Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why natural selection did not kill the scientists?

There are many scientific facts that are the base of modern thinking: The Earth is not at the center of the Universe, Human race is the result of evolution, The brain is the home of human psyche.
But there is one that I personally love:
The human brain evolved because of social interaction.
The best quote I found about this is in Human Evolution by Roger Lewin book:
"Biologists now believe that the intellectual demands of complex social interaction were an important force of natural selection in the expansion of primate -and ultimately, human- brains."

What it means is that in primal human tribes, the man or woman with big brains have a social advantage. They are more likely to become leaders and have more children.
Sounds logical at first, but what it really means is: it's not the need for technology, tools or engineering that push the human brain evolution, but the difficulty of dealing with our siblings.
There are other technologically capable animals, like birds, and they don't need super brains. You don't need a big brain to invent the wheel!
Trying to outsmart, to manipulate, to understand and to lead other human beings is way more challenging for the neurons network, than shaping a rock into an arrow head.

Politicians and Scientists

So, another way to put it: Politicians need bigger brains than scientists!
Wait a minute...
Something went wrong in my logical flow?
Well, may be not?
In term of genes and natural selection: Scientific nerds are a lot less successful than political leaders!
I didn't do the research about a scientific study that confirms this hypothesis, but I have a gut feeling it is true :)
For fun, I did a small wikipedia survey:

  1. Isaac Newton: No children
  2. Rene Descartes: One daugther
  3. Nicolaus Copernicus: 3 children (poor rate in the family)
  4. Galileo Galilei: 3 children (2 daugthers could not get married)

  1. Genghis Khan: had many other children with his other wives
  2. Napolean Bonaparte: Only 7 are known: "may have had further illegitimate offspring"

Not very scientific, or even a statistical sample, but fun.
In modern times the picture changed a lot since "Scientists" are becoming cool, and "Politicians" dangerous to flirt with...
Basically every where you look, the stereotypes are not totally made out of thin air:
  • Scientists are solitary nerds
  • Politicians are spreading their genes

This is the funny irony: We have big brain because we need to deal with human behavior.
The people with the lowest social skills are the one we consider having the biggest brain!

Natural selection and scientists

So, I keep having this question: Why natural selection did not kill all the scientists?
Since scientists are really bad at the reproduction game, natural selection should have eliminate them very early on.
If the behavior of finding more interest in things, machines and technology than in other human beings was in our genes: there will be no science. We will not have developed technology.
This is why I love this scientific fact: Being attracted by science is not in our genes!,
It's even more than that. Something in the development of a brain (in ones life), is transforming the original goal (being good social animal) into a logical processing machine (using logic and the scientific method). It feels like this transformation is really stealing the original purpose of the brain.
Scientists become poor social animals because their brain is used to do good logical processing!
I'll really like to know if their was some study on this transformation?
Anyway, the next question is: So, why do we have so many scientists?
My personal answer about this is: The pleasure of logic!
Dealing with logic, mathematics, solving problems is so gratifying, the brain gets hooked. Compared to the complexity and ambiguity of human behavior, the neural network make and easy choice: Logic is satisfying!


Looking at the list of poor scientists above that did not had the chance to spread their genes, I don't feel sorry for a second. Their influence on human history is orders of magnitude bigger than the thousands of humans carrying the Y chromosome of Genghis Khan. So many humans have their psyche influenced by the work of these men!
What's important today is the "natural selection" of idea, knowledge and information that influence the life of so many. Language, writing, printing and now Internet just keeps multiplying the effect of knowledge over genes.
Genes natural selection in modern human society does not mean anything. It has no ground, no reasons and no goal.
What's important is what we think, write and say.
I can see it every day in the eye of my adopted child. He is MY boy, like my other children. And what I communicate to all of them is way more important than their genes.
I never forget the scientific fact: Natural selection did not kill the scientists!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

“Knots of Space” research is alive and kicking!

Lee Smolin himself was kind enough to give me links to the new research papers around Braid-matter!
In my previous post, I was worried that this idea was not researched any more (no papers since 2006). It is totally false!
A nice physic forum thread from marcus links to the new paper which is just amazing:
"C, P, and T of Braid Excitations in Quantum Gravity"
from: Song He, Yidun Wan

I was also really happy to see that supersymmetry generated despair in some physicist:
“I really hope susy is not discovered at the LHC. It's rammed down our throats with practically every arxiv paper. If they find a superpartner, I may quit physics.”

And the current bets for LHC discoveries, are not pointing to “main stream” thinking :)

Local or Non-Local, still a question?

After the comment from James on my previous post, I found out that the “Bell Inequality” proof was not settled!
So, I decided to refresh my knowledge on the subject and found some interesting information:
  1. First a very clear and nice page from Physics FAQ about Bell Inequality and EPR.
  2. Of course Wikipedia on Bell Inequality
  3. And the “push to the limit” 10km experiment

After reading all this, I got the feeling that closing all the loopholes is a necessary and quite fun adventure. But to keep believing that there is some hidden local variables theory that can explain Quantum Mechanics, is like saying OJ Simpson did not kill his wife!
To keep hanging to the smallest piece of evidence that keep the world flat, when all the other experiments shows you the opposite, seems like despair in letting the world be!

What's funny for me about this “hidden-local-variables” argument is that the duality wave-particle is already breaking it! I was looking for the “biggest photon” :) ever created and found that the army created some photons the size of the earth! It's quite nice to imagine a double-slit experiment where the holes are on each side of the earth!
The other sets of experiments that are truly amazing about quantum state are from the Quantum Computing research. They start with 2 ions excited by a laser and so 2 separated Quantum State (ions + emitted photon) are created. Then by entangling the photons the ions are entangled. Since the ions are in “a box”, you could actually carry them around (usually one by Alice and the other by Bob :), and whenever you feel like it (a cat died) you can detect your ions state and break the entanglement.

I “kind of” understand the despair of finding a local deterministic solution to this, but I find it a lot more fun to let go.
Personally, I made peace with Quantum Mechanics when I started to give the Quantum State all the freedom he has!
I mean, those guys down there, have spin, can change color, and each time they do it, they can avoid each other (Pauli exclusion), just like that!
Do I sound like a crackpot when I say: Those little guys, have way more freedom than our 3 + 1 dimensional spacetime?
So, if a quantum state with all the particles that are part of it, have all this freedom, staying connected with all your friends does not look so difficult!

For me, in the sentence “Spooky action at distance!” the problem is not that we don't understand how QM is “acting”, but we don't know what “distance” means for those small little guys.
I was trying to find a theory that uses extra-dimension but with metrics that make the measure of “a distance” far from our standard square root of sum of square thing. Is there one?
So, our universe is “non-local” for our 3+1 vision of the world, but it may be totally “local” for all the “Quantum States” observers?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

How I see the world!

For more than a year I have a vision of the world that I'm trying to refine and correlate to all the scientific research done around Quantum Gravity.

This picture came after reading an article on LQG (Loop Quantum Gravity) and especially this paper:
Quantum gravity and the standard model
Authors: Sundance O. Bilson-Thompson, Fotini Markopoulou, Lee Smolin

What a beautiful picture of the world: Everything we know are made of knots of space!

This paper was submitted in March 2006 and they revised it in April 2007. I'm just waiting for some breakthrough on this, because it fits so well with my vision, I cannot wait!

But since, I'm still waiting, I decided that I better express somewhere what I have in mind, someone may found the theory matching it better than this LQG vision?

When I think about what we know as fact about our world, it's just “out of this world”! That's a mental exercise (trying to visualized what cannot be) that I is so exciting, I cannot stop doing it!
So, our world is made of:
  1. General Relativity: Everything is relative, Space and Time are linked, Energy stresses spacetime.
  2. There is no infinite: There is always integer values of something (quanta) when you go down, Space and Time have finite global values.
  3. Quantum State is REAL: The quantum state of entangle photons is not determined when they are created but exists as long as decoherence does not kicks in.
  4. The strong force is asymptotic.
  5. The weak force is chirally asymmetric.
  6. There is dark matter and/or MOND.
  7. There is dark energy or non null vacuum state.

How can you unify this?
Just plain crazy enterprise if you ask me!

But with the space knots in mind, the picture can actually hold.
So space itself is made of quanta, and everything is quantized because of it. There is only one source of the appearance of quanta in all physics: Space itself is made of quanta! Clean and beautiful.
This way there is no more infinite appearing in your theory, since there is no physical room for infinite. The Universe has mathematical borders in the big and the small.

So, what about time? Well, if time has quanta, it means there is a maximum “frequency” for everything going on in the world. What's nice here, is that in SR, when Observers are moving one compare to the other, they always see the “frequency” of the other slow down. You cannot decrease this minimum of time between 2 events.

Now, out of this picture, everything is not made of strings or p-branes (that are made of what exactly?), but everything is made of space quanta pieces itself. All particles are a good bunch of space quanta wrapped in a knot.

What is gravity in this vision?
All energetic particles can be modeled has pulling on the blanket of 3D space to make knots in some other dimensions. Pulling on the blanket of space as one effect: deformation of space.

Now, there is one thing wrong about the standard representation of General Relativity: The rubber mattress deformed by a heavy ball.
To explain gravity, you use gravity! Using the concept of up/down and everything is pulled towards the bottom, is wrong. Because deforming space does not provides force.
If you picture the equivalence principle elevator, in a world where energy will deform only space. Then a black hole is just passing by, the elevator will be highly distorted, and after the black hole is gone, it will go back to normal. Basically, it did not move.
Deforming space does not provide force. It's because space and time are linked and gravity is also distorting time, that we keep our feet on the ground. Isn't it amazing to think that!

So, if the space quanta knots are just pulling on the space blanket. How can you generate gravitational force?

Here is what I have in my vision: All knots are moving at the speed of light. They are all subject to the time quanta “frequency”. So, for every tick of their clock they need to move! All particles with mass needs to steal the blanket of space in all 3 dimensions. And so, as good vibrating particles they use all the space around them.
Now, if space is deformed by the passing black hole, moving towards the black hole is a lot easier than away from it. Space quanta are a lot more packed and easy to make knots from when close to the black hole. So, every single particles of the elevator will “statistically” move towards the black hole.
I really like this idea, and I cannot find reference to it or research around it. I did not look too much though!
What's nice here, is that gravity is not a “force”, and certainly not a “quantum field” with a graviton, it's really something totally different than the other forces because it's just the statistical behavior of particles in a deformed space.
With this vision, the reason for the very low strength of gravity is obvious, and the reason for MOND can also be found. In a space where gravity is very low, space quanta are still deformed and so statistical behavior of particle is still influenced. So, gravity will feel a lot stronger than it should with GR.

Another thing about knots in space quanta, is the number of dimensions. If the space quanta are actually coming from a 4D space (the LQG version of the 5D Kaluza-Klein theory) and every particles that steal from the space blanket needs to make knots in extra dimensions, the pictures of Matter/Anti-Matter, Spin integer values, Quark colors, are a lot easier to make.

For photons, and other massless particles, they need to drop one space dimension. They are stealing from the blanket of space only on a plane. By doing so, the frequency imposed on everything make them travel at the SOL in the perpendicular direction.

Now, how do you represent a gluon has a knot? Well, for once, a gluon is really behaving like a knot! It let the quarks behave freely when they are close to each other, and it starts to tighten itself VERY strongly when they want to get apart! So, may be the quark is a very unstable heavy pack of space quanta, that can be hold out only with an extra knot: the gluon.

If someone has some links pointing to theories (that are researched or that already failed :) that are close to my vision, I will really appreciate.
I'm really excited by today's physic challenges and hope I'll see some breakthrough in my life time: The first proof that we are living in a “Funiverse”!

A Quantum Gravity result?

Two weeks ago I asked a question haunting me for some time, on bad astronomy and universe today forum: What is the gravitational field of a photon?

I discovered this forum via the great podcast of Fraser Cain and Dr. Pamela L. Gay: astronomycast.

And the answered I got kind of stunned me. Like Richard said on the forum:
"But believe it or not, exact solutions of high symmetry conditions exist.
One is a plane ElectroMagnetic Wave solution.
Chris Hillman wrote most of those article I think."

It's amazing! There is an exact solution of a pure "Quantum Gravity" question!
And what's more is that it imply that the "gravitational influence" of a quanta of EM field is actually a PLANE in spacetime!
I'm so annoyed I cannot do the math, and spend time fully grasping this result, because it's exactly what I had in mind.
Can the gravitational effect of the petawatt laser (1.25 e15 watts in 0.5 e-12 seconds) in Livermore Laboratory be detected?
That will be a real "Quantum Gravity" experiment no?

NOTES: The rest of the blog express my feelings and has absolutly no scientifical ground!

If Gravity is a Quantum Field of some kind (and I really don't think it is), the photon should "emit" gravitons in all directions. But traveling at the speed of light that will generate a Gravitational shock wave!
My visual solution was: The photon needs to loose influence in the space dimension it is travelling!
The thing is, the photon is already loosing a dimension: Time!
In standard relativity, all observers are equal. The protons inside the LHC have their own point-of-view of the world that is as valid as ours. The thing is, that, as they increase their speed, their internal clock is getting more and more desynchronized with ours. For them, nothing changed (except when they are accelerated), but for us they look like they are living very slowly. This is strongly evident with particles that decay in nanoseconds and keep running in the accelerators for seconds. So, the faster they go, the lazier (for us) they get!
Everything looks good, since all is asymptotic and the protons can never reach the speed of light. But here is my question: What about the life of a photon?
By using the above limit, the photon does not feel time at all.
So, what is the life expectancy of a photon? It can be zero, no?

So what is amazingly beatiful for me in the above solution is that the photon loose one dimension by "merging" time and it's direction of travel!
I love it, it's just Einstein and Maxwell, and no need for vibrating strings and extra dimensions (Actually we just lost one :)!

Now, with a very strong electric field, generating photons that have this anisotropic influence on spacetime... Can we make the "Funiverse" a reality?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Are we living in a Funiverse?

Since the time I played with Lifters, made one and learned about ion drives I have this question running:
Can our universe allow all the Science fiction stories where space travel is fast and inexpensive?
As far as Science and Science fiction goes, our Universe may be one of:
  1. The boring one (as far as space travel goes :) where there is no other way to move around than trowing matter out of the spaceship. Only Newton law of Action/Reaction can push us around. If this is the only way to travel, reaching other stars will be a one way trip at slow speed. I can imagine mankind doing it only out of despair (may be planet earth burning).
  2. The Fun Universe where we found out the relationship between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity. In the process we found a way to accelerate through space without using precious mass of the spaceship but just energy. With this kind of travel we can start to explore our galaxy, but it will still be limited by the speed of light.
  3. The very cool Universe where we can control worm holes in spacetime and travel faster than the speed of light. Here all science fiction books are realistic but frankly, I still have doubt we are living in this Universe.

We can hope there is a strong relationship between Electromagnetism and Gravitation. When you think about it:
The relationship between space and time in General Relativity is: The speed of light!

I know scientist and astronomers are trying to verify that the 2 parameters: the speed of electromagnetic waves and the gravity space/time ratio, are actually equal.
As of our knowledge, they are equal. So, a strong underlying physical system is relating both theories.
The question is:
Is this link between Electromagnetism and Gravity able to accelerate a space craft without using some kind of fuel mass?
Are we living in a Funiverse?