As Chubby Checker sang and showed a 1960s generation, “Let’s do the twist.” Twist is not only an important thing. It is the only thing. Look around; all that you can see is made of twist. How so? The explanation starts with atoms and takes us through topology and Solitaire to the final fate of […]
Tag Archives: Sundance Bilson-Thompson
The Massive Question The Higgs Boson Has No Answer
What is mass? An apple has it. Put one on a supermarket scale: Earth’s gravity guarantees you pay in precise proportion. In 1684 Isaac Newton does the math for mass and gravity. In 1915 Albert Einstein cleans it up. But a deep problem remains untouched: Up close and personal, neither Isaac nor Albert nor anyone […]
Could the Universe Have Only Two Dimensions?
It’s strange but true: Physics is now studying the universe as if it is a two-dimensional hologram. How did this come to be? And what does it mean? The 3D/2D duality is known as the holographic principle. Two decades ago American theoretical physicist Leonard Susskind described it this way: ‘In a certain sense the world […]
Physics Says There’s No Free Will Is Physics Right?
The concept of free will presents a problem. Physics is all about the rules of causation. Once there are rules there is no room for free will. This seems incontrovertible. But we will see that it is wrong. The argument for lack of free will persuades many physicists. Albert Einstein was a big fan of […]
How Can a Universe Begin?
Of all questions the most fundamental is: What was the initial condition of the universe? It is fundamental for philosophy and religion. It is even more fundamental for physics. Unfortunately it is a realm where physics fears to tread. Yet we may need to tread this realm to find the much-sought Theory of Everything or […]
A Breakthrough is Underway New physics will drive new technologies
Breakthroughs in physics drive the economy. Our economy could use new drive. Canadian Blackberry innovator Mike Lazaridis understands this. ‘We need a new discovery,’ he said a few years ago and gave $170M to endow the Perimeter Institute to study fundamental physics. History offers examples. In 1687 Isaac Newton kicks off mechanics. It set the […]
Precise measurements say the universe is expanding. The measurements don’t show new matter. They show new space. This leaves those who think of space as empty with a conceptual puzzle. As cosmologist Marcus Chown once said, ‘How can nothing expand?’ Muralidharan Thiyagarajan, who is a systems engineer with Infosys in Chennai, has another way to […]
In Search of the Physics of Causation
Does the world work on cause and effect or is this a world of random chaos? This question needs exploration at the universe’s smallest scale, far smaller than that of the atom. We are coming to see the answer is: neither and both! Long ago, physicists as well as philosophers wrestled with this question. Albert […]
The Shifting Shape
Reader Stevo asks a deep question: ‘If space is granular and Planck size is the shortest “length” then what geometric “shape” is a single Planck “thingie”?’ Geometry studies size and shape. Last week we saw Bernhard Riemann in 1856 divining how to do geometry in either of two different kinds of space: continuous space and […]