Monday, December 28, 2009

Minority Materials

We are like Gold!

We are made of something rare. Only 4% of the Universe as we know it is made of what we are made of. We are mainly water blobs of baryons held together by nuclear and electric forces. Weak forces were crucial to take us out of the ovens we call stars; when they exploded as supernovae, we appeared. Freed by weak bosons and neutrinos blasting us off those exploding stars in our space travel that continues to this day.

Now we know that not only the Earth is not the center of the Universe as Copernicus showed us, but we are not even made of the dark materials discovered more than ten years ago by HZT and SCP through the accelerating Universe sightings of Adam Riess.

My point in this note is to remind my white readers, that at least here in the US, today I am in Warrenville, you are not even the main type of race that is going to be dominant in a few years time. Blacks and Hispanics are set to be the majority, I believe around 2030.

I do not want to scare anybody, nor start a substitute Lou Dobbs outlet! I just want my white readers to take a deep breath and look around. If you live anywhere near a major city, NY, Chicago or LA. We are all around you in plain sight. I just want you to recognize our presence, and start getting ready for the upcoming day in which we'll be more than you. I am a proud Hispanic of Mexican Spanish cultural origins. My immediate family on both sides, mother and father, come directly from Spain, without much Native American blood.

I am starting to read today, "The 10,000 Year Explosion" by Cochran and Harpending. If they are right, I am covered for the future also, my children are half Ashkenazi Jews; which according to them, have a good chance of being smart. My boy is already applying for College. If the chips fall where I expect they may. I'll be fine.

After 10 years of the HZT-SCP discovery; I do not think the media has assimilated the significance of this.

We are Minority Materials!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Nephew, Alex, and I

Cop15 to Mexico

President Calderón and Mayor Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón are getting ready to welcome you here next November. Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina, will also be waiting for you.

Yesterday Plácido Domingo was in the news here for his upcoming free concert in Mexico City, where he grew up.

What does it all mean?

It means that we are near what physicists call a phase transition, as when water boils.

Alex Filippenko felt at home in Mexico City, Acapulco, and Chilpancingo.

I feel like in the end of the Modern Novel, "A Hundred Years of Solitude" , once I start to understand, the world comes to an end. I explain here what I mean by that.

Globalization has finally shown to the most sensitive among us, that we are brothers and sisters, just like the elders told us, but we never quite understood what they meant.

In 2003 James Watson wrote DNA, to celebrate fifty years of his, and Francis Crick's discovery of the code of life. There you can read, how was it proven that we are all lost children, of a people that left Africa many years ago.

Now we have to help the people of our American president. His immediate ancestors in Kenya are at the brink of collapse, and first him, and then the rest of us, have to get to work, to save them. Literally they are dying.

The whole thing is unraveling. How else do you explain that in Copenhagen they were having meetings all over town, as Amy Goodman, showed for two weeks, small and big save the world meetings? Even President Obama came to organize spontaneous meetings, because the Chinese, wanted to get out of it. It was constructive chaos. We need good will among all the world family to save the Earth. As in a Hundred Years ... - if you haven't read it, do: García Márquez, got a Literature Nobel Prize for it - Aureliano II reads:

"Aureliano] had already understood that he would never leave . . . races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth."

We are at that moment now. The only difference is that not only Macondo; Aureliano's town, but the whole world is at stake.

Come to Mexico and save the only world in the whole Universe where we know there is life, and most importantly, Intelligent Life.

Gabriel García Márquez is sick, he has little time left, and he wrote that book in Mexico City.

Friday, December 18, 2009


"The deal eventually came together after a dramatic moment in which Mr. Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton burst into a meeting of the Chinese, Indian and Brazilian leaders, according to senior administration officials. Mr. Obama said he did not want them negotiating in secret."
"Also dropped from earlier drafts was language calling for a binding accord “as soon as possible,” and no later than at the next meeting of the parties, in Mexico City in November 2010. The deal presented Friday evening said only that the agreement should be reviewed and put in place by 2015."

From NYT

We will be waiting in Mexico, one of the most polluted countries of the Americas.

I like this skinny black guy.

What Size Gaia?

Professor James Lovelock stunned the world when he discovered the feedback loop that keeps our Earth just right.

Could it be that Gaia is bigger?

Prof. Hansen tells us now that the Sun is quieter than expected. Maybe the Sun neighborhood is autopoietic, so the Earth is not too hot, not too cold, for some alloted time. If the Earth warms, the Sun cools. That'll be neat, won't it?

Sun Spots

"Indeed, it is likely that the sun is an important factor in climate variability. Figure 4 shows data on solar irradiance for the period of satellite measurements. We are presently in the deepest most prolonged solar minimum in the period of satellite data. It is uncertain whether the solar irradiance will rebound soon into a more-or-less normal solar cycle – or whether it might remain at a low level for decades, analogous to the Maunder Minimum, a period of few sunspots that may have been a principal cause of the Little Ice Age."

" Frequently heard fallacies are that “global warming stopped in 1998” or “the world has been getting cooler over the past decade”. These statements appear to be wishful thinking – it would be nice if true, but that is not what the data show. True, the 1998 global temperature jumped far above the previous warmest year in the instrumental record, largely because 1998 was affected by the strongest El Nino of the century. Thus for the following several years the global temperature was lower than in 1998, as expected.

However, the 5-year and 11-year running mean global temperatures (Figure 3b) have continued to increase at nearly the same rate as in the past three decades. There is a slight downward tick at the end of the record, but even that may disappear if 2010 is a warm year. Indeed, given the continued growth of greenhouse gases and the underlying global warming trend (Figure 3b) there is a high likelihood, I would say greater than 50 percent, that 2010 will be the warmest year in the period of instrumental data. This prediction depends in part upon the continuation of the present moderate El Nino for at least several months, but that is likely."

Taken from:

Uncertainty is the human condition. Professor Hansen already put his life on the line, I believe he has to sign some place periodically, because he willfully broke the law, to save this world for his grandchildren.

What if the sun does what Jim writes here?

In that case we will look into the SOHO satellite and forget about almost about everything else, trying to find the way out. As it is right now, it is only a blip in the radar screen of our survival conceptual map.

Aware, awake individuals, and courageous, like Dr. Hansen are our best asset to ride the wave of life.

A hard's rain is going to fall.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Filippenko: Berkeley's Talk

Alex Filippenko: Dark Energy and the Runaway Universe from Steve Croft on Vimeo.

Will The universe Have a Happy Ending?

Dark Matter?

"An international team of physicists working in the bottom of an old iron mine in Minnesota said Thursday that they might have registered the first faint hints of a ghostly sea of subatomic particles known as dark matter long thought to permeate the cosmos.

Dark matter became a serious issue in the 1970s, when Vera Rubin of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and her colleagues charted the rotation speeds of galaxies and found that they seemed to be enveloped in halos of dark matter, then called missing mass."

A wide range of astrophysical and cosmological measurements have subsequently converged on an intimidating recipe for the cosmos of 4 percent atoms, 25 percent dark matter and 70 percent a mysterious energy that has been called dark energy and has nothing to do with the news on Thursday." Today at the NYT.

This is only tantalizing. Bigger and better detectors are needed.

Somehow this experiment doesn't ring true to me.

Maybe They'll Make it

Dear eduardocantoral, 

Today marks a very important milestone in AOL’s history – and future. As we separate from Time Warner and become an independent company, we mark the beginning of a fresh start and open the door to new opportunities. I believe this is a perfect time for rebuilding trust, confidence and passion around AOL and the products we bring you. 

I realize that – at times - over the past few years, it’s been challenging to be an AOL Mail user. I’ve heard your feedback and we’re going to start making changes with a renewed focus on you. We can and will make our free AOL Mail product world class! 

We’re starting today with three simple (but important) changes: 

1. Significantly fewer ads 
2. An easier AOL Mail sign-in experience
3. A new message reading pane that helps you get through your email faster 

I know that some of you are comfortable with your current email experience. So, wherever possible we’ll provide you with the choice to disable new features and keep the classic email product. 

This is just the beginning. I’m truly excited about what’s to come in 2010 so please stay along for the ride. Our promise going forward is to keep you well informed of the changes we make and the new features we launch. In the meantime, please continue to send us your feedback or suggestions as we work to build a world class email experience – focused on you. 

Thanks again for choosing AOL Mail! 


Brad Garlinghouse
President, AOL Consumer Applications 

Save the Children!

Filippenko: Mexico's Visit

I found something odd. Very young people were asking Alex about 2012.

Something I can say, is that the child doesn't have to talk much. I just put the microphone in her mouth and she only said 2012.

That is handy, I guess I should've asked: What about 2012?

Anyway, Alex gave thoughtful answers to what he thought were scared children. He comforted them. Forget about it, and have a good time.

Now that I am reflecting on this great IYA-2009 finale. I write here something for me really, as my readers must've noticed by now. This is my diary, the fact that I chose to make it public has to do with my personality. I let people get close to me. I guess it has to do with having been treated well. I trust people.

Because of my dereliction of duty; I have to speculate. I guess Alex was right in his assumption, these kids are scared and need reassurance. Parents may be anxious making ends meet and the children pick up that anxiety. We are scaring the kids. I am afraid, I reared up my children with a "realistic" view of the world, being a scientist and all that. I never put myself in their position. No Santa Claus, no Tooth Fairy, and so on. My girl had an imaginary friend, Alicia, and my wife had the good sense of letting her have her friend as long as she wanted to. She breastfed both of them more than any woman I know; as long as they wanted. Thanks Mary.

We should protect the little ones, not scare them. I am so glad that Alex used his immense stature in front of these kids to give them expert advice: Forget about it, and have a good time.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Great IYA-2009 Filippenko's Closing Lecture at Chilpancingo Mexico

Today's activities fill me with emotions. This is my report:

We started with a visit to Sergio Ocampo's Program at XEUAG at 8:20 in the morning. Sergio was gracious enough to let me talk almost up to nine o'clock when Alex got here from Acapulco.

I explained what I have been telling the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA-2009) participants here in Guerrero, that the HZT and SCP discovery was revolutionary; just as  Galileo's discovery that Jupiter had moons was revolutionary, four hundred years before.

The revolution now, is that there are dark matter and energy, different from what we knew before the news that Filippenko came to announce; namely the 1998 discovery of "Universe Acceleration".

Not only we are not the center of the Universe, we are not even made of the stuff that most of the Universe is made of.

At 8:45 AM, Alex got here from Acapulco; psychologist Memije a little later, and Lilith Cortes started her program "True Science" at 9 o'clock sharp.

Lilith lost her father, the poet and musician Joel Cortes Varona last week. I was strongly moved when Alex finished answering Lilith's questions, and she told us that the interview had made her think of the marvels of the Universe which she cares for so much: That maybe in some way her father was somewhere in this huge space we inhabit.

You can read a Joel homage report in Spanish here. The poet Edgar Altamirano already made it available for us in YouTube at the link in the previous paragraph.

From the center of town we went to the National Teacher's Union auditorium, where we got early enough to connect Alex's computer to a projector, and two LCDs.

The young students kept on coming from their schools together with their teachers, until they filled the auditorium, with some having to sit on the floor. There could've been seven hundred in attendance. Before starting  the lecture a video was shown with the Mexican astronomers Manuel Peimbert, Jose Franco, and others.

Other Mathematics Department professors also came, like Armando Carballo, Gerardo Salgado, Efrén Marmolejo, Flaviano Godínez, and Javier G. Mendieta. Also some students came, like Florida, Yadira, and Bricio. Finally a group of friends like El Chilo, Antonio Martín, Jesús Martínez Castro, Roel Ayala Mata, the astronomer Jorge Villa, with his family, and a few others that I don't remember or didn't see. My nephew, the architect Ignacio Cardenas Uriza came all the way from Huitzuco. I really felt at home with so many dear friends.

What moved me the most was the enthusiastic treatment  the young students gave our speaker at the end that surprised us all.

I can mention two of the organizers, psychologist Angela Memije, and Dr. Rodolfo Cobos.

At the end Alex and me left the event surrounded by young people asking for more autographs, and  eager to have more pictures taken with us, like if we were some popular stars whom they admire. I don't know, maybe Amandititita, Diego Luna or Gael García Bernal. They jumped on top of the front of the car; until they went down we went to the La Casita restaurant where we ate pozole.

How touching!

Now the young students know that the Universe is in Accelerated Expansion, they saw Alex throw his apple  up in the air, as you can see in other talks on YouTube if you search for his name.

Alex offered to come back to Guerrero. All the organizers feel satisfied.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Lessons Learned?

"Talk to conservatives about the financial crisis and you enter an alternative, bizarro universe in which government bureaucrats, not greedy bankers, caused the meltdown. It’s a universe in which government-sponsored lending agencies triggered the crisis, even though private lenders actually made the vast majority of subprime loans. It’s a universe in which regulators coerced bankers into making loans to unqualified borrowers, even though only one of the top 25 subprime lenders was subject to the regulations in question."

Here is another jewel from this piece:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” 

Paul Krugman

I know a good friend Garrett Cook , from Captain James Cook stock, that writes bizarro novels. These alternative universes cohabit ours, it seems. Conservatives are the aliens from UFO's lore, but I stand by my point made in a post in this blog. There is no intelligent life in this Universe, besides that of Krugman and people like him.

It is moments like these, that I worry about the future of my bright intelligent children.

I know I shouldn't despair, sometimes is hard though.

Esto de jugar a la vida, es algo que a veces duele. 

This game called life, is something that hurts at times.
Enrique Ballesté

Alex Filippenko's Talk at Astronomy Institute (IA-UNAM)

This picture is from another Filippenko's talk.

Friday December 11, with some of the five million people walking towards Tepeyac Hill Basilica to celebrate Our Lady Guadalupe's birthday; we arrived to Mexico City, where astronomer Alexei V. Filippenko presented his last results at the University City (CU, by its initials in Spanish) to the Astronomy Institute faculty and students.

The talk is based on work contained in three papers, with data taken over the past decade, with 10 years more of work to get the robotic telescope built and working.

He presented two new results:

For nearby supernovae Ia, they found a correlation between the rate per unit galaxy mass and galaxy mass: the more massive the galaxy, the smaller the rate per unit mass; if multiplied by each galaxy's mass, the rate increases with mass. More supernovae are produced in big galaxies.

The second result is the formula:

dN/dt ~ (1 + z)³

where z measures distance, and t time: the greater the z, the farther the exploding star, and N is the number of observed core collapsed supernovae.

Astronomer Xavier Hernández from IA-UNAM, expressed the opinion that the first result may be biased by using a reference galaxy mass of 4x1010 solar masses, which is big for this type of supernovae Ia.

Filippenko believes their result is the best they can get with their data set, which has been collected for ten years, and is the biggest sample obtained by a single group.

As it happens, there are not that many galaxies with lower masses producing supernovae they can detect with their robotic telescope.

Previously an amateur Australian astronomer had the nearby supernovae record. The religious minister Evans is a human "robot" to detect visible nearby supernovae.

Now Alex's group has the nearby supernovae Ia biggest professional sample in the world. To collect this amount of exploding star sightings, systematically characterized, their KAIT robot was used.

Alex then presented in this talk, and at a previous one this last summer, the results of the analyses done by his group.

Many of us expect all their analyses and results; we'll know more on these stars so important to study the "Accelerated Universe", that his group HZT, and SCP; discovered in 1998.

With talks in the "Sinfonía del Mar" open air venue this Monday, December 14, at 18:00 hrs in Acapulco, and Wednesday, December 16, in Chilpancingo at 11:00 hrs. in the SNTE auditorium; both with the title "El Universo en Expansión" and presented by this UC-Berkeley astronomer, and translated by me, we formally finish the activities of the International Year of Astronomy-2009.

I think it is appropriate that we celebrate four centuries of Galileo Galilei's use in 1609 of a telescope in Astronomy, with talks based on the use of a Newtonian telescope, invented later, and for the invention of which, Isaac Newton was accepted to the London Royal Society, with these talks of the great American astronomer Alexei V. Filippenko, recently elected to the National Academy of Sciences of his country, due in great part for work done with this robotic telescope built and managed by the group of astronomers he directs.

I want also to report that Professor Manuel Peimbert Sierra, present at the UNAM talk this Friday, is a corresponding member of this scientific American society, and that he published the paper on which the astronomer Filippenko, based his Ph.D. thesis at Caltech, under the direction of Wallace Sargent.

I wish these efforts to promote Astronomy, serve as inspiration to Mexican young people to pursue this passionate way of life.

Go see him, his students say:

"Filippenko is the greatest professor you'll meet ... TAKE THIS CLASS!!!!!"

Dark Matter?

"I will present new results from the recent blind analysis of 612 kg-days of raw exposure using the CDMS germanium detectors at Soudan. CDMS uses ionization and athermal phonon signals to discriminate between candidate (nuclear recoil) and background (electron recoil) events in Ge crystals cooled to ~ 50 mK. Timing, yield, and position information allows us to tune our expected background leakage into the signal region to less than one event. I will report on what we saw when we “opened the box”, whether we have seen WIMPs or not, and implications for future dark matter direct detection experiments."

Prisca Cushman

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Guillermo González

"For the first time, we are able to compare the Sun’s Li abundance in a fair way to a sample of comparison stars. We find that its Li abundance is low compared to our sample of comparison stars, and it is comparable to the Li abundances of SWPs (Star With Planets) with similar Teff values."

G. Gonzalez et al.

Guillermo deserves more recognition than he is getting. He has good guesses. I don't think it matters what is the source of his guesses. Here he reports the confirmation of his hunch that Li abundance in stars can be used to search for planets like ours. That is science; you have a hunch and you check it. If it is true you use it. It seems that the source of his insights is some belief in Intelligent Design.

You know, I do not believe in God, and I don't care where Guillermo gets his information, for all I care he may have a direct red telephone line to the big guy up there. I do not care. Is it true or not?, if it is, Guillermo is alright in my book.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Importance of Alex V. Filippenko's Work

Early yesterday I listened to Captain Roel Ayala Mata in Sergio Ocampo's program in XEUAG RADIO UNIVERSIDAD DE GUERRERO 840 Khz. AM 1000 W. The University of Guerrero Radio Station here in Chilpancingo.

Here I add to what the Captain said, to put in context the work of the Berkeley Astronomy Professor, that soon will visit us.

In 1998 two scientific groups, the High-Redshift Supernova Search Team (HZT) and the Super Nova Cosmology Project (SCP), discovered that distant exploding stars are more distant than they were expected to be. This implies that the  expansion of the Universe is currently accelerating. Supernovae are searched, because each emits as much light as a whole galaxy in a few days. Astronomy Professor Filippenko was a member of both groups. One of his important contributions was to obtain Keck telescope spectra of the high-redshift supernova candidates, determining whether they are indeed supernovae and measuring their redshift. Both teams reached their conclusions at nearly the same time, although the HZT, where Filippenko stayed after switching from the SCP, announced and published their results first.

I have expressed the opinion that this work deserves the Physics Nobel Prize - by the way this month at Stockholm the Physics Prize will be given for work in fiber optics and CCDs - which greatly aid Astronomy. Here I write my reasons to consider him for that distinction, explaining the importance of the discovery, which Science magazine considered the "Top Science Breakthrough of 1998”.

To begin with: this discovery is a continuation of Edwin Hubble and Allan Sandage's work, both working in California as Alex on the same problem - "The Expansion of the Universe".  At the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) , arguably the most important US scientific institution in Astronomy, where students and faculty collaborate closely with NASA, Alexei V. Filippenko earned his PhD degree in 1984 with Prof. Wallace Sargent. Prior to that he got a BA in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I met him as an undergraduate , when I was a graduate student at the Physics Department, since he is close to eleven years younger than I am. He finished there in 1979.

Prof. Filippenko's collaborators developed methods for the use of supernovae as standard candles. If you see how the light goes off, in a few days, you know how much light they sent, thus obtaining the distance between their galaxies and ours.  Alex showed, in the early 1990s, that Type Ia supernovae have a greater spread in their peak luminosities than had previously been assumed, so they could not be used as "standard candles" unless some correction factors were applied. These corrections were later developed and applied by his collaborators. Since the mid-1980s, Filippenko has been studying supernovae at UC Berkeley, and starting in the late-1990s he has used a robotic telescope to find dozens each year. He  is a Professor at his Alma Mater, UC, at the Berkeley campus, near San Francisco, like six hours North by car from Santa Barbara, since California is a huge State. Santa Barbara is almost six hours from the campus in Los Angeles. Caltech is near LA. He is  now the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, at U.C. Berkeley.

With hardware and software tools developed by the HZT and SCP groups, at last it was possible to observe the highest number of far supernovae in the History of Mankind. With something like ten of these, with the farthest ever measured at that time, his young collaborator, Adam Riess, born almost ten years after him, finally  found something unexpected. The most distant supernovae were not moving away with the expected velocity. Hubble's law did not apply to them, they were accelerating away from us.

He has many cites of his work by other astronomers. By the way the Mexican Carlos S. Frenk was number 8 in that list. More on him later.

If this was the only contribution Filippenko made, he would deserve the Prize I refer to here. Nevertheless it happens that there are no easy ways to explain this.

Now I write on cosmological theory. What does it mean that the Universe expands?

The first to propose the equations that allow to explain this, was Albert Einstein in 1915.

Here you can see Prof Einstein using the Mt. Wilson 100-inch telescope in California; Edwin Hubble is the one in the middle.

In this visit of Einstein to Hubble, Einstein got convinced the Universe is dynamical, not static as he thought previously. Einstein spent a few days at Caltech, in Pasadena, near Disneyland.

According to the so called General Relativity Theory, the Universe with the known kind of matter before the work of the HZT and SCP, should forever expand at constant velocity or decelerate. It is not possible to accelerate.

To explain this acceleration, the easiest way  in Einstein's Theory of Gravity, is with what he called the Cosmological Constant. Depending on the sign of this constant there could be a repulsive or an attractive effect. We are interested in the repulsive one, since the rest of the Theory already explains gravitational attraction.

Adam Riess' discovery, for which he should get the Nobel Prize, means that we need the Cosmological Constant.

The importance of this discovery is that no known type of matter produces cosmic repulsion. Einstein's Cosmological Constant does not correspond to any known form of matter until now, even less in Einstein and Hubble's time, i.e. last century's 20s.

To end this note I want to introduce a new character in this plot. It is Prof. Carlos S. Frenk.

His brother Julio is very famous in Mexico, since he was Secretary of Health, in the "great" Vicente Fox administration.  Currently Julio is Dean of the Harvard Public Health School, in Boston Massachusetts, and Carlos is the Ogden Professor of Fundamental Physics and Director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham University and Principal Investigator of the Virgo Consortium. Both studied at UNAM. It seems that UNAM, does not have the capacity to retain some of its stars.

Carlos Frenk then, was one of the first to use supercomputers for cosmological calculations, i.e., of the whole Universe with Einstein's Gravity. With his colleagues in several countries, he demonstrated that it is necessary to have two new types of matter and energy to explain the observations of HZT and SCP . Prior to this supercomputer work, one should recognize Fritz Zwicky in the 1930s , and Vera Rubin in the 1960... and many, many people in the 1980s and 1990s

The names given to these two unknowns are Dark Matter, and Dark Energy. Frenk's result, is that the matter we are made of, which was known up to the great discovery of Universal Acceleration by HZT and SCP, is minimal. This  so-called baryonic matter, in Frenk's soup , is only the salt, something like 4% of the total. Even this small quantity is mainly dispersed as gas all over the known Unvierse. Only 10% of that 4%, is found in the form we know it, mainly stars and black holes, and very little as planets like Earth; by the way over 400 solar systems are known in our Galaxy, the Milky Way.

The great mystery for theoreticians like me, is to find out what is Dark Energy, and for that, I thank my friend Alex, for having given me the opportunity to search for an explanation for Dark Matter and Energy.

Thanks Alex!
P.S. I want to report that the mirror, built under the supervision of Prof. José Luis Pérez Mazariego during the workshop at the Chilpancingo Institute of Technology, was useful already to observe Io - Jupiter's moon - three different days, each time it has been in different positions, since its year is 1.8 terrestrial days.

Vote for Morales Today!

What, you don't vote in Bolivia?

It doesn't matter, very likely you have Real Native Americans near you, they need autonomy. Support them.


Friday, December 04, 2009


I'm watching Selena and reading Bob Herbert. I feel I am not Mexican nor American, and both our countries are a mess.

I don't think I have anyplace to go. Either I make it in North America, or I'm done, man.

Viva North America Cabrones!

Alex Filippenko The Fate of the Universe

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Afghanistan: Robert Fisk

"And on this historic day – when Barack Obama plunges ever deeper into chaos – let us remember the British retreat from Kabul and its destruction in 1842."

Taken from:

This strategy has been tried before

Robert Fisk.

Anti GZK for Photons?

The Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin cutoff tells us that charged particles don't make it through the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) photon radiation. High energy protons just hit low energy photons and voilà, we lose them. Nevertheless there are indications that high energy photons fare better; the CMB seems to be more transparent to them.

I don't understand this, because long ago, I studied Sakurai's Vector Meson Dominance (VMD) Model , at the energies then available, early 70s, it was doing fine. The model used the Lorentz character of photons and vector mesons to study processes with either of them with a unified approach. All one had to do was to factor out the different strengths of electromagnetic and hadron forces.

The results presented in the New Scientist article above, put this into question at high enough energies.

Phenomenologically though, one can definitely break Lorentz invariance; this being an old game for physicists, and see what happens.

Giovanni Amelino-Camelia et al. do just that in:

Threshold anomalies in Horava-Lifshitz-type theories

Once this breakdown is allowed, even Poincaré symmetry is broken, one can start to make sense on the High Energy Gamma Rays Transparent Universe (awful acronym I'm sure nobody will use, HEGRTU).

Maybe this phrase will be more memorable. Anti GZK for Photons. (AGZKP, I doubt it).

What I mean by that, is that protons are not allowed at high energies, but photons are. This is really unaesthetic, and unfair, but if true; the LAGO collaboration of which I am a member, may have a shot at  fifteen minutes of fame.

LAGO, an upshot from AUGER, will benefit from this asymmetry, and both collaborations would be famous. One for showing that GZK is there for protons, and the other for showing that it is not there for photons. No wonder we didn't think of that before, that will be really ugly. It will prove that the heavens are really much less than perfect.

Sayonara, Plato!

Essay on students

You can read here, the opinions of a colleague in Chilpancingo.

Wordsworth, Anybody?

"When I interviewed McEwan about his 2007 novel On Chesil Beach, we talked of the problems that beset literature with any upfront “green” agenda. First, the trap of propaganda: “Fiction hates preachiness? Nor do readers much like to be hectored,” McEwan warned. Equally unpromising is a too-familiar dystopian tradition that thrills readers with flesh-creeping disaster scenarios of flood or fire: “We’ve had so many dystopias that we’re brain-dead in that direction”. However, McEwan did hold out some hope for climate-change fiction that would offer “something small and fierce? Maybe it needs an Animal Farm. Maybe it needs allegory. But if you’re going in that direction, you need a lot of wit.” McEwan did go in that direction, and has duly come up with a comic solution. His new novel Solar, due in March, will depict the misadventures of a burnt-out physicist, Michael Beard, who in the midst of mid-life mess stumbles on a clean-energy technology that might just save the planet. It will feature eco-emergency not as the didactic centrepiece but more of a “background hum”. "

Taken from:

A tide of green ink.


I was at Lucent from 1999 to 2001. I am sure some of my buddies that were let go like myself, now are manning Comcast. I was not an experienced software engineer, I was a physicist trying to change careers. I don't mean to say that everybody who was let go, found a job at Comcast. What I mean is that the ones that weren't have to find a way to make a living now. In my case this means going back to research and distinguish myself.

Times are hard, but now NBC is inside Comcast. A new change is coming.



I fight wars without weapons

I fight battles without remorse

I punch and scrach

When I feel there is no way out

I have a twitch

i-----it makes me f---feel better

I wrote a theif a letter

He stole it, man I should have known better

I took a pill, thought it would make me better

I lost my mind, while I was too busy trying to find unlimited time

I fight wars without weapons

My mind helped me win

Down on my knees not sucking but contemplating his fate

I scream out his name, as the knife comes down

For I am the bringer of pain

A vampire through the mist

A fate for the men that can't resist my poison kiss

I fly through the night, the next victim in my sight.

I fight battles without remorse

I ride on a pale horse

Hands in the air not giving up but contemplating the fate of the human race

I scream out, as fire scorches the earth

For I am the bringer of suffering

A god through the clouds

A fate for the sinners of the world

I puch through thee clouds, snuff out all life

I feel all the pain, all the suffering

I take it in and store it all in my congested mind

Just waiting for the right time

I will shine bright you will see

I have been everything that I can be

Everything you wanted me to be

You were nothing but the time

The time I needed to have

Time was all I needed from you

I refuse to admit, it was me

The total bitch

I'm not crazy

I do n----not have a tw-----twitch

I remember the hugs, the sweet words of love

The sweet sounds of a heart breaking

You were the sucker, the one I loved to hurt

I was mean to you, why do you still love me

Having you was just a game to me

A heartbreaker, that's me

A lover, could never be

A bitch, obsurd

Welcome to my life

My name i-----is


Written By (Disillusion) I mean (Hope Sanders)

Taken from:

Disillusion - Poetry

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Oort Cloud and Galactic Tides

"Abstract. We report the first results of a research program to explore the sensitivity of the orbits of Oort cloud comets to changes in the strength of the Galactic tides in the plane of the disk and also to changes in the mass of the host star. We performed 2D simulations that confirm that the effects of the tides on comet orbits are sensitive to a star’s distance from the Galactic center. A comet cloud closer to the Galactic center than the Sun will have comet perihelia reduced to the region of the inner planets more effectively by the planar tides alone. Similar results are found for a star of smaller mass. We also show how this phenomenon of comet injection persists for a set of alternative Galactic potential models. These preliminary results suggest a fruitful line of research, one that aims to generalize the study of comet cloud dynamics to systems different from the Solar System. In particular, it will allow us to study the roles played by comet clouds in defining the boundaries of the Galactic Habitable Zone."


Many years ago Maturana and Varela propsed a kind of self-regulation process, with this name to explain life. Now Guillermo González is using it to check how much alive inorganic matter is.

The abstract above is from:

Effects of the Planar Galactic Tides and Stellar Mass on Comet Cloud Dynamics

Fermi's Question: Where Are They?

Back in the days, when Orson Welles was scaring the wits out of most about everybody with a Martian Invasion. Enrico Fermi asked his buddies at Chicago. Where are they? Meaning if we were here, why did we seem to be alone?

"Most astronomers today believe that one of the most plausible reasons we have yet to detect intelligent life in the universe is due to the deadly effects of local supernova explosions that wipe out all life in a given region of a galaxy.While there is, on average, only one supernova per galaxy per century, there is something on the order of 100 billion galaxies in the observable Universe. Taking 10 billion years for the age of the Universe (it's actually 13.7 billion, but stars didn't form for the first few hundred million), Dr. Richard Mushotzky of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, derived a figure of 1 billion supernovae per year, or 30 supernovae per second in the observable Universe!"

"It isn't known if every hypernova is associated with a GRB. However, astronomers estimate only about one out of 100,000 supernovae produce a hypernova. This works out to about one gamma-ray burst per day, which is in fact what is observed."

"What is almost certain is that the core of the star involved in a given hypernova is massive enough to collapse into a black hole (rather than a neutron star). So every GRB detected is also the "birth cry" of a new black hole."
Taken from.

The Daily Galaxy

Now we know, their planets got sterilized.

Emeritus Professor Stephen Hawking was giving lectures, or at least telling journalists, about this answer to Fermi's question, a few weeks back.

It sounds good to me. We are alone, because we are lucky.

Actually the process Hawking was popularizing was about big rocks hitting us from out there, far in space.

How long will we be lucky? That is my question.

Here in Chilpancingo, a group of us are looking for evidence for an affirmative answer to Fermi's question. They are here.

Actually I do not believe they are, but I am not the one that is going to stop my friends from looking. Maybe they find Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and who knows what else.

This is fun. Until it isn't, and we see that ominous cosmic ray, or big rock, coming to get us, as very likely many other civilizations were taken down.

Nickel-56 Supernova

"The explosion generated several Suns' worth of radioactive nickel-56 and vast quantities of other lighter elements, such as carbon and silicon. Gal-Yam says that it is the radioactive decay of the nickel that kept the explosion glowing for months."

Taken from:

Nature News

This is the biggest star explosion ever recorded. It was 200 solar masses. The light lasted several months.

56 Ni is formed, and radioactively disintegrates powering the explosion for months!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Obama at West Point

I supported President Obama against McCain. I do not vote in the US, but I believe I was not alone in the world in having an opinion on the most powerful position on Earth.

This is my reaction to today's speech. I want to clarify the decision to myself, and hopefully for some readers.

Obama has never been at war, just like the past President. He didn't even have the chance. He was too young for Vietnam. He is a product of the US educational system, he believes the American narrative. A city upon a hill.

The number of weapons of mass destruction in the US is unprecedent in the History of Mankind. Nevertheless, those weapons cannot be used in Afghanistan.

I believe in the power of the mind, and the President has a good head over his shoulders. My conclusion nonetheless is this:

All people believe they are special; my people the Aztecs, believed that an eagle on a lake, on top of a cactus devouring a snake signaled them the right to settle and fight the other Mexicans living there, and so they did.

There are no such commandments to special people, we are all human beings and fight each other grouped in tribes to dominate. The US cannot dominate Afghanistan, nor any other place right now. I do not see the conditions for such a feat, what I see is a world in disarray about to face the abyss, we are at the brink of collapse, and the enemy is not the other, the enemy is us.

Paul Krugman has this to say today:

"The chances of a relapse into recession seem to be rising."

For God's sake, stop: Michael Moore

For God's sake, stop

Obama made a mistake. Tonight we'll hear about it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A quantum Bose-Hubbard model with evolving graph as toy model for emergent spacetime

   "This toy model is also a condensed matter system in which the pattern of interaction itself is a quantum degree of freedom instead of being a fixed graph. It can be regarded as a Hubbard model where the strength of the hopping emerges as the mean field value for other quantum degrees of freedom. We show a numerical simulation of the quantum system and results on the asymptotic behavior of the classical system. The numerical simulation is mainly concerned with the entanglement dynamics of the system and the issue of its thermalization as a closed system. A closed system can thermalize in the sense that the partial system shows some typicality, or some relevant observables reach a steady or almost steady value for long times. The issue of thermalization for closed quantum system and the foundations of quantum statistical mechanics gained recently novel interest with the understanding that the role of entanglement plays in it [32]. The behavior of out of equilibrium quantum system under sudden quench, and the approach to equilibrium has been recently the object of study to gain insight in novel and exotic quantum phases like topologically ordered states."

Taken from:

Roberto Bolaño's Infrarealism Manifesto




Roberto Bolaño, México, 1976




Roberto Bolaño, México, 1976

Taken from:

This is wrong and unacceptable. Paul Krugman NYT

At this rate my children are going to be unemployed.

No more. Let us do something.

Read Krugman's piece here.

"The Federal Reserve, for example, expects unemployment, currently 10.2 percent, to stay above 8 percent — a number that would have been considered disastrous not long ago — until sometime in 2012."

That year again.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Horava-Lifshitz and Dark Energy

I belong to the LAGO collaboration. We want to measure Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) with photomultipliers (PMTs) inside water in plastic bags on top of mountains; the Mexican section in Sierra Negra. GRBs come from above directly towards the water; Cherenkov light is produced when charges are produced in the atmosphere and water. This light and charged particles,  go directly to the PMTs at the bottom of the bag. The bags are designed to stop other light from leaking in. The whole thing is inside huge metal cylindrical containers. I just saw one yesterday. Seven meters wide and almost three meters tall, with tons of water in.

Given that we are on the surface of the Earth, albeit at a high altitude, we can put tons of water there. This is someting Fermi LAT cannot do.

As the energy of the GRBs increases, lucky for us, the number of them decreases, otherwise we wouldn't be here. Therefore a tiny surface in space, with little matter, won't collect the highest energy rays. We expect to get above 100 GeV GRBs.

The question now is: What does theory predict?. I believe that given the huge energies, and likely big distances from the sources, that we have a way to study the vacuum.

A new proposal for Quantum Gravity, may help our searches. Horava-Lifshitz Gravity does have implications for Dark Energy.

We are studying this.

Lucha Libre!

I am not a fan of this sport. I played soccer when I was a kid in Mexico City, I never went to a single Lucha Libre fight, even though, the place was somehow near my home. However, I am a fan of Superbarrio.

Heather Levi says about him:

"There was no way to co-opt him because he didn't exist. He was incorruptible because he both existed but at the same time didn't exist."

He got a lot done for poor Mexicans after the devastating 1985 Mexico City earthquake.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Roberto Bolaño

This Latin American writer became famous when he died. I want to read 2666. I've already read, The Savage Detectives.

Life is mysterious.

The First Street of Solitude

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The depressed

Los deprimidos

Caminan despacio con las manos

metidas en los bolsillos

agachan la cabeza y parece que

meditan pero no lo hacen

ellos solo buscan encontrar esos ojos

que les devuelva la ilusión por la vida.

Los deprimidos suelen pensar en suicidios

de otros, y parecen motivarse por ello

y muchas veces escriben poemas

en sus noches de insomnio.

Los deprimidos son hombres solos

siempre solos, y su soledad

los aísla del mundo; la soledad

y el estrés, son dos enfermedades

del mundo moderno;

los hombres, cuando están solos

buscan en foros de Internet

alguna mujer que imaginan hermosa

para sentir compañía;

las mujeres solas, describen su pena y

dolor y también buscan amantes

o de menos algún amigo querido;

al caminar la ciudad, ambos

los hombres solos y mujeres solas

son las almas en pena

de la vida moderna.

Taken from:

Edgar Altamirano


The depressed

Walk slowly with their hands

inside their pockets

bow their heads down and it seems that

they meditate but they do not

they are only looking to find those eyes

that give them back hope for life.

The depressed use to think in suicides

of others, and they seem to get motivated by it

and many times they write poems

in their nights of insomnia.

The depressed are lonely men

always lonely, and their solitude

isolate them from the world; solitude

and stress, are two diseases

of the modern world;

men, when they are alone

search in Internet sites

some woman they imagine beautiful

to feel company;

lonely women, describe their sorrow and

pain and also search lovers

or at least some dear friend;

walking the city, both

lonely men and lonely women

are haunted souls

of modern life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hořava - Lifshitz (H-L)

Hořava - Lifshitz gravity is a possible realization of the most sought after improvement on Einstein's theory.

In this Note I write what I understand so far about it.

We have a change in the Idea of change, from Newton, to Einstein, to Hořava. With the last one similar to the first. Time and space separate, spacetime related, to time and space separate again. Newton ->Einstein->Hořava.

I don't know about you, but time mystifies me.

I am succinct here, Newton had to invent a metaphor. Time flows like a river, independently of everything, it is then absolute. All clocks are synchronized, maybe by a prime force at the moment of creation. All clocks, somehow know about all clocks, as if connecting with infinite velocity information signals.

Einstein thought that 299 792 458 m/s was a better number for this velocity. Now our current Natural Philosopher in residence at UC Berkeley has reasons to believe that in the beginning time was more like Newton thought.

Theoretical Physics is a mathematical game, whatever gives you the results of other games, you believe will appear more like the real thing. Here we are talking about a computer game. Ambjørn, Jurkiewicz and Loll invented Causal Dynamical Triangulation. They play it in a computer.

If they don't separate space and time, they get into a mess, so they do. For his own reasons the Berkeley Professor, Hořava. Had done the same trick, but he was more thorough. He fill in more details. When the computer model gave something close to what Hořava-Lifshitz got previously, he felt vindicated, and believes the computer discovered the same tricks independently.

I believe the new Idea of change is based on these elements. The problem of time, critical phenomena, and acceleration of the Universe. Somehow one must get rid of time at the beginning, otherwise the math gets non-sense. What is done in the H-L theory is to vanish it slowly, one goes from four dimensions, to a kind of two dimensional primeval soup. The heat must do something to time, in this sense is not at all like Newton's river that won't evaporate. It becomes fractal. He calculates a fractal dimension for time-space and gets the beautiful formula:

ds = 1 + D/z

When z = 3 and D = 3, ds = 2. When z= 1 we are back in our immediate neighborhood, the Earth, with ds =4.

Obama on Science

Today, we are launching the "Educate to Innovate" campaign, a nationwide effort to help reach the goal this administration has set:  moving to the top in science and math education in the next decade.  We've got leaders from private companies and universities, foundations and non-profits, and organizations representing millions of scientists, engineers, and teachers from across America.  The initial commitment of the private sector to this campaign is more than $260 million –- and we only expect the campaign to grow.

"We’re going to show young people how cool science can be."

Taken from:

White House

Critique to Memes as Monads

According to Leibniz, a monad is one, no windows, nothing inside. Monadology would then be, the Theory of One.or TOO. Talking about the Theory of Everything, or TOE, we have the opposite. TOO is the logical negation of TOE. In my mind, though, they seem related, remember the saying: extremes meet.

How could a one, be a meme? Meme could be anything, so it could be all, or infinity, or it could be one. What I mean by monad as meme, is that any monad is a member of a meme. Using Category Theory, one can see that the one and the infinite, are categorically related. There will be contradictions in my way of conceptualizing meme and monad, but already  Bertrand Russell, many years ago, found them in Set Theory.

Memes and Monads

Gottfried Leibniz was an intellectual giant. His row with Newton produced one of the most undeserved media onslaughts in history. Germany, his country, has had a raw deal for centuries, maybe deservedly so, I won't defend authoritarians. He was just, plain and simply, a genius.

I am starting to study his Monadology, and I sense similarities with Memetics.

A meme is a cultural construct that remains, in the fight in Memespace.

It is hard to visualize an idea fighting for attention, but that is what I am talking about. This blog, Relevant Science is a meme, and I am doing poorly competing  with all those great blogs out there.

Now what is a monad?

This idea was invented in the seventeenth century. I believe that Leibniz, didn't visualize Memespace, as I do. Maybe he thought his memes were material, like atoms, or something. I believe that memes can be ideas that stay. A good tune, or song  is a meme. This Note you are reading, is a meme. Will any of the readers remember it?, If one does, it will start populating that person thinking space, some actual blood and nutrients will go to maintain the idea in her brain.

If my analogy, metaphor, or whatever you want to call it, remains; memes as monads will be part of culture. In that case Leibniz will be appreciated as the visionary that he was.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Marshall Plan

Naomi Klein mentioned to Amy Goodman from Democracy Now!, the possibility of putting together two big problems: environmental degradation and human poverty.

I believe something like that is happening. Here in Guerrero, the Rector of the University said Saturday in his yearly State of the University Report, that more money came here from the Federal Government than never before. I believe it is still not enough, but I agree with his assessment. Ours, one of the poorest universities in Mexico has been "discovered" by the powers that be.

We do need a Marshall Plan, the time is Now.

From the Rolling Stone Magazine

"If we are to curb emissions in the next decade, we need a massive mobilization larger than any in history," Navarro declared at the end of her talk. "We need a Marshall Plan for the Earth. This plan must mobilize financing and technology transfer on scales never seen before. It must get technology onto the ground in every country to ensure we reduce emissions while raising people's quality of life. We have only a decade."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Prof. Strang Doesn't Have a Full House

I am enjoying the MIT gift to the world:

18.06 Linear Algebra

Is there anything wrong with MIT?

I'd expect a full house for such a great course. But, no. There are empty seats. Good that the material is online now, for the whole world to appreciate.

He gave Lecture 5 to Nobody in the first rows!

History of Math

"The central role of numbers in our world testifies to the brain’s uncanny ability to recognize and understand them—and Cantlon is among the researchers trying to find out exactly how that skill works. Traditionally, scientists have thought that we learn to use numbers the same way we learn how to drive a car or to text with two thumbs. In this view, numbers are a kind of technology, a man-made invention to which our all-purpose brains can adapt. History provides some support. The oldest evidence of people using numbers dates back about 30,000 years: bones and antlers scored with notches that are considered by archaeologists to be tallying marks. More sophisticated uses of numbers arose only much later, coincident with the rise of other simple technologies. The Mesopotamians developed basic arithmetic about 5,000 years ago. Zero made its debut in A.D. 876. Arab scholars laid the foundations of algebra in the ninth century; calculus did not emerge in full flower until the late 1600s.
One sign that this skill truly is innate: Children enter the world with a head for numbers. Veronique Izard, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, demonstrated this in a recent study of newborns. She and her colleagues played cooing sounds to babies, with varying numbers of sounds in each trial. The babies were then shown a set of shapes on a computer screen, and the scientists measured how long the babies gazed at it. (The length of time a baby spends looking at an object reflects its interest.) Newborns consistently looked longer at the screen when the number of shapes matched the number of sounds they had just heard. For example, a baby who heard “tuuu, tuuu, tuuu, tuuu” would look the longest at four shapes, less at eight, and still less at twelve. Izard’s study suggests that newborns already have a basic understanding of numbers. Moreover, their concept of numbers is abstract; they can transfer it across the senses from sounds to pictures.

Other primates, lacking our symbolic brains, take thousands of trials to learn a new rule."
Taken from:

Discover Magazine

Paul Leduc

Mexican artist.

I just saw ¿Cómo ves? again.

This time around, twenty three years later, I feel differently. Then Mexico could've gone in other direction, now the movie is prophetic. The scene with kids staring at the microphone and not knowing what to say is poignant.

Today the streets of any mid size Mexican city is full of graffiti. They still don't know what to say. Ugly stunted towns. Cultural desserts all over the place, rivers dying, politicians lying.

After one hundred years of revolution and two of independence, there is not much to show on the future of those children vacantly looking at a world there is no way they will understand high on glue.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Is the UC System Too Big to Fail?

Please Mr. Obama don´t let the California System of higher education to fail. It is suicide.

The Certainty of Ideology

When I was in my early twenties I was clear in what was wrong and what was right. Now I am not so sure. I read Fidel Castro clearly acusing Colombia of helping the US to put military personnel there; lying about Chávez intentions.

"Such words can only serve to justify the aggressive plans of the United States and the blatant treachery of the Venezuelan oligarchy and counterrevolution to their homeland."

Maybe Fidel is right, but that certainty in an 83 year old man, makes me wonder.

Fidel is a giant ideologue, he will die like that. I guess I was never that much into certainty.


“We are planning to stay as long as possible,” Andi Walden, a 21-year-old senior in the building, said by cellphone. “It appears the police are getting ready to break down the doors and drag us out. We had to take direct action. The regents won’t respond to anything else.”

Taken from the NYT .

I agree.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Google officially challenged Microsoft today. A new paradigm, if established, will change the winner from Windows to Google OS. I saw this coming since at least 1995, but then there was no rich kid in the block that could threatened the company at Redmond.

I feel more like an American than like a Chinese. Even though, at that level, one could also envisioned a shift. I feel more individualistic than a clog in a machine for the common good. I do not believe that the Chinese are better, or the Americans. Each people has its own history and culture. There is no apex of progress towards which all of us move.

If I am going to leave my mark on this earth, it will have to be as an individual, like Nikola Tesla, Steve Jobs, or Sergey Brin.

How does one do that?

Scenes from Proposition 13

I was there in the seventies when all this was being brewed. I didn`t know then. I just left, and went back to Mexico.

How will it look in 2020?

Disaster at UCLA

I Saw This Coming

AOL to Cut Its Work Force by One-Third

Published: November 19, 2009
In recent years, amid the fallout from its audacious merger withTime WarnerAOL Inc. has steadily become smaller through subscriber desertions and rounds and rounds of layoffs.


Times Topics: AOL LLC

Comment Post a Comment
It is becoming smaller still.
On Thursday, AOL announced it would cut its work force by one-third by eliminating close to 2,500 workers. The move comes as the company prepares to be spun off from its parent company, Time Warner, into an independent, publicly traded company.
AOL said in a regulatory filing that the job cuts were meant to save about $300 million a year. It will take a $200 million restructuring charge to account for the severance costs. The company said it would ask for volunteers first, and then resort to layoffs if it didn’t get roughly 2,500 people to accept a buyout package.
Tim Armstrong, who became AOL’s chairman and chief executive in March after a successful and lucrative stint at Google, told employees in an e-mail message that he would not accept a bonus this year. In the message, he wrote, “as a member of our team and the person who takes accountability for the results of the company, I am making the decision to forgo my 2009 bonus. That decision is a personal one and is not a sign for the future payout of the overall bonus plan for employees.”
Mr. Armstrong, 38, was guaranteed a bonus of at least $1.5 million this year, according to a regulatory filing. His minimum base salary, according to his employment contract, is $1 million.
At its biggest, AOL had more than 20,000 employees in 2004. It currently has about 6,900 and after the latest round of layoffs will be left with about 4,400 workers, making it roughly a fifth of the size it once was.
In terms of what was once its core business — selling dial-up Internet access — AOL had the most subscribers in the third quarter of 2002, when it counted 26.7 million of them. At the end of the most recent quarter, it had 5.4 million. Through the first nine months of 2009, AOL lost 1.9 million subscribers, or more than 200,000 a month.
This business is still profitable for AOL, although it is declining rapidly. Mr. Armstrong, in the face of continuing declines in the access business, has singled out several areas for growth, including premium content, online mapping and local services, communications like instant messaging, and online advertising.
In an interview with The New York Times in July, Mr. Armstrong said of the company’s challenges: “AOL has a choice to make. We either lose slowly or win quickly. We are choosing to win quickly.”
Time Warner, whose merger with AOL in 2000 was disastrous for both companies, decided earlier this year to spin off its struggling Internet unit. The spinoff is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 9.
In the most recent quarter, AOL’s revenue was down 23 percent, or $235 million, to $777 million. Of this decline, $138 million was ascribed to a decline in subscriptions, while $92 million resulted from a drop in advertising.
AOL became a force on the Internet in the 1990s by offering its ubiquitous dial-up service, but fell behind as high-speed service became widespread and the access business became commoditized.
It used its high-flying status and its stratospheric stock price to essentially buy Time Warner in a deal announced in January 2000. The balance of power shifted in the ensuing years, and Time Warner dropped “AOL” from its name.
Its formal spinoff in the coming weeks will be the closing chapter of the ill-fated deal.

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