Sunday, October 29, 2006

18+ Unanswered Questions in Physics

Physics is my personal favourite science. I try and read as much of it as possible especially with respect to cosmology, theories of everything and the philosophy of the discipline.

The following is a list that I have compiled of 18+ Problems that add to the richness of this field.

1. The Nature of Time Travel - Is it possible at all? If so is it uni or bi-directional?
2. The Existence of Dark Matter - Where does it come from? How dense is it? What is its constituent makeup?
3. Does Dark Energy explain the accelerating expansion of the Universe?
4. Why are the physical constants h, c, G etc so finally tuned? Is there a rationalization behind this or do we have to resort to the Anthropic Principle? Do the constants change with time?
5. How are the Laws of Physics carried and conveyed? How did they come into being in the first place.
6. Will General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics ever be reconciled? Or do we need a third Theory?
7. Is String Theory a valid Theory of Everything or the modern day equivalent of the aether or Phlogiston Theory?
8. How useful is Quantum Loop Gravity as a Theory of Everything?
9. Will the Higgs Boson Particle ever be discovered? And if so will it explain the concept of 'mass'?
10. Is there a level of organization that exists beyond the Quantum Foam? Is it defineable?
11. Is it possible to alter radioactive decay rates? How did they become 'fixed'?
12. How does randomness lead to order? What is the mechanism that faciltates complexity at each level in a hierachy system? Is this independent of the sum of the parts of the system?
13. Is Quantum Mechanics observationally reconcilable within in itself? How does this relation to consciousness?
14. What conditions need to be in place for the expansion of a singularity?
15. Does Newton's Law of Gravity need a 'fix' to the distance term in the denominator to correct for the unknown mass of the universe?
16. How Complete is the Standard Model?
17. How can one ascertain the history of a quark from its structure? ie. Are Quarks time independent?
18. What does the Universe expand into? Is Expansion an illusion?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

External Group Units

This is a mini-paper I wrote for class on External Group Units - a self-coined term.


Identification with group units forms a vital part in the psychological development of humans (we are social animals after all). In adolescence an external group unit is often sought as an adjunct to the immediate family. In many cases the external group unit supercedes the family as the paramount body of influence for the adolescent, and hence it functions critically in directing the world view of the young adult. Whether the cause of such a drive is genetic (it may be hard-wired into our brains) or environment based is debatable. However the ‘need to fit into a larger-order stratum, a fact that I have seen in many of the students that I have taught is powerful.

It can be argued that a human being passes through several stages of interaction with others, increasing the contact field size at each stage. As an infant the relationship is directed solely toward the parents (usually the mother as a source of nourishment), as a child siblings and close friends become more crucial, while as an adolescent the interaction expands to include members of the respective peer group. The rise of the peer group often brings with it a questioning of some of the parental values. This can lead to a rejection of home values in what as often described as teenage rebellion. Craving a higher meaning and not finding this in peer groups (which are too unstructured and lack authority), the adolescent expands their horizon further exploring the various external group units that exist. These can be sports or club focused but often such organizations lack a spiritual worldview that can replace the solidity lost by foregoing the family unit. The adolescent is then open to be drawn to idealism and its many incarnates, a transition that can be either positive (joining a human betterment group such as Save the Children) or negative (generally one of the us-against-them type philosophies).

The phenomenon of the home-grown terrorist growing up with all the benefits of western society (often from an affluent home) willing to kill and die for a belief is a direct consequence of an extreme but unfortunately not rare identification with an idealism. It is no coincidence that many of these suicide bombers are adolescents as their identification with the external group unit as a replacement for the ‘dead family’ is developing. The Nazis knew this hence their focus on the Youth Movement, as did the Mullahs in Iran who had no shortage of adolescent martyrs for the war against Iraq in the 1980s. In autocratic countries it is not uncommon for children to betray their parents for the ‘cause’, a fact which both Hitler and Stalin (with his Young Patriots) knew only too well.

Adolescents need to feel part of an external group unit that’s far greater than themselves and if no positive outlets exist that can speak to them philosophically and spiritually, its conceivable that they can turn to the dark side with a zeal that can flip Maslow’s hierarchy of needs on its head (survival loses its significance). The drive is that strong and should be further studied.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Non-Existent Circles

I was teaching a physics class on Uniform Circular motion the other day which made me think about the concept of a circle.

A circle is defined as the locus of all points equidistant from a center. As any school kid can tell you a circle has both a circumference and a diameter and the relationship between the two is:

C = Pi*d
where C = Circumference
d = diamater (or 2 *radius)

Now Pi is an irrational number that does not terminate. So that we cannot say with 100% surety what its value is.
Therefore if we know exactly what the circles diameter is there will always be some uncertainty with respect to its circumference and if we know its circumference then its diameter is in doubt.
So we cannot know both its diameter and its circumference. Since a circle has to have both a defineable circumference and diameter. We run into a mathematical paradox.

A number of resolutions to this paradox are:
a. Circles don't exist. Neither do other conics dependent on Pi for dimensions.
b. Pi is in reality a rational number.
c. Higher Dimensions account for the uncertainty in circle geometry (ie. 2-D Euclidean Geometry is a simplification even in the flattest worlds) - A String Theory type of Approach.
d. Pi is not a constant but fluctuates somehow creating an illusion of existence.

Another point to consider is whether circle uncertainty is the mechanism behind Heisenberg Indeterminancy? Does it also effect observation and if so how? Its worth thinking about.

Football Results Today

After England's dreadful performances against Macedonia (0-0) and Croatia (2-0 loss) it was great to return back to the EPL.

I watched the Wigan v Man U game in the morning. Rooney was clearly man of the match and United deserved to win the fixture despite trailing 1-0 at the half. Baines' goal for the underdogs was priceless.

Liverpool 1 Blackburn 1 - Bellamy scored but the Reds are still not jiving. Consider this two points dropped.

Reading 0 Chelsea 1 - Blues lose both keepers but win with an own goal and nine men.

Arsenal 3 Watford 0 - Business as usual. Henry was fantastic.

Aston Villa 1 Spurs 1 - Gareth Barry goal in 81st minute keeps Villains unbeaten record in EPL alive. However Juan Pablo Angel misses a penalty and then scores an own goal. Now that hurts.

Portsmouth 2 West Ham 0 - Season continues to worsen for Hammers as Harry Redknapp
pulls one over former club.

Boro 2 Everton 1 - Toffees finally drop one - against inconsistent Teesiders of all teams. Mark Viduka scores the winner.

In League Championship One: Cardiff leads the division. The Welsh side defeated Crystal Palace 2-1.

Man City 0 Sheffield 0 - More zzzzzs

Bad news for Leeds - Stoke defeated them 4-0 at Elland Road. It doesn't get worse than this. Does it?

Oh yeah Roy Keane's Sunderland were whacked 4-1 by Preston. Wouldn't want to be in Black Cats dressing room after this one.

In Spain. Surprise. Getafe defeated Real Madrid 1-0.

Clearing up a Political Issue

Here is the response I sent to a bulletin board regarding the left wing nature of Fascism.

It can and has been successfully argued that Fascism is actually a far left phenomenon. A type of Socialism with a nationalistic as opposed to an international focus. Right Wing causes tend to be more individualistic. Left Wing ideals are based more on group think.

Fascism has a group think mentality that is ultimately driven by Social Engineering (very much a left wing force). It opposes existimg establishments and is therefore non-conservative. It also seeks to remold society in its own image upward by destroying the existing infrastructure through radical transformation. This is a characteristic of Stalinism, Maoism, Marxist-Lennism, International Socialism and of course National Socialism or Fascism.

Its no co-incidence that such a Fascist politician as Benito Mussolini was an ex-socialist.The transition was easy to make. Both philosophies for one believe in strong government involvement and nationalization of industry (controlled economy) to meet an agenda. Modern day Fascists such as Lyndon LaRouche are following in Mussolini's footsteps and have made the 'small leap from Communistm to Fascism. Chavez in Venezuela has made the switch the other way.

A Far Right Philosophy is more likely to be that of Strict Libertarianism that seeks to reduce government involvement to a minimum - oppsing all types of social engineering and nationalization.Its one of the giant misconceptions that Fascism is Rightist as it fails to agree to this classification when analyzed strictly.

Left wing historians prefer to brand Fascist ideologies such as Nazism and Islamic Fundamentalism (to superficially distance themselves from either one) but when analyzed critically against the excesses of the 'f'ormal' left in China (Cultural Revolution), USSR (Purges and Forced Famines), Cambodia (Killing Fields) and North Korean (complete economic overhaul and famine) the similarities are uncanny.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In the News X

Anti-Israel Hate Fest in town bought to you by the usual suspects
As usual the predictable forces on the far-left have gathered together to plaster Israel (the only democracy in the Middle East). Its sad to see CUPE sponsoring this crap.
Its amazing that one never sees any campaigns from the so-called champions of Human Rights regarding the boycotting of
Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Palestinian Authority, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan and other shining lights of 'progress' in that region. Once again the so-called champions of social justice reveal their hypocrisy.

Interesting discussion here on why the Palestinian's place little value on their own lives but somehow demand that the Israelis do

Its good to see Ignatieff ahead in Quebec Liberal race

Jacques Chirac accused of meddling again. No Suprise here from Western Europe's leading hypocrite.

Jack Straw stands up for common sense
Conservatives show no backbone.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Sept 30th - Oct 6th Overview

I know its been ten days or so and I have last blogged. So this entry represents a catch-up on whats been happenning in my life.

Sept 30th - Had a meeting with Chapters regarding my book 'A History of the Future'. Looks as though I will be involved in an author signing initiative shortly. Excellent News.

This made up for Liverpool's 2-0 defeat at Bolton. At least Chelsea dropped points to the Villains (1-1 at the Bridge) though.

Oct 1st - Turned 38. A bit depressing but I cannot complain about my life and the blessings from G-d that I have received so far. My little son and wife are incredible.

Man United beat Newcastle 2-0 as expected. That fixture is so predictable.

Oct 2nd - Yom Kippur. Made it through the fast without my regular coffee withdrawel headache. Speeches at Aish were not as motivating as usual this year but then again maybe I have heard them before in one form or another.
Parents bought me an awesome book on the 'Race to Split the Atom'. Will be reading that soon. Although I have a stack of New Scientists to get through.

October 3rd - Back at School for more Teacher Ed. The debates in the Foundation Course are wonderful. Oh yes I managed to inform some young idealist Illuminati conspiracy nut on the bus that he had no real foundation for his Anti-Zionist position. This was somewhat enjoyable.

October 4th - Thinking a lot about Complexity Theory. Great Class Today on the Nature of Science. I was one of the judges in a debate about the 'Limits of Science and the bias of the subject. Prof gave an interesting oveview about Reaification in Science and the Epistemological/Ontological Axis. More to follow.

October 5th - Taught two Physics Grade 12 Classes in my Practicum Today. Topic covered was Friction - Static and Kinetic. In the evening I attended a Graduation Ceremony at the Private School that I once applied the pedagogic trade in. It was refreshing to see both the Graduate and current Grade 12 students, many of whom I have instructed in Physics, Science, History or Philosophy. I have to give them credit for sitting through my avalanche of puns. I wish them all the success in the future.

October 6th - Chilled out this day. Spent it with the family but also completed two assignments for school. Started reading Lee Smolin's book on the 'Trouble with Physics'. Expect a Review soon. He really digs into String Theory.

Thats all for now.

Till later