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Astronomers Deal Blow To Quantum Theories Of Time, Space, Gravity
Space Daily ^ | Huntsville - Mar 28, 2003 | Editorial Staff

Posted on 03/28/2003 5:49:29 PM PST by vannrox

Astronomers Deal Blow To Quantum Theories Of Time, Space, Gravity



Huntsville - Mar 28, 2003

For the second time in as many months, images gathered by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) are raising questions about the structures of time and gravity, and the fabric of space.Using two HST images, astronomers from Italy and Germany looked for but did not find evidence supporting a prevailing scientific theory that says time, space and gravity are composed of tiny quantum bits.

Using existing theories, the team led by Dr. Roberto Ragazzoni from the Astrophysical Observatory of Arcetri, Italy, and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, calculated that infinitesimally small quantum-scale variations in space time would blur images of galaxies seen from vast distances across the universe.

Instead, when they looked at both diffraction patterns from a supernova and the raw image of a second galaxy more than five billion light years from Earth, they saw images much sharper than should be possible if quantum-scale phenomenon operated as previously supposed. Their research is scheduled to be published in the April 10, 2003, edition of Astrophysical Research - Letters.

"The basic idea is that space time should fluctuate," said Ragazzoni. "If you are looking at light from a huge distance, this light passing through space time would be subject to this fluctuation in space time. They should give a distorted image of the far universe, like a blurring.

"But you don't see a universe that is blurred. If you take any Hubble Space Telescope deep field image you see sharp images, which is enough to tell us that the light has not been distorted or perturbed by fluctuations in space time from the source to the observer. This observation is enough to rule out this effect on the quantum scale.

"You can say," said Ragazzoni, "that this measurement constrains the quantum gravity theory to certain parameters."

This report comes a month after physicists at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) announced their unsuccessful attempt to use an image from an HST interferometer to find evidence of Planck-scale effects. Taken together, the independent research findings might force physicists to reexamine the scientific underpinnings of the quantum theories of gravity, time and space.

To look for the quantum blurring effect the European team used a parameter from optics, the Strehl ratio, to calculate how sharply the telescope should be able to resolve an image of the distant light source and its first Airy ring - a signature of the interference of the rays of light entering a telescope.

If the popular quantum theories were correct, space-time effects should blur light from distant sources beyond the telescope's ability to resolve them.

They didn't.

"Without a theory to describe this, I think it's hard not to agree that it is time to start to consider theories that do not require this Planck scale, at least not like it is now," said Ragazzoni. "From an experimental point of view, there is no establishment. We are proud to have established in as rigorous a manner as possible the parameters of this quantum effect."

The Planck-scale quantum theories of time, space and gravity were derived from attempts to calculate the theoretical limits to electromagnetic energy, according to a UAH physicist, Dr. Richard Lieu.

By inverting Albert Einstein's theory of relativity (E=mc2 becomes m=E/c2), physicists could calculate how much mass should be added to a photon as it gains energy. Using that, they calculated a theoretical limit to how much energy a photon might contain before gaining so much mass it would collapse into a photon-sized black hole.

That theoretical upper limit was then used to set theoretical limits on time. One cycle of a photon carrying that much energy would last 5 x 10-44 seconds, an interval called Planck time. As the shortest potentially-measurable interval of time, theorists speculated that time moves is Planck time-sized quantum bits.

In his theory of general relativity, Einstein theorized that time, space and gravity are different manifestations of the same phenomenon, much as light and thunder are signatures of the electrical discharge in lightning. If time is made up of quantum bits, that would also mean space and gravity should also be composed of quantum units.

Since the expected blurring "signature" of quantum space time isn't seen, however, it might mean that time isn't made of quantum bits, and neither are space or gravity.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: cosmology; crevolist; knowledge; nasa; physics; realscience; science; space; stringtheory; technology; universe
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To: old3030
Eunuchs run unix.

God runs MVS!!!
41 posted on 03/28/2003 6:46:17 PM PST by djf
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To: old3030
12 billion years without a reboot.

But come to think of it, the last reboot was a lulu.

42 posted on 03/28/2003 6:46:28 PM PST by js1138
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To: vannrox
Time to dust off my old college paper on the long range stabilization of interstellar vacuum fluctuations by cooperative macroscopic effects of virtual rotating wormholes. Maybe they'll pass it now.
43 posted on 03/28/2003 6:46:31 PM PST by MilleniumBug
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To: friendly
The history of science demonstrates the hubris, however, in assuming that our models are absolute.

I know, really. Next they're going to be telling us that hubris is made up of something called hubrons.

44 posted on 03/28/2003 6:49:13 PM PST by inquest
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To: vannrox
How will this affect "StarTrek" ? Can we still go Warp?
45 posted on 03/28/2003 6:50:43 PM PST by bluecollarman
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To: js1138
How can we be sure? Perhaps the universe requires frequent restarts, but since it gets recalled from a backup each time, we don't remember it.
46 posted on 03/28/2003 6:50:46 PM PST by Dimensio
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To: MilleniumBug
This is just the point I've been trying to make for a long time...
47 posted on 03/28/2003 6:51:28 PM PST by JusPasenThru (Eliminate the ninnies and the twits...)
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To: Dimensio
There's a movie in that somewhere.
48 posted on 03/28/2003 6:52:25 PM PST by js1138
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To: vannrox
rats! Now they'll have to make up a whole new confusing set of erroneous terms!
49 posted on 03/28/2003 6:52:41 PM PST by ALS
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To: MilleniumBug
We need a new paradigm. Einstein was demonstrably wrong about a couple of things. After he perfected Special, he came out with the general theory. Some mathematician saw it and decided to work out the general theory with 4 space dimensions and one time dimension. He played around with the equations he generated and POOF!. Out popped Maxwells field theories.
Then, Bell came along and proved quantum logic correct, which trashed EPR and locality. Whatever is happening, we might not be able to put it into numbers... etc
50 posted on 03/28/2003 6:55:38 PM PST by djf
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To: irishtenor
I'm partial to Earth, Air, ...and firewater.
51 posted on 03/28/2003 6:59:38 PM PST by MainFrame65
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To: js1138
There's a movie in that somewhere.

At least a couple. Also check out Permutation City by Greg Egan.

52 posted on 03/28/2003 7:00:01 PM PST by ThinkDifferent
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To: freedom9
Time is nothing more than measurement relative to observation.

You are incorrect. Time is a necessary component of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. Our attempts to measure time are arbitrary, as a "second" is no more a universal constant than is a meter. But the flow of time is a consequence of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, as entropy would have no meaning if time was a human "invention" or simple product of human observation.

Second, the motion of any body within a uniform gravitational field can be best described as that path that takes the longest proper time, or, from another perspective, an object in a gravitational field always moves from one place to another so that a clock carried on it gives a longer time than it would on any other possible trajectory. So regardless of any units you use to measure it, time does have a real existance outside of observation, because it directly effects the behavior of systems without any observation necessary (the planets falling towards an unknown sun behave differently than an object in the Earth's gravitational field, regardless of whether anyone "measures" anything.

Your declaration might have been true if time was a constant, but, like all physical quantities, it is variable. Electricity is not simply a "measurement," even though the units we use to measure electricity are arbitrary and our measurements usually are only of a difference in electrical potential (just like time is measured in differences). Read up on space-time theory and relativity theory and you will see that you are quite mistaken. Time is a quality all its own...

53 posted on 03/28/2003 7:13:02 PM PST by Charles H. (The_r0nin) (See, all those years of Anglo-Saxon and Old Icelandic paid off...)
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To: EternalHope; aristeides; vannrox
Wasn't Einstein very unhappy with quantum theory?

God does not play dice with the universe.

- Albert Einstein

Since Einstein was instrumental in developing the quantum theory, as an explanation of certain photo-eletric effects, I do not think he objected to it. The remark quoted was in reference to the Copenhagen interpretation of the uncertainty principle of Heisenberg, I believe.

Hank

54 posted on 03/28/2003 7:15:22 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: vannrox
Time is caused by the fact that things don't all happen at once. Space is caused by the fact that some things are over here, and other things are over there. These scientists who insist on making things complicated just kill me.
55 posted on 03/28/2003 7:24:17 PM PST by Arthur McGowan
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To: vannrox
As someone with a Master's in Physics, all I can say is...

KA-BOOM!

The conclusion, if true, is going to cause decades of dogma to be tossed out the window.
56 posted on 03/28/2003 7:25:51 PM PST by Windcatcher ("So what did Doug use?" "He used...sarcasm!")
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To: Arthur McGowan; vannrox
Time is caused by the fact that things don't all happen at once. Space is caused by the fact that some things are over here, and other things are over there. These scientists who insist on making things complicated just kill me.

That's right. And the relativity of time works like this: the rate of time is in inverse proportion (slower) to how much you hate what you are doing (sitting in the doctor's office waiting room) and in direct proportion (faster) to how much you love what you are doing (snuggling with your honey).

Now that we have space and time worked out, solving the problems of politics and economics should be a snap.

Hank

57 posted on 03/28/2003 7:34:45 PM PST by Hank Kerchief
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To: Charles H. (The_r0nin); Physicist
Is it appropriate for me to offer again my theory of dimensions having variable expressions, as in Time has past, present, and future, and space has expressions linear, planar, and volumetric?... I better not, I should just stay on the porch and await Physicist's explanation.
58 posted on 03/28/2003 7:36:04 PM PST by MHGinTN (If you can read this, you've had life support from someone. Promote Life Support for others.)
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To: RightWhale
The basic idea is that space time should fluctuate

It's like I told my procrastinating wife, "What the fluctuating for?"
59 posted on 03/28/2003 7:37:59 PM PST by gcruse (If they truly are God's laws, he can enforce them himself.)
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To: patton
I was just thinking about this the other day too!....Just before COPS came on
60 posted on 03/28/2003 7:40:49 PM PST by paul51
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