https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/contex ... -realities
Spacetime events and objects aren’t all that exists, new interpretation suggests
7:00am, October 1, 2017
Physicist Werner Heisenberg (right) believed that quantum mechanics implied an aspect of reality similar to the concept of “potential” advocated by the Greek philosopher Aristotle (left). A new paper suggests that the mysteries of quantum mechanics might be resolved by incorporating such “potential” elements of reality in a complete picture of nature.
From left: Friedrich Hund/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0); Jastrow/Ludovisi Collection/Wikimedia Commons
When you think about it, it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s more than one way to explain quantum mechanics. Quantum math is notorious for incorporating multiple possibilities for the outcomes of measurements. So you shouldn’t expect physicists to stick to only one explanation for what that math means. And in fact, sometimes it seems like researchers have proposed more “interpretations” of this math than Katy Perry has followers on Twitter.
So it would seem that the world needs more quantum interpretations like it needs more Category 5 hurricanes. But until some single interpretation comes along that makes everybody happy (and that’s about as likely as the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl), yet more interpretations will emerge. One of the latest appeared recently (September 13) online at arXiv.org, the site where physicists send their papers to ripen before actual publication. You might say papers on the arXiv are like “potential publications,” which someday might become “actual” if a journal prints them.
And that, in a nutshell, is pretty much the same as the logic underlying the new interpretation of quantum physics. In the new paper, three scientists argue that including “potential” things on the list of “real” things can avoid the counterintuitive conundrums that quantum physics poses. It is perhaps less of a full-blown interpretation than a new philosophical framework for contemplating those quantum mysteries. At its root, the new idea holds that the common conception of “reality” is too limited. By expanding the definition of reality, the quantum’s mysteries disappear. In particular, “real” should not be restricted to “actual” objects or events in spacetime. Reality ought also be assigned to certain possibilities, or “potential” realities, that have not yet become “actual.” These potential realities do not exist in spacetime, but nevertheless are “ontological” — that is, real components of existence.
“This new ontological picture requires that we expand our concept of ‘what is real’ to include an extraspatiotemporal domain of quantum possibility,” write Ruth Kastner, Stuart Kauffman and Michael Epperson.
Considering potential things to be real is not exactly a new idea, as it was a central aspect of the philosophy of Aristotle, 24 centuries ago. An acorn has the potential to become a tree; a tree has the potential to become a wooden table. Even applying this idea to quantum physics isn’t new. Werner Heisenberg, the quantum pioneer famous for his uncertainty principle, considered his quantum math to describe potential outcomes of measurements of which one would become the actual result. The quantum concept of a “probability wave,” describing the likelihood of different possible outcomes of a measurement, was a quantitative version of Aristotle’s potential, Heisenberg wrote in his well-known 1958 book Physics and Philosophy. “It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.”https://cosmosmagazine.com/geoscience/w ... m=webfeeds
Scientists Just Found Water on Mars Where They Thought None Could Exist
Astronomers re-examined data from NASA's Odyssey spacecraft and found evidence of water from a region in the Martian equator. While the discovery is surprising, it's definitely a welcome one. Water on Mars can help future exploration missions.
A SURPRISE FIND
It’s long been known that Mars had large bodies of water some millions of years ago. Traces of these ancient Martian lakes and oceans have been found in recent years, thanks to information provided by probes and landers, like NASA’s Curiosity roverand the Odyssey spacecraft that currently orbits the red planet. Now, a team of astronomers from the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) of Johns Hopkins Universityfound large deposits of what could be permafrost ice in the most unlikeliest of places on the Martian surface.
The ice was discovered in an area on the Martian equator called the Medusae Fossae, which spans several hundred kilometers across. Scientists had assumed the equator would be too warm for ice to stay intact near the surface for so long.
Permafrost ice has been spotted on Mars using data provided by the Odyssey spacecraft’s neutron spectrometer, particularly at the red planet’s polar regions, which was confirmed in 2008 by NASA’s Phoenix lander when it uncovered chunks of pure ice just a few centimeters below the surface. The specialized spectrometer picks up neutron radiation coming from the Martian surface when high-energy cosmic rays pour down from space.
“These interact with the top meter of the soil and kick out particles, neutrons included,” Johns Hopkins’ APL planetary astronomer Jack Wilson told Cosmos. Analyzing those particles can identify what substances the cosmic rays are interacting with. Recently, Wilson and his colleagues gave the Odyssey data a second look, because the earlier studies had a very low resolution at just around 520 kilometers. They managed to reconstruct the image to a resolution of 290 kilometers.http://newatlas.com/space-life-biomarker-comet/51613/http://bgr.com/2017/10/02/do-aliens-exi ... life-soon/
Image Source: Rebecca-louise
Alien-hunting scientist believes we’re just 20 years from making contact with intelligent life
Mike Wehner @MikeWehner
October 2nd, 2017 at 3:13 PM
It’s probably safe to say that most people would be pretty interested in humanity making contact with intelligent alien life, but few of us actually dedicate our lives to the search for it. Seth Shostak from the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute does just that, and he firmly believes we’re incredibly close to answering the question of whether or not we’re alone in the universe. In fact, he’s willing to bet that we’re just a couple of decades away from proving that aliens exist.
Speaking with Futurism at a recent event in New York City, Shostak was incredibly bold in his predictions, noting that he’ll “bet everybody a cup of coffee that we’ll find intelligent life within 20 years.”
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Humans have explored much of our Solar System, sending probes to Mars, Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, and soon the Sun, but we’ve yet to discover evidence that life in any form exists elsewhere. At the moment, the most promising possibility is that we’ll discover some kind of microbial life, even invisible to the naked eye, but that’s not really what SETI has its sights set on.
Shostak is quick to point out that while he believes we’ll discover indisputable proof of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe within 20 years, that might not mean we’ll actually meet or even communicate with an alien civilization.
“I don’t know about contact,” Shostak explained. “I mean if they’re 500 light years away, you’ll hear a signal that’ll be 500 years old, and if you broadcast back ‘Hi we’re the Earthlings, how’re you doing?’ it’ll be 1,000 years before you hear back from them. If you ever hear back from them. So, it’s not exactly contact, but at least you know they’re there.”
It’s certainly within the realm of possibility, and scientists are always listening for signals in the noise, but it’s proved fruitless thus far. But if we do discover intelligent life within the next 20 years, perhaps we can ask them to save us from ourselves.https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how ... met?tgt=nrhttp://science.sciencemag.org/content/357/6358/1375
Did dark matter cause early supermassive black holes?
One of the biggest mysteries in cosmology may have been solved, reports Michael Lucy.
Description: A computer simulation showing a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy.
A computer simulation showing a supermassive black hole at the heart of a galaxy.
NASA, ESA, AND D. COE, J. ANDERSON, AND R. VAN DER MAREL (STSCI)
The earliest gigantic black holes in the universe were seeded by dark matter, new research has found.
Ancient supermassive black holes that existed less than a billion years after the Big Bang have long presented a puzzle: how did they get so big so fast? A solution may be at hand.
According to a paper published in Science by Shingo Hirano of the University of Tokyo and colleagues, who have conducted extremely detailed simulations of black hole formation, supersonic streams of gas and vast clumps of dark matter in the early universe may hold the key.
“The origin of the monstrous black holes has been a long-standing mystery and now we have a solution to it,” says Naoki Yoshida, one of the researchers.
How fast a black hole can grow depends on how big it already is. This poses a problem: if it should take more than a billion years to grow a black hole with 10 billion times the mass of the Sun, how come we see such black holes when the universe itself was less than a billion years old?
Some proposals have suggested that they formed from the remnants of the earliest stars, or directly from the collapse of large clouds of gas, or even from the collisions of smaller black holes. These proposals have difficulty achieving the required black hole mass, or require very particular conditions.
Another idea is that such massive black holes must have grown from seed black holes that were themselves extremely large. But this only kicks the question further down the road. Where did the large seed black holes come from?
According to Hirano’s team, fast relative motion between gas and dark matter may have prevented the formation of stars in some places in the early universe. In these places, dark matter would clump together until it was large enough for its gravity to draw in streams of supersonic gas created by the Big Bang, forming a dense cloud of turbulent gas.
These conditions are ideal to form a proto-star that could grow much larger than usual in a very short period of time without losing much energy as radiation.
“Once reaching the mass of 34,000 times that of our Sun, the star collapsed by its own gravity, leaving a massive black hole,” says Yoshida. “These massive black holes born in the early universe continued to grow and merge together to become a supermassive black hole.”
Their simulation also accurately predicts the approximate number of supermassive black holes in the Universe: around one per three billion cubic light years.
While the model is promising, it will require further study and comparison with the large numbers of ancient supermassive black holes that are expected to be found when NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2018.http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/9/e1701758
Physicists find we’re not living in a computer simulation
The sci-fi trope might now be put to rest after scientists find the suggestion that reality is computer generated is in principle impossible, writes Andrew Masterson.
Description: Some physical phenomena may be impossible to simulate.
Some physical phenomena may be impossible to simulate.
MACIEJ FROLOW / GETTY
Just in case it’s been weighing on your mind, you can relax now. A team of theoretical physicists from Oxford University in the UK has shown that life and reality cannot be merely simulations generated by a massive extraterrestrial computer.
The finding – an unexpectedly definite one – arose from the discovery of a novel link between gravitational anomalies and computational complexity.
In a paper published in the journal Science Advances, Zohar Ringel and Dmitry Kovrizhi show that constructing a computer simulation of a particular quantum phenomenon that occurs in metals is impossible – not just practically, but in principle.
The pair initially set out to see whether it was possible to use a technique known as quantum Monte Carlo to study the quantum Hall effect – a phenomenon in physical systems that exhibit strong magnetic fields and very low temperatures, and manifests as an energy current that runs across the temperature gradient. The phenomenon indicates an anomaly in the underlying space-time geometry.
Quantum Monte Carlo methods use random sampling to analyse many-body quantum problems where the equations involved cannot be solved directly.
Ringel and Kovrizhi showed that attempts to use quantum Monte Carlo to model systems exhibiting anomalies, such as the quantum Hall effect, will always become unworkable.
They discovered that the complexity of the simulation increased exponentially with the number of particles being simulated.
If the complexity grew linearly with the number of particles being simulated, then doubling the number of partices would mean doubling the computing power required. If, however, the complexity grows on an exponential scale – where the amount of computing power has to double every time a single particle is added – then the task quickly becomes impossible.
The researchers calculated that just storing information about a couple of hundred electrons would require a computer memory that would physically require more atoms than exist in the universe.
The researchers note that there are a number of other known quantum interactions for which predictive algorithms have not yet been found. They suggest that for some of these they may in fact never be found.
And given the physically impossible amount of computer grunt needed to store information for just one member of this subset, fears that we might be unknowingly living in some vast version of The Matrix can now be put to rest.https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2 ... 182116.htm
from research organizations
Mathematics predicts a sixth mass extinction
By 2100, oceans may hold enough carbon to launch mass extermination of species in future millennia
September 20, 2017
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Scientists have analyzed significant changes in the carbon cycle over the last 540 million years, including the five mass extinction events. They have identified 'thresholds of catastrophe' in the carbon cycle that, if exceeded, would lead to an unstable environment, and ultimately, mass extinction.
Credit: © Richard Carey / Fotolia
In the past 540 million years, the Earth has endured five mass extinction events, each involving processes that upended the normal cycling of carbon through the atmosphere and oceans. These globally fatal perturbations in carbon each unfolded over thousands to millions of years, and are coincident with the widespread extermination of marine species around the world.
The question for many scientists is whether the carbon cycle is now experiencing a significant jolt that could tip the planet toward a sixth mass extinction. In the modern era, carbon dioxide emissions have risen steadily since the 19th century, but deciphering whether this recent spike in carbon could lead to mass extinction has been challenging. That's mainly because it's difficult to relate ancient carbon anomalies, occurring over thousands to millions of years, to today's disruptions, which have taken place over just a little more than a century.
Now Daniel Rothman, professor of geophysics in the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and co-director of MIT's Lorenz Center, has analyzed significant changes in the carbon cycle over the last 540 million years, including the five mass extinction events. He has identified "thresholds of catastrophe" in the carbon cycle that, if exceeded, would lead to an unstable environment, and ultimately, mass extinction.
In a paper published in Science Advances, he proposes that mass extinction occurs if one of two thresholds are crossed: For changes in the carbon cycle that occur over long timescales, extinctions will follow if those changes occur at rates faster than global ecosystems can adapt. For carbon perturbations that take place over shorter timescales, the pace of carbon-cycle changes will not matter; instead, the size or magnitude of the change will determine the likelihood of an extinction event.
Taking this reasoning forward in time, Rothman predicts that, given the recent rise in carbon dioxide emissions over a relatively short timescale, a sixth extinction will depend on whether a critical amount of carbon is added to the oceans. That amount, he calculates, is about 310 gigatons, which he estimates to be roughly equivalent to the amount of carbon that human activities will have added to the world's oceans by the year 2100.
Does this mean that mass extinction will soon follow at the turn of the century? Rothman says it would take some time -- about 10,000 years -- for such ecological disasters to play out. However, he says that by 2100 the world may have tipped into "unknown territory."
"This is not saying that disaster occurs the next day," Rothman says. "It's saying that, if left unchecked, the carbon cycle would move into a realm which would be no longer stable, and would behave in a way that would be difficult to predict. In the geologic past, this type of behavior is associated with mass extinction."https://www.sciencenews.org/article/new ... eat-vacuum
A new test of water ripples supports the idea of quantum heat in a vacuum
This in-the-lab analog of the Unruh effect matches expectations for accelerated motion in space
7:00am, September 18, 2017
HEAT WAVE Accelerating at a high rate could make empty space seem hot, according to an idea called the Unruh effect. Scientists may have spotted signs of an analogous phenomenon in ripples of water.
Empty space might feel hot to a traveler zipping through at a rapidly increasing clip — or so some physicists predict. And a new experiment provides a hint that they might be right.
That idea, known as the Unruh effect, seems to be supported by an analogous effect that appears in a tank of rippling water. Patterns in the waves, when analyzed as if seen by an accelerating observer, appear to re-create the expected signature of the effect, researchers report September 7 at arXiv.org. If it holds up to further scrutiny, the result would mark the first time a version of the Unruh effect has been spotted.
It’s a counterintuitive concept: To an observer moving at a constant velocity, a perfect vacuum would be frigidly cold. But someone accelerating through that empty space might work up quite a sweat. “The Unruh effect is basically saying that if you are accelerated enough in the vacuum, you can burn to death,” says theoretical physicist George Matsas of São Paulo State University in Brazil.
Researchers around the globe have been trying to create sustainable fuels by mimicking the natural process of photosynthesis. After all, if plants can use sunlight to transform carbon dioxide into hydrocarbons, why can’t we? In the latest development, a team of scientists from the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has figured out a way to convert CO2 directly into ethanol and ethylene, using a process powered by solar energy.
To put it another way, the team made corn ethanol, except they skipped all the steps that involve planting corn, growing it, harvesting it, and processing it into biofuel. To ice the sustainability cake, the new system could pair up with power plants and other industrial facilities to capture greenhouse gases at the source.
more on https://cleantechnica.com/2017/09/19/go ... synthesis/