Dirac Smoothie

The Age of Marvels is not yet done! I now have something to share with my grandson. The magnetic monopole has been found! [Link]

I suppose I should explain why this is important. I probably won’t. Some things don’t explain well. But I shall try. Naturally occurring magnets are dipoles. They have a Nawth and a Sowth end – like the nation. But if one slices/saws/splits a magnet in two, one of two things happens: (1) you end up with two of each – two dipoles; or (2) none because you bash the magnetism. And no matter how small you cut the bits this always applies.

But what if you could? Cut a magnet in half and have two things – half magnets – that are anisotropic: one end is magnetic and the other end isn’t. Those are monopoles, literally one pole transliterated. And that’s why this is important.

Paul Adrien Maurice (PAM) Dirac, the daddy rabbit of Fermi-Dirac statistics (with Fermi), and quantum foam, and relativistic quantum mechanics, and …….. predicted monopoles back before me, and my daddy had no attention span for the matter. And people have been looking for them for years. And now we have them. And now – maybe – we can begin to build a real engineering of magnetism. No, not just generators and motors but really useful things.

And it happened in my lifetime. I was a kid when we landed on the moon. That was just Yankee government engineering. This is science.


Ambiguity of Real

It has been another strange week. Yesterday was – I hope – the cherry on the sundae. It snowed. The weather beavers had predicted and it was actually less severe than their pretty (?) graphics – another indication of the progress of climate change and the fudge factors in their simulations? – but I have reached an age where any is almost too much. And I have to venture out into it this morning to spread seeds for the dinosaur descendants and the lords of the trees, and then on FD SCP errands.

While I’m in that mood of mind, I noted a rather strange article [Link] the other day and have had it at back of processing for a bit. It’s about a conference held in 2011 – lots of latency in the journalism; extreme poverty of ideation? – about “Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality”. Seems they gave the participants a multiple guess survey instrument and got rather large variation of answer. I reproduce an example:

I found this example a bit whacked largely because this isn’t really a physics question. If they had asked when we would have the physics to support a working quantum computer that might have been relevant but this question is about engineering and manufacturing and market economics and stuff that quantum physicists, especially good ones, aren’t qualified to answer. I also have to admit to being a bit worried about multiple guess questions since there is no assurance that the author’s set of spanning states includes my state. That’s one of the biggest weaknesses of surveys and is one of the primary reasons for small reply fractions – people get micturated when none of the answers is good enough.

Some of the other questions were a bit more meaningful:

“Do you believe that physical objects have their properties well defined prior to and independent of measurement?”, 48 per cent replied “no”, while 52 per cent replied “yes, in some cases”. A further 3 per cent said “yes in all cases”   and 9 per cent were undecided (respondents were able to select more than one answer).


“What is your favourite interpretation of quantum mechanics?” had 12 possible answers. The most popular answer was the Copenhagen interpretation with 42 per cent but 18 per cent chose the many-worlds interpretation. 21 per cent admitted to having switched their interpretation several times with one respondent writing that he sometimes switched interpretations several times a day. 

Note how connected these  two questions are. The answer to the second one largely influence the answer to the first. If you do subscribe to the Copenhagen interpretation then there is the question of what constitutes an observation. Is sentience relevant? Alternately, if you subscribe to the Popper (many worlds) interpretation, then there is the question of how big does a quantum event have to be to cause a bifurcation? And if you subscribe to the interaction interpretation, then how dense are the backward wave functions generated?

And this isn’t a matter of belief, which is something that even science journalists can’t seem to understand. It’s not some blind abiding lith, it’s something that one tests, with both thought and real experiments. It bears the same resemblance to fundamentalism that adeism does.

Besides, there is an old saying, repeated without adequate attribution by every quantum mechanics lecturer I every had, that if you can visualize QM, you are WRONG. The problem is that we visualize everything, being human, so we are always on the slippery slope of wrong and don’t know how much. Or how much is enough to be WRONG.

That’s the wonderful thing about QM. Even wrong is uncertain until we “observe” it.

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Formation of Satisfaction

It’s saturday again and once more time to initiate the process of tab pruning. And since this week overlapped with the bounce back from the recently imposed non-visual period, there are a lot of tabs.

First, a bit on some work at Washington U on the formation of Sol System. [Link] The conventional theory is that Sol formed and then the planets formed by hot aggregation across a continuum of scales. The new theory says that a nebula formed and that Sol and the planets basically precipitated out as the temperature fell. Admittedly, this is a press release and therefore tainted by all sorts of nasty self-service, not the least the perversion that is modern journalism, but on the surface, lots of good points to this theory. Not, of course, that the counterpoints are going to be emphasized equally.

On the somewhat more practical side, researchers in Nippon have develop a speech canceling projector. [Link] It transmits an out of phase copy of what it is hearing to cancel out the noise, including all those cellular telephone conversations of people describing their position at MalWart, “I’m in the bean section. Do we need any beans?”

This strikes me as great. It can’t be squashed by the Yankee government like cellular telephone suppressors can, and it will serve the same purpose of not subjecting our exalted cogitation and serenity to the shattering static that is the conversations of the boggery, especially the boggery that infests MalWart, as demonstrated by numerous almost humorous but always macabre videos on YouTire and other such sites.

And while we are on satisfying, I note some work done at Ohio State U, [Link] which demonstrates that something useful is being done there and it is not all political wastrelizing, taking photographs of atoms moving inside (?) a molecule. I have to admit I am really uncomfortable with that “inside” metaphor but that’s what the journalists have put on it. At least, I hope it wasn’t the researchers who did. If it had been me I would have said it was the component atoms of a molecule in constrained motion.

What is satisfying about this is that it pretty well conforms to what we have been expecting from calculations going back a lot of years. For all the guys who gave us molecular quantum mechanics, too numerous to mention, we have our thanks. But the scary thing is that now the string theory wonks have another anecdote of theory being proved by experiment.

Switching to dissatisfaction, tonight is the imposition of the tyranny of daylight savings time. A foul murrain on the Yankee congress. Tomorrow will be foul.

Slinky Motion

Tis mondae and the Brillo is shining brightly! Which demonstrates that like most other folks I have problems remembering the Jabberwocky. The week is renewed and just in time. Another day of weekend and I should surely have maundered even more. Or have I ceased?

The weather beavers foretell storms this afternoon but I fear my shock at the heat of too soon summer makes this seem desirable even with the risk of destruction. Ah well, it also fuels the maundering of the climate change deniers.

One of my colleagues, Force Spring Constant, sent me a rather nice article [Link] yesterday about some experiments performed at Heidelberg and Technische Us. The representation is given by this picture

that illustrates this appealing admixture of quantum mechanics and classical optics.

An atom is placed in front of a good mirror and excited so that it emits a photon by relaxation (somehow appropriate to be read on a sundae?) Now for an observer properly placed, no difference can be told between a photon emitted towards the observer and one that is emitted towards the mirror and reflected to the observer.

What makes a properly placed observer? So long as the atom is close to the mirror – a  few atomic diameters, and the observer is a long way away from the mirror along the normal direction – a BIG bunch of atomic diameters, the path differences cannot be discriminated.

Now when the atom emits a photon towards the observer, momentum conservation makes the atom move a little bit towards the mirror. And when the atom emits a photon towards the mirror, momentum conservation makes the atom move a little bit away from the mirror.

Now since the two types of photons cannot be distinguished by the observer, the atom has to exist in amixed state of moving both towards and away from the mirror with each emission. And it is observed in this sort of slink-motion state!

Best thing that happened all weekend.

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Faked Up?

Sundae at last, and the Arab Electrical Cooperative is at the top of the index sterci. The untervelt mentsch who dispense potential difference in Greater Metropolitan Arab discontinued service at least four times yesterday! So I spent most of the day repeatedly coaxing computers to reboot after having trash shut-down. And while I was waiting for hard drives to scan I got to wander around resetting clocks on appliances. This level of incompetence and disdain almost made me entertain the idea that a ritual decimation was appropriate although I am not at all convinced the poltroons are worth even that modest overhead.

We may only hope that today will be less punctuated by electrical incompetence. On which note, it seems time again to strain through the lees of tabs in the browser as commentary on the culmination (?) of the week. First, I have an article [Link] describing how Barnes and Noble are discontinuing their offering of a 3G Nook eReader. Quite frankly, I find this a matter of some intrigue.

It is commonly represented that the primary demographic of the eReader is the urban commuter, the folks who sit on mass transit vehicle for a hour or so every morning and afternoon (if they are lucky enough to get a seat) and need some diversion from the press of humanity. One would have thought that 3G might be necessary for these folks to download reading text for their diversion. But could it be that these people are actually disciplined enough that they can stock their eReaders in advance, and using the less expensive 802.11 pipeline?

I have to admit that this was my assessment early on. Why, I asked myself do I want a cellular capacity for an eReader when I have some access to WiFi? Not that I am ready to procure an eReader. I still have difficulty with the IP aspects, the titles I want are generally unavailable – math and physics references rather than bosom rippers and milliporn, and why an eReader when tablets are booming? (The question of why 3G in a tablet is related but a bit more intense.) But I am not a member of the avowed primary demographic, and I still want to hold a book that displays pictures and equations and such, as well as ASCII.

Conceivably this could even be an organizational thing. Could it be that the folks who want an eReader with 3G predominantly patronize Amazin’? And those who patronize BandN are conventional sit in a chair or on the porcelain throne to do their reading folks? I patronize both vendors but for different things, fewer books from the former, less stiff from the latter. Is this indicative? Do we GEN X mugwumps and tar pit sinkers want to download that eBook onto our hard drive and then put a copy on the eReader? This idea has an attraction that is not strange but is undatafied.

Next, I note a rather incoherent article [Link] in the BBC about a homo sapiens migration out of africa somewhere about 125 KYA.This is about twice the temporal depth of the textbook date for sapiens excursion. Recalling the data sparseness of such findings, one is tempted to think about the growth and decline of neighborhoods. Still, it does give us some insight into just how less than competent we are.

Laastly, and of some neatness, coolness, and scientific merit, boffins ate U British Columbia have made fake ‘hydrogen’ atoms and found that they do have properties consistent with quantum mechanics. [Link]

So there is some sense and sensibility in the world, after all.

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Flu and Foam and RFID

Ayeh. I was unpresent yesterday. Had to motor to Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill to procure foodstuffs and exchange cognition with some colleagues. Along the way, at the Kroger, I acquired an influenza inoculation – FD SCP had been counseling (that does sound a bit more positive than nagging?) me to get one and the technician administering the injections was unengaged when I walked past so I took advantage of accidental juxtaposition of ether waves in the quantum foam. (More on this later!)  She was a bit alarmed that I had a negative reaction to a previous inoculation but subsided when she found out that was back in 1970.

Unlike that time, I did not have a temperature rise of about 2 degK while walking from the site of medical ministration to my automobile, and I do not suspect the distance or air temperature had anything to do with same. Anyway, I completed my shopping for items unique to both Kroger inventory and my wonted culinary practice and departed.  The ache in my shoulder awaited my return home. And that distracted me from catching up on my under-accomplished activities, such as this blog.

Prior to that, at gym, I had continued with listening to science podcast episodes. The CBC “Quirks and Quarks” reader is back but not the parasitic English aristocracy that does “In Our Time” and I delayed a partial break of my enforced fast, reminding myself that these fools should watch their actions lest they fall out of favor by absence. The high light of this was a segment of a discussion between Sir David Attenborough and Dr. Richard Dawkins, the darling of Amerikan Republicans and Religionists (is that redundant?) The text is available, [Link] but rather fails miserably to convey the depths of emotion and nuance. Of course some of that might just be the rarity of being exposed, here in Alibam, to someone who can actually enunciate the language. Certainly the on-going political orations, now sliding rapidly into deep negativism and assault of character, are characterized only by twang and shrill atonality. But then one has automated answering programs for local enunciation excellence.

While on such, I observe [Link] that infection with a particular viral strain of the common (?) cold has been correlated (associated?) with obesity in children. One rather suspects this is the cause of great rejoicing in the Chief Executive’s mansion as an indication that obesity is a disease. Unlike their socio-political programs, of course. I have to wonder between disease and genetic mutation whether there is any aspect of human variability and activity that is actually human controlled? This certainly makes one wonder how long the so-called justice system can continue in its present mode of intense and fundamental self-denial of what is not conscious and overt.

On which note, I see [Link] that recyclage bins in Cleveland are to be fitted with RFID tags so that marauding (they surely do not keep a ordered scheduled route) recyclage collection wains can automatically and remotely note which households place their bins in the verge at the appointed temporal coordinates. The brilliance of this scheme is astounding, at least for government. This way, to not be shunned (?) by local government, residents would at least have to place their bins by the roadway and having gone to the trouble to do so one might as well fill them with the infinitely variable miscellanea of recyclage.[1]

Of course in Alibam, the average resident, who considers recycling unAlibamian and somehow less respectable than sexual self-abuse, would just remove the RFID chip and permanently attach it to a rock or concrete slab in the verge so that neither recycling nor carting of the bin would interfere with his/her vicarious rush to extinction of the species. Not that recycling in the current voluntary, unenforced way is much more constructive.

And lastly, it seems that the Quantum Gravity boffins at U California, Davis have come up with some theory that indicates

“several different quantum gravity theories all predict the same strange behavior at small scales: fields and particles start to behave as if space is one-dimensional.”

We immediately note this is doing quantum foam one better. After all a foam is nothing more than a means of filling three-dimensional space with two-dimensional thingies. This seems to be saying that when we get down to the scale of the “Planck-length”, actually Planck hypervolume, the structure of space (maybe space-time?) just peters out. Rather like those broken threads in shirts that have been worn too many years but are now, of course, exceptionally comfortable. If, also of course, SCPdatter didn’t make off with all of them when she was a teenager This at least is better than the old picture of what is inside the Planck hypervolume, shrugs and the legend from old maps – “Here Be Monsters” which is amazing like the hole in the closet where the shirt used to be. Now the hanger, an essentially one-dimensional thingie. is left swinging from the rod, still shirtless but the hole is no longer so empty.

[1]  The term arises from the common practice, an epitome here in Greater Metropolitan Arab, that the only actually recycled recyclage is that for which the recycling contractor can obtain a profit. Everything else goes to land fill. And local governments, such as the real estate hag-ridden one here in GMA, not only acquiesce but do so conspiratorially to avoid the wrath of the electorate. 

Electrons of Gravity

All right, I realize it’s Monday but I am going to have to blog about something that borders on religion. Even if Shabat was over more than a day ago.

Some fellows at Syracuse U – presumably the one in New Yawk not the one in the Mediterranean – have come up with some calculations that indicate the unapplicability of the Pauli exclusion principle.[Link]

Ayeh, I wrote that Fermions in a system do not have to each have a unique set of quantum numbers under certain circumstances. And that is pretty close to a statement of sacrilege. At least to an SCP who was educated on atomic and molecular quantum mechanics back when containment was alive and well and we needed all the foundation stones we could find.

I suspect I also begrudge all those headaches from trying to construct completely antisymmetric ‘wave’ functions. Even with group theory and too many courses in linear algebra,[1] the task was always one that made engineers, looking over your shoulder, happy to go back to mechanical drafting.

I mention this because I haven’t read the article yet – have asked the library for it but it’s a Yankee army library and hence they observe the christianist sabbath – and I may not be able to read it since I am after all a Simple Country Physicist who hasn’t done much quantum mechanics in years and these guys are probably doing maths I would never recognize as QM, but I suspect that the reason for this inapplicability has to do with that selfsame total antisymmetry.

According to the reportage, and given the source it has a good probability of being accurate, this inapplicability occurs in situations where gravity is very strong. The example given is on the boundary of a gravitational singularity. So I have to wonder if the gravity has ruptured the symmetry, or, in this case, and more properly, the asymmetry? I know that magnetic fields do similar things under certain conditions.

What this illustrates, even if this particular piece of work may never be tested, is that everything is open to question and review.

But I am struggling with the question of whether someone should tell Hal Clement?

[1]  For which matter, one is too many. Especially when you can read the book, take the theorems on trust, and cover all the material in a day.