The year comes to an end. Once more, time flies. However, leaving the discussion of the arrow of time for another time, let's review the highlighted scientific events of 2017.
This time I wanted to share with you the video of Science (see below), where the biggest breakthroughs are summarised.
Images of Physics from IoP can be found HERE.
NBC shows its 7 top science and technology events HERE.
With these wrap up, I wish you a wonderful Happy New Year 2018, full of science and freaking news!
It was the Christmas of 2009. My brother gave me a book as a present, whose picture you can see below. I loved that book so much that I participated in the Human Document Project in 2010. That is another story, and shall be told another time. Today, I would like you to understand the concepts presented in this book.
James Lovelock formulated the hypothesis of Gaia, which proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a synergistic self-regulating, complex system that helps to maintain and perpetuate the conditions for life on the planet [Wikipedia]. In order words, a new vision about out planet Earth, considering it as a self regulator system.
Gaia for me was the idea of considering the Earth as an alive system. When I read this book, whose original title is "The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back", I discovered this vision of the climate change as never heard before. If we considered Gaia's homeostasis, maybe the fate of humanity could be less devastating by providing some positive feedbacks into the system.
There is a wide room for discussion here. In my opinion, you should read this book if you are really interested in global warming, future of human kind and the planet Earth.
However, the topic of my post today focuses on the idea of planetary health. Let's called it Gaia, or Earth, at the end the question is: how can we diagnose the health of our planet, and what are the measures to "cure" it?
The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on Planetary Health was launched in 2015, and its mission is to take care of that.
I invite you to read more in the foundation website, and also a general article about planetary health can be found HERE.
The detection of gravitational waves, the internal biological clock and special techniques to see the microscopic world have been the Nobel prizes in Physics, Medicine and Chemistry, respectively. Want to know more? Click below!
More about the ultracold state of matter, Bose-Einstein Condensates, and new experiments in the International Space Station!
Two big questions came to my mind this September:
1. Is this hurricane season specially busy and more catastrophic than before?
2. Has the climate change something to do with it?
When I was flying to my holidays in the Caribbean, I was a bit scared for the recent news about the hurricane Irma, which was on its way to Florida at that time. I just couldn't believe another hurricane could come right after. And not one, but five hurricanes or big storms were active at the same time on Earth at that moment.
The picture below shows exactly what I had to face when I was in the french island of Guadeloupe, and yes, Maria hit the island, and it was a (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience.
When the windspeed of a tropical storm reaches certain level a hurricane is formed.
The hurricane categories are also based on the windspeed. See the stages of development from tropical depression to hurricane HERE.
The best way to have an overview of cyclones around the globe is in the National Hurricane Center website.
Now, I am looking for answers to those questions I had this summer.
It seems that indeed this hurricane period has been just slightly more active than normal, although the main difference is that the amount of tropical storms that have evolved to hurricanes and the number of hurricanes that have reached high categories have increased. Moreover, climate change appears to be one of the main reasons this is happening.
You can find a good summary by clicking on the image below.
Climate change is real, and we have devastating proofs of it.
I remembered when I almost started a PhD some years ago on the aerodynamical study of birds flight. To me, with an aeronautical background, it sounded very interesting, as it covers different scientific disciplines from biology to physics, and can be applied to future technologies (e. g. robotics). My career path brought me to another field in the end, but I find always fascinating understanding life from a physical perspective. When I found this article, I wanted to share it with all of you right away. The article is published HERE, but you can also find the full article just by clicking on the image below. Enjoy the physics of nature!
As you might have already realised, I quite enjoy to share news about future technologies. In this occasion I have considered this article, which covers different new technologies in what is called the Internet Of Things.
Not only your fridge will order directly when you run out of milk, but sensors will change the ambient light accordingly to protect you from depression or skin cancer, to cite just a couple of examples.
Enjoy the article by clicking on the picture below!
I am sure you love scrambled eggs for breakfast. They can be a good way to start in the morning!
Have you heard of "scramble" in another context? Scramble means to mix up, shuffle, melee; in general, you scramble something when it becomes disorganized, chaotic, leading to a lose of information.
In physics, it has been conjectured that black holes are the fastest scramblers in nature [link1, link2], as any information thrown into them is "scrambled" with what is inside, and then is released very fast (emission known as Hawking radiation). This also called "Butterfly effect" indicates that an initial perturbation induces the spreading of information and a growth of chaos. There is a lot of research going on about the role of scrambling in black holes, string theory and the connection with quantum gravity. One example can be found here.
The next step leads us to thermodynamics, as thermal systems are considered chaotic as well. The phenomenon of thermalization (the process of physical bodies reaching thermal equilibrium through mutual interaction) is very sensitive to the initial conditions. Now we start to see a link with the process of scrambling in black holes described above.
We are now ready to understand the link at the quantum level. If we look at the process of thermalization in a quantum system, it is the same as to understand the spreading of information, or in other words, how the system scrambles. The out-of-time-order correlators (OTOC) are used to measure quantum chaos, and therefore many of the current experiments (to know more click on the image below) focus on trying to measure these correlators through non local measurements. The idea is to be able to set a time scale on which black holes should start releasing information. And to make everything even harder to understand, it seems in the process of scrambling time flows in both directions!
All in all, the important concepts are here. Furthermore, any additional information can be found in the links provided.
In summary, any information falling into a black hole gets scrambled and the released of radiation that follows could be key to understand quantum gravity.
It is like putting milk into your coffee, mixing them (process of thermalization), and then you are trying to understand where the milk comes from, although everything is already light brownish and you have no means to access the initial white milk.
As it is not possible to study black holes in the lab, the idea is use many-body quantum physics and quantum chaos, by studying thermalization in a bunch of atoms (spins) through these out-of-time correlators, thus suggesting a table-top simulation for quantum gravity.
In the Physicsworld magazine of this month there are very interesting articles about physicists working in fields related to the dangers of our own planet: fire, earthquakes, tornadoes, volcanoes...
These scientists get very very close to these hazards to be able to study them. Still, it seems we are far away of understanding the mechanisms and the science behind them.
To get a taste of this kind of research you can enjoy a couple of videos if you click on the image below.
Where are the limits? Could it be than in a not so distant future robots will surround us and be part of our daily life?
Could robots start reasoning? It seems that scientists have moved forward on developing algorithms which help computer to start using logic for relational reasoning.
Click on the image below to know more about this study.
Don't be afraid, we are not yet THERE.