jazzy_dave: (bookish)
John D. Barrow "The Book Of Nothing" (Vintage)






He may use flowery language to convey his thesis on the aspect of nothing and that to some he tried to cover so much stuff that it never lingered anywhere but when you are dealing with the vacuum of space in a non technical way to lay readers then you have to take time (in both senses of it as well as spactime) to convey such complex cosmological information. It may be heavy going at times but i did enjoy this book.

Perhaps not the best book to describe such things as the vacuum state,inflation, black body radiation , the cassimir effect or the value of the cosmological constant (lambda), so with this caveat i would suggest other books to read first.
jazzy_dave: (bookamy)
These are the few limits on our ability to know.

http://nautil.us/issue/40/learning/how-much-more-can-we-learn-about-the-universe


Krauss_BR-2


COLLIDING GALAXIES: Such cosmic commotion will one day cease to occur, and observers in the distant future may never realize how dynamic our universe once was.
jazzy_dave: (pipe man)
Well we sure are having an Indian summer with temperatures unbelievably  high for this time of the year. Even now approaching eleven at night we are still in the low twenties.

Whilst in Faversham i sold some paperbacks and used the local library. Did a few hours of sunbathing just outside said library in spurts of thirty minutes each,as the sweat was pouring off me.

I arrived back in the Bourne and had the second shower of the day.Listened to a Cd compilation of the songs of Burt Bacharach by various artists, watched a fee episodes of Charmed, had some more coffee vodka bevvies and chilled out.

I also watched another Horizon documentary - How Big Is The Universe.

It is vast.The Milky Way alone is 100 thousand light years across.The universe is around 46 billion light years and expanding rapidly due to dark energy. The thing is we as yet do not know exactly what dark energy is but that it takes up around 70 per cent of the universe and defies the pulling force of gravity and dark matter. In a sense the universe is infinite. That is rather sobering.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Roger Penrose "The Emperor's New Mind : Concerning Computers, Minds and the Laws of Physics" (Verso)






Roger Penrose isn't just any old boffin: he is the Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at Oxford University and has been knighted for his services to Science. The Emperor's New Mind is his attempt to crack that perennial philosophical chestnut, the Consciousness/Artificial Intelligence problem. Penrose's view is that Strong AI is simply wrong and that a computer could never replicate (functionally or actually) what we know as "consciousness".

Originlly published in 1991 this was a long, grueling read. I won't say I clearly understood (or even dimly understood) all this book. At times my eyes glazed over, and my comprehension phased out only to resume later usually after long passages of mathematical symbols ,though the math in this book was relatively simple, and i had encountered Hamiltonians and vector spaces in an O.U. second level pure mathematics course.



It helpd that I'd read other things about artificial intelligence, computers, relativity, cosmology, and quantam physics. By his own admission, Penrose finds it difficult to explain mathematical things verbally and his arguments often go on and on without tying them into the central question of the book - is algorithmically based AI possible? In the end I think they all show to be relevant.

Penrose ventures into widely speculative ground by saying he believes consciousness will be better understood when quantum mechanics and relativity are joined, probably, he believes, by quantum gravity. He makes the startling the proposal that the brain is a quantum computer computing numerous quantum possibilities until gravitational collapsing the quantum wave-function and realizing one quantum reality.

Penrose concludes with some intriguing paradoxes in time perception. Do we really, as certain experiments suggest, experience everything two seconds behind and are limited by a half-second delay before conscious action is realized? Penrose doubts it, but it's intriguing. Penrose isn't afraid to consider philosophical questions which most scientists shy away from and firmly grounds, unlike most philosophers, human behavior and consciousness in the physical world and its laws. Some of Penrose's approaches were different than the usual treatment his topics get, particularly de-emphasizing quantum mechanics' indeterminism and imprecision as others do, but, rather, the precision and predictions the theory does allow.length to explain, and their relevance, without having to get your head around every complicated equation.

I think that some of his theories are enticing, and altogether this was a good read, but perhaps could have benefited from a more decisive outcome. The ending comes an an anti-climax, but getting there is worth the whole trip.



jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
The sound of gravitational waves.

http://www.openculture.com/2016/02/this-is-what-gravitational-waves-sound-like.html



An explanation of what a gravitational wave is here -

Multiverse

Sep. 2nd, 2015 09:46 pm
jazzy_dave: (baker who)
Just watched Horizon on BBC2. A mind boggling look into the multiverse , from the inflationary period of the Big Bang to multiple bifurcations of quantum universes, in which every universe is parallel to our own, to the extraordinary concept of every universe including our to be the physical reality of mathematical processes. Totally fascinating.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
A couple of brain expanding short science clips from TED -

What Happened To Antimatter>



Dark Matter and Dark Energy

jazzy_dave: (baker who)
After watching the film on Sky this evening of The Theory Of Everything i might now tackle the book i have in my collection The Road to Reality: A Complete Guide to the Laws of the Universe, which happens to be a 1,099-page book aimed at giving a comprehensive guide to the laws of physics. Phew!





Or his other one i have, The Emperor's New Mind , in which he argues that known laws of physics are inadequate to explain the phenomenon of consciousness. He proposes the characteristics that this new physics may have and specifies the requirements for a bridge between classical and quantum mechanics (what he calls correct quantum gravity). Penrose uses a variant of Turing's halting theorem to demonstrate that a system can be deterministic without being algorithmic.



(For example, imagine a system with only two states, ON and OFF. If the system's state is ON when a given Turing machine halts and OFF when the Turing machine does not halt, then the system's state is completely determined by the machine; nevertheless, there is no algorithmic way to determine whether the Turing machine stops.)

Penrose believes that such deterministic yet non-algorithmic processes may come into play in the quantum mechanical wave function reduction, and may be harnessed by the brain. He argues that the present computer is unable to have intelligence because it is an algorithmically deterministic system. He argues against the viewpoint that the rational processes of the mind are completely algorithmic and can thus be duplicated by a sufficiently complex computer. This contrasts with supporters of strong artificial intelligence, who contend that thought can be simulated algorithmically. He bases this on claims that consciousness transcends formal logic because things such as the insolubility of the halting problem and Gödel's incompleteness theorem prevent an algorithmically based system of logic from reproducing such traits of human intelligence as mathematical insight.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
I have a feeling that my bro will want to pick my brains on aspects of cosmology today. He has been trudging through the Stephen Hawkings book, A Brief History Of Time. In particular is the slippery subject of the Uncertainty Principle, and that includes the thought experiments of Erwin Schrodinger's Cat in a Box , and the opposing Copenhagen interpretation vs. The Many Worlds interpretation of quantum theory.

(Note - the Copenhagen interpretation is the one in which all particles are in a state of quantum flux, known as a superposition state,  until the observation of ithis flux forces it to collapse to one state.)


The other areas he will want too idscuss will be black holes, and the backbone to all quantum physics, Planck's Consatnt , which is defined as  about 6.62606×10−34 joule sec.

(Extra note - i wish there was devices to plug into our brains to make us instant experts lol)
jazzy_dave: (Dark Who)
I have been watching episodes of The Librarians on the Syfy channel. I really do not know what to think of it and in some ways reminds me of Waehouse 13, although i did enjoy the Boston episode with the labyrinth and the Minotaur.

I also like the idea of a representative door to anywhere from the library to anywhere else, and hence an Einstein Rosen bridge , or in more familiar terms, a wormhole,that allows instantaneous travel between points.

As yet researchers have no observational evidence for wormholes, but the equations of the theory of general relativity have valid solutions that contain wormholes. Because of its robust theoretical strength, a wormhole is one of the great physics metaphors for teaching general relativity (see formula below). The first type of wormhole solution discovered was the Schwarzschild wormhole, which would be present in the Schwarzschild metric describing an eternal black hole, but it was found that it would collapse too quickly for anything to cross from one end to the other. Wormholes that could be crossed in both directions, known as traversable wormholes, would only be possible if exotic matter with negative energy density could be used to stabilize them.

An affect called the Casimir effect shows that quantum field theory allows the energy density in certain regions of space to be negative relative to the ordinary vacuum energy, and it has been shown theoretically that quantum field theory allows states where energy can be arbitrarily negative at a given point.

It has been hypothesized that such effects might make it possible to stabilize a traversable wormhole. Physicists have not found any natural process that would be predicted to form a wormhole naturally in the context of general relativity, although the quantum foam hypothesis is sometimes used to suggest that tiny wormholes might appear and disappear spontaneously at the Planck scale, and stable versions of such wormholes have been suggested as dark matter candidates. It has also been proposed that, if a tiny wormhole held open by a negative-mass cosmic string had appeared around the time of the Big Bang, it could have been inflated to macroscopic size by cosmic inflation.

The American theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler coined the term wormhole in 1957; the German mathematician Hermann Weyl, however, had proposed the wormhole theory in 1921, in connection with mass analysis of electromagnetic field energy.


G_{\mu \nu} + \Lambda g_{\mu \nu}= {8\pi G\over c^4} T_{\mu \nu}



I digress, going back to this fantasy series,it is too wayward as yet for me to like it. In general , i find it silly, and despite the fact that Warehouse 13 had silly moments, it had darker tones. For the time being i shall sit on the fence before committing to the series one way or another.

I see that there is another Spielberg related series coming to the small screen called Extant, which with Halle Berry in it, looks promising.
jazzy_dave: (tardis flight)
I just caught up with Sleepy Hollow. I keep forgetting it is aired on Wednesday nights. I then watched BBC 4 with the programme Brian Cox : Space Time and Videotape, and recorded The Day After Tomorrow - Into Infinity ,starring Brian Blessed , and The Day The Universe Changed , in which James Burke reflects on the series and looks at the many theories and systems of belief that have been disproved.

I was going to watch them, but i need to get some sleep soon.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
So another part in the jigsaw of the Big Bang has been detected today, albeit, with following repeated experiments to prove that it is the case, and if confirmed, will be a milestone for the standard cosmological theory of how the universe began. The discovery of gravity waves ,as predicted by Einstein, confirms that the universe in the first few microseconds inflated faster than the speed of light from a singularity to a large ball.

The question  now is to find a cause for the effect as science hates effects without a cause. Spontaneous creation from nothing goes against the idea of causality, but then maybe the Bang was caused bu something that as yet we cannot understand. I favour the idea of a multiverse in which two such universes collided on their respective membranes which then caused the gravity waves to produce the Bang in the first place.

Does it put the idea of string theory in the dock? I doubt it, as we still don't know how the gravity waves in the first place caused the Bang. What it will mean i that scientists will now be checking the results and to see if their pet theories still fit the observational evidence.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
Here is something i found quite funny in the back page of New Scientist -

A UK delivery company informed a recipient it had "1 item : Total weight 0.000 kg." , "That" the recipient said," will be the anti-gravity machine i ordered last week".

Boom boom !

Meanwhile, i have been watching parts of that Horizon programme again. One of the ideas is that we live in a multiverse  in which a catastrophic collision might have caused the universe we live in. The other one which i find persuasive is the one put forward by Michio Kaku is that the universe began from a long period of sustained energy without the presence of matter, and as we know that matter and energy are equivalent, matter can easily appear as bubbles in a  vacuum energy plasma. The other idea proposed is one of eternal inflation in which the universe comes out of energy , expands and cools off, in which protons decay back into energy again starting the next inflation stage. Buddhist ideas seem to abound in these modern ideas in cosmology.

Some of these suggest initial conditions and others do not. Perhaps in the next ten years we will be closer to the real aspect of reality and that the big bang was not a cause without an effect.
jazzy_dave: (exterminate all wankers)
After watching University Challenge last night, i switched over to BBC 4 to catch the last half an hour of "What Happened Before The Big Bang?" in the Horizon science series. So i watched  it again on catch up TV this evening , and i belive it has been on before, but is still a mind boggling programme.

As the programme notes say on the iPlayer -

"They are the biggest questions that science can possibly ask: where did everything in our universe come from? How did it all begin? For nearly a hundred years, we thought we had the answer: a big bang some 14 billion years ago.

But now some scientists believe that was not really the beginning. Our universe may have had a life before this violent moment of creation.

Horizon takes the ultimate trip into the unknown to explore a dizzying world of cosmic bounces, rips and multiple universes, and finds out what happened before the big bang."

This is the kind of cosmological science that is right up my street. It features a few of my heavyweight scientific intellectuals in the programme ; Lee Smolin, Roger Penrose and Michio Kaku , the latter whom i have met once doing a book signing.

I think that there can be no cause without an effect, and that the singularity from which the universe has expanded from must have had a pre-existing effect , which could be the collision of membranes, or that the nothing  of the vacuum is seething with energy that forms bubbles of matter from which the bang arose out of. Buddhist believe there is never an end or a beginning but just nirvana, and hence i believe the universe is just one of many.
jazzy_dave: (beckett thoughts)
Downloaded and watched a couple of Horizon programmes during the week and both looking at the universe from asking how big the universe is to how small the universe is. The first programme looked at the large scale of the universe and attempted to answer the mind-boggling fact that we may not be the only universe and that we live in a multiverse. These other universes being in their own bubbles and impervious to our senses.

The other programme looked at the universe on the small scale from the initial big bang and attempted to answer what is the smallest constituent of matter. What are the fundamental particles? Is the quark the most fundamental , and if not what strange vibrations make up the quark. This has lead to the idea of string theory that all the fundamental particles are just tightly wound strings of different vibrations. And then perhaps there is a limit to how small things can get, the so called Planck length. Nothing can be smaller than this Planck length.

Fascinating, mind-boggling, exciting and just the kind of science programme I love to watch.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
It is wonderful news to hear that on Wednesday confirmation of the Higgs boson ,albeit, in its simplest form, has been detected by two teams working at CERN to a certainty of sigma 5, the scale which physicists use to define the confirmation of new particles.

Without the Higgs boson , the particle behind the Higgs filed which pervades the whole universe, there would be no mass and hence no particles heavier than the massless photon which travels at the speed of light. From that, there would have been no universe, without stars nor planets etc.

Within one trillionth of a second after the Big Bang the Higgs field kicked in to give the uniform radiation a soup like plasma with lumpy bits in it. These lumpy bits would begin to drag through the field adding mass to themselves, such as the quarks which are the building blocks of protons and neutrons, and to a lesser degree of drag, the electrons which orbit the atoms.

The Higgs boson is the signature of this filed that gives mass to particles. Some particles find the field more sticky which gives them the mass, whilst the photons are oblivious to the field.

Finding this particle vindicates the Standard Model of the cosmos, which envisages that the universe is made up of 12 building blocks, the fundamental particles and governed by four fundamental forces.


Slightly more technical )

More details of the discovery are here -

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-18702455
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Sometimes certain items just aren't shifting and you have to bulk offload them. That is what I did this afternoon by taking a whole bunch of old books to Past Sentence in Faversham for cash. Haggled a bit to get twenty quid to cover electricity key meter.

What a warm lovely day it has been. It gave me a spring in the step as I soaked up the splendour of this market town. The smell of hops roasting from the brewery filled my nostrils with a thirst to have a beer. A quick dive into Wetherspoons quenched it.

Did my usual “computer buddying” stint at the library this morning but it so quiet I was discussing cosmology with the librarian and explaining to him why the Higgs boson is an important step towards confirming the standard model of the Big Bang and the reason for mass in the universe..

A couple of thuds through the letterbox this morning indicated that I had a couple of packages . one from my Play Trade sales and one from my brother. The double CD was the Miles Davis classic “Kind of Blue” album with two other albums by him on the second CD. The book from my brother was by Peter Guralnik, “Sweet Soul Music, Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream For Freedom” (Canongate). This tome is a very insightful overview of soul music in the sixties. In other words,, an essential book for fans of this genre, such as myself.

Last night I watched the DVD of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” , the film version of the famous John LeCarre novel. Excellent, but it needs close attentive viewing, for the plot is quite complex. Sometimes a second run through might be needed.

So whilst cousin is watching Top Gear I shall be listening to Miles Davis.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Sometimes certain items just aren't shifting and you have to bulk offload them. That is what I did this afternoon by taking a whole bunch of old books to Past Sentence in Faversham for cash. Haggled a bit to get twenty quid to cover electricity key meter.

What a warm lovely day it has been. It gave me a spring in the step as I soaked up the splendour of this market town. The smell of hops roasting from the brewery filled my nostrils with a thirst to have a beer. A quick dive into Wetherspoons quenched it.

Did my usual “computer buddying” stint at the library this morning but it so quiet I was discussing cosmology with the librarian and explaining to him why the Higgs boson is an important step towards confirming the standard model of the Big Bang and the reason for mass in the universe..

A couple of thuds through the letterbox this morning indicated that I had a couple of packages . one from my Play Trade sales and one from my brother. The double CD was the Miles Davis classic “Kind of Blue” album with two other albums by him on the second CD. The book from my brother was by Peter Guralnik, “Sweet Soul Music, Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream For Freedom” (Canongate). This tome is a very insightful overview of soul music in the sixties. In other words,, an essential book for fans of this genre, such as myself.

Last night I watched the DVD of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” , the film version of the famous John LeCarre novel. Excellent, but it needs close attentive viewing, for the plot is quite complex. Sometimes a second run through might be needed.

So whilst cousin is watching Top Gear I shall be listening to Miles Davis.
jazzy_dave: (Default)
Another book completed a few days ago, but not on my list of challenge books -

Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Continuing Challenge To Unify The Laws of Physics
Peter Woit (Jonathan Cape)



The subtext of this book closely describes only the last third of it, so I consider it's rather misleading. It's not mainly about the failure of string theory, more history of the development of particle physics. . Lacks cohesion as a complete book, reads more as a series of essays, also a tad too self-conscious. The last third is the most interesting and could I think have been expanded to the whole of a shorter book with the first 13 or so chapters compressed to a concise summary, along with some biographical details of major contributors (e.g. Ed Witten).

He argues persuasively that string theory is fatally flawed due to a lack of any predictions and a propensity to fall back on anthropic arguments or multiple universes (or just invent a new variable) to explain experimental data not predicted by the theory.

The book itself is dense by popular science standards. Given that Woit's book appears to be a direct answer to those put out by Greene, Kaku, and others, he would have done well to incorporate metaphor and modelling to help his arguments convey to the reader. Even as someone who enjoys dense math books, this one's hundred-page foray into complex mathematics was tough to slog through. In the end, his direct arguments against string theory barely referred back to the symmetry discussions. String theory itself was not even mentioned until the latter half of the book, making the grind through symmetries a bit frustrating and dry.

The early history of particle physics experimentation is excellent, and the end of the book has much greater readability to the average reader. Woit has strong arguments about why string theory emerged (lack of other options, some nifty math tricks) as well as why it maintains dominance after decades of what Woit describes as a 'failure' to produce any proof of being on the right track (grandfathered tenured professors, decreasing funding for new hires, etc.).

All in all, despite its flaws, the book establishes a clear line of attack against string theory for the reader, but does suffer severely from a long section of advanced math which is not very well demonstrated to the average reader. Woit's general bitter tone is a bit off-putting and won't be well received by those who like the lighter, cheerier moods of Brian Greene and Michio Kaku.

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