Archive for the ‘physics’ category: Page 4

Oct 15, 2022

A student asked her cosmology professor the meaning of life. Here was his response

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

In this excerpt from “Cosmogenesis,” cosmologist Brian Thomas Swimme explains how physics can approach questions about meaning in life.

Oct 14, 2022

Researchers resolve decades-long debate about shock-compressed silicon with unprecedented detail

Posted by in categories: engineering, physics

Silicon, an element abundant in Earth’s crust, is currently the most widely used semiconductor material and is important in fields like engineering, geophysics and plasma physics. But despite decades of studies, how the material transforms when hit with powerful shockwaves has been a topic of longstanding debate.

“One might assume that because we have already studied in so many ways there is nothing left to discover,” said Silvia Pandolfi, a researcher at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. “But there are still some important aspects of its behavior that are not clear.”

Now, researchers at SLAC have finally put this controversy to rest, providing the first direct, high-fidelity view of how a single silicon crystal deforms during shock compression on nanosecond timescales. To do so, they studied the crystal with X-rays from SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser. The team published their results in Nature Communications on September 21st. What they learned could lead to more accurate models that better predict what will happen to certain materials in .

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Oct 14, 2022

Matter Ejected From Crashing Neutron Stars Appeared to Break Light Speed

Posted by in categories: physics, space

When astronomers around the world watched the epic collision between two neutron stars in 2017, the main event was just the beginning. The after-effects, both immediate and longer-term, of such a massive, never-before-seen merger were bound to be exciting, interesting, and deeply informative.

And now scientists have revealed a doozy. As the two neutron stars slammed together, they ejected a jet of material that, to our eyes, appeared to blast into space at seven times the speed of light.

This, of course, is impossible, according to our current understanding of physics. It’s a phenomenon known as superluminal speed, which in spite of its name is actually an illusion based on our viewing angle.

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Oct 11, 2022


Posted by in categories: alien life, existential risks, neuroscience, physics, robotics/AI, virtual reality

How likely is it that we live in a simulation? Are virtual worlds real?

In this first episode of the 2nd Series we delve into the fascinating topic of virtual reality simulations and the extraordinary possibility that our universe is itself a simulation. For thousands of years some mystical traditions have maintained that the physical world and our separated ‘selves’ are an illusion, and now, only with the development of our own computer simulations and virtual worlds have scientists and philosophers begun to assess the statistical probabilities that our shared reality could in fact be some kind of representation rather than a physical place.
As we become more open to these possibilities, other difficult questions start to come into focus. How can we create a common language to talk about matter and energy, that bridges the simulated and simulating worlds. Who could have created such a simulation? Could it be an artificial intelligence rather than a biological or conscious being? Do we have ethical obligations to the virtual beings we interact with in our virtual worlds and to what extent are those beings and worlds ‘real’? The list is long and mind bending.

Continue reading “#16 David Chalmers PHD — THE SIMULATION HYPOTHESIS AND VIRTUAL WORLDS” »

Oct 11, 2022

Francis Heylighen on the Emerging Global Brain

Posted by in categories: computing, internet, physics, space

Francis Heylighen started his career as yet another physicist with a craving to understand the foundations of the universe – the physical and philosophical laws that make everything tick. But his quest for understanding has led him far beyond the traditional limits of the discipline of physics. Currently he leads the Evolution, Complexity and COgnition group (ECCO) at the Free University of Brussels, a position involving fundamental cybernetics research cutting across almost every discipline. Among the many deep ideas he has pursued in the last few decades, one of the most tantalizing is that of the Global Brain – the notion that the social, computational and communicative matrix increasingly enveloping us as technology develops, may possess a kind of coherent intelligence in itself.

I first became aware of Francis and his work in the mid-1990s via the Principia Cybernetica project – an initiative to pursue the application of cybernetic theory to modern computer systems. Principia Cybernetica began in 1989, as a collaboration between Heylighen, Cliff Joslyn, and the late great Russian physicist, dissident and systems theorist Valentin Turchin. And then 1993, very shortly after Tim Berners-Lee released the HTML/HTTP software framework and thus created the Web, the Principia Cybernetica website went online. For a while after its 1993 launch, Principia Cybernetica was among the largest and most popular sites on the Web. Today the Web is a different kind of place, but Principia Cybernetica remains a unique and popular resource for those seeking deep, radical thinking about the future of technology, mind and society.

Oct 8, 2022

Astronomy & Astrophysics 101: Nebula

Posted by in categories: physics, space travel

Nebulae are interstellar clouds of gas and dust. Many nebulae are formed from the remnants of dying stars. Nebulae are often also regions where new stars…

Oct 8, 2022

Physicists Successfully Create a New Type of Quasiparticle

Posted by in categories: innovation, physics

City College of New York physicists have created a new magnetic quasiparticle. The City College of New York’s Center for Discovery and Innovation and the Physics…

Oct 7, 2022

Paradox-free time travel is “logically” possible, say physicists

Posted by in categories: physics, time travel

An undergraduate and his supervisor ran the numbers and found paradox-free time travel to be mathematically consistent.

Oct 7, 2022

Three Body Problem

Posted by in categories: physics, space

Recently I had the pleasure of reading what is likely the most terrifying science fiction book series I’ve ever read. I’ve always enjoyed scary stories. As a kid, I read anthologies like goosebumps or scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. But I didn’t know true fear until I encountered the works of Stephen King, and H.P. Lovecraft in my teenage years. Lovecraft’s works opened up such terrifying vistas of thought that I would while reading them become transfixed and filled with ultimate existential dread. The cosmic terrors he wrote about in his stories struck me as somehow realer than the monsters and ghost of goosebumps and that is probably because in truth Lovecraft, being the flawed man he was, was expressing a very simple fear, fear of the unknown. And what is more unknown than the blackness of space. I must admit that not since my early teenage years have I felt such poignant terror while reading as I did when first encountering the work of Lovecraft. That Is until I read the Remembrance of Earth’s past trilogy.

There are three books in this series, The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Deaths End, there is also an additional book not written by Cixin Liu himself, called Redemption of Time. The first books in the series The Three-Body Problems start off as a mystery. As the story unfolds it starts to feel as though we are reading the unfolding of some grand conspiracy, a conspiracy written into the fabric of the universe itself. Early on in the story, you find out that scientists around the world have been killing themselves. A note left behind by one of the late scientists, Yang Dong ominously added to the mysteries, saying only:

Continue reading “Three Body Problem” »

Oct 7, 2022

A Trial Run for Smart Streaming Readouts

Posted by in categories: physics, robotics/AI

Jefferson Lab tests a next-generation data acquisition scheme

Nuclear physics experiments worldwide are becoming ever more data intensive as researchers probe ever more deeply into the heart of matter. To get a better handle on the data, nuclear physicists are now turning to artificial intelligence and machine learning methods to help sift through the torrent in real-time.

A recent test of two systems that employ such methods at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility found that they can, indeed, enable real-time processing of raw data. Such systems could result in a streamlined data analysis process that is faster and more efficient, while also keeping more of the original data for future analysis than conventional systems. An article describing this work was recently published in The European Physical Journal Plus .

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