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