Posts Tagged ‘physics’

Living in God’s Matrix

June 22, 2016

Physicist Michio Kaku has come to believe that we live in a universe designed by some sort of intelligence, God for lack of a better word, at least according to this article by Mark Ellis in Godreports, which I found via this post by Walter Hudson at PJMedia.

I wish I knew what those equations meant.

I wish I knew what those equations meant.

Theoretical physicist, futurist, and bestselling author Michio Kaku has developed a theory that points to the existence of God using string theory.

String theory assumes that seemingly specific material particles are actually “vibrational states.”

His view about intelligent design has riled the scientific community because Dr. Kaku is considered one of its most respected and prominent voices. He is the co-creator of string field theory, a branch of string theory.

“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” he stated, according to the Geophilosophical Association of Anthropological and Cultural Studies.

“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence,” he stated, according to the Geophilosophical Association of Anthropological and Cultural Studies.

Dr. Kaku has continued Einstein’s search for a “Theory of Everything,” seeking to unify the four fundamental forces of the universe—the strong force, the weak force, gravity and electromagnetism.

The very purpose of physics, says Kaku is “to find an equation … which will allow us to unify all the forces of nature and allow us to read the mind of God.”

Because string theory may provide a unified description of gravity and particle physics, it is considered a candidate for a Theory of Everything.

To reach his conclusions about intelligence behind the universe, Dr. Kaku made use of what he calls “primitive semi-radius tachyons.”

A tachyon is a particle that always moves faster than light. Many physicists believe such particles cannot exist because they are not consistent with the known laws of physics.

As noted by Einstein and others, special relativity implies that faster-than-light particles, if they existed, could be used to communicate backwards in time.

Dr. Kaku used a technology created in 2005 that allowed him to analyze the behavior of matter at the subatomic scale, relying on a primitive tachyon semi-radius.

When he observed the behavior of these tachyons in several experiments, he concluded that humans live in a “matrix,” a world governed by laws and principles conceived by an intelligent architect.

“I have concluded that we are in a world made by rules created by an intelligence, not unlike a favorite computer game, but of course, more complex and unthinkable,” he said.

“By analyzing the behavior of matter at the subatomic scale affected by the semi tachyon pitch radius, what we call chance no longer makes sense, because we are in a universe governed by established rules and not determined by universal chances plane.

Dr. Michio Kaku seems to be moving into the Intelligent Design camp, at least in so far as he believes that the order and established rules that we observe in the universe imply a mind behind the material reality. This is more of a Deist, or Theist, concept of divinity than the traditional Judeo-Christian God. The idea that the reality we know is some kind of simulation by an ultra-advanced computer is another explanation for the apparent order and logic we see in the universe which has gained a sort of vogue lately. Perhaps the two explanations, intelligent design, and computer simulation are the same, since an intelligence that can create a simulation of the entire universe might be a god to the people living in the simulation. For all we know, any player of a game like the Sims is a god to the sims in the game, if the sims had intelligence and free will.

The problem with these sorts of speculations is that they cannot be considered scientific explanations or hypotheses because there is no way to prove or disprove the ideas. We only know the one universe we are living in and have no way, at present, of learning about any other universes. We have no way compare our, possibly designed or simulated, universe with one that has not been designed or is not a computer simulation. This matter belongs properly to metaphysics rather than to physics and while Dr. Kaku’s views on string theory ought to be respected as belonging to an expert in the field, in his views on whether God or an Intelligence Designer or Programmer is ultimately behind the world he studies, he shares with the rest of us a common ignorance. On these matters, we cannot know truths with the same certainty we know about the behavior of atoms. We can only have faith.



Four New Elements

January 16, 2016

Despite all the problems and tumult in the world, the progress of science marches on. According to this article in Yahoo News, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry has officially added four recently discovered elements to the periodic table.

Four new elements have been permanently added to the periodic table, after their discoveries were verified by the global chemistry organization that oversees the table. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) last week announced that elements 113, 115, 117, and 118 have met its criteria for discovery, making them the first elements to be added to the periodic table since 2011. Their addition also completes the seventh row of the periodic table.

All four man-made elements currently have placeholder names, and will be officially named over the next few months. Elements 115, 117, and 118 were discovered by a team of scientists from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The Russian-American team had also claimed discovery of element 113, currently known as ununtrium, but IUPAC credited a team from the Riken institute in Japan. Element 113 will therefore be the first element to be named by researchers in Asia.

“Greater value than an Olympic gold medal.”

Discovering superheavy elements has proven difficult because they rapidly decay. But research has revealed slightly longer lifetimes for more recent superheavy elements, raising hopes that scientists may eventually discover the so-called “island of stability” — a group of elements that are both superheavy and stable. Kosuke Morita, who led research on element 113 at Riken, said in a statement that his team will now “look to the uncharted territory of element 119 and beyond.”

“To scientists, this is of greater value than an Olympic gold medal,” Ryoji Noyori, the former president of Riken and Nobel laureate in chemistry, tells The Guardian.


As the article states, the IUPAC gives temporary, or placeholder, names to newly discovered elements until there is some consensus on the official names. This naming can be contentious if more than one team makes a credible claim to be the discoverer of the element. The placeholder name is simply the atomic number of elements expressed in Latin or Greek with “-ium” added. Thus, element 113 is ununtrium. Elements 115, 117, and 118 are ununpentium, ununseptium and ununoctium.


These elements are spoken of as being discovered, but it would be more accurate to say that they have been created or synthesized since no element with an atomic number higher than 92, uranium, is found in nature. Elements with higher atomic numbers are radioactive with half-lives too short to have survived since the creation of the Earth and solar system. Every element has unstable, or radioactive, isotopes but every element with an atomic number up to 82, lead, with the exception of technetium, atomic number 43, has at least one staple isotope. I am not sure if scientists know precisely why some isotopes of some elements are stable while others are unstable, but it seems to have something to do with the proportions of protons and neutrons in an atomic nucleus. Thus carbon-12 with 6 protons and 6 neutrons is stable while carbon-14 with 6 protons and 8 neutrons is radioactive. Uranium-238 with 92 protons and 146 neutrons is weakly radioactive with a half-life of over four billion years, but uranium-234 with 92 protons and 142 neutrons is slightly more radioactive with a half-life of 246,000 years.

Periodic table with elements colored according to the half-life of their most stable isotope.   Stable elements: Elements which contain at least one stable isotope;   Slightly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope is very long-lived, with half-life of over two million years;   Moderately radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between 800 and 34,000 years;   Highly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between one day and 103 years;   Significantly radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life between one minute and one day;   Extremely radioactive elements: the most stable isotope has half-life less than a minute. Very little is known about these elements due to their extreme instability and radioactivity.

For elements with atomic numbers higher than uranium’s, there is a tendency to be more radioactive with  shorter half-lives. Americium with an atomic number of 95 has a half-life of around 7370 years. Fermium with atomic number 100 has a half-life of 100 days. Dubnium, atomic number 105, has a half-life of about 28 hours. Elements with higher atomic numbers have half-lives measured in hours, minutes, or seconds. The most stable isotopes of the four new elements, 113, 115, 117, and 118 have half-lives of 20 seconds, 220 milliseconds, 51 milliseconds, and .89 milliseconds, respectively. Strangely, this decline in the length of the half-life does not seem to be as great as expected and it is hoped that at some point there will be the Island of Stability mentioned in the article, where larger atomic nuclei will have the right configuration of protons and neutrons to permit some degree of stability, though whether such atoms will last for seconds, days or years is unknown. Since the processes by which these super heavy elements are created generally only makes a few atoms at a time and these decay quickly the hope is that the elements in the island of stability will be stable enough to permit some research into the chemical and physical properties of super heavy elements.

I don’t suppose there is much practical use for these discoveries, though you never know, but it is a refreshing change to read about people who are adding to humanity’s store of knowledge about the world as opposed to those intent on tearing everything down.

How to Teach Physics to Your Dog

February 24, 2013

Physicist Chad Orzel talks to his dog. This is not all that unusual. Many pet owners talk to their pets and dogs make particularly good listeners. What might be a little strange is that Professor Orzel talks to his German Sheppard mix Emma about quantum physics. It turns out that dogs have a good intuitive grasp of quantum physics so they are able to have long conversations on quantum physics. In How to Teach Physics to Your Dog, Chad Orzel relates these conversations in which he explains to an eager Emma the basics of quantum physics. Emma interrupts his explanations with just the sort of questions the reader might happen to have. The dog and physicist talk about such topics as the uncertainty principle, virtual particles, quantum tunneling and entanglement.


It’s a fun idea and Chad Orzel does a terrific job explaining physics to the lay reader in the guise of talking to his dog. He seems to have a good feel for how a dog acts and thinks, and I have no trouble imagining that if a dog could talk about physics she would be just as excitable, and as easily distracted by squirrels, bunnies, and treats.

The most important chapter in this book must be the last one, Beware of Evil Squirrels. Here Professor Orzel warns the read of the misuses and outright scams involving quantum physics. There are any number of con artists and New Age frauds who make use of scientific sounding terminology to mislead their victims into believing that one can get free energy from “vacuum energy” or heal oneself of all diseases by imagining oneself to be perfectly healthy. As Orzel explains, despite the many weird and wonderful manifestations of quantum physics, it is not magic, and follows the same sort of rules as anything else in the universe, including the common sense rule that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

I found How to Teach Physics to Your Dog to be appealing and informative. I think that some of the explanations were a bit hard to follow but that is perhaps more my fault than the writer’s.


We’re All Doomed

February 20, 2013

As if the recent near miss by an asteroid and the actual impact in Russia were not enough, we have even more to worry about. Asteroids may be deflected. We could conceivably colonize other planets if something were to happen to the Earth, but what could we possibly do if the whole universe is destroyed? Yet that is a terrifying possibility, if the latest theories on the higgs boson turn out to be true. The higgs boson is believed to be the reason why matter has mass in the universe, and it would seem that the higgs boson is just the right mass to make the entire universe unstable, causing it all to destroy itself. I read the story at yahoo news.

A subatomic particle discovered last year that may be the long-sought Higgs boson might doom our universe to an unfortunate end, researchers say.

The mass of the particle, which was uncovered at the world’s largest particle accelerator — the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva — is a key ingredient in a calculation that portends the future of space and time.

“This calculation tells you that many tens of billions of years from now there’ll be a catastrophe,” Joseph Lykken, a theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., said Monday (Feb. 18) here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“It may be the universe we live in is inherently unstable, and at some point billions of years from now it’s all going to get wiped out,” added Lykken, a collaborator on one of the LHC’s experiments. [Gallery: Search for the Higgs Boson]

The Higgs boson particle is a manifestation of an energy field pervading the universe called the Higgs field, which is thought to explain why particles have mass. After searching for decades for proof that this field and particle existed, physicists at the LHC announced in July 2012 that they’d discovered a new particle whose properties strongly suggest it is the Higgs boson.

For example, the mass of the new particle is about 126 billion electron volts, or about 126 times the mass of the proton. If that particle really is the Higgs, its mass turns out to be just about what’s needed to make the universe fundamentally unstable, in a way that would cause it to end catastrophically in the far future.

That’s because the Higgs field is thought to be everywhere, so it affects the vacuum of empty space-time in the universe.

“The mass of the Higgs is related to how stable the vacuum is,” explained Christopher Hill, a theoretical physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. “It’s right along the critical line. That could either be a cosmic coincidence, or it could be that there’s some physics that’s causing that. That’s something new, which we didn’t know before.”

Strikingly, if the Higgs mass were just a few percent different, the universe wouldn’t be doomed, the scientists said.

Oh, tens of billions of years from now. Well, maybe I won’t worry too much about it after all.


Everthing You Always Wanted to Know About Quantum Physics

October 17, 2011

But were afraid you wouldn’t understand the answers if you asked.

If you have questions about quantum physics but have been looking for a book that will actually explain the subject, than look  no farther. Kenneth W. Ford answers 101 questions about questions about the strange world of the very small. As a former director of the American Institute of Physics and one who has worked with many of the giants of twentieth and twenty-first physics, Ford has the knowledge and ability to explain the often difficult to understand and even seemingly nonsensical aspects of quantum physics.

The only fault with this book is that in the kindle edition, several of the illustrations are missing. These are largely photographs of scientists and for the most part, illustrations necessary for explanations. Other than this lack, 101 Quantum Questions is worth reading.

Faster Than Light 2

September 26, 2011
Cropped image from a larger one of Michio Kaku...

Michio Kaku

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, physicist Michio Kaku has something interesting to say about the recent experiments at CERN in which neutrinos seemed to have traveled faster than light.

The CERN announcement was electrifying. Some physicists burst out with glee, because it meant that the door was opening to new physics (and more Nobel Prizes). New, daring theories would need to be proposed to explain this result. Others broke out in a cold sweat, realizing that the entire foundation of modern physics might have to be revised. Every textbook would have to be rewritten, every experiment recalibrated.

Cosmology, the very way we think of space, would be forever altered. The distance to the stars and galaxies and the age of the universe (13.7 billion years) would be thrown in doubt. Even the expanding universe theory, the Big Bang theory, and black holes would have to be re-examined.

Moreover, everything we think we understand about nuclear physics would need to be reassessed. Every school kid knows Einstein’s famous equation E=MC2, where a small amount of mass M can create a vast amount of energy E, because the speed of light C squared is such a huge number. But if C is off, it means that all nuclear physics has to be recalibrated. Nuclear weapons, nuclear medicine and radioactive dating would be affected because all nuclear reactions are based on Einstein’s relation between matter and energy.

If all this wasn’t bad enough, it would also mean that the fundamental principles of physics are incorrect. Modern physics is based on two theories, relativity and the quantum theory, so half of modern physics would have to be replaced by a new theory. My own field, string theory, is no exception. Personally, I would have to revise all my theories because relativity is built into string theory from the very beginning.

In other words, much of what we think we know about the universe is about as accurate as views of the people back in the middle ages who believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and everything was made up of the four elements; earth, fire, air and water. Of course, the most likely outcome is that the findings at CERN are erroneous. Kaku ends his piece by declaring this to be a victory for science however it turns out.

Reputations may rise and fall. But in the end, this is a victory for science. No theory is carved in stone. Science is merciless when it comes to testing all theories over and over, at any time, in any place. Unlike religion or politics, science is ultimately decided by experiments, done repeatedly in every form. There are no sacred cows. In science, 100 authorities count for nothing. Experiment counts for everything.

So, if a theory as well established as Einstein’s Theories of Relativity can be cast into doubt, what does this say about hypotheses regarding global warming, which are based on very incomplete understandings of the Earth’s atmosphere?

I want everyone out there who believes that global warming/climate change/ climate catastrophe is settled science to repeat after me one hundred times. The science is never settled.

You can find Michio Kaku’s books here.

The Elegant Universe

June 19, 2011
The Elegant Universe

Image via Wikipedia

Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe” is a useful introduction to the subject of string theory and the state of modern physics. I found it interesting and informative, with some reservations.

For one thing, I do not share Greene’s enthusiasm for string theory. No matter how elegant the various forms of string theory may seem to the physicist, the simple fact is that there is no experimental proof for any of it nor is any forthcoming at our present level of technology. In fact, to the best of my (limited) knowledge, I am not sure that string theory offers any testable predictions or explanations of physical phenomena that cannot also e explained with other theories.

Brian Greene generally does a good job of explaining but parts of The Elegant Universe were a little difficult to get through, probably more because of the extreme opaqueness of the subject, and not to any lack of skill of the author. The last several chapters, however, seemed to be increasingly esoteric as Greene used string theory to explore such subjects as the interiors of black holes and the very beginning if the universe, and before.

Overall, I would recommend this book, but not wholeheartedly.

Aussie Student Finds Universe’s ‘missing mass’

May 27, 2011
Another Hubble image shows an infant galaxy fo...

Image via Wikipedia

From Yahoo News. This is really interesting. It seems that an Australian university student, Amelia Frazier-McKelvie has discovered where the “missing mass” of the universe went while on an internship with Monash University‘s School of Physics. Apparently it i to be found in the “filaments” of galaxies.

Monash astrophysicist Dr Kevin Pimbblet explained that scientists had previously detected matter that was present in the early history of the universe but that could not now be located.

“There is missing mass, ordinary mass not dark mass … It’s missing to the present day,” Pimbblet told AFP.

“We don’t know where it went. Now we do know where it went because that’s what Amelia found.”

Fraser-McKelvie, an aerospace engineering and science student, was able to confirm after a targeted X-ray search for the mystery mass that it had moved to the “filaments of galaxies”, which stretch across enormous expanses of space.

As I said, I find this interesting and I hope to find out more details.

I liked the first comment on this article by one Josh

There should be more news about this kind of stuff on the front page.

But instead of this great story, we have stuff about how Justin Bieber got two tattoos.

What is wrong with us as a nation?

What indeed? I can’t imagine why anyone would care about Justin Bieber’s tattoos. In fact, I barely know who Justin Bieber is.

Heaven is a ‘fairy story’, says Stephen Hawking

May 19, 2011
NASA StarChild image of Stephen Hawking.

Image via Wikipedia

From Breitbart. Stephen Hawking believes that the idea of Heaven is a “fairy story”

British scientist Stephen Hawking has branded heaven a “fairy story” for people afraid of the dark, in his latest dismissal of the concepts underpinning the world’s religions.

The author of 1988 international best-seller “A Brief History of Time” said in an interview with The Guardian published on Monday that his views were partly influenced by his battle with motor neurone disease.

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he told the newspaper.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

Stephen Hawking is a great scientist and if I had any questions about Cosmology or Physics I would defer to his greater knowledge and expertise. On this subject, however, he is not an expert. Hawking has a right to his opinion, of course, but I wonder that his opinion on a subject out of his area should be regarded with the same respect as opinions about Physics.

It occurs to be that the computer may stop working, but the part that makes us “us” is the software, which can be copied by its Programmer and installed in a new and better computer.

Scientists Abuzz Over Controversial Rumor that God Particle Has Been Detected

April 25, 2011

Here’s something incredible from the world of science.

A rumor is floating around the physics community that the world’s largest atom smasher may have detected a long-sought subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, also known as the “God particle.”

The controversial rumor is based on what appears to be a leaked internal note from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland. It’s not entirely clear at this point if the memo is authentic, or what the data it refers to might mean — but the note already has researchers talking.

The Higgs boson is believed to be what gives matter its mass. It is the only elementary particle of the Standard Model which has not been detected yet, because it is so massive. Physicists are hoping that the Large Hadron Collider will be able to detect it. If this rumor is true than they have succeeded.

One thing though, I don’t much care for the habit of referring to the Higgs Boson as the “God Particle”. It seems somehow disrespectful.

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