Sunday, August 30, 2009

Betcha by Golly, wow. The Stylistics


I have written a few notes in this blog with this name. It is a favourite topic of mine, given that I studied Communications Engineering in the late sixties and early seventies.

Now I want to expand my views on Lorenzo Maccone's recent paper commented here earlier.

Information is the set of records.

There, plain and simple. If those records are erased, Information is lost. Energy is conserved, Information is not. They are two different parts on our Universe, and maybe in all imaginable universes.

Spacetime on the other hand has an older place in Physics. Since Einstein's 1915 General Relativity paper, this entitiy has a well established place in the mathematics of Physics. These equations, or programs, as maybe Stephen Wolfram would prefer to consider them, give a precise relation. On the one hand of the equation we have spacetime, on the other energymomentum.

If I would put Information somewhere in those equations, I will be more tempted to put it on the spacetime side. In an even more daring proposal I will put Information above both sides of the equation!

The equation is the set of records.

As John Archibald Wheeler used to say, matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter how to move. I say, without records those two cannot talk.

Records are physical marks on spacetime, give me a spacetime event and there is a set of records. The value of the electron spinor, the photon four vector, and so on and so forth. I have no idea how those records got there, but by golly they are there!

This Year's Commitments

My school year starts tomorrow. I am late becuse I went to see my family in Warrenville.

There are two main areas of interest, Physics and Mathematics.

I will collaborate with the Large Aperture Gamma Ray Burst Observatory (LAGO); mainly with colleagues in the Autonomous University of Puebla. In math education I will continue my work in Chilpancingo, with One Laptop per Child activities based on Netbooks.

I have a full year of activities in Astronomy, for the International Year of Astronomy. I have to finish my telescope and write notes for an introduction to Astronomy using elementary mathematics.

Right now my concern is how am I going to finance this work.

Now What?

I feel that Maccone's result will stick. It was done at MIT, near where Claude Shannon saw the mathematical meaning of Information, and in the place where Seth Lloyd has been endeavouring for years to tame Information. This young man did it.

Now we know that Information exists and is the set of records. Google is increasing at an exponential rate the Information content of the biosphere. More and more records are stored all over the world by this company.

Will there be a phase transition when this amount of information reaches a threshold value?

If Quantum Mechanics is any guide, the threshold may be when the quantum correlation reaches macroscopic proportions. How many Terabytes is that?

Now an exterrnal USB drive of two Terabytes is only $200 US Cy. My son is already running out of memory in Warrenville. A wild guess will then be, more than 1021 bytes. One Laptop Per Child.

What will happen then?

Even considering the electricity to run so many laptops, this number does not seem to be earth shattering.

At this point we may have a first phase transition, maybe with more enlightened Indigo Digital Native Rascals; but that won't be affecting Earth's orbit, nor anything like that.

I know that I do not have a handle on the consequences of Maccone's finding, I'm just trying to figure those out literally as I am typing this note.

The feeling I get is that something is being cleared in my head, but I am still in a haze.

Lorenzo Maccone

The arrow of time problem may have been solved by this Italian physicist.

One has to say that Quantum Mechanics applies to macroscopic systems. In this case correlations define information. No correlations, no information. The next step is to say that no decreasing entropy process is recorded, that is, these processes cannot be known. There are no records of them.

If entropy decreasing events are happening we wouldn't know. We only know of constant entropy (reversible), or increasing entropy (non-reversible) ones.

Information then is the keyword in this solution. Information is the set of records. No records, no information.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How to Say it Nicely?

After my downcrest note before this, now I see my buddy Alan Boss giving a life changing talk at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. He is sure we will find with almost certainty Earth like planets with the Kepler satellite.

After this satellite, he is convinced we will find out life, if there is life outside of the Earth.

Maybe Emma Darwin, the European planet searching satellites, will find it. My mother's name is Emma, and my next niece coming next month will be Emma.

Good work Alan.

Purpose in Life

Today I was walking down the street and I felt that I was not useful. Looking around I saw other people doing jobs I would not like doing, but they are useful.

Now I am readung a paper by Lorenzo Maccone and Seth Lloyd on the arrow of time. It is something like this. We don't see entropy decreasing events. They do happen, but we don't see them. Is this useful?

Even if it is true, it is hard for me to see at this point, how that helps anything. I guess I feel strange because my salary is so low, and I don't even have a paper like that.

I have not done something that will give meaning to my life. I guess I have to keep trying. What is odd, though, is that I even forget that I am looking for insights like that to have a meaningful life.

Keep on trucking.

Back in Chilpancingo

After a few days in the States I am back in my office.

Last week they killed the left party leader Armando Chavarria Barrera. He was a strong candidate for the Democraticf Revolutionary Party (PRD for its initials in Spanish) governor's race in two years. Right now this party is nominally in power, but it is obvious for any naive observer like myself that the party is fractured. It is even thinkable that the current governor is behind the killing.

Tomorrow there is a march downtown Chilpancingo where the widow of the slain leader is to speak. What a welcome!

Another piece of news is that yesterday morning there was a bank robbery two blocks away from my house. These guys run away going towards our campus and disappeared from sight. Isn't all these weird. Hey man, am I in a movie or what?

Yesterday I was still in Mexico City looking for the tomb of a great Mexican physicist: Manuel Sandoval Vallarta ; but he is not buried where I thought he was. I found the tomb of Isadora Duncan though. She never lived in Mexico and didn't die here, but it is rumoured that President Calles was in love with her, and they never erased what seemed to be a prank but some mischiveous characters. Only in Mexico you get such treats of surrealism, or should we call it Mexican Magical Realism?

Paid day passed and no deposot has been made. Maybe Monday. Everything can happen in Mexico.

Welcome Home!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Impossible Meta Universe

I read Karl Popper some time ago. He separates all that is in ideal and material. We know some of what is, and imagine many things that may be but are not, and some that cannot be.

This classification is interesting, but today I write about  some odd coincidences of our existence. I am spiritual but do not belong to any organized church, besides rational scientists groups. Even among my peers lately I have been reading some outlandish thoughts. I will try to put my thoughts in order with this note. I received a little money, so I am allowed to think weird thoughts a little bit more.

 Pedro F. González-Díaz published the idea at the Los Alamos electronic repository of sane ideas, that the acceleration of the Universe, produces intelligent life, and therefore that we are here to get this cosmic aha moment!

This is preposterous, but in the upside down world that modern cosmology has produced, it even sounds real.

On the other hand, Lee Smolin et al. have proposed to follow the math in Plebanski's factorization of gravity to get answers to questions ike these. Forget all that mumbo jumbo on 'we are here, so the world should be this way', and just follow the math. With physical intuition of course. More math and less philosophy.
I love philosophy, but without modern methods, it has lead very smart humans astray. I rather follow the math.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Pedro F. González-Díaz

This Spanish scientist just published in the Los Alamos electronic Archive his most recent work:

Life originated during accelerating expansion in the multiverse

Prof. González-Díaz puts together a set of intriguing ideas about our place in the Universe/Multiverse.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aruna Kesavan

I am amazed!

This Bangalore Indian kid wrote a superb Master's thesis, near her beloved ones.

You can get her thesis for free from:

This is a beautiful piece of work. It indicates that the US is losing its Superpower statue. Forty years ago, Aruna would've gone to Princeton.

We are in a different world.

The World as it Really Is

I was expecting by now to have a more financially secure situation in my life. I find myself instead in an eternal promised land. Somethings are working out well, but all in all, things look grim for me. Besides my own shortcomings, I see a general principle at work here. Intelligent Human Life is not the most common event in the Universe. It is a miracle that humankind got to the 21st Century.

My son just says; get a job here.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two Different Problems?

Obama came to Mexico this week. There are several common concerns between the North American Presidents. One is the loss of sovereignity of Mexico to Drug Bosses, the other is Global Warming.

I believe both issues are related deeply.

Here in Chilpancingo I heard on the radio that everybody knows who burnt the hills in town a few days ago. I asked around, I certainly didn't know who had burnt the hills. I soon found out that drug dealers were planting mariguana right at the edge of town!

This is unbelievable, to get high we are filling the atmosphere with more and more carbon. Carbon the atmosphere cannot any longer assimilate.


International Spelling Bee?

I heard today from NPR that foreign kids had an English Spelling Bee in NYC.

How could it be that when England and the US are having such a hard time keeping their financial superiority, English is studied by almost everybody on Earth?

I am glad I am fluent in English!

Culver City Dying

A studio buried in our memories due to great TV programs and movies; is going out of business.

Was it ever important, or was just our minds?

I'll look into Budhism, or something. The world is looking kind of "Rose Bud". Goodby Citizen Kane.

I guess Orson Welles knew that these are just props.

Making a Living Doing Good and Having Fun

I just read the first installment of Dan Ellsberg new book. You can find it free here .

It is very heart warming. This man is a wise genius. His father was also a moral giant. Most of us feel lucky to have a job, any job. These two men decided to quit theirs, because they were pushing weapons of mass destruction.

I like my job, it is only that I need more money. After listening Ben Mezrich, the Accidental Billionaires' author in C-Span yesterday, I felt that there must other ways of making money.

If I find something, I'll let you know, or not.

Just a Thought

Could it be that I stay in Warrenville and work in Mexico?

It'll definitely help my personal situation. But people are talking about ending schools as we know them, and all that. Next semester I have to teach a History of Mathematics class here in Chilpancingo, and give talks and Gamma Ray Bursts in Puebla. In other words, some people think that my knowledge is relevant, Relevant Science.

Just a Thought.

Dan Ellsberg's New Book

"Which meant for me that our leaders didn’t have the picture, didn’t grasp the significance of the precedent they had set and the sinister implications for the future. And that evident unawareness was itself scary. I believed that something ominous had happened; that it was bad for humanity that the Bomb was feasible, and that its use would have bad long-term consequences, whether or not those negatives were balanced or even outweighed by short-run benefits.
Looking back, it seems clear to me my reactions then were right."

You can find the book online:

Free Book in Installments

He was 14 years old. This boy was wiser at that age than the Criminal that dropped the Bomb. 

Harry Truman. Shame on you Truman, wherever you are!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Catastrophe Averted

Today Paul Krugman writes:

I’m still very worried about the economy. There’s still, I fear, a substantial chance that unemployment will remain high for a very long time. But we appear to have averted the worst: utter catastrophe no longer seems likely.

And Big Government, run by people who understand its virtues, is the reason why."

I feel better already.

Ruby Slippers

I have this odd feeling that all I have to do is simply click my heels three times and repeat, "There's no place like home".

I know many things. I just learned that my friends in Puebla are being treated unfairly. They have done more than they are being given credit for. The powers that be, take away from them, and don't give  much back. I guess I have an anarchist bent.

In any case it does not escape me that I was supposed to do more than I had done. I feel like it is time to claim what is mine.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I just went to the theater yesterday, here in Chilpancingo.

It is so nice to see the real kids from the previous movies, all grown up. I actually read this book, when it came out.. J.K. Rowling did a good job in character development.

She must be a wise English woman, (pardon my fixation with wise Latina woman), not like those parasites in the upper classes like Camilla Parker Bowles, now Duchess of Cornwall. I guess you can see my working class background with these comments. But there, I wrote it.

There is good magic and bad. One has to try to stick with the first. Even though Albus Dumbledore dies, he lives beyond his time, in the children, Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Of course Voldemort stays also as a bunch of "things", aslo known as "Horcruxes".

I take the kids anytime. Who wants to be an old moldy book..

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Centers of Power

I see similarities between several realms of experience. Matter and Energy distribution in the Universe, Human Genome, Biological Neuron Networks, and Internet Connectivity.

I'll start with a famous saying.

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

George Orwell, Animal Farm.

Let us start with the 1998 discovery that the Universe is Accelerating.

The simplest explanation so far given, is that baryon and lepton matter, together with the associated forces corresponds to 4% of all that is. 22% is Dark Matter, and the rest, 74% Dark Energy.

I see a center of power phenomenon here. All the 96% that there is, is there to serve the 4% that we represent.

Now the Human Genome, 97 % has an "unknown function". To me it sounds like dead wood.

Our brain represents the next example. I do not know of equivalent percentages, but I would not be surprised if we only know well a tiny percentage of what our neurons do. There is a often quoted 10% of our brains we actually use, the extra 90% is going out for the ride..

Finally we have the Internet Graph Theory Measurements. All I can tell you about that is that The New York Times, gets more hits, than this modest blog of mine gets.

Now what?

I guess we are facing a similar exponential distribution of links phenomenon. Just like number theory, a là Gauss gives us the Law of Big Numbers. Some, I hope, simple combination of geometry and number theory gives us this seemingly Universal Law, as in the Bible, "to those that have, more should be given".


Friday, August 07, 2009

Twitter, Life, and Cosmic Rays

I haven't been able to post anything in Twitter for two days almost. Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans. I guess I may keep doing Cosmic Ray Physics for some time to come.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Cash for Clunkers

Do we have smart guys running the country?

Are there silver bullets to end the global warming catastrophe looming ahead?

Somehow I expect more from a Physics Noble Prize winner, than cash for clunkers. I don't believe in silver bullets. If they come along, we have one every ten years or so. Email, Internet, Nuclear Energy. They are not that many inventions that really qualify for silver bullets. I guess the president needs all the good karma a succesful ploy can bring. But I expect more from Steve Chu.

I may trade my clunker, though.

Novel About Me

It isn't clear what is holding me down. I was moving fast in life, and then all of a sudden, this writer's block, or something came along. This is annoying. I do know more than most. I know how a lot of things work. Most people I know are happy to get a piece of the picture; I look for the whole picture. This coming Gamma Ray Burst may kill us all in no time, that Near Earth Orbit object may just do us in. This carbon level in the atmosphere is too much. Is anybody paying any attention?

I feel like Woody Allen  in one of his movies. The sky is falling, and nobody is listening to me. Bernie Madoff just made out with several tens of billions of dollars, and all he gets is a slap in the hand, and over a hundred of years in prison. To me the real story is not how much, or how little Madoff was punished, but how many went laughing all the way to the bank, just in front of our noses.

Is it really true that that small joint calling itself: SmartEnterprises, is giving me a hundred grand? With that much dough I can spend a whole year searching for the meaning of life and still have some change left.

It is true that global warming efforts need all the smart gizmos that these enterprises are making, but still, give me a brake, they are just simple applications of well known physical theories. It is like if somebody was getting money for the alphabet! This is too much.

I'll take the money though, maybe I do come out with a real solution to these dwindling resources conundrum we find ourselves in.

Give me the cash, and let the good times roll.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Who Gets to Choose?

I guess most of us live under the impression that we are the architects of our own destiny. But are we?

Besides the classical free will, Quantum Mechanics dicothomy, which is reserved to a few philosophers and physicists; most of us wonder if we are pulling the strings or something or somebody else is?

I feel that right now.

There seems to be an opportunity opening for me. In the best of cases, I could have enough money to pursue my life passion. Discover truth. But life being what it is I see things moving more haphazardly.

After coming back to the place I left ten years ago, I find it more to my liking. Maybe I even regain my position here. I feel like I am inside of a novel. I'll write the draft of the novel in my next instalment.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"Germán Martínez Hidalgo"

In memory of a great friend, we'll have activities in September and October. Germán Martínez Hidalgo was a teacher, a scientist, a philosopher, and a popularizer of Science, mainly Astronomy.

Greetings to all those interested in these subjects.

Quest (Based on a Ray Bradbury Story)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Physics Department, University of Puebla

I came here many years ago. This place then, was not that different from the place I work now. I was close to get a Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of California. Nothing was happening.

Thirty years later I am back. The place is different.

Besides expected changes: some friends are dead, the children of friends are active scientists now. I see a change I want to record here.

This did not have to happen but it did. This is a budding international physics center. So much so, that I would feel honored if they take me back.

The difference was made by a few good students that went ahead to learn the trade in high learning centers.

I will choose two examples, one a program in Astrophysics, and the other in laboratoy based High Energy Physics.

There are at most two principal scientists based in Puebla. I see a bright future for both groups.

Why do I think this?

First, because they are doing what I wanted to do then. Second, because now they have students, as I did then.

These students, will have students, and so on and so forth. The flame was lit.

This result depended and several factors coming together well. A loan from the World Bank, a government that understood the need to bring Mexico to the XXIst century, and a population in the State of Puebla, that supported these efforts.

By no means, is it assured that going forward all these supports will be maintained.
What I do know is that these mature scientists will continue to do what they have so far tried to do.

The head of the Astroparticle group got a doctorate, and postdoctorate in Mathematical Physics. Now he has shown an uncanny ability to bring together people from different walks of life to work for the pursuit of scientific efforts. The head of the laboratoy based group, was one of my two best students when I first taught here. He has doggedly pushed to be recognized as a leader of this group, by the members of the group, and his peers in other groups.

Now I hope I can join their efforts for the good of science.

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