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Old Sep 19th 2013, 05:53 PM
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Default A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics



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Physicists have discovered a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality.

“This is completely new and very much simpler than anything that has been done before,” said Andrew Hodges, a mathematical physicist at Oxford University who has been following the work.

The revelation that particle interactions, the most basic events in nature, may be consequences of geometry significantly advances a decades-long effort to reformulate quantum field theory, the body of laws describing elementary particles and their interactions. Interactions that were previously calculated with mathematical formulas thousands of terms long can now be described by computing the volume of the corresponding jewel-like “amplituhedron,” which yields an equivalent one-term expression.

“The degree of efficiency is mind-boggling,” said Jacob Bourjaily, a theoretical physicist at Harvard University and one of the researchers who developed the new idea. “You can easily do, on paper, computations that were infeasible even with a computer before.”

The new geometric version of quantum field theory could also facilitate the search for a theory of quantum gravity that would seamlessly connect the large- and small-scale pictures of the universe. Attempts thus far to incorporate gravity into the laws of physics at the quantum scale have run up against nonsensical infinities and deep paradoxes. The amplituhedron, or a similar geometric object, could help by removing two deeply rooted principles of physics: locality and unitarity.
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Interesting development.... I think!
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Old Sep 19th 2013, 08:51 PM
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Default Re: A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics

Wow. This is big.

In the first place it's big in mathematics because it simplifies calculations in quantum theory by an enormous factor. A calculation that couldn't be done with all the processing power of the planet in centuries (no exaggeration) can now be done with a cluster of ordinary computers in no time. That's a guaranteed Field Medal to begin with.

But it could also be big big. That is, it has the potential to evaporate the decades old and ever frustrating collision between gravity and simply spoken everything else. Though a bit of restraint is in order here as string theory also started out with this promise. Yet it already seems a better candidate because of its simplicity. Unlike string theory it won't take decades to figure out whether it's the real thing or not.

The philosophical implications are fun too. Basically -under the assumption the breakthrough will be validated- it says that geometry is all there exists. Silly things like space, time, spacetime, locality, particles, matter,... do not.
A bit of work to do here for the philosophers
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Old Sep 19th 2013, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics

Hoo boy. I would like to know what "discovered" means, however.
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Old Sep 19th 2013, 09:12 PM
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Default Re: A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics

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Hoo boy. I would like to know what "discovered" means, however.
Enjoy

Somewhat shorter version : Let's just say it's not something you stumble upon by accident.
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Old Sep 19th 2013, 09:48 PM
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Default Re: A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics

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Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
Enjoy

Somewhat shorter version : Let's just say it's not something you stumble upon by accident.
Blargity blarg.

I still haven't read the whole of the article Michael posted. Would like to have my brain not fogged by sleepyness and sickness.
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Old Sep 20th 2013, 11:40 PM
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Default Re: A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics

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Originally Posted by Donkey View Post
Blargity blarg.

I still haven't read the whole of the article Michael posted. Would like to have my brain not fogged by sleepyness and sickness.
It's a good article. Usually articles about science are either dumbed down so far they're completely wrong or it's obvious after two paragraphs that the writer doesn't have a clue what (s)he's talking about but this one does neither.
I didn't expect anyone (including myself) to read the paper I linked too but it does give a good idea of just how advanced this kind of research is.
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