it is costing US tax payers trillions of dollars to control the Middle East.

Life's Turns

We pick one job and not another, we pick a girlfriend and not another. And life goes on. Each choice is a different life. Which is the right life?

My first answer is, there is no right life, but then again, if I could run several life courses, like in the Sims software game, would I choose one over the other? Now I am describing simulations. These are used in science and business. The short answer is that even with these tools, the future is unknowable.

Some cultures, state these choices as God's choices, and just live whatever life they get. This is wise, the only difference with my secular world view, is that I assume that I am the architect of my own destiny, or maybe I should say, I should take some blame and some credit for my decisions.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Does it Mean to Commit Suicide?

All of us have different histories, in each case if the choice to commit suicide is taken, there may be different reasons. I myself have not asked myself this question before. I know of three friends that did. I met them before I was twenty, or around twenty, two made it to twenty the other did not.

Today I found out that a close relative of our family did it. What does it mean?

All of us know that we are not here forever, but choose not to dwell on that too much. I for one am grateful to be alive and have plans to do what alive people do, contribute to our common life.

These reflections will not relate on the recent event because I do not know this person enough to try to make sense of his case. As is frequent with me, these are abstract reflections.

In simple terms one accelerates something that is going to happen anyway. What is strange to me is that instead of doing as much as possible before the time comes, one tries to end before it is time. People expect us to be around, they depend on us. Only when they see that we are going away, against our will, they stop depending on us. Most of all there is joy in being alive.

On the other hand when it comes to the whole of our species, there are reasons to believe that we are killing ourselves, in that case though, most of us can claim that the future cannot be predicted, and there is no point in being so glum.

As always, do not expect deep answers from this little mind just trying to make sense of the world around him.

2045 (Second Part)

The Second World War ended in 1945. Ray Kurzweil predicts that a hundred years after that terrible war ended, humans will have another chance to reach unprecedented heights. That is the year of the Singularity according to his calculations.

Steve Wozniak was recently interviewed through the Washington Post by his readers and admirers. He is not so optimistic as to when Artificial Intelligence will appear, but he more than Kurzweil has contributed to the ubiquity of the personal computer, and I take his opinion seriously.

To believe Kurzweil I have to do more research like he has done. I am not convinced, for one thing I do not see in Kurzweil's book any mention of the show stopper that environmental degradation can become.

Wozniak and Child Development

I finished reading Steve Wozniak's book, iWoz.

I was taken by the description of the communication with his son Jesse. Obviously Mr. Wozniak was an intelligent child himself, and we can assume that his son is also. But more important is the level of communication they reached; before most fathers and sons can do it, these two were "talking" to each other. When the baby was light, and Mr. Wozniak could easily carry him around, he could feel the tension in Jesse's muscles and thus follow the instructions of his son to find objects. Mr. Wozniak could close his eyes and be directed by his son towards objects.

This is a great man. He reminded me of that other great American thinker, Richard P. Feynman. This physicist also wrote books with the same down to earth and wise tone. In both cases the father-son relations are worth pursuing.

The human mind has a genesis, as Jean Piaget revealed last century, teachers and parents can greatly benefit by knowing the stages of brain development in children discovered by Piaget; this development is easily one of the most important phenomena going on in the home of any family with children.

Friday, November 24, 2006

RSTS & iWoz

"Why relevant science?

Relevant Science and Technology Society (RSTS), Bangladesh. This foundation was formed by a group of scientists under the leadership of Dr. K. S. Rabbani.

RSTS provides a framework under which individuals may develop their own ideas and programs.

RSTS also works through its different organs which help improves the quality of life of common people."

I was doing a Google search on this blog, Relevant Science, and the number one site was:

Relevant Science and Technology Society

This Bengali society is promoting something very important. Science and Technology to the People.

I am also reading Steve Wozniak's autobiography, "iWoz". Wozniak is a great man, and Dr. Rabbani also is doing good with Science and Technology.

Science to the People!

That is Relevant Science.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Each Head Counts

In these trial times all of us should be looking ahead. By the nature of our limited number of neurons each one of us cannot hold all the thoughts, nor propose all the solutions, but all together we are in better shape.

My friend Julián Félix from León Guanajuato together with a team at Fermilab, reported back in January of last year that the Sigma particle may decay into a new scalar particle with a 214.3±0.5 MeV/c 2 mass.

Now Germán Valencia and collaborators reported yesterday, that this may be the so much sought after Higgs Scalar Particle.

Good work Julián!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Global Economy Local Employment

I live in Illinois, I have read Tom Friedman's "The World is Flat". I buy his idea that technology makes workers compete worldwide; but I do not know how to make a living in the new world.

In the new economy knowledge is more important than in the old economy, I went to school until I was thirty years old, but I feel that people with less schooling and more connections are doing better than I am.

Part of the reason is that I am more concerned about the concept of information, for instance, than how to use information to make money. I will keep trying to figure out a local employment solution to the global landscape open to me, if I do find a good business, first I will take advantage of it, and then I will post it in this blog.

NYT View of Mexico

Writing today about the Swearing in Ceremony of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to the Mexican presidency JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr. of the New York Times states:

"It remained to be seen if Monday’s political theater was a graceful exit for a candidate who could never acknowledge defeat, or truly the start of a unified left-wing movement to challenge the oligarchy of politicians and business executives who have controlled the country for a century. "

He put in a nutshell the Mexican situation.

I myself don't know the outcome of that situation; but to me, this is a historic moment in Mexico, and maybe in the world, when "the oligarchy of politicians and business executives who have controlled the country for a century " as he aptly puts it, has shown an utter inability to solve Mexico's problems.

Maybe is time to let the people give it a try. We are going down a big hole to extinction if we continue the short sighted policies that have destroyed the environment following the policies of this oligarchy.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What are the Children Seeing?

Since the sad Columbine incident several years ago, I have been digesting the ations of those two boys. Before them Timothy McVeigh had committed a heinous act. My daughter's friends in high school seemed gloomy for my taste. What is going on?

Right now I believe these children are like the canaries in a mine.

"Canaries in a Mine

by Diana Chapman Walsh, President - Wellesley College

For 11 years, I have presided over commencement at Wellesley College, always a moving ritual, full of history, promise, and hope. Over this tumultuous decade, we, like most colleges and universities, have experienced challenges, conflicts and threats to our sense of cohesion. College campuses are crucibles in which struggles of the larger culture often first appear. College students - so bright and sensitive, so impatient and idealistic - serve as sentinels; they function for the larger society as canaries in a mine."

I agree with Ms. Chapman Walsh. Children are the canaries in a mine.

Now I am starting to see what they see, the end may be near if we do not mend our ways.

Report in Spanish of Today's Celebration in Mexico

La Jornada already filed a report on the historic events today in Mexico:

La Jornada

Peaceful and effective political action by the Mexican people.

AMLO's Government Plan

  • Foster a process of renewal for public institutions
  • Defend the right to information and demand openess of communication media
  • Attend the migration issues of Mexico, insisting in changing the economic policies of Mexico to increase employment, and oppose the border fence the US plans to build in the Mexico border
  • Denounce injustices and watch public servants, and demand the destitution of Ulises Ruiz and the removal of federal forces from Oaxaca
  • Send legislators from his coalition an initiative to make corruption a constitutional crime, and to diminish the salaries of public servants.
  • Not allow tax raises agains the poor.
  • Press for the formation of a public budget and demand more resources for agriculture
  • An initative to Senators from his coalition for a law that controls the prices of goods and services
  • Creation of a "comission for the truth" to investigate the Fobaproa and watches over contruction of federal public works
  • Protectionist measures for national producers
  • Defend the constitutional right for a just and dignified salary
  • Legally protect the informal sector of the economy
  • Defend the autonomy and democratization of unions, and not allow the privatization of the energy sector
  • Protect Mexico's natural resources and archeological sites
  • Fight for subsidies to senior citizens, and other minorities
  • Promote in Congress a Welfare State
  • Support for the San Andres Larraizar accords with the EZLN
  • Indiscrimantely accept all youth into public education institutions
  • Guarantee access to public health services
  • Help Mexicans in slums without public services

Three Presidents in Mexico

Andrés Manuel López Obrador ( AMLO ) is the third Mexican President. The first is in his way out, Vicente Fox, and the second is Felipe Calderón, elected by a very small margin on July 2nd. Today in Mexico City, AMLO was sworn as President of Mexico by a Democratic Convention of several tens of thousands of people.

Foundational Assembly in Mexico Tenochtitlan. The Mexican people is waking up. After hundreds of years of European domination, just like in Bolivia and Venezuela, the original people of these lands are back to claim what is theirs, the land and the resources of this continent. AMLO supports the Mexican branch of this movement.

Three Presidents in Mexico, one of them AMLO, like Benito Juárez, many years ago, is going to go all around the country. The Mexican people is here to stay.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


The Las Ajarcas Monolith is of Tlaltecuhtli
November 18, 2006
La Jornada
This is the November 17, 2006 Edition
Matos Moctezuma confirms this is the Mexica Earth Goddess
The Las Ajaracas monolith is of Tlaltecuhtli
Mexica goddess Tlaltecuhtli, discovered in Las Ajaracas, lot where the archaelological findings continue

Mexico City - There is no doubt, the huge Mexica monolith found a few weeks ago in Templo Mayor, in the Las Ajaracas lot, represents the Earth Goddess Tlatecuhtli, devourer of cadavers and the dusk sun, confirmed yesterday the archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma.

But also, the researcher offered the hypothesis that this sacred stone, now free of a floor and a layer of soil that hid it both from the common inhabitants of the Great Tenochtitlan, and the Spaniards, could be Auizotl’s tombstone, Tlatoani (Emperor) that ruled the Triple Alliance from 1486 to 1502, and was buried there some years before the conquest started.

Located at the bottom of the stairs of Templo Mayor, the monolith was shown yesterday for the first time to the media and, despite being fractured in four big parts, is in excellent shape, with its human face, claws in hands and feet, and in birthing position.

This deity, that also was represented in its male phase and that was created with pink andesite and decorated in red, ocre, black, and white, could be appreciated in situ after its restoration and located in a kind of dome for outdoor protection.

In the presence of Luciano Cedillo, director of the National Anthropology and History Institute (INAH), and the archaeologists in charge of the project, like Alvaro Barrera, Matos Moctezuma described that the piece “wears a small skirt adorned with skulls and crossed bones, in addition of showing the dorsal adornment of stripes and snails, exclusive of female deities associated with the earth and the nocturnal. Also it has unique elements, like skulls in elbows and knees, and paper flags in the hair, symbols respectively of death and sacrifice”.

The archaeological findings continue and, for instance, only this past Tuesday a tomb was located at one side of the monolith not yet explored but that contains some human and animal bones.

With the participation of the Federal District Government, that acquired the lots in Guatemala and Argentina streets and donated them to INAH, the research and restoration activities are just beginning.

Copyright © 1996-2006 DEMOS, Desarrollo de Medios, S.A. de C.V.

All Rights Reserved.

Author Rights 04-2005-011817321500-203.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Earth Goddess unearthed in Mexico

The huge sculpture found in Mexico City a few weeks ago represents the Earth Goddess Tlaltecuhtli. You can read the story in Spanish in the following link:

Some people may take this as a message from Gaia, another name from another culture of the same goddess.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Are there Signs of Danger?

Ever since I was a teen ager I have followed the environmental news. Since then I thought in only having two children, just to keep a "copy" of me and a "copy" of my wife. After I left Lucent in 2001 I have followed sessions in Congress through C-SPAN, and other news channels. My life in particular has been eventful to say the least. As I have written before in these logs, I am "spooked".

I think I am perceptive and here I report that something wicked may be coming our way.

Central Africa is falling down to hell. I heard today in NPR (National Public Radio), that the war in Darfur is moving towards Chad. They told us the story of a woman that moved out of her country because she was raped, only to find out that her tormentors can now go to Chad and rape her again.

In Mexico the city of Oaxaca, for all intents and purposes, is taken by a political movement based on poor native Americans and school teachers. The elected government officials seem to have been displaced. Next week on Mexican Revolution Day, November 20th the alternative president of Mexico is going to lead the celebrations and the current president of Mexico and the newly elected president, from the same party as the current one, will just pass. On December 1st the alternative president is vowing not to let the elected president to take over. To complete the picture, it is frequent to read in the Mexican news media that people are being killed and kidnapped. From Chicago, it looks like if Mexico is getting out of control.

Now on a more local level, one of my classes at the high school is out of control. It is getting harder to teach that class.

Is there a pattern? Should I worry?

When the World ends, all of us will know because the signlas will be unmistakable, the art is to get the message before everybody does. Keep tuned.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Language Meaning and Power

This week we had parent teacher conferences at school. I talked to almost forty parents; given that I have a hundred and fifty students, that was very good.

I told them what I am doing, and what I need from them. I got their support, sometimes in front of the children. I believe I have more authority in the eyes of the students now. In the past parents and teacher knew each other and it was unlikely that a student will not respect a teacher. Nowadays the big communities we live in, make the threads of authority weaken, or disappear altogether.

I am satisfied with these two days of teacher parent conversations.


Conventions in sounds and the ideas they represent are the beginning of language.


The conventions start motion of ideas energizing brain regions, we call that meaning.


A set of neuron motions directing us to the real causes of events, gives us power.

In my conversations with the parents I spoke Spanish. Many of the parents do not speak English. I could express quite clearly in my native language, my concerns about their children, and how best to direct them in the direction we think is good. They are behind me, and now I have more power over my students.

In this moment of crisis if we are to survive, knowledge will set us free.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Days to the End

Nobody knows with certainty when they are going to die. Some times one is more certain than other times about things like this. A thousand years ago, there were pandemics in Europe during the Middle Ages, also called Dark Ages. I believe that humanity as a whole can "sense" moments of stress.

Our species has had difficult times before, I can think of at least two. When a hundred and so thousand years ago a small band of humans left Africa to try their luck somewhere else, and when another small band crossed the Bering Straight more than ten thousand years ago. In both occasions we succeeded, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this, but the future is not assured, and I believe that the human race is "spooked".

Like a thousand years ago, there are now Millenarians and false prophets telling us what to do now, that the sky is falling.

I only hope that now, like in other moments of trial, we come through, I am betting that our knowledge will set us free.

Wangari Maathai

This African woman won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004. Wangari Maathai fought against a government that instead of protecting the environment, was destroying it for profit.

That is the main reason Homo Sapiens may disappear from the Earth. The level of destruction is unprecedented and could be final.

I believe that by following honest brokers like Ms. Maathai we may have a chance of keeping our children healthy and thus assure our survival. As she says a lot of the suffering we see today, like the genocide in Darfur has a root cause, fight for resources.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Alternative Government in Mexico

Andrés Manuel López Obrador recently announced an alternative government in Mexico. His government, Like Benito Juárez's government more than a hundred years ago is going to move around the country. At that moment, Maximilian of Hapbsurg, was the emperor in Mexico City, but Juárez was the president moving his supporters all over the country. At the end Maximilian was killed in Querétaro, and Juárez was one of the best presidents Mexico has had.


Nowadays Oaxaca, the land of Juárez is out of control from the central government. We are living in interesting times.

1,500,000 March to Oaxaca Capital

5 November 2006, Protesters reorganize and march to demand Ulises Ruiz resignation, the police and military forces are barricading main streets in the Capital to stop the march from reaching the central headquarters of Oaxaca.

read more | digg story

Proud to be in Diggnation

There is a composite picture of the two men behind It is made out of 10,000 icons of us, the users. This is a nice metaphor to the community of the mind that Professor Minsky brought up to our attention in his book "The Society of Mind".

I am a proud member of Diggnation.

Giant Diggnation Mosaic - Revision 2 - TEN THOUSAND icons!

This time there are 10,000 user icons. only maybe 3 or 4 dupes (what's digg without dupes?) ;)
It's a 'perfect' mosaic, ie: the tiles haven't been tinted.
FLASH UI - click the + and - symbols to zoom in and out.

read more | digg story

Psychology and Global Warming

Psychological reasons why nothing is done about global warming

read more | digg story

Economic Security -- GAO Chief Warns Economic Disaster Looms

One of the constant, overarching themes of Words of Power and GS(3) Intelligence is that you cannot have national security without environmental security and economic security.
Here is an important story on perhaps the most dangerous of several economic security issues that undermine the present and imperil the future...

read more | digg story

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Mind of a Student

I have taught for many years. My method most of the time has been first to understand clearly what I am going to teach, then find out what students think, and finally have a plan to get them from not knowing to knowing. This method takes the mind of the student as the fundamental element in the process of learning and teaching.

Very likely now I have a challenge. This is the first time I teach mathematics to fourteen and eighteen year olds. They are more interested in sports and the opposite sex, than in mathematics. They have to find their place in the high school society; to compound the problem most of them were born outside the US. What is in the minds of my students?

They definitely do not belong to the culture of the students from this same high school, but forty years ago. The school has tried to accommodate. The task is enormous.

It is not just that the language is different, we speak mainly in Spanish, it is also true that the issues that form the high school culture are not integrated yet in their world view.

Here I write just a few items I have to understand better to help my students, some are general, and some have to do with mathematics:

o how to take them from recent immigrants to successful Americans

o when I say congruent triangles, what do they think?

o do they get involved with American culture?

o is there a universal mathematical mind?

At this point I do not have solutions to these challenges. I believe that as I resolve them, I will be a better teacher.

Latin Leaders Question U.S, Europe Immigrant Policy

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (Reuters) - Latin American leaders questioned U.S. and European immigration policies on Saturday and called for help in fighting poverty at home to cut down on illegal immigrants.

read more | digg story

Latin View on Immigration

The leaders of Latin America and some Europeans met in Uruguay to coordinate efforts on human migrations, among other issues. You can read in the NYT

Marvin Minsky

Professor Minsky has recently written a book,The Emotion Machine. This book concludes, as anything of this magnitude can be concluded, his lifelong interest in "The Self". That set of behaviors, memories, and the rest, in our minds, that we call ourselves.

Each one of us is distinct. I am who I am because of my history. I am the only Eduardo Cantoral born in Mexico City teaching high school math in East Aurora High School, in Illinois. That history that starts with the Big Bang, ends right here with my writing my Web Log, or blog.

Professor Minsky has thought about, more than most of us, what is it, that is us.

We are over six billion minds on this Earth. Could we merge into a Society of Minds that keeps our civilization going for other ten thousand years?

I do not know, but Minsky's ideas can help me answer this question.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Marcos in Juárez?

Subcomandante Marcos was yesterday in the US-Mexico border:

La Jornada

The message was that both countries are one, that the border does not mean anything. In a globalized present it is becoming more and more so. As I see it, the reason the original people of this continent could be robbed of their place is because they got sick with European diseases, but now they are immune, and American law enforcement forces have to contend with Marcos et al.

A new day is coming. We better learn to live like brothers or we will die like enemies.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Immigration and Macroeconomics

In a globalized world it is easier to move to another country to make a living. It was not possible just a few years back to move so far away from the place of birth. Companies also can operate in different countries. One consequence of this state of affairs is the huge number of Mexicans working in the United States.

Macroeconomics considerations deal with billions of dollars associated with different economic phenomena. Mexicans abroad send tens of billions of dollars to Mexico, more than the direct investment in that country by foreign entrepeneurs. It is this amount of money, that in a sense defines the backbone of the Mexican immigration problem in the US.

As long as that backbone is robust, I do not see any fundamental change in the present relation. Passing this midterm election, I predict that the status quo will remain, until both houses of Congress and the Executive decide to legalize this macroeconomic fact.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Apocalypse and Revolution

In Homero Aridjis' novel, "The Lord of the Last Days", one can read how at the end of the first millenium after the Birth of Jesus Christ, there appears an Antichrist by the name of Abd Allah. There is also a false prophet: "Isidoro". In times of upheaval the old order crumbles.

An Apocalypse in the terminology of early Jewish and Christian literature, is a revelation of hidden things given by God to a chosen prophet; this term is more often used to describe the written account of such a revelation. Apocalyptic literature is of considerable importance in the history of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, as beliefs such as the resurrection of the dead, judgment day, heaven and hell are all made explicit in it. Apocalyptic beliefs predate Christianity, appear in other religions, and have merged into contemporary secular society, especially through popular culture (see Apocalypticism). Apocalypse-like beliefs also occur in other religious systems; an example is the Hindu concept of pralay.

If the ruler misrules, then the space is open for a new ruler. The King is Dead, Long Live the King!

As I write this, civilized society is crumbling in the state of Oaxaca, land of the Mixtecs and Zapotecs; land of Benito Juárez, the first native american president in this continent after the European conquest.

Who is the false prophet, and who is the Antichrist?

There is an organization (APPO), Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca:


Are the leaders good or bad? Are the Mexican People moving in the right direction? What is the right direction?

There must be some infiltrators, that act like Isidoro in Aridjis' novel, an ignorant man leading ignorant people, the blind, leading the blind; but also there could be some clear thinking leaders, maybe Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or subcomandante Marcos, that can lead the Mexican People to a better life.

I do not know. What I know is that the environmental catastrophe the world is going through was caused by legitimate businesses and governments. They definitely left the door open for false prophets like Isidoro.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Brad Will

The American journalist Brad Will, became a friend of Mexicans.

You can read about him in Spanish by Luis Hernández Navarro:

La Jornada

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Canadian Citizen Illegally held, tortured, and released tells his story

This was BEFORE the new laws relaxing corpus went into effect. Only in the US on a stop over, Maher Arar is illegally detained, ridiculed, and interrogated by US officials for six months. Finally he is sent to Syria where he is tortured into confessing to crimes he did not commit. BEFORE the new laws... what horror stories await now?

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Homero Aridjis

This Mexican poet wrote a book about the last end of times, the end of the year 1000, the end of the first millenium. There are similarities with current times, I recommend his book.

You can read about Mr. Aridjis in:

Homero Aridjis

and about his book in:

The Lord of the Last Days

Homer wrote great epics in Greece, this Greek-Mexican also writes great epics.

Sick Earth?

What really caused the largest mass extinction in Earth's history? The most likely explanation for the disappearance of up to 90 percent of species 250 million years ago, said David Bottjer, is that "the earth got sick."

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Bradley Roland Will

You can read here one article in Spanish by the American journalist killed in Oaxaca, Bradley Roland Will. This appeared today in "La Jornada".

Death in Oaxaca

R.I.P. Bradley Roland Will. Remember him on this coming Day of the Dead.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

American Journalist killed in Mexico

An American journalist was killed yesterday. Mexico's problems affect the USA. We have to be informed on the situation south of the border. Oaxaca is so beautiful and so poor. Journalist Bradley Roland Will, 36, of New York, was hit in the abdomen and died later at a Red Cross hospital. Will worked for, an independent Web-based media organization and sold video on a freelance basis, said friends and Indymedia colleague Hinrich Schuleze. He had been documenting the upheaval in Internet dispatches that showed strong sympathy for the protesters.

Oaxaca, famed for its colonial architecture and as a center of Indian handicrafts and cuisine, is one of the most famous inland tourist attractions in Mexico. Mountains overlooking the city hold the imposing ruins of the Zapotec city of Monte Alban.

Mexico: American Among Dead in Oaxaca

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Published: October 28, 2006

A New York journalist and three other people were shot and killed during protests in the southern city of Oaxaca as left-wing groups seeking to oust Gov. Ulises Ruiz tried to strangle the city with blockades and encountered resistance from the police and ordinary citizens. The violence came as the movement to force Mr. Ruiz to resign seemed to be splintering, with a teachers union whose walkout set off the civil unrest five months ago was close to an agreement with the government to return to classes. The American journalist, Bradley Roland Will, 36, was working with a left-wing Web site called NYC Indymedia and had been in Mexico for several weeks. He was shot while trying to film some men in plainclothes who opened fire on protesters at a roadblock on the outskirts of the city.

Mexican President Sends Police to Oaxaca

OAXACA, Mexico (AP) -- Shop owners shuttered their businesses and demonstrators built up street barricades Saturday after President Vicente Fox ordered federal police to intervene in this picturesque city torn by more than five months of protests and violence.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Le Petit Exorcisme


Officiellement nommés par l'Eglise catholique, les exorcistes sont des prêtres ou des abbés spécialisés dans le traitement des personnes qui s'estiment possédées. Après analyse du cas, si les soupçons sont avérés, on procède à un «petit exorcisme» qui prend la forme de prières de délivrance. Suite à cela, on peut effectuer un «grand exorcisme», une procédure plus lourde qui implique que l'exorciste s'adresse directement au Démon. Ce second cas est cependant extrêmement rare. Ces deux prestations sont gratuites.

L'incroyable succès des guérisseurs, The Incredible Success of Healers

When I teach adolescents I feel that I am practicing an exorcism. They seem to be taken by forces I don't understand, but I know that behind what I see, there is a mind that can be nurtured with the ideas I have.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Courage and Free Thinking

Jan Pronk was expelled from Sudan because he spoke his mind. As U.N. representative he was supposed to let the U.N. Secretary, Kofy Annan to be the spokeperson of any substantial announcement. He disobeyed and now he has to leave.

I believe Mr. Pronk is savvy enough to know the consequences of his actions; if he chose to publicize the truth about Sudan, I believe is because he knows more about the genocide going on in Sub Saharan Africa than most of us, and decided, with courage, to tell the truth.

He has become one of my heroes, and his blog link is now in the links list of this blog.

Jan Pronk

Jan Pronk has been expelled from Sudan for speaking his mind. Visit his blog:

Jan Pronk

Khartoum Expels U.N. Envoy Who Has Been Outspoken on Darfur Atrocities

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 22 — Sudan’s government on Sunday ordered the chief United Nations envoy to leave, saying he was an enemy of the country and its armed forces.


Sen. Barack Obama Says He's Weighing 2008 Run : 1st Black President?

Sen. Barack Obama acknowledged Sunday he was considering a run for president in 2008, backing off previous statements that he would not do so.

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Grim New Turn May Harden Darfur Conflict


ON THE CHAD-SUDAN BORDER, Oct. 20 — Haroun Abdullah Kabir stepped from one bloodied corpse to another on the parched, rocky battlefield. He searched the soldiers’ decomposing faces for an aquiline nose, fair complexion or fine, straight hair: telltale Arab features.

Rumsfeld's Effect

I say: next November it is likely that Republicans will lose seats in Congress, and the Senate; and in two years, maybe the White House. At least Rumsfeld should not last until 2008 as Secretary of Defense.

RUMSFELD caught in a LIES by 27 year CIA VET!!!! MUST SEE!!!

27 Year Vet of CIA asks Rumsfeld about WMD's in IRAQ and he LIES!!! Click on the Link! Also shows how Main Stream Media won't ask any real questions!! It is Funny, BUT NOT!!! And at the end of the clip, Rumsfeld refers to a piece of 9/11 as "Wonderful" as if he enjoys what had happened. Love to read your comments? DIGG IT UP...MUST BE SEEN!!

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Counting Iraqis Dead in War

Have six hundred thousand Iraqis died as a consequence of war or thirty thousand? American troops should officially count how many Iraqis die as a consequence of war.

Jon Stewart on Bush's Moral Hypocrisy

Jon Stewart's Daily Show does one of the best news reports in the last 6 years.

It is very sad when the only commercial broadcast channel that will do the hard news is the Comedy Channel. So much for the liberal bias in the media. That is long gone.

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Hawaii's Earthquake Due to Volcanic Stress

As volcanos grow and spread, pressure builds up and gets released in the form of quakes

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The Armed Madhouse

Greg Palast's Book in Audio

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Woman Earns High School Diploma At 82 Years Of Age

"Now that she has her high school diploma, an 82-year-old Brevard County woman plans to keep going. Kathy Berger never finished her senior year of Tyner High School in her hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee. But she never gave up hope of receiving her diploma." Read on

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In 2045 I will be over ninety or not. I may be dead. Ray Kurzweil predicts a singularity two years later. If he is right I may live forever.

The Singularity is Near

America in 2043

Now that the United States officially numbers more than 300 million, what next?
What will 400 million look like? If demographers are right, we'll hit that mark by 2043. They and other futurists envision a typical American neighborhood that year will be something like this:

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Charles Darwin's works go online

The complete works of one of history's greatest scientists, Charles Darwin, are being published online.

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Global and Local

If there is a global crisis I should see local effects. This looks more like a necessary than a sufficient condition. I may have ruined my life and human life can still go smoothly, on the other hand if there is a relation, my personal predicament is an indication of trouble ahead for all of us. I really don't know, but here I express a few ideas that may be useful to others.

Schools in first world countries get more money than schools in poor countries. It is not clear to me that the performance is proportional to investement; there may be a rule of diminishing returns at play here. Granted, the US gets more Nobel prizes than other countries, but that in itself does not prove that double the investment leads to double the result. Republican administrations in the US have been reducing public school per capita investment. To the extent that test scores have not deteriorated proportionally, there have been efficiency improvements. On the other hand, it is definitely in the realm of possibilities that the American public school system as it was in the fifties will not come back any time soon. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of a great nation.

My gut feeling is that there are great students and gret teachers that under dire conditions perform amazing feats. But barring extraordinary individuals it is logical that less investment eventually will lead to very bad schools; maybe already the public schools in the US are bad. I see then that my job may be in jeopardy, and if I am not allowed to do what I was trained to do, then we have waste. What worries me is that this waste may be a symptom of a dying system.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Conflict in Oaxaca

Some of the readers might have forgotten that teachers in Oaxaca are in strike. This strike has lasted more than three months, and right now the Mexican Senate is deliberating on regime change in that state of the south of Mexico.

This picture shows a "thief" caught by members of the popular movement that took over the city of Oaxaca.

I am worried that the government cannot control the country, drug dealer gangs already are in control of billions of dollars. To me these are signs of maybe liberation, and maybe the law of the jungle.

Utopia or Oblivion.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Soviet Union, Lucent, and Suburban High Schools

These three topics do not seem to be related, nor do they seem to be relevant science; why do I bring them to this blog?

One reason is that I have experience relevant for all of them, and I collect them here.

I was teaching in a public university in Mexico when the USSR collapsed. I had colleagues that studied there and I talked to them. They had misfeelings, they got a free education in sciences and for that they were grateful. Nevertheless they accepted that not everything was good in Russia. Russians of light skin fought darker students from the third world, when they thought they were getting in their territory. As time passed and the extent of the catastrophe was becoming more and more evident, I thought that the problems in the Soviet Union had more to do with problems in the modern world, than with intrinsic problems of the communist system. Professor Batra, had published some scary ideas from his field in economics that applied to both the second and the third world.

I moved to the US in 1998 to work for Lucent Technologies in Naperville, IL. I only worked there three years, because the company collapsed. This American icon is now owned by the French company ALCATEL. In my opinion Bell Labs was the pinacle of what an industrial laboratory can be. Transistor, Laser, Big Bang, Information Theory, you name it; almost all the important communications technology was being developed there, and then some. Why could they not pay my salary anymore? I cannot help thinking that something funny is going on. One may think that now that Google is doing well, all that only means, that some companies go extinct, and some others take their place. But maybe not.

Finally I report on my experience at two highschools in the suburbs of Chicago.

What I see is not pretty; with a much bigger budget than what I saw in highschools in Mexico, less is accomplished. Maybe the sheer number of students is unprecedent in the Chicago area, and administrators do not quite know what to do; maybe two years is not enough for me to get a realistic assessment of efficiencies here and in Mexico. Be it as it may, put together with all the ominous signs I see coming from scholars in disciplines different than mine, which is physics, I want to present here a hypothesis.

Just to give more information to the reader, so he or she can make more sense of my hypothesis, I should add that at this moment I carry a heavy debt. Maybe is all my fault, but I am just thinking publicly so others can consider how relevant is this idea to their own situation.

As some thinkers like Buckminster Fuller have already said, we are facing Utopia or Oblivion, Hegemony or Survival, I add my hypothesis that we, and I in particular, are at a crossroads.

We can change the world for good, as Ray Kurzweil writes in his book, The Singularity is Near ( year 2045 ), or we can go extinct as James Lovelock writes in his book, Gaia's Revenge.

My original contribution is that depending on how we ( and I ) fight for our own survival, we will perish as a species or morph into something new. Something as big as the change we experienced going from the Stone Age to the Iron Age.

May all have wisdom to continue this heroic march we call human civilization.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Concentrated Ideas

Temblor in Hawaii, Flooding in New Orleans; is there a pattern here?

Both are US locations, both are worrisome. Does it mean something?

I can make a hypothesis, I know this hypothesis is far fetched, and dubious, because I am worried about environmental degradation, but either the hypothesis is wrong or right.

A warmer ocean surface means higher sea level, and warmer air in the vicinity, this can produce bigger hurricanes, like Katrina. Volcanoes draw their energy from down under, not surface water, but maybe a case can be made that warmer surface can tip forces that were previously balanced, and then we see the big force that was contained underground.

I add this on October 22, 2006. Today's Time magazine gives a different explanation, completely independent of warming on the surface of the Earth. You can read it above with the title, " Hawaii's Earthquake Due to Volcanic Stress".

In any case I am looking for signs of anomalous weather. Maybe they mean something. That volcano in Hawaii had been inactive for thousands of years.

Is There Something Special about This?

I heard over NPR today that a volcano in Hawaii is active now after thousands of years of inactivity.
I wonder what it means. It will take some time before we hear reports on the geophysical aspects of this event.

Magnitude 6.3 Earthquake Strikes Hawaii

"An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck Hawaii early Sunday morning, waking up residents and knocking out power."

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Nuclear North Korea: The Nightmare Comes to Pass

Now that North Korea has carried out a nuclear test, can anything be done to punish it? Or would the collapse of the regime be even more dangerous?

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UN Resolution on North Korea

The resolution:

o Demands North Korea eliminate all its nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles.

o Requires all countries to prevent the sale or transfer of materials related to Pyongyang's unconventional weapons programmes, as well as large-sized military items such as tanks, missiles and helicopters.

o Demands nations freeze funds overseas of people or businesses connected with North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

o Allows nations to inspect "as necessary" cargo moving in and out of North Korea to check for banned items.

o Bans imports of luxury goods.

o Calls on Pyongyang to return "without precondition" to stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear programme.


Ray Kurzweil predicts a singularity in 2045.
Too bad, unless I follow his advice to live forever I will be 96 years old then. I may miss the fun.
Read his book The Singularity is Near

Signs of Coming Events

If you have read this blog, you may know that I try to predict future events. I know the task is close to impossible. Nevertheless I try. I just finished reading Chomsky's Hegemony or Survival. I had forgotten the US decisions to brake its international commitments on Weapons of Mass Destruction. Prof. Chomsky reminded me of those ominous decisions, at the same time that North Korea took a very logical step and after Saddam Hussein was put in prison, Won Kim Jong-il does not want to go to prison. I could have predicted that.

Get ready for freak weather, world's polluters told

MONTERREY, Mexico - The world's top polluting nations were told on Wednesday to prepare for decades of weather turmoil, even if they act now to curb emissions and pursue green energy sources. Environment and energy ministers meeting in the Mexican city of Monterrey vowed to work faster to control global warming.

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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Online Collaboration

Today I started to use the Google online collaboration tools. One can share Spread Sheets and html files. I could not use my pdf files though. Either I will convert from tex to html, or look for another tool that allows me to format mathematical expressions.

I will want eventually to write math documents with students online. I am still trying to get them interested in basic math, I am not there yet in online collaboration. In any case these free Google tools come in handy.

On the other hand, this blog could be a collaboration; unfortunately I do not have many comments. I need to state clearly the basis of the collaboration, the expected time each day I will participate, and the expected results.

I venture a topic here. Is this blog useful?

Google Docs & Spreadsheets: Google's stand against Microsoft.

Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a web-based word processing and spreadsheet program that keeps documents current and lets the people you choose update files from their own computers. You can, for example, coordinate your student group's homework assignments, access your family to-do list from work or home, or collaborate with remote colleagues on a n

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

If the World is About to End, Why are We so Calm?

I have been reading papers for more than forty years now. I spent some time thinking also. At this moment I feel that some limits, maybe Earth's carrying capacity for humans, have been crossed. Like when an object crosses the event horizon of a black hole, nothing spectacular happens, but the future of that object is sealed. So I suspect we have crossed that threshold. Some of the news items in this blog point in that direction.
If that is so, Why are we so calm?

I really don't know.

For now I congratulate myself in being the 6000th person to dig the story of Google and You Tube. Uplifting story.

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