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Theories of Everything
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 21-06-2011 20:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

A lighter look at all the big cosmological theories:

The Infinite Monkey Cage - Series 4 - Episode 4

Science show, presented by Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b011zm32/The_Infinite_Monkey_Cage_Series_4_Episode_4/

But there are some serious insights amongst the banter and repartee, not to mention the song about the sun.
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PostPosted: 21-06-2011 20:30    Post subject: Reply with quote

rynner2 wrote:
A lighter look at all the big cosmological theories:

The Infinite Monkey Cage - Series 4 - Episode 4

Science show, presented by Professor Brian Cox and Robin Ince.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b011zm32/The_Infinite_Monkey_Cage_Series_4_Episode_4/

But there are some serious insights amongst the banter and repartee, not to mention the song about the sun.


Thanks, rynner. Turns out that the BBC allows us to listen to BBC4, even if they block video programs to us. Good to find out!
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 18-06-2012 08:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not enough hours in the day? Scientists predict time will stop completely
Time might feel like it is running away from us as the pace of life increases but according to scientists, the future will stop completely.
By Donna Bowater
7:18AM BST 18 Jun 2012

The theory of time running out was devised by researchers from two Spanish universities trying to explain why the universe appeared to be spreading continuously and accelerating.

Observations of supernovae, or exploding stars, found the movement of light indicated they were moving faster than those nearer to the centre of the universe.

But the scientists claimed the accepted theory of an opposite force to gravity, known as dark energy, was wrong, and said the reality was that the growth of the universe was slowing.

Professor Jose Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raul Vera from the University of the Basque Country and the University of Salamanca said the deceleration of time was so gradual, it was imperceptible to humans.
Their proposal, published in the journal Physical Review D, claimed dark energy does not exist and that time was winding down to the point when it would finally grind to a halt long after the planet ceased to exist.

The slowing down of time will eventually mean everything will appear to take place faster and faster until it eventually disappears.
Professor Senovilla told the New Scientist: "Then everything will be frozen, like a snapshot of one instant, for ever."

Gary Gibbons, a cosmologist the University of Cambridge, told the news website RT that the idea was not as absurd as it sounded.
"We believe that time emerged during the Big Bang and if time can emerge, may disappear as well as the opposite effect," he said.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9337990/Not-enough-hours-in-the-day-Scientists-predict-time-will-stop-completely.html

But "Observations of supernovae, or exploding stars, found the movement of light indicated they were moving faster than those nearer to the centre of the universe" is gobbledegook, if not politically incorrect! Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: 18-06-2012 08:20    Post subject: Reply with quote

Then we have the Big Implosion and time all starts to run backwards, again!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20LOA_SjZEo! Sad
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Pietro_Mercurios
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PostPosted: 18-06-2012 08:52    Post subject: Reply with quote

rynner2 wrote:
...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/9337990/Not-enough-hours-in-the-day-Scientists-predict-time-will-stop-completely.html

But "Observations of supernovae, or exploding stars, found the movement of light indicated they were moving faster than those nearer to the centre of the universe" is gobbledegook, if not politically incorrect! Twisted Evil

To be fair, that observation is only really relative to our position in the Cosmos. It could just be an illusion of perspective.

According to Stephen Hawking, it could be an open and shut case.

http://articles.latimes.com/1998/mar/14/news/mn-28796

Laughing
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 05-08-2012 08:56    Post subject: Reply with quote

The beauty of the Higgs boson
The discovery of the Higgs boson is the jewel in the crown of particle physics
Share 35
Jeff Forshaw
The Observer, Sunday 5 August 2012

...

A beautiful piece of physics is elegant. An elegant theory has the capacity to explain many apparently different things simultaneously – it means that rather than needing a library full of textbooks to explain the workings of the universe we can manage with just one book. In fact the situation is better than that – the fundamental equations that underpin all known natural phenomena can be written down on the back of an envelope. Shocked That is really true – the nature of light, the workings of the sun, the laws of electricity and magnetism, the explanation for atoms, gravity and much more can all be expressed with breathtaking economy. It is like we are in the business of discovering the rules of an elaborate game and we have figured out that they are really very simple, despite the rich variety of phenomena we see around us. Uncovering the rules of the game is exciting, and maybe one day we will know all of the rules accessible to us – that is what people are referring to when they speak about a "theory of everything". It sounds very arrogant to speak about a theory of everything but those in pursuit of it are not so dumb. They are well aware that knowing the rules is not the whole story. A child can know the rules of chess but exploiting them to produce a classic game is far from easy. This is an illustration of how simple rules can lead to something very complicated. The study of complex phenomena and their emergence is another very exciting area of modern physics.

Beautiful physics is also compelling. It is as if nature possesses a kind of perfection that is guiding us in our pursuit of the rules of the game. The result is that we very often have little or no choice when figuring out what equations to write down. That is a very satisfying situation to be in. It means that when we try to figure out an equation to describe something important, such as how an electron behaves, instead of saying, "Well… the equation might look like this… or maybe it looks like that… or…" we have no choice and nature simply screams out at us: "The equation simply must look like this." Dirac's beautiful equation is just like that – it describes the electron and predicts the existence of its anti-matter partner, the positron. Our understanding of the origins of inter-particle interactions (aka force) is like this too – starting from a very dull theory in which particles do not interact with one another (so no stars or people) and the idea that nature is symmetric in a certain way we are absolutely compelled to introduce interactions into the theory – the symmetry forces our hand and dictates how the theory should look. Symmetry is so often the device that leads to elegant and compelling theories. A snowflake is symmetric – if I draw part of one you could probably do a good job of sketching the rest. Likewise equations can be symmetric, which means we only need part of one in order to figure out the rest. In the case of particle interactions, symmetry means we can infer their necessary existence starting from the simpler equations that describe a world without any interactions at all… and that really is beautiful.

The genius of Peter Higgs and the other physicists who proposed the existence of the Higgs boson was to take the idea of symmetry seriously. The same symmetry that gives us "for free" the theory of inter-particle interactions also appears, at first glance, to predict that nature's elementary particles should all be without mass. That is flatly wrong and we are faced either with ditching a symmetry that has delivered so much (although that was not known when the Higgs pioneers were beavering away in the early 1960s) or figuring out an ingenious solution.

The Higgs idea is that solution – it says empty space is jammed full of Higgs particles that deflect otherwise massless particles as they move – the more a particle is jiggled by the Higgs particles the more it has mass. As a result, the fundamental equations maintain their precious symmetry while the particles gain mass. Faith in the idea that nature's laws should be elegant and compelling has, yet again, delivered insight. The Higgs discovery is the jewel in the crown of particle physics and a worthy testament to nature's astonishing beauty.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/aug/05/jeff-forshaw-higgs-boson-discovery#start-of-comments
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 01-09-2012 08:34    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a lighter note, World Wide Words newsletter introduced me to this:

http://www.grijalvo.com/Citas/Peculiar_English.htm

We know that English is a patchwork of different languages and influences. What would have happened if some of those influences had not taken place, or had become predominant? Well, there are a couple of rather famous texts that I discovered recently and which I find are awesome.

The first one was written by Poul Anderson, and its title is "Uncleftish Beholding". It is an article on basic atomic theory written only with words of Germanic origin. Simply awesome. The "anglo-saxon neologisms" used to express words like "atom", "charge", and so on, are lovely. Quite a few of the words actually have straightforward equivalents in modern German (especially the names of some elements).
...
Quote:
UNCLEFTISH BEHOLDING, by Poul Anderson

(revised edition, from "All One Universe")

For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made of, but could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began to learn, and today we have a beholding of stuff and work that watching bears out, both in the workstead and in daily life.

The underlying kinds of stuff are the *firststuffs*, which link together in sundry ways to give rise to the rest. Formerly we knew of ninety-two firststuffs, from waterstuff, the lightest and barest, to ymirstuff, the heaviest. Now we have made more, such as aegirstuff and helstuff.

The firststuffs have their being as motes called *unclefts*. These are mightly small; one seedweight of waterstuff holds a tale of them like unto two followed by twenty-two naughts. Most unclefts link together to make what are called *bulkbits*. Thus, the waterstuff bulkbit bestands of two waterstuff unclefts, the sourstuff bulkbit of two sourstuff unclefts, and so on. (Some kinds, such as sunstuff, keep alone; others, such as iron, cling together in ices when in the fast standing; and there are yet more yokeways.) When unlike clefts link in a bulkbit, they make *bindings*. Thus, water is a binding of two waterstuff unclefts with one sourstuff uncleft, while a bulkbit of one of the forestuffs making up flesh may have a thousand thousand or more unclefts of these two firststuffs together with coalstuff and chokestuff.

At first is was thought that the uncleft was a hard thing that could be split no further; hence the name. Now we know it is made up of lesser motes. There is a heavy *kernel* with a forward bernstonish lading, and around it one or more light motes with backward ladings. The least uncleft is that of ordinary waterstuff. Its kernel is a lone forwardladen mote called a *firstbit*. Outside it is a backwardladen mote called a *bernstonebit*. The firstbit has a heaviness about 1840-fold that of the bernstonebit. Early worldken folk thought bernstonebits swing around the kernel like the earth around the sun, but now we understand they are more like waves or clouds.

In all other unclefts are found other motes as well, about as heavy as the firstbit but with no lading, known as *neitherbits*. We know a kind of waterstuff with one neitherbit in the kernel along with the firstbit; another kind has two neitherbits. Both kinds are seldom.

The next greatest firststuff is sunstuff, which has two firstbits and two bernstonebits. The everyday sort also has two neitherbits in the kernel. If there are more or less, the uncleft will soon break asunder. More about this later.


etc... Cool

It might make an interesting exercise for science students to translate this into current English! Very Happy
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 03-09-2012 06:32    Post subject: Reply with quote

Now, back to modern physics:
Horizon: How Small is the Universe? is on BBC Two at 21:00 BST on Monday 3 September. (On iplayer later.)


What is the smallest possible space in the universe?
Science's ongoing quest to find the smallest possible objects remains tantalisingly incomplete, as physicist Prof Andy Parker explains.

Physics has a problem with small things. Or, to be more precise, with infinitely small things.
We imagine that we can move any distance we like, no matter how small.
This perception was exploited by Zeno in one of his famous paradoxes. Achilles could never actually get anywhere since the distance he would have to cover could be halved an infinite number of times - halfway there, halfway again, and so on. He would have to take an infinite number of ever-smaller steps to reach his goal.

Mathematicians have explained this apparent paradox, and are completely comfortable with infinite numbers, as well as infinitely small distances and objects. Their answers are used in physics to describe the world inside the atom.

But nature is not so comfortable with this. When we try to describe something as a "point" - an infinitely small object, that throws up some of the most intractable problems in physics.
Since all of particle physics relies on "point-like" particles, reacting to forces in tiny spaces, one can anticipate trouble.
This duly appears in the form of nonsense answers when the equations are used at the smallest distances.

Physicists are therefore increasingly suspicious of points, and asking whether in fact Nature has a limit for the smallest possible object, or even whether there is a smallest possible space.

The quest for the smallest building blocks of Nature probably stretches back to the first caveman who tried to put a sharp edge on a flint.
The Greeks gave us the concept of billiard-ball shaped atoms which stick together to make up the materials we see, and this picture is still in most peoples' minds today.

Over a century ago, JJ Thomson managed to extract electrons from atoms in Cambridge, and he was followed in 1932 by Cockcroft and Walton, who split the atomic nucleus with a cleverly designed particle accelerator.
These turned out to be only the first Russian Dolls.

Successive experiments, using more and more powerful accelerators, revealed that the nucleus was composed of protons and neutrons, and that they in turn were made of quarks.
The evidence for the Higgs boson recently produced at the Large Hadron Collider at Cern is the latest of these.
But all attempts to split quarks or electrons, even using the awesome power of the LHC have failed.

The basic building blocks seem to be points, certainly smaller than 0.0000000000000000001 metres across.
One can see where the problem comes from. All the forces in nature get stronger at short distances.
Newton's famous "inverse-square law" of gravity, for example, says that the force of gravity gets four times stronger if you halve your distance from an object.
If we imagine particles as points, you can make the distance between two of them as small as you like, so the force becomes infinite. Ultimately this would break up the fabric of space, creating a foam of black holes. That would certainly slow Achilles down!

Physicists can normally sidestep this problem, using the fuzziness built into quantum mechanics which allows matter to behave as particles or waves.
You may also have heard of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle which does not allow us to know exactly where anything is. So even though a particle might be a point, its location is uncertain, and in the equations it looks like a fuzzy ball - problem solved!

Well almost - we don't actually know how to apply quantum mechanics to gravity, and so we still get stuck with nonsensical predictions such as the complete collapse of space if we try to describe strong gravitational fields, like those inside black holes.

It turns out that quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of gravity just don't mix.
Various ingenious solutions have been proposed to this problem.
The most obvious is that there is another Russian Doll, and the smallest particles are tiny billiard balls. If so, one day, perhaps with the Hadron Collider, we will see the size of the smallest objects.

But theoretical physicists prefer the idea that the particles are not in fact round, but tiny "strings", like bits of elastic.
They have a finite length, but an infinitely small width. This solves the problem, since you can never be at the same distance from all of the string.
You may have guessed that is what we call String Theory.
Strings can vibrate, and this allows us to explain all of the strange fundamental particles which we see as different vibrations of the strings - different notes from a cosmic violin.

So far, so simple - but to explain the particles we know about, the strings have to vibrate in lots of different ways.
Superstring Theory allows them to vibrate in a bizarre space with 11 dimensions - up, down, sideways, "crossways" and 7 other ways!
Experiments at the LHC are looking for evidence that you can move "crossways". If we can, there could be whole universes, as big and marvellous as our own, sitting just down the road "crossways". Cool

We can go even further - perhaps we should not be looking for the smallest object, but the smallest distance.
If space is composed of lots of small grains, then our problem can be solved, since no two particles can ever be closer together than the size of a grain.

Achilles would move along in a series of small, but finite, steps. By looking at particles travelling over huge distances across the cosmos, we hope to see the accumulated effect of bumping along lots of tiny grains, rather than gliding through the smooth space which we imagine.

In the end, the answers will be found in experiments, not in our imaginations. Perhaps the most amazing thing we have discovered is the scientific method, which allows us to pose and answer questions like "How small is the Universe?". Not bad for slightly evolved cavemen!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19434856
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PostPosted: 08-09-2012 07:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

A vew look at a conerstone of Quantum physics:

Quantum test pricks uncertainty
By Jason Palmer, Science and technology reporter, BBC News

Pioneering experiments have cast doubt on a founding idea of the branch of physics called quantum mechanics.
The Heisenberg uncertainty principle is in part an embodiment of the idea that in the quantum world, the mere act of observing an event changes it.
But the idea had never been put to the test, and a team writing in Physical Review Letters says "weak measurements" prove the rule was never quite right.
That could play havoc with "uncrackable codes" of quantum cryptography.

Quantum mechanics has since its very inception raised a great many philosophical and metaphysical debates about the nature of nature itself.
Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, as it came to be known later, started as an assertion that when trying to measure one aspect of a particle precisely, say its position, experimenters would necessarily "blur out" the precision in its speed.
That raised the spectre of a physical world whose nature was, beyond some fundamental level, unknowable.

This problem with the act of measuring is not confined to the quantum world, explained senior author of the new study, Aephraim Steinberg of the University of Toronto.
"You find a similar thing with all sorts of waves," he told BBC News. "A more familiar example is sound: if you've listened to short clips of audio recordings you realise if they get too short you can't figure out what sound someone is making, say between a 'p' and a 'b'.
"If I really wanted to say as precisely as posible, 'when did you make that sound?', I wouldn't also be able to ask what sound it was, I'd need to listen to the whole recording."

The problem with Heisenberg's theory was that it vastly predated any experimental equipment or approaches that could test it at the quantum level: it had never been proven in the lab.
"Heisenberg had this intiuition about the way things ought to be, but he never really proved anything very strict about the value," said Prof Steinberg.
"Later on, people came up with the mathematical proof of the exact value."

Prof Steinberg and his team are no stranger to bending quantum mechanics' rules; in 2011, they carried out a version of a classic experiment on photons - the smallest indivisible packets of light energy - that plotted out the ways in which they are both wave and particle, something the rules strictly preclude.

This time, they aimed to use so-called weak measurements on pairs of photons, putting into practice an idea first put forward in a 2010 paper in the New Journal of Physics.

Photons can be prepared in pairs which are inextricably tied to one another, in a delicate quantum state called entanglement, and the weak measurement idea is to infer information about them as they pass, before and after carrying out a formal measurement.
What the team found was that the act of measuring did not appreciably "blur out" what could be known about the pairs.

It remains true that there is a fundamental limit of knowability, but it appears that, in this case, just trying to look at nature does not add to that unavoidably hidden world.
Or, as the authors put it: "The quantum world is still full of uncertainty, but at least our attempts to look at it don't have to add as much uncertainty as we used to think!"

Whether the finding made much practical difference was an open question, said Prof Steinberg.
"The jury is still out on that. It's certainly more than a footnote in the textbooks; it will certainly change the way I teach quantum mechanics and I think a lot of textbooks.
"But there's actually a lot of technology that relies on quantum uncertainty now, and the main one is quantum cryptography - using quantum systems to convey our information securely - and that mostly boils down to the uncertainty principle."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-19489385
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PostPosted: 08-09-2012 13:50    Post subject: Reply with quote

Time to unionise the Quantum Mechanics.
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PostPosted: 11-09-2012 08:09    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even a theory of everything has limits
Stephen Hawking’s new series attempts to comprehend the cosmos – but no 'grand design’ can give us all the answers
By Martin Rees
6:30AM BST 11 Sep 2012

We humans haven’t changed much since our remote ancestors roamed the African savannah. Our brains evolved to cope with the human-scale environment. So it is surely remarkable that we can make sense of phenomena that confound everyday intuition: in particular, the minuscule atoms we’re made of, and the vast cosmos that surrounds us.

Thanks to powerful telescopes, and to instruments such as the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, we can map billions of galaxies, and trace cosmic history back to some mysterious “beginning” nearly 14 billion years ago. But as always in science, each advance brings into focus some new questions that couldn’t previously have even been posed.

In a new three-part series for the Discovery Channel, Stephen Hawking’s Grand Design, my old friend and colleague explores some of the biggest issues in science today – in particular, how close we are to arriving at a “theory of everything” that explains the final mysteries of the universe. But the mystery is even deeper. For, as I argued at a Royal Society debate last week, there’s an equally fascinating question: namely whether we, as humans, will ever be able to understand our cosmos and the complexities within it.

We’ve known for a long time that, when confronting the overwhelming mystery of what banged in the Big Bang and why it banged, Einstein’s theory isn’t enough. That’s because it treats space and time as smooth and continuous. We know, however, that no material can be chopped into arbitrarily small pieces: eventually, you get down to discrete atoms. Likewise, space itself has a grainy and “quantised” structure – but on a scale a trillion trillion times smaller.

During the very earliest instants after the Big Bang, everything was so immensely squeezed that this “graininess” is crucial. But theorists are still baffled about the bedrock nature of space and time on the very smallest scale: in the fashion of ancient cartographers, we must still write: “Here be dragons.”

On the largest scale, we may be even further from grasping the full extent of physical reality. The domain that astronomers call “the universe” – the space, extending more than 10 billion light years around us and containing billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, billions of planets and maybe billions of biospheres – could be an infinitesimal part of the totality. Indeed, the results of our Big Bang could extend so far that somewhere there are assemblages of atoms in all possible configurations and combinations – including replicas of ourselves.

And that’s not all. “Our” Big Bang may not even be the only one. An idea called “eternal inflation”, developed by the Russian cosmologist Andrei Linde, envisages Big Bangs popping off ad infinitum, in an ever-expanding cascade. This process depends on the physics that prevails at ultra-high densities: there are genuine prospects that physicists may, in the coming decades, be able to pin down the relevant equations well enough to be able to infer whether the prerequisites for eternal inflation are indeed fulfilled – and whether our universe is just one island in a vast cosmic archipelago. This cosmic environment would be on scales so vast that our purview would be restricted to a tiny fragment: we wouldn’t be directly aware of the big picture, any more than a plankton whose “universe” is a spoonful of water is aware of the Empire State Building.

The question then arises of what these other universes are like. By analysing cosmic light, we can infer that the atoms in distant stars behave just like those we study in the lab. But does this uniformity extend beyond our horizon? The most comprehensive theories – known as M-theory, and pioneered by Ed Witten, the undisputed leader of this subject – suggest that the answer is no, and that the wider cosmos might display immense variety, with different universes being governed by different bylaws. Were this the case, our universe would belong to the subset where there was a “lucky draw” of cosmic numbers conducive to the emergence of complexity: life couldn’t exist if gravity were overwhelmed by an overly strong repulsive force, nor if there were no atoms, nor if there were insufficient space and time for complexity to emerge.

During a recent conference at Stanford University, some theorists investigating this concept of a multiverse were asked how strongly they believed in their ideas: would they bet their goldfish? Their dog? Themselves? I said that I was about at the dog level. Linde, however, was far more confident – after all, he’d devoted 25 years of his life to eternal inflation. The great theorist Steven Weinberg later commented that he’d happily bet Martin Rees’s dog and Andre Linde’s life. I think Stephen Hawking, who’s been known to make a bet or too, would place the same wager. Wink

etc...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/9534181/Even-a-theory-of-everything-has-limits.html
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PostPosted: 11-09-2012 20:21    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since this comes under string theory, it might be on topic:

Quote:
Has James Gates Discovered Computer Code in String Theory Equations? Welcome to The Matrix!
March 25, 2012

The Matrix is in programmed control & continues inexorably in the background, whether you are aware of it or not.

Dr. S. James Gates, Jr., a theoretical physicist, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, and the Director of The Center for String & Particle Theory, is reporting that certain string theory, super-symmetrical equations, which describe the fundamental nature of the Universe and reality, contain embedded computer codes. These codes are digital data in the form of 1?s and 0?s. Not only that, these codes are the same as what make web browsers work and are error-correction codes! Gates says, “We have no idea what these ‘things’ are doing there”.

Gates discloses in the second video below, as an aside in a formal interview, that some of his research can be interpreted that we do live in a virtual reality. He describes this as “mind-blowing” and similar to the movie “The Matrix”! Further, he adds, that if someone suspected they did live in a virtual reality, then detecting computer codes would be a way to confirm. He concludes with finding these computer codes in equations that describe our world: “that’s what I just proposed!”.

What to make of this? There are two issues: 1) if String Theory will ultimately be a viable and therefore proven model of reality and 2) if so, whether embedded coding is in fact within the related verified equations. Michio Kaku has stated “String Theory Is the Only Game in Town” because it is the only testable theory available.

We have argued on this website that the Universe is a virtual reality. If true, then any theory of reality should eventually confirm this, if the theory has staying power and does not succumb to an early death. Accordingly, time is on the side of the simulation hypothesis to be verified first through theory and then via experiments in the long-run. Technology to provide the means to test that the Universe is a virtual reality is the next step.

Strange Computer Code Discovered Concealed In Superstring Equations! “Doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block code,” first invented by Claude Shannon in the 1940?s, has been discovered embedded WITHIN the equations of superstring theory! Why does nature have this? What errors does it need to correct? What is an ‘error’ for nature? More importantly what is the explanation for this freakish discovery? Your guess is as good as mine.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1LCVknKUJ4&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Z9tO0D6W-Y&feature=player_embedded

Credits
Abe (Twitter: @Esq2776abe) for the initial report
Johanan Raatz (YouTube: JohananRaatz) for the first video

http://www.transcend.ws/?p=3020



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PostPosted: 15-10-2012 15:17    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a taster, as New Scientist doesn't like people copying its output without permission. You need to register to read the articles online, but it's free.

The surprise theory of everything
15 October 2012 by Vlatko Vedral
Magazine issue 2886
Forget quantum physics, forget relativity. Inklings of an ultimate theory might emerge from an unexpected place

AS REVOLUTIONS go, its origins were haphazard. It was, according to the ringleader Max Planck, an "act of desperation". In 1900, he proposed the idea that energy comes in discrete chunks, or quanta, simply because the smooth delineations of classical physics could not explain the spectrum of energy re-radiated by an absorbing body.

Yet rarely was a revolution so absolute. Within a decade or so, the cast-iron laws that had underpinned physics since Newton's day were swept away. Classical certainty ceded its stewardship of reality to the probabilistic rule of quantum mechanics, even as the parallel revolution of Einstein's relativity displaced our cherished, absolute notions of space and time. This was complete regime change.

Except for one thing. A single relict of the old order remained, one that neither Planck nor Einstein nor any of their contemporaries had the will or means to remove. The British astrophysicist Arthur Eddington summed up the situation in 1915. "If your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation," he wrote.

In this essay, I will explore the fascinating question of why, since their origins in the early 19th century, the laws of thermodynamics have proved so formidably robust. The journey traces the deep connections that were discovered in the 20th century between thermodynamics and information theory - connections that allow us to trace intimate links between thermodynamics and not only quantum theory but also, more speculatively, relativity. Ultimately, I will argue, those links show us how thermodynamics in the 21st century can guide us towards a theory that will supersede them both.

...

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21628861.700-the-surprise-theory-of-everything.html?full=true
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rynner2Offline
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PostPosted: 04-11-2012 09:24    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's something I missed earlier: Wink

Scientists believe they have come close to solving the 'Matrix' theory
The question of whether we live in a real world or a simulated one has plagued philosophers for centuries - but now scientists believe they finally have found a way to test the theory.
By Lucy Kinder
10:42AM BST 26 Oct 2012

Professor Silas Beane, a theoretical physicist at the University of Bonn in Germany said that his group of scientists have developed a way to test the 'simulation hypothesis'.

The idea has been debated by the greats of philosphy, from Plato to Descartes, who speculated that the world we see around us could be generated by an 'evil demon'.
The successful film franchise, The Matrix, also helped spawn the idea that what we think is our everyday life is in fact a simulation generated by an all-powerful computer.

But now more than two thousand years since Plato suggested that our senses only give us a poor reflection of objective reality, experts believe they have cracked the riddle.
Professor Beane told Radio 4's Today programme that his proposal could be the beginning of a new period of discovery.

The test would see scientists using mathetical models known as the lattice QCD approach in an attempt to recreate - on a theoretical level - a simulated reality.
To identify what these constraints would be, scientists would have to build their own simulation of the universe.
They hope to see whether such an exercise would be theoretically possible - and what the constraints on the 'evil demon' might be.
Lattice QCD is a complex approach that that looks at how particles known as quarks and gluons relate in three dimensions.

Professor Bean said: "We consider ourselves on some level universe simulators because we calculate the interactions of particles by basically replacing space and time by a grid and putting it in a box."
"In doing that we face lots of problems for instance the box and the grid size breaks Einstein's special theory of relativity so we know how to fix this in order to get physical predictions that are meaningful."

"We thought that if we make the assumption that the so-called simulators face some of the same problems that we do in terms of finite resources and so on then, if they are doing a simulation and even though their box size of course is enormous and the grid size can be very small, as long as the resources are finite then the box size will be finite, the grid size will be finite."
"And therefore at some level for instance there would be violations of Einstein's special theory of relativity."

Philosophers have cautioned that there is still some way to go before we find out whether the universe is simulated. Dr Peter Millican of Hertford College, Oxford told the programme: "There are two main issues, one is whether the speculation even makes sense and the other is supposing it makes sense whether there is any good reason to think it is plausible.
"The other problem is evidence. It seems to me that the evidence that is looked for is not that convincing."

Descartes said the evil demon that he believed controlled the universe is "as clever and deceitful as he is powerful, who has directed his entire effort to misleading me."
But he countered that his ability to think was, at least, proof enough that he was real, writing: "I think, therefore I am."

Plato said that reality may be no more than shadows in a cave but the cave dweller, having never left the cave, may not be aware of it.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/9635166/Scientists-believe-they-have-come-close-to-solving-the-Matrix-theory.html

The last sentence is over-simplified and wrong! A fuller discussion is here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave
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PostPosted: 12-11-2012 17:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

Popular physics theory running out of hiding places
By Pallab Ghosh, Science correspondent, BBC News

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider have detected one of the rarest particle decays seen in Nature.
The finding deals a significant blow to the theory of physics known as supersymmetry.

Many researchers had hoped the LHC would have confirmed this by now.
Supersymmetry, or SUSY, has gained popularity as a way to explain some of the inconsistencies in the traditional theory of subatomic physics known as the Standard Model.

The new observation, reported at the Hadron Collider Physics conference in Kyoto, is not consistent with many of the most likely models of SUSY.

Prof Chris Parkes, who is the spokesperson for the UK Participation in the LHCb experiment, told BBC News: "Supersymmetry may not be dead but these latest results have certainly put it into hospital." Cool

Supersymmetry theorises the existence of more massive versions of particles that have already been detected.
Their existence would help explain why galaxies appear to rotate faster than the Standard Model would suggest. Physicists have speculated that as well as the particles we know about, galaxies contain invisible, undetected dark matter made up of super particles. The galaxies therefore contain more mass than we can detect and so spin faster.

Researchers at the LHCb detector have dealt a serious blow to this idea. They have measured the decay between a particle known as a Bs Meson into two particles known as muons. It is the first time that this decay has been observed and the team has calculated that for every billion times that the Bs Meson decays it only decays in this way three times.

If superparticles were to exist the decay would happen far more often. This test is one of the "golden" tests for supersymmetry and it is one that on the face of it this hugely popular theory among physicists has failed.
Prof Val Gibson, leader of the Cambridge LHCb team, said that the new result was "putting our supersymmetry theory colleagues in a spin".

The results are in fact completely in line with what one would expect from the Standard Model. There is already concern that the LHCb's sister detectors might have expected to have detected superparticles by now, yet none have been found so far.

If supersymmetry is not an explanation for dark matter, then theorists will have to find alternative ideas to explain those inconsistencies in the Standard Model. So far researchers who are racing to find evidence of so called "new physics" have run into a series of dead ends.

"If new physics exists, then it is hiding very well behind the Standard Model," commented Cambridge physicist Dr Marc-Olivier Bettler, a member of the analysis team.

The result does not rule out the possibility that super particles exist. But according to Prof Parkes, "they are running out of places to hide".

Supporters of supersymmetry, however, such as Prof John Ellis of King's College London said that the observation is "quite consistent with supersymmetry".
"In fact," he said "(it) was actually expected in (some) supersymmetric models. I certainly won't lose any sleep over the result."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20300100
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