Sunday, 9 December 2012


Welcome back to the Schrödinger picture.

The new LHC+Higgs+Zombie film is now available to watch....

The production values are high for the budget, and the "28-Days-Later"-esque music is brilliant...

.... but the depiction of women in film takes another blow.

The heroine, Amy, is initially a patchwork creation of chummy tomcat (so that she can hang out with the cool boy physicists) and emotional kitten, brilliantly squealing "The Higgs wouldn't do that!", like some highschool cheerleader who has just been told that her leather-jacketed rebel boyfriend is not so much a bad penny as a full-on mass-murdering psychopath, and then, shockingly, appallingly, jaw-droppingly, breezes over the fact that she was date raped less than 24 hours previously by one of the excruciatingly one-dimensional physicists she is trapped with in the LHC.

Am I suggesting that women are so weak as to be utterly unable to overcome such an experience? Am I suggesting that Amy should have been a blubbering mess from start to finish? Not at all. I'm suggesting that the writer threw this crass line into his film without any thought for what it would mean to the character and because he thought, well, that's the kind of thing which happens to girls, right, and we've got a girl in the film, so we'll chuck in a line about her being raped. Now that's character development for you. And now the boys will fight each other, yeah! Which is precisely what happens.

After some more eye-wateringly cringeworthy weepy-weepy scenes, Amy is dropped into the heroine roll the only way badly-written cinema knows how: by silencing her and having her spend the last 15 minutes essentially as a boy, an ass-kicking, gun-firing secret agent spy superhero.

 The supporting female characters are not treated any better, consigned to either being quickly eaten or, in a forehead-slappingly awful moment, left to flirt in doorways with their supervisors, something which is made even more shocking by the fact that the writer is a physicist and should be well aware that the idea of flirting with another of our kind is as vomit-inducing as an ipecac milkshake.

What could have been a gorgeously tongue-in-cheek pastiche of the fearmongering surrounding the LHC is instead reduced to every teenage boy's first draft of a zombie film by some fantastically clichéd, blasé writing. The one highlight on the scaremongering front, over too quickly, is the mention of mini black holes. Although with hindsight, I'm surprised that there wasn't an audible snigger from the boys after that line.

Friday, 26 October 2012


I'm quitting. I've had enough.

Enough of not being able to spend time on interesting research because it isn't trendy, of battling with problems for weeks only to find that they were probably solved fourty years ago and published in some obscure Russian journal which is impossible to find either online or physically, of reading crap papers which appear in the best journals, of being looked over for promotion/conference attendence/citations in favour of people who couldn't tell their arse from an impala, of having to correct all the mistakes typsetting services introduce into my papers, of wasting my research time on admin and beaurocracy, and most of all, of arrogant, rude, unwashed old men with hyperinflated egos.

Goodbye physics. I expect I will miss you sometimes. I would say you're in good hands, but you're not. Best of luck with that. Try not to find SUSY.


Thursday, 23 August 2012

Schrödinger's cat. HA HA HA!

"But hair, in particular cat hair, is not alive."

If you want me, I'll be on the floor, laughing myself sick

Friday, 17 August 2012

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Mansuripur again.

This is fascinating. Click the following link to go to

Mansuripur's publications on the arXiv.

Same Mansuripur who thought he's found a big problem with special rel. and had the paper published in PRL, but whom was summarily shot down in a rain of PRL-aimed Comment arrows tipped with venemous physicist PRL-salivating BILE. Except for McDonald's response, which was rather more measured and mature.

Anyway, Mansuripur is now bombarding (and that is the right word) the arXiv with uploads of his previous papers and conference proceedings from as far back as 2005. (When there were dinosaurs and shit.) What's he up to? Here's a potential list.

  1. He's protesting against open-access charges. Good on you my son!
  2. He's posturing. "Look at my beautiful peakcock feather papers! See how well they sit with my magnificent PRL beak!" Or something along those lines. In this case one has to presume that he's sticking by his "Einstein was wrong" guns.
  3. He's panicing. "Oh crap, I messed up. I know, I''ll overcompensate by producing loads of papers. Oh wait, I don't have any ideas. I'll upload old papers to the arXiv instead! Everyone will read those instead of the dodgy "Einstein-sucks" paper.
  4. He's quitting and is, either in fury (see 1.), defiance (2.) or regret (3.), throwing his legacy into the public domain.

Place your bets!

Sunday, 29 July 2012

This is what physicists are.

I've just been to a week long conference. At the end of my talk, two physicists claimed, in front of the entire audience, that they had solved the same problem as me two years previously. They also said that I owed them citations. This was extremely embarassing.

After the talk, it transpired that their "solution" was the same unmotivated, unphysical and manifestly incorrect result which my competitors have been pushing for the last two years, and which I have disproven. In other words, they lied. And they knew this. I actually felt sick. They desperately want citations to their badly written and vanilla quality research, and tried to push this by embarassing me in front of the bigshots of my field. There is no way to explain to an audience which has dispersed that these people flat out lied.

Friday, 13 July 2012

From Phys. Rev.

Dear A.,

On [date] we sent you this manuscript for review.
Since Physical Review Letters is viewed as a rapid means of
publication, we wish to keep delays to a minimum. We have not yet
received your report and, therefore, would appreciate a message concerning its status.  You may respond via our referee server or by sending an email to

Dear PRL,

Ten weeks ago I sent you my manuscript for review. Two weeks ago the referees returned their reports to you. Since PRL is viewed as a rapid means of publication, I would like to keep delays to a minimum. I have not yet received the referee reports and, therefore, would apprecitae a message concerning their status.  You may respond via email, post, fax or bloody carrier pigeon for all I care, as long as I hear something, anything, which convinces me that you actually give the slightest hint of a rat's arse about my paper. Until then, don't be expecting any referee reports from me. I do those for free. All you have to do is act on the advice you're given, but that's your job. It does not take two weeks to click the "forward reports to author" button.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

They found the Anderson!

Yup, it's true, looks like we're finally found the Anderson particle, which particle physicists have been searching for for 45 odd years, ever since they nicked the idea from Anderson himself.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Fermilab... Higgs....Zzzzz.. whu? whu? Did I snore?

Are you a physicist, but not an experimental physicist? Were you perhaps fairly bored by the softly-softly-we-know-what-Cern-have-but-can't-say presentation from Fermilab yesterday? Do you simply not understand those baffling and never fucking explained green-yellow-95%-black-line-yellow-balloon-excluded-region-under-this-region-in-pink-on-a-tuesday plots which apparently say something very important about this bit of the curve here between 110 and 140 GeV even though it looks like any other bit of the same sodding curve?

Well, check out Philip Gibbs' posts over at viXra:

There's the latest (unofficial) results and if you link back to earlier posts on the Higgs he actually explains what those plots mean, which is rather good of him.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Higgs is Prometheus

I would write something about the Higgs, but I feel entirely apathetic about it. It feels like a letdown after the buildup. Just like Prometheus. Too many spoilers released over too much time, and the final result is rather boring.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Check out some of the shit on today's arXiv (sorry, am in a bad mood and can't be bothered to pretend today that there aren't a great many things I utterly detest)
  1.  Let's redefine SI units!
    Why? Well... you know... science.

  2. Brian Josephson posts a fairly level-headed description of how other physicists have treated him like crap:
    Sadly, the paper ends up like a fish in a barrel:

    "My original assumption that scientists, being intelligent people, would have the ability to view experimental evidence and theoretical arguments objectively has been severely challenged"

    Well, if you had provided any experimental evidence at all, or a single scientific argument then people might have listened, but, well, you haven't, so, you know, blame where blame is due.

    "in the end, truth will prevail"
    Yeah, see above. It kind of has prevailed.  It turned out to be science. You noticed, right?

    *sound of gunshot*
    *floating fish*

  3. This is a beauty.
    Here's the abstract

    "If our universe has appeared in a result of Big Bang or something like this, whether we have reasons to deny an existence of other universes appearing by the same or similar way? An objection that there is no anything like it, is doubtful, because nobody knows: what could we observe in this case? A model of a multi-space universe with mutual coupling of spaces is being proposed and investigated"

    Here's a translation.

    Dude, if, like, the universe cam from like, nothing, shouldn't there be, like, other universes? That come from nothing like, all the time, even right now? I mean, we don't know that there isn't another universe. Just 'cos like, you know, the universe is like ... so far out, dude, it's like... everygthing, you know? But that doesn't mean there can't be, like, another everything, you know? Woah. Yeah. I mean, it could be like we're floating in this universe and the universe is like floating in another universe, you dig? Like we're all big cosmic floaters.... you know?

All of these were taken from today's

So what do we need viXra ( for, exactly ?

Friday, 1 June 2012

Poor Mansuripur.

I'm starting to feel a tiny bit sorry for Mansuripur. This could well turn into a "career ruined" story, or worse. I can imagine how I'd feel if there had now appeared four different comments on my work on the arxiv....

.... along with McDonald's rather more discrete refutal, see earlier posts.

So, Mansuripur, if you're reading this, keep your chin up.  Forget this little incident, stop trying to prove that Einstein was wrong, and focus on your optics, no pun intended. It will all be fine. People make mistakes, people will forget.

I don't think, by the way, that the reason there are so many comments coming out on this paper is that it's essentially wrong, or that it rediscovers a problem that was solved long ago, or that scientists feel a selfless, community serving need to correct mistakes in published papers so that they are not propagated into future research, no.

There are so many comments because everyone is trying to get a free PRL out of Mansuripur's cock up. That's how PRL works. You get a paper published, someone will write a comment on it. If you had sent the same paper to another journal, even to another high-impact letters journal like Phys Lett B (which, by the way, seems to have a much more human set of reviewers and editors than phys rev), no-one would care about writing a comment.

It's something very specific to PRL, it seems.

So, physicists, give it a rest. We know Mansuripur messed up, and we know Physical Review is never going to touch one of his papers ever again and that he's going to have to keep his future job applications restricted to those groups who don't know how to use four-vectors, but it's time to get on with something else. If the chap kills himself, it's on our heads.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Pull. Your. FInger. Out.


Copyright/Right to Publish received
16Apr12 23May12 Review request to referee; report received
16May12         Correspondence (misc.) sent to author
        16May12 Communication (misc.) received from author
16Apr12 02May12 Review request to referee; report received
31Apr12 01May12 Reminder to referee; response received
31Apr12         Reminder to referee [others at 1-2 week intervals]
16Apr12         Correspondence (miscellaneous) sent to author
16Apr12         Right to publish signature received
16Apr12         Correspondence (miscellaneous) sent to author
04Apr12         Acknowledgment sent to author
04Apr12         Correspondence (miscellaneous) sent to author

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

PRL shoots itself in the foot. Or the head?

So, feast your eyes on this beauty:

(or you can get it here: )

So, the Lorentz force and special relativity are incompatible. Warning signs follow:

1) The paper is written in non-relativistic notation

2) The chap only cites 1) textbooks, 2) himself and 3) Einstein.

Apparently this did not give the editor of PRL pause for thought.  Here's a comment:'

and here is a reponse from McDonald, who I would trust as a bit of an expert on this stuff.

His conclusion (tastefully reserved for a footnote, I might add) is that Mansuripur dropped the ball.

I am going to watch how this one develops with glee. Either way, the outcome will be fantastic. Either

1) some random self-citing chap from an optics department fells Einstein


2) some random self-citing chap from an optics department provides delicious proof that PRL editors are right tits while simultaneously proving himself to be a right tit.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Eistein was wrong! (crackpot alert)

Here we go! Todays awesome choice of approach/title/topic/presentation/behaviour.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Quitting. Not quite at the speed of light.

The head of Opera has resigned. Interesting! And typically lazy science reporting, too:

"If the findings had been confirmed, they would have disproved Albert Einstein's 1905 Special Theory of Relativity." Hnnnnnggggg.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


I'm off to a conference. Well, a workshop really. Week one: theory. My bag. Week two: experiment and stuff so applied it might as well be called engineering.

And where have they put my talk? At the end of the second week. And where have they put talks by others in my field, including my own sodding collaborators? At the beginning of the first week.

It's a bit insulting. My boss isn't as powerful as other bosses, so I automatically get less respect. It's starting to annoy me. I have three papers coming up and in each of them my main result is that everyone else is wrong, and has been wrong for years. That's a dangerous thing to claim, I know, it makes me sound like an arrogant crackpot. But that doesn't mean I'm not right. And, of course, I have to think of a nice way of saying it.... grief....

Thursday, 15 March 2012

I love it.

While my collaborators continue to ignore me and I beat my head against a result which is utterly trivial but which will be impossible to explain because everyone believes the bullshit published in the literature, little things like this make me smile:

"We study the survival of a single diffusing lamb on the positive half line in the presence of N diffusing lions"

Awesome. Awesome.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Another classic

Awesome. Another fantastic choice of title. And it's a comment!

Friday, 17 February 2012


Finally. Finally, I have beaten my collaborators into submission and convinved them to publish the (frankly sweet) result we've been sitting on for months. Which means I need good music to listen to while I type. Furiously. So that my fucking competitors don't beat me to it. (I happen to have... found out... what they're working on.)

This is what I'm listening to just now. Why should you care? You shouldn't. But you might like it.

Ultrasound Check out "Black Hole" here, and make sure your speakers are turned up.

Automatic Writing, listen to "Continuous" here. If the 80's had been this good we wouldn't regret them so much.

The frankly awesome Breton,
check out "Edward the Confessor", and you can get download some tracks from the facebook page. By sharing your personal infromation, of course.

Last but not least, Ulterior, listen at the same page.

Monday, 6 February 2012


Suppose that there were a handfull of papers every year bleating on about the same "problem" and how to fix it. Suppose that the "problem" was really no more than a curiosity to do with the method of calculation, and which didn't impact physics in any way.

As such, any attempt to "fix" the non-existent problem by making changes to the relevant theory would be (very rightly) viewed as crackpot nonsense.

Suppose, then, that someone came along and showed in a simple way how to do away with this issue without making any changes to the theory. A short paper, drawing a line under a silly argument once and for all.

Do you think anyone would publish that paper? Well we'll see. Three journals didn't even send it out for review. Now that it's finally been sent to a reviewer, the report has come back after 5 days. Do we imagine the report is positive? No. No we do not. Hey ho.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Journals. Again. Yes, again.

Journal gripe one.

I had to withdraw a paper from a journal this morning because they have had it for over two months and despite requests don't seem to be prompting the referee to get off his sloth ass and read my extremely short paper.

Journal gripe two.

Springer. Yes, it's fashionable to hate them so I'm jumping on that bandwagon. I have conference proceedings `in transit' with them, but after that I'm not submitting anything else to springer. Their corrections team has done nothing to change my mind. First they send me proofs without a list of corrections and queries, then they ignore my corrections and ask why I haven't responded to theirs. Grrr. They finally send me their list of queries, but don't give me access to the proofs any more so I can't make changes. Idiots. Utter idiots.

Friday, 6 January 2012

1. Was there a "time" when there was "nothing"?

Roland, Lagos

What was said
The origin of the universe can be explained by the laws of physics, without any need for miracles or Divine intervention. These laws predict that the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing in a rapidly expanding state.

This is called inflation because it is like the way prices in the shops go up at an ever increasing rate.

Time is defined only with the universe, so it makes no sense to talk about time before the universe began, it would be like asking for a point south of the South Pole.

A more honest response

We have some good guesses about how and when the universe began. One of these is that the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing. We do not know if this is really true.

Physics is the study of our universe, the way it is now, the way it was in the past and the prediction of how it will behave in the future. We have no way, precisely none, of probing what goes on "outside", "before" or "after" our universe. The very ideas are a bit fuzzy. Questions of this nature therefore belong to a different field. That may seem unsatisfactory. If so, go talk to a science philosopher, if you can stand it.

Some other comments Unsure why, Coxy, thought it was worth the time to respond to this kind of toss. You can't give an honest answer without seeming like you're giving up. Where does god live? Where is the edge of the universe? What's outside it? Funky questions, but you'll never get the answer out of a physicist.

And what was that waffle about inflation for? Did they have a lot of whitespace to fill?

Did like the south pole analogy though, that was good.

Imagine he could stand up.

Before reading the following, imagine that Stephen Hawking wasn't horribly afflicted by a crippling disease. Let's put that to one side and imagine he was physically well. I want to focus on the physics and I want to avoid anyone saying, however it be dressed up as snivelling sanctimonious drivel, that you can't say anything against the man because he is disabled.

So imagine, if it makes you happy, and I can't imagine how it would, that it was actually Brian Cox (too obvious even for this self-referential nod to a pun) who gave this interview over at the BBC.

I wouldn't dream of trying to put words in SH's mouth, but I'll gladly do the same for Coxy, and he was the interviewee, right? Right. Let's take a look at what he said, what he meant, and what he should have said. Over the course of several posts, I think.