May 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm #12794
A house is built of bricks, bricks are made of sand, sand is made of molecules, molecules are collections of atoms, atoms are broken down to particles. Things should get simpler the further into the building blocks we get. But it doesn’t.
Leonard Susskind on the end of reductionism: Topics in String TheoryJuly 7, 2014 at 3:32 pm #13942
Aaah…July 15, 2014 at 1:44 am #14065
Albert versus string theoristsJuly 15, 2014 at 3:02 am #14066
Lawrence, before I begin, I’d just thought I would… you… you said that we’re all sharing molecules from the breath, breathed by… Feynman But you didn’t say, how that can be true.
And so, I want, like to add information to this, that…it is true because… for every breath you take, you inhale… more molecules of air, than there are breaths of air in the entire Earth’s atmosphere. And it’s because of this fact that anytime someone has exhaled in the past there are enough molecules to spread into everyone’s breath. And so, what is true for Feynman, would be true for any person throughout history, including Genghis Khan, Beethoven… Jesus… Whoever is your person….
or Einstein, Putin, Gisele Bundchen, whoever…August 30, 2014 at 8:25 pm #14744
“As the first way out there was religion, which is implanted into every child by way of the traditional education-machine. Thus I came — though the child of entirely irreligious (Jewish) parents — to a deep religiousness, which, however, reached an abrupt end at the age of twelve. Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the conviction that much in the stories of the Bible could not be true. The consequence was a positively fanatic orgy of freethinking coupled with the impression that youth is intentionally being deceived by the state through lies; it was a crushing impression. Mistrust of every kind of authority grew out of this experience, a skeptical attitude toward the convictions that were alive in any specific social environment — an attitude that has never again left me, even though, later on, it has been tempered by a better insight into the causal connections. It is quite clear to me that the religious paradise of youth, which was thus lost, was a first attempt to free myself from the chains of the ‘merely personal,’ from an existence dominated by wishes, hopes, and primitive feelings. Out yonder there was this huge world, which exists independently of us human beings and which stands before us like a great, eternal riddle, at least partially accessible to our inspection and thinking. The contemplation of this world beckoned as a liberation, and I soon noticed that many a man whom I had learned to esteem and to admire had found inner freedom and security in its pursuit. The mental grasp of this extra-personal world within the frame of our capabilities presented itself to my mind, half consciously, half unconsciously, as a supreme goal. Similarly motivated men of the present and of the past, as well as the insights they had achieved, were the friends who could not be lost. The road to this paradise was not as comfortable and alluring as the road to the religious paradise; but it has shown itself reliable, and I have never regretted having chosen it.”
Albert Einstein, Autobiographical Notes, Chicago, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company, 1979, pp 3-5.August 30, 2014 at 8:42 pm #14745August 30, 2014 at 9:01 pm #14746
“I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves — this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts — possessions, outward success, luxury — have always seemed to me contemptible.
“My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a ‘lone traveler’ and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude…”
“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man… I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”
Albert EinsteinSeptember 15, 2014 at 5:07 pm #14856
Ah, isn’t this beautiful…
The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that small chunks of matter sometimes seem to behave like particles, sometimes like waves. For most of the past century, the prevailing explanation of this conundrum has been what’s called the “Copenhagen interpretation”—which holds that, in some sense, a single particle really is a wave, smeared out across the universe, that collapses into a determinate location only when observed.
But some founders of quantum physics—notably Louis de Broglie—championed an alternative interpretation, known as “pilot-wave theory,” which posits that quantum particles are borne along on some type of wave. According to pilot-wave theory, the particles have definite trajectories, but because of the pilot wave’s influence, they still exhibit wavelike statistics.
September 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm #14951January 13, 2015 at 3:05 am #15436
Quantum field theoryJanuary 13, 2015 at 3:10 am #15437January 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm #17168
…millipieds two meters long and scorpions big as wolves…January 30, 2015 at 5:15 pm #18463
Consciousness then should be our starting point in trying to work out what matter is, rather than something we try to squeeze in as an afterthought.February 10, 2015 at 3:44 pm #18899
The universe may have existed forever, according to a new model that applies quantum correction terms to complement Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The model may also account for dark matter and dark energy, resolving multiple problems at once.February 12, 2015 at 11:44 pm #18936
Stories, science and art: Neil Degrasse Tyson is adorable here 🙂February 12, 2015 at 11:52 pm #18937
…and then, Bill Nye 🙂February 23, 2015 at 11:22 pm #19131
If our sums add up, the consequences could be profound. First, it will explain why quantum computers don’t work, and blow away the security ‘proofs’ for entanglement-based quantum cryptosystems (we already wrote about that here and here). Second, if the fundamental particles are just quasiparticles in a superfluid quantum vacuum, there is real hope that we can eventually work out where all the mysterious constants in the Standard Model come from. And third, there is no longer any reason to believe in multiple universes, or effects that propagate faster than light or backward in time – indeed the whole ‘spooky action at a distance’ to which Einstein took such exception. He believed that action in physics was local and causal, as most people do; our paper shows that the main empirical argument against classical models of reality is unsound.February 24, 2015 at 2:17 am #19133
But given the mechanism we have described, it is indeed
possible for quantum mechanics to emerge from an underlying classical system.February 24, 2015 at 7:34 am #19135
As I understand it, the double slit weirdness applies up to the scale of massive molecules buckyballs and small diamonds the size of an amoeba, just the the threshold of human vision, what people with exceptionally acute vision can just about perceive with the naked eye… in which case, if those guys are correct, does that stuff apply ? and if so, should be easy – hahahaha, he says – to invent experiments to test their idea….March 6, 2015 at 11:01 pm #19416
Today we know that Earth’s surface is made up of eight to twelve big plates (depending on how you define big) and twenty or so smaller ones, and they all move in different directions and at different speeds. Some plates are large and comparatively inactive, others small but energetic. They bear only an incidental relationship to the landmasses that sit upon them. The North American plate, for instance, is much larger than the continent with which it is associated. It roughly traces the outline of the continent’s western coast (which is why that area is so seismically active, because of the bump and crush of the plate boundary), but ignores the eastern seaboard altogether and instead extends halfway across the Atlantic to the mid-ocean ridge. Iceland is split down the middle, which makes it tectonically half American and half European. New Zealand, meanwhile, is part of the immense Indian Ocean plate even though it is nowhere near the Indian Ocean. And so it goes for most plates.
The connections between modern landmasses and those of the past were found to be
infinitely more complex than anyone had imagined. Kazakhstan, it turns out, was once
attached to Norway and New England. One corner of Staten Island, but only a corner, is European. So is part of Newfoundland. Pick up a pebble from a Massachusetts beach, and its nearest kin will now be in Africa. The Scottish Highlands and much of Scandinavia are substantially American. Some of the Shackleton Range of Antarctica, it is thought, may once have belonged to the Appalachians of the eastern U.S.
Rocks, in short, get around.
The constant turmoil keeps the plates from fusing into a single immobile plate. Assuming things continue much as at present, the Atlantic Ocean will expand until eventually it is much bigger than the Pacific. Much of California will float off and become a kind of Madagascar of the Pacific. Africa will push northward into Europe, squeezing the Mediterranean out of existence and thrusting up a chain of mountains of Himalayan majesty running from Paris to Calcutta. Australia will colonize the islands to its north and connect by some isthmian umbilicus to Asia. These are future outcomes, but not future events. The events are happening now. As we sit here, continents are adrift, like leaves on a pond. Thanks to Global Positioning Systems we can see that Europe and North America are parting at about the speed a fingernail grows—roughly two yards in a human lifetime.March 15, 2015 at 5:36 pm #19658
Haldane’s gift to diving was to work out the rest intervals necessary to manage an ascent from the depths without getting the bends, but his interests ranged across the whole of physiology, from studying altitude sickness in climbers to the problems of heatstroke in desert regions. He had a particular interest in the effects of toxic gases on the human body. To understand more exactly how carbon monoxide leaks killed miners, he methodically poisoned himself, carefully taking and measuring his own blood samples the while. He quit only when he was on the verge of losing all muscle control and his blood saturation level had reached 56 percent—a level, as Trevor Norton notes in his entertaining history of diving, Stars Beneath the Sea, only fractionally removed from nearly certain lethality.
Haldane’s son Jack, known to posterity as J.B.S., was a remarkable prodigy who took an interest in his father’s work almost from infancy. At the age of three he was overheard demanding peevishly of his father, “But is it oxyhaemoglobin or carboxyhaemoglobin?” Throughout his youth, the young Haldane helped his father with experiments. By the time he was a teenager, the two often tested gases and gas masks together, taking turns to see how long it took them to pass out.
Though J. B. S. Haldane never took a degree in science (he studied classics at Oxford), he became a brilliant scientist in his own right, mostly in Cambridge. The biologist Peter Medawar, who spent his life around mental Olympians, called him “the cleverest man I ever knew.” Huxley likewise parodied the younger Haldane in his novel Antic Hay, but also used his ideas on genetic manipulation of humans as the basis for the plot of Brave New World. Among many other achievements, Haldane played a central role in marrying Darwinian principles of evolution to the genetic work of Gregor Mendel to produce what is known to geneticists as the Modern Synthesis.
Perhaps uniquely among human beings, the younger Haldane found World War I “a very enjoyable experience” and freely admitted that he “enjoyed the opportunity of killing people.” He was himself wounded twice. After the war he became a successful popularizer of science and wrote twenty-three books (as well as over four hundred scientific papers). His books are still thoroughly readable and instructive, though not always easy to find. He also became an enthusiastic Marxist. It has been suggested, not altogether cynically, that this was out of a purely contrarian instinct, and that if he had been born in the Soviet Union he would have been a passionate monarchist. At all events, most of his articles first appeared in the Communist Daily Worker.
Whereas his father’s principal interests concerned miners and poisoning, the younger Haldane became obsessed with saving submariners and divers from the unpleasant consequences of their work. With Admiralty funding he acquired a decompression chamber that he called the “pressure pot.” This was a metal cylinder into which three people at a time could be sealed and subjected to tests of various types, all painful and nearly all dangerous. Volunteers might be required to sit in ice water while breathing “aberrant atmosphere” or subjected to rapid changes of pressurization. In one experiment, Haldane simulated a dangerously hasty ascent to see what would happen. What happened was that the dental fillings in his teeth exploded. “Almost every experiment,” Norton writes, “ended with someone having a seizure, bleeding, or vomiting.” The chamber was virtually soundproof, so the only way for occupants to signal unhappiness or distress was to tap insistently on the chamber wall or to hold up notes to a small window.
On another occasion, while poisoning himself with elevated levels of oxygen, Haldane had a fit so severe that he crushed several vertebrae. Collapsed lungs were a routine hazard. Perforated eardrums were quite common, but, as Haldane reassuringly noted in one of his essays, “the drum generally heals up; and if a hole remains in it, although one is somewhat deaf, one can blow tobacco smoke out of the ear in question, which is a social accomplishment.”March 21, 2015 at 7:06 pm #19799
Excerpts from Feeman Dyson’s field theory
…Looking backward, it is now clear that nineteenth-century chemists were right to concentrate on the how and to ignore the why. They did not have the tools to begin to discuss intelligently the reasons for the individualities of the elements. They had to spend a hundred years building up a good descriptive theory before they could go further. And the result of their labors … was not destroyed or superseded by the later insight that atomic physics gave.
… Our justification for concentrating attention on the existing theory, with its many arbitrary assumptions, is the belief that a working descriptive theory of elementary particles must be established before we can expect to reach a more complete understanding at a deeper level.March 22, 2015 at 4:13 am #19810
I am not saying I agree with this, only that it is interesting
The view presented in this essay, on the development of life and cosmos, through an interplay of
entangled mind/matter domains, with a central role therein of a universal information field, as
pictured in Fig. 28, may provide a coherent framework for further research in physics and biology,
as well as for the future studies of consciousness. The integral nature of this view may also be
helpful for a more fruitful dialogue between materialists/reductionists (matter is primary) on the one
hand and idealists (consciousness is primary) on the other, who usually reject each other’s world
view as “not defendable”. The latter qualification should be considered as unscientific, and ignores
the fact that breakthroughs in science often occur at its boundaries: where very different concepts
are allowed to interact and even, at some point, may merge into a single one. In such a scientific
endeavor, information should be positioned as the most fundamental aspect of the architecture of
reality.March 22, 2015 at 9:22 pm #19820
“When we, physicists, get to the top of the mountain we will be greeted by mystics and spiritualists, ‘what took you so long?’” Today’s physicists, astronomers, cosmologists, mathematicians are getting closer to the top with their pursuit of the elusive ‘God particle,’ aka Higgs boson — but with their biases against spirituality intact. Stephen Hawking, allegedly one of the most intelligent persons on the planet, goes to great lengths to proselytize his belief that the universe “does not need a god;” the subtext being that it is a god in and of itself. Albert Einstein, however, was the exception that proves the rule; as was Carl Jung. And Gandhi, of course, the antithesis of a politician.
The process of living peacefully depends on degrees of spiritual (not religious) advancement as a corollary to changes in sociological paradigms and societal externalities. Peace and Conflict Studies, among other civilizing factors for human beings, thus represent the flip side, the how-to, the map to the top of the mountain. Peace is an inside as well as an outside job, a process for individuals and also for social bodies and collectivities to trail permanently — the planet being the ultimate ‘individual.’http://consciousreporter.com/technology-and-consciousness/spirituality-and-virtue-as-corollaries-to-peace/March 22, 2015 at 10:25 pm #19821
You don’t try to debunk these theories. Why did you adopt that approach?
That wasn’t the focus of the show for me. None of us wanted to make something that was laughing at these people. It was more a matter of going “Look, this is an actual thing that’s happening, and millions of people around the world believe in it,” and if you’re at a dinner party and you’re sitting next to one of these people, you can either say that they’re mad, or dangerous, or idiots, or you could have a good conversation with them. I’m more interested in just hearing from them what they think is going on and why. If you see a documentary with Richard Dawkins, you don’t have time to understand what the religious person thinks, because Dawkins is shouting them down. That’s in no way productive for a conversation.March 22, 2015 at 10:30 pm #19822
Today I saw a link to an article in Mother Jones bemoaning the fact that the general public is out of step with the consensus of science on important issues. The implication is that science is right and the general public are idiots. But my take is different.
I think science has earned its lack of credibility with the public. If you kick me in the balls for 20-years, how do you expect me to close my eyes and trust you?
But that is AMERICAN science !March 25, 2015 at 12:21 pm #19887
Future of Scandinavian farming
The Scandanavian countries of Norway, Sweden and others are becoming increasingly popular for location of server farms. It’s not because of their business environments or laws, though those are certainly hospitable as well. It’s primarily because of their climate.
Heat is the primary enemy of servers, which are used to store computer files, run online applications and perform countless other essential tasks for computers around the world. But all that work puts off a lot of heat, which means a lot of air conditioning is needed to keep the servers cool. A lot of air conditioning means steep energy bills and a larger environmental footprint.March 25, 2015 at 2:16 pm #19894
Gerard ‘t Hooft:
It so often happens that I receive mail – well-intended but totally useless – by amateur physicists who believe to have solved the world. They believe this, only because they understand totally nothing about the real way problems are solved in Modern Physics. If you really want to contribute to our theoretical understanding of physical laws – and it is an exciting experience if you succeed! – there are many things you need to know. First of all, be serious about it. All necessary science courses are taught at Universities, so, naturally, the first thing you should do is have yourself admitted at a University and absorb everything you can. But what if you are still young, at School, and before being admitted at a University, you have to endure the childish anecdotes that they call science there? What if you are older, and you are not at all looking forward to join those noisy crowds of young students?March 25, 2015 at 2:32 pm #19895
His usage of the heading ‘Phenomenology’ appears to be idiosyncratic..March 26, 2015 at 3:27 am #19905
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.