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(Wired)   Today's word of the day: amplituhedron   (wired.com) divider line 82
    More: Cool, quantum systems, gluons, learning, quantum field theory, virtual particles, quantum gravity, higher dimensions, Richard Feynman  
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8512 clicks; posted to Main » on 12 Dec 2013 at 1:50 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



82 Comments   (+0 »)
   
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2013-12-12 01:14:07 PM  
I think I have on of those in my dice bag.
 
2013-12-12 01:26:29 PM  
I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.
 
2013-12-12 02:01:54 PM  
Does it come with a large collider?
 
2013-12-12 02:05:12 PM  
Didn't we already have a thread or two about this?
 
2013-12-12 02:06:02 PM  

DerAppie: Didn't we already have a thread or two about this?


This is a new facet
 
2013-12-12 02:06:16 PM  

nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.


Oh yeah.  Feynman Diagrams really cleared things up for me.
 
2013-12-12 02:06:17 PM  

nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.


Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.
 
2013-12-12 02:06:48 PM  
Very cool. Thanks, subby.
 
2013-12-12 02:07:34 PM  

Iknhaton: Feynman Diagrams really cleared things up for me


Two were enough for me.  Computing more than that is just punishment.
 
2013-12-12 02:09:50 PM  

scarmig: DerAppie: Didn't we already have a thread or two about this?

This is a new facet


What you did there...
 
2013-12-12 02:13:02 PM  

That's a made up word said the straight man.



/Countdown to cromulence in 3... 2... 1...
 
2013-12-12 02:13:06 PM  

scarmig: DerAppie: Didn't we already have a thread or two about this?

This is a new facet


Okay, that was funnied.
 
2013-12-12 02:14:02 PM  
So, on Dec 6 Arkani-Hamed and Trnka publish in the Arxiv their awaited paper "The Amplituhedron".

Perturbative scattering amplitudes in gauge theories have remarkable simplicity and hidden infinite dimensional symmetries that are completely obscured in the conventional formulation of field theory using Feynman diagrams. This suggests the existence of a new understanding for scattering amplitudes where locality and unitarity do not play a central role but are derived consequences from a different starting point. In this note we provide such an understanding for N=4 SYM scattering amplitudes in the planar limit, which we identify as ``the volume" of a new mathematical object--the Amplituhedron--generalizing the positive Grassmannian. Locality and unitarity emerge hand-in-hand from positive geometry.

Does Wired get some expert(s) to discuss what is revealed in this paper that was just alluded to before? Nope. They just reprint an analysis from September 17, 2013 (that already appeared in Fark).

One of the greatest achievements in modern maths/physics was Emmy Noether's proof that any symmetry corresponds to a conserved quantity.
 
2013-12-12 02:14:43 PM  

Iknhaton: Oh yeah. Feynman Diagrams really cleared things up for me.


Did you do four pages of integrals just to show that an electron absorbed a photon? It's not simple, but it's still way simpler.
 
2013-12-12 02:17:38 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.


I was going to ask how you came to that conclusion, but I decided it didn't matter.
 
2013-12-12 02:18:33 PM  

HairBolus: One of the greatest achievements in modern maths/physics was Emmy Noether's proof that any symmetry corresponds to a conserved quantity.


True, but it was too fundamental to be missed for very long.  Some body stumbles onto everything, eventually.
 
2013-12-12 02:19:08 PM  

Flt209er: Marcus Aurelius: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.

I was going to ask how you came to that conclusion, but I decided it didn't matter.


OK, now THAT'S funny.
 
2013-12-12 02:28:31 PM  
assets1.ignimgs.com
 
2013-12-12 02:31:29 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: Flt209er: Marcus Aurelius: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.

I was going to ask how you came to that conclusion, but I decided it didn't matter.

OK, now THAT'S funny.


^5
 
2013-12-12 02:37:54 PM  
I thought there was someone who had a geometrical solution to the particle model long ago.  It doesn't mean this is a bad thing; I'd rather see a good idea rehashed every six months.  Like the Eightfold Path, the Standard Model has models slapped on to it, but nobody knows why.  Experimental physicists care about 'how' before 'why', and I never did like the concept of 'renormalizing infinities'.  "Oh, the math says this integral goes to infinity.  But we know the probability can't be more than 100% so we'll just spackle over the holes in the mathematics."
 
2013-12-12 03:06:04 PM  

syrynxx: I thought there was someone who had a geometrical solution to the particle model long ago.  It doesn't mean this is a bad thing; I'd rather see a good idea rehashed every six months.  Like the Eightfold Path, the Standard Model has models slapped on to it, but nobody knows why.  Experimental physicists care about 'how' before 'why', and I never did like the concept of 'renormalizing infinities'.  "Oh, the math says this integral goes to infinity.  But we know the probability can't be more than 100% so we'll just spackle over the holes in the mathematics."


Renormalization is less weird when viewed from a modern context (see Anthony Zee's text for a good intro).  Basically, introducing a cutoff into the theory isn't some ad-hoc procedure merely to remove infinities.  It's an acknowledgment that the theory will break down at high energies.  But then you remove the cutoff to recover precisely the physics that doesn't depend on high-energy details, i.e. the part that's useful in practice, in the absence of a better theory.  From this perspective, renormalization is actually expected, not a kludge, and it points the way to theories (precisely the renormalizable ones) that are useful approximations.
 
2013-12-12 03:21:31 PM  
Turtles. Turtles all the way down.
 
2013-12-12 03:30:49 PM  
*explodingheadscanners.jpg*

This is why I majored in music and literature.
 
2013-12-12 03:35:08 PM  
Hear about the string theorist caught by his wife with another woman? "I can explain everything."
 
2013-12-12 03:41:51 PM  
So Lovecraft was right. Space, time, and reality can be warped by strange geometries.

Now I'm hoping they leave this line of inquiry alone.
 
2013-12-12 03:42:01 PM  
ih3.redbubble.net
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2013-12-12 03:42:25 PM  
I skimmed the papers. I'm sure some of the fancy words are real quantum physics words and some of them may or may not be made up.
 
2013-12-12 03:43:36 PM  
It's the stuff that dreams are made of.
 
2013-12-12 03:47:59 PM  
here is a video on the subject:

The Amplituhedron
Nima Arkani-Hamed

http://susy2013.ictp.it/video/05_Friday/2013_08_30_Arkani-Hamed_4-3. ht ml
 
2013-12-12 03:48:37 PM  
didn't some surfer physics guy have a similar idea a couple/few years ago?
 
2013-12-12 03:48:44 PM  
Now my brain hurts.
 
2013-12-12 03:48:47 PM  
I am still in the anti "time" camp. I think it should be decay of solvency. Time is a fictional thing that man made up to track things.  Time exists, but not as time as we know it.  It is all about decay of bonds in molecules and those vary wildly depending on the molecule involved...... If we give up time as an absolute, we will progress. It varies greatly depending on what and where you are.
 
2013-12-12 03:52:16 PM  

chumboobler: I am still in the anti "time" camp. I think it should be decay of solvency. Time is a fictional thing that man made up to track things.  Time exists, but not as time as we know it.  It is all about decay of bonds in molecules and those vary wildly depending on the molecule involved...... If we give up time as an absolute, we will progress. It varies greatly depending on what and where you are.


When the Sun shines upon Earth, 2 - major Time points are created on opposite sides of Earth - known as Midday and Midnight. Where the 2 major Time forces join, synergy creates 2 new minor Time points we recognize as Sunup and Sundown.
 
2013-12-12 03:53:19 PM  

keithgabryelski: didn't some surfer physics guy have a similar idea a couple/few years ago?


IIRC that was a skier working on Lie-8 Supersymmetry
 
2013-12-12 03:54:52 PM  

DonkeyDixon: keithgabryelski: didn't some surfer physics guy have a similar idea a couple/few years ago?

IIRC that was a skier working on Lie-8 Supersymmetry


right:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Exceptionally_Simple_Theory_of_Every th ing

surfer though:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_Garrett_Lisi
 
2013-12-12 03:55:01 PM  
I reject this headline, and submit "hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane" as the new word of the day.
 
2013-12-12 03:56:53 PM  
First paragraph: Physicists reported this week the discovery of a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.


i.imgflip.com
Well... fark.
 
2013-12-12 03:57:05 PM  
I'm really hoping that I'm alive when we solve physics. That, or we create a true human-level AI, or we make contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. Seriously, can we do one of those within the next, oh, forty years? That would be awesome.
 
2013-12-12 04:04:27 PM  

FarkingReading: chumboobler: I am still in the anti "time" camp. I think it should be decay of solvency. Time is a fictional thing that man made up to track things.  Time exists, but not as time as we know it.  It is all about decay of bonds in molecules and those vary wildly depending on the molecule involved...... If we give up time as an absolute, we will progress. It varies greatly depending on what and where you are.

When the Sun shines upon Earth, 2 - major Time points are created on opposite sides of Earth - known as Midday and Midnight. Where the 2 major Time forces join, synergy creates 2 new minor Time points we recognize as Sunup and Sundown.


there are four simultaneous rotations within one 24-hour period!
 
2013-12-12 04:04:36 PM  

Lord Dimwit: I'm really hoping that I'm alive when we solve physics. That, or we create a true human-level AI, or we make contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. Seriously, can we do one of those within the next, oh, forty years? That would be awesome.


Sometimes I wonder if our brains have a little evolving to do before we reach that point.  I get the feeling humans should probably have an understanding of advanced physics at a fairly young age (say grade school) before we are able to push the boundaries of what we understand about the universe even futher.

A handful of people with 40+ years in a specialized field still scratching their heads about why things behave the way they do does not an advanced civilization make.
 
2013-12-12 04:05:28 PM  
hasn't that richard hoagland guy been talking about this for like 1000 years ?
 
2013-12-12 04:08:45 PM  

Gone to Plaid: Lord Dimwit: I'm really hoping that I'm alive when we solve physics. That, or we create a true human-level AI, or we make contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. Seriously, can we do one of those within the next, oh, forty years? That would be awesome.

Sometimes I wonder if our brains have a little evolving to do before we reach that point.  I get the feeling humans should probably have an understanding of advanced physics at a fairly young age (say grade school) before we are able to push the boundaries of what we understand about the universe even futher.

A handful of people with 40+ years in a specialized field still scratching their heads about why things behave the way they do does not an advanced civilization make.


While you may be right, it only takes one guy to actually make it happen. Look at Galileo and Newton - revolutionized cosmology and physics, and 90% of their contemporaries couldn't read. Einstein pushed us even farther, and most of his contemporaries never went past grade school. We just need one or two more people like that and we can do it.
 
2013-12-12 04:11:06 PM  

Summer Glau's Love Slave: That's a made up word said the straight man.

/Countdown to cromulence in 3... 2... 1...


I read the original article printed several months ago, and it was perfectly cromulent.  The analysis of that article was even more cromulent than the original article, though some aspects of it seemed a bit simplified for my taste.
 
2013-12-12 04:14:51 PM  

Lord Dimwit: I'm really hoping that I'm alive when we solve physics


A bunch of folks in the late 1800s through they were.  There were just a few minor hanging threads to figure out (double slit experiment, black body radiation, photoelectric effect), but damn it, we had it.  Classical physics, classic E&M, and thermodynamics had it all figured out.  Turns out those "hanging threads" were pretty freakin' important, and changed the next 100 years significantly.

I imagine the next time we think we have it all together on physics, something similar with happen.  It's not looking like that will be anytime soon, though.
 
2013-12-12 04:16:39 PM  

Iknhaton: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Oh yeah.  Feynman Diagrams really cleared things up for me.


When I was in the Scouts, we used them to build a bridge and sail across the Sea of Detroit.
 
2013-12-12 04:16:40 PM  
Aliens:  Wow!  Look at you guys.  You've really come a long way.  How did you do it?

Us: Well, we derived a mathematical model of the universe.

Aliens:  Oh.  Math.  We tried that.  Turns out it's ultimately a dead end.
 
2013-12-12 04:16:50 PM  

Gone to Plaid: A handful of people with 40+ years in a specialized field still scratching their heads about why things behave the way they do does not an advanced civilization make.


Lifeforms happy with their pitiful handful of decades and don't actively and seriously pursue anti-aging and life extension have no business complaining. You thought you're better at 40 than at 20? Deal with it.
/you=people who think that, not you in particular GTP
 
2013-12-12 04:21:59 PM  

BafflerMeal: Aliens:  Wow!  Look at you guys.  You've really come a long way.  How did you do it?

Us: Well, we derived a mathematical model of the universe.

Aliens:  Oh.  Math.  We tried that.  Turns out it's ultimately a dead end.


this isn't normal
on math, it is
 
2013-12-12 04:22:54 PM  

Lord Dimwit: I'm really hoping that I'm alive when we solve physics.


I don't think we will ever "know everything."   A few times in the history of physics (like when the fine structure constant was measured), and I'm even hearing it recently re: the fact that the Higgs is in hand, some physicists have said "so we're done now - there's nothing left to do."

I consider this kind of thinking to be the pinnacle of scientific arrogance.

I'm convinced that there will always be another big puzzle waiting for us to get there to uncover it. I guess the universe holds so many puzzles for the same reason that beer exists. God loves us explorers and wants us to be happy.

cheers
 
2013-12-12 04:24:32 PM  
So then...this guy had it right?

www.timecube.com
 
2013-12-12 04:26:28 PM  

BafflerMeal: [assets1.ignimgs.com image 850x478]


They brought back the original costume:
i.imgur.com
 
2013-12-12 04:28:50 PM  

asmodeus224: So then...this guy had it right?

[www.timecube.com image 528x359]


"What cube?"

Where's my check?
 
2013-12-12 04:29:30 PM  

BafflerMeal: Aliens:  Wow!  Look at you guys.  You've really come a long way.  How did you do it?

Us: Well, we derived a mathematical model of the universe.

Aliens:  Oh.  Math.  We tried that.  Turns out it's ultimately a dead end.


Isn't that pretty much what happened on an episode of SG-1 when they met a more advanced civilization?  I think Carter explained quantum physics and the 'alien' just chuckled and replied "Ah yes...I remember when we went down that dead end."
 
2013-12-12 04:30:22 PM  
Does anyone have a link to the English-language version of that article?
 
2013-12-12 04:31:05 PM  
Still won't connect with Gravity.
There's a reason...
 
2013-12-12 04:35:30 PM  

Gone to Plaid: BafflerMeal: Aliens:  Wow!  Look at you guys.  You've really come a long way.  How did you do it?

Us: Well, we derived a mathematical model of the universe.

Aliens:  Oh.  Math.  We tried that.  Turns out it's ultimately a dead end.

Isn't that pretty much what happened on an episode of SG-1 when they met a more advanced civilization?  I think Carter explained quantum physics and the 'alien' just chuckled and replied "Ah yes...I remember when we went down that dead end."



No idea.  Got it from a book a physicist wrote.  Basically talking about how ultimately everything we do even down to things like f=ma are basically just mathematical descriptions of what we understand today and that ultimately a lot of these 'things' we talk about as 'forces' are just the mental model we use for repeatability and understanding.  It could all be turned over tomorrow if someone came up with a better model, since that's all it is really, a model.
 
2013-12-12 04:35:30 PM  
So...... is this a breakthrough that I should wish I was fully able to understand or should it be dismissed as witchcraft of some kind?
 
2013-12-12 04:38:49 PM  

Marcus Aurelius: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.


Except Tea Bagger physicists. Wait, Tea Baggers don't believe in physics. Because Jesus. nevermind.
 
2013-12-12 04:42:31 PM  

Danger Avoid Death: Marcus Aurelius: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.

Except Tea Bagger physicists. Wait, Tea Baggers don't believe in physics. Because Jesus. nevermind.



To be fair, Schrodinger's Jesus is a complicated thought experiment for most people.
 
2013-12-12 04:49:38 PM  
I have no idea what I just read.  But it seems interesting.
 
2013-12-12 04:59:10 PM  

BafflerMeal: Danger Avoid Death: Marcus Aurelius: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.

Except Tea Bagger physicists. Wait, Tea Baggers don't believe in physics. Because Jesus. nevermind.


To be fair, Schrodinger's Jesus is a complicated thought experiment for most people.


I just don't have time for Schrodinger's Jesus. I have to find the umlauts.
 
2013-12-12 05:18:46 PM  

chumboobler: I am still in the anti "time" camp. I think it should be decay of solvency. Time is a fictional thing that man made up to track things.


Time is an illusion.  Lunchtime doubly so.
 
2013-12-12 05:23:05 PM  

ciberido: chumboobler: I am still in the anti "time" camp. I think it should be decay of solvency. Time is a fictional thing that man made up to track things.

Time is an illusion.  Lunchtime doubly so.


The only time is party time, are we clear?
 
2013-12-12 06:12:59 PM  

BafflerMeal: ciberido: chumboobler: I am still in the anti "time" camp. I think it should be decay of solvency. Time is a fictional thing that man made up to track things.

Time is an illusion.  Lunchtime doubly so.

The only time is party time, are we clear?


And you've to fight for your right to party.
 
2013-12-12 06:19:02 PM  
This is pants-on-head backwards.   This dude doodled a curve and then said he reversed engineered calculus.  Uh huh.
 
2013-12-12 06:28:06 PM  
Beautiful
 
2013-12-12 07:22:50 PM  
Look, I don't know about you guys, but I read that article twice, and I don't understand it, therefore my human default is to burn the heretic/witch/alien being. I'm a bit busy at the moment, but I have a couple hours next Wednesday after lunch.

WHO'S WITH ME?!
 
2013-12-12 07:25:05 PM  

TheWhoppah: This is pants-on-head backwards. This dude doodled a curve and then said he reversed engineered calculus. Uh huh.


He did something far more profound.

keithgabryelski: didn't some surfer physics guy have a similar idea a couple/few years ago?



No, his idea involved a symmetry group and basically writing out physics using that symmetry group. That is a massive gross oversimplification of what was going on but it was an entirely different approach.

Marcus Aurelius: Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.


www.superscholar.org

Questions your underlying assumption and will have a 20 page demonstration of how it doesn't work ready by lunch tomorrow.
 
2013-12-12 07:27:23 PM  

GanjSmokr: So...... is this a breakthrough that I should wish I was fully able to understand or should it be dismissed as witchcraft of some kind?


If the math holds up, it's a pretty huge big deal.
 
2013-12-12 07:47:37 PM  
This is awesome, and has some very interesting implications for both our understanding of, and practical ability to work with, fundamental physics.


Iknhaton: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Oh yeah.  Feynman Diagrams really cleared things up for me.


Lol.  As brutal as it is to do any practical work with Feynman Diagrams, I'm not sure we had a better method of understanding -- much less working with -- the interactions of fundamental particles before they existed.  That said, having already explored the tiniest tip of the QCD iceburg in a High Energy class... The idea that a comparatively simple geometric way to analyze those interactions might make Feynman Diagrams (and the exponentially huge pile of gigantic equations that go with them) obsolete is incredibly exciting.


chumboobler: If we give up time as an absolute, we will progress. It varies greatly depending on what and where you are.


Dude, that's old news -- Einstein-era physics.  We've known for ages that time is flexible and non-absolute, and have already mathematically quantified the implications of it.  Except for inside black holes that is.  That shiat is weird.
 
2013-12-12 07:50:00 PM  
Has anybody asked Ben Stein about this?  Because it can't be true if Ben Stein doesn't understand it.
 
2013-12-12 07:53:10 PM  

WhyteRaven74: GanjSmokr: So...... is this a breakthrough that I should wish I was fully able to understand or should it be dismissed as witchcraft of some kind?

If the math holds up, it's a pretty huge big deal.


Agreed.  This isn't just a useful mathematical method for doing old calculations more quickly (which would still be very cool), this is a brand-farking-new understanding of some very fundamental principles of physics.  My first thought was that circumventing locality is a big wide road to an explanation for entanglement, which is some pretty mysterious shiat at this point.
 
2013-12-12 08:36:42 PM  

Gawdzila: which is some pretty mysterious shiat at this point.


Yep. Nothing like being able to observe something and having fark all idea just how it really works. What interests me the most is that they've managed to get it to where apparently the proper terms just come out of working with it. At least that's what it seems like it does, not sure I'm ready it all right though.
 
2013-12-12 09:12:16 PM  
But how can you tell if the other guy is having more fun than you?
 
2013-12-12 09:58:15 PM  
Iknhaton:Oh yeah.  Feynman Diagrams really cleared things up for me.

You're being sarcastic, but the fact that there's something close to a standardized diagrammatic notation for energy-level and particle interactions at all is the only reason a lot of non-physicists make it through enough of the lower-level classes and have the vaguest idea what anyone's talking about.

I mean, I had to look up what a Feynman diagram is because only physics nerds call them that (and because I'm a chemist and we've been using something similar just as long to simplify orbital mechanics) but from what Wikipedia tells me they encompass you're looking at a teaching tool that's almost up there with Lewis dots/ochem skeletons as far as undergrad-teachin' power goes.

// the geometry described... or rather, annoyingly  not actually described in TFA is a calculating tool, probably not a physical description.  Since a lot of science at that scale runs on iterative models, lowering the calculating power of a few steps in the calculation can save you orders of magnitude on time.
 
2013-12-12 10:58:38 PM  
"I'm not joking, and don't call me Shirley." - Richard Feynman
 
2013-12-13 05:48:29 AM  

Ambitwistor: syrynxx: I thought there was someone who had a geometrical solution to the particle model long ago.  It doesn't mean this is a bad thing; I'd rather see a good idea rehashed every six months.  Like the Eightfold Path, the Standard Model has models slapped on to it, but nobody knows why.  Experimental physicists care about 'how' before 'why', and I never did like the concept of 'renormalizing infinities'.  "Oh, the math says this integral goes to infinity.  But we know the probability can't be more than 100% so we'll just spackle over the holes in the mathematics."

Renormalization is less weird when viewed from a modern context (see Anthony Zee's text for a good intro).  Basically, introducing a cutoff into the theory isn't some ad-hoc procedure merely to remove infinities.  It's an acknowledgment that the theory will break down at high energies.  But then you remove the cutoff to recover precisely the physics that doesn't depend on high-energy details, i.e. the part that's useful in practice, in the absence of a better theory.  From this perspective, renormalization is actually expected, not a kludge, and it points the way to theories (precisely the renormalizable ones) that are useful approximations.


It's a kludge. If we persist in being lenient and saying "it's sort of right because its close enough to be useful" then we'll never make any progress. And that means better physics (which will be EVEN MORE useful) will never be discovered.
 
2013-12-13 06:28:31 AM  

BafflerMeal: Gone to Plaid: BafflerMeal: Aliens:  Wow!  Look at you guys.  You've really come a long way.  How did you do it?

Us: Well, we derived a mathematical model of the universe.

Aliens:  Oh.  Math.  We tried that.  Turns out it's ultimately a dead end.

Isn't that pretty much what happened on an episode of SG-1 when they met a more advanced civilization?  I think Carter explained quantum physics and the 'alien' just chuckled and replied "Ah yes...I remember when we went down that dead end."


No idea.  Got it from a book a physicist wrote.  Basically talking about how ultimately everything we do even down to things like f=ma are basically just mathematical descriptions of what we understand today and that ultimately a lot of these 'things' we talk about as 'forces' are just the mental model we use for repeatability and understanding.  It could all be turned over tomorrow if someone came up with a better model, since that's all it is really, a model.


There's a little gag in one of David Brin's Uplift novels about an engineer who is considered to be superstitious because he believes in math.  Computer simulations were the "real" way to understand the universe.
 
2013-12-13 10:20:21 AM  

Marcus Aurelius: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Theoretical physicists are more conservative and resistant to change than any known force in the universe.


I think  Richard Feynman might be considered a counterexample.
 
2013-12-13 10:54:29 AM  

Gawdzila: WhyteRaven74: GanjSmokr: So...... is this a breakthrough that I should wish I was fully able to understand or should it be dismissed as witchcraft of some kind?

If the math holds up, it's a pretty huge big deal.

Agreed.  This isn't just a useful mathematical method for doing old calculations more quickly (which would still be very cool), this is a brand-farking-new understanding of some very fundamental principles of physics.  My first thought was that circumventing locality is a big wide road to an explanation for entanglement, which is some pretty mysterious shiat at this point.


What'sreally fascinating is the picture that emerges if you consider TFA's conclusions (I like the original article at Quanta better; also, here are Trnka's original slides), along with the new evidence that time is an emergent phenomenon, and the new additional evidence of a holographic universe.
 
2013-12-13 01:20:36 PM  
Reading that article kinda makes me sad I went out into the real world to make money rather than entering academia.

/I buy them beers now instead, poor farkers
 
2013-12-13 01:58:04 PM  

Iknhaton: nmrsnr: I'm cautiously optimistic that this thing will actually lead to new ways of thinking about/understanding/teaching particle physics, similar to how Feynman diagrams simplified and made abstract concepts more concrete.

Oh yeah.  Feynman Diagrams really cleared things up for me.


Well, they certainly cleared things up for people who previously had to know which path integrals to do for a given interaction just based on a page of calculations.
 
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