When it comes to the Multiverse, several folks claim it’s all fantasy and let’s face it, the idea of several Universes just immeasurable millimeters away from our very noses reads like Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz.
But to Michael Hanlon, not only does the multiverse seem like the ultimate reality, it’s populated with any kind of reality that’s ever been theorized.
And then some.
Our understanding of the fundamental nature of reality is changing faster than ever before. Gigantic observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Very Large Telescope on the Paranal Mountain in Chile are probing the furthest reaches of the cosmos. Meanwhile, with their feet firmly on the ground, leviathan atom-smashers such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) under the Franco-Swiss border are busy untangling the riddles of the tiny quantum world.
Myriad discoveries are flowing from these magnificent machines. You may have seen Hubble’s extraordinary pictures. You will probably have heard of the ‘exoplanets’, worlds orbiting alien suns, and you will almost certainly have heard about the Higgs Boson, the particle that imbues all others with mass, which the LHC found this year. But you probably won’t know that (if their findings are taken to their logical conclusion) these machines have also detected hints that Elvis lives, or that out there, among the flaming stars and planets, are unicorns, actual unicorns with horns on their noses. There’s even weirder stuff, too: devils and demons; gods and nymphs; places where Hitler won the Second World War, or where there was no war at all. Places where the most outlandish fantasies come true. A weirdiverse, if you will. Most bizarre of all, scientists are now seriously discussing the possibility that our universe is a fake, a thing of smoke and mirrors.
All this, and more, is the stuff of the multiverse, the great roller-coaster rewriting of reality that has overturned conventional cosmology in the last decade or two. The multiverse hypothesis is the idea that what we see in the night sky is just an infinitesimally tiny sliver of a much, much grander reality, hitherto invisible. The idea has become so mainstream that it is now quite hard to find a cosmologist who thinks there’s nothing in it. This isn’t the world of the mystics, the pointy-hat brigade who see the Age of Aquarius in every Hubble image. On the contrary, the multiverse is the creature of Astronomers Royal and tenured professors at Cambridge and Cornell.
First, some semantics. The old-fashioned, pre-multiverse ‘universe’ is defined as the volume of spacetime, about 90 billion light years across, that holds all the stars we can see (those whose light has had enough time to reach us since the Big Bang). This ‘universe’ contains about 500 sextillion stars — more than the grains of sand on all the beaches of Earth — organised into about 80 billion galaxies. It is, broadly speaking, what you look up at on a clear night. It is unimaginably vast, incomprehensibly old and, until recently, assumed to be all that there is. Yet recent discoveries from telescopes and particle colliders, coupled with new mathematical insights, mean we have to discard this ‘small’ universe in favour of a much grander reality. The old universe is as a gnat atop an elephant in comparison with the new one. Moreover, the new terrain is so strange that it might be beyond human understanding.
That hasn’t stopped some bold thinkers from trying, of course. One such is Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University in New York. He turned his gaze upon the multiverse in his latest book, The Hidden Reality (2011). According to Greene, it now comes in no fewer than nine ‘flavours’, which, he says, can ‘all work together’.
The simplest version he calls the ‘quilted multiverse’. This arises from the observation that the matter and energy we can see through our most powerful telescopes have a certain density. In fact, they are just dense enough to permit a gravitationally ‘flat’ universe that extends forever, rather than looping back on itself. We know that a repulsive field pervaded spacetime just after the Big Bang: it was what caused everything to fly apart in the way that it did. If that field was large enough, we must conclude that infinite space contains infinite repetitions of the ‘Hubble volume’, the volume of space, matter and energy that is observable from Earth.
There is another you, sitting on an identical Earth, about 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 120 light years away
If this is correct, there might — indeed, there must — be innumerable dollops of interesting spacetime beyond our observable horizon. There will be enough of these patchwork, or ‘pocket’, universes for every single arrangement of fundamental particles to occur, not just once but an infinite number of times. It is sometimes said that, given a typewriter and enough time, a monkey will eventually come up with Hamlet. Similarly, with a fixed basic repertoire of elementary particles and an infinity of pocket universes, you will come up with everything.
In such a case, we would expect some of these patchwork universes to be identical to this one. There is another you, sitting on an identical Earth, about 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 120 light years away. Other pocket universes will contain entities of almost limitless power and intelligence. If it is allowed by the basic physical laws (which, in this scenario, will be constant across all universes), it must happen. Thus there are unicorns, and thus there are godlike beings. Thus there is a place where your evil twin lives. In an interview I asked Greene if this means there are Narnias out there, Star Trek universes, places where Elvis got a personal trainer and lived to his 90s (as has been suggested by Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York). Places where every conscious being is in perpetual torment. Heavens and hells. Yes, it does, it seems. And does he find this troubling? ‘Not at all,’ he replied. ‘Exciting. Well, that’s what I say in this universe, at least.’
The quilted multiverse is only the beginning. In 1999 in Los Angeles, the Russian émigré physicist Andrei Linde invited a group of journalists, myself included, to watch a fancy computer simulation. The presentation illustrated Linde’s own idea of an ‘inflationary multiverse’. In this version, the rapid period of expansion that followed the Big Bang did not happen only once. Rather, like Trotsky’s hopes for Communism, it was a constant work in progress. An enormous network of bubble universes ensued, separated by even more unimaginable gulfs than those that divide the ‘parallel worlds’ of the quilted multiverse.
Here’s another one. String Theory, the latest attempt to reconcile quantum physics with gravity, has thrown up a scenario in which our universe is a sort of sheet, which cosmologists refer to as a ‘brane’, stacked up like a page in a book alongside tens of trillions of others. These universes are not millions of light years away; indeed, they are hovering right next to you now.
That doesn’t mean we can go there, any more than we can reach other universes in the quantum multiverse, yet another ‘flavour’. This one derives from the notion that the probability waves of classical quantum mechanics are a hard-and-fast reality, not just some mathematical construct. This is the world of Schrödinger’s cat, both alive and dead; here, yet not here. Einstein called it ‘spooky’, but we know quantum physics is right. If it wasn’t, the computer on which you are reading this would not work.
The ‘many worlds’ interpretation of quantum physics was first proposed in 1957 by Hugh Everett III (father of Mark Everett, frontman of the band Eels). It states that all quantum possibilities are, in fact, real. When we roll the dice of quantum mechanics, each possible result comes true in its own parallel timeline. If this sounds mad, consider its main rival: the idea that ‘reality’ results from the conscious gaze. Things only happen, quantum states only resolve themselves, because we look at them. As Einstein is said to have asked, with some sarcasm, ‘would a sidelong glance by a mouse suffice?’ Given the alternative, the prospect of innumerable branching versions of history doesn’t seem like such a terrible bullet to bite.
There is a non-trivial probability that we, our world, and even the vast extensions of spacetime are no more than a gigantic computer simulation
Stranger still is the holographic multiverse, which implies that ‘our world’ — not just stars and galaxies but you and your bedroom, your career problems and last night’s dinner — are mere flickers of phenomena taking place on an inaccessible plane of reality. The entire perceptible realm would amount to nothing more than shapes in a shadow theatre. This sounds like pure mysticism; indeed, it sounds almost uncannily like Plato’s allegory of the cave. Yet it has some theoretical support: Stephen Hawking relies on the idea in his solution to the Black Hole information paradox, which is the riddle of what happens to information destroyed as it crosses the Event Horizon of a dark star.
String theory affords other possibilities, and yet more layers of multiverse. But the strangest (and yet potentially simplest) of all is the idea that we live in a multiverse that is fake. According to an argument first posited in 2001 by Nick Bostrom, professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford, there is a non-trivial probability that we, our world, and even the vast extensions of spacetime that we saw in the first multiverse scenarios, are no more than a gigantic computer simulation.
The idea that what we perceive as reality is no more than a construct is quite old, of course. The Simulation Argument, as it is called, has features in common with the many layers of reality posited by some traditional Buddhist thinking. The notion of a ‘pretend’ universe, on the other hand, crops up in fiction and film — examples include the Matrix franchise and The Truman Show (1998). The thing that makes Bostrom’s idea unique is the basis on which he argues for it: a series of plausible assumptions, plus a statistical calculation.
In essence, the case goes like this. If it turns out to be possible to use computers to simulate a ‘universe’ — even just part of one — with self-aware sentient entities in it, the chances are that someone, somewhere, will do this. Furthermore, as Bostrom explained it to me, ‘Look at the way our computer simulations work. When we run a simulation of, say, the weather or of a nuclear explosion [the most complex computer simulations to date performed], we do not run them once, but many thousands, millions — even billions — of times. If it turns out that it is possible to simulate — or, more correctly, generate — conscious awareness in a machine, it would be surprising if this were done only once. More likely it would be done countless billions of times over the lifetime of the advanced civilisation that is interested in such a project.’
If we start running simulations, as we soon might, given our recent advances in computing power, this would be very strong evidence that we ourselves live in a simulation. If we conclude that we are, we have some choices. I’ll say more on those below.
First, we come to the most bizarre scenario of all. Brian Greene calls it the ‘ultimate multiverse’. In essence, it says that everything that can be true is true. At first glance, that seems a bit like the quilted multiverse we met earlier. According to that hypothesis, all physical possibilities are realised because there is so much stuff out there and so much space for it to do things in.
Those who argue that this ‘isn’t science’ are on the back foot. The Large Hadron Collider could find direct evidence for aspects of string theory within the decade
The ultimate multiverse supercharges that idea: it says that anything that is logically possible (as defined by mathematics rather than by physical reality) is actually real. Furthermore, and this is the important bit, it says that you do not necessarily need the substrate of physical matter for this reality to become incarnate. According to Max Tegmark, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the ‘Mathematical Universe Hypothesis’ can be stated as follows: ‘all structures that exist mathematically also exist physically‘. Tegmark uses a definition of mathematical existence formulated by the late German mathematician David Hilbert: it is ‘merely the freedom from contradiction’. Hence, if it is possible, it exists. We can allow unicorns but not arbitrary, logic-defying magic.
I haven’t given the many theories of the multiverse much thought in the past few years just because of the different iterations of it.
Although there is some mysticism tied into the quantum physics theory and ultimately the many theories of the Multiverse(s), the “real” world applications of computers ( and ultimately quantum computing ), quantum teleporting and the experiments performed on the Large Hadron Collider in Europe does indeed put critics of the many variations of the multiverse theories “on the back foot.”
Who’s to say there’s no such thing as a mysterious Universe!
This news has been passed all over the InnerTubes this past weekend, a new micro-amplifier developed by CalTech that can be used for many applications because it can boost the signal of anything in the electromagnetic spectrum, no matter how weak:
“This amplifier will redefine what it is possible to measure,” says Jonas Zmuidzinas, Caltech’s Merle Kingsley Professor of Physics, the chief technologist at JPL, and a member of the research team. An amplifier is a device that increases the strength of a weak signal. “Amplifiers play a basic role in a wide range of scientific measurements and in electronics in general,” says Peter Day, a visiting associate in physics at Caltech and a principal scientist at JPL. “For many tasks, current amplifiers are good enough. But for the most demanding applications, the shortcomings of the available technologies limit us.” Conventional transistor amplifiers—like the ones that power your car speakers—work for a large span of frequencies. They can also boost signals ranging from the faint to the strong, and this so-called dynamic range enables your speakers to play both the quiet and loud parts of a song. But when an extremely sensitive amplifier is needed—for example, to boost the faint, high-frequency radio waves from distant galaxies—transistor amplifiers tend to introduce too much noise, resulting in a signal that is more powerful but less clear. One type of highly sensitive amplifier is a parametric amplifier, which boosts a weak input signal by using a strong signal called the pump signal. As both signals travel through the instrument, the pump signal injects energy into the weak signal, therefore amplifying it. About 50 years ago, Amnon Yariv, Caltech’s Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering, showed that this type of amplifier produces as little noise as possible: the only noise it must produce is the unavoidable noise caused by the jiggling of atoms and waves according to the laws of quantum mechanics. The problem with many parametric amplifiers and sensitive devices like it, however, is that they can only amplify a narrow frequency range and often have a poor dynamic range. But the Caltech and JPL researchers say their new amplifier, which is a type of parametric amplifier, combines only the best features of other amplifiers. It operates over a frequency range more than ten times wider than other comparably sensitive amplifiers, can amplify strong signals without distortion, and introduces nearly the lowest amount of unavoidable noise. In principle, the researchers say, design improvements should be able to reduce that noise to the absolute minimum. Versions of the amplifier can be designed to work at frequencies ranging from a few gigahertz to a terahertz (1,000 GHz). For comparison, a gigahertz is about 10 times greater than commercial FM radio signals in the U.S., which range from about 88 to 108 megahertz (1 GHz is 1,000 MHz).
“Our new amplifier has it all,” Zmuidzinas says. “You get to have your cake and eat it too.” The team recently described the new instrument in the journal Nature Physics. One of the key features of the new parametric amplifier is that it incorporates superconductors—materials that allow an electric current to flow with zero resistance when lowered to certain temperatures. For their amplifier, the researchers are using titanium nitride (TiN) and niobium titanium nitride (NbTiN), which have just the right properties to allow the pump signal to amplify the weak signal. Although the amplifier has a host of potential applications, the reason the researchers built the device was to help them study the universe. The team built the instrument to boost microwave signals, but the new design can be used to build amplifiers that help astronomers observe in a wide range of wavelengths, from radio waves to X rays. For instance, the team says, the instrument can directly amplify radio signals from faint sources like distant galaxies, black holes, or other exotic cosmic objects. Boosting signals in millimeter to submillimeter wavelengths (between radio and infrared) will allow astronomers to study the cosmic microwave background—the afterglow of the big bang—and to peer behind the dusty clouds of galaxies to study the births of stars, or probe primeval galaxies. The team has already begun working to produce such devices for Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) near Bishop, California, about 250 miles north of Los Angeles. These amplifiers, Zmuidzinas says, could be incorporated into telescope arrays like the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy at OVRO, of which Caltech is a consortium member, and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array in Chile. Instead of directly amplifying an astronomical signal, the instrument can be used to boost the electronic signal from a light detector in an optical, ultraviolet, or even X-ray telescope, making it easier for astronomers to tease out faint objects.
Hmm..no mention of using these new amplifiers in the new Square Kilomer Array ( SKA ) telescopes being constructed in Australia and South Africa. These certainly could help improve the performance of radio telescopes, perhaps help in the discovery of Earth-like worlds.
But as in all things human – politics interferes in a lot of good things.
Hat tip to the Daily Grail.
As this blog enters its sixth anniversary this month, I have never given much thought of it lasting this long. In fact, it almost ended last year when I took a long hiatus due to health issues; both for myself and my wife.
But as time went on and both my wife and I slowly recovered, I discovered I still had some things to say. And I realized the world never stopped turning in the meanwhile.
As I started to post again, the personal site Facebook became a semi-intelligent force unto itself. I say ‘semi-intelligent’ because it is spreading exponentially due to its posting of its games and constant proliferation of personal info unannounced and unapproved by individuals. And people, especially young folks don’t care this happens.
Distributed networks, mainly Facebook, Google and the World Wide Web in general are forms of distributed Artificial Intelligence. Does that mean we are in the early throes of the Technological Singularity?
I think we are IMO.
And if we are in the early upward curve of the Technological Singularity, how would that affect our theories of ancient intelligence in the Universe?
Well, I think we should seriously rethink our theories and consider how the Fermi Paradox might figure into this. Thinkers such as George Dyvorsky have written a few treatises on the subject and I believe they should be given due consideration by mainstream science. (The Fermi Paradox: Back With a Vengeance).
Speaking of mainstream science, it is slowly, but surely accepting the fact the Universe is filled with ancient stars and worlds. And if there’s a possibility the Universe has ancient worlds, there’s a chance there might be anicent Intelligences inhabiting these worlds:
The announcement of a pair of planets orbiting a 12.5 billion-year old star flies in the face of conventional wisdom that the earliest stars to be born in the Universe shouldn’t possess planets at all.
12.5 billion years ago, the primeval universe was just beginning to make heavier elements beyond hydrogen and helium, in the fusion furnace cores of the first stars. It follows that there was very little if any material for fabricating terrestrial worlds or the rocky seed cores of gas giant planets.
This argument has been used to automatically rule out the ancient and majestic globular star clusters that orbit our galaxy as intriguing homes for extraterrestrials.
The star that was announced to have two planets is not in a globular cluster (it lives inside the Milky Way, although it was most likely a part of a globular cluster that was cannibalized by our galaxy), but it is similarly anemic as the globular cluster stars because it is so old.
This discovery dovetails nicely with last year’s announcement of carbon found in a distant, ancient radio galaxy. These findings both suggest that there were enough heavy elements in the early universe to make planets around stars, and therefore life.
However, a Hubble Space Telescope search for planets in the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae in 1999 came up empty-handed. Hubble astronomers monitored 34,000 stars over a period of eight days. The prediction was that some fraction of these stars should have “hot Jupiters” that whirl around their star over a period of days (pictured here in an artist’s rendition). They would be detected if their orbits were tilted edge-on to Earth so the stars would briefly grow dimmer during each transit of a planet.
A similar survey of the galactic center by Hubble in 2006 came up with 16 hot Jupiter planet candidates. This discovery was proof of concept and helped pave the way for the Kepler space telescope planet-hunting mission.
Why no planets in a globular cluster? For a start, globular clusters are more crowded with stars than our Milky Way — as is evident in the observation of the dwarf galaxy M9 below. “It may be that the environment in a globular was too harsh for planets to form,” said Harvey Richer of the University of British Columbia. “Planetary disks are pretty fragile things and could be easily disrupted in such an environment with a high stellar density.”
However, in 2007 Hubble found a 2.7 Jupiter mass planet inside the globular cluster M4. The planet is in a very distant orbit around a pulsar and a white dwarf. This could really be a post-apocalypse planet that formed much later in a disk of debris that followed the collapse of the companion star into a white dwarf, or the supernova explosion itself.
Hubble is now being used to look for the infrared glow of protoplanetary disks in 47 Tucanae. The disks would be so faint that the infrared sensitivity of the planned James Webb Space Telescope would be needed to carry out a more robust survey.
If planets did form in the very early in the universe, life would have made use of carbon and other common elements as it did on Earth billions of years ago. Life around a solar-type star, or better yet a red dwarf, would have a huge jump-start on Earth’s biological evolution. The earliest life forms would have had the opportunity to evolve for billions of years longer than us.
This inevitably leads to speculation that there should be super-aliens who are vastly more evolved than us. So… where are they? My guess is that if they existed, they evolved to the point where they abandoned bodies of flesh and blood and transformed themselves into something else — be it a machine or something wildly unimaginable.
However, it’s clear that despite (or, because of) their super-intelligence, they have not done anything to draw attention to themselves. The absence of evidence may set an upper limit on just how far advanced a technological civilization may progress — even over billions of years.
Keep in mind that most of the universe would be hidden from beings living inside of a globular star cluster. The sky would be ablaze with so many stars that it would take a long time for alien astronomers to simply stumble across the universe of external galaxies — including our Milky Way.
There will be other searches for planets in globular clusters. But our present understanding makes the question of a Methuselah civilization even more perplexing. If the universe made carbon so early, then ancient minds should be out there, somewhere.
Methuselah civilizations eh?
Sure. If there are such civilizations out there, it is because they wish to remain in the physical realm and not cross over to the inner places of shear mental and god-like powers.
As with all things ‘Future’, the answer could come crashing down upon us faster than we are prepared for.
As usual, thanks to the Daily Grail.
Moore’s Law :
The law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, who described the trend in his 1965 paper. The paper noted that the number of components in integrated circuits had doubled every year from the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958 until 1965 and predicted that the trend would continue “for at least ten years”. His prediction has proved to be uncannily accurate, in part because the law is now used in the semiconductor industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development.
This trend has continued for more than half a century. 2005 sources expected it to continue until at least 2015 or 2020.[note 1] However, the 2010 update to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors has growth slowing at the end of 2013, after which time transistor counts and densities are to double only every 3 years.
As noted above, Moore’s Law has been the moving force in the computer community for 47 years. For a while, the Law must’ve looked like it was coming up against the proverbial brick wall with the advent of quantum computing. But quantum computing is going to have to wait, or is going to be slightly different from originally prognastsized:
Moore’s Law could be safe for another decade or so. An international team of scientists has demonstrated a working transistor composed of a single atom–nearly 100 times smaller than the 22-nanometer cutting-edge transistors fabricated by Intel.
More importantly, the research team led by Michelle Simmons of the University of New South Wales in Sydney was able to show a method for repeating the process with great accuracy and in a fashion that is compatible with the CMOS technology used in transistor fabrication today.
“This is the first time anyone has shown control of a single atom in a substrate with this level of precise accuracy,” said Simmons, who worked with colleagues from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information, Purdue University, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, and the University of New South Wales on the project.
The “law” associated with Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicts a steady rate at which the density of transistors on silicon-based semiconductors increases over time. That steady procession of ever-smaller computer circuitry has held up for decades, but as the size of transistors approaches atomic scales, there have been serious questions as to whether Moore’s Law can last much longer than another five years or so.
The work of Simmons and her colleagues could show a way to keep making microprocessor circuitry smaller and smaller through 2020 and beyond.
As they run up against atomic scales with ever-smaller circuitry, semiconductor manufacturers today are running up against problems affecting transistor performance that stem from quantum effects (basically, the fact that materials interact very differently at very small sizes) and a need for precision that may not be possible with the lithographic methods currently in use.
In recent years, advances in quantum computing have offered a viable path to smaller and smaller transistors, to be sure. But the new research might be the first strong sign that atomic-level transistor fabrication can be done in keeping with the part of Moore’s Law that’s often forgotten amidst the wonderment over tinier and tinier computer chips–that it be done cheaply.
Using a “combination of scanning tunneling microscopy and hydrogen-resist lithography,” the team was able to “deterministically” place an individual phosphorus dopant atom “within an epitaxial silicon device architecture with a spatial accuracy of one lattice site,” according to a paper published Sundayin the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
In layman’s terms, that means the researchers are able to stick the phosphorous atom (used to “dope,” or add an electron charge to a silicon substrate) precisely where they want to, whenever they want to.
That’s important, because as transistors approach the size of atoms, it becomes hugely important to place each of those atoms very precisely. On larger scales, silicon can be doped with less accuracy and still produce the electrical current needed to switch between “on” and “off,” the essence of what a transistor does and how it works.
Hmm..this is the crux of the standard technology, the ability to turn the electrical current “on” and “off”, the “ones” and “zeros” of the simple binary code itself. There’s no worrying about about “qubits” existing in the events at the same time and how the act of “observation” is going to affect calculations.
As noted above, the quantum effects are going to become noticeable anyway, simply because of the atomic scale size of the processors.
But I surmise the theme here isn’t just the perfecting the size of the technology, it’s how cheaply the technology can be done now — and how cost-effective the processors can be manufactured.
So not to worry Singularitarians, this will only enhance the availability of cybernetic enhancements!
Thanks to the Daily Grail
It’s been written that photosynthesis might be a quantum process. Now a paper appears that claims DNA itself is a quantum process:
A Nobel Prize winning biologist has ignited controversy after publishing details of an experiment in which a fragment of DNA appeared to ‘teleport’ or imprint itself between test tubes.
According to a team headed by Luc Montagnier, previously known for his work on HIV and AIDS, two test tubes, one of which contained a tiny piece of bacterial DNA, the other pure water, were surrounded by a weak electromagnetic field of 7Hz.
Eighteen hours later, after DNA amplification using a polymerase chain reaction, as if by magic the DNA was detectable in the test tube containing pure water.
Oddly, the original DNA sample had to be diluted many times over for the experiment to work, which might explain why the phenomenon has not been detected before, assuming that this is what has happened.
The phenomenon might be very loosely described as ‘teleportation’ except that the bases project or imprint themselves across space rather than simply moving from one place to another.
To be on the safe side, Montagnier then compared the results with controls in which the time limit was lowered, no electromagnetic field was present or was present but at lower frequencies, and in which both tubes contained pure water. On every one of these, he drew a blank.
The quantum effect – the imprinting of the DNA on the water – is not in itself the most contentious element of the experiment, so much as the relatively long timescales over which it appears to manifest itself. Quantum phenomena are assumed to show their faces in imperceptible fractions of a second and not seconds minutes and hours, and usually at very low temperatures approaching absolute zero.
Revealing a process through which biology might display the underlying ‘quantumness’ of nature at room temperature would be startling.
Montagnier’s experiment will have to be repeated by others to have any hope of being taken seriously. So far, some scientists have been publically incredulous.
“It is hard to understand how the information can be stored within water over a timescale longer than picoseconds,” said the Ruhr University in Bochum’s Klaus Gerwert, quoted by New Scientist magazine, which broke the story (requires registration).
What does all of this mean? It could be that the propagation of life is able to make use of the quantum nature of reality to project itself in subtle ways, as has been hinted at in previous experiments. Alternatively, it could be that life itself is a complex projection of these quantum phenomena and utterly depends on them in ways not yet understood because they are incredibly hard to detect.
Life as a function of the Universe. The Anthropic Principle writ large?
It has been postulated in the past few years that our reality, i.e., the “Third Dimension” is an illusion and thusly could be manipulated and it would be proven once and for all that we live in a multi-dimensional multi-verse.
Now scientists at the FermiLab high energy research facility are building an instrument to prove that we exist in a high level “hologram”:
Researchers at Fermilab are building a “holometer” so they can disprove everything you thought you knew about the universe. More specifically, they are trying to either prove or disprove the somewhat mind-bending notion that the third dimension doesn’t exist at all, and that the 3-D universe we think we live in is nothing more than a hologram. To do so, they are building the most precise clock ever created.
The universe-as-hologram theory is predicated on the idea that spacetime is not perfectly smooth, but becomes discrete and pixelated as you zoom in further and further, like a low-res digital image. This idea isn’t novel; recent experiments in black-hole physics have offered evidence that this may be the case, and prominent physicists have proposed similar ideas. Under this theory, the universe actually exists in two dimensions and the third is an illusion produced by the intertwining of time and depth. But the false third dimension can’t be perceived as such, because nothing travels faster than light, so instruments can’t find its limits.
This is theoretical physics at its finest, drowning in complex mathematics but short on hard data. So Fermilab particle astrophysicist Craig Hogan and his team are building a “holometer” to magnify spacetime and see if it is indeed as noisy as the math suggests it might be at higher resolution. In Fermilab’s largest laser lab, Hogan and company are putting together what they call a “holographic interferometer,” which – like a classic interferometer – will split laser beams and measure the difference in frequencies between the two identical beams.But unlike conventional interferometers, the holometer will measure for noise or interference in spacetime itself. It’s actually composed of two interferometers – built one atop the other – that produce data on the amount of interference or “holographic noise.” Since they are measuring the same volume of spacetime, they should show the same amount of correlated jitter in the fabric of the universe. It will produce the first direct experimental insight into the fundamental nature of space and time, and there’s no telling what researchers delving into that data might find out about the holographic nature of the universe.
So enjoy the third dimension while you still can. Construction on the first instrument is already underway, and Hogan thinks they will begin collecting data on the very nature of spacetime itself by next year.
I wonder if this plays into Nick Bostrum’s theory that we’re living in a mass simulation created by our post-technological Singularity descendants?
And if this is the case, why? To study us from a historical point of view and walk a mile in our moccasins?
Well, if this experiment proves that we’re living in a “fake” third dimension, how do we use this knowledge?
As if you didn’t know it, religious figures didn’t like Dr. Stephen Hawking’s last heretical statement against God, and how ‘He’ wasn’t needed to create the Universe.
Namely the chief honchos of the Church of England:
Religious leaders in Britain on Friday hit back at claims by leading physicist Stephen Hawking that God had no role in the creation of the universe.
In his new book “The Grand Design,” Britain’s most famous scientist says that given the existence of gravity, “the universe can and will create itself from nothing,” according to an excerpt published in The Times of London.
“Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist,” he wrote.
“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper [fuse] and set the universe going.”
But the head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Times that “physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing.”
He added: “Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the Universe. It is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence.”
Williams’ comments were supported by leaders from across the religious spectrum in Britain. Writing in the Times, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said: “Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation … The Bible simply isn’t interested in how the Universe came into being.”
The Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, added: “I would totally endorse what the Chief Rabbi said so eloquently about the relationship between religion and science.”
Ibrahim Mogra, an imam and committee chairman at the Muslim Council of Britain, was also quoted by the Times as saying: “If we look at the Universe and all that has been created, it indicates that somebody has been here to bring it into existence. That somebody is the almighty conqueror.”
Hawking was also accused of “missing the point” by colleagues at the University of Cambridge in England.
“The ‘god’ that Stephen Hawking is trying to debunk is not the creator God of the Abrahamic faiths who really is the ultimate explanation for why there is something rather than nothing,” said Denis Alexander, director of The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion.
“Hawking’s god is a god-of-the-gaps used to plug present gaps in our scientific knowledge.
“Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative,” he added.
Fraser Watts, an Anglican priest and Cambridge expert in the history of science, said that it’s not the existence of the universe that proves the existence of God.
“A creator God provides a reasonable and credible explanation of why there is a universe, and … it is somewhat more likely that there is a God than that there is not. That view is not undermined by what Hawking has said.”
Hawking’s book — as the title suggests — is an attempt to answer “the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything,” he wrote, quoting Douglas Adams’ cult science fiction romp, “The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
His answer is “M-theory,” which, he says, posits 11 space-time dimensions, “vibrating strings, … point particles, two-dimensional membranes, three-dimensional blobs and other objects that are more difficult to picture and occupy even more dimensions of space.”
He doesn’t explain much of that in the excerpt, which is the introduction to the book.
But he says he understands the feeling of the great English scientist Isaac Newton that God did “create” and “conserve” order in the universe.
It was the discovery of other solar systems outside our own in 1992 that undercut a key idea of Newton’s — that our world was so uniquely designed to be comfortable for human life that some divine creator must have been responsible.
But, Hawking argues, if there are untold numbers of planets in the galaxy, it’s less remarkable that there’s one with conditions for human life. And, indeed, he argues, any form of intelligent life that evolves anywhere will automatically find that it lives somewhere suitable for it.
Hawking seems unfazed by this, as I have indicated earlier to commenters on this blog that he isn’t worried about his opinion because no only does he feel he’s right, he feels he’s paid his dues and then some.
But if there’s a God, Hawking would be the one to find it.
Stephen Hawking, that physicist emeritus extraordinaire, has made another pronouncement of universal proportions.
My old buddy Highwayman isn’t going to like it, especially since he supported ol’ Stephen in the past, but I don’t think he will this time.
Because Dr. Hawking says that (a) God isn’t needed in creating the Universe:
The scientist has claimed that no divine force was needed to explain why the Universe was formed.
In his latest book, The Grand Design, an extract of which is published in Eureka magazine in The Times, Hawking said: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.”
He added: “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.”
In A Brief History of Time, Prof Hawking’s most famous work, he did not dismiss the possibility that God had a hand in the creation of the world.
He wrote in the 1988 book: “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.”
In his new book he rejects Sir Isaac Newton’s theory that the Universe did not spontaneously begin to form but was set in motion by God.
In June this year Prof Hawking told a Channel 4 series that he didn’t believe that a “personal” God existed. He told Genius of Britain: “The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second. If you like, you can call the laws of science ‘God’, but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions.”
Until his retirement last year Prof Hawking was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a post previously held by Newton.
Well, he has a point about gravity.
It’s the weakest of the four fundamental forces and nobody knows what or where it comes from, the Large Hadron Collider not withstanding.
Current string theory claims it crosses dimensions, that’s why it seems its effects appear faster than the speed of light.
It could be what Hawking is alluding to. Maybe I’ll borrow the book from the library when it gets there.
Wormhole technology, or any kind of faster-than-light space travel is considered tin-foil hat fantasy with current technology.
But Gary S. Bekkum of STARstream research interviewed a young Iranian physicist in May of this year who just might’ve discovered a way using present day tech of producing wormhole technology and they discussed the ramifications of said technology:
Gary S. Bekkum for STARstream Research: The world has lived under the threat of nuclear fire from an atomic war for more than a half century, and in all of that time we have not heard of any new, viable weapons of mass destruction appearing on the horizon. Politicians remain focused on the proliferation of nuclear technology, such as under development in your home country of Iran. Do you believe that the governments of the world have been conducting secret research into new technologies that might someday replace atomic devices as the ultimate weapons of mass destruction
Mammad: I’m not sure Gary, but its probability sounds low. Like many others, I’ve heard about Death Ray Weapon or potential nightmares of X-Ray laser, but I have a different viewpoint.
Consider the dangers of current atomic weapons, expenses for supporting their security, fear of using them in a classic war or by terrorist groups, troubles of successful hitting them to a target, and converting them as a prestigious symbol of the having nations, while I feel that’s not a real honor for the people. If we in the south countries, or you in the west are proud of ability to destroy the human beings, that would be a sign of throughout depression, frustrated to improve the global situations by peaceful approaches. In the modern era, no government imagines an extensive assault on a location causing the effects more than that of a nuclear bombarding.
Anyway, I can last my justifications for a long time for you that the general psychological conditions of the world do not accept such weapons, however that can be felt naturally. For example, if America announces inventing such kind of innovations while is not in a serious conflict with China or Russia, they might threaten to exit the UNO and deny their global responsibilities until a new military balance, moreover they might found an extreme desire to apply their H-bombs, as soon as feeling the tiniest suspicious sign, like biting a man by a terrified snake, because it feels being weaker. Since researching on military inventions originates from the fear of “others,” I think more and more education by the independent mass media, along with more clearance and highest precision toward minimizing the mistakes in military decisions in free countries, plus most extreme and roughest global observations on dictator regimes and/or with retarded culture, having old conflicts with neighbors, unusual nationalist roots in their history, etc, could help to not watching a warfare by more deathful devices. As a good news, if I’d realize a practical space warp, that would imply fundamentally novel orders of using the mass destruction weapons.
Bekkum: How do you foresee the governments of the world responding to the military implications of worm hole technology?
Mammad: Well, answering to this question needs citing some psychological facts. I think people most commonly terrify of the phenomena that do not know and have an unpleasant feeling – by the instinct – toward something they cannot recognize. When a place, a stuff or a face is unfamiliar to you, your natural behavior is taking a defense guard, up to habituating with the surrounding. Therefore, what is the source of this sense? Survival! Disregarding suicide committers among some humans and dolphins, all organic systems try to live and stay alive, longer and better.
Wormhole technology, like any sort of communicational technology, has one basic goal: taking something from the point A, to the point B (safer, and more rapidly).
Remember the history of with-wire and wireless telephones, cars and tanks, planes and fighters, telescopes and satellites, missiles and shuttles, ships and submarines, etc and see how they found application in the wars. All of them have the role of contact, deliver something to another, and gather more information for a better knowledge. Wormhole technology can be analyzed within this frame. I’ve heard there is a motto in Texas, which is: “God created the people and Colt made them equal,” but equal in what? Killing each other! Well, that’s the American style of living and has some good and some bad features. No matter how much you’re strong, if you can hurt or kill me, I might be unable to hurt you, but I can kill you. Now, generalize this picture to a world where every country has the capability of achieving others without any serious trouble. For instance, White House might be afraid of conventional bombs of the North Korea, not even the unconventional ones!
So the immediate cure to that end, if all would make an agreement that life is a good thing for us (and should be good for others too), and we do not intend to die in a war (at least until a second announce), is try to become the world more ethical. However, it seems like a dream, but has the most importance. I guess and hope this technology would cause to deep modifications in the UNO, toward establishing a real “global republic.” By adopting a suitable policy, fighting for the ground gets meaningless (more than now). Hitler attacked on Poland in 1939, and said the Germany needs more “living space.” When there is no serious physical distance, satisfying such a “need” would not require a war.
The young man brings up a very valid point; every advancement in technology during the past 5500 years have either been discovered during a war, or used by a nation’s military if a civilian source invented it.
Not a good track record.
But imagine the world with wormhole technology, instantaneous communications (communication satellites would be extinct), travel, space observations and computing would be vastly improved.
Also spying on people and nations would be very common.
In short, the world would be vastly more changed than it’s changing now.
Could humanity survive such changes?
Related post: “Better than most in the field”
When one thinks of quantum physics or mechanics, a picture of myriad billions of particles go dancing in my head and visions of parallel universes impinge on my consciousness.
Whatever. Anyway, the point is people don’t equate quantum physics with plants and photosynthesis.
The future of clean green solar power may well hinge on scientists being able to unravel the mysteries of photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert sunlight into electrochemical energy. To this end, researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC), Berkeley have recorded the first observation and characterization of a critical physical phenomenon behind photosynthesis known as quantum entanglement.
Previous experiments led by Graham Fleming, a physical chemist holding joint appointments with Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, pointed to quantum mechanical effects as the key to the ability of green plants, through photosynthesis, to almost instantaneously transfer solar energy from molecules in light harvesting complexes to molecules in electrochemical reaction centers. Now a new collaborative team that includes Fleming have identified entanglement as a natural feature of these quantum effects. When two quantum-sized particles, for example a pair of electrons, are “entangled,” any change to one will be instantly reflected in the other, no matter how far apart they might be. Though physically separated, the two particles act as a single entity.
“This is the first study to show that entanglement, perhaps the most distinctive property of quantum mechanical systems, is present across an entire light harvesting complex,” says Mohan Sarovar, a post-doctoral researcher under UC Berkeley chemistry professor Birgitta Whaley at the Berkeley Center for Quantum Information and Computation. “While there have been prior investigations of entanglement in toy systems that were motivated by biology, this is the first instance in which entanglement has been examined and quantified in a real biological system.”
Amazing isn’t it?
An example of quantum physics in a biological system.
If this doesn’t show that all things in the Universe are linked, I don’t know what would!
Speaking of the multiverse, there is a physicist who theorizes that using metamaterials in a certain way simulates the Big Bang, parallel universes and altered realities that exhibit different laws of physics:
Man-made metamaterials could theoretically bend light to create invisibility cloaks, or alter electromagnetic waves in ways nature never intended. Now, a researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park thinks they could do much more than that, becoming man-made analogies to various cosmological theories of how the Universe works and helping researchers explain certain aspects of those universes.
The theories Igor Smolyaninov has in mind are those that have to do with parallel universes or dimensions of space and time that we don’t experience in this world. In these lines of thought, different dimensions become “compactified” early in the Universe’s life, leaving the three dimensions of space and one of time that we understand today.
These other dimensions are quite different, and the laws of physics there could be completely different as well, dictated by the particular way they are compactified, etc.Now Smolyaninov thinks we can take the idea to new heights. In the same way gravity bends light, metamaterials can bend electrical and magnetic fields to create a metamaterial version of relativity. We can, he says, create metamaterials with electromagnetic spaces that possess compactified dimensions.
Not only that, but we could create metamaterials in which the number of dimensions and compactified dimensions changes from region to region, with wormholes transiting from space to space. We might even be able to witness the birth of photons in these metamaterials, the transition of which would in some ways represent the spawning of a new universe within the metamaterial itself. We could even create a metamaterial multiverse in which different universes have different properties, or wherein different physical laws apply. Bizarro World, here we come.
Bizarro World indeed.
When it comes to using metamaterials however, I think DARPA will come up with a practical use for them.
After all, an invisibility cloak based on the movie ‘Predator’ has extensive military applications.
Maybe travel to a parallel universe is a good side effect?
Depends who, or what, is on the receiving side of it!