The “Physics” of History

Imagine building a house. Initially, all you have is wood, nails, glass panes, and a whole bunch of other materials just lying in random places. The first step is to somehow make a design to fit all those pieces together. Then, the builder actually starts working, by first building a base, and from the base he works bottom up. Through various techniques, a lot of work, and a lot of adjustments, the end product is one full house where a person can live in.

Scientists call this a reversal of entropy. The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that the natural order of things is to go from order to disorder. For example, the reason why every process generates heat is because the heat is the most disorderly of the energy forms for which other more orderly energy forms (i.e. electricity) can convert to. Or you can take a glass of wine. It’s easy to drop a glass of wine and watch all of it spill out and the glass shatter- that’s natural. But it’s near impossible to do the reverse of that.

However, in this case with the house, we see it going from disorder (a bunch of shit materials lying around) to order (one functioning house). Pretty much the reverse of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. And as all physicists know, to go from disorder to order, it requires an input of energy- as seen with the energy and effort exerted by the builder.

This analogy of the house is just like human history itself. We started off as a bunch of roaming primitives, but later came together to form one single unit- say a village. That right there was the first spark of the reversal of entropy- in other words, the first spark of history.

That was the first event. And each and every event that came after was another step towards a reversal of entropy. The formation of cities. The rise of a centralized government. The initialization of trade and commerce. A developing system of written laws. The Industrial Revolution, in its more efficient and unified way of manufacturing. The rise of the Internet. All these events helped in creating a more unified and less disorderly world. And all these events make up what we call now as history. It’s sort of like an arrow moving into a direction of orderliness- this is like history itself.

As mentioned, this direction towards orderliness requires input of energy. Where do this input of energy come from in terms of history? By the many individuals and groups that changed history. The kings, tyrants, inventors all were part of this input of energy. A anti-entropy reaction can only work because of an input of energy; similarly, history could only exist because of the many people that can allow it to happen.

World War 2 actually resulted in more order, such as the creation of what is now United Nations

Of course, people might point out to war events- how could these cause society to be more orderly? Wouldn’t it cause it to be more chaotic? The thing is, no. In fact, you could say that wars and bad events are like catalysts of this progression towards orderliness. A catalyst is an enzyme or anything that speeds up a reaction. This “reaction” here- history and its progression towards orderliness- has been sped up many times by bad events. Take the many conquerors throughout human history- they waged so many wars, but in the end, not only do they create a unified empire, but they also spread their own culture to other cultures and intake new cultures into their own.  Therefore, not only is it more orderly literally in terms of land controlled, but more importantly it is more orderly in terms of the exchange of ideas, money, etc. And all of this could be just from one big war.

Another way bad events serve as catalysts is because they force people to confront their problems which are making their lives disorderly and thus fix it, becoming more orderly. Another step into the direction of the arrow of history.

Pretty much, I am redefining history into this- history is the continual movement of the reversal of entropy. There may be some times in which disorder seems to dominate, but in the end, it all speeds up the general trend into orderliness.

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Intro To The 4th Spatial Dimension Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, today I will discuss the godliness of 4-dimensional beings. Remember again that we will use analogy to attempt to understand how a 4-d person would interact with a 3-d world. Note: by 4-d I mean the 4th spatial dimension, not the dimension of time.

Stickman in Jail

Now suppose there is a plane, called Flatland, and a 2-d guy named Stickman is living on it. One day in Flatland he commits a crime. The police, deeming him a danger, puts him in prison by drawing a circle around him. Now, Stickman can’t escape. Whether he moves right, left, up, or down in his 2-d  world, he cannot escape this circle “jail” (see right). But, he has left out one direction, one that he cannot visualize- height, or the z-axis-dimension. The problem is, since he can’t visualize it, he can’t use that dimension to escape his jail. But suppose one day you, a 3-d being, came to visit Flatland and noticed poor Stickman in jail. What do you do? Why you simply peel him off Flatland from the jail and place him back in Flatland outside of the jail. In a sense, you helped Stickman escape through the z-axis-dimension, and you are able to do so because you’re a 3-d being. To us 3-d beings, this is nothing special. It’s just like stepping out of a circle. But to the citizens of Flatland, it is a miracle. It almost seems as if Stickman had magically transported from his jail to another place outside of jail. Again, keep in mind that these 2-d beings cannot view the 3rd dimension, and so during the time when Stickman is peeled out of Flatland, to the 2-d beings Stickman doesn’t exist on Flatland anymore.  But once he was placed back in Flatland, to the 2-ders, it is as if he suddenly reappeared out of nowhere at a different location.

Again, we are using analogy. So what does all this imply for us? Well, think about it: if a 4-d guy (let’s call him Upper) visited our 3-d world, could he not also do the same things as what a 3-d person could do to the 2-d world? First off,  Upper could free criminals from jail. All he has to do is to peel them off our 3-d world through the 4-d dimension and peel them back onto Earth. Again, this would seem like to us as if the criminal magically transported from inside of jail to outside of jail.  So not only does Upper have the power of freeing people in jail, he also has the god-like power of transporting people. But again, who ever said it had to be a person in jail? Think about it- suppose you throw a coin into a water bottle, and then you close the cap tightly. Nobody in the 3-dimensional world can take out the coin without opening the cap. (Magicians can appear as to be able to do this, but in reality it’s because they’re so deft that their opening of the cap escapes the audience’s notice.) But everybody in the 4-d world can do that. Again, the bottle is like the jail, and the cap is like the prisoner. They can peel the cap off the 3-d world and peel it back on outside of the bottle. In essence, 4-dimensional beings can take anything out of a container without opening it. Almost god-like, isn’t it?

Here’s another magic trick that Upper can do. I want you to get two solid metal rings, and I want you to have them interlock each other without cutting the rings. You say, that’s impossible. But for a 4-d guy it anything but impossible. He can do that in no time. Why? Again, we shall use analogy. In Flatland, Stickman and his 2-d friend Paperboy are pushing two circles against each other. They want the circles to overlap as seen below:

It’s like you trying to push two metal rings together so they can interlock like above. For a 2-d guy, getting two circles to overlap each other is an impossible thing unless they cut the circles. For a 3-d guy, it’s no big deal. Why? Because we, unlike Stickman and Paperboy, can use the z-axis dimension. We can lift one circle up out of Flatland, and then put it back on Flatland overlapping the other circle. In essence, we have more room to maneuver these circles than do the 2-d people. Similarly, a 4-d duy is able to lift one of the rings out of the 3-d world into their 4-d world and then place it back into the 4-d world interlocked with the other ring. The same logic also goes with knots; in fact, knots don’t exist in the 4th dimensional world at all.

Hopefully you can see the godliness of 4-d beings. But again, to them, this is not godliness, but everyday common sense, just like to what 2-d people view as godliness from us, we view as everyday common sense. In my next and final part of hyperdimensions, I will show one more trick that 4-d people can do, and go a little off topic but still related to hyperdimensions.

Intro To The 4th Spatial Dimension Part 1

Hello, readers. I am back from my blogging break. In today’s post, as I said I would in the last post, I am going to touch upon hyperdimensions. Hyperdimensions are basically dimensions above the dimensions that we experience in everyday life- 1-D, 2-D, 3-D, and the temporal dimension. (Note: Although many people count the dimension of time as the fourth dimension, here in my post, I will just call it the temporal dimension- as many theoretical physicists do- so by fourth dimension I actually mean the fourth spatial dimension, not the time one.) There is no way in which we can see and experience hyperdimensions, given that we are not evolved to do so. So please- don’t be like the foolish amateur trying to construct a 5-d graph- you can’t. However, although we cannot view the hyperdimensions physically, we can view it mathematically and analogically. In this post, I will introduce to you the most basic of the hyperdimensions- the fourth spatial dimension- and have you see it analogically.

The zeroth dimension is a point. The first dimension is an infinite set of points put together in one dimension- say the x-axis dimension- a line. The second dimension is an infinite set of lines put together in a second dimension (the y-axis dimension)- a plane. The third dimension is an infinite set of planes put together in a third dimension (the z-axis dimension)- a cube. If we continue on, the fourth dimension should be an infinite set of cubes put together in the w-dimension. See below.

A note: that picture above of the fourth dimension is WRONG. Why? Because first off, thats basically just two cubes connected with lines by their vertices. Second off, there is no way you can draw a four-dimensional object, because humans can’t visualize it. Humans can’t visualize the w-dimension. I mean, try creating another line (w-axis) that is perpendicular to the x, y, and z axises. You simply can’t, whether on paper or in real life.

Now, before I continue on, what do I mean by “analogically”? Well, it has the word “analogy” in it, so there must be some comparing involved, which is rightly so. By analyzing how a second-dimensional person views the third dimension, we can gain insight on how we, a third-dimensional being, would view the fourth dimension.

So back to the picture. I noted that the 4-d picture was wrong. So what does it actually look like? Again, we can’t see it. But… can we not see a 3-d projection of it? Just think analogically now- suppose you are a 2-d person living on a plane. There is no way you can ever see what a cube actually is, because given you are 2-d, you can only see up to two dimensions. But, however, suppose one day the cube was unfolded and projected onto a 2-d surface, or in other words, we took the net of the cube. (see below left) Then you could see the cube, just not in its 3-d form. Similarly, if we were to “unfold” a 4-d cube, we could perhaps get a 3-d net of it. This 3-d net shown below right is that of a hypercube (4-d cube).

Cube Net (left) Hypercube Net (right)

So, looking at the tesseract, if we can somehow fold up the cubes in the fourth dimension, it would form a hypercube- or a fourth-dimensional cube. Of course, can you visualize a possible way to fold up these cubes? No, because once again, we cannot visualize the fourth spatial dimension. We can only see the 3-d form of a 4-d cube.

The orange is like a sphere. The slices are like the 2-d circles that consist of the orange sphere. Notice how the “circles” are different sizes.

So far, we have covered possible ways to view the fourth dimension. What is even more interesting, however, is not the dimension itself, but how the fourth and third dimension would interact with each other. Again, we will use analogy. Pretend there is a 2-d person named  Flat who is living in a plane. One day, a 3-d guy named Sphere (he’s actually a sphere) decided to visit the plane. Now, remember that Flat can’t view Sphere as an actual sphere because Flat can only see up to two dimensions, just like we can only see up to three spatial dimensions. So what will Flat see if Sphere decides to come into this 2-d world? Well, as I have stated already, “The third dimension is an infinite set of planes…” so Sphere, a 3-d sphere, actually consists of an infinite amount of 2-d circles of different sizes, all stacked up on each other (see left). Thus, when Sphere enters the plane, Flat will only be able to see these 2-d circles that make up the entire sphere. But note again, the circles are not all the same size. For instance, the circles on the uppermost top and bottom of the sphere are small (e.g. the furthest orange slice in the picture) and the circle whose circumference is the equator of the sphere (the middle) is the largest. Now examine the picture at the right. The top picture represents the first scenario, in which Sphere is entering the plane. What will Flat see at that moment? Just a small circle. However, as Sphere is entering the plane more (or pretty much moving down), the circle in which Flat will see gets larger and larger. It will continue to get larger until Sphere is halfway through the plane (the middle picture at right), where the circle Flat sees now is the equatorial circle. Then, as Sphere decides to leave the plane, the last glimpse Flat will see of Sphere is the small circle again (the bottom picture at right). Pretty much, the only way Flat (2-d) can view Sphere (3-d) is the intersections between Sphere and the plane, or in other words, the 2-d components- the different shaped circles- of Sphere.

Again, this is an analogy, so how can we apply this to how we 3-d beings can view 4-d beings if they ever visit our world? Well, just as how Flat viewed Sphere, we are only able to see the 3-d components of the 4-d beings. In other words, we can only view their intersections with our 3-d world. In the case of Sphere and Flat, the intersection came in the form of planes. In our case, the intersection will come in the form of 3-d objects. So if a 4-d guy ever came to our 3-d world, we will be seeing three dimensional blobs. Let me add that these are changing blobs, because look at Sphere- the circles first were small, then big, and small again. The intersections did stay the same throughout did it? No, it changed. Now assume that instead of Sphere, it was you visiting the world. You put your hand through the plane, and what will Flat see? He will see continuously changing 2-d complex shapes as you move your hand through the 2-d plane, because the intersections between your hand and plane will continuously change as you move your hand through the plane. Similarly, we can also expect the same of a 4-d guy- we will see continously changing 3-d blobs, because the intersections between the 4-d guy and our 3-d world not all the same just as the interesections between Sphere/your hand and the plane were not all the same.

I will stop here for now and continue on in my next post, where I will be doing more (more interesting) analogies. Through these analogies in my next post, I will show that if a 4-d person ever visited our world, we would view him as God. Again, I am being very brief on this subject, given that this subject is much more complex than just two or three posts. So I would also advise you to research this on your own. Perhaps one good place to start is Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin Abbott. Some documentaries on Youtube are also great. I’m afraid that so far I have made this interesting subject appear really boring, but let me tell you that this is a really amazing subject. Hopefully in my next few posts, you will see the true beauty behind hyperdimensions.

Michio Kaku Short Bio

Michio Kaku

Michio Kaku

*A NOTE: I WILL BE TAKING A BREAK FROM BLOGGING…….

One of my most favorite scientists that I would like to talk about….

Michio Kaku, a theoretical physicist, was born in San Jose, California to Japanese immigrants. His parents immigrated to the US to help out during the San Francisco Earthquake. During World War II, however, his parents were sent to the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, an internment camp. It was probably because of this that I think Kaku grew up in a relatively poor family, given most Japanese internees came out poor. He was soon born after his parents were released, and at the age of eight, he heard of Einstein, who he instantly became a fan of and became his inspiration and most important influence to strive for science. This scientific drive appeared in his high school career, which I envy very much. What I envy is his scientific ambition during high school, in where for a national science project, he assembled a particle accelerator in his parent’s garage. First off, I would have been too lazy to ever do something like that given the enormous amount of time required, and secondly, his parents actually supported him in buying him the materials, perhaps showing how influential his parents were to Kaku. My parents would have never done that. Now, as I had inferred, he was poor. How did he get into college, and not just any college, but Harvard University? Well, it happened that professor Dr. Edward Teller, saw Kaku’s project, liked it, and awarded him the Hertz Engineering Scholarship, allowing him to go full ride into Harvard. With hard work and a little bit of luck, Kaku had just gone into a university, which was rare for a poor person like Kaku.

Now, today, at this very moment, Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist and professor at the City University of New York. As implied, he is most well-known in the field of theoretical physics, given his work in popularizing it, such as appearing in radio shows, documentaries, and television shows and writing books to generate interest in theoretical physics. However, that is nothing; that is like dirt compared to the diamond of his career– he cofounded string theory. String theory explains that the universe is made up of strings which resonate with a specific frequency on their own. It is able to combine the theory of relativity and the theory of quantum mechanics, something Einstein tried but failed doing, based on the assumption there are multiple dimensions and universes. Today, it is a widely popular theory among many theoretical physicists for understanding the universe, although Kaku hasn’t finished yet. He is currently searching for the missing link to his string theory- the theory of everything, something Einstein also tried but failed doing. It almost seems as if Einstein is Kaku’s role model, in where Kaku is doing things that Einstein was doing. Hopefully, however, Kaku doesn’t fail in finding the theory of everything like Einstein.

One of his books

Kaku’s works have received varying criticisms from the scientific community and the world. His string theory, as I have just mentioned, is widely accepted by many scientists, although there are a few dissenting scientists now and then. He has won at least two New York Times Best Sellers for two of his physics books, and holds the title of Henry Semat Chair and Professorship in New York City College. However, he has been also notably criticized by the scientific community (and became extremely popular among the world at large) for his popularization of theoretical physics, or in other words, his work of making advanced physics understandable to the general community. I don’t know why he’s being criticized for this- maybe the scientific community wants to feel smarter than the rest- but I think what he’s doing is right. If he hadn’t popularized theoretical physics, my life would have gone on a different course. I would have first of all never known theoretical physics even existed. I would have never had the dream of being a theoretical physicist and helping create the Theory of Everything. Basically, his work affects me to this day because it made me realize what I wanted to be when I grow up- a theoretical physicist.

In my next post, I will talk about a popular theory in theoretical physics: hyperdimensions.

The Basis of Judgment

Each and every one of us is constantly judging other people. We deem this person to be bad, this other person to be good, etc. But what is the science behind people’s judgment? In other words, is it possible to predict what judgment a person will make?

Let’s look at science  for this. Specifically Einstein and his theory of relativity. In this theory, Einstein stated that depending on the frame in which we are in, space and time is different for each observer. For instance, the fact of whether I am in a plane or just on earth affects the way I measure the speed of a flying bird. Basically, space and time change depending on what frame I’m in. Space and time is relative. Our rulers get shorter and our clocks tick slower as the frame in which we are in moves faster.

The same thing goes with how we judge people. Suppose my class is giving group presentations about Shakespeare. Depending on which “frame” I am in determines how my teacher judges what grade to give me. For instance, if the “frame”I am in is in which every other group besides mine failed horribly, then my average presentation suddenly seems like it deserved an A+. If the “frame” I am in is which all the other presentations aced liked hell, then my average presentation suddenly seems like a F.

As you can see, people judge by taking what other people have done with contrast to yours. Because the reality is, there is no exact thing that’s an A, B, C, D, or F. To put it in better terms, we judge based on examples from our surroundings or from our knowledge. For instance, take Hitler. Perhaps the first word that pops up into your mind is “evil.” Why do we judge him to be evil, however? Is it because of the mass atrocities that he committed? Partly, yes. But mostly it’s because we compare to other political figures in the past who have done better things than him and see that what he did was very much inferior than what the other leaders did. For if other leaders were killing millions of people every day, then we might just see him as any regular leader.

The same goes with anybody who we deem good or bad. Why one is deemed good or bad is not because of his actions, but rather because in contrast to what everybody else does, what he did was better or worse. All of this is relative. Relativity is the basis of how we judge.

So how can one predict how another one will judge? First, we have to consider that person’s background  with inclusion of his knowledge. Again, he is judging relative to what he knows. Second, we have to know if he has seen a similar situation to the situation he is judging now. This narrows done step one, because we can immediately guarantee that he will be judging almost entirely on that experience.

All of this brings up an important note: if the basis of our judgment is relative, then there is no such thing as “good” or “bad.” One can be considered good if you put it in one “frame,” or be considered bad in another scenario. There is also no such thing as pretty or ugly. Or smart or stupid. Because every judgment is relative, there is no exact values or definitions for the words we use to judge. It’s like in my previous example in which I said there is no exact thing for an A, B, or F. We might as well rewrite the definition of pretty as “looking better than others” and the definition of smart as “more creative than others” in order to encompass this relativity.

All in all, perhaps our very human behavior is relative.

Einstein’s Gravity

If you were to go into your regular high school physics class, and you were asked by your teacher what is gravity, your answer would most likely be that it is the force one mass asserts onto another, with the force being proportional to the masses. And if this question were on a test, you would have to better answer it this way, or else that’s one point off. This is Newton’s definition of gravity.

In my last post, I said that I would be showing why Newton’s definition of gravity is wrong. So one might ask, if it is wrong, then why do they even teach it? Well, my answer is that it is not entirely wrong. The calculations and formulas under Newton’s theory of gravity are actually pretty accurate most of the time, and thus we use them. But notice the phrase “most of the time;” that is because there are things that Newton’s gravity cannot account for.

One of them is Mercury’s orbit. Although Newton did not know it at his time, in the 19th century, when advanced telescopes had been made, it had been observed that there was a small discrepancy in its orbit. Under Newton’s theory, the only way to have explained this perturbation was that there was somehow a planet closer than Mercury to the Sun that existed. However, no planets have been or will ever be found that are closer to the Sun than Mercury. Therefore, something was wrong with Newton’s gravity in this case.

Another problem was the fact that black holes could suck in light. Light is made of photons, and photons have no mass. However, according to Newton’s theory, black holes could only assert a gravity onto another mass. However, photons again have no mass, so the fact that photons could still be sucked in is contradictory to Newton’s gravity.

Overall, another theory of gravity was needed. And that’s where Einstein’s theory of gravity came in, something that you don’t usually get taught about at high school. To explain Einstein’s theory, one must use an analogy. Suppose there is a blanket, that stretches across infinitely, with no limits and boundaries. Now, suppose I were to put a rock in the middle of this blanket. You would probably notice that this rock creates a depression in the blanket as seen below.

Now visualize this: suppose I were to fling a small marble into this depression. The ball would simply go round and round and round in the depression. Now if this were in the real world, the marble would eventually stop moving, due to friction and resistance. However, remember that this is space, in which there is no resistance whatsoever. So if it were in space, this marble would actually never stop, unless acted upon by something else.

With this in mind, suppose now that this big rock is the Sun and the little marble is Earth and this blanket is the fabric of space-time. Under Newton’s definition, the Earth is rotating because the thrust/tendency of the Earth to just speed away is counter-balanced by the force of the Sun’s gravity. Thus, it must stay in one orbit. However, under Einstein’s theory, the real reason why the Earth orbits the sun is because it is simply following this depression, or this curvature of space-time. In essence, gravity is the result of the geometry of space-time (as opposed to what Newton thought- that gravity was just this instantaneous force). The video below helps illustrate this concept:

This theory of Einstein does not totally reject all of Newton’s ideas, but rather explains it in a different way. For instance, let’s look at the case of elliptical orbits. Suppose there was a star and an orbiting planet. If we were to follow Newton, the reason such orbits occur is because at some points, the star’s gravity is stronger, pulling the planet more in, and at some points the star’s gravity is weaker, letting the planet be more far out. Thus, the end shape is an elliptical orbit. (In an ellipses, some parts are closer to the center than others. And if you don’t know what an ellipses is, it is pretty much an oval.) With Einstein, elliptical orbits were the result of the orbit of the object that is being orbited. Take the example of the Earth and Moon. We all know that the Earth orbits the Sun. So while the Earth is orbiting in this depression caused by the Sun, so is the Moon orbiting in this depression caused by the Earth. However, as the Earth is orbiting, the Moon has to move along with it while orbiting all at the same time. To see an illustration of this, go to time 0:29 in the the video above and play it. Notice that the depression of the Earth is constantly changing, due to it orbiting the Sun. Since the orbit of the Moon is based upon this depression, its orbit will not be perfectly circular, but rather elliptical.

Another example of how Einstein’s theory is just explaining gravity in a different way than Newton’s theory can be seen in mass. Newton said that the bigger the mass, the bigger the gravity, and he used a formula to show this. Einstein, on the other hand, showed that the reason this is true is because the bigger the mass of an object, the bigger and deeper the depression in this “blanket” of space-time, and thus it is more liable of things to fall into this depression, thus giving the impression that the object’s gravitational force is strong. It seems as if this object is pulling more things to it because of it’s bigger mass, when in reality it’s just that this depression is really big and deep so more objects are rolling around in this depression.

And speaking of strong gravity, let’s go back to the black hole I mentioned earlier. You have already seen that Newton’s theory doesn’t work here. Now I will show how Einstein’s theory works. First of all, black holes have gravity that is exceedingly high. Why is that? Well, just as I compared a Sun to a rock, compare the black hole to a bowling ball. Not only is it larger, but it is also much more heavier. The depression will be extremely deep; thus, anything that goes near this bowling ball aka black hole will have little chance of “bouncing” out of this depression, and will easily slide in given that the deep depression gives a steep incline for it to fall. In a sense, this depression is not a depression anymore but a super deep hole where it is very easy to fall into. All of this can explain the property of why so few things can escape a black hole.

If we look at black holes this way (in other words Einstein’s way), we can see that the fact photons have mass or not doesn’t matter. The photons will slide in no matter what into the black hole because they are simply rolling along the curvature caused by the black hole. That’s all. As you can see, this is much more efficient, given that Newton couldn’t have explained this using his theory.

I will conclude my post here. Of course, there are much more other things that can be examined, but I believe that I have covered at least the basics and in fact a little bit more. But I do hope that your mindset to physics has been broadened. Let me tell you, the physics out there can get more interesting than even this.

Five Multiverse Theories

I stumbled onto this article, and I thought it did a pretty good job summarizing the theory of multiverses. This is just to open up your mind to the physics that is out there that goes way beyond the physics in your high school textbook. For my next post, I will focus on the “space-time” mentioned here and use it to explain that gravity is not necessarily the gravity you think it is (in other words, Newton’s definition of gravity is wrong). 

Reblogged From NBC News:

The universe we live in may not be the only one out there. In fact, our universe could be just one of an infinite number of universes making up a “multiverse.” Though the concept may stretch credulity, there’s good physics behind it. And there’s not just one way to get to a multiverse — numerous physics theories independently point to such a conclusion. In fact, some experts think the existence of hidden universes is more likely than not. Here are the five most plausible scientific theories suggesting we live in a multiverse:

1. Infinite Universes
Scientists can’t be sure what the shape of space-time is, but most likely, it’s flat (as opposed to spherical or even doughnut-shape) and stretches out infinitely. But if space-time goes on forever, then it must start repeating at some point, because there are a finite number of ways particles can be arranged in space and time.

So if you look far enough, you would encounter another version of you — in fact, infinite versions of you. Some of these twins will be doing exactly what you’re doing right now, while others will have worn a different sweater this morning, and still others will have made vastly different career and life choices.

Because the observable universe extends only as far as light has had a chance to get in the 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang (that would be 13.7 billion light-years), the space-time beyond that distance can be considered to be its own separate universe. In this way, a multitude of universes exists next to each other in a giant patchwork quilt of universes.

2. Bubble Universes
In addition to the multiple universes created by infinitely extending space-time, other universes could arise from a theory called “eternal inflation.” Inflation is the notion that the universe expanded rapidly after the Big Bang, in effect inflating like a balloon. Eternal inflation, first proposed by Tufts University cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin, suggests that some pockets of space stop inflating, while other regions continue to inflate, thus giving rise to many isolated “bubble universes.”

Thus, our own universe, where inflation has ended, allowing stars and galaxies to form, is but a small bubble in a vast sea of space, some of which is still inflating, that contains many other bubbles like ours. And in some of these bubble universes, the laws of physics and fundamental constants might be different than in ours, making some universes strange places indeed.

3. Parallel Universes
Another idea that arises from string theory is the notion of “braneworlds” — parallel universes that hover just out of reach of our own, proposed by Princeton University’s Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada. The idea comes from the possibility of many more dimensions to our world than the three of space and one of time that we know. In addition to our own three-dimensional “brane” of space, other three-dimensional branes may float in a higher-dimensional space.

Columbia University physicist Brian Greene describes the idea as the notion that “our universe is one of potentially numerous ‘slabs’ floating in a higher-dimensional space, much like a slice of bread within a grander cosmic loaf,” in his book “The Hidden Reality” (Vintage Books, 2011).

A further wrinkle on this theory suggests these brane universes aren’t always parallel and out of reach. Sometimes, they might slam into each other, causing repeated Big Bangs that reset the universes over and over again.

4. Daughter Universes
The theory of quantum mechanics, which reigns over the tiny world of subatomic particles, suggests another way multiple universes might arise. Quantum mechanics describes the world in terms of probabilities, rather than definite outcomes. And the mathematics of this theory might suggest that all possible outcomes of a situation do occur — in their own separate universes. For example, if you reach a crossroads where you can go right or left, the present universe gives rise to two daughter universes: one in which you go right, and one in which you go left.

“And in each universe, there’s a copy of you witnessing one or the other outcome, thinking — incorrectly — that your reality is the only reality,” Greene wrote in “The Hidden Reality.”

5. Mathematical Universes
Scientists have debated whether mathematics is simply a useful tool for describing the universe, or whether math itself is the fundamental reality, and our observations of the universe are just imperfect perceptions of its true mathematical nature. If the latter is the case, then perhaps the particular mathematical structure that makes up our universe isn’t the only option, and in fact all possible mathematical structures exist as their own separate universes.

“A mathematical structure is something that you can describe in a way that’s completely independent of human baggage,” said Max Tegmark of MIT, who proposed this brain-twisting idea. “I really believe that there is this universe out there that can exist independently of me that would continue to exist even if there were no humans.”

The Science of Superfluids

In a typical chemistry class, if you were asked how many states were there, you would answer three- liquids, solids, and gases. However, in reality, there are much more states, such as plasma and Bose-Einstein condensates. However, there is one state that I found really cool- the state of superfluids.

So how do superfluids occur? We can first begin off with the discovery of superfluids, by two scientists who were cooling liquid helium to near absolute zero. Technically, in an ordinary element, if cooled to near absolute zero, it would become a Bose-Einstein condensate, in which particles overlap each other. However, helium is special in that because it is a noble gas, the attractions between particles are so weak that it has the ability to stay a liquid even when cooled near absolute zero. Obviously, this gives the liquid some really special properties- just check out this video below:

As you can see, superfluids has freaky properties. It can dribble through molecular cracks, climb up over the sides of a container, and remain motionless when a container is spun. So how is this possible? Well, let’s see what defines a superfluid.  A superfluid is any type of fluid that has zero viscosity. Viscosity is the resistance to flow in a fluid, and this resistance is caused by the internal collison/friction between molecules of that fluid. For example, honey has a higher viscosity than water; it is more “thick” and less flow-able. This is due to the internal resistance in honey. All liquids have at least some of this resistance; that is except for superfluids.

So, why do superfluids not have this resistance while other liquids do? It has to do with the temperature. Remember, superfluids have a near-absolute zero temperature. In a typical element, this would result in a solid Bose-Einstein condensate, but for certain elements like helium, they have the special ability to remain a liquid. This does not mean that it doesn’t have Bose-Einstein condensate properties; in other words, superfluids are in a sense liquid Bose-Einstein condensates. A characteristic of these condensates is that all the particles overlap each other to become on super big particle. In a way, there are no such things as particles anymore, but rather just one big thing. This property also occurs in superfluids, which again, are like liquid condensates. So if one “particle” moves, than all the other particles moves too. It’s as if the liquid moves as one. And if this is so, then think about it- there is no internal resistance and thus no viscosity.

This would then explain the superfluid property of staying motionless when the container is spun. If one particle is not moving, then all the other particles are also not moving because the fluid acts as one. (Also, another similar property is if the fluid is spinning, it will keep on spinning forever, because what causes fluids to stop spinning is the internal collisions between particles.) But then how about the property of being able to crawl up the walls of a container? To begin, all liquids have a certain amount of attraction to the sides of a container due to attraction between particles. The liquid in a sense coats the inner surface of the solid container. However, the liquid’s internal friction limits how far the coating may spread. The more friction, the less coating. But with a frictionless superfluid, the coating in a sense goes unlimited, such that it will go over the edges of the container and even defy gravity (gravity on earth is relatively weak, by the way).

For the property of superfluids being able to seep through molecular cracks, however, I do not have an explanation for that. If you do, then I would really like to know so just contact me on the Contacts Page. All in all, superfluids are wonderful scientific things to study. Here are some links that can reinforce your knowledge of superfluids (below). You should check out more superfluid Youtube videos, too.

Scientific American- Strange But True: Superfluid Helium Can Climb Walls                                                                                                                                                                                                          Very Hot, Very Cold, Superfluids Demonstrate the Strangeness of Atoms                                                                                                                                                                                                           Exploring the Superfluid Core of a Neutron Star                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Wikipedia- Superfluidity