Multiverse Hypothesis – New Theory

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Though galaxies look larger than atoms and elephants appear to outweigh ants, some physicists have begun to suspect that size differences are illusory. Perhaps the fundamental description of the universe does not include the concepts of “mass” and “length,” implying that at its core, nature lacks a sense of scale.

This little-explored idea, known as scale symmetry, constitutes a radical departure from long-standing assumptions about how elementary particles acquire their properties. But it has recently emerged as a common theme of numerous talks and papers by respected particle physicists. With their field stuck at a nasty impasse, the researchers have returned to the master equations that describe the known particles and their interactions, and are asking: What happens when you erase the terms in the equations having to do with mass and length?

Nature, at the deepest level, may not differentiate between scales. With scale symmetry, physicists start with a basic equation that sets forth a massless collection of particles, each a unique confluence of characteristics such as whether it is matter or antimatter and has positive or negative electric charge. As these particles attract and repel one another and the effects of their interactions cascade like dominoes through the calculations, scale symmetry “breaks,” and masses and lengths spontaneously arise.

Similar dynamical effects generate 99 percent of the mass in the visible universe. Protons and neutrons are amalgams — each one a trio of lightweight elementary particles called quarks. The energy used to hold these quarks together gives them a combined mass that is around 100 times more than the sum of the parts. “Most of the mass that we see is generated in this way, so we are interested in seeing if it’s possible to generate all mass in this way,” said Alberto Salvio, a particle physicist at the Autonomous University of Madrid and the co-author of a recent paper on a scale-symmetric theory of nature.

In the equations of the “Standard Model” of particle physics, only a particle discovered in 2012, called the Higgs boson, comes equipped with mass from the get-go. According to a theory developed 50 years ago by the British physicist Peter Higgs and associates, it doles out mass to other elementary particles through its interactions with them. Electrons, W and Z bosons, individual quarks and so on: All their masses are believed to derive from the Higgs boson — and, in a feedback effect, they simultaneously dial the Higgs mass up or down, too.

THE MULTIVERSE ENNUI CAN’T LAST FOREVER.

The new scale symmetry approach rewrites the beginning of that story.
“The idea is that maybe even the Higgs mass is not really there,” said Alessandro Strumia, a particle physicist at the University of Pisa in Italy. “It can be understood with some dynamics.”

The concept seems far-fetched, but it is garnering interest at a time of widespread soul-searching in the field. When the Large Hadron Collider at CERN Laboratory in Geneva closed down for upgrades in early 2013, its collisions had failed to yield any of dozens of particles that many theorists had included in their equations for more than 30 years. The grand flop suggests that researchers may have taken a wrong turn decades ago in their understanding of how to calculate the masses of particles.

“We’re not in a position where we can afford to be particularly arrogant about our understanding of what the laws of nature must look like,” said Michael Dine, a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who has been following the new work on scale symmetry. “Things that I might have been skeptical about before, I’m willing to entertain.”

The Giant Higgs Problem

The scale symmetry approach traces back to 1995, when William Bardeen, a theoretical physicist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., showed that the mass of the Higgs boson and the other Standard Model particles could be calculated as consequences of spontaneous scale-symmetry breaking. But at the time, Bardeen’s approach failed to catch on. The delicate balance of his calculations seemed easy to spoil when researchers attempted to incorporate new, undiscovered particles, like those that have been posited to explain the mysteries of dark matter and gravity.

Instead, researchers gravitated toward another approach called “supersymmetry” that naturally predicted dozens of new particles. One or more of these particles could account for dark matter. And supersymmetry also provided a straightforward solution to a bookkeeping problem that has bedeviled researchers since the early days of the Standard Model.

In the standard approach to doing calculations, the Higgs boson’s interactions with other particles tend to elevate its mass toward the highest scales present in the equations, dragging the other particle masses up with it. “Quantum mechanics tries to make everybody democratic,” explained theoretical physicist Joe Lykken, deputy director of Fermilab and a collaborator of Bardeen’s. “Particles will even each other out through quantum mechanical effects.”

This democratic tendency wouldn’t matter if the Standard Model particles were the end of the story. But physicists surmise that far beyond the Standard Model, at a scale about a billion billion times heavier known as the “Planck mass,” there exist unknown giants associated with gravity. These heavyweights would be expected to fatten up the Higgs boson — a process that would pull the mass of every other elementary particle up to the Planck scale. This hasn’t happened; instead, an unnatural hierarchy seems to separate the lightweight Standard Model particles and the Planck mass.

With his scale symmetry approach, Bardeen calculated the Standard Model masses in a novel way that did not involve them smearing toward the highest scales. From his perspective, the lightweight Higgs seemed perfectly natural. Still, it wasn’t clear how he could incorporate Planck-scale gravitational effects into his calculations.

Meanwhile, supersymmetry used standard mathematical techniques, and dealt with the hierarchy between the Standard Model and the Planck scale directly. Supersymmetry posits the existence of a missing twin particle for every particle found in nature. If for each particle the Higgs boson encounters (such as an electron) it also meets that particle’s slightly heavier twin (the hypothetical “selectron”), the combined effects would nearly cancel out, preventing the Higgs mass from ballooning toward the highest scales. Like the physical equivalent of x + (–x) ≈ 0, supersymmetry would protect the small but non-zero mass of the Higgs boson. The theory seemed like the perfect missing ingredient to explain the masses of the Standard Model — so perfect that without it, some theorists say the universe simply doesn’t make sense.

Yet decades after their prediction, none of the supersymmetric particles have been found. “That’s what the Large Hadron Collider has been looking for, but it hasn’t seen anything,” said Savas Dimopoulos, a professor of particle physics at Stanford University who helped develop the supersymmetry hypothesis in the early 1980s. “Somehow, the Higgs is not protected.”

The LHC will continue probing for convoluted versions of supersymmetry when it switches back on next year, but many physicists have grown increasingly convinced that the theory has failed. Just last month at the International Conference of High-Energy Physics in Valencia, Spain, researchers analyzing the largest data set yet from the LHC found no evidence of supersymmetric particles. (The data also strongly disfavors an alternative proposal called “technicolor.”)

THE THEORY HAS WHAT MOST EXPERTS CONSIDER A SERIOUS FLAW: IT REQUIRES THE EXISTENCE OF STRANGE PARTICLE-LIKE ENTITIES CALLED “GHOSTS.”

The implications are enormous. Without supersymmetry, the Higgs boson mass seems as if it is reduced not by mirror-image effects but by random and improbable cancellations between unrelated numbers — essentially, the initial mass of the Higgs seems to exactly counterbalance the huge contributions to its mass from gluons, quarks, gravitational states and all the rest. And if the universe is improbable, then many physicists argue that it must be one universe of many: just a rare bubble in an endless, foaming “multiverse.” We observe this particular bubble, the reasoning goes, not because its properties make sense, but because its peculiar Higgs boson is conducive to the formation of atoms and, thus, the rise of life. More typical bubbles, with their Planck-size Higgs bosons, are uninhabitable.

“It’s not a very satisfying explanation, but there’s not a lot out there,” Dine said.

As the logical conclusion of prevailing assumptions, the multiverse hypothesis has surged in begrudging popularity in recent years. But the argument feels like a cop-out to many, or at least a huge letdown. A universe shaped by chance cancellations eludes understanding, and the existence of unreachable, alien universes may be impossible to prove. “And it’s pretty unsatisfactory to use the multiverse hypothesis to explain only things we don’t understand,” said Graham Ross, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oxford.

The multiverse ennui can’t last forever.

“People are forced to adjust,” said Manfred Lindner, a professor of physics and director of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg who has co-authored several new papers on the scale symmetry approach. The basic equations of particle physics need something extra to rein in the Higgs boson, and supersymmetry may not be it. Theorists like Lindner have started asking, “Is there another symmetry that could do the job, without creating this huge amount of particles we didn’t see?

Wrestling Ghosts

Picking up where Bardeen left off, researchers like Salvio, Strumia and Lindner now think scale symmetry may be the best hope for explaining the small mass of the Higgs boson. “For me, doing real computations is more interesting than doing philosophy of multiverse,” said Strumia, “even if it is possible that this multiverse could be right.”

For a scale-symmetric theory to work, it must account for both the small masses of the Standard Model and the gargantuan masses associated with gravity. In the ordinary approach to doing the calculations, both scales are put in by hand at the beginning, and when they connect in the equations, they try to even each other out. But in the new approach, both scales must arise dynamically — and separately — starting from nothing.

“The statement that gravity might not affect the Higgs mass is very revolutionary,” Dimopoulos said.

A theory called “agravity” (for “adimensional gravity”) developed by Salvio and Strumia may be the most concrete realization of the scale symmetry idea thus far. Agravity weaves the laws of physics at all scales into a single, cohesive picture in which the Higgs mass and the Planck mass both arise through separate dynamical effects. As detailed in June in the Journal of High-Energy Physics, agravity also offers an explanation for why the universe inflated into existence in the first place. According to the theory, scale-symmetry breaking would have caused an exponential expansion in the size of space-time during the Big Bang.

However, the theory has what most experts consider a serious flaw: It requires the existence of strange particle-like entities called “ghosts.” Ghosts either have negative energies or negative probabilities of existing — both of which wreak havoc on the equations of the quantum world.

“Negative probabilities rule out the probabilistic interpretation of quantum mechanics, so that’s a dreadful option,” said Kelly Stelle, a theoretical particle physicist at Imperial College, London, who first showed in 1977 that certain gravity theories give rise to ghosts. Such theories can only work, Stelle said, if the ghosts somehow decouple from the other particles and keep to themselves. “Many attempts have been made along these lines; it’s not a dead subject, just rather technical and without much joy,” he said.

Marcela Carena, a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.

Strumia and Salvio think that, given all the advantages of agravity, ghosts deserve a second chance. “When antimatter particles were first considered in equations, they seemed like negative energy,” Strumia said. “They seemed nonsense. Maybe these ghosts seem nonsense but one can find some sensible interpretation.”

Meanwhile, other groups are crafting their own scale-symmetric theories. Lindner and colleagues have proposed a model with a new “hidden sector” of particles, while Bardeen, Lykken, Marcela Carena and Martin Bauer of Fermilab and Wolfgang Altmannshofer of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Canada, argue in an Aug. 14 paper that the scales of the Standard Model and gravity are separated as if by a phase transition. The researchers have identified a mass scale where the Higgs boson stops interacting with other particles, causing their masses to drop to zero. It is at this scale-free point that a phase change-like crossover occurs. And just as water behaves differently than ice, different sets of self-contained laws operate above and below this critical point.

To get around the lack of scales, the new models require a calculation technique that some experts consider mathematically dubious, and in general, few will say what they really think of the whole approach. It is too different, too new. But agravity and the other scale symmetric models each predict the existence of new particles beyond the Standard Model, and so future collisions at the upgraded LHC will help test the ideas.

In the meantime, there’s a sense of rekindling hope.

“Maybe our mathematics is wrong,” Dine said. “If the alternative is the multiverse landscape, that is a pretty drastic step, so, sure — let’s see what else might be.”

Original story reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine, an editorially independent division of SimonsFoundation.org whose mission is to enhance public understanding of science by covering research developments and trends in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.

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#multiverse-hypothesis, #research, #science, #universe

Evolution Used the Same Molecular Toolkit? Common Sense from Jonathan Marks

“Every time I see a thoughtless headline like this one at Science Daily, “Evolution Used Similar Molecular Toolkits to Shape Flies, Worms, and Humans,” where the organisms being compared are as different (morphologically) as flies, worms, and humans, I think of Jonathan Marks’s blunt comment.

Marks is an evolutionary biologist/anthropologist at the University of North Carolina, and an uncommonly plain speaker and writer (bless him). In a 1993 talk to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston, which I attended as a graduate student and will never forget, he said the following:

If the overall biology of the animals tells you that they are very different, and the genetics tells you that they are nearly identical, it follows that the genetic comparison is telling you something relatively trivial about the overall biology.

See also his paper “What Is the Viewpoint of Hemoglobin, and Does It Matter?” in the journalHistory and Philosophy of the Life Sciences. Considering “reductive trends in evolutionary anthropology,” he writes there (p. 245):

Does it not stand to reason that if you essentially cannot tell human hemoglobin from gorilla hemoglobin, the sensible thing to do is to look at something else? In other words, if you cannot tell a human from a gorilla, you really should not be in biology.

And:

If hemoglobin provides you with a lens that blurs the difference between human and gorilla, then just get a different lens. What is curious is why anyone would want to privilege such a weird dataset, a dataset that makes a human seem like a gorilla.”

#evolution, #id, #molecular, #science

Are allergies trying to protect us from ourselves?

This article is more than actual so I should repost it, again. Sorry )

Diagram Network

This article is more than actual so I should repost it, again.  Sorry )

“I have a love/hate relationship with spring, thanks to the aggravating bouts of hay fever that transform me into a faucet for pretty much the entire season. So I’ll admit I was a little skeptical when my editor at Scientific American asked me last week if I wanted to write about a new paper coming out in Nature suggesting that allergies may actually be a good thing. But always curious, I said sure.

I have a love/hate relationship with spring, thanks to the aggravating bouts of hay fever that transform me into a faucet for pretty much the entire season. So I’ll admit I was a little skeptical when my editor at Scientific American asked me last week if I wanted to write about a new paper coming out in Nature suggesting that allergies may actually…

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Biological Information: How Do You Explain the Origin of Something That’s So Tough Even to Define?

Bio Info2

 

I found this to read:

 

Most of these researchers [participating in the meeting], with Ph.D.’s from places like Cal Tech, UC Berkeley, Yale and Cornell, do not believe the traditional Darwinist explanation of natural selection of random mutations is adequate to explain the origin of biological information (in the DNA, for example), and many consider intelligent design as a possible source for this information.

Even though there are well-developed subareas of information theory in engineering dealing with communication and computer science, a scientific understanding of information is not well developed. We are unable to agree on some of the simplest of questions concerning information. If I shred a DVD, am I destroying information? What if there is a back-up copy? What if there isn’t? If I take a digital picture with my cell phone, am I creating information? A poll of these questions will yield a variety of answers thereby revealing the muddiness of the definition of information. Yet we all agree that a picture of Mount Rushmore with the busts of four US Presidents contains more information than a picture of Mount Fuji. And a simple living bacterium contains more information than a like-sized speck of sand. Information can be etched on matter, like writing on a page, but information is not matter. Information can be coded onto energy like a wireless cell phone signal, but information is not energy. The founder of cybernetics, Norbert Weiner, summarizes: “Information is information. Neither matter nor energy.” Since it is our uniform experience that elsewhere, information is only created by intelligent agents, many of the participants of the Cornell conference think that intelligent design is the only possible explanation for the vast amounts of information in biology also.

Information defies easy characterization, for Darwinists as for intelligent-design advocates. Yet the former are in denial of the basic enigma, while the latter’s investigation fuels their thinking about what could potentially explain its origin, a vital question given that information underlies all of the study of biology:

Nobel Prize-winning biologist David Baltimore rightly said “Modern biology is a science of information.” University of Texas philosopher of biology Sahotra Sarkar elaborates: “It is incumbent upon those who think that informational concepts have theoretical value in biology (that is, they explain things rather than being merely metaphors) to produce an appropriate technical concept of information for biological contexts.” Moving towards these ends is the stated goal of Biological Information: New Perspectives. The Editors hope the volume will “inspire much hard work on the greater project of providing a full-fledged theory of biological information, one that is free of ideological bias and gets at the truth of the matter.”

In his forthcoming book Being as Communion, William Dembski goes even further, arguing that information lies at the root not just of biology but all of material existence. Make sure you preorder Dembski’s book, by the way, before you lose the opportunity to take advantage of the 34 percent pre-publication discount.

Meanwhile, another friend and email correspondent points out that commenters at Dr. Marks’s article for Human Events have been raising absurd objections to the publication of Biological Information. What else is new? They tried to kill it once already, after all. Again, for the truth read the results of Casey’s extensive research.

#biology, #id, #information, #science

CBD Gives Birth To New Neurons In the Brain

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Research Suggests CBD’s Anxiety Relief Is Due To Neurogenesis

study published in The International Journal of Neurophamacology points to Cannabidiol (CBD) as a cause of Neurogenesis in the brain. Specifically, this birth of new neurons occurred in the Hippocampus, an area typically associated with conscious memory and navigation.

Neurogenesis is responsible for creating new neurons within the brain. These neurons process and carry information to the necessary destination.

Neurogenesis in adulthood was originally believed to be impossible, but studies have found it to occur, albeit in smaller proportions. There has been little knowledge about the importance of adult-born neurons, but more research has been performed as of recent. One common avenue of adult Neurogenesis research is its relation to stress.

There Are Many Benefits To The Process Of Neurogenesis

The production of new neurons in adulthood shows to correlate with depression. A number of antidepressants attribute their success to stimulating the process…

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Monkeys Aren’t Intellectual, Can’t Copyright

Another interesting and funny article about the monkeys. Let’s read:

 

“Several readers have sent  the story of the intellectual property dispute between Wikimedia and a photographer with whose camera a monkey took a “selfie.”

The photographer claims a copyright, but the Wiki world says no since he didn’t actually take the photo. From the Washington Post story:

In an interview, Wikimedia Foundation’s Chief Communications Officer Katherine Maher said the organization is confident that the legal basis for denying Slater’s request is sound, because the person that takes the photo should own the copyright. But a person didn’t take this one.

“Monkeys don’t own copyrights,” Maher said. “What we found is that U.S. copyright law says that works that originate from a non-human source can’t claim copyright.”

My sympathies are with the photographer. Even though he didn’t snap the photo or intentionally set up the shot, he created the general circumstances under which it was taken.

But Wikimedia is absolutely correct that an animal can’t own a copyright (unless, I suppose, a human grants it in the same way dogs sometimes inherit for their support.) This is really a dispute about money, and I think, an anti-intellectual property value system among some within the Wiki crowd.

But let’s leave that aside and get to the bottom line: Animals can’t protect intellectual property because they can’t create it. 

Animals are not intellectual. That isn’t the same thing as saying they aren’t intelligent. It means they are incapable of intentionally “creating.” A spider’s web is a remarkable design, but it wasn’t “designed” by the spider. Creativity is one of the exceptional capacities of humans.

The monkey who took the photo wasn’t “taking” a photo. It didn’t know what a camera is.

In this sense, the disputed photo isn’t really a “selfie.” That is something only humans can accomplish. Whether we should is another story.”

 

Source from : Evolutionnews

 

 

#evolution, #funny, #monkey, #science

Ebola

A short article about Ebola per BBC /WHO and some other sources:

 

Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And that is just the beginning: subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhoea and – in some cases – both internal and external bleeding.
The current outbreak is the deadliest since Ebola was discovered in 1976
The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.

It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments. Even funerals of Ebola victims can be a risk, if mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased.

Molecular model of parts of the Ebola virus:
This molecular model shows the parts of the Ebola virus scientists are studying in the hopes of finding drugs that will slow the spread of the disease
The incubation period can last from two days to three weeks, and diagnosis is difficult. The human disease has so far been mostly limited to Africa, although one strain has cropped up in the Philippines.

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Healthcare workers are at risk if they treat patients without taking the right precautions to avoid infection. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus – in some cases, up to seven weeks after they recover.

World Health Organization guidance on Ebola
Where does it strike?
Ebola outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, says the WHO.
Bushmeat – from animals such as bats, antelopes, porcupines and monkeys – is a prized delicacy in much of West Africa but can also be a source of Ebola.
It was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 since when it has affected countries further east, including Uganda and Sudan. This outbreak is unusual because it started in Guinea, which has never before been affected, and is spreading to urban areas.

 

A man who flew from Liberia to Lagos in July was quarantined on his arrival and later died of Ebola – the first case in Nigeria. One of the nurses who treated him has since died.

The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) says the outbreak is “unprecedented” in the way the cases were scattered in multiple locations across Guinea, hundreds of kilometres apart, and says it is a “race against time” to check people who come into contact with sick people.

Ebola: Why is it this disease we fear?
Can cultural practices spread Ebola?
Ebola is spread through close physical contact with infected people. This is a problem for many in the West African countries currently affected by the outbreak, as practices around religion and death involve close physical contact.

Hugging is a normal part of religious worship in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and across the region the ritual preparation of bodies for burial involves washing, touching and kissing. Those with the highest status in society are often charged with washing and preparing the body. For a woman this can include braiding the hair, and for a man shaving the head.
If a person has died from Ebola, their body will have a very high viral load. Bleeding is a usual symptom of the disease prior to death. Those who handle the body and come into contact with the blood or other body fluids are at greatest risk of catching the disease.

MSF has been trying to make people aware of how their treatment of dead relatives might pose a risk to themselves. It is a very difficult message to get across.

All previous outbreaks were much smaller and occurred in places where Ebola was already known – in Uganda and the DR Congo for example. In those places the education message about avoiding contact has had years to enter the collective consciousness. In West Africa, there simply has not been the time for the necessary cultural shift.

What precautions should I take?
Avoid contact with Ebola patients and their bodily fluids, the WHO advises. Do not touch anything – such as shared towels – which could have become contaminated in a public place.
Washing hands and improving hygiene is one of the best ways to fight the virus.
Carers should wear gloves and protective equipment, such as masks, and wash their hands regularly.

The WHO also warns against consuming raw bushmeat and any contact with infected bats or monkeys and apes. Fruit bats in particular are considered a delicacy in the area of Guinea where the outbreak started.

In March, Liberia’s health minister advised people to stop having sex, in addition to existing advice not to shake hands or kiss. The WHO says men can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to seven weeks after recovering from Ebola.

A BBC reporter in the Liberian capital Monrovia says that public awareness campaigns around Ebola have been stepped up following the death in July of renowned Liberian doctor Samuel Brisbane.

Liberia has now closed schools, most of its border crossings and communities hit by an Ebola outbreak face quarantine to try to halt the spread of the virus.

The doctor leading Sierra Leone’s fight against the virus has also died, prompting the country’s president to declare a public health emergency.

British Airways, West African airliner Asky and Nigeria’s Arik Air have suspended flights to Liberia and Sierra Leone and more stringent screening is being put in place at some airports. When the outbreak first began, Senegal closed its border with Guinea.

Fighting the fear and stigmatisation surrounding Ebola is one of the greatest challenges health workers face.

 

What can be done if I catch it?
You must keep yourself isolated and seek professional help. Patients have a better chance of survival if they receive early treatment.

Emergency entrance to a hospital in Conakry treating Ebola patients (March 2014)
There are no vaccines, though some are being tested, along with new drug therapies.

Patients frequently become dehydrated. They should drink solutions containing electrolytes or receive intravenous fluids.

MSF says this outbreak comes from the deadliest and most aggressive strain of the virus.

The current outbreak is killing between 50% and 60% of people infected.

It is not known which factors allow some people to recover while most succumb.

 

 

Source: Why Ebola is so dangerous (BBC)

#ebola, #research, #science