Is the physical universe independent from us, or is it created by our minds, as suggested by scientist Robert Lanza?
- A new study claims networks of observers are responsible for determining physical reality.
- The scientists propose that observers generate the structures of time and space.
- The paper could help yield insights into the God Equation, which attempts to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity.
Is there physical reality that is independent of us? Does objective reality exist at all? Or is the structure of everything, including time and space, created by the perceptions of those observing it? Such is the groundbreaking assertion of a new paper published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics.
The paper's authors include Robert Lanza, a stem cell and regenerative medicine expert, famous for the theory of biocentrism, which argues that consciousness is the driving force for the existence of the universe. He believes that the physical world that we perceive is not something that's separate from us but rather created by our minds as we observe it. According to his biocentric view, space and time are a byproduct of the "whirl of information" in our head that is weaved together by our mind into a coherent experience.
His new paper, co-authored by Dmitriy Podolskiy and Andrei Barvinsky, theorists in quantum gravity and quantum cosmology, shows how observers influence the structure of our reality.
According to Lanza and his colleagues, observers can dramatically affect "the behavior of observable quantities" both at microscopic and massive spatiotemporal scales. In fact, a "profound shift in our ordinary everyday worldview" is necessary, wrote Lanza in an interview with Big Think. The world is not something that is formed outside of us, simply existing on its own. "Observers ultimately define the structure of physical reality itself," he stated.
How can observers create reality?
How does this work? Lanza contends that a network of observers is necessary and is "inherent to the structure of reality." As he explains, observers — you, me, and anyone else — live in a quantum gravitational universe and come up with "a globally agreed-upon cognitive model" of reality by exchanging information about the properties of spacetime. "For, once you measure something," Lanza writes, "the wave of probability to measure the same value of the already probed physical quantity becomes 'localized' or simply 'collapses.'" That's how reality comes to be consistently real to us all. Once you keep measuring a quantity over and over, knowing the result of the first measurement, you will see the outcome to be the same.
"Similarly, if you learn from somebody about the outcomes of their measurements of a physical quantity, your measurements and those of other observers influence each other ‒ freezing the reality according to that consensus," added Lanza, explaining further that "a consensus of different opinions regarding the structure of reality defines its very form, shaping the underlying quantum foam," explained Lanza.
In quantum terms, an observer influences reality through decoherence, which provides the framework for collapsing waves of probability, "largely localized in the vicinity of the cognitive model which the observer builds in their mind throughout their lifespan," he added.
Lanza says, "The observer is the first cause, the vital force that collapses not only the present, but the cascade of spatiotemporal events we call the past. Stephen Hawking was right when he said: 'The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.'"
Could the universe be a simulation?
Could an artificially intelligent entity without consciousness be dreaming up our world? Lanza believes biology plays an important role, as he explains in his book The Grand Biocentric Design: How Life Creates Reality, which he co-authored with the physicist Matej Pavsic.
While a bot could conceivably be an observer, Lanza thinks a conscious living entity with the capacity for memory is necessary to establish the arrow of time. "'A brainless' observer does not experience time and/or decoherence with any degree of freedom," writes Lanza. This leads to the cause and effect relationships we can notice around us. Lanza thinks that "we can only say for sure that a conscious observer does indeed collapse a quantum wave function."
The God Equation
As Robert Lanza also wrote to Big Think, another key aspect of their work is that it resolves "the exasperating incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity," which was a sticking point even for Albert Einstein. (See the video below of Michio Kaku explaining the incompatibility and his proposal, string theory, to unite the two theories.)
Physics' greatest mystery: Michio Kaku explains the God Equation | Big Think www.youtube.com
The seeming incongruity of these two explanations of our physical world — with quantum mechanics looking at the molecular and subatomic levels and general relativity at the interactions between massive cosmic structures like galaxies and black holes — disappears once the properties of observers are taken into account.
While this all may sound speculative, Lanza says their ideas are being tested using Monte Carlo simulations on powerful MIT computer clusters and will soon be tested experimentally.
Results from an experiment using the Large Hadron Collider challenges the accepted model of physics.
- Researchers working on the Large Hadron Collider experiments obtained unusual results.
- The data suggests possible existence of new particles or interactions.
- The findings aren't accounted for by the Standard Model of particle physics.
Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider discovered new particles whose unusual behavior doesn't conform to the Standard Model of particle physics. The find may indicate the existence of entirely new particles or interactions and can result in new physics being formulated.
The Standard Model of particle physics, our best current theory, says that particles known as "beauty quarks" or "B mesons" should decay equally into muons or electrons. However, measurements from a new experiment on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest scientific instrument and its most powerful particle accelerator based at the CERN lab on the Franco-Swiss border, show that is not taking place. B mesons decaying in the LHC produced more electrons and less muons than the theory predicted. These measurements may mean that new, yet-to-be-detected particles are contributing to the imbalance.
The research, carried out by physicists from Imperial College London and the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge, was part of the LHCb experiment, one of the four particle detectors at the Large Hadron Collider.
One of the study's co-authors, Dr. Mitesh Patel from Imperial College, explained the significance of their achievement:
"We were actually shaking when we first looked at the results, we were that excited," shared Patel in a press release. "Our hearts did beat a bit faster. It's too early to say if this genuinely is a deviation from the Standard Model but the potential implications are such that these results are the most exciting thing I've done in 20 years in the field. It has been a long journey to get here."
The LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.
Imperial College Ph.D. student Daniel Moise, who was involved in the study, thinks the findings can lead to new discoveries:
"The result offers an intriguing hint of a new fundamental particle or force that interacts in a way that the particles currently known to science do not," said Moise. "If this is confirmed by further measurements, it will have a profound impact on our understanding of nature at the most fundamental level."
The scientists are looking next to verify their results in follow-up experiments.
This is not the only discrepancy with the Standard Model that physicists have uncovered. The nature of dark matter and the unequal distribution of matter and antimatter in the Universe have also been thrown wrenches into most accepted physics ideas.
Check out the new paper "Test of lepton universality in beauty-quark decays" published as a preprint.
Researchers discover black holes that violate the uniqueness theorem and have "gravitational hair."
- Scientists discover that some extreme black holes may violate the "no hair" theorem.
- These black holes feature properties outside of the three classical black hole traits of mass, spin, and charge.
- The researchers ran sophisticated simulations to discover these space oddities.
Black holes are wonderfully weird, sparking the imagination with the many mysteries surrounding their formation and functions in our universe. Now scientists found a new kind of extreme black hole, one that breaks the so-called "ho hair" theorem. In other words, this black hole has "hair."
The idea of the "no hair" or "black hole uniqueness" theorem was encapsulated by the American theoretical physicist John Wheeler who claimed: "Black holes have no hair." What he meant is that black hole solutions to Einstein's field equations of general relativity can be completely characterized by only three physical quantities: mass, spin, and charge. There aren't supposed to be any other "hairy" traits that can make one black hole different from another. Black holes with the same mass, spin, and charge should be identical, explains the press release from Theiss Research, which was behind the new discovery.
The team involved Dr. Lior Burko of Theiss Research, Professor Gaurav Khanna of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the University of Rhode Island, as well as his former student Dr. Subir Sabharwal.
They found there's an extremal black hole that may violate the "no hair" theorem. This type of black hole is "saturated" with the maximum charge or spin it can potentially carry. The researchers discovered that there exists a conserved quantity or property that can be constructed from the spacetime curvature at such a black hole's horizon. It may be measurable from Earth by gravitational wave observatories like LIGO and LISA. Since this property is dependent on how the black hole was formed, it breaks the black hole uniqueness theorem and is considered "gravitational hair."
"This new result is surprising because the black hole uniqueness theorems are well established, and in particular their extension to extreme black holes," shared Dr. Burko. "There has to be an assumption of the theorems that is not satisfied, to explain how the theorems do not apply in this case."
The mind-blowing science of black holes | Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, Michelle Thaller & more
For their findings, the researchers employed elaborate numerical simulations running on dozens of the top Nvidia graphics-processing-units (GPUs) that had over 5,000 cores each, working in parallel. "Each of these GPUs can perform as many as 7 trillion calculations per second; however, even with such computational capacity the simulations look [sic] many weeks to complete," shared Khanna.
Another type of black hole "hair" was proposed by Stephen Hawking who predicted that quantum particles would leak out of black holes, in a phenomenon dubbed "Hawking radiation." This claim was possibly proven correct by a 2020 study that found evidence of "quantum fuzz" and gravitational wave "echoes" beyond black hole event horizons.
Check out the new study published in Physical Review D.
Gravitational wave researchers observe black holes of different sizes colliding for the first time.
- Gravitational wave researchers at LIGO and Virgo observatories spot black holes of different sizes colliding.
- The finding is unusual because previous black hole mergers involved partners of similar size.
- The new information re-confirms Einstein's theory of relativity.
Gravitational wave researchers discovered a very unusual merger of black holes 2.4 billion light-years away. They spotted a collision where one black hole was almost four times larger than another, expanding our understanding of such space cataclysms with help from Einstein (and even Elvis).
All mergers detected previously involved partners of comparable sizes. The event detected on April 12th, 2019 was called "exceptional" by Maya Fishbach, an astrophysicist at the University of Chicago in Illinois. What she and her colleagues found proves that very unevenly matched black hole pairs exist. "This is the first event in which we can confidently say the mass-ratio is not one," she stated during an online meeting of the American Physical Society.
The research was carried out in collaboration between the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) — twin detectors in Washington and Louisiana — as well as the Virgo observatory near Pisa, Italy. They both detected the merger. One of the black holes observed was 30 times more massive than the sun and was spinning, said the scientists, while the other had a mass about eight times that of the sun.
In an amusing note, the scientists say that the very different masses created gravitational waves at multiple frequencies, which were actually in harmony with an Elvis Presley song. This cosmic music also confirms yet again Einstein's theory of general relativity.
Normally, two spiraling black holes of the same size would emit a single frequency, which would be double the rate at which they are orbiting one another, explains Science Magazine. In this case, as predicted by Einstein, the very different masses, also produce overtones - weaker waves at higher frequencies. And if you were to transpose these frequencies to piano notes and intervals, you would get the beginning of Presley's classic "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You."
The scientists hope that this uniqueness of the detected event could help provide more information about how black holes form. Of special interest is how the variation in mass could have arisen. Under one scenario, the pair could be the result of two massive stars who were orbiting each other, collapsing into black holes. Under another theory, the black holes could have formed independently and found each other in dense star clusters.
You can read more of the new findings on the arXiv preprint server.
An Oxford scientist's controversial theory rethinks dark matter and dark energy.
- An astrophysicist and cosmologist Dr. Farnes published a paper while at Oxford University with a novel explanation for dark energy and dark matter.
- His theory claims to explain the missing 95% of the observable universe by the existence of "dark fluid".
- This fluid has negative mass, repelling other materials.
While it seems we are making great strides in unlocking the mysteries of the Universe, there is a sizable hole in what we know – up to 95% of the cosmos appears to be missing. We are talking about dark matter and dark energy, two useful, groundbreaking, but yet-to-be-directly-observed explanations for the vast majority of what exists. While there have been various attempts to pin down these ideas, inferred from their gravitational effects, a recent theory from a University of Oxford scientist claims to do away with them entirely. Instead, his model proposes something which may be even more unusual – what if the Universe is actually filled with a "dark fluid" possessing "negative mass"?
Dark matter takes up 27% of the known Universe (per NASA), while dark energy, a repulsive force that makes the Universe expand, gets 68%. Only 5% of the Universe is the observable world, including us and our planet. According to the model, proposed by Dr. Jamie Farnes, both dark matter and dark energy are unified in a fluid which has "negative gravity". It repels all other material away.
"Although this matter is peculiar to us, it suggests that our cosmos is symmetrical in both positive and negative qualities," wrote Farnes, astrophysicist, cosmologist and data scientist who worked at Oxford at the time of publishing his paper, and has since moved on to Faculty, a leading AI company.
Negative matter was previously discredited because it was concluded that such a material would become less dense with the further expansion of the Universe. Yet that's not how dark energy seems to be, with research showing it would not thin out over time. The study by Dr. Farnes proposes there's a "creation tensor" that would allow for negative masses to be continuously created and not become diluted, behaving "exactly like dark energy, as the cosmologist explains.
Dr. Farnes sees his work to be building on Albert Einstein's, who in 1917 discovered the cosmological constant, which became associated with dark energy in modern research.
"Previous approaches to combining dark energy and dark matter have attempted to modify Einstein's theory of general relativity, which has turned out to be incredibly challenging," said Dr. Farnes, adding "This new approach takes two old ideas that are known to be compatible with Einstein's theory—negative masses and matter creation—and combines them together."
Check out the dark matter halo simulation created by Dr. Farnes:
This computer simulation is based on the properties of negative mass, predicting the formation of dark matter halos like those inferred by observations via radio telescopes.
Testing the theory by Dr. Farnes will fall to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the world's largest telescope to be built in Australia and South Africa between 2020 and 2025. This international radio telescope project would have an area of one square kilometer and be 50 times more sensitive than any other radio instrument in existence.
Since Farnes's theory is speculative at this point, the scientific community has been split in its reviews of his work.
Physicist Krzysztof Bolejko from the University of Tasmania in Australia, said: "Farnes' maths is fine", and that he believes "Inside cosmic voids the signal will be clearer and so it will be easier to distinguish between processes caused by dark energy and those caused by a constantly created matter with negative mass".
Alex Murphy, Professor of Nuclear & Particle Astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh, conceded that Farnes's discoveries had an elegance and that "It's one of many efforts trying to provide answers to deeply troubling issues with our understanding of the contents of the universe. It's just possible that an idea like this might provide the breakthrough that's needed".
However, others were more critical with Sabine Hossenfelder from the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, noting that: "negative masses have not revolutionized cosmology" while "Farnes in his paper instead wants negative gravitational masses to mutually repel each other. But general relativity won't let you do this". She also took issue with the "creation tensor," stating "A creation term is basically a magic fix by which you can explain everything and anything".
Further tests will show whether the theory holds, but in the meantime you can read Dr. Farnes's paper yourself in Astronomy and Astrophysics.