This idea that nature is inherently probabilistic — that particles have no hard properties, only likelihoods, until they are observed — is directly implied by the standard equations of quantum mechanics. But now a set of surprising experiments with fluids has revived old skepticism about that worldview. The bizarre results are fueling interest in an almost forgotten version of quantum mechanics, one that never gave up the idea of a single, concrete reality.
The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. The droplet gently sloshes the liquid with every bounce. At the same time, ripples from past bounces affect its course. The droplet’s interaction with its own ripples, which form what’s known as a pilot wave, causes it to exhibit behaviors previously thought to be peculiar to elementary particles — including behaviors seen as evidence that these particles are spread through space like waves, without any specific location, until they are measured.
Particles at the quantum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guided by pilot waves, also exhibit these quantum-like features.
Those wacky New Scientists are reporting on a "new challenge" to part of Einstein's theory of special relativity that changes the relationship of Space to Time. No, this has nothing to do with Conservapedia's laughable challenge to the theory*. Petr Hořava** won't replace Einstein*** in scientific importance in this new Century, but maybe Hendrik Lorentz whose theories on symmetry apparently take a beating****. Remember kiddies, Science (especially Physics) doesn't have Absolute Truths, it just keeps getting closer to them. And even ol' Albert E. can and WILL be improved upon. [more inside]
An experiment recently performed by the AET RaDAL group shows that the gravitomagnetic field produced by a rapidly-spinning superconductor can cause a 1.117 times increase over the Earth's gravity. Gravitomagnetism, a phenomenon predicted by General Relativity, is a poorly understood but promising topic in modern physics. Speculation about harnessing the bizarre, space-warping and gravity-altering effects of gravitomagnetism has already begun. Reactionless space propulsion [PDF] is the most apparent use (previously discussed), with the potential applications far-reaching and nearly inconcievable. The earlier experiment by the European Space Agency involving another rapidly-spinning superconductor earlier this year found a massive increase in strength over the predicted values, but still miniscule by our standards. Things could become very interesting if the results from this latest experiment pan out.
Hyperdrive and a possible Unified Theory. New Scientist article about a paper and proposal to NASA outlining development parameters and possiblities for a faster-than-light anti-gravity propulsion system, based on some rather interesting physics theories originated by a guy named Heim. You mean you've never heard of the Millenium Falcon? (via)
e=mc^2*100 It has been a hundred years since the date that Einstein's famous equation was first published, the last of his four annus mirabilis papers of 1905. In celebration, you can hear Einstein explain his formula (or listen to any of 10 other famous physicists do the same), or read an interesting site in celebration of his life and works, or, if physics isn't your thing, peruse his views on religion, or his exchange with Freud about war, or take a look at hundreds of his original manuscripts.
Idealist and realist: What we can learn from Albert Einstein's free spirit. "Einstein was a Freigeist, and his self-appointed, conscious task was to be a liberator –- a Befreier. In this he continued a great German cultural tradition established by Kant, Goethe, and simultaneously with Einstein, by Ernst Cassirer." [via]
This year has been declared the World Year of Physics. Why 2005? To celebrate 100 years since Einstein published three papers that revolutionized physics. In the U.K. and Ireland it is being called Einstein Year, but there are many events planned around the globe.
Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity in words of four letters or less