Submitted by Thomas on Fri, 2011-12-16 21:08.

So last night I had trouble sleeping, so I started browsing the net, and I came across this: 


It's really long, but fascinating.  Evidently the notion that space is broken up into granular Planck lengths has been floated around since 1983.  The evidence seems to point to the universe being made of a sea of Planck particles with a density of 3.6 x 10^93 grams.

The article goes on to explain some things that make me think it could be further simplified.  One in particular was the observation that an electron orbiting the nucleus should be radiating energy due to its acceleration, and therefore end up spiraling into the nucleus and annihilate itself.  But this doesn't happen.  A scientist named Hal Puthoff, being rightly troubled by this, eventually computed that the energy emitted by the Planck particles - called Zero Point Energy - was exactly enough to offset the energy lost, and so keeps all atoms in the known universe in working order.

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More Fun in Array Land

Submitted by Thomas on Thu, 2011-12-15 21:10.

I drew the above image in Photoshop.  Thee grey box is the rocket and the blue diamond is the pretend wavefront.  The red dots are light sensors.  The top row is what the rocket pilot sees and on the bottom is what the person on the ground sees, assuming that the speed of light is constant between the two observers.  I wasn't sure how to represent "half the speed of light" in this grid world so I had the rocket move every two frames instead of every one. 

As you can see, the geometry of where the light hits is different for both observers.  For the pilot, it looks like the light hits all four walls of the rocket simultaneously, but for the person on the ground, it looks like the light hits the back wall first. So that would seem to indicate that, if this array representation is at all tenable, each observer must have their own copy of the array.

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Time Dilation in Array Land

Submitted by Thomas on Wed, 2011-12-14 21:10.

So yesterday I had the (probably very wrong) idea that light could be propogating along a giant 3-dimensional array.  My thought was that each entry in the array would be like one Planck length (the smallest measurable length we know of).

Even though this kind of propogation doesn't work in a way consistent with Pythagoras' observations, I'm still curious about how relativity could work in such a scenario.

So, time dilation.  This is a measureable thing that we know happens thanks to cesium clocks.  Don't ask me what cesium is.  But the underlying principle is that the speed of light appears constant no matter how fast you move.  So, if you're moving at half the speed of light, and you try to measure the speed of light relative to you, it doesn't appear to have slowed - it's still going at the speed of light.

Einstein concocted a scenario involving a fast rocket with a flashlight aimed perpendicular to the rocket's motion, and figured out that for the light speed to seem constant both on the ground and on the rocket, time must run slower on the rocket. 

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Diffraction Musings

Submitted by Thomas on Tue, 2011-12-13 20:16.

So the way diffraction works is:  every point on a wavefront (whether that be sound waves, ocean waves, or light waves) is like the source for a new wave.  So when the wave approaches wall with a hole in it, all the points are removed except the hole, and it's as if your wave started out at the hole.  So it travels radially outward from the hole in a cone.

Now one of the things that will confuse anyone with a brain is that when you have something emit a single photon, that single photon will still travel within that diffracted cone, as if it were not a single thingamajig but a big wave.  But when it hits the wall on the far side, instead of seeing a bright spread as if the photon were smeared across the whole areat, only one point is hit, as if it were just a particle.  And the probability of where that one point lands is exactly in line with the sum of the crests and troughs of where a wave would be.

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Is light really a wave?

Submitted by Thomas on Sat, 2011-12-03 19:10.

In college, light was usually either depicted as a long sine wave or a discrete packet - the whole matter/energy duality thing. But it's my understaning that light comes mainly from electrons dropping into lower orbits, not from the electrons orbiting, so if you could somehow see it in profile, it would look like a straight line with a single drop, rather than a series of rises and drops. But then how to explain interference patterns? I'm thinking we could consider it as a series of messages - a stream of "electron is in a higher orbit" messages followed by a stream of "electron is in a lower orbit" messages (I have no explanation as to whether there is a smooth drop of "electron is changing orbits" messages or if the drop is instant). The interference would result when two opposing messages meet. We've proven that these patterns are themselves discrete, appearing as individual points of light on the target surface until enough points accumulate that a pattern is perceptible; so, I think the notion that light is a single sine wave with multiple crests and troughs doesn't fit. It's more like you have multiple photons each represented by a single dip.


Of course, this doesn't explain diffraction, which is pretty much central to the whole thing.

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Doppler Shift

Submitted by Thomas on Sat, 2011-11-05 17:34.
I'd always been mystified a bit by the notion of red and blue shifting of light - this is where a star or something is moving towards or away from you, and, though the relative speed of its light doesn't change, the wavelength does. Anyway, I just realized that the reason light comes in waves is that the source of the light is revolving in circles, and you are just getting the "here I am" message of the revolving object (an electron) at different points in its revolution, making it appear like a sine wave. So, then the electron is moving towards you relative to its emitted light, more revolutions are happening per second (like when you drive through rain and it seems to be more intense the faster you go), resulting in more waves per second, resulting in the doppler shift. I wonder how many people study physics as I once did and just talk up doppler shift to one more mysterious property of light?
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Page is Back Up

Submitted by Thomas on Wed, 2011-06-08 22:07.
I finally got my page back up. It seems that the server was set to run PHP 4 when my site is happiest with PHP 5. Personally not a fan of having to constantly update my site for whatever arbitrary changes the LunarPages people make to the settings.
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Afterlife Design

Submitted by Thomas on Fri, 2010-02-12 07:54.


If there are an infinite number of realities giving rise to sentient life, then it follows that some fraction of these serve as afterlife realities for sentient life that has died.

But what sort of afterlife would be best?  As it turns out, it is very important for mortal sentient beings to give some thought to this.  One way of thinking about the afterlife is as being a random spread of every possible scenario, from fluffy cloud cities high in the sky to burning lakes under the ocean to bizarre nonsense beyond comprehension.  Left to its own, this distribution would be even, with equal chances of going to a "heaven" as a "hell" on death.  Luckily, we should be able to push the odds in our favor, resulting in a greater proportion of "happy" afterlives.


How To Increase The Odds of a Happy Afterlife

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My New Home and Dog

Submitted by Thomas on Tue, 2009-11-10 05:45.
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Comments Disabled

Submitted by Thomas on Wed, 2009-09-09 06:06.
I got tired of the replica handbag spam and disabled comments again. For now, if you need to get a hold of me, use Facebook.
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