Friday, July 31, 2009

High on Information

I've felt this before. As my friends know I don't get high on regular stuff. I keep learning and learning, to my head's content.

I just felt high a moment ago. I am in a new town and I hadn't had time to reflect, just sucking in information coming from my interaction with the environment. I just read in the New Scientist, a piece by the memetics creator, Susan Blackmore, she warns us that we may be in the middle of the birth of a third, as yet unnamed replicator. I'll call it here, tene. for third order gene.

The first, R1, was gene, the second R2, gene, and now meet the R3, third, tene.

What will tene do?

Ms. Blackmore is scared, I guess she should be, I am kind of a stupid robot, that hardly gets scared. So I am not.

I think tene, at first will do squat. If nothing else, gene, and meme, will keep it quiet.

But down the road, it may take over. What is it, then, and what will it do?

Ms. Blackmore says that it is the code in the Internet. It keeps the net moving, and nobody is watching the baby grow.

I worked three years at the 5ESS software administration department at Lucent Technologies, under John Dalby. There I found out a monster that nobody even knew existed. Half a million lines of code, keeping the switch running, without anybody, even less John Dalby, knowning what the beast was doing, as long as customers didn't complain about loosing the conversation with grandma.

To me that was a natural phenomenon, and not a bunch of lines of code written in some locked room. That was a living entity that paid my bills, until the big whigs messed up and told me that "my position", not me, mind you, was no longer necessary.

As far as I know, some of my readers, are still getting their calls answerd by grandma, without me taking tapes around Naperville. The thing is alive, I am telling you.

So I do agree with Ms. Blackmore, the tene is alive, still kicking, and very likely will outlive the previous instances of information. Gene, and meme.

I do predict, that those thingies will keep on going.

What will they do? We better learn, tene language and ask them. Don't ask me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Still Blogging

I am afraid some people must've abandoned me after an absence.

I changed towns. Now I am in Puebla, instead of Chilpancingo, perks of the trade, you know. As a university professor I get long vacations, and I am so smart that I spent my free time at another university!

There seems to be interest in my working here. I will post definite changes whenever I find out about this.

I did talk to the LAGO collaboration in Puebla. That seems to be settled. Now I just have to find out about funding.

In any case it feels nice to be wanted even if nothing comes out of it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dennis Kucinich v. Paulson

Newsweek video has a piece I thought I'd never see. Dennis attacking Hank.

Something is going on. Newsweek has an article on Joseph Stiglitz.

Upside down world.

The Newsweek article states:

"As Stiglitz puts it: "Globalization opened up opportunities to find new people to exploit their ignorance. And we found them.""

Video on Wikipedia

Why Science is Important?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Chávez and Nicholas Negroponte

"Negroponte was Bush’s representative at the United Nations, the US intelligence tsar, and finally under-secretary of State. Both he and Otto Reich, using different routes, were behind the coup in Honduras."

These are strong words by Hugo Chavez's mentor: Fidel Castro.

Now the Negroponte Fidel is talking about is John, not Nicholas, but they are brothers.

I do not move at those levels of power, I am just a lowly math professor in Chilpancingo. I can tell you the following, though.

I came back to Mexico last March, from a ten year stint in the US. After trying my luck there as a math professor, and a scientist for a small start up company, I decided to come back home, and do research.

One of my ideas was to start a Guerrero based effort for the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) foundation. I wrote to Prof. Negroponte, and he put me in touch with a Mexican software engineer working from Massachusetts. After that I was put in contact with a Mexican diplomat through an aide. The aide and I talked about the project and I told them of my interest to join this humanitarian effort.

Every poor kid of this very poor state, of a poor country, should have a laptop: Why not?

Then something weird happened. My emails were not answered, and I found out that Hugo Chávez had bought a bunch of netbooks from a competitor to OLPC. I don't think that that helped Negroponte, Nicholas, I mean.

Finally I received a response to a recent email. I invited my contact to Chilpancingo for a presentation of the project at the beginning of the fall semester. He accepted.

Today I went to Sam's, the big American discount chain here in Chilpancingo. Sure enough, they had a $200 netbook there. The gizmos made it to Guerrero!

My guess is that Chávez did not feel well partnering with John's brother, and that derailed my efforts a bit.

It seems that the dust is starting to settle, and therefore: let the chips fall where they may. I hope I get the opportunity to do some good for my country.

I was just an innocent bystander in this epochal shift in the computer industry (read below).

Of course what I write here, could just be the product of my active imagination.

"“Respect for the rights of others means peace”, said Juárez.

Fidel Castro Ruz

July 16, 2009

1:12 p.m."

I wonder if Obama knows who Benito Juárez was?

One Year From Now: 1. Google (SUN)- 2. MS (Yahoo)

I believe that will be the order of importance of these huge businesses, one year from now.

Yahoo and MS have been discussing a merger for some time. Today it was reported that it is imminent.

Why now?

Very likely because Google announced this week it will put an Operating System(OS)/hardware product in the market next year. Intel is behind Google.

This, to me, is the end of the Wintel Era.

For almost two years now, ACER and ASUS netbooks were launched to the market.

Now ACER is third in the computer market, only behind HP and Dell.

This is what I think happened:

Wintel fought with all its might to stop the crucial threshold point, when the cost of the OS is equal to the hardware cost to consumers.

Who will want to pay $200 for OS and $100 for hardware?

As Windows software versions grow, due to MS efforts, they have to charge more to recoup investment. That is their business model (BM). This, I believe kept this moment artificially late. This could've happened two or more years before if only technical reasons were operating.
There were also power issues involved, the Wintel power factor. They could stop this from happening until two years ago.

The perfect storm happened when the world wide recession, made the business as usual growth of bigger hardware and software came down fast. Businesses didn't have the capital to upgrade and maintain the old BM.

That was the end of Wintel Era.

MS is not organized to give away open source software and make money in other ways. Their BM does not produce that.

Survival of the fittest.

I therefore predict, that in the one or two year time frame, other companies, maybe SUN Microsystems and Google, or an equivalent group of companies, to take over in the new computer industry ecosystem.

Google UP

"Schmidt was also bullish about the prospects for Google's cloud operating system, Chrome: "Our focus is building a truly new experience. We do not require each project to be individually profitable. Although Chrome is open source, there will be many opportunities to build profitable services on top of that platform.""

If everybody is going down and Google up; that means that they can loose money with Chrome OS, and still come on top.

"This week, Google had a reply, which basically boils down to: Put up or shut up. "

That comment is directed to newspaper publishers accusing Google of Intellectual Property Rights infringements.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fidel Castro

(Taken from Cuba.cu)

The countries of Latin America were struggling against history’s worst financial crisis within relative institutional order. When US President Barack Obama -- while on a trip to Moscow to discuss vital topics on the subject of nuclear weapons -- was declaring that the only constitutional president of Honduras was Manuel Zelaya, the ultra right-wing and the hawks in Washington were making manoeuvres for Zelaya to negotiate a humiliating pardon for the illegalities attributed to him by the perpetrators of the coup.

 

It was obvious that before his people and the world such an act would be tantamount to his disappearance from the political stage.

It is a proven fact that when Zelaya announced he would be returning on July 5th, he had decided to fulfil his promise to share the brutal repression of the coup with his people.

Travelling with the president was Miguel d’Escoto, the president pro tempore of the UN General Assembly, along with Patricia Rodas, the Honduran foreign minister, a Telesur journalist and others, a total of 9 persons.  Zelaya maintained his decision to land.  I know for a fact that in mid-flight, when they were nearing Tegucigalpa, he was informed from the ground about Telesur broadcasting the moment when the enormous mass of people awaiting him outside of the airport was being attacked by soldiers with tear gas and automatic rifles fire.

His immediate reaction was to request that they took up altitude in order to denounce the events on Telesur and to demand of the commanding officers of those troops that they ceased the repression.  Then he informed them that he would carry on with the landing.  The high command then ordered the landing strip to be blocked.  In a matter of seconds, motorized transport vehicles were obstructing the runway.

 

The Falcon jet made three passes, at a low altitude, over the airport.  Specialists explain that the tensest and most dangerous moment for pilots is when fast, small planes -- like the one carrying the president -- reduce speed for touchdown.  That’s why I think that attempt to return to Honduras was audacious and brave.


If they wanted to put him on trial for alleged constitutional crimes, why not allow him to land?

Zelaya knows that it was not only the Constitution of Honduras what was at stake, but also the right of the peoples of Latin America to elect the people who govern them.

Today Honduras is not just a country occupied by a coup, but it is also a country occupied by the armed forces of the United States.


The military base at Soto Cano, also known by its name of Palmerola -- located less than 100 kilometres from Tegucigalpa and reactivated in 1981 under the Ronald Reagan administration -- was used by Colonel Oliver North when he was running the dirty war against Nicaragua, and from there the US government directed the attacks against the Salvadoran and Guatemalan revolutionaries that cost tens of thousands of lives.


That is the location of the US Joint Task Force-Bravo -- made up of personnel from the three forces -- that occupies 85 percent of the area of the base.  Eva Golinger reveals its role in an article published on Rebelión web site on July 2, 2009, entitled “The US military base in Honduras at the centre of the coup”.  She explains that “the Constitution of Honduras does not legally allow for foreign military presence in the country.  A ‘handshake-like’ agreement between Washington and Honduras authorizes the important and strategic presence of hundreds of US soldiers on the base, under a ‘semi-permanent’ deal.  The agreement was reached in 1954 as part of the military aid the United States was offering Honduras…the third poorest country in the hemisphere.”  She adds that “…the agreement that allows the military presence of the United States in the Central American country can be removed with no notice given”.


Soto Cano is also home of the Aviation Academy of Honduras.  The components of the US military task force are partly made up of Honduran soldiers.


What is the objective of the military base, the planes, the helicopters and the US task force in Honduras?  Without any doubt they are only adequate for use in Central America.  The war on drug trafficking does not require those weapons.


If President Zelaya is not returned to his position, a wave of coups threatens to sweep away many Latin American governments, or these will be at the mercy of the ultra right-wing military, educated in the security doctrine of the School of the Americas, an expert in torture, psychological warfare and terror.  The authority of many civilian governments in Central and South America will become weakened.  Those dark days are not very far back in time.  The military perpetrators of the coup would not even pay any attention to the civilian administration of the United States.  It can be very negative for a president who wants to improve that country’s image, like Barack Obama does.  The Pentagon formally obeys the civilian power.  The legions have not yet taken over control of the empire as they did in Rome.


It would not be understandable for Zelaya to now admit to stalling manoeuvres that would wear out the considerable social forces that support him and only lead to an irreparable attrition.


The illegally overthrown president does not seek power, but he defends a principle, and as Marti said: “One just principle from the depths of a cave can be mightier than an army.”

Fidel Castro Ruz

July 10, 2009

What if War Breaks Up in Honduras?

President Zelaya may be today somewhere inside Honduras.

This could be the beginning of some continent wide revolt against the policies of the US in America.

Ms. Clinton may be taunting war without realising it. South of Honduras the forces fighting against the interests of US business are gaining strength. Even Fidel Castro could go anywhere in a big swath of the continent, if he was well enough to travel. His comrade Ernesto Che Guevara went to Bolivia, with much less support from local forces.

Am I imagining all this? Or is the Obama administration blind?

I hope the political hands in charge know more than I do. But it is not reassuring to see soldiers protecting me on the streets in Chilpancingo.

Willis Tower?

"It is kind of cool though because people who came before can say they came to the Sears Tower before it was the Willis Tower," Sophie said.

Cool, I say also.

Chrome on Linux

I know more adept programmers already have Chrome on their Linux installation. But when I check, I still find:

Google Chrome

Google Chrome for Linux is in development* and a team of engineers is working hard to bring it to you as soon as possible.

Please enter your email address below and we'll let you know when it's released.

What is Going On?

These guys already announced their intention to go to war with the other OS in town.

I guess they want to keep spies out of their development.

Hurry up guys!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Lawyers, Latino or Otherwise

I have a Latino Lawyer cousin, that doesn't know he is one.

He is one of my smartest cousins. Last I saw him, he said he was making a good living in his chosen career.

My brother is very smart also and he is a medical doctor.

Why doesn't my cousin know he is a Latino Lawyer, and why do I bring my brother into this note?

He lives in Mexico, and here all of us are Latinos, it wouldn't make any sense in calling us that, anymore than calling ourselves Mexicans. Almost all of us are Mexicans.

What about my brother? I am thinking of Judge Sotomayor and her brother. In the US, they are Puerto Rican American professionals. I understnad why, they are viewed as such, I am not being disingenuous about this fact.

My point here is that I don't like Judge Sotomayor denying that she said what she said. White Lawyer Graham, from South Carolina; was very insistent in forcing her to accept that she said, what she said.

This went on for almost all his alloted thirty minutes of questioning.

I am sorry, I like my cousin, my brother, and Physics much better.

I remember certain Lawyer from Arkansas, emphatically stating: I did not have sex with that woman.

I guess in his precise lawyer's mind a BJ is not sex. Whatever.

I definitely won't be considered for the Highest Court in the US, after all thise things I've written, that are in the public record.

Let the chips fall, where they may.

Knowledge and Money

As technology moves in the direction it is moving. It will become clear what is the monetary value of knowledge. Today, unfortunately, there are many young people that know more than they are worth. This is an explosive situation.

In France, today is july, 14, Bastille Day. Modern revolutions started around that time. The American one started in 1776, this French one in 1789, a little over ten years later. The Mexican one was in 1810. These were our great-grandparents wars.

Young people now are ready for another one. In France a few months back they were fighting in the streets. Even more so in Greece. Grown ups don't want to face the obvious conflict we have. Old men and women own all the money, and they don't know what to do with it, the kids, have plenty of ideas, and they are put to flip burgers in McDonalds. This is unsustainable.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

Monday, July 13, 2009

Is Ray Kurzweil a New Messiah?

He comes from the Jewish tradition. I find it telling that in this moment of despair for humanity. With death in Darfur, and Sub Saharan Africa. He comes and tells us that we are going to live forever on this Earth.

The Singularity is Near.

End of Times

"The shrinking of the Euphrates, a river so crucial to the birth of civilization that the Book of Revelation prophesied its drying up as a sign of the end times, has decimated farms along its banks, has left fishermen impoverished and has depleted riverside towns as farmers flee to the cities looking for work."

Beginning and end coming together. This is serious people, wake up.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Physics Education

This year Mexico hosts the World Physics Olympiad.

My friend José Luis Morán López is the President of the Organizing Committee. This is the 40th version of this event.

Four hundred high school students from seventy six countries participate.

I wish the Mexican team the best.

As far as I am concerned this is the only way out, from the big crisis the whole world is in. I just wish more politicians felt that way.

Friday, July 10, 2009

UCSB in Need

I never thought I was going to get an email like the one below. When I was in California the wealth overwhelmed me. A young Mexico City man, in awe with all that beauty and wellbeing. Everybody welcomed me with a broad smile as if they had known me forever, I felt I was in paradise.

I had friends that went to the other superpower of the XX century, the USSR. Their dream schools went down the drain before mine did. This is not right.

I can remember the meanness of Proposition Thirteenth spearheaded by Ronald Reagan. That is why I never liked him. I felt that without property taxes, there was no way, that apogee of human evolution was going to last.

Reckoning time has come. Wherever you are Ronald Reagan: Shame on You!

California Financial Crisis.

Date: Fri, Jul 10, 2009 5:10 pm
July 2009

AN OPEN LETTER TO UC ALUMNI AND FRIENDS

At the corner of 13th and Franklin Streets in downtown Oakland, a worn bronze plaque hangs on the wall of a two-story parking garage. Easy to miss, state Historical Marker No. 45 identifies the spot where, 140 years ago, a California miracle began. Here the University of California spent its infancy, occupying a two-story Victorian that had housed one of the state's first colleges. In 1873 the university - after graduating an original class of 12 - migrated to Berkeley and began its rise as a land-grant college dedicated to teaching agriculture, mining and the mechanical arts.

The enterprise, of course, has endured, and then some. Under the stewardship of some great leaders, and with the support of alumni like you and, for that matter, all of California, the University has grown from its humble origins to the point where it now stretches all across the state, from Merced to Santa Barbara, Riverside to San Francisco, Irvine to Santa Cruz, San Diego to Davis, Los Angeles to Berkeley - 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national laboratories, 225,000 students, 55 Nobel Prizes and 1.6 million alumni.

It is to that great army of alumni, along with other friends and beneficiaries of the University of California, that we write today, and we do so with a sense of great urgency - to ask you to become engaged as never before in building legislative and financial support for this great institution.

This is a time of peril for the University we all love.

The UC model - providing universal access to a top-notch, low-cost education and research of the highest caliber - continues to be studied around the globe among those who would emulate its success. And yet, this model has been increasingly abandoned at home by the state government responsible for its core funding.

In the past 20 years, the amount of money allotted to the University through the state budget has fallen dramatically: General Fund support for a UC student stood at $15,860 in 1990. If current budget projections hold, it will drop this year to $7,680.

Moreover, it now appears likely the UC system, in this current fiscal crisis, will be ordered by Sacramento to absorb yet another $800-plus million in additional cuts. Its 2009-10 core budget will be reduced by an estimated 20 percent. This will bring the amount of state investment in the University down to $2.4 billion - exactly where it was in real dollars a decade ago.

In the same time frame, by the way, funding for state prisons has more than doubled, from $5 to $11 billion. It's been reported that, based on current spending trends, California's prison budget soon will overtake that of the state's universities and community colleges.

And so, our work is cut out for us. As one Chairman of the Board of Regents steps down and another takes over, we are asking you, as stewards of UC, to step up and help arrest this slide of support, as quickly as possible. It's often said that it takes 40 years to build up a great university, but only a few to tear one down.

Elected officials in Sacramento who control our core budget must be asked to re-examine their priorities when it comes to future higher education funding. They also need to understand that a fiscal crisis is precisely the wrong time to be putting the pinch on education. Consider what Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote in a recent column:

". The country that uses this crisis to make its population smarter and more innovative - and endows its people with more tools and basic research to invent new goods and services - is the one that will not just survive but thrive down the road. We might be able to stimulate our way back to stability, but we can only invent our way back to prosperity. We need everyone at every level to get smarter."

The core money UC receives from taxpayers, via Sacramento, goes to the nuts and bolts of higher education, everything from paying professors to lighting laboratories. But it also establishes the institutional foundation needed to attract the research grants and endowments that enhance the mission and burnish the University's international status.

Over time it's been money well-spent. Of the more than 4,000 higher education institutions in the nation, only 60 research universities, public and private, have been judged worthy of membership in the prestigious Association of American Universities. The UC has six members. No other state system has more than one.

In turn, the University has given back to California, not only by educating generations of high-achieving Californians, but also through its triumphs of research. From better ways to grow tomatoes to the birth of biotech, from viticulture to cancer treatments, UC campuses have been incubators of countless scientific and product breakthroughs that add quality to California life and invigorate its economy. For 15 years in a row, UC has developed more patents than any other university in the country.

This is what's put at risk as state support shrinks. In the end, there are two choices: excellence or mediocrity. While a mediocre UC might cost less in the short term, over time it will enforce on society its own ledger of taxes. Top professors and researchers will begin to drift away, taking with them the best students. Pools of grant money will recede. The engines of invention will sputter.

To those who complain the university has been bloated, wasteful, we say this is a new day. In the last few years, we have seen the institution reform itself. Under a new administration, it is setting new standards for transparency and leadership. We've worked hard to maintain strong bond ratings, cut spending in the Office of the President by $60 million, and taken additional cost-cutting measures at the campus level. But there is only so much that can be cut. We are no longer chopping at fat and muscle. With the new cuts, as proposed, we soon will be slicing into bone.

And so, there is much at stake and the threat is real. Now is the time for alumni and other supporters and beneficiaries of the University to spread the word that UC excellence must be preserved and nurtured. Please, do whatever you can. Take time to write a letter or an e-mail to your political representatives. Or lend whatever support possible to the UC system or to your preferred campus.

The message - not in just this current crisis, but into the future as well - must be clear: A just-good-enough University of California would not be good enough at all. Mediocrity is not an option. It's time to start fighting back for the UC.

Richard C. Blum, Immediate Past Chair, UC Board of Regents
Russell S. Gould, Chair, UC Board of Regents
Sherry Lansing, Vice Chair, UC Board of Regents
Mark G. Yudof, President, University of California

Bono

"Africa is not just Barack Obama’s homeland. It’s ours, too. The birthplace of humanity. Wherever our journeys have taken us, they all began there. The word Desmond Tutu uses is “ubuntu”: I am because we are. As he says, until we accept and appreciate this we cannot be fully whole."

I write this in an Ubuntu  installation in my computer.

BIOS Information
Vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
Version: 080012
Release Date: 06/14/2007
Address: 0xF0000
Runtime Size: 64 kB
ROM Size: 512 kB

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Is There Something for Me in the Google Announcement?

I felt reinvindicated by Google's announcement. We just need an appliance to use the Internet. We don't need to become computer programmers to keep our home systems in good repair. I felt this more than ten years ago. I guess the time had not come yet. It was necessary to have a believable threat to the status quo, as Google is.

Google is a threat to Microsoft because they have a new business model. Provide services, and the consumer requests services. I use gmail, and Google Docs. With Wolfram Alpha out there, I also get mathematics services. I'm sure there is a sector of the market that needs a whole work station to make money, or discover laws of Nature; but the general consumer needs something else.

I feel that there is an opportunity for me to provide some high tech service and make a living. I do not have a business plan, and that is a huge understatement. I'm just recovering to the fact that the Mountain View company finally threw the challenge towards Redmond.

From the NYT:

"Yet with Google’s latest effort, some argue that the right company has hit on the right idea at the right time."

Protobusiness model:

Sugar on a Stick, to Netbook, to Math Education Software.

It has to be ggod though, there are so many math teaching programs out there it is scary, and challenging.

I noticed weird behavior here in Chilpancingo. Only now my emails were answered by an important contact for my plans. I suspect that big bucks are behind the whole Google bit.  I'm sure I am not the only one that has envision the possibilities of what it is to come in 2010. I hope it happens before 2012, if all that crazy talk on the Mayan Prediction comes true.

MicroSoft RIP

“I’m not saying the shareholders should take their money and run, but this is the beginning of the end of Microsoft as we knew it,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a venture capitalist who has battled Microsoft in posts at Apple and his own computer company, Be."

This quote is from the NYT.

I join Mr.  Gassée in declaring the Redmont Co. in danger.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Was There a Plot to Stop Thin Clients?

Who killed the electric car?
Who stopped railroads development in the US?

Who kept thin clients from the market?

I just made up the name. Maybe other people use the term for something else, I mean this:


A thin client is a consumer appliance for minimum hassle. Who ever read all those manuals for VCRs? Client in this case is web page client. Just render html files from the web. Of course with the ability to upload my stuff to a secure site. Let somebody else worry if my stuff is ever lost. I expect the electric company to supply electricity, and I will expect my Internet Service Provider to deliver the best Internet experience allowed by modern technology.

I wan a gizmo my mother can use and enjoy the new world of the Internet.

Google OS could do that.

Plots by their very nature are unknowable, so I don't really care if some cabal was behind the late arrival of this era changing device. They seem to have lost anyway.

Happy cloud computing,

Joan Baez

Google OS

"Google Chrome OS is the company's first attempt at designing an operating system for more powerful computers. The Google partnered Android has done well for mobile platforms, and it now wants to take the work it has done there, tie it up with the work it is doing on its still-fresh Chrome browser and make the first 'OS for the cloud' – with most of the work being done on the net rather than on the computer."

First OS for the cloud, go Google!

Go Google, Go!

"Speed, simplicity and security are the key aspects of Google Chrome OS,” said Sundar Pichai, vice president of product management, and Linus Upson, engineering director, in a post on a company blog. “We’re designing the OS to be fast and lightweight, to start up and get you onto the Web in a few seconds.”

That is the concept I've been wanting to hear since 1998.

Now it is here. Well by the middle of next year.

China Leaves Due to Political Turmoil

In the G-8 meeting in Europe they couldn't agree on actions to face the end of civilization as we know it.

Maybe it is telling that the Chinese leader had to leave to stop ethnic fires going on in his country.

I am a free thinking man; but I see a gathering storm coming, and therefore heavy handed governments are coming our way.

Something wicked this way comes.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

High Temperature Superconductivity

Many years ago in visits to Santa Barbara, I consulted Prof. Douglas Scalapino about a change of course. From High Energy Theoretical Physics to Condensed Matter Theory. He wisely told me that if I did that I should follow the phenomenological work on the field; the experimental situation is not clear, he said; it is likely that the lack of purity of samples is obscuring the physical behavior. The theory problem I was interested in was High Temperature Superconductivity (HTSC).

I remember him talking to Bob Sugar about the Dirac dispersion relation being relevant for this and other problems. All was mysterious for me.

Now turn twenty five years ahead. I am reading Zaanen et al. from Leiden, where the initial phenomenon was discovered by Onnes almost a hundred years ago.

This is as interesting as it can be.

During the same number of years another development has gone its own happy way independently from HTSC. After so many years of "useless" work, Zaanen et al. tell us that they found a way to connect these two branches of mathematical methods of physics. Through the so called, AdS/CFT connection they were able to solve the "sign" problem for fermions and obtained the long sought dispersion relation, sure enough along the lines that Doug Scalapino thought it was going to come from. A dispersion relation where the energy and momentum are proportional for electrons, as if they were massless.

To add more interest to my story, I should add that John Cardy was around. He became a world leader in the emergent field of Conformal Field Theory (CFT), he is now a full time professor near his alma mater. He studied at Cambridge University, and now he is tenured at Oxford.

If I were able to read the future, I should've taken the whole bunch, to Borsodis, a watering hole near campus; and work hard until we got the thing down.

Life does not work like that though. Many smart people worked on String Theory, Mathematics, Conformal Field Theory, High Temperature Sueprconductivity, and now maybe, just maybe, we may have a solution faintly coming out.

So it goes.

The Edge

We live at the edge. In other installments I have written about this. Now I want to comment on Dr. Edgar Altamirano's radio program here at the University of Guerrero.

Dr. Altamirano reminds us that students are ahead of teachers, and bored.

What are adults going to do?

In a very general way, some of us will do nothing. We hold the strings to the purse. The kids will come to us when they need money. That is mean though, that we can take advantage of the situation. If we do that we may suffer the consequences. The mullahs in Iran now will live in shame because of a kid, posting through Twitter the video of a dying young girl. Whoever is willing to kill their children doesn't deserve to hold the strings of the purse.

Grow up people.

What edge am I talking about here?

Every million years or so, a big rock is supposed to hit us in the head, and take away our grandeur airs.

I had a poll last week about the likelihood of getting that rock on top of our planet, and of the three respondents only one knew about this possibility. I guess that is not the most reassuring thought to bring along inside our heads. The issue is if it is true or not? According to Stephen Hawking and other scientists, that possibility is likely. So much so, that since dinosaurs dissappeared sixty five million years ago, we should've been hit sixty five times already. Maybe that is why there is intelligent life, to the extent there is, in our nook in the woods.

Humans appeared two and a half million years ago. We have been left, more or less alone, all this time to evolve our intelligence.

We can go either way each passing hour, day, week, month, and year. That I call living on the edge.

We are in a state of Mutual Assured Destruction, MAD state. This is the edge, now human made, between existence and non-existence. With Russia and the US nuclear stockpile we can kill everybody we know. That is MAD.

We have to listen to the kids, they don't want to die, we owe it to them, to give them all the tools, as Prof. Altamirano suggests, necessary to save intelligence in the universe as we know it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

PRI is Back in Mexico

This party governed Mexico for 70 years without interruption. Then came the year 2000, a new millennium and PAN took over with Vicente Fox, and now Felipe Calderon.

Well, Calderon lost.

Only two presidents from PAN; they don't make a dent in the entrenched tight control of the real pros of Mexican politics. PRI operatives.

Now what?

I really don't know. Wait and see.

Obama and Medvedev

Stop insanity!

Both ex-superpowers must finally tell the world, this is madness. Mutual Assured Destruction, MAD.

The money saved should go among other things to stop Korean madness, with a bunch of lesser evils, Pakistan, India, Brazil, Israel, ...

Please stop.

Unsolved Problems

You know you have a definitive set of ideas when you can have unsolved problems for years, sometimes even hundreds of years.

You can read in Digg , a first published physical prediction of string theory. High Temperature Superconductivity is a twenty five year old theoretical physics problem.

Now physicsits from Leiden University, where superconductivity was discoverd almost a hundred years ago, claim to have solved this problem.

"Although the mystery of high temperature super-conductivity isn't fully resolved, the findings do show that major problems in physics can be addressed using string theory. And this is just the start, Zaanen believes. 'AdS/CFT correspondence now explains things that colleagues who have been beavering away for ages were unable to resolve, in spite of their enormous efforts. There are a lot of things that can be done with it. We don't fully understand it yet, but I see it as a gateway to much more.' The fact that Science was keen to publish this discovery early confirms this."

Congratulations Leiden Univerrsity! Some one hundred years of continous research in one problem of physics.

Nodes in the Network

Somebody close to me is starting research in networks. Professor Albert László Barabási  at Notre Dame in South Bend, is a world expert physicist working in this field.

A very famous example is the Internet, or net of nets.

Nodes are created equal, but they don't remain so.

As a node I am very little visited :(

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Frank Rich on John Dillinger (Johnny Depp)

"In 2009, too many who worked hard and played by the rules are still suffering, while too many who bent or broke the rules with little or no accountability are back reaping a disproportionate share of what scant prosperity there is. The tepid national satisfaction taken in Bernie Madoff’s terminal prison sentence should be a warning to the White House. In the most devastating economic catastrophe since Dillinger’s time, many Americans know all too well that justice has yet to be served."

Rarely I can't add my five cents worth of wisdom. Hurrah Frank Rich (NYT today)!

GM Mexico

I just read in Time magazine that the exploitation of Mexican workers by GM, keeps that company profitable.

Now I know why science in Mexico is non existent. There are no Mexcian companies, only American ones exploiting Mexicans. They don't need to support research in Math Education.

So it goes.

Following his death, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central gave Vonnegut a small tribute frame before the closing credits with his own famous phrase on death--"so it goes." There was also a short clip of him being interviewed by Jon Stewart, in which he joked that gonorrhea, giraffes and hippopotamuses are evidence of evolution being controlled by a divine power.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Science in a Very Large Universe

" It is no surprise that information about us is required to make predictions for our observations. Our data suggest that we are located some 13.7 Gyr from a Big Bang.  To make a reliable prediction from that information, we have to assume that it describes our physical situation. If the universe is rife with delusion, we must assume that  we are atypical in order to have predictive and testable scientific theories. Indeed, it is only by making such assumptions that we are able to do science in a very large universe. We imagine that even Copernicus would have agreed that it was necessary to assume that Ptolemy was not deluded in his observations of the planets."

Mark Srednicki and James Hartle from UCSB wrote those ideas down.

One of the issues these scientists are addressing is predictivity. A scientific theory must be predictive. Somehow they connect that idea with the fact that our Universe is large. That is a positive statement and may have consequences. We are in the borderline between been the only intelligent life in the Universe, and just been some regular chap in the block. Which one are we?

Is Social Epistemology Predictive?

This philosophical discipline puts emphasis in social determinants to knowledge. Social Epistemology poses that human knowledge is a collective achievement. An individual can in the solitude of his mind discern some "truth". Nonetheless that moment could only have happened if prior to that, he was in a human society. One can assume that what seems like his achievement, is actually the product of the work of several people through time.

Here I am interested in the utility of this position. Can we learn something that we didn't know before, because we believe this?

One possible prediction is that scientific work thus guided, many times will lead us to correct results.

Say: there is an astronomic observatory in a town, then more people will know math after many decades in that town, than in another one without that facility.

This is a scientific prediction, in so far as this can be checked and proven right, the socioepistemological statement is predictive.

What if They Don't Want to Tell Me?

As a scientist I expect others to freely share what is going on. But the world is filled with all kinds, not just the sharing ones. Even scientists sometimes won't share.

Lately I have made some moves to people that I expected would've answered immediately with what I wanted to know. Now I see that a teacher was punished by sharing something with foreign students. Some drone plans or something. It hit me, hey man, you live in the real world. Most humans are limited in what they can personally do, so they tend to make gangs, companies, institutions, countries, and on and on.

They against us feelings soon develop. If they don't want to tell me I'll have to find out by myself.

Size of Things

An important aspect of the education of a physicist is to figure out the size of objects, usually through dimensional analysis. What  is the mass of that mountain overthere? How big is the Universe? What is the entropy stored in black holes in the Universe? So on and so forth.

Paul H. Frampton just estimated that the entropy of black holes make them very likely the DARK MATTER of the Universe, around one fourth  of everything that exists.

Here I estimate the highest energy of GRBs coming from far away in space and time, i.e. high z.

This is like the GKZ bound, on the highest energy cosmic rays, around 10²⁰ eV. Any more energy will make those particles collide with the cold photons of the CMB radiation, and they can only travel around 60 Mpc, i.e. a small z. Right here in a our cosmic neighborhood.

By the same token, very high energy gamma rays, now being measured by the FermiLAT combination in space cannot be very energetic if they come from afar.

So I suspect that LAGO, a cosmic ray collaboration measuring one or more TeV gamma rays on the surface of the Earth, will get only nearby sources gamma rays measured.

Here comes the crux of my point.

The farther these objects are, and the higher their energy is, the more likely is that they will probe the quantum gravity structure of spacetime.

I propose that the size of things is such that it will be hard to measure this quantum structure of spacetime. The farther the source of the GRB is, the more degraded it gets, and the closer in time the different "colors" will get to LAGO, and therefore the harder it will get to prove that we are seeing the planck length or time.

Noam Chomsky in Democracy Now

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Objectivity and Economics

In my Twitter monitor, right down, you can see a link to Paul Krugman's piece today in the NYT.

He has been very clear in presenting his ideas for many years as a political commentator in that newspaper. Nevertheless objectivity comes easier with numbers.

There are numbers now. Unemployment figures are worrying.

The stimulus should be bigger. What is Obama wating for?

Netbooks in Education

I promised to write a series of pieces on The Use of Computers in Math Education. This is the beginning:

Netbooks.

PC World has an article on this section of the industry. I write here on the education part of it.

The OLPC initiative is a good place to start. Prof. Negroponte from MIT is behind this project to bring digital technology to all the children of the world.

Time has come, the visionary OLPC project already is bringing results. In Uruguay the project is on:

OLPC_Uruguay

In Mexico, and here in Chilpancingo we are ready to start in September. Initially I will use Sugar on a Stick. I already installed it and I am learning to use it.

I will also be joining the Cosmic Ray Project:

LAGO

I plan to work on Cosmic Rays Physics and Math Education. There is an open source expertise in this experiment and by integrating it to Math Education work, I expect to get synergy.

The Netbook sector of the computer industry is growing exponentially. Maybe a combination of factors produced this situation, the recession, the lower prices of processors and components, and the desire by consumers to own the latest gadgets. Be it as it may, this is the time to make Prof. Negroponte's dream a reality.

A netbook lives between programmable calculators and laptops, both in capabilities and price. Mathematics Education since very early in life can introduce our Digital Native children to unsuspecting heights,

Unfortunately there are many children in the world born after 1982 that have not had access to these tools. We in the Third World have our work cut out for us.

A few objectives are:

  • Numeracy
  • Arithmetic
  • Algebra
  • Programming
In the modern world, we cannot stop at arithmetic in children education, calculators make that obsolete already. To the naysayers of the world, I say, these children are learning in multitasking ways, we cannot limit them by our linear thinking processes. Yes, if we teach them, as we were taught, they won't learn how to program in a long time; but they don't have to go the way we went. They already use electronic equipment better than most grown-ups do, when these instruments are available to them, they can put even the government of Iran in a crisis state, using Twitter.

The new world has arrived. Let us help our children control it with powerful digital tools!

I personally prefer that they learn programming in an open source platform. You can read a comparison of Windows 7 vs. Linux here.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What If We Take Iran at Face Value?

I was at the University of California at Santa Barbara when the Shah of Iran fell to the "righteous" movement of Khomeini. A Pakistani friend of mine told me that he expected good things from that revolution if they stuck to the teachings of Islam.

More than thirty years later I see that the revolution got corrupted, these pious men are getting money and power, and the country is going to waste.

Since my friend said that, out of respect I did not say anything, but deep inside, since I am not a religious person, I felt that this did not look good.

Now disillusined of all messiahs, atheists like Joseph Stalin, or religious like Khamenei, I only believe in Democracy.

Taking Iranians at face value, they are doing it all for the good of Allah. Taken at face value, there is no problem in the world.

Since there is problem in the world, I cannot take Iran at face value.

What Do I Feel Like Doing?

I tend to wander a lot. Only when the problem at hand seems to me important I stick to it; problem is, sometimes the problems are hard to solve and I don't get anywhere.

Right now I feel like understanding how and why one measures very fast astronomical events of the highest energies. There are some tantalizing indications that the FermiLAT satellite already detected planck scale events. That would be epochal. But then again, those kinds of signals have come and gone before.

Anyway, here I go again.

The Future of Education

Given that students have access to more school information through the Internet and that states in the US are having fiscal problems, like in California, make me think that we have an opportunity here.

My son is home for the summer, after highschool work through the year. I do not feel that bad for not having sent him to an enrichment program, as long as he can use the Internet through a wide band and permanent connection.

Is there a message here?

I think so, We are seeing the dissappearance of a way of learning, and the birth of a more student directed form of learning. Professors like me have to think how to make the best use of this situation.

Paul H. Frampton

"The principal reason for intuitively preferring the present black-hole MACHO solution to the dark matter problem, as compared to any particulate dark matter constituent, is the physical view of an entropy-driven evolution for the universe regarded as an isolated system."
Professor Frampton has been predicting for some time that Intermediate Masses Black Holes are ALL the 24% of Dark Matter in the Universe.
Neat. This can be checked.

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