Sunday, October 3, 2010

Goodnight, Sam

Well friends,
It appears that blogging SF and science isn't moving as fast as I'd hoped. I just don't have time to keep up with the latest physics and media to keep the conversation lively. Half way through the year my son and his young boys moved into our house and turned our lives upsidedown.

So....I'm switching gears. I'll probably add some posts here and there as my book gets closer to completion but in the meantime I'm starting a new blog about raising grandchildren. It's on a new blogspot called Grampy's Little Acre and, since things with kids change every day, I hope to post every day.

Sorry if anyone out there is a fan of my SF blithering. I'm sure I'll come back to it. For now, I'll see you all at my new home

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice - science and magic

I took in the matinee of the new Nick Cage flick "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" today. While it's lots of fun, it's loaded with the typical magic cliches. Merlin, Morgana, et. al.

However, they try to connect quantum physics with magic in a small way (probably just to hook the SF crowd) by channeling electromagnetic energy through thought to create magic. A bit hokey in itself but I am working to connect these as well in my latest novel. Not by creating magic, but by creating the mystery through quantum mechanics. Taking the science down to the planck scale makes everything at the macro seem like magic.

The trick for me, in a novel not a movie, is that I need a lot more detail. My magician moves stars and across the sky. But I don't call it magic. I'm trying to connect through spirituality and religion.

Maybe by the time I'm done, It'll all be magic.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

An afterthought...

If we could compress space by stopping local time so that crossing the space was easier, in fact by eliminating the distance, we humans would probably start pooting across great distances until we completely destroyed space.

Imagine if you could travel in an instant from New York to Tokyo simply by compressing all the land mass in between. I bet there are lots of people who wouldn't mind deleting North America and the Pacific Ocean for their own convenience.

We gotta long way to go...

Friday, June 25, 2010

compressing time

Let me use the last entry to suppose a new form of space travel. If time did freeze, according to Kovachi, all space would instantly compress because the cohesion of energy would disappear. Why? Because time is the moment of energy transfer, the reason for matter, the spark of density and gravity. Imagine, then, being able to localize a time 'freeze' that compresses a portion of space from point A to B. If your ship was positioned on the cusp of the time quanta that is frozen, then perhaps you could ride a gravity wave to the other side in an instant.

Just make sure you don't enter that segment of space or you'll get compressed smaller than a Kenmore trash compactor could dream.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Cosmic Reset Button

Physicists for the most part buy the Big Bang as the original cosmic burst. The question of a cyclical or linear universe, that is, are we a pulsating and contracting expanse or just swelling to the point of endless entropic dissipation, is key to understanding the Bang.

Instead of matter or energy being the primary measure of the universe's trip to nowhere, Kovachi's TGIF theory quantizes time into particles that mingle with gravity/energy to create matter. This creates the following supposition: the universe only exists because there is velocity. Time doesn't pre-exist the universe, it is the primal reaction, the first transfer of gravity to energy giving birth to matter. Without that transfer, there is no matter. So, the only way to 'reset' the universe is to stop time.

Imagine what that would look like. Stopping time wouldn't freeze us all in Matrix style bullet time, nor would it be like pulling on an H.G. Wells gearbox to shoot us past the moment into an alternate human history. Time is more like zeros and ones in a computer. Individually they don't seem like much but you add them up infinitely and they look like something they really aren't. So to 'stop' time would be to eliminate the agitation of gravity that creates energy. The universe would collapse in on itself in the last micro-nano-planck-moment of time leaving only dead matter, the byproduct of a once living universe.

Talk about the ultimate reset button. But would it start the whole thing over again? Only time will tell.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My daughter, the constellation.

My daughter Elise was married last Saturday. I searched for days, wondering what I could say about her to the gathering as father of the bride but when I saw her standing in that dress it took me by surprise and all my words failed me.

Going to so many weddings over the years, you get used to seeing a gorgeous young woman in a white gown that it becomes part of the uniformity of the occasion. Tuxedos, flowers, round tables, ritual, etc. often give the guests too much deja vu.

But the girl in the gown that day shone out at me like a beacon of light, like all the trappings, including the tux I was strapped into, were all part of the invisible dark matter (well, this is an SF blog!) and she was the only particle of light in the whole universe. My! It took my breath away. It wasn't that she was the most beautiful girl in the world (that's a given), it was more: she turned the mundaneries of weddings into an event that I was privileged to witness.

To bring this special relationship that I'm sure many parents feel at their children's weddings, into a perspective that somewhat befits this blog, and follows what I've been saying the past few entries. The universe we see is only visible with the eyes that were evolved to survive in it. Maybe the truly beautiful, rare, and unusual can only be seen when our relationship with it is special.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

We have eyes...but do we really see?

An obvious observation about a dog is that you can hand them anything and they'll accept it without understanding. A lump of food, a digital watch, a stick, can of soda are all in the same basic place to them: can I or can't I eat it? When they're through with it, the item joins the background noise of their lives.

But a less overused metaphor is when you point at the clouds or the stars for the dog and all they see is the end of your finger. Looking up, or observing the background of the world, is not only incomprehensible but irrelevant to them.

I wonder if the same rings true for us on some level. Are we staring so hard at our surroundings that we don't see 50% of it? I don't mean quarks and microwaves and viruses and infrared. I mean something that is so clear that all it needs is relevance to spot it. What might it consist of? Metaphysical? Consciousness? Interchangeable density and energy? Another level or species of life that shares our world without our notice?

What if one time you lifted your Schnauzer's snout to the stars and for the very first time he saw the twinkle of Venus next to the Moon. He'd bark, look to you for approval and move on to the next thing.

I suspect that's what most of us do when we spot the unknown.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Alien OCD

Following up on that last thought...

If we couldn't make it out of the trees without being obsessive-compulsive, then might it not stand to reason that SF aliens who zoom around the galaxy in all the popular movies and TV imitating humankind would be the same? So, as well as being warlike, greedy, selfish and whatnot like all the stories would have us believe, lets explore their obsessive side.

What about the superior race that shows up to control the planet Earth just to watch what we'd do if, say, they changed the weather patterns or introduced a new disease. ("My blotnix are on the Americans to come up with a cure, Zacknar.") We've been given the butterfly-on-a-pin treatment in SF before but not so much of the ant farm.

What if they use Earth as the lab rats to test an immunization they want? How about the old 'we buried the Asian subcontinent in water because we can' excuse that humans are so fond of when trying out new toys like, I don't know, the atom bombs. A great Kliban cartoon from the '70's had a bunch of slob aliens stumble off a saucer with open cans of something in their paws saying, "Greetings. We're creatures from a 5th rate planet."

SF always runs too much to the warlike for their alien conflicts these days. A good old fashioned hand washing obsession for its own sake could make for some Roland Emmerich scale disasters.

We miss you, Doug Adams!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

human endeavor on a planck scale

It's amazing how we each can get so absorbed into our own endeavors that we become fascinated with the tiniest nibblets of information about our passion. Abraham Lincoln's chipped tooth, the slightly lower engine output in the early '67 Lotus vs. the same model later that year, a misprinted 1st edition, and so forth. Our lives have become so removed from necessity that we hone our natural OCD in less than essential directions.

I've come to the conclusion that we don't suffer from Obsessive/Compulsive Disorder, we benefit from it. It's what drives us. We climbed down out of the trees because of it, we invented the wheel, we pushed our way to the Moon on the stuff. How else would we ever have dragged our asses off the floor of the cave to create a bison trap if it weren't for our compulsions? We could have stayed by the fire and eaten whatever came our way.

You see, we have it backwards. The real downfall of our bored society is a Disinterested Unmotivated Disorder (DUD). People who could care less about curiosity. We are naturally curious and motivated to learn. We're just wearing ourselves down to the bone on the mundane.

Time to celebrate our obsessions! Don't let them run your life, but don't dismiss them either. Obsession in moderation, I say!

Okay maybe that's a tad simplistic. Let me research it....and do a poll....and start a newsletter....and write a paper.....and get funding.....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are We Really That Dense?

The more I delve into physics, the more I think about density.

Seeing the world through quantum eyes has changed the view of the universe around me in strange ways. Density is an all important fundamental in differentiating one particle from another. Same goes for the macro condition of things on Earth. We only learned how to fly when we realized that the air, like water is a substance that we all swim through. Wood, leaves, and brick are only modestly denser than air but that slim difference gives our world structure inside a gravity field.

Imagine if your eyes could only see density, no color, nothing impenetrable, just variations on dense. I suppose that's a lot of what we do because of shapes but we can't tell with our eyes what is more dense. Starting with air, we'd see a fog. Through that to a chair back that had shape but translucent, then to a more transparent, but not invisible window, more air, some leaves, the grass, the earth and all the variations in between. The world would turn into an uncolored, layered line drawn illustration. Much like some of the translucent creatures at the bottom of the deep ocean.

What if there are already creatures living this way, using density as their relative medium? Like clouds they might float on the surface of our atmosphere, or the depths of the ocean. We might not have sensitivity to detect them because they are only subtly denser or less dense than their surroundings. The very Ozone! Perhaps they are as large as the void between planets because their density is so slight.

Just a thought to steer the landlocked into imagining that possibilities of life need not start and end with us.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Farthest Reaches of Humanity

I feel I can come back from the depths of grandparenting and get a grip on some writing again. The last couple of months have been such a change in life that I didn't think - strike that - couldn't think. Period. I was on auto-operation parenting mode just to stay on top.

It's fitting, perhaps that in returning to thoughts of science and SF that this week I was creating a piece of jewelry that incorporated an element from the plaque on Pioneer 10. Remember that, Sam? Way, way back in 1972 Nasa launched the first satellite destined for deep space outside our solar system. In 1983, it sailed past Pluto and onward towards Aldebaran some 65 light years away. The last it was heard from was in 2003.

With it flies a piece of mankind's history, know-how, imagination, and hope. Some may say hopeless but meeting up with other species, or letting them know who and where we are, even if by chance, is an imaginative gesture.

Well, that's me, all wrapped up in a nutbar. One single ray among the billions sending out imaginative gestures into the void in the hope that someone out there will learn a bit about who I am and why I send this signal.

Beep. Beep.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A time to write

I've been off topic for a month with so many other issues that I haven't had time to write or blog or reading get the idea. I'm dying to get back to writing. My novel is ready for a final rewrite and it can be daunting to start over for the last big push. The nail biting thing about writing a complex story with tons of characters is the hope that the dream story that brought me to the typewriter in the first place stays the same as the one that finally comes out.

Wish me luck. The next few months will tell the tale.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

SF Hokum

I was watching old Time Tunnel reruns on HULU last night. I have no excuse for why. In Irwin Allen tradition, these hokey, bad science yarns are really no worse than some of the SF today. The big difference is that today the slick FX and fast cut action/violence mask the bad writing and inconsistent plot and science right down to all the aliens using American English dialect.

The show didn't last long but I remember seeing it in reruns over and over when I got home from school in the 70's. I thought it was a joke then, it's a joke now. But somehow I don't think the crew did.

It doesn't matter what's changed in the past 40 years, tin foil aliens or renegade Romulans all want to destroy Earth. Like we're the center of the Universe.

I wish.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chaotic and Temporal Disturbances

My son, with fresh sole custody of his three small sons has moved into my house. Talk about quantum disturbances in the force. Everything affects all other things, big or small. When one says a bad thing in 3rd grade on Tuesday it throws the house into chaos by Thursday. It reminds me of the "thousand monkeys typing to write Shakespeare" cliche. If we leave the house in ruins for 6 weeks will the 3 children and 4 dogs coincidentally clean it?

As for temporal paradoxes, one afternoon with a 4 year old stretches 3 hours into an infinite number of xeno slices, and yet the time disappears in a flash. I think this is a classic example of compression of time depending on velocity and energy. The more energy the kid spends, the faster time goes by. But parked in front of a row of matchboxes and lego can make the years tick by like watching a galaxy spin.

If this goes on too long, the gravitational pull of the three heavenly bodies will suck me into a black hole of complete inaction.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is Science Dying?

Now the debate has seeped from "Is SF dead?" to "Is science dead?". The Reference Frame a physics blog expressed a disappointment in the public for not understanding basic science anymore and that even the science community follows populist theories that may not be well researched or possibly even fact based. Calling it pseudoscience, the author expressed nothing less than disgust at his perceived failing of government and scientists to properly research and report fact rather than opinion. This is true of climate change to particle physics. Both fundamentalism and sensationalism are party to this problem.

Personally, I think this a failing all across the board. But sticking to science and hard SF, we all have work to do to bring the public back to our court.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Origins of Gravity: A New Theory by Erik Verlinde

I've just read the most fascinating treatise on a new theory of gravity by Dutch physicist Erik Verlinde. A synopsis by Mr. Verlinde PhD. is posted on The Reference Frame blog and you can find a link to his complete paper there. What sparks my quark about this theory is that it creates a dynamic interaction of gravity in the origin of the universe. He postulates that gravity is an entropic force, rather than static, created in the primordial crucible of time and energy.

Sound familiar? It might to the one or two readers of my own Kovachi TGIF theory of time. As a non physicist, my concepts on the origins of the universe are intuitive not formula based but Dr. Verlinde has my back on this one.

I'm going to explore more and get back to you about the details. Reading the treatise was slow going and I need time to really digest its gravity.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Finding Time To Read

As I get familiar with blogs and bloggers in SF, I see so many that review books and stories and edit and seem to find so much time to read. Man, I wish I could do that! First off, I am a real slow reader. Dyslexic or something, I don't know. But whenever I try to zip through a book, I lose most of it, so I have to slow down. On top of that, I have a job making flutes that occupies a bagful of working hours in the day, and, hey, I want to continue to be a novelist so I have to find some time during the day to write. Throw in networking with tweets, and facebook and blogging and listservs, add family and grandkids, exercise, and my marriage and...and... and that only leaves a few minutes here and there to read anything for enjoyment.

I wish I had time to enjoy all the latest novels and stories. For those, I listen to books on tape while I work and I have my computer read blogs and articles, too. But there's so much good stuff that drips through my fingers like water that I feel like I'm always falling behind.

What do I choose when I do get a chance to crack open the pages? Right now, quantum physics and the latest theories in the primordial makeup of the universe.

Maybe I could give up sleep...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Kovachi Temporal Gravitational Interlacing Force (TGIF) Grand Unification Theory

The next 9 posts are all the parts of the TGIF Grand Unification Theory created by physicist Evan Kovachi. I’ve posted it in parts to keep from writing one long ponderous blog. We’d love to hear comments and ideas about each section or the whole thing.
It starts with basic background on the elements of quantum and relativity mechanics and builds from there. Many may already be familiar with these concepts but it’s important to lay the foundation before making the case.

The Kovachi Temporal Gravitational Interlacing Force (TGIF) Grand Unification Theory
Part 1: Gravity

We have eight basis elements of nature. Four forces: strong and weak nuclear, electromagnetic, and gravity. Then the four known dimensions: three spacial and one time. The two elements in all of these that we understand the least are gravity and time. Let’s start with gravity.
Gravity behaves differently at different mass/energy scales. That means we have to leave it out of one set of equations, modify it at others, trust it on yet others, and scratch our heads as to why it is so weak on an astronomical scale.
Newton, back in the seventeenth century, established the basic laws of gravity and motion that still hold true for physics today - as long as we don’t look too closely. In 1906, Einstein came along with relativity and the concept of space-time where gravity, no longer a force, curves the structure of space depending on the mass of an object and even maintains a weak effect at great distances. That meant that all objects weave their way through gravitational fields as they travel through space. He didn’t negate Newton’s laws, he modified them to fit a new relative understanding. Both still work hand in hand.
Also at the turn of the twentieth century, Max Planck theorized the quanta that later became quantum mechanics to start answering questions at very small, sub atomic scales calculating that gravity gets incredibly strong when measured at the planck scale of 1.616 x 10-35 meters. It is at this point we started getting a clue of how amazingly complex the make up up the universe really is.
Quantum mechanics and Einstein’s general relativity are compatible for the most part and led to the holy grail of universal scientific questions: Is there a theory of everything? One grand overarching equation that explains the mechanics of the universe at Planck, Einsteinian and Newtonian scales? The answer was yes - if, and it is a huge if, you don’t include gravity.
Einstein struggled with this problem in his later years to no avail. Careers came and went over this one question: what makes gravity work the way it does? The problem lies in the fact that gravity seems so amazingly weak at stellar levels and incredibly strong at the planck scale. Not only that, but at the quantum scale, gravity gets stronger as the distance increases.

Click here for the next section of the TGIF theory

TGIF Part 2: Dark Matter and Strings

The Kovachi Temporal Gravitational Interlacing Force (TGIF) Grand Unification Theory
Part 2: Dark Matter and Strings

In order to balance this, many theoretical physicists have created multiple higher dimensions, multi-universe theories, membrane layers of alternate space, and dark matter (an unseen, unknown material that takes up a third of space) into their equations to create enough density to account for gravity’s weakness at large scales. One explanation for so many complexities in the math comes from a basic reluctance on the part of the physicists to modify Einstein’s basic tenets. Or, for that matter, any of the other so called ‘constants’. The first being Newton’s gravitational constant (that the gravitational force between bodies of masses is separated by distance), the second being Planck’s constant (that there is a fundamental meeting of all scales of matter at 10-16cm), and the third being the speed of light (186,000 miles per second).
This implies that the physical world needs to conform to our math instead of the other way around. So we get enigmas like strings and dark matter that can’t be detected but make the formula balance. Strings because they turn point particles into one dimensional lengths, adding six new quantum scale dimensions to the universe, and dark matter because it creates a dense substance to the universe that balances the gravity equation at large scales. Let me add that string theory does not completely bring gravity into the black nor does it make it function at the quantum scale.

Click here for the next section of the TGIF theory

TGIF Part 3: Quantum Gravity

The Kovachi Temporal Gravitational Interlacing Force (TGIF) Grand Unification Theory
Part 3: Quantum Gravity

Many other physicists, Einstein included, did not like creating complications to arbitrarily balance a formula. They decided instead to modify relativity the way Einstein modified Newton: use it a foundation to build upon. After all, nothing should be sacrosanct, according to these theorists. These theories have come to be known mostly under the umbrella of Quantum Gravity theories. By modifying the gravitational constant and making the speed of light relative rather than constant, the weakness argument balanced between large and small scales without creating substances such as dark matter. Others added a large scale fifth dimension that resolved the question of where gravity’s strength was being sapped. Loop Quantum Gravity creates the fabric of the universe from the basic elements rather than supposes that the very premise of the standard model of the universe is flawed in depending on matter and energy existing in some pre-existing spacetime.
Unfortunately, none of these theories can be proved without high energy experiments that are as yet impossible to perform. They all agree it would take a particle accelerator with a circumference the size of Jupiter’s orbit to get the mass/energy they need.

Click here for the next section of the TGIF theory