The game of the nature

The mysterious moving stones of the packed-mud desert of Death Valley have been a center of scientific controversy for decades. Rocks weighing up to hundreds of pounds
have been known to move up to hundreds of yards at a time. Some scientists have proposed that a combination of strong winds and surface ice account for these movements.
However, this theory does not explain evidence of
different rocks starting side by side and moving at different rates and in disparate directions.
Moreover, the physics calculations do not fully support this theory as wind speeds of hundreds of miles per hour would be needed to move some of the stones.

When a thick lava flow cools, it contracts vertically
but cracks perpendicular to its directional flow with remarkable geometric regularity – in most cases forming a regular grid of remarkable hexagonal extrusions
that almost appear to be made by man.
One of the most famous such examples is the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Ireland (shown above), though the largest and most widely recognized would be Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

Basalt also forms different but equally fascinating ways when eruptions are exposed to air or water.Red tides are also known as algal blooms – sudden influxes of massive amounts of colored single-cell algae that can convert entire areas of an ocean or beach into a blood red color. While some of these can be relatively harmless, others can be harbingers of deadly toxins that cause the deaths of fish, birds and marine mammals. In some cases, even humans have been harmed by red tides though no human exposure are known to have been fatal. While they can be fatal,the constituent phytoplankton in ride tides are not harmful in small numbers.

While many see these apparently perfect ice circles
as worthy of conspiracy theorizing, scientists generally accept that they are formed by eddies in the water that spin a sizable piece of ice in a circular motion. As a result of this rotation, other pieces of ice and flotsam wear relatively evenly at the edges of the ice until it slowly forms into an essentially ideal circle. Ice circles have been seen with diameters of over 500 feet and can also at times be found in clusters and groups of different sizes as shown above.

True to their ominous appearance, mammatus clouds are often harbingers of a coming storm or other extreme weather system. Typically composed primarily of ice,
they can extend for hundreds of miles in each direction
and individual formations can remain visibly static
for ten to fifteen minutes at a time. While they may appear foreboding they are merely the messengers – appearing around, before or even after severe weather.

A circumhorizontal fire rainbow arc occurs at a rare confluence of right time and right place for the sun and certain clouds. Crystals within the clouds refract light into the various visible waves of the spectrum but only if they are arrayed correctly relative to the ground below.
Due to the rarity with which all of these events happen in conjunction with one another, there are relatively few remarkable photos of this phenomena.

Ever wonder the truth about UFOs?
Avoided by traditional pilots but loved by sailplane aviators, lenticular clouds are masses of cloud with strong internal uplift that can drive a motorless flyer to high elevations. Their shape is quite often mistaken for a mysterious flying object or the artificial cover for one. Generally, lenticular clouds are formed as wind speeds up while moving around a large land object such as a mountain.

Like light pillars, sundogs are the product of light passing through crystals. The particular shape and orientation of the crystals can have a drastic visual impact for the viewer, producing a longer tail and changing the range of colors one sees. The relative height of the sun in the sky
shifts the distance the sundogs appear to be on either side of the sun. Varying climactic conditions on other planets in our solar system produce halos with up to four sundogs from those planets’ perspectives. Sundogs have been speculated about and discussed since ancient times and written records describing the various attributes of our sun date back the Egyptians and Greeks.

This last phenomena is something most people have seen before – beautiful orange moon hanging low in the sky.
But what causes this phenomena – and, for that matter, does the moon have a color at all? When the moon appears lower on the horizon, rays of light bouncing off it
have to pass through a great deal more of our atmosphere which slowly strips away everything but yellows, oranges and reds.The bottommost image above is true to the hues of the moon but has enhanced colors to more clearly show the differences in shade that illustrate the mixed topography and minerology that tell the story of the moon’s surface.
Looking at the colors in combination with the craters one can start to trace the history of impacts and consequent material movements across the face of our mysterious  Moon.

 

 

From Cern wit love

Make your own Higgs Boson pizza

Ingredients:
Pizza base
(you can make your own with the suggested recipe below, or buy one ready-made)
2 ½ cups bread flour
A packet of active dry yeast
1 tspn white sugar
2 tbsn olive oil
1 tspn salt
1 cup warm water

For the vegetarian pizza toppings
Cheese
Two asparagus sprouts
Some artichokes (at least 8 slices)
Slices of red and green peppers
A single cherry tomato

2

 

A two asparagus (proton-proton) collision produces a juicy Higgs boson (cherry tomato) decaying into four high-energy (charged) peppers producing a tasty signal in the artichoke (muon) chambers and a lot of charged (red and green peppers) particles that are detected in the pizza (detector) entirely covered with mozzarella sensors.

 

 

For the meat pizza toppings
Cheese
Two asparagus sprouts
Slices of ham
Black olives
A few slices of salami
A single slice of chorizo1

A two asparagus (proton-proton) collision produces a spicy Higgs boson (chorizo) decaying into two high-energy salami (photon) clusters and a lot of charged (sliced ham) and neutral (olive) particles that are detected in the pizza (detector) entirely covered with mozzarella sensors.

buon appetito!

 

 

You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus

30It was perhaps one of the greatest discoveries in human history, when Maxwell suddenly realized that everything from the brilliance of the sunrise, the blaze of the setting sun, the dazzling colors of the rainbow, and the firmament of stars in the heavens could be described by the waves he was scribbling on a sheet of paper. The secret of light was finally revealed.

Do not look at mirage and look inside mirror…..28

A familiar example of the index of refraction is a mirage. If you are driving on a hot day and look straight toward the horizon, the road may seem to be shimmering, creating the illusion of a glistening lake. In the desert one can sometimes see the outlines of distant cities and mountains on the horizon. This is because hot air rising from the pavement or desert has a lower density than normal air, and hence a lower index of refraction than the surrounding, colder air, and therefore light from distant objects can be refracted off the pavement into your eye, giving you the illusion that you are seeing distant objects. Usually, the index of refraction is a constant. A narrow beam of light is bent when it enters glass and then keeps going in a straight line.

Music of the Cosmos

 Einstein once said that if a theory did not offer a physical picture that even a child could understand, then it was probably useless. Fortunately, behind string theory there is a simple physical picture, a picture based on music. According to string theory, if you had a super microscope and could peer into the heart of an electron, you would see not a point particle but a vibrating string. (The string is extremely tiny, at the Planck length, a billion billion times smaller than a proton, so all subatomic particles appear pointlike.) If we were to pluck this string, the vibration would change; the electron might turn into a neutrino. Pluck it again and it might turn into a quark. In fact, if you plucked it hard enough, it could turn into any of the known subatomic particles. In this way, string theory can effortlessly explain why there are so many subatomic particles. They are nothing but different “notes” that one can play on a superstring. To give an analogy, on a violin string the notes A or B or C sharp are not fundamental. By simply plucking the string in different ways, we can generate all the notes of the musical scale. B flat, for example, is not more fundamental than G. All of them are nothing but notes on a violin string. In the same way, electrons and quarks are not fundamental, but the string is. In fact, all the subparticles of the universe can be viewed as nothing but different vibrations of the string. The “harmonies” of the string are the laws of physics. 

Strings can interact by splitting and rejoining, thus creating the interactions we see among electrons and protons in atoms. In this way, through string theory, we can reproduce all the laws of atomic and nuclear physics. The “melodies” that can be written on strings correspond to the laws of chemistry. The universe can now be viewed as a vast symphony of strings. Not only does string theory explain the particles of the quantum theory as the musical notes of the universe, it explains Einstein’s relativity theory as well the lowest vibration of the string, a spin two particle with zero mass, can be interpreted as the graviton, a particle or quantum of gravity. If we calculate the interactions of these gravitons, we find precisely Einstein’s old theory of gravity in quantum form. As the string moves and breaks and reforms, it places enormous restrictions on space-time. When we analyze these constraints, we again find Einstein’s old theory of general relativity.Thus, string theory neatly explains Einstein’s theory with no additional work.

2

Since we cannot change reality, let us “change” the eyes which see reality…..

This is not a question about the meaning of life. That is whatever you decide to make it. Nor is this a purely metaphysical question, although it covers areas that have traditionally been the domain of philosophers. When scientists talk about reality they talk about tangible things – atoms and molecules, particles and radiation. But of course this is only the reality. Whether directly, through our senses, or indirectly, through our machines, we construct a picture of reality that resides not out in the stars and galaxies but within our heads. The old solipsistic chestnut about the world possibly being a figment of our imagination cannot ever be dismissed out of hand. Can the idea that the world, including ourselves, is a figment of someone else’s imagination. That said, the fact that we have managed to formulate physical laws which correspond so exactly with what we observe suggests that while ‘reality’ may be what we perceive, we are perceiving something that is very concrete indeed.

1For example we don’t know about the ultimate nature of the Universe. For a start, what is its ultimate cause? Twenty years ago cosmologists stated flatly that the answer was simply ‘the Big Bang’ and left it at that, but now scientists are starting to realize that this is not good enough. What was the bang exactly? Why did it bang and what happened before? Now we think of the Universe as a vast, 92 billion light year diameter sphere of expanding space–time driven by a mysterious
dark force field that we do not understand and populated mostly by a ghostly form of matter that we cannot see and cannot feel. Is this any less strange than those old folk cosmologies (The Earth sitting on the back of a turtle. The Earth as a disc floating in an infinite sea. The sky as a dome
through which the lights of heaven are visible as the pinpricks of brilliance we call the stars…)? And is this the whole picture? Or is “our” Universe simply a tiny mote on the back of a far vaster, far grander, appendage? 

A popular solution to the initial cause problem, and indeed all the questions we have about the nature of the Universe, is of course God. Across most of the world and certainly for a vast majority of people the existence of some sort of deity forms a perfectly acceptable bookend to all chains of inquiry about themselves and the world in which they live. It is certainly the case too that even in our so-called secular age many scientists continue to believe in God. Most scientists do not, any more, consider God to be a rational solution to the question of “How did the Universe come into existence”?imagesBut the Big Bang model is incomplete and there are many gaps. One important gap, albeit not with the model itself, is the general conceptual misunderstanding of the Bang as a gigantic explosion which threw vast quantities of shrapnel blasting into space, which later became the stars and galaxies. It is not entirely clear what happened, to say the least, but it is clear that the gigantic expansion of the universe that took place in the first millisecond after the Big Bang was an expansion of space–time itself, carrying the matter and energy embedded within it. It is better perhaps to imagine the Big Bang not as an explosion but more as the blowing up of a balloon. But there are other, more serious problems, as even the Bang’s most enthusiastic defenders will concede. For example, as we peer further away from the Earth we see galaxies as they were long ago. The light from very furthest objects that we can see left on its journey to Earth very shortly after the Bang, which is thought to have taken place 13.7 billion years ago. These very distant, very early galaxies are only a few hundred million years old, as we observe them, and should therefore be packed with very young, immature stars (our star, the Sun, is more than 4.6 billion years old). And yet many appear not to be: some of these very young, very distant galaxies look like mature galaxies full of ‘old’ stars. Then there is the fact that some of the stars we observe seem to be “older” than the Universe itself. What happened ‘before’ the Big Bang used to be seen as a pointless question, as it was considered that both space and time were created during the Big Bang; to talk of a “before”, therefore, is meaningless. But this view has been challenged, most notably by the Cambridge theoreticians.”Our” universe “floats” on a three-dimensional “brane” which moves through higher-dimensional space. The Big Bang, for which we have so much evidence today, was an event caused when “our” brane, after a period of contraction, collided with another, generating a great deal of matter and radiation. 

Insights into the very early Universe will also come from particle accelerators. As well as searching for dark matter particles, the collisions that will take place in the Large Hadron Collider in CERN will generate energies on a level similar to those seen in the Big Bang. 2The grand swoop of lights we see on a clear night sky is impressive enough; knowing that all those twinkling lights are not only a mere tiny fraction of all the stars out there but in addition that all the stars together possibly form just a small part of what is, is humbling beyond belief. The question of reality and what it is has been asked by philosophers and theologians for centuries. Now the baton has passed to science. It remains to be seen whether experiment and observation will end up enlightening us any more than the elegant reasoning of old……..

barcelona sky

I sometimes invent reality, so that I’d have somewhere to spend the night….

imagesTime makes our lives. It is the key to how we perceive everything, from the ticking of our own minds to the events which mark our passage from birth to death.The true nature of time continues to elude us. Physicists have made huge strides in the last century or so in the way we think about time, but as to what it is exactly we are not really any wiser than the Ancient Greeks. Plato, after all, thought time was an illusion. We talk of time ‘flowing’, but flowing through what? At what speed does it flow and why? And what is the ‘substance’ that flows? Time throws up all sorts of paradoxes. You can use the existence of time, for a start, to prove that nothing is real. The past is as dead as those who no longer live, no more real than your dreams, right? And the future has not happened yet. So all that is to come is, again, imagination. All that is real, therefore, is that infinitesimal sliver of time between past and present, which of course amounts to nothing, because as time never stops that sliver has zero thickness. So, time is real, but nothing else is.

What science has always been happy to do with time is to ignore the philosophical horrors it throws up and just get on with measuring it, giving it a symbol and plugging it into our equations, represented by a nice little letter, like t, doing its job, oiling the clockwork of the spheres. Time is a fundamental quantity, meaning that it cannot be defined by reference to
any other quantity. We can only measure it and use time to derive less fundamental quantities. A change in velocity over time gives us acceleration. Einstein showed us that the pull of gravity and the tug of acceleration were equivalent. Indeed, Einstein went on to show that ‘space’ and ‘time’ are really different sides of the same coin. Before Einstein, it was thought that space was filled
with an invisible medium called the ether, waves in which carried light and other electromagnetic radiation just as air carries sound. But in Einstein’s relativity, the old ether was abolished and
replaced by space–time, a sort of conceptual super-ether, through which motion and the attracting force of gravity can be plotted.

Unlike quantum effects, time is something we perceive directly. We have memories of the past but not of the future. Neither the future nor the past are ‘real’ in the sense that they are accessible and measurable, but one seems to have a privileged position over the other: the fact the past has ‘happened’ gives it a reality denied the future. Time as a fundamental quantity seems to be intrinsically linked to our conscious perception of the world.images (1)

The idea that time is just the fourth dimension of space, one which we have a special interaction with through the offices of our conscious minds, is an attractive one. And clearly there is an element of truth in it. In our everyday experience, time flows, as we flow with it. In classical physics time is frozen as part of a frozen space–time picture. And yet there is as yet no agreed upon
interpretation of time in quantum mechanics. What if a future scientific understanding of time were to show all previous pictures to be wrong and demonstrate that the past, the future and even the present do not exist?

The distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion….

Quantum mysteries

1Schroedinger, Erwin! Professor of physics!
Wrote daring equations! Confounded his critics!
(Not bad, eh? Don’t worry. This part of the verse
Starts off pretty good, but it gets a lot worse.)
Win saw that the theory that Newton’d invented
By Einstein’s discov’ries had been badly dented.
What now? wailed his colleagues. Said Erwin, “Don’t panic,
No grease monkey I, but a quantum mechanic….

Einstein played a leading role in the development of the ad hoc old quantum theory, but he was uneasy about it. Heisenberg’s mechanics seemed abstract to be a true representation of reality. On the other hand Schrodinger’s wave mechanics looked promising until Born came along and spoiled it with statistical interpretation….Einstein had been happier ….- You believe in the God who plays dice, and I in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists,and which I in a wildly speculative way am trying to capture…. Bohr responded to Einstein’s ideas with a series of brilliant arguments known as the “Copenhagen Interpretation” .
Einstein wasn’t the only physicist to object to the implications of quantum theory.Schrodinger initially believed his wave mechanics would return physics to an era of continuous differential equations and waves.De Broglie tried to retain some physical reality of wave – particle duality….
It’s wrong to think that the task of physics is to finde out how Nature is. Physics concerns what we can say about Nature. 2
Quantum theory leaves the future open and inhibits our ability to know the past.It’s hardly surprising that this radical shift in the interpretation of physical reality should shock and surprise physicists.Schrodinger was disturbed by these ideas and he published the amplification from quantum events. The Schrodinger cat thought experiment is the most famous in quantum theory.He involves a conscious creature – cat, whose fate depends on the detailed way in which the wavwfunction collaps. The cat must “exist” in a superposition of live and dead states until the experimenter opens the box and observes the state of the cat
incredible – who’s create the world? 

Radioactive atom with 50% chance of decay in 1 hour
A cat is confined in a windowless box for 1 hour.The boh contains a fiendish apparatus that will administer a lethal dose of poison if triggered by decay of a single radioactive atom.
After 1 hour Schrodinger open the door of the box and see one of two possible outcomes
– atom has not decayed, cat still alive
– atom has decayed, cat is dead
The idea that the atom is in a superposition of decayed/undecayed states and the cat in a superposition of live /dead states prior to observation is disturbing.
However if superposition doesn’t take place it’s impossible to explain the appearance of interference effects in related experiments. Einstein couldn’t accept that quantum theory meant the end of an objective physics reality. He thought that quantum theory applied only to the average behavior of ensembles of particle, and wasn’t complete theory of the behaviour of individual particles.

Statistically speaking, the cat (goes the joke),
Is half a cat breathing and half a cat croaked.
To some this may seem a ridiculous split,
But quantum mechanics must answer, “Tough shit”..