A “Quantum Theory of Gravity”

…and "fuzzy time."

Quantum theories of gravity have been tossed about for decades, in an attempt to do for quantum mechanics and gravity what General Relativity does with gravity, i.e. explain it.  Since General Relativity (the theory of the really, really big) and Quantum Mechanics (the theory of the really, really small) don’t always see eye to eye, the Quantum types have always felt they needed to come up with their own variation on the theme.  Now they’ve got a machine:

In a classical view of the world, space and time are smooth. The minimum scales at which, according to quantum mechanics, the smoothness breaks down — the Planck length and time — can be derived from other quantities, but they have not been tested experimentally, nor would they be, given their impossibly small size.

Yet if Hogan’s ideas are right, noise associated with this fundamental fuzziness should be prominent at GEO600, a joint British and German machine operating near Hannover, Germany, that is searching for gravitational waves. These waves are thought to arise during events such as the massive cosmic collisions of black holes and neutron stars. Confirmation of the idea — which could come as experimental upgrades to GEO600 are put in place over the coming year — would be a big step towards a verifiable quantum theory of gravity, a long-sought unification of quantum mechanics (the physics of the very small) with general relativity (the physics of the very big).

This is all being discussed in our forums, starting with this post from skyfish. Good luck following the thread…

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Well Sure, Why Not??

Just something I found sifting through some un-opened e-mails from a few weeks ago:
Could a Warp Drive Engine Travel Faster Than Light?.

Two Baylor University physicists believe that if the 11th dimension could be shrunk behind a spaceship it would create a bubble of dark energy, the same dark energy that is causing the universe to speed up as time goes on. Expanding the 11th dimension in front of the ship would eventually cause it to decrease, although two separate steps are required. One slight problem though is exactly how the 11th dimension would be expanded and shrunk is still unknown.

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John Hodgman Explains It All For You

I think this is the kind of intellect we need to lead us to the bottom of the rabbit hole: somebody who can ramble through a story about aliens, physics, time, space and the way all of these somehow contribute to a sweet, perfect memory of falling in love.

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Biefeld–Brown effect – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A pretty thorough explanation of the Biefeld–Brown effect just showed up in Wikipedia:

The Biefeld–Brown effect is an effect that was discovered by Thomas Townsend Brown (USA) and Dr. Paul Alfred Biefeld (CH). The effect is more widely referred to as electrohydrodynamics (EHD) or sometimes electro-fluid-dynamics, a counterpart to the well-known magneto-hydrodynamics. Extensive research was performed during the 1950s and 1960’s on the use of this electric propulsion effect during the publicized era of the United States gravity control propulsion research (1955 – 1974). During 1964, Major De Seversky had in fact published much of his related work in U.S. Patent 3,130,945 , and with the aim to forestall any possible misunderstanding about these devices, had termed these flying machines as ionocrafts. In the following years, many promising concepts had to be abandoned due to technological limitations and were forgotten. The effect has only recently become of interest again and such flying devices are now known as EHD thrusters. Simple single-stage versions lifted by this effect are sometimes also called lifters.

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Another “Atomic Spy” Passes On

R. R. Furman, 93, Dies; Led Bomb-Project Spying

Robert R. Furman, a former Army major who as chief of foreign intelligence for the American atomic bomb project in World War II coordinated and often joined harrowing espionage missions to kidnap German scientists, seize uranium ore in Europe and determine the extent of Nazi efforts to build the bomb, died Oct. 14 at his home in Adamstown, Md. He was 93.

"Harrowing espionage missions", eh?  Enough to make you wonder who else’s path he might have crossed… anybody we know?

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TED Prize for SETI Researcher

The presitigious "TED" conference (Technology, Entertainment, Design) has awarded one of its three annual grants to a SETI researcher:

Astronomer Jill Tarter is Director of the SETI Institute’s Center
for SETI Research, and also holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for
SETI. She has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient
beings elsewhere, and almost all aspects of this field have been
affected by her work.

Jill led for Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about
750 nearby star systems, using telescopes in Australia, West Virginia
and Puerto Rico. While no clearly extraterrestrial signal was found,
this project was the most comprehensive targeted search for
artificially generated cosmic signals ever undertaken.

So, umm, anybody wanna volunteer to tell her that she’s looking in the wrong place?

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Look! Up in The Sky!

No!  Down in the water!

Since the subject of (stealth?) submarines comes up from time to time in our explorations, I thought I’d pass on this story about Steve Fossett’s Super Secret Flying, Diving, Space Bound Submersible that was recently sent to me:

Unbeknownst to most of the world, the late super rich adventurer Steve Fossett had started work on an amazing flying submersible that would one day theoretically touch the stars. More importantly, however, was that the design would have allowed adventurers and scientists alike (and most importantly Fossett himself, of course) to venture into the deadly depths of the Mariana Trench, some 36,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Sadly, the design was put on hold immediately after Fossett went missing about one year ago, but that hasn’t stopped San Anselmo inventor Graham Hawkes from detailing the project that Fossett tapped him to create two years before his death.

Morgan always did say we’d be surprised to learn of some of the things that roam beneath the surface of the seas.  And like I told somebody over the weekend, submarines are easier to conceal than, say, aircraft.  Still you have to wonder what means of propulsion a craft like the one envisioned here would employ….??

There is another story about Fosset’s "flying submersible in the Marin Independent Journal:

The Hawkes say they were four weeks away from launching the "Deep
Flight Challenger" when news came of Fossett’s disappearance. The
submersible is now owned by the explorer’s estate, and Hawkes is unsure
whether it will ever get to make its historic dive. The couple would
not disclose the cost of the vehicle.

"He would have felt as though he was traveling beyond the reach of his
fellow man," Hawkes said. "The deep ocean is an incredibly beautiful,
peaceful place. You’re surrounded by strange life forms, and you’re
seeing a place on the planet that no one has seen before. If people
understood what it was like, it would be crowded down there."


The subject is being discussed in our forums.

Continue reading

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“Flash of Genius” – A Timely Reminder

The release of the new movie "Flash of Genius" has brought the subject of  How Inventors Always Get Screwed into the daily media diet.

BTW, if you don’t know about Armstrong, you should read Lawrence Lessing’s (he’s not the Internet Lessig) 1956 biography, "Man of High Fidelity." The book is sadly out of print (old paperback copies are selling for $25.00 on Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN)). ortunately, though, the complete text of the book has been posted here by the Internet Archive…

Anyway, if you think American technological prowess begins and ends with the Mac and iPhone, you owe it to yourself to read this tale of a true genius struggling against those out to steal the fruits of his brilliance. In Armstrong’s case, his nemesis was RCA impresario David Sarnoff….

RCA — along with Westinghouse and a host of other companies — infringed Amstrong’s patents for years. He was less lucky than Kearns, though. He committed suicide by walking out of a hotel window in 1954…

The point I want to make is that people who
think modern technology sprung fully realized in some easy and fun way
from the landscaped corporate vistas of Silicon Valley don’t know
squat. Every development from Maxwell, Edison, and Tesla; up through
Marconi and De Forest; to Eckert, Mauchly and the present day has not
come without a humongous struggle. (For another great tale of inventor
screwing — tellingly, also involving RCA — read Tube: The Invention of Television by David Fisher, about the travails of Philo Farnsworth.)


The importance of this topic in the current scenario cannot be over-stated.  Our leaders keep telling us that we’re going to innovate our way out of the current energy / economic / environmental crises.  Maybe somebody needs to remind our leaders what really happens to the individuals who produce the innovations we’re counting on to reshape the world.

If they really want to "transform America" (as one of the major party candidates stated upon launching his campaign), then they need to take a long hard look at how individual genius suffers in a world dominated by monolithic corporate capitalism.

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So Much for our “Wits Getting Sharper”

We like to think of America as the shining light of civilization, Reagan’s "city on the hill," a bastion of "exceptionalism" according to that great contemporary political philosopher Sarah Palin.

Well, maybe not so much:

It must be tough being Ronald Wright. As a blisteringly insightful historian with eyes as much on the future as the past, it’s easy to imagine how painful it must be to live here in the early 21st century and watch as the United States leaves a trail of blood across the globe. Some would go into politics or activism to try and stop it; if you’re an award-winning author and former Massey Lecturer like Wright, however, odds are good you’d focus all that outrage into a book instead—which is exactly what the author of A Short History of Progress and A Scientific Romance has done with his latest must-read, What is America? A Short History of the New World Order. But I’ll warn you now: it’s scary.

How scary? Check this out: “The Columbian Age was built on colonial attitudes: on taming the wilderness, civilizing the savage, and the American dream of endless plenty. Now there is nothing left to colonize. Half a millennium of expansion has run out of room. Mankind will either share the Earth or fight over it—a war nobody can win. For civilization to continue, we must civilize ourselves. America, which helped set the Europeans on their new path half a century ago, must now examine its own record—the facts, not the myths—and free itself from the potent yet potentially fatal mix of forces that created its nation, its empire, and the modern world.”

In to such a world, we’re going to introduce technologies that draw on the most powerful forces in the universe?  No wonder some things are kept in a library that nobody has a card for….

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Geek Humor

In case anybody was wondering.

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