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Category Archives: Science

As someone with almost literally a life-long love of **astronomy** (my first word was *“star”*), I’ve always been vaguely intrigued by **astrology**. I’m fascinated by that which endures through many ages and cultures of humanity. At the very least, such things reflect an aspect of human consciousness. They’re also a shared idea, so they form community in the like-minded.

Is there magic in the stars? No, not in the astrological sense. Any “magic” is in us, in our consciousness, not in the stars. (Worldwide, on average, almost 12 million babies are born each month. That an astrological sign applies to them all is a bit of a stretch.)

And the thing is, most of us aren’t the sign we think we are!

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8 Comments | tags: astronomy, planet, solar system, sun sign, zodiac | posted in Life, Science

**123 × 321 = 39,483**

My interest in number multiplication goes back to exploring algorithms for generating Mandelbrot plots, which can require billions of multiplication operations on arbitrary precision numbers (numbers with *lots and lots* of digits).

**Multiplying** two numbers — calculating their *product* — is computationally intense because of the intermediate Cartesian product. Multiplying two 12-digit numbers creates a 24-digit result (12+12), but it *also* has an intermediate stage involving **144** (12×12) single digit multiplications.

Recently I learned an intriguing Japanese *visual* multiplication method.

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23 Comments | tags: Cartesian product, Japanese multiplication method, Mandelbrot, multiplication | posted in Math

I’ve posted more than once regarding my view of the **Many Worlds Interpretation** (**MWI**) of quantum physics. I find its rise in modern popularity genuinely inexplicable. (I can’t help but think it’s exactly the sort of thing Dr. Sabine Hossenfelder is talking about in her book, *Lost in Math*.)

Hoping to find the logic that apparently appeals to so many, I read *Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime* (2019), by **Sean Carroll**. It is, in large part, his argument favoring the MWI. Carroll is a leading voice in promoting the view, so I figured his book would address my concerns.

But as far as I can tell, “there is no there there.”

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28 Comments | tags: Many Worlds Interpretation, MUH, MWI, quantum physics, Sean Carroll | posted in Physics

*Expert Logician*

For a little Friday Fun I have a logic puzzle for you. I’ll give you the puzzle at the beginning of the post, detour to some unrelated topics (to act as a spoiler barrier), and then explain the puzzle in the latter part of the post. I would encourage you to stop reading and think about the puzzle first — it’s quite a challenge. (I couldn’t solve it.)

The puzzle involves an island with a population of **100** blue-eyed people, **100** brown-eyed people, and a very strange social practice. The logic involved is downright nefarious, and even after reading the explanation, I had to think about it for a bit to really see it. (I still think it’s twisted.)

To be honest, I’m kinda writing this to make sure **I** understand it!

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16 Comments | tags: Daniel Craig, George Lazenby, James Bond, logic, logic puzzle, NASA, Pierce Brosnan, Randall Munroe, Roger Moore, Sean Connery, Terry Tao, Timothy Dalton | posted in Math

If you keep an eye on the night sky you may have noticed two bright “stars” to the south just around midnight. (To be precise: **Jupiter** is dead south at 11:02 pm; **Saturn** is dead south at 11:37 pm. By midnight they’ve moved slightly to the west.)

If you’re the *type* to keep an eye on the night sky, you likely already know those “stars” are Saturn (on the left) and Jupiter (on the right). What you may *not* know — and certainly can’t see — is that almost right smack dab between them is the former planet Pluto. All three just happen to be lined up nicely right now.

The New Horizons spacecraft is also out there, well beyond Pluto.

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4 Comments | tags: astronomy, Jupiter, NASA, New Horizons, planet, Pluto, Pluto is amazing!, Saturn, solar system, space, space exploration | posted in Science

Four years ago I started pondering the **tesseract** and four-dimensional space. I first learned about them back in grade school in a science fiction short story I’d read. (A large fraction of my very early science education came from SF books.)

Greg Egan touched on tesseracts in his novel *Diaspora*, which got me thinking about them and inspired the post *Hunting Tesseracti*. That led to a general exploration of multi-dimensional spaces and rotation within those spaces, but I continued to focus on trying to truly understand the tesseract.

Today we’re going to visit the 4D space *inside* a tesseract.

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3 Comments | tags: 1D, 2D, 3D, 4D, cube, dimensions, square, tesseract | posted in Math, Sideband

Back in 2015, to celebrate Albert Einstein’s birthday, I wrote a month-long series of posts about **Special Relativity**. I still regard it as one of my better efforts here. The series oriented on explaining to novices why *faster-than-light* travel (**FTL**) is not possible (short answer: it breaks reality).

So no warp drive. No wormholes or ansibles, either, because *any* FTL communication opens a path to the past. When I wrote the series, I speculated an ansible *might* work within an inertial frame. A smarter person set me straight; nope, it breaks reality. (See: Sorry, No FTL Radio)

Then **Dr Sabine Hossenfelder** seemed to suggest it was possible.

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12 Comments | tags: Albert Einstein, ansible, causality, causality violation, Einstein, faster than light, frame of reference, FTL, FTL radio, light, light speed, light year, Sabine Hossenfelder, simultaneity, spacetime, Special Relativity, speed of light | posted in Physics

Last time I started talking about **entropy** and a puzzle it presents in cosmology. To understand the puzzle we have to understand entropy, which is a crucial part of our view of physics. In fact, we consider entropy to be a (statistical) *law* about the behavior of reality. That law says: *Entropy always increases.*

There are some nuances to this, though. For example we can *decrease* entropy in a system by expending energy. But expending that energy increases the entropy in some other system. *Overall*, entropy does always increase.

This time we’ll see how **Roger Penrose**, in his 2010 book **Cycles of Time**, addresses the puzzle entropy creates in cosmology.

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21 Comments | tags: black hole, cosmology, entropy, galaxy, Immanuel Kant, laws of thermodynamics, Roger Penrose, thermodynamics, universe | posted in Physics

I’ve been chiseling away at *Cycles of Time* (2010), by **Roger Penrose**. I say “chiseling away,” because Penrose’s books are dense and not for the fainthearted. It took me three years to fully absorb his *The Emperor’s New Mind* (1986). Penrose isn’t afraid to throw tensors or Weyl curvatures at readers.

This is a library book, so I’m a little time constrained. I won’t get into Penrose’s main thesis, something he calls *conformal cyclic cosmology* (**CCC**). As the name suggests, it’s a theory about a repeating universe.

What caught my attention was his exploration of **entropy** and the perception our universe must have started with extremely low entropy.

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10 Comments | tags: arrow of time, big bang, cosmology, entropy, laws of thermodynamics, Roger Penrose, thermodynamics, time, universe | posted in Physics

Last time I started with wave-functions of quantum systems and the **Schrödinger equation** that describes them. The wave-like nature of quantum systems allows them to be merged (superposed) into combined quantum system so long as the coherence (the phase information) remains intact.

The big mystery of quantum wave-functions involves their apparent “collapse” when an interaction with (a “measurement” by) another system seemingly destroys their coherence and, thus, any superposed states. When this happens, the quantum behavior of the system is lost.

This time I’d like to explore what I think might be going on here.

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14 Comments | tags: quantum effects, quantum mechanics, quantum physics, Schrödinger Equation, wave-function | posted in Physics