Tuesday, 18 November 2008
Whilst doing research for my first book I amassed a considerable amount of supporting material that never made it even into the "hard science" original version of ITLAD. I have a whole notebook full of these obscure but profoundly itladian facts. One of my favourites is the case of Makarian 501. This was discussed in an article that appeared in New Scientist in September 2000.
Apparently in March 1997 an obscure, small galaxy named Makarian 501 (named after Georgian astronomer Benjamin Markarian) showed itself to be a "Blazer". Blazers are galaxies that are thought to have a black hole at the centre. Above and below the assumed black hole are two jets of energetic photons and electrons. These particles shoot millions of light years into space. As the galaxy revolves the jets points in the direction of Earth and what is observed is an increase in brightness of radiation. In 1997 this showed itself to scientists as a gamma ray ray source of some consequence, even upstaging the famed Crab Nebula. This intrigued scientists because Makarian 501 is 50,000 times the distance of the Crab Nebula.
Now the huge mystery is how these gamma rays reached Earth. Usually when a gamma ray and an infra-red photon collide they have enough energy to mutate into an electron and a positron. This sea of of infra-red photons should stop the high-energy gamma rays. To explain this giovanni Amelino-Camelia, a physicist at the University of Rome, suggests that the Makarian gamma rays may be the subject of a whole new form of physics that rules the high energy universe. As many of you will know at scales approaching the Planck length (1.616 x 10-35 meters) our picture of smooth space and time gives way to a seething froth of quantum gravity fluctuations. This is termed "space-time foam".
It has been suggested that in these conditions, and has photon energies increase, the bumpiness of space-time, may cause the speed of light to drop off - as if the light 'feels' the bumpiness. Amelino-Camelia uses an interesting analogy - "If you role a soccer ball across a table with lots of tiny ridges it will travel at roughly the same speed it would have done if there were no ridges. But if you roll a tiny little ball, its path will be strongly altered by all the little valleys in the table."
And it is this effect that allows the gamma ray photons to aviod the infra-red photons as they leave Makarian 501 behind and start their journey to Earth. But what is fascinating is that this implies that these gamma ray photons may "lag behind 'real' time". The article, written by Hazel Muir, ends with this amazing statement:
"Quantum gravity implies that time comes in descret pieces. What is more, like Schrodinger's Cat, which is neither dead or alive until we choose to look at it, time would exist as a jumble of of different possible values".
So could it be that time is a wave function that is also collapsed by the act of observation? If this is so then time really is created by the observer ... we all exist in our own time scenario. Indeed if we apply the ORC-R theories of Penrose and Hammerhof to this idea we have something profoundly itladian ... and something that can be used to explain the subjective and glutamate facilitated time-dilation effect that is crucial to my "Cheating The Ferryman" theory of what happens to human consciousness at the point of death.