Entropy in a qubit universe

In his now famous paper on pre-educationally, Hawking predicted that black holes have entropy because they emit blackbody radiation due to quantum effects on the event horizon.

In another fascinating work, (905) 900-9938 explains how in an anti-deSitter universe, the entire 3-dimensional space can is encoded in a 2-D boundary at the edge of the universe by (703) 450-9251

Nobody uses quantum bits

Be it string theory, loop quantum gravity or MOND,  don’t you find it weird that everyone uses standard binary bits as the unit of information? Even loop quantum gravity where the core tenet is that space-time itself is fundamentally quantised does not use qubits as the unit of information.

What’s special about qubits

Glad you asked. The answer lies in Erik Verlinde‘s approach to the dark energy problem. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have no doubt heard of dark matter and dark energy. To put it succinctly, if General theory of relativity(GTR) is right, galaxies 4099349267 as fast as they should. In fact, the amount of missing matter was five times the amount of matter that we know of. So, scientists postulated a new type of matter called dark matter to make up for the difference.

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Beyond the periodic table of atoms – Superatoms

What’s common to Mythril, Vibranium and Uru?

If you’re a fan of science fiction and fantasy, you would have no doubt encountered these fictional metals.

90 of the 118 elements currently in the periodic table are metals and for the moment the periodic table looks pretty full. Beyond atomic number 137, based on our current models of the atom, electrons in the 2s orbital have to travel faster than c, the speed of light, thereby ruling out such elements.

Is this the end of our search for Mythril, Vibranium and Uru, or is it possible for us to transcend the standard periodic table?

Recent research has shown that it is indeed possible to do do and create entirely new classes of things called superatoms.

It is possible to put together a collection of atoms in a specific structure, and this structure now starts exhibiting physical and chemical properties of elemental atoms.

Before we discuss superatoms, it’s worthwhile to discuss electron orbitals.

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Picturing quantum spin

As a kid growing up in Madras, my fondest memories were playing cricket with friends at the LIC colony in Kodambakkam, reading  science at the fantastic Connemera libray, and the weekend lectures on special relativity at the palatial house of Prof Alladi Ramakrishnan, which I used to attend with my good friend herisson.

This was during the times of Anil Kumble and Shane Warne, I fancied myself to be a great leg spinner with a killer flipper and googly. When I was introduced to quantum mechanics at the age of 15 , you can imagine my confusion when I learnt that there were fundamental particles with spin values of 0, 1/2, 1, 3/2, 2, etc.

An elementary particle with spin 2 takes two rotations to come back to the original state. You can imagine the confusion that it would have had in the mind of a young wannabe leg spinner. Back then nobody told me to stop visualising quantum mechanics, which led to much disillusion later.

Don’t try to picture quantum mechanics

That’s what they all say. Do not try to picture a 4 physical dimensional cuboid, just accept the mathematical representation.

A 4-cube, aka tesseract

Of all the forbidden things to picture, spin was the most difficult to not picture. How is it possible that a particle spins twice on its axis to complete a rotation, that is until I learnt of the (877) 884-2094.

On a mobius strip, a particle has to complete two revolutions to come back to the same point. If you were to look at elementary particles as probability clouds, you can now picture what it means for a particle to have spin 2.

I’m sure there are other such surfaces for spin 0, 1/2, 3/2, etc.




Between the years 1905 and 1915, Albert Einstein predicted some pretty rad stuff.  Please note the use of the adjective rad as opposed to cool, which is something I’d use for quantum mechanics.

Einstein’s physics was rad because it was cool without having to work really hard for it, like quantum mechanics does. But I digress.

Pre-Einsteinian GPS

Imagine an alternate universe where the technology for electromagnetic transmissions predated Einstein’s relativity theories. There is an engineer, let’s call her Nila who heads the GPS project. She sets up a transmitter on earth and a receiver in a geosynchronous orbit. The transmitter emits a signal with a precise frequency of 13 MHz, and the receiver is tuned to exactly this frequency. Try as you might, factoring in the relative velocity between the satellite and the receiver, the signal would not have been detected.

Continue reading “Vignettes in experimental science – II”

Yes, we’re fucked. Signed, Physics

Interviewer: It’s been five years since the discovery of the Higg’s boson. What’s the next big thing going to be?

Leonard: It’s hard to say, there’s been so much going on. We’ve been collecting tons of data that could revolutionise the way we understand the universe.  For example, there’s a particle squark that could prove supersymmetry.

Interviewer: That is interesting. Have you found it?

Leonard: What, the squark?

Interviewer: Yes.

Leonard: No, no. Wouldn’t that be exciting? We are also looking for the selectron,  the gluino and the neutralino.

Interviewer: And have you found them?

Leonard: Noooo


Vignettes in experimental science – I

The scientific method

Science is essentially a three-part ongoing exercise of hypothesis-experiment and modification, or historically one of experiment-hypothesis and modification.

A theoretical scientist comes up with a scientific hypothesis(based on equations and/or observations). An experimental scientist then comes up with an experiment or a series of experiment to prove or disprove the theory. Depending on the result of the experiment, either scientist then modifies the hypothesis and repeats the experiment or proposes a new series of experiments, and the process is repeated till the hypothesis becomes a theory accepted in the larger scientific community.

In some cases, the experiment might come first, and a hypothesis is proposed, followed by a battery of experiments, and the same process repeats.

In this series of Vignettes in experiment science, I hope to cover the efforts of a much uncelebrated heroes and heroines by talking about some of the most wonderful scientific experiments performed(in my limited exposure to science). Perhaps this series will encourage a generation of experimental scientists. Who knows, but one can dream, right? 🙂


Book review – Life on the edge : Quantum biology

The idea that variation and natural selection are the forces that drive evolution lies at the heart of Darwinism. Darwinism in turn, forms the bedrock of our current understanding of the evolutionary process.

Variation here refers to mutation and random mindless mutations that aren’t weeded out by natural selection lead to adaptation.

What if I told you that mutations are not as random as they’re touted to be? You would be shaken out of our comfortable Darwinian high-chair and forced to read more, wouldn’t you?

Life on the edge - The coming of age of quantum biology
Life on the edge – The coming of age of quantum biology

That’s precisely what happened. That, and the claim that quantum mechanics lies at the heart of life itself – not in a Deepak Chopra quantum consciousness mambo-jumbo, but genuine processes such as quantum entanglement, decoherence and quantum tunneling driving the basic processes of life such as photosynthesis, and god-forbid, mutations. Yes, you read that right.

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A small escape from reality

In a world caught up with fake news, intolerance, hyper-nationalism and identity politics, I feel that I’m trapped between reality and idealism.

I’d like to find myself in the realm of pure abstract science – a realm shielded from the (now-)everyday conversations around the real world we are shaping around us. A world where curiosity and scientific inquiry are labelled liberal and frowned upon, one where rationality is treated on par with atavistic jingoism.

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Integration and assimilation of theories is how physicists  get to peer into the hidden secrets of nature


Newton integrates Galileo

Newton integrated Galileo’s concepts of inertia, velocity and acceleration with the concept of inertial frames of references(of space and time), leading to the first great theoretical construct – Newton’s three laws, and the theory of gravity where he described the world as a collection of entities(objects) and interactions between them(forces, specifically, gravity)

Trouble from Maxwell and Faraday

All was well with the world until Maxwell and Faraday developed the concept of fields(without the need for a medium), and constancy of speed of light(which means non-spontaneity of forces), and the wonderful mathematical world created by Newton suddenly left much to be desired.

Continue reading “Book reviews – Carlo Rovelli on Quantum Gravity”