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Quantum Questions from a Sci Fi writer

  1. Aug 22, 2007 #1

    My name is Alistair Maxwel. I’m a science-fiction writer in need of some help.
    As you are all aware, now a days science-fiction writers use quantum physics to explain everything from near death experiences to global consciousness.
    I endeavor and strive for more precision.
    I would ask for your indulgence for a moment.
    I’ve been informed by one of the Mentors of this forum that speculative stuff is frowned upon here and I respect that. That is not what I want to speak of. I need help with the ‘Science’ part of the science-fiction and not with the ‘Fiction’.
    I have done as much research as I could before posting here. In fact, I’ve read veraciously everything I that I could understand on your site for the last two weeks and you’ve explained many of my misunderstandings with eloquence and fierce passion.
    In fact, I’d like to thank a lot of you for fighting for your positions and, when faced with proof, so gracefully congratulating your counterparts and thanking them for clearing up a part that you did not understand.
    I need that type of help.
    Ok, so let’s get to the questions, and please, be kind.

    1) Quantum Holograms. Is this a theory that is accepted by those in the know? How do they work? Is there any ‘encoding’ going on; by that I mean, how is the perceivable information transmitted from one time to another? And if you have any other cool facts about this phenomenon please feel free to share.

    2) The10 + 1 dimensions. You all know what I’m talking about, I think. Ok, are these ‘dimensions’ used as coordinates to indicate position just like x,y,z? If there is something on a table and it’s x,y,z coordinates are 2,5,6 are there seven other coordinates for that object that we do not perceive?

    3) Is there some sort of Maxwell’s demon theory in quantum physics that would allow for the possibility of energy to be transferred to or from those tiny, crumpled up quantum dimensional systems to our 3D one?

    I’ll start with that, I think. Thank you all in advance for your help. If you wish, for those of you that help me out, I’ll include your name or handle in the acknowledgment section of my novel. Or perhaps a little cameo…

    With utmost respect,

    Alistair Maxwel
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2007 #2


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    Concerning the first question, you might want to look at this article, http://www.aip.org/pnu/2001/split/566-1.html , on the American Institute of Physics website. The general idea of quantum holography is quite lucidly explained here. Good luck on your book, science fiction had always done quite a lot for science, especially in breaking any mental barriers some of us might have upon bombardment of radical new ideas, some of which turn out to be true, and in helping to keep people open minded.
  4. Aug 22, 2007 #3


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    You probably want to read a book by Lisa Randell called 'Warped passages', its written for the laymen and discusses extra dimensions and holography.

    As for the actual content of extra dimensions, well it actually starts with a neat idea by Kaluza Klein back in the 20s whereby general relativity (4d) is promoted to a (5d) theory and the equations for electromagnetism drop out of it rather mysteriously.

    The extra dimension is understood in that case to be compactified, so its extremely small and invisible to the naked human eye (its wrapped up like a cylinder), so yes you use coordinates, but the coordinates for normal 4dimensional space are of a completely different scale than the hidden ones.

    Its sort of a motivating example that all the modern extra dimension theories utilize. Note that there has been a lot of progress in recent years on it (see Randell's book), we might even have 'large' extra dimensions and so forth.

    As for the Maxwell's demon bit. I don't know about that perse. However energy *is* transferred in subtle ways for those extra dimensions (for instance gravity might feel their presence, but the other 3 forces of nature do not)
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2007
  5. Aug 22, 2007 #4
    You may have seen this, but I thought it might help somewhat... It might get you away from imagining the other dimensions as coordinates...


    Click on the second option, imagining the tenth dimension...
  6. Aug 23, 2007 #5
    Wow, that was so good.
    Bel, thanks for the article. Read it.
    Haelfix, thanks for the book, got it, am halfway through.
    Yum Yum, thanks for the presentation. Watched it.

    Wow, well, it was good to see that I was on a pretty solid intuitive path. Now, with this new and shiny info, I'll be able to clear up all (some? lol) of those little faux-pas that writers make when dealing with these concepts.

    Again, thanks for all your help!
    I'll surely be back for more when i finish assimilating what I have before me.

  7. Aug 23, 2007 #6
    a science fiction writer doing research... wow, usually it's the researcher doing science fiction writing... it's very hard to give an interesting idea a story, because the implausibility of the story detracts from the exciting implications of the idea...
  8. Aug 23, 2007 #7


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    Noooo! I keep seeing people link to this in science discussions, but it's total crackpottery, nothing to do with any real theory of physics. The extra dimensions in string theory are just additional spatial dimensions, nothing to do with time travel or alternate universes.
  9. Aug 25, 2007 #8
    Wow, that Lisa Randall is quite something. I'm almost finished her book and, wow, that's some real good stuff. Generally speaking, is this a book that is respected by other experts in that field?
    And, if someone here could find me a flippant (imagine a surly drunk physicist listening to dylan in a bar) quantum reply to this question that would be great: How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?

    You guys rock, thanks again for everything!


    PS: SpitfireAce: I love this sentence!
    "It's very hard to give an interesting idea a story, because the implausibility of the story detracts from the exciting implications of the idea..."
  10. Aug 25, 2007 #9


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    Jesse, didn't read the link, but I've seen statements by Penrose, Hawking and Green all agreeing that there's no reason the extra dimensions cannot be temporal. Not that they necesarily are, but that there is no known physical law that prevents it. Has some law been discovered that proves they must all be spacial?

    BTW; OP, what's the title of your book, and will you be writing under the name, "Alistair Maxwell"?
  11. Aug 25, 2007 #10


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    What do you mean by "the" extra dimensions? My understanding is that the extra 6 dimensions of superstring theory (or the extra 7 of M theory) must be spatial for the theory to work, if there were additional temporal dimensions they'd be in addition to those. For example, this article on a physicist who explores the idea of making physics more symmetrical by adding both an additional time dimension and an additional spatial dimension says:
    In any case, if you watch the movie on the crackpot "tenth dimension" page it's clear the guy isn't referring to any mainstream physics ideas, he's just inventing a bunch of ideas about what the additional dimensions "really" are based on half-baked conceptual arguments about traveling through one dimension by folding the one above--like, the fifth dimension would be what you'd travel through to time travel to the past, the sixth dimension be what you'd travel though to get to an alternate timeline stemming from our Big Bang, a seventh dimension would be what you'd travel through to get to alternate timelines in a super-multiverse of different sets of alternate timelines stemming from different initial conditions at the Big Bang, and his explanation of what the eight and ninth dimensions "mean" is not at all clear to me (he also apparently thinks a tenth dimension is impossible in his schema).
  12. Aug 25, 2007 #11


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    I have no idea about the link posted here (I didn't read it), but Lisa Randell is one of the best phenomenologists in the world and is extremely respected, she works at Harvard. Her work is accepted as being a distinct possibility (it remains to be seen if those dimensions actually exist in the real world, but mathematically its a possibility).

    So yea, take it as a decent authority, minus the usual caveat that physics from laymen books can sometimes be a little oversimplified.

    You might want to set up a correspondance with one of her grad students or somesuch, im sure they'd be willing to help if you have some specific questions, and their word on the matter is neccessarily more qualified than what you will find anywhere on the internet.
  13. Aug 26, 2007 #12
    I can't get this out of my head... Is this quote yours? If so, it is one of the best constructed, and deeply, fundamentally important, series of words regarding sci-fi that I have ever read, anywhere, written by anyone. If so, may I please use it as a blurb (compressed information packet), in reference to my researching quantum mechanics for my novel?

    Regards (no pun intended in relation to perceiving),

  14. Aug 27, 2007 #13
    You entered the wrong room. You will find plenty in Beyond the Standard Model sub-forum. They claim 10^300 or 10^500.

    Regards, Dany.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2007
  15. Aug 27, 2007 #14
    thanks... sure, go for it...
  16. Sep 2, 2007 #15
    Try this one: The Trouble with Physics, Lee Smolin.

    What Lee smolin has to say about the 5th dimension theories and all like it is a trouble with the actual little loops postulated by these theories, the problem being they have to be fixed at a certain size and if they wander around size wise, they start to build up mathematical nonsense, infinities and such. Those theories only work when you somehow peg the size of the little multidimensional loops to EXACT sizes for each force or partical as these Gauge theories want. That was realized very early on and killed those early tries.
  17. Sep 3, 2007 #16


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    The early models with extra dimensions from Kaluza-Klein (and later Einstein) actually are experimentally ruled out (well most of them).

    Theoreticaly the problems are also fairly numerous, chief amongst them the problems encountered by quantization, issues with the radon field and sources, the move to nonabelian bundles, and the addition of fermions and chiral symmetry.

    To make them work in the full quantum regime and in full generality, you sort of require string theories or some sort of supergravity solution. The modern extra dimension (kaluza klein inspired) theories do however work (at least in so far as we can tell) in this context and they pass these consistency criteria.

    It gets involved quickly (eg I don't feel like talking about BPS states), so for the laymen suffice it to say that it is a field of very intense current research and *perhaps* this whole idea may actually be a part of the way nature really works.
  18. Sep 3, 2007 #17
    I am humbled by all the help that everyone is providing. Thank you so much. I have already learned so much... Wow... Please keep it up.
    The sad part is, for me at least, that now I have to rewrite about 50% of two 200000 word novels. But, for me, it is a labour of love. My goal is to create a plausible "Universe" that will ring true. It is only with your help that I will be able to achieve a 'semblance' of all those pesky thermodynamic defying powers and concepts that exist in sci-fi.
    Now, if possible, could you provide me with real life examples (simple ones please) of symmetry and what would break those symmetries? It would help with one of my chapters...
    Again, thank you all in advance, I'm reading everything you suggest diligently and not taking even a single post for granted. Please, keep it up.
    Alistair Maxwel
  19. Sep 6, 2007 #18
    Well, in QM you go down all the roads, and end up where you need to be.

    Personally, I didn't care for Warped Passages, having read so many others.

    As for symmetry, check out the second item on my Listmania list.

    A real-life example that is original with me and not from another book: One day the parking lot at work had a light dusting of snow, so none of the lines were visible. People did not know where to park or which way to face! But, once someone parked, others would line up with them in the same direction and spaced a door's width apart. When the snow melted I could see how the cars were totally different from the markings, but still efficiently packed. The first one to park broke the symmetry. The symmetry exists in that it doesn't really matter, as long as everyone agrees. But once established, you can only drive down "lanes" in two orthogonal directions.

  20. Sep 6, 2007 #19
    So, choice of specific gauge breaks the gauge symmetry?

    Regards, Dany.
  21. Sep 7, 2007 #20

    Like the joke says: "What's broken only once it's fixed?"
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