Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Obey The Laws Of Physics

Genius so scary his hair is trying to escape
E=mc2. That's right readers physics. That is the work of one of the most famous scientists of all time, Albert Einstein. Not only a great mind but also a great man famed not only for his efforts to wrestle with the loftiest concepts of the cosmos but also for his quick wit, inspiring quotes and mad scientist hair... Let's be honest, I say Einstein and the hair is one of the first things that  comes to mind and that's because as a species we're idiots. E=mc2 is one of those things that we all assume is complicated and hard so we ignore it and focus on the hair but E=mc2 isn't overly complex it's actually pretty simple. It translates as follows, the energy contained within a single atom is equal to it's mass times the speed of light squared. It's great way of explaining that the amount of energy used to create matter is simply vast, so vast that it's possible to annihilate entire cities with just a few grams of matter. You see, to quote Bill Hicks, matter is just energy condensed to a slow vibration. 

That equation forms the basis for the last hundred years of scientific advancement and is based on one simple little fact.

You cannot exceed the speed of light. 

Speeding costs lives... and may destroy the fabric of space-time.

Some children are marked for greatness, you were marked
as 'Exhibit A' in a courtroom with a crying 9 year old.
Why? Fuck you that's why. Look it's pretty simple really it takes energy to move, right? If you don't believe me do some star-jumps. You finished doing star jumps yet, you sweaty twat? Right well that took some energy didn't it. Well the faster you move the more energy is required and the faster you get the harder you have to fight for every scrap of extra acceleration. That's why a Bugatti Veyron costs over a million pounds and the van you were conceived in only cost forty quid. The closer you get to the speed of light, actually the speed of something with no mass if you want to be exceedingly technical... light is made of photons which do have minuscule amount of mass... anyway the closer you get get to the speed of light the more energy every tiny increase costs. If you were to increase your speed to just below the speed of light and plough more energy into the affair because your to stubborn for you're own good that energy goes towards increasing your mass. I know what your thinking. That's fucking weird. Yes it is, it's also true and it means breaching the speed of light would take infinite energy which would create infinite mass which would result in your mum/destroy the universe. This theory underpins everything we know about the universe. It's at the core of our calculations of distant galaxies, it's crucial to explaining the existence of black holes and it helped early astronomers calculate the structure of the universe.

"... and the one on the left looks just like your mother's
arse after I was finished with her" "Shut up Dad"

The fact that you could easily use such a device for
unspeakable evil is just one of the many reasons I'm
not allowed to visit CERN
This brings us to CERN. CERN is where the world's greatest scientific minds assemble, usually inside the bodies that house them, to ponder the mightiest questions that the universe has to offer. Oh and occasionally they build vast machines that could end the entire world for shit's and giggles. It is home of the Large Hadron Collider, which has been built to collide ordinary sized hadrons on a large scale. It lies in a 27km tunnel and fires particles into each other at close to the speed of light and theoretically could have destroyed time when they turned it on... don't worry it didn't, score one for human curiosity. However that's not the particular piece of mad science that I want to talk about.

I want to discuss the OPERA experiment. The OPERA experiment was set up to fire a beam of neutrinos over 730km from CERN to the INFN Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy. Now that path is a straight line going through the earth because neutrinos can do that for reasons that you wouldn't understand... because I fucking don't. Anyway 3 years ago they activated the experiment, with the intention of seeing what happened to the neutrinos over that distance, I'm assuming that this was all handled by a cackling mad man in a white lab-coat. The results came in and they were startling. The neutrino's had arrived early i.e. faster than the speed of bastard light. A quick look at the results revealed that the neutrinos were about 60 nanoseconds faster. This was to big a difference to be an instrument glitch and as a result, science started happening.


"Right when I say 'GO' you fire the neutrino"
Right I'm now going to start gushing about why I fucking love Science. You see I spend some of my time recreationally arguing with creationists, new-agers and super-naturalists, and they often come out with a similar line, which is basically this "You're just brain-washed by what you've been told all your life." The central idea behind this is that Science is constantly ignoring the evidence that supports the bullshit assertions these people erect. Well here is my evidence to the contrary these scientists had found something that had the possibility to destroy a century of work and advance. Here's what they did. They retooled the experiment. Fuck the changing states of neutrino's they said we've discovered a flaw in our understanding of the universe. They installed the most accurate clock they could find and ran over 16000 different instances, hunting down and removing every possible error in their measurements. They worked tirelessly and after three years they came out and published there results. That's the scientific equivalent of going "Seriously dude you have to try this out." There are no conclusions as yet and that's because it hasn't been double-checked yet, because science demands that you check, check and check again until you can say with certainty that something has happened. IF it turns out that this data is accurate then a century of scientific advancement will have to be discarded and new theories will have to be developed. 

So let's take off the overly scientific blinkers off for a moment and embrace the madness of what this MIGHT mean. Well first up time-travel is on the cards... It always has been but up until now the basic laws of science meant you could only travel back as far as when the first time machine was built. It's more like a time-door and needs another door on the other side but with the speed of light being pissed out the window we can just flit around how we please, if we can get passed the barrier ourselves. Obviously the idea of faster than light travel is appealing for those of us who plan to retire to a star system with more green-space women and less Conservatives.

If this doesn't do it for you then find your own damn planet.

Quantum Foam: If  this pictured doesn't creep you out
then you are ready to time-travel if it does then, gutted.
Now one theory that's been put forward is that the neutrinos aren't breaking the speed of light but are taking short-cuts through other dimensions by using wormholes found in the quantum foam which makes up the universe. Now the quantum foam is a constantly fluctuating field that is filled with constantly forming and collapsing black-holes, micro wormholes and tiny unicorns... look I'm not a physicist there comes a point where I just have to make stuff up. Anyway this is better for us. You see we're not neutrinos so we can't travel like them, but we could make something small enough to use these techniques to shoot across space and then assemble one half of an apparatus that could stabilise a bigger wormhole allowing us to basically Stargate across the universe and thus relegating Kelly Lebrock to the spot of second best thing science has ever done.

1: Stargates, 2: Kelly Lebrock, 3: Smallpox Vaccine 
Or it could turn out to be a mistake but another mistake that'll prove doubt and uncertainty are the best tools to help us understand the universe because, to quote the awesome XKCD,

"Science, it works bitches"

eddie <fought the law lost>

UPDATE: 04.07.12
Should have got this up sooner but it did in fact turn out to be a GPS calibration error.

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