Saturday, July 31, 2021

Islands one and all ...

The potential collapse of civilization becomes real given just how powerful an impact global warming will have on earth Earth as we move further into the future. Earth itself will survive as nature finds a way but for civilization to remain a viable enterprise becomes problematic at best. Presently, New Zealand seems to be the best bet to ride out a most violent storm of our own making based on recent research posted in the journal of Sustainability.

Reassuring is it not?

Birth of a solar system

4+ billion years, our solar system looked like this one with a planet forming accreditation disk revolving around its parent star and a slightly older planet in the process of generating a moon of its own.

Science done right yet again. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Midsummer 2021

Midsummer, the time of flowers, insects and being outside on land or water is in play in this short clip. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A drive in the park :)

Back in the day, the US built stuff, good stuff indeed as seen by the lunar rovers that traversed the moon with great style and reliability.

The "Nooze"

We have no news. We have media platforms appealing to specific demographics in order to sell ads. Pundits spouting gossip on CSNBC or Fox or CNN is not news, its gossip and bloviating to the extreme, the exact opposite of AP or al jazeera who actually report news, not gossip. Well, it seems the ability to spout opinion has now descended into disinformation for sale and we haven't even talked about AI and its increasing impact on providing us rubes "news" from the digital side of the equation.

In May, several French and German social media influencers received a strange proposal.

A London-based public relations agency wanted to pay them to promote messages on behalf of a client. A polished three-page document detailed what to say and on which platforms to say it.

But it asked the influencers to push not beauty products or vacation packages, as is typical, but falsehoods tarring Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine. Stranger still, the agency, Fazze, claimed a London address where there is no evidence any such company exists.

Some recipients posted screenshots of the offer. Exposed, Fazze scrubbed its social media accounts. That same week, Brazilian and Indian influencers posted videos echoing Fazze’s script to hundreds of thousands of viewers.

The scheme appears to be part of a secretive industry that security analysts and American officials say is exploding in scale: disinformation for hire.

Not even the great Paddy Chayefsky could have predicted this sad turn of events. 

Still photo.jpg

"Nooze" 24/7 awaits

Monday, July 26, 2021

It's all about geometry

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Electromagnetism is a branch of physics involving the study of the electromagnetic force, a type of physical interaction that occurs between electrically charged particles. The electromagnetic force is carried by electromagnetic fields composed of electric fields and magnetic fields, and it is responsible for electromagnetic radiation such as light. It is one of the four fundamental interactions (commonly called forces) in nature, together with the strong interaction, the weak interaction, and gravitation.[1] At high energy, the weak force and electromagnetic force are unified as a single electroweak force.

Researchers are now becoming increasingly convinced that the electroweak force, like gravity, may be a property of spacetime because ...

The electromagnetic force is responsible for practically all phenomena one encounters in daily life above the nuclear scale, with the exception of gravity. Roughly speaking, all the forces involved in interactions between atoms can be explained by the electromagnetic force acting between the electrically charged atomic nuclei and electrons of the atoms. Electromagnetic forces also explain how these particles carry momentum by their movement. This includes the forces we experience in "pushing" or "pulling" ordinary material objects, which result from the intermolecular forces that act between the individual molecules in our bodies and those in the objects. The electromagnetic force is also involved in all forms of chemical phenomena.

The mystery of electromagnetism

Electromagnetism has always been a subtle phenomenon. In the 19th century, scholars thought that electromagnetic waves must propagate in some sort of elusive medium, which was called aether. Later, the aether hypothesis was abandoned, and to this day, the classical theory of electromagnetism does not provide us with a clear answer to the question in which medium electric and magnetic fields propagate in vacuum. On the other hand, the theory of gravitation is rather well understood. General relativity explains that energy and mass tell the spacetime how to curve and spacetime tells masses how to move. Many eminent mathematical physicists have tried to understand electromagnetism directly as a consequence of general relativity. The brilliant mathematician Hermann Weyl had especially interesting theories in this regard. The Serbian inventor Nikola Tesla thought that electromagnetism contains essentially everything in our universe. So what is the mutual relationship of electromagnetism and gravitation? We provide one possible explanation to the riddle.

The link between general relativity and electromagnetism becomes clear by assuming that the so-called four-potential of electromagnetism directly determines the metrical properties of the spacetime. In particular, our research shows how electromagnetism is an inherent property of spacetime itself. In a way, spacetime itself is therefore the aether. Electric and magnetic fields represent certain local tensions or twists in the spacetime fabric. Our research shows that the Lagrangian of electrodynamics is just the Einstein-Hilbert action of general relativity; it reveals how Maxwell's equations of electromagnetism are an optimality condition for the metric of spacetime to be sufficiently flat. As Einstein's theory of general relativity provides that the metric is optimal in a sense, electromagnetism is hidden in the nonlinear differential equations of general relativity. On the other hand, this means that general relativity is a generalized theory of nonlinear electromagnetism.

It's all about geometry 

John Wheeler, the famous physicist, put forward the idea that all of the material world is constructed from the geometry of the spacetime. Our research strongly supports this kind of natural philosophy. It means that the material world always corresponds to some geometric structures of spacetime. Tensions in spacetime manifest themselves as electric and magnetic fields. Moreover, electric charge relates to some compressibility properties of spacetime. Electric current seems to be a re-balancing object, which transports charge in order to keep the spacetime manifold Ricci-flat. This is aesthetically pleasing, as nature seems to strive for harmony, efficiency and simplicity.

The ancient Greeks could relate to this would they not? :)


Plato's cave


BRT has written copiously about The Limits of Knowledge as quantum reality works in ways beyond the kin of man. From Plato to Einstein, the quest to learn how existence works never ends as nature's the ultimate trickster, forever keeping the true essence of herself forever hidden from our prying eyes.

More than a half century ago, Richard Feynman advised us to accept that nature makes no sense. “Do not keep saying to yourself … ‘But how can [nature] be like that?’” Feynman warns in The Character of Physical Law, “because you will get ‘down the drain,’ into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.” Most physicists have followed Feynman’s advice. Ignoring the oddness of quantum mechanics, they simply apply it to accomplish various tasks, such as predicting new particles or building more powerful computers.

Today, there are more interpretations than ever, but they deepen rather than dispel the mystery at the heart of things. The more I dwell on puzzles such as superposition, entanglement and the measurement problem, the more I identify with the piranha. I’m blindly thrashing about for insights, epiphanies, revelations. Every now and then I think I’ve grasped some slippery truth, but my satisfaction is always fleeting. Sooner or later, I end up crashing into an invisible barrier. I don’t really know where I am or what’s going on. I’m in the dark.

Plato's Cave, ...

In the allegory, Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners' reality, but are not accurate representations of the real world. Three higher levels exist: the natural sciences; mathematics, geometry, and deductive logic; and the theory of forms.

Socrates explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall are actually not reality at all. A philosopher aims to understand and perceive the higher levels of reality. However, the other inmates of the cave do not even desire to leave their prison, for they know no better life.[1]

Allegory of the cave. From top to bottom: The sun ("good" ideas) Natural things (ideas) Reflections of natural things (mathematical objects) Fire (light) Artificial objects (creatures and objects) Shadows of artificial objects, allegory (image, analogy of the sun and of the divided line)

The limits of knowledge indeed ...

A true giant ...

Dr. Steven Weinberg at the University of Texas at Austin. Though he had the respect, almost awe, of his colleagues for his scientific abilities, he also possessed a rare ability among scientists to communicate and explain abstruse scientific ideas to the public.Credit...Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

A physics giant died, Steven Weinberg, who found out the weak force and electromagnetism were actually the same, helped to create the Standard Model to determine, in part, how reality works.

His philosophy regarding science and its connect to existence is profound and unsparing.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Microtubules et al

Fractals, Menger Sponges, Koch Curves,  Sierpiński Triangles and the Cantor Set, among significant others, fascinate to no end as all encapsulate infinity in finite space. With this in mind, this notion of infinity, linked to chaos and quantum mechanics, is now being looked at as a viable possibility of whether the brain processes information in quantum fashion as we are quantum beings living in a quantum reality 24/7. 

Quantum reality 101

Micrograph of the resonator. (Courtesy: Aaron O'Connell and Andrew Cleland)

Physicists in California have observed true quantum behavior in a macroscopic object big enough to be seen with the naked eye. This is the first time this feat has been achieved and it could shed light on the mysterious boundaries between the classical and quantum worlds.

Question, does the brain think in quantum?

One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his prediction of black holes, physicist Roger Penrose teamed up with anaesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff to propose an ambitious answer.

They claimed that the brain’s neuronal system forms an intricate network and that the consciousness this produces should obey the rules of quantum mechanics – the theory that determines how tiny particles like electrons move around. This, they argue, could explain the mysterious complexity of human consciousness.

Penrose and Hameroff were met with incredulity. Quantum mechanical laws are usually only found to apply at very low temperatures. Quantum computers, for example, currently operate at around -272°C. At higher temperatures, classical mechanics takes over. Since our body works at room temperature, you would expect it to be governed by the classical laws of physics. For this reason, the quantum consciousness theory has been dismissed outright by many scientists – though others are persuaded supporters.

The Microtubule is the start point for the Penrose-Hameroff quantum consciousness theory.

Microtubule and tubulin metrics[1]

A: An axon terminal releases neurotransmitters through a synapse and are received by microtubules in a neuron's dendritic spine. B: Simulated microtubule tubulins switch states.[1]

Our brains are composed of cells called neurons, and their combined activity is believed to generate consciousness. Each neuron contains microtubules, which transport substances to different parts of the cell. The Penrose-Hameroff theory of quantum consciousness argues that microtubules are structured in a fractal pattern which would enable quantum processes to occur.

Fractals reside everywhere from tree branching to lungs to Escher so ...

This extension of Escher’s Circle Limit III shows its fractal, repeating nature.  Vladimir-Bulatov/Deviantart, CC BY-NC-SA

it stands to reason quantum effects can occur in fractal constructs if one is creative and smart enough to make it happen.

This was an exciting finding, but STM techniques cannot probe how quantum particles move – which would tell us more about how quantum processes might occur in the brain. So in our latest research, my colleagues at Shanghai Jiaotong University and I went one step further. Using state-of-the-art photonics experiments, we were able to reveal the quantum motion that takes place within fractals in unprecedented detail.

We achieved this by injecting photons (particles of light) into an artificial chip that was painstakingly engineered into a tiny Sierpiński triangle. We injected photons at the tip of the triangle and watched how they spread throughout its fractal structure in a process called quantum transport. We then repeated this experiment on two different fractal structures, both shaped as squares rather than triangles. And in each of these structures we conducted hundreds of experiments.

End result

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

A prescient precursor - article 3600

Sunset/rev L

A prescient precursor of things to come was MIT's 1972 seminal work, The Limits to Growth, predicting what would happen if BAU (Business As Usual) i.e. capitalism, continued to exploit earth's resources with dire consequences coming to society beginning in the 2040s. Seems their prediction's spot on without question.

Monday, July 19, 2021

The Camel's Nose yet again.

NSO Group's Pegasus spyware enables some of their government agency clients to access our phones whether we like it or not. This bespeaks allowing the Camel's Nose into our tent without our permission, something devoutly not to be wished if the Guardian's take on this story proves out to be true.

The Camel's Nose yet again.

Addendum - The spyware's totally kosher ...

Despite the hype, iPhone security no match for NSO spyware

International investigation finds 23 Apple devices that were successfully hacked

The text delivered last month to the iPhone 11 of Claude Mangin, the French wife of a political activist jailed in Morocco, made no sound. It produced no image. It offered no warning of any kind as an iMessage from somebody she didn’t know delivered malware directly onto her phone — and past Apple’s security systems.

Once inside, the spyware, produced by Israel’s NSO Group and licensed to one of its government clients, went to work, according to a forensic examination of her device by Amnesty International’s Security Lab. It found that between October and June, her phone was hacked multiple times with Pegasus, NSO’s signature surveillance tool, during a time when she was in France.

The examination was unable to reveal what was collected. But the potential was vast: Pegasus can collect emails, call records, social media posts, user passwords, contact lists, pictures, videos, sound recordings and browsing histories, according to security researchers and NSO marketing materials. The spyware can activate cameras or microphones to capture fresh images and recordings. It can listen to calls and voice mails. It can collect location logs of where a user has been and also determine where that user is now, along with data indicating whether the person is stationary or, if moving, in which direction.

How Pegasus works

Target: Someone sends what’s known as a trap link to a smartphone that persuades the victim to tap and activate — or activates itself without any input, as in the most sophisticated “zero-click” hacks.

Infect: The spyware captures and copies the phone’s most basic functions, NSO marketing materials show, recording from the cameras and microphone and collecting location data, call logs and contacts.

Track: The implant secretly reports that information to an operative who can use it to map out sensitive details of the victim’s life.

End game ...

Snowden, who in 2013 blew the whistle on the secret mass surveillance programmes of the US National Security Agency, described for-profit malware developers as “an industry that should not exist”.

Most disquieting without question.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

On depicting reality

Many years ago, I read Swann's Way, the first volume of Prout's Magnum Opus, In Search of Lost Time, a work detailing every aspect of what it means to be alive from the 1st person perspective. 

What sets Proust’s work apart, however, is not his subject matter but his way of treating it. The unnamed first-person narrator’s story is laced with digressive explorations of the feelings and thoughts underlying even the smallest actions.

MS A la recherche du temps perdu.jpg

Why Proust matters.

Proust's description of sunlight shining through a window "just so" resonates to this day with yours truly. 

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Standard Model ...

The Standard Model defining how reality works from the physics perspective is incomplete but within its construct, it's the most successful depiction of how existence works at this point in time.

The Standard Model describes physics in the three spatial dimensions and one time dimension of our universe. It captures the interplay between a dozen quantum fields representing fundamental particles and a handful of additional fields representing forces. The Standard Model ties them all together into a single equation that scientists have confirmed countless times, often with astonishing accuracy. In the video, Professor Tong walks us through that equation term by term, introducing us to all the pieces of the theory and how they fit together. 

But it's still incomplete ...

The Standard Model has been a boon for physics, but it’s also had a bit of a hangover effect. It’s been extraordinarily effective at explaining experiments we can do here on Earth, but it can’t account for several major features of the wider universe, including the action of gravity at short distances and the presence of dark matter and dark energy. Physicists would like to move beyond the Standard Model to an even more encompassing physical theory. But, as the physicist Davide Gaiotto put it in the first piece in our series, the glow of the Standard Model is so strong that it’s hard to see beyond it.

The truth is out there ...

Thursday, July 15, 2021

No words needed

NASA's Juno probe has flown closer to Jupiter and its largest moon, Ganymede, than any other spacecraft in more than two decades — and the images it beamed back of the gas giant and its icy orb are breathtaking. 

Juno approached Ganymede on June 7, before making its 34th flyby of Jupiter the following day, traveling from pole to pole in under three hours. 

On Thursday, NASA released an animated series of images captured by the spacecraft's JunoCam imager, providing a "starship captain" point of view of each flyby. They mark the first close-up views of the largest moon in the solar system since the Galileo orbiter last flew past in 2000.

A 'Reichstag moment'

We came close to a 'Reichstag moment'.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

It's universal

Phase transitions are never linear but they all occur the same way.

For more than 50 years, mathematicians have been searching for a rigorous way to prove that an unusually strong symmetry is universal across physical systems at the mysterious juncture where they’re changing from one state into another. The powerful symmetry, known as conformal invariance, is actually a package of three separate symmetries that are all wrapped up within it.

“This universality result is even more intriguing” because it means that the same patterns emerge regardless of the differences between models of physical systems, said Hugo Duminil-Copin of the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies (IHES) and the University of Geneva.

Universality indeed.

It's subjective ...

 blocky world map with people

Illustration: Hiroshi Watanabe

We view the world in subjective terms as every human's different as are governments and cultures, something readily seen in differing Google's search engine results generated from various parts of the world depicted by Search Atlas, a powerful new tool showing how subjectivity skews the search in question.

GOOGLE’S CLAIM TO “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” has earned it an aura of objectivity. Its dominance in search, and the disappearance of most competitors, make its lists of links appear still more canonical. An experimental new interface for Google Search aims to remove that mantle of neutrality.

Search Atlas makes it easy to see how Google offers different responses to the same query on versions of its search engine offered in different parts of the world. The research project reveals how Google’s service can reflect or amplify cultural differences or government preferences—such as whether Beijing’s Tiananmen Square should be seen first as a sunny tourist attraction or the site of a lethal military crackdown on protesters.

Search Atlas graph showing different search results

An experimental interface for Google Search found that it offered very different views of Beijing's Tiananmen Square to searchers from the UK (left), Singapore (center), and China. Courtesy of Search Atlas

Click the Search Atlas PDF to see why SA's important.