Tag Archives | Physics

Learn physics with CERN’s John Ellis in ‘A Brief Guide to Everything’

iai-academy

Last month, The Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI), an organization committed to spreading “a progressive and vibrant intellectual culture in the UK,” launched IAI Academy — a new online educational platform that features free courses in everything from theoretical physics to the future of feminism. Get up to speed with what physicists do and don’t know with CERN physicist John Ellis’ ‘A Brief Guide to Everything’ or discover the meaning of life with sociologist Steve Fuller.

The initial lineup has 12 courses – here’s the list:

  • A Brief Guide to Everything – Web Video – John Ellis, King’s College London, CBE 
  • The Meaning of Life – Web Video – Steve Fuller, University of Warwick
  • New Adventures in Spacetime – Web Video – Eleanor Knox, King’s College London
  • Minds, Morality and Agency – Web Video – Mark Rowlands, University of Miami
  • Nine Myths About Schizophrenia – Web Video – Richard Bentall, University of Liverpool
  • The History of Fear – Web Video – Frank Furedi, University of Kent
  • Physics: What We Still Don’t Know – Web Video – David Tong, Cambridge
  • Science vs.
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Your Food Is Always Outside Of You: Some Ideas About Space But Definitely Not Time

via Ian Kilgore’s blog:

Here’s the original abstract of the talk:

YOUR FOOD IS ALWAYS OUTSIDE OF YOU

(Some Ideas About Space But Definitely Not Time)

ABSTRACT:

I’m going to, in an accessible way, cover some mathematical and physical ideas that I think are important or at least pretty cool. (CHILL. OUT.) You probably spent a lot of time in grade school factoring polynomials or whatever. I don’t care about that. I want to talk about why orbits work, what happens in 5-D, why the World Series is slightly better than a coin toss, databases are broken forever, truth itself is wrong, and what happens if an infinite number of buses roll up at your house. Or some subset of that.

I’ll cover three or four discrete topics, so don’t worry if you get lost; you’ll be following along again in a few slides. Any equations will be supplementary only- you won’t have to understand them to get the general idea.

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An infinite multiverse: a bad idea or inescapable?

Stanislav Sedov (CC by 2.0)

Stanislav Sedov (CC by 2.0)

via Ars Technica:

Earlier this week, a cultural center in Red Hook, Brooklyn played host to the sort of debate that’s usually reserved for smoke-filled dorm rooms: do we live in a multiverse and, if so, is there another you out there?

But rather than mind-altered undergrads, the debate took place among three physicists, one of whom happens to have a Nobel Prize sitting back home.

The debate was held at Pioneer Works, a nonprofit center that places artists’ studios next to a space for scientists-in-residence, mixing in a high-tech microscopy company and 3D printers for good measure. It’s mostly known for the classes it offers, which range from crafts from lockpicking and programming to learning how to play a theramin. But Pioneer Works is starting a series on controversial scientific topics, and the multiverse is the first one it chose to tackle.

It made some excellent choices to handle it.

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Dreams of the Universe: Is Particle Physics Unscientific?

From string theory to the multiverse, the theories of modern physics look increasingly exotic and untestable. But while they may be good for selling books, are they bad science? Do we need a return to empirical experiment, or should imagination be allowed its playground?

The Panel
Cambridge string theorist David Tong, experimental physicist Tara Shears, and author of The End of Science John Horgan seek the place where facts and fantasy collide.

This lecture was submitted via the Disinfo contact page.

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Science Says the Universe Could Be a Hologram, Computer Program, Black Hole or Bubble

What is the Universe? A hard question to answer , no doubt, but Smithsonian Magazine suggests there are ways to check:

The questions are as big as the universe and (almost) as old as time: Where did I come from, and why am I here? That may sound like a query for a philosopher, but if you crave a more scientific response, try asking a cosmologist.

This branch of physics is hard at work trying to decode the nature of reality by matching mathematical theories with a bevy of evidence. Today most cosmologists think that the universe was created during the big bang about 13.8 billion years ago, and it is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The cosmos is woven into a fabric we call space-time, which is embroidered with a cosmic web of brilliant galaxies and invisible dark matter.

It sounds a little strange, but piles of pictures, experimental data and models compiled over decades can back up this description.

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Richard Feynam’s Physics Lectures Are Now Available For Free

Photo of Richard Feynman, taken in 1984 in the woods of the Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, MA, while he and the photographer worked at Thinking Machines Corporation on the design of the Connection Machine CM-1/CM-2 supercomputer. Copyright Tamiko Thiel 1984 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Richard Feynman, taken in 1984 in the woods of the Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, MA, while he and the photographer worked at Thinking Machines Corporation on the design of the Connection Machine CM-1/CM-2 supercomputer. Copyright Tamiko Thiel 1984 via Wikimedia Commons

Saw this on io9 and thought it would be a great thing to pass on.

via io9:

The complete online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics has been made available in HTML 5 through a collaboration between Caltech (where Feyman first delivered these talks, in the early 1960s) and The Feynman Lectures Website. The online edition is “high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman’s legendary lectures,” and, thanks to the implementation of scalable vector graphics, “has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape; text, figures and equations can all be zoomed without degradation.”

Volume I deals mainly with mechanics, radiation and heat; Volume II with electromagnetism and matter; and Volume III with quantum mechanics.

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Simulation Theory and the Nature of Reality with NASA Physicist and Author, Tom Campbell

Via Midwest Real

IMG_5913“When the original founding fathers of quantum mechanics were doing these experiments they were really excited… making statements like- ‘if quantum mechanics doesn’t blow your mind, that’s because you don’t understand quantum mechanics.’ They realized this was a really big deal philosophically, (and) scientifically… Then they tried to come up with a good explanation. They couldn’t find one… Now they just blow it off as ‘nobody will ever know… it’s just weird science.’ This My Big Toe theory though, explains it.”  -Tom Campbell

If that chopped up quote sounds vague, pseudo science-y, or confusing (especially if you’re not familiar with some of the basic ideas behind quantum mechanics) I get that. But, when you’re grappling with huge issues like the very nature of our reality and you’re trying to take a broad stroke across the top, things tend to get foggy, so bear with me.

(You should know about the infamous, hotly-debated double-slit experiment covered above for this talk.)

Actually, don’t bear with me, or take anything from me, because our guest, Tom Campbell has an impressive career in applied physics.… Read the rest

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First ‘Quantum Computer’ No Faster Than Regular PCs

quantum computingHave they tried rebooting the modem?

The world’s first commercial quantum computer, made by the Canadian company D-Wave Systems Inc., performed no better than a classical computer in a recent analysis.

Quantum computers are thought to be able to solve complex problems thousands of times faster than classical computers, and scientists have been working on developing them for more than a decade. These devices could be useful for modeling quantum mechanics — the realm of physics that describes how matter at the sub-microscopic scale can exist as both a particle and a wave — or for cracking encrypted online information.

A team of researchers compared the performance of a D-Wave Two device to that of a classical computer on a specific set of problems, and failed to find evidence that the quantum computer was faster. [10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

“We do not see any evidence of quantum speedup in the D-Wave device,” said Matthias Troyer, a theoretical physicist at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, and co-author of the study, detailed today (June 19) in the journal Science.

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Best Explanation of Quantum Field Theory That You Will Ever Hear

via chycho

higgs_field_I15-76-Higgs4

Below you will find an excellent lecture by Dr. Sean Carroll delivered on 12 June 2013 at the 46th Annual Fermilab Users Meeting, focusing on the importance of the discovery of the Higgs boson confirming the existence of the Higgs field – giving us a glimpse into the world of “Particles, Fields and The Future of Physics”.

For me, the highlight of the lecture occurred during the question and answer period, at approximately 1:14:32, when one of the members of the audience asked the following question:

Question: “So, could you explain a bit more on measurement? You said that you have wave and it interacts with an entangled amount of waves and then pops out a particle, right?

I found the following response by Dr. Carroll to be the best description of quantum field theory that I have ever come across:

Sean Carroll: “Yes.

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This 13th Century Bishop Anticipated the Big Bang and Multiverse Theory

PIC: PD

PIC: PD

Philosopher and theologian Robert Grosseteste had a few interesting ideas. Surprised he didn’t end up on a stake.

Via HuffPo:

A 13th century British bishop’s theories of the origin and structure of the universe were centuries ahead of their time, says a group of scholars. According to TheConversation.com, Durham University’s Ordered Universe project has found that Robert Grosseteste, the Bishop of Lincoln from 1245 until his death in 1253, anticipated the ideas of Sir Isaac Newton and other scientists by centuries.

Grosseteste was a philosopher, church reformer, poet, theologian and politician.

“Nearly 800 years later the example of Grosseteste’s works provides the basis for doing great interdisciplinary work, offering unexpected challenges to both modern scientists and humanities experts alike, especially in working closely together,” wrote the group of scholars who are attempting a modern revision of the 1912 publication of Grosseteste’s work.

One of the more startling finds among the Medieval thinker’s papers and notes is his work “De Luce” or “Concerning Light.” In it, Grosseteste made one of the first known attempts to apply a set of physical laws to the universe as a whole, transferring what he knew of light and matter to apply to worlds beyond our own.

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