Friday, February 27, 2009

The Underlying Physics

Where does one begin?
I will try to clearly describe and reference the well established known laws of physics without getting into too much mathematical detail. Then, I will attempt to clearly point out where physicists are getting vague or their theories have weaknesses in them. That is where human physics ends and alien physics begins.

Physics, square one
Physics requires taking measurements. There are spatial measurements in 3D space which can be in feet, meters, millimeters, angstroms, etc; correspondingly, area in square meters, volume in cubic meters, etc. Next, you need a stop watch to measure time. But don’t forget about mass, so you need a scale that can measure pounds or grams. With electric charge, you can measure electric currents. In keeping it simple, everything that physicists can measure comes down to combinations of length, time, mass and charge. If it can’t be measured as some combination of these four things, physicists politely call it metaphysics or philosophy. There exist rude physicists who call it something less polite.

Less well known, but no less important, is “information” which should really be described as “signaling”. …

Newtonian physics
You, personally, are very well versed in Newtonian physics; but not necessarily its formalism. Look at somebody near you and imagine that you are holding a water balloon or a snowball. The cerebellum is the part of your brain that is now talking to you. It includes targeting programs and performs simple physics calculations.

The Road to Modern Physics
You are made of cells and tissue. Cells and tissue are made of molecules. Molecules are made of atoms. Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons, neutrons and electrons are among the stable subatomic particles that are not too hard to find in the laboratory; we know they exist. We know that neutrinos exist. Particle physicists build huge swimming pools underground and sometimes find neutrinos there. They will swear up and down that they don’t swim in the pools; but, since the pools are underground where nobody is watching, we can’t be sure.

There are subatomic particles that scientist are pretty sure they should exist, such as gluons, quarks, gravitons and Higgs particles. Of course, even the whole idea of particles is kind of sore subject among physicists. If it’s a particle, it’s a point in space that moves with a definite momentum, (mass times velocity). Velocity is a fancy word for speed that physicists will insist that it’s more important than just “speed”; yeah, if you say so. Anyway, particles are point objects with a well known momentum and position in space. Physicists know exactly where there particles are and how fast they’re going. At least, they’re expected to; which is a sore subject among physicists. You see, Classical physicists know where their particles are and how fast they’re moving. Quantum physicists are mostly sure where they are and how fast they’re moving. Often, you will hear quantum physicists muttering under their breath things like, “Those jerks, Pauli and Bohr! Has anyone seen my particles?” In many physics lectures at universities, physics professors will commonly deride the original quantum physicists and say thing like:

“Yeah, everything was great until DeBroglie came along and said our atoms are like some kind of stupid violin. What kind of idiot turns a nice, easy to find particle into a violin string.”

“Heisenberg was the biggest jerk! He said that you can never be certain both where your particle is and how fast it’s moving. Even if I can find it, it’s moving too fast to catch it.”

General Relativity
Everybody liked Albert Einstein because he came up with Special Relativity. It was easy to understand. Einstein said it didn’t matter how fast you, or the hidden traffic cop, were moving. Light/photons were always faster, and they always traveled at the velocity, c (2.998 x108 meters/sec). It was easy for cops to write speeding tickets to photons, they always traveled at the same speed, the ticket was always the same fine; catching the photon was the hard part.

Einstein pointed out that because light always travels the same speed, peculiar things would happen. Einstein, who drove a Porsche, would speed, all the time! When the hidden traffic cop finally pulled Einstein over, the cop would say strange things. Mr. Einstein, your Porsche looks very short when you drive fast. And, when you threw that bag out of your car window, your hand moved really slowly, like you were moving in slow motion.

“Professor” Einstein would of course tell the cop that he was observing (1) length contraction and (2) time dilation. Then the cop would say he doesn’t like snotty motorists and hand Einstein the speeding ticket. Professor Einstein would reply, “Did I tell you my Porsche gets heavier too, when I drive really fast?” Einstein, muttering to himself, “Darn, I’m out of gas.” Einstein knew that at high speeds close to the speed of light, going faster requires a lot of energy.

That night, when he had to explain to his wife, Mileva, why they had no money for rent because he spent it all on gasoline, the speeding ticket, and Porsche payments, Mileva began to yell at him. It was then that he started thinking about other things like,

E= mc2; how either mass or energy would cause space to curve, and the planets would be attracted to massive objects in a gravity field, that warped space was a gravity field.

Occasionally, fragments of what Mileva was yelling would break through his concentration, fragments like “can’t keep the Porsche”, “Exxon gas Card Company called again”, “Listen to me when I’m talking!” “Yes, dear, I love you.” Then Einstein started to think about,

Quantum Mechanics (Best guess of where to find the particles)
After Heisenberg permanently lost everyone’s particles and DeBroglie cleverly replaced them with violin strings, hoping nobody would notice, physicists coped by describing everything as particle-strings, hoping that ordinary people like you and me wouldn’t notice. Most people look at big stuff like bills, wallets, and politicians. Biologists use microscopes to look at really tiny things under great magnification. Classical physicists look at how things move; they describe everything as points with location in space and with momentum. Particle physicists look at these points under super intense magnification and are embarrassed to find wavy points! Now how can a point wave?

Erwin Schrödinger had the answer. He drew a picture and said,

The other physicists said, “Huh?” Schrödinger explained that particles are just strings. They like to roam freely like wave fronts on a pond when you toss in a rock. They can roam freely if the surrounding potential energy is low. But if the surrounding potential energy is high, they get boxed in. So your particle-waves can now be easily found if you put them in a box like in my picture.

One of the physicists asked, “I don’t see the Classical physicists walking around with particle-waves, they find only particles?”

Schrödinger replied, “If you put your hand inside and reach for the particle-wave, there is a chance that you will miss it. There is also a chance that you will grab the particle-string and there will be a particle in you hand.” The other physicists started calling Schrödinger a nutcase. How can you grab a string and have it turn into a particle? They asked Schrödinger if he got this crazy idea from his cat. Schrödinger replied, “Maybe yes, maybe no; in fact, both!”

Schrödinger explained that particle-waves are actually probability waves. They wave around, but if you try to grab one, there is only a “probability” that you will grab it. It depends how big your hand is. And, if you do grab it, it will be a particle until you let it go. Then, it becomes a probability wave again.

Schrödinger looked both ways and then began to whisper to the other physicists, “Don’t tell the normal people this, they’ll think your crazy; but here’s what I think. The wave-particle spans between two sides of a hidden dimension, an ‘imaginary’ dimension. Yes, the dimensions of your box are in regular 3D space. But, this particle wave also stretches out in an imaginary dimension, as well. The ‘particle’ part moves along the imaginary dimension like a wave on a jump rope; it moves back and forth. When two particle-strings come near each other, if the ‘particle’ parts of the string miss each other, the strings will pass right through one another. But, if the particle parts happen to collide, then you found your particle.”

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