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Nihilism, Futurist Traditionalism and Conservationism

Science turns back to Plato/Vedanta

08 12 10 - 12:41

Plato and ancient Indian thinkers alike proposed that the cosmos is thought-correlative and that patterns of thought, not the proximate physical events in which they manifest, determined the causes of things we witness in reality.

First, a little prompting: the idea of entropy:

The second law of thermodynamics is an expression of the finding that over time, differences in temperature, pressure, and chemical potential tend to equilibrate in an isolated physical system. - Pedopedia

Next, the concept of Maxwell's Demon, or a creature which defies entropy by sorting hot and cold molecules out of two containers of equally lukewarm molecules; this demon does this by watching to see which ones move faster than others, and sending them to one side and not the other. In theory, this reverses the entropic process described by the second law. Later observers pointed out that the demon himself uses energy, so not quite, but still... a tempting idea. Now we've recreated that experiment.

In the setup, the staircase was actually made of potential energy and created using electric fields. The molecule had some thermal energy – heat – so it would fluctuate, moving in random directions.

The scientists used a high-speed camera to photograph the molecule. When it happened to be moving up the staircase, they let it move freely, but when it happened to be moving down the staircase, the researchers blocked its motion by inserting a virtual wall using an electric field.

"It's like the particle is making random steps up or down, but only when the particle goes up the stairs, we put some wall on the stairs to avoid the particle falling down," Sano told LiveScience. "This is kind of a Maxwell's demon."

As the particle moved up the staircase, it gained energy because it moved to a location of higher potential – akin to climbing a mountain. Yet the researchers never had to push the particle up the mountain (i.e. do work or input energy) – they simply used the information about which direction it happened to be moving in at any given time to guide the climb.


In an accompanying essay in the same issue of the journal, physicist Christian Van den Broeck of the University of Hasselt in Belgium, who was not involved in the new study, called it "a direct verification of information-to-energy conversion." - LiveScience

In other words, information -- patterns -- can contribute energy to a system and reverse entropy. Sounds like a good reason for the formation of life, or the production of new patterns. Even more, while we cannot tell the position of any given molecule, we can tell how molecules will arrange themselves over time; they will consistently hit every possibility. Now we're looking at a reason for life to produce unique patterns, namely that it will expand to cover all mathematical possibilities:

In 1827, for example, the Scottish botanist Robert Brown found out that pollen grains show irregular fluttering vibrations on water drops. This effect is caused by a random motion of water molecules -- a phenomenon known as Brownian motion. Another example is the Galton board, which is used to demonstrate binomial distribution to students. On this board, balls are dropped from the top and they repeatedly bounce either left or right in a random way as they hit pins stuck in the board.

The Innsbruck scientists have now transferred this principle of random walk to quantum systems and stimulated an atom taking a quantum walk: "We trap a single atom in an electromagnetic ion trap and cool it to prepare it in the ground state," explains Christian Roos from the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI). "We then create a quantum mechanical superposition of two inner states and send the atom on a walk." - Science Daily

How interesting. And how does this shake out? Well, as it turns out, there is a shadow world to our reality -- antimatter is like a negative version of matter that cancels it out, so that even in a world that is completely filled with matter, voids can exist. In this shadow world, matter is recycled, much like energy is, and we don't know what data this shadow world holds -- in fact, it would be mighty convenient for it to hold a lot of data similar to our world, if it doesn't outright mirror it.

Under just the right conditions—which involve an ultra-high-intensity laser beam and a two-mile-long particle accelerator—it could be possible to create something out of nothing, according to University of Michigan researchers.

The scientists and engineers have developed new equations that show how a high-energy electron beam combined with an intense laser pulse could rip apart a vacuum into its fundamental matter and antimatter components, and set off a cascade of events that generates additional pairs of particles and antiparticles.

"We can now calculate how, from a single electron, several hundred particles can be produced. We believe this happens in nature near pulsars and neutron stars," said Igor Sokolov, an engineering research scientist who conducted this research along with associate research scientist John Nees, emeritus electrical engineering professor Gerard Mourou and their colleagues in France.

At the heart of this work is the idea that a vacuum is not exactly nothing.

"It is better to say, following theoretical physicist Paul Dirac, that a vacuum, or nothing, is the combination of matter and antimatter—particles and antiparticles.Their density is tremendous, but we cannot perceive any of them because their observable effects entirely cancel each other out," Sokolov said. - UMICH

A pattern system exists beneath the visible world. There goes information, when it is done here, as part of the process of renewing the flow of energy through not just our visible world, but the shadow world. For any of you Platonists out there, it's good fodder. Heremeticists and Vedantists will also delight in seeing modern science reaffirm ancient abstractions and metaphor.

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