In this months edition of Scientific American Magazine the headline article, at least in this country, is a story about whether or not the basic structure of space itself is, at its most basic level, what is called a plank length, made up of individual “packets” of information, like the ones and zeros of binary code, a sequence of on and off states that together transmit information. This is an intriguing idea, but one that is incredibly hard to fathom as a human being. That kind of scale, a Planck length, is way too small to ever have an implication on the macro scale world of the human being. Although perception itself rises from just such a small-scale environment, like everything else in existence, so how do we know we don’t experience it, or some result of this digital property of the structure of space?
One Professor Hogan is the hero in our story, as he builds a device to detect the extremely subtle and elusive “fuzz” or vibration of matter caused by the underlying digital structure of space that matter resides in, and passes through as the planet hurdles through space on its course around the sun, around the milky way, around the local cluster…etc. This is obviously a daunting task, and he even does it on a budget….only 2 million dollars…
The logic goes that if Hogan shoots a laser through a detector to a mirror, reflecting it back to a beam splitter to another detector (with a mirror at the end) and back again to the beam splitter, the result should be so carefully calibrated and dependent on distances long enough that the slightest vibration of the beam splitter (that directs the beam in both direction), caused by the “fuzz” of space, would dim the beam very slightly, proving that space is actually not smooth, but in constant buzz, like a static screen–unless, of course, that vibration is caused by a car starting, a bird dropping on the top of the facility, or an ant breathing (no actually I believe those are all to small in this case to cause real problems for Hogan, although, apparently, such environment vibrations are of real concern).
Such a discovery could lead others to formulate very important theorems about the structure of the universe and the nature of existence. Unfortunately Hogan has no such theorems. He merely sees his work as a possible sign post, or street light, marking, illuminating the path for others to tread in confidence. And it would be a very important discovery for science, or at least a very important step on the long path of scientific discovery that builds upon itself, slowly brushing away dirt and dust off the screen of static, which slowly begins to come into focus as a picture that we can understand. One that, with little sections revealed, becomes understandable as a whole picture (whether or not our previous notions of the whole were accurate, they led to the big picture).
This article, and other very interesting articles, can be found in this month’s Scientific American Magazine.
More on such subjects can be found at Sciam.com
My general synopsis is of the article “Is Space Digital” by Michael Moyer, and can be found in this months edition of Scientific American Magazine.
Article by Michael Moyer, “Is Space Digital”, Scientific America, Vol. 306 No. 2, Feb 2, 2012.