TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Black Holes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Holes. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Science and Tech: Headlines and History in February 2016


The world's first flexible smartphone lets you hold and use your mobile phone like an old-fashioned book. Gif source: Engadget.

Recent scientific and high tech headlines struck a positive note, with some discordant undertones. Several cutting-edge experiments create synthetic or mechanical versions of what we already have in organic form, revealing the underlying meta-mentality of researchers. The European Commission's Digital Single Market announced the arrival of the 'Fourth Industrial Revolution' in late January, 2016. In early February, there was a discussion at Quora about converting energy into matter: E=mc2 says energy and mass are interchangeable. Are energy and matter states of a same thing? Is matter a rigid form of energy? Great discoveries, such as the possible cure for blindness this week, are beneficial; yet that same desire to overcome physical debilitation, limitations and illnesses becomes problematic in other examples, as when parents assert the right to edit their children's genes.

The flood of news in such a short amount of time reveals vast resources diverted to these spheres, with very little to no resources comparatively devoted to putting this work into human perspective. The headlines show how difficult it is to keep track of the explosion of innovations on an ongoing basis; and they reveal how necessary it is to do so (hat tips: Engadget, ErekAlert, Graham Hancock):
  • Quartz (3 February 2016): Germany is getting closer to nuclear fusion—the long-held dream of unlimited clean energy
  • BBC (11 February 2016): Einstein's gravitational waves 'seen' from black holes
  • BBC (11 February 2016): Why you really should get excited about gravitational waves
  • Engadget (12 February 2016): Watch DARPA's tiny drone do 45 MPH indoors, autonomously ... and then crash into countless expensive pieces
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (12 February 2016): Researchers Create ‘Mini-Brains’ in Lab To Study Neurological Diseases
  • Independent (13 February 2016): Chinese nuclear fusion scientists achieve temperatures three times hotter than the sun The temperatures were roughly equal to a 'mid-sized thermo-nuclear explosion'
  • Guardian (14 February 2016): Race is on for next breakthrough as physicists target dark matter: Scientists from South Dakota to Australia seek material believed to make up quarter of universe as researchers in China investigate another mystery particle
  • University College London / EurekAlert (15 February 2016): Virtual reality therapy could help people with depression: "Patients in the study wore a virtual reality headset to see from the perspective of a life-size 'avatar' or virtual body. Seeing this virtual body in a mirror moving in the same way as their own body typically produces the illusion that this is their own body. This is called 'embodiment'. While embodied in an adult avatar, participants were trained to express compassion towards a distressed virtual child. As they talked to the child it appeared to gradually stop crying and respond positively to the compassion. After a few minutes the patients were embodied in the virtual child and saw the adult avatar deliver their own compassionate words and gestures to them. ... 'People who struggle with anxiety and depression can be excessively self-critical when things go wrong in their lives,' explains study lead Professor Chris Brewin (UCL Clinical, Educational & Health Psychology). 'In this study, by comforting the child and then hearing their own words back, patients are indirectly giving themselves compassion.'"
  • Engadget (15 February 2016): Johns Hopkins grows tiny brains in petri dishes for lab testing: "Most new drugs tested on mice don't work on humans, because we're 'not 150-pound rats,' says Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School's Dr. Thomas Hartung. He and his team believe the 'mini-brains' they've designed and grown in the lab are better test subjects for drug development, since they're derived from human cells. These mini-brains are truly tiny at 350 micrometers in diameter, or about the size of a housefly."
  • PhysOrg (15 February 2016): No more keys or cards? Technology goes under the skin
  • Guardian (15 February 2016): Cancer researchers claim 'extraordinary results' using T-cell therapy ‘This is unprecedented’ says researcher after more than half of terminally ill blood cancer patients experienced complete remission in early clinical trials
  • Guardian (16 February 2016): WHO paves way for use of genetically modified mosquitoes to combat Zika: Consequences of Zika outbreaks could be ‘staggering’ says WHO as it advocates further trials and assessments for controversial mosquito control techniques
  • Ars Technica (16 February 2016): The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people: "Ridiculously optimistic" machine learning algorithm is "completely bullshit," says expert: "Last year, The Intercept published documents detailing the NSA's SKYNET programme. According to the documents, SKYNET engages in mass surveillance of Pakistan's mobile phone network, and then uses a machine learning algorithm on the cellular network metadata of 55 million people to try and rate each person's likelihood of being a terrorist."
  • Engadget (16 February 2016): Doctors reveal they can 3D print body parts and tissue
  • Sky News (16 February 2016): 'Extraordinary' Cancer Breakthrough Revealed: Terminally ill patients are left symptom free after treatment with modified cells - described as a "potential paradigm shift"
  • Discovery News (16 February 2016): Hawking: Gravitational Waves Could Revolutionize Astronomy
  • Engadget (17 February 2016): Flexible smartphones may be coming sooner than you think
  • EurekAlert (17 February 2016): DNA evidence shows that salmon hatcheries cause substantial, rapid genetic changes
  • EurekAlert (17 Feburary 2016): New predictor of cancer: When your biological age is older than your chronological age, the risk of getting and dying of cancer rises
  • EurekAlert (17 February 2016): Progress toward an HIV cure highlighted in special issue of AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
  • Yahoo (17 February 2016): The Hubble Space Telescope Just Snapped Photos of the Biggest Black Hole We've Ever Observed: "So how big is it, exactly? Well, according to our best estimates, the supermassive black hole is roughly 21 billion times the size of the Sun, and its event horizon (an area so dense and powerful that light can’t escape its gravity) measures 130 billion kilometers in diameter. That’s about 15 times the diameter of Neptune’s orbit around the Sun, according to scientists at the Hubble Space Telescope."
  • PhysOrg (18 February 2016): Five-dimensional black hole could 'break' general relativity: "Ring-shaped black holes were 'discovered' by theoretical physicists in 2002, but this is the first time that their dynamics have been successfully simulated using supercomputers. Should this type of black hole form, it would lead to the appearance of a 'naked singularity', which would cause the equations behind general relativity to break down. The results are published in the journal Physical Review Letters."
  • Guardian (18 February 2016): Robots could learn human values by reading stories, research suggests. Scientists have been running tests where artificial intelligences cultivate appropriate social behaviour by responding to simple narratives
  • Baltimore Sun (18 February 2016): Woman's blindness apparently reversed by stem cell treatment
  • Economist (20 February 2016): Wireless: the next generation. A new wave of mobile technology is on its way, and will bring drastic change
  • Daily Mail (20 February 2016): Earth really IS special: None of the 700 million trillion planets in our known universe are similar to our own, study finds
  • HuffPo (20 February 2016): Lost Tapes Reveal Apollo Astronauts Heard Unexplained ‘Music’ On Far Side Of The Moon. "If you’re behind the moon and hear some weird noise on your radio, and you know you’re blocked from the Earth, then what could you possibly think?"
  • Science Alert (22 February 2016): NASA researchers are working on a laser propulsion system that could get to Mars in 3 days. "There is no known reason why we cannot do this."
  • Wired (22 February 2016): Nasa's laser-powered engine could get us to Mars in 72 hours (if it works)
  • Reuters (22 February 2016): Brazil to fight Zika by sterilizing mosquitoes with gamma rays
  • Science Daily (22 February 2016): Bat 'super immunity' could help protect people
  • PhysOrg (22 February 2016): Study shows plants appear able to forget memories when they are not useful
  • Science Alert (23 February 2016): NASA has been inundated with a record number of astronaut applications. Real-life space cadets
  • Space.com (23 February 2016): Plans Being Devised for Human Outpost Near the Moon
  • Discovery News (23 February 2016): Self-Driving Flying Car to Take Off in Two Years
  • Nature (23 February 2016): Should you edit your children’s genes?
  • ErekAlert (23 February 2016): DNA 'Trojan horse' smuggles drugs into resistant cancer cells
  • ABC News (23 February 2016): Vaccinating wildlife with GM viruses could stop diseases jumping to humans, scientists suggest
  • Engadget (23 February 2016): Boston Dynamics presents the 'next generation' Atlas robot. Google's humanoid robot-builders have created a version that's smaller, lighter and more agile
The confirmed discovery of gravitational waves (11 February 2016), when two American research institutes recorded the merging of two black holes a billion years ago, has huge implications. Image Source: BBC via Twitter.

A 3D printed, human-size ear (16 February 2016). Image Source: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine / Engadget.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Time Moves Backwards and Other Space-Time Headlines


Image Source: New Scientist.

There are several notable, mind-bending and possibly related recent scientific headlines. Four new elements have been confirmed, completing the seventh row of the periodic table (ununtrium (Uut or element 113), ununpentium (Uup, element 115), ununseptium (Uus, element 117), and ununoctium (Uuo, element 118)). The Guardian confirms that these elements are synthetic, created by "slamming lighter ­nuclei into each other and tracking the following decay of the radioactive superheavy elements. Like other superheavy elements that populate the end of the periodic table, they only exist for fractions of a second before decaying into other elements."

Then there is a report that time arises organically and moves in different directions in adjacent multiverses. The idea rests on problems with the way we define time as a function of the behaviour of matter, with the parts we can't explain disappearing into universes we cannot see. The associated notion that time flows backwards comes from Sean Carroll at the California Institute of Technology at Pasadena and Alan Guth at MIT. On 13 January 2016, The New Scientist reported:
Guth and Carroll's work is motivated by a problem vexing physicists and philosophers: why it is that time's arrow points in just one direction. It's true we can only remember the past ... but the laws of physics don't much care which way time flows: any physical process run backwards still makes sense according to those laws.

There's no such thing, at a very deep level, that causes [must] precede effects, says Carroll.

In the absence of other laws to set the direction of time, physicists have settled on entropy – basically, a measure of messiness. As entropy grows, time ticks forward. For example, you can stir milk into coffee but you can't stir it back out again – so neatly separated black coffee and milk always comes first.

“We can't talk to beings in a time-reversed cosmos: they are in our past and we in their past.” Zooming out to the entire universe, we likewise define the future as that direction of time in which entropy increases. By studying the motion of faraway galaxies, we can predict how the cosmos will evolve. Or we can rewind time back to the big bang, when the universe must have had much less entropy.

Try to rewind further and we meet a cosmological conundrum. We can't proceed if the big bang was indeed the beginning of time, but in that case, why did it have such low entropy? And if it wasn't the beginning of time – as Guth suspects – we'd still want to know how an eternal universe could have reached such a low-entropy state that would allow for the arrow of time to form.

In an as yet unpublished model, Guth and Carroll explore the latter idea. They drop a finite cloud of particles, each zipping around with its own randomly assigned velocity, into an infinite universe. After a while, arrows of time emerge spontaneously.

The random starting conditions mean that half the particles initially spread outwards, increasing entropy, while the other half converge on the centre, decreasing entropy, then pass through and head outwards. Eventually the whole cloud is expanding, and entropy is rising in tandem. Crucially, this rise happens even if you reverse time by flipping the starting velocity of every particle: ultimately, all particles will end up travelling outwards. If entropy grows either way, who's to say which way the arrow of time should point?

We call it the two-headed arrow of time, Guth says. Because the laws of physics are invariant, we see exactly the same thing in the other direction.

The model shows that an arrow of time arises spontaneously in an infinite, eternal space. Since this allows entropy to grow without limit, time zero could simply be the moment where entropy happened to be at its lowest.

That could explain why the big bang, the earliest moment we can see, has so little entropy. But it also feels a little like a cheat: if entropy can be infinite, anything can have relatively low entropy by comparison.

The point that Alan and I are trying to make is that it's very natural in those circumstances that almost everywhere in the universe you get a noticeable arrow of time, Carroll says, though he admits the model still needs work. Then of course you do the work of making it realistic, making it look like our universe. That seems to be the hard part.

If the model matches reality, it would have implications for more than just our own observable universe. This is intended to describe the whole of existence, which would mean the multiverse, Guth says. In his view, the arrow of time may have arisen in a parent or grandparent universe of our own.
In the next headline, supermassive black holes might be hiding whole universes inside them. The New Scientist:
Black holes may be hiding other universes. A quirk of how space-time behaved in the early universe could have led to short-lived wormholes connecting us to a vast multiverse. If borne out, the theory may help explain how supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies grew so big so fast. The idea that ours is just one of a staggering number of universes - what cosmologists call the multiverse - is a consequence of our leading theory of how the universe grows: eternal inflation.

The theory holds that during its early phase, space-time expanded exponentially, doubling in volume every fraction of a second before settling into a more sedate rate of growth. Eternal inflation was devised in the 1980s to explain some puzzling observations about our universe that standard big bang theory alone couldn't handle.

But cosmologists soon realised that the inflationary universe came with caveats. Quantum mechanical effects, which normally only influence the smallest particles, played an important role in how all of space-time evolved.

One of these effects was that a small patch of space-time within the larger universe could shift into a different quantum state, forming a bubble. Such bubbles could form at random throughout our inflating universe. [Thus:] “Our universe could even look like a black hole to physicists in some other universe”
In other news, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) which has detectors in Hanford, Washington, and Livingston, Louisiana, USA, may have discovered the existence of gravitational waves, which are ripples in the fabric of space-time. Wired:
Gravitational waves tell the story of the universe’s mass. Every object from black hole to supernova, everything from black hole collisions (the most likely explanation for this potential LIGO discovery) to superfast expansion of the universe has its own gravitational fingerprint. From those swirls, astronomers will be able to learn about spacetime, gravity, and the objects themselves. And no one knows what they’ll find out.
Critics urge caution about this report, which might have more to do with the internal workings of the cosmology profession than the workings of space-time. If true, it could be a huge discovery, proving the "last unproven prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity." The Guardian:
According to the rumours, [LIGO] scientists on the team are in the process of writing up a paper that describes a gravitational wave signal. If such a signal exists and is verified, it would confirm one of the most dramatic predictions of Albert Einstein’s century-old theory of general relativity.

[Professor Lawrence] Krauss[, cosmologist at Arizona State University,] said he was 60% confident that the rumour was true, but said he would have to see the scientists’ data before drawing any conclusions about whether the signal was genuine or not.

Researchers on a large collaboration like Ligo will have any such paper internally vetted before sending it for publication and calling a press conference. In 2014, researchers on another US experiment, called BICEP2, called a press conference to announce the discovery of gravitational waves, but others have since pointed out that the signal could be due entirely to space dust.

Speaking about the LIGO team, Krauss said: “They will be extremely cautious. There’s no reason for them to make a claim they are not certain of.”

If gravitational waves have been discovered, astronomers could use them to observe the cosmos in a way that has been impossible to date. “We would have a new window on the universe,” Krauss said. “Gravitational waves are generated in the most exotic, strange locations in nature, such as at the edge of black holes at the beginning of time. We are pretty certain they exist, but we’ve not been able to use them to probe the universe.” Einstein predicted that the waves would be produced in extremely violent events, such as collisions between two black holes. As gravitational waves spread out, they compress and stretch spacetime.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cosmic Reproduction


Pan Spermia In The Veil of Her Moon (2005) © Roger Ferragallo.

The new Millennium loves the cross-pollination of ideas, mainly because of the computing revolution in communications. An episode ("Is The Universe Alive?" 13 June 2012) of Through the Wormhole covers a Millennial theory in physics that the universe, or even the multiverse, may be alive. This theory, put forward by Lee Smolin, applies Darwin's idea of natural selection to the propagation of universes (see my earlier post on how physicists are appropriating Darwin's theory to their ends). Smolin argues that universes reproduce themselves through black holes and form attached daughter universes. Thus our universe may be "just one member in a giant family tree of cosmoses." Smolin finds many parallels and analogies between biological life processes and cosmic reproduction.

Theoretical physicists then ask whether this tree of cosmoses is alive, or possibly even sentient. They wonder whether we could find the brain of this living cosmic tree.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Countdown to Hallowe'en 4: Messages from the Outer Darkness

Bode's Galaxy M81 and the Cigar Galaxy M82 [at top] as photographed by Michael Weiland of the Interessengemeinschaft Astronomie an der Universit├Ąt Konstanz (Astronomy Interest Group at the University of Constance). Image Source: The Messier Catalog.

Mainstream thought easily laughs off UFOlogists. Some researchers have suggested that alien-seekers simply subconsciously mapped demonology and other spectral mythologies onto futuristic, faux scientific narrative tropes. Other commentators have been so literal-minded as to read that mapping backwards, and see (as Mac Tonnies partly did) in our superstitions about elves and fairies a cultural crypto-log of alien visitation. This so-called unified theory of strangeness is hard to believe.

"The type Ir-II galaxy, M82 (NGC 3034), also known as the Cigar Galaxy (top), shows the results of extreme rates of star birth and death. Supernovae, the death explosions of massive stars, contribute to a violent wind of material expelled from M82's central regions. The burst of star formation was likely triggered a mere 100 million years ago in the latest of a series of bouts with neighbouring large galaxy M81 (at bottom)." Image Source: *Astronomy.
 
Laughing off extraterrestrials was less easy to do in 2009, when radio astronomers received strange radio signals from the nearby Messier 82 galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major. The news, announced in 2010, immediately attracted conspiracy hounds of the Internet and 2012 Mayan enthusiasts. Taking a few sticks of detail from the story, they mused: 'are we being contacted by aliens?' 'Are they headed this way?'

Monday, June 18, 2012

Beyond Googolplex Years, the End of Time

According to physicist Stephen Hawking, even Black Holes die. Image Source: Message to Eagle.

Space.com has posted a set of five short videos which discuss the meaning of time from the perspective of humans, our planet and the cosmos. The videos emphasize that time is no abstract. It is above all a natural process, which embodies the nexus between our minds and the environment. This is something I have discussed in a previous post, here. Beyond that, time is the measure of all life interacting with the environment; and finally, it is the very rhythm of the universe.

Time is an interconnected metric, whose elements of non-life and life are indistinguishable. Everything dies, the video promises, including things in the universe that are not alive. You cannot have life without death. But can you have death without life? Yes, you can. We live in the stellar era, a time defined by the power of stars. But all stars die. According to Stephen Hawking, even Black Holes die, radiating energy until they disappear. And what will happen when they do? Finally, the universe will die - unless there are dimensions beyond the ones with which we are familiar, a world beyond perception and beyond death:
Based on Hawking's theory, the last Black Holes will disappear when the cosmic clock strikes 10 to the 100th years from now. That's a number known as a Googol. That's the end of our universe, and yet it's still far short of forever. What will happen, say, in 10 to the Googol? A Googolplex years? Well, if you wrote all those numbers out, in tiny one point font, it would stretch beyond the diameter of the observable universe. Will the great Arrow of Time ever come to rest? Or, does that Arrow fly a curved path, destined to cycle back again and again, as whole new universes come into being in a way similar to our own. The numbers that describe the time horizons of our universe are incomprehensible. Yet they may well be relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. 
See the video one on human time (here); video two on Earth time (here); video three on cosmic time (here); video four (here); and see the fifth video in the series below the jump.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hawking's Party for Time Travellers

Is time travel possible? Image Source: Just 5 Minutes.

In his Discovery Channel series, Into the Universe, Stephen Hawking recently hypothesized that if time travel to the past is possible, then he could throw a party to welcome chrononauts from the future.  He would publicize the invitation, and wait.  Daily Galaxy provides a transcript of his comments on the result: "Let's imagine I'm throwing a party, a welcome reception for future time travellers. But there's a twist. I'm not letting anyone know about it until after the party has happened. I've drawn up an invitation giving the exact coordinates in time and space. I am hoping copies of it, in one form or another, will be around for many thousands of years."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Black Holes and the Birth of Our Universe? Making the Infinite Finite


There's a remarkable new theory out about the origins of our universe, space and timeNikodem Poplawski of Indiana University has just presented a paper in which he concludes: "Accordingly, our own Universe may be the interior of a black hole existing in another universe." For the original MIT blog piece go here.  For the July 4 abstract go here, which states:
"The Einstein-Cartan-Kibble-Sciama theory of gravity provides a simple scenario in early cosmology which is alternative to standard cosmic inflation and does not require scalar fields. The torsion of spacetime prevents the appearance of the cosmological singularity in the early Universe filled with Dirac particles averaged as a spin fluid. Instead, its expansion starts from a state at which the Universe has a minimum but finite radius. We show that the dynamics of the closed Universe immediately after this state naturally solves the flatness and horizon problems in cosmology because of an extremely small and negative torsion density parameter, $\Omega_S\approx -10^{-69}$. This scenario also suggests that the contraction of our Universe preceding the state of minimum radius could correspond to the dynamics of matter inside the event horizon of a newly formed black hole existing in another universe."