Topic: Physics

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๐Ÿ”— Timeline of the far future

๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— Lists ๐Ÿ”— Statistics ๐Ÿ”— Astronomy ๐Ÿ”— Time ๐Ÿ”— Futures studies ๐Ÿ”— Geology ๐Ÿ”— Extinction ๐Ÿ”— Solar System ๐Ÿ”— Astronomy/Solar System

While the future can never be predicted with absolute certainty, present understanding in various scientific fields allows for the prediction of some far-future events, if only in the broadest outline. These fields include astrophysics, which has revealed how planets and stars form, interact, and die; particle physics, which has revealed how matter behaves at the smallest scales; evolutionary biology, which predicts how life will evolve over time; and plate tectonics, which shows how continents shift over millennia.

All projections of the future of Earth, the Solar System, and the universe must account for the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy, or a loss of the energy available to do work, must rise over time. Stars will eventually exhaust their supply of hydrogen fuel and burn out. Close encounters between astronomical objects gravitationally fling planets from their star systems, and star systems from galaxies.

Physicists expect that matter itself will eventually come under the influence of radioactive decay, as even the most stable materials break apart into subatomic particles. Current data suggest that the universe has a flat geometry (or very close to flat), and thus will not collapse in on itself after a finite time, and the infinite future allows for the occurrence of a number of massively improbable events, such as the formation of Boltzmann brains.

The timelines displayed here cover events from the beginning of the 11th millennium to the furthest reaches of future time. A number of alternative future events are listed to account for questions still unresolved, such as whether humans will become extinct, whether protons decay, and whether the Earth survives when the Sun expands to become a red giant.

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๐Ÿ”— One electron universe

๐Ÿ”— Physics

The one-electron universe postulate, proposed by John Wheeler in a telephone call to Richard Feynman in the spring of 1940, is the hypothesis that all electrons and positrons are actually manifestations of a single entity moving backwards and forwards in time. According to Feynman:

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๐Ÿ”— Banana equivalent dose

๐Ÿ”— Medicine ๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— Health and fitness

Banana equivalent dose (BED) is an informal measurement of ionizing radiation exposure, intended as a general educational example to compare a dose of radioactivity to the dose one is exposed to by eating one average-sized banana. Bananas contain naturally occurring radioactive isotopes, particularly potassium-40 (40K), one of several naturally-occurring isotopes of potassium. One BED is often correlated to 10โˆ’7 sievert (0.1 ฮผSv); however, in practice, this dose is not cumulative, as the principal radioactive component is excreted to maintain metabolic equilibrium. The BED is only meant to inform the public about the existence of very low levels of natural radioactivity within a natural food and is not a formally adopted dose measurement.

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๐Ÿ”— Beverly Clock

๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— New Zealand ๐Ÿ”— Physics/History

The Beverly Clock is a clock situated in the 3rd floor lift foyer of the Department of Physics at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. The clock is still running despite never having been manually wound since its construction in 1864 by Arthur Beverly.

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๐Ÿ”— Boltzmann Brain

๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— Philosophy ๐Ÿ”— Philosophy/Metaphysics

The Boltzmann brain argument suggests that it is more likely for a single brain to spontaneously and briefly form in a void (complete with a false memory of having existed in our universe) than it is for our universe to have come about in the way modern science thinks it actually did. It was first proposed as a reductio ad absurdum response to Ludwig Boltzmann's early explanation for the low-entropy state of our universe.

In this physics thought experiment, a Boltzmann brain is a fully formed brain, complete with memories of a full human life in our universe, that arises due to extremely rare random fluctuations out of a state of thermodynamic equilibrium. Theoretically over a period of time on the order of hundreds of billions of years, by sheer chance atoms in a void could spontaneously come together in such a way as to assemble a functioning human brain. Like any brain in such circumstances, it would almost immediately stop functioning and begin to deteriorate.

The idea is ironically named after the Austrian physicist Ludwig Boltzmann (1844โ€“1906), who in 1896 published a theory that tried to account for the fact that we find ourselves in a universe that is not as chaotic as the budding field of thermodynamics seemed to predict. He offered several explanations, one of them being that the universe, even one that is fully random (or at thermal equilibrium), would spontaneously fluctuate to a more ordered (or low-entropy) state. One criticism of this "Boltzmann universe" hypothesis is that the most common thermal fluctuations are as close to equilibrium overall as possible; thus, by any reasonable criterion, actual humans in the actual universe would be vastly less likely than "Boltzmann brains" existing alone in an empty universe.

Boltzmann brains gained new relevance around 2002, when some cosmologists started to become concerned that, in many existing theories about the Universe, human brains in the current Universe appear to be vastly outnumbered by Boltzmann brains in the future Universe who, by chance, have exactly the same perceptions that we do; this leads to the conclusion that statistically we ourselves are likely to be Boltzmann brains. Such a reductio ad absurdum argument is sometimes used to argue against certain theories of the Universe. When applied to more recent theories about the multiverse, Boltzmann brain arguments are part of the unsolved measure problem of cosmology. Boltzmann brains remain a thought experiment; physicists do not believe that we are actually Boltzmann brains, but rather use the thought experiment as a tool for evaluating competing scientific theories.

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๐Ÿ”— Geneva drive

๐Ÿ”— Technology ๐Ÿ”— Physics

The Geneva drive or Maltese cross is a gear mechanism that translates a continuous rotation movement into intermittent rotary motion.

The rotating drive wheel is usually equipped with a pin that reaches into a slot located in the other wheel (driven wheel) that advances it by one step at a time. The drive wheel also has an elevated circular blocking disc that "locks" the rotating driven wheel in position between steps.

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๐Ÿ”— The โ€œOh-My-God Particleโ€

๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— Astronomy

The Oh-My-God particle was the highest-energy cosmic ray detected at the time (15 October 1991) by the Fly's Eye detector in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, US. Its energy was estimated as (3.2ยฑ0.9)ร—1020ย eV, or 51ย J. This is 20 million times more energetic than the highest energy measured in electromagnetic radiation emitted by an extragalactic object and 1020 (100 quintillion) times the photon energy of visible light, equivalent to a 142-gram (5ย oz) baseball travelling at about 26ย m/s (94ย km/h; 58ย mph). Although higher energy cosmic rays have been detected since then, this particle's energy was unexpected, and called into question theories of that era about the origin and propagation of cosmic rays.

Assuming it was a proton, this particle traveled at 99.99999999999999999999951% of the speed of light, its Lorentz factor was 3.2ร—1011 and its rapidity was 27.1. At this speed, if a photon were travelling with the particle, it would take over 215,000 years for the photon to gain a 1ย cm lead as seen in Earth's reference frame.

The energy of this particle is some 40 million times that of the highest energy protons that have been produced in any terrestrial particle accelerator. However, only a small fraction of this energy would be available for an interaction with a proton or neutron on Earth, with most of the energy remaining in the form of kinetic energy of the products of the interaction. The effective energy available for such a collision is โˆš2Emc2, where E is the particle's energy and mc2 is the mass energy of the proton. For the Oh-My-God particle, this gives 7.5ร—1014ย eV, roughly 60 times the collision energy of the Large Hadron Collider.

While the particle's energy was higher than anything achieved in terrestrial accelerators, it was still about 40 million times lower than the Planck energy. Particles of such energy would be required in order to explore the Planck scale. A proton with that much energy would travel 1.665ร—1015 times closer to the speed of light than the Oh-My-God particle. As viewed from Earth it would take about 3.579ร—1020ย years, or 2.59ร—1010 times the current age of the universe, for a photon to gain a 1 cm lead over a Planck energy proton as observed in Earth's reference frame.

Since the first observation, at least 72 similar (energy > 5.7ร—1019ย eV) events have been recorded, confirming the phenomenon. These ultra-high-energy cosmic ray particles are very rare; the energy of most cosmic ray particles is between 10ย MeV and 10ย GeV. More recent studies using the Telescope Array have suggested a source for the particles within a 20-degree radius "warm spot" in the direction of the constellation Ursa Major.

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๐Ÿ”— Wet-Bulb Temperature

๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— Weather ๐Ÿ”— Weather/Meteorological instruments and data

The wet-bulb temperature (WBT) is the temperature read by a thermometer covered in water-soaked cloth (a wet-bulb thermometer) over which air is passed. At 100% relative humidity, the wet-bulb temperature is equal to the air temperature (dry-bulb temperature); at lower humidity the wet-bulb temperature is lower than dry-bulb temperature because of evaporative cooling.

The wet-bulb temperature is defined as the temperature of a parcel of air cooled to saturation (100% relative humidity) by the evaporation of water into it, with the latent heat supplied by the parcel. A wet-bulb thermometer indicates a temperature close to the true (thermodynamic) wet-bulb temperature. The wet-bulb temperature is the lowest temperature that can be reached under current ambient conditions by the evaporation of water only.

Even heat-adapted people cannot carry out normal outdoor activities past a wet-bulb temperature of 32ย ยฐC (90ย ยฐF), equivalent to a heat index of 55ย ยฐC (130ย ยฐF). The theoretical limit to human survival for more than a few hours in the shade, even with unlimited water, is a wet-bulb temperature of 35ย ยฐC (95ย ยฐF) โ€“ theoretically equivalent to a heat index of 70ย ยฐC (160ย ยฐF), though the heat index does not go that high.

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๐Ÿ”— Wow signal

๐Ÿ”— History ๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— Telecommunications ๐Ÿ”— Skepticism ๐Ÿ”— Astronomy ๐Ÿ”— History of Science ๐Ÿ”— Physics/History ๐Ÿ”— Paranormal

The Wow! signal was a strong narrowband radio signal received on August 15, 1977, by Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope in the United States, then used to support the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The signal appeared to come from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius and bore the expected hallmarks of extraterrestrial origin.

Astronomer Jerry R. Ehman discovered the anomaly a few days later while reviewing the recorded data. He was so impressed by the result that he circled the reading on the computer printout, "6EQUJ5", and wrote the comment "Wow!" on its side, leading to the event's widely used name.

The entire signal sequence lasted for the full 72-second window during which Big Ear was able to observe it, but has not been detected since, despite several subsequent attempts by Ehman and others. Many hypotheses have been advanced on the origin of the emission, including natural and human-made sources, but none of them adequately explains the signal.

Although the Wow! signal had no detectable modulationโ€”a technique used to transmit information over radio wavesโ€”it remains the strongest candidate for an alien radio transmission ever detected.

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๐Ÿ”— List of unsolved problems in physics

๐Ÿ”— Physics ๐Ÿ”— Philosophy ๐Ÿ”— Skepticism ๐Ÿ”— History of Science ๐Ÿ”— Science

Some of the major unsolved problems in physics are theoretical, meaning that existing theories seem incapable of explaining a certain observed phenomenon or experimental result. The others are experimental, meaning that there is a difficulty in creating an experiment to test a proposed theory or investigate a phenomenon in greater detail.

There are still some deficiencies in the Standard Model of physics, such as the origin of mass, the strong CP problem, neutrino mass, matterโ€“antimatter asymmetry, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Another problem lies within the mathematical framework of the Standard Model itselfโ€”the Standard Model is inconsistent with that of general relativity, to the point that one or both theories break down under certain conditions (for example within known spacetime singularities like the Big Bang and the centers of black holes beyond the event horizon).

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