Saturday, February 24, 2024

Violating Energy Conservation to Explain Dark Energy

I got quite a few questions about a paper that supposedly revolutionizes our understanding of the universe by throwing out energy conservation. The questions came in two varieties. Can you do that, isn’t energy always conserved? And isn’t energy conservation violated anyway? I thought it would be interesting to clear this up because I think the idea isn’t remotely as crazy as it sounds. Let’s have a look.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Hydrogen might self-renew, reservoir found in France

Several recent discoveries of naturally occurring hydrogen reservoirs underground (the so-called "white hydrogen") have prompted the whole world to start searching for more of the stuf. Even though this seems like a gamechanger for the hydrogen economy, I am still sceptical of its viability economically, energetically, and environmentally.



This video comes with a quiz which you can take here

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bad News for Quantum Computing: Another Advantage Gone

Sometimes people ask me why I’m now doing science news. It’s so that you can fully appreciate the drama of scientific discovery, in which one result contradicts a previous one and the next one finds a flaw in this other one. I think the entertainment-value of science is greatly underappreciated.

And quantum computing is without doubt one of the most dramatic areas at the moment. One the one hand you have people claiming it’s the next industrial revolution and it’s going to change the world, on the other hand you have people saying it’s all hype, quantum computers are interesting but useless. This new paper supports the latter camp. Let’s have a look.

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Chinese Maglev Breaks Speed Record: is this the future of transportation?

News from China say the Chinese have broken their own, and the global, speed record for magnetically levitating trains, which you might know under the name hyperloop. Let’s have a look.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Good News: Small Nuclear Thorium Reactors are Coming to Europe

Phasing out nuclear power is the dumbest thing the Germans have ever done. Each time I say this on twitter, people come and tell me that Hitler did a few things that were even dumber. I disagree. Hitler wasn’t dumb, he was evil, he knew full well what he was doing. I’m not at all sure the current German government knows what it’s doing, and that isn’t a good thing either.

The German opposition to nuclear power is especially curious as our next door neighbours, the French and Dutch have no hesitation to use nuclear power to its full potential. Indeed, companies in both countries recently teamed up to bring small thorium reactors to Europe. Let’s have a look at what’s new.

Monday, February 19, 2024

AI played wargames. The result isn't reassuring.

A group of researchers had artificial intelligence play wargames, and that gives us a good idea for how we could all die. They tested five different large language models and asked them to make decisions in war situations. They told the AIs that this is a real-world situation and not a simulation! Nevertheless, for all models they found a risk that a nuclear war would develop without provocation out of an initially neutral situation. Some AIs are more war-loving than others though.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Scientific Fraud is on the Rise and It will get worse

Science has a big problem and it’s been getting rapidly worse in the past two years or so, to no small part because of recent advances in artificial intelligence. Fraudulent papers are getting published more than ever, and the fraudsters are getting increasingly aggressive. In this episode I want to give you an update on the recent developments.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

New time crystal stable for more than 40 minutes: Nobel Prize possible

Time Crystals sounds like something from Hogwarts, but it’s actually solid-state physics. Maybe not quite as mysterious as the name suggests, but nonetheless interesting. A team of physicists has now built the most robust time crystal ever and even figured out what these things could be good for. Let’s have a look.

Friday, February 16, 2024

The recent Toyota emissions scandal ist just the tip of the iceberg

A lot of climate targets are lip confessions. But some of those confessions get written into law, and that can create some, hmm, interesting tensions between what governments and companies say they’re doing and what the data say they’re doing. In the past weeks we have seen examples of this tension between words and reality in Japan, the EU, and the USA.

In Japan, Toyota has to answer a lot of questions after it turned out that they manipulated the results of emissions tests, again. In Europe, lawmakers have been officially informed that their regulations on car emissions have had absolutely no effect. An in the United States, scientists urge the Biden administration to reconsider the export of liquified natural gas. Let’s look at those a little closer.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

5% of experts fear human extinction due to artificial intelligence

Today I have very interesting results from a survey among 3000 AI experts. The most interesting result is that they now think AI is going to change the world even faster than they said just a year ago. Both human level machine intelligence and full automation of labour could happen this century.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Americans surprisingly rational about climate change, German study finds

I am fascinated by science deniers. Flat earthers, anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, it’s just amazing to see how badly the human brain can malfunction. Of course, it’s not just a brain problem, it’s also a social problem. In particular, the fraction of climate change deniers differs strongly by country, and it’s especially high in the United States. It turns out I’m not the only German who is interested in what’s wrong with Americans. A group of Germans recently set out to study the matter. The results are just in and they’re quite surprising.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Physicists find that ageing is reversible -- in glass (sorry)

According to the fundamental laws of physics, every process is reversible, in principle. In the past years, we have seen several experiments in which physicists study whether this is really the case or if not irreversibility creeps back in somewhere. In this new experiment they found to their own surprise that ageing in glass seems to be reversible.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Singularities might be everywhere -- and they might make up dark matter

Ok, I have seen a lot of weird ideas for what dark matter could be, but this one surprised even me. A team of researchers proposes that the universe might be filled with singularities, or more precisely "primordial naked singularities," and those could make up what we call dark matter. I had a look at the paper, because if nothing else, it's a fun idea.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Climate Change Mitigation Plans Unrealistic and Potentially Dangerous, New Study Says

Some people have called me a doomer. Others call me a pessimist. Personally, I think I’m a realist. If I look at the plans that most nations have made to limit their contribution to climate change, I think it just isn’t going to happen. The people making these plans are either ill-informed, delusional, or lying, or maybe all of the above.

Now there’s a new publication just out of the University of Melbourne in Australia that, according to the press release has revealed a “huge climate mitigation challenge” and claims that the IPCC has overestimated how much carbon dioxide removal can realistically accomplish. Yes. Let’s have a look.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Details Emerge about Huge New Particle Collider at CERN

We have seen a few new headlines this week about the plans of particle physicists to build a huge new collider at CERN in Geneva. Particle physicists have called their new dream machine the “future circular collider”, FCC for short. The FCC is supposed to be a ring collider like the Large Hadron Collider, which is currently the biggest collider in the world. There is no good motivation to build this expensive device. But people at CERN still claim that it will help find dark matter or explain dark energy.

Friday, February 09, 2024

First Nuclear Fusion Control with Digital Twin

Nuclear fusion is a great idea, in principle. In principle, it could solve the energy worries of the world beautifully. The problem is that whenever we’ve tried, getting nuclear fusion to work takes up more energy than it creates. But a team from Japan and the United States just got us a bit closer to our dream of clean energy. They recently succeeded in controlling nuclear plasma in a stellarator by creating a virtual twin. What’s a stellarator, what is digital twin and what did they actually do? Let’s have a look.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Electric vehicles are great, but let’s be honest, it’s more convenient to fill up a fuel tank with gasoline than sit around and wait until the battery is full. Well, this new battery from researchers at Cornell might solve the problem. They have found a way to produce a battery anode that allows the battery to fully charge within less than 5 minutes, and it does this reliably over at least 1000 cycles.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

String theory nonsense makes comeback

I got a lot of questions last week about an article in Quanta Magazine about Dark Dimensions. it's about an idea motivated by string theory that combines large extra dimensions with dark matter. I had a look at the paper.

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

No Evidence that Social Media Affects Mental Health, Zuckerberg Says

Last week, the US senate had a hearing on the dangers of social media in preparation of a legislation to improve child safety online. In this hearing, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg [[image of the guy with name]] claimed that it has not been scientifically proved that social media causes mental health problems in adolescents.

This upset a lot of people who think that the link is obvious. But I am afraid Zuckerberg is right. Let’s have a look.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Supposed New Law of Nature Now Looks Like Statistical Error

This is a rare case in which I talk about some of my own work. It’s about the biggest current controversy in astrophysics, does dark matter exist or do we instead need to change the law of gravity. If you’ve followed me for some while, then you’ll know that my opinion on this has switched back and forth a few times. In this most recent iteration, it’s flipped back to it’s probably dark matter. Then again… it’s complicated. Let’s have a look.