Monday, 16 July 2012

Josephine and the Quantum Time Machine: Part I

Josephine and the Quantum Time Machine

Part I

By L.K.Davis

"Who wants another drink!? Anyone!? C'mon it's an after party for God's sake", Becky tends to become quite the party animal. It was 2.33 a.m and we were invited back to Greg Smith's house for the prom after party. Everyone was pretty drunk, I was too but I sobered up. The music was in the indie chill out stage, some people went home, so there was about 14 of us left.

Greg lived quite outside Middlewitch in a countryside cottage, with a few neighboring large houses. I went outside to get some fresh air, I was hungry and felt quite sick sitting in room that smelt like vodka and other drinks. The sky was pitch black, stars were more visible in the countryside and it made me feel relaxed. I sat down on a fence which bordered Greg's house. "Jo come in, we're gonna start playing Alco-twister!" Becky shouted from the kitchen window, "No thanks Becks, I'm alright here you go on and twist... or whatever" I halfheartedly replied. Wow. It sunk in. I have finished school. Seems as if it lasted a few months but during the years it seems to last a lifetime. CLUNK. CLUNK. What was that?

Across the field that i was facing was a large barn type building, motor noises and banging kept coming from there. It was only a 100 or so metres away so I thought maybe one of the guys from the after party were messing around in there. I started to feel a little bit better and jumped off the fence and started to walk across the field towards the barn. As I came closer I could hear a voice talking loudly and frantically, as if he... as it was a deep voice... was in some sort of panic.

"Helloooo? What you doing in there!? Greg won't be happyy if you're messing around in there!" I heard no reply just the voice frantically murmuring and the occasional crank of what seems to be a motor. There was a  window close by so I scurried towards it, perplexed to what was going on. I was stunned by sudden array of flashes, brightest I have ever seen. I gasped.

Whoever was in there was not part of the after party. I looked in through the window  holding my breath. Oh my god.

I saw some sort of messy laboratory, but it was void of any person. I swear I heard voices and noises from some sort of machine. Maybe he was away. Hmmm. I really wanted to go in there. I do love a good laboratory but this looked different. The party was pretty past its saturation point really. This was the only exciting thing left to see around here.

I opened the window and climbed through. I could hear beeps and hummings of machines...  wandering closer in, these machines were almost unrecognizable. They had no screens or buttons, just small grey squares on them. some machines I recognized such as a radio and some lights. But the other technology was beyond the likes of Apple and Microsoft. What do they do? Maybe they are just models for a film or some other weird thing.

Curiosity and adrenaline took over me and I began touching some of the machines, they were smooth and seemed robust but very light. All of them had no plugs... which seemed odd. They were warm so obviously some work is being done by them. I touched one of the grey squares....  "DNA not recognized. To activate Lepton amplifier please change privacy settings to all users". It spoke.. in a female tone... didn't sound robotic at all. I looked around some more. There was a sofa which looked very familiar, there were tools and some clothing on one side. I saw a blank white piece of paper which looked slightly thicker than normal. I picked it up and it began to light up. I chucked it out of surprise. An icon appeared and then later 'Interact for magazine'. Interact? Strange... maybe it was some new imported Japanese ipad. I picked it up again and it was quite floppy for an ipad sort of thing. A cover appeared..  it looked like a magazine.. it was called 'NewTheorist' and showed a picture of a man and others in front of slick looking building. Under the title it read 'WEEKLY 7th July 2117/ EB'. WHAT. Was this a joke!? Am I still drunk or high !?

"ahem... I zink you are not supposed to be here young girl" I whipped round and my body was frozen. He almost did not care that someone had trespassed. I was still frozen. "Now where did I put zat lepton amplifier.." His voice had an eastern European twang. "Hmmm just to your right... I think" I answered his rhetorical question still scared and confused. "Ah hah zere zou you are", he touched the grey square I had touched whilst looking at the other equipment. "DNA recognized, activating Lepton amplifier to wavelength 10.34 Gavisons". A Gavison? hmm doesn't sound familiar maybe it's beyond me. "So vat made you come here young girl hmm? Was I making too much noise?" he was setting up some machines whilst fiddling with his watch... or what seemed to be. "I... I.. yes.. well I... just th.." I couldn't speak. "Don't be frightened, I should not be here either". I collapsed in the sofa with even more confusion. "What do you mean you are not supposed to be here, isn't this your barn?", "oooo noo young girl it's not my barn, nor is it my time". What is he on about! "Right you my name is Josephine Eloise Baker and what do you bloody mean by this is not 'my time youunng girl" he turned round. I began to feel nauseous again.

 "I am not from yours time 'Josephine' I am from what yous call ze future. Yous see I have traveled here by accident, my transportation suffered from a fault and sent me to ze wrong space-time co-ordinate. My name is Professor Heinrich Bourbaki and where I come from, I am a ma-ze-matical zeorist who also studies anti symmetric quantum warping in singularities. Me and my team have for several years been able to create singularities in space time and convert mass into transparent mass thereby allowing an object to travel in any direction in minkowski space time without disrupting the nature of space and time itself". I puked behind the sofa... I was in shock. "Lie down, here have some VHC and rest". I passed out.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Impact Induced (liquid-solid) Temporary State Change In Non-Newtonian Fluids

A Newtonian fluid obeys the general mathematical formula:

where tau represents the shear stress exerted by the fluid, mu represents the fluid viscosity (the constant of proportionality and the differential w.r.t to y represents the velocity gradient perpendicular to the shear (strain rate).

Any fluid that disobeys this equation is said to be non-Newtonian and displays varying properties when different strain rates are applied.

Examples of non-Newtonian fluids:

Oobleck: This is a simple example of a non-Newtonian fluid as it is just a suspension of starch in water.

Where the name of the substance originated from

Flubber: Consists of a substance which is based on the cross linking between a polyvinyl alcohol and a boron compound. It is also classed as a Maxwell solid (named after James Clerk Maxwell) as it flows easily under low stresses but can break under great impact.

Another non-Newtonian fluid is quick sand, which we can walk on if our steps are quick enough. This unusual property has never been thoroughly examined by physicists. Prior to Scott R. Waitukaitis and Heinrich M. Jaeger research this 'quicksand' effect was thought to be due to sudden energy distribution towards the surface allowing for objects to temporarily not penetrated the fluid.

This theory was shown false according to Jaeger's and Waitukaitis' experiments, which consisted of impacting oobleck in a container using different blunt objects such as a metal ball and a flat head rod at varying speeds. They used techniques such as x-ray monitoring to see what was going on below the surface and lasers to see how the surface changed upon impact and after. The pair also used different sized containers, the behavior of the oobleck remained unchanged hence the theory of 'energy-surface distribution' was shown false.

A new explanation has been given, which is explained thoroughly and numerically in their paper. The sudden hardening of non-Newtonian fluids upon impact is due to suspended particles clumping together in a cone like shape within the fluid. This cone like three dimensional shape is much denser than the fluid under low stresses and is dense enough to be classed as a solid, this explains how we can walk on quick sand if we are quick enough. 

More research could unveil more properties of non-Newtonian fluids and we could use new materials and use their properties in industry, vehicles, packaging and other impact based safety measure.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Getting to know your senses

Evolution has sculpted magnificent organisms since life first emerged from basic chemicals. Through genetic variation and speciation organisms with different aptitudes in sensing the external world have arisen, mammals such as canines have extraordinary smell, the eagle and the human have evolved extremely precise and sophisticated vision.

Butterflies have very sensitive feet and can practically taste where they land and perch. All these wonderful sensory abilities exist for one reason, due to their success in the organisms environment.

You might be sitting down now without realizing how much information you're senses are feeding into your brain. You can feel the hardness or softness of your chair, the texture of your clothes on your skin, the temperature of your room, the ticking of your watch or the wind outside. You are always receiving information from your environment, this is to ensure that you can respond to your environment in the most accurate and relevant way. If you couldn't do this and this fault was widespread across your species then you  would be in shock when you become extinct... a belated shock no doubt ;)

Yes our senses our great... especially our vision. There is always a back office doing all the grinding, this back office is our brain. It is our brain that processes all the information that comes streaming in every second. It integrates all this information i.e. integrates all sensory inputs to build a 3 dimensional 'real' world which we can interact with. A lot of shortcuts are made by the brain to make processing and executing movements and physical decisions quicker and less arduous, these shortcuts are built up over a long period of evolution. These shortcuts are handy when we slightly recognize predators and make a quick dash for safe measure or we quickly recognize the shapes of prey and quickly get into hunting mode.

Our senses are vital for us today and missing one or a few can change someones life. However, robotics and science can help us understand our senses and our brain better which could help replace lost senses. We can  also try to improve our own senses, the ones left to us by Darwinian selection. 

How we sense, process and interact with the world is extremely interesting and important in so many ways. It is also quite close to scientists as they rely on empirical data to verify claims about the world. To some physicists our own senses are crude and too uncertain (hence the microscope, LHC and other great equipment) for the macroscopic and microscopic world.

Watch this documentary bought to you by BBC HORIZON. Extraordinary is just an understatement.

Paralyzed woman moves robotic arm with her brain

Cathy Hutchinson, who has tetraplegia which is a type of paralysis of the limbs, took part in an exciting experiment which integrated a robotic arm to her motor neural cortex. The team inserted a small sensor consisting of electrodes attached to a thin gold wire into Cathy's brain, in an area called the primary motor and premotor cortex. These areas of the brain deal with executing movement and the spatial 'feel' of movement.

The patient normally has to have a carer set up her drinks for her making sure it is in the perfect position. This video which was shown on Nature (a recognized scientific journal) shows how Cathy can drink coffee without a carer.

This is truly a break through in robotics and neuroscience, as both fields become more advanced we will see more exciting new array of neurally controlled robots (NCR).

Original research paper:

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Can you feel good after being wrong?

By Luke Kristopher Davis

So you might be thinking that working out 24/7 eating close to nothing would be the best approach for you getting in shape? Well you're wrong. You might also believe that whilst revising for an exam our brain stores and processes information at the same rate throughout the session, well again you're wrong.

I once thought the above was true, I went about those activities thinking that I was doing it the 'right' way or the most efficient way. Then I was shown to be wrong. I admittedly did feel a small shock. I used to feel so ashamed and so embarrassed about being wrong and would sometimes not admit to being wrong. I would even on some occasions continue to believe in my false claims just because I thought I was right or I didn't like the person who had proven me wrong.

We are wrong everyday, for example we could have miscalculated a sum at work or in a restaurant, we could have spelled something incorrectly or we could have our view of people or theories about the world proven false in a flash. There is a feeling of slight anger and slight shame when we are shown to be false about something, this may be due to the associated causation of being wrong itself. Every time we are wrong it is highlighting something we don't know... showing our ignorance and what seems to be little intelligence. Being shown wrong at work could come across being unprofessional or not showing enough care.

However, being wrong certainly hurts the most when it is about religion,  our own theories of how people behave, love, money, our own ambition and aspirations and how we think the world operates. There is probably some underlying biological reason for this, our brain is simply wired to operate like this due to evolution. Our brain has to somehow conjure up resistance to opposing views, maybe from opposing members of a tribe that are offering a new view of how to keep your people safe.

Why is being wrong so bad? Surely not knowing you are wrong is worse, say for instance going back to the working out 24/7 idea. You could have been doing that for just a week when someone says to you it isn't worth it, try this program of rest days and High intensity training (or whatever workout which is optimized for your goals), aren't you glad you were shown wrong then and not 1 year down the line. Think of the time and the money on your membership and other products you wasted because you could have put them to better use on a BETTER program. When you are shown wrong, yes try and defend yourself and consider the other  argument or theory but if you are wrong accept it and move on. Think about what you have learnt and how you can put your new 'updated' knowledge to use to evolve your own life.

There is something majorly important we need to discuss. It is how to defend yourself and how to show you are wrong just from your own analysis.

This is where the method of science and reason will help you. If you have a theory about the world make sure it can be tested by a decent set of experiments. I don't mean make yourself a large hadron collider or a lab but make sure you can measure out the 'success of your theory'. If you're theory is the 24/7 gym workout  then keep measuring you're BMI, weight, muscle strength over an appropriate amount of time. Try another workout (suggested by you're friend or trainer)... which gives you the best results? That is how to test yours and other peoples claims, to measure it's validity with evidence.

What if my or their theory cannot be tested? Well try at best to clarify said theories but if their fundamental premises and claims cannot be tested physically or there is not paper on it then you leave it in the wrong pile. A theory is only 'right' or valid when it has evidence for it. This seems simple but a lot of people cannot apply this consistently to their belief systems. For instance the theory that God created the world and Noah collected animals on his boat has no evidence for it, so we move that into 'the untested pile' which means it carries no scientific truth and we should use theories which have evidence behind them (theories that are based upon the same topic of inquiry).

Being wrong and knowing that you are wrong are two different things. When we know we are wrong we can make progress or we can stay being wrong and look stupid. You only look stupid or completely deluded if you are given a good explanation as to why you are wrong (if the explanation is based on scientific evidence, sound evidence and logic).

Next time you are shown to be wrong.. either in a heated argument or in class... think.. are my ideas reasonable? Is there legitimate evidence that can validate my theory? Use these question to judge your 'opponents' view too.

Remember that you have to recognize other people who are not accustomed to science or reason itself and when they are shown to be wrong they will continue being wrong due to indoctrination, insanity or some other reason (even medical). With these people it is often best to end the discussion.

Next time you are wrong.... you can feel good about it and move on to bigger and better things :)


Friday, 6 July 2012

H-Boson: Giving Out Mass Since the Dawn of Space Time

  Peter Higgs wiped a tear from his eye as the validation of his theoretical prediction was announced. This is no great surprise. To see his prediction try and be tested with experimental methods let alone become verified is a great achievement. Any scientist would have felt so much emotion, so much passion and relief about there discovery, even more so that it is a theoretical one.

This not only increases scientific confidence with the standard model it increases our confidence in physicists and mathematicians approaches to the laws and mechanisms of the world. Symmetry and symmetry breaking, conservation laws, Quantum uncertainty and the correlating mathematical analysis seem to great theoretical tools that can be used to uncover natures secrets.

The find which was a product of huge teams of physicists, engineers and mathematicians at Cern, ATLAS and leading universities opens new doors... as does all scientific findings. As we come to understand the nature of matter (dark and normal matter) and how the universe behaved in the first few increments time great technological advances could be made.

We might even see an Anti-Higgs which could path way for technologies which could defy gravity and even accelerate at speeds extremely close to light... or even faster.

Brief explanation of the Standard Model and the Higgs Boson

The standard model is a theory which explains how fundamental particles interact through forces. These forces include the strong, weak, electromagnetism and gravity). The framework classifies particles in sections due to their physical attributes:

Genre of matter FERMIONS: They are classed in this section due to their obedience to Fermi-Dirac statistics and their obedience to the Pauli exclusion principle which dictates that no two fermions can exist in the same quantum state simultaneously.

Quarks: Quarks were proposed in the 'Quark model' by Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig. There are six types of quarks: up, down, strange, charm, bottom and top. Quarks do not exist isolated so their properties are deduced from experiments conducted on hadrons.

Leptons: These are the typical charge carriers such as the electron (neg), positron, muon(neg) and the neutrinos.

Gauge Bosons:  These particles can each be paired with a fundamental force as they act as force carriers. Higgs Boson/ Gravity (potentially), W and Z/ Weak and strong interaction, photon/ electromagnetism, gluons/ strong force between quarks.

Higgs Boson allows particle to have mass and has verified, to a greater extent, the standard model.