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  • richardmitnick 12:38 pm on February 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Dark Matter May Be a Product of Gravitational Waves with a Twist, Futurism   

    From Brown University via Futurism: “Dark Matter May Be a Product of Gravitational Waves with a Twist” 

    Brown University
    Brown University

    futurism-bloc

    Futurism

    February 12, 2018
    Dom Galeon

    1
    Give us a wave! Right-handed or left-handed? Henze/NASA.

    It is said that the universe is made up of over 80 percent dark matter. What dark matter exactly is, however, has continued to elude experts. Theories abound, and a recent one suggests an entirely different approach involving gravitational waves.

    Breaking Symmetry

    For decades now, the exact composition of matter in the universe has baffled astronomers and physicists alike. It would seem that, given the basic assumptions about the origins of the universe, there is still no way to account for the “missing” dark matter that makes up for as much as a quarter of all matter in the universe. That’s why a trio of researchers has proposed a new dark matter theory, which could explain how dark matter came about.

    We know dark matter exists because we can observe how its gravity interacts with visible matter and electromagnetic radiation. There is something there, although we can’t yet see it, or put a finger on what it is.

    In the new study, Evan McDonough and Stephon Alexander from Brown University, with David Spergel from Princeton University, suggest that a mechanism involving gravitational waves — basically, ripples in the fabric of space and time, first theorized by Einstein and confirmed to exist only in 2016 — could explain how dark matter came to be.

    McDonough’s team used a model of the primordial universe that assumed the presence of particles called dark matter quarks, which aren’t the same as today’s dark matter. These dark quarks could have a property called chirality, referring to the way the particles twist, similar to neutrinos. The chirality or “handedness” of these dark quarks could have then interacted with the chiral gravitational waves in the early universe, producing the kind of dark matter we have today.

    Lighter and Wimpier

    Supposedly, as the universe settled into a cooler state, the interactions between chiral dark quarks and chiral gravitational waves resulted in a small excess of the former. These condensed into a quirky state of matter called a superfluid, which could still exist as a background field today. What we know to be dark matter are proposed as excitations of this background field, in the same way photons are excitations of an electromagnetic field.

    Interestingly, the dark matter particles resulting from such a model would be lighter than what’s known as weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), which many researchers believe could make up dark matter. There hasn’t been enough evidence to suggest, however, that this is the case. At any rate, being lighter than WIMPs would mean that dark matter wouldn’t interact with normal matter. “It’s much wimpier than WIMPs,” Spergel told New Scientist.

    As such, this dark matter theory could change how we should “look” for dark matter, as it wouldn’t be possible to see such particles directly at all. Unlike WIMPs, these particles would also be distributed more evenly across the galaxy. At the same time, the ratio of dark matter and normal matter wouldn’t necessarily be constant throughout the universe.

    Spergel explained, however, that this unique behavior could also provide us with a way to find dark matter. A more uniform, non-clustered distribution of dark matter could spill over into cosmic microwave background — the Big Bang’s residual radiation — and produce a unique signature. It could even affect the formation of larger-scale structures, like galaxy clusters. It could also, perhaps, have an effect on gravitational waves.

    In any case, any new dark matter theory is certainly a welcome one, as experts continue exploring other possibilities to account for dark matter — or even dismiss it altogether.

    “It’s a cool idea,” Stanford University’s Michael Peskin, who wasn’t part of the study, told New Scientist. “Right now, dark matter is completely open. Anything you can do that brings in a new idea into this area, it opens a door. And then you have to walk down that corridor and see whether there are interesting things there that suggest new experiments. This opens another door.”

    See the full article here .

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    Welcome to Brown

    Brown U Robinson Hall
    Located in historic Providence, Rhode Island and founded in 1764, Brown University is the seventh-oldest college in the United States. Brown is an independent, coeducational Ivy League institution comprising undergraduate and graduate programs, plus the Alpert Medical School, School of Public Health, School of Engineering, and the School of Professional Studies.

    With its talented and motivated student body and accomplished faculty, Brown is a leading research university that maintains a particular commitment to exceptional undergraduate instruction.

    Brown’s vibrant, diverse community consists of 6,000 undergraduates, 2,000 graduate students, 400 medical school students, more than 5,000 summer, visiting and online students, and nearly 700 faculty members. Brown students come from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

    Undergraduates pursue bachelor’s degrees in more than 70 concentrations, ranging from Egyptology to cognitive neuroscience. Anything’s possible at Brown—the university’s commitment to undergraduate freedom means students must take responsibility as architects of their courses of study.

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  • richardmitnick 9:10 am on February 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Futurism, Phoning Home: Is Intelligent Alien Life Really Out There?, ,   

    From Futurism: “Phoning Home: Is Intelligent Alien Life Really Out There?” 

    futurism-bloc

    Futurism

    January 31, 2018
    Seth Shostak, SETI Institute

    1
    Tag Hartman-Simkins/Stellan Johnson

    Despite an observable universe sprinkled with several trillion galaxies, each stuffed with a trillion planets, we see no evidence of anyone. No signals, no megastructures, no interstellar rockets. While astronomers routinely uncover puzzling objects in the sky, these always turn out to be manifestations of natural phenomena.

    Without mincing words, we can state that the cosmos has offered us no hint of the presence of beings as clever as, or cleverer than, Homo sapiens.

    It’s tempting to jump from this observational fact to a disappointing conclusion: There’s no one out there. That’s not to say that the universe is sterile. Most astrobiologists seem comfortable with the premise that life might be widespread. But their optimism doesn’t always extend to complex, intelligent life.

    It’s possible that we inhabit a universe whose occupants are mostly pond scum. After decades of seeing semi-humanoid aliens strut across the silver screen, it would be more than a little disappointing to think that the actual cosmic bestiary largely consists of plants and animals that are microscopic, or at best, no smarter than cane toads.

    That situation would make humans very special, a circumstance that seems at odds with the enormous amount of real estate available for life, as well as the billions of years since the Big Bang during which intelligence could arise.

    So, could there be a plausible explanation for why the universe seems so short on keen-witted company?

    Filtering Out Intelligent Life

    Economist Robin Hanson has suggested that life inevitably encounters a barrier on its evolutionary path to thinking critters – a Great Filter that keeps down the average IQ of the universe.

    What could this barrier be? Perhaps life itself is rare because it’s difficult to cook up in the first place. Maybe the transition from single-celled to multi-celled organisms is a bridge too far for most ecosystems. Possibly the emergence of intelligence is a fluke, like winning the Powerball, or perhaps all thinking beings inevitably engineer their own destruction shortly after developing technology.

    The idea that there are insurmountable hurdles in the path to intelligence leads to an interesting corollary. Consider the possibility that we’ll someday find microbes under the dry surface of Mars, or beneath the frozen ice of a moon like Enceladus or Europa. That would tell us that one hurdle – the origin of life – can be removed from the list. After all, if biology began on both Earth and another nearby world, then it’s a safe bet that it’s commonplace. No strong filter there.

    If we were to discover more sophisticated life somewhere, perhaps equivalent to trilobites or dinosaurs, that would also eliminate some of the postulated filters. Indeed, Nick Bostrom, at Oxford University, has said that it would be horrifyingly bad news to find such complex organisms on another world. Doing so would tell us that the Great Filter is in our future, not our past, and we are doomed. Homo sapiens will come up against a wall that keeps us from extending our dominion beyond Earth. Our species, as lovely and promising as it is, would would have a destiny that is short and dismal.

    The appeal of the Great Filter idea is that it takes a fairly limited observation – we don’t see any evidence of aliens in the night sky – and draws an astounding (if dystopian) conclusion about humanity’s destiny.

    Could the Great Filter Theory be Full of Holes?

    One could argue whether the various hurdles that have been suggested are really all that daunting. For example, the claim that the evolutionary step from insensate creatures to thinking beings could be incredibly unlikely.

    A premise of the Rare Earth hypothesis, put forward in a book by Peter Ward and Don Brownlee, published nearly two decades ago, is that the physical conditions of our planet are both finely tuned for our existence and seldom encountered elsewhere. Yes, smart creatures arose on Earth, but that’s because our planet is really special. However, the recent detection of thousands of planets around other stars suggests that terrestrial worlds are hardly in short supply. If there is a Great Filter, it’s not likely to be lack of suitable habitats.

    Other suggested barriers to intelligence are less easily dismissed because they depend as much on sociology as on astronomy. Many people seem almost proud to bray that humanity is going to Hades in a handbasket. If nuclear war doesn’t do us in, climate change will. But given that we have at least a chance of being smart about these threats and avoiding total self-destruction, it seems pretty clear that some reasonable fraction of alien societies will also be able to keep themselves alive and kicking for the long term.

    Indeed, it’s my opinion that the Great Filter idea falters not on the merits or otherwise of the proposed filters, but on the initial premise: Namely that, because we don’t see any evidence for other intelligence, we require some general mechanism to keep the cosmos short on sentience. Sure, it’s amusing to enumerate some of the difficulties in going from murky chemical soup to space-faring beings, but it seems far more likely that the problem here is a too-hasty conclusion about the prevalence of cosmic confreres.

    The efforts to find radio and light signals from other worlds, known as SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), has so far failed to uncover any hailing signals from aliens. But these experiments are both underfunded and still in their early days. Even if the universe is chock-a-block with transmitting societies, SETI could easily miss them, simply because of inadequate instrument sensitivity or the fact that only a small number of star systems have yet to be searched.

    A common, and regrettable, error is committed when people note that the SETI scientists have been toiling for more than 50 years without a discovery, as if that suggests that intelligence is rare. It doesn’t. Throughout most of that period, observations were restricted by the lack of telescope time or by receivers that could only examine small slices of the radio dial.

    In addition, it’s worth remarking that humanity is in the process of developing artificial intelligence, a technological trajectory that other sophisticated societies could very well follow. Unlike biological intelligence, AI can self-improve at tremendous speed. Also, there aren’t obvious limitations to the spread of machines throughout the cosmos. The implication of this observation is that the majority of the intelligence in the universe is likely to be synthetic. And machine intelligence might be small, localized, and cryptic.

    The absence of evidence would hardly qualify as evidence of absence. The Great Filter theory, in other words, could be no more than an appealing solution looking for a problem.

    See the full article here .

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    • stewarthoughblog 11:25 pm on February 1, 2018 Permalink | Reply

      Tyson’s wild speculation that the presence of water justifies any conviction that life could be thriving wherever it may be found is intellectually insulting: water is one of, perhaps the, most common molecule in the universe making his statements more a faith-based proselytizing for naturalism and more funding for his personal career prolongation.

      SETI has proven itself a waste of money and resources. The “Great Filter” is a pop-science construct like analogies to winning the PowerBall lottery. The article fails, perhaps intentionally, to address the intractable naturalistic issues relative to the origin of life, which would have been a more plausible approach to consideration of the likelihood of any higher intelligence alien life form. The overly optimistic proposition of “pond scum” has as much viability at the myth of chemical evolution and Darwin’s “warm little ponds” or Oparin-Haldane prebiotic soup.

      This is not serious consideration of the title subject, rather pop-culture superficiality.

      Like

      • richardmitnick 6:52 am on February 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply

        Everything you say about water may be true. The question is, do you think or believe that we are alone in the universe?

        Like

        • stewarthoughblog 10:39 pm on February 2, 2018 Permalink

          Thank you for your reply. Your question is profound, to say the least. I propose the following hypothesis, based on science and Christian philosophy. Please consider the following, not trying to be verbose:

          1. The complexity and nature of life makes any naturalistic origin to life impossible. The simplest organism known requires the precise nucleic coding of over 1.5 million letters, add all of the cellular functionality required, there are no naturalistic mechanisms or processes that come close to biochemical assembly, let alone the imbued “spark” of life.
          2.Consequently, there is no naturalistic sourcing of life, but the transcendent, extra-dimensional, trans-dimensional creator of the universe and life can do whatever he pleases, so the issue becomes:
          a. He created life on Earth and the angels and spirits in an alternate “multiverse.” The angels fell through free will rebellion, while humanity has done the same. The difference is angels to not receive redemption, while we do through Christ.
          b. Why God would reproduce either humans or angels with free will and intelligent consciousness is his business but does not seem to uniquely fit any plan and arguably conflict with what the Bible states regarding redemption, God’s exclusive stated purposes for humanity, and eternal life with him. It posits the additional need for redemption in the event of falling from God’s perfection.
          c. This raises the issue of whether God would create lower life forms for whatever purpose. Again, his purpose, but does not seem consistent with a greater plan as all the lower life forms were created on Earth to bio-form the planet to eventually support higher life forms, aka, humans, who are highly dependent on very fine-tuned planetary conditions.

          Bottom line, we are not alone in the universe because of God’s creation of angels, even if extra-dimensional, but the likelihood of carbon-based intelligent free will creatures is not impossible, but will never arise naturally and are purely God’s discretion.

          Thanks.

          Like

  • richardmitnick 7:01 am on January 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Futurism, ,   

    From Futurism: “This Year, We’ll See a Black Hole for the First Time in History” 

    futurism-bloc

    Futurism

    1.10.18
    Kristin Houser

    Using data collected from their network of telescopes, the Event Horizons Telescope team hopes to produce the first ever image of a black hole in 2018.

    Event Horizon Telescope Array

    Arizona Radio Observatory
    Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

    ESO/APEX
    Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment

    CARMA Array no longer in service
    Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
    Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
    Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

    IRAM NOEMA interferometer
    Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
    James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
    Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

    CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
    Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
    South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

    Future Array/Telescopes

    Plateau de Bure interferometer
    Plateau de Bure interferometer

    NSF CfA Greenland telescope

    Greenland Telescope

    First Look At A Black Hole

    Within the next 12 months, astrophysicists believe they’ll be able to do something that’s never been done before, and it could have far-reaching implications for our understanding of the universe. A black hole is a point in space with a gravitational pull so strong that not even light can escape from it. Albert Einstein predicted the existence of black holes in his theory of general relativity, but even he wasn’t convinced that they actually existed. And thus far, no one has been able to produce concrete evidence that they do. The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) could change that.

    The EHT isn’t so much one telescope as it is a network of telescopes around the globe. By working in harmony, these devices can provide all of the components necessary to capture an image of a black hole.

    “First, you need ultra-high magnification — the equivalent of being able to count the dimples on a golf ball in Los Angeles when you are sitting in New York,” EHT Director Sheperd Doeleman told Futurism.

    Next, said Doeleman, you need a way to see through the gas in the Milky Way and the hot gas surrounding the black hole itself. That requires a telescope as big as the Earth, which is where the EHT comes into play.

    The EHT team created a “virtual Earth-sized telescope,” said Doeleman, using a network of individual radio dishes scattered across the planet. They synchronized the dishes so that they could be programmed to observe the same point in space at the exact same time and record the radio waves they detected onto hard disks.

    The idea was that, by combining this data at a later date, the EHT team could produce an image comparable to one that could have been created using a single Earth-sized telescope.

    In April 2017, the EHT team put their telescope to the test for the first time. Over the course of five nights, eight dishes across the globe set their sights on Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*), a point in the center of the Milky Way that researchers believe is the location of a supermassive black hole.

    Data from the South Pole Telescope didn’t reach the MIT Haystack Observatory until mid-December due to a lack of cargo flights out of the region. Now that the team has the data from all eight radio dishes, they can begin their analysis in the hopes of producing the first image of a black hole.

    Proving Einstein Right (or Wrong)

    Not only would an image of a black hole prove that they do exist, it would also reveal brand new insights into our universe.

    “The impact of black holes on the universe is huge,” said Doeleman. “It’s now believed that the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies and the galaxies they live in evolve together over cosmic times, so observing what happens near the event horizon will help us understand the universe on larger scales.”

    In the future, researchers could take images of a single black hole over time. This would allow the scientists to determine whether or not Einstein’s theory of general relativity holds true at the black hole boundary, as well as study how black holes grow and absorb matter, said Doeleman.

    See also https://bhi.fas.harvard.edu/ and http://eventhorizontelescope.org/

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 2:25 pm on November 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (HPE) supercomputer the new Superdome Flex, , , , , Futurism, , The Stephen Hawking Center for Theoretical Cosmology   

    From Futurism: “Hawking’s Institute Is Using a Supercomputer to Uncover the Nature of Space and Time” 

    futurism-bloc

    Futurism

    11.30.17
    Chelsea Gohd

    The history of the universe still has many mysteries we have yet to fully understand. A new collaboration between HPE’s newest supercomputer and Stephen Hawking’s research group COSMOS hope to answer some of these questions.

    2

    3
    Stephen Hawking

    Supercomputing

    Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) supercomputer, the new Superdome Flex, is more than an impressive, technological marvel.

    1
    Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s (HPE) supercomputer, the new Superdome Flex

    It’s a tool capable of unlocking some of the most complex mysteries of the universe, and Professor Stephen Hawking’s Centre for Theoretical Cosmology (COSMOS) will be using the computer to do exactly that.

    The supercomputer’s high-speed memory can hold a staggering 48 terabytes of data. Because this data is stored in the newly-designed memory system instead of a more traditional storage system, the computer can process enormous amounts of data at lightning speed. This is great news for COSMOS, as they plan to sort through 14 billion years of data with the goal of filling in gaps in our knowledge of the physical history of the universe.

    This computer might be just the beginning of this quest for knowledge, as it’s merely the precursor to “The Machine,” — HPE’s highly anticipated “ultimate vision” for computing. Their prototype will supposedly be able to store 160 terabytes of data in memory and can be built in a similar way to the Superdome Flex. Until this ambitious model becomes a more realistic option, Professor Hawking’s research group will use the immense capabilities of their existing supercomputer in their quest to discover more about the universe.

    Mysterious Universe

    COSMOS has already been making use of one HPE supercomputer and has been utilizing supercomputing power since 1997, their recent project is a natural progression for the researchers. Still, they hope that the latest advancement will allow them to achieve more than they ever have before.

    With the Superdome Flex, COSMOS intends to create the most detailed 3-dimensional map of the early universe to date. They hope to show the location and position of cosmic bodies like supernovas, black holes, galaxies, and much more. The project is officially named “Beyond the Horizon – Tribute to Stephen Hawking. It was dubbed as such because “Hawking is a great theorist but he always wants to test his theories against observations. What will emerge is a 3D map of the universe with the positions of billions of galaxies,” said Professor Shellard in a Cambridge press release.

    Data from the ESA’s Euclid probe, set to launch in 2020, will support these efforts, allowing the team to gain better insight into what researchers refer to as the “dark universe.”

    ESA/Euclid spacecraft

    The team hopes that this combination of data will also allow them to more deeply peer into, and understand dark matter and dark energy, and their influence on the geometry, structure, and inner workings of the universe.

    In addition to advancing our knowledge, the 3D map could potentially confirm existing theories about the universe. From our current understanding of black holes to the age of the universe and the standard model, the insights the map provides could challenge much of what we believe to be true about our universe. It may not be what leads humankind to a universal “theory of everything,” but it will allow physicists to get closer than humanity has ever come before.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 8:53 am on November 22, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Futurism, , , , ,   

    From Futurism: “Quantum Physicists Conclude Necessary Makeup of Elusive Tetraquarks” 

    futurism-bloc

    Futurism

    Mesons Baryons Tetraquarks

    , https://blog.cerebrodigital.org/tetraquark-particula-exotica-descubierta-en-fermilab/

    November 20, 2017
    Abby Norman

    Everything in the universe is made up of atoms — except, of course, atoms themselves. They’re made up of subatomic particles, namely, protons, neutrons, and electrons. While electrons are classified as leptons, protons and neutrons are in a class of particles known as quarks. Though, “known” may be a bit misleading: there is a lot more theoretical physicists don’t know about the particles than they do with any degree of certainty.

    As far as we know, quarks are the fundamental particle of the universe. You can’t break a quark down into any smaller particles. Imagining them as being uniformly minuscule is not quite accurate, however: while they are tiny, they are not all the same size. Some quarks are larger than others, and they can also join together and create mesons (1 quark + 1 antiquark) or baryons (3 quarks of various flavors).

    In terms of possible quark flavors, which are respective to their position, we’ve identified six: up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange. As mentioned, they usually pair up either in quark-antiquark pairs or a quark threesome — so long as the charges ( ⅔, ⅔, and ⅓ ) all add up to positive 1.

    The so-called tetraquark pairing has long-eluded scientists; a hadron which would require 2 quark-antiquark pairs, held together by the strong force. Now, it’s not enough for them to simply pair off and only interact with their partner. To be a true tetraquark, all four quarks would need to interact with one another; behaving as quantum swingers, if you will.

    “Quarky” Swingers

    It might seem like a pretty straightforward concept: throw four quarks together and they’re bound to interact, right? Well, not necessarily. And that would be assuming they’d pair off stably in the first place, which isn’t a given. As Marek Karliner of Tel Aviv University explained to LiveScience, two quarks aren’t any more likely to pair off in a stable union than two random people you throw into an apartment together. When it comes to both people and quarks, close proximity doesn’t ensure chemistry.

    “The big open question had been whether such combinations would be stable,
    or would they instantly disintegrate into two quark-antiquark mesons,” Karliner told Futurism. “Many years of experimental searches came up empty-handed, and no one knew for sure whether stable tetraquarks exist.”

    Most discussions of tetraquarks up until recently involved those “ad-hoc” tetraquarks; the ones where four quarks were paired off, but not interacting. Finding the bona-fide quark clique has been the “holy grail” of theoretical physics for years – and we’re agonizingly close.

    Recalling that quarks are not something we can actually see, it probably goes without saying that predicting the existence of such an arrangement would be incredibly hard to do. The very laws of physics dictate that it would be impossible for four quarks to come together and form a stable hadron. But two physicists found a way to simplify (as much as you can “simplify” quantum mechanics) the approach to the search for tetraquarks.

    Several years ago, Karliner and his research partner, Jonathan Rosner of the University of Chicago, set out to establish the theory that if you want to know the mass and binding energy of rare hadrons, you can start by comparing them to the common hadrons you already know the measurements for. In their research [Nature] they looked at charm quarks; the measurements for which are known and understood (to quantum physicists, at least).

    Based on these comparisons, they proposed that a doubly-charged baryon should have a mass of 3,627 MeV, +/- 12 MeV [Physical Review Letters]. The next step was to convince CERN to go tetraquark-hunting, using their math as a map.

    For all the complex work it undertakes, the vast majority of which is nothing detectable by the human eye, The Large Hadron Collider is exactly what the name implies: it’s a massive particle accelerator that smashes atoms together, revealing their inner quarks.

    LHC

    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    If you’re out to prove the existence of a very tiny theoretical particle, the LHC is where you want to start — though there’s no way to know how long it will be before, if ever, the particles you seek appear.

    It took several years, but in the summer of 2017, the LHC detected a new baryon: one with a single up quark and two heavy charm quarks — the kind of doubly-charged baryon Karliner and Rosner were hoping for. The mass of the baryon was 3,621 MeV, give or take 1 MeV, which was extremely close to the measurement Karliner and Rosner had predicted. Prior to this observation physicists had speculated about — but never detected — more than one heavy quark in a baryon. In terms of the hunt for the tetraquark, this was an important piece of evidence: that more robust bottom quark could be just what a baryon needs to form a stable tetraquark.

    The perpetual frustration of studying particles is that they don’t stay around long. These baryons, in particular, disappear faster than “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” speed; one 10/trillionth of a second, to be exact. Of course, in the world of quantum physics, that’s actually plenty of time to establish existence, thanks to the LHC.

    The great quantum qualm within the LHC, however, is one that presents a significant challenge in the search for tetraquarks: heavier particles are less likely to show up, and while this is all happening on an infinitesimal level, as far as the quantum scale is concerned, bottom quarks are behemoths.

    The next question for Rosner and Karliner, then, was did it make more sense to try to build a tetraquark, rather than wait around for one to show up? You’d need to generate two bottom quarks close enough together that they’d hook up, then throw in a pair of lighter antiquarks — then do it again and again, successfully, enough times to satisfy the scientific method.

    “Our paper uses the data from recently discovered double-charmed baryon to point, for the first time, that a stable tetraquark *must* exist,” Karliner told Futurism, adding that there’s “a very good chance” the LHCb at CERN would succeed in observing the phenomenon experimentally.

    That, of course, is still a theoretical proposition, but should anyone undertake it, the LHC would keep on smashing in the meantime — and perhaps the combination would arise on its own. As Karliner reminded LiveScience, for years the assumption has been that tetraquarks are impossible. At the very least, they’re profoundly at odds with the Standard Model of Physics. But that assumption is certainly being challenged. “The tetraquark is a truly new form of strongly-interacting matter,” Karliner told Futurism,” in addition to ordinary baryons and mesons.”

    If tetraquarks are not impossible, or even particularly improbable, thanks to the Karliner and Rosner’s calculations, at least now we have a better sense of what we’re looking for — and where it might pop up.

    Where there’s smoke there’s fire, as they say, and while the mind-boggling realm of quantum mechanics may feel more like smoke and mirrors to us, theoretical physicists aren’t giving up just yet. Where there’s a 2-bottom quark, there could be tetraquarks.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Futurism covers the breakthrough technologies and scientific discoveries that will shape humanity’s future. Our mission is to empower our readers and drive the development of these transformative technologies towards maximizing human potential.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:55 pm on November 18, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Futurism, , ,   

    From Futurism: “Measurements From CERN Suggest the Possibility of a New Physics” 

    futurism-bloc

    Futurism

    November 18, 2017
    Brad Bergan

    A New Quantum Physics?

    2

    During the mid- to late-twentieth century, quantum physicists picked apart the unified theory of physics that Einstein’s theory of relativity offered. The physics of the large was governed by gravity, but only quantum physics could describe observations of the small. Since then, a theoretical tug-o-war between gravity and the other three fundamental forces has continued as physicists try to extend gravity or quantum physics to subsume the other as more fundamental.

    Recent measurements from the Large Hadron Collider show a discrepancy with Standard Model predictions that may hint at entirely new realms of the universe underlying what’s described by quantum physics.

    LHC

    CERN/LHC Map

    CERN LHC Tunnel

    CERN LHC particles

    The Standard Model of elementary particles (more schematic depiction), with the three generations of matter, gauge bosons in the fourth column, and the Higgs boson in the fifth.

    Although repeated tests are required to confirm these anomalies, a confirmation would signify a turning point in our most fundamental description of particle physics to date.

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    Image credit: starsandspirals

    Quantum physicists found in a recent study [JHEP} that mesons don’t decay into kaon and muon particles often enough, according to the Standard Model predictions of frequency. The authors agree that enhancing the power [The Guardian] of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will reveal a new kind of particle responsible for this discrepancy. Although errors in data or theory may have caused the discrepancy, instead of a new particle, an improved LHC would prove a boon for several projects on the cutting edge of physics.

    The Standard Model

    The Standard Model is a well-established fundamental theory of quantum physics that describes three of the four fundamental forces believed to govern our physical reality. Quantum particles occur in two basic types, quarks and leptons. Quarks bind together in different combinations to build particles like protons and neutrons. We’re familiar with protons, neutrons, and electrons because they’re the building blocks of atoms.

    The “lepton family” features heavier versions of the electron — like the muon — and the quarks can coalesce into hundreds of other composite particles. Two of these, the Bottom and Kaon mesons, were culprits in this quantum mystery. The Bottom meson (B) decays to a Kaon meson (K) accompanied by a muon (mu-) and anti-muon (mu+) particle.

    The Anomaly

    They found a 2.5 sigma variance, or 1 in 80 probability, “which means that, in the absence of unexpected effects, i.e. new physics, a distribution more deviant than observed would be produced about 1.25 percent of the time,” Professor Spencer Klein, senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told Futurism. Klein was not involved in the study.

    This means the frequency of mesons decaying into strange quarks during the LHC proton-collision tests fell a little below the expected frequency. “The tension here is that, with a 2.5 sigma [or standard deviation from the normal decay rate], either the data is off by a little bit, the theory is off by a little bit, or it’s a hint of something beyond the standard model,” Klein said. “I would say, naïvely, one of the first two is correct.”

    To Klein, this variance is inevitable considering the high volume of data run by computers for LHC operations. “With Petabyte-(1015 bytes)-sized datasets from the LHC, and with modern computers, we can make a very large number of measurements of different quantities,” Klein said. “The LHC has produced many hundreds of results. Statistically, some of them are expected to show 2.5 sigma fluctuations.” Klein noted that particle physicists usually wait for a 5-sigma fluctuation before crying wolf — corresponding to roughly a 1-in-3.5-million fluctuation in data [physics.org].

    These latest anomalous observations do not exist in a vacuum. “The interesting aspect of the two taken in combination is how aligned they are with other anomalous measurements of processes involving B mesons that had been made in previous years,” Dr. Tevong You, co-author of the study and junior research fellow in theoretical physics at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, told Futurism. “These independent measurements were less clean but more significant. Altogether, the chance of measuring these different things and having them all deviate from the Standard Model in a consistent way is closer to 1 in 16000 probability, or 4 sigma,” Tevong said.

    Extending the Standard Model

    Barring statistical or theoretical errors, Tevong suspects that the anomalies mask the presence of entirely new particles, called leptoquarks or Z prime particles. Inside bottom mesons, quantum excitations of new particles could be interfering with normal decay frequency. In the study, researchers conclude that an upgraded LHC could confirm the existence of new particles, making a major update to the Standard Model in the process.

    “It would be revolutionary for our fundamental understanding of the universe,” said Tevong. “For particle physics […] it would mean that we are peeling back another layer of Nature and continuing on a journey of discovering the most elementary building blocks. This would have implications for cosmology, since it relies on our fundamental theories for understanding the early universe,” he added. “The interplay between cosmology and particle physics has been very fruitful in the past. As for dark matter, if it emerges from the same new physics sector in which the Zprime or leptoquark is embedded, then we may also find signs of it when we explore this new sector.”

    The Power to Know

    So far, scientists at the LHC have only observed ghosts and anomalies hinting at particles that exist at higher energy levels. To prove their existence, physicists “need to confirm the indirect signs […], and that means being patient while the LHCb experiment gathers more data on B decays to make a more precise measurement,” Tevong said.

    CERN/LHCb

    “We will also get an independent confirmation by another experiment, Belle II, that should be coming online in the next few years. After all that, if the measurement of B decays still disagrees with the predictions of the Standard Model, then we can be confident that something beyond the Standard Model must be responsible, and that would point towards leptoquarks or Zprime particles as the explanation,” he added.

    To establish their existence, physicists would then aim to produce the particles in colliders the same way Bottom mesons or Higgs bosons are produced, and watch them decay. “We need to be able to see a leptoquark or Zprime pop out of LHC collisions,” Tevong said. “The fact that we haven’t seen any such exotic particles at the LHC (so far) means that they may be too heavy, and more energy will be required to produce them. That is what we estimated in our paper: the feasibility of directly discovering leptoquarks or Zprime particles at future colliders with higher energy.”

    Quantum Leap for the LHC

    Seeking out new particles in the LHC isn’t a waiting game. The likelihood of observing new phenomena is directly proportional to how many new particles pop up in collisions. “The more the particle appears the higher the chances of spotting it amongst many other background events taking place during those collisions,” Tevong explained. For the purposes of finding new particles, he likens it to searching for a needle in a haystack; it’s easier to find a needle if the haystack is filled with them, as opposed to one. “The rate of production depends on the particle’s mass and couplings: heavier particles require more energy to produce,” he said.

    This is why Tevong and co-authors B.C. Allanach and Ben Gripaios recommend either extending the LHC loop’s length, thus reducing the amount of magnetic power needed to accelerate particles, or replacing the current magnets with stronger ones.

    According to Tevong, the CERN laboratory is slated to keep running the LHC in present configuration until mid-2030s. Afterwards, they might upgrade the LHC’s magnets, roughly doubling its strength. In addition to souped-up magnets, the tunnel could see an enlargement from present 27 to 100 km (17 to 62 miles). “The combined effect […] would give about seven times more energy than the LHC,” Tevong said. “The timescale for completion would be at least in the 2040s, though it is still too early to make any meaningful projections.”

    If the leptoquark or Z prime anomalies are confirmed, the Standard Model has to change, Tevong reiterates. “It is very likely that it has to change at energy scales directly accessible to the next generation of colliders, which would guarantee us answers,” he added. While noting that there’s no telling if dark matter has anything to do with the physics behind Zprimes or leptoquarks, the best we can do is seek “as many anomalous measurements as possible, whether at colliders, smaller particle physics experiments, dark matter searches, or cosmological and astrophysical observations,” he said. “Then the dream is that we may be able to form connections between various anomalies that can be linked by a single, elegant theory.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:00 am on October 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Futurism,   

    From Futurism: “NSA Warns of the Dangers of Quantum Computing” 

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    Futurism

    Cryptography in the Post-Quantum Era

    The super-secretive National Security Agency (NSA) is sounding an alarm: beware the code-breaking power of the coming quantum computer revolution.

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    And when the NSA is worried about something, we should all be worried.

    The Orwellian-sounding Information Assurance Directorate at the NSA released a Q&A-style memorandum last month, which bears the unwieldy title of “Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite and Quantum Computing FAQ.” It’s aimed at government departments and private sector contractors whose business is storing and safeguarding sensitive information.

    The purpose of the document is really to warn of the perceived threats of quantum computing, whose processing power will eventually defeat all “classical” encryption algorithms, and make current attempts at information security hopelessly inadequate.

    However, it’s more of a long-range issue.

    Quantum computing is still in its infancy, and it may be decades before such computers even have the computational wherewithal to tackle advanced cryptographic problems.

    Still, the NSA feels it’s best to be prepared, and plan ahead for any contingency that might arise.

    “The long lifetime of equipment in the military and many kinds of critical infrastructures…means that many of our customers and suppliers are required to plan protections that will be good enough to defeat any technologies that might arise within a few decades,” explains the NSA memo.

    “Many experts predict a quantum computer capable of effectively breaking public key cryptography within that timeframe, and therefore NSA believes it is important to address that concern.”


    “Quantum Resistant Cryptography”

    We’re a long way off from our first fully operational quantum computer, but there have been some significant advances in the field in recent years. Every week seems to bring news of a novel breakthrough, either in the technological hardware needed to make quantum computing a reality or in the weird world of subatomic particles that will serve such computers as “software.”

    The beauty of a quantum computer, especially when it comes to breaking encryption algorithms, is that by utilizing so-called “qubits,” or “quantum bits,” it’s capable of performing immense computations, and far swifter than today’s fastest supercomputers. It’s actually capable of executing multiple high-level computations at the same time, which pretty much means that today’s most sophisticated encryption techniques—developed for “classical” or binary computing—haven’t a chance against a dedicated quantum computer.

    And this knowledge has undoubtedly caused the number of Prilosec prescriptions at the NSA to skyrocket.

    Luckily for the furtive spy agency, the computational power required to crack current cryptography ranges into the hundreds of millions of qubits—far beyond even the most sanguine projections for quantum computing in the near future. And the authors of the memo hope that within the next decade, the agency will have at its disposal a number of options for “quantum resistant cryptography,” or “algorithms that are resistant to cryptographic attacks from both classical and quantum computers.”

    Whatever the case, it’s certain that the threats to privacy and information security will only multiply in the coming decades, and that data encryption will proceed in lockstep with new technological advances.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 7:53 am on October 8, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    From Futurism: “First Contact With Extraterrestrials Might Be a Very Good Thing” 

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    Futurism

    March 16, 2017 [Another plum comes to social media.]
    Neil C. Bhavsar

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    Getty Images

    The Debate

    When many people look at the stars, they see a vast, unbound infinity that fills them with a feeling that’s difficult to describe but impossible to forget. That feeling pushes humanity to want to explore the great unknown reaches of space in the hopes of discovering that we aren’t alone in it.

    But let’s assume for one moment that extraterrestrial life does exist. Should we really be trying to contact it?

    Some view the idea of reaching out to extraterrestrials as dangerous. In fact, Stephen Hawking made a strong point against the idea of making contact by comparing it to the Native Americans’ first encounter with Christopher Columbus and the European explorers, a situation that “didn’t turn out so well” for the former civilization. Hawking went on to note that advanced alien life could be “vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”

    While that does sound like it could be a possibility, not everyone agrees with Hawking. In fact, many have equally convincing arguments in support of contact with aliens.

    Nothing to Lose

    To some, the question is a no-brainer. Why wouldn’t we want to meet other intelligent lifeforms? That’s the thought shared by the people at the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute.

    SETI Institute

    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA

    Laser SETI, the future of SETI Institute research

    SETI@home, BOINC project at UC Berkeley Space Science Lab

    [Not a part of the SETI Institute.]

    In fact, SETI is now far more proactive in its search for alien life than ever before.

    Initially, the organization focused on passively looking for signals indicating signs of intelligent life, but now it is taking action in the form of METI (Messaging Extra Terrestrial Intelligence).

    METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) International has announced plans to start sending signals into space

    METI International sends greetings to specific locations in space in the hopes of alerting alien astronomers of our existence.

    Though Hawking and others worry that our interstellar friendship search will lead to the annihilation or subjugation of our species as a whole, Douglas Vakoch, the president of METI International and a professor in the Department of Clinical Psychology at the California Institute for Integral Studies, strongly disagrees with this assertion. He believes that claims that we should hide our existence as a species are unfounded. After all, we have already leaked nearly 100 years of transmissions from radio and television broadcasts as electromagnetic radiation.

    Vakoch goes on to note an inconsistency in Hawking’s reasoning. He asserts that any civilizations able to travel between stars will absolutely have the ability to pick up our “leaked” signals. By that logic, they must already be aware of our existence and are simply waiting for us to make the first move. Vakoch urges us to test the Zoo Hypothesis and the Fermi Paradox through standard peer-review methods, insisting that we target nearby star systems 20 or 30 light-years away with repeat messages to generate a testable hypothesis within a few decades.

    NASA estimates that there are 40 billion habitable planets in our galaxy. While he strongly urges caution in making first contact, even Hawking is curious as to whether any of those planets beyond our solar system host life. To that end, he has launched a $100 million initiative to seek out life.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

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    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    If we ever do find extraterrestrial life, either through Hawking’s search, SETI, or any of the number of other projects in the works, we might just want to take a beat before saying “Hello.”

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 3:31 pm on July 1, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Futurism, The future of Fusion energy   

    From Futurism: “MIT Scientist Asserts That We Will Have Fusion Energy by 2030” 

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    Futurism

    MIT Scientist Asserts That We Will Have Fusion Energy by 2030

    Earl Marmar, MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak fusion project, said that we could potentially have nuclear fusion powering electric grids by the 2030s — that is, if we continue to pursue research aggressively.

    Fusion on the Horizon

    In the continuous pursuit of a truly renewable and clean energy source, nothing compares to nuclear fusion. Although scientists have already found ways to harness the energy from the reaction that powers stars, it hasn’t been an easy feat. Despite the advances in research pertaining to nuclear fusion, there still isn’t a stable — not to mention cost-efficient — way to power the electric grid with it.

    According to the head of MIT’s Alcator C-Mod tokamak fusion project Earl Marmar, we may not have to wait long. Speaking to Inverse, Marmar said that we could potentially have nuclear fusion powering electric grids by the 2030s — that is, if we’re dedicated to continued research. “I think fusion energy on the grid by 2030 is certainly within reach by this point,” Marmar said. “2030 is probably aggressive, but I don’t think it’s wildly out of range.” This would be a timetable similar to what a Canadian collective is currently working towards.

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    Alcator C-Mod tokamak, no longer active.

    The physics of nuclear fusion is actually something we understand pretty well at this point and it isn’t too hard to explain. At the most basic level, it’s the reverse of nuclear fission. In other words, instead of splitting atoms to release energy in fission, nuclear fusion combines small hydrogen atoms into a plasma that produces energy. In fact, that plasma produces several times more energy than what fission produces. This can’t just happen anywhere, though: it requires an environment with temperatures over 30 million degrees Celsius.

    Tinkering with Technology

    MIT’s tokamak reactor — named for its donut-shaped chamber — is no longer active. But, its more than 20 years of experience in fusion technology has left us with enough data to figure out how to sustain fusion reaction. That’s what we still don’t understand about using fusion: not knowing how to sustain is the only thing holding us back, according to Marmar. “So we know that fusion works; we know that the nuclear physics works. There are no questions from the nuclear physics,” he explained. “There are questions left on the technology side.”

    There have been solutions proposed to to stabilize nuclear fusion, many of which are currently in the works. Marmar mentioned two of them in his interview: Tokamak Energy in the U.K. opted to decrease the size of the donut hole in their reactor to harness more plasma.

    3
    Tokamak Energy aims to accelerate the development of fusion energy by combining two emerging technologies – spherical tokamaks and high-temperature superconductors. No image credit.

    The other effort comes from MIT where researchers have been working on increasing the strength of the magnetic field that sustains the plasma. An international effort funded by 35 countries is also working on ITER, the world’s largest fusion experiment.

    ITER Tokamak ITER Tokamak in Saint-Paul-lès-Durance, which is in southern France

    For Marmar, the pressure exists even outside the reactors. “We need to get going, because the need for fusion energy is very urgent, specifically in view of climate change,” he told Inverse. He thinks there’s still room to push nuclear fusion further — and if we don’t at least try, it could delay progress by another decade. Marmar does concede that even if there’s committed research, the 2030s still could be a fairly aggressive timeline to adhere to. Of course, a little pressure and healthy competition to meet a deadline might be just the motivation that’s needed.

    [Nothing here on Wendlestein 7-X stellarator

    Wendelstgein 7-X stellarator, built in Greifswald, Germany

    Strange lack of coverage.]

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 5:20 pm on March 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Futurism, Quantum computers use quantum bits (or qubits), ,   

    From Futurism: “This Startup Plans to Revolutionize Quantum Computing Technology Faster Than Ever” 

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    Futurism

    3.30.17
    Dom Galeon

    Investor Interest

    Since Rigetti Computing launched three years ago, the Berekely and Fremont-based startup has attracted a host of investors — including private American venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz (also known as A16Z). As of this week, Rigetting Computing has raised a total of $64 million after successfully hosting a Series A and Series B round of funding.

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    The startup is attracting investors primarily because it promises to revolutionize quantum computing technology: “Rigetti has assembled an impressive team of scientists and engineers building the combination of hardware and software that has the potential to finally unlock quantum computing for computational chemistry, machine learning and much more,” Vijay Pande, a general partner at A16Z, said when the fundraising was announced.

    Quantum Problem Solving

    Quantum computers are expected to change computing forever in large part due to their speed and processing power. Instead of processing information the way existing systems do — relying on bits of 0s and 1s operating on miniature transistors — quantum computers use quantum bits (or qubits) that can both be a 0 or a 1 at the same time. This is thanks to a quantum phenomenon called superposition. In existing versions of quantum computers, this has been achieved using individual photons.

    “Quantum computing will enable people to tackle a whole new set of problems that were previously unsolvable,” said Chad Rigetti, the startup’s founder and CEO. “This is the next generation of advanced computing technology. The potential to make a positive impact on humanity is enormous.” This translates to computing system that are capable of handling problems deemed too difficult for today’s computers. Such applications could be found everywhere from advanced medical research to even improved encryption and cybersecurity.

    How is Rigetti Computing planning to revolutionize the technology? For starters, they’re building a quantum computing platform for artificial intelligence and computational chemistry. This can help overcome the logistical challenges that currently plague quantum computer development. They also have an API for quantum computing in the cloud, called Forest, that’s recently opened up private beta testing.

    Rigetti expects it will be at least two more years before their technology can be applied to real world problems. But for interested investors, investing in such a technological game-changer sooner rather than later makes good business sense.

    See the full article here .

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