Gedankenexperiment on engineering a time-machine

A question worth considering is: has anyone thought about creating a time machine based on a particle accelerator? Pushing matter about a cyclotron like at the LHC, could create time-dilation for matter (like a neutron), as it is being flung around in a circular path near the speed of light. It should be noted that matter will not reach or exceed the speed of light.

Prof. Ronald Mallett‘s theoretical research shows that light and not just matter could effect gravity. Professor Mallett has proposed creating a machine which circulates laser beams to create space-time dragging for an elementary particle. Creating a ring of light, in a cyclotron-like machine will create a gravitational drag effect, this will be noticeable for small elementary particles, such as a neutron [Footnote 1]. However the machine will not have an effect on any other matter outside of the apparatus itself. The function of time-dragging will operate within the local reference frame of the matter trapped within a cyclotron stream. This does not make a time machine for an external observer, but will create time dilation effect on matter caught in the light-stream’s drag.

The Time Machine 2002, concept drawing

The Time Machine 2002, concept drawing, © Oliver Scholl

So how does one make a time-machine? Understanding space (space-time) is an important part of this puzzle. Just as matter can’t break the light barrier, neither can matter reach a temperature of absolute zero. So what else can one do? Create a massive gravitational body, engineer a magnetar using a stellar-manipulator, possibly, but technology to create this is theoretical, and most likely won’t be feasible for hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands of years. There are however other more practical solutions which we could use to build a working time machine in the 21st century. Continue reading

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Spooky interaction and spongy space

While reading an excerpt from “How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival [Excerpt]” from Scientific American, I again started pondering on spooky-interaction.

Einstein saw a problem with quantum spooky-interaction at a distance, i.e., quantum entanglement. An observer can’t measure neither position or speed (momentum) accurately (noncommutativity) at the same time, because we are outside the reference frame or system of an individual particle being measured; outside the looking glass so to speak, existing within our own snow shaker (reference frame). Although we are made of lots of elementary particles, collectively they work as their own system, within a larger framework of another system.

Just as we can’t see outside our observable Universe or inside a black-hole, the same fuzz occurs with an individual elementary particle because we are not part of that system, which exists in a different phased space from what we exist within. We see a shadow or ghost of that individual particle and we appear reflected to the observed particle’s true nature also as a shadow or ghost.

Within quantum mechanics an elementary particle is said to have spin; that is spin direction. Wolfgang Pauli first proposed the concept of spin, who later formulated a mathematical theory in 1927. Quantum mechanics uses two types of angular momentum: orbital angular momentum and spin. So why is spin important? Spin has no direct analogous classical mechanical equivalent, however quantum mechanical spin does contain information about direction. Continue reading

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Space flight: It’s not all rocket science – pt2

So towards the end of April 2012, several space based headline grabbing stories were published through media outlets: A new British rocket engine (Skylon), asteroid space mining backed by Google (Planetary Resources) and a robotic trip to Saturn’s moon Titan.

Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, with director James Cameron, engineers, scientists and astronauts Chris Lewicki, Tom Jones, Eric Anderson, Peter H. Diamandis, along with other venture capital investors have teamed together to form Planetary Resources. Their mission is to capture asteroids to mine, and use their resources in space, as well as back here on Earth. This idea sounds more like the plot line to a space science fiction opera, however Planetary Resources’ mission is to be fully operational in mining asteroids within 10 years time.

How do they aim to achieve this feat? In short, robot satellite exploration of asteroid rocks, to net and bring close to Earth for mining, taking resources to the Moon and ‘shuttling’ back to Earth. To get these satellites into orbit, private space travel enterprises will be used. Currently there is nothing that can fulfil this task commercially. However in a few years, and possibly within a year or two, there will be private rocket spaceships and high altitude shuttle rides regularly available from SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and others licensed for commercial use. SpaceX recently (May 2012) achieved a milestone with a successful launch of the Falcon rocket supplying the ISS and returning safely to Earth.

There is another ‘rocket’ type technology in the offering. Skylon picks up from the shelved British HOTOL (Horizontal Take-Off and Landing) project of the early 1980s. Rocket technology at the heart of the Skylon spaceship is a new innovation, the Sabre engine. Capable of breathing air at lower altitudes while keeping the engine supercool and being able to switch over to a oxygen & hydrogen mix with the flick of a switch, for higher altitudes and outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Continue reading

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Space flight: It’s not all rocket science – pt1

Towards the end of April 2012, there were several headline grabbing space science stories published by British (and other) media outlets. Two stories which drew my attention discussed asteroid mining with backing from Google bosses, and the legacy of the HOTOL (Horizontal Take-Off and Landing) project, Skylon. A third notable story in the new space race focused on a new robot satellite with an accompanying ‘boat’ to explore Saturn’s moon Titan.

At face value, many of these ideas may seem like science fiction. Arthur C. Clarke’s satellite in geostationary orbit paper was originally published in Wireless World during 1945. Many believed this notion to be closer to science fiction than a possible realisation. A decade later John R. Pierce of Bell Labs gave a talk about geostationary communication satellites, a paper was subsequently published in 1956; Pierce has stated that he was not aware of Clarke’s paper at the time.

Although Clarke is generally credited with this idea, it was an innovation to both great thinkers, as the idea of geostationary satellites in orbit was first described in Hermann Oberth’s book, “The Rocket into Interplanetary Space” (Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen) published in 1923. However in 1928 Herman Potočnik’s published under the pseudonym Hermann Noordung “The Problem of Space Travel — The Rocket Motor” (Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums — der Raketen-Motor) which describes using radio communication using Oberth’s geostationary satellites. For further information, please see Wikipedia entry “Concept of the geostationary communications satellite“. Continue reading

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ZX Spectrum celebrates 30 years

With a plethora of articles celebrating the launch of the ZX Spectrum,  a 8-bit home computer with 16K or 48K RAM models launched 30 years ago, I thought I would also mention the anniversary of such an iconic machine.

The ZX Spectrum’s 30th anniversary coincided with St. George’s Day 2012 in England. Google produced a Google ‘doodle’ to commemorate both events on Monday 23rd April.

Google doogle of ZX Spectrum 30th anniversary on St. George's Day

St. George & ZX Spectrum 2012 – Image © Google

I have previously mentioned the ZX Spectrum in articles about the Raspberry Pi and computer programming. I remember loading games such as Atic Atac, Continue reading

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60 nanosecond measurement problem

In the last quarter of 2011, Gran Sasso National Laboratory published a paper suggesting that neutrinos may be travelling 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light; the published paper was an invitation for other physicists to scrutinise their data. Earlier this week, 16th March 2012, Scientific American reported on CERN’s ICARUS experiment, who recently announced that their measurements showed neutrinos “travelling at a velocity indistinguishable from the speed of light” and not 60 nanoseconds faster.

For further information, please read John Matson’s article published in Scientific American, “Not So Fast: Independent Measurement Shows Neutrinos Don’t Exceed Speed Of Light“. Alternatively ICARUS findings on the 60 nanosecond measurement problem can be found at arXiv.org. The evidence is beginning to confirm that Einstein’s Special Relativity stands fast and the current laws of physics as we understand them, are still factually accurate.

According to the current Standard Model of Particle Physics, Neutrinos are members of the Fermion-Lepton family, are electrically neutral and have a small amount of mass. They are not seen to be ‘massless’ like their Force carrier family of particles called Bosons, of which the photon (electromagnetic, or commonly known as ‘light’ carrier) is a member.

Standard Model of Particle Physics

Standard Model of Particle Physics – AAAS

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Model B of Raspberry Pi on general release

With the launch of the Raspberry Pi earlier today 29th February 2012 (6 AM GMT), I found myself being flabbergasted and happily amazed in equal measure. It took me over an hour to get onto Premier Farnell‘s website early this morning and about 20 minutes to access Radio Spares Components. I initially held off ‘registering an interest’ for a RasPi on RS as Premier Farnell had stock today, however @Raspbery_Pi twitter-sphere soon indicated Farnell had sold out in just over an hour and RS were not selling today. Soon after I ‘registered an interest’ for the Raspberry Pi on RS.

For Farnell and RS it might have seemed like a co-ordinated DDoS as requests flooded in due to demand for Model B RasPi. For me not being able to get onto these sites (as for many I suspect) has been both frustrating and exciting, as this signals the start of an exciting journey for the Raspberry Pi from 1st generation onwards. This also demonstrates a success story not just for computing technology enthusiasts, hobbyists and experts alike, but exemplifies a thirst for learning, imagination and creativity for many, due to the scope an inexpensive pocket computer running an open-source OS (Linux) can be used for.

While the media is currently focusing on programming aspects of Computer Science, the RasPi opens up computing technology for many not just in learning programming, but also for understanding how stuff works as well as for fun. With accessories such as the Gertboard due to follow later this year, the RasPi can also be put to use in other science and engineering projects, from designing robots through to controlling them. Continue reading

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