Tags: science

cass, can you not

Sometimes I wonder if physicists just sit and stare at what they just wrote

Physicists these days: Let's try to build computers encoding information in a Platonic non-local space built out of events that could've happened but we don't know if they did.

No, really:

If there are N distinct fusion channels in the presence of a pair of particles, the system exhibits N-fold
degeneracy spanned by these states. We refer to this non-local space shared by the non-Abelian
anyons, regardless of where they are located, as the fusion space. Under the assumption that all
microscopics of the system giving rise to the anyons are decoupled from the low-energy physics, the
states in the fusion space are perfectly degenerate. As it is a collective non-local property of the
anyons, no local perturbation can act on it and it is hence a decoherence-free subspace. As such it is
an ideal place to non-locally encode quantum information. We stress that the fusion space arises from
the distinct ways anyons can be fused over how they are fused. If two anyons are actually fused and the
outcome of the fusion is detected, this would correspond to performing a projective measurement in the
fusion space

"Introduction to Topological Quantum Computation"

Leveraging the stories you can tell about the particles in your system as a computational substrate built out of nothing but mathematics and a delicately engineered suspension of both belief and disbelief is something people are working towards building primitive prototypes of, right now, as I type this.

What an absurdly beautiful universe.
cass, can you not

Another almost impossibly beautiful thing

Look at this (still not peer-reviewed) bioRxiv paper: Thanatotranscriptome: genes actively expressed after organismal death.

One one hand, yes, it's intellectually fascinating molecular biology, and might even help understand how things work for non-dead organisms.

On the other hand, they are studying the thanatotranscriptome. I feel some sort of IP routing error landed on my feed reader a paper from a much more interesting parallel timeline. This is a paper you want to print out and read by candlelight, while a storm howls outside as if Nature knew of your plans and were voicing her outrage at the very idea.
cass, can you not

I think Lovecraftian jokes have by now become too much of a pop cliche

That said, do indulge me:

Tribrachidium lived during a period of time called the Ediacaran, which ranged from 635 million to 541 million years ago. This period was characterized by a variety of large, complex organisms, most of which are difficult to link to any modern species. It was previously thought that these organisms formed simple ecosystems characterized by only a few feeding modes, but the new study suggests they were capable of more types of feeding than previously appreciated.

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Link to the article on EurekAlert!, which has been for years one of my favorite RSS feeds in the world.

Anyway, increasingly tired references aside, the first complex organisms fascinate me, their sheer diversity and possibility. Sure, the present biosphere is weird and ridiculous and fabulous, but it's one possible outcome among many, and the strangeness and beauty of those possible presents is haunting. Like those 3 AM thoughts about who we could have been had we made different choices (some worse, some better — hard to say which ones are more painful to imagine — and some too strange to allow for a comparison); this is like that, except for the whole of us, of this.

Some worlds worse, some worlds better; hard to say which ones would be more painful if we could imagine them.
cass, can you not

*sigh* Fuck

Merck Makes Phony Peer-Review Journal. That's not the bad part. The bad part, although neither illegal nor unexpected, is that Elsevier published it.

Peer reviewing is an excellent idea. I'm not even opposed to for-profit peer reviewing (there's an internet business model for you if you were looking for one). But oligopolic for-profit peer reviewing is just stupid, and it's high time we just dropped it for good.
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cass, can you not

Oh, all-knowing friendlist

I got a question: You know how after you haven't slept for a long while (*coughs*) you get a bit of a second wind? It's not that you are any more rested or effective, but it does feel that way. Does that have to do with things like sunlight, or is it endogenous? What's the neurochemistry behind it?

Apologies from the rambling, incoherent post. Not coincidentally, I didn't get any sleep last night.
cass, can you not

For razorsmile and the Drummer, both of which probably already know it

Holographic principle for dummies

[...] The maximal amount of energy that can be jammed into a sphere of the size R coincides with the mass of a black hole with radius R:

. (1)

As a result, there is a maximum amount of information that can be crammed inside a sphere of the radius R, and this amount is proportional to

, (2)

where Area is the surface area of a sphere with radius R and is a very tiny area called the Planck area.


This observation allows many people to think that maybe relevant degrees of freedom in physical problems involving gravitation actually live on a surface rather than in a volume - and that is where the term “holographic principle” comes from. Relevant degrees of freedom live on a surface, interact with each other there, and the 3d world we see is in a sense fiction - reflection of this dynamics on a surface.
cass, can you not

TMI + slash googles (but not on the same thing)

Spiders freak me out. Seemingly intelligent spiders, doubly so.

(But social insects really creep me out; they make me feel a sticky, crawling form of mental claustrophobia. The idea of a really intelligent collective organism --- instant shudders).

Totally unrelated ETA: Saw Closer last night. Proof of how much fandom has twisted my mind made me a more reasonable person: I ended up thinking that Allie/Anna + (but far away) Larry/Dan was a more sensible final configuration (specially Larry/Dan - I've seen good fic written based on half the subtext of their final (was it also their first?) meeting).
cass, can you not

If I had a few billion dollars, I'd just probably fund my own DARPA

Taken from the DARPA Mathematical Challenges.

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Obvious comments are obvious:

1. This is DARPA's wish list; it doesn't mean any of this is going to get done just because they asked for it.
2. DARPA has often wished for things and later made them true (e.g., the Internet), and most of the things in this list would change the world.