Friday, November 30, 2007

Schroedinger's universe

Quantum physics is not for the weak hearted. Sure the mathematics is simple - I mean what is as simple as |psi> = 1/sqrt(2)(|0> + |1>)? Well it turns out that this equation is the heart of the troubles. You see this equation says that a quantum state can exist as a superposition of one or more states until it is observed after which it is reduced to either one or the other (|0> or |1> in the equation above). This, in a nutshell, is Schroedinger's favourite cat.

A paper by Lawrence M. Krauss, which can be found here, implies that an act of observation on the age of the universe from inside the universe reduces the universe into one of many possible destinies. Here's my take on it: Bollocks. The universe is a closed system - an act of observation or even the ability to make an observation from inside the universe should have no effect whatsoever on the destiny of the universe. It's a bit like the electron being the observer of it's path through a double slit and thus preventing it from interfering with itself. Obviously it doesn't happen.

I should clarify that Lawrence M. Krauss did stipulate that there is no causal relationship ie. our observation of the supernova that resulted in the conclusion that the universe's expansion is accelerating has no effect whatsoever on the age or destiny of the universe but that the mere possibility of our being able to make that measurement does imply something about which of the many quantum destinies the universe will follow. While we didn't cause the universe to become unstable, Krauss suggests that just by being able to make an internal observation can have some implication on the outcome. Going back to the electron, can the electron somehow be able to measure which of the slits it will travel through? I suspect that the answer is no.

If there is something observing the universe from outside, that's a different story entirely but I'm not sure that there is an "outside" to the universe. Lesson learned - quantum physics is a weird thing and it is hard to get our puny brains around it. Physicists have been struggling for almost a century to interpret the weirdness of quantum physics. I guess we will be struggling for some time longer.

Peter Woit discusses the paper in more detail here.

Stupidity...

The religion of peace consistently outdoes itself in acts of stupidity. First there were the Mohammed cartoons and now Mohammed the Teddy Bear.
Demonstrators are out in full force in Khartoum demanding the execution of Gillian Gibbons that evil mastermind who was planning to destroy Islam by naming a teddy bear Mohammed. Never mind that Sudan is one of the world's poorest nations - obviously teddy bears named after their prophet are more threatening than poverty.

One can learn many things from this:
  • Don't go to a country that is carrying out a genocidal campaign.
  • There is something wrong with Islam that makes such fools of people.
  • Teddy bears are diabolical creatures.
  • Never listen to children.
  • Religion is truly for the imbecile and one is better served by abandoning the whole dirty thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Long(er) arm of the law

In a chilling reminder of how liberalism is dying in the West, the law in the UK requiring that people hand over the decryption keys for encrypted data in their possession has been enforced as reported here by the BBC.

Even more frightening is:

...the authorities can also issue a Section 54 notice that prevents a person revealing that they are subject to this part of RIPA.

While I do understand the need to fight terrorism etc., we cannot compromise our core values in doing so otherwise what is the point? This is a grave step backwards.

In another alarming piece of news, Germany has recently brought into law the Data Retention Directive voted in by the EU parliament. Was Orwell just a little to early?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Contrition

Apologies to our (small?) audience for our infrequent updates to this blog. At the moment, both Neil and I are currently swamped with work, which stops us from writing as much as we would like.

Anyway, I came across an interesting blog from a gay conservative from Canada. I happen to agree with a lot of what he says and so I'll include the link to his blog for good measure. He had a link to a good op ed piece from the Guardian, a normally leftist newspaper from the UK, that points out that Islamic terrorism against Western targets was happening way before Iraq or Afghanistan and so its roots cannot be laid at the feet of Messrs Bush and Blair.

Another article from the Economist looks at the relentless push to totalitarianism in Russia. Now they are targeting children's textbooks with the claim (among other things) that maybe Stalin wasn't so bad. Apparently murdering about 20 million of your own citizens and winning the dubious title of this century's worst mass murderer doesn't count as "being bad" in Putin's Russia.