Howard Georgi, a physicist at Harvard University, has recently published a paper on so-called unparticle physics, which suggests the existence of ‘unparticle stuff’ that cannot be accounted for by the standard model. Appearing in a recent edition of Physical Review Letters, the paper says that unparticle stuff would be very different than anything seen before.
Unparticles, but not particles, can fit in a theory that has the property of continuous scale-invariance, which is difficult to visualize. A fractal, like this Koch Curve, is an example of discrete scale-invariance because it looks the same if multiplied by a fixed number. Credit: Benoit Mandelbrot, Fractals.
A recent article on PBS’s website has raised an interesting scenario about Google’s inevitable fall.
The idea of a company beating Microsoft was in Bill Gates’ mind back in the 1990′s. Gates himself predicted the inevitable rise of a company, yet to be founded, to threaten Microsoft. He had the right idea. But what is going to make Google fall?
Some pundits are suggesting that the 80/20 rule that Google encourages it’s employee’s to adopt could be the catalyst. Google wants it’s talented people to spend 20% of their time on personal projects that might help themselves or others and don’t we all wish we were able to have this opportunity. Well the more Google rejects the ideas that come out of this 20% of time, the more people may feel the need to rebel and get out of the Google umbrella so that they can pursue their entrepreneurial goals and ideas. Perhaps Google is encouraging people with the 20% play time but they may not realize what effect it could have in the long run.
As with other large companies, Google also provides everything to their employees for free, further pushing their employees to work even more than others would. By design each worker is no more than 100 feet from a bathroom or food or drink and it’s all free. You don’t have to leave to get lunch, a snack or whatever. With the extra time, people goof off, bond, brainstorm on the pet projects which Google and others leverage. The only thing Google doesn’t do is provide their technical people with guaranteed sense of satisfaction since 99.75 of the pet projects have been REJECTED by the company.
Consider these issues along with Google’s 4-yr stock vesting policy for employees, and Google could end up with even more dissatisfaction from those people who decided to move on before the vest period. In any high-tech company there is an employee change of attitude that comes with being fully vested. At Microsoft in the 1980s some people wore buttons that said “FYIFV,” which stood for “F**k You I’m Fully Vested.” At companies that have gone public, as Google has, there is often also an outflow of employees around that four-year anniversary. Google has even made it easier for its employees to leave the company by instituting a program in partnership with Morgan Stanley where Google employees can sell their vested, but unexercised stock options.
With hundreds — and soon thousands — of Google employees vested and solvent, we’ll shortly see a dribble, then a river, then a flood of former Google employees with time, money, and experience, and some of them will have the drive to realize the dreams of those thousands of ideas that were rejected by their former company.
String Theory has been the dream of many post-Einstien scientists and theoretical physicists to try to combine Einstein’s world of the large (planets, galaxies, the universe) with the ideas of the quantum world of the small (uncertainty principle, subatomic particles) into one unifying law that can describe absolutely everything that we see and even things that we can’t see or understand yet. String Theory also inevitably yields bigger theories such as parallel universes, M-Theory and even tries to explain away how the Big Band happened and what happened before it.
If you’ve ever studied physics in school, you probably remember how many times you had to learn new theories, laws, formulas, axioms and equations. Well what if you only had to learn one law that could explain away all these other things (at least as an abstract base) ? This is the goal of String Theory.
To get a more detailed understanding of what String Theory is, check out this excerpt from Wikipedia.org :
String theory is a model of fundamental physics whose building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects called strings, rather than the zero-dimensional point particles that form the basis for the Standard Model of particle physics. The phrase is often used as shorthand for Superstring theory, as well as related theories such as M-theory. String theorists are attempting to adjust the Standard Model by removing the assumption in quantum mechanics that particles are point-like. By removing this assumption and replacing the point-like particles with strings, it appears that a sensible quantum theory of gravity naturally emerges. Moreover, string theory may be able to “unify” the known natural forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, weak nuclear and strong nuclear) by describing them with the same set of equations.
A recent article on New Scientist magazine states that experiments performed at the upcoming Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva, Switzerland could possibly disprove the popular “theory of everything”. So far it’s been very difficult to prove this theory, as indirect evidence that scientists from all parts of the world have been looking for has not been found yet.
The LHC will smash protons together and could prove or maybe even disprove string theory altogether. Strong evidence for string theory could come from the observation of short-lived, mini black holes at the LHC. But the chance of their appearing is extremely small, so a failure to see them would not be a death blow for the theory.
In 2006, string theorist Allan Adams of MIT and others offered a more promising check. They showed that some particle collisions could reveal whether certain fundamental assumptions underlying string theory are wrong.
Now, a team led by Jacques Distler from the University of Texas in Austin has shown that the level of energy needed to reveal such effects are achievable at the LHC.
Extensive computer simulation and real tests have been underway at the Sandia National Laboratories on the device called the ‘Z Machine’ which is the world largest producer of man-made X Rays and has been used to produce fusion neutrons. Rapid bursts (in the nano second range) are necessary for future generating plants to produce electrical power from sea water. This had not been thought achievable till now.
The researchers and scientists have been able to achieve successful nanosecond bursts with the invention of a new system called a linear transformer driver (LTD), which was created by researchers at the Institute of High Current Electronics in Tomsk, Russia, in collaboration with colleagues at Sandia.
The LTD technology is 50 percent more efficient than current Z machine firings, in terms of the ratio of useful energy out to energy in. Z is currently 15 percent efficient to its load (already a very high efficiency among possible fusion machines).
Funding for Z in the past has been for defense purposes. Its tests are used to generate data for simulations on supercomputers that help maintain the strength, effectiveness, and safety of the US nuclear deterrent.
Fired repeatedly, the machine could well be the fusion machine that could form the basis of an electrical generating plant only two decades away. Progress in this arena might eventually require funding from DOEâ€™s energy arm.
The Sandia Lab has filed a patent application on a high-power pulsed-power accelerator that can use an LTD as the primary power generator.
If this technology is succesful over the next five years, we could be on the brink of a technology revolution and a safer path towards keeping our planet cleaner.
Check out pics and the full article on Sandia National Labs website
A recent article on BBC Science News stated that British scientists presented details at the Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Preston, UK of a plan to see whether a Start Trek-style deflector sheild could be built to protect astronauts from radiation.
If you guys think Star Trek is for nerds and geeks, you might just be avoiding the inevitable. NASA already has a tricorder like device installed on their orbitting satellite around Mars.
Now I’m waiting for Warp drive (theoretically possible), transporters (E=mc^2, so it’s possible), Replicator technology (E=mc^2, so it’s possible), and my favorite technology that will put all current virtual simulations to shame : THE HOLODECK!