Sunday 29 November 2020

Information Paradox and Black Holes

Are black holes sexy? No, of course not, that would be simply silly and the raging of a man teetering on the edge (nay cusp) of (in )sanity: mayhap with erotic tendencies. So, no more will be said on this aspect of black holes.

In the 1970s Stephen Hawking showed that black holes leaked thermal radiation (Hawking radiation). This was a puzzle in itself as black holes are notoriously reluctant to return what it hath consumed. But there lurks an even greater problem that could shake the fundamentals of physics to its very core causing this noble science to totter, nay topple, into the chasm of inconsistency and doom.

Tis a fundamental tenet of physics that information in the form of energy and mass cannot be destroyed. Mass can be converted into an equivalent amount of energy and, in theory at least, energy can be become mass, albeit under strange and wonderful conditions as described by mathematics. This is the simple expression of Einstein's famous equation: E=MC2. Also, the informational characteristics of particles cannot be lost. Particles possess a set of physical characteristics i.e. spin, position, parity, charge etc. This is the distinct ‘finger print’ of every particle in the universe. In theory, if every characteristic of every particle in the universe could be known (PhD thesis, perhaps?) then it would be possible to describe the universe, to the most intimate and minute level.

Hawking radiation causes energy and hence mass to be slowly lost from black holes and eventually, after vast eons of time, the black hole will evaporate and be no more. At first sight this is not a problem as it seems that whatever goes in eventually returns to the universal fold. But this is not the case. The relentless loss of thermal radiation, over time, is devoid of information. In simple terms if you throw a ferret (might be Shagger) into a black hole the information contained therein should be retrievable and the ferret (perhaps Shagger) reconstructable. However, as the black hole, very slowly diminishes over time, the information supposedly contained therein emerges not at all. This causes a very worrying paradox as the loss of information is in violation of axiomatic laws of physics. Does this deviation from nature indicate that, physics as we know, is broken or is there a possible explanation using known physical laws? Shagger needs to know.

  Clever theoretical physicists have come up with a number of hypotheses to explain this        apparent contradiction. The other approach, rewriting physics and rebuilding a stout              edifice anew has not proved popular. I’ll outline a couple of possibilities, here, albeit very    briefly. In fact, I will list just five explanations; there are numerous others. I will not           comment to regard the various merits/demerits of each proposal. For one, I don't have the     space and secondly I don't have the relevant expertise. As always with highly technical     subjects, I strongly suggest you seek additional information, from experts in the field. True   wisdom is but a Google search away....

  • The information passes into another universe where it is retained but inaccessible
  • Maybe blacks holes don't disappear altogether and a remnant exists until the universe disappears. In this scenario, all information remains plastered to what remains, and unlike the black hole, the paradox, just disappears
  • Another hypothesis suggests that information is regurgitated toward the very end of black holes' life
  • Perhaps the information slowly leaks out with the Hawking radiation, but we haven't noticed   
  • The information just 'vanishes'- deconstructs all known physical laws     

 What all the solutions have in common is that they are all mathematical constructs. Now,   physics is essentially an empirical science- this is an obvious truism, as all sciences, by   definition, are empirical and science cannot live by mathematics alone. Mathematics is not   science and at its core it is a notational kin of logic. While it can bolster and add credence   to scientific theoretical postulates it can never prove that postulate. For scientific proof,   empirical knowledge is required. In other words, practical data must be obtained and this   implies that physical measurement, of some sort, occurs. And in this respect we have a   problem. Not only do we not have the relevant data concerning black holes, we also have   no way of remedying the situation. Deep thought will ultimately not do. Theoretical   physicists do grand work in providing hypotheses and ideas but 'proof'' can only occur   when they pass on the fruits of their intellectual labour to their more practical physicist   brethren. 

Recently, there has been a flurry of interest concerning a new paper purporting to have  resolved the problem (?resolved-check here for informed commentary). No such thing. This  paper, although very interesting, just adds one more possible solution to an already  lengthy list of theoretical solutions. What we can state with certainty: either one of the  proposed solutions is the correct one or, none are correct. Mayhap the solution has not been thought up as yet? What we don't possess is the capability to choose between these 'answers' and discern a real solution. We are awash in a sea of ideas but these is no firm empirical land to dry our data bereft shoes (Flaxen waxing, bollocks). Thus, we have no hard data to help us distinguish  between the numerous theoretical models that have been proposed.

The real problem is that we are unable to access data to solve this problem. An issue that is unlikely to be reversed and without data the paradox is essentially unsolvable. What do my readers think? Am I being unduly pessimistic? Or is my hard headed empirical approach entirely valid? Let me know in the comments. Perhaps we can stir up a lively debate?

                                          Shagger and his own black hole

Sunday 22 November 2020

Tis Flaxen in his role of Agony Uncle

I have decided to try my hand at this ‘agony aunt’ thingy. It can’t be too hard, can it? I’m a wise old scrote who has experienced the cup of life to the full. Little has been denied to me in my hard, rollicking, roller coast ride of existence. Thusly, I think I’m fully qualified (I have a grade 4 CSE in wood work & grade 5 in Technical Drawing) to dispense my perspicacity with veritable verve and insouciance (nay torpor). Let us proceed without visible restraint. Or in other words: Flaxen Saxon writing complete and unmitigated, bollocks (as is my wont).


A reader writes……..


Dear Flaxen Saxon, I have a teensy whitsie issue with my next door neighbour (tis Mr Lighthouse Mugumbo). Over the garden fence, one day, we discussed, theological issues, akimbo, which have brought forth ire and hysterical dissent. Anyway, my neighbour is of the opinion that Jesus was born of woman and therefore mortal, but also partakes of the divinity of God. Jesus, whilst on earth, was fully human and only reverted to divinity once he was transported to heaven where his essence merged with God’s essence and the essence of the Holy Ghost to become One Godhead. I do not agree, according to my mind, Jesus’ entity and essence was always fully divine. His human, mortal guise was a pretense and his appearance merely mimicked that of a living, breathing man. His apparent mortality was a fa├žade; an apparition; a phantasm and a trick of the light.


Flaxen responds with aplomb.


The question of Jesus’s nature, although controversial during the first 3 centuries, after our Lord’s ascension, was finally settled at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. Your manifest and steadfast viewpoint is in accord with the Nicene Creed, fully ratified at the council of Trent, in the 16th century. Therefore your neighbour’s conception, perception and deception of Jesus’s full nature is heretical and consequently, therefore, your neighbour descends into the abyss that is apostasy. Of all the sins, the sin of heresy is the most heinous. The sin of heresy sins against the God’s majesty and is a direct challenge, and grave affront, to his divine dominion; incendiary redress is demanded, forthwith!


So how are we to deal with your neighbour and his grave and cardinal sin? There are those, no doubt moved by pity and false compassion, who would countenance any means possible to mitigate the sin. Renouncing heterodoxy will not do on this occasion. Through their willful attentiveness and their willingness to appease they also descend into grave heresy, themselves. Do not vex your Lord, for his wrath is like your winky being gnawed upon, and consumed, by a divine host of ferrets- consisting of Shagger and his rather large, extended family of Muscidae. 


Regardless of misguided sympathies, the only true way of dealing with a heretic after committing the unpardonable, is a swift and severe burning. Forget the ‘light singeing’ option beloved by our less committed brethren. Compassion, in regard to heresy, is also a graven/craven heresy in itself.


You must gather a gaggle of stout, stalwart yeoman (and a couple of ferrets, Shagger included), collect faggots (not the winky up da bum kind, Arse) and wend to your neighbour’s domicile. You must bind your neighbour’s wrist with sisal and soon thereafter, administer a sound scourging with a yew rod flecked with slivers of iron. Thereafter, place a stave unto the ground and hammer until firm and non-compliant and waverth not in a stout bluster, intermittent or otherwise. The heretic must be soundly swaddled with strong hemp. If the heretic screams for quarter, the tongue must be binded, otherwise the occasional passersby may be discombobulated by the discordant and disconsolate vocalisation.


Liberally apply tallow and pitch to the heretical wretch with a lavering stick. Apply lard, spare no crook or rugosity. Ensure that the genital area, which is the source of all sin, is well anointed with camphor. Place the flaming brand unto the base of the brushwood. Allow the flames to consume the heretic. The ensuring cries from the sinful sinner (tautology, no less) should be seen as a song, foreboding and alluding to the eternity of hell, where the flames quencheth, not at all.


Once consumed by the cleansing inferno (hand of God?), remove the charred remains and cast unto the local midden pit 

(32A Cherry Street) to be scarfed by the local hounds and swine. 

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter” (Mark 3:28), but then He gives one exception: “Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin” (verse 29).


I hope this instruction/injunction helps. Now, go forth and free the heretic’s soul from this life and let Shagger and his heavenly host do their worst. Arse


Yours sincerely,

Flaxen Saxon

                               Saint Shagger contemplating gnawing orf a heretic's twinkle


Thursday 19 November 2020

Bloody Photons and the Passage of Time


Photons don't experience the passage of time or distance: discuss

Occasionally, I will introduce a topic or piece of random knowledge to this blog that requires a modicum of deep thought and contemplation. Mayhap a profound contradiction will be discussed or a puzzling aspect of our existence, put forth. These are the sort of problems I wrestle with long into the night. They keep me awake and lead me to ponder this world with excruciating pangs of wonder. The ticking of the beside clock insinuates and reminds, that, for my existence, time, if it exists, is very much a finite quality/quantity. This is one of those occasions.

Since Einstein we have come to appreciate that time and space are irrevocably intertwined and relative to the observer. The full ramifications of the theories of special and general relativity can be difficult for us to assimilate. Luckily, for the most part, the effects of time dilation and the warping of space is negligible for the majority of our earthly activities and can be explained very well using simple Newtonian mechanics. A good example of when the effects of time dilation are important concerns the movement of satellites. Even at their modest orbiting speed of 14,000 kilometres per hour, GPS satellites experience time dilation relative to our pedestrian earthly stance. These effects have to be considered and allowed for otherwise instead of driving to 12 Acacia Avenue, you would, no doubt, end up at 14 Acacia Avenue.

When we observe a photon travelling the cosmos we perceive that photon to be travelling at 186,000 miles per second over well defined points in space. This is our viewpoint of how light travels. We should note that the speed of light remains constant no matter the frame of reference. But how do mass less photons experience their plight/flight? According to Einstein's postulate, photons travelling at the speed of light are not constrained by space or time. Einstein’s equations predict that photons transcend reality. Photons don’t travel and their clock ticketh not at all. From their conception to destination arrival is instant. This is why I don’t sleep too well. If the universe is infinite the ramifications boggle our feeble minds. Is space and time just a beautiful illusion? I will admit that my conception of the universe at the very large, very small, and the very fast is beyond my feeble comprehension. I’m lost in a sea of contradictions. I know that I will go to my grave as ignorant as a new born babe.

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Is God a Democrat?

                                            Jesus, stop bleeding on my colouring book       

As reported in this blog a little while ago, it appears that God had taken a special interest in the recent American elections. Indeed, it also appears that God is a conservative (but read on) with profound partisan views and declared his stalwart support for Donald Trump. Not only has God endorsed the incumbent but has predicted that Trump would be re-elected for a second wondrous term.  How do we know all this? Although god, on occasion, works in mysterious ways, in this instance he put forth his views via a series of human conduits. Interestingly, in these modern technological times, God eschewed the modalities of Twatter and Arsebook (arse). How quaint.

In some instances, God related his preference, directly, while to others he utilised intermediary Angels. To complicate matters, there have been messages from Jesus himself. As I understand my Nicene Creed, Jesus is but one manifestation of the Godhead, the other being the Holy Ghost. All this can be rather confusing for a simple Tipton lad. I understand the need for delegation, running the entire universe can be no easy matter, and this would explain the need for Angel intercession.  What I find confusing is that Jesus and god, although one, seem to be content to manifest as separate entities- tis enough to make your head spin. Furthermore, Trump emphatically lost. How can God be wrong? What happened to this omniscient thingy? In some testimonies, it seemed apparent that god was influencing the vote in Trump’s favour. This would be a prime example of ‘Divine Intervention’. How could this be achieved? There are two schools of thought: a host of Angels, suitably attired in mortal raiment, could present themselves at the polling stations and make their mark to benefit the Trumpster. Hopefully, their various visages would not be too radiant as to scare away the non-divine populace. I suspect the wings would have to be discretely folded and tucked away, otherwise folks will conclude that they were being mobbed by a host of hunchbacks- most off-putting. Mayhap god decided to wave a ‘magic wand’ to miraculously influence the election. This would be easy for a deity capable of parting the Dead sea, turning women into salty towering bints, and setting the occasional bush on fire while on high.

Inexplicably, it did not come to pass and Trump lost. How could the will of God be thwarted? Had the Angels been sleeping on the job? Could he have changed his mind at the last minute and hankered for moribund Joe Biden?

Of course, there is another more mundane possibility- the pundits, various, are madder than a bucket of frogs in vinegar- I think we should be told.

In support of my thesis watch the following and weep.

Saturday 14 November 2020

Einstein's Greatest Mistake

     Cute pussy cat or predator- you be the judge, but make it with alacrity 

I would consider myself a rational being, but that does not mean I’m immune from beliefs and concepts counter to the evidence. We all hold ideas, and beliefs, which upon rational inspection/introspection and scrutiny, are not tenable, however, for some folk, their whole belief system is an irrational mass of internal contradictions and sheer nonsense.

In part, we can blame our evolutionary past. The human brain evolved to make snap decisions on the flimsiest of evidence. In the remote past, our ancestors had to make instant life and death reckoning without the luxury of reflection or rigorous analysis. Is the rustle in the savannah a deadly predator or just the whispering whimsy of the wind? They had to act decisively. If they made the wrong call they would not survive to pass on their genes; procrastination is anathema to natural selection. This is why we need rules concerning the correct way to analyse data, ideas, and concepts in order to weed out weak and unsubstantiated ‘knowledge’. The scientific method is one way this is achieved, but it is not the only way. The rules of epistemology and logic have stood us in good stead in this regard. However, we don’t have the time, or the inclination to apply rational rules to the cacophony of competing beliefs we all hold. Even the smartest and most rational of folk can fall prey to sloppy thinking, prejudice, custom, expectation, prior experience, and out of date knowledge; no one is immune. We should not delude ourselves that we are free from beliefs that have no basis in reality. It is to be expected that some of our most cherished beliefs are simply irrational and have no basis according to sound knowledge systems. The problem arises when sloppy, irrational thinking overwhelms the mind and pushes aside rationality in its entirety. It can become a way of life. It is of no surprise that those who hold a major irrational belief, in spite of the contrary evidence, tend to adhere to other strange notions. Thus, folk who aver that the Earth is flat often hold views of a related and similar ilk. Their compiled belief system is one great mish-mash of strange unsubstantiated and fringe beliefs. The law of science does not abide in them and they take great solace and pride in the rejection of long-standing and scientifically attested principals. But enough of the crazies.

As said, smart people can hold erroneous beliefs, as long as they don’t make it habitual, it is not a problem. Often, a wrong belief may occur due to an incomplete possession of the facts. This is not a problem of irrationality if the belief is made on the available and known evidence and is consistent with the knowledge base of the time. A less forgiving problem arises when the latest evidence indicates that an existing knowledge system is in error but the individual fails to adjust their belief to the new data. This may be due to an excessive reverence for the ‘old system’ and a failure to press forth with the new evidence to its logical conclusion: a problem otherwise known as ‘intellectual inertia’. This is why plasticity in our thinking is so important. No knowledge system is to be so revered that it cannot be reviewed, adapted, or discarded when confronted by new knowledge. The following tale belongs to this latter category and involves one of the smartest individuals of the 20th century, Albert Einstein.

So, what follows is to be taken in the spirit of a cautionary tale. Take heed, note, and wobble a brace of ferrets..........

                                 Shagger contemplating the consequences of a prolonged, wobbling

When Einstein formulated his theories of relativity at the beginning of the 20th century the accepted model of the universe was very different from what is considered ‘true’ today. For instance, the size of the universe was greatly underestimated. The smudgy patches of light observed through large telescopes were thought to be incandescent gas clouds present within our own milky way galaxy. Indeed, all celestial bodies were considered to be contained within our galaxy. In addition, the universe was considered to be static and eternal. This was the intellectual milieu that underpinned Einstein’s prodigious theoretical insights. Thus when he formulated his classic field equations for general relativity he found that his mathematics predicted a dynamic cosmos. To shoehorn his equations into the notion of a static universe he had to introduce a fudge factor, the cosmological constant, to one of the terms. This mysterious and unsubstantiated force was thought necessary to counteract the implications of universal expansion his equations predicted.

In 1928 the lawyer astronomer, Edwin Hubble, determined that the smudgy patches of nebulae were in fact galaxies in their own right. Also, the galaxies were not static but rushing away from each other at velocities proportional to the distances between them. The static eternal universe was no more and the universe appeared to be in a state of constant flux and change.

Einstein had missed his chance. His equations, unsullied by the cosmological constant, should have alerted Einstein to the nature of the expanding universe. However, he could not relinquish cherished and long-held ‘knowledge’ concerning the universe. Once he removed the constant from his equations the true nature of the universe became clear. Even Einstein’s genius could not overcome deep-seated beliefs.

It is sad to relate that Einstein considered his addition of the ‘cosmological constant’ his greatest mistake. The great intellectual prodigy had been humbled.

Next time you find yourself attached to, a no longer tenable concept or theory, which you struggle to intellectually cauterise from your knowledge base, even at the cost of your intellectual integrity, take note, for you are in esteemed company.