Physics - Popular Physics Publications (50)

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Physics - Popular Physics Publications

This chapter draws upon astronomical observations and modeling to constrain the prevalence of communicative civilizations in the galaxy. We discuss the dependence of the Drake equation parameters on the spectral type of the host star and the time since the galaxy formed, which allow us to examine trajectories for the emergence of communicative civilizations over the history of the galaxy. We suggest that the maximum lifetime of communicative civilizations depends on the spectral type of the host star, which implies that F- and G-dwarf stars are the best places to search for signs of technological intelligence today. Read More


M-dwarf stars are more abundant than G-dwarf stars, so our position as observers on a planet orbiting a G-dwarf raises questions about the suitability of other stellar types for supporting life. If we consider ourselves as typical, in the anthropic sense that our environment is probably a typical one for conscious observers, then we are led to the conclusion that planets orbiting in the habitable zone of G-dwarf stars should be the best place for conscious life to develop. But such a conclusion neglects the possibility that K-dwarfs or M-dwarfs could provide more numerous sites for life to develop, both now and in the future. Read More


What happens to the most general closed oscillating universes in general relativity? We sketch the development of interest in cyclic universes from the early work of Friedmann and Tolman to modern variations introduced by the presence of a cosmological constant. Then we show what happens in the cyclic evolution of the most general closed anisotropic universes provided by the Mixmaster universe. We show that in the presence of entropy increase its cycles grow in size and age, increasingly approaching flatness. Read More


When an object moves faster than emissions it creates, it may appear at two positions simultaneously. The appearance or disappearance of this bifurcation is referred to as a pair event. Inherently convolved with superluminal motion, pair events have no subluminal counterparts. Read More


During its active lifetime a star burns its nuclear fuel and gravitation is held off by the pressure of the heated gas. Gravity should take over once this fuel is exhausted unless some other agency saves the star from such a fate. Low mass stars find peace as {\bf \em white dwarfs} when the electrons settle into a Fermi degenerate phase where the pressure of degenerate electrons balance the gravitational pressure. Read More


In the previous paper (Osmanov 2016) (henceforth Paper-I) we have extended the idea of Freeman Dyson and have shown that a supercivilization has to use ring-like megastructures around pulsars instead of a spherical shell. In this work we reexamine the same problem in the observational context and we show that facilities of modern IR telescopes (VLTI and WISE) might efficiently monitor the nearby zone of the solar system and search for the IR Dyson-rings up to distances of the order of $0.2$kpc, corresponding to the current highest achievable angular resolution, $0. Read More


This article provides answers to the questions posed in the title. Contrary to the most common views, we show that neither the entropy, nor the Second Law may be used for either living systems, or to life phenomenon. Read More


We start with reviewing the origin of the idea that entropy and the Second Law are associated with the Arrow of Time. We then introduced a new definition of entropy based on Shannons Measure of Information, SMI. The SMI may be defined on any probability distribution, and therefore it is a very general concept. Read More


Recently, the educational initiative TED-Ed has published a popular brain teaser coined the 'frog riddle', which illustrates non-intuitive implications of conditional probabilities. In its intended form, the frog riddle is a reformulation of the classic boy-girl paradox. However, the authors alter the narrative of the riddle in a form, that subtly changes the way information is conveyed. Read More


As new concepts of sending interstellar spacecraft to the nearest stars are now being investigated by various research teams, crucial questions about the timing of such a vast financial and labor investment arise. If humanity could build high-speed interstellar lightsails and reach the alpha Centauri system 20 yr after launch, would it be better to wait a few years, then take advantage of further technology improvements to increase the speed, and arrive earlier despite waiting? The risk of being overtaken by a future, faster probe has been described earlier as the incentive trap. Based on 211 yr of historical data, we find that the speed growth of human-made vehicles, from steam-driven locomotives to Voyager 1, is much faster than previously believed, about 4. Read More


We describe how to construct a dodecahedron, tetrahedron, cube, and octahedron out of pvc pipes using standard fittings. Read More


If a civilization wants to maximize computation it appears rational to aestivate until the far future in order to exploit the low temperature environment: this can produce a $10^{30}$ multiplier of achievable computation. We hence suggest the "aestivation hypothesis": the reason we are not observing manifestations of alien civilizations is that they are currently (mostly) inactive, patiently waiting for future cosmic eras. This paper analyzes the assumptions going into the hypothesis and how physical law and observational evidence constrain the motivations of aliens compatible with the hypothesis. Read More


A hard difficulty in Astrobiology is the precise definition of what life is. All living beings have a cellular structure, so it is not possible to have a broader concept of life hence the search for extraterrestrial life is restricted to extraterrestrial cells. Earth is an astronomical rarity because it is difficult for a planet to present liquid water on the surface. Read More


Around year 2000 the centenary of Planck's thermal radiation formula awakened interest in the origins of quantum theory, traditionally traced back to the Planck's conference on 14 December 1900 at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. A lot of more accurate historical reconstructions, conducted under the stimulus of that recurrence, placed the birth date of quantum theory in March 1905 when Einstein advanced his light quantum hypothesis. Both interpretations are yet controversial, but science historians agree on one point: the emergence of quantum theory from a presumed "crisis" of classical physics is a myth with scarce adherence to the historical truth. Read More


One of the primary open questions of astrobiology is whether there is extant or extinct life elsewhere the Solar System. Implicit in much of this work is that we are looking for microbial or, at best, unintelligent life, even though technological artifacts might be much easier to find. SETI work on searches for alien artifacts in the Solar System typically presumes that such artifacts would be of extrasolar origin, even though life is known to have existed in the Solar System, on Earth, for eons. Read More


In the late 1620s the Neapolitan telescope maker Francesco Fontana was the first to observe the sky using a telescope with two convex lenses, which he had manufactured himself. Fontana succeeded in drawing the most accurate maps of the Moon's surface of his time, which were to become popular through a number of publications spread all over Europe but without acknowledging the author. At the end of 1645, in a state of declining health and pressed by the need to defend his authorship, Fontana carried out an intense observational campaign, whose results he hurriedly collected in his Novae Coelestium Terrestriumque rerum Observationis (1646), the only book he left to posterity. Read More


High-energy astrophysical events that cause galaxy-scale extinctions have been proposed as a way to explain or mollify the Fermi Paradox, by making the universe at earlier times more dangerous for evolving life, and reducing its present-day prevalence. Here, we present an anthropic argument that a more dangerous early universe can have the opposite effect, actually increasing estimates for the amount of visible extragalactic life at the present cosmic time. This occurs when civilizations are assumed to expand and displace possible origination sites for the evolution of life, and estimates are made by assuming that humanity has appeared at a typical time. Read More


The lack of evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life, even the simplest forms of animal life, makes it is difficult to decide whether the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is more a high-risk, high-payoff endeavor than a futile attempt. Here we insist that even if extraterrestrial civilizations do exist and communicate, the likelihood of detecting their signals crucially depends on whether the Earth lies within a region of the galaxy covered by such signals. By considering possible populations of independent emitters in the galaxy, we build a statistical model of the domain covered by hypothetical extraterrestrial signals to derive the detection probability that the Earth is within such a domain. Read More


Gravitation, the universal attractive force, acts upon all matter (and radiation) relentlessly. Stable extended structures can exist only when gravity is held off by other forces of nature. This series of articles explores this interplay, looking at objects that just missed being stars in this particular instalment. Read More


This essay discusses the relationship between science and religion, specifically the controversy elicited by an article by the philosopher Thomas Nagel, criticizing the scientific establishment for ruling out intelligent design as beyond discussion. He also criticizes the judge's decision in Kitzmiller vs. Dover, ruling out discussion of intelligent design in science classrooms in public schools. Read More


Pulsars have at least two impressive applications. First, they can be used as highly accurate clocks, comparable in stability to atomic clocks; second, a small subset of pulsars, millisecond X-ray pulsars, provide all the necessary ingredients for a passive galactic positioning system. This is known in astronautics as X-ray pulsar-based navigation (XNAV). Read More


Because of weak surface gravity, forms of comets approaching the Sun may possibly assume strange shapes depending on factors like rotation, structure and composition of the comet as well as solar wind pattern. It is therefore possible that our ancestors could have described some comets to be as `heavenly tree' or as `sky serpent'. This article proposes few conjectures in which strange events associated with the sky, as described in ancient Sanskrit texts, were actually apparitions of comets of antiquity. Read More


In recent years, a number of prominent computer scientists, along with academics in fields such as philosophy and physics, have lent credence to the notion that machines may one day become as large as humans. Many have further argued that machines could even come to exceed human size by a significant margin. However, there are at least seven distinct arguments that preclude this outcome. Read More


Frolop and Scott (2016) claim significant 1-1 correspondence between anomalies in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and the digits of pi, which they call 'Pi in the Sky'. They have without attribution republished the famous work of Joe Hill (Hill 1911), who first proposed this idea, then repudiated it. Read More


The recent discovery of seven potentially habitable Earth-size planets around the ultra-cool star TRAPPIST-1 has further fueled the hunt for extraterrestrial life. Current methods focus on closely monitoring the host star to look for biomarkers in the transmission signature of exoplanet's atmosphere. However, the outcome of these methods remain uncertain and difficult to disentangle with abiotic alternatives. Read More


I will report below on a few examples of raving and insane (or maybe utterly genial) sentences that can be found in famous and otherwise admirable books of physics, because I genuinely believe it is amusing. Read More


I propose that much recent history can be explained by hypothesizing that sometime during the last quarter of 2016, the history of the world underwent a macroscopic quantum tunneling event, creating, according to the Many Worlds Interpretation, a new branch of the multiverse in which my consciousness and that of my readers is now trapped. The failure of much political polling is then understood by assuming that the particular branch we are on had very low amplitude in the quantum wave function of the multiverse. In this view, one must take a different attitude towards alternative facts than that proposed by the mainstream media. Read More


We use a feed-forward artificial neural network with back-propagation through a single hidden layer to predict Barry Cottonfield's likely reply to this author's invitation to the "Once Upon a Daydream" junior prom at the Conard High School gymnasium back in 1997. To examine the network's ability to generalize to such a situation beyond specific training scenarios, we use a L2 regularization term in the cost function and examine performance over a range of regularization strengths. In addition, we examine the nonsensical decision-making strategies that emerge in Barry at times when he has recently engaged in a fight with his annoying kid sister Janice. Read More


Large time-domain surveys, when of sufficient scale, provide a greatly increased probability of detecting rare and, in many cases, unexpected events. Indeed, it is these unpredicted and previously unobserved objects that can lead to some of the greatest leaps in our understanding of the cosmos. The events that may be monitored include not only those that help contribute to our understanding of sources astrophysical variability, but may also extend to the discovery and characterization of civilizations comprised of other sentient lifeforms in the universe. Read More


Perception, sensation and re-action are central questions both in Psychology, Arts, Neurology and Physics. Some hundred years ago, believed to start with Wertheimer, researchers and artists tried to classify our human being "understanding" of Nature, in terms of \emph{Gestalt} principles. During same period \emph{Quantum} mechanics were developed by Schroedinger, Heisenberg, Dirac, Majorana and others. Read More


The Bayreuth Festspielhaus is well known for its architecture because its design is heavily influenced by composer Richard Wagner. Due to the special acoustic design, the reverberation time (i.e. Read More


The LIGO results are among the greatest experimental achievements of all times. Time and again scientists have compared this feat to Galileo pointing his telescope to the sky, offering instead an 'ear' to the cosmos. After the remarkable landmark of detection, the physics community will soon turn into the study of the properties of the sources, addressing fundamental questions in astrophysics and cosmology. Read More


Astrobiology is usually defined as the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. As such it is inherently interdisciplinary and cannot help but engender a worldview infused by cosmic and evolutionary perspectives. Both these attributes of the study of astrobiology are, and will increasingly prove to be, beneficial to society regardless of whether extraterrestrial life is discovered or not. Read More


We propose the use of specific dynamical processes and more in general of ideas from Physics to model the evolution in time of musical structures. We apply this approach to two \'Etudes by F. Chopin, namely op. Read More


Gravitation, the universal attractive force, acts upon all matter (and radiation) relentlessly. Left to itself, gravity would pull everything together and the Universe would be nothing but a gigantic black hole. Nature throws almost every bit of physics - rotation, magnetic field, heat, quantum effects and so on, at gravity to escape such a fate. Read More


The rising complexity of our terrestrial surrounding is an empirical fact. Details of this process evaded description in terms of physics for long time attracting attention and creating myriad of ideas including non-scientific ones. In this essay we explain the phenomenon of the growth of complexity by combining our up to date understanding of cosmology, non-equilibrium physics and thermodynamics. Read More


The recent observation of gravitational waves confirms one of the most interesting predictions in general relativity: the black holes. Because the gravitational waves detected by LIGO fit very well within general relativity as a phenomenon produced by two colliding black holes. Then the reality of black holes seems almost undoubted today. Read More


The event GW150914 was the first historical detection of gravitational waves (GWs). The emergence of this ground-breaking discovery came not only from incredibly innovative experimental work, but also from a centennial of theoretical analyses. Many such analyses were performed by pioneering scientists who had wandered through a wild territory of mathematical laws. Read More


Eugene Wigner famously argued for the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" for describing physics and other natural sciences in his 1960 essay. That essay has now led to some 55 years of (sometimes anguished) soul searching --- responses range from "So what? Why do you think we developed mathematics in the first place?", through to extremely speculative ruminations on the existence of the universe (multiverse) as a purely mathematical entity --- the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis. In the current essay I will steer an utterly prosaic middle course: Much of the mathematics we develop is informed by physics questions we are tying to solve; and those physics questions for which the most utilitarian mathematics has successfully been developed are typically those where the best physics progress has been made. Read More


This article discusses the relationship between emergence and reductionism from the perspective of a condensed matter physicist. Reductionism and emergence play an intertwined role in the everyday life of the physicist, yet we rarely stop to contemplate their relationship: indeed, the two are often regarded as conflicting world-views of science. I argue that in practice, they compliment one-another, forming an awkward alliance in a fashion envisioned by the Renaissance scientist, Francis Bacon. Read More


A physical model is developed, which suggests a pathway to determining the optimal release conditions for a basketball free throw. Theoretical framework is supported by Monte Carlo simulations and a series of free throws performed and analysed at Southbank International School. The model defines a smile-shaped success region in angle-velocity space where a free throw will score. Read More


It is widely assumed that human exploration beyond Earth's orbit will require vehicles capable of providing long-duration habitats that simulate an Earthlike environment: consistent artificial gravity, breathable atmosphere, and sufficient living space- while requiring the minimum possible launch mass. This paper examines how the qualities of digital cellular solids - high-performance, repairability, reconfigurability, tunable mechanical response - allow the accomplishment of long-duration habitat objectives at a fraction of the mass required for traditional structural technologies. To illustrate the impact digital cellular solids could make as a replacement to conventional habitat subsystems, we compare recent proposed deep space habitat structural systems with a digital cellular solids pressure vessel design that consists of a carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) digital cellular solid cylindrical framework that is lined with an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) skin. Read More


According to a well-known principle of thermodynamics, the transfer of heat between two bodies is reversible when their temperatures are infinitesimally close. As we demonstrate, a little-known alternative exists: two bodies with temperatures different by an arbitrary amount can completely exchange their temperatures in a reversible way if split into infinitesimal parts that are brought into thermal contact sequentially. Read More


Quarks can be represented on the faces of the 3x3 Rubik's cube with the help of a symbolic representation of quarks and anti-quarks, that was delevoped originally for a deck of elementary particle cards, called Quark Matter Card Game. Cubing the cards leads to a model of the nearly perfect fluid of Quark Matter on Rubik's cube, or Qbe, which can be utilized to provide hands-on experience with the high entropy density, overall color neutrality and net baryon free, nearly perfect fluid nature of Quark Matter. Read More


Energy has always been the driving force in the technological and economic development of societies. The consumption of a significant amount of energy is required to provide basic living conditions of developed countries (heating, transportation, lighting, etc.). Read More


We introduce The Fabric of the Universe, an art and science collaboration focused on exploring the cosmic web of dark matter with unconventional techniques and materials. We discuss two of our projects in detail. First, we describe a pipeline for translating three-dimensional (3D) density structures from N-body simulations into solid surfaces suitable for 3D printing, and present prints of a cosmological volume and of the infall region around a massive cluster halo. Read More


Quantum technologies can be presented to the public with or without introducing a strange trait of quantum theory responsible for their non-classical efficiency. Traditionally the message was centered on the superposition principle, while entanglement and properties such as contextuality have been gaining ground recently. A less theoretical approach is focused on simple protocols that enable technological applications. Read More


Regulations governing METI are weak or non-existent. Post-detection SETI protocols are non-binding and too general. Vastly increased SETI capabilities, Chinese involvement in the field, and an intensified effort by METI-ists to initiate radio transmissions to the stars are among reasons cited for urgency in addressing the question of appropriate regulations. Read More


Recently it was shown that certain fluid-mechanical 'pilot-wave' systems can strikingly mimic a range of quantum properties, including double-slit interference, quantization of angular momentum etc. How far does this analogy go? Could such systems also violate a Bell inequality, despite the fact they involve only local (sub-luminal) interactions ? Here the premises of the Bell inequality are re-investigated for particles accompanied by a pilot-wave, or more generally by a 'background' field. We find that two of these premises, namely outcome independence and measurement independence, are not generally valid when a resonant background is present. Read More


Additive manufacturing of polymer bonded magnets is a recently developed technique, for single-unit production, and for structures that have been impossible to manufacture previously. Also new possibilities to create a specific stray field around the magnet are triggered. The current work presents a method to 3D print polymer bonded magnets with a variable magnetic compound density distribution. Read More