Sunday, 27 September 2009

Does the Wave of Expansion Theory spell the end for dark energy?

The controversial 'wave of expansion' theory, gets rid of dark energy, but violates the Copernican Principle in the process. 

Multiple journals reported on this new theory this week, with Seed providing a useful synopsis of the debates:

The crux of the debate is that mathematicians Blake Temple and Joel Smoller have found a theoretical way to explain the observations that led researchers to propose the concept of dark energy. If their solution, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, fits the data, it could provide a way out of the unpalatable notion of a dark-energy-dominated universe.

However, the the largest objection voiced is that this model would require Earth to be at the center of the universe. In other words, it would violate the Copernican principle, which states that the Earth does not have a special, favored place and that the universe is essentially homogeneous.  Lawrence Krauss leads the critics, saying: “I think that these mathematicians might have chosen the beautiful over the true.” 


Thursday, 17 September 2009

Gell-Mann on Endangered Superstring Theorists

"I was a sort of patron of string theory — as a conservationist I set up a nature reserve for endangered superstring theorists at Caltech, and from 1972 to 1984"

A wonderfully insightful and illuminating interview with physics Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann appeared today on the Science website. Just shy of his 80th birthday on September 15, the ever fascinating Gell-Mann spoke about his views on the current situation in particle physics and the interests he continues to pursue in other realms of science.


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Quantum manipulation of the flu virus

The New Scientist reports that, "Quantum weirdness could soon invade the living world, if a scheme to give a flu virus a strange double life comes off."

In short, in quantum theory, a single object can be doing two different things at once. This is called "superposition". The largest objects that have been superposed so far are molecules.  But Oriol Romero-Isart of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, and his colleagues hope to prove the concept with the flu virus. By impinging on the virus, it forces it into a superposition of both its ground state and next vibrational energy state. Now the virus should be doing two different things at once.

Interesting. & likely to provide endless fodder for eschatologists and extinction fantasists everywhere.


Strangelet Danger Diminished. Apparently.

In one of theoretical physics' more baffling logical deductions, Science reports this week that strangelets do not appear to exist on the Moon.  This therefore apparently provides persuasive evidence that they might not in fact exist at all. What an extraordinary deduction. This is a great blow to those who also believe in green cheese which has also been conclusively proven to also not exist on the Moon.

Why on earth were scientists looking for exotic matter in such a domestic place in the first place? It seems a bit like mining for gold in the New Jersey landfill, inevitably not finding it, and then concluding that there is no gold left. Aren't neutron stars a more logical home for strangelets?

Anyway, here's the link to the Science article:


Friday, 11 September 2009

Phonon laser: the weirding module of our age?

In a nice example of science-fiction becoming science fact, the "weirding module" described by Frank Herbert in Dune appears to be becoming reality.  The first-ever phonon laser - which uses amplified sound - has been created.

The laser uses phonons - the smallest quantized unit of vibrational energy - and was been created by German and U.S. scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) and the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, California, U.S.A.)