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 Dark Matter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dark Matter. Show all posts

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Laugh of the Day: CERN Portals


In June 2016, a vivid electrical storm over Geneva convinced conspiracy theorists and tabloids that CERN was opening portals in reality. Snopes debunked the claim. Image Source: Christophe Suarez / The Sun.

The American spoof magazine, The Onion, issued the following joke report in April 2017 to make fun of the latest work at CERN:
"GENEVA—Expressing deep regret over the catastrophic incident that occurred within the Large Hadron Collider, officials from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, held a press conference Monday to apologize for the destruction of five parallel universes in a recent experiment. 'We are sorry to report that in conducting research involving high-powered proton-proton collisions, we inadvertently caused the implosion of five universes nearly identical to our own,' said CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti, adding that billions of people worldwide might have experienced momentary vertigo around 9:45 a.m. as a result of several of their alternate identities being wiped from existence. 'I’d like to emphasize that there is no need to worry, as we were able to contain the damage before our own time stream disintegrated into oblivion like the others. Furthermore, in order to perform an investigation, the LHC will be shut down for the remainder of the afternoon.' At press time, a team of CERN researchers in a parallel universe was preparing to perform the exact same experiment."
In fact, the joke is closer to reality than one might expect. Since late 2015, CERN has powered up the Large Hadron Collider to its highest levels ever to explore other dimensions by creating microscopic black holes, as reported on their Website:
In our everyday lives, we experience three spatial dimensions, and a fourth dimension of time. How could there be more? Einstein’s general theory of relativity tells us that space can expand, contract, and bend. Now if one dimension were to contract to a size smaller than an atom, it would be hidden from our view. But if we could look on a small enough scale, that hidden dimension might become visible again. Imagine a person walking on a tightrope. She can only move backward and forward; but not left and right, nor up and down, so she only sees one dimension. Ants living on a much smaller scale could move around the cable, in what would appear like an extra dimension to the tightrope-walker.

How could we test for extra dimensions? One option would be to find evidence of particles that can exist only if extra dimensions are real. Theories that suggest extra dimensions predict that, in the same way as atoms have a low-energy ground state and excited high-energy states, there would be heavier versions of standard particles in other dimensions. ...

Another way of revealing extra dimensions would be through the production of 'microscopic black holes'. What exactly we would detect would depend on the number of extra dimensions, the mass of the black hole, the size of the dimensions and the energy at which the black hole occurs. If micro black holes do appear in the collisions created by the LHC, they would disintegrate rapidly ... . They would decay into Standard Model or supersymmetric particles, creating events containing an exceptional number of tracks in our detectors, which we would easily spot. Finding more on any of these subjects would open the door to yet unknown possibilities."

Monday, December 17, 2018

Can Energy Be Moral?


Scientists have begun to prove that quantum entanglement can be demonstrated at macro levels. Could the same be said for the observer effect? Image Source: Develop Good Habits.

To my readers, I have a new post up at Vocal Media, concerning 2018 scientific research which has proven that quantum entanglement can be taken to the macro level:


In that post, I argue that the endgame of the current Tech Revolution is to reach a Kardashev Civilization Level I, in which a tech-harmonized global society would be able to consume and harness the energy of the entire planet.

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.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Quantum Christmas


Jim Al-Khalili explains in a TED talk: robins may fly south in winter due to a process called 'quantum entanglement.' Image Source: Digital Photographer / Michael Williams.

Destiny and faith should be foreign concepts in the realm of science. But perhaps quantum physics will devise a formula for them. This possibility started in the 1930s, with Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Niels Bohr (1885-1962) arguing whether or how objective reality could be measured, because observing something changes its nature into what we would call a subjective reality. Of course, the distinction between objective reality - which religious people sometimes associate with God - and subjective awareness - the world limited by our individual perceptions - is a very old problem. The 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) wrote: "We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what we believe we disbelieve, and cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn." The central question of religion asks: how are we flawed and animal humans connected to the larger order of the universe? Science asks the same question.

Image Source: Archillect.

To determine if it was possible to measure objective reality, Einstein and Bohr proposed a thought experiment to measure one particle of light, or photon, without affecting it. To do this, they proposed to measure a second particle that was related to the first one, and infer the nature of the related, but unmeasured, first particle. Then they encountered a curious problem. Their measurement of the second particle affected the nature of the first one, but they could not determine how the impact of their actions had been transferred to the first particle, especially because that information traveled instantaneously, that is, faster than the speed of light, which violated Einstein's Theory of Relativity. The distance between the photons did not matter either. They could be close together or on opposite sides of the universe. Einstein did not like this. Wiki:
[I]f a pair of particles is generated in such a way that their total spin is known to be zero, and one particle is found to have clockwise spin on a certain axis, then the spin of the other particle, measured on the same axis, will be found to be counterclockwise; because of the nature of quantum measurement. However, this behavior gives rise to paradoxical effects: any measurement of a property of a particle can be seen as acting on that particle (e.g. by collapsing a number of superposed states); and in the case of entangled particles, such action must be on the entangled system as a whole. It thus appears that one particle of an entangled pair "knows" what measurement has been performed on the other, and with what outcome, even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which at the time of measurement may be separated by arbitrarily large distances. ...

The counterintuitive predictions of quantum mechanics about strongly correlated systems were first discussed by Albert Einstein in 1935, in a joint paper with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. ... They wrote: "We are thus forced to conclude that the quantum-mechanical description of physical reality given by wave functions is not complete." ... 
Following the EPR paper, Erwin Schrödinger wrote a letter (in German) to Einstein in which he used the word Verschränkung (translated by himself as entanglement) "to describe the correlations between two particles that interact and then separate, as in the EPR experiment." He shortly thereafter published a seminal paper defining and discussing the notion, and terming it "entanglement." In the paper he recognized the importance of the concept, and stated: "I would not call [entanglement] one but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought."

Like Einstein, Schrödinger was dissatisfied with the concept of entanglement, because it seemed to violate the speed limit on the transmission of information implicit in the theory of relativity. Einstein later famously derided entanglement as "spukhafte Fernwirkung" or "spooky action at a distance."
In 2013, Chinese physicists clocked the speed of 'spooky action at a distance.' They proved the speed of information as it moves through quantum entangled states is more than four times the speed of light, or three trillion metres per second. Their research paper was published in Physical Review Letters, vol. 110, listed here.

Quantum entanglement. Image Source: Glitch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Saturation Point


Image Source: Business2Community.

Singularity experts regard ageing as a complex set of biological mechanisms which can be decoded, rebooted with stem cells, rejigged genetically, medicated, contained, redirected and even reversed. This is a literal-minded over-rationalization. Gurus like Ray Kurzweil set a date for the onset of the Singularity (the year 2045!), the way wild-eyed prophets used to arrive out of the desert to predict the end of the world. The end of the world was often a year that was almost, but not quite, over the horizon.

Perhaps ageing can be conquered by downloading human consciousness into a computer, or eased by engaging with the arts and material culture. However you choose to attack the problem, once you are out of the goldilocks zone of ages 18 to 35 - the period when the world weighs your juvenile potential and considers you to be naturally synchronized with material dynamics - the ageing process asks you one simple question about psychological agility: how much change can you take? Can you bear the emotional burden of the Singularity? What is your saturation point?

In Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, the scientific unlocking of ageing biology and related diseases is fairly easily accomplished. The real challenge comes when the ultra-aged face prolonged mental distress as their brains are expected to survive beyond a normal human lifespan. After the Singularity, Robinson predicted, the eternally young will go mad. Only the most resilient will learn how to survive, and the results will not be pretty.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Art of the Retcon 3: Time and Heroism in the Multiverse


Morrison's 18 Days retells the great Mahabharata in an animated CGI drama on Youtube (you can watch it here). 18 days is the length of the battle in the Mahabharata. Image Source: Broken Frontier.

The wavering fictional reality of DC Comics resembles theories from today's quantum physicists.  A comic book fantasy of multiple Earths and multi-dimensional universes aligns with contemporary scientific ideas of a fractured multiverse and mysterious dark matter.  It makes one wonder: if our physicists are right and the multiverse is real, what sort of creatures are we because of it, and how do we feel its effects?

Multiversity #1 (October 2014). "Every comic you ever read is real." – Grant Morrison. Behind the Panels review: "Morrison directly challenges the reader. 'Whose voice is speaking in your head anyway? Yours?' The same narration urges us to stop reading. That’s when things get beautifully weird."

Are we pawns of a larger order we will never perceive? Scottish writer Grant Morrison would say: yes. He is delivering his long-promised crossover, Multiversity, right now via DC Comics, and a glance at the multiversal map below shows that he is combining years of esoteric interests - mind expansion through drug dreams, a fascination with ancient Indian epics and religions, and a belief (expressed in 2012's Supergods) that modern superheroes are manifestations of ancient gods. More importantly, in Multiversity, the heroes exist along a metafictional continuity with our reality and time. They are part of humankind's long quest to define the line between creation and destruction, from which everything else follows in this world, and other worlds too.

DC's map of the Multiversity (August-September 2014; click to enlarge). Image Source: DC Entertainment.

From 2009 to 2013, Morrison worked with Dynamite Entertainment and Liquid Comics to produce 18 Days, a retelling of the Mahabharata, in which a classic Indian battle sees the age of gods give way to the age of men. Two of the founders of Liquid Comics are author Deepak Chopra and his son, Gotham Chopra. Deepak Chopra famously discussed these ideas with Morrison at several comics conventions; the Chopras also published a book about it, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Superheroes (2011). CBR reported on one such discussion in 2006 in San Diego:
Superheroes, in Chopra's view, are not external beings. "These are archetypal beings that stoke the fire of life and passion in our own souls. These are potentials that exist within us, and by creating these superheroes through our own collective imagination, we are in a way serving our deepest longings, our deepest aspirations, and our deepest desires to escape the world of the mundane and the ordinary and do things that are magical."
Morrison draws from Indian traditions to marry that consciousness to the cosmos of existence. Thoughts become physical substances in other dimensions. The great epic of the multiverse involves the genesis of values in that consciousness through dharma and karma, action and negative action, creation and destruction, good and evil. In our reality, mythical heroes are legendary archetypes. But Morrison insists that these paragons embody physical forms in other times and places.








18 Days concept art by Mukesh Singh. Images Sources: Decode Hindu Mythology, Comic Vine, Concept Art, Dynamite Comics, Planet Damage, Mukesh Singh.

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.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Higgs Boson's Age of New Gods

Image Source: Spaceports.

Freedom. Today, one of the world's most powerful nations celebrates freedom and independence. It is no coincidence that the scientists at CERN in Switzerland chose today to announce the discovery of the Higgs boson particle, the so-called 'God particle,' in the Large Hadron Collider. The press conference (here and here) started live at 2 a.m EST.

In the United States, Fermilab's Tevatron collider was closed on 30 September 2011, after scant funding from the Obama administration. This is ironic, since the Tevatron lies outside Chicago. Although the Tevatron's discoveries contributed greatly to the understanding of particle physics, credit for finding the final part of the Standard Model goes to Europe. In the strain of competition, Tevatron's scientists announced more of their final results on 2 July 2012 (see reports here and here). They did not find the Higgs boson particle, but they got closer to it. American physicists will rejoice at this discovery in the name of their science. But in the name of their country, this is a disappointment for big American physics. It is therefore all the more ironic that CERN is announcing findings on 4 July. You can see popularly-renowned American physicist Brian Greene discuss the importance of this discovery and the post-Higgs world here (Hat tip: Spaceports).

Image Source: Wired.

For years, the Higgs particle has been a maddening hypothesis essential to proving the Standard Model. Today's experimental results placed the Higgs boson right on the line between the theoretical and the real. You can see a video of a 2011 CERN ATLAS proton collision here; ATLAS is one of two teams at CERN which have searched for independent confirmation of the Higgs particle. The other is CMS.

In the past week, the elusive particle's experimental confirmation was surrounded by bloggingrumours and leaks. BBC comments on how huge this discovery is:
A confirmation would be one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the century; the hunt for the Higgs has been compared by some physicists to the Apollo programme that reached the Moon in the 1960s.
Perhaps today's announcement is bigger than the moon landing. The Higgs particle delves into the fascinating mystery of the Big Bang. The particle emerged out of the imagination and mathematics, has entered confirmed reality, and now invites more abstractions. The discovery paves the way for another hypothesis, in effect opens the Pandora's Box of Supersymmetry (see here).

The particle accelerator at CERN. Image Source: Daily Mail.

And if the wildest promises of that Pandora's Box are true, this particle will open doors to new human pathways to understanding - a freedom and independence, if you will, from ignorance about the universe. The Standard Model might be resolved using Supersymmetry to conclude a Theory of Everything, a theory which eluded Albert Einstein.

Supersymmetry gives every last element of reality - from the tiniest sub-particle to the universe itself - a shadowy twin, a Doppelgänger. If the Higgs particle's discovery one day confirms this incredible hypothesis, it will serve as history's greatest metaphorical mirror. Supersymmetry could initiate a new era in human history, in which we can contemplate other dimensions, multiverses, and time travel as realities, not as mere speculations in science fiction.

But it just so happens that Doppelgänger and twin aspects giving way to triple worlds are extremely popular at the turn of the Millennium. In other words, scientific discoveries shape culture as much as they grow out of culture.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About the God Particle


CERN visited by English physicist Peter Higgs, who (among others) conceived of the God Particle in the 1960s. Image Source: Alan Wal/University of Edinburgh/EPA via Time.

A centre of the scientific world, CERN is a magnet for metaphors. The Swiss lab pursues the Holy Grail of modern physics, the so-called 'God Particle.' Following yesterday's CERN-related post, Tengri News just shared an AFP wire announcing that on 4 July 2012, CERN is going to present an update on the hunt for the elusive Higgs Boson particle, which may or may not confirm the Standard Model of physics.

The rumour already spread on the Internet on 20 June 2012, via a physics blog, that independent CERN experiments were reaching similar conclusions:
It started when physics blogger Peter Woit of Not Even Wrong posted a short item:

Reliable rumors couldn’t wait, and they indicate that the experiments are seeing much the same thing as last year in this year’s new data: strong hints of a Higgs around 125 GeV. The main channel investigated is the gamma-gamma channel where they are each seeing about a 4 sigma signal.

Translation: Both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have detected signals that could very well be the Higgs boson in their latest data, right in the range where the LHC announced preliminary results last December.

Back then, ATLAS reported a 3.5 sigma signal, while CMS reported a 2.6 sigma signal.

This is not sufficient to warrant a declaration of discovery; you need a five-sigma signal or higher for that. But it was certainly a tantalizing hint. 

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.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Illusion of Time and the Multiverse

Image © Tiffany. Image Source: PBS.

PBS has a new 4-part series entitled The Fabric of the Cosmos on this month every Wednesday night. You can watch it in North America at 9:00 PM ET/PT on PBS (check local listings). Tonight's episode is called, "The Illusion of Time."

I09 reported on the series (the premiere was last week) and how popular Columbia prof and physicist Brian Greene is explaining something dear to the hearts of comic book editors everywhere: the existence of the multiverse and multiple copies of ourselves, inhabiting multi-realities. Is time the barrier between these dimensions?
Over the next month, NOVA is going to confirm what most sci-fi enthusiasts already suspect-that everything we've been taught about space and time just might be total B.S. The past is not just a series of faded events, the future isn't yet defined, and despite what science prudes say, we probably aren't alone.

The Fabric of The Cosmos, the four-part follow up to acclaimed physicist Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe, takes an intensely in-depth look at all we think we know-and then turns it upside down. So in the weeks leading to the November 2 series premiere on PBS, we'll be giving you a brief primer on what to expect from each brilliant episode. So far we've explored space, time, and a little concept known as quantum mechanics. Today, we take one step farther into the unknown, in order to understand the theory of the multiverse.

Just when you were positive that you were indeed a unique snowflake, "Universe or Multiverse?"—the final installment of The Fabric of The Cosmos—melts all those notions away. Brian Greene ventures to explain the hard-to-swallow, yet scientifically plausible theory of alternate realities. Imagine a world, eerily similar to our own, populated with familiar faces—namely, yours. Some physicists believe that it's entirely possible that somewhere out there, in the infinite abyss, we each have a doppelganger. Explore each of these Bizarro worlds with Brian Greene, and learn about the concrete science that continues to awe even the hardest of skeptics.
Check it out if you can! See below the jump for the preview.

Addendum: To watch this episode, go here on Youtube. (Dec. 3, 2011)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dark Matter World



One of the great mysteries of our times is Dark Matter. In various forms, it makes up most of reality, somewhere between 85 and 98 per cent, yet we know almost nothing about it, including the particles of which it is composed, because we can't see it (it neither emits nor scatters light). Scientists assume it exists because they can detect its mass and gravitational pull (see a piece at I09 on Dark Matter here and an explanation from Scientific American here). Now there are speculations that there might have been (might still be?) stars and potentially alternate, unseen galaxies, a coexistent unseen universe, composed of Dark Matter.

Monday, May 16, 2011

End of an Era: The Last Voyage of the Space Shuttle Endeavor

Space Shuttle Endeavour straddling the stratosphere and mesosphere.(9 February 2010), STS-130. Image Source: NASA via Wiki.

Caption for the above photograph: The image was photographed by an Expedition 22 crew member prior to STS-130 rendezvous and docking operations with the International Space Station. Docking occurred at 11:06 p.m. (CST) on Feb. 9, 2010. The orbital outpost was at 46.9 south latitude and 80.5 west longitude, over the South Pacific Ocean off the coast of southern Chile with an altitude of 183 nautical miles when the image of the was recorded. The orange layer is the troposphere, where all of the weather and clouds which we typically watch and experience are generated and contained. This orange layer gives way to the whitish Stratosphere and then into the Mesosphere.

The Space Shuttle Endeavor, active since 1992, is taking off for its final flight today after some delays.  Coming on the heels of the last voyage of Space Shuttle Discovery, which landed on 9 March, these events mark the decommissioning of the Space Shuttles and the end of an era.  This may be the last flight ever in the program, depending on how planning goes for the last mission of Space Shuttle Atlantis in June. Endeavor's crew, however, will be initiating an experiment that may take us into a new age.  The Space Shuttle is carrying an Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (the AMS02) to install on the International Space Station.  The instrument will detect sub-atomic particles in cosmic rays and search for dark matter and antimatter.

In October of last year, I posted the first photograph ever taken of a Rubidium 85 atom - and was struck by how the atom looked like a star. This is a moment in which the science of the very small intersects with the science of the very large.  Given that reconciling those two traditions is one of the biggest problems of our time, Endeavor mission has a critical function to fulfill.


Image Source: Wiki.

Caption for the above image:  By studying sub-atomic particles in the background cosmic radiation, and searching for anti-matter and dark-matter, it will help scientists better understand the evolution and properties of our universe. The shape of the patch is inspired by the international atomic symbol, and represents the atom with orbiting electrons around the nucleus. The burst near the center refers to the big-bang theory and the origin of the universe. The Space Shuttle Endeavour and ISS fly together into the sunrise over the limb of Earth, representing the dawn of a new age, understanding the nature of the universe.

This mission is numbered STS-134, and is led by Mark Kelly, the husband of congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt on 8 January. She will be attending the launch.
Space Shuttle Program Commemorative Patch.  Image Source: Wiki.



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Monday, January 17, 2011

Thunderstorms Produce Beams of Antimatter Plus Dark Matter Mysteries

Image Source: NASA via BBC.

Caption for the above image: Electrons racing up electric field lines give rise to light, then particles, then light.

BBC is reporting on research findings presented at the meeting of the American Astronomical Society, which state that thunderstorms emit Antimatter.  From the report:
[The Fermi] space telescope has accidentally spotted thunderstorms on Earth producing beams of antimatter. Such storms have long been known to give rise to fleeting sparks of light called terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. But results from the Fermi telescope show they also give out streams of electrons and their antimatter counterparts, positrons. The surprise result was presented by researchers at the American Astronomical Society meeting in the US. It deepens a mystery about terrestrial gamma-ray flashes, or TGFs - sparks of light that are estimated to occur 500 times a day in thunderstorms on Earth. They are a complex interplay of light and matter whose origin is poorly understood.

Thunderstorms are known to create tremendously high electric fields - evidenced by lightning strikes. Electrons in storm regions are accelerated by the fields, reaching speeds near that of light and emitting high-energy light rays - gamma rays - as they are deflected by atoms and molecules they encounter. These flashes are intense - for a thousandth of a second, they can produce as many charged particles from one flash as are passing through the entire Earth's atmosphere from all other processes.
Read the rest of the report here.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A Little Something for Us Chrononauts

Clocks Slay Time (2010). © By alexandraburciu. Reproduced with kind permission.

On September 10, Larry King Live broadcasted an interview King conducted with Stephen Hawking about his recent book The Universe in a Nutshell and his comments that the origin of the universe does not need to be explained with reference to a divine creator.  Tellingly, that hot topic veered quickly to the subject of time travel.  Is there a connection between the quest to determine the divine/non-divine origins of the universe and time travel? (I feel like Paul in Dune - "The worms - the spice - is there a relationship?"). 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dark Matter at Work in a Galaxy Cluster

Galaxy Cluster Abell 1689Photo © NASA Goddard Photo and Video (August 19, 2010). Credit: NASA, ESA, E. Jullo (JPL/LAM), P. Natarajan (Yale) and J-P. Kneib (LAM).

NASA's Goddard Center is reporting a significant breakthrough in the study of Dark Matter.  The purple halo you see in the centre of this image from late August is the distribution of Dark Matter in the cluster.  More precisely, it is "impression of the gravitational field created by the dark matter."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Time is Running Out? Time is Multi-Dimensional?

Image by David Hellman for the video game Braid © Microsoft Game Studios and Number None Inc.

Scientists have found that the expanding universe is speeding up at its outer edges, rather than slowing down as would be expected from a cosmos moving outward and away foom the source of the Big Bang.  At first, astronomers and physicists attributed this strange phenomenon to the influence of Dark Matter.  But since Dark Matter is an unknown quantity, cosmologists find themselves turning to quantum physicists, whose research with particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider are trying to find evidence for Dark Matter at the sub-atomic level.  When publicity over the LHC was heating up in 2007, some scientists announced alternate explanations for the accelerating edge of reality.  According to this report from the Telegraph and this article at the New Scientist, one team suggested that time is slowing down and will eventually run out, stopping the entire universe in a single, freeze-frame final moment (Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raül Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain).  Another scientist (Itzhak Bars of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles) has suggested that there are two or more dimensions of time.  For an explanation of Two-Time Physics, a theory which has been developing since 1995, go here.  Bars's work is another attempt to explain the Theory of Everything.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Arrow of Time - A Physics Problem Solved by Biologists?

Arrow of Time, by Vladimir Kush.

Yesterday, I blogged about Deepak Chopra's efforts to link problems related to theories of gravity to the Arrow of Time problems in physics.  This kind of speculation on the meaning and direction of time, if locked into the mysteries of how gravity works at macro- and microcosmic levels, will lend itself to debates on aging, consciousness and death - and thus to issues of spirituality and religion.  This is all pretty dicey.  Now enter the biologists.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ghost Particle (almost) Measured


BBC is reporting that a presentation at the Weizmann conference, The Cosmic Enigma: Scientific Symposia, running at UCL on 22 and 23 June, will reveal that scientists have narrowed down the weight of one of the smallest particles, the neutrino, popularly known as the 'ghost particle.'  This discovery in the world of the very small depends upon examination of the world of the very large.  Scientists examined data on the distribution of galaxies in order to determine that mass of a neutrino is "no greater than 0.28 electron volts [which] ... is less than a billionth of the mass of a single hydrogen atom."  This is important because neutrinos are considered to be a verifiable component of Dark Matter.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fountain of Youth 5: Michio Kaku on Time and Immortality

Pillars of Creation. Star birth in the Eagle NebulaHubble Telescope, 1995.  NASA, ESA, STScI, J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University)

Quantum physicists increasingly weigh in on matters originally confined to the provinces of religion.  Michio Kaku, the famous string theorist and popularizer of quantum scientific theories who teaches at City College of New York, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York is working on the Theory of Everything, which even eluded Einstein.  It's a very popular quest at present, attempting to unite the forces of gravity, electro-magnetism, the strong force and the weak force.