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Science

Is The Fabric of Space-Time Woven With Noise? 171

Posted by timothy
from the thinking-about-this-may-liquify-your-brain dept.
Grubert writes: "Some Australian mathematicians have found a way to explain many deep problems in fundamental physics using mathematical models based on noise. (This statement is slightly inaccurate; read the New Scientist article."

Given the justified head-scratching that accompanies any investigation into the origin, age, weight and dimensionality of the universe, and considering that this theory bears on each of these, it's exciting stuff. Could this be the beginning of a breakthrough in our understanding of /everything/?

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Is The Fabric of Space-Time Woven With Noise?

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  • NewScientist

    Server Unavailable

    Sorry, but New Scientist Online is temporarily unavailable due to technical problems.

    Please try again later.

    Thank you,

    The New Scientist Web team



    Looks like we've been had...

    Isn't space-time better explained through knot equations?
  • by Rei (128717)
    Wow, a pre-emptive slashdot effect! The site was down before people even checked slashdot ;)

    - Rei
  • Whats funny is, that they can't give me what is probably 40kB of text, but they can send a completely useless image to my browser. Hm...
  • (The article is unavailable, so I make this comment in blissful ignorance.)

    If there is noise in the fabric of space-time, then surely it is carried by a set of as yet undiscovered particles.

    And the bast names for them are

    firstposton,
    natalieporton,
    hotgritson, et cetera.
  • Yes, it feels good to be vindicated after all these years.

    -A drummer
  • Their main web site appears to be up, at least the
    sattic pages. Any link that seems to point to
    something dynamic is down.

    -John
    I eat dog. Free DVDs [opendvd.org]. Horray!
  • Yeah,

    you

    tell

    those

    fscking

    AC's.

  • by Duxup (72775) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:46PM (#1233091) Homepage
    I've always been a bit suspicious of some theories in physics (granted due to the /. effect I haven't been able to evaluate this one as of yet) that seem to patch holes in other theories. So many new theories now seem to be created to fit together questions about other theories I sometimes wonder if such fields aren't in danger of falling into themselves and just becoming a collaborative attempt to fulfill certain beliefs. I remember studying previous beliefs in history about physics or any science for that matter, and I always wonder if our current theories won't be pointed out as just as lame as past ones are now. Granted I'm far from a physicist and this is just my humble opinion.
  • by Binx Bolling (60970) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:49PM (#1233094)
    The whole rag is filled with pseudo-science news. I was interviewed by one of their reporters. They take ordinary science, jazz it up into something star-trekky and unrecognizable, munge their quotes, sensationalize out the wazoo, etc. Maybe in a former life it was a respectable British journal. These days it has sunk as low as the rest of British journalism.
  • I think that this could be a reasonable description of, don't say it, not yet, no please, no, no, no, dark matter. Are we all okay still? Maybe God is a bunch of dark matter. I thought NUONs were the elementary particles...
  • so THAT'S what those voices in my head are!!
  • Your doubts may be something like those of creationists who have are ignorant of modern genetics, molecular biology, palaentology, developmental biology and evolutionary studies. Because of your own ignorance, perhaps you should skeptical about your skepticism.
  • by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @07:57PM (#1233102) Homepage
    Chris Langan, the Long Island bar bouncer with an IQ of 190+, puts forth his "theory of everything" (or, in this case, a summary):

    The CTMU [megafoundation.org]


    His misuse of the term "Cantor's Set", among other things, is annoying, but it is still an ambitious attempt to explain the universe. Maybe this will tide the bored people over until New Scientist recovers from being slashdotted ;)

  • Well, I certainly hope that in the future our current theories are considered 'lame', otherwise physicists of the future will be out of a job.

    Any scientific theory is just a model of reality. We continually refine these, but at any moment we try to use the most useful one, ie the one that explains the most and allows future theorizing. We accept that it isn't the truth, but you gotta work from something. Unfortunately science is sometimes held back by personal ambition/egoism, but I think these problems are inherent in any human endeavour. But when evidence is found to contradict these theories, the theories are eventually rethought.

    One problem with some TOE (theories of everything) is that they have so many parameters that while certain ranges of those parameters are disproved, the theory as a whole may never be disproved.

    The point is - the scientific method works, eventually.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @08:05PM (#1233109)
    Scientist 1: I think I can describe the fabric of space-time mathematically.

    Scientist 2: Can you keep the noise down, I'm trying to study.

    Scientist 1: That's just it, man. Noise.

    Scientist 2: Be quiet, please.

    Universe: LALALALA LAAAAA LA LALALALA LALALALA LALALLALALALALLA LALALALALAAAAAAAALA LALAAA LA!

  • by Baldrson (78598) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @08:07PM (#1233110) Homepage Journal
    When Shannon extracted the unit of information from the laws of thermodynamics, he helped people understand that statistical laws are interwoven with the fundamentals of natural philosphy in a way that we sometimes find confusing. There is a good deal of "bit" in "it".

    Now next stage has been reached where the core laws of quantum mechanics (the weird ones) have been shown to be theorems of a statistical theory that includes negative probabilities, rather than "laws of nature" per se, in the same way that Shannon's information theory is properly thought of as a domain of statistical philosophy rather than an a priori natural phenomenon. [stanford.edu]

    It is reasonable to suspect that many profound consequent discoveries, such as those reported in this article, are waiting to be unearthed as the depth of weird statistical philosophy sinks in.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This theory reminds me of what John Archibald Wheeler came to call "quantum foam" (you do know your quantum mechanics - don't you?). The idea was that at extremely small distances (known as the Planck length), the concepts of space and time break down into a kind of soupy foam. The idea that a kind of chaotic froth or quantum noise is at the heart of physics has a long history.It would be interesting to read the article, but the stupid site is down. Personally I read SciAm, not New Scientist.
  • Given that random noise is an inherent component in everything around us, am I really that surprised? There's no way to totally get rid of it, although there are many minimization techniques to design a system with minimum noise. Even an ordinary resistor has a calculable and definite amount of voltage noise related to its resistance and temperature, it doesn't have to be connected to anything.

    I haven't read the thing yet, 'web server down'. Oops. Does anyone know what type of server this thing was on? Less than 30 posts are here on slashdot and the link's already slashdotted.
  • by Gutzalpus (121791) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @08:22PM (#1233114)
    A new study from this week's New Slashdot Science reveals that not only are trolls inescapable in /. message boards, but that they are actually woven into the "fabric" of slashdot itself, due to unpredictable interactions of certain aspects of the source code.

    It is believed that this theory could answer many of the questions of current /. users. Such questions as:

    1. Why are there so many useless, garbage posts?
    2. Why do people persist in clogging the discussions with pure crap?

    These questions become irrelevant and easily answered once it is realized that this sort of behavior is innate to slashdot and cannot be stopped. See newscientist.com [newscientist.com] for more information on this and other incredible scientific developments. Additionally please see Weekly World News [weeklyworldnews.com] for additional updates.
  • Hello,

    I've got a basement network that overtime grew pretty large and completely blew up on admistration issues once the 386 beowulf cluster was put into place.

    I have very little time to solve most of the problems on my 198.169.0.x network, thus I called into my employment a very special node on my server. Yes /dev/urandom is now my adminstrator, after a sucessful kernel patch and modifications to my distribtion so that root can only be /dev/urandom, I have found that server problems are now being resolved on it's own and that the uptime has remained a constantantly universally random number.

    In time I would instruct my cluster to create a HOWTO on this procedure.
    --
  • You are (a) wrong and (b) biased. (a) New Scientist calls itself a "pop science" magazine. It is not a scientific journal; it is a magazine which puts important scientific discoveries into lay-man's terms. You misrecognize this conversion from technical to lay-man's language as "jazz[ing] it up" and "sensationalize[ation]". (b) "As low as the rest of British journalism" ?! Perhaps you would like to give your definition of "British journalism" - I read both The Times (London) and The New York Times regularly, and without a doubt the former is the better written of the two.
  • by Kris_J (10111)
    Maybe there's another /. in an alternate universe that actually posts stories in a timely fashion...
  • by doomy (7461) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @08:32PM (#1233118) Homepage Journal
    From the HHGTTG,


    The principle of generating small amounts of finite improbability
    by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Bambleweeny 57 Sub-
    Meson Brain to an atomic vector plotter suspended in a strong
    Brownian Motion producer (say a nice hot cup of tea) were of
    course well understood - and such generators were often used to
    break the ice at parties by making all the molecules in the
    hostess's undergarments leap simultaneously one foot to the left,
    in accordance with the Theory of Indeterminacy.

    Many respectable physicists said that they weren't going to stand
    for this - partly because it was a debasement of science, but
    mostly because they didn't get invited to those sort of parties.

    Another thing they couldn't stand was the perpetual failure they
    encountered in trying to construct a machine which could generate
    the infinite improbability field needed to flip a spaceship
    across the mind-paralysing distances between the furthest stars,
    and in the end they grumpily announced that such a machine was
    virtually impossible.

    Then, one day, a student who had been left to sweep up the lab
    after a particularly unsuccessful party found himself reasoning
    this way:

    If, he thought to himself, such a machine is a virtual
    impossibility, then it must logically be a finite improbability.
    So all I have to do in order to make one is to work out exactly
    how improbable it is, feed that figure into the finite
    improbability generator, give it a fresh cup of really hot tea
    ... and turn it on!

    He did this, and was rather startled to discover that he had
    managed to create the long sought after golden Infinite
    Improbability generator out of thin air.

    It startled him even more when just after he was awarded the
    Galactic Institute's Prize for Extreme Cleverness he got lynched
    by a rampaging mob of respectable physicists who had finally
    realized that the one thing they really couldn't stand was a
    smartass.


    --
  • Couldn't be, because....

    <Futurama>Dark matter is so dense that a single pound of it weighs 10,000 pounds...</Futurama>

  • There have definitely been alot of attempts to discover some understandable consitency across various sciences and among various branches of physics. (most notably unified field theory) However, I don't really think that science has turned itself into that much of a selfsupporting web. Rather, the universe displays impressive properties of consistency and thus the incestuous nature of science is a necessary and logical product of that consistency. If the properties of the universe are symetrically recursive and predictable, then why shouldn't science, the study of those properties, behave simmilarly?
  • The thing is, the two theories (general relativity and quantum mechanics) are both observable, and we _have_ verified each of them to a really quite impressive degree of accuracy, the extent of which I totally forget. These are real things which, metaphorically, you can reach out and _touch_.

    However, they also provide contradictory results. for instance, relativity is deterministic (1 set of conditions produces 1 outcome) whereas quantum mechanics only predicts the probablility of events.

    This is why we have all of these new (and, sometimes, really darn cool) theories telling us that we're really made out of 31.5 dimensional knots in a sea of quantum noise floating in man's hat full of perfume alongside a single plum. :D

  • The universe does in fact revolve around me, but in the interest of reducing the complexity of the math involved, It is reasonable to assume that the earth and planets revolve around the sun, and that the "solar system", (an imaginary but useful mathematical artifact which appears only when the above assumption is used to simplify the problem) exists in one of the arms of a spiral "galaxy".

    The value of a theory lies in its ability to produce useful results. Ask an architect how often he uses a Lorentz transformation when calculating stress.
  • by Green Monkey (152750) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @08:45PM (#1233124)
    SLASHDOT CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH No. 1: Tux vs. the BSD daemon

    Announcer: Good evening and welcome to another exciting round of Slashdot Celebrity Deathmatch. We've got quite an exciting matchup for you tonight. In the left corner is our plucky but not-quite-GPL challenger, the BSD daemon!

    (The BSD daemon strikes a pose for the crowd. The crowd cheers.)

    Announcer: And in the right corner we have the most electrifying name in open source entertainment... the one, the only, TUX THE PENGUIN!

    (Silence)

    Announcer: ...but what's this? It seems that Tux isn't even in the ring.

    BSD Daemon: There's no one to fight here!

    (The crowd gasps)

    Announcer: This is highly peculiar. If Tux does not arrive within the next five minutes, he'll have to forfeit the match.

    BSD Daemon: And then we'll pour hot grits down his pants!

    (Tux finally enters the stadium, running. He's carrying a briefcase and a cell phone.)

    Tux: Hi, I just got back from posing for my new Linux Business icon. Sorry I'm late.

    BSD Daemon: Hey, what's with that? How come there's no BSD Business icon? LINUX BIAS!

    Tux: BSD sucks!

    BSD Daemon: No, Linux sucks!

    Tux: I said it first! By the way, the color scheme on your Slashdot section is really ugly.

    BSD Daemon: When we last met, you were the master and I was the apprentice. Now, the circle is complete. (his pitchfork lights up)

    Tux: (strikes martial arts pose) There can be only one!

    BSD Daemon: Ha! You don't have a chance against the power of my Naked And Petrified Ray!

    Tux: (rolls eyes) I don't even wear clothes. I'm already naked. Tee hee.

    BSD Daemon: No, you're wearing that tie.

    Tux: (looks down at his tie) Oops, so I am. (He pulls the tie off) Let's get ready to rumble!

    BSD Daemon: Can you smell what the daemon's cookin'?

    Tux: Na na na na na na. (starts putting mousse on his hair)

    BSD Daemon: What the hell are you doing?

    (Tux pulls his hair feathers up to form spikes)

    Tux: SUPAAAA HAAAADO! (He starts glowing and flies into the air)

    Announcer: Wow, it's Super Saiyajin Tux!

    Tux: I'll send you to /dev/null! Super Ultimate Reverse Neo Cross Dimension Magical Karma Blast!

    (Tux starts charging up a huge karma energy beam)

    Announcer: Uh-oh, this could be trouble for the daemon!

    BSD Daemon: Take this! (He hurls a huge tarball at Tux and connects. The tar gets all over Tux's feathers, preventing Tux from flying.)

    (Tux falls to the mat)

    Announcer: Ouch! What a fall!

    BSD Daemon: Code freeze! (BSD Daemon throws a ball of ice at Tux and freezes him in place)

    Announcer: Oh! It looks like Tux has been frozen by the BSD daemon's Code Freeze spell!

    BSD Daemon: I've got you now, penguin!

    (Suddenly, the SuSE chameleon runs out of the crowd and jumps into the ring)

    Announcer: Here comes the SuSE chameleon! Tag team!

    BSD Daemon: Hey! That's cheating!

    (The SuSE chameleon flicks his tongue out at the daemon's pitchfork, catches it, and pulls it out of the daemon's hands)

    SuSE Chameleon: Gotcha!

    BSD Daemon: Arrrgh! All, right, fine, I'll fight you without my pitchfork! All I need is my patented Drunken Daemon Kung Fu. I learned it from a NINJA! He ate pancakes, too.

    Crowd: Gasp! He patented it!

    (A horde of angry /. readers rushes into the ring and starts beating on the daemon.)

    Announcer: What a surprise! An angry mob is attempting to tear the daemon from limb to limb! We certainly don't condone this kind of senseless violence, but I just can't stop thinking about what it will do for our ratings!

    (While the BSD daemon is being attacked, the SuSE chameleon puts on the Mandrake magician hat and waves the wand)

    Crowd: Plunk your magic twanger, SuSEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!

    SuSE Chameleon: Release code! (he bops Tux on the head with the wand)

    (Tux comes out of stasis and starts charging up his karma blast again)

    (Meanwhile, BSD is still being attacked by the /. readers)

    BSD Daemon: Look! It's Jon Katz! (points randomlyinto the spectators)

    Angry Mob: Let's lynch him! (they run out of the ring and go looking for Katz)

    BSD Daemon: C'mon, I'll fight both of you at once.

    Tux: Eat my tie! (he fires his wave of karma energy at BSD. BSD gets moderated down to the mat.)

    Announcer: Wow! It looks like Tux moderated the daemon all the way down to -3! What a move!

    Tux: Suck it down! (TM ION Storm [uspto.gov])

    Announcer: That's it for today, folks, but stay tuned next week for Mozilla vs. Mecha-Go!Zilla. Don't miss it!

  • I myself have decoded the message. Its an encrypted communication from the creator of this universe. It is encryptred using some kind of powerful subquantum interaction propagation as the cypher, wuite interesting, id detail it in the column but id run out of room.

    But anyway, it says:
    'The Answer is 42'.

    So, looks like the guide was right after all.

    Course, thats 42 different base harmonics for the superstrings composing our usinverse, but hey, 42 is 42.

    As for other universes, or course they exists. Different harmonics and frequencies of the strings, which are really just the constraints on the formation of matter, lead to differnt types of large matter, like quarks and atoms and such.. most fo the harmonics lead to either gaseus type homogenous universes devoid of anything interesting, or tight big bang type singularities.. but on occasion, you will get some that SING.. just like our universe.. a perfect balance.. and capable of wild variety of endless porportions. Thus, the complexity nescessary for intelligence to form, and life to thrive is available in the substrate layer, with cprobability up to his work of organizing it all..

    Anyway, thats for the curious.
  • Well I don't know if this is what you are looking for, but check this [vogon.com] out.
  • Just some random noise to think about until newscientist sets MaxClients > 0...if these questions/observations have obvious/accepted answers (or not), please reply (flame away):

    • Pseudorandom number sequences always have some period because the algorithms that generate them run on a finite amount of tape. If your computer has an infinite tape, it can generate pseudorandom sequeunces with no period. Quantum noise is perfectly random and so has no period. Could quantum noise be generated on a computer with infinite tape? Another way to put this: could a purely random sequence be computed given some seed? (i.e., impossible to predict--without knowing the seed)
    • If above question answered positively, what are the implications for quantum computers (such as the universe)? Would they be real Turing Machines, as opposed to the mediocre, wannabe, we-shall-always-remain-finite-state-machines that are currently most popular?

    wow! pure quantum-mystical-pseudo-cosmo-cpu-babble! and i haven't even read penrose! (though permutation city was almost as hokey (still a cool book, though...))

    -----------------------------------------------

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I read the magazine article. The spooky thing about it's description of points with varying levels of interactive strengh, with connections to other points near and far, just sounds too much like a description of neural networks (real and artificial) to be a coincidence. So by my read, the universe they describe is an artifact of some external mind. The first scientific theory of God it seems.
  • P.S. As for the creator, he is a block of computational power which we cannot understand, that allows the various states of low level string interactions to be scaled to a mind bending level and the interactions as constraints within the hardware. Too bad its not aware that we exist.
  • I spent a good six hours (twelve total, but half of it was spent driving the full weight of my head into my keyboard) today trying to make C2Net's Stronghold and Allaire's JRun play nice together.

    On the plus side, I am much more familiar with Apache now, even 1.3.x versions that mysteriously cost more money but don't have autoconf and won't do Dynamic Shared Objects right.

    On the minus side, I was already screwed for time and this didn't help.

    So, for the first time in my life, a grin came to my face as I saw a site thrashed by the Slashdot hordes:

    http://www.newscientist.com/error-messages/jrund own.html

    JRunDown?

    Yeah, that's about right...I felt pretty damn jrunned down earlier today...

    Yours Truly,

    Dan Kaminsky
    DoxPara Research
    http://www.doxpara.com
  • Cool! Lets give god some aCiD and see what happens!!!!

    Only problem with your theory is that the physical laws are quite static, just chaotic.

    Minds however, are like a cypher, forever permutating into new configurations.

    So, it may be similiar in compleixty as the mind, but not composition.
  • Maybe they just didn't get the joke. :P

    I thought it was pretty damned funny. :)

  • If your computer has an infinite tape, it can generate pseudorandom sequeunces with no period.

    Nope, psuedo random numbers are based on linear congruential genereators, which will iterate through a given permutation, but will always have an end point, meaning they loop to the beggining of the permutation. Hance the seed function fo the rand() to modify the starting location in the sequence.

    Quantum noise is perfectly random and so has no period.

    We dont know that yet. If the period for quantum noise took 50 trillion years to iterate through at 10 trillion interations per second, then it would sure APPEAR random, but there is a difference.

    Another way to put this: could a purely random sequence be computed given some seed?

    Nope. Not if they are based on LCG's...

    what are the implications for quantum computers

    Massive search through a problem space in nanoseconds. This is real, but quite far from acutal implementation.
  • No, this is not noise - this is explanation of the universe. Seriously though, if I had a dollar for each "grand theory of everything" recently proposed, I would buy myself some new ski set..
  • You, sir do not belong listing on this respectable e-zine's messageboard. Moderators are there for a reason (YOU)!
  • I know that I probably shouldn't reply to a posting by someone who calls himself 'trollking', but I've heard this sort of thing too many times in too many places -- "Why are scientists wasting their time on [given scientific issue] when the world would be so much better if they concentrated on [more immediately applicable scientific issues].

    What has to be realized is that the scientists who are work on muons, leptons, HotGritsions, and the like are doing this because they weren't interested in working on [more immediately applicable scientific issues] and probably wouldn't be inclined to persue these issues even if the more theoretical science wasn't around to study.

    Or is it to be suggested that scientists should be forced by the government to work on mandated projects?
  • Hrmmm...sounds like an area of science about which very little is known. Kind of like quantum mechanics (although modern society has made advances in that area), but on the other extreme.
    =================================
  • by ruppel (82583) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @09:33PM (#1233147)
    Take the New Sciantist with a grain of salt. They are more of a popular than a science magazine and I usually read their stories only if there is really nothing else to do around work. The reason for my caevat is that about half a year ago they published a "revolutionary theory" that explains the universe as a quantized entity without the dimension of time, which pops up simply as a result of calculating most propable trajectories for particles. As a physics major, and to anyone who has taken at least one course of it at university level, it was, however, quite obvious that nothing else than an elaborate coordonate transformation was performed which effectively "hid" the time dimension. Not only was this article just one gigantic slight of hand but also the coordinate transformation itself was done badly with a huge amount of unneccessary variables. Beware of the New Scientist, go instead to www.SciAm.com and check out their feature articles on the possibility of a trip to mars (I wonder why this hasn't been on /.) with a price tag that B.G. could spit up anytime...
  • Nope. Not if they are based on LCG's...

    Could the size of the permutation be increased every once in a while and still maintain the properties of LCGs? With an infinite tape, a counter could be incremented with each generated number. When a multiple of a certain number (the period of the current permutation?) is reached, a larger permutation is used.

    And what about other generators? There's a funny one called Cliff Random Number Generator [wolfram.com] that produces random floats, taking logs of numbers. With an infinite tape, you could take out these log calculations to arbitrary precision (again, decided by a counter) to get a sequence that never repeats itself. If you want to make the sequence truly unpredicatable, you could also reverse the bit order before generating each number, so that least significant bits become most significant. I don't know the math behind sequences of chopped-logged-swapped numbers, but I don't see why in principle a non-periodic sequence that appears random could be generated.

    -----------------------------------------------

  • by pb (1020)
    Summary: Studies have shown that the fabric of the web is made of random noise. Evidence for this is consistent with the S/N ratio proven greater than 90%.

    Analysis:
    Proof for entropy is given by the growth of noise and signal decay recently associated with online forums such as slashdot, and the disappearance of content, such as New Scientist articles.

    Growth of noise as a number instead of a percentage or ratio is given by the number of Java, Flash, Image-intensive and framed sites now, which consume more bandwidth and consistently crash more web browsers every day.

    Alternatives: use gopher and get news from USENET.

    Disadvantages: You won't be K-K00L anymore.

    Conclusion: You can't win, you can't break even, and you can't get out of the game.
    ---
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [152.7.41.11].
  • You'll have to forgive him. The only "British Journalism" he's ever seen has "Page 3 Girls"...

    WireHead
  • I have been discovered, and you can discover me too. Just pour some of ME down your pants!
  • For 10 points: Name that tune!

    WireHead
  • Well, i dont have my cryptography book with me, but basically, your LCG is limited by its eqation. After all, the eqations are just interative feedback types that will always repeat. Unfortunately there is no way to extend their operation.

    What you may try, is a good cypher. An encryption algorithm is not truly a random sequence, but enough chained together and initialized with a large dataset (like a nice 50k file say) would yeild a very very very long string of random numbers. Not truly random, but without the key they would appear and act random for all intents and purposes. (the key to a good algorithm si the fact that you cant determine the key, or anything about the key based on the genereated cypher output).

    So, that would be something to look into. Of course, this would take massssssive CPU power as well. Its a trade off.

    I imgaine a few thousand blowfish cyphers at 448 bits in parrallel crunching on a dataset would yeild a stream of numbers long enough to fill a few terabytes.. perhapd a few orders of magnitude more.. who knows..

    but it would eb huge.
  • "There is a good deal of "bit" in "it"."

    I am sorry but don't you mean, there is a lot of
    "it" in "bit."

    move along.
  • Its a damn shame they dont have lynx on your side of the world.

    LynX r0x0rZ! and it makes you k00l
  • by fperez (99430) on Wednesday March 01, 2000 @10:28PM (#1233159)
    As for the article linked to in "the core laws of quantum mechanics ...":

    There's a slim chance of this not being a crackpot's work, but I seriously doubt it. Over the years I've seen a fair share of physics "outside geniuses" who've discovered something which radically transforms our world view and which every scientist before them had missed. Every single one of those has turned out to be a complete crackpot.

    Before you turn on the flamethrowers: yes, I'm fully aware that Einstein was a patent office clerk and not a university physicist at the time, but if you read any of his 1905 papers they are solid science from the first word to the last. This is not!

    A few tips:

    - It's too long (86 pages) and wordy, full of adjectives. Typical of crackpots in love with their own work but with zero experience in actual scientific writing.

    - These guys don't know how to use latex properly (everything is in text mode), which basically every working physicist uses to communicate.

    - There's way too little math for something that "deep". And what little there is doesn't look promising. I didn't read the whole thing (barely skimmed it) but one "theorem" (Causal Trace Theo, p. 52) is a linear algebra triviality, while their use of "mixed states" is incorrect. In statistical quantum mechanics, a mixed state (more properly referred to as a mixed ensemble) is an ensemble of states which can *not* be expressed as a linear combination of states. This is fundamentally different from simply expressing any pure state as a linear combination of other states, which is nothing but a choice of basis (another linear algebra triviality). Mixed ensembles are precisely what makes statistical quantum physics different from "regular" quantum mechanics of simple systems, and is a topic not covered by most undergraduate quantum mech. books.

    As I said earlier, there's a non-vanishing probability that these guys aren't crackpots. If you ask me, it's comparable to that of a cracked eggshell reassembling itself: non-zero in the purest statistical sense, zero for all practical purposes.
  • LOL!

    And my guess is that's the Smurf's song, but I think I am wrong.
  • Sure. The known visible size of the Universe is by necessity much less than the actual size of the Universe since we cannot yet see to the end of the Universe. Interesting idea that our Universe is just one giant black hole though. Would make more sense if it (our Universe) weren't expanding and the theoretical notion of black holes didn't contradict the physical reality of our Universe (ie, lots of space and not super-dense matter).
  • Interesting idea that our Universe is just one giant black hole though. Would make more sense if it (our Universe) weren't expanding and the theoretical notion of black holes didn't contradict the physical reality of our Universe (ie, lots of space and not super-dense matter).
    How about that theory that black holes create new universes like bubles? The fact that the universe is expanding could just mean that more matter is being sucked in.......
    I am not a scientist, I am just interested in this field, so everything I say could very well be complete nonsense.

    Grtz, Jeroen

  • I always have the feeling, that when I visit a techno-party time really flies.
  • Well, if you want to figure out the radius yourself, it's defined as R=2GM/c^2, where R is the Schwarzschild Radius, G is the Gravitational Constant, M is the mass, and c is the speed of light (in this case squared)

    Also, isn't the visible size of the universe something like 10^26 km (do I have the right units?)?

    Anyway, I doubt that our universe is a black hole, simply because, well, what at the center of a black hole? A singularity. And what happens to all objects that are inside of the black hole? They head straight for the singularity. An object would have to travel superluminous speeds to overcome this difficulty. It APPEARS that the universe is expanding, and that most of the galaxies are moving away from each other, and I doubt that they are traveling faster than light (or else we probably wouldn't be able to see them).
  • Moderate this up!

    sigh. not a single one of the "moderated up" replies to this article are worth reading.i suppose it only stands to reason when slashdot is reporting articles from the "New Scientist" as real science. That's a rag.
  • "However, they also provide contradictory results. for instance, relativity is deterministic (1 set of conditions produces 1 outcome) whereas quantum mechanics only predicts the probablility of events."

    Not so, quantum mechanics is determistic too. It is only when one makes a measurement that one gets into probabilities.
  • by DGolden (17848) on Thursday March 02, 2000 @12:12AM (#1233180) Homepage Journal
    Here's further information on the this theory. I think it's quite good, myself. Note that New scientist barely scratches the surface of it:

    www.physics.adelaide.ed u.au/ASGRG/ACGRG1/papers/cahill.ps [adelaide.edu.au]

    By the way, if one is after wild and wacky theories, as well as pretty damn good ones, you can do worse than check out the pre-print server on xxx.lanl.gov [lanl.gov] (Uk mirror at xxx.soton.ac.uk [soton.ac.uk]) This is one of the oldest sites on the net.

  • This is one of the things that Popper raises in his book "The logic of scientific discovery".

    As a one time physicist it seems to me that the current theories are still in an early stage of development. I don't see the current attempts as ad hoc attempts to include extensions, rather as an exploration what the theories imply.
  • One of us is gonna hate ourselves.....

    But,

    I would have thought that all of "it" is in "bit" and a lot of "bit" is in "it"
  • I got through. In case it's not working, here it is folks:



    Random Reality



    Space and the material world could be created out of nothing but noise. That's the startling conclusion of a new theory that attempts to explain the stuff of reality, as Marcus Chown reports

    IF YOU COULD LIFT A CORNER of the veil that shrouds reality, what would you see beneath? Nothing but randomness, say two Australian physicists. According to Reginald Cahill and Christopher Klinger of Flinders University in Adelaide, space and time and all the objects around us are no more than the froth on a deep sea of randomness.

    Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that randomness is a part of the Universe. After all, physicists tell us that empty space is a swirling chaos of virtual particles. And randomness comes into play in quantum theory--when a particle such as an electron is observed, its properties are randomly selected from a set of alternatives predicted by the equations.

    But Cahill and Klinger believe that this hints at a much deeper randomness. "Far from being merely associated with quantum measurements, this randomness is at the very heart of reality," says Cahill. If they are right, they have created the most fundamental of all physical theories, and its implications are staggering. "Randomness generates everything," says Cahill. "It even creates the sensation of the 'present', which is so conspicuously absent from today's physics."

    Their evidence comes from a surprising quarter--pure mathematics. In 1930, the Austrian-born logician Kurt Gödel stunned the mathematical world with the publication of his incompleteness theorem. It applied to formal systems--sets of assumptions and the statements that can be deduced from those assumptions by the rules of logic. For example, the Greeks developed their geometry using a few axioms, such as the idea that there is only one straight line through any pair of points. It seemed that a clever enough mathematician could prove any theorem true or false by reasoning from axioms.

    But Gödel proved that, for most sets of axioms, there are true theorems that cannot be deduced. In other words, most mathematical truths can never be proved.

    This bombshell could easily have sent shock waves far beyond mathematics. Physics, after all, is couched in the language of maths, so Gödel's theorem might seem to imply that it is impossible to write down a complete mathematical description of the Universe from which all physical truths can be deduced. Physicists have largely ignored Gödel's result, however. "The main reason was that the result was so abstract it did not appear to connect directly with physics," says Cahill.

    But then, in the 1980s, Gregory Chaitin of IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, extended Gödel's work, and made a suggestive analogy. He called Gödel's unprovable truths random truths. What does that mean? Mathematicians define a random number as one that is incompressible. In other words, it cannot be generated by an algorithm--a set of instructions or rules such as a computer program--that is shorter than the number. Chaitin defined random truths as ones that cannot be derived from the axioms of a given formal system. A random truth has no explanation, it just is.

    Chaitin showed that a vast ocean of such truths surrounds the island of provable theorems. Any one of them might be stumbled on by accident--an equation might be accidentally discovered to have some property that cannot be derived from the axioms--but none of them can be proved. The chilling conclusion, wrote Chaitin in New Scientist, is that randomness is at the very heart of pure mathematics (24 March 1990, p 44).

    To prove his theorem, Gödel had concocted a statement that asserted that it was not itself provable. So Gödel's and Chaitin's results apply to any formal system that is powerful enough to make statements about itself.

    "This is where physics comes in," says Cahill. "The Universe is rich enough to be self-referencing--for instance, I'm aware of myself." This suggests that most of the everyday truths of physical reality, like most mathematical truths, have no explanation. According to Cahill and Klinger, that must be because reality is based on randomness. They believe randomness is more fundamental than physical objects.

    At the core of conventional physics is the idea that there are "objects"--things that are real, even if they don't interact with other things. Before writing down equations to describe how electrons, magnetic fields, space and so on work, physicists start by assuming that such things exist. It would be far more satisfying to do away with this layer of assumption.

    This was recognised in the 17th century by the German mathematician Gottfried Leibniz. Leibniz believed that reality was built from things he called monads, which owed their existence solely to their relations with each other. This picture languished in the backwaters of science because it was hugely difficult to turn into a recipe for calculating things, unlike Newton's mechanics.

    But Cahill and Klinger have found a way to do it. Like Leibniz's monads, their "pseudo-objects" have no intrinsic existence--they are defined only by how strongly they connect with each other, and ultimately they disappear from the model. They are mere scaffolding.

    The recipe is simple: take some pseudo-objects, add a little randomness and let the whole mix evolve inside a computer. With pseudo-objects numbered 1, 2, 3, and so on, you can define some numbers to represent the strength of the connection between each pair of pseudo-objects: B12 is the strength of the connection between 1 and 2; B13 the connection between 1 and 3; and so on. They form a two-dimensional grid of numbers--a matrix.

    The physicists start by filling their matrix with numbers that are very close to zero. Then they run it repeatedly through a matrix equation which adds random noise and a second, non-linear term involving the inverse of the original matrix. The randomness means that most truths or predictions of this model have no cause--the physical version of Chaitin's mathematical result. This matrix equation is largely the child of educated guesswork, but there are good precedents for that. In 1932, for example, Paul Dirac guessed at a matrix equation for how electrons behave, and ended up predicting the existence of antimatter.

    When the matrix goes through the wringer again and again, most of the elements remain close to zero, but some numbers suddenly become large. "Structures start forming," says Cahill. This is no coincidence, as they chose the second term in the equation because they knew it would lead to something like this. After all, there is structure in the Universe that has to be explained.

    The structures can be seen by marking dots on a piece of paper to represent the pseudo-objects 1, 2, 3, and so on. It doesn't matter how they are arranged. If B23 is large, draw a line between 2 and 3; if B19 is large, draw one between 1 and 9. What results are "trees" of strong connections, and a lot of much weaker links. And as you keep running the equation, smaller trees start to connect to others. The network grows.

    The trees branch randomly, but Cahill and Klinger have found that they have a remarkable property. If you take one pseudo-object and count its nearest neighbours in the tree, second nearest neighbours, and so on, the numbers go up in proportion to the square of the number of steps away (click on thumbnail graphic below). This is exactly what you would get for points arranged uniformly throughout three-dimensional space. So something like our space assembles itself out of complete randomness. "It's downright creepy," says Cahill. Cahill and Klinger call the trees "gebits", because they act like bits of geometry.

    They haven't proved that this tangle of connections is like 3D space in every respect, but as they look closer at their model, other similarities with our Universe appear. The connections between pseudo-objects decay, but they are created faster than they decay. Eventually, the number of gebits increases exponentially. So space, in Cahill and Klinger's model, expands and accelerates--just as it does in our Universe, according to observations of the recession of distant supernovae. In other words, Cahill and Klinger think their model might explain the mysterious cosmic repulsion that is speeding up the Universe's expansion.

    And this expanding space isn't empty. Topological defects turn up in the forest of connections--pairs of gebits that are far apart by most routes, but have other shorter links. They are like snags in the fabric of space. Cahill and Klinger believe that these defects are the stuff we are made of, as described by the wave functions of quantum theory, because they have a special property shared by quantum entities: nonlocality. In quantum theory, the properties of two particles can be correlated, or "entangled", even when they are so far apart that no signal can pass between them. "This ghostly long-range connectivity is apparently outside of space," says Cahill. But in Cahill and Klinger's model of reality, there are some connections that act like wormholes to connect far-flung topological defects.

    Even the mysterious phenomenon of quantum measurement can be seen in the model. In observing a quantum system any detector ought to become entangled with the system in a joint quantum state. We would see weird quantum superpositions like Schrödinger's alive-and-dead cat. But we don't.

    How does the quantum state "collapse" to a simple classical one? In Cahill and Klinger's model, the nonlocal entanglements disappear after many iterations of the matrix equation. That is, ordinary 3D space reasserts itself after some time, and the ghostly connection between measuring device and system is severed.

    This model could also explain our individual experience of a present moment. According to Einstein's theory of relativity, all of space-time is laid out like a four-dimensional map, with no special "present" picked out for us to feel. "Einstein thought an explanation of the present was beyond theoretical physics," says Cahill. But in the gebit picture, the future is not predetermined. You never know what it will bring, because it is dependent on randomness. "The present is therefore real and distinct from an imagined future and a recorded past," says Cahill.



    Sand castles

    But why can't we detect this random dance of the pseudo-objects? "Somehow, in the process of generating reality, the pseudo-objects must become hidden from view," says Cahill. To simulate this, the two physicists exploited a phenomenon called self-organised criticality.

    Self-organised criticality occurs in a wide range of systems such as growing sand piles. Quite spontaneously, these systems reach a critical state. If you drop sand grains one by one onto a sand pile, for instance, they build up and up into a cone until avalanches start to happen. The slope of the side of the cone settles down to a critical value, at which it undergoes small avalanches and big avalanches and all avalanches at all scales in between. This behaviour is independent of the size and shape of the sand grains, and in general it is impossible to deduce anything about the building blocks of a self-organised critical system from its behaviour. In other words, the scale and timing of avalanches doesn't depend on the size or shape of the sand grains.

    "This is exactly what we need," says Cahill. "If our system self-organises to a state of criticality, we can construct reality from pseudo-objects and simultaneously hide them from view." The dimensionality of space doesn't depend on the properties of the pseudo-objects and their connections. All we can measure is what emerges, and even though gebits are continually being created and destroyed, what emerges is smooth 3D space. Creating reality in this way is like pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, throwing away the bootstraps and still managing to stay suspended in mid-air.

    This overcomes a problem with the conventional picture of reality. Even if we discover the laws of physics, we are still left with the question: where do they come from? And where do the laws that explain where they come from come from? Unless there is a level of laws that explain themselves, or turn out to be the only mathematically consistent set--as Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin believes--we are left with an infinite regression. "But it ceases to be a problem if self-organised criticality hides the lowest layer of reality," says Cahill. "The start-up pseudo-objects can be viewed as nothing more than a bundle of weakly linked pseudo-objects, and so on ad infinitum. But no experiment will be able to probe this structure, so we have covered our tracks completely."

    Other physicists are impressed by Cahill and Klinger's claims. "I have never heard of anyone working on such a fundamental level as this," says Roy Frieden of the University of Arizona in Tucson. "I agree with the basic premise that 'everything' is ultimately random, but am still sceptical of the details." He would like to see more emerge from the model before committing himself. "It would be much more convincing if Cahill and Klinger could show something physical--that is, some physical law--emerging from this," says Frieden. "For example, if this is to be a model of space, I would expect something like Einstein's field equation for local space curvatures emerging. Now that would be something."

    "It sounds rather far-out," says John Baez of the University of California at Riverside. "I would be amazed--though pleased--if they could actually do what you say they claim to."

    "I've seen several physics papers like this that try to get space-time or even the laws of physics to emerge from random structures at a lower level," says Chaitin. "They're interesting efforts, and show how deeply ingrained the statistical point of view is in physics, but they are difficult, path-breaking and highly tentative efforts far removed from the mainstream of contemporary physics."

    What next? Cahill and Klinger hope to find that everything--matter and the laws of physics--emerges spontaneously from the interlinking of gebits. Then we would know for sure that reality is based on randomness. It's a remarkable ambition, but they have already come a long way. They have created a picture of reality without objects and shown that it can emerge solely out of the connections of pseudo-objects. They have shown that space can arise out of randomness. And, what's more, a kind of space that allows both ordinary geometry and the non-locality of quantum phenomena--two aspects of reality which, until now, have appeared incompatible.

    Perhaps what is most impressive, though, is that Cahill and Klinger are the first to create a picture of reality that takes into account the fundamental limitations of logic discovered by Gödel and Chaitin. In the words of Cahill: "It is the logic of the limitations of logic that is ultimately responsible for generating this new physics, which appears to be predicting something very much like our reality."
  • by spiralx (97066) on Thursday March 02, 2000 @12:29AM (#1233184)

    More accurately the evolution of the wave function is deterministic whereas the result of a measurement on a quantum system is probabilistic, with the probabilities given by the wave function.

  • Okay, so a question so that I can understand...

    The gravitational attraction of a black hole 'pulls' everything past the event horizon, so that it can no longer escape, and once past the matter travels at the speed of light to the singularity. But since we cannot define what is actually happening inside a black hole (afaik), spagghetification being just one theory, couldn't it be possible that the singularity is SO small, that nothing ever hits it, thus shooting past or around it, and therefore just bouncing around inside the black hole in a Brownian motion type way? Or alternately, doing a spirograph pattern orbit around it? Would this explain why not ALL the galaxies we observe seem to be moving away from us, even if most are? Would this also not explain why they are not moving at a (relative) speed of light, as they are constantly changing direction, as are we?

    Alternatively, couldn't we be inside an Antimatter Black Hole, with lots of other matter, which would still have a gravitational pull, but an opposite attraction to the singularity, but of course all the antimatter inside, which is helping to expand the Black Hole is moving at the speed of light so we can't see it?

    Just a thought. Please correct me on the holes in this theory.. ;-)

    Cheers, Mash.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Pseudorandom number sequences always have some period because the algorithms that generate them run on a finite amount of tape. If your computer has an infinite tape, it can generate pseudorandom sequeunces with no period.

    I believe this is incorrect. Isn't really the case that pseudorandom sequences have a period because you absolutely cannot develop a random sequence with a deterministic process? It wouldn't matter how long the tape was.


    ...phil

  • Okay, give me a precise, empirical definition of "measurement". ;-)

    The joke is, physicists don't really know for sure what constitutes a "measurement".

  • Every physicist starts with his/her perception of how things work. These perceptions may be taught to them or derived from them but still their perceptions. Through these perception they apply mathematics to derive a theory of how our universe operates around us. So given that our perceptions are flawed from the beginning many theories derived from physicists are flawed. I turn you get the iteration effect as we increase our knowledge of the universe and how it operates. Just my option.....
    TheQ
  • It's probably filtered by censorware. Another reason why educational establishments shouldn't install poor filters. Who the hell named these URLs? They look really dodgy in my webcache, and I have to use them for research.
  • I am just a beginning graduate student in physics (and I am actually going to switch to CS), but this seems rather bogus. A few of the reasons I will elaborate on. Anyone who knows more about this, please feel free to post a rebuttal and correct my ignorance.

    Gregory Chaitin ... made a suggestive analogy...Chaitin showed that a vast ocean of such truths surrounds the island of provable theorems. Any one of them might be stumbled on by accident--an equation might be accidentally discovered to have some property that cannot be derived from the axioms--but none of them can be proved. The chilling conclusion, wrote Chaitin in New Scientist, is that randomness is at the very heart of pure mathematics

    I am a bit confused as to what is so chilling about the fact that mathematicians find theorems, essentially randomly. They use heurisitics and insights though. The search space for all provable theorems from a set of axioms can be very large. This all goes back to Newell and Simon's Logical Theorist at the dawn of AI. I also don't recall where Godel showed that the density of unprovable, but true theorems is greater than that of provably true theorems.

    "This is where physics comes in," says Cahill. "The Universe is rich enough to be self-referencing--for instance, I'm aware of myself." This suggests that most of the everyday truths of physical reality, like most mathematical truths, have no explanation. According to Cahill and Klinger, that must be because reality is based on randomness. They believe randomness is more fundamental than physical objects.

    Why the hell does that guy thinking he is self-aware imply randomness in the universe? Perhaps the article is missing the details, and I am too ignorant to fill in the details, but I think the logic here is a bit shaky.

    This matrix equation is largely the child of educated guesswork, but there are good precedents for that. In 1932, for example, Paul Dirac guessed at a matrix equation for how electrons behave, and ended up predicting the existence of antimatter.

    Now this is completely different. Dirac guessed at the form of an operator. However, this was very informed guess work, and he knew that at least one solution of the equation had to produce the electron. He knew the form of the equation, from principles of quantum mechanics, and was just guessing one term, but he a framework to check his result. It sounds like these guys are guessing not only the equation but also all the terms. Also, their equation seems to be nothing more than simple addition and inversion (actually this can be a problem for them because not all matrices are invertible)of matrices. However, since there is no link to any published work or any references to any, we have no idea.

    The whole branching thing going up as r^2 looks like just the result of branching out in a plane, as you increase your distance from a center point in a plane isotropically (in all directions the same) of course your surface area goes up like r^2. The fact that some basic forces like gravity and electromagnetism follow a 1/r^2 (notice the inversion) actually happens to be related to the surface area of a sphere (which is 4pi*r^2 and the propagation of force carrying particles (or waves) move out on the surface of a sphere. It is important to note that the strong force and the weak force follow a different decay law, related to the short lifespan of the force carrying particles. Anyway, what I am trying to say is this seems to be a ridiculous analogy.

  • >The joke is, physicists don't really know for sure what constitutes a "measurement".

    A measurement is any interaction with an object that causes its probability waveform to collapse to a single value.

  • As far as I can tell, all they say is that they can tweak an array in such a way that it begins to imitate 3 dimensional space with the occasional local distortion. While this is a cool trick, it doesn't say anything about the nature of the universe.
  • Shit happens.

    More seriously, specialists in the foundations of quantum mechanics have long understood that it is a probabilistic theory from the get go (i.e., there is a lot more involved than a mere "probabilistic interpretation".) In classical mechanics, the reason you have statistical mechanics is that at some point a description of trajectories breaks down and becomes simply useless (in 1924 E. Borel showed that _grams_ of mass moving _centimeters_ at the distance of Sirius is enough would be enough to throw a classical dynamics description of a gas here on earth from one part of phase space to another in a couple of seconds--any reasonable model of scattering is so nonlinear that the slightest perturbation destroys your description in no time at all). There are problems for which a classical deterministic description is simply useless even if it were practical--and it is really only toy systems like they give to undergraduates which are practical to compute specific trajectories, etc.

    Quantum mechanics is a form of an (Boolean) algebra of probable inference, meaning it is a way to make inferences about the future based on past observations. There is a lot of confusion among those interested in "quantum computing" on this--as formulated by von Neumann, quantum theory is not a realization of Boolean algebra, but the Boolean nature becomes apparent if you say that "superselection rules" exist (like something cannot be both a boson and a fermion at the same time) or if you impose a "consistent histories" requirement (so that the future is consistent with the past--an apple stays an apple and only will turn into an orange for good physical reasons). In other words, von Neumann didn't get it all down in the first go (he was still an extremely clever fellow). Quantum computing then is looking for an algorithm to find the most probable answer (which you can instantly check) rather than sequentially chugging out the answer--it is still subject to all of the computability/decidability issues of traditional computers, just it is doing something which may be more computationally efficient (for many types of problems). (The "most probable answer" is "an answer", so it is only the retoric which is wrong.)

    What is being reported on here is that throwing noise at a non-linear "pre-structure" causes the emergence of an ordered "structure" bearing many of the gross features of our universe. This is, in short, a sort of an example of "self organization" which is an area which is not at all well understood at anything beyond the intuitive level. This is the sort of thing that people might look at to check a "theory of everything" if and when such a theory emerges sometime in the future: this is also a toy model, but more complicated than the toy models you got to solve in school, and it is probable that most of the interest here is that there are so very few toy models in this area.
  • by Baldrson (78598) on Thursday March 02, 2000 @07:32AM (#1233205) Homepage Journal
    fperez who has exactly one comment to his name on /. writes:

    There's a slim chance of this not being a crackpot's work, but I seriously doubt it

    Here is a proposal:

    0) You identify yourself in as verifiable a way as have I.

    1) I'll grant $1000 to the www.sourceXchange.com for the open source software project of your choice (or specification) if, by the end of the year 2000, a paper on the disputed idea [stanford.edu] authored by one of the disputed authors [stanford.edu] is not published by a scientific periodical to which most major university libraries are subscribers (at least 3 of Stanford, Cal Tech, MIT, CMU and Princeton).

    2) Otherwise you'll grant $10,000 to www.sourceXchange.com for the open source software project of my choice (or specification).

    Note that I'm setting 1 in 10 odds when the strong wording of your assertion could easily justify setting 1 in 100 odds. But it would be unfair of me to take advantage your willingness to disclose the exact measure of your confidence for public benefit when I haven't done so (except to state my assertion as fact). So 1 in 10 seems quite fair and $10,000 should be within your means if you are a high technology professional.

    I await your reply here.

  • 1st?
  • Nope, the original poster was right. All of "it" is in "bit"; you can see both letters of it in the original order in bit. But only two-thirds of "bit" is in "it"; thus, there is a good deal of "bit" in "it."

    Matt
  • Asimov pointed that out decades ago. Since nobody knows what it's like inside a black hole, we could be in one now.

    (I think this was toward the end of _The Stars in Their Courses_ but my copy is at home now.)
  • and there's also a notable portion of (b)ullsh(it) in this thread..

    --
  • Sure enough, the LANL preprint site turns up a conference proceeding [arxiv.org] from the past year.

    www.arxiv.org should work if you are filtered out from xxx.lanl.gov or its mirrors.

    And why was it xxx.lanl.gov in the first place? No real reason [arxiv.org], apparently.

  • As I read the article I was struck by a memory of an illustration of some result from dynamics. I'm *definitely* not an expert here, but that result said to me that there are ways that you can stir massive amounts of chaos into a system and yet the system is not destroyed, though it can be very effectively hidden in the noise. In some way, structure is very "stubborn".

    It occurred to me that maybe the universe represents an ongoing tension between order and chaos. Maybe instead of New Scientist we should be reading Zelazny's _Chronicles of Amber_. :-)

    Go ahead and show me how wrong I am.
  • No, according to the Schrodinger wave equation, which is the basis for most, if not all, of quantum mechanics, the particle does not have an exact position and momentum simultaneously.

    Things are fundamentally fuzzy.

  • Not necessarily particles, could be waves... a cosmic background of x-ray radiation has been discovered along time ago, and is currently easily observable with any x-ray teloscope. Noise comes not only as a particle, or a wave for that matter, it can come as both (i.e. light), or as neither (i.e. warps in the fabric itself and it's underliying structure or lack thereof), or something completely different
  • heh, so now instead we can fill it with radioactive waste.. wohooo!!!
  • *sigh*
    Took the friggin' physicists long enough to realize something as basic as this. Of COURSE the universe is pure chaos, how else could you possibly explain any of it? Anything else is merely a delusion.
    (See the <A HREF="http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~tilt/principia">Princ ipia Discordia</A> for further explanations and confusives. And because it's the fifth day of the week in many countries.)

    Don't forget to eat your hot dog today!!!!!
  • Leaping madly where I don't belong:

    I'd just like to point out that your bit about "$10,000 should be within your means if you are a high technology professional" is crap. "High-technology professional," whatever the hell that is, sure. Physicist -- no way in hell. :-) (I don't know any physicists who would be willing to wager $10k on anything, much less something like this. Notice that when Kip Thorne and Steven Hawking made their famous series of wagers, they were for things like a subscription to Playboy instead.)

    And at the risk of getting involved in a flamewar not of my own design: I think defending your ideas by offering a ridiculous wager is not the best way to convince any members of the scientific community of the veracity of your claims. What fperez says is wrong? Fine, tell me how. Your assertion is intriguing, but a follow-up post saying, "my collaborators are so-and-so, we've submitted to PhysRev A, etc." would've been (IMHO) more reasonable than this.

    No offense, I hope. :-)

  • What these guys fail to appreciate is that perceived self-organizing crtiticality is just that - a perception arising from incomplete information. Goedel and Chaitin are important because they both firmly established the notion of incompleteness within any sort of formalized system, contra Russell and Whitehead in _Principia Mathematica_. The reason we can't predict the precise number, size, and shape of grains of sand which ultimately produce the ineveitable avalanche down the side of a sand-pile is because we have incomplete information about all the factors affecting the sand-pile.

    Even with incomplete information, however, we can generate a set of reasonably-accurate predictive models; witness meterology, for example. When you're talking about Planck-length and Planck-time, non-locality is indeed a factor - but when you're talking about the San Fernando Valley, there is enough abstraction of scale that we can use macro-level techniques to achieve useful micro-level results. The fundamental challenge underlying all of physics is to determine the stops, if you will, on this sliding scale of locality, and then attempting to deduce the structure of space time from there.

    This is a classic case of mistaking an artifact of a data-collection process for the data itself. While I'm interested in their underlying mathematics, I consider this episode to be a prime example of reductio ad absurdium.
  • mattorb writes:

    Notice that when Kip Thorne and Steven Hawking made their famous series of wagers, they were for things like a subscription to Playboy instead.)

    I very much doubt either Kip Thorne or Steven Hawking would have said of the other, even in jest, something as ungentlemanly as:

    fperez who has exactly one comment to his name on /. wrote:

    As I said earlier, there's a non-vanishing probability that these guys aren't crackpots. If you ask me, it's comparable to that of a cracked eggshell reassembling itself: non-zero in the purest statistical sense, zero for all practical purposes.

    Further, I am not a physicist, so to expect me to argue with a physicist is, itself, rather ridiculous. Nevertheless, I have done my own due diligence, made my own judgements and am willing to stand behind public statements under my own name.

    Clearly a "subscription to Playboy" is not commensurate with the barely moderated vitriol of the indictments leveled by fperez, whoever he is. He has stepped beyond the bounds of gentlemanly conduct. What sort of wager would be the commensurate thing to offer given fperez's extreme certainty and barely moderated vitriolic indictments?

  • Theme from the Banana Splits?
  • Isn't this kind of cirular logic? I mean, you're saying that measurements collapse a subject's wave function, and the definition of a measurement is something which collapses a subject's wave function.
  • This all seems laughably pie-in-the-sky to me. maybe, just maybe, they'll turn out to be right, but I'm not very impressed. They havn't really shown very much at all, if this article is to be used as the final source (a situation to which we are doomed for lack of references). More importantly, they seem to get bogged down in claiming that their threory solves non-existent "problems". As has been noted above, the "criticality" of the present is an experiencial artifact, not a fundamental feature of the universe. Also, the randomness of the future versus the recordedness of the past is another artifact of our experience(which is, remember, informed by very limited information), not a necessity of physics.

    Superstring theory, on the other hand, seems to have tremendous power to resolve all the REAL problems of modern physics, if we can find ways to make the calculations tractable. I think the best bet for these guys is if their ideas fit in with M theory at some point. I suppose that's still a possibility.
    -N
  • I could be wrong (background's philosophy, not physics), but I think what's at issue here is Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. In which case the issue is epistemological, not ontological. In other words... it's not that the particle *does not have* an exact position and momentum--just that they're not *measurable* simultaneously. I have to give the article more thought, but it seems to me that these scientists haven't proven what they think at all. Rather, their results might be simply shedding light on the fact that they started with a data structure (initial values, the relationship between matrices and their inverse, etc.)... validating Godel's theorem, but proving little about inherent randomness.
  • The article doesn't deal with the issue in this respect.

    An interesting thing about SuperString theory is that it clears up this problem in a very concise manner. I got this information from the book The Elegant Universe by someone whose name slips my mind. Essentially the idea is that The Planck length is the quantum of distance.
    Given this, it makes no sense to discuss distances less than this. The pure mathematics of General Relativity exist in a totally continuous space.
    When they try to reconcile QM and GR at arbritrarily small distances the mess arises because the questions they are asking are nonsense. If they restrict their "questions" to distances on the scale of the Planck length or greater, QM and GR integrate seamlessly.

    ---CONFLICT!!---
  • Actually, once you are able to read the article (I got through to the site and read it a few minutes ago -- 4:45pm EST Friday), you will see this has nothing to do with other theories at all. It is a completely original speculation about how, taking an arbitrary matrix of scalars (with some constraints, such that each is close to zero) and performing (iterated?) matrix manipulations, one arrives at a MATHEMATICALLY-GENERATED structure with properties that bear a remarkable resemblance to what we think of as the universe.

    Btw, the concept these mathematicians have labelled "gebit" (sp?) has already been around for years in the MDS (multi-dimensional scaling) work of Dr. Joseph Woelfel... who uses it in the mathematically/statistically more demanding world of the "soft" sciences! It has applications in marketing, persuasion, etc. Back in long-gone days at MSU, I was a graduate student working with Joe's Galileo (MDS) program. Aside from his professorship (SUNY, I think -- Rochester), he has an informative Web site for his consulting work, in case anyone is interested... I *think* it's http://www.terranova.com [terranova.com].

  • calling someone a "crackpot" and saying that they have a low probability of being correct? those statements are not vitriolic. they aren't even vituperative.

    stepping beyond the bounds of gentlemanly conduct? huh? why don't you challenge him to a duel? That sort of a thing was quite popular in the century whereupon you came to develop your finely honed sense of honor and elocution. Odd Bodkins! Such a course of action us surely fully commensurate with this bounders transgression.

    The gantlet has been thrown. Aye, what say ye then, knave?

  • I made a monetary wager with open source the beneficiary -- hardly a challenge to single combat. Whether the statements were "barely moderated vitriol" as I said, or "vitriolic" as you said I said is not to the point. The point is they were attacks on the character of the authors made virtually anonymous by the lack of verifiable associations with the string "fprerez".

    However, you are correct that I place a high value on honor and believe single combat has an appropriate place in some human societies (not ones like the present politically driven civilization -- it would be akin to unleashing nuclear holocaust). Further, you are also correct that I would probably get along with our great great grandfathers better than you. Call me "old fashioned." My attitude toward single combat is pretty close to that available from ISBN 0-914752-18-9 "Valoric Fire and a Working Plan for Individual Sovereignty" by the Valorian Society near page 93.

    But it is certainly interesting that among the more honorable societies remaining, such as the insular Japan and Finland, suicide of CEO's is common place -- and those societies do seem to contribute more than their fair share of technology to the world.

    Among many other cultures perhaps Idea futures [ideosphere.com] are a better option.

  • Also, according to current theories of relativity, nothing can be accelerated faster than the speed of light.

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

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