Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tales from the Future

Europe has a plan. It's called Europe 2020 and it's "the EU's growth strategy for the coming decade." Part of that plan is an initiative called "Innovation Union" which "aims to improve conditions and access to finance for research and innovation in Europe". So many nice words.

In what I found to be a great idea for communicating science, part of this initiative is a collection of short science fiction stories based on actual research projects. The short stories, called "Tales from the Future," are written by Robert Billing, and while they seemed to me a little constructed towards their aim, they are not bad at all. You can read them online here. Enjoy!


  1. Imagination is intelligence having fun. A good idea need only be testable. It is believable afterward. Discovery disciplines management rewarded for enforcing process not creating product.

    Management alters what clever men say into nonsense it can understand. Management obsesses on what is measurable instead of promoting what is important. Management kills the future, for the only trusted employee is one whose sole marketable asset is loyalty.

    Night is dark so you can imagine your fears without distraction.

  2. I hope there still will be a Europe in 2020 ...

  3. "Europe has a plan."

    This is a joke right?

  4. Bee,

    pg 10 of your paper

    Please consider your argument (Section 3.1.1.) leading to (2) as perhaps mistaken.

    You created a premise (photon moving in the x-direction) and drew a conclusion. I think this is not infallible.

    But if you use only (4) on the same page, then this might be better (?) as one could interpret that to refer to angular momentum. Hence, the H.U.P describes emission and absorption not necessarily the broader notions of measurement.

    How do you constrain the photon to move only in the x-direction?

    I mean, how is the velocity of the photon along x determined?

    How do you determine, at the source, that the photon is moving singularly in the x-direction?

  5. Bee,

    If we restricted the H.U.P to angular momentum, then it is easier to see that emission can occur if say an electron no longer 'commutes' with its distance from the proton after being disturbed by a photon.

    But, in this we make no assumption about the path taken by the photon to the atom. No do we make an assumption regarding spacetime itself. We do, however, concede that there is a structure between the electron and the proton.

  6. Hi Claver,

    It's a review article and it's not "my" argument, but that of Mead, see reference. Using a photon that moves into x direction and has a perfectly sharp momentum is of course an idealization, one that saturates the uncertainty bound. If you take some more realistic configuration that doesn't saturate the bound, your constraints will be weaker, leaving the conclusion valid. Best,


  7. Bee,

    I appreciate that you are busy, so I will make this my last response.

    "Consider a photon with frequency ω moving in direction x..."

    And then;

    "Since one does not know the direction of the
    photon to better than ǫ(epsilon), this results in an uncertainty for the momentum of the particle in
    direction x..."

    Perhaps this is a paradox. In that it had already been asserted that the direction is x. So if the direction is already known to be x, this suggests that delta(x) does not refer to an uncertainty in the direction but position.

    Also, I think that Delta(x) refers to space and x refers to position.i.e delta(x) can be visualized as a line and x as a point on a line.

    I think that General Relativity refers to space, but the delta(x) in GR is different from that in H.U.P.

    * In H.U.P the inequality/uncertainty bound arises due to the structure within the space delta(X).

    * I agree that the configuration is not fundamental here.

    What is, supposedly, fundamental is the background chosen for the configuration.

    My point is that it seems there is a confusion between which background to use or which background is more fundamental. That of G.R or that in H.U.P where both are effective.

    - If we take H.U.P to be fundamental, then I think that we have problems with dimensionality(of spacetime) since the structure I alluded to is hidden. That is, we have to find somewhere to put the structure/information where it can be hidden.

    - If we take the background of G.R to be fundamental then we have problems retrieving the H.U.P unless, perhaps, if we treat the H.U.P as an emergent feature.

  8. Hi Claver,

    The photon comes from direction x and then scatters, which changes its direction, see figure (or refer to the Wikipedia page on the Heisenberg microscope). You don't know exactly what is its direction after the scattering. There's nothing paradoxical about this. Best,



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