Tag Archives | Universe

Laws Of Man And Laws Of Nature

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Marcelo Gleiser philosophizes on how the laws of man and the laws of naure differ. via NPR

We humans are an unruly bunch. So much so that we need laws to keep order, to make sure we stay on track. Without our laws, society would quickly descend into chaos. The laws of man are guarantors of order, a necessary control against the inherent greediness of our species.

Nature, on the other hand, shows ordered patterns at all scales: trees branch, and so do rivers, bodies, and arteries; tides and planetary orbits are periodic, day follows night, the seasons alternate, the moon has phases. The display of order in Nature allowed for a methodic counting and organizing as a means to gain some level of control over what was otherwise distant and unapproachable, the marching patterns of a world moving in ways beyond human reach.

The laws of Nature, from the simplest to the most complex, are attempts to summarize this widespread display of order.

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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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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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Strange Cases Of Slippage Through Time

Mysterious Universe ponders times slips — cases in which people temporarily experience the future or past, or briefly interact with people or objects from a different era:

Physicists like Albert Einstein, Michio Kaku and Stephen Hawking have all said time travel is theoretically possible; our science just can’t achieve it. But what if nature can?

Time slips have been reported throughout history. English women vacationing in France in 1901 claimed they stepped into the French Revolution, and two English couples traveling in Spain in the 1970s stayed at an oddly archaic hotel that was simply gone on their return journey. RAF pilot Sir Victor Goddard encountered airplanes in 1935 that didn’t exist until 1939, and a 100-year-old Swiss watch found in a Chinese Ming dynasty tomb. People may slip like this all the time.

During the Aurora Borealis of 2004, visible in North America as far south as the lower Midwest, Jake, 15, stood outside his parents home in the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, around 10 p.m.

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Possible Evidence That Our Universe Is A Computer Simulation

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:

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.

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Court Rejects Woman’s Lawsuit Claiming Hadron Collider Could End The World

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:

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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Method Unveiled To Store Data Forever In Quartz Glass

If we hope to preserve the knowledge and art produced by human civilization long after we are gone, or send a message to beings far from us in space of billions of years ahead in the future, it can be done using quartz. Phys.org reports:

Japanese hi-tech giant Hitachi on Monday unveiled a method of storing digital information on slivers of quartz glass that can endure extreme temperatures and hostile conditions without degrading, almost forever (a few hundred million years at least).

Hitachi’s new technology stores data in binary form by creating dots inside a thin sheet of quartz glass, which can be read with an ordinary optical microscope. Provided a computer with the know-how to understand that binary is available—simple enough to programme, no matter how advanced computers become—the data will always be readable, Torii said.

Hitachi have not decided when to put the chip to practical use but researchers said they could start with storage services for government agencies, museums and religious organisations.

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Eventually, Time Itself Will Come To A Halt

 Wondering about the end of everything? At some point, the world may freeze into a single giant photograph-like state, for eternity. Via Unexplained Mysteries:

In a startling new theory, scientists have predicted that the passage of time will stop altogether.

The theory is based on research conducted at two Spanish Universities aimed at explaining why the expansion of the universe appears to be accelerating, a conundrum that has puzzled scientists for years. What they came up with was the notion that the expansion of the universe isn’t accelerating at all; instead time itself is slowing down at an imperceptible rate and that eventually it will stop entirely, resulting in a perpetual static snapshot for the rest of eternity.

“We believe that time emerged during the Big Bang and if time can emerge, may disappear as well as the opposite effect,” said cosmologist Gary Gibbons.

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Voyager I Is Close to Leaving Our Solar System

Writes Rebecca J. Rosen in the Atlantic:
Last week, in the corners of the Internet devoted to outer space, things started to get a little, well, hot. Voyager 1, the man-made object farthest away from Earth, was encountering a sharp uptick in the number of a certain kind of energetic particles around it. Had the spacecraft become the first human creation to “officially” leave the solar system? It’s hard to overstate how wild an accomplishment this would be: A machine, built here on Earth by the brain — and handiwork of humans, has sailed from Florida, out of Earth’s orbit, beyond Mars, beyond the gas giants of Jupiter and Saturn, and may now have left the heliosphere — tiny dot in the universe beholden to our sun. Had it really happened? How would we know?
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No Intelligent Aliens Detected on the SETI-Targeted “Earth Condition” Gliese 581 System

Yet that is. As Ian O'Neill desribes on Discovery News:
SETI astronomers have eavesdropped on an alien star system thought to contain two "habitable" worlds in the hope of hearing a radio transmission from an extraterrestrial intelligence. Sadly, there appears to be no chatty aliens living around the red dwarf star Gliese 581. In results announced last week by Australian SETI astronomers, of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University in Perth, Gliese 581 was precisely targeted by Australian Long Baseline Array using three radio telescope facilities across Australia. This is the first time the technique of very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) has been used to target a specific star in the hunt for extraterrestrials, so although it didn't turn up any aliens, it is a proof of concept that may prove invaluable for future SETI projects...
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