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.
Tag Archives | Physics
Great, we spent all that time and money so we could find out this terrible news. Via io9:
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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.
[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
[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
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:
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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.
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
Are the various physical limits of our universe (e.g. the cutoff in the amount of energy a cosmic ray can have) evidence that our universe is the creation of technology with limited capabilities? Huffington Post explains:
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A long-proposed thought experiment points out that any civilisation of sufficient intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible. Since there would therefore be many more simulations (within simulations, within simulations) than real universes, it is more likely than not that our world is artificial.
Now a team of researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany say they have evidence this may be true. They point out that simulations of the universe naturally put limits on physical laws. By just being a simulation, [a] computer would put limits on, for instance, the energy that particles can have within the program. These limits would be experienced by those living within the sim – and as it turns out, something which looks just like these limits do in fact exist.
Victoria Gill reports on a meeting of theologians and scientists to discuss a time before the Big Bang, for BBC News:
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Now that the Higgs has finally been spotted – a scientific discovery that takes us closer than ever to the first moments after the Big Bang – Cern has opened its doors to scholars that take a very different approach to the question of how the Universe came to exist.
On 15 October, a group of theologians, philosophers and physicists came together for two days in Geneva to talk about the Big Bang.
So what happened when people of such different – very different – views of the Universe came together to discuss how it all began?
“I realised there was a need to discuss this,” says Rolf Heuer, Cern’s director general.
“There’s a need for us, as naive scientists, to discuss with philosophers and theologians the time before or around the Big Bang.”
Cern’s co-organiser of this unusual meeting of minds was Wilton Park – a global forum set up by Winston Churchill.
Doomsayers, including a few physicists, worry that experiments at CERN could unravel the fabric of our existence. But a German court says no, reports Phys.org:
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A German woman who feared the Earth would be sucked into oblivion in a black hole failed Tuesday in her court bid to stop the work of the world’s most powerful atom smasher.
The higher administrative court in Muenster, Germany, rejected her claims, ruling there was no evidence the work of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) posed a danger to public safety. The court noted that the CERN’s own safety reports ruled out any danger to life. “Objectively, there is no evidence to doubt the correctness of these safety reports nor was any conclusive evidence presented,” it ruled.
The woman had failed in a previous attempt to stop the work of CERN in Switzerland at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe. Other opponents have also sought to stop the experiments, fearing either a black hole whose super gravity would swallow the Earth or a theoretical particle called a strangelet that would in turn liquidise the planet.
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In a thought-provoking post on RD just before the weekend, Yoni Pasternak highlighted some of the enchanted language that has been associated with CERN’s announcement of a Higgs boson-like particle discovery. The Higgs boson has been labeled the “God Particle,” and numerous scientists and journalists have described the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) as a “magical” device. If news about the Higgs boson has struck you as esoteric and confusing you are not alone, but the video embedded in Pasternak’s post offers a nice primer.
As Pasternak points out, even this explanatory video is full of magician’s hats and pink elephants. The fact that scientists themselves are using this vocabulary, he argues, “is a sign of the utility that these supernatural concepts still maintain” for describing our universe.
The use of supernatural concepts to describe the Higgs boson has been hotly debated ever since CERN’s announcement.