Math discrepancy in astrophysics

There is energy even in a vacuum.  But the amount predicted by quantum physics and the actual measurements are off by a factor of 1 followed by 120 zeroes.  This discrepancy is described as “one of the most confounding (and embarrassing) problems in modern astrophysics.”  It would suggest that there is something wrong with the mathematical models behind quantum physics, something scientists are reluctant to admit.  So they are looking for other explanations, including the final all-purpose answer when scientists don’t know something:  the invocation of multiple universes.

After the jump is an excerpt from an account of a panel discussing this problem, which develops into a discussion of multiverses.  That solution is simply that if there are an infinite number of universes, we would have every possibility, including this unusual math fact, as well as the evolution of life, which they also get into.  (But that isn’t right, is it?   According to the mathematics of probability, random events continued on into infinity will not result in every possible action, much less result in a particular event.  Monkeys at typewriters will not eventually give us the works of Shakespeare, even in an infinite number of universes.)

Anyway, read the account.  Notice how the scientists say that the advantage of positing multiverses is that this avoids the necessity of agency!  They end by saying that all possible answers to the “anthropic principle” must be considered, but I don’t think they mean it. [Read more...]

Quantum teleportation

Scientists have teleported photons to a distance of 63 miles, a new record.  This “quantum teleportation” is not quite what happens on Star Trek, but it is another example of the strangeness of the universe as disclosed by quantum physics.  [Read more...]

The sound an atom makes

The ancients believed that the planets and stars were on crystalline spheres, whose turning created harmonics equivalent to our musical notes.  Hence, “the music of the spheres,” signifying the aesthetic order of the cosmos.   We don’t have that cosmology anymore, but we do have quantum physics.  Scientists have isolated the vibration and thus sound of a single atom.  It is the musical note, D. [Read more...]

“A strangeness at the heart of all things”

Michael Gerson says that we are in the “golden age of physics,” which explodes the old common sense materialism and discloses “a strangeness at the heart of all things.”

He gives examples of the weird science that quantum physics reveals, then speculates about the philosophical questions.  Read the excerpts after the break and consider:  What are the worldview implications of the new physics? [Read more...]

The NSA’s encryption-busting quantum computer

The NSA is working on the development of a quantum computer that could foil all public encryption systems.  The description of this technology, after the jump, combines weird physics, weird mathematics, and weird surveillance. [Read more...]

The geometric form of the year

Artist’s rendering of the amplituhedron, a newly discovered mathematical object resembling a multifaceted jewel in higher dimensions. Encoded in its volume are the most basic features of reality that can be calculated — the probabilities of outcomes of particle interactions.

[Read more...]