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Friday, 21 November 2014

the jitters

Photo by Dr. Gary Greenberg: “Sand Grains Magnified 110-250 Times” (PENGUIN)
“Craig Hogan believes that the world is fuzzy. this is not a metaphor. hogan, a physicist at the University of Chicago and director of the Fermilab Particle Astrophysics Center near Batavia, Ill., thinks that if we were to peer down at the tiniest subdivisions of space and time, we would find a universe filled with an intrinsic jitter, the busy hum of static. This hum comes not from particles bouncing in and out of being or other kinds of quantum froth that physicists have argued about in the past. Rather Hogan's noise would come about if space was not, as we have long assumed, smooth and continuous, a glassy backdrop to the dance of fields and particles. Hogan's noise arises if space is made of chunks. Blocks. Bits. Hogan's noise would imply that the universe is digital.”
— Michael Moyer, Scientific American
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"The fundamental level of the universe is so infinitesimally small that it's impossible to even imagine. But if we go down inside our brains to our nerve cells and into the microtubules and inside the microtubule subunits to the level of atoms and then keep going down even smaller than atoms (which are mostly empty space), the space between the nucleus and the electrons, down and down and down, everything is smooth.
     But eventually we reach a level where there's some kind of coarseness or irregularity. This may be something like being in an airplane looking at the surface of the ocean from 33,000 feet. The surface of the ocean looks very smooth. However, if you were on a boat on that surface, it'd be choppy and there's a pattern in the waves in the surface of the ocean. Similarly when we get down to the fundamental level of the universe, there's information."
— Stuart Hammeroff, Imagining the Tenth Dimension
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“Quarks and leptons, the building blocks of matter, are staggeringly small—less than an attometer (a billionth of a billionth of a meter) in diameter. But zoom in closer—a billion times more—past zeptometers and yoctometers, to where the units run out of names. Then keep going, a hundred million times smaller still, and you finally hit bottom: This is the Planck length, the smallest possible unit in the universe. Beyond this point, physicists say, the very notion of distance becomes meaningless.”
— Seth Kadish, Wired
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