Reality Doesn’t Exist Until We Measure It, Quantum Experiment Confirms


Australian scientists have recreated a famous experiment and confirmed quantum physics’s bizarre predictions about the nature of reality, by proving that reality doesn’t actually exist until we measure it – at least, not on the very small scale.

That all sounds a little mind-meltingly complex, but the experiment poses a pretty simple question: if you have an object that can either act like a particle or a wave, at what point does that object ‘decide’?

Our general logic would assume that the object is either wave-like or particle-like by its very nature, and our measurements will have nothing to do with the answer. But quantum theory predicts that the result all depends on how the object is measured at the end of its journey. And that’s exactly what a team from the Australian National University has now found.

“It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” lead researcher and physicist Andrew Truscott said in a press release.

Known as John Wheeler’s delayed-choice thought experiment, the experiment was first proposed back in 1978 using light beams bounced by mirrors, but back then, the technology needed was pretty much impossible. Now, almost 40 years later, the Australian team has managed to recreate the experiment using helium atoms scattered by laser light.

“Quantum physics predictions about interference seem odd enough when applied to light, which seems more like a wave, but to have done the experiment with atoms, which are complicated things that have mass and interact with electric fields and so on, adds to the weirdness,” said Roman Khakimov, a PhD student who worked on the experiment.

To successfully recreate the experiment, the team trapped a bunch of helium atoms in a suspended state known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, and then ejected them all until there was only a single atom left.

This chosen atom was then dropped through a pair of laser beams, which made a grating pattern that acted as a crossroads that would scatter the path of the atom, much like a solid grating would scatter light.

They then randomly added a second grating that recombined the paths, but only after the atom had already passed the first grating.

When this second grating was added, it led to constructive or destructive interference, which is what you’d expect if the atom had travelled both paths, like a wave would. But when the second grating was not added, no interference was observed, as if the atom chose only one path.

The fact that this second grating was only added after the atom passed through the first crossroads suggests that the atom hadn’t yet determined its nature before being measured a second time.

So if you believe that the atom did take a particular path or paths at the first crossroad, this means that a future measurement was affecting the atom’s path, explained Truscott. “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behaviour was brought into existence,” he said.

Although this all sounds incredibly weird, it’s actually just a validation for the quantum theory that already governs the world of the very small. Using this theory, we’ve managed to develop things like LEDs, lasers and computer chips, but up until now, it’s been hard to confirm that it actually works with a lovely, pure demonstration such as this one.

Source: Nature Physics.

Physicists Leak Evidence That Approve Elon Musk’s Theory – The Universe Is A “Computer” Simulation


Philosophers have long proposed that given that any civilization of remarkable intelligence and size would likely create simulations of other universes, and likely a great number of simulations), it may be that there are more simulated universes than real, and consequently more simulated worlds than real.

And now, some physicists say, we just may have the evidence that our universe is just one such simulation.

A team of researchers led by Silas Beane at Germany’s University of Bonn, have just released a paper titled “Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation,” in which they make the argument that any such simulation of a universe must, by nature of a simulation, put limits on the physical laws of that universe.

As Technology Review explains, making the same point, “the problem with all simulations is that the laws of physics, which appear continuous, have to be superimposed onto a discrete three dimensional lattice which advances in steps of time.”

For example, if a simulation, there would be clear limits on the amount of energy particles within the program can contain. And, researchers say, there’s evidence of exactly such limits in our universe.

In particular, we can consider what is known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin, or GZK cut off – which is a clear limit to the energy an cosmic ray particle can hold. Scientists argue this is the result of interactions with cosmic background radiation. Beane’s research team, however, argues that it is also exactly what you would expect from a simulation’s limits.

Of course, you should read the paper yourself to get a better feel for the science – but the argument is certainly an interesting one, and will only fuel more philosophers’ arguments about the nature of our world.

For more, consider what Elon Musk has to say about the theory in the video below:

Sources:

In a World-First, Scientists Have Achieved ‘Liquid Light’ at Room Temperature


A Frankenstein mash-up of light and matter.

For the first time, physicists have achieved ‘liquid light’ at room temperature, making this strange form of matter more accessible than ever.

This matter is both a superfluid, which has zero friction and viscosity, and a kind of Bose-Einstein condensate – sometimes described as the fifth state of matter – and it allows light to actually flow around objects and corners.

Regular light behaves like a wave, and sometimes like a particle, always travelling in a straight line. That’s why your eyes can’t see around corners or objects. But under extreme conditions, light can also act like a liquid, and actually flow around objects.

Bose-Einstein condensates are interesting to physicists because in this state, the rules switch from classical to quantum physics, and matter starts to take on more wave-like properties.

They are formed at temperatures close to absolute zero and exist for only fractions of a second.

But in this study, researchers report making a Bose-Einstein condensate at room temperature by using a Frankenstein mash-up of light and matter.

“The extraordinary observation in our work is that we have demonstrated that superfluidity can also occur at room-temperature, under ambient conditions, using light-matter particles called polaritons,” says lead researcher Daniele Sanvitto, from the CNR NANOTEC Institute of Nanotechnology in Italy.

Creating polaritons involved some serious equipment and nanoscale engineering.

The scientists sandwiched a 130-nanometre-thick layer of organic molecules between two ultra-reflective mirrors, and blasted it with a 35 femtosecond laser pulse (1 femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second).

“In this way, we can combine the properties of photons – such as their light effective mass and fast velocity – with strong interactions due to the electrons within the molecules,” says one of the team, Stéphane Kéna-Cohen from École Polytechnique de Montreal in Canada.

The resulting ‘super liquid’ had some strange properties.

Under normal conditions, when liquid flows, it creates ripples and swirls – but that’s not the case for a superfluid. 

As you can see below, the flow of polaritons is disturbed like waves under regular circumstances, but not in the superfluid:

liquid liquid lightThe flow of polaritons encounters an obstacle in non-superfluid (top) and superfluid (bottom). Credit: Polytechnique Montreal

“In a superfluid, this turbulence is suppressed around obstacles, causing the flow to continue on its way unaltered,” says Kéna-Cohen.

The researchers say the results pave the way not only to new studies of quantum hydrodynamics, but also to room-temperature polariton devices for advanced future technology, such as the production of super-conductive materials for devices such as LEDs, solar panels, and lasers.

“The fact that such an effect is observed under ambient conditions can spark an enormous amount of future work,” says the team.

“Not only to study fundamental phenomena related to Bose-Einstein condensates, but also to conceive and design future photonic superfluid-based devices where losses are completely suppressed and new unexpected phenomena can be exploited.”

Source:Nature Physics.

After 100 years of debate, hitting absolute zero has been declared mathematically impossible.


The third law of thermodynamics finally gets its proof.

After more than 100 years of debate featuring the likes of Einstein himself, physicists have finally offered up mathematical proof of the third law of thermodynamics, which states that a temperature of absolute zero cannot be physically achieved because it’s impossible for the entropy (or disorder) of a system to hit zero.

While scientists have long suspected that there’s an intrinsic ‘speed limit’ on the act of cooling in our Universe that prevents us from ever achieving absolute zero (0 Kelvin, -273.15°C, or -459.67°F), this is the strongest evidence yet that our current laws of physics hold true when it comes to the lowest possible temperature.

 “We show that you can’t actually cool a system to absolute zero with a finite amount of resources and we went a step further,” one of the team, Lluis Masanes from University College London, told IFLScience.

“We then conclude that it is impossible to cool a system to absolute zero in a finite time, and we established a relation between time and the lowest possible temperature. It’s the speed of cooling.”

What Masanes is referring to here are two fundamental assumptions that the third law of thermodynamics depends on for its validity.

The first is that in order to achieve absolute zero in a physical system, the system’s entropy has to also hit zero.

The second rule is known as the unattainability principle, which states that absolute zero is physically unreachable because no system can reach zero entropy.

The first rule was proposed by German chemist Walther Nernst in 1906, and while it earned him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, heavyweights like Albert Einstein and Max Planck weren’t convinced by his proof, and came up with their own versions of the cooling limit of the Universe.

 This prompted Nernst to double down on his thinking and propose the second rule in 1912, declaring absolute zero to be physically impossible.

Together, these rules are now acknowledged as the third law of thermodynamics, and while this law appears to hold true, its foundations have always seemed a little rocky – when it comes to the laws of thermodynamics, the third one has been a bit of a black sheep.

“[B]ecause earlier arguments focused only on specific mechanisms or were crippled by questionable assumptions, some physicists have always remained unconvinced of its validity,” Leah Crane explains for New Scientist.

In order to test how robust the assumptions of the third law of thermodynamics actually are in both classical and quantum systems, Masanes and his colleague Jonathan Oppenheim decided to test if it is mathematically possible to reach absolute zero when restricted to finite time and resources.

Masanes compares this act of cooling to computation – we can watch a computer solve an algorithm and record how long it takes, and in the same way, we can actually calculate how long it takes for a system to be cooled to its theoretical limit because of the steps required to remove its heat.

You can think of cooling as effectively ‘shovelling’ out the existing heat in a system and depositing it into the surrounding environment.

How much heat the system started with will determine how many steps it will take for you to shovel it all out, and the size of the ‘reservoir’ into which that heat is being deposited will also limit your cooling ability.

Using mathematical techniques derived from quantum information theory – something that Einstein had pushed for in his own formulations of the third law of thermodynamics – Masanes and Oppenheim found that you could only reach absolute zero if you had both infinite steps and an infinite reservoir.

And that’s not exactly something any of us are going to get our hands on any time soon.

This is something that physicists have long suspected, because the second law of thermodynamics states that heat will spontaneously move from a warmer system to a cooler system, so the object you’re trying to cool down will constantly be taking in heat from its surroundings.

And when there’s any amount of heat within an object, that means there’s thermal motion inside, which ensures some degree of entropy will always remain.

This explains why, no matter where you look, every single thing in the Universe is moving ever so slightly – nothing in existence is completely still according to the third law of thermodynamics.

The researchers say they “hope the present work puts the third law on a footing more in line with those of the other laws of thermodynamics”, while at the same time presenting the fastest theoretical rate at which we can actually cool something down.

In other words, they’ve used maths to quantify the steps of cooling, allowing researchers to define set speed limit for how cold a system can get in a finite amount of time.

And that’s important, because even if we can never reach absolute zero, we can get pretty damn close, as NASA demonstrated recently with its Cold Atom Laboratory, which can hit a mere billionth of a degree above absolute zero, or 100 million times colder than the depths of space.

At these kinds of temperatures, we’ll be able to see strange atomic behaviours that have never been witnessed before. And being able to remove as much heat from a system is going to be crucial in the race to finally build a functional quantum computer.

And the best part is, while this study has taken absolute zero off the table for good, no one has even gotten close to reaching the temperatures or cooling speeds that it’s set as the physical limits – despite some impressive efforts of late.

“The work is important – the third law is one of the fundamental issues of contemporary physics,” Ronnie Kosloff at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel who was not involved in the study, told New Scientist.

“It relates thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, information theory – it’s a meeting point of many things.”

Source: Nature Communications.

New Research Shows That Time Travel Is Mathematically Possible


IN BRIEF

Physicists have developed a new mathematical model that shows how time travel is theoretically possible. They used Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity as a springboard for their hypothetical device, which they call a Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time (TARDIS).

BENDING TIME

Even before Einstein theorized that time is relative and flexible, humanity had already been imagining the possibility of time travel. In fact, science fiction is filled with time travelers. Some use metahuman abilities to do so, but most rely on a device generally known as a time machine. Now, two physicists think that it’s time to bring the time machine into the real world — sort of.

The Future According to H. G. Wells [INFOGRAPHIC]

“People think of time travel as something as fiction. And we tend to think it’s not possible because we don’t actually do it,” Ben Tippett, a theoretical physicist and mathematician from the University of British Columbiasaid in a UBC news release. “But, mathematically, it is possible.”

Essentially, what Tippet and University of Maryland astrophysicist David Tsang developed is a mathematical formula that uses Einstein’s General Relativity theory to prove that time travel is possible, in theory. That is, time travel fitting a layperson’s understanding of the concept as moving “backwards and forwards through time and space, as interpreted by an external observer,” according to the abstract of their paper, which is published in the journal Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Oh, and they’re calling it a TARDIS — yes, “Doctor Who” fans, hurray! — which stands for a Traversable Acausal Retrograde Domain in Space-time.

FEASIBLE BUT NOT POSSIBLE. YET.

“My model of a time machine uses the curved space-time to bend time into a circle for the passengers, not in a straight line,” Tippet explained. “That circle takes us back in time.” Simply put, their model assumes that time could curve around high-mass objects in the same way that physical space does in the universe.

For Tippet and Tsang, a TARDIS is a space-time geometry “bubble” that travels faster than the speed of light. “It is a box which travels ‘forwards’ and then ‘backwards’ in time along a circular path through spacetime,” they wrote in their paper.

Unfortunately, it’s still not possible to construct such a time machine. “While is it mathematically feasible, it is not yet possible to build a space-time machine because we need materials — which we call exotic matter — to bend space-time in these impossible ways, but they have yet to be discovered,” Tippet explained.

Image credit: Tippet and Yang

Indeed, their work isn’t the first to suggest that time traveling can be done. Various other experiments, including those that rely on photon stimulation, suggest that time travel is feasible. Another theory explores the potential particles of time.

However, some think that a time machine wouldn’t be feasible because time traveling itself isn’t possible. One points to the intimate connection between time and energy as the reason time traveling is improbable. Another suggests that time travel isn’t going to work because there’s no future to travel to yet.

Whatever the case may be, there’s one thing that these researchers all agree on. As Tippet put it, “Studying space-time is both fascinating and problematic.”

Metallic Hydrogen Is The Holy Grail Of High-Pressure Physics, And One Team Says They’ve Made It


For more than 80 years, physicists have dreamed of the ability to produce metallic hydrogen. In 2016, one team claimed to have finally done it. To understand why science wants metallic hydrogen so badly—and why the 2016 announcement caused so much drama—you have to first understand the potential of this elusive material.

The heart of a diamond anvil cell.

To Infinity And Beyond

 We all know hydrogen: it’s the first element on the periodic table, and the most abundant in the universe. It appears most commonly as a gas. If you cool it to very low temperatures, as rocket scientists are wont to do, it becomes a liquid. Liquid hydrogen makes great rocket fuel because it’s light and it burns with extreme intensity. Specifically, when you combine it with something like liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen yields the highest specific impulse—efficiency, basically—of any rocket fuel.

You can imagine, then, what you could accomplish if you squeezed hydrogen with enough pressure to turn it into a metal. High-pressure researchers first predicted this was possible in 1935. They theorized that not only would metallic hydrogen conduct electricity (that’s what metals do, after all) but it might do it without resistance, which would mean it was a superconductor. What’s more, it could do that at room temperature—no supercooling necessary for this supermaterial! But that’s not all it could help accomplish, as Nature’s Davide Castelvecchi points out: “By making metallic hydrogen, physicists might also be able to explore planetary science at their lab bench: gas-giant planets such as Jupiter are theorized to have metallic hydrogen in their cores, which would perhaps explain how they can sustain a magnetic field.”

More Like Metallic Hy-Drama

 In October of 2016, two physicists announced that they had actually squeezed hydrogen between diamonds at such low temperatures and high pressure that it turned metallic. As Gizmodo reports, “As the scientists cranked up the pressure, they observed transparent hydrogen turn black. Finally, at a pressure 5 million times our own air pressure, the hydrogen turned reflective. The researchers presented this as proof that the hydrogen atoms had arranged into a regular, 3D structure like a metal.” Other physicists did not take this lying down. “I don’t think the paper is convincing at all,” French physicist Paul Loubeyre told Nature. “We express a doubt that [the physicists] were even in a close vicinity of the claimed pressure,” wrote Carnegie Institute staff scientist Alexander Goncharov in a response paper.
Why are other scientists so skeptical? There are a few reasons. For one thing, there’s little evidence that the material was even hydrogen in the first place; it could have been the aluminum oxide that coats the tips of the diamonds themselves. The researchers also took just a single measurement of the sample at its very highest pressure, which makes it hard to see how the pressure changed as the hydrogen turned metallic. Worst of all, further testing led them to lose the sample. “Basically, it’s disappeared,” team leader Isaac F. Silvera told ScienceAlert. “It’s either someplace at room pressure, very small, or it just turned back into a gas. We don’t know.” And you thought losing your keys was rough.

Metallic Hydrogen Is The Holy Grail Of High-Pressure Physics, And One Team Says They’ve Made It


For more than 80 years, physicists have dreamed of the ability to produce metallic hydrogen. In 2016, one team claimed to have finally done it. To understand why science wants metallic hydrogen so badly—and why the 2016 announcement caused so much drama—you have to first understand the potential of this elusive material.

The heart of a diamond anvil cell.
 We all know hydrogen: it’s the first element on the periodic table, and the most abundant in the universe. It appears most commonly as a gas. If you cool it to very low temperatures, as rocket scientists are wont to do, it becomes a liquid. Liquid hydrogen makes great rocket fuel because it’s light and it burns with extreme intensity. Specifically, when you combine it with something like liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen yields the highest specific impulse—efficiency, basically—of any rocket fuel.

You can imagine, then, what you could accomplish if you squeezed hydrogen with enough pressure to turn it into a metal. High-pressure researchers first predicted this was possible in 1935. They theorized that not only would metallic hydrogen conduct electricity (that’s what metals do, after all) but it might do it without resistance, which would mean it was a superconductor. What’s more, it could do that at room temperature—no supercooling necessary for this supermaterial! But that’s not all it could help accomplish, as Nature’s Davide Castelvecchi points out: “By making metallic hydrogen, physicists might also be able to explore planetary science at their lab bench: gas-giant planets such as Jupiter are theorized to have metallic hydrogen in their cores, which would perhaps explain how they can sustain a magnetic field.”

More Like Metallic Hy-Drama

In October of 2016, two physicists announced that they had actually squeezed hydrogen between diamonds at such low temperatures and high pressure that it turned metallic. As Gizmodo reports, “As the scientists cranked up the pressure, they observed transparent hydrogen turn black. Finally, at a pressure 5 million times our own air pressure, the hydrogen turned reflective. The researchers presented this as proof that the hydrogen atoms had arranged into a regular, 3D structure like a metal.” Other physicists did not take this lying down. “I don’t think the paper is convincing at all,” French physicist Paul Loubeyre told Nature. “We express a doubt that [the physicists] were even in a close vicinity of the claimed pressure,” wrote Carnegie Institute staff scientist Alexander Goncharov in a response paper.

Why are other scientists so skeptical? There are a few reasons. For one thing, there’s little evidence that the material was even hydrogen in the first place; it could have been the aluminum oxide that coats the tips of the diamonds themselves. The researchers also took just a single measurement of the sample at its very highest pressure, which makes it hard to see how the pressure changed as the hydrogen turned metallic. Worst of all, further testing led them to lose the sample. “Basically, it’s disappeared,” team leader Isaac F. Silvera told ScienceAlert. “It’s either someplace at room pressure, very small, or it just turned back into a gas. We don’t know.” And you thought losing your keys was rough.

Did Scientists Really Make Metallic Hydrogen?

Scientists: “We Have Detected the Existence of a Fundamentally New State of Matter”


IN BRIEF

Scientists have discovered a fundamentally new state of matter: 3D quantum liquid crystals. These have the potential to advance microchip technology and quantum computing.

3D QUANTUM LIQUID CRYSTALS

Caltech physicists at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter have discovered the first 3D quantum liquid crystal. This is a new state of matter they expect will have applications in ultrafast quantum computing, and the researchers believe this discovery is just the “tip of the iceberg.”

The molecules of standard liquid crystals flow freely as if they were a liquid, but stay directionally oriented like a solid. Liquid crystals can be made artificially, like those in display screens of electronic devices, or found in nature, like those found in biological cell membranes. Quantum liquid crystals were first discovered in 1999; their molecules behave much like those in regular liquid crystals, but their electronsprefer to orient themselves along certain axes.

Watch the video. URL:

The electrons of the 3D quantum liquid crystals exhibit different magnetic properties depending on the direction they flow along a given axis. Practically speaking, this means that electrifying these materials changes them into magnets, or changes the strength or orientation of their magnetism.

QUANTUM APPLICATIONS

The research team expects that 3D quantum liquid crystals might advance the field of designing and creating more efficient computer chips by helping computer scientists exploit the direction that electrons spin. The 3D quantum liquid crystal discovery could also advance us along the road toward building quantum computers, which will decrypt codes and make other calculations at much higher speeds thanks to the quantum nature of particles.

Achieving a quantum computer is a challenge, because quantum effects are delicate and transient. They can be changed or destroyed simply through their interactions with the surrounding environments. This problem may be solved by a technique requiring a special material called a topological superconductor — which is where the 3D quantum liquid crystals come in.

“In the same way that 2D quantum liquid crystals have been proposed to be a precursor to high-temperature superconductors, 3D quantum liquid crystals could be the precursors to the topological superconductors we’ve been looking for,” Caltech assistant professor of physics David Hsieh, principal investigator on the new study, said in an interview for a Caltech press release.

“Rather than rely on serendipity to find topological superconductors, we may now have a route to rationally creating them using 3D quantum liquid crystals,” Hsieh lab postdoctoral scholar John Harter, the lead author of the new study published in Science, said in the press release. “That is next on our agenda.”

Source:futurism.com

Physicists Say They’ve Created a Fluid With ‘Negative Mass’


Researchers in the US say they’ve created a fluid with negative mass in the lab… which is exactly as mind-bending as it sounds.

What it means is that, unlike pretty much every other known physical object, when you push this fluid, it accelerates backwards instead of moving forwards. Such an oddity could tell scientists about some of the strange behaviour that happens within black holes and neutron stars.

 But let’s take a step back for a second here, because how can something have negative mass?

Hypothetically speaking, matter should be able to have negative mass in the same way that an electric charge can be either negative or positive.

On paper that works, but it’s still debated in the science world whether negative mass objects can really exist without breaking the laws of physics – something that’s not helped by the fact that the very concept is hard for us mere humans to wrap our heads around.

Isaac Newton’s Second Law of Motion is often written as the formula f=ma, or force equals an object’s mass times its acceleration.

If we rewrite it as acceleration is equal to a force divided by the object’s mass, and make the mass negative, it would have negative acceleration – just imagine sliding a glass across a table and having it push back against your hand.

However, just because it seems foreign to us, doesn’t mean it’s impossible, and previous theoretical research has shown some early evidence that negative mass could exist within our Universe without breaking the theory of general relativity.

 

More than that, many physicists think that negative mass could be linked to some of the weird things we’ve detected in the Universe, such as dark energyblack holes, and neutron stars.

As a result, researchers have been actively trying to recreate negative mass in the lab, with some early success.

But now researchers from Washington State University say they’ve successfully managed to get a fluid of superchilled atoms to act as though it has negative mass – and suggest it could finally be used to study some of the stranger phenomena happening in the deep Universe.

“What’s a first here is the exquisite control we have over the nature of this negative mass, without any other complications,” said one of the researchers, Michael Forbes.

To create this strange fluid, the team used lasers to cool rubidium atoms to a fraction above absolute zero, creating what’s known as a Bose-Einstein condensate.

In this state, particles move incredibly slowly and follow the strange principles of quantum mechanics, rather than classical physics – which means they start to behave like waves, with a location that can’t be precisely pinpointed.

The particles also sync up and move in unison, forming what’s known as a superfluid – a substance that flows without losing energy to friction.

The team used lasers to keep this superfluid at the icy temperatures, but also to trap it in a tiny bowl-like field measuring less than 100 microns across.

While the superfluid remained contained in that space it had regular mass and, as far as Bose-Einstein condensates go, was pretty normal. But then the team forced the superfluid to escape.

Using a second set of lasers, they kicked the atoms back and forth to change their spin, breaking the ‘bowl’ and allowing the rubidium to come rushing out so fast that it behaved as if it had negative mass.

“Once you push, it accelerates backwards,” said Forbes. “It looks like the rubidium hits an invisible wall.”

So far, the researchers state that the negative mass fluid confirms what other teams have seen in their research, but it’s very early days.

It’s yet to be seen whether this escaping superfluid will be reliable and accurate enough to test out some of the very strange suggestions about negative mass in the lab, and before we get too excited, other teams need to replicate the results independently.

But the research has now been published in the peer-reviewed journal Physical Review Letters for anyone to try their hand at. So hopefully it won’t be long before we see the experiment recreated.

One thing’s for sure, physics just keeps getting weirder, and we’re pretty excited to see what happens next.

source:www.sciencealert.com

Einstein’s Special Theory Of Relativity Was Initially Met With A Universal Eye-Roll


Everyone has heard of Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity. Just imagine the universal explosion of praise that happened when he published this momentous work of science! Then stop imagining. Whatever you’re thinking, it probably went nothing like that.

 

Why People Didn’t Believe Einstein

When Einstein published his paper on special relativity in 1905, the reception wasn’t exactly warm. His paper talks about “ether,” a theoretical substance that was then accepted as the stuff space is made of, mostly because its existence helped the equations work out. As JSTOR Daily reports, “Einstein argued that space and time were bound up together (something he would elaborate on in his theory of general relativity of 1915, adding gravity to the mix of space/time), a complicated idea that contradicted the long-held belief in something called ether. […] Einstein’s theory noted there was no experimental confirmation for the substance. There was no proof it existed, other than that the scientific establishment had accepted the concept.”

Change is hard. For years after Einstein put his contradiction of ether out into the world, Germany remained the only place it was really taken seriously. In Britain, the idea fell on deaf ears. (Britain was, after all, where the idea of ether originated.) In France, Einstein’s work wasn’t really even considered until after he visited the country in 1910. A few understood it in the U.S., but generally considered it impractical and absurd. What made Germany different? According to scholar Stanley Goldberg, “Many German physicists opposed Einstein’s theory, but it is only in Germany that its opponents understood it […] It was the seriousness of the German response, in my view, which ultimately led to the acceptance of relativity, for it insured that the theory would be examined, criticized, and elaborated upon.”

What Does His Theory Actually Say?

 Besides denying the existence of ether, Einstein’s special and general theories of relativity helped modern science take a grand leap in its understanding of the universe. Space.com does a wonderful job of summing up both theories: “In 1905, Albert Einstein determined that the laws of physics are the same for all non-accelerating observers, and that the speed of light in a vacuum was independent of the motion of all observers. This was the theory of special relativity. It introduced a new framework for all of physics and proposed new concepts of space and time. Einstein then spent 10 years trying to include acceleration in the theory and published his theory of general relativity in 1915. In it, he determined that massive objects cause a distortion in space-time, which is felt as gravity.” Even more impressive, the theories Einstein worked out on paper have since been confirmed with experimental evidence. Regardless of how scientists considered them at the time, Einstein’s theories about space and time have proven to be the most accurate we have so far.

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Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Videos On The Theory Of Relativity

Theory of General Relativity

This cute animation does an excellent job of explaining the history and meaning of general relativity.