Saturday, April 01, 2006

Quantum, Strings and Antimatter

I'm fascinated with quantum and particle physics. Granted, I don't understand much. I understand as much as popular science books teach. In a different life (and with a smarter brain), I'd love to have been a scientist. Even my current WIP (ending now - yay) is about quantum physics and hence the connection to writing. To my writing anyways. But that would explain why I try to follow important developments in the fields.

Three developments caught my attention this past week. To see if I can understand them, I'll try to very briefly explain them here. And if I can explain them here without giving anyone a headache and more so, with people actually understanding, I'd be more confident I've also done it in my novel.

I'll start with quantum computers. The future of computers is quantum computers. These computers will take advantage of one of quantum physics wonders - particle entanglement. The entanglement is a bizarre characteristics of the particles which allows them to correlate to one another instantly, thus transferring information instantly as well. This will allow quantum computers to operate millions times faster than regular supercomputers.
This week's breakthrough has to do with overcoming the distances at which this entanglement happens.

Second is string theory. Without getting into it (I doubt I could even if I tried), string theory is a theory that was devised by scientists to explain contradictions between quantum physics and general relativity theory. This week, from string theory, another explanation to the beginning of the universe was put forth. The interesting point to me is that the prevalent Big Bang explanation suggests that time existed before the Big Bang, however, this new string theory-based explanation suggests that time started with a Big Bang-like event.

Finally, antimatter. Once, when I talked about art, I mentioned aesthetics. Scientists, like artists, like aesthetics. They've always liked theories that contributed to an aesthetic design of the world. Aesthetics in science comes mostly in the form of symmetry and one of the puzzling problems was the apparent lack of symmetry between matter and antimatter in the universe. This week's discovery brought scientists closer to the supersymmetry theory when they made a discovery about particles that oscillate between the two states (matter and antimatter) and how often they do that.

So that's it. Hope it wasn't too boring.

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9 comments:

redchurch said...

Yeah, quantum physics is one of my fav subjects. My sci-fi story universe is based heavily on stranger ponderings about quantum physics. :)

Hence, Quantum Storytelling.

Melly said...

Eric, I knew that if anyone would read this or comment here, it would be you :)

We seem to have this in common.

Ryan Oakley said...

String theory isn't a theory. It's nonsense.

redchurch said...

But very fun nonsense.

The problem with strings is the problem with most of quantum physics as a whole. When physicists have to invent '9 parallel dimensions' or whatever in order to explain certain quirks of physics, I think it shows that the theorists have no clue what's really going on.

It's a bit like theories on the mind/soul 400 years ago. "Maybe the heart is the center of the mind!? Or maybe the soul is separate from the body?"

Or scientists inventing an 'ether' to explain the cosmos.

You see the exact same thing when scientists are arguing between 9 dimensions and 25, or other arbitrary numbers. You don't invent a reason for why your equations are broken!

That said, regardless of how nonsensical it all is, it makes a great backdrop for science fiction.

Melly said...

Oh, okay Ryan, I had no idea it was nonsense, but now that you told me I'd stop paying attention to it...

Eric, you're right that these theories sound out there, but fact is that many times the same theories arise at the same time in different places. At these levels physics theory is more of a philosophy than anything else. At least that's the way I see it.
Fact is that something needs to compensate between general relativity and quantum mechanics. What that thing is I don't know. I don't know enough about either, and I sure as hell can't talk about it intelligently. But a lot of nonsense exists in the quantum world. It is non-sense to us and yet it happens. But I'm pretty sure you said that already.

Ryan Oakley said...

No problem Melly. Just don't get me started on that Big Bang baloney;)

Melly said...

And I don't even like baloney sandwiches!

Ryan Oakley said...

That's because baloney isn't a meat. It's nonsense, is what it is.

Melly said...

Big Bang Baloney Sandwiches?
I don't believe I ever tried one of those. Any good?
Oh, right. Nonsese :)