I watched an entire Flat Earth Convention for my research – here’s what I learnt: The Conversation

The democratization of “science” and “information” by the Internet has enabled many strange things today, including acceptance of lines of thinking that one would have expected reasonable people to scoff at in the past, and events that some people would consider quite surprising during our times, such as the results of the US presidential elections in 2016.

Despite early claims, from as far back as HG Well’s “world brain” essays in 1936, that a worldwide shared resource of knowledge such as the internet would create peace, harmony and a common interpretation of reality, it appears that quite the opposite has happened. With the increased voice afforded by social media, knowledge has been increasingly decentralised, and competing narratives have emerged.

via I watched an entire Flat Earth Convention for my research – here’s what I learnt

The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy | Quanta Magazine

This is interesting!  The article indicates that one of the big issues with quantum computing is the approach for handling errors that are inherent in the process.  I wonder if there is some kind of Information Theory based limitation that in some way parallels what happens in the area of digital communications.  Digital communication rates over noisy channels are subject to Shannon’s Limit, but it takes a lot of sophisticated coding for error correction, and the associated processing power, to get anywhere close to this limit.  Such sophisticated techniques have become practical only recently, and have been applied to the area of satellite data communications only in recent years in order to enable higher levels of modulation that can increase the resulting data rates supported, but only if the error correction techniques can handle it.  (As you get to higher levels of modulation, you are tending more towards an analog means of transmission for the digital data, which feeds into my argument that we human beings are force-fitting digital into an analog world, but that is a subject for a different discussion.)

Might it be that there are some fundamental concepts that are similar and hold true in both digital communications and quantum computing technology?  How fast is it theoretically possible to go with quantum computing, and is the limitation due to quantum constraints, or noise, or some combination?  Can we make digital computing approximate an analog process in some way? Is mathematics an analog process?  Inquiring minds want to know!

via The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy | Quanta Magazine

Viewing Four Dimensional Spaces in Virtual Reality

A friend recently forwarded this article about scientists being able to get a glimpse of four spatial dimensions with quantum mechanical experiments. It got me thinking.

Most of us are limited in what we can understand by the limitations of what we can easily perceive.  People like Albert Einstein were geniuses because they could perceive things that others could not, for example what happens to time when speeds of objects approach the speed of light.  Relativity is real even though almost all of us have had no experience of it under our current circumstances.

Perceiving more than three dimensions seems to be an impossible task, but concepts like this may hold the key to us getting a better understanding of the Universe that we inhabit.  String Theory, a theory that tries to unify all the known forces that constitute our Universe, can begin to make sense mathematically if you speculate on the existence of 10 or 11 dimensions in space, a concept that some of us would dismiss as sheer nonsense.  (String Theory has become less popular in recent times, although it seems that there is still considerable research going on in this field in the world of Physics.)

Anyway, even though we may not be able to imagine such things, it is quite possible that the Universe consists of more than three dimensions.  I found this really cool video that illustrates the concept of four dimensions using a Virtual Reality application.

A Nearby Neutron Star Collision Could Cause Calamity on Earth – Scientific American

Consider this thought.  If life on earth as we know it is going to be destroyed by some extraterrestrial event some time in the future, it is possible that such an event has already happened.

via A Nearby Neutron Star Collision Could Cause Calamity on Earth – Scientific American

A Quantum Pioneer Unlocks Matter’s Hidden Secrets – Scientific American

Fascinating article!  I learned a new term from this article – Quantum Critical Point.

via A Quantum Pioneer Unlocks Matter’s Hidden Secrets – Scientific American

I followed one of the names mentioned in the article to find this short lecture on the topic.

A lingering question in my mind is about the energy consumed (be it in a cooling process, or in the application of high pressures, or in some other process) in creating these superconducting states and maintaining them for practical applications.  Seems like that would be significant regardless of the efficiencies achieved once you get there.  Is there not a trade-off involved?  I do not remember any mention of this aspect in the article or the video.

When 2 Black Holes Dance, Space Quivers : NPR

Albert Einstein didn’t like them.

To him, black holes were a bit of an embarrassment, as they compromised his dream of a “rational” nature, that is, natural phenomena that we could describe and quantify with the usual methods of science. According to this view, good scientific theories shouldn’t generate absurd (read: “irrational”) results.

via Black Holes Orbiting Around Each Other Send Off Waves, : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR

To Solve the Biggest Mystery in Physics, Join Two Kinds of Law | Quanta Magazine

A different way to look at what the study of physics can be all about.  Perhaps the answer lies in finding a common approach that finds a bridge between the philosophies and approaches of emergence and reductionism.

via To Solve the Biggest Mystery in Physics, Join Two Kinds of Law | Quanta Magazine