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The Complexity Conundrum
Resolving the black hole firewall paradox—by calculating what a real astronaut would compute at the black hole's edge.

Quantum Dream Time
Defining a ‘quantum clock’ and a 'quantum ruler' could help those attempting to unify physics—and solve the mystery of vanishing time.

Our Place in the Multiverse
Calculating the odds that intelligent observers arise in parallel universes—and working out what they might see.

Sounding the Drums to Listen for Gravity’s Effect on Quantum Phenomena
A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

Watching the Observers
Accounting for quantum fuzziness could help us measure space and time—and the cosmos—more accurately.

January 18, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Retrocausality, Terrorism, and How to Write Bestsellers: New Podcast is live! [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali wrote on Dec. 14, 2016 @ 17:18 GMT
LIGO/A. Simmonet
The latest edition of the podcast is now up. (For those expecting our regular December countdown of the year’s top physics stories with Ian Durham, do not fear: I will be posting that too, later this month.)

I recorded a couple of the interviews featured in this edition back at FQXi’s meeting in Banff, back in August. As well as the main talks (videos of which are constantly being added to our Youtube channel), we also have a “lightning round,” in which participants have a few minutes to talk about their latest research. Two of those, in particular, caught my attention, so I asked the speakers to explain a bit more for the podcast.

Free Podcast

Retrocausal reality with Ken Wharton; tips for FQXi's new essay contest; the Breakthrough prizes in physics; the science of terrorism, with Peter Byrne; & Carlo Rovelli gives a brief lesson on writing a physics bestseller.


Go to full podcast

First up is physicist Ken Wharton, of San Jose State University, who talks about retrocausality—the idea that at the microlevel, events in the future can influence the past. This time-twisting view of reality might help solve some quantum paradoxes, if we’re willing to give up our everyday notions of cause and effect. Listen to Wharton to find out more about why some physicists are taking this so seriously. You can also read more about the topic in this profile of quantum physicist Matt Leifer, who is also delving into retrocausality, by Kate Becker.

If that wasn’t provocative enough, journalist Peter Byrne’s lightning talk was called “The Science of ISIS”—which certainly made the audience sit up and take notice. In his podcast interview, he explains why this topic, which he is researching for a new book, fitted well with one of the themes of the conference, “the Physics of the Observer.”

We should also congratulate Byrne because he recently won a gold award in the Kavli Science Journalism awards.

Two other FQXi members, string theorists Joe Polchinski and Andrew Strominger, along with Cumrun Vafa, were honoured in recent weeks, sharing the $3 million Breakthrough prize for Fundamental Physics. Polchinski was nominated in part for his work on the firewall paradox; with colleagues, he realised that if quantum theory is correct, then black holes are surrounded by a firewall, a ring of high energy particles (contradicting general relativity), or there is no firewall, but quantum theory is wrong. The LIGO collaboration also won a special Breakthrough prize for their discovery of gravitational waves generated by the merger of two black holes, earlier this year.

In the news round-up, Brendan and I chat about the Breakthrough winners—as well as a new piece of research that brings both Breakthrough physics awards together: Cosmologist Niayesh Afshordi recently carried out an analysis looking for echoes of the gravitational wave signals, which would signal the breakdown of general relativity at the black hole’s edge, its event horizon, which could even, he says, be signs of a firewall, or other exotic physics. As I wrote in a news article about the work for Nature, Afshordi’s team has found tentative signs of such echoes—potentially the first signs of general relativity unravelling. You can read more about that in my story, "LIGO Black Hole Echoes Hint at General-Relativity Breakdown."

Plus Brendan offers more information and tips for this year’s $40,000 essay contest, “Wandering Towards a Goal.”

And finally, Carlo Rovelli chats to reporter Colin Stuart about how to write an international bestseller, like his phenomenally successful “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics.” You can also read Colin’s profile of Rovelli, and his work looking for observational signs of loop quantum gravity, in the form of black holes turning into white holes, in the article, “The Spacetime Revolutionary.”


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Pentcho Valev wrote on Dec. 14, 2016 @ 21:00 GMT
"As I wrote in a news article about the work for Nature, Afshordi’s team has found tentative signs of such echoes—potentially the first signs of general relativity unravelling. You can read more about that in my story, "LIGO Black Hole Echoes Hint at General-Relativity Breakdown.""

Steve Giddings is hypocritical in this paper. He is looking for breakdown of Einstein's relativity in the...

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Pentcho Valev replied on Dec. 15, 2016 @ 15:30 GMT
Werner Hofmann's Dream to See Einstein Wrong Fulfilled

Werner Hofmann: "My dream is to demonstrate that Einstein was wrong" 10:35: "My dream discovery is to really demonstrate that the speed of light varies with energy..."

My comment on YouTube:

That the speed of light is variable, not constant, becomes obvious as one carefully analyses the Doppler effect. When the initially stationary observer starts moving towards the light source with speed v, the frequency he measures shifts from f=c/λ to f'=(c+v)/λ. This means that either the speed of the light relative to the observer shifts from c to c'=c+v, or the motion of the observer somehow changes the wavelength of the incoming light - from λ to λ'=λc/(c+v). The latter scenario is absurd - the motion of the observer is obviously unable to change the wavelength of the incoming light. Conclusion: The speed of light is different to differently moving observers (varies with the speed of the observer), in violation of Einstein's relativity:

"Thus, the moving observer sees a wave possessing the same wavelength [...] but a different frequency [...] to that seen by the stationary observer."

"Moving Observer. Now suppose the source is fixed but the observer is moving towards the source, with speed v. In time t, ct/λ waves pass a fixed point. A moving point adds another vt/λ. So f'=(c+v)/λ."

"Let's say you, the observer, now move toward the source with velocity vO. You encounter more waves per unit time than you did before. Relative to you, the waves travel at a higher speed: v'=v+vO. The frequency of the waves you detect is higher, and is given by: f'=v'/λ=(v+vO)/λ."

Pentcho Valev

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Pentcho Valev replied on Dec. 17, 2016 @ 16:00 GMT
Nowadays all sane theoreticians know that Einstein's 1905 false constant-speed-of-light postulate and its idiotic consequence, Einstein's relative time, are "the root of all the evil" in physics. But they also know that it would be suicidal to reject the falsehood. The dilemma is unbearable:

"But the researchers said they spent a lot of time working on a theory that wouldn't destabilise our understanding of physics. "The whole of physics is predicated on the constancy of the speed of light," Joao Magueijo told Motherboard. "So we had to find ways to change the speed of light without wrecking the whole thing too much."

Pentcho Valev

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Pentcho Valev replied on Dec. 18, 2016 @ 20:30 GMT
Julia Shaw in Scientific American: "I'm a Scientist, and I Don't Believe in Facts. They say that we have found ourselves in a world lost to emotion, irrationality, and a weakening grasp on reality. That lies don't faze us, and knowledge doesn't impress us. That we are post-truth, post-fact. But, is this actually a bad thing? I'm a factual relativist. I abandoned the idea of facts and "the truth"...

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Anonymous wrote on Dec. 14, 2016 @ 23:16 GMT
From Data -- Neutrinos are Related to Geometry Unique Particles The positively suggested by empirical data equation for neutrino mixing angles

cos2 2θ12 + cos2 2θ23 + cos2 2θ13 = 1+ sin2 2θ13

surely defines a beyond the SM fundamentally new physics flavor neutrino feature – duality relation at leading approximation, sin2 2θ13 = 0, between neutrino mixing angle bimaximal hierarchy and Euclidean 3-space geometric symmetry bimaximal hierarchy of oscillating neutrino momentum-vector direction angles in a singled-out by geometry coordinate system, Z-axis parallel to the momentum vector. It is a first-time observed connection between neutrino “inner” quantities (mixing angles in flavor oscillating neutrino beam) and its “outer” quantities (neutrino beam momentum vector in Euclidean 3-space); it is also a connection between neutrino mixing quantum mechanics and geometry.

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Osvaldo Domann wrote on Dec. 15, 2016 @ 06:38 GMT
Einstein made a joke when he postulated different time units for different inertial reference frames. He waited all his life to see if one of the so intelligent scientists would recognize the joke. He is still waiting. Please have a look at

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Dec. 18, 2016 @ 22:20 GMT
Concerning terrorism I found growth of annual population data

for more responsible and for less stable countries per 1000 inhabitants (year):

Germany -1.5 (1980)

Austria -0.2 (1980)

Danmark 0.3 (1980)

Sverige 0.7 (1980)

UK 1.7 (1980)

USA 7.1 (1980)

China 11.7 (1979)

Pakistan 24.0 (1968)

Afghanistan 24.1 (1978)

Sudan 27.4 (1975-80)

Somalia 27.9 (1975-80)

Niger 29.0 (1975-80)

Nigeria 32.0 (1975-80)

Syria 32.3 (1975/80)

Yemen 33.9 (1975-80)

Iraq 34.2 (1975-80)

Nikaragua 34.4 (1975-80)

Libya 34.6 (1975-80)

Kuweit 36.7 (1977)

Kenia 38.4 (1975-80)


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Georgina Woodward wrote on Dec. 19, 2016 @ 06:31 GMT
Rather than showing retro-causality: the evidence suggests the electrons, or other particles, are something interacting with and altering their environment; making waves. Giving a cumulative manifestation resulting from the entirety of behaviour and its effect.

In the double slit experiment waves are spreading out from the vibration of the particle and apparatus. Upon reaching the double slits the wave disturbance of the medium will pass though leading to interference of the waves giving an interference pattern.

That interference will also feedback onto electron particle position. This would explain why electrons fired individually through the apparatus will build up a wave interference pattern built from the detected positions of the individual electrons. The electron itself is not a wave, but environmental feedback onto momentum and final detected position results in perception of a wave like phenomenon, in perceived image reality. This experiment provides experiential evidence for a medium of transmission of sub atomic particles and light in an unobserved Object reality.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Dec. 19, 2016 @ 17:00 GMT
Post-truth or post-sanity world?

Nature: "The Oxford Dictionaries named 'post-truth' as their 2016 Word of the Year. It must sound alien to scientists. Science's quest for knowledge about reality presupposes the importance of truth, both as an end in itself and as a means of resolving problems. How could truth become passé? [...] Post-truth refers to blatant lies being routine across...

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jun. 27, 2017 @ 16:18 GMT
All of the philosophers and physicists who have ever lived have been wrong about the real Universe because they failed to consider whether or not there could be only one verifiable universal physical condition. They compounded this lack of consideration by trying to incorporate complex, finite abstract mathematical systems into their thought processes in order to try to produce some sort of predictable reliability in the seeming chaotic diversity of reality.

Obviously, Nature must have provided the simplest visible physical construction obtainable. The real Universe consists only of one singular visible unified infinite surface occurring in one singular infinite dimension that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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