Monday, August 23, 2010

Note to readers

Because I am writing a book, I probably will not be blogging much before December, but expect to see me then, if not before. I did post some new material today. To keep up with my writing, go to Uncommon Descent - Denyse

End of the world news: Most recent update

End of the world news: Most recent update

We are told by Howard Falcon-Lang, science reporter for BBC news, that the fate of the universe is now revealed by the galactic lens and that the universe will expand forever (19 August 2010):
Knowing the distribution of dark energy tells astronomers that the Universe will continue to get bigger indefinitely.

Eventually it will become a cold, dead wasteland with a temperature approaching what scientists term "absolute zero".

Professor Priyamvada Natarajan of Yale University, a leading cosmologist and co-author of this study, said that the findings finally proved "exactly what the fate of the Universe will be".
Hmmm. I thought that pulpit-splintering, Bible-whacking fundamentalists had settled that one along time ago. And I give about as much credit to each view.

Also, don't miss this: "Tantalizing Clues as to Why Matter Prevails in the Universe: Surprisingly Large Matter/antimatter Asymmetry Discovered" from Science News Daily:
A large collaboration of physicists working at the Fermilab Tevatron particle collider has discovered evidence of an explanation for the prevalence of matter over antimatter in the universe. They found that colliding protons in their experiment produced short-lived B meson particles that almost immediately broke down into debris that included slightly more matter than antimatter. The two types of matter annihilate each other, so most of the material coming from these sorts of decays would disappear, leaving an excess of regular matter behind. This sort of matter/antimatter asymmetry accounts for the fact that just about all the material in the universe is made of the normal matter we're familiar with.
Which doubtless explains the absence of really unusual events in my neck of the woods.

So this is a family photo of the whole world? Wow!

Here is a photograph of Earth and its moon, taken from a distance of 114 million miles, by the U.S. spacecraft Messenger, headed out to orbit Mercury.

Coffee!!: You're lucky enough if you even find the other sock anyway ....

In "Is quantum theory weird enough for the real world?", Richard Webb explains why we might need a new theory of quantum mechanics:
In our day-to-day world, we are accustomed to the idea that two events are unlikely to be correlated unless there is a clear connection of cause and effect. Pulling a red sock onto my right foot in no way ensures that my left foot will also be clad in red - unless I purposely reach into the drawer for another red sock. In 1964, John Bell of the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, described the degree of correlation that classical theories allow. Bell's result relied on two concepts: realism and locality.

Realism amounts to saying that the properties of an object exist prior to, and independent of, measurement. In the classical world, that second sock in my drawer is red regardless of whether or not I "measure" its state by looking at it. Locality is the assumption that these properties are independent of any remote influence.

In the quantum world, these are dangerous assumptions. "It turns out that either one or both of Bell's principles must be wrong," says Brukner. If quantum effects were visible in our everyday world, I might well find that my pulling on a red sock leads to the colour of the sock left in my drawer automatically changing to red.

[ ... ]

A world with this degree of interconnection would be weird indeed. I might find that by selecting a red sock from my drawer in the morning, I had predetermined the colour not just of my other sock, but that of my shirt, underpants and of the bus I ride to work.

( - New Scientist 23 August 2010)
The only time this ever happens in the macro world, in my own life experience, is if someone is fool enough to put dyed clothes in the javel water bleach wash. If you like white, buy it off the rack.

More quantum stories here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

No boundaries? Or no possibility?

A friend commented on Stephen Hawking's "no boundary" proposal:
The no boundary proposal means that one can picture the origin of the universe as being like the formation of bubbles of steam in boiling water. Quantum fluctuations lead to the spontaneous creation of tiny universes out of nothing.
My friend points out that it is not really 'out of nothing' as Hawking states. Quantum fluctuations require some sort of space-time and energy, even if they different from our own. So we've only traded one problem (get rid of the idea of a beginning) for another (what caused the space-time and energy that gave rise to the tiny universes?).

Basically, something isn't nothing. And nothing comes of nothing.

By the way, here are some varying definitions of "nothing", as seen by a physicist.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stephen Hawking: Either Star Trek or we are doomed

Here, famous physicist Stephen Hawking writes,
It's time to abandon Earth, warned the world's most famous theoretical physicist.

In an interview with website Big Think , Stephen Hawking warned that the long-term future of the planet is in outer space.

"It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet," he said.

"I see great dangers for the human race," Hawking said. "There have been a number of times in the past when its survival has been a question of touch and go. (Fox News, 2010/08/09)
Well, here's what I see. I see that Stephen Hawking needs a cup of tea, a warm blanket, and a nap.

How am I supposed to mediate between, say, Eric Pianka (too many people are dooming us) and Hawking's view that we won't survive unless we move to another planet?

From anything I know, we'd be best to forget the lot of them.

The fact that insane regimes have nuclear arms is certainly a problem, but it is a solvable one.

We used to solve it in the past by not letting them have them.

PS: Hawking actually appeared on Star Trek. Maybe that is why I thought of it.

Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy: