Tag Archives | Physics

A New Physics Theory of Life

Pic: B. Lachner (CC)

Pic: B. Lachner (CC)

Natalie Wolchover writes at Quanta:

Why does life exist?

Popular hypotheses credit a primordial soup, a bolt of lightning and a colossal stroke of luck. But if a provocative new theory is correct, luck may have little to do with it. Instead, according to the physicist proposing the idea, the origin and subsequent evolution of life follow from the fundamental laws of nature and “should be as unsurprising as rocks rolling downhill.”

From the standpoint of physics, there is one essential difference between living things and inanimate clumps of carbon atoms: The former tend to be much better at capturing energy from their environment and dissipating that energy as heat. Jeremy England, a 31-year-old assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has derived a mathematical formula that he believes explains this capacity. The formula, based on established physics, indicates that when a group of atoms is driven by an external source of energy (like the sun or chemical fuel) and surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), it will often gradually restructure itself in order to dissipate increasingly more energy.

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Scientist Searches Twitter for Time Travelers

Picture: Babbell (CC)

Picture: Babbell (CC)

Robert Nemiroff and a team of grad students at Michigan Technological University have been searching Twitter for prescient content: Information that could not have been gained without knowledge of the future.

Via Raw Story:

As Nemiroff and one of his graduate students, Teresa Wilson, note in “Searching the Internet for evidence of time travel,” travel into the future is a commonplace occurrence — you are doing it as you read these words. Even accelerated time travel into the future is “on firm scientific footing,” as demonstrated by “the twin paradox.”

Time travel to the past is “controversial, at best, and impossible according to conventional views of the laws of physics.” But both Special and General Relativity allow for the possibility, however impractical, of traveling into the past, and it is conceivable that our contemporary “conventional views of the laws of physics” may be contravened at some point in the future, thereby allowing for someone from the future to travel into their past, which would be our present.

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Earth May Have Dark Matter Halo

Dark matter haloScientists have discovered that the Earth is heavier than they thought, with so-called Dark Matter being the leading candidate for the planet packing on the pounds, reports New Scientist:

GPS is handy for finding a route, but it might be able to solve fundamental questions in physics too. An analysis of GPS satellite orbits hints that Earth is heavier than thought, perhaps due to a halo of dark matter.

Dark matter is thought to make up about 80 per cent of the universe’s matter, but little else is known about it, including its distribution in the solar system. Hints that the stuff might surround Earth come from observations of space probes, several of which changed their speeds in unexpected ways as they flew past Earth. In 2009, Steve Adler of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey, showed how dark matter bound by Earth’s gravity could explain these anomalies.

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What Lies Beyond The Higgs Boson?

A simulated event in the CMS detector, featuring the appearance of the Higgs boson. (CERN)

A simulated event in the CMS detector, featuring the appearance of the Higgs boson. (CERN)

Apparently scientists are having a tough time with the Higgs Boson. From Science Recorder:

According to a news release from Harvard University, Harvard and Yale scientists have made the most precise measurements ever of the shape of electrons and, as a result, have raised “severe” doubts about several popular theories of what lies beyond the Higgs boson.

“We are trying to glimpse in the lab any difference from what is predicted by the Standard Model, like what is being attempted at the LHC,” said John Doyle, Professor of Physics at Harvard, in a statement.

“It is unusual and satisfying that the exquisite precision achieved by our small team in its university lab probes the most fundamental building block of our universe at a sensitivity that compliments what is being achieved by thousands at the world’s largest accelerator,” added Gerald Gabrielse, the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Physics at Harvard.

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New Compelling Evidence Suggesting The Universe Is A Hologram

hologramIn existential news, Tupac isn’t the only one who may merely be a flat holographic projection. Via Nature:

A team of physicists has provided some of the clearest evidence yet that our Universe could be just one big projection.

In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter, single dimensional cosmos where there is no gravity.

Maldacena’s idea thrilled physicists because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity.

In two papers posted on the arXiv repository, Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues now provide, if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.

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Wait A Femtosecond, I Can See Atoms!

Photo: MSU

Photo: MSU

First, lenses wowed us with a teeming world just too small for our unaided eyes to perceive.

The electron microscope gave us images at the atomic level. We could see the structure of micro organisms, cells, crystals, metals, and more. That was pretty awesome, but those images were static; form without function.

Now, scientists at Michigan State University have created a device that “captures movements of atoms and molecules” according to the university’s online publication MSU Today.

Developed by MSU Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy Chong-Yu Ruan, the microscope lets scientists observe the nano world, where material change happens.

Those changes are measured on a femtosecond timescale. Its the unit of time, Ruan explains, that atoms take to perform specific tasks, such as mediating the traffic of electrical charges or participating in chemical reactions.

A femtosecond is one-millionth of a billionth of a second, which is incomprehensible without analogies.… Read the rest

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Is Death An Illusion? Evidence Suggests Death Isn’t the End

Robert Lanza, MD sheds some light on  death with quantum physics.  Or does he?

via Robert Lanza: Biocentrism

After the death of his old friend, Albert Einstein said “Now Besso has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us … know that the distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”

New evidence continues to suggest that Einstein was right – death is an illusion.

Our classical way of thinking is based on the belief that the world has an objective observer-independent existence. But a long list of experiments shows just the opposite. We think life is just the activity of carbon and an admixture of molecules – we live awhile and then rot into the ground.

We believe in death because we’ve been taught we die. Also, of course, because we associate ourselves with our body and we know bodies die.

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Sasquatch and the Seatco Indians: Conversation with Henry Franzoni

henry-franzoniFor a while now I have had an intuition that if Sasquatch are real, they must be more intelligent than human beings. If they were simply rare, we would have gained much better evidence of their existence by now. For example wolverines are exceedingly rare, especially in the lower 48, yet they can be captured with camera traps, just like endangered tigers can be in Asia.

Of course Sasquatch might not be real, and the sightings could be some form of mass hallucination. But I do find the foot print evidence, especially ones analyzed by Researcher Jeffery Meldrum to be very compelling. The best casts seem to display traits of a peculiar anatomy consistent with what a giant humanoid might have to accommodate massive weight: Mid-tarsal breaks, different loading structure, and ankle bones further forward from the heel.

The sightings and the footprints pointed to a real creature, yet the extreme elusiveness pointed to something much more advanced than an upright walking gorilla.… Read the rest

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Scientists Create New Form Of Matter Composed Of Pure Light

light_saber

Light sabers are now a reality, ScienceDaily reports:

A group at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms have managed to coax light photons into binding together to form molecules — a state of matter that, until recently, had been purely theoretical.

The discovery runs contrary to accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don’t interact with each other. “Photonic molecules,” however, behave more like something in science fiction — the light saber.

“What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules,” Lukin said.

The system could be useful in classical computing, considering the power-dissipation challenges chip-makers now face. It might one day even be used to create complex three-dimensional structures wholly out of light.

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Physicist Discovers Computer Code Embedded Within the Equations of String Theory

In an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson, physicist James Gates describes a digitally-encoded error checking algorithm embedded within the fundamental equations of String Theory:

Gates’s ideas are laid out in more depth in a 2010 article for Physics World. He believes that these theoretical findings, if validated, may be evidence that we live in a simulation. However, if there are algorithms encoded in the fabric of reality, is it not also possible that they might have emerged as a result of some natural selective process–a kind of cosmic DNA, if you will?

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