Forum Replies Created

Viewing 14 reply threads
  • Author
    Posts
    • #7222 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Hi, Ed, how good of you read my suggestion.  I’d be very, very interested to see what you think and I hope you didn’t pay too much! As I suggested to Duane, you might want to start in the middle and work forward and backward, as the book opens with a survey of physics that is probably familiar to you but on the other hand, there is a lot of philosophy, too.  I suggested a few chapters already to Duane, see my posts from a few weeks back. 

       

      There is an intriguing discussion of time in the final chapters that I might attempt to outline for others.

       

       

       

       

    • #7220 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Duane, I didn’t leave you out, I just knew you already purchased the book!

    • #7219 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Hi, Ed, Mike and Jon, after reading the back and forth of your last three posts, I’d like to  reiterate that Lee Smolin has done the heavy lifting for you regarding these topics in his book “The Life of the Cosmos.”  The book is available in my local library and probably yours.  

       

       

      He is an established physicist who examined the similarities between biological life (including various definitions)  and the structure of our universe, going back to the big bang. In other words, he actually set out to do (and did) all the various research we discussed doing in the first pages of this thread! If you read only the chapters I outlined, you will get the gist.  I hesitate to outline the entire book, but I can do more if there is interest. 

       

       

      His ideas are updated and discussed on line (by various people).  

       

       

      Smolin is more well known for by introducing the idea that physics ideas ought to be testable, and that a lot of publicly funded physics research doesn’t rise to that standard.  He made his case in “The Trouble with Physics,” a best seller.   This ‘testability’  idea is prominent  in “The Life of the Cosmos” as well, and whenever introducing an idea, Smolin discusses whether it is testable  and allows you to judge its merits on that basis.  (He feels the Gaia hypothesis is fully testable and therefore non controversial–nothing that can be tested and validated can be controversial.  He says the tests haven’t been done however (as of the publication date of the book).  Other ideas you three have talked of are discussed in this light.

       

       

       

      Smolin is a proponent of quantum loop theory.  The character “Leslie Winkle” on the Big Bang Theory is scientifically based on him (something I read online).

       

       

      Happy New Year to all and many thanks for this invigorating discussion!


       

       

       

       

       

       

    • #7482 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Hi, Duane, how kind of you to order the book on my recommendation. It took me many months to read it; as I said, I found it in the library when this conversation first started. Looking back on it, I think I might have done better to start with the chapter What is Life (p. 141-160) , and work backwards and forwards, because the excitement this chapter generates would have helped me. The first few chapters of the book are hard, I thought. Chapters like “Beyond the Anthropic Principle” , p.202 to 210, are quite easy to read and stimulating in a crazy, philosophical way. (Smolin, besides being a pretty well known physicist, is also apparently a philosopher–according to Wiki, he is a graduate member of the philosophy department at the University of Toronto, whatever that means.) Chapters like “Space and Time in the New Cosmology”, p. 213-221, are harder. The section of the book that holds that chapter (part four and part five) that discusses cosmology, relativity, and quantum effects was very good, but difficult (though written for non scientists). The chapter, “The Evolution of Time”, is interesting. A lot of these chapters can be read by themselves, in a pick and choose fashion, though I suppose the reader won’t understand as much. If there is interest, I will outline more chapters.

    • #7483 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      BTW, I’m sorry my spacing is a bit off. I was correcting it when I got kicked off the computer in the library. (I refuse to have internet in my house, because I spend all my time on the web!) At least my spaces are too big, rather than too small. And I’m grateful to have this page to share my ideas (and Lee Smolin’s. I hope you will agree, perhaps based on just this one chapter alone, that Smolin has done much of the work we as a group intended to do.

    • #7486 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Duane asked me to post more interesting stuff from “Life of the Cosmos” By Lee Smolin. Here is an outline of one chapter, “What is Life” page 141 to 160. There are interesting ideas contained.141-142. Ideas of Newton and Plato are reviewed. Smolin says their ideas lack the idea of evolution, change. Plato and Newton thought a God outside the universe kept the system from going towards disorder. Boltzmann said that life is too improbable to occur by chance. Boltzmann concluded that our life is a transient excursion from normal uniform equilibrium that occured only because the universe in infinite in time and space, so all configurations no matter how wildly improbably have to happen sometime. (Brian Green said something like this too, if I recall.) Smolin regarded Boltzmann’s answer to this quandary as inadequate Smolin instead wants a science that would have life as a natural inevitable outcome, not a transient occurrence of incredibly unlikely odds. Smolin says that a galaxy or even the universe as a whole does not equaly the complexity of one single cell. So he says we may not pronounce the universe “alive” (page 145.) (However, he says in chapter one that life can’t exist in a dead universe hmmm.) Instead, he wants to describe the characteristics of living things, and go from there. (Same idea we had!) P145 He gives the biological definition of life, which is similar to the one Ursula gave, so I won’t repeat it. The problem, he says: this definition does not say why things with these characteristics exist in our universe. A better definition would say Life is interconnected. (James McAlister will like this.) Smolin says the biological definition he gives (similar to Ursula’s, as I said) would allow for a solitary living thing, which he says is not possible. (Nor can there be only one species, he says) So, the biological definition of life that will be useful to biologists deciding, for example, if a particular coral is alive or not is not useful for our discussion. He discusses the Gaia hypotheses at length p 148-151 (saying it’s validity is still unsettled but it is a good scientific, plausible, testable idea, which has stood up to testing but not yet so enough to be confirmed (this is written in 1997). He says he thus doesn’t understand why it (the Gaia hypotheses) is controversial. He insists a definition of life must include interconnections. He discusses thermodynamics (as I related in my first post). The universe runs in the direction of disorder (p. 142. ) He discusses self-organization, p 152 and notes that a flow of energy IN is needed for self-organization. The second law (i.e. entropy increases) holds for the universe as a whole, not an isolated system like the Earth. For example, the configuration of DNA is improbable. In a living cell, random motions break DNA and proteins; the cell reconstructs itself using energy. The energy must come in a useful form. (And must be able to leave as well!) Here on Earth, for example, we have a source of energy as photons (the sun) and we have cold places to ditch our energy. (P 153) (Again, he stresses, our universe is not in thermal equilibrium, very important to him!!) So to him, life requires a flow of energy in from a high energy area and then OUT again to an even lower energy area. In such an area, organization can thrive and even be favored. Also, there must be the potential for organization. (i.e., There must be atoms) This is a good area for physicists to study, he says. People who have been looking for theories of self-organizing systems are: (p. 154) Per Bak, John Holland, Stuart Kauffman, Harold Morowitz, Ilya Prigogine. He discusses. Morowitz and Prigogine have found/studied systems that have an energy-in energy-out flow and that reach non-equilibrium states. Morowitz studies chemical reactions and says energy-in-out cycles are more fundamental than life, and may be the first step in biological life, or perhaps biological life may be understood as a subset of such processes. (Smolin discusses the cell membrane here in a general discussion of system boundaries, and this is something of importance to my own thinking, so I will return to this in a separate post.) Smolin calls these ‘boundaried’ systems that contain non-equilibrium states with energy-in-and-out processes “Self-organized non-equilibrium systems” and gives a longer definition of such that I won’t replicate (but I do urge you to read the book!) (Some characteristic from his definition–the state is maintained for an extended time and is stabilized against perturbation.) He says a spiral galaxy (see my first post) fits the definition. (But he says a spiral galaxy is not “alive’) Life is a subset of these systems. Life needs three more characteristics, which I had in my first post.a self organized non-equlibrium system such thatthe processes are governed by a program which is stored symbolically andIt can reproduce itself, including the program (p 156)(Fancifully, He says the biosphere could be called alive once it spreads to other planets, re the Gaia hypotheses, according to his criteria) He says he doesn’t think you can call the universe as a whole alive, because the laws of nature are not an information program that can be replicated symbolically An information program must be able to be specified by a finite amount of information. This also rules out the laws of the universe, because he doesn’t feel that this must be so. (I.e. that they must be specified by a finite amount of information.) Remember, he is a mathematician. Also, you must have a flow of energy in and out. (He doesn’t mention the idea of flow from another universe as we discussed) He says that the self-organized systems in the universe are transitory because you can’t have them forever in a universe that will tend towards thermal equilibrium. But he again stresses that the non-uniformity of our present universe is essential for life, and gives the quote I made in my first post: It seems then that life is situated in a nested hierarchy of self-organized systems … (from) local ecologies to the galaxy. Each of the levels are non-equilibrium systems that owe their existence to … self organization …. Is there a sense in which the universe as a whole could be a non-equlibrium self organized system? Page 159. In this sense, life is not a statistical fluke, because self-organized non-equilibrium systems permeate our universe on every scale. He says if we construct a picture of cosmology based on non-equilibrium, we might see life within as natural. This system would be “liberated from a crippling duality” where outside intelligence imposes order on chaos.

    • #7487 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Thank you, Duane. I think this book might represent the ‘third option’ Mike Bell speaks of. It is very scientific, from a noted scientist. It addresses the question “Is the universe alive” in a serious, scholarly way. It presents not only Smolin’s ideas (a small part of the book) but it functions as a literature survey paper for the question “Is the universe alive” because Smolin references scientific papers and theories from a surprisingly wide range of scientists who explored this question. For example, the one idea I gave (and it is one idea of many) that spiral galaxies might replicate in a way analogous to virus replication, comes from a paper which utilized actual data, and computer modeling. (The book also explains why spiral galaxies are vitally important to the formation of stars). The book is so scientific and thoughtful that the book might be interesting to anyone, but I think it would be particularly interesting to those who read this forum and want to think about the question in a new way. here are some reviews: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2564691?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contentshttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/179756.The_Life_of_the_Cosmos?from_search=true&search_version=service_impr If you wish, Duane, I will present other ideas from the book. However, it is literally so full of material relevant to this forum that I hope people will read it and discuss it with me.

    • #7492 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      While this discussion was still hot, I discovered book by Lee Smolin , The Life of the Cosmos, that is perfect for our conversation. But I didn’t finish reading it then. I hope a few people might come back to hear what he has to say now. The book published in 1997 is likely dated, but the issues he addresses didn’t go away. Lee Smolin is a well known cosmologist who wrote the best selling book Trouble with Physics. (It’s a really good book!) Let me repeat, The Life of the Cosmos, an earlier book, is PERFECT for this discussion! (I am not sure if anyone has referenced it before in this thread, because I didn’t read every post since page 19) Duane, you would fine this book really exciting. I can only summarize part of it, but I will make more posts as time goes by. The Life of the Cosmos delves right into our discussion Chapter 11, What is life? explores biological life and the analogies in cosmic scale. Smolin is deeply interested in the equilibrium nature of the cosmos, and looks for reasons why we have such as state. He says one way you can tell that a planet would have life is if the atmosphere had a non equilibrium mixture of gases. Based on the principle of non -equilibrium (an important concept to him) he lists his criteria for life:a self organized non-equlibrium system such thatthe processes are governed by a program which is stored symbolically andIt can reproduce itself, including the program (p 156)He discusses many things that could therefore be called life. Chapters 9 and 10 explain why many people think that the cosmos are a self organized system. There are quite a few examples listed. For example: In chapter 10, Games and Galaxies , he says that galaxies represent surprising structure and non equilibrium, in the spiral pattern of star formation particularly. Genola, Schulman and Seidan likened the spread of star formation in a galaxy to the spread of a virus. Just as the population of people on earth is concentrated in cities and towns, dust is concentrated unequally in the cosmos. When a star forms, shock waves travel to neighboring dust to cause more star formation. The resemblance to a virus is explained in depth (I’ll explain more if people want) . This analogy, including analogies to immunity, explains the rate and method of star formation. (page 133) In chapter 11, he returns to this thought, and explains that biological life depends on the adequate concentration of carbon and oxygen. These would not be present adequately except for the exact organization of the spiral galaxy. He states: It seems then that life is situated in a nested hierarchy of self-organized systems … (from) local ecologies to the galaxy. Each of the levels are non-equilibrium systems that owe their existence to … self organization …. Is there a sense in which the universe as a whole could be a non-equlibrium self organized system? Page 159. On page 45, Smolin puts forth the same issues that trouble us. He states that the star formation is terribly unlikely to happen in a universe. To have what he calls the needed ‘parameters’ line up by chance would require the dice to roll 10 to the 229 times (i.e. we would need 10 to the 229 universes.) But those exact parameters govern our universe. Smolin confesses with what seems like embarrassment and defiance that he can’t accept this unlikelihood! He lists the four explanations available (and we all have discussed them too!): The anthropic principle: a higher intelligence created a universe so ‘there would arise intelligent creatures who would love him’ (his words). This is to me a comforting explanation, but to him, it seems, it is anathema! Or a second explanation, there are at least 10229 universes. Or third, there is only one set of laws and conditions mathematically consistent with a viable universe, ours. He says this strains credulity. Fourth, the laws of the universes change. He says he will focus on this approach, but in my opinion, he doesn’t completely do this; see if you agree. So he makes an intriguing proposal! It is is quite simple. He says that black holes form from stars. He says you need stars to get black holes. He proposes further that NEW UNIVERSES FORM EVERY TIME A STAR COLLAPSES INTO A BLACK HOLE. (He calls this a bounce back.) He states that each new universe would have slightly changed laws by random chance (instead of laws he calls them’parameters’). He says newly formed universes whose parameters only slightly favor the generation of stars are more likely to ‘reproduce’, i.e., produce stars to produce black holes and produce new universes. Thus the parameters gravitate towards those that favor stars and structure, so that explains why we have those. This to me sounds like the explanation for biological entities like giraffe necks and our eyes. That sounds like biology, Duane! (Smolin discusses the similarities himself.) This is all in chapter 7, Did the Universe Evolve, mostly on page 104-111. Smolin is a well-known cosmologist with expertise, so this book is quite intriquing. I found the chapter Did the Universe Evolve interesting, not because I buy his theory, but because Smolin is driven to propose an explanation because of his rejection of the current explanations. In this one small way, he is just like me! Does anyone find the ideas in this book interesting? Have we already discussed this book and I missed it? Should I post more stuff from it?

    • #4312 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Ed I don’t understand quantum physics enough to evaluate your hypothesis, as others here have.

       However, I am slowly looking at the articles you posted.  The one by Penrose is way beyond me, but the points regarding consciousness in the introduction, I have already read about.  I read (tried to read) his book Emperor’s New Mind which was too difficult for me but I enjoyed it and came away with my mind a bit expanded.  

       

      The universe got here the way it is _somehow_ and I actually enjoy reading other people’s speculations and ideas.   In the process I get introduced to new science and I get to see how various people are thinking.

    • #4310 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Hey, Jon, until Ed replied to you, I interpreted your post to me differently.  I thought you said that there was no reason to read a lot of physics  and argue against the fine tuning since it enjoyed scientific consensus anyway.  Ed interprets your sentence apparently to mean it doesn’t enjoy scientific consensus.  So I don’t know what you feel, but as far as I know, fine tuning enjoys scientific consensus.  I have never read or heard otherwise and practically the first sentence of the wiki page Fine Tuning of the Universe states just that.  There is a section labeled Distractors, but the objection seems to be to some vocabulary, or to the anthropic principle, or to the focus on carbon and not to the notion itself.

       

       

      By the way, having read to the bottom of the Wiki article , I see a third explanation introduced by Steven Hawking.  (The other explanations  being Anthropic Principle and Multiverse)   This is a busy day and I won’t have time to read a difficult paper by Steven Hawking, but it’s called Top Down Cosmology and I think it might be something along these lines:

       

      Just like schroedinger’s cat, our universe existed in multiple ways, until the present ‘chose a way’ and the universe’s wavefunction (containg every possible beginning) collapsed and became the beginning that created us.

    • #4289 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Hi, Duane.  I am very sorry I mischaracterized your thinking.  It is a little more clear now, thanks.  I think Ursula answered your question basically the same as I would have, maybe better, so I will sit back and let the debate continue.

    • #4273 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

       Hey, Jon, I  want to apologize for my tone. Because of your last name, all this time I was under the impression that you were the moderator of this site.  I’m sorry, stupid me, I did.  And I thought as moderator, you were dismissing my topic.  I am sorry!  I just read your bio.  You have every right to dismiss me if you are not moderator!  If you personally didn’t like it, that’s your right.  
       
       
      (It shows on my cellphone as John Cleland, then skip a line, then:  Host.)

       

      Darn, sorry.

    • #4272 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      Hey, Jon, not so.  (The material in my salon would take years of study) .  In fact, the material in Salon One is covered in much less than one lecture in a first year college chemistry course.  In fact, it is presented in non-majors chemistry-for-poets type classes.  Anyone with a science degree should be familiar with it.  In fact, I kind of rushed through it because I figured everyone would know it.  I can slow down if that’s needed.

       

      The material in my interlude (three families) is really basic easy stuff found in books for popular reading found in Barnes and Nobel.  I took it from the book I referenced, Atom, by Isaac Asimov.  It isn’t hard, it’s just vocabulary, it’s written at a high school level.  It’s a great book, I completely recommend it, Asimov is supurb at explaining stuff.

       

      The stuff found in salon three was completely learned by me by reading popular science books in three weeks in my spare time.  (Which I listed)  Granted, that makes me a non expert, but the material is very worth discussing.  Granted, the material is beyond our understanding, but the basic ideas are understandable.

       

       

      I know enough about biology to know that the stuff Ursala and Duane are discussing is far more advanced.  Maybe the difference is they are using words that refer to advanced concepts that Ursula understands but Duane doesn’t .

       

       

      I took some very basic basic basic concepts, (salon one)  but also reviewed them so we could all be on the same page and may be that is why it seems so advanced.   If Ursula did that, your head would spin because the stuff she is doing is advanced.

       

       

      (Then, yes, I let my nerdy side take over and presented an appendix with a bunch of neat info I compiled.  But that is in the appendix.  Way at the bottom.

       

      (That doesn’t mean I can’t try to do a better job of presenting it.  Like I said, I rushed through the simple stuff because I figured everyone would know it.)

       

       

      Now, let me mention why I feel it’s so relevant.  Like Ursula, I feel that life evolved all on its own.  In fact I think that carbon nitrogen hydrogen etc _tend_ to form the molecules of life. (As a result of my personal research, which I will explain in a separate post.)   As much as I support Jon and his journey, I’m amazed he (and Duane)  believe that some special guidance is needed to form anything we see (life, trees, bugs, us) from the materials we have (carbon, other atoms, sunshine) .  I believe it’s inherent in the material;  these atoms tend to bond as they do, these life molecules tend to form.

       

       

      Where Ursula and I diverge is that I am troubled and I ask, why do the atoms behave this way?   And then I discover that every thing was decided in a tiny part of a second, and it makes me wonder why.  Evolution, for me, is a given, requires no mystical explanation, and I am somewhat shocked we are debating it.  Why carbon has the properties it does is another question.

       

       

      I was going to quibble at the way you dismissed the idea of fine tuning by saying, I don’t hear scientists discussing this.  Well, they do.  The books I read are very main stream popular science books written by main stream scientists.  But if you don’t read about chemistry, then yes, you will miss that interesting discussion.

    • #4263 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      I wanted to edit my post to say that electron is the smallest particle in the atom.   But the spacing is lost when I hit edit.   Here is something from wiki:

       

      In the physical, known universe we can say that an electron occupies the smallest area and has the least mass. In the quantum mechanical universe we can define the ‘smallest particle’ as a muan neutrino.

       

      I also wanted to say that I will be very grateful to anyone who wades through my post.  I have been wanting feedback for some time.  In return, I will wade through something that you want feedback on.  In addition, I think the material is very relevant to our discussion!

    • #4260 Reply
      Karen Chaffee
      Participant

      I had three salons (meetings to discuss) in my home about chemical bonding.   I tried to use activities and demos to present difficult material, my attempt at ‘storytelling’!  Storytelling is much, much, much, much harder than I thought!    You can read about it all  in my forum (Carbon, mystery and wonder) 
       
      Jennifer asked me to present a “Just the facts, Ma’am” version.  Here it is.  The first two salons were checked over by graduate students in my department for accuracy.  The last one was not, because nobody was familiar with the material.  But it is the one most relevant to this forum.  By the way, I am an organic chemist, so much of this is not my field.

       
      Contents:
      Salon One:  The properties of the electron cloud
      Salon Two:  Quantum Weirdness
      Interlude:  Introduction to the particle zoo, three families
      Salon Three:  When and how in the first moments of the big bang did these properties emerge?  MOST RELATED TO DUANE’S FORUM 
      Appendix:  The particles
       
       

      SALON ONE
       

      1. My premise: The carbon nucleus per se is not involved in the formation of organic molecules; it is the six electrons (one for each proton) that determine carbon’s chemical and bonding properties.   

      (Why six electrons and protons?)   Electromagnetic force:  The electrons have negative charge, protons have positive charge.  Protons attracts electron.  The charge is a manifestation of the electromagnetic force.
       
      One carbon atom by itself is not stable.  It must form four bonds to other atoms.   The atom forms molecules because of the instability of the electron cloud, which stems from electron properties.
       
      The electrons are not located close to the nucleus, but rather a relatively huge distance away.  An atom is mostly empty space.  Since energy is required to separate charges, this stores a large (relative to the size of the atom) and exact amount of potential energy.
       

      1. What properties of the electron do I mean?

       
       
      A.   Wave Nature:  Electrons are both waves and particles.   Electron has relatively large, important wavelength. The wavelength depends on speed, mass and Plank’s constant, h
       
      a.   mass: Less mass means longer, more observable wavelength.  Electrons have very little mass.
       
      b.   speed Electron must move.  Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle tells us that we cannot know both position and speed.  A nonmoving electron in our atom doesn’t work. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is most important for very small objects (like electron).
       
      c. Plank’s constant is a characteristic of our universe.
       
      B.  Electron has to have an allowed energy state. Normally we know where something ‘is’ or ‘goes’. A softball flies above the earth; it has speed going forward, and gravity (potential energy) pulling it down and we can predict where it is or will be.  Electrons are different because they are so small and simple.  Instead of position, they have a wavefunction.  Their quantum states affect their behavior.  We have to use quantum theory to see where to put the electrons in atoms.   The wavefunction of electron is huge compared to wavefunction of any other particle.  (A graduate student told me to use this demo for my group:  hold up a big cotton ball, hold up a tictac.  The cotton ball is the electron’s wavefunction, the tictac, the proton’s.)
       
      C. Schrodinger’s equation: (a description of the equation is in my forum.)
      This equation examines the energy of an electron to determine where it will be.  The solutions only give probabilities, not certainties, about where the electron can be. THESE ARE CALLED ORBITALS.  Higher energy orbitals are farther from the nucleus
       
      D.  Electrons spread far from the nucleus. Electrons are Fermions and have non integral spin (see APPENDIX for description of particles). Fermions obey the Pauli principle which states that no two electrons can have the same state.  They can’t all go in the same orbital.  Electrons fill in the lower energy state orbital first, then fill in higher energy states orbital (far from the nucleus.) 
       
       
      E. Spin. We put two electrons in each orbital. This is because electrons have two spins states.  (+1/2 and -1/2)  So these two electrons have everything the same except their spin state, and that is allowed.
       
      F.  Shells. Orbitals are arranged in groupings (shells) according to the ‘principal quantum number’ which describes energy levels.   This is described by Schrodinger’s equation
       
      G. Filled vs unfilled shells Calculations show that electronic arrangement is more stable when a shell is filled (not partially).  Noble gases have filled shells and do not (normally, outside the laboratory) form molecules.  Noble gases exist as atoms.  No other elements exist as atoms.  Other atoms interact and bond in some way, because atoms existing with unfilled shells is not stable. 
       
      H.  Carbon needs four electrons to have a filled shell. Because of the nature of the orbitals and shells (which depends on the nature of the electron) carbon needs four more electrons to have a filled shell.   It is unstable.  It bonds with other atoms to become stable.  It forms four bonds.  (The bonding is described by molecular orbitals, described by mathematics using parameters as used in Schrodinger’s equation)
       
      I.  Orbitals and molecular orbitals have complicated structure (remember, they are mathematical entities) because of the electron’s large wavelength due to electron’s small size.
       
       

      SALON TWO

       
       
      Salon Two was called “quantum weirdness”  You can read it in my forum and I will only include this excerpt from “Particle at the end of the Universe” by Sean Carrol:  An on-line contest to describe quantum weirdness in five words produced this winner:  ‘Don’t look: wave.  Look: particle.’
       
       
       
       

      !!!Interlude:  a little quiz on three families!!!!
       
      The mass we see on earth is made of atoms, which are made of protons, electrons and neutrons.  However, scientists have found larger analogs of these in particle accelerators (i.e., they don’t exist except at high energies.)   There are 3 families  (3 flavors.)

      1. proton, neutron electron
      2. Bigger proton, neutron electron
      3. Even bigger proton, neutron electron. 3 families!

       
      The ‘electron’ of family 2 is called Muon
       
      Muons have mass 207 times the mass of electron.
      Scientists have made muon atoms—the muon replaced the electron in our regular hydrogen!!!!! 9 IA (It only lasted 1/500000 of a second.)  HOW WOULD A MUON ATOM BE DIFFERENT?
      Answer:  The muon’s wavelength would be shorter, its wavefunction smaller, its uncertainty in position reduced.  The atom would be much much smaller, the bonding properties radically changed if not eliminated.
       
      The Tau lepton (family three) is 3500 times as massive as electron.   It is bigger than a proton!
      They have not made Tau lepton atoms.
      Think:  How would atom be different if electron were Tau lepton?
       
      Answer:  With these massive electrons, the atom would be tiny!  The electrons would all sit close to the nucleus and there would be no bonding. 
       
      Muons and Tua leptons are still leptons, still fermions.  They have spin ½ and must still obey Paulie’s exclusion principle.  (Fermions cannot ‘pile up’, they must spread out in space.  The less massive they are, the more they must spread.)
       
      Think:  How would the chemical properties of the atom change if they could be made using protons and neutrons from family two and three?  Answer: not different.  The electron cloud determines the atom’s chemical properties.
       
       
       

      SALON THREE:   MOST RELATED TO DUANE’S FORUM POST
       
       
      The Salon’s entire theme (salon 1-3) is the atom, and the bonding that allows complex molecules to form, and the properties of the electron and nucleus that bring that about. 
       
       
       
      I am going to talk about Salon Three in terms of the actual meeting, because the participation of the group members was so important, because this is not my field and I was trying to discuss things I had never read about before.
       
       
       
      In this meeting, we explored how the particles and their properties emerged in the first stages of the Big Bang.    As far as I know, no one book or article addresses this—one has to read multiple sources. (If you know one, please inform me!)  This topic does not seem to have captured popular imagination.
      Here are the topics we discussed
       
       
       

      1. Spontaneous Symmetry breaking (Mexican Hat analogy)
      2. The matter particles
      3. When they emerged.
      4. Symmetry breaking, also called the Higgs mechanism. (If I understand correctly, our universe started without a differentiation among the forces and particles, but the particles and forces as we know them emerged in the first second of the big bang as a result of symmetry breaking.
      5. We learned that the universe is governed by quantum rules (see the salon 2), and was so even at the very beginning.

       
       
       
       
       
      Here is the timeline we discussed, and what emerged.
       
      1.   When the universe was 1 millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old.
      This is Plank time.  The universe is smaller than an electron at this point.Scientists can’t know what is happening at this point.  If we imagine an even smaller universe, it would be smaller than quantum mechanics allows–a contradiction.  At any rate, whatever ‘it’ was, the universe emerged out if it, what it was before, we can’t know.
       
       
      But a tiny slice of time later, the Universe was outside of Plank Time.  All particles and fields had the same values and were identical.  The particles do not have mass.
      (By the way, what is a particle?  It is a vibration in a field.  What is a field?  Well, the books I read said a field has a number at every point.  No one in the salon could interpret this!10)
       
       
       
       
      Next we talked about Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking.  (This is the Higgs mechanism. )
       
       
       
      We tried to understand the Higgs Mechanism:
       
       
      We envisioned a Mexican Hat Type Roulette wheel with marbleSC.   The Marble (balanced on the very top of the Mexican Hat) is a wavefunction that could give different solutions, like Schrodinger’s equation.  The Mexican Hat represents energy level. The sort of valley at the top of a Mexican Hat represents where the wavefunction could get stuck.  (I actually projected a picture of a Mexican hat for people to see.) 
       
       
       
      The marble somehow comes to sit on top of a peak (or is it peaks?) of the ‘Mexican Hat’  (remember, Mexican hat symbolize energy level of early universe.)  At this energy (top of hat), all particles and energies merge, because their energies are so high.  The universe is stuck there, because the barrier on the top of the ‘hat’  holds it.  If the wave function slides over the ‘hump’ to lower energies the properties of the particles and forces emerge.  
       
       
       
      This is important, because it seems it is here our familiar properties emerge, the ones so important to chemistry and bonding.  We (salon members) envisioned the universe’s wavefunction rolling to a lower level which is some energy surface.  We (salon members) were undecided: was the structure of the universe energy level present from the beginning ready for the ‘marble’ to find its level, or was the structure decided in the Symmetry Breaking?  I.e., Was the surface (floor?) of that lower level there all along?  One member seems to think she’d been told in an earlier seminar, that the structure of the universe was there; I had envisioned it being decided during the process of the marble rolling (wavefunction collapsing).  At any rate, the properties of the universe were not evident at the high temperatures following Plank time.  At the very beginning there is superforce, superfield; only after more cooling and symmetry breaking, all the different forces and particles emerge:
       
      For example—one wavefunction split into 3 entities: the photon, the W and the Z particles. The photon acquires no mass, but acquisition of mass by W, Z breaks symmetry:  before ‘symmetry breaking’ there is one kind of particles with no mass, after ‘symmetry breaking’, there are three different forces, 3 different particles, with different masses.SC
       
       The theorist ‘infers’ the shape (the floor of the universe energy level) to explain the particles we see.  (However to account for ‘every thing’ we see, theorists must have surface in more than 4 dimensions, sometimes many more.)  
       
       
       
      Some proof that this model is correct:  One Higgs boson was (theoretically) made every time symmetry was broken.  Higgs boson are massive!  (Compared to other particles, that is)  Scientists found one!!!!  (in a particle accelerator)  July 4, 2012, scientists at CERN announced that they’d found a particle that behaved the way they expect the Higgs boson to behave. SC    We talked about the Higgs Boson search.  It was an attempt to make waves in the Higgs field to prove it’s really there.
       
       
       
       
      Bottom line as I understand it:  At super high energy, the universe was one pure force.  At lower energies, the universe cooled into a certain structure, which included particles and forces.  Maybe the structure was pre-determined, maybe it was pure chance that we got the forces and particles we did, maybe something in between these two extremes.
       
      This all happens in a tiny fraction of a second.
       
       
       
      We (the salon members) went on:  At approximately 10-34 seconds:  the Universe is filled with a quark-gluon plasma. (Please see APPENDIX below for explanation of particle vocabulary) 
       
      INFLATION begins (as a result of Higgs mechanism).   Here is an explanation for how Higgs causes inflation.  (Not accepted by all scientists!)  The floor has some depression in a higher place.  Our universe’s wavefunction (the marble) gets stuck in it as universe cools.  It is stuck so it has artificially high energy.  The universe is cooling but its wavefunction is stuck at high energy!  Things go rapidly awry.  Normally, expansion would dilute the universe’s energy smoothly.  This ‘artificial, ‘vacuum’  energy does not diminish.  It is like a car with accelerator stuck. The universe doubles its size in a trillion trillionth trillionth of a second, and again, and again, and again.  The energy density also doubles.  The extra, artificial ‘vacuum’ energy becomes, eventually, particles (and galaxies, etc.)  This explains why universe is flat and looks the same all over and has so much density of particles and objects.   
       
       
      How did inflation stop??  In some theories, tunneling is responsible.  Tunneling is a quantum mechanical phenomenon.  A tiny portion of an object’s wavefunction exists at an unlikely position.  The wavefuction symmetry breaks there, in the unlikely position.  So, the wavefunction of the universe tunnels through the barrier that kept the universe at artificial high energy, and returns to the normal floor.
       
      (By the way, Jennifer posted a forum about proof that inflation did happen)
       
       
       
       
      Now we talked about the Higgs field, which we gathered was different from the Higgs mechanism.  The Higgs field gives particles mass.   It affects different particles in different ways.  Photons can slide through the Higgs field unaffected, while W and Z bosons get bogged down with mass.  Particles got mass by interacting with the Higgs field, which occupies the entire universe.  (Like the other fields covered by the standard model, the Higgs one would need a carrier particle to affect other particles, and that particle is known as the Higgs boson, the one that was found.  (See APPENDIX)   Particles that interact with Higgs field have mass; the more strongly they interact, more mass.   Sean Carrol has a ‘Celebrity Crossing Room’ analogy.  Tom Cruise (a celebrity) would interact with the people in the room strongly and be slowed.  I would not react with them, and could travel freely.  (I would have less mass.)  Why do some particles interact more strongly—scientists don’t know.   I was surprised to learn that protons and neutrons and other composite particles (made up of quarks, for e.g.) get most of their mass from other mechanisms.  But electrons and other elementary particles do get their mass from the Higgs field.  If the electrons had no mass, they would not keep their places in atoms  (massless particles must travel at the speed of light), and matter would explode. (see salon 1).  If it had more mass, the electron would have a tiny wavefunction, the atom would be tiny, and the quantum properties that necessitate orbitals and shells would not exist.   Life as we know it seems to be dependent on the exact properties of our Higgs field.
       
       
       
      This point is not mentioned much (that I see) in literature that mentions other ‘fine tunings’, but it was mentioned in a book by Sean Carrol.    From P. 146 Sean Carrol’s book:  “The absence of Higgs field would mean that the quarks and hadrons would have slightly different mass (they get some mass from strong nuclear force) and that would affect atoms slightly.   Any change to the mass of the electron would be hugely significant.  Change the mass of the electron just a little, and all life would instantly end.    (My italics)
       
       
       
       
      Bottom line:  change the Higgs field and carbon would not be our element of life.
       
       
       
       
      Now we moved to ‘Universe is less than one/ten thousandth second old’: 
       
      Hadrons (for example neutrons, protons) form.  They are made from quarks.   One billion and one baryon forms for every anti baryon. (APPENDIX!!)  Obviously this is important for both the atom and the universe.  (If there weren’t an excess of baryons, the anti and regular would have annihilated each other, and we would have no baryons)DL
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      Lastly:  spin and the early universe: Very important for structure of atom.  Fermions and bosons (see APPENDIX DIRECTLY BELOW) are 2 aspects of a single entity.  But—this meant theorists must extra dimensions  to our universe structure.  The quantum arrow can switch direction in extra dimension to change boson into fermion.  Fermions have quantum arrow in an extra space dimension.  That is why they have extra spin state.  They need to turn around twice to get back to where they started, facing forward. CA   (We did a fun demo of this in our salon CA)  This property means Fermions must obey the exclusion principle.   Without exclusion principle, (which says fermions can’t pile up) electrons would glob onto nucleus.  Quarks would, instead of making protons, make vast globs of quark stuff.5 DL
       
       
      My important take home message:   The Higgs mechanism and Higgs field seems to have determined the properties of the electron.  The electron is important for chemical bonding.  Why and how did the properties emerge in just the way they did?  Was the structure ‘pre-determined’?  Spin emerged during inflation.   Because of the properties that emerged, the position of the electron in the atom is hugely far away from the nucleus.  This is essential for chemical bonding (and life).  What happened?  Was it random?  What do scientists know about it that I haven’t discovered in my reading?
       
       
       
       
       
       
      APPENDIX:  Salon members got a chart with some details about the standard model, which we went through briefly.  The chart was from the internet, anyone can find one, just google ‘standard model’.  With the chart in front of us, we covered these details:
      Fermion vs. Boson

      1. Fermions have spin 1/2 (or 3/2, 5/2) and cannot occupy the same state at the same time.1 They take up room.  (Electrons are fermions.  So are  protons and neutrons.)  THEY ARE THE STUFF WE RECOGNIZE
      2. Bosons have spin 0 (like Higgs), or spin 1 like photon, or spin 2, (graviton) and don’t have to take up space.  They can pile on top of eachother.2,3     THEY CARRY THE FORCES WE RECOGNIZE

       
      FERMIONS .  They have a non integral spin (like  1/2, 3/2).  THEY CAN BE:  Baryon (like protons) vs. Lepton (like electron).
       
       

      1. Baryon (Protons and neutrons) are an example of larger class Hadrons. Hadrons are ALL made of QUARKS.  Baryons have three quarks.  Because Baryon have three quarks, they have non integral spin and are Fermions.  (Not all hadrons are fermions)

       

      1. Baryons (protons and neutrons) can feel strong nuclear force, like all hadron (matter made of quarks). You find them in NUCLEUS. They tend to be massive.

       

      1. Leptons do not feel strong nuclear force. THEY DO NOT HAVE TO BE IN NUCLEUS.  If they are charged (like electron) they are attracted to nucleus.  If they are not charged, like neutrino, they fly off into space and they do not seem to affect our world.  Electrons and neutrinos are almost massless.   ELECTRONS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE to our world.

       
       
      Bosons    They have integral spin. They carry forces:

      1. Gravity field, gravitons are ripples in field (not needed in or description of carbon 12)
      2. Electromagnetic field: photons are ripples (particles when you look!  See salon 2)
      3. weak, or ‘electro weak’ W+, W-, Z (this are actually the same as photons, only massive.  The acquisition of mass by W and Z happened during symmetry breaking.   (Govern certain decays; carbon-12 doesn’t depend on them much)
      4. strong force: ripples  or particles are gluons (gluons these are mesons.  Mesons are hadrons (made of two quarks, so they have integral spin and are bosons) 
      5. Higgs boson isn’t one of our ‘forces’. Its field is non-zero in empty space; it broke symmetry and gave us mass.
      6. Every field is there whether or not there are particles interacting with it. We don’t understand them more fundamentally—maybe we will some day
      7. All forces are interactions with a field. Matter is interaction with Higgs field
      8. 3 families (3 flavors)  Only the least massive are seen.  The others are made in particle accelerators. 
      9. With no Higgs field, the three flavor of electron would be identical. Higgs breaks symmetry.

       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      Fun Fact

      1. Scientists made anti helium!!!!!8 In 1965 : two antiprotons and antineutron combined to form anti helium

       
       
       
      That was our salon 3!  To me, the most important point is that the Higgs mechanism and Higgs field are responsible for the properties of the electron, which is in turn responsible for the carbon atom and life.
       
       
       
       
      Notes:  I used four books plus some web sites.
      IssacAzimov:  The Atom  (annotated as as IA)

      David Lindley:  The End Of Physics: The Myth Of A Unified Theory (annotated as DL)

      Sean Carrol:  The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World and numerous web pages by Sean Carol (annotated as SC)
      Particle or Wave: The Evolution of the Concept of Matter in Modern Physics Charis Anastopoulos Princeton University Press. (annotated as CA)
       
       

       

      1. Heisenberg uncertainty: We can’t have a single point at start of universe singularity. There is a point at which theories no longer work—when size of universe is as small as it can be—further implies that universe is smaller that quantum mechanics allows-a contradiction—called plank time—we can’t understand the universe when it is younger than plank time
      2. Interchanging fermions would leave configuration same but wavefunction must be multiplied by negative 1 and only 0 can be multiplied by negative one and be the same. It has to spin around twice to bring spin to the front, so interchanging it would leave it backwards.   (fermions would be able to ‘pile on’ if our world was 2 dimensions)
      3. P 286 Sean Carrol
      4. spin 0: 1 spin state.    spin ½:  2 spins states.  Proton has spin ½ and  2 spin states.  (this happens to be important for MRI)  Spin 2: 4 spin states.  Etc
      5. Lindley p 178
      6. Lindley p 189

      The extra dimensions that give fermions spin ½ means that there must be a partner to the electron that is spin 1, a boson, that doesn’t obey exclusion principal. They are called super partners , Lindly, page 192.  It is very massive because of a un-symmetry in Higgs mechanism, and we don’t see it.  The search for super partners in the most important search now!

      1. Lindley p 190
      2. Azimov p 223
      3. P 241 Asimov
      4. This is more about fields from Sean Carrol : Symmetries give rise to the forces in nature.  How? Guage symmetries—I can change my system at my local point and compare to yours

                  It comes with a connection field that lets us compare.    The connection fields            are the boson field (the force  carrying fields).  They push particles in             different directions depending on how they interact.   For local forces, must      be (almost) massless bosons, so can stretch over long distances
       
       
       
       

Viewing 14 reply threads