Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mexican Politics and Rock Corridos:Johnny be good.

Is it Possible to Move without Congress?

The President, both houses of Congress in Democratic hands. Can I predict something?

The lobbyists will win.

Today the EPA moved into regulation after years of toothless regulations.

I don't think that it is possible to move without Congress, and therefore without the lobbyists.

Today's announcement seems to me to play some symbolic meaning.

When the real rulers of the World feel that the Earth and people are going down the drain, and only if they don't dumbly believe that they can save themselves as the rest of us perish; we may have a chance to survive.

Another possibility, I don't discount, is that when everything starts to fail, as I am already expecting, all of us will finally start fixing things.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Reading Dick Teresi's Lost Dicoveries I have been wondering about the religious aspects of Cosmology.

It seems that all cultures, my ancestors the Spanish, and the Arabs. The ancestors of most of my students here in Guerrero, the Tlapanecos, the Mixtecos, the Nahuas, and the African-Mexicans; had a story.

We say it is not scientific, the Bing Bang version is scientific. Teresi doesn't fully share that opinion. He knows the guys on the second floor of the High Rise at Fermilab. The Astrophysicists: somehow he doesn't seem to have much admiration for them. Somehow he doesn't think that we can comfortably talk about what happened thirteen thousand and seven hundred million years ago.

He also muses about destroyed careers due to some Big Bang mafia, or something, that doesn't allow dissent. I have a friend with similar feelings towards the establishment. I myself felt strange at my last visit to the Physics Department at UCSB, I felt the spirit of a monk of sorts called Stephen Hawking in the corridors where I used to walk several years prior, with a more, shall we say "practical" crowd. Those physicists then, were not trying to get the Theory of Everything, just the next paper, the little contribution to a collective endeavor called Physics.

I am agnostic, the weirdness coming from theoretical physicists lately, makes me a little uneasy. I myself never got into the program, of just do your calculation and move on. I am after big fish myself, but I guess I haven't found the approach just right for me.

Here is my take at the current Cosmogony.

It is a discovery of String Theory, that it  has more solutions than we were used to. Say a linear equation, has one solution, a second order one; two. As physicists we chose the right or the right ones. Dirac accepted both solutions to his relativistic fermion and predicted the positron, once him, or others saw that the mass had to be the same. I think it was Weyl.

Now we have 10⁵⁰⁰ solutions for String Theory.

What does that mean?

Finally,  Prof. Frampton says that Dark Matter is made of Black Holes. He reaches this conclusion by claiming that framptons, i.e. massive black holes are all over the place, with huge entropies. Jacob Beckenstein's entropy. Just by counting the entropy out there, he believes that other candidates for dark matter, just don't matter.

Where does that leave us?

Big numbers seem to be telling us something. Paul Dirac already drew attention to this peculiar aspect of our Universe.

Georg Cantor taught us how to count. The Power Set has more members than just the counting numbers. Exponential explosion of possibilities swamps us.

I want to turn things upside down. I want to turn the problem into the solution. Like the Reckoner, that old Archimedes book, we find ourselves counting how many angels are there in the head of a pin.

Many, but not Infinity.

That is my Cosmogony, we live in a place with a lot of thingies to count.

The question is, are  there just labels we chose, or real things?

Here we have old Albert Einstein back. I am a realist, but lost as to what is real and what is just a name. Quarks, may just be irreducible representaions of SU(3), not real objects.

I have to sort this out!

American Politicians

They may be the best on Earth. Maybe the MPs in the British Isles come close. They are definitely better than Mexican, or Guerrero State ones; my comparison basis.

I heard them this morning all morning to finally kill Senator Rockefeller's Ammendment.


I do need a better health insurance, I am a US resident, if this keeps going like this, I won't get any.

I believe the rich people call the shots in this country, they don't need it, they don't pass it.

This reminds me of New Hampshire car plates: Live Free, or Die!

I read it like this. In NH you either take care of yourself, or you'll die; not like the intended patriotic meaning: I'll rather die, than let the enemy take my territory.

Even with the Democrats in an Obama administration in power, we hear loud and clear from Washington: Go die, we won't help you.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Melinda Gates and Mao Zedong

“It is so important,” said Melinda Gates, “to get all of the children educated.”


"Following the consolidation of power, Mao launched the First Five-Year Plan (1953-8). The plan aimed to end Chinese dependence upon agriculture in order to become a world power. With the Soviet Union's assistance, new industrial plants were built and agricultural production eventually fell to a point where industry was beginning to produce enough capital that China no longer needed the USSR's support. The success of the First Five Year Plan was to encourage Mao to instigate the Second Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward, in 1958. Mao also launched a phase of rapid collectivization. The CPC introduced price controls as well as a Chinese character simplification aimed at increasing literacy. Land was taken from landlords and more wealthy peasants and given to poorer peasants. Large scale industrialization projects were also undertaken."

Next month the People's Republic of China celebrates 60 years of doing this.

If I was a betting man, I'll go for Mao.

My Purpose in Life

Having turned 60 recently I am in a pensive mood. Today I heard through the University Radio Station about research done by one of our students. He went to Mexico City and learned how to use the Internet to teach.

I want to encourage young people to consider research problems. Right now I will want them to study the fractions in an old Egyptian papyrus, the so called Ahmes, or Rhind papyrus.

According to cryptanalist Milo Gardner, first translators and analysts missed important parts, he shows that Egyptians knew more than they were given credit for.

My point is to tell students that they shouldn't take what they are told at face value, they have to come always to their own judgment.

It is a tall call; but that is my purpose in life.

India Space Organization Finds Water on the Moon

What a headline! It is not less relevant that NASA helped them.

I am listening to Arundhati Roy in Democracy Now!, She reports from New Dehli how the media there is worse than Fox News in the US.

We live in a world of contrasts, people without id cards do not exist in a country without running water, and the Brahmins (Brāhmaṇa) in power find water on the Moon!

Interesting world we live in.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Arne Dunkins $4.3 Billion

Should I apply?

The NYT has some comments on this very important development.

I worked with underprivileged students in Aurora Illinois. They fired me, they didn't undesrstand what I was trying to do. They didn't even ask. All they saw were a relaxed atmosphere, where I suppose, they wanted to see a tight ship.

I know I touched some of those kids, I made a differnce.

It is tempting to give it another try with a new administration.


This Nicolas Cage movie reminds us that we can know the future. I'd hope it would be as precise as in that movie, but I settle for any mildly reasonable prediction.

Jim Hansen the NASA scientist, has disobeyed the law, to alert us of the gravity of the situation of global warming.

I'm spooked out. Are you?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sputnik and Green Science

Tom Friedman writes in the NYT:

"China’s leaders, mostly engineers, wasted little time debating global warming. They know the Tibetan glaciers that feed their major rivers are melting. But they also know that even if climate change were a hoax, the demand for clean, renewable power is going to soar as we add an estimated 2.5 billion people to the planet by 2050, many of whom will want to live high-energy lifestyles. In that world, E.T. — or energy technology — will be as big as I.T., and China intends to be a big E.T. player."

The last US president that knew Calculus  was Jimmy Carter.

I miss that golden age of the US.

Is Obama Alexander the Great?

Frank Rich writes today in the NYT:

"Goldstein points out there are other indisputable then-and-now analogies as well. Much as Vietnam could not be secured over the centuries by China, France, Japan or the United States, so Afghanistan has been a notorious graveyard for the ambitions of Alexander the Great, the British and the Soviets. “Some states in world politics are simply not susceptible to intervention by the great powers,” Goldstein told me. He also notes that the insurgencies in Afghanistan and Vietnam share the same geographical advantage. As the porous border of neighboring North Vietnam provided sanctuary and facilitated support to our enemy then, so Pakistan serves our enemy today."

Lonely? It is the Asteroids. Stephen Hawking

The Lucasian Profesor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, thinks that we are alone because all potential soul mates in the Milky Way, have been wiped out of the face of the Galaxy.


To the Grown Ups of Pittsburgh

Don't scare the children.

Video by University of Pittsburgh Students on the G20 Summit Protests.

$25 LED Light Bulbs?

That sounds to me like a Polish joke. How many Poles to screw a light bulb?

Friday, September 25, 2009


Let me be blunt here.

I do not believe the reasons given by the US in the recent past on war, were truthful.

I believe more, with Daniel Ellsberg, that the US lied about Vietnam. Given that, why should I accept that the reason to go to Iraq was to neutralize a rogue state at the brink of producing Armageddon in the nick of time. Why should I believe that sending twice the troops to Afghanistan will make the US win the war there. I feel these are lies.

There, you have a cynic here.

Now why do I think those US children are going to be killed by the Afghans?

Because the US acts like an imperialist state.

The Aztecs in Mexico, more than four hundred years ago, sent troops to Chilpancingo. The people in Zumpango to the north of this town, stopped them though.

Why did the Aztecs attack?

They wanted war booty.

I am not a complicated intellectual. These things are not that complicated.

What hurts me is that those US kids going to war, don't even know where Afghanistan is?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What is Happening in Pittsburgh?

I've been twice in that city. In the way there, nearby I saw an American Indian treated disrespectfully in the bus by the driver. The poor man couldn't even speak well. I was sad that his people used to own the place, and now they don't even talk to him. I knew the Anglos and the Indians don't converse because he had an accent different than the people around him.

Now the police was running after young people in the streets. They came to protest the G-20 meeting. Even university students from the city were involved.

I was remembering that forty years ago when I was a student, the police also run after us.

I guess young people have to fight. It is their world in the near future which will be affected.

All of us should listen to those kids, they know things are not well.

Also in California yesterday students, professors, and workers, were publicly expressing their refusal to accept less money for the University of California.

What is next?

Tehran and Pittsburgh

I hope no kid is hurt tonight in Pittsburgh.
I love children, you know, I hate to see them whacked.

Take care guys.

Frank Zappa, Ron Paul, Howard Zinn

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Entering The Dark Energy Era

 One can read in:

Egan et al.

"Since our Universe is presently entering dark energy domination, the growth of the event horizon has slowed, and it is almost as large now as it will ever become."

Remember that you read it here first.

Flight of the Conchords

Monday, September 21, 2009

Did Egyptians have Theoretical Mathematics?

History of Mathematics evolves. At some point the world was not communicated, therefore according to every tribe on this Earth, nobody was doing what they were doing.

Now in a globalized era all the tribes are finding out what the other tribes did. It is time to have a real History of Mathematics, where everybody is given equal time.

Egyptians used mathematics four thousand years ago, or even before, now we know they also had theories of mathematics. They used math, and knew what math was.

How People Learn?

We live in a time when more and more people are studying. In the past, not everybody went to school, and the ones that did could get along well with trial and error methods of teaching and learning.

There seem to be three principles that education research has uncovered:

1. Teachers must draw out and work with the preexisting understandings that their students bring with them.

2. Teachers must teach some subject matter in depth, providing many examples in which the same concept is at work and providing a firm foundation of factual knowledge.

3. The teaching of metacognitive skills should be integrated into the curriculum in a variety of subject areas.

Asking the right question takes us a long way in complex issues. The question heading this note seems to be a good start.

Juanes Concert in Cuba

Laboratory Stars

I started working in science in 1970 in Mexico. The National Commission of Nuclear Energy was in charge of a plasma physics program to understand plasmas in the laboratory. The goal was to eventually build a fusion reactor. Stars produce energy that way.

After almost forty years, that dedicated group of people failed. Of course I also have responsibility for that, what gives me comfort though, is that nobody, nowhere in the World has done it.


Chaos theory gives us clues, protons in plasmas always find ways to escape any laboratory made barrier.

How does Nature do it?


A big pile of atoms, mainly Hydrogen and Helium, are parked somewhere, to the point where there is nothing else in the way to extinction of those nuclei in a little singularity-like region in the middle, but to fuse, and thus generate the energy we see all over the sky.

When I write this, I notice the chutpzah. Are we crazy; a Sun in our kitchen?

Maybe; the fact is that after billions of dollars, maybe trillions, there is no kitchen table sun.

Reading the lecture notes of Professor Wolfgang Ketterle (below), I got the idea that maybe Nature (put here the name of whatever god, or gods, you believe in), has given us a brake, in the nick of time. There is no time left, I'm hearing Ralph Nader in Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! . He is convincing, very convincing: he has a new book, "Only the Super Rich can Save Us" to explain his thoughts.

Ralph Nader writes:

"My friends, what brings us here is a common foreboding -- a
closing circle of global doom. The world is not doing well. It is
spinning out of control. Its inhabitants have allowed greed,
power, ignorance, wealth, science, technology, and religion to
depreciate reality, and deny potential. With our capitalist
backgrounds, it's easy for us not to be beguiled by the plutocracy's
self-serving manipulation of economic indicators. We know how
wealth is being accumulated, defined, concentrated, and stratified.
Why, four hundred and fifty of us have wealth equivalent to the
combined wealth of the bottom three billion impoverished people on Earth."

Here is my contribution.

We may be able to make a kitchen table spinning star. That is the secret ingredient, SPIN.

There are examples out there. They are called Neutron Stars. When more matter is collected in those regions mentioned above, a Super Nova is born, they throw away matter, and some keeps contracting, sometimes ending in these Neutron Stars. These objects are basically macroscopic nuclei. Mainly neutrons in a macroscopic quantum state.

Here comes the work recently reported by Ketterle's MIT group.

I was lucky to be in a talk at Fermilab, either by Carl Weiman, or Eric Cornell in 1994, or 1995, this was more than fifteen years ago, and I didn't take notes, so I forgot which.

The crux of the talk was that low temperature physics, and high energy physics had points in common, the speaker went on to explain the similarities. Quantum Mechanics is crucial for both, for different reasons, in high energy physics small distances are accessible, in low temperature physics the quantum wavelength increases: So going down in temperature, is similar to going up in energy, dimensional analysis and a bit of physical concepts easily convince us, that those two ways lead to quantum behavior, in one case by allowing us to see little things, and in the other, by making little things have influence in bigger things.

This group from Colorado eventually got the Physics Nobel Prize for producing for the first time a Bose-Einstein Condensate. This state of matter was predicted by Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein in 1924–25. Only in 1994 were there enough pieces of equipment to produce it in the laboratory, and Professors Ketterle, Weiman and Cornell got the prize for being the first to accomplish this feat experimentally.

Now we come to 2009, I am 60 years old now, and finally I see that my dream of forty years ago, may come true.

Professor Ketterle writes in his notes that Nature has been kind to us. They were finally able to produce a spinning macroscopic quantum state.6Li nuclei were brought together with the same tricks used to put together non-spinning atoms in 1994. This state of matter, has the property of change, with an external macroscopic dial. The interaction between nuclei can be adjusted with an external knob!

The physicist then moves the dial until all the atoms, a million or so of them, suddenly point in the same direction!

Now we have a spinning blob of matter controlled by us.

Here comes the new idea.

Let us assume that it costs ten thousand dollars to make this blob of a million atoms, I assume it fills a region of one cubic centimeter, to get a cubic meter, you will need a million times more money. We are talking real money now. I guess the Department of Defense together with the Department of Energy, can pony up big money. A million times ten thousand, that makes Ten Billion Dollars.

If that sounds like a lot of money to you, just think of the trillions the non-spinning guys have used, with nothing to show for it.

Of course this whole thing may be wrong, maybe there is no way to scale up this contraptions in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Boulder, Colorado, and other labs in hot pursuit of this bizarre state of matter.

But what if it is possible to make a star in the lab.

That will be cool.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

No Time No Space

These days we theoretical physicists have been toying with foundational issues. There are proposals for almost anything you can think of. This one here is one of the weirdests, and it is mine.

As Immanuel Kant wrote in his little house in Königsberg , time and space are a priori concepts. We cannot make any sense at all of reality without prior constructs in our minds on these transcendental things.

"Time is what keeps everything from happening at once. Space is what keeps everything from happening at the same place."

Graffiti somewhere in the US.

My proposal is that at the beginning there was no space and no time, only Information.

My problem now is: What Information was back then, and what  it is now?

Aurora Lecture at Stanford


"Juanes said he sees this as progress. He, Mr. Bosé and others said they hoped the concert on Sunday would start a broader healing process among Cubans, other Latin Americans and Americans. They maintain that their concert differs from previous ones — the Havana Jam, headlined by Billy Joel, in 1979, and Music Bridges, with Mick Fleetwood and Jimmy Buffet, in 1999 — because the circumstances have changed."

I hope time has come for reconciliation. Fifty seven years is too long for families to stay apart.

This Sounds Like Music to my Ears

"Google would also be allowed to sell access to its entire collection to universities and other institutions. The company would grant free access to the full texts in its digital library at one terminal at every public library in the country."

I know there are possible inconviniences. Right now, though, those books are basically idle. I've been in libraries with TONS of books that nobody reads. This is unacceptable.

Trusting Obama

I have a digg account. I use it more to keep track of my interest than to have conversations with other users. Nevertheless las night I posted Bob Herbert's opinion piece. I like most of his posts, this touched a chord on me. I had seen to sadness how a group of white Americans took to the streets to vilify President Obama.

I wrote a comment, which I rarely do, on my digg space. Independently of race, what I believe is that this man is smart. I'm listening right now to his speech this week on financial regulations.

I am starting to consider giving a new chance to my efforts to make a living in the US.  Initially I had a very good job at  Lucent Technologies, then everything fell apart on Mr. George W. Bush watch.

If I trust the judgemnent of this man, I should show it with my actions.

What the Future Will Bring?

Reading about Hawking in Discover Magazine I came up with this idea.

We can think of several futures, one in which Mexico is part of the US, one in which the US is part of Mexico, one in which all countries are just one.

I like the third option better, I already have houses in Huitzuco, Chilpancingo, Mexico City, Puebla, and Chicago. Nice isn't it? One problem though, is that I don't have enough money to travel, I'm working on that.

Hawking's life inspires me. Because of my own shortcomings, I haven't been able to hold a permanent position in a university; but just like him, I follow scientific research, now it is easier to do that, that in the past.

I want to see myself in the future with a good theory of Information, that brings light to the ideas of time and space.

In the meantime I am happy to read that: Fermion gases can be magnetised!

This is awesome, I can't get over it. MIT students and professors pulled this gem out of Nature's trove. Given that I spent my postdoc time with my friend Hung Cheng there, I feel a lot of sympathy for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Great work.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Do Physics Nobel Laurates like Poetry?

I am reading Professor Wolfgang Ketterle's paper based on lectures taught at Veronna in the Summer of  2006. He writes:

"What occurred in Fermi gases, however, seemed too good to be true: all relaxation mechanisms were dramatically suppressed by the interplay of the Pauli exclusion principle and the large size of the Feshbach molecules. So what we have got is a Hilbert space which consists of atomic levels plus one single molecular level resonantly coupled to two colliding atoms. All other molecular states couple only weakly. As a result, pair condensation and fermionic superfluidity could be realized by simply ramping down the laser power in an optical trap containing  6Li in two hyperfine states at a specific magnetic field, thereby evaporatively cooling the system to the superfluid state. Even in our boldest moments we would not have dared to ask Nature for such an ideal system."

Later on he goes on to write:

   "Our ultimate goal is to control Nature and create and explore new forms of matter. But in the end, it is Nature who sets the rules, and in the case of ultracold fermions, she has been very kind to us."

This is beautiful.

Not just aesthetically pleasing, also useful:

" Finally, almost 100 years after Kamerlingh Onnes, it is not just an accidental coincidence anymore that bosonic and fermionic superfluidity occur at similar temperatures!"

Grace Lee Boggs

This philosopher has been working for this moment. Now is the moment for action.

Magnetic Gas!

MIT announced a first in the History of Mankind.

Now Li gas at low temperature and other gases have been proved to organise in ways unknown before. Applications are coming - that is good - what I find tantalising is the organizing "capacity" of inorganic matter.

Really it is not as spectacular as this picture is, all they saw is a tiny gas ball of Lithium molecules aligning with an external macroscopic magentic field. You can read the paper at the Los Alamos Electronic ArXive.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Los Caifanes

Los Caifanes

Narrow and Deep

I'm still listening to the talks at the Academy of Sciences on teaching science and its applications, i.e. engineering.

Recently a distinguished Mexican physicist, Marcos Moshinsky, died.This year all Mexican children will see his picture on the official school calendar. He used to write a weekly opinion piece in Excelsior, a fine Mexican paper then.

About education he put it simply, we have to teach children to think. This may sound like an oxymoron, or pleonasm. The problem is that what most people think about what think is; is not the same that scientists, like Professor Moshinsky think, think is.

Narrow and Deep, teachers are saying this. I think Prof. Moshinsky will like the sound of that. Now we have to make sure that what teachers think when they read "Narrow and Deep", is similar to what scientists think.

Not Your Father's Shop Class

I'm listening to talks at the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council.

This administration finally got it. Teach Engineering.

I am so glad. I hope I start to get more support for my efforts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bob Mueller

On C-Span I'm listening to the FBI director, successor to J. Edgar Hoover. Organized crime is moving to suburbs and small towns. Does it mean we'll have new Al Capones, moving from Cicero to Warrenville?

Here in Chilpancingo, last night people were asked to take their belts off to check if they were criminals with bad intentions going to the Independence Day celebrations.

This is not good.

This looks more and more like a precursor to a "Children of Men" kind of environment, or The Postman (1997) with Kevin Costner.

First society abandons uncounted numbers of children, then we just run for cover when they come armed with the best weapons man has invented. Oh, Boy.

Energy From Space

This is an old idea which time has come. Put a huge solar cell panel in space and beam down the watts for electrical power, not signals, but real power.

Japan announced a fifteen year program costing twenty one billion dollars to do it.

I see two reasons why this will work now.

Japan is free from US restrictions.

The technology is already done, mostly.

Today Tom Friedman writes in the NYT, that the time for solar energy is now. Several countries are already taking the right steps.

I hope Steve Chu, the Nobel Prize winner in charge of the US Department of Energy is paying attention. He is a smart guy, I'm sure he is.

We are in a bottleneck for humanity, we have been through others in our past, it doesn't feel like Nature is going to lick us now.

I am confident that teaching science and math properly can help a lot in these dire circumstances.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tom Friedman is the man!

This NYT journalist, makes some political calls I don't agree with, like support the war in Afghanistan. But given that I didn't grow up in the US, that is understandable, most people around the world, don't get all patriotic, when this country decides to bomb somebody. Also you should remember, that here in Mexico, Remember the Alamo!, dosen't mean the same as over the Rio Grande.

Before you start to think that my less than overenthusiastic support for the military industrial complex in charge in the USA, and therefore stop reading this. I assure you I admire the entrepreneurial American attitude, and I believe in science and technology helping us to live well on Earth.

Today Friedman (see my Twitter site links down to the right), writes a good note on the future of solar cell technologies. There are countries all over the world, seeing the light, and Tom has been writing this for several years now.

Good work Tom.

Independence Day

Today is a holiday. Almost a hundred years ago a group of Spaniards born in Mexico went to war with Spaniards born in Spain, and convinced many non-Spaniards to die for them. When the war was over, my ancestors, the Spaniards kept the Indians subjugated.

Here in Chilpancingo on September 13, 1813, in the Asunción Church downtown, General José María Morelos y Pavón, from Michoacán, signed what later became the first Mexican Constitution. Slavery was abolished.

Every year in towns and cities all around Mexico we celebrate that beginning on a day like today.

Obviously the war is not over, until more Mexicans are given the respect they deserve.

We have our work cut out for us. Let's get to work.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Is This Possible?

I do have the need to go home in Chicago, as often as possible. That costs money, you know?

My first idea was to get a research grant and do it. Nevertheless this takes time, I am wondering if there are other ways.

People that work for airlines get discounts. I do not know anybody in that position.

What I am thinking, and writing here, is that if I actually lived in two countries at the same time, that makes me a businessman or high rated scientist. Since I am neither, here I am wondering in writing how to do this.

When I am in Chicago I can go to the library, and get reading material that will cost me more here in Mexico. I just feel it will be better to do my work, to be in both places almost every month. I am planning to go to another town in Mexico, almost every month.

The question is then: Is it possible to convince people to support me for being in two countries?

I do not know the answer yet, I feel though that there must be a practical answer to this question.

Eerie Feeling

I am in Chilpancingo listening to WBEZ the NPR radio station in Chicago. Market Place is on. This situation reminds me of my time in Chicago where, while driving my car, I used to listen to these guys. I have a feeling that I am at two places at the same time!

I hope my mind can handle this.

Imagine that you have lived in many countries, and all of a sudden you are on anyone of them at the flip of a switch.

I like this.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Opposites Meet

At this point I am reading The Aleph, Borges' masterpiece with trepidation, because at the same time I found out today that several thousand people met in Chilpancingo yesterday to listen to Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), the real Mexican President (Presidente legítimo). He said that we are at war in Mexico already. At the same time I am running LaTex in Cervantes Quixote, making the textwidth 47 pt, so it is taking forever and it is already in page 2750!

To make matters worse, thousands of - I assume - white folks took over our black President's White House, as he leaves in his helicopter to defend his Health Care Program.

September 11, brings images of President Salvador Allende hunkered in the Moneda Palace at the Chilean capital of Santiago, while airplanes bought by the Chilean Army from the US Government, to unseat a lawfully elected Socialist President, were threatening his life. He eventually died that day. The US said he killed himself, I believe the US killed him, the same government representing then, those same white folks, outside of black President Barack Hussein Obama's White House now.

This is a little nightmare, because it is all in my head. It is a scary image though.

The point of this note, if it has any, is to point out how opposites meet. A leftist Messiah, harangues Mexicans in Chilpancingo, and the Talibans in the Republican Party in Washington harangue their followers.

Which side am I on?

I am with the people, if all those white folks in the US are scared, I am scared, things are breaking down badly. I agree with AMLO, Mexico is at war. Now the rich are poor, and the poor are rich. What I mean by that is that never before did the poor of Mexico have so much wealth, and the traditional rich elites of my country only think in killing poor people, like they have done for over four hundred years now. This time it is not going to work. Mexican Indians are upset, as much as those poor white folks in Washington, and all sitting presidents, Felipe Calderón in Mexico, and Obama in the US, should be scared.

Both systems are broken!

My Quixote in PDF is getting to 3 000 pages.

I am scared.

My computer finished with El Quijote:

End of
Project Guten-
berg Etext
of Don Quixote,
by Cervantes,
in Spanish

I feel better already. With a more reasonable 450pt textwidth, I get:

En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Search for Earth Like Planets

The Carnegie Astrometric Planet Search Program expects to find an Earth like planet in the next ten years, read:

Alan Boss et al.

Self Reflection

I see around me. What does this mean? Somebody says that Semiotic, the symbols, and how we interpret them, can guide us through life, getting more aware of what is around us.

I see myself constantly getting discouraged, I can see shortcomings all around me, mine and somebody else's. Then I telll myslef, but you knew that, what is wrong with you, keep on trucking.

Should I go or should I stay? Eternal Strummer question. He is gone, and I am still around.

What is next for me?


I spent ten years in Chicago, temporarily I am in Chilpancingo now. Friday night, and I am listening to WBEZ the NPR radio station in Chicago. Awesome!

I lived in Puebla Mexico for 18 years, and listened to KTRH, I think it was, from Houston, Larry King came at night when I could listen. Now one gets radio stations from all over the world, AM, and FM.

Radio M. I'm listening to Indian music. Great.

This brings memories and meditations. Where am I from? The short answer is that I was born in Mexico City, but I feel well with folks from different countries. I may be from a group of a new type of human. I have memories of friends from different parts of the world. One world.

Actually my children are Mexican-American. I feel comfortable with that situation, even though at times it has been hard to keep up. Mexico City is cosmopolitan. I had a good buddy from mainland China there; he was struggling with the Spanish language. This weekend my middle school friends are meeting in Mexico City, and I may not be able to go. I guess I should go visit my new grand niece anyway.

With this music I remember Indian friends I met in Santa Barbara California. In Mexico, listening to Indian music coming from Chicago. I just posted a few days back the soundtrack from Slumdog millionaire in this blog. Great movie. Bollywood rocks!

It was funny when in Santa Barbara a physics student from Pakistan saw me for the first time, and started to talk to me in Urdu. That was great. I moved with the Pakistanies for some time, until I found a less crowded living arrangement.

I had an Indian friend, we became so close, that he named his cat after me. He was white, with a blue, and a brown eye.

Tony Sarabia for today he has this:

"57 Artists, 55 Events, 21 Venues, 32 Countries, Seven Days- It's World Music Festival Chicago 2009! Now in its 11th year, the Festival has become one of this country's largest events of its kind, with a gloabl smorgasbord of musical tastes.

This week, Festival organizer Mike Orlove and Brian Keigher join Radio M host Tony Sarabia to share music from some of this year's acts."

Tony Sarabia

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Harry Markopolos and Get Smart

I'm watching C-Span, this is unbelievable. Fifty billion dollars up in smoke, and these gentlemen are saying we didn't ask anybody but Bernie.

This would be comedy, if it wasn't so devastating for those swindled.

Markopolos discovered it, but nobody checked. They did not even ask anybody but the burglar!

Markopolos looks as clueless and smart at the same time as Don Adams, aka Maxwell Smart.

I got an idea for a comedy show, maybe I'll beat Buck Henry and Mel Brooks.

W. tells his buddies: Can you use a SEC with blind mice in charge of investigations? After you feed these rodents in their role as law enforcers, you can buy them and use them as pets in your homes.

That sounds swell W. You are really smart, you know. Give the mice business cards though! The business card idea comes from Max (Markopolos).

I kid you not, some of these lines come from the actual C-Span comedy show, I mean senate hearings.

Oh, I forgot. Give pink slips also.

Markopolos thought of the pink slips. We are in good hands, I feel so relieved now.

Eagles and Turkeys, also made it to the show.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert should put this in Comedy Central.

Great entertainment.

Where is the money that Madoff stole?

I believe in conservation of energy. Fifty billion dollars is: 50 000 000 000 green-backs. Can you dig that, man? I guess if put one after the other they can get beyond the Moon.

He must've spent some, but really, really, I cannot see anybody spending that number of green-backs in their lifetime.

Where is the money?

Fotini Markopoulou

"Geometrogenesis. We do not know much about quantum gravity. We expect it to hold at Planck scale energies of 1022 MeV. This is 1020 orders of magnitude higher than subatomic physics. Our best tests of quantum field theory are at settings of some 1020 orders of magnitude cooler than the physics of quantum gravity. In all other cases we know of in physics, it suffices to change energy scales by much less than that for the studied system to undergo a phase transition. Then two things can happen. First, the system can acquire properties that did not exist previously. This is the subject of emergence. For example, if we cool water we get ice. The order of the crystalline structure of ice is an emergent property of the ice phase. Second, but related, almost always the degrees of freedom we use to describe the two phases are different. An example of this is the comparison of fluid dynamics to the underlying theory of quantum molecular dynamics. The first is governed by the continuity and Euler equations and we use notions such as waves to describe the system. At the molecular level we have the Schrödinger equation and the intermolecular potential. Waves are emergent notions, applicable only at the low energy phase. There are no degrees of freedom describing waves at the molecular level."

Space does not exist, so time can.

The disappearance of geometric time dictated by diffeomorphism invariance may be a statement about being inside the universe and not about whether fundamental time exists.

The ultimate background independent theory is not one where the physics is independent of the background but the one with no background. Background independence means to make no distinction between geometry and matter and to describe the dynamics of the universe as seen by observers inside it. Diffeomorphisms are not about timelessness but about being inside a dynamical universe, affecting it and being affected by it, constituting it.


In the middle 80s of last century John Henry Schwarz doggedly pursued a hunch. Strings were the way to go. Charged point particles didn't make sense in a quantum relativistic description of reality.

I still remember how physicists used to smile when told in the early 70s that everything would be fine if we just lived in more than four dimensions. All infinities would go away if we just broadened our view of space. I guess, after the three to four step given by Einstein sixty years prior, that was not much of a stretch.The Theory of Everything (TOE), was just around the corner.

Also in the middle 80s high temperature superconductivity (HTS) was proven experimentally. If one could just give a set of neat equations to calculate with, we could really get to 300 o K, and start collecting the billions of dollars one could realistically see in a brand new electrical industry.

Here we are twenty years later, we neither have a HTS, nor a TOE theory.

Now come Juan Maldacena, Alexei Polyakov, and a score of new smart faces, and we hear again that at least one of those problems (HTS) may be solved with the mathematical equipment built for the the TOE.

If you want to know what this young men are saying read John McGreevy's lectures delivered in Santa Barbara this summer.

Holographic duality with a view toward many-body physics.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

That is Me on Digg

Eduardo Cantoral (cantoral)
A 60 year-old male from Chilpancingo (MX) who joined Digg on January 10th, 2006

Using Gmail for Blogging

Blogger gives the option of writing from an email account to Blogspt. This is a test.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Cantor and Spatial Dimensions

God made space; the rest is the work of man..

Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor revolutionised our concept of space. One line has the same number of points as a square, or any dimensional object. This comes about when numbers are put into one to one correspondence with elements of infinite sets.

Besides the logical paradoxes uncovered by thinkers after Cantor, we have here a precise construction of multidimensional space. I am more certain about what I understand, than about a space that my senses do not allow me to navigate, be it because there are tiny turns and holes, or because they are made of dark matter that has a very weak interaction with the baryons and leptons I am made of. Those same elements generated in the high temperature ovens we call stars.

Math has and can direct us in our quest of what space is.

fMRI and other medical scanning tools can help us now to understand the neural phenomena that I believe, to the last analysis, will teach us how is it that we construct this three dimensional space that we learn at school.

I feel that we haven't heard the last word on the dimension of space, the nature of the continuum, and several other open ideas that so far we have been smart enough to ask, but not smart, or wise enough to answer.

The Universe is as interesting as it can be.

Busy Work

I am reading an article on superconductivity theory with strings math tools.

Solid state physicists are interested since finally there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel for this old problem. A theory for High Temperature Superconductivity could in principle be worth several millions, if not billions of dollars.

Decades old string theory has not produced much of useful ideas in its life. Maybe this is the time.

John McGreevy wrote a nice set of lectures for a Santa Barbara summer school that you can find at the Los Alamos electronic repository.

At the same time I am doing busy translation work. I am learning about Georg Cantor, but still it is a little bit boring.

Glenn Beck, Peña Nieto, and Berlusconi

Why do inane TV hunchos decide policy?

Because we let them.

My readers may not know these three media stars. What I see in common with them is their hollow disourse and their influence.

Beck: Obama is a Racist, fire Van Jones

Peña Nieto: Mexico will be a superpower under my leadership

Berlusconi: Women are play things

On top of that the sky is falling, Nero, anybody?

Monday, September 07, 2009

Rain in Lake Texcoco

Mexico City's airport is in a lake: Would you beleive that?

Lake Texcoco that is. Many centuries ago Aztecs were following a legend. Settle in a lake where an eagle is devouring a serpent on top of a cactus. I believe the point was to find water, and they did find it!

Yesterday the airport was closed man!

Whoever thought of putting an airport on a lake. The worst part of this story is that over twenty million people live now on top of that lake. Actually the urban area is in parts where there is no lake also, but we shouldn't forget the origin of this human settlement.

Obviously it doesn't rain everyday as it did yesterday; but still one wonders who thought of putting an airport on top of a lake.

Fortunately I got to Mexico two weeks ago from Chicago.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Life Insurance

Today the NYT runs an article on life insurance distribution of risk.

If you pay an old lady right now for her life insurance policy you will make money when she dies.

Does this sound awful?

I hope Sarah Palin has not used up all her credibility and attacks this proposal.

Give your grandma to a Reality Game Show proposal.

Say: Your grandma will die this year.

a) The game show host wins.

b) You win

c) Your grandma wins

d) None of the above.

The whole thing feels fishy to me.

On September 12, Frank Rich wrote:

“The earlier the policyholder dies, the bigger the return.”

Slumdog Millionaire Soundtrack

The Soundtrack to this movie is in:

Slumdog Millionaire

Looking Down from Above

There is this metaphor: In Flatland, inhabitants don't see the third dimension. We live in three dimensions, according to  this notion, we don't see the fourth space dimension.

The truth is that the whole dimension bit is a human construct. Mathematics is the work of man, paraphrasing Kronecker: God made Space; all else is the work of man.

It is the nervous system that structures our eyes' impressions and constructs three dimensions. Some combination of sensorial inputs, puts in time, for good measure; and there you have it: spacetime.

Kant was not completely wrong when he started to search in his mind for some transcendental insight on space and time. They are a priori conditions, he thought. Without them we cannot perceive and then think.

Obviously I have not proved this, otherwise you'll find it in some Neuroscience  refereed publication. Nevertheless I believe that Kant needed better experimental tools, pure meditation was not enough. Already Asian gurus had discovered that much.

The challenge is to take data with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, or some more modern tool and do the observations.

How do we build, three space and one time dimension?

I pose here that, most philosophers and physicists, still believe that spacetime is out there.

I am starting to doubt that.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Jim Hartle Wins Einstein Prize

Congratulations Jim!

Einstein Prize


This week we heard that Japan has a new government. For a few years, some time ago, the ruling party lost also, but this time it seems to be a more permanent situation we are witnessing.

Carlos S. Frenk is a Mexican Astrophysicist working at Durham in England. Today I see two papers Dr. Frenk published with Japanese colleagues. There may not be a relation between these two events, but what if there is?

My brother is also a successful Mexican scientist that has been, monitored? should we say?, by Japanese scouts.

I believe Japan is rightly worried about the ascendance of China.

For several years, they have been in a "recession". The way I see what happened in Japan, is that the US and England imposed their will after Japan lost the last world war.

Now England and the US are in their worst financial mess in recorded modern times, they lost their mojo.

Should my brother start learning Japanese?

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Unexpected Universe

As time passes and I grow old, the world around me seems stranger and stranger.

The standard view is that the Universe started 13.7 billion years ago and now it is mainly dark energy, dark matter, and what we have perceived more easily during human civilization, baryonic, and leptonic matter with their four interactions.

This picture is only ten years old. At this rate in five years time, we will find out that we do not know anything now, i.e., our knowledge in five years will be very different than it is now.

This is an unexpected Universe. As Freeman Dyson has told us, the Universe is as interesting as it can be.


Humans don't have a primacy in record making, and record keeping. All forms of life imprint, and get imprinted by the immediate environment. The environment itself is a set of records.

Marks, records, imprints, and others. These are changes in one object due to the actions of nearby objects. A meteorite hiting a planet and leaving a crater is a record making event. We know that sixty five million years ago a meteorite hit the place now called Chicxulub and the catastrophic consequences are evident all over the Earth. That is how we know about this incident.

History depends crucially on these records. No records, no History.

Oral traditions are not enough, words exist in air for a short time, then they produce marks in the listeners brains, but those records are transitory. Externally written records are better, they last more. History depends on both records, but the artefacts are better. A set of marks on a bone, a fossilized stick, a pyramid, a stele, and so on and so forth.

It is hard to disentangle the meaning in those marks, but it is possible.

We know what happened in the past because of the human discipline of History. This is a scientific enterprise.

Information is the set of records.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Progress in Mathematics

This term I am leading a History of Mathematics course. I started with Teresi's book, "Lost Discoveries" . Given that I come from the Third World, it always mistified me why my ancestors didn't do anything. Not even the Spaniard ancestors were very active in the epic efforts to make Mathematics.

Obvioulsy Greeks are nearby Spain, and there must have been some cross fertilisation. Neverhteless the lion share went to Greeks, and in modern times, French, English, and German.

It is true that even in a given town or country, not everyone is as productive, but I still had the lingering doubt as to what did the different cultures of the world contributed to Mathematics.

History is a non-linear process. Good conditions here, bad there, and there you have it, the English took everything. The poor Finnish didn't have a chance. They are next door neighbours for goodness sake. What is going on? On the other hand some facts are hidden from view for nationalistic and other mean reasons. It seems to me though, that the great Greek contributions are now the property of all humanity, we should thank our Greek brothers for all that work in the few centuries before the Common Era.

The same is happening right now, Singapore, and other powerhouses are getting many prizes in science olympiads. We should all try to compete. This year in Mexico, our high school students got a bronze medal in the Physics Olympiad that my country hosted.

My point is that in the haphazard way of Human History, some came first, but not forever, the Greeks have not being very actively involved, as of late in revolutionising Mathematics.

What is nice about mathematics is that we can all have fun with it, if we play well, our time will come.

I believe there is progress in Mathematics.

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