Credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA / STScI), Y.-H. Chu (UIUC) et al., ESA, NASA
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The Heisenberg UnCertainty principle is more famous for the unpredictability it brings to science and the cosmos. Quantum psychologists everywhere try to turn scientific method upside down.
The true significance of the Uncertainty principle is that it defines the quantum forces - electromagnetism, the strong and weak nuclear forces. Particles can come out of the vacuum so long as they disappear back into non-existence within the uncertainty principle. The more massive the particles, the faster and shorter distance those particles can be allowed to go before it has to disappear within the uncertainty principle. If these particles hit or are absorbed by other particles then they are exchange particle - force carriers. The weak and strong nuclear force are short range because their exchange particles are massive, while the electromagnetic force can go the length of the universe because it's exchange particle is massless(the photon).
This whole understanding of the uncertainty principle came from Paul Dirac's unification of special relativity with shroedinger quantum mechanics. Is so doing, he predicted anti-matter. Anti-matter was shortly observationaly confirmed. But, the theory had certain problems of infinity - self energy infinities. This was the hardest physics problem of its time; it led to the search for unification theories. It turned out that by unifying the fundamental quantum forces, the infinities could be cancelled out; this is called renormalisation. Some say the problem has never been completely solved. But, one thing is for sure, the three quantum forces led to electro-weak unification and then 'gut' theories(grand unification theories).
Murry Gell-Mann solved the strong nuclear force by means of quarks. Quarks are subatomic particles that come in pairs. They can never be seen individually; if you put in enough energy to separate them, they just form another quark(by means of e=mc^2). But, Feynman and experimentalists figured out that particle accellerators can act as a giant microscope that can slow down the process(just like in special relativity where time can be slowed down by getting close to teh speed of light; particles that normally decay in less than nanoseconds can be made to last longer, and so particle physicists can study them, or even use them to collide with other particles before they decay); the Stanford linear particle accellerator was able to view quarks without tearing them out of their quark couples and triplets. Unification theorists soon found that by getting the number of quarks to match up with electrons, muons, and I feel like I'm forgetting another electron like particle, then they could solve the renormalisation problems for the strong nuclear force. This shows the significance of the 1990s discovery of the Top quark; it was the last quark needed to confirm the standard model. Well, the Higgs was next; but, the Top quark pointed particle physicists on where approximatelly the Higgs particle was. The Higgs particle of course has recently been discovered. The Higgs has a role to play in the Inflationary generalisation of the big bang theory. One could say, the big bang was a highly improbably quantum fluctuation of the uncertainty principle. But, we have plenty of evidence such as the Cobe and Wmap satellite data on the cosmic background radiation that the inflationary theory did happen. And, of course, the Higgs has been discovered which further confirms the inflationary theory. We've clearly come a long way since J.J. Thompson's discovery of the electron and even Maxwell's great unification of electric and magnetic fields. But, we've got even bigger game - quantum gravity.
We know that with black holes and the big bang, gravity and the quantum forces need to be unified; but, gravity is not a quantum force defined by the heisenberg uncertainty principle. It's a big problem! We've also got other puzzles to solve - dark matter and dark energy(which I've often thought is just an inflationary aftershock). The LHC that discovered the Higgs may be able to solve those problems as well.
I've actually gotten ahead of the story of quantum and Einstein's relativity theories over the last hundred now plus years. Einstein's General theory of relativity led to the Big bang theory before Edwin Hubble deduced it by the motions of galaxies. But, particle physics had also been hinting at a big bang theory of the universe. Quantum physicists had discovered the mechanism that powers the stars - nuclear fussion. They had soon figured out more or less how supernova work. They learned how the different atoms were generated in the cosmos; they learned that we and our planet earth is stardust generated in supernova. But, they found that the proportions of helium and hydrogen in the cosmos is not accounted for by the supernova. This 70-30 proportion seems to hint at a big bang a long time ago. They also predicted the cosmic radiation background now used to study the big bang(and confirm the inflationary generalisation of the big bang universe). This was discovered in the 1960s and established the big bang theory over other theories like the steady state theory. But, particle physics soon hinted at the big bang theory in other ways in the 1970s.
In the 1970s, the unification of forces to solve the renormalisation problems seemed to occur at super hot temperatures. At these temperatures, the three forces melt into one another, and at temperatures that dwarf those temperatures, it's hoped that gravity will also meld with the three quantum forces. Where else do these super hot temperatures occur? In black holes and the big bang.
With Isaac Newton's view of the universe as so many billiard balls richecheting off one another leading to Laplace's saying, "get the initial conditions established precisely, one can predict both all the past and the future" led to the idea of reductionism science. In truth, if you study the nature of mathematics(which they did not), you see abstraction(common forms of many different structures), and the structural relations, one sees mathematics as making connections, unifications. James Burke tries to show connections between all historic forces and technologies; i've shown that some of them are interesting, other connections are a little more spurrious. But, mathematics is the real unified theory or everything(and so does Jacob Bronowski). These are the realconnections. The supernatural religious will say that science cuts us off from the universe, when, the truth is they're saying that spirit above matter, and the cosmos elements are different from earth elements because that's where god must reside(because he clearly doens't live on earth) is the real divisive split. It was Isaac Newton, mathematicians, and mathematical science that has made the real connections between the cosmos and humanity.
---------------------------------dna nanotech news for the day------------------------------------------
A book has been encoded into dna. The only problem is reading it out.