Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Will Future Generations Prosecute Old Climate Change Deniers?

     I can imagine a future say 2070 where some efforts were made to stop climate change but it was not enough.  But the carbon industry was so strong with its large amounts of money.  Because more money could be made using fossil fuels not enough effort was put in reducing carbon dioxide emission.  Lots of renewable energy  was put into the grid.  There were large solar and wind farms.  The mid west and Texas had many wind generators and California led the nation with electricity generated by solar power.  Many people around the world had solar panels on their roofs to help in the generation of electricity.  But carbon dioxide emission was still too much and most of what the climate models predicted occurred.  The earth's temperature continues to rise.  The ice in the Arctic and Antarctic have dramatically melted as models predicted, thus a global rise in sea levels.  Lower areas along the coasts have serious flooding problems and many areas had to be abandoned.    Weather patterns have changed also.  In North America Canada's prairies are now doing what the mid west of the US used to do.   Similar efforts have been happening around the world.  Some regions are now uninhabitable and this forced the mass exodus of millions of people.  Water and food shortages have occurred in many parts of the world causing large regional wars.  The migration caused tens of millions of deaths with possibly billions on the brink of death.  Deadly diseases such as cholera  have spread  All of this could have been stopped 50  or 60 years ago but greed caused a failure to help save the lives of possibly billions of people.  This didn't need to have happened if only policy makers world wide would have listened to the scientists back then.  But climate change deniers were a powerful force and policy makers followed them instead of the science.  Thus the planet was changing in a direction that would dramatically change the future of mankind.

     In the future will they then prosecute the climate change deniers?

© ®

Monday, November 3, 2014

Book review: Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang by Steinhardt and Turok

Competition to the inflationary modelNovember 3, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang -- Rewriting Cosmic History (Paperback)
This book is about the ekpyrotic model for the evolution of our universe. It states that about every trillion years or so our universe recycles itself.As the authors say in their glossary "ekpyrosis: a collision between two branes that produces a flat, expanding universe filled with matter and radiation, with a nearly scale-invariant distribution of density inhomogeneities." It is a competing theory to the better known inflationary model of the universe. Both the authors are practicing cosmologists with Steinhardt at Princeton and Turok at the Perimeter Institute. Steinhardt made early contributions to the inflationary model in the early 1980's and is therefore well aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the inflationary model. This is a well written book and was a pleasure to read. If you are interested in cosmology this book is a must for you. The level of this book is such that any interested high school student should have no trouble reading this book.

This book is written in a casual style and mentions how the authors first got the idea for their theory while they were both attending a lecture on the overview of string theory. They both went up to the speaker after his talk and asked him questions about strings and branes. Later the authors met at a small physics conference in Finland and started to work out the details their theory. The book describes the various questions that must be overcome such as flatness and thermodynamics. In the past various cyclic models of the universe have been proposed but they were later shown to have flaws. In careful precise wording they explain how they were able to overcome all the previous questions with their new model.

As expected they describe very well the inflationary model since the book compares the two models closely. One of the main differences being that their model has small if any primordial gravitational waves which have been in the news since March 2014 because of the BICEP2 cosmic microwave radiation data which initially claimed to have observed these gravitational waves to only latter say that their results could also be explained by galactic dust. The physics community awaits further data on this subject.

Steinhardt has been a public vocal critic of inflation going so far to say that it isn't even science since one can get just about any prediction from the theory since it is so general in nature. This is also discussed in the book.

My disagreement with the theory is that it is based on string theory and brane theory. There have been no experimental tests that have every shown that string and brane theory have anything to do with reality. There are two wonderful books that show the problems with string theory. They are Lee Smolin's "The Trouble with Physics" and Peter Woits "Not Even Wrong". If anything since this book was written string theory has lost some of the luster it had back in 2007. Nevertheless I would recommend this book since it is quite educational and very well written.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Phase Transitions in the Early Universe

     There is a really nice article in the most recent Quanta magazine on phase transitions.  A phase transition is like when liquid water becomes solid water, ice or when liquid water becomes a water vapor, steam.  This got me wondering about all the different phase transitions that occurred in the early universe.  So lets look at and count them from most recent to the farthest one in time.

Phase transition 1:  When electrons could combine with nuclei and make stable atoms.  This occurred about 380,000 years after the big bang in the inflationary model of the big bang.  This has given us the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation that has been in the news and I blogged about here.  This would occur at energy levels of electron volts (eV).

Phase transition 2:  When protons and neutrons had cooled down at the million electron volt (MeV) scale to form nuclei, namely the deuteron, He  and Lithium nuclei, along with high energy photons.

Phase transition 3:  When the quark-gluon plasma had cooled down to give rise to hadrons.  This would occur at the billion electron volt (GeV) range.  These hadrons would give as all the particle that we observe at large particle accelerators such as pions, kaons, but also the protons and neutrons that make up nuclei.  All of these particles except the proton are unstable and decay creating all the known leptons such as the electron muon and the three different neutrino types.

Phase transition 4:  This is when possibly the inflaton field undergoes a phase transition to create free quarks and gluons.  Maybe leptons were also created at this time, I just don't know  Also it is possible at this time that whatever particle(s) that makes up dark matter were also created at this time.

Phase transition 5:  When the inflaton field was created.

Phase transition 6:  When the universe was created.

     Was there a phase transition that created spacetime?  Were space and time created at the same time or separately?

    The big question is what kind of observable signal might we observe from phase transitions 2-6?
What could we observe that could help us understand transitions 2-6?  I have some ideas but I'm not sure of them.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BICEP2 + Planck + Foreground = Good Physics

     The Planck CMB polarization paper came out this week and its results were not good news for the BICEP2 team as shown herehere, and here. I'd commented on the BICEP2 result earlier here, Basically saying that this is how science gets done.  Now we have the future to look forward to and more results coming in at other frequencies and maybe better energy resolution so hopefully in the future we will know about primordial gravitational waves.  Again may you live in interesting times!

     What only gets briefly mentioned is that what we do have is really good data on galactic dust and the galactic magnetic field.  So people who study that should be very happy.  Again what is one research groups hindrance is another groups prize.  This happened else where in physics.  At the LHC looking for the Higgs boson its signal sits on top of a large background.  Understanding this background is important so that you can be confident in your Higgs signal.  Understanding this background means understanding the physics that gives rise to this background and here understanding and computing QCD processes becomes important.  Hence you have large groups that look at all the QCD processes that can contribute to this background and then calculate their cross sections and then see how these match the background.  So here you get more understanding and conformation of the Standard Model in trying to understand the background underneath your Nobel prize winning discovery of the Higgs boson.

    In my own research years ago in looking at the excitation of giant resonances in nuclei excited with inelastic proton scattering, the resonances sat on top of a background.  One minimized this background as much as possible but it was still there and didn't go away.  That was because as we learned that background was there because there was real physics going on that caused this background.  The background was a real signal and not instumental problems.  The background as we determined was caused by quasifree scattering of the incident protons from nuclei in the targets.  The target nucleus being a collection of nucleons acted like a collection of nucleons sort of like a collection of pool balls racked up and we were hitting these pool balls and sometimes we were exciting the nucleons  in that manner instead of other nuclear processes.  This area of study led to other experiments studying this quasifree scattering.  So looking for one signal our background signal became interesting in itself.

     Funny how science moves ahead.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Question of What is Now?

     One of the cool things about physics is that every now and then a question comes up and it makes you go "what a fascinating topics for physics to look into and I'm surprised I've not heard more about it".  One of those moments happened earlier this year when in the March 2014 issue of Physics Today there was a commentary by N. David Mermin entitled "What I Think About Now".  It is a fascinating article and when I read it I wonder about that I know I've thought about my moments of Now but never really thought about what the physics meaning of Now means.  I'm capitalizing Now in the ways Mermin does to point out the Now that is being discussed.  Now being your personal conscious feeling about your Now.   Physics treats  objects as just things that don't perceive a Now.  Objects are a rock or baseball or a proton..  Physics tries to understand what these objects are made of and the forces that they interact with and the understanding of these forces.  The objects perception of Now then gets into the area of consciousness and self awareness.     In Mermin's article he mentioned about Einstein's feeling of the Now which is the following:

Einstein said that the problem of the Now worried him seriously. He explained that the experience of the Now means something special for man, something essentially different from the past and the future, but that this important difference does not and cannot occur within physics. That this experience cannot be grasped by science seemed to him a matter of painful but inevitable resignation. 2

This would seem to say that Einstein thinks physics cannot describe the Now as experienced by the individual.. The personal, conscience, self awareness of  Now..  It reads to me that Einstein didn't think that consciousness could be understood by science. Interesting.  The idea of the Now in physics is fascinating.  In the September issue of Physics Today there are third letters about Mermin's  Now commentary they are here, here, and here.  The last letter has a reference to an arxiv paper about the physics of the Now.  Finally there is a reply by Mermin to these letters.  

     There seems to be two Nows.  One the physics Now of a point in spacetime described by its coordinates i and the worldline that the objects experiences in spacetime as described by the laws of physics.  Very impersonal and sounds like the stuff that physicists do. The other is the personal, psychological, conscience Now that physicists are beginning to seriously study as mentioned in an earlier post entitled Quantum Consciousness.  

    The personal Now has to do with self awareness.  Self awareness is an emergent process of your consciousness.  It is something your consciousness develops with time./Somehow and sometime, which is not understood, your brain and body become conscious but not self aware.You then do not know the concept of Now until you are self aware.  Because Now is a subjective experience of your  self aware consciousness.  Now becomes the present state in spacetime of your self aware consciousness.  You as a person.don't know of Now until that self awareness turns on in your consciousnesses.  Then you have a feeling of time.  That the world is changing and that you perceive that change and that is what we call rime or the flow of rime.  So your subjective idea of Now starts when you become self aware.  This is probably obvious to everyone..   

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Quantum Weirdness

     What do I mean by quantum weirdness?  Its the observation of things that cannot be explained with the classical laws of physics and need to be explained or are the results of quantum mechanics that seem odd, strange or just plain weird.  Maybe quantum bizarre would be better word.  What effects or thing do I mean that are quantum weird?  Here are some examples:

Schrodinger's cat  This is the most famous cat in physics.  Also apparently Schrodinger owned a cat when he thought of his thought experiment in 1935 I think.  This is the paradox that can arise when one applies quantum mechanics to macroscopic sized objects in which we can not observe.  The paradox is that the state that describes the cat quantum mechanically has to have the cat both alive and dead at the same time.  This is because Schrodinger equation is linear so the most general solution is a linear combination of all the solutions.  This is also known as superposition.  It leads to a just weird situation.

Image without detecting light  Another article on the same experiment is here.  This is a recent experiment using entangled photons.  Entanglement can led to many weird quantum effect.  Basically using entangled photons physicists were able to make a photograph of an object where the entangled photons never were involved in the illumination or reflection from the object whose picture was taken.  The photons didn't see the object or have  anything to do with the object yet they could be used to make a picture.  Of course the picture was of a cat.  This is just plain weird.  Einstein called entanglement "spooky".

Quantum computing  Where in a qubit does the calculation take place in a quantum computer?  This has to do with superposition.

The uncertainty_principle can lead to many odd effects.

Wave particle just plain weird.  How a particle can both be a wave and a particle.

     You can probably think of other weird quantum effects, or in quantum mechanics things are different.  This quantum weird is something that all students of physics talk about partially because it is just plain weird.  Some people learn about quantum weirdness in reading about science in newspapers or other popular media.  Recently a meeting was held to help educate science journalists about quantum mechanics and some of its weirdness.  One of my favorite blogs Backreaction has a post about this meeting because blog author helped organize the meeting.

     One of the problems with quantum mechanics is that physicists don't really understand what quantum mechanics is trying to tell us.  Quantum mechanics has many interpretations.  The equations of quantum mechanics are well known its just what do they mean?  Some blog discussions about this are very illuminating on this subject.  One is in the blog quantum frontiers posted here.  This is written by John Preskill a physics prof at Caltech.  Another is posted by Sean Carroll here.entitled "The Most Embarrassing Graph in Modern Physics".  The graph mentioned is about a poll taken at a meeting showing that physicists can't agree on which interpretation of quantum mechanics is correct.  As is usual the comment sections of the posts are very educational..  I have also talked about the problems with quantum mechanics here.  This is one of my earlier posts and might be poorly written.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quantum Consciuosness

     No this isn't a post about new age type stuff.  Its about recent posts and a meeting about the interface of the quantum world and the classical world and scientists talking about consciousness.

     In a previous post I talked about a meeting on the foundations of quantum mechanics and its relationship to the classical world.  One of the people in the discussion was Scott Aaronson a computer science professor at MIT who spoke about quantum computers and consciousness. .   On his blog Shtetl_Optimized he has posted his talk at this meeting.  It is fascinating to read about his thoughts on computers and consciousness.  He gives his definitions of consciousness in regard to the arrow of time.  It is a good read.  Another MIT professor has also been working on consciousness and that is the physics professor Max Tegmark.  He discussed his work on consciousness in his book "Our Mathematical  Universe" which you can learn more about by going to his homepage which I gave a link to. It is a fun and enjoyable book to read.  For a more technical article on Tegmark's work you can go here.  What he proposes is that consciousness is a state of matter 

     What I find refreshing is that these are two younger professors talking about consciousness.  To be sure they are both tenured professors so they are more free to discuss consciousness.  The reason I mention this is that in the past seriously talking about consciousness by a faculty member was sort of off limits due to the problems that such talk was thought to verge on the area of crackpottery.  Consciousness was studied by older retired professors and was not considered a serious subject in a physics department, I'm guessing the same is true for all sciences.  Lee Smolin in one of his books, either "The Trouble with Physics" or "Time Reborn" talks about he will not discuss consciousness except with one elderly gentleman he has respect for.  It was not a subject to openly discuss.  In the past few years it seems like more physicists and some computer scientists are talking about consciousness and in Tegmark's case it appears to be part of his research agenda.

     Consciousness is considered to be one of the hard problems in science.  Its nice to see younger faculty discussing and working on this question. It is an area that more  scientists should seriously study  Its fun to learn about consciousness. Or our conscious likes to study consciousness.

After writing this last night I came across this article on computing and consciousness from a theoretical physics student Shaun Maguire at Caltech in the blog Quantum Frontiers.  Its another interesting article and discusses some of Aaronson work on computers and hard problems along with consciousness.  Quantum Frontier is a blog of Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter and usually has interesting articles many of which are written by students.

Added 9-2-14  I came across another post by Scott Aaorson en "Quantum Information and the Brain".  It is interesting

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Classical to Quantum Transition/Interface

      Lots of interesting questions pop up when you start to think about what is quantum mechanics telling us about the world,  This has been discussed in many places and is written up and described in many textbooks.  Particularly Modern Physics and Quantum Me chains texts.  One of the first questions that comes to mind is at what scale to you have to make the transition from a classical description to a quantum description of what you are studying?  Where do you switch from Newton's second law to Schrodinger"s equation?  Where does the classical world make the transition  to the quantum world?  The answer given sometime is that when h--> 0, h being Planck's constant.  This doesn't really answer the question since its not an equal sign.  I guess one answer could be when does applying classical equations fail to describe experimental data?  Or also where does looking at the problem classically not work?

       This question and many more are still being asked today with no definitive answers..    What does quantum mechanics really mean?  What is quantum mechanics trying to tell us about how the universe works or is described?  The fact that quantum mechanics has worked in every instance it has been tested and its results are accurate to whichever decimal place it has been measured has led to the philosophy of  "shut up and calculate"..  Basically, don't worry about what it means just use it.  But some physicists and philosophers of physics want to know what it really means.  Peter Woit in his blog Not Even Wrong has as its newest post an inquiry about this topic.   In this post are some links to papers discussing the measurement problem which is related to what happens when the experimental device which is a macroscopic object is used to make a measurement of a system described by quantum mechanics.  It is a fascinating question and has led to a variety of interpretations of quantum mechanics.  The post is interesting to read in itself but as in all good physics blogs the comment section is also wonderful and enlightening.  The post also has a link to a conference going on at the present time at one of the IBM research labs outside New York City on the topic "Quantum Foundations of the Classical Universe".  An interesting and debatable title itself.  Sean Carroll is attending this meeting and blogs about it here.  He is also Tweeting from this meeting and these can also be read on his blog or his Tweet.  One of the Tweets is fascinating in that they can't agree on a universal definition of what is a quantum fluctuation.  I've never understood the details of  a quantum fluctuation or even its definition..  Wiki's definition is lacking in details.  Lots going on in trying to understand what does quantum mechanics really mean and what is it trying to tell us about the Universe we all live in.

Another interesting question along the quantum menu is the following.  If one thinks about quantum mechanics for a living does one develop an intuition for the quantum world?  An interesting interview with a new Caltech faculty member who works on quantum information and condensed matter talks about this question.  Great stuff, or as Confucius said "may you live in interesting times".

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Capitalism, Evolutionary Biology, Rationality and Ignorance, Part II

    This is about companies like the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel related companies pursuing policies that are detrimental to the future of mankind.  We know that the production and burning of fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases (GHG) into the air that are causing our planet's temperature to slowly rise.  When 97% of the scientists working in this area say that this is true I believe them and not companies who are contributing to this grave and present danger.  I understand that the companies want to continue what they do since that is how they make their money.  They are trying to survive in business even though it is hurting people.  They are making money hurting people.  This I don't understand.  The problem is that this hurt is not seen directly.  Its not like shooting people.  It is a long slow torture and maybe not directly affecting these destructive people but it will in their future or to future generations.  Its a long slow generational death of people, except in those instances caused by the increase in the strength of storms.  Then it can affect millions of people very quickly.  Man-made climate change is affecting humans in a negative manner and must be stopped.  It can be stopped by changing how we generate and use energy.

     Not only do people like the Koch brothers pursue the growth of fossil fuel they try to prevent the growth of renewal energy.  Energy sources that had better replace fossil fuel in the future for our generation of electricity.  People are going to continue to use electricity.  It is up to us now to replace the generation of electricity from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy.  Sources such as solar, wind  tides, biomass, all the forms of energy production that do not contribute harmful effects to our one and only environment.  I do not include nuclear fission energy since its waste is another large environmental problem. We must stop the emission of GHG into the environment in order to not  make worst the climate change that is presently happening due to what human have done since the beginning of the industrial age..  To ignore this problem makes no sense.  To deny this problem makes no sense.  Its completely irrational.  As Spock would say its illogical.

     In biology an organism or species goal is to live long enough in order to reproduce so that its species can continue.  It will do whatever it can it order to survive to reproduce.  But what happens when what it does to survive leads to its eventual death?  Does the organism or species change its behavior from a self destructive course in order to survive?  For some no, they will continue their addictive denial, irrational behavior and die.  Others will change in order to adapt and survive in their environment.  An enlightened species will change its behavior in order to adapt and even make its environment safer so that future generations will have an environment it which they can survive and evolve so that it will not get into a self destructive behavior.  Which organism are humans?  Addictive and self destructive or change its behavior in order to grow and flourish in a better environment?  Its up to humans to decide this path.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Methane Leakage Studies Resource Letter: Update 10-11-14

     This is meant to be a library of some papers I've read or scanned through on the subject of methane leakage.  I will add as I read more material. The concern is that switching from coal to natural gas to generate electricity does not help in reducing the emission of green house gases (GHG).    The goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate all sources of green house gases.

Biggest methane leak in the US is in New Mexico

New York Times op-ed on federal regulations on methane emissions

Climate Change article from Cornell Univ. 2011

Nature 493 12 (03-January 2013) Jeff Tollefson

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Great resource

Leaks during drilling in Pennsylvania April 15, 2014

Dragon's Breath---methane blow holes in the artic

Methane Seeping from Seafloor off US East Coast

Capiialism, Evolutionary Biology, Rationality and Ignorance

  This is something I've wondered about for a long time, unfortunately since I suck as a writer I probably won't express what I feel but I'll give it a try.

This all has to do with climate change, making money, survival and people's ignorance of what is happening.  Global climate change is happening and man is causing this climate change with the emission of green house gasses into the atmosphere.  This is not an opinion it is the consensus of 97% of the scientists that have been studying this problem for decades.  This problem has been around for years and so has the solution to this problem.  This is the major problem facing humanity today.  Not Ebola in Africa or the crisis in Gaza or in the Ukraine, not women, gay or civil rights , not funding for the military.  Pick your problem, while it is important to you and might directly effect you at this present moment and it maybe your most important issue at this time it is sitting on top of the big problem,.  That is man's negative impact on the climate of this planet.  All solutions to problems should bear this in mind.  Climate change is a problem that needs humanities attention front and center now.  It is not a rich versus poor problem, a black versus white problem a democracy versus a totalitarian problem it is a problem that effects all of humanity.  The question is are we as intelligent beings up to the task of solving this problem?  It is a problem that effects are encroaching everyones life and needs to be addressed in thoughtful ways, not by who is going to make money out of it.

In the US it is nearing 2014 elections and interesting climate change issues are important in at least two Senate seats.  In Kentucky a coal producing state both the democratic and republican candidates say they are pro-coal.  Of course they want to be elected.  In Louisiana we have an incumbent democratic Senator who is is pro Keystone XL pipeline, (I'm guessing her republican opponent is also).  Coal production and the pipeline are both against mankind's interest in stopping climate change yet candidates are for projects that will increase the use of fossil fuels.  They want to get elected since both their states, especially Louisiana's economies are heavily fossil fuel dependent. Real leadership would admit that using fossil fuels are not in humankind's interest and that we as human's should be doing doing everything possible to get away from fossil fuels and move towards renewable fuels.  Unfortunately, that stand would cost either of those two the election in these close races.  As usual it is made to come down to money and jobs.  But the question should be money and jobs for who?

Humans want sources of  reliable energy.  How do we produce this energy and who makes the money?  Capitalism would say who can deliver the energy  the cheapest will win.  Who can sell you that energy for the lowest price?.How do you really set the price?  What is its real price over time, not just its cost today?  What is its price in future health effects?  What is its price in affecting global climate change?  How do you put a price on the morals and ethics of how the energy is produced in all the steps to obtain it?  As I guess business type people say "what is the bottom line?"  What is the real bottom line for all of humanity not just the off shore accounts of wealthy investors?

Something like cap and trade is a start in order to reduce our dependence on the use of fossil fuels.  Those old enough to remember the energy crisis of the early 1970's remember talk  about reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.  It didn't happen   I'm sure journal articles, PhD dissertations and books have been written on why this didn't happen.  Forty years from now do we want the same said about our inaction in the early 21st century to stop the emission of green house gases?  Or do we want the future to say that this was the time when action was taken that reduced and eliminated the human use of fossil fuels and replaced it with environmentally clean sources of energy?.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book review: The Perfect Theory, A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity

Amazon book review.

This is a wonderful book written for the general public whose topic is the history of general relativity, its evolution as a theory, and the modern evolution of gravitational theory to present attempts to obtain quantum gravity.  It is a very well written book by an astrophysicist at Oxford who works in this area. The author has his personal experiences with the theory mixed in throughout the book.

Its first chapter is entitled "If a Person falls Freely".  This is part of a thought experiment that Einstein used in order to come up with his ideas for general relativity. It discusses his ideas interspersed with Einstein's personal history as a Swiss patent clerk up to his becoming a physics professor at Berlin, then spending his later years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. There are also interesting tidbits throughout the book.  As an example, when Einstein skipped class as an undegrad which fellow student lent him his class notes so that he could see what he missed?

One of the earliest solution's of general relativity was Schwarzschild's showing the existence of black holes.  As expected black holes are a large topic with Oppenheimer, Synder, Wheeler. Penrose, Hawking, Bekenstein, Zel'dovich and other discussed.  Cosmological implications from general relativity are also a big topic with the expanding universe of Friedmann and Lemaitre, Einstein's introduction of the cosmological constant in order to have a static universe, up to present day modification to gravitational theory.  The history of general relativity is intermingled with experimental developments in astronomy which is explained very well.  This book shows how a theory and experiments grow off of one another and shows how science is advanced in this way.  One example of many in the book is shown very well with the work of Jim Peebles over many years.  The book discusses a variety of personalities involved in the development of general relativity and also shows how it was carried on in the secretive Soviet society.

The history to obtain a quantum theory of gravity as explained in this book and is very interesting and informative.  All the big names in physics that you can think of have tried their hand at this problem and none have come up with a solution.  The reasons why are discussed.   This book has others that you might not have heard of such as DeWitt and their tales.

If you are curious about Einstein's theory of relativity and its implications in astronomy,  cosmology along with recent attempts  to obtain a quantum theory of gravity this is a wonderful book to read and well worth your time.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

What Could Cold Dark Matter Be and Future US Searches

A fun thing to read about in physics is cold dark matter (CDM).  From our current understanding of the big bang creation of the universe, known as the lambda-CDM model. cold dark matter is what about 25% of our universe is made of.  But what is cold dark matter?  What is it made of?  From what is known at the present time it is not any known particle at all.  It is not part of the standard model of particle physics.  It must be part of physics beyond the standard model.  That is why there have been many dark matter searches in the past.  All of them unsuccessful in detecting CDM.  In fact the US recently announced the three projects that it will fund in our future attempts to detect cold dark matter.  A good article describing these is here 
 I've blogged about CDM in the past here, and here,
CDM's presence is only known from the gravitational attraction that it has to other matter.  It doesn't interact with the known particles and forces other than gravity.  All attempts to detect it in the lab have failed.  A few days ago I posted on the following question "Could dark matter particles that don't couple to quarks or leptons have been produced?".  Here's the statement of my question and one of the answers I got.
"With what we know about physics, is it possible that when the universe 'began', around when quarks and leptons were produced, another particle, which doesn't couple to either quarks, leptons or photons was also produced ? The only other way that we can observe its existence is via the effects of its gravitational field. In others words, some ''dark-matter-particle'' that doesn't interact with known forms of matter, except through gravity?"
Answer: Yes, there have been suggestions that such particles exist, and an example is the sterile neutrino.
But your question is a little more involved than you might think at first sight. For example if the sterile neutrino only interacts through gravity what interaction caused it to be created in the first place? There is nothing in the Standard Model that could create such particles. However we expect that the Standard Model is a low energy approximation and as we work backwards in time towards the Big Bang and the energies get higher we'll need a grand unified theory like SO(10) and ultimately a quantum theory of gravity (which may or may not be String Theory). These contain interactions that can create particles like sterile neutrinos. However this remains a speculative area of Physics and at the moment we can't say definitely whether such particles exist or if they exist how they were created.
So yes, such a particle the sterile neutrino might exist.  The problem is then:if this particle only interacts by gravity how are we going to measure it?  How are we every going to determine if this particle actually exists other than by its influence on other particles through gravity?  A very difficult experiment to carry out, if ever it can be carried out.  This is sort of like Freeman Dyson's question about detecting an individual graviton. Posted online in an IAS newsletter here, scroll down in the newsletter to Dyson's article (there are other interesting subjects in the newsletter).  Articles about  Dyson's question are here, an arxiv paper abstract here

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Where in a Quantum Computer is the Calculation Occurring?

     Reading about quantum computers is fascinating and fun but it brings up the question of where are the calculations happening in the qubit?  Where physically is the qubit and where does a state in superposition exist physically?

    From what I've read or seen on Youtube clips an example of a qubit is physically in the form of a single atom trapped.  The spin (up or down being 1 or 0) of the atom represents the 1 or 0 of a binary computer.  Now being a single atom its wavefunction can be in superposition of either up or down.  The spin of the atom can be simultaneously both up and down until it is measured.  Think the famous Schrodinger's Cat.  So when using a qubit to do a calculation what's happening in the computer?  In this strange superposition where is the calculation taking place?  In the single isolated trapped atom you would think.   But where in the atom?  This is a great example of quantum weirdness in how the quantum world is different than the classical world.  The classical world has no spin of the atom, spin is a quantum property of the atom.   The quantum world says that the atom can be simultaneously both spin up and spin down until it is measured.  A great video by PhD Comics that discusses what a quantum computer is given  here.  This cartoon, especially the part with the cube representing the qubit really got me wondering.  Wondering about where do quantum computers do their calculations?

  In a classical computer you have physical objects such as transistors which can be used to be on or off representing the 1 or 0 's  in a calculation.  In running a program in a classical computer you could in principle stop the program and look at the microprocessor down at the single elements in the chip and see where all the 1's and 0's are.  Kind of like taking a snapshot of the calculation occurring. You could advance the calculation by say one clock step and see how the program is evolving.   How all the 1's and 0's are moving around according to the program.  Apparently you can't do that with a quantum computer.  Once the calculation starts you can not observe what is happening.  An observation would ruin the calculation.  This isn't just an observation of say stopping it and taking a picture.  It is an observation of any kind and need not be by a conscious being.  A vibration of the qubit is an observation.  This is why the qubit is in an environment as cold as possible.  An observation leads to quantum decoherence of the state.  Anything that can effect the state of the object is an observation or a measurement.  This gets to the heart of one of the problems in quantum mechanics in what is meant by a measurement and what it does to a state of the system.   But how do you know what your program is doing in the quantum computer?  Where is the calculation taking place in time?  Or how is it evolving in time?  I have John Preskill's Quantum Computer lecture notes in  book form  loaded from his website here.  Maybe I just need to read more of his lectures. But not the whole book.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Is Iraq Going to be Another Vietnam?

     First I certainly hope not and I don't think that it will.  My concern however is mission creep.  When I first heard a week or so ago that Obama was sending 300 or so soldiers to Iraq for embassy guarding and to advise the Iraqi military, I thought that the administration must be concerned enough about the fall of Baghdad they are beefing up security of the embassy even more.  Hopefully we aren't going to see a repeat of 1975 with people being evacuated from the rooftops[ of the embassy in Saigon as Saigon was being taken over.  Hopefully this won't happen again in Baghdad.  Also I was wondering why does the Iraqi Army need US military advisers?  We spent billions of dollars training the Iraqi Army and aren't they capable of defending Baghdad and regrouping to fight off ISIS after their initial disgrace of running away in their first encounters with ISIS ?  Running away in the ten's of thousands leaving behind their equipment.  Apparently we didn't train the Iraqis well enough or their soldiers felt that what they were fighting for was not worth their life or a combination of these or other reasons.

       Now we hear this week that we are sending in another 300 or so troops to advise the Iraqi army.  Didn't we train the Iraqi to deal with such a situation?  Why are they overwhelmed so much that they need our help?  Do they have in the back of their minds that don't worry the US will come in and save them?  I don't know.  What I do know is that we keep sending in more advisers just like what we did in the beginning of our involvement in Vietnam.  The President has said that we will not be putting in any boots on the ground.  I guess that means that we will not have soldiers with guns fighting in the streets.  But what do advisers do?  Sit outside the battles and observe and advise the Iraqis what to do?  Plan strategies for the Iraqis to defend Baghdad and maybe to start a counteroffensive?  Didn't we train them to do that?  Don't they have generals who know how to do that?  They are generals after all don't they know what to do?  Why do they need our help?  Do advisers depend on Iraqis to tell them what is going on and for intelligence.   I guess we have no confidence in the Iraqi or that they are doing.  What if a US adviser goes out into the field and gets killed. or a US pilot is shot down and captured?  What will we do?

    We were suppose to be done with Iraq when we pulled out in 2011.  The Iraqi government did not want any US combat troops stationed in Iraq so we left except for soldiers guarding the embassy or so I thought.  Are we going to keep sending in more advisers?  I hope not.  The middle east is important for oil coming to the US that is not reason enough to get involved in a religious civil war.  I know there are concerns about ISIS as a terrorist group but Afghanistan and Iraq should have given us lessons on appropriate ways of dealing with terrorist groups.  Starting large wars or restarting a war is not a solution to that problem.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Book Review: Not Even Wrong, by Peter Woit

This is a book I wish I would have read back in 2006 when it was published.  It gives a mathematical physicist's argument against string theory.  Woit has a blog started in 2004 under the same name as this book.   It discusses theoretical particle physics and mathematics and in particular is an ongoing criticism of string theory, multiverses and other theories that make no connection to observables and that can never be falsified.  The level of this book is the same as the blog, very readable.

The book gives a historical development of particle physics theory starting with the development of quantum mechanics in the 1920's and leading up to the culmination of the standard model of particle physics.  Then as the author states throughout the book "The discovery of the standard model is an intellectual achievement that will be remembered for the rest of human history.  One unexpected result of this progress has been that the field of theoretical particle physics has now been a victim of its own success for nearly a quarter century".  To this date (2014) there has not been any experimental result in particle physics that cannot be described by the standard model.   However, there are known problems with the Standard model.  Problems such as unifying the electroweak force with the strong force and explaining the values of twenty or so adjustable parameters in the standard model.  Many model and theories were developed along the way to the standard model one of them being string theory.

String Theory developed in the 70's was originally proposed to try and understand the strong force.   Over time hope began to grow that it could describe all the known particles and the four known forces.  It became of "Theory of Everything".  One big problem,  it couldn't calculate anything to compare to experiment.  The hope to relate it to experimental data was always over the next horizon waiting for the next big insight.  This situation has been going on now for thirty years or so with the author saying that string theory has been a drag on resources that otherwise could be used on working on other theories.  The author takes a similar view to what Lee Smolin discusses in his book "The Trouble with Physics".  In the world of folks opposed to string theory Woit's book and Smolin's book work together very well.  Both give compelling arguments against string theory and the negative effect it has had on physics in general.  The author discusses in a field with limited resources how string theory has negatively  effected the entire physics community.  However Woit being a mathematical physicist does say how string theory and certain areas of mathematics have grown together partly due to the string theorist Ed Witten.  This is a tread throughout the book in how over the past hundred years or so how physics and mathematics have helped one another in certain areas.  This to me made interesting reading when he discusses the collaborative efforts between the two disciplines.

Woit's account stresses the use of group theory in quantum mechanics especially the influence of Herman Weyl.  Various ideas in group theory are described very well such as describing what is a group what is a Lie group and why group theory is useful in physics.  He discusses what is an SU(3) group for example.  I wish he would have used equations and examples but that is not the purpose of this book. The level of discussion is that of what you would read in a Scientific American article.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in particle physics, its relationship with mathematics and to understand why there is disagreement in the physics world about string theory and the negative effect it has had.on science.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Dark Matter and Cosmic Voids

     An interesting theoretical result has recently been published in Physics Review Letters about using computer simulations of dark matter along with dark energy showing that the distribution of the dark matter forms cosmic voids and walls.  A synopsis of this paper is given here

     What's really cool is that the simulations come up with the distribution of dark matter forming these bubble like voids with the walls being where the density is highest.  I can't access the paper but here's an image of the voids and walls from the synopsis.

      What's amazing is that these simulations show a distribution of dark matter that is similar to what is observed for the distribution of galaxies in our universe.  Years ago sky surveys showed that the distributions of galaxies also show these voids and walls.  Since dark matter constitutes about 25% of the mass-energy of the universe in the lamba-CDM models  (Cold Dark Matter) and visible matter about 5% it makes sense that the visible matter would cluster along with the dark matter.  The image below is from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey that shows the distribution of over 10,00 galaxies in a region of the sky.  More information about the photo is given here. Notice the walls and voids in the distribution of galaxies.  Pretty cool!!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Interesting Topics That I Could Spend My Life Studying, revised 8-27-14

This is a list of  various things I wonder about.  I was once told that I sound like the late Andy Rooney when I talk so maybe I should just say "do you ever wonder why?"

Why is there something instead of nothing?

Where does the calculation take place in a qubit or a group of qubits that are entangled?

What is dark energy really or does it just come from wrong assumptions in  cosmological models?

Same thing for dark matter.


How do you calculate a carbon tax?

Personal medical computer data

Problems with quantum mechanics, (I'm  not smart enough to figure this one out.)

Complexity Theory and its application to solve problems.  Problems in all areas, science and society in particular.

What's termed the really hard problem: Consciousness

Public Relations, Marketing and Advertising, why do we need such crap, and why we put up with it?

Failure of education on all levels (of course there are exceptions)

Why morals and ethics are not talked about as much.

I understand why many are so short sighted but how do you get people to also response to the distant future and that what we do now effects our future?

Why religion?

Why don't we all get along?

How to convince people that we need to switch to renewable energy?

I have to include this even through I'll never be able to solve it.  Writing down from fundamental theory say QCD the equation that describes the nuclear force in a nuclear medium.

So many  more questions, and solutions are not simple, but something has to be done. Ug and Ugess bashing stones together won't work.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Treasure Trove of Explanations About BICEP2 Results

Here are some articles that describe the BICEP2 data and results.  Tjey expalin primordial gravitational waves and early universe cosmology.

Discussion of some Phys Rev Lett papers

Explanation of BICEP2 Phys Rev Lett paper by Lawrence Krauss


This last article would be great for undergraduate physics majors to read and go over point by point and understand the concepts being used such as "what is a quantum fluctuation?", deeper study of the theory of inflation and more.  Many different physical concepts are presented in this article, and it is a treasure trove.

From Peter Woit blog.  This has useful links to the BICEP2 newly published paper and more.

Not Even Wrong

I'll add more as I come along them

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Public Display of How Physics is Done in 2014

The March 2014 announcement bu the BICEP2 team that they have observed gravitational waves signatures in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) was big new in the physics community.  As expected BICEP's results and conclusions were studied by other research groups in the field and questions about BICEP's results were in question.  No questions about their data but questions about their interpretation of the data. The questions were about how BICEP dealt with the polarization that might arise from dust in our galaxy mixing in with polarized radiation from the CMB.  This is a tricky question which BICEP tried their best to address in their paper arxiv paper. This is all expressed in an article in yesterday's New York Times given here:

Astronomer's Hedge Bet

This is an excellent article covering the material and debate.  One of my favorite blog's Not Even Wrong has a post out today discussing the latest in what is happening.

Smoking Gun?

All is this is showing in the public how science is done.  Data is taken to answer a question.  This data is analyzed to their best ability to answer the question with all they have available.  They write a paper and post it online in arxiv and submit it to Physics Review Letters (PRL) the most prestigious journal in the world of physics. They hold a press conference since what they believe that they have discovered is a big deal, namely primordial gravitational waves.  Outside groups examine the paper and discover something that they think is a flaw in BICEP's analysis.  Namely that they didn't correctly analyze the influence of polarization radiation from dust in our galaxy.  This is all out in the public in talks and meeting held to discuss results,  All showing how science is done.  Meanwhile the submitted paper to being peer reviewed and this week the paper is published (in a quick turnaround time).  The BICEP team toned down their conclusions about their interpretation of the data.  Nevertheless this is wonderful data and more and better data on this subject is coming in and hopefully this data will be understood in a few months or maybe a few years.  This all shows how science gets done.  Very carefully and clearly.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Multiverse Wars?

     What do I mean by multiverse wars?  I've posted about the mulitiverse before, here  Also a little background material is needed.

      I rarely view physics blogs before bed but the other night I did and was pleased to see the headline "Big Bang Blunder Bursts the Multiverse Bubble" on Peter Woit excellent math and physics blog Not Even Wrong..  This is about Princeton physics professor Paul Steinhartd's article in Nature with that same title.  Basically Steinhartd is saying that BICEPT2's  CMB data is probably all from the foreground and not from gravitational waves formed during the inflation period in the early universe.  This claim may or may not be true.  But  the BICEPT2 team interpreted their data to show that the CMB was indeed showing primordial gravitational waves and this was stated as the smoking gun for the inflation theory in cosmology.  Anyways, one of the popular models in inflation theory is eternal inflation.  In this theory the medium called the "bulk" is eternally expanding and in this bulk different universes are created in what are called "baby universe" in something analogous to nucleation.  These baby universes form from bubbles inside that bulk and each of these expand to form a separate universe with our universe being one of the many baby universes being continually created.  Thus our universe is one of the many baby universes formed, therefore you have a collection of universes called the multiverse.    So much for the old fashioned definition of the universe.  We can never directly observe these other universes due to the finite speed of light.  If you can never experimentally test their existence how can you tell they exist?

     Basically it comes down to any theory that predicts multiverses must be wrong.  Since if you can't experimentally verify or falsify a prediction of a theory then that theory is not a scientific theory.  It is metaphysics.  It might be scientifically informed metaphysics but it is metaphysics not physics. The idea of the multiverse has been around forever in science fiction.

     This is where the Multiverse Wars start.  Many physicists and philosophers view multiverse theory as physics.  Book have been written about them.   See my Amazon review of   "The Hidden Reality" Brian Greene's new book on multiverse.  Note the plural of multiverse, there are like eight of them according to Greene.  Max Tegmark in his book "Our Mathematical Universe" has four levels of multiverse's (I'll have a review of this book posted within the week).  It's a cool topic to discuss and write book's about, great for parties.  Granted both Greene and Tegmark say that the multiverse is a speculative idea.

     So you have a group of physicists and philosophers in favor of the multiverse and  a group against the multiverse. Recent blog discussions are posted at Scientia Salon.

From June 9, 2014 another excellent post on Scientia Salon The Evidence Crisis.  This is an article by Jim Baggott the author of the book "A Farewell to Reality".

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Some Cool Newish Physics Ideas

What I mean from the title are ideas in physics that might help physics advance to that next step or possibly even much farther.   By newish I mean that some of these ideas have been around for awhile but were not mainstream physics 10-20 years ago.  This is not a complete list it just shows what some of my interests are and where I have been reading online mainly.  What can be really useful is to find a grad student,  postdoc or faculty member in some of these areas who blogs about these topics.

A good place to  find interesting stuff is:

Quantumfrontiers   This is a site by Caltech's Institute for Quantum Information and Matter. If you are interested in quantum computers this is an excellent site. Some neat stuff contained at this site are:
          Entanglement = Wormholes  Material by John Preskill on ER =EPR , blackholes, firewalls, wormholes and entanglements of quantum states.  Lots of good links to other posts and papers.  The comment section is good.  More discussion of the firewall paradox is further down in this post.
           Theory of Everything  Starting out trying to build a theory of everything on a fundamental level.  Interesting.

Constructor Theory  This is the arxiv blog post on David Deutsch's new theory on information to be used as to underlying to physics.  Based on possible and impossible.  I'm still reading this paper.  The paper on arxiv is

Relating thermodynamics to quantum mechanics is the Quanta article.  It has links to Phys. Rev paper and arxiv papers.  This is a theory linking thermodynamics to quantum entanglement.  The online publication Quanta has lots of wonderful new physics articles.  Some cool articles are:
            Topological qubit  Experimental work to make a quantum computer a reality.
            Origin of Life According to Physics

Sean Carroll's new paper on vacuum fluctuations in cosmology.  I've never understood what causes vacuum fluctuations in the first place, Carroll says they don't happen unless there is an observation.  This is based on his use of the Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum mechanics.  Ah yes, MWI and its creation of another multiverse that is completely not falsifiable.  There is no experimental evidence for the MWI and its unclear if there ever will be.  I have not heard of any definitive test of MWI.  Science or metaphysics?

Which is a lead into Cosmic Conudrums  When cosmologists are stuck call in philosophers.

Leonard Susskind embraces  computational Complexity. This is an article in Nature.  It talks about Susskinds work on trying to solve the black hole firewall problem  Another good Scientific American  firewall paper is here  A topic that folks working on quantum gravity like to think about as mentioned earlier.  This again is related to information theory being used in physics.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lie, Cheat, Steal and Kill Genes an Evolution Solution?

Lying, cheating, stealing and killing might have been useful traits somewhere along the  human evolutionary path.  However, they might have served our purpose as a species in the past, they are not needed now.  They have outlived their purpose.  At some point humans will hopefully recognize this and over generations maybe these genes will slowly fade away into oblivion.  We can always hope.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Why Physics is "Stuck"

In my last post I made a comment that I think physics is stuck.  Other than what I wrote about in that post here are three reasons why I think physics is stuck.  Some physicists have resorted to:

1) Anthropic principle.  Here are some interesting articles to read on this subject.

How Does the Anthropic Principle Change the meaning of the Universe?

and of course


Basically the anthropic principle says that the Universe is the way it is so as to allow intelligent observers to view it. Well duh!! It uses this principle to say that is why all the 20 some odd constants in the standard model have their values.  The anthropic principle is not a scientific statements.  How do you experimentally test the anthropic principle?  You can't falsify it in the manner that Popper says scientific  theories should possess.  Evoking the anthropic principle is a sign of surrendering and waving the white flag.  I believe that there is a theory that will not need unexplained parameters.  This is the meaning of a fundamental theory.  The standard models of particle physics and cosmology are not fundamental theories.  They may be all we have at the present time but they are not the final word.  If there ever will be a final word which is unclear.

2)  Multiverse

A discussion of this subject is in my post on my Amazon book review of Brian Green's book "Hidden Realities"  I'm reading Max Tegmark's book on the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis and will have a review of that book when I'm done.  Another post of mine on the multiverse is Data and the Multiverse  Basically I feel that again the idea of the multiverse is a cop-out in that these multiverses can not be experimentally measured except in one case that I know of (I'm guessing there may be more).  A nice discussion of the search for  experimental  evidence of a multiverse in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is from a post in Sabine Hossenfelder's wonderful blog Backreaction.  The string theory landscape that gives rise to possibly 10^500 universes has been described all over the web.  This is one reason why some people are not so enthusiastic about string theory and have moved on in search of something else.

3)  Problem with Quantum Mechanics

I'm going to write a whole post on this topic. Here's some earlier comments of mine:

Quantum Mechanics

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Completely New Physics?

      How would a completely different alien civilization describe this universe?  Is the answer we have no idea?  They are completely alien.  Is there an external reality that can possibly be described in ways that we have no idea of?  Exactly like a theory we have no idea what it looks like.  There will be new theories that will supplant quantum mechanics, general relativity and our standard model of particles and forces.  All very successful theories but we know fundamentally they have problems and limits where they are not applicable.  As some examples: what's inside a black hole? ,  or the Planck scale.  The three mentioned theories will become effective theories in which they are limits to what the new theories will tell us about our universe.  We have no idea what they will be like.  Fundamental physics is stuck and has been stuck are awhile.  Stuck probably isn't the right word.  Of course physicists have been searching for this (these?) new theories.  Einstein spent the later 30 years of his life searching for a unified theory.  The problem was that he wasn't including quantum mechanics.  With the development of quantum field theories we saw in the 60's the Higgs mechanism and the electroweak unification.  Both leading to Noble prizes.  In the 70's and 80's we saw the development of quantum chromodyncmics (QCD) to describe the strong nuclear force that led to at least one Noble prize.  Then various "Grand Unification Theories (GUTs) to combine the electroweak theory with QCD.  These GUTs models never quite panned out with some predicting magnetic monopoles that were never observed and some predicting proton decay and lower bounds were set for those searches since no proton decay has been observedin some quite elaborate experiments such as Super Kamiokande.

     People have been working on quantum gravity from at least the late 40's.   Feynman taught a graduate level class on quantum gravity in the 60's,  here's a  book form.of that class.  John  Wheeler had also been interested in quantum gravity and is this possibly a reason why he had two of his students Feynman and Hugh Everitt III develop new ways of interpretation and using quantum mechanics for their dissertations?  String theory was a possible way to unite quantum mechanics and general  relativity.  But so far that theory is plagued with giving the string theory landscape .

Maybe some new form of mathematics needs to be developed.  Newton invented calculus to describe his ideas in physics.  Einstein used Riemann's form of geometry to explain his theory of general relativity.  Some string theories use Calabi-Yau space to describe extra dimensions.  String theorist Ed Witten even won a Fields Medal  in mathematics for his work   So who knows maybe some new form of mathematics needs to be developed.

Or maybe something completely different is needed.  The end of reductionism? Some completely new unheard of  paradigm shift?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Discussions About the Poor in America

     What always amazes me about discussions in the media about the poor in America is that the people discussing the subject are not poor.  You have politicians talking about the poor, but they are not poor.  You have folks on the networks talking about the poor and they are not poor.  Look at the people on the Sunday morning talks shows,  they are not poor.  All of the people on the cable news channels talking talking about the poor, they are not poor.  With network people we have people making six figures salaries or more talking about the poor.  I'm sure that there has been lots of studies about the poor.  Dissertations have been written about the poor.  Who reads those?  Other people working on their dissertations.  Not the poor.   Let's have an open honest discussion about poverty in America.  No lying, no misrepresenting the facts.  Open and honest discussion.  I don't want to hear from six figure income people talking about the poor.
      Can this even happen in America?  The only place this seems to be happening nowadays are on the blogs.  A couple good places to look are Hullabaloo and Eschaton.  At least its happening somewhere in America.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Retina Attachment Surgery my Personal Experience.

The first week of April 2013 I had retina attachment surgery.   I thought I'd write about this experience and what it means.  As is usual this will be in the form of a poorly written ramble..

Before this operation I'm not sure for how long a month or so I began to notice that in my right eye on the bottom right it looked like there was a black spot there.  Just a black spot not too large and I knew it wasn't a floater.  I was recovering from an illness and really wasn't too worried about it.  It seemed like I noticed it the most at night sitting down and watching a the TV.   Over time this spot started to get larger and began to fill the bottom part of my eye.  I remember going to bed thinking that if if didn't get better by the next day I'd call my optometrist.  Well it didn't get better and in the afternoon I called my optometrist office and explained and asked to come in.  They were closing up but said if I could get there soon they would wait for me.   I got there within 15-20 and they examined my eye.  They took a picture of the back of my eye.  That's when I knew something was wrong since they got excited like they don't see this often.  The doctor said I might have a detached retina and they called a retina doctor  that he  had referred me to a few eyes earlier for another problem..  The retina  doctor's office was also closing but they said they would wait for me..  I got there and the retina doctor examined me and sure enough I had a detached retina.  He scheduled me for surgery the next day.  Fortunately that day was the day in the week that he does all his surgeries.  I got to the day surgery place around 10:30 the next morning.   I was the last person he operated on that day and it was around 3.
   The operation was interesting since I was have awake and half anesthetized.  An interesting state of conscientiousness.  The surgery take about an hour.  I was put in a recovery room .  Around 6-7 I was allowed to go home and a friend picked me up and took me home.
     In case you don't know what the retina is and what the surgery involves let me try to explain as well as I can with the limited knowledge that I have about the subject.  The retina is the area in the back of your eye where the lens in front of your eye focuses the imagine.  Its like the film in an old fashion camera or like the photodetector CCD's in digital camera.  Its the light sensitive part that sends the signal via the optic nerve to the brain where the brain processes the signal to make an image.  When the retina is detached its like you have no film in the camera and you can't take pictures, but in the case of the eye you can't see..  Its actually pretty scary if you think about it.  Before these types of surgery you might have gone completely blind depending on how much of the retina comes off.  So using a laser the doctor reattaches your retina to the back of your eye.  Think of the laser as kind of gluing the retina to the back of your eyeball..  The doctor then replaces the fluid in your eyeball with a gas to help push the retina to the back of your eye.  Also you keep your head down after the surgery and this air bubble pushes up on the retina to hold it there so that your body can take over and heal the retina back in its place.  So you have to keep your head down for at least a week and sleep on your stomach if you can or at least sleep on your side that will allow the bubble to push the retina to the back of your eye.  You then get to know the folks in the retina doctors office since you see them at least once a week for a couple of months.  T
     When you go home from day surgery you have a bandage patch over your eye.  The next day you go in to see the doctor and they remove the patch and examine your eye.  They leave the bandage off since they want your eye exposed to air.
     So now the healing begins.  You can't see anything out of your repaired eye other than light and maybe some shapes.  I keep a journal as a spare memory and also wrote down the progress that I had as my eye healed here are some passages:

Retina attachment surgery Wed April 3
April 6:  Woke up could see zebra stripes on sheets!.   So happy.   Neck is sore from head down.
April 7:  Morning head still down.  Eye getting better clearer but still like underwater oscillates and wiggles as I move my head, image is like in jello, color is good its getting better,.
April 8: Vision is better, right eye vision a little clearer. Still have "yellow effect"  but not as bad but clearer, still can't read.
April 9:  Eye is getting better, vision is getting clearer.  Looking up taking eye drops can see the spacing between boards in ceiling have seen these the last few days.  Coordination between eyes is getting better..  Merging vision is getting better.  Still can't read but getting closer.  Still have jello wiggle in my eye.and color is better not yellow green as much (not sure if that was from light cover).
April 11:  Eye getting better sharper grocery receipt can tell printing on it but can't read it. Still have jello effect, color is better.  Both eyes working better together.    Images not shifted as much.
April 13:  Eye getting clearer slowly.  A drawing shows a little more than 3/4 bubble when looking straight ahead.  Still can't read with eye.but I think details are getting better..  Inside still can' see as well as outside.
April 15:  Vision seems better outside see creases in hand.  Still have jello effect. Drawing shows bubble at 60% when looking straight ahead.
April 21:  Eye seems about the same.
April 24: Saw retina doctor.He looked at right eye and was very pleased.  Said cornea was cloudy.  He seemed concerned about my cornea, asked if I rub my eyes.  I said no learned about that from my cataract surgery.  He was concerned asked nurse if Dr. N??? (his associate in the practice) was here.  A younger doctor comes in and looks at eye and he and retina doctor talk.  He asks about eye drops, says cornea might be like this due to preservatives in some eye cleaning drops.  Nurse writes down drops ro get.  Doctors both seem like they know problem and non=preservative drops should fix the problem.  (I later found out I had a cut or tear on my cornea and was referred to a cornea doctor who also did my cataract surgery).  Eye is irritated.
April 25:  Wonderful can see better.from eye, see individual tiles in the floor up close.  4-6 inches can read watch face!!!  On my back can see pulse in my eye, jiggle of bubble in my eye follows my pulse.
April 26:  Visions seems to be improving.
April 28:  Vision getting better.  Still have wiggly interface, bubble still there (drawing shows about 50%).  Can see heartbeat still in bed, eye jelly wiggles in unison with heartbeat.  Concerned bubble isn't getting much smaller.
April 30: Vision getting better, can see images on TV still not good enough to really see but better.  Vision yesterday was 20/40 I was surprised. and asked.  She said you can see the big E.  Just barely making out the big E was 20/40.  (Looking back that doesn't seems right).
May 2: Vision seems same, line seems same (must be referring to line the bubble makes in my eye).
May  4 Vision getting better can read big Lee's neon sign. Bubble is getting smaller.
May 6: Scratch on cornea, go to Optometrist. put contact bandage on, irritation gone away.  Eye getting better, vision images on TV clearer.
May 7: bubble smaller.
May 8:  Vision on TV is clearer, Optometrist sent me to cornea doctor, he put on another contact bandage.  Says I might lose my restore lens!

It goes on like this seeing retina doctor and cornea doctor over the summer.  At the end of August 2013 my health insurance ended so I had to stop seeing both my retina and cornea doctors.  I tried to get health insurance but was denied by health insurance companies due to my existing condition (I didn't even mention my eye problem).  Both representatives said wait to October and sign up with Obamacare.  I can't remember if they said Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.  But they said I could get health insurance then.  By then I had an appointment  for I think one visit each in the fall.  When my health insurance started in January 2014 the vision in my right eye had stabilized.  I couldn't see well enough to read with that eye.  I couldn't tell if that was because of my retina damage or the cloudiness behind my artificial lens that both my retina doctor and cornea doctor said I had.   I was planning on making an appointment to see my retina doctor for a one year check up.  But....

Next post my personal experience with my left eye retina detachment...