THE ROSS BLOG
AR   2022-11-28
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EU
www.MarchForRejoin.co.uk
 

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Trans Christ

Trinity College Cambridge:
In a chapel address, a former
student of Rowan Williams
suggested Jesus Christ had
a "trans body" and said the
"spear of destiny" wound
was like a vagina.
A worshipper: "I left the
service in tears."

 

2022 November 28

Russia Wins by Losing

Timothy Snyder

My friends in Kyiv urgently need anti-drone defense. The Russians are trying to freeze millions of people out by destroying the power grid.
Ukrainians have no electricity and no water. Their extraordinary physical courage and ethical commitment reminds me of Leszek Kołakowski's definition of an ethical act as something more than anyone could have expected of you.
I met Volodymyr Zelensky in September. We talked mostly about philosophy and the meaning of freedom. He said freedom sometimes means having no choice, like when he decided to stay in Kyiv when the invasion began in February.
The Kremlin narrative is wrong. When you answer propaganda directly, you get into an unpleasant dance with the propagandists. The history of Ukraine is more interesting than the propaganda.
Many expected Ukraine to collapse within days after Russian tanks rolled in. Things that seem technical and objective, like the evaluation of a war, can often depend upon subjective things, like whether we believe a country is real.
To become a normal European country, you need to lose your wars. Russia needs to lose this war. The whole invasion is a substitute for the internal changes Russia needs to make. Russians still see negotiations as a pause to regroup and attack again.
Meaningful negotiations can only begin once Ukraine has won the war. We need to help the Ukrainians win.

AR We do, but ..

 

UK Housing Crisis

John Harris

The 2019 Conservative manifesto promised to trigger the building of 300,000 new homes a year.
The UK has a shortage of homes for social rent, and pitiful numbers are built each year. Tory rebels now want to make housing targets advisory rather than mandatory, get rid of the presumption for development, and let councils ban building on green belts. They seem set on making nimbyism the governing principle of British society.
Objecting to concreting over huge chunks of countryside and obliterating natural habitats is not evil. Too many new projects are cheaply constructed, lack community amenities, and are no help to pensioners or single people. New development can deepen the problems of places where services and infrastructure are in decay.
If we fail to maintain the stuff that keeps the UK running, our future becomes impossible.

AR Endgame UK ..

 

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2022 November 27

The Inward Turn

Matthew Syed

To share is now to talk with others about one's thoughts, feelings, or experiences.
For most of the period since the scientific revolution, the emphasis was on engaging with external reality to solve collective problems. Shared empirical standards and objective conceptions of truth sat behind the transformation in economics and technology that created the modern world.
In recent decades, there has been an inward turn, from the outer world to the inner self, from external reality to subjective feelings. We used to take photos to remember events or vistas. Now we take selfies.
The inward turn might help to explain a transformation in political debate. If my focus is inwardly directed and my self-esteem requires me to be right, I may be more disinclined to engage with other points of view, more likely to feel offended when someone disagrees with my opinions.
The danger comes when lived experience trumps data on matters of fact. The inward turn takes us away from shared reality. Academic subjects that prioritise feelings above data are now being taught in UK universities and even schools.
Brexit illustrates the inward turn. Leave voters use subjective feelings to justify their decision, even in the face of objectively worsening evidence. We may be poorer, they say, but we have control over our economy and our borders. The feeling of control has left us adrift among external events.
When truth becomes subjective, we become marooned on solipsistic islands. Descartes said we cannot be certain of anything beyond ourselves. Wittgenstein said language, science, and truth can emerge only when we transcend the self and connect meaningfully with others.
Left unchecked, the inward turn could one day destroy our civilisation.

AR Wise words.

 

NK ICBM
AP
NK leader Kim Jong-un and his daughter Ju Ae with soldiers in front of a Hwasong‑17 ICBM
 

Kim
AP
Kim Jong-un, Ju Ae

 

NK Nuclear Threat

The Observer

Kim Jong-un says North Korea aims to build a powerful nuclear force. He calls the Hwasong‑17 ICBM the "world's strongest strategic weapon" and says it demonstrates NK resolve and ability to build the world's strongest army to protect the dignity and sovereignty of the state and the people.
Kim says NK scientists have made a "wonderful leap forward in the development of the technology of mounting nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles" and are expected to expand and strengthen the NK nuclear deterrent rapidly.
Capable of reaching the US mainland, the Hwasong‑17 launched on 19 November prompted a US call for a UN security council presidential statement to hold NK accountable for its missile tests.
The NK Supreme People's Assembly recently awarded the Hwasong‑17 the title of DPRK hero and gold star medal and order of national flag 1st class for proving to the world that the DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear power capable of standing against the nuclear supremacy of US imperialists.

AR No joke.

 

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AP
President Zelensky hosts
international summit in
Kyiv on food security

 

2022 November 26

The Meaning of Thought

Markus Gabriel

Philosophy is the most general way of thinking about our thinking. It is more general still than mathematics, which is itself a form of language and thought that serves as a foundation for the natural sciences and technology ..
Naturalism is the view that all genuine knowledge and progress can be reduced to a combination of natural science and technological mastery of the survival conditions of human beings. Yet this is a fundamental error, a dangerous delusion, which haunts us in the form of various ideological crises ..
New Realism is my proposal for overcoming the basic intellectual errors to which we continue to succumb, much to the harm of our society and our own humanity.
I will introduce you to the notion that .. our thought is a sense, just like sight, taste, fearing, feeling or touch. Through thinking, we touch a reality accessible only to thought .. I argue the case for giving our thought a new meaning, in the sense of a new direction.

AR Quoted from the preface.

 

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2022 November 25

Sentience

Philip Ball

Nicholas Humphrey says sentience is a higher form of consciousness. In cognitive consciousness, the mind is merely aware of stimuli that influence behavior. In sentient or phenomenal consciousness, these perceptions are accompanied by subjective feelings some call qualia. Others consider sentience as a mere buzz of awareness.
All consciousness might once have been cognitive: Senses informed actions, but their signals weren't presented to the self along with corresponding qualia. Perhaps most non-human animals might have minds like this. We have little idea if that is the case.
Phenomenal consciousness changes everything. Humphrey: "It's an invention so sublime that, if it were to cease to exist, it would indeed diminish the whole of creation."

AR OK, phenomenal consciousness = sentience.

 

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2022 November 24

Apocalypse Soon

Michael Robbins

Expecting the apocalypse is an American pastime.
Nuclear warheads may or may not fall from the skies. Ditto Jesus. But the planet will get hotter. Within the limits of history, there is no solution, whether we look to climate accords or philanthropic billionaires.
The crisis cannot be resolved from within the institutions that gave rise to it. The oil companies will not stop drilling unless we force them to. The state guarantees the property relations that got us into this mess.
What comes next could well be even worse.

AR Ooh, goose bumps!

 

Record UK Migration Numbers

The Times

Net UK migration rose to half a million this year, the highest level on record. The ONS says total immigration reached an estimated 1.1 million in the year to June. An estimated 560,000 people emigrated, leaving net migration at 504,000 for the year.

AR Another Brexit nonsense exposed.

 

Johnson Claim: German Reply

Patrick Wintour

Germany dismisses claims by Boris Johnson that before the Russian invasion of Ukraine it said Ukraine would be better off folding than getting stuck in a long war.
Spokesperson for Chancellor Olaf Scholz: "We know that the very entertaining former prime minister always has a unique relationship with the truth; this case is no exception."
Johnson said EU nations rallied behind Ukraine only after the invasion. He promised on the eve of the invasion that the UK would back Ukraine.

AR Many were pessimistic at first.

 

Crisis
Crisis
 

 

2022 November 23

Russia 'Terrorist Regime'

Jennifer Rankin

A large majority of MEPs have approved a resolution in the European Parliament saying Russia is "a terrorist regime as a consequence of its deliberate physical destruction of civilian infrastructure and mass murder of Ukrainian civilians with the aim of eliminating the Ukrainian people" and urge EU27 member states to make the same designation. The EP cannot compel EU governments or the European Commission to follow its policy recommendations.

Initial European response was disastrous
Boris Johnson

The Russian invasion was a huge shock. We could see the battalion tactical groups amassing, but different countries had very different perspectives.
The French were in denial right up until the last moment. The German view was at one stage that if it were going to happen, which would be a disaster, then it would be better for the whole thing to be over quickly, and for Ukraine to fold. I thought that was a disastrous way of looking at it.
Soon everybody saw that you couldn't negotiate with Putin. I pay tribute to the way the EU has acted. They have been united. The sanctions were tough. If Ukraine chooses to be a member of the EU, they should go for it.
President Zelensky is a very brave guy. I think the history of this conflict would have been totally, totally different if he hadn't been there.

AR The pain in Ukraine is Putin down the drain.

 

Britain: Poverty Everywhere

Paul Mason

Jeremy Hunt salvaged the British economy by borrowing.
Public sector funding will be eaten both by inflation and by spending cuts. Families will see their living standards fall. Ahead loom the hardest two years in living memory and the sharpest GDP decline in Europe next year.
The Conservative party has failed as a trustworthy steward of government. Hard Brexit has turned it into a Utopian cult. Business investment has cratered, and trade is no longer driving growth.
The Conservatives have presided over a disaster. Free market growth ran on cheap credit. Cheap credit crashed the banking system. Austerity eroded social solidarity. Brexit created trade friction. Tories doubled down on economic nationalism, crass xenophobia, and legalized corruption.
There is poverty everywhere in Britain.

AR Mason isn't exaggerating: it's shocking.

 

2022 November 22

UK Low Prospects

Financial Times

The UK economy is set to be the worst performer in the G20 bar Russia over the next two years, says the OECD. Its latest economic forecasts UK GDP will fall 0.4% in 2023 and rise 0.2% in 2024, a longer and deeper downturn even than the forecast for Germany, whose economy is vulnerable to high energy prices. OECD acting chief economist Alvaro Santos Pereira says the economic adjustment under way in the UK has compounded concerns about low UK productivity growth.

Britain still needs the EU
Rafael Behr

The UK needs a functional relationship with the EU. But dependency on the single market offends the sacred core of Brexit. Tory hardliners reacted with fury to rumors that the government was mooting a Swiss model.
Ignorance or misrepresentation of the single market was the binding thread in a triple fallacy in the economic case for leaving the EU:
  Europe was dismissed as the dotard of the global economy
  Britain would retain the benefits of the single market anyway
  The cost of regulatory compliance with EU rules was too great
Rishi Sunak cited all three in an article explaining his decision to vote leave in 2016. Now we know Brexit is a drag on UK economic performance. That fact is taboo, so it leaks out as a rumor about a Swiss model.

AR Ah, Brexit ..

 

AR
AR
Wareham Forest, 2022-11-22
 

Brexit

 

2022 November 21

World Still on Brink

Fiona Harvey

The COP27 final agreement offers poor countries financial assistance for the rescue and rebuilding of vulnerable areas stricken by climate disaster. Other commitments were dropped from the deal, at the behest mainly of Saudi Arabia and other petro-states.
COP26 UK president Alok Sharma tried at COP27 to go further but failed: "Emissions peaking before 2025 .. Not in this text. Clear follow-through on the phase down of coal. Not in this text. A commitment to phase out all fossil fuels. Not in this text."
UN secretary general António Guterres: "Our planet is still in the emergency room. We need to drastically reduce emissions now."

AR Tragedy of the commons.

 

No to Swiss Model

Rishi Sunak

Under my leadership, the UK will not pursue any relationship with Europe that relies on alignment with EU laws.
I believe in Brexit. I know that Brexit can deliver and is already delivering enormous benefits and opportunities for the country:
  On migration, we have proper control of our borders.
  On trade, we can open up our country to the world's fastest growing markets.
  On regulation, we need regulatory regimes that create the jobs and growth of the future.

AR Another dud PM: Next please!

 

The Brexit Disaster

Martin Fletcher

Support for Brexit nationwide has fallen to a record low, with 56% saying we were wrong to leave and a mere 32% saying we were right. As the economy implodes and the UK makes common cause with the EU in the war against Russia, Brexiteers are losing the argument.
Economic and business leaders are becoming more vocal. The CBI urges the government to seek better relations with the EU. The OBR says Brexit has had an adverse impact on British trade. Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey says Brexit is damaging the economy.
Paris has overtaken London as Europe's largest stock market. India has overtaken Britain to become the world's fifth largest economy. Asylum seekers cross the Channel to the UK in record numbers. The NHS is close to collapse. The US trade deal never happened.
Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt know all this and are changing course. They are considering a relaxation of post-Brexit immigration limits. They are seeking rapprochement with the EU and Ireland to resolve the dispute with Brussels over the NI protocol.
A Conservative prime minister called the 2016 referendum. A Conservative prime minister led us out of Europe. Conservative zealots forced the hardest possible Brexit. The Tories inflicted on Britain the greatest act of economic self-harm in living memory.

AR Rishi, take note!

 

New SI units

New Scientist

The International System of Units (SI) has had additional numerical prefixes confirmed by a vote at the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) in Versailles, France.
The CGPM member states voted for the two new prefixes for numbers with 30 or 27 zeros. The last expansion of the system was in 1991, for numbers with 24 or 21 zeros.

Prefix exp 10   Prefix exp 10   Prefix exp 10   Prefix exp 10
quetta +30   ronna +27   yotta +24   zetta +21
quecto −30   ronto −27   yocto −24   zepto −21

AR 1 solar mass = 2 × 1033 g = 2 ronnatons and mass of Jupiter = 2 × 1030 g = 2 Qg

 

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2022 November 20

Britain Eyes Swiss Model

The Sunday Times

Senior government figures are planning to put the UK on the path toward a Swiss model for relations with the EU, with more liberal EU migration, payments to the EU budget, and a greater role for the ECJ in the relationship.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt: "I think having unfettered trade with our neighbours and countries all over the world is very beneficial to growth. I have great confidence that over the years ahead .. we are able to remove the vast majority of the trade barriers that exist between us and the EU."
Former Brexit negotiator Lord Frost: "Any approach requiring the UK to align with EU rules to get trade benefits, whether as part of a Swiss-style approach or any other, would be quite unacceptable."
Tory ERG hardliners fear the government will give ground to resolve the row over the NI protocol. A deal could see the EU drop most of its checks on goods passing between GB and NI if the UK takes a less ideological position on the role of the ECJ in NI.
A Downing Street source: "Rishi wants to get this sorted as quickly as possible. There's definitely a deal to be done .. He's not going to be giving up stuff that he and the party would not be happy with him giving up."

AR Better, but still not enough.

 

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2022 November 19

UK−EU Relationship

Helene von Bismarck

The relationship between the UK and the rest of Europe has stopped getting worse. In the sad world of UK−EU relations, this is progress.
The change is due to the threat to European security. Putin's war against Ukraine has rendered a central narrative for Brexit untenable. Until then, the "will of the people" demanded leaving the EU to go for Global Britain.
The UK remains primarily a Euro-Atlantic power. When war broke out on the continent, Britain stepped up its military support for Ukraine. The war and the resulting energy crisis show it is impossible to escape geography.
Politicians and officials from the UK and Europe now meet much more frequently than they have in years. This helps rebuild trust and connections. But the improvement will be limited while the UK remains outside the EU.
Along with NATO, the EU is the main organization countering the threat from Putin's Russia. All Europeans should stand together.

AR Sad that this needs saying.

 

Sunak, Zelensky

AP

  YouGov

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Quantum AND Gate

Charles Q Choi

Quantum computers require that all their logic operations be reversible.
The NOT operation is reversible, but the AND gate is a challenge: A workaround uses an ancilla qubit for each AND gate to hold the data to reverse the operation.
Present quantum computers run on noisy platforms with only a few qubits and are prone to errors. It would be hard to design and build hardware for extra ancilla qubits.
Chinese researchers have made a new quantum AND gate with no need for ancilla qubits. Its qubits can encode a third state holding the data to reverse the operation.
The researchers ran their quantum AND gates on a superconducting quantum processor with tunable-coupling architecture and used them to make Toffoli gates.
Quantum computers with Toffoli gates are functionally complete.

AR I find this important.

 




Cox

 

2022 November 18

UK Recession

Financial Times

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement heralds the most austere package of revenue-raising and spending curbs for more than a decade. The market reaction suggests the £55 billion belt-tightening, though backloaded, managed to placate investors.
UK living standards are set for their biggest fall in six decades. The UK economy will regain its pre-pandemic level only by the end of 2024. UK growth problems remain chronic.

AR Blame Brexit.

 

Our Typical Cosmos

Charlie Wood

We think space inflated rapidly just after the Big Bang. To explain its gentle growth ever since, we guess our universe is just one among many in a multiverse.
A new calculation suggests our universe is the way it is because other options are extremely improbable. We calculate the entropy of our universe using a path integral technique that reveals a link with thermodynamics.
Thermodynamics describes a system of many parts as being in a macrostate and each specific configuration as a microstate. The number of microstates behind a macrostate defines its entropy. The higher the entropy of a macrostate, the more likely it is.
In thermodynamics, we add up all possible configurations of a system. And with the path integral, we add up all possible paths a system can take. But thermodynamics deals in probabilities, which are positive numbers, whereas the path integral assigns a complex number to each path.
We use math. Transform time from t to it (a Wick rotation), and in the path integral the complex numbers become real probabilities. Replace t with the inverse of T (temperature) to get a thermodynamic equation.
A black hole has entropy proportional to the area of its event horizon. A path integral adds up ways spacetime can bend to make a black hole. Wick-rotate the black hole by setting t to it and see that in the imaginary time direction, the black hole periodically returns to its initial state. This periodicity lets us define its temperature and entropy.
Wick-rotating an empty, expanding de Sitter spacetime with a horizon, we find that a de Sitter universe has an entropy. To define it, start at a center, add a surface between the center and the horizon, then shrink it until it reaches the center and disappears, to show that de Sitter entropy is proportional to the horizon area.
Adding radiation and matter to de Sitter spacetime still lets us Wick-rotate the universe. Looking at the expansion history of a realistic class of universes gives us a better equation for cosmic entropy. The calculation for a universe filled with matter and radiation give us a much larger number of microstates, proportional to volume and not area.
Almost all the microstates look like our universe.

AR So much for the holographic universe!

 

NYT
NYT
 

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2022 November 17

UK Autumn Statement

BBC News, 1230 UTC

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has presented his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons, revealing tax rises and spending cuts worth billions of pounds aimed at mending UK finances.

AR At first blush, heard live, it sounded good.

 

Trump Controls Representatives

Sidney Blumenthal

On January 3, Donald Trump will become the de facto speaker of the House. When Nancy Pelosi passes the gavel to Kevin McCarthy, the power will be in the hands of Trump. From his gilded tropical palace, he will phone dictates to acolytes who do his bidding.
McCarthy will obediently issue blanket approval for House committees to launch a thousand inquisitions. Secretaries of state will be pressured. Biden administration officials will be subpoenaed. Military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine will be squeezed.
After the January 6 committee is disbanded, the House judiciary committee will target the Department of Justice. Trump and his allies will intensify their charges that the justice department is "weaponizing" the law. Trump won't fade away.

AR We need to stay alert for 2 more years.

 

TRUMP TO RUN

"In order to make America
great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candi­dacy for president of the United States."

AR  Make America
GAGA  😁
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2022 November 16

Brexit

Rafael Behr

American democracy had a near-death experience with Donald Trump, and the Conservative party went along with him. The British right slid into sycophantic orbit around Trump, far beyond a basic duty of maintaining transatlantic relations.
The two countries separated by an ocean are culturally dissimilar, even when their politics are in sync. One big difference is that Trump could be removed from office by operation of the normal electoral cycle. Britain is stuck with Brexit as a legal fait accompli.
Within two years of the deal being signed, its author was revealed to be a congenital liar and evicted from Downing Street. But the exposure of Boris Johnson as a serial political fraudster did not undo his biggest fraud.
The pretense that it was anything else is getting harder to sustain even for Tories who keep the Johnsonian faith. While trade realities are battering the economics of Brexit, Vladimir Putin has stripped bare its strategic folly with his war in Ukraine.
The Kremlin pumps money into movements that destabilize western democracies. As a project intended to disrupt the EU, Brexit was its sort of mission. Too many Tories were enjoying the dance to ask who was clapping along or paying the piper.
The British return to diplomatic sobriety is welcome if it means an end to foreign policy drunk-driving. But Tories were at the wheel when the UK was steered into a ditch.

AR Sad but true: ALBION

 

Artemis
NASA
SLS rocket carrying Orion spacecraft launches on Artemis I flight test from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 2022-11-16, 0147 ET
 

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Relativity

Sean Carroll

We live in spacetime. Slicing it up into space and time is merely a useful human convention. We can better understand this by seeing what a unified spacetime implies.
The theory of electromagnetism assigns a special role to the speed of light. To understand this, Albert Einstein came up with a new conception of space and time in his theory known as special relativity.
He posited that the speed of light is an absolute speed limit and that everyone measures that speed to be the same, no matter how they are moving. Special relativity is the theory of a flat spacetime.
In relativity theory, an event is a single point in the universe, specified by locations in both space and time. Think about a journey between events A and B and ask how much time elapses between them.
Time is both a coordinate on spacetime and the duration you experience going from A to B. You can measure the duration by a clock you carry with you. This is the proper time along the path, and it depends on the path you take.
In space, a straight line describes the shortest distance between two points. In spacetime, a straight path yields the longest elapsed time between two events. That flip distinguishes time from space.
A straight path in spacetime is both a straight line in space and a constant velocity of travel. We can go between A and B in a straight line at constant velocity, or we can zip back and forth.
Straight paths in spacetime take the longest possible time. Paths of greater distance take less proper time. Einstein saw that.

AR As clear and simple as can be.

 

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2022 November 15

Earth Hosts 8 Billion Humans

The Times

The UN projects that today the human population on Earth will pass 8 billion.

COP27 
The Guardian

Climate change is a global problem. But many wealthy nations are reinvesting in oil and gas, failing to cut emissions fast enough, and haggling over aid to poor countries.
Since COP26, countries have only promised to do 2% of what is needed to stay on track to keep temperatures within 1.5 K of pre-industrial levels.
A gold rush for new fossil fuel projects is cast as temporary, but humanity must end its addiction to fossil fuels.
Developing countries need $2 trillion annually to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and cope with climate breakdown. Rich countries emit half of all greenhouse gases and have a duty to help.
Earth risks being trapped in fossil-fuel dependence by a rearguard action of big business. The ecological emergency demands radical thinking.
The UN Framework Convention on Climate Change provides a target to stave off an existential risk to humanity.

AR Too many people.

 

Charles
Crown
Charles, 74 today

 

2022 November 14

The Great Filter

The Times

Threats such as nuclear war, climate change, and pandemics could finish off humanity before we discover other intelligent life. This may explain why we have still not met any extraterrestrials.
CalTech astrophysicist Jonathan Jiang et al: "We postulate that an existential disaster may lay in wait as our society advances exponentially toward space exploration, acting as the Great Filter: a phenomenon that wipes out civilizations before they can encounter each other, which may explain the cosmic silence."
Enrico Fermi posed the Fermi Paradox in 1950 when he pondered not meeting space aliens and asked: "Where are they?"

AR I have often had similar thoughts.

 

Invasionsgefahr

Der Spiegel

Der ranghöchste deutsche Militär hält wegen der russischen Invasion in der Ukraine einen grund­legenden Strategiewechsel der Bundeswehr für notwendig.
Bundeswehr Viersternegeneral Eberhard Zorn: "Angriffe auf Deutschland können potenziell ohne Vorwarnung und mit großer, gegebenenfalls sogar existenzieller, Schadenswirkung erfolgen."
Mit den Leitlinien setzt er die von Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz angekündigte "Zeitenwende" nach dem russischen Einmarsch in der Ukraine konkret um.


AR I think this is a logical outcome.

 

Poland and Ukraine

Anna Gromada, Krzysztof Zeniuk

Democracies want Ukraine to win. Autocracies want it to lose. But the real world is not so binary. Democracies are divided into English-speaking, western European, and eastern European.
Poland and the Baltic countries want Ukraine to win. This would soothe an old angst. Over the past 600 years, Russia and Poland have waged more than a dozen wars.
Victory in Ukraine would probably spill over into regime change in Belarus. A united region across eastern Europe, with the human and economic capacity of more than 100 million citizens, could offset the dominance of the old Rhineland in the EU.
Kremlin rhetoric treats Ukraine as a repository of Slavic peasant folklore. In fact, Ukraine hosts swathes of unexploited natural resources, a potential for green electricity, fertile soils, a space and aviation industry, and political leaders who command respect across Europe.
Tapping into that potential requires economies of scale, transparent institutions, and capital investments. Curbing corruption and the power of the oligarchs is very much on the agenda of the Zelensky administration. With victory, investment money would flow.
Poland and Ukraine are much poorer today than France and Germany. But the US is already pumping money and technologies into eastern Europe. In return, it expects influence and clarity on China.
Western Europe once had Russian energy, Chinese markets, and American security. Now the first pillar is gone and the second may be the price to pay for the third.
France and Germany currently endorse a policy of strategic autonomy for Europe. Putin has pushed the goal of a Eurasian union stretching from Vladivostok to Lisbon. Both strategies share an aversion to Anglo-Saxon dominance in Europe.
Many Americans seem to hope that a Russia standing on its feet can eventually pivot against China. In eastern Europe, this idea is greeted with horror. It has been tested too many times with Putin.
All major Polish parties support Ukraine. They want to see Ukraine emerge from this war as a star and Poland as the undeclared winner.

AR This perspective looks good to me.

 

AR
HR
Me, 73 today

 

2022 Remembrance Sunday

'Putin kaput, glory to Ukraine!'

The Sunday Times

Crowds of euphoric residents lined the streets of Kherson today waving Ukrainian flags as their troops rolled into the city after eight months of brutal Russian occupation.
Kherson was the only provincial capital Russia had seized since the start of the war. Its loss is the most embarrassing defeat for Putin since he began his invasion of Ukraine.
Celebrations broke out across Ukraine on Friday after the Russians began to flee. In his nightly video address President Zelensky hailed the recapture of the city as a "historic day" and promised to restore medicine supplies and communications as soon as possible.
The Russian military presence just across the river poses a continuing danger. Putin's army blew up the only road bridge across the Dnipro to prevent a Ukrainian pursuit.
Retreating Russian forces cut off the power and the water supply. Imposing order on the liberated city is now an urgent priority. Most residents are looking forward to a brighter future.

AR Well timed.

 

CNN
CNN
 

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2022 November 12

COP27 Call to Action

Joe Biden

The science is devastatingly clear: We have to make progress by the end of this decade. Let's raise both our ambition and speed of our efforts. If we are going to win this fight, every major emitter needs to align with 1.5 C. We can no longer plead ignorance of the consequences of our actions or continue to repeat our mistakes. Everyone has to keep accelerating progress throughout this decisive decade.

AR He may be too old but he says the right things.

 

Analog Neuronets

Allison Whitten

The neuromorphic chip NeuRRAM includes millions of memory cells and thousands of hardware neurons to run algorithms. It can run big AI algorithms as well as digital computers but needs hundreds of times less energy.
Resistive RAM analog cells each store multiple values along a continuous range. RRAM integrated on a computing chip can run many matrix computations in parallel. Analog chips suffer variability and noise but can be as accurate as digital chips if the AI algorithms are trained to tolerate noise.
NeuRRAM runs big AI algorithms efficiently. An idea for the future is to use electrical spikes, as in brains, but this may need a new architecture.

AR We need spikes to run the music of consciousness.

 

Kherson
NEXTA
Kherson, 2022-11-11

 

2022 November 11

Cryptocurrency Bankruptcy

The Times

A desperate attempt to keep Sam Bankman-Fried's sprawling cryptocurrency empire afloat has ended in failure after his FTX exchange filed for bankruptcy.

AR No big surprise there.

 

Lattice Cryptography

Leila Sloman

Quantum hackers could decode many of our present cryptography schemes.
Present schemes rely on an asymmetry between multiplication and factoring. Any computer can quickly multiply two numbers, but it may take ages to factor a big number into its prime constituents. This makes secrets easy to encode but hard to decode.
Factoring is vulnerable to quantum hackers. Lattice cryptography uses another set of mathematical operations that are easy to do but hard to undo.
Imagine Alice has a lattice. She asks Bob to name 10 of its points but gives him just 2 points. Adding or subtracting any 2 points on a lattice gives another point in the lattice, so Bob adds the 2 points or multiplies them by integers and then adds them, or some combination of these, in 8 different ways to get 10 points.
Alice now gives Bob the same 2 starting points and asks him if some (xy) is on the same lattice. To answer, Bob needs to find the combination that gives (xy), which is much harder. That asymmetry underlies lattice cryptography.
Lattice cryptography has countless nuances and may have a fatal flaw.

AR This seems promising.

 

-

 

2022 November 10

Kherson, City of Death

Mykhailo Podolyak

RF wants to turn Kherson into a "city of death". Ru-military mines everything they can: apartments, sewers. Artillery on the left bank plans to turn the city into ruins. This is what "Russian world" looks like: came, robbed, celebrated, killed "witnesses", left ruins and left.

AR Clear case of good vs bad.

 

On Consciousness

Maria Popova

In Conscious, Annaka Harris examines the illusory nature of the self: "The idea that 'I' am the ultimate source of my desires and actions begins to crumble .. It seems much more accurate to say that consciousness is along for the ride."
On conscious causation: "Consciousness seems to play a role in behavior .. the fact that my thoughts are about the experience of consciousness suggests that there is a feedback loop of sorts and that consciousness is affecting my brain processing."
On panpsychism: "Ascribing some level of consciousness to plants or inanimate matter is not the same as ascribing to them human minds with wishes and intentions like our own .. it seems quite hard for us to drop the intuition that consciousness equals complex thought .. if a version of panpsychism is correct, everything will still appear to us and behave exactly as it already does."
On a challenge to psychism: "For many scientists and philosophers, the combination problem presents the biggest obstacle to accepting any description of reality that includes consciousness .. the obstacle we face here .. seems to be a case of confusing consciousness with the concept of a self."
On merging brains: "If two human brains were connected, both people might feel as if the content of their consciousness had simply expanded, with each person feeling a continuous transformation from the content of one person to the whole of the two, until the connection was more or less complete."
We consider the inconceivable impossible, but we can expand the possible until it becomes real.

AR I enjoyed reading the book(let).

 

US
The New York Times
US midterm election results, 2022-11-10, 1000 UTC
 

33
www
33 years ago today

 

2022 November 9

Trump Republicans Fail

The Times

Donald Trump is "livid" and screaming at advisers after the failure of his chosen candidates in the midterm elections, according to reports in the United States.

AR Great news!

 

Putin Abandons Kherson

The Times

The Kremlin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian forces from the occupied city of Kherson. Ukrainian troops were steadily advancing toward them.

AR More great news!

 

Murakami

 

2022 November 8

Putin's War

Lawrence Freedman

Ukraine is determined to resist the Russian invasion. Putin cannot win and must give up on his attempt to do so. Ukraine cannot accept a Russian victory.
Russia does not admit it is the aggressor or is obliged to withdraw from occupied territory. A grand bargain is unlikely while both sides hope they can improve their positions. Even if the outlines of a deal could be designed and there was sufficient goodwill, turning it into a treaty would be hard.
Putin has no interest in bringing the war to a quick end if this means failure to achieve his key objectives. Any settlement he would accept is not one that Kyiv or the West could agree to. For him, the issue of Crimea is not even up for discussion. He also refuses to discuss the legal status of the four provinces he has annexed. He demands that Zelensky accepts they are forever Russian.
Putin needs to avoid defeat. If he admits failure, his judgement will be shown to be flawed and he will be vulnerable. To stay in power, he needs Russia to stay in the war.
Any deal will be a loss for Putin. Any that ends the fighting will be followed by a reckoning. So long as the war continues, he is protected by patriotism, wartime censorship, and control of dissent. Without the war, his folly will be exposed.
If Ukraine is denied victory, Putin can hope it will buckle under fire. He only wants peace on his terms. A peace that acknowledges Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity begs the question of why he fought the war.
Ukraine can only offer a deal that requires Moscow to withdraw from occupied territory. This may need a change at the top in Moscow.

AR We all need a change at the top in Moscow.

 

A Strange Magnetar

New Scientist

The star 4U 0142+61, nicknamed 4U, is a magnetar about 123 Em away. Studies with the NASA Imaging X‑ray Polarimetry Explorer find properties suggesting 4U may have a solid surface:
 The light is very weakly polarized, but a gas would transmit mostly polarized light;
 There is a sudden π/2 switch in the polarization angle, as predicted for X‑rays from a solid surface
   into a space empty but for EM fields.
Strong surface gravity may put the shell in a plastic state between solid and fluid. It is probably made of crystals of iron and other heavy elements, their atoms stretched by the EM fields.

AR Cue for a sci-fi novel.

 

Saito
CUP
Kohei Saito says degrowth is
the only way to save society
from a crisis of inequality
and impending environ-
mental doom

 

2022 November 7

US Midterm Elections

The New York Times

US midterm elections are often seen as a referendum on the party in power. But voters need to consider the intentions of the party that hopes to regain power.
The next Congress will count the electoral votes in the presidential election in 2024. Some Republicans sought to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
Some Republicans embrace violent extremism. The 2022 elections are an opportunity for Americans to defend the integrity of US elections.

Another civil war?
Barbara F Walter

A civil war could happen again in the US. Militias spread around the country would fight to weaken the federal government and intimidate minorities and opponents.
A civil war starts when sustained violence by extremists has become the norm. Two factors raise the risk of civil war: ethnic factionalism and anocracy, when a government is neither fully democratic nor fully autocratic.
A group may resort to violence when it was once politically dominant but is losing power. Whites will be a minority of the population by around 2044. The result will be increasing resentment and fear at what lies ahead.
US democracy declined between 2016 and 2020. Since January 6, 2021, the US has failed to strengthen its democracy. The Democratic party cannot reform the political system, and the Republicans no longer want to.

Heading toward civil war
Stephen Marche

The US is headed toward civil war. The US is vulnerable because trust in its institutions is in freefall. The gulf between the political system and the popular will is widening.
The US electoral system depends on good faith. Refusal to accept electoral outcomes can result in a contested election. The right is prepared for this eventuality.
The US legal system has devolved from a truly national institution to a spoil of partisan war. This is a classic prelude to civil war. Neither party can fix America.

Another American conflagration
Christopher Sebastian Parker

America is rushing headlong into another civil war. The first civil war turned on racism. Throughout history, US political identity has been driven by positions on race.
Today, 4 in 5 Republican voters are white. Many want to take drastic measures to maintain white supremacy. Democrats see MAGA Republicans as an existential threat.
Violence results from an election that can shift power, partisan division based on identity, a winner-take-all voting system, and a lax approach to violence. America has them all.
A civil war with terrorism, guerrilla war, and ethnic cleansing will be waged from sea to shining sea. Racism will lead to another American conflagration.

AR Soviet Union gone, United States going ..

 

Highway to Climate Hell

António Guterres

We are in the fight of our lives, and we are losing. Our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the gas pedal. We can sign a climate solidarity pact or a collective suicide pact. Only a narrow shaft of light remains. The global climate fight will be won or lost in this decade.

AR Hope is not lost.

 


⊛ Sayed Sheasha/REUTERS
UN climate summit COP27 begins in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on November 6
 

MAGA

-

 

2022 November 6

Climate Crisis

Damian Carrington

A new UN report says the past eight years were the eight hottest ever recorded. The internationally agreed 1.5 K limit for global heating is now "barely within reach" and the world is deep into the climate crisis.
Rcord high greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are driving sea level and ice melting to new highs and supercharging extreme weather worldwide. Every year since 2016 has been one of the warmest on record.

AR This must have first priority.

 

US Midterm Elections

Simon Tisdall

Democrats will crash and burn in the US midterm elections. Expect Republican gains on Tuesday and legislative gridlock into 2024. Joe Biden will be unable to champion democracy worldwide against aggressive authoritarianism.
Republicans warn there will be no "blank check" for Kyiv. A Republican Senate candidate: "I think we're at the point where we've given enough money in Ukraine .. The Europeans need to step up."

AR Without US solidarity, the UK is sunk.

 

Refugees

Matthew Syed

The global number of refugees is set to exceed a quarter of a billion in coming years due to climate change and conflict. The West enacts policies aimed at stemming refugees. The UK numbers are straining public consent.
China and Russia regard our openness to refugees and illegal migrants as our most acute strategic vulnerability. Human rights require social stability and other rare goods. We need to make free societies more robust.

Reversing Brexit is in our own interests
David Mitchell

Brexit is obviously failing in its key aim of keeping foreigners out. Without EU cooperation, the south coast is wide open. Huge sectors of our economy are short staffed. Tens of thousands of refugees await processing. Reversing Brexit is in our own interests.

Britain is on a highway to hell
Andrew Rawnsley

The big UK domestic event of late autumn is a brutal package of tax rises and spending cuts expected on November 17. The Bank of England says Britons will still be worse off in 2025 than they were before Covid. Many voters already think they are on a highway to hell.

AR Fortress UK won't work.

 

-

 

2022 November 5

Germany and China

Georg Fahrion

During his visit, German chancellor Olaf Scholz prompted Chinese president Xi Jinping to say China rejects "the threat or use of nuclear weapons" with regard to Ukraine. China has never positioned itself so clearly. Russian warlord Vladimir Putin can see this as a red line.
After this first visit trip by a G7 head of government to the People's Republic since the beginning of the pandemic, a Chinese statement said "bilateral relations will continue to move in the right direction" as long as both sides respect each other and seek common ground.
Shenzhen Daily: "Germany is trying to prove that it will no longer be a lackey of the United States."
Global Times: "The US is not in a position to dictate Sino-German economic cooperation."

Xi, Scholz to expand pie
China Daily

China and Germany have reaffirmed their commitment to stabilizing and consolidating bilateral ties as well as promoting China−Europe cooperation, and vowed to expand the "pie" of their shared interests and work together to uphold regional and global peace and security.
On the Ukraine crisis, President Xi Jinping urged the international community to support every effort to help peacefully resolve the crisis, oppose using or threatening to use nuclear weapons, and make efforts to ensure the stability of industrial and supply chains.

AR So far so good.

 

-

 

Higgs and Our Universe

Toyoko Orimoto

The Higgs boson could help us discover new physics. In the standard model, elementary particles derive their masses from their interactions with the Higgs field. This includes the Higgs, so deviations from expectations would hint at new physics.
We can probe this via Higgs boson pair production. The LHC produces Higgs pairs at too low a rate to help, but if the standard model is wrong, so too may be its rate of pair production. If extra dimensions of spacetime exist, Higgs pair production could be enhanced.
The extra dimensions could explain the enormous differences in strength between gravity and the other forces. In the theory of warped extra dimensions, there are two branes, one our 3D world and the other where gravitons are unconfined. Gravitons permeate the bulk space between the branes, diluting gravity and warping the bulk space.
Producing more double Higgs bosons at the LHC could provide evidence of gravitons. Massive gravitons would decay to Higgs pairs and then to other particles.
Higgs pair production may also offer a window into the eventual fate of our universe. The vacuum state of our universe teems with virtual particle−antiparticle pairs popping in and out of existence. The Higgs field has a non-zero vacuum expectation value, filling the vacuum with Higgs bosons.
The Higgs potential is shaped like the bottom of a wine bottle. In our universe, a marble dropped into it rolls down to a spot that may not be stable. Quantum fluctuations could tunnel our universe into a different state, with new physics.

AR All this seems rather speculative.

 

Red dwarf
Science Photo Library

 

Discovering Alien Life

Joshua Sokol

When Lisa Kaltenegger was asked to check some exoplanets that may have liquid water on their surfaces, she started running climate models and found they may well have water. This year, she was asked to help understand the planet SPECULOOS‑2c.
Our best chance of finding other life in the cosmos may be to detect biosignature gases in exo­planetary atmospheres. With the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) now in service, we can try.
To sniff an exoplanetary atmosphere, we look for planets that transit in front of their star. During a transit, some of the starlight shines through the planetary atmosphere and changes the stellar spectrum. Spectral analysis reveals the chemistry.
Discoveries of rocky planets with the potential for liquid water remained scarce until the Kepler era. Kepler showed they are common, but the ones it found were too far away for good studies.
JWST would see only tiny signals from atmospheric gases during each transit, so good results would take years. But we can seek Earths in close orbits around red dwarf stars, where atmospheric signals are not lost in starlight and transits are more frequent.
In 2017, we found seven rocky planets around the red dwarf star TRAPPIST‑1. This year, we found the SPECULOOS‑2 system. These stars are close, dim, and red. They each have multiple rocky planets that transit.
Kaltenegger uses a climate model to analyze the evolution of alien atmospheres. Running it for SPECULOOS‑2c lets us predict what JWST might see. JWST will also view the TRAPPIST‑1 planets.

AR We're making good progress.

 

EU

 

2022 November 4

Save Britain or Save Brexit

Peter Mandelson

Britain needs a stable and competent government that restores standards and integrity in public life and offers direction and purpose.
Britain is now lagging at the bottom of the league table of G7 economies in growth, productivity, investment, and real wages. The mounting effects of Brexit are becoming clearer.
The prime minister must put the UK need to work with the EU before any desire to seek confrontation with Europe at every turn.
He cannot confront the challenges facing Britain without facing up to our economic and trade choices and the importance of building a stable relationship with the EU.
He cannot make Brexit work without revisiting the terms on which we left the EU. A hard Brexit has had devastating effects on British trade, competitiveness, prices, and growth.
He cannot lift UK trade and growth without forming a better relationship with the EU. UK trade in goods with Europe has become too cumbersome, too costly, too bureaucratic, and too slow, and is becoming a major drag on our growth rate.
Growth forecasts for Britain in coming years indicate no improvement. Spending on public services will be further squeezed. We will not be able to defend ourselves as we would like. We will lose influence in the world.
Labour has let the Conservatives rule without effective challenge for most of the last decade. Labour is not going to reopen the Brexit decision, but nor should it be held hostage by it.
We need to turn the page and begin the next chapter in our national story.

AR From a speech in Oxford on October 27.

 

-BoE says UK in recession:
"very challenging outlook"
until mid-2024

 

2022 November 3

China Loses America

Thomas L Friedman

President Xi Jinping has reversed the steady integration of China's economy with the West. Our world will become less prosperous, less integrated, and less geopolitically stable. Four signs:
1  When China joined the WTO, Chinese industries copied or stole IP from Western firms that built factories in China. The firms have responded by going ABC: "Anywhere but China."
2  President Xi has been elected to a third term on a platform pushing Marxism and ideology over markets and pragmatism.
3  A more aggressive Chinese foreign policy is trying to dominate the South China Sea, frightening Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India, and Taiwan.
4  Instead of importing Western vaccines against Covid, China is relying on lockdowns and the new tools of a surveillance state.
Global supply chains require trust between partners. Xi has lost it.

AR Sad − US politics is volatile.

 

Germany Woos China

Philip Oltermann

German chancellor Olaf Scholz flies to Beijing this week. He says China is going for national autonomy and security: "If China changes, our dealings with China have to change too."
Last week, Scholz approved a deal to let Chinese shipping company Cosco buy a 25% stake in three terminals in Hamburg. This week, he flies with a delegation of CEOs from big German companies.
His government is still unsure about its China strategy. China expert Tim Rühlig: "Is it about a rivalry between fundamentally opposed political and economic beliefs? .. How long it is until there will be a major military conflict involving China?"
Goods worth €246 billion were traded between Germany and China in 2021. Germany relies on China for key raw materials for the digital economy and renewable energy technologies.

AR Realpolitik in action.

 

COP27

 

2022 November 2

Climate Warnings

New Scientist

New climate reports remind us that greenhouse gas concentrations are rising.
The World Meteorological Organization says atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane hit a record high in 2021 and continue to rise in 2022.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide has caused about two-thirds of global warming since 1750. Methane registered the largest single-year increase since records began 40 years ago.
The greenhouse gases are having increasingly severe climate impacts: 2022 brought extreme heatwaves, storm surges, and severe flooding to many parts of the world.
Scientists say that of 35 planetary vital signs, 16 are at record extremes and flashing red on the climate dashboard. They say we face a climate emergency.
Two UN reports confirm we are still on course to exceed the Paris Agreement target of an average global rise of 1.5 K or less. Climate scientists say any warming above 1.5 K risks triggering severe and irreversible changes to ecological systems.
The UN says existing national plans would see carbon emissions fall by 3.6% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels. We need a 43% drop to meet the 1.5 K target. The plans put us on course for about 2.5 K of warming.
At COP26, participants agreed to submit bolder proposals to cut emissions within a year to meet the Paris Agreement goals. But only 26 of them have done so. Together the updates cut 2030 emissions by less than 1%.
The COP27 hosts will ask countries to cut emissions faster.

AR One is not optimistic.

 

-

 

2022 All Saints Day

Mathematical Physics

Svetlana Jitomirskaya

Growing up among mathematicians helped me develop a resilience for solving problems. I started to like mathematics in university. When I started graduate work with Yakov Sinai, who studied probability, the first paper he gave me to read involved physics.
I came to the United States right after getting my PhD from Moscow State University in 1991. I was not a very successful graduate student. But I had the resilience to continue, and I finished my PhD with a total of seven papers.
I study models that govern the behavior of electrons in different materials and environments. Models with quasi-periodicity, where something that locally looks periodic has behavior that may look chaotic at larger scales, are amenable to rigorous analysis.
I have problems with the proposed California math framework. A fundamental understanding in all the pre-calculus courses is hugely important for those who want to pursue STEM. American education needs fixing.

AR Professor Jitomirskaya was awarded the inaugural OAL Prize earlier this year for her work in mathematical physics.

 

10/10

BBC News

Taylor Swift has become the first artist in history to claim every slot in the top 10 of the US singles chart. Her new album Midnights is the fastest-selling release in 2022. She tweeted: "10 out of 10 of the Hot 100??? On my 10th album??? I AM IN SHAMBLES."

AR  ♥ ♥ ♥

 

Flying Scotsman
⊛ David John Faulkner
Flying Scotsman passes Corfe Castle on the Swanage line
Conservative MP for South Dorset, wealthy landowner, and former army officer Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax:
"The Swanage railway plays a vital and integral part in promoting tourism .. Those romantic days of steam
are played out every day on this scenic stretch of line."
 

Brexit

 

2022 October 31

The Brexit Lie

Martin Fletcher

Rishi Sunak promises to govern with openness, integrity, and professionalism. He aims to put economic stability at the heart of his agenda. He should start by confronting the Big Lie that Brexit is good for the UK.
Sunak understands spreadsheets and statistics. He must know that while Covid‑19 and the Ukraine war have inflicted great economic damage on the UK, Brexit is also responsible for the profound economic crisis it now faces.
Leaving the EU has greatly complicated our trade with 450 million consumers just across the Channel. It has disrupted supply chains, deterred investment, caused labour shortages, created whole new layers of red tape, and more.
Read the business pages. Ask anyone in UK automotive, financial, hospitality, care, health, agricultural, or fishing industries. Consult the people who run small businesses, university chiefs, artists, and scientists.
The OECD expects the UK to have the lowest growth of any major economy except Russia next year. The OBR believes Brexit will reduce Britain's long‑run GDP by 4%. The Brexit tumour is deadly.

AR Im Westminster nichts neues ..

 

Camera
SLAC
3.2 gigapixel digicam for
Vera C Rubin Observatory
in Chile

 

2022 October 30

The Liberal Faith

Matthew Syed

Faith in liberal democracy is wilting.
Pluralism in values is the hallmark of liberal democracy. Liberal democracies bring morality within the purview of reason rather than revealed truth. This is about moral autonomy.
Unlike dictators, liberal leaders relinquish power peacefully, encompass institutional constraints, and defend the right of free people to disparage what leaders say.
We live in a great nation. Unless we acknowledge the progress and sacrifices made by so many, we commit a grievous crime not merely against these pioneers, but ourselves.
Most young people in the UK would prefer a dictator to a democratic leader. Surveys in continental Europe and the US reveal similar trends.
We are living through a period of great historical blindness. The liberal West is the only check on the virus of absolutism spreading throughout the world.
Without faith, civilizations die.

AR Good argument.

 

Putin's Wars

The Sunday Times

Vladimir Putin has made veneration of the army a central pillar of Russian national identity.
Mark Galeotti explores the wars Russia has fought in since the end of the Soviet Union.
The first began in 1994 to prevent Chechnya seceding from Russia. It ended in humiliation for the Kremlin. The war was brutal and killed tens of thousands of civilians. Putin began a second bloody war against Chechnya in 1999.
The conflicts revealed shortcomings in the Russian military. Since then, reformers have supplemented conscripts by volunteers and updated equipment. But tanks and artillery remain the mainstay of the force, with logistics neglected.
Putin's brief war against Georgia in 2008 ended in victory but revealed the need for further reform. His seizure in 2014 of the Crimea from Ukraine went smoothly, but his later backing of Donbas separatists proved a hard slog.
Russian military involvement in 2015 in Syria in aid of its president, Bashar al‑Assad was a success. Putin propped up his ally at minimal cost while showcasing Russian arms.
The war against Ukraine has not gone to plan. Galeotti: "It is impossible to overstate just how devastating the impact has been. Arguably, 20 years of high-spending military reform was wasted in 20 days."
Putin wanted to turn Russia into a modern Sparta. But Russia still lags badly behind.

AR Galeotti's new book.

 

Sun
NASA
UV Sun

 

2022 October 29

Neuromorphic Computing

Charles Q Choi

Neuromorphic microchip components spike above a certain rate of input signals. By only rarely firing spikes, they shuffle around less data than typical artificial neural networks.
Optical components can be used to connect neurons. Waveguides can connect each neuron with thousands of others. Superconducting nanowire devices can detect single photons.
Photonic neural computing needs optical cavities that can entrap light for long spans of time. Making such cavities and linking them with waveguides on an integrated microchip is tricky, so researchers made hybrid circuitry that converted the output signals from a detector to a 2 ps EM pulse forming a single fluxon in a SQUID network.
SQUIDs consist of one or more Josephson junctions. If the current through a junction exceeds a threshold, the SQUID emits fluxons. When triggered, a single-photon detector emits fluxons that collect as current in the SQUID loop. This stored current records how many times a neuron spiked.
Integrating these components creates a superconducting synapse that can spike at rates exceeding 10 MHz while consuming roughly 33 aJ per event. Human neurons have a maximum average spike rate of about 340 Hz and consume roughly 10 fJ per synaptic event.
The output of the devices can be varied to interface with a range of systems. The next step is to combine the synapses with on-chip photon sources to create integrated superconducting neurons.

AR Thousands of times faster and far less power-hungry − this is the future.

 

-

 

2022 October 28

UK: A Poor Country in Western Europe

Derek Thompson

UK living standards and wages have fallen behind those of Western Europe.
After WW2, the UK economy grew slower than those of much of continental Europe. By the 1970s, the Brits were debating why they were falling behind. In the 1980s, markets were deregulated to favor the financial sector. From the 1990s into the 2000s, the UK roared ahead, with London leading the way. Britain became the world's banker.
When the global financial crisis hit in 2008, it hit hard. The British government pursued a policy of austerity, fretting about debt rather than productivity or aggregate demand. The results were disastrous. Conservative pols blamed bureaucrats in Brussels, immigrants, and asylum seekers. A cohort of older voters demanded Brexit, and they got it.
In the past 30 years, the UK government economy chose finance over industry and austerity over investment. Voters chose a closed and poorer economy over an open and richer one. The predictable results are falling wages and low productivity growth.
The UK now has some of the worst productivity statistics of any major economy. What was once a powerful global empire voted to reduce global access to trade and talent. Since Brexit, immigration, exports, and foreign investment have all declined.
Outside London, the UK is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe.

A new period of conflict
John Gray

Britain is drifting into a state of chronic emergency. Starting this winter, living standards will fall for most of the population.
A bailout set the precedent for a tide of funny money after the crash of 2008. The market continued to devise opaque and risky products affecting trillions of dollars of assets. Any policy program that depends on economic growth will be stymied.
Friedrich Hayek denounced conservatives for their embrace of politics as the art of the possible and their reverence for the past. He preached continuing progress. If sections of humanity are left behind, so be it.
Centrists do not renounce the cult of the market. But their task will be averting mass impoverish­ment and social breakdown.

AR Profoundly saddening.

 

Climate

 

2022 October 27

Atmospheric Greenhouse Gas Levels Hit Record High

Helena Horton

Atmospheric levels of all three greenhouse gases have reached record highs, says the World Meteorological Organization.
The WMO reports carbon dioxide concentrations in 2021 at 415.7 parts per million, methane at 1908 parts per billion (ppb), and nitrous oxide at 334.5 ppb. These are respectively 149%, 262%, and 124% of pre-industrial levels.
WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas: "The continuing rise in concentrations of the main heat-trapping gases, including the record acceleration in methane levels, shows we are heading in the wrong direction."

Carbon emissions from energy to peak in 2025
Jasper Jolly

Global carbon emissions from energy will peak in 2025 thanks to massively increased government spending on clean fuels, says the International Energy Agency. The IEA calls this a "historic turning point" in the transition away from fossil fuels.
The war in Ukraine has prompted a global energy crisis. IEA executive director Fatih Birol says this will accelerate the clean energy transition. Planned investments in green energy in response to the crisis will lead to demand for polluting fossil fuels peaking this decade.
Under the new plans, investment in low-carbon energy will rise to $2 trillion a year by 2030, an increase of more than 50% from today. But annual clean energy investment would have to reach $4 trillion by 2030 to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
IEA analysts say current government policies will still lead to global temperatures rising by 2.5 K, with catastrophic climate impacts. Scientists say governments are not doing enough to prevent climate disaster.

AR That extra kelvin will bring social horrors.

 

Quantum

 

 

2022 October 26

Quantum Physics and Observation

Markus Müller

Experiments indicate that physical entities do not have standalone existence but are products of observation. This is relevant to our understanding of reality.
Classical physics describes the objective and deterministic evolution of a unique material world. It keeps the observer out of the description. Quantum physics challenges this commitment: Bell's theorem challenges the assumption that measurements always reveal pre-existing properties of the world.
We may ask whether, and if so, how, the first-person perspective is an irreducible part of quantum physics, and what this says about the paradigm of materialism.
Essentia Foundation's conference this year is organized in collaboration with the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Vienna, home to 2022 Nobel Laureate Anton Zeilinger. The online conference is free, with no need for registration.
November 17−18, 1400−1745 CEST
Watch the conference live

Being and consciousness
Graham Stew

Phenomenology is the study of the objects of consciousness as they appear to individual awareness. Phenomenologists seek to understand the inner world of our feelings, attitudes, sensations, and the meanings we attach to them.
Edmund Husserl is the founding figure of phenomenology. For Husserl, phenomenology was based on the intentionality of consciousness.
Phenomenology aims to understand our lived experience. Mental phenomena appear in awareness, but we usually claim ownership and responsibility for them.
Consciousness enables experience to create meaning and understanding. Mind comprises thoughts, sensations, and perceptions, all in consciousness. We see the mind as reflecting body and world, but attention brings form into existence out of infinite consciousness.
There is no scientific evidence for the existence of consciousness. Reductive materialism is the dominant paradigm in science.
Quantum theory suggests no object exists unless it is observed: Being and consciousness are one.

AR I hope to enjoy the conference.

 


BOAT
NASA

 

Bright Space Explosion

Jonathan O'Callaghan

On October 9, we saw the biggest cosmic explosion in history. It was a gamma-ray burst from a massive dying star as it collapsed into a black hole spurting powerful jets of energy.
This "brightest of all time" (BOAT) event oversaturated the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and may even have caused our ionosphere to swell in size for several hours.
The BOAT occurred about 23 Ym away and its jet was likely pointed toward us. In China, the LHAASO saw 5,000 high-energy photons from it, many times more than usual for GRBs.
An 18 TeV photon should have been lost on the way to us. Maybe an axion-like particle flew free until it came to our galaxy, where magnetic fields turned it into a photon.
If this photon is linked to the BOAT, it may be evidence of new physics.

AR Wow!

 

Charles, Rishi
⊛ Aaron Chown / PA Media
King Charles greets Rishi Sunak, October 25
 

Gabriel

 

2022 October 25

Rishi Sunak

William Hague

I know Rishi Sunak well. He represents my former constituency of Richmond, Yorkshire, and I struggle to recall anyone with stronger attributes of intelligence, thoughtfulness, and self-discipline.
Rishi is hugely conscious of the need to combine economic competence with compassion. He will not embark on risks without seeking all the advice he can get. He and his ministerial team can improve the health and stability of British democracy.

The truth about Brexit
Clare Foges

Rishi Sunak must govern in the national interest. Since Brexit, business investment has been growing in all G7 countries except the UK. Those who backed Brexit dare not admit their misjudgment.
US commentator David Frum: "The problem with the UK Tory party is not the personal defects of the captain. The problem is that you're not eligible for the captaincy unless you agree it was a brilliant idea to scupper the ship in 2016."
Sunak must move back toward the great trading bloc just over the water. No one voted to leave the single market or the customs union. We must seek to rejoin them.

Rejoin the single market and customs union
Jürgen Maier

The UK has a tradition of strong democracy and fact-based debate. Brexit changed this. Our government entered a game of lies and largely ignored the facts.
Years of lies, policy blunders, and incompetence have damaged the UK's global reputation. Rishi Sunak's government must focus on rebuilding it.
A good policy option is to rejoin the single market and customs union. It was the biggest lie of them all to imagine the UK could replace the economic upside of being part of the most advanced free-trade zone in the world.
The EU invites the UK to join a grouping of European countries that don't want to be part of the EU but do want to benefit from its single market.

A wary Europe greets Sunak
Sylvie Kauffmann

For many Europeans, the only surprise of the British political and economic mayhem of the past few weeks is the silence about its real cause. Brexit is the elephant in the room.
A European leader: "Brexit was based on an act of immense stupidity. It was sold by politicians who promised a sort of great Singapore but voted for by people who were unhappy about globalization."
Brexit ambitions clashed with real-world conditions: a pandemic, the rise of protectionism, tensions with China, and the war in Ukraine. Finally, the financial markets took back control.
German liberal MP Alexander Lambsdorff: "This is what happens when you cut your country off from your biggest and most important market. Brexit devours its children."
If Rishi Sunak makes the right choices, the shock of the war in Ukraine could push the UK and the EU to resume talks and work through their differences.

AR Let's wait and see how he handles UK−EU relations.

 

Rishi
Winner

 

2022 Diwali

UK: Rishi 4 PM

BBC News, 1404 BST

Sir Graham Brady: "We have received one valid nomination. Rishi Sunak is therefore elected leader of the Conservative party."
Penny Mordaunt pulled out of the contest just before the close of nominations. Boris Johnson decided not to stand last night.

UK economy 'frankly doomed' by Brexit
Joanna Partridge

Billionaire businessman Guy Hands accuses Tories of putting the UK "on a path to be the sick man of Europe" and predicts a UK economy of higher taxes and interest rates and fewer social services.
The founder and chair of the private equity firm Terra Firma, a longtime Tory supporter, said the party needs to start "admitting some of the mistakes they have made over the last six years, which have frankly put this country on a path to be the sick man of Europe."
Hands said Liz Truss had tried to follow the "dream" of Brexit and a "low-tax, low-benefit economy" but: "Once you accept that you can't actually do that, the Brexit that was done is completely hopeless and will only drive Britain into a disastrous economic state."
Hands called for the next prime minister to renegotiate Brexit: "Without that the economy is frankly doomed."

Admit the lies of Brexit
Guy Hands

Believers in extreme Thatcherism were convinced it could be introduced once Brexit was complete and Britain had removed itself from the rules of the European single market.
The only way for the UK to compete on the world stage outside the EU is by becoming a European Singapore. Many Conservatives dream of such an economy. But the democratic path there is far from easy in a UK where only a tiny minority support the libertarian right.
All the Conservative party can do is to try to make the best of a bad job and get the books to balance to bring interest costs and inflation down before the next election.
Prior to Brexit, I predicted it would turn Britain into a country torn apart by high taxes, social unrest, strikes, low productivity, and poor social services. Sadly, this gloomy scenario is becoming reality. Brexit was about introducing a libertarian agenda to help the ultra‑rich.
The world has changed since 2016. Tories can now change direction and negotiate a revised Brexit. Done soon, this might put the UK on the path to recovery.

Sunak is a realist
Timothy Garton Ash

Prime minister Rishi Sunak can put an end to Brexitism. Over the past eight years, Britain has sunk from pragmatic Eurosceptism to the soft Brexit proposed by Theresa May, to the hard Brexit of Boris Johnson, and thence to the fantasy Brexit of Liz Truss.
Even before the 2016 vote, the UK had a chronic productivity problem, excessive reliance on the financial sector, and a major deficit in training and skills. The Brexit effect is now visible. On many indicators, the UK economy has done worse than any other in the G7.
Sunak is a realist, putting solid public finances and market credibility first. He knows that in challenging economic circumstances, you lower barriers to trading with your largest single market. He can kill the Truss bill to scrap all ex‑EU regulations next year.

AR Good news for Diwali.

 

Wareham
AR
Wareham Forest, Dorset, 2022-10-23
 

Boris
Loser

 

2022 October 23

UK Crisis

Rishi Sunak

The United Kingdom is a great country, but we face a profound economic crisis. That's why I am standing to be Leader of the Conservative party and your next prime minister. I want to fix our economy, unite party, and deliver for our country.

The Tory leadership race
Jonathan Blake

Rishi Sunak has by far the most support among MPs. There are questions about the true level of support for Boris Johnson. A new prime minister could be installed as soon as tomorrow afternoon.

A horror scenario
Toby Helm

A not unlikely scenario is Johnson gets 100 just. Mordaunt drops out. Most of her MPs go to Sunak giving him close to roughly twice as many as Johnson in final indicative vote of MPs. If Johnson then wins among members with big majority of MPs not wanting him, it is utter chaos.

The cure for Tory ills
Matthew Syed

Social change often happens through herd psychology. This might shine some light on the strange contagion spreading through the Tory party.
The underlying cause of this insanity is Brexit, a utopian vision that became all things to all people. As attempts to enact the idea have failed, everyone feels betrayed.
The reputation of the Tory party has gone up in flames. Newspapers around the world were tempted to mock us on their front pages. Brexit Britain has become a punchline.
The best way for the Tory party to show it retains the capacity to serve the public interest would be to call a general election.

AR What a mess.

 

Our star
PA
National Rejoin March, Parliament Square, London, October 22
 

European

 

2022 October 22

Quantum Collapse

Philip Ball

Recent experiments have mobilized sensitive physics instruments to test the idea that quantum possibilities collapse into a single classical reality. The experiments find no evidence of the effects predicted by simple collapse models.
Physical collapse models aim to resolve a central dilemma of quantum theory. A wave function lets us predict the various possible outcomes of measurements made on an object and the probability of observing any one of them in an experiment.
If many measurements are made on objects prepared in the same state, the wave function correctly predicts the statistical distribution of outcomes. But we have no way of knowing what the outcome of any single measurement will be, only probabilities.
Giancarlo Ghirardi, Alberto Rimini, and Tullio Weber suggested a quantum system is constantly prodded to jump spontaneously into an observable state. A small system stays in superposition for a long time; bigger objects collapse into a classical state almost instantly. Continuous spontaneous localization (CSL) models are similar.
Roger Penrose and Lajos Diósi independently suggested gravity may cause the collapse: A quantum object in a superposition of locations feels a gravitational interaction between the locations, warping spacetime in many ways at once and forcing a collapse.
Collapse models make observable predictions. If a background perturbation provokes collapse, all particles interact with it, causing something like Brownian motion. Current collapse models suggest this motion is tiny.
If a particle is electrically charged, motion generates electromagnetic Bremsstrahlung. The particle should emit a faint stream of photons, predicted to be in the X‑ray range. Detectors in neutrino experiments can detect a CSL signature.
A team used the IGEX neutrino experiment to test the Diósi−Penrose model. The team saw no emission at a sensitivity level ruling out the simplest model and placed strong bounds on the parameters for various CSL models.

AR Reassuring to know. The models were conceptual hacks.

 

Higgs Boson Width

New Scientist

The LHC CMS collaboration has made the sharpest estimate yet of the "width" ΔE of the Higgs boson: ΔE ≈ 3.2 MeV. Quantum uncertainty implies that ΔE Δt ≥ ℏ/2. Hence the Higgs boson has a measured minimum average lifetime Δt of around 100 ys, a hundred yoctoseconds.

AR An impressive technical achievement.

 

Midnights
⊛ Beth Garrabrant
Taylor Swift's new album Midnights drops on October 21

Handcrafted Pop 
Will Hodgkinson

Taylor Swift focuses on the problem of falling in love when you're a famous person with self-esteem issues.
She asks: "Did you hear my covert narcissism wrapped up as altruism?"
She recalls a dream where her future daughter-in-law murders her for her money and then how she broke
her first boyfriend's heart because he was a nice guy and she was a fame-hungry whirlwind of dysfunction.
Swift: "No one wanted to play with me as a little kid, so I've been scheming like a criminal ever since
to make them love me and make it seem effortless."

♥ ♥ ♥
 

-

 

2022 October 21

UK: A Bleak Legacy

The Times

Liz Truss bowed to the inevitable. She can point to no significant achievements in office.
Truss was repeatedly warned that her unfunded tax cuts were coming at the wrong time, would pour fuel on the inflationary fire, and risked a crisis of market confidence. In her recklessness, she showed economic illiteracy and political incompetence.
The legacy confronting her successor is bleak. Britain is humbled on the world stage and assailed by the financial markets. The economy is on the brink of recession.
Conservatives must put the national interest first. The priority must be to reverse the damage. The party cannot foist on us another prime minister lacking the skills to do the job.
Conservative MPs are on course for a mass cull at the next election.

Shattering UK credibility
Financial Times

The last six weeks have trashed not only the UK's economic standing but also its political stability. No one voted for the destruction of a proud reputation for fiscal responsibility and institutional stewardship.
The prospect of yet another Conservative prime minister chosen without a general election ignores not only the UK's growing democratic deficit but also the lack of competence displayed by its woeful government.
The Tory party has shown itself inept, riven with factionalism, contemptuous of the rule of law, and exhausted of credible ideas. It should not continue in power without a new mandate from voters.

A global laughingstock
Peter Oborne

The British Conservative party was credited for centuries with good sense, financial sobriety, and cautious pragmatism. Despised by progressive elites and allergic to ideology, the party was home for the boring middle.
The Conservatives now stand for chaos. It was foolish to suppose that Liz Truss could sack the most senior Treasury official, reinvent the laws of economic management, and defy the financial markets.
A chronic crisis of governance has reduced the UK to a global laughingstock. Conservatives chose Truss even though she was obviously not up to the job.
Like the Republicans in the United States, the Conservatives have become a party of monomaniacs, incompetents, and ideologues.

AR Call a general election now.

 

-
Truss
LT

 

2022 October 20

UK: Liz Truss Resigns as PM

The Guardian, 1335 BST

Liz Truss has resigned as prime minister after just 45 days in office. Her announcement follows an evaporation of her political authority that saw her crash the markets, lose two key ministers, and lose the confidence of almost all her own MPs.
Tory MP Ruth Edwards says her colleagues were "in tears" in the run-up to last night's fracking vote after being forced to choose between voting to lose the whip or voting against a manifesto commitment: "The trust between the parliamentary party and the prime minister no longer exists. You can only pull a stunt like that once. And you can't work as a team if the foot soldiers are treated with contempt by the general."
Last night, whips threatened Tory MPs with losing the whip if they voted with Labour on an anti-fracking motion. A minister wrongly said it was no longer a confidence vote, so many abstained. The chief whip resigned. After midnight, the media were told it was a confidence vote after all. The chief whip had un-resigned. MPs were left clueless.
At PMQ on Wednesday, Truss directly contradicted her new chancellor and said the "triple lock" on the state pension was safe. News broke that one of her most trusted and senior aides was suspended after a toxic briefing war. Truss then sacked her home secretary Suella Braverman following an argument over migration policy.

Truss has destroyed Brexitism
Jonathan Freedland

Liz Truss may well have killed off the vision of a low tax, low regulation society where the richest are freed to unleash their awesome talents and make themselves even richer.
Trussonomics slashed taxes on the top 1% to unleash the animal spirits of the free market. Financial markets recoiled from the plan. They could see no sign of how Truss hoped to pay for it.
Sterling tanked, the Bank of England warned that interest rates would have to climb steeply, and Britain became a distressed economy. Truss has discredited Brexitism.

The Tory experiment is dying
Polly Toynbee

Truss is gone. Her ideological hobgoblins turned on her. Two more years of the party that drove us over the Brexit cliff is unthinkable.
The UK is performing worse than any other country in Europe bar Greece and Cyprus. Post-financial crash, incomes in France grew by 34% and in Germany by 27%, while ours fell by 2%.
The UK economy was 90% of the size of Germany's in 2016, and now it has fallen to 70%. UK trade to the EU has fallen by 16%. Britain is now the most unequal country in Europe, bar Bulgaria.
The evil potion of the great Brexit lie that wildly misled so many is now wearing off. Labour should seize the moment. Poorer households are about to face a catastrophically bad year.
This has to stop. Two years more will break everything. What we need is an election.

AR Time for a general election.

 

Russia
BBC
Russia 1985−1999: TraumaZone

 

2022 October 19

Martial Law in Annexed Ukraine

Andrew Roth

Putin has announced the introduction of martial law in the four regions that his forces "annexed" from Ukraine. He hinted at a further escalation of the war: "Russia has repeatedly given a chance to the command of the satanists to come to their senses. But we were not heard or ignored. Now everything will be different, we will dictate the terms."

Trauma zone
John Gray

Adam Curtis used old tapes from the BBC offices in Moscow to create Russia 1985−1999: TraumaZone. Throughout the 7‑part series, he focuses on the faces and voices of ordinary Russians as they watch things collapse around them.
Mikhail Gorbachev plunged the Soviet Union into anarchy. His attempt at reform imploded and led to the cult of the free market. Western governments and companies promoted policies that had a catastrophic impact.
The result of applying this market fundamentalism was that pensions became worthless, savings evaporated as inflation raged, and life expectancy fell to third-world levels. Many Russians came close to destitution.
Vladimir Putin used the lawlessness of the Boris Yeltsin era to extend his authority. After he first became president in May 2000, he presided over a system of oligarchical rule and went on to create a totalitarian regime.
Failure of the Russian war in Ukraine could lead to his downfall. The Russian Federation could fracture and fragment. Liberals will cheer the end of Russian imperial power, but the dissolution will hardly be peaceful.

AR This risks widening to general war in Europe.

 

-

 

2022 October 18

Brexit Tosh

Jonty Bloom

Former Bank of England governor Mark Carney was asked about Brexit: "Put it this way. In 2016 the British economy was 90% the size of Germany's. Now it is less than 70%."
German exports and imports are soaring with everyone but the UK. Growth for the British economy is now expected to be just 0.8% a year for years to come. This is a disaster.
Brexit Ultras thought firing civil servants, rejecting good advice, cutting taxes for the rich, telling the poor to work harder for less, and slashing benefits would boost growth.

AR Can we say Brexit is dead now?

 

Fusion Dream

Freethink

Nuclear fusion could become viable for electricity generation by 2035. Construction begins next year on the SPARC reactor, which should produce twice as much power as it consumes.
Fusion reactors use strong magnetic fields to contain extremely hot plasma. Generating the fields wastes a lot of energy. SPARC uses efficient new superconducting magnet technology.
Fusion uses heavy hydrogen isotopes that can be extracted from seawater. A fusion reactor could produce as much energy as a railcar of oil from just a teaspoon of heavy water.

AR Good news, but is solar our best hope?

 

Webb Haste

Scientific American

Astronomers using data from the new James Webb Space Telescope are revising their work. The Webb detectors were not calibrated fully when the first data was released.
Calibration is critical for work requiring precise measurements of brightness. The next round of updates should shrink the Webb error bars down to just a few percentage points.
The Webb team first calibrated the Near Infrared Camera quickly for one detector and estimated the calibrations for the other nine detectors. The team is now taking its time.

AR Publish in haste, repent at leisure?

 

To Do

1
Rejoin the Single Market
and the Customs Union

2
Reform the UK

3
Rejoin the EU

-

 

2022 October 17

UK Woes

Financial Times

UK chancellor Jeremy Hunt has scrapped almost all the growth plan tax cuts and slashed the energy support package. In an emergency move to rebuild UK fiscal credibility, Hunt rewrote the tax and spending plans. Markets responded positively to signs that Hunt was finally getting a grip on UK public finances.

Battling for survival
Sebastian Payne

UK prime minister Liz Truss is battling for her political survival as leading business figures and Conservative MPs pile pressure on her to resign. Downing Street is braced for further market turbulence as others call on Truss to quit. Her allies liken the "plotters" to Remainers.

The sad story of Brexit Britain
Stryker McGuire

From the 2016 referendum onward, Brexit increasingly gave the Tories a focus. But once Britain formally left the EU, discipline within the Conservative party began to unravel.
Liz Truss did not exactly restore confidence in Downing Street. Her new government shredded the Tory reputation for fiscal prudence and sound economic management. The reaction abroad to her "fiscal event" has been awful.
The damage today cannot be separated from what happened in the years leading up to Brexit. As a dual US−UK citizen in London since 1996, I see Brexit as part of a post-imperial hangover.
Virtually all the economic arguments in favour of Brexit looked specious at best and cynically misleading at worst. The post-Brexit trade deals the UK has negotiated are insignificant compared with the loss of EU trade.
The harm has been devastating. Ending the free movement of labour between Britain and the continent is hollowing out the workforce. Economic indicators are all going in the wrong direction.

A Tory Brexit cult
Matthew Syed

Brexit sits behind all that has unfolded in the UK. The true believers prophesied that the economy would grow ever faster when unshackled from the EU.
The language became ever more cultish as each Brexiteer prediction collided with reality and was found wanting. Backbenchers jeered and shouted Project Fear when MPs lamented how the economy had suffered.
The idea that the Tories can ditch Truss now and go on to win the next election stretches credibility. All the contenders now eyeing the top job are true believers. Brexit has become the sacred shibboleth of the party.
The Tory party was once a party of pragmatism, moderation, and realism. Please call an election, take a break, and find yourselves again.

AR Do it.

 

Kyiv
⊛ Gleb Garanich/Reuters
Russian drone strike in Kyiv, Monday
 

Drone
⊛ Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP
Kamikaze drone attacking
Kyiv, Monday

 

Ukraine: Russian Kamikaze Drone Attacks

CNN

Ukraine has repeatedly asked its allies to supply it with more air defense systems and ammunition after Russia stepped up its use of Iranian-supplied kamikaze drones in strikes against Kyiv, Vinnytsia, Odesa, Zaporizhzhia, and other cities across Ukraine in recent weeks.
Kamikaze drones are loitering munitions that can wait for a time near a potential target and only strike once an enemy asset is identified. They are small, portable, easy to launch, and hard to detect.
The Ukrainian military and US intelligence say Russia is using Iranian-made attack drones. US officials say Russia bought these drones, which can carry PGMs and have a payload of about 50 kg. Ukraine says Russia has ordered 2,400 Shahed‑136 drones from Iran.
Ukrainian Defense Ministry: "In the past 13 hours, UAarmy shot down 37 Iranian Shahed‑136 drones and 3 cruise missiles launched by Russian terrorists"
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky: "All night and all morning, the enemy terrorizes the civilian population. Kamikaze drones and missiles are attacking all of Ukraine. A residential building was hit in Kyiv. The enemy can attack our cities, but it won't be able to break us. The occupiers will get only fair punishment and condemnation of future generations. And we will get victory."

AR Stay strong.

 

Liz Truss
PA
Liz Truss: the wrong policy
(unfunded tax cuts)
at the wrong time
(a global crisis)

 

2022 October 16

UK: Jeremy Hunt Takes Control

The Sunday Times

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is to delay the penny cut to income tax. He is now widely seen as the most powerful figure in government.
Truss is all but powerless. A cabinet minister: "Having dispatched her chancellor, who fell on his sword to defend her economic plan, I think it makes it very hard for her to survive."
Another: "I have not spoken to a single one of my cabinet colleagues who thinks this can go on much longer. If we don't change horses soon, we will be facing electoral annihilation."
Hunt is now the chief executive in government. He says the PM has in effect handed control of the public finances to him. He will deliver a fiscal statement on October 31.
He says the economic outlook is "far worse" than expected: "Spending will not rise by as much as people would like and all government departments are going to have to find more efficiencies than they were planning to."
Tory MPs are discussing how to evict Truss. Some aim to keep her going long enough to give Hunt time to settle in.

The unraveling
Michael Savage

Liz Truss is bracing herself for what comes next. A former cabinet minister: "She has trashed our reputation of economic competence .. She's got to go."
Last Wednesday at PMQ, Truss committed "absolutely" not to cut public spending and twice said she was "genuinely unclear" as if for a Labour attack ad.
That evening, Tory MPs asked her hostile questions. An MP asked whether infrastructure projects would now be funded or scrapped. There was an awkward pause.
On Thursday morning, Kwasi Kwarteng flew to Washington for an IMF meeting. That night, he caught the last plane back to London and said: "I'm not going anywhere."
By Friday morning, the markets had priced in changes to the mini-budget.
A former cabinet minister: "She was right there with Kwasi .. Her office was briefing how close they were .. on economic understanding and ideology."
Most MPs say Truss will struggle to reach Christmas.

AR Was she an opposition mole?

 

Jacques Testard
NYT
Jacques Testard

 

2022 October 15

A Tiny British Publisher

Alex Marshall

Jacques Testard started his own publishing company in 2014 and called it Fitzcarraldo Editions.
Fitzcarraldo is now one of Britain's most talked-about publishing houses. When the French writer Annie Ernaux was awarded the 2022 Nobel literature prize last week, she became Fitzcarraldo's third author to gain the honor since the house's founding, after Olga Tokarczuk from Poland in 2019 and Svetlana Alexievich from Belarus in 2015.
The day after the Ernaux announcement, Testard ordered the reprinting of 65,000 copies of her books to keep pace with demand. Fitzcarraldo sold around 135,000 books across all its titles in 2021.
Much of the British publishing industry is baffled by Fitzcarraldo's success. But the fact that Testard reads fiction in French and Spanish, as well as in English, enables him to spot authors whom insular British editors miss.
Testard was a postgraduate student in history at Oxford until he went to work at The Sunday Times for a few months, then interned at publishers in France, Britain, and the United States. In New York in 2010, he was struck by the vibrant literary magazines and decided to start one in Britain. It has since become well known for publishing work by future literary heavyweights.
Fitzcarraldo began in 2014 with a vision. Half of its catalog would be books in translation. All would be at "the more radical end of contemporary writing" and mix genres such as memoir and fiction.
Testard receives tips from publishing editors across Europe and the United States, as well as from translators and authors he trusts. Most British and American publishers still think foreign fiction is too expensive or difficult.
Testard: "Risk-taking and having a commitment to authors over time really does work."

AR See ALBION

 

-

 

Barnsley Speech

Sir Keir Starmer

Britain is crying out for clear leadership. Labour must provide it. We must stand with working people and build a new Britain.
We must grow the economy and raise living standards for everyone, not just a privileged few. We must create new jobs, new industries, and new opportunities. We must redesign our public services to unleash opportunity, provide security, and restore faith in politics as a force for good.
We must be the party of sound money. Every policy we announce will be fully costed. A new Office for Value for Money will make sure public spending targets the national interest.
We will turn Britain into a green growth superpower. We will Invest in wind, solar, nuclear, hydrogen, green steel, and carbon capture. We will train plumbers, electricians, engineers, software designers, technicians, and builders. We will create a national sovereign wealth fund and Great British Energy.
We will fight the Tories on economic growth. We plan to spread the opportunities of the future to every community in Britain. Labour is the party of home ownership and aspiration in Britain today.
The next two years will be tough. We need to provide the leadership this country needs.

AR I say, a persuasive pitch.

 

May, Hunt
AFP
Theresa May, Hunt, June 2019

 

Jeremy Hunt

The Times

Three months ago, Jeremy Hunt stood for election as prime minister. Now he is chancellor.
Hunt is backed by the One Nation caucus of Tory MPs who have never backed Liz Truss. He is a millionaire and leant heavily on his business success when making his leadership pitch in 2019. The former president of Oxford University Conservative Association is also the son of an admiral and was head boy at Charterhouse. He became the longest serving health secretary before becoming foreign secretary in 2018.
Hunt never fully embraced Brexit. Now he is the most powerful member of the cabinet.

A car crash
Paul Mason

Since Brexit, Britain has had no coherent economic model. Trade has declined on all measures, the currency had lost nearly a third of its value against the dollar even before Truss, investment has flatlined, and the current account deficit is over 8% of GDP. Neither the government nor the Bank of England can talk honestly about the weak fundamentals: Brexit is the source of the problem.

AR By far the best way to increase UK growth prospects is to rejoin the EU.

 

King
PA
King Charles greets Liz Truss on Wednesday with: "Back again? Dear oh dear"

AR 😁

-

 

2022 October 14

UK Political Turmoil

BBC News, 1539 BST

Prime minister Liz Truss delivered a short press conference aimed at restoring confidence in her government. She made a U‑turn on her government's decision to freeze corporation tax. The tax will now rise from 19% to 25% and raise £18 billion in taxes per year.
She was challenged over why she should remain in post when she had sacked Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor for implementing her policies. Earlier this morning, 10 Downing Street said the pair had been working in "lockstep" together.
Truss said she was "absolutely determined" to see through her promise to deliver economic growth and added that her new chancellor Jeremy Hunt "shares her vision" and will deliver the medium-term fiscal plan at the end of the month.

Liz Truss should go
Daniel Finkelstein

There have been moments of crisis in the past century, but this is different. If Liz Truss remains as prime minister, it is hard to see her government reviving. The Conservative party will be doomed to defeat, and the country will have to live for two years with a stumbling government unable to connect with voters.

A government in meltdown
BBC News, 1529 BST

Labour shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth: "This is a government in utter meltdown .. Liz Truss has sacked her chancellor for carrying out the policies of Liz Truss − a set of policies that led to turmoil on the markets, a run on pension funds, and soaring mortgage rates for homeowners across the country. This is clearly a disastrous set of decisions from a disastrous budget .. we need a change of government."

'Hastened her demise"
Chris Mason, 1502 BST

Reporters were astonished that the prime minister's news conference was so short. She needs to provide plenty of reassurance to her MPs and the financial markets. A Tory MP: "I voted for Liz but I think she just appointed her successor. Awful. Sadly think that hastened her demise."

Liz Truss speaks
BBC News, 1437 BST

Prime minister Liz Truss says her new chancellor Jeremy Hunt will drive her mission to "go for growth" and make the reforms the UK needs.
She says her priority is to act in the national interest: "This is difficult, but we will get through the storm."
She will keep former chancellor Rishi Sunak's planned increase in corporation tax.
A Tory MP: "It's checkmate, we're screwed."

Hunt appointed as chancellor
Chris Mason, 1356 BST

Jeremy Hunt will be the new Chancellor of the Exchequer. During the leadership contest over the summer, Hunt put himself forward to be the next Tory leader but after not gaining enough support from fellow MPs he supported Rishi Sunak's bid.

Time for a general election
Sir Ed Davey, 1316 BST

"This mustn't just be the end of Kwarteng's disastrous chancellorship, it should be the death knell of the Conservatives' reckless mismanagement of our economy .. People are angry, fed up and worried about the future .. Liz Truss has broken our economy. It is time for the people to have their say in a general election."

Letter to the PM
Kwasi Kwarteng, 1307 BST

"You have asked me to stand aside as Chancellor. I have accepted. When you asked me to serve as your Chancellor, I did so in full knowledge that the situation we faced was incredibly difficult .. I wish you well."

This is astonishing
Chris Mason, 1257 BST

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng tried and failed to implement their radical political program, and now the chancellor is out after less than 40 days. At a time of financial instability, the PM will need to steady the markets.
A senior Tory: "If as prime minister you remove a lightning rod, don't be surprised if rather more flashes of it end up striking you instead."

AR Creative chaos − excellent!

 

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2022 October 13

US vs China

Thomas L Friedman

The US is locked in a struggle with China over the key technology of the information age. The alliance that designs and makes the smartest chips in the world will also have the smartest precision weapons and the smartest factories.
The Biden administration has issued new export regulations directed against China. The Chinese embassy in Washington says the US is going for sci-tech hegemony.
The new regulations bar any US expert from aiding China in chip manufacturing without approval. They also bar any company from supplying targeted Chinese entities with hardware or software whose supply chain contains US technology.
The most advanced semiconductors are made by global coalition of companies. The companies all trust premier chip manufacturer TSMC in Taiwan with their trade secrets. They all fear China will steal their intellectual property.
US secretary of commerce Gina Raimondo: "The US was in an untenable position. Today we are purchasing 100% of our advanced logic chips from abroad: 90% from TSMC in Taiwan and 10% from Samsung in Korea."
The new CHIPS Act aims to help make more of the advanced chips it needs in the US.
Raimondo: "China has a strategy of military−civil fusion .. We cannot ignore China's intentions."
The US and its allies aim to prevent China from learning to make the advanced chips.
Raimondo: "We don't want them in China's hands and be used for military purposes."
China says the ban will only spur it to stand on its own in science and technology. A Chinese analyst: "There is no possibility of reconciliation."

AR This is why the US backs Taiwan.

 

Green Energy

Jacob Rees-Mogg

I am not a green energy sceptic. I am in favour of intelligent net zero in which green energy will play the biggest role.
The UK has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% since 1990 while growing the economy by over 70%. We can achieve net zero by 2050. But getting people on board requires us to show we can go green in a way that makes them better off, drives growth, and stimulates investment and innovation.
Our Contracts for Difference scheme has spurred £90 billion of investment in renewables and contributed to a 5× increase in electricity generation from renewable sources since 2012. In 2010, renewables accounted for 7% of UK electricity generation. Now they meet about 40% of UK needs.
Our growth plan will accelerate the delivery of infrastructure projects including windfarms and will boost the hydrogen industry. We will align onshore wind planning policy with other infrastructure to ease deployment and we will help householders with the upfront costs of solar installation.
We also need to focus on reinforcing the grid so that renewable electricity can reach homes and businesses. In exchange for supporting renewable energy companies, the energy prices bill requires them to charge consumers and taxpayers a fair price.
This will strengthen UK energy security and stop Putin holding us to ransom as we progress toward net zero.

AR More insightful than I expected from him.

 

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2022 October 12

A Holographic Cosmos

Dennis Overbye

Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen predicted that black holes could form in pairs connected by wormholes. Einstein, Rosen, and Boris Podolsky showed that a pair of interacting quantum particles would be eternally entangled.
Stephen Hawking said black holes would over time leak away all the mass that fell into them in a random fizz of particles and radiation. Quantum theory says information is never lost, but information would be lost in black hole radiation.
A hologram is basically a 3D image made of light. Leonard Susskind speculated that a black hole may be a hologram, with the event horizon as the film, encoding the stuff inside. Gerardus 't Hooft had the same idea.
In general relativity, the information content of a 3D space is limited to the number of bits that fit on a surface surrounding it, measured in Planck pixels. Jacob Bekenstein defined the limit where cramming too many bits into a space would collapse it into a black hole.
Juan Maldacena fleshed out the cosmos-as-holograph idea with ideas from string theory to make a model of the universe as a hologram. In it, all the information about what happens inside a volume of space is encoded as quantum fields on the surface of its boundary.
The holographic universe is like a can of soup, where the information about the contents is outside on the label. The bulk and the boundary are complementary sides of the same thing. The fields on the boundary obey quantum conservation of information, so the gravitational fields in the bulk do too. The can of soup is a proof of principle that gravity and quantum mechanics are compatible.
Don Page proposed that information is conserved when a black hole evaporates. A black hole does not radiate randomly. The radiation starts out random, but as time goes on, ever more of the particles emitted are correlated with those that came out earlier, delivering the missing qubits.
Particles escaping the black hole are entangled with particles that leaked out earlier. But the escaping particles are already entangled with their mates that fell into the black hole, running afoul of quantum monogamy. This can only work if the particles inside the black hole are the same as those now outside, connected by wormholes.
Maldacena and Susskind proposed that entanglement and wormholes are two faces of the same phenomenon. As they put it: ER = EPR.
Calculations show that information leaking through wormholes matches the pattern Page predicted. Geoff Penington: "And so the final moral of the story is, if your theory of gravity includes wormholes, then you get information coming out."

AR This story is a who's who of black hole physics.

 

Kerch
AFP
Kerch bridge from Russia to Crimea attack aftermath, Saturday
 

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2022 October 11

A Russian Nuclear Attack?

Anusar Farooqui

Putin aims to signal resolve and persuade his adversaries to sue for peace. He has burnt his bridges. A dangerous nuclear crisis is emerging.
If Russia cannot avoid military humiliation in Ukraine, it will not survive as a great power. The US war aim is to weaken Russia, but a cornered Russia may well use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Any Russian nuclear use will transform the conflict. We should expect a worldwide panic, of the sort we have never seen before, and keeping the NATO alliance together will become difficult.
The psychological impact of a detonation alone would compel the Ukrainians to halt all military offensives immediately. The diplomatic effect would be to raise the global pressure on the warring parties to stop fighting and start negotiating.
The US will then find itself with only bad options. A US nuclear response is out of the question. If Putin goes further up the escalation ladder, a more muscular US response becomes likely.
Any US response in Ukraine risks strategic nuclear war between Russia and NATO. Yet no vital US interest is at stake. Negotiate.

AR This is alarming.

 




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⊛ Mapbox/OpenStreetMap

 

2022 October 10

Putin's Revenge

The New York Times

President Putin has unleashed the broadest aerial assault against Ukrainian civilians and critical infrastructure since the early days of his invasion, hitting cities across the country in strikes that drew furious international condemnation.

AR Losing Ukrainian hearts and minds − utterly counterproductive.

 

Scottish Nationalism

Nicola Sturgeon

The current home secretary said this about asylum seekers: "I would love to be having a front page of The Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that's my dream, it's my obsession."
My dream is very different. It is that we live in a world where those fleeing violence and oppression are shown compassion and treated like human beings, not shown the door and bundled on to planes like unwanted cargo.
Labour is now just as committed to Brexit − a hard Brexit − as the Tories. At least the Tories believe in it. Labour doesn't.
Yet rather than make the principled argument, they cower away from it. They abandon all principle for fear of upsetting the apple cart. They are willing to chuck Scotland under the Brexit bus to get the keys to Downing Street.
If the court decides in the way we hope it does, on 19 October next year, there will be an independence referendum. It will leave us with a simple choice: Put our case for independence to the people in an election or give up on Scottish democracy.
I will never give up on Scottish democracy.

AR Scots wha hae: Let us do or die!

 

Crimea
The attack

 

2022 October 9

Losing Crimea Could Finish Putin

Mark Galeotti

Vladimir Putin opened the bridge across the Kerch Strait in 2018 and drove the first truck over it. Saturday's attack on it was a direct blow to his authority. The truck bomb destroyed two concrete spans, dropping the roadway into the sea, and ignited fuel wagons on a passing train.
The attack poses a challenge to the Russian commanders of the Ukraine war. The bridge was a key supply line to Crimea and the Russian forces in Kherson. They must now rely on shipping and the land route through annexed Ukrainian oblasts. Moscow claims the rail link will shortly reopen, but the road section may take more than a month to be rebuilt.
Crimea is heavily defended territory that Russians claim as theirs. It was transferred to Ukraine only in 1954, when the two countries were still in the Soviet Union. Its loss might be the last straw that brings Putin down.

Kerch bridge blast will be felt in the Kremlin
Peter Beaumont

Putin, 2018: "In different historical epochs .. people dreamed of building this bridge .. And finally, thanks to your work and your talent, the miracle has happened."
The attack on the bridge occurred the day after Vladimir Putin marked his 70th birthday amid a series of humiliating recent defeats in his war against Ukraine. Following his nuclear brinkmanship and his illegal annexation of four Ukrainian provinces, he will retaliate.
Russians saw Crimea as beyond the reach of Ukraine. That has now changed. This is a propaganda victory for Kyiv.

AR A more destructive attack would be helpful.

 

Peveril Point
AR
Peveril Point, Swanage, with Isle of Wight on horizon, Saturday
 

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2022 October 8

UK Botches COP26 Presidency

The Guardian

The UK seems to be ending its presidency of the UN climate talks next month in disunity and disarray. Rows over climate policy are hampering its ability to hold together the fragile coalition of developed and developing countries it built at the COP26 climate summit last year.
Liz Truss has still not agreed to attend COP27 next month. Business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg will go, but he supports fracking, expanding oil and gas production, and climate skepticism.
In her speech to the Conservative party conference on Wednesday, Truss described environment groups as part of the "anti-growth coalition" she vowed to vanquish. She reportedly advised King Charles against attending COP27.
COP26 summit president Alok Sharma and climate minister Zac Goldsmith called for King Charles to attend COP27, where the UK hands over the presidency to Egypt. The Egyptian government warns the UK against backtracking on climate commitments and renews its invitation to King Charles.
Former Clinton White House climate adviser and now Progressive Policy Institute fellow Paul Bledsoe: "Britain under Liz Truss so far appears to be taking three steps backward and none forward on climate .. It's hard to imagine a more shambolic and disappointing end to the UK's COP presidency."

AR The UK needs sharper external discipline − rejoin the EU.

 

Lyman
US Navy
USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) earlier this year
Costing more than $13 billion, the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Gerald R Ford is the largest warship in the world.
It incorporates multiple new technologies including electromagnetic catapults to launch fighter jets.
Now on its first deployment, accompanied by a cruiser, three guided-missile destroyers, and supply ships, the carrier is
crossing the Atlantic for exercises with ships from France, Germany, Sweden, and Spain.
 

70

 

2022 October 7

Human Rights in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine

The Nobel Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize to human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, the Russian human rights organisation Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties.
The laureates represent civil society in their home countries. They have for many years promoted the right to criticise power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens. They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses, and the abuse of power. Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.
Nobel Committee head Berit Reiss-Andersen: "This prize is not addressing President Putin, not for his birthday or in any other sense."

AR Nice timing anyway.

 

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2022 October 6

Cosmic Magnetism

Stuart Clark

Gravity seems to explain the overall structure of the universe. But we invoke dark matter to help explain how galaxies and galactic clusters stick together.
Gravity acts over vast distances and pulls on all matter. Magnetism only affects electrically charged particles. But much of the stuff in the universe is plasma.
Hannes Alfvén suggested that the force exerted on plasma by magnetism ought to be big. Magnetic fields must play an important role in shaping the cosmos.
Only a very strong magnetic field could help shape galaxies. To create one, you need a plasma dynamo. Galaxy clusters have large empty volumes containing nothing but plasma. This plasma emits X‑rays and is 10 MK hot.
Cosmic dust grains in a magnetic field polarize any infrared light passing through them. In many spiral galaxies, the magnetic field follows the spiral pattern of the galaxy.
Turbulence in a plasma dynamo should hugely boost the strength of a magnetic field. Large laser laboratories can create a plasma hot enough to generate a turbulent dynamo.
The NIF in California can create a turbulent dynamo effect so strong that the magnetic field traps particles inside regions of the plasma to reduce the flow of heat by a factor of 100, creating hot and cold spots.
This ability of the magnetic fields to trap heat could explain the hot empty volumes in galaxy clusters. The magnetic field created by a turbulent dynamo could suppress the diffusion of heat for billions of years.
No one knows if magnetic fields in spiral galaxies are strong enough to replace dark matter.

AR A good way to get rid of some dark matter. If I understand correctly, torsional general relativity can get rid of the rest. As a mathematical exercise, how about quantizing a variant of Kaluza−Klein theory adding electromagnetism to teleparallel gravity in 5 dimensions?

 

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2022 October 5

Click Chemists Awarded Nobel Prize

New Scientist

The 2022 Nobel prize for chemistry has been jointly awarded to Carolyn Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and Karl Barry Sharpless for their development of click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry.
Nobel Committee member Olof Ramström: "Click chemistry is chemistry based on specific reactions that work very efficiently and are very reliable to generate robust yields of products. You can essentially snap together two molecule building blocks in a very efficient and predictive way .. Bio-orthogonal reactions have helped with exploring the roles of biomolecules in cells and organisms."

They developed click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry
Quanta

Carolyn Bertozzi of Stanford University, Morten Meldal of the University of Copenhagen, and Karl Barry Sharpless of Scripps Research developed click chemistry and bio-orthogonal chemistry. Click chemistry revolutionized the options available to us for creating intended molecules. Bio-orthogonal chemistry enabled us to monitor the chemical processes going on inside living cells without harming them.
The term "bio-orthogonal" denotes a chemical reaction that does not interfere with or interact with a living system. The ability to perform complex reactions in living systems without interfering with natural biological reactions enables us to study diseases inside cells or even inside complex organisms.
Nobel Committee for Chemistry chair Johan Aqvist: "It's all about snapping molecules together. [This has] led to a revolution in how chemists think about linking molecules together and how to do it in living cells."

AR Again, this is delightful news.

 

On Growth

Rowena Mason

In her Conservative party conference speech, Liz Truss set out a plan for "growth, growth, and growth" after an interruption by protesters waving a Greenpeace banner.
She said cutting taxes was "the right thing to do morally and economically" and explained her decision to withdraw her plan to abolish the top rate of income tax: "I get it and I have listened."
She said she would exert an "iron discipline" over public spending: "I believe in sound money and a lean state."
The pound fell against the US dollar after the speech.

AR She's deluded about economics.

 

On Truth

Hugo Rifkind

Gwyneth Paltrow: "My most lasting mistakes and the mess that comes with them have all stemmed from me not standing fully in my truth and speaking from it."
The idea that truth is all about where you're coming from is relativism. Nobody is more innately right than anybody else. Relativism is at the core of identity politics.
Cate Blanchett: "One of the phrases I just cannot say is 'my truth'. I mean, the truth is the truth, isn't it?"

AR Cate right, Gwyneth wrong.

 

Physics Nobelists
QUANTA
L to R: John Clauser, Anton Zeilinger, Alain Aspect
 

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2022 October 4

Quantum Physicists Awarded Nobel Prize

New Scientist

The 2022 Nobel prize in physics has been jointly awarded to Alain Aspect, John Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger for experiments with entangled photons and their work in pioneering quantum information science.
Each of the winners carried out an experimental test of Bell's theorem. This involved measuring the correlation of properties of two entangled photons in an isolated system to see if it exceeds the Bell inequality.
John Clauser and Stuart Freedman were the first to test the Bell inequality. Their results violated it to a high level of statistical significance, implying that quantum mechanics has nonlocal effects. But their experiment left loopholes.
Alain Aspect at the University of Paris-Saclay and his team measured the Bell inequality again, to greater precision and with less doubt, by measuring the polarization of pairs of photons.
Anton Zeilinger at the University of Vienna and his team expanded their work to consider three or more particles entangled in a GHZ state. This is key for quantum computing, where GHZ states can be used as qubits.

Prize for ground-breaking experiments with entangled particles
Quanta

Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger have won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Physics for experiments that proved the profoundly strange quantum nature of reality. Between them, they established the existence of quantum entanglement, where two widely separated particles appear to share information despite having no way of communicating.
Nobel Committee member Thors Hans Hansson: "The experiments performed by Clauser and Aspect .. provided tools for creating and manipulating and measuring states of particles that are entangled although they are far away."
Entanglement is now poised to power an emerging wave of quantum technologies. Anton Zeilinger has been at the forefront, developing techniques that use entanglement to achieve astounding feats of quantum networking, teleportation, and cryptography.
Nobel Committee member Eva Olsson: "Quantum information science is a vibrant and rapidly developing field .. Its predictions have opened doors to another world, and it has also shaken the very foundations of how we interpret measurements."
Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen first described quantum entanglement in 1935. Einstein thought it would prove the death of quantum mechanics because it seemed to fly in the face of a central tenet of relativity. Instead, the EPR paper triggered a complete rethinking of reality.

AR I've been following this work closely for decades. Bell's theorem is fundamental. We live in a quangled omnium.

 

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Truss, Kwarteng

 

UK Government Debt Crisis

BBC News

Many Tories are concerned about how they can justify boosting the take-home pay of the wealthiest while cutting the real incomes of the poorest.
As the government seeks ways to pay for promised tax cuts, plenty of Tory MPs seem willing to say benefits should not bear the burden of balancing the books.
Number 10 thinking is that help is already going to those who need it most. And plenty of Tory MPs are sceptical of a ballooning welfare budget.

Sterling is not out of trouble
The Guardian

UK PM Liz Truss will not rule out real-terms benefit cuts: "We are going to have to make decisions about how we bring down debt as a proportion of GDP .. we have to look at these issues in the round, we have to be fiscally responsible."
Argentex Group CEO Harry Adams: "We anticipate sterling to remain highly responsive to the notion of any further changes in government policy. There is no realistic scenario whereby sterling enjoys a straightforward recovery."

After the U-turn, the cuts
Gordon Brown

UK chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng has left £43G of his £45G in tax cuts intact. He is still doubling tax-free giveaways to those with share options, cutting £1G from tax on dividends, deregulating bankers' bonuses, giving away £4G for employees who become self-employed and for tax-free shopping by foreign tourists, handing out £19G of corporation tax cuts, and rejecting a windfall tax on excess oil and gas profits.
Public spending cuts will impede growth, ruin education, and undermine the NHS. By 2026, the cuts will add up to £42G ± £5G. Even venture capitalists need educated workers, functioning roads and railways, innovations incubated in universities, and a public health system. When the strong help the weak, we are all stronger.

AR Henceforth, £1G is a billion pounds sterling.

 

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War in Ukraine

Chris Pleasance

Russia is losing the war, and Putin knows it. The despot is desperate. His army is in tatters, his battle plans are shot, he's burning through cash, and winter is looming. Meanwhile, Ukraine's army continues to advance.
Atlantic Council millennium fellow Alp Sevimlisoy says a Ukrainian victory would mean Putin being deposed, Russia breaking apart, and NATO facing off with China over the spoils: "Russia will have to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer a world power but a .. Black Sea state .. the domination of this region will be up to Turkey."

Is Putin in a bunker in Siberia?
Will Stewart

Putin will be 70 on Friday. The General SVR Telegram channel says he has warned his closest family that he may rapidly evacuate to a bunker a long way from Moscow, safe from attack.
Putin is said to have several bunkers in Siberia. One is on the Yamal peninsula and another in the Altai Mountains. His relatives and friends will go there too.
General SVR claims Putin is suffering from serious illnesses, but this cannot be verified.

AR Russia is certainly due for a fall.

 

Svante Pääbo
⊛ Karsten Möbius
Svante Pääbo
 

Russian nuclear munitions
train heads for Ukraine

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Truss and Kwarteng drop
plan to axe top tax rate

 

2022 October 3

Geneticist Awarded Nobel Prize

New Scientist

Svante Pääbo has been awarded the 1922 Nobel prize in physiology or medicine for his work on human evolution and the genomes of our extinct human relatives.
In 1990, Pääbo − who founded the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig − pioneered methods to sequence ancient DNA by starting with mitochondrial DNA.
Nobel committee chair Anna Wedell: "Humanity has always been intrigued by its origins .. Pääbo finally achieved the impossible, sequencing and assembly of the Neanderthal genome .. and discovered a completely new hominin entirely by analysing and comparing genome sequences."
Pääbo found that modern humans diverged from Neanderthals roughly 800 ky ago. Some 2% of the genome in people of European or Asian descent originates from Neanderthals.
Pääbo also discovered a new type of hominin, the Denisovans. People in Melanesia and parts of SE Asia have up to 6% Denisovan DNA.

Early human genomes decoded
Quanta

Svante Pääbo has won the prize for his pioneering work on extinct humans and human ancestors. He fathered paleogenomics.
Homo sapiens shares significant DNA sequences with the Neanderthals and other earlier hominins. Pääbo and his team developed new techniques to extract, duplicate, and read the old DNA and reconstruct the original genome. They sequenced the Neanderthal genome and discovered the Denisovans.
Through new sequencing technologies and advanced computational analysis, Pääbo and his team sequenced DNA from 40 ky old bones. In 2010, they published the first full sequence of the Neanderthal genome in 2010.
Neanderthals and Denisovans split an estimated 380 ky to 470 ky ago. Modern humans split from the two other species some 550 ky to 760 ky ago. The most recent common ancestor of them all lived around 1 My ago.
Evidence of human interbreeding with Neanderthals and Denisovans appears as genetic variants in some people today.

AR Fascinating work.

 

BBC
BBC News / PA Media
BBC 1, Sunday: Laura Kuenssberg interviews Liz Truss
 

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2022 October 2

UK PM: No Retreat

Laura Kuenssberg

From our long conversation this morning:
  Liz Truss has no intention of changing her plans for the economy
  Her decisions may well involve spending cuts in the next few years
  She didn't consult her Cabinet over scrapping the 45p top tax rate
  She knows the last week has not been an unalloyed success
She faces the Conservative party conference in Birmingham this week.

Mistakes were made
Financial Times

Liz Truss admits mistakes were made in the controversial mini-budget that sparked market turmoil last week. She says she will not retreat on her plan to deliver £45 billion of unfunded tax cuts but admits: "We should have laid the ground better and I have learned from that."

Chancellor revealed plans to financiers
The Sunday Times

Hours after delivering his mini-budget to the Commons, UK chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng attended a private champagne reception at the Chelsea home of financier and Conservative Party donor Andrew Law.
The guests, who included stockbrokers, bankers, financiers, and investors, congratulated Kwarteng on his proposals. After the reception, hedge fund bosses who stood to profit from a falling pound told associates Kwarteng was a useful idiot.
Enemies of the chancellor say his contacts have influenced his decisions in office. Over the summer, Kwarteng privately dined with his former boss Crispin Odey, a hedge fund investor and sponsor of Brexit.

UK reputation is undone
Matthew Syed

The reputation of the UK is undergoing a historic fall. The British state has lost its moral and institutional bearings. Some will doubtless point at Brexit as the original sin.
Liz Truss has unshackled the UK government from the institutional guardrails of the Office for Budget Responsibility, proposed unfunded tax cuts on the rich during a cost-of-living crisis, and threatened to unleash benefit cuts on the poor.
For this government, compromise and pragmatism are dirty words. Our cultural inheritance is being napalmed by a leader out of control. We need a general election.

AR I'm not making this up.

 

Tiger Day
Tank Museum
WW2 tanks: Churchill vs Tiger
Tiger Day Autumn 2022: my photos
 

Ukraine

 

2022 October 1

Putin's Downfall

Christian Esch

President Vladimir Putin, 69, won't back down. He has expanded his "special military operation" in Ukraine into a war and hinted at using nuclear weapons. There is no turning back for him.
Putin is destroying his own legacy. His military contractor is recruiting murderers and sex offenders and sending them to Ukraine. A TV host says those who mismanaged the mobilization should be shot. Hundreds of thousands of Russian men are fleeing abroad.
Putin held mock referendums in four regions of Ukraine. Now he has annexed them, he sees his attacks on Ukraine as a defense of his own borders. Crimea is just one of the Ukrainian regions he says are Russian.
Russia, he says, will respond to a threat to its territorial integrity with all the means at its disposal. A Kremlin propagandist says there are only two possibilities: quick victory or nuclear war.
Putin can destroy Ukrainian cities and infrastructure far from the front lines. He can try to flood the battlefields with untrained soldiers. He can force Belarus to help him. But he cannot admit defeat.
His big mistake is messing not just with the West but with an opponent for whom the fight is existential. Ukrainians have shown what price they are willing to pay. They won't back down.

AR WW3?

 

Mriya
www
Antonov An-225 Mriya
 

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