The promise of quantum computing?

Anyone who follows the computing industry knows that Moore's Law, the observation that computing power doubles every couple of years, has been sputtering in recent years.  This isn't unexpected.  Gordon Moore himself predicted that eventually the laws of physics would become a constraint. One of the technological hopes for a revival is quantum computing.  Quantum … Continue reading The promise of quantum computing?

The spectrum of science to fantasy

Black swans

A question long argued in the philosophy of science is the demarcation problem.  How to we distinguish science from non-science?  Karl Popper famously proposed falsifiability as a criteria.  To be science, a theory must make predictions that could turn out to be wrong.  It must be falsifiable.  Theories that are amorphous or flexible enough to … Continue reading The spectrum of science to fantasy

The measurement problem, Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many worlds

With quantum physics, we have a situation where a quantum object, such as a photon, electron, atom or similar scale entity, acts like a wave, spreading out in a superposition, until we look at it (by measuring it in some manner), then it behaves like a particle.  This is known as the measurement problem. Now, … Continue reading The measurement problem, Copenhagen, pilot-wave, and many worlds

Predictions and retrodictions

I've often noted here the importance of predictions, both in terms of our primal understanding of reality, such as how to get to the refrigerator in your house, or in terms of scientific theories.  In truth, every understanding of reality involves predictions.  Arguably a fundamental aspect of consciousness is prediction. Of course, not every notion … Continue reading Predictions and retrodictions

The seven attributes of minimal consciousness

I'm still working my way through Simona Ginsburg and Eva Jablonka's tome: The Evolution of the Sensitive Soul.  This is the second post of a series on their book.  I'm actually on the last chapter, but that last chapter is close to a hundred pages long, and the book's prose is dense.  Light reading it … Continue reading The seven attributes of minimal consciousness

The Q-Drive and the difficulty of interstellar exploration

I've discussed the difficulties of interstellar exploration before.  To get a spacecraft to another star within a human lifetime requires accelerating it to an appreciable percentage of c (the speed of light), say 10-20%.  In general that requires titanic amounts of energy.  (Forget about the common sci-fi scenarios of going into warp drive or jumping … Continue reading The Q-Drive and the difficulty of interstellar exploration

Viruses and the definition of “life”

One of the things we often debate here is the definition of "consciousness," but consciousness is far from the only concept that is difficult to define.  Others include religion, democracy, free will, and biological life. Life has a number of definitions, many of which are suitable for particular purposes.  If I recall correctly, NASA, for … Continue reading Viruses and the definition of “life”

An excellent explanation of quantum decoherence, and how it might lead to many worlds

Matt O'Dowd is a first class science communicator.  In this latest video, he does an excellent job explaining decoherence, and why the MWI (many worlds interpretation) ends up being so tempting when you see it through. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlOwJWJWPUs Of course, this doesn't mean MWI is the right interpretation, but it does demonstrate why many find it … Continue reading An excellent explanation of quantum decoherence, and how it might lead to many worlds