Monday, March 04, 2024

Scientists warn of AI collapse

We’ve all become used to AI-generated art in the form of text, images, audio, and even videos. Despite its prevalence, scientists are warning that AI creativity may soon die. Why is that? What does this mean for the future of AI? And will human creativity be in demand after all? Let’s have a look.

Sunday, March 03, 2024

New approach to quantum computing could soon beat IBM

Physicists have shattered previous limits of the new technology of "atoms in tweezers". They have collected more than 1000 atoms that could save as qubits, hinting at a scalable future for the technology. This breakthrough, challenges the currently more dominant qubit methods and signals a significant step towards commercially viable quantum computing.

Saturday, March 02, 2024

Black holes might be dark stars with layers: New solution found

Do black holes even exist? You might think the evidence is overwhelming. But in a new paper, physicists have shown that Einstein's theories allow another option, it's that black holes might be layers of shells with dark energy inside. I had a look, and here's what I learned.

Friday, March 01, 2024

Astrophysicists keep finding things that “shouldn’t exist”. I think I know why.

You have probably seen headlines in the past years about lots of things out there in the cosmos that, according to astrophysicists "shouldn't exist". Why is this happening? In this video I want to offer my explanation and why I predict a continuation of such headlines unless astrophysicists consolidate their data and take predictions more seriously.

Thursday, February 29, 2024

First quantum measurement of gravity: What does it mean?

You may have seen recent headlines saying something about the first measurement of gravity in the quantum realm or such. Have they now measured quantum gravity? I had a look at the paper.

This video comes with a quiz:

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Accurate predictions don't matter, climate scientists tell me

A few climate scientists have reacted to my previous video about climate sensitivity. In this video, I elaborate on my thoughts regarding the IPCC's projections and why it worries me how they are dealing with the uncertainty of the climate model outputs.

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Test of controversial quantum inertia propulsion didn't go as planned

The Quantum Drive, based on the idea of Quantized Inertia, was supposed to be tested aboard a satellite two weeks ago. Unfortunately, the company who built the satellite lost contact with it before the test could be conducted. While experimental test is still missing, I want to explain why I don't think this quantum drive is going to drive anything and why people pour money into nonsense like this anyway.

Monday, February 26, 2024

Revise the textbooks: New type of magnetism confirmed

I recently saw press releases saying that physicists had found a new, third type of magnetism called altermagnetism. But didn't we already have three? What's different about this new one? I had a look at the paper.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Do we create reality with our minds?

Do we create reality with our minds? I got this question on twitter the other day and after rolling my eyes about it for some while, I decided it’s actually a good question. You might think the answer is obviously “no”. But it’s not that simple. Let me explain.

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.

Sunday, February 04, 2024

AI experts make predictions for 2040. I was a little surprised.

We’ve seen a lot of headlines in the past year about how dangerous AI is and how overblown these fears are . I’ve found it hard to make sense of this discussion. If only someone could systematically interview experts and figure out what they’re worried about. Well, a group of researchers from the UK has done exactly that and just published their results. What they have found is, not very reassuring. Let’s have a look.

Saturday, February 03, 2024

The discovery of X-rays and what we can learn from it

I was recently trying to figure out just how X-rays were discovered. The first 3 explanations didn't make any sense to me and before I knew it, I had 12 books about Wilhelm Röntgen on my desk because my brain is a wild place. I eventually figured out what must have happened, I believe, and thought you might find it interesting, too.

Oh, and the reason the shoe-box has the word "Ostern" (German for "Easter") written on it is that my husband's family has used it for decades to store dies for Easter eggs. (Which we still do today.)

This video comes with a quiz that lets you check how much you remember.

Friday, February 02, 2024

Typing makes dumb, new study says. Or does it?

Do you still write by hand? Anything besides shopping lists? A new study looked at what happens in our brain when we write by hand or type on the keyboard, and it makes a really strong case for handwriting. I personally quite like handwriting and I am totally convinced it’s good for, well, something, so I should be extra sceptical of this finding. But let’s have a look.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

A Tsunami Devastated Stone-age Britain. Could it happen again?

A new study by a group of British geologists suggests that a huge tsunami devastated the populations of Stone Age Britain, about 8200 years ago. This new research is about a fantastically destructive series of disasters known as the three Storegga slides. Sounds like a ride at an amusement park, but it was far from that. Could it happen again? Let’s have a look.

Wednesday, January 31, 2024

First Experimental Test of Process that Might Have Created Universe

One of the most disturbing ideas in physics, or maybe *the most disturbing idea, is that space can fall apart. That’s because it could be what’s called “false” vacuum. A false vacuum can remain in this innocent reliable looking form for billions of years, but eventually a quantum fluctuation could be enough to cause it to decay. This would release enormous amounts of energy and kill all of us. Yes, cheerful thought.

So far, this has all been theory. But a new experiment has now for the first time observed that quantum fluctuations can actually trigger a transition like that, luckily not for the entire universe, but for a small and safe test-setting in the laboratory with ultracold gases.

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

AI makes stunning progress in logical reasoning

Google has unveiled a new artificially intelligent system, AlphaGeometry, that can solve problems of mathematical geometry. It’s the first computer program to surpass the average performance of participants at the International Mathematical Olympiad. That might sound like an incremental improvement, just one more thing that AI is really good at, but mathematics isn’t just one more thing, it’s everywhere. This makes Google’s recent development a significant step forward. Let’s have a look.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Brian Cox debunked the Big Bang! Wait what?

I was rather surprised when I recently learned that the British science communicator and ex-particle physicist Brian Cox supposedly debunked the Big Bang with a creation story, no less than in a BBC documentary. I had a look at the clip and I think I know what happened.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Dark matter is not "Bunk Science"... But it has problems

Physicists say that 80 percent of the mass in the universe is dark matter, and not only this, dark matter is supposedly all around us, we just can’t see it. Sounds pretty crazy, doesn’t it. Indeed, every time I mention dark matter, I get flooded with comments about how silly the idea is. “Fantasy folly.” “bunk science,” “epicycles,” “a mirage”, “unscientific,” and on and on it goes. I really feel for astrophysicists, but those complaints are not totally wrong.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

I used to not worry about climate change. Now I do.

In this video I explain what climate sensitivity is and why it is important. Climate sensitivity is a number that roughly speaking tells us how fast climate change will get worse. A few years ago, after various software improvements, a bunch of climate models began having a much higher climate sensitivity than previously. Climate scientists have come up with reasons for why to ignore this. I think it's a bad idea to ignore this.

The quiz for this video is here.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Clever New Experiment Looks for Quantum Jumps of Big Things

I got a lot of questions about an article which said that physicists have designed “a Way to Detect Quantum Behaviour in Large Objects, Like Us”. I had a look at the paper. It’s about what I consider without exaggeration the most important question in physics today, that is, why do we not observe quantum effects in everyday life. They want to figure out if macroscopic objects still make quantum jumps and have come up with a clever idea for that.

Thursday, January 25, 2024

How do we know that climate change is caused by humans?

n this video I summarize the main pieces of evidence that we have which show that climate change is caused by humans. This is most important that we know in which frequency range carbon dioxide absorbs light, we know that the carbon dioxide ratio in the atmosphere has been increasing, we know that the Ph-value of the oceans has been decreasing, the ratio of carbon isotopes in the atmosphere has been changing, and the stratosphere has been cooling, which was one of the key predictions of climate models from the 1960s.

This video comes with a quiz that lets you check how much you remember.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Fearless Icelanders to Drill Into Magma Chamber

I don’t like places where hot stuff bubbles out of the ground, but Icelanders have no such issues. They’re now almost ready to start a new experiment that will drill right into a magma chamber. How do they know that this will not accidentally create a volcano? Let’s have a look.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Extreme Weather Becomes Worse Faster Than Predicted

Floods, droughts, heat waves, hurricanes, storm surges. Extreme weather events receive a lot of media coverage. In recent years, these events have frequently been attributed to climate change. This “extreme event attribution” how it’s called is a way to quantify how climate change supposedly increased the likelihood of a specific weather event by so and so much. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that these numbers are underestimates. Yep, that’s right, reality is worse than they told us it would be. A new paper confirmed this problem for extreme rainfall events.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Another Famous Quantum Mystery Was Just Debunked (it wasn't me)

The quantum Cheshire Cat is a famous experiment that’s attracted a lot of attention in the past decade. In this experiment, a particle is supposedly separated from one of its properties, for example its spin or polarization. It’s called the Cheshire cat because that particle is kind of like the cat and its disembodied property is kind of like the grin of the cat.

But maybe I should better say there was this famous experiment, because it was just debunked in a new paper. Let’s have a look.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Crack Down On New Climate Denial! Nonprofit tells YouTube

The Center for Countering Digital Hate put out a new report a few days ago, in which they warn that climate misinformation continuous to flourish on YouTube. They want YouTube to take more action. I had a look and I don't like what I read.

Friday, January 19, 2024

Astrophysicists Find Big Ring of Galaxies that Should Not Exist

A group of astrophysicists have found another megastructure in the universe. They’ve called it the “Big Ring” and it’s a whopping 1 point 3 billion light-years in diameter. The thing isn’t just huge, it’s also a huge problem for our understanding of how the universe works. Because it shouldn’t exist. I’m somewhat afraid that all other astrophysicists will try to ignore this, which is why I thought we should talk about it. Let’s have a look.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Sugar Alcohols Ruined My Health: Learn From My Mistakes

I was told that I have irritable bowel syndrome. I then learned by shear coincidence that most of my symptoms were instead caused by food additives collectively known as "sugar alcohols". Since I have cut sugar alcohols out of my diet, my symptoms have almost entirely disappeared. If you have irritable bowel syndrome (or have been told you have it), I suggest you try cutting out sugar alcohols. You will know within two days or so whether that was the cause of the problem.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

New Cancer Therapy with Particle Beam Flashes goes to Trial

Flash proton therapy is a new cancer treatment that’s just out of the laboratory and now being tested on patients in the first trials. In this video I explain how it works and why it is so promising.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

This New Nuclear Battery Could Soon Go on the Market

A Chinese company has announced they’re planning to mass-produce tiny nuclear batteries that can last up to 50 years, possibly beating both a British and an American company who have tried to put those on the market for several years. What does that mean? Will we soon all power our phones with nuclear power? Let’s have a look.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Our Universe Will Probably Not Rip Apart, Phew!

The Dark Energy Survey has surveyed dark energy and found that our universe is unlikely to rip into pieces. I think that’s good news for the cosmos. Let’s have a look.

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Can Quantum Fluctuations Create a New Universe?

Quantum fluctuations happen everywhere, all the time, and in principle they can become arbitrarily large. So if we wait long enough at the end of the universe, brains can spontaneously assemble. Those are the so-called "Boltzmann Brains". And eventually, even an entire universe might be born. Seriously? Well, it depends on exactly how the laws of nature work.

Saturday, January 13, 2024

New Computer Will Mimic Human Brain -- And I'm Kinda Scared

A lab in Australia is building a new supercomputer that will for the first time both physically resemble a human brain, and perform as many operations as possible, about 228 trillion per second. It will be the biggest neuromorphic computer ever and the scary bit is how few operations this are. Yes, how few. Let me explain.

Friday, January 12, 2024

A Runaway Greenhouse Effect is Very Unlikely on Earth

When I was just about to log off for the holiday break, I saw these headlines popping up, saying that it doesn’t take much to turn Earth into Venus with a runaway greenhouse effect which would, quote, literally boil earth alive. I thought it’d be best to ignore this. But then I saw that some people on social media got first worried about it, and then confused because no one was addressing this. So I decided to, well, you know, give you all the boring context because that’s what I do. And here we go.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

It looks like AI will kill Quantum Computing

Yann LeCun, the AI chief of Meta, has a surprisingly sane attitude to quantum computing. This deserves celebration and also investigation because he’s making a very good point.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Space debris could start conducting electricity, disturb electric field

We’ve heard that space debris is bad and the problem’s getting worse, but here’s a new thing to worry about. It could interfere with the earth’s magnetic field, which is our major protection from the highly energetic particles of the solar wind.

Tuesday, January 09, 2024

This new semiconductor could revolutionize computing

Researchers at the Georgia Institute for Technology have found a new semiconductor that’s a really good candidate for making computers faster and smaller than ever. Amazingly enough, it works by combining graphene with silicon carbide, to give a material with a sensible band gap that still has a high thermal conductivity.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Solar arrays better than trees for climate, study says

What is better, planting trees or covering the same area of land with solar panels? A group of geoscientists from Israel just looked at this, and they say that solar panels come out way ahead. Let's have a look at what the paper says.

Sunday, January 07, 2024

Will the world end? A physicist's reply

How do we know that the laws of nature will continue to do what they have been doing so far? We don't. It's called the "Problem of Induction" and means that ultimately science is also based on faith, faith that the laws of nature will not fail us tomorrow. So, well, enjoy the world while it lasts.

They predicted a Nobel prize-winning discovery. And no one cared.

Imagine you make a prediction for a discovery that wins the Nobel Prize. Your prediction turns out to be correct, and no one cares. This is what happened to these two physicists who correctly predicted the mass of Higgs-Boson with a theory that is no less than one of the most promising candidates for quantum gravity.

This video comes with a quiz which you can take here.