A Riff in Space-Time

A Riff in Space-Time

Captain, we’ve been pulled into an alternate dimension due a riff in the space-time continuum.”

If you heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. It’s the trump card of science fiction. No matter how ridiculous or contrived, any plot line can be restored to order through a simple tear of the space-time fabric. Unfortunately for sci-fi writers everywhere, the concept of space-time riffs are in danger of being rendered obsolete.

The search for a unified force theory is the current holy grail of modern physics. Right now, modern physics is governed by two different theories. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity governs gravity and the relationship of objects on a very large scale. Quantum theory governs subatomic forces and the relationship of objects on a very small scale.

Problems occur when you try to apply relativistic theory to the interactions of subatomic particles, or if you try to apply quantum theory to the interaction of starts. It’s like trying to explain the motion of the sun and moon if the world were flat. The two theories just don’t work together.

Several different theories have popped-up over the last 20 years, but one of the issues with subatomic models is the complexity of the interactions. Solving equations with several thousand terms is required to simulate the simplest of interactions.

Recently, the discovery of a geometric object, the amplituhedron, was announced that greatly simplifies the calculation of particle interactions. (Can you say, “The Earth is round?”) One of the interesting side effects of this discovery is that space and time may not be independent descriptors of a particle’s state, but rather a consequence of the amplituhedron’s geometry. It seems that we’ve been thinking about particle physics all wrong!

For those that are interested, a great article on the subject is found at wrd.cm/1kQSsr4. (You big brain folks, go have fun!) For the rest of us, next time you watch a sci-fi plot start going sideways, don’t be shocked to hear Piccard start issuing orders to correct the amplituhedron’s primary vertex by three degrees. After all, the fate of the known universe depends upon it.


United We Ball — For my weekly libertarian rant, I introduce you to Bucky Balls. Just a few years ago, Bucky Balls were one of the most popular desktoys for the office. Simply speaking, Bucky Balls are a bunch of magnetic BBs that provide hours of distraction while one forms and reforms senseless objects. The small magnets are a swallowing hazard for young children, and the owners of Bucky Balls worked with the Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) to ensure safe distribution of the product.

That didn’t matter. In July 2012, the CPSC demanded an immediate recall. More regulatory drama ensured, but suffice it to say that, by December 2012, Bucky Balls was out of business. Moreover, the CPSC is trying to hold Bucky Ball CEO Craig Zucker personally responsible for the $57 million recall effort, even though the balls have never been proven to be defective and remain legal to sale. (As a matter of fact, competing products, i.e. Nanodots, remain on the market.)

Mr. Zucker has created a new line of Liberty Balls to help fund the defense against the CPSC and continue the stand for entrepreneurs. Liberty Balls are bigger and shinier and more fun. As the site says, “Get your hands on the most important balls in American history.”

Read more and support the effort at unitedweball.org.

Merry Christmas!

Until next time, I’m off the grid @gregory_a_baker.

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