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Quantum Physics Experiments

Posted by iKnowHOW on October 31, 2006

Shows how mater fluctuates in properties from particles to waves just because of the way its observed!

Double Slit Experiment

Flatland

In an alternative, yet equally mind blowing study:

Quantum physics has already shown the influence of human thoughts on the character of the experiment. Wow! They have proven that scientists in this study who believed in a given experiment, had successful results, while the scientists who doubted, had unsuccessful results. Now check this out, the movement of electrons in atoms was steered by the mental attitude of the experimenters. The electrons circulated differently for those who believed and oppositely for those who didn’t believe. As a result, something like 10 scientists confirmed that what they were experimenting with was true, while 12 others confirmed that it was false. And both answers had solid, scientific proof!!!

Particle physics is based on very concrete experiments, prepared with great precision. There’s no room for assumptions. The movement of electrons and all those spirals were measured under a very high definition microscope, and the results revealed both yes & no. Finally someone clued in to the blatant correlation staring them in the face – that the experimenters who believed what they were going to prove is true, those electrons circulated in specific spirals, while those experimenters who thought that its not true, their electrons circulated in opposite spirals!! Thus changing the results of the research.

Thoughts influence mater. That’s the latest evidence from particle physics. Human thoughts control the movement of electrons in atoms. Woo hoo! As they’ve told us before, we are not just observers but also participants. We contribute to making our reality, and whatever we believe, life proves it to us.

No thought is unnoticed by the universe. And a group of people collectively thinking about one subject in a certain way, is very powerful. Imagine – if enough people think that a certain politician is stupid, we are actually contributing to making him dumber.

by fluidspirit

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Posted in Quantum Physics, Universe, Video | 4 Comments »

More than four dimensions

Posted by iKnowHOW on October 31, 2006

The list of dimensions doesn’t run out with time, says Lisa Randall

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Scientific progress always entails an almost contradictory set of beliefs. You need to make assumptions to build a mathematical picture of reality. But while you want to be sufficiently excited about your assumptions to think they merit investigation, you need to remain sceptical enough to subject the consequences of those premises to rigorous analysis.

Although I’ve always combined these attitudes in my research, my recent studies of extra dimensions of space, beyond the familiar “up-down”, “left-right” and “forward-backward” have made me more than usually convinced that they must really exist.

Perhaps the best way to understand what these extra dimensions would be is the way Edwin Abbott described them in his book Flatland, written in the late 19th century. Suppose there was a society that, unlike ours, could detect and experience a world with only two dimensions: the Flatland of the title. Its inhabitants wouldn’t perceive a third dimension, even though the dimension really did exist.

If an object like a sphere were to pass through their universe, Flatlanders would never perceive it in its entirety; instead, they would see a succession of disks that grew in size and then became smaller. Because they register only two dimensions, Flatlanders could only mathematically piece together the fact that the object they had seen was the analogue of their disk, but in one higher dimension.

Similarly, the fact that we see only three dimensions doesn’t mean there might not be more. Einstein’s theory of general relativity doesn’t stipulate any particular number of dimensions. And from the perspective of his theory of gravity, there’s nothing special about three dimensions of space. People have often made the mistake of believing only in what they could see. Extra dimensions might turn out to be one among many aspects of the cosmos about which we were initially mistaken.

The string theory is another reason to believe extra dimensions might exist. It consistently incorporates our theories of the very small and the very big in the Universe ? quantum mechanics and general relativity ? which no earlier theory had accomplished. This doesn’t prove the string theory is right, and it’s critical that we do further research. Because it promises to be a more comprehensive theory than any other we know of, a so-called theory of quantum gravity, the string theory is well worth studying.

However, it doesn’t naturally describe a world with three dimensions of space. It more naturally suggests a world with many more, perhaps nine or 10. A string theorist doesn’t ask whether extra dimensions exist; instead, two critical questions that a string theorist asks are: where are they and why haven’t we seen them?

Even if you’re sceptical about the string theory, recent research has provided perhaps the most compelling argument for extra dimensions: a universe with these dimensions might contain answers to physics puzzles that have no convincing solutions without them. That alone makes extra dimensions worthy of investigation.

The history of physics is the story of discovering different, more basic elements of matter as we’ve developed the tools to explore different length and energy scales. Once scientists could observe matter on smaller scales, they discovered atoms and quarks, and after they could study further distances in the Universe, physicists and astronomers discovered galaxies and dark matter.

Extra dimensions might be hidden (for now) but none the less be part of reality. More detailed observations at higher energies and shorter distances might eventually reveal their existence.

These as-yet-unseen dimensions could be flat, like the dimensions we are accustomed to. Or they could be warped, like reflections in a fun-house mirror. They might be tiny, far smaller than an atom, or they might be big, or even infinite in size, yet still be hard to see.

Brilliant mind: Lisa Randall ; (below) the cover of her book

Our senses register only three large dimensions, so an infinite extra dimension might sound incredible. But an infinite unseen dimension and parallel universes within it are some of the bizarre possibilities for what might exist in our cosmos.

To see why extra dimensions are not ruled out by our apparently three-dimensional observations, we need to understand how dimensions can exist, but be invisible. In 1920, almost immediately after Einstein completed his theory of general relativity, Theodor Kaluza suggested an extra dimension of space, and in 1926, Oskar Klein proposed a reason why we wouldn’t see it.

An extra dimension could be rolled up into such a tiny size that it would have no visible effects. If you think of extra dimensions rolled up like a garden hose, the width of the “hose” could be so tiny that we’d never notice it. Any variations over this tiny distance would be washed out, much as the atomic structure of this piece of paper is imperceptible.

But although physicists have known for years that extra dimensions could be rolled up, it wasn’t until 1999 that Raman Sundrum (who was then a post-doctoral fellow at the Boston University) and I (then a professor at MIT) discovered another reason that extra dimensions might be hidden.

Einstein’s theory of relativity tells us that energy and matter curve space and time. We found that spacetime with extra dimensions could be so extremely warped that even an infinite extra dimension could exist but escape detection.

The success with which our theory mimics three dimensions suggests that all evidence that apparently points to three dimensions of space supports the idea of such “warped” extra-dimensional universes equally strongly. None the less, our idea was so different from older notions that it took a while for some physicists to accept. Fortunately for us, however, Stephen Hawking and a few others immediately appreciated its radical implications.

The following year another physicist, Andreas Karch, and I found that space can be even more spectacular: the Universe can appear to have three spatial dimensions in some regions but appear to have, or in fact have, more (or fewer) in others. Our notion of three-dimensional “sinkholes” extended the Copernican revolution beyond anything we had imagined.

Not only is the earth not the centre of the Universe, but our domain might be a tiny isolated pocket with three spatial dimensions inside a universe that harbours many more. This was a huge revelation, one that convinced me we have a lot more to understand about extra dimensions of space, and one that also made the idea of extra dimensions more credible; isn’t it presumptuous to rule out something whose implications we don’t even fully comprehend?

But perhaps the most convincing reason to believe in extra dimensions is that they permit new connections among properties of the observed Universe and have a real possibility for explaining some of its more mysterious features. Extra dimensions can have implications for the world we see and explain phenomena that seem incomprehensible when viewed from the perspective of a three-spatial-dimensional observer (or theorist).

We wouldn’t understand the shapes of the continents unless we add the dimension of time and recognise how they were once connected together in a supercontinent. Similarly, some problems in physics are more readily understood with extra dimensions of space.

Chief among these questions is why the gravitational force is so weak. Gravity might not appear to be all that weak when you’re hiking up a mountain, but bear in mind that the gravitational force of the entire earth is acting on you. Think how feeble gravity must be for you to counter the force of the much larger earth when you pick up a ball.

In fact, if the earth were your size, gravity wouldn’t be noticeable at all. For more than 30 years, physicists (including myself) have explored this conundrum, and they’ve found no completely compelling solution.

But with an additional warped dimension, it’s natural for gravity to be weak in our vicinity. In our warped spacetime geometry, gravity is very strong in one region of a fourth dimension of space (a fifth dimension of spacetime) but very weak everywhere else.

For me, the explanation for the weakness of gravity is sufficient reason in itself to take the possibility of extra dimensions seriously. The mystery is the biggest gaping hole in our understanding of the physics of elementary particles, and an extra dimension provides an answer. As a scientist, even if I believe that extra dimensions exist in nature, I don’t have blind faith and I’m willing to be proved wrong. We don’t yet know how to experimentally test all extra-dimensional theories. But the fabulous thing is that if the theory I just told you about ? the one that explains the weakness of gravity ? is correct, we will see experimental evidence within the next five years. These tests that high-energy experimenters will perform are critical to confirming (or ruling out) our ideas.

The evidence will take the form of Kaluza-Klein particles, which are 1,000 times smaller than the proton and travel in extra dimensions, but would register in experiments as extra-heavy particles in what appears to be a three-spatial-dimensional world.

If warped extra dimensions explain the weakness of gravity, the Large Hadron Collider that will begin operation at CERN in Geneva in two years will have enough energy to make such particles (you need lots of energy to make heavy particles, as we know from Einstein’s most famous equation, E=mc2 ). If experimenters discover them, my belief in extra dimensions will be proved justified.

Those of us who no longer straitjacket ourselves to theories with only three dimensions of space have found amazing consequences of Einstein’s equations that had escaped physicists for years. The range of possibilities for what might lie in the cosmos is remarkable, and we’re still only beginning to understand them all. I’m fairly confident new dimensions are out there and it’s more a question of if and when we’ll find them.Given how much extra dimensions ? or whatever we discover ? will tell us about the fundamental nature of our Universe, do we have any choice but to explore?

(The author is a professor of theoretical physics at Harvard University. Her new book, Warped Passages, has just been released.)

The Daily Telegraph

Posted in Dimension, Physics, Universe | 2 Comments »

From here to eternity

Posted by iKnowHOW on October 31, 2006

The Universe will die. But maybe, life won?t, says Michio Kaku

The great 19th-century biologist Thomas Huxley once wrote that the ?question of all questions for humanity… is that of the determination of man?s place in Nature and his relation to the Cosmos?. We might soon be able to provide the answer to this huge riddle as a battery of instruments ? including satellites, gravity-wave detectors and laser devices ? not only begins to give us startling insights into our place in the cosmos, but also forces us to confront the birth and final death of the Universe ? and even the possible existence of parallel Universes.

In the next decade, powerful new satellites will find evidence of earth-like twins orbiting other stars.

So far, our instruments are so crude that we can only detect about 130 giant, Jupiter-sized planets, which are probably devoid of life. In 2006, the Kepler satellite will be launched with a mission to analyse 100,000 stars for large planets.

But in 2014, the Terrestrial Planet Finder will begin to hunt for small, earth-like planets in 500 star systems with a telescope designed to screen out the mother stars, whose light otherwise overwhelms the faint radiation from any nearby planets.

If these efforts pay off, people will have an existential shock, knowing that, when gazing at these twins in the night sky, there might be someone looking back. The thought of detecting intelligence in the Universe is exhilarating to most scientists. However, as science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once cautioned: “There may be intelligent life in space or not. Either thought is frightening.”

Cosmology, our understanding of the Universe, might be revolutionised when the Lisa (Laser Interferometry Space Antenna) is launched in 2011. It will orbit the sun at the same distance as the earth, but trailing us by 30 million miles. Consisting of three satellites linked by laser beams, it will form a huge triangle of laser light about three million miles on each side. If a gravity wave from space hits this triangle, it will cause a tiny distortion in the laser beams, which will be detectable by its instruments. (Lisa will detect optical distortions one hundredth the size of an atom.)

Lisa should be able to detect cosmic explosions nine billion light-years from earth, which cut across much of the visible Universe, as well as colliding black holes and even the shock waves emitted a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, which are still circulating around the Universe. Hence it may be capable of resolving the most perplexing and stubborn question facing cosmology: what happened before the instant of Genesis?

Second universe: Michio Kaku at a bookstore in New York

In the various pre-Big Bang theories that have been proposed, each predicts a different type of shock wave of gravity emitted once the explosion takes place. Lisa, by analysing the precise frequencies and wave-like patterns of the gravity waves emitted at the instant of the Big Bang, should be able to distinguish between them and prove or disprove the theories.

So far, the leading theory is called “inflation” and postulates an unbelievably fast, turbo-charged expansion of the early Universe after the Big Bang of creation. However, if the inflation process happened once, it can happen again. The latest version of this is called “chaotic inflation”, in which Big Bangs can happen randomly. Like soap bubbles that split and sprout other soap bubbles, Universes can bud and create new “baby Universes”. In this picture, Big Bangs are happening all the time, even as you read this article.

But to understand what caused inflation, physicists have to reach for a theory that can incorporate both gravity and all known forms of radiation — the so-called “theory of everything”.

The only candidate for this is called string theory, or M-theory, in which Universes can float in 11-dimensional hyperspace in a “multiverse” of Universes.

Imagine two parallel sheets of paper; ants on one sheet will be invisible to ants on the other, yet they are separated by a few inches. Similarly, if a parallel Universe hovered a millimetre from ours in another dimension, it would be invisible.

As fantastic as these theories are, Lisa may be able to prove or disprove them because each of them leaves behind a different “fingerprint”, or pattern of gravity waves, when the Big Bang occurs.

Ominously, satellites are also giving us a glimpse into the ultimate fate of the Universe. Philosophers have wondered if the Universe will die in fire or ice. The data overwhelmingly favour the Big Freeze rather than a Big Crunch.

The Universe, in fact, is not slowing down, but accelerating, careening out of control in runaway mode. A mysterious form of energy, dubbed “dark energy”, is acting like an anti-gravity force that is pushing the galaxies apart, causing the Universe to accelerate uncontrollably and eventually blowing it apart. In the distant future, billions to trillions of years from now, the stars will exhaust their nuclear fuel, the oceans will freeze, the Universe will turn dark and temperatures will plunge to almost zero. It appears inevitable that all intelligent life will perish when the Universe itself freezes over.

This possibility of “unyielding despair” was explored by the mathematician Bertrand Russell, who wrote, in one of the most depressing passages in the English language, that “no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought or feeling, can preserve a life beyond the grave… all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system; and the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a Universe in ruins…”

Today, we believe that space arks may one day preserve life after the death of the sun in five billion years. But can you build a space ark to escape the death of the Universe itself?

The only possible way to avoid the death of the Universe is to leave. Perhaps civilisations billions of years ahead of ours will harness enough energy to punch a hole in space and escape, in a hyper-dimensional space ark, to a new Universe.

Although it seems far-fetched, even preposterous, physicists have seriously considered this possibility using the known laws of physics. Einstein’s equations, for example, allow for the possibility of “Einstein-Rosen bridges” connecting two parallel Universes. (Imagine two horizontal parallel sheets of paper connected by a thin vertical tube.) The energy necessary to create such a “wormhole” connecting two Universes is truly immense — the Planck energy, or 1019 billion electron volts (a quadrillion times the energy of our largest atom smasher).

In desperation, an advanced civilisation may create huge banks of laser beams and atom smashers to create the unbelievably intense temperatures, energy and densities necessary to open up holes in space and leave the Universe.

Calculations show that these gigantic machines must be the size of star systems, but this may be possible for civilisations billions of years ahead of ours. Unfortunately, some preliminary calculations show that the wormhole may only be microscopic in size. If so, an advanced civilisation may resort to shooting molecular-sized robots, called “nanobots”, through the wormhole. Once on the other side, these nanobots will then create huge DNA factories to grow clones and replicas of their creators. Since they will contain the entire database of their civilisation, they will use this to resurrect it in another Universe.

Although the physical bodies of these individuals will die when the Universe freezes over, their genetic twins will live on, so that their civilisation, like a Phoenix, may flourish again. As incredible as these scenarios are, they are consistent with the known laws of physics and biology.

So, when contemplating the question raised by Huxley in 1863, our true role in the Universe may be to spread the precious germ of intelligent life throughout it and, one day, to spread the seed of life by leaving a dying Universe for a warmer one.

(The author is a professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York)
The Daily Telegraph

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Rigged in favour of life

Posted by iKnowHOW on October 31, 2006

The universe seems to be “just right” for life.

Albert Einstein is famous for remarking that what most interested him was whether God had any choice in the nature of his creation. By this, Einstein was asking in characteristically quaint language whether the universe could have been otherwise. Two generations later, Einstein’s rhetorical question has resurfaced with a vengeance, and sparked a controversy that has split the physics community.

At the heart of the row lies the deep problem of the laws of physics: where do they come from and why do they have the form that they do? These are not questions that scientists normally ask. But they have been thrown into this by the work of a band of theorists struggling to merge all known laws into a unified mathematical scheme.

A fashionable contender is string theory, which replaces the notion of a world built from particles with the claim that little loops of writhing string can explain everything from electrons to the force of gravity. It’s a compelling idea that has attracted the world’s top brains, but has yet to convince sceptics. Meanwhile, dramatic progress in cosmology has enabled astronomers to piece together the story of the universe back to the first split seconds after the Big Bang.

Given these sweeping advances, it isn’t surprising that some scientists are tempted to move beyond technicalities and tackle the big foundational questions: how the universe came into being, and why its laws are mathematical in nature. One question above all has received a lot of attention. Scientists have long known that the existence of life depends rather delicately on a number of felicitous coincidences and special factors in fundamental physics and cosmology. Like Baby Bear’s porridge in the story of Goldilocks, the universe seems to be “just right” for life.

Getting it right

Imagine playing God. In front of you is a machine complete with a row of knobs. Twiddle this knob and you make all electrons a bit heavier; twiddle that knob and you slightly strengthen the force that binds protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei. According to the standard models of particle physics and cosmology, there are thirty-something such adjustable quantities needed to describe the physical world.

Simple calculations then suggest that meddling with some of the knob settings, even by a tiny amount, would prove lethal, wrecking any hope that life could emerge in the universe. If protons were just a tad heavier, all else being equal, they would decay into neutrons, and atoms would fall apart. If the nuclear force were a few per cent different then carbon, the life-giving element, would never have formed in abundance by nuclear reactions inside stars. In each case, life would be impossible. Taking into account many such “fine-tunings” in physics and cosmology, it looks as if the universe is a fix — a big fix.

This is where the knives come out. Some cosmologists, most notably Lord Rees, president of The Royal Society, believe there is a very natural explanation for the uncanny bio-friendliness of the universe.

What we have all along been calling “the universe” is, it seems, nothing of the sort. Rather, it is but an infinitesimal fragment of a vast and elaborate system of many universes, or distinct cosmic regions, collectively dubbed “the multiverse”.

Crucially, claims Rees, the laws of physics we observe in our universe are not the same everywhere but are more akin to local by-laws. Other universes within the multiverse will have different laws. Thus a universe over there may be expanding faster than ours and contain electrons with stronger charges, while in the universe next door gravity may be a bit weaker or protons a bit heavier.

These cosmic-scale variations might be completely random. The occasional universe would then fall in the “Goldilocks zone” like a winner in a cosmic jackpot, and possess by pure chance laws and properties just right for life. It would then be no surprise that we perceive a universe so weirdly suited to our own presence.

The multiverse idea isn’t just idle speculation, but is bolstered by discoveries in subatomic particle physics. As the energy of physical processes is raised, in particle collisions, so the laws describing the particles’ behaviour tend to become simpler and mesh neatly together. The greatest particle physics experiment in history was the Big Bang that gave birth to the universe 13.7 billion years ago, so it makes sense to expect the universe to have started out with simple laws.

Then, as the universe expanded and cooled, so the effective, relatively low-energy “by-laws” we observe in the lab emerged from the fiery maelstrom. If there are many alternative low-energy laws, as theory suggests, then it is likely that a sort of cosmic patchwork quilt arose, in which each patch acquired its distinctive set of laws. Our universe is buried deep in such a patch.

Sceptics speak

If all this seems hard to swallow, some particle physicists — especially string theorists such as Nobel prizewinner David Gross of the University of California at Santa Barbara — will heartily agree with you. They have slammed the multiverse explanation of the Goldilocks enigma, calling it sloppy science and quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo.

The holy grail of particle physics is to produce a final theory of everything. It will nail down completely every aspect of physical law: all particle masses, the strength of every force, the details of the Big Bang — each will be precisely determined in a welter of breathtaking mathematics.

According to this ambitious vision, God would have no choice in the matter (to paraphrase Einstein), because the laws of physics would be uniquely specified by the theory, with no lassitude to vary from one universe to the next. The fact that this unique set of laws just happens to permit life would be shrugged aside as an incidental quirk of no significance.

The multiverse proponents have hit back, in turn accusing the string theorists of promissory triumphalism. So far, string theory, or for that matter any other contender for a final theory of everything, has yet to predict correctly a single particle mass or force strength.

Some cynics have denounced putative theories of everything as in reality theories of nothing. Amid this acrimonious bickering, it is worth asking whether there might be another explanation for why the universe appears to have been ingeniously rigged in favour of life.

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