Tag Archives | Physics

Nothing to See: The Man Who Made a Majorana Particle

via New Scientist closed-mind2

Physicist Leo Kouwenhoven ended a 75-year hunt for the tricky Majorana fermion – a particle that is its own antiparticle – by creating one on a chip

What is a Majorana fermion? It is named for the physicist Ettore Majorana, who found that a particle could be its own antiparticle. If a particle has properties with values unequal to zero, then its antiparticle has the opposite values. What that means is that all the properties of a Majorana fermion, the charge, energy, what have you, it’s all zero. It is a particle, but it doesn’t have properties that we can measure. That makes it very mysterious. It also makes it difficult to find.

Why hunt for these tricky particles? My background is quantum computing. Measurement is problematic for a quantum computer, because observation changes the quantum state. But if you don’t have an apparatus that can measure a Majorana fermion, you cannot change it.

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Physicists To Attempt To Build Temporality-Bending “Time Crystal”

time crystal

Wired relays top scientists’ plan to build a microscopic “time crystal,” a structure within which time would not be continuous:

In February 2012, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek decided to go public with a strange idea: Impossible as it seemed, Wilczek had developed an apparent proof of “time crystals” — physical structures that move in a repeating pattern without expending energy or ever winding down.

Unlike clocks or any other known objects, time crystals derive their movement not from stored energy but from a break in the symmetry of time, enabling a special form of perpetual motion.

The idea came to Wilczek in 2010: “I was thinking about the classification of crystals, and then it just occurred to me that it’s natural to think about space and time together,” he said. “So if you think about crystals in space, it’s very natural also to think about the classification of crystalline behavior in time.”

When matter crystallizes, its atoms spontaneously organize themselves into the rows, columns and stacks of a three-dimensional lattice.

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Power Of CERN Collider To Be Doubled, May Reveal Extra Dimensions

earthspaceAre we ready for a hint of the eleven-dimensional world? Via Reuters:

“When this refit is completed,” CERN scientist Marc Goulette says, gesturing across the gigantic Large Hadron Collider (LHC), “we shall be ready to explore an entirely new realm of physics.”

The collider is only five years old but, after swiftly finding a crucial missing link to support mankind’s main concept of the universe, is now entering a two-year revamp to double its power in the hope of breathtaking new discoveries.

Some scientists predict it might find a zoo of new particles or even catch hints that space has more than three dimensions. Oliver Buchmueller, an experimental physicist, also hopes to see proof the extra dimensions foreseen in string theory.

Could that take science beyond, into the extension of string theory that predicts the existence of parallel universes or a perpetually growing galaxy of universes, unpenetrable one from the other, that cosmologists call the Multiverse?

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Art and Physics

Via orwellwasright:

It’s well known that many of the great breakthroughs in science seem to occur both independently and near-simultaneously: Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz and the development of calculus; Nikola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi and the invention of the radio; Alfred Russel Wallace, Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution are just three famous examples of radical new theories and inventions appearing in apparent isolation from one another. But what if scientific developments are prefigured by artists, who elucidate new concepts and manners of expressing space, light and time which capture the essence of radical new approaches to theoretical physics years before they actually occur? This is the subject for Leonard Shlain’s fascinating book, Art and Physics.

Shlain takes the reader on a journey through history, from the classical art of the Greco-Roman world through the spiritual mosaics of the medieval era and the Age of Reason up to the present day; from Euclidean geometry to Galileo, Newton and the discoveries of Einstein.… Read the rest

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A History Of Speculation

Can the future truly be changed, or are we on a predetermined path? Chris Woebken and Sascha Pohflepp on grasping at the fabric of reality:

Hermann Minkowski’s light cones gave us a visual idea of how the possible may be situated within relations of causality. Then, in the mid-20th century, those ideas were carried into the realm of geopolitics by the threat of nuclear war.

With a flight time of 30 minutes between the Soviet Union and the United States, rocket technology shrank the future to a point where speculation became a key asset in the arsenals of the superpowers. Big think tanks like the Californian RAND Corporation, scientists, and engineers were systematically mapping out possibility spaces.

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An Alternate Universe Will Eventually Annihilate Ours, Higgs Boson Discovery Reveals

Great, we spent all that time and money so we could find out this terrible news. Via io9:

Remember that Higgs-like particle that scientists finally managed to pin down last year at the Large Hadron Collider? According to Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the mass of the Higgs boson indicates that “the universe we live in is inherently unstable, and at some it’s all going to get wiped out.”

After last year’s Higgs discovery, he performed a calculation that indicated the potential for a quantum fluctuation — an event that would create a lower-energy state bubble that expands at the speed of light and “sweep everything before it.” He predicts that it won’t happen for many tens of billions of years.

A little bubble of what you might think of as an ‘alternative’ universe will appear somewhere and then it will expand out and destroy us,” Lykken said.

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Weird Science (Part 2)

Sarfatti, left, with Fred Alan Wolf in Paris, 1973 (CC)

[continues from Part 1]

Into the Pandemonium

In 1975, Sarfatti co-founded the legendary Physics-Consciousness Research Group with Esalen Institute’s Michael Murphy, funded by EST guru Werner Erhard. Murphy was investigating revelations of the USSR’s intensive parapsychological research projects, later setting up the Soviet-American Exchange Program at Esalen in the 1980s, which attracted the likes of Boris Yeltsin during his 1989 U.S. visit.

Sarfatti gave seminars at Esalen, serving as a guiding influence behind Fritjoff Capra, Gary Zukav and other proponents of the 1970s “New Physics” movement, which explored links between quantum physics and Eastern mysticism. Sarfatti brought Zukav to the Esalen Institute, where he conducted the research for his bestselling The Dancing Wu Li Masters (New York: Morrow, 1979), a book which captured worldwide attention. Sarfatti ghost-wrote major parts of the book, but a bitter feud eventuated when Zukav reneged on promised royalty payments.… Read the rest

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Weird Science

Jack Sarfatti (CC)

[disinfo ed.'s note: this original essay was first published by disinformation on January 28, 2001. Some links may have changed.]

Author’s note: This interview was originally published in 21.C magazine (4/1996, The Unafesto): 54-59. It was my entre to a covert and mysterious world.

Dr. Jack Sarfatti is one of the leaders of the New Physics movement. However, his research into E.S.P., time, future causality and his VALIS-type experience has provoked dissent in the mainstream physics community.

The Bohemian physicist . . . contributes a balanced scientific non-establishment for this expanding society. I don’t mean to disparage the work, either . . . Originality has always required a fertile expanse of fumble and mistake . . . Your wastrel life might turn out to be just what’s required to save the planet.
~ ~Herbert Gold, Bohemia: Where Art, Angst, Love and Strong Coffee Meet

Black holes, Alcubierre warp drives, traversable worm holes, and the quest for the Holy Grail of dark matter are outpacing the wildest SF fantasies in the public’s imagination.… Read the rest

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The Quantum Theory Of Smell

Do quantum vibrations determine how things smell? Are our noses detecting the secrets of the universe without our knowing? Via the BBC, the realm of the senses grows stranger:

A controversial theory that the way we smell involves a quantum physics effect has received a boost, following experiments with human subjects. It challenges the notion that our sense of smell depends only on the shapes of molecules we sniff in the air. Instead, it suggests that the molecules’ vibrations are responsible.

Molecules can be viewed as a collection of atoms on springs, so the atoms can move relative to one another. Energy of just the right frequency – a quantum – can cause the “springs” to vibrate, and in a 1996 paper [the theory's creator] Dr. Lucia Turin said it was these vibrations that explained smell.

A way to test it is with two molecules of the same shape, but with different vibrations.

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Is Bigfoot in the Process of Becoming Real?

Picture: Patterson-Gimlin photo (C)

Bigfoot research reminds me of string theory. Like string theory, Bigfoot research is all based on inferences drawn from a pretty small data set, and as we observe these inferences, the creature seems to takes on a life of its own.

In many ways, string theory resembles a very esoteric form of philosophy rather than objective empirical science, but it may help make sense of the world. There is an aspect of it that is very creative. In a particular line of thinking, studying string theory is like creating reality. According to the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, without a mind to observe it, “reality” remains in the realm of possibility as quantum superposition, collapsing into the real by the act of measuring.

Like the wise sage Mitch Hedberg once said “I think Bigfoot is blurry. That’s the problem“, but Bigfoot seems to become more real all the time as our minds have a chance to get our heads around him.… Read the rest

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