Grokking Gravity

Sep 17, 2012 Posted Under: cosmology, physics

After remembering my dreams in the bath the other morning, I puzzled some more about gravity, wondering “where is the equal and opposite reaction to the force of gravity?”

Looking at gravity from Einstein’s point of view, that it is a curving of spacetime, allowed me to wonder if there shouldn’t be a corresponding negative curving of spacetime to have the momentum equations balance (conserving momentum)?  Even though we don’t see this negative curvature locally, if it could only show up by wrapping around the universe from another “edge”, it would nicely explain dark energy (and scale properly if dark matter were included).

Imagine my surprise and delight when, the next morning, one of my daughters’ Facebook page had a link to a new mathematical description and further development of my insight.  I have long subscribed to the notion that the conversation of a time is what stimulates, usually several people at once, to similar discoveries.  Although I am pleased to imagine I’m tuned in enough to the conversation about the nature of the universe to have this glimmer of insight, I cannot really take any credit for it.  Newton said it well to Hooke: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.

Wang and Ma, the mathematicians who published the new version of gravity last week, say it also explains dark matter and dark energy.  From the ScienceDaily article:

The researchers postulate that the energy-momentum tensor of normal matter is no longer conserved and that new gravitational field equations follow from Einstein’s principles of equivalence and general relativity, and the principle of Lagrangian dynamics, just as Einstein derived his field equations. Wang said the new equations were the unique outcome of the non-conservation of the energy-momentum tensor of normal matter.

Other questions remain to be understood by me, like if acceleration and gravity are indistinguishable as Einstein said, why doesn’t the whole cylinder above a rocket ship get sucked up into the curvature into which the rocket is “falling”?

This entire line of inquiry started with my attempting to understand classical (not quantum) spin, like doesn’t a spinning thing experience constant acceleration?  My researches have developed a timeline of when we learned about spinning things, while wondering why the bicycle wasn’t invented thousands of years earlier.

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Our mission: maximize total human choices made

Jul 30, 2012 Posted Under: economics, philosophy

In thinking about the political difficulties which inevitably arise every time we generate a too top-heavy oligarchic system, I started wondering how to frame such a challenge to our best thinkers — how would you change society’s rules to take advantage of the tremendous energy towards the accumulation of wealth and power such that those accumulations will operate to the benefit of all and not bring about the usual violent reorganization?

That started me thinking about what it is we really want to maximize — people years?  No, how about healthy people years?  Maybe, but who defines healthy?

From the viewpoint of our DNA, it might be that effective information processing is wanted.  How about number of people choices, that’s a pretty good metric for a healthy, functioning human brain without being too restrictive on use of prosthetic assistances.  And human because, while we want to advantage ourselves by use of computers, we don’t want the definition of our health to create its own genetic pressure for the computers to evolve.  That will happen soon enough.

Now, how could such a refocussing of our efforts back towards the total health of our species be implemented in our political systems?

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The Fundamental Philosophical Failure

May 11, 2012 Posted Under: philosophy

Our sense of group identity is the fundamental failure of our species, perhaps of all intelligent life.

The problem arises when a group starts believing the importance of its agenda supersedes that of its originating group.

This happens first in governments, a proxy for the group itself when we were hunter-gatherers.  The necessary belief underpinning the capability to make group war is that, because my group contains me, it is more worthy of surviving than your group.  But then that sense of group superiority also occurs in religions, and in government bureaucracies, where it becomes dangerous to the group as a whole.

The most heinous example is secret police units or spy agencies.  Because of the perceived need for secrecy to protect the state, the “coin of the realm” becomes the secrets themselves, never to be revealed lest that sharing dilute the power of the secret police.  A current example is the Attorney General of the United States prosecuting witnesses for testifying in secret congressional hearings about the failures of our intelligence agencies, despite whistle blower laws specifically protecting such disclosure.

Why does it not happen so much in governmental sub-units, like states and cities, and mostly not in corporations, at least until they get “too big to fail”?  Or is it just less visible in these?

I often try to think of problems like this in analogies with other aspects of evolution.  If we behaved this way, your hand, having a sense of itself and its own importance in the role of providing food for the rest of the body, might decide it was the most important and cut off the leg for food in an emergency.  Clearly such a choice should not be made by the sub-unit, the hand, but only by the actual self, the brain.

How can we organize our political structures to properly obey the lines of authority, and not separately establish themselves as more critical to the survival of the entire group?

One possible solution suggests itself –> like the felony murder rule whereby a death occurring during the commission of a crime becomes a murder attributable to all the criminal participants, a blackmailer becomes a co-conspirator in the crime he is offering to not make public.  This could be extended to any form of duress and, including the corresponding civil reparations, would provide the legal leverage to put the spy gamers out of business.

The more I think about all this the more evident no simple solution has not already been thought about.  A great deal of our literature is about the conflict between authorized actions and independently perceived “greater good”.

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Living a Long Life

May 01, 2012 Posted Under: philosophy

A friend mentioned having heard an estimate that anyone living past 65 these days has a pretty good chance of seeing 80.  I’m not sure what the national and worldwide statistics show about this belief, but in my own case, I think there might be something to it.  My mother is approaching 90 and many on both my parents’ sides have lived past 100 in the past century.

So my estimate is that I also will easily see 90.  Which puts me definitely in range to become one of the LongLived, i.e., people who will benefit from the rapidly increasing pace of medical discoveries designed to extend our lifetimes.  The LongLived are variously estimated to live to at least 150, and perhaps to 1000.

Having this prospect from my youthful reading of Heinlein’s Lazarus Long brought to mind again, I am suddenly amazed at how much it lifts my spirits and changes my morality subtly back from total interest in advantaging my children and grandchildren to assuring the planet will be further enhanced to sustain us all, me included.  In other words, I am no longer retired, but again among the living and contributing!

But having lived 2/3 of a century so far, and been lulled into semi-comatosity, I am happy to have as much time as needed to accomplish my dreams while also now being much more aware that some sense of urgency, and daily persistent effort, helps get things done.

Back to even more enthusiastic work, investigation, learning, and engineering!

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Entanglement and Agreement and What’s Underneath?

Apr 09, 2012 Posted Under: physics

While reading the Quantum Reality article in last week’s ScienceNews, I was inspired to dig a little deeper and found this review of work by G. Chiribella, G. D’Ariano, and P. Perinotti last year. It points up a fundamental flaw in my previous attempts to understand quantum mechanics — that there are “events” and “observers”.

It now becomes obvious that a more consistent framing would be that of an “experience” in which both observed and observer participate.  Similarly, two “observers” could only have the closest possible agreement about what happened if they both particpate in the experience of an observation simultaneously, as part of a system of 3.

Thus agreement about an experience of events below some certain macro collection of quantum probabilities is practically infeasible.  This is a different framing of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, that you can’t increase to arbitrary precision the measurements of certain pairs of properties.

This supports the previous estimate that usable agreements require the organizational complexity we usually call life.

I am still perplexed at how information maps onto anything we call space or matter.

But at least now the next framework for posing these questions looms into clearer view …

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Re-engineering the Military-Industrial Complex

Mar 27, 2012 Posted Under: economics

David Letterman plaintively asked Rachel Maddow last night “Why, in 2012, are we still so focused on killing other humans?” during the interview about her book Drift which discusses our increasing disconnect from the process of declaring and making war.  She dodged his question with “That’s above my pay grade” and “Whoever figures that out can write the next Bible.”

But I don’t think it is above her pay grade, and she could well be among those to help us think about it — her book suggests considerable knowledge and thought about the processes of warring.

This led me to dreaming last night, during which today’s tweet was composed:

Resentment leads to revenge, which returns. Forgiving lets resentment become “lesson learned”, and can become respect, even friendship.

That suggests a negotiating stance to accomplish more peace, but of course we will need to persuade the weapons manufacturers it will be more profitable to provide research and solutions to energy, water, food and space exploration endeavors to have a chance to succeed.  That will be a challenge, but certainly one we need to take on: the Re-engineering of the Military-Industrial Complex.

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Why We Do Things

Feb 14, 2012 Posted Under: creating

This is a bit of a ramble, a collection of thoughts, perhaps not in the usual order …

Security and Fairness

We like to know we’re going to eat and have a place to sleep and have those pretty much in equality with our neighbors.

Being Right, Competition, Greed and Secrets

But we also need to know we’re in the best group, in case there’s to be any unfairness.

Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll

And then, let’s have some FUN, with altered states of consciousness.

Let Go and Let God, and Getting In the Zone

Having noticed we don’t always get exactly what we intended, allowing the subconscious to suggest alternatives got confused with suspending judgment (having faith) and religion.

Becoming expert enough at any endeavor to permit the subconscious actual control can be a religiously ecstatic experience.

Love and Be Loved

We’re social animals and need to feel connected.

Art and Literature

Refinements of altering states of awareness and points of view.

Science and Mathematics

Getting more understanding and control of the environment.

The Effects of Aging

Of course most folk are aware of the complaints of aging — aches and pains and less physical ability.   So much so that you don’t often hear of the benefits — slower can be better in that it allows more time to savor, enjoy and reflect on (oddly enough, especially sex).

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Does God Still Exist?

Feb 09, 2012 Posted Under: creating

It never ceases to amaze me that people continue to insist their own notion of God is the only valid one, despite the absolute abundance over the millenia of claims of different people having received direct, personal, but very different, dispensations from God.  It would seem that God, at the very least, thinks no one person can give an accurate reporting of such an encounter.  What would motivate Him to be so frustratingly mis-informative, even to the point of instructing some listeners to kill all the other people He has spoken to?

Many people say God is required to have created the universe.  But then, who created God?

I am reminded of the “turtles all the way down” story, most famously retold by Stephen Hawking in A Brief History of Time:

A well-known scientist (some say it was Bertrand Russell) once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture, a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said: “What you have told us is rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise.” The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, “What is the tortoise standing on?” “You’re very clever, young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it’s turtles all the way down!”

Occam’s Razor, the scientific principle of not introducing more theoretical structures than necessary to explain any set of observations, would suggest that not even one turtle added any extra explanatory value.  Likewise with the notion that God is required to create the universe.

The quantum mechanical view of the universe is that one of its possible states was, at its beginning, that it was very small, impossibly small, such that its only natural way of continuing was to become the universe we now experience.

However, if God is Omnipotent, as many people believe, He would be able to prove that He doesn’t exist.  In which case, someone could claim to have received such a proof in the same way previous people have claimed to have received hallowed communications.

Such a proof could be like this:

God can prove this sentence is false.


Can you think of another such proof, or a disproof of this notion?

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Feb 07, 2012 Posted Under: cosmology, economics

Before the Beginning was the Void.  Then was the Law: something must change.  And the Law was called entropy, aka time.  So, the Void changed into Something.  And at the next execution of the Law (planck time tick), the Something also changed.  And on, and on, ’til nowabouts …

Stars following the first generation formed with planets having many elements, and so Life happened. And then, Sex happened, and more varieties of Life evolved quicker and with more resilience to catastrophic changes of environment.  And somewhere between Life and Sex, agreements started to form, first to identify non-self and food, and then to select a mate.  These agreements required the beginnings of Language, including protocol, syntax and meanings assigned to symbols, which then required memory.


And thus was born the source of all Wealth: Knowledge — the accumulation of useful agreements.


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Photon, Simplified

Feb 05, 2012 Posted Under: The Universe Game

The photon is said to be the massless carrier of the electromagnetic force, having only energy, polarity, and direction.

In information terms, it might be described by 1 bit for spin and a direction vector representing the counts of right and left turns at the vertices of equilateral triangles on the surface of the sphere of the universe. The sum of these planck lengths is the wavelength (energy) of the photon. Two counters are needed to track the progress of the photon through a wave, one for planck times and one for present right vs left turns.

The number of bits to count the turns (x and y) might be variable, the same as needed to count the age of the universe in planck times.   This variableness could account for the early sudden expansion of the universe just as photons decoupled from the hot plasma.

This scheme has the advantage of total relativity.

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