[“Quantum foundations” series] Demons in physics? Well, historically as fanciful ways to explore theories using skilled marvels – an illuminating rather than malevolent context. Pure imagination, not imagineering, eh. Physicist James Clerk Maxwell created a thought experiment in 1867. His idea involved a fantastical “finite being” able to sort molecules of a gas. Rarified acuity… Continue reading Laplace’s demon RIP? – demons of physics
[“Quantum foundations” series] A physicist walks into a bar, and asks the bartender, “What time is it?” The bartender is about to reply but then recognizes the customer. “You’re a physicist, correct? So, it’s a trick question.” So, what’s with time? A venerable philosophical question. A foundational question in physics. We have electronic devices, extremely… Continue reading Whence the arrow of time?
[“Quantum foundations” series] [Updated December 2019] Introduction to this topic If Murray Gell-Mann was right that Niels Bohr brainwashed a generation of physicists to accept the Copenhagen Interpretation, either his influence has waned or he didn’t do a very good job in the first place. For in an informal poll conducted at an international meeting… Continue reading Quantum reality, quantum worlds – new book explores quantum foundations
Much has been written about Richard Feynman. Many tributes and books. Feynman wrote some books as well. But the inspiration for this post is an exhibit promoted for Caltech’s 82nd Annual Seminar Day and Reunion Weekend May 16 – 19, 2019. The Mind’s Eye: Richard Feynman in Word & ImageIn work and play, Richard Feynman… Continue reading Feynman’s legacy — quantum originality
Stephen Hawking died last week. Lots of tributes in the media about his scientific legacy and life. Sean Carroll posted an article on his blog on March 16: “Stephen Hawking’s Scientific Legacy.” It’s particularly interesting. As a career physicist and cosmologist, Carroll met and interacted with Hawking over the decades. Early in his career Carroll turned… Continue reading Celebrity and cultural phenomenon — Stephen Hawking
Perhaps the ultimate why question: Why is there something rather than nothing? Sean Carroll’s blog is a feed on my blog. I enjoyed reading his recent post and paper on this question. Quite a challenge to summarize the topic in 15 pages. I’ve talked before about the issue of why the universe exists at all… Continue reading Ultimate why?
I typically add samples of books to my Kindle library when considering purchases. While examining my Kindle library yesterday, I started reading a sample of Art Hobson’s 2017 book Tales of the Quantum: Understanding Physics’ Most Fundamental Theory and then became interested in his background. A Google search found biographical information, references to his books,… Continue reading Point particles RIP
A trip down memory lane this week led me to the topic of this post. In exchanging emails with a fellow alumnus, I mentioned the book A Canticle for Leibowitz1 which we read in a freshman English class. He remembered the professor’s name. That led to an exploration of my file cabinets and the class… Continue reading Two cultures redux
In the 2014 science fiction action film Lucy, there’s a scene in a car where Lucy sees the radio frequency signals (streams) from cell phones and manipulates that part of the electromagnetic (EM) spectrum with gestures in order to listen to a call in progress. We are forever enveloped in an EM jumble, as Feynman… Continue reading EM jumble
Space.com posted an article on June 15, 2017, which is a good summary of this topic — “What is dark matter?” Roughly 80 percent of the mass of the universe is made up of material that scientists cannot directly observe. Known as dark matter, this bizarre ingredient does not emit light or energy. So why… Continue reading Hidden in plain sight — dark matter