Update: Proton Smasher Sets Record

In a previous post, I mentioned that the Large Hadron Collider was starting their official research program, seeking to smash protons together in the 17-mile tunnel at energies of 7 trillion electron-volts (7 TeV).

Well, they did it!  The record was officially achieved today, breaking its previous record.

You can read more about the events at CERN here

Rewriting the Book of Physics

Discover Magazine has a really good article about some of today’s scientists that are trying to overthrow the conventional wisdom and find a more complete and accurate model for our universe.

Isaac Newton presented his theory of universal gravitation in 1687, and Albert Einstein overthrew that explanation with his theory of general relativity in 1915.  However, the efforts since Einstein, which include combinations of quantum mechanics and superstring theory, has left most of the scientific world wanting.

There is no doubt that quantum mechanics can predict much of the universe’s probabilistic weirdness.  However, string theory demands multidimensional universes to work and predicts basically nothing.

The three physicists highlighted in the Discover article are Andreas Albrecht, Lee Smolin, and Stuart Kauffman.  (I actually like Smolin’s book The Trouble With Physics – worth a read…).  Here’s a mini-snipit from the Discover article:

Physicists should not spin any theories that require the existence of things, such as multiverses, that cannot be disproved.

I couldn’t agree more.  I wrote a previous post on just this subject and, in another post, Sir Roger Penrose is interviewed discussing the same thing.

Take a preview of the April 2010 Discover Magazine here and read the article…

New Record Sought for Proton Smashing

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN

March 30, 2010, marks the date on which the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will attempt to break its own record for achieving energies near what was present at the Big Bang.

Twin beams of protons, traveling with energies of 3.5 trillion electron-volts (TeV), will be directed at each other in the 17-mile round LHC, located underneath the French-Swiss border at CERN.  According to CERN, this will mark the beginning of LHC’s official research program.

I posted their original landmark test here, and you can read more about their upcoming tests here

Interview with Roger Penrose

Sir Roger Penrose of Oxford University

An Example of Penrose Tiles

An Example of Penrose Tiles

I recently came across this great interview by Discover Magazine with Sir Roger Penrose of Oxford University.  Penrose has made monumental contributions to theoretical physics, geometry, and mathematics.  He’s also the author of The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road To Reality, and invented what are now called Penrose tiles, which are geometric shapes that can be tiled together to create solid surface (see the graphic on the right…)

Penrose talks about the problems with quantum physics and string theory, leading to mass belief within the scientific communities of “many worlds” and other non-sensical interpretations of how the universe works.   Here’s a bit of what Penrose had to about why we’ve gotten to where we are:

And in a certain sense, I blame quantum mechanics, because people say, “Well, quantum mechanics is so nonintuitive; if you believe that, you can believe anything that’s non­intuitive.”

I posted my thoughts on this subject a while back (which is in line with Penrose’s…), and it’s always good to have people questioning the conventional wisdom in order to get to what’s really true.  This interview is definitely worth a read…

Quantum Physics Supersized

In work to be presented at this week’s American Physical Society, Andrew Cleland and his team will describe results from an experiment where they have effectively supersized the effects of quantum physics.

Normally, quantum effects are only apparent at the very smallest of scales.  However, scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara recently created a quantum mechanical drum about 30 micrometers across, and were able to show this drum being in a state of vibrating and not vibrating at the same time. 

This is the weirdness that makes quantum physics both fascinating and frustrating at the same time.  The work, in addition to being presented at the APS meeting, is also being published in the next issue of Nature.

You can read the article here

Scientists Go ‘Gaga’… Over Antarctic Shrimp


No, NASA geeks didn’t become Lady Gaga fans overnight, but they did find some surprising things as they investigated the depths of the Antarctican ice sheet.

In an article on AOL News, scientists found a shrimp-like creature and a jellyfish living underneath 600 feet of the Antarctic ice sheet.  It is safe to say that scientists did not expect any higher life forms to be living at these depths, so the discovery came as a great and wonderful surprise.  In fact, NASA ice scientist Robert Bindschadler, who will present his findings – complete with video – at this week’s American Geophysical Union conference, said:

“We were just gaga over it.”

You can find out more by reading the article here.

One Scientist’s Search for The Meaning of Time

As a recent article from Wired Science puts it, “one way to get noticed as a scientist is to tackle a really difficult problem.”  So, they interviewed Cal Tech physicist Sean Carroll about his talk at the recent meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Science.

Carroll’s latest book “From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time” is an attempt to bring his theory of time and the universe to physicists and non-physicists alike.

You can read the Wired interview here

F_ll _n th_ Bl_nks

From Wired.com

A very cool article on what’s called “compressive sensing” is featured in the latest issue of Wired Magazine.  It turns out that our company (Areté Associates) has really been at the forefront of exploiting this technology (I’ve even worked with some great guys to develop a patent based on these approaches…). 

Here’s the article on how amazingly impressive the technology is.

Search for Dark Matter is ON!

Here’s an article about a new International Space Station mission to look for proof of dark matter (the stuff that seems to make the universe work differently than we think it does…).  The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is scheduled to be launched from the Space Shuttle in July 2010.

You can read the extensive article here.