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Sunday, September 7
by Ron on September 7, 2008 09:11AM (PDT)
The Large Hadron Collider is not just an extraordinary science experiment, it is also a remarkable engineering undertaking. Just getting it built is an astonishing story in itself...
The LHC took 10,000 scientists a total of 14 years to assemble. ...
Here's the story of the biggest science experiment in human history ... more »
Monday, April 14
by Ron on April 14, 2008 02:37PM (PDT)
John A. Wheeler, a visionary physicist and teacher who helped invent the theory of nuclear fission, gave black holes their name and argued about the nature of reality with Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr, died Sunday morning at his home in Hightstown, N.J. He was 96...
As a professor at Princeton and then at the University of Texas in Austin, Dr. Wheeler set the agenda for generations of theoretical physicists, using metaphor as effectively as calculus to capture the imaginations of his students and colleagues and to pose questions that would send them, minds blazing, to the barricades to confront nature. ... more »
Wednesday, April 9
by Ron on April 9, 2008 03:41PM (PDT)
...In 1964, Peter Higgs, a shy scientist in Edinburgh, added his name to that list by coming up with an ingenious theory that gave scientists the tools to explain how two classes of particles, which now appear to be different, were once one and the same. His theory proposes the existence of a single particle responsible for imparting mass to all things — a speck so precious it has come to be known as the "God particle." The scientific term for it is the Higgs boson, and to find it physicists are counting on the most powerful particle accelerator ever constructed: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, a 17-mile underground circuit that took 25 years to plan and $6 billion to build.
The LHC won't begin operation until this summer, but when Higgs, 78, made his first visit there on April 5, it was, in the nomenclature of particle physics, "an event." ... more »
by Ron on April 9, 2008 02:22PM (PDT)
I recently received an email from my wife's sister, who was forwarded the remarkable images below by a friend living in Michigan. I'm of course wondering if this might be yet another unanticipated effect of global climate change?
Her friend made the following comment:
"Michigan has had the coldest winter in decades. Water expands to freeze, and at Macinaw City the water in Lake Huron below the surface ice was supercooled. It expanded to break through the surface ice and froze into this incredible wave. -- I've seen pictures of this wave phenomena in Antarctica, but in Michigan? Yes, it's been quite a winter..."
Wednesday, March 26
by Ron on March 26, 2008 01:33PM (PDT)
4) Here are the final letters by Leonard Susskind' and Lee Smolin in their email debate re the Anthropic Principle.
Smolin: ... My main point is that string theory will have much more explanatory power if the dominant mode of reproduction is through black holes, as is the case in the original version of CNS. This is the key point I would hope to convince Susskind and his colleagues about, because I am sure that the case they want to make is very much weakened if they rely on the Anthropic Principle (AP) and eternal inflation. ...
Susskind: ... Finally let me quote a remark of Smolin's that I find revealing. He says "It was worry about the possibility that string theory would lead to the present situation, which Susskind has so ably described in his recent papers, that led me to invent the Cosmological Natural Selection (CNS) idea and to write my first book. My motive, then as now, is to prevent a split in the community of theoretical physicists in which different groups of smart people believe different things, with no recourse to come to consensus by rational argument from the evidence." First of all, preventing a "split in the community of theoretical physicists" is an absurdly ridiculous reason for putting forward a scientific hypothesis.
But what I find especially mystifying is Smolin's tendency to set himself up as an arbiter of good and bad science. Among the people who feel that the anthropic principle deserves to be taken seriously, are some very famous physicists and cosmologists with extraordinary histories of scientific accomplishment. They include Steven Weinberg , Joseph Polchinski , Andrei Linde , and Sir Martin Rees . These people are not fools, nor do they need to be told what constitutes good science. ... more »
Tuesday, March 18
by Ron on March 18, 2008 04:21PM (PDT)
3) Here's Leonard Susskind's #2 to Lee Smolin #2:
...The issue here is not whether the usual phenomenological inflation was of the eternal kind although that is relevant. Eternal inflation taking place in any false vacuum minimum on the landscape would favor [in Smolin's sense] the maximum cosmological constant. But for the sake of argument I will agree to ignore eternal inflation as a reproduction mechanism.
The question of how many black holes are formed is somewhat ambiguous. What if two black holes coalesce to form a single one. Does that count as one black hole or two? Strictly speaking, given that black holes are defined by the global geometry, it is only one black hole. What happens if all the stars in the galaxy eventually fall into the central black hole? That severely diminishes the counting. So we better assume that the bigger the black hole, the more babies it will have. Perhaps one huge black hole spawns more offspring than 10^22 stellar black holes.
That raises the question of what exactly is a black hole? One of the deepest lessons that we have learned over the past decade is that there is no fundamental difference between elementary particles and black holes. As repeatedly emphasized by 't Hooft , black holes are the natural extension of the elementary particle spectrum. This is especially clear in string theory where black holes are simply highly excited string states. Does that mean that we should count every particle as a black hole? ... more »
Sunday, March 9
by Ron on March 9, 2008 01:00AM (PST)
Faced with the difficulty of observing Hawking radiation from astrophysical black holes, some physicists have attempted to make artificial ones in the lab that have a higher characteristic temperature. Clearly, generating huge amounts of gravity is both dangerous and next to impossible. But artificial black holes could be based on an analogous system in which the curved space–time of a gravitational field is enacted by another varying parameter that affects the propagation of a wave. “We cannot change the laws of gravity at our will,” Ulf Leonhardt at the University of St Andrews in the UK tells physicsworld.com. “But we can change analogous parameters in a condensed-matter system.” Leonhardt’s group at St Andrews is the first to create an artificial black-hole system in which Hawking radiation could be detected (Science 319 1367). ... more »
Friday, February 29
by Ron on February 29, 2008 08:26PM (PST)
2) And here's Lee Smolin's #2 to Leonard Susskind #1:
I am grateful to Lenny for taking the time to respond to my paper. I will be as brief as I can in replying, especially as the key points are already presented in detail in my paper hep-th/0407213 ["Scientific alternatives to the anthropic principle"] or in my book, Life of the Cosmos or previous papers on the subject. -- For clarity I had in section 5.1.6 identified two arguments in Weinberg's papers. The first is the one I criticized in the summary. Susskind reponds, reasonably, by agreeing, and then raising the second argument. This argument is also criticized in detail in my paper, and it was perhaps a mistake not to include this in the summary I sent to Susskind.
This second argument is based on a version of the AP called the "Principle of Mediocrity" by Garriga and Vilenkin, who have done the most to develop it. Their version states that, "...our civilization is typical in the ensemble of all civilizations in the universe." -- This argument is discussed in full in sections 5.1.5 and 5.1.6. There I argue that the mediocrity principle cannot yield falsifiable predictions because it depends on the definition of the ensemble within which our civilization is taken to be typical as well as on assumptions about the probability distribution. I establish this by general argument as well as by reference to specific examples including Weinberg's use of it.
Can this be right if, as Susskind claims, Weinberg's prediction was found to hold? In fact, Weinberg's prediction did not work all that well. In the form that he made it, it led to an expectation of a cosmological constant larger than the observed value. Depending on the ensemble chosen and the assumptions made about the probability distribution, the probability that Lambda be as small as observed ranges between about 10 % and a few parts in ten thousand. In fact, the less probable values are the more reasonable, as they come from an ensemble where Q, the scale of the density fluctuations, is allowed to vary. While I am not an expert here, it appears from a reading of the literature [references in the paper] that to make the probability for the present value as large as 10% one has to assume that Q is frozen and fixed by fundamental theory. It is hard to imagine a theory where the parameters vary but Q does not, as it depends on parameters in the inflation potential. ... more »
Thursday, January 17
by Ron on January 17, 2008 02:00AM (PST)
University of Utah researchers have discovered a surprisingly tiny new messenger in worms: protons. The find raises the possibility that the subatomic particle plays the same role in humans, the researchers say. ... more »
Friday, January 11
by Ron on January 11, 2008 12:07PM (PST)
...According to Einstein's theory, a rapidly spinning black hole makes space itself rotate. This effect, coupled with gas spiraling toward the black hole, can produce a rotating, tightly wound vertical tower of magnetic field that flings a large fraction of the inflowing gas away from the vicinity of the black hole in an energetic, high-speed jet...
One significant consequence of powerful, black hole jets in galaxies in the centers of galaxy clusters is that they can pump enormous amounts of energy into their environments, and heat the gas around them. This heating prevents the gas from cooling, and affects the rate at which new stars form, thereby limiting the size of the central galaxy. Understanding the details of this fundamental feedback loop between supermassive black holes and the formation of the most massive galaxies remains an important goal in astrophysics. ... more »
Thursday, December 27
by Ron on December 27, 2007 12:29PM (PST)
As part of my preparation for an intensive training I'm starting in January on the Big Island of Hawaii with the innovative physicist Nassim Haramein, I'm now reading the book The Holographic Universe, by Michael Talbot. I recommend this book.
...The idea that consciousness and life (and indeed all things) are ensembles enfolded throughout the universe has an equally dazzling flip side. Just as every portion of a hologram contains the image of the whole, every portion of the universe enfolds the whole. This means that if we knew how to access it we could find the Andromeda galaxy in the thumbnail of our left Hand. we could also find Cleopatra meeting Caesar for the first time, for in principle the whole past and implications for the whole future are also enfolded in each small region of space and time. ... more »
Thursday, December 20
by Ron on December 20, 2007 02:09PM (PST)
Thanks to RYD for his previous article, 'Laws of Nature, Source Unknown'—by Dennis Overbye (from NYT), which led me to this article by the same author. ~ ronjon
Ten years ago at the AAAS, Dennis Overbye, author of the classic 'Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos', found himself on a rainy Sunday afternoon in an auditorium watching a handful of historians and physicists arguing about whether Einstein's first wife Mileva had actually invented relativity. This was an eye opener to him, to put it mildly. He was astounded that there could be any mystery about either the origin of relativity or about Einstein's life. He had just assumed that he was so famous and so recent that everything that could be known about him was known.
What followed was a 10-year investigation in which Overbye immersed himself in Einstein's life and wrote his recently published book, 'Einstein In Love'.
"Romantically speaking, Einstein always felt — and always told his girlfriends — that Paradise was just around the corner," he says," but as soon as he got there, it started looking a little shabby and something better appeared. I've known a lot of people like Albert in my time. During this project I have felt lots of shocks of recognition. I feel like I got to know Albert as a person, and I have more respect for him as a physicist than I did when I started, simply because I have more a sense of what he actually did — and how hard it was — than before. If he was around now, I'd love to buy him a beer ..... but I don't know if I'd introduce him to my sister." ... more »
Tuesday, December 18
by Ron on December 18, 2007 04:33PM (PST)
Dr. Mani Bhaumik is the co-inventor of the laser technology that made Lasik eye surgery possible. His contributions to science merited the rare dual election as a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, while his successes won him a spot on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Eventually he discovered that :happiness is an inside job," and immersed himself in study of the hidden relationship between science and spirituality and the integration of mind and matter. He has published over fifty papers in professional journals and maintains a lively correspondence with other physicists around the world. His alma mater, Indian Institute of Technology, bestowed him with an honorary D.Sc. degree for lifetime academic achievements. Dr. Bhaumik is the founder of the Mani Bhaumik Educational Foundation, which currently provides full scholarships to sixty seven extremely bright but underprivileged Indian young men and women to enable them to earn a university degree in science, engineering or medicine. His US Foundation, Cosmogenics, is set up to foster research in consciousness and healing as well as mind/body integration. ... more »
Thursday, December 13
by Ron on December 13, 2007 03:00AM (PST)
I'm introducing here SCIY Editor Ulrich J. Mohroff's superb new journal: Anti-Matters, which I highly recommend reading. I'm taking the liberty of reproducing below the Table of Contents of Vol 1, No 2 (2007). ~ ronjon
The following is from Ulrich J. Mohrhoff's "Preface to the Second Issue":
The release date of the last yearly issue of AntiMatters — the second issue in the case of this first volume — is November 24th. On this day in 1926, Sri Aurobindo arrived at a turning point in his yoga. According to Sri Aurobindo, there is a highest mental plane, to which he gave the name “overmind.” The Isha Upanishad refers to it as a “brilliant golden lid” obstructing the passage from mind to supermind. For years Sri Aurobindo had striven to negotiate this passage. Success came on that day in 1926, when the light and power of the overmind descended into his physical being. Subsequently Sri Aurobindo withdrew from outer contacts to concentrate on the more difficult task of enabling the supermind to descend, take possession of his body, and for the first time act on matter directly, rather than through mental intermediaries. Here is part of a conversation of the Mother with Satprem (Mother’s Agenda, August 2, 1961): ... more »
Monday, December 10
by Ron on December 10, 2007 05:31PM (PST)
I think this may be an important development. My intuition tells me that Lisi is really on to something here, that we'll be hearing lots more about this, and if his predictions are verified when Large Hadron Collider comes online next year, physics will never be the same. ~ rj
An impoverished surfer has drawn up a new theory of the universe, seen by some as the Holy Grail of physics, which has received rave reviews from scientists. - Garrett Lisi, 39, has a doctorate but no university affiliation and spends most of the year surfing in Hawaii, where he has also been a hiking guide and bridge builder (when he slept in a jungle yurt)...
Lisi's inspiration lies in the most elegant and intricate shape known to mathematics, called E8 - a complex, eight-dimensional mathematical pattern with 248 points first found in 1887, but only fully understood by mathematicians this year after workings, that, if written out in tiny print, would cover an area the size of Manhattan. ... more »
Tuesday, December 4
by Ron on December 4, 2007 01:44PM (PST)
Berkeley -- When University of California, Berkeley, astrophysicist George Smoot received the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics a year ago, his dreams for spending his $700,000 share of the prize ran far beyond purchasing a sporty car or a new home.
Instead, he wanted to create a lasting center where he and other scientists - in particular, young postdoctoral researchers - could tackle cosmic questions whose solutions would be worthy of future Nobel Prizes.
That dream, the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (http://bccp.lbl.gov/), has now become reality, with a $500,000 endowment gift from Smoot and additional gifts totaling $8.1 million. These gifts include $1.5 million from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and $5.5 million in private gifts and other support for endowed chairs at the center and for postdoctoral and graduate student support. UC Berkeley physics professor Saul Perlmutter, who, like Smoot, is also a researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), has also contributed to the center, using a portion of his 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize to seed a fund for future research that, with the addition of other funds, will total approximately $600,000. ...
Smoot, the center's director, and UC Berkeley plan to raise at least $4 or 5 million in endowment on top of this $8.1 million to ensure an ongoing center with resident postdoctoral fellows and scholars at UC Berkeley and Berkeley Lab, an active visitors program, educational outreach to K-12 science teachers and several collaborative international workshops on cosmology each year. ... more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler