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.

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