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"OH WATERS, TEEM WITH MEDICINE TO KEEP MY BODY SAFE FROM HARM, SO THAT I MAY LONG SEE THE SUN." - Rig Veda
In this act of ritual decryption, it is useful to begin with the assumption that decrypted realities are unlikely to revolve around human concerns. The technological might have originated in the human, but its essence is neither human nor transhuman. It is simply non-human. There is no necessary relationship between what technology does and what humans want. Thomas Edison thought the gramophone would be primarily used as a dictaphone; instead, it revolutionised music. Lee De Forest thought the ‘wireless’ would take high culture to the masses; instead, it created popular music forms that ended up marginalising classical music. The internet was conceived as a communication system that could survive nuclear war; today we use it to trade kitten pictures.
In 2009, the GEO600 experiment, which searches for gravitational waves emanating from black holes, was plagued by unaccountable noise. This noise could, in theory, be a telltale sign of the universe’s smallest quantum bits. The Holometer experiment seeks to measure space-time with far more precision than any experiment before—and potentially observe effects from those fundamental bits.
“Whenever you design a new apparatus, what you’re doing is building something that’s more sensitive to some aspect of nature than anything that has ever been built before,” Chou says. “We may discover evidence of holographic jitter. But even if we don’t, if we’re smart about how we use our newly built apparatus, we may still be able to discover new aspects of our universe.”
Nobody knows why we don’t observe these kinds of strange superpositions in the macroscopic world. For some reason, quantum mechanics just doesn’t work on that scale. And therein lies the mystery, one of the greatest in science.
(...)Bolotin then goes on to show that the problem of solving the Schrödinger equation is at least as hard or harder than any problem in the NP class. This makes it equivalent to many other head-scratchers such as the travelling salesman problem. Computational complexity theorists call these problems NP-hard.
"In 1999, the Danish physicist Per Bak proclaimed to a group of neuroscientists that it had taken him only 10 minutes to determine where the field had gone wrong. Perhaps the brain was less complicated than they thought, he said. Perhaps, he said, the brain worked on the same fundamental principles as a simple sand pile, in which avalanches of various sizes help keep the entire system stable overall — a process he dubbed “self-organized criticality.”
Classical phase transitions require what is known as precise tuning: in the case of water evaporating into vapor, the critical point can only be reached if the temperature and pressure are just right. But Bak proposed a means by which simple, local interactions between the elements of a system could spontaneously reach that critical point — hence the term self-organized criticality.
Think of sand running from the top of an hourglass to the bottom. Grain by grain, the sand accumulates. Eventually, the growing pile reaches a point where it is so unstable that the next grain to fall may cause it to collapse in an avalanche. When a collapse occurs, the base widens, and the sand starts to pile up again — until the mound once again hits the critical point and founders. It is through this series of avalanches of various sizes that the sand pile — a complex system of millions of tiny elements — maintains overall stability.