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Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

Fuseboy Re:Much Confusion (247 comments)

Yes, I suppose it does mean that the 'computer' running the universe might be a black hole.

I'm not sure what we can say about the nature of that black hole. I doubt very much that its spin, for example, would impart motion to galaxies, any more than rotating your computer would do anything to your Minecraft game. It's not a fish tank or a snow globe, it's a computer.

Similarly, remember that the 'inner' and 'outer' black holes don't even exist in the same universe, if indeed our universe is the result of a calcuation. The inner and outer black holes will never meet, any more than switching off dark energy in your (physically realistic) Minecraft game would cause your Minecraft universe to somehow touch your computer.

about 2 months ago

Fermilab Begins Testing Holographic Universe Theory

Fuseboy Much Confusion (247 comments)

There's a lot of confusion about what this means, but to be clear: this has nothing to do with ghostly 3D things floating in a surrounding room.

What it's saying is that the 3D nature of the universe might be only approximate. Let's say you (somehow) come up with a two-dimensional universe and physical laws, in which you can mostly accurately (but not completely) calculate the ongoing evolution of a 3D universe. The "mostly accurately" part translates into a slight blurriness, a fuzziness of the 3D world, but it occurs at such small scales that nobody will notice.

Such models have been created theoretically - not long ago some bright spark concocted a ten-dimensional universe that had relativity and spatial deformations and whatnot, but which was mathematically equivalent to a one-dimensional universe that did not.

This experiment is looking for the blurriness.

Now, the story of how this got started is fascinating. Some other bright spark was investigating entropy (chaos), and in particular was interested in the maximum amount of chaos that could be contained in a three-dimensional volume. In a sense, this is like asking the maximum information density of a volume.

Somewhat bizarrely, the equation for the maximum entropy is proportional to the surface area of the volume. This is really weird, and important. The maximum amount of information you can cram into a space is limited by the space's surface area, not its volume.

The implication of this is that you could characterize the entire state of a 3D volume with a membrane. This has been proposed as one solution to the black hole information paradox - black holes are a place of no return, and so they seem to violate the law that information (like energy) can't be created or destroyed. The solution is this: as particles enter the black hole, you get tiny peturbations (bulges, dimples, ripples) in the black hole's event horizon. The idea is that the entire state of that particle retained in these peturbations as they play across the event horizon. The information isn't lost, it's just encoded in this 2D form.

This leads to the startling idea that the peturbations as they evolve are actually modelling the ongoing state of the interior of the black hole. Modelling.. calculating.. simulating. The peturbations on the event horizon are a 2D calculation of the state of a 3D volume.

This is the holographic theory - what if our entire universe, despite its apparent 3D nature, were in fact equivalent to a 2D simulation.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Why Are Online Job Applications So Badly Designed?

Fuseboy Lack of Competition (278 comments)

Simple - there's a lack of competition. It's the same reason renewing your driver's license or passport or whatever sucks, they're the sole vendor, so there's little incentive for them to make it easy or convenient.

Also, it cuts down on spam. If it's hard to apply, then only the most enthusiastic applications will do it - or so one line of thinking goes. (That can backfire; talented and in-demand applicants might not find it worth their time to bother.)

about 2 months ago

Python Scripting and Analyzing Your Way To Love

Fuseboy Re:Sounds creepy .... (188 comments)

"Great, that sounds nice. I'll have my bots talk to your bots."

about 9 months ago

Simulations Back Up Theory That Universe Is a Hologram

Fuseboy Re:What this means (433 comments)

Right - it's still theoretical that any of this applies to our universe. It's no longer theoretical that two physical models can be related in this way.

about 10 months ago

Simulations Back Up Theory That Universe Is a Hologram

Fuseboy What this means (433 comments)

Someone clever was working out the maximum entropy of a black hole, and found that (unexpectedly) it was proportional to the surface area of the event horizon, not its volume. After some more thought, other clever people found that the full state of every particle that falls into a black hole remains encoded as oscillations and deformations of its surface area.

This leads to the realization that the despite the fact that a black hole's event horizon is seemingly much simpler than a full-dimensional portion of a universe, it's theoretically possible that it's just as rich a simulation. Perhaps the "real" representation of the universe is actually just a rippling membrane, and the 3D view we see around us is just an alternate interpretation. This is where the word "hologram" comes in - it's only an analogy (because flattish holograms seem to encode 3D data).

Now, the word "real" is misleading - neither representation is 'more true', it's just that the fewer-dimensional representation might be a lot simpler. A comparable situation is the way the earth goes around the sun, or the sun goes around the earth. A stationary sun makes models of the planetary orbits a heck of a lot simpler, but a stationary earth makes it a lot easier to give directions to your party.

All of this was theoretical until this recent finding. The researches created two mathematical models of the universe - one of them ten-dimensional (similar to some forms of modern theories of our universe, though the article points out their model was simpler). The other model was a one-dimensional universe filled with ideal springs. These models were identical, in the same way as the 3D universe and the event horizon - they're alternate ways of calculating the same thing.

The researchers discovered that simulations in both of these universe models have the same output - in other words, they do seem to be different ways of describing the same universe.

about 10 months ago

Thor: The Dark World — What Did You Think?

Fuseboy Re:Meh (233 comments)

There's some sensible rule that you can get into trouble with a coincidence, but getting out of trouble with a coincidence is lazy.

about a year ago

Book Review: Social Engineering: The Art of Human Hacking

Fuseboy Culture of Paranoia (114 comments)

It will be interesting to see what effect this has on customer service generally. Is it possible to have sensible, non-theatrical security procedures that are preliminary and don't interfere with an essentially friendly relationship? Or will the attitude of security consciousness turn into a strange form of paranoid bureaucracy that colors everything?

more than 3 years ago

Computer Incident Response and Product Security

Fuseboy Core Competency (30 comments)

This shouldn't be surprising - an organization's purpose is to do what it does, to quote somebody or other. TJX is making money off transactions; security is only incidental, and responding to unusual events runs counter to the grain of an optimized organization. The 911 call center, on the other hand, is helping people as a matter of course. (Just see how well they do when they start trying to make money off the transactions! j/k)

more than 3 years ago

Milky Way May Have Dark Matter Satellite Galaxies

Fuseboy Re:Dark matter vs black holes (174 comments)

That doesn't sound quite right - because of the inverse-squared falloff of gravity, once you're a certain distance away, black holes and stars aren't much different in how material orbits around them.

One difference is that that black holes often spew high-energy x-rays as infalling matter is crushed, whereas dark matter is - well - dark.

more than 3 years ago

Survey Shows That Fox News Makes You Less Informed

Fuseboy Correlation (1352 comments)

A survey of Fox News viewers shows that correlation equals causation.

more than 3 years ago

Methane Survey Reveals Mars Is Far From 'Dead'

Fuseboy Re:OH COME ON (171 comments)

Sometimes I think this whole notion of extraordinary has more to do with our imagination and cultural background than anything scientific. I mean, wouldn't it be absolutely mind-boggling if we kept encountering massive energy-rich zones (e.g. geologically/chemically active planets) that were completely devoid of microbial life? If/when we find life elsewhere, of course it's going to be extremely significant, but does that make it unlikely?

about 4 years ago

Facebook Post Juror Gets Fined, Removed, Assigned Homework

Fuseboy You can't handle the truth (539 comments)

Given recent articles about snap decisions (apparently deciding if you think a gal's hot, or your emotional reaction to a web site both take a fraction of a second), perhaps all this woman was doing was revealing an uncomfortable truth about the justice system. Could it be that jurors reach their decision in the first few minutes (or less) and everything that follows just loads them up with ammunition to form their rationalizations?

more than 4 years ago

Paul Allen Files Patent Suit Against Apple, Google, Yahoo, Others

Fuseboy Trial by fire (219 comments)

I think this is a great idea. I hope he wins, and internet search and ecommerce are shut down en masse by injunction. Whee! Then we could have a nice look at this business of patents and how we feel about them.

I wonder, is there such a thing as an inverse class action - by which I mean, could a whole raft of internet companies join the defending side as a show of solidarity, claiming that if the current defendants are violating, then they are too?

more than 4 years ago

Pentagon Selects Companies To Build Flying Humvees

Fuseboy ROI (302 comments)

Flying Humvee, $1,800,000.00 IED, $3.50.

more than 4 years ago

FCC Fights To Maintain Indecency Policy

Fuseboy Shame and the Herd (602 comments)

On the surface, it seems strange that nudity and sex are more taboo than violence and gore, despite the fact that we generally don't really mind if people are nude and having sex (in private), but we don't especially want people violently hurt anywhere (even in private). But I think this is the cause.

If a child sees nudity/sex on TV, it can bring up shameful mixed feelings for the parents, because we keep this side of ourselves hidden from children. Yep, mommy and daddy do that, but god forbid we talk about it. So we're all harboring this shameful secret. We're drawn to it, but we don't like the uncomfortable conversations it invites. "Yes, for God's sake we admit it, we're having sex.. but please don't tell our kids."

Violence, on the other hand, is something that most people have no trouble feeling unadulterated (hah!) condemnation for - so if our kids see it, we can point at it and go "That's bad!" without the confusing, mixed feelings.

Secondly, I think there are people frightened about losing the idea of a common definition of 'obscenity'. It takes courage to accept that someone's nasty fetish is actually perfectly harmless, and the revulsion has to do with your preferences. I mean, what's next? Are my kids going to start doing this? It'll be everywhere! Soon we'll be walking past rows of Poo Weekly in the 7/11. It's a lot easier to stand in a herd and point at the scapegoat. To those who are comfortable with their positions in the herd, this is an important tool. Witness how often politicians are discredited by sexual indiscretions.

more than 4 years ago

US Military 'Banned' From Viewing Wikileaks

Fuseboy What don't they want the soldiers to see? (390 comments)

Is this just a ham-fisted attempt to control those who they can, or is there specific content they don't want the soldiers (in particular) to see?

more than 4 years ago

Wipeout Recreated With an RC Car

Fuseboy Unvirtual Reality (90 comments)

I'm savoring the irony in using physical reality to simulate a simulation.

more than 4 years ago

The Bus That Rides Above Traffic

Fuseboy As Seen in Patlabor 2 (371 comments)

A police car does this in Patlabor 2 - it zooms over the traffic on long wheels, blaring (rather hopefully) "Please keep your doors closed".

This doesn't look nearly as dangerous, since it appears to be built into the rail guards, rather than relying on the happy circumstance of all the cars being aligned.

more than 4 years ago

Warships May Get Lasers For Close-In Defense

Fuseboy Re:32 kilowatt!!! (482 comments)

Bullets and lasers deliver this energy differently - the bullet's energy is transferred to the target in a much shorter time (milliseconds, I assume) which produces more chaotic results than the laser (for the same energy), which is waiting until the target ignites or a hole forms, wrecking the aerodynamics. Even so, I was curious how the energy payloads stack up.

A 32 kilowatt laser delivers (not surprisingly) 32kJ during a one-second pulse. I'm not sure how long this laser pulses, but from the video, it appears to be several seconds.

By way of comparison, a .50 Browning has a muzzle energy of 15kJ, which is about the same as a half-second exposure to the laser.

The Phalanx gun which this the laser purports to replace, on the other hand, shoots 20mm rounds - these could weigh 100g each, for a muzzle energy of 30.25kJ, comparable to the one-second pulse. Of course, the Phalanx shoots 50-75 rounds a second, for a total muzzle energy/second of firing of a whopping 2269kJ.

By coincidence, this is the same as the food energy in two Big Macs.

more than 4 years ago


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