Friday, July 31, 2015

status note on the real frontier of physics

In physics, as in AI, a combination of ego and curiosity and social pressure encourages communities to pretend they know more than they really do. I think back to the 1960's, when they showed me Minsky's "Mars robot," and told me of his promise to NASA to have human-level intelligence in a robot within 20 years or so of then. It's easy to make such promises when you don't even have a specific plan to execute, which requires time estimation for the stages. (Contrast that with my "hundred year" plan to get to the mouse level , presented at WCCI2014, and posted at arxiv, in computer science area. )

And so... we really need to straighten out the "realm of QED" (electric fields, magnetism and "point particles" which serve as sources and sinks of electric fields and magnetism) before we can get the other stuff right. In my view. Just as my WCCI paper offered four steps to the mouse level of intelligence, I now envision a three step possibility to straighten out, yes, the whole range covered by today's standard model pf physics: (1) more systematic application of time-symmetric physics to model quantum optics, and things which can be described by models like those used in quantum optics, and build the new devices which new understanding allows; (2) MQED, Markov QED, which extends that to the entire realm of things described by QED; (3) models based on topological solitons, with the special kinds of Higgs terms which predict topological solitons, which let us "see deeper than 3 femtometers and faster than 3 femtoseconds," to explain the existence of elementary particles without any need for regularization or renormalization in defining the models, based on a small-looking but far-reaching tweak to electroweak theory.

My recent papers on analog quantum computing, polarizers and such have all been focused on level one. Only recently have I understood the need and opportunity to do level two. Level three is more interesting to me (I too have some curiosity), and it is useful like the sight of a distant mountain peak in showing us the way forward.

I understand the political/social human need to work on level one for now, just as the politics is even more compelling to focus on "vector intelligence" (even lower than "convolutional networks!)
for the very nasty world of today's computer technology and would-be abusers. However, as the shape of MQED begins to become ever more clear in my mind, I am more drawn to that... and if the politics are hopeless anyway, why not push on to what **I** can understand that I did not before?

The community ALREADY uses many versions of QED, often using fuzziness and sleight of hand to avoid or even repress the embarrassing ambiguities and barnacles which occur even at the level of quantum optics, before electrons and nuclei and atoms are also modeled internal to the system.
Most prominent are KQED (Copenhagen QED, canonical QED as in texts like OLD Mandl, new Greiner, start of Weinberg) and FQED ("Feynmann path" QED), and CQED (circuit or cavity QED), all of which have variations, such as the many worlds version of KQED which inspired David Deutsch to develop the foundations of modern digital quantum computing. MQED would be yet another version, fully integrating the implications of the triphoton experiment which I proposed, whose outcome  turned out to be too horrifying for the establishment to permit to be published.
(Yes, people can work on the complex social dimensions of that, but I have other things to do.)

MQED would be similar in a way to the "Quantum Trajectory Simulation" (QTS) of Howard Carmichael, described in volume II of his classic text on statistical quantum optics. It would model its realm as a kind of hybrid system, similar in spirit to the hybrid systems so familiar in control theory,
EXCEPT that we are still talking about a Markov random field across space-time, as in my elementary models published on Bell's Theorem experiments. The hybrid description is a combination of  stochastic EVENTS at points in space-time, and in deterministic continuous PDE flows between those events. Predictions are based on predictions for the probability of SCENARIOS across space-time, where each event is a node, and where simple propagators convey information from one event to another. For practical experiments involving solid state objects in the system, we can use embedded propagators (like Schwinger's Nonequilibrium Green Functions, NEGF, or simplified versions of them) to simplify calculations.

A week or two, as I started to think about how to formalize and write up MQED, I first remembered what I learned earlier about the electron when working on stage 3.

To keep my cognitive map simple here, I even began to give names to the three stages.
 As I wrote my paper on photons going through polarizers, in IJBC, I felt a lot like Alice chasing a white rabbit and ending up in a weird wonderland, still three-dimensional but a lot closer to David Deutsch's weird world than I expected. So I have files at home labeled "white rabbit" (and "other rabbit"), chasing photons. The white rabbit is always checking his watch, a fitting activity for a carrier of time symmetry!  But then, reaching the electron (or ion) is like... following the rabbit to a conversation with the Mad Hatter (the most credible expert I know on applied QED?) sitting next to a March Hare -- better called a hedgehog.

I was so happy to realize I have been looking at a symbol of the hedgehog (a topological soliton of charge one) already for years, the little moldable plastic figure of Sonic the Hedgehog, on top of our coffee machine at home! For MQED the trick is not to get bogged down into all the details of three-stage modeling, but to exploit what we know about this fearsome little creature to come up with a workable model at the approximate level used in all forms of QED. The electron (and nucleus) as a perfect point particle -- good enough at the >3 femto level, even if not the full truth.

I was thinking... today the hedgehog, and later finally back to an audience with the scary Red Queen (nuclear force in all its awesome terrible potential, which there are many political reasons to be wary of).

But as I got a bit further... near the hedgehog..., in Alice... what about that cat? Whose cat is it anyway? And Tweedlee and tweedledum?  OK, interference, the Schrodinger cat, the two entangled photons... all must be accounted for. My Bell papers already dealt with the twins, but I knew that a more rational political strategy (even with social support) would send me next to print time-symmetric models of the delayed choice quantum eraser experiment, Shih's Popper experiment, and methods used to produce triple entanglement by Zeilinger and by Shih.

I started worrying more about the cat. The essential difference between MQED and other QED is the use of probabilities rather than probability amplitudes to structure everything.  I had no problems with ordinary, local interference, as with a photon interfering with itself, because of the wave-like propagation between events. (Basically, Maxwell's Laws with boundary conditions yield a nice familiar embedded propagator for light going through a double slit.) But what about GLOBAL interference, the kind of thing one gets only with global probability amplitudes for entire configurations?

Suddenly I worried -- could it be that MQED and CQED already disagree, in the core, beyond just the collapse of the wave function (an unnecessary barnacle which could be removed from CQED as an appendix can be removed form a human body), already in quantum optics?

And so, a week or two ago, I decided: "Time to stop chasing hedgehogs, and full MQED. Time to get back to stage one after all..."

And so, I have today completed a first pass through review of quantum delay eraser, Zeilinger's paper on how he constructed GHZ states, and important work by Scully leading up to a lot of this. (Really, just Scully and Druhl and Scully and Zubairy.) Not so bad. Both the eraser and Scully's earlier picture of two interfering two-level atoms are easily handled with the MQED approach, using the obvious traditional embedded propagators. The one new thing is that beamsplitters can be modeled as simple classical objects. Even the GHZ paper uses polarizers and beamsplitters (and one lambda/2 plate,
also unitary, like beamsplitter, unlike polarizer); to get three entangled photons, the key is to use a nonlinear crystal to generate TWO pairs of entangled photons, and just filter from there. In another world, I would write this all up immediately..

But as I am more on my own, gratifying my own curiosity without so much delay or leverage
of collaborations (sigh), I went back to asking: given that, what of the global versus local interference issue? (Footnote: no entanglement puzzle; the Bell stuff already took care of that.) Should I plan for an all-optical experiment to test THAT distinction?

My conclusion for now is that I need not try, because there is no inconsistency within the realm of quantum optics. All interesting interference/entanglement experiments basically go back to a source like nonlinear crystal or a single laser stimulating multiple atoms, which ultimately resolve into simple detectors at the end of the line. Integration over scenarios with propagators resolves itself into the same predictions as with probability amplitude calculations similarly resolved to ultimate detectors. The analysis is just like the old Von Neumann regression of observers-within-observers familiar to folks in foundations of quantum mechanics.

And so... yes, it would ALSO be nice to write that up more completely (about five such items "TBD")... but now I finally feel ready to go back to that hedgehog. The hedgehog is a very tricky creature, but at the level of MQED that may actually simplify things. No BBO here.
All events involve a photon/light, already familiar. NEGF propagators for electrons are already rather familiar. (Do I need to reread Keldysh at some point? And even Supriyo Datta a fourth time?)

The challenge may be more one of proof -- of convincing at least me -- rather than formalizing MQED as such.

Perhaps Scully's NONINTERFERENCE of light from three-level atoms stimulated by a common laser may also be a step towards "the hedgehog," towards incorporating things beyond optics proper
into experiments which require that. (Endogenizing the atom.) But... there are lots of ways to approach the hedgehog, and maybe it's too early to say more.


Next morning:

I put the basic calculations/analyses for the two-level atom interference and the delayed choice quantum eraser in a notebook, X2015. Hard to do equations in blog posts -- but these were very simple. As with the Bell experiments, one can model at varying levels of detail but the simplest fits the more complex and shows what is going on. Basically, the laser source, Sl, a complex number
whose phase is the only uncertainty that matters, goes through propagators to the two atoms or the two BBO sites. (The paper by Kim et al, PRL year 2000, doesn't mention that the slits in figure 2 are NOT interference producers; they are just a way to make sure that the laser light only gets to two regions on the nonlinear crystal, A and B.) The obvious A and B terms just get added together.
The scenarios X (in notation of my Bell MRF papers) are defined by detectors, and nothing weird happens. The   "weirdness" of quantum eraser is really just a matter of picking out which scenarios match which... no real paradox, and an easy prediction in both cases.

As for the result on global interference... "OK, it's not all detectors." But polarizers can be modeled equivalently (for circuit/outcome purposes) as calcite polarizers, which are like birefringent
(unitary) operators followed by detectors on one side. Other objects with complicated master equations do need to be time-symmetrized, but that's all. Time symmetrization is certainly not inconsistent with the Schrodinger equation of many world quantum mechanics. Thus nothing in quantum optics proper allows to distinguish between a probabilistic theory like MQED versus that kind of quantum theory proper.

Moving on to the electron...

I have a paper on the F transform. A Next Task would simply be to show that it yields essentially the same predictions of atomic spectra as ordinary QED, with a bit of precision about how to handle self-energy for the Lamb shift -- all envisioned in my arxiv paper on extended Glauber-Sudarshan.
It basically resolves not familiar psi delta (propagator) psi terms.  Given what happened to my previous really Herculean efforts to explain much simpler things -- my own curiosity is satisfied,
and the desire to write it up for hypothetical others (none of whom got through the quantum optics stage) is reduced. Even my X2015 bits are compromised by the state of my eyes, giving less visual feedback to maintain legibility.

Will I write up more of why the F transform gives the right spectra here? Maybe. Or will I jump ahead.. building on unpublished collaborative work of Schwinger and Pons, posted on my gdrive, to think about how to reduce feature size and create nuclear effects of a somewhat more pervasive and dangerous sort? Maybe not. Not a safe area for home experimentation, after all. Not that the mind is without risks either.

There are a few other smaller things to catch up with first in any case.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

What should we do about the serious risk of humans going extinct soon?

There is a major discussion list for the Lifeboat Foundation (see its web page!) on whether the human species will 'soon" go extinct (within a few decades or millennia), and what to do about it. Here is what I sent them this morning:

I have often wished I could make a nice color slide of a great scene from the Star Trek movie of 2009. Spock tells Kirk, "Captain, your plan has a 95% chance of failure -- and if it fails all humans will die." Kirk replies:"If you have a plan we can start right now with a higher probability of success, please tell me right now. Otherwise, doing nothing means a certainty that everyone dies; we need to do our best to make this one work."

That has been my view of human extinction until about a year ago. Some folks think that it is almost irrelevant that oxygen levels in deep waters of the Pacific are now on course to reach zero in 40 years -- zero oxygen levels plus unprecedented nutrients being washed into the oceans, fulfilling both conditions for an H2S mass extinction such as the earth already experienced 5-10 times in the past. (Before humans, but not before primates; the last one killed all primates, and they re-evolved form mice over many millions of years. Se Peter Ward..).
Many folks seem to believe that nuclear weapons no longer threaten as much as they did in the 1960's, or that the folks at risk of war starting today are far saner and more predictable than the Soviets were. And they feel religious faith that artificial intelligence, deep brain stimulation, and Artificial stupidity (or artificial sharia, as in IBM's new deal to merge those nonsustainable rule-based systems in the Middle East) could not possibly lead to extinction scenarios. 

But what do we do if we assess the net probability of human extinction as upwards of 95%? And if we see that this assessment fits the grim realities of Fermi's paradox as Brin once discussed on this list
(still discussed in his novel Existence)?

Well, it turns out that there is another way to look at this grim situation (other than denialism). 

Many Buddhists would say that this whole world was unreal anyway. No way am I ready to go that far... but there is an intermediate picture, between the Kirk/Spock picture and the Buddhist picture. A different Middle Way, if you will.

It comes form quantum physics and quantum weirdness.

Let me emphasize that I am NOT a seeker of weirdness. Quite the opposite. As far back as I can remember (at least to age 8, on this issue), I have been an intense devotee of Occam's Razor -- looking for the simplest possible coherent model capable of explaining the facts of experience. In physics, I am as conservative as one can get without being outright ignorant or schizophrenic; I still see hope for Einstein's clear nonmystical vision of explaining everything that exists in terms of partial differential equations over four dimensions ('three space, one time"), maybe with some well-defined "dice' (stochastic PDE) but none of the weirdness familiar in more mainstream versions of quantum theory such as canonical/Copenhagen or Feynman. However, unlike a certain very famous well-placed schizophrenic, I do not deny the hard core results of experiments like the "Bell's Theorem' experiments, which require that we change our ides about time if we want to be hard core objectivists.

 However... just how much do we have to change our views? 
I do not want to introduce more weirdness into everyday life, but I had a paper published a few months back in the International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos tracking in detail what happens to a photon as it goes through a polaroid polarizer (like your sunglasses!). There is no escaping the fact that there are multiple scenarios in play here -- whether we call them scenarios or paths or timelines or universes.
There is no escaping the fact that the patterns of organization we think of as "minds" or "consciousness" are attributes of such scenarios, not just of the "final" objective reality, however we call it.

Beyond third person science, my claim is that quantum computing capabilities are part of what we share AS PART OF THE NOOSPHERE, as the noosphere is an instance of what evolves in a much larger ecology than just earth. In a sense, then, in Brin's parlance,  the aliens are already here, as HALF of us, the so-called "spiritual" half.

It begins to feel like the scenario in a story by Anderson in the very-hard-core science fiction anthology Far Futures. Hundreds of world-lines running in parallel, like the strands of a quantum computer.  
 Even if only ten percent of those strands get behind strategies with a 5% chance of survival in each case, the overall system may see a near certainty of human survival (and earth achieving a certain status in its larger environment)... though individual strands face a high probability of being "z-ified." (See the Z term in my IJBC paper.) 

Again, this is the most hard core objectivist model pf physics consistent with established replicated third-party experiments. There are other possibilities which are weirder still, though I do not recommend taking them too seriously in the absence of qualifying empirical support. (That includes superstring theories or Zen.)  

It raises an interesting question: when is our probability of extinction so high that the main value of our strivings is the informational value of what we give to the noosphere, which straddles all these worldlines, and when is there enough chance of our line surviving (or of the quest for survival itself providing useful new information) that we put more energy into the kind of quest Kirk was engaged in in the movie (whatever the details)?

By the way, Plato and Zelazny also painted beautiful thought images which, like Anderson's metaphor, fit the new conservative physics.
The Z term describes how shadowy our entire 'world" or "universe" is.
Certain policies, like those Shelby, Lamar Smith or the Moslem Brotherhood, not only raise the probability of extinction on our time line, but of z-ification, retroactively turning our lives more into shadows,
weakening and attacking our past as well as our future.


All this from thinking hard about the life of a photon, as it would appear 
in detail even in a conservative model of physics, and also in Feynman's model which is similar but weirder still. In technical terms, "interference may seem like a small effect -- until you learn how technology and natural selection can use it."

I have more stuff on that in quantum optics, and lots of new technology possibilities, but curiosity now drives me beyond, even further, to better modeling of electrons. And those little creatures are so much more powerful and esoteric than light and photons! Zitterbewegung of thoughts themselves in the quantum noosphere? But I do not yet understand; the biggest work for me personally right now is to try to understand.

Best of luck,


Friday, July 17, 2015

Hard core realism: another shock of realization, zitterbewegung

In physics, I have several times discussed my shock last year in being forced to accept the
reality of "Plato's Cave" or else something even weirder in physics. That was my last blog posting.
Call that a "left wing realization," learning to accept empirical and mathematical reality
weirder than what my provincial common sense felt comfortable with. As bad as learning how to swim when you have spent your whole life on land.

Today is the opposite shock for me, learning to accept a kind of right-wing materialist heresy, which it seems is ALSO true and also takes a whole lot of swallowing. To accept and appreciate both Plato and Einstein, the "left wing" heresy of Plato's metaphor of the cave (or worse, but the cave is enough for me to assimilate for now) and the "right wing" heresy of Einstein's zitterbewegung. I long ago learned to accept time as just another dimension, neither left nor right but orthogonal to that line.

Zitterbewegung... !!

Einstein talked about that all the time, the core of his picture of the electron. It is somewhat connected to the view of De Broglie and Vigier, in their book on the linear and nonlinear wave and pilot waves and such, which I cite sometimes. (50s or 60?). I actually have letters form De Broglie to me in my few remaining old hard copy files, though I digitized and compressed them as I was departing NSF.  But Einstein's picture seemed a bit incredible,  My emerging view of the mathematics of the electron (as in my chapter in Chua's festschrift) was perhaps weirder (in a right wing sense) than De Broglie's but less weird than Einstein's.

Einstein's zitterbewegung idea...

The idea that the electron is something like a small hard core nonlinearity (like a vortex on the order of 3 femtoseconds wide) which zips around faster than the eye can see, like a competent feudal landlord surveying his domain -- the realm in which his pilot wave or wave function penetrates.
Zipping around and accelerating and decelerating at incredible speed, not emitting radiation except to sustain his fields, which would be impossible if the usual linear models were complete; however, the idea is that they are incomplete, that unknown nonlinear terms become dominant in the nonlinear core.  De Broglie did try to describe possible field theories with the required properties; I wentr further in my chapter for Chua's festschrift, but have better options in new papers in my files, for a later stage of our discussions.

But really... zipping around faster than the eye could see?

I accepted that the full bosonic density operator for the full electron (assuming any of the PDE models in Chua's festschrift or better new versions) would explain the "pilot wave" as a kind of envelope wave, not a real wave, like the low-frequency envelopes one sees in analyzing an AM radio signal. That was clear from the mathematics of classical-quantum correspondence (as in my arxiv paper extending the Glauber-Sudarshan P map). But zipping around faster than the eye can see...?

But this morning I know better. If I have enough fortitude. Do I? So soon? But logic is logic.

Yesterday I began by asking myself a basic question: for what solitons in 3-D space would we expect the full statistics (as in my extended P map) to predict something like double slit or two-channel interference, following a picture like that "AM wave picture?" It does seem to get back to zitterbewegung.

If you believe zitterbewegung,  then "seeing" the universe at small enough time scales would be like
slowing down a movie, in a way. What looked like one kind of continuous motion suddenly becomes something very different. Could such a thing possibly make sense? Is it logically plausible, even after we admit it violates some kind of provincial common sense? Must we stretch yet again, and accept something not as old or hoary or weird as Plato but still old and hoary and weird enough?

I had the advantage of remembering what happens when we look at 3 femtometers, in high energy electron-electron scattering, which simply does not agree with those beautiful predictions of QED (as in Bjorken and Drell) which they told us were so perfect in school. Perfect until the energies get to probe 3 femtometers. Probe an AM radio wave... and the 2000 hertz sound waves which appear as an envelope in an oscilloscope... are supplemented by something else, the real thing, the carrier and sideband waves at megahertz frequencies or higher. What if we probed the electron in time? Could
we suddenly get a very different picture there as well?

And then... I post this at about 5AM, from thoughts about 4AM in bed... (about one minute of thought this all is, except for memories of yesterday)... I realized: maybe this experiment is not a matter of "what if." The movie has ALREADY been slowed down. This May in Princeton, I heard the results of the world's most advanced experimental work to "slow down the movie," to record fluctuations in electric current down at the femtosecond level. (People did this before with optics, but for electrical currents, it required use of a high-speed electro-optic nonlinear crystal.) In a previous blog post, I even gave the address in Konstanz of Alfred who did the work.

Based on the magnitude of the currents he observed, Alfred calculated energies on the order of 10 watts per cubic centimeter, or 10 megawatts per cubic meter, "in free space." It would be truly delightful, from the viewpoint of energy economics, if that turned out to be a real source of energy,
and then if we could somehow extract it. (I have ideas about how, IF it is a real energy source.)
This is nothing at all like the "Zero Point Energy" or "Casimir energy"  one reads about in some other places, which I view as a theoretical epicycle. This is empirical, and different. But what is it?

Perhaps... not the most exciting to an economist.. it is "merely" our first empirical window into zitterbewegung, which requires rewriting our models to even a more drastic degree, as we get to femtosecond electronics and below. A whole new world. Weird, in a right-wing sort of way.
Weird like Einstein.  Weird just for the smallest things.

Time to adapt and try to start with the new models?

=====================  30 minutes later:

No, time to work on deciding whether I really believe it or not. The rules change at this time scale, but have to make sense. If the PDE are quasilinear still (as in the standard model of physics and the variations of it I have been working with, before gravity is considered -- though gravity is nonquasilinear), there is of course still the speed of light limit on information flow. 300 meters per microsecond... maybe...

========================== later still

It's natural to ask: :How much of the energy of the electron is in the core, and how much in the "pilot wave"?

But again, it is so much a statistical phenomenon that static images are not always reliable. It's always important to remember the analogy to AM radio waves. What's more... even in a static image... the question "where is the energy?" turns out to be meaningless.

This is due to a fundamental mathematical property of field theory (even classical Hamiltonian field theory) which they never told me in my courses... maybe because it was too embarrassing, or maybe because I took the wrong courses.

Even when you have a definite classical field theory, with a definite Lagrangian and Hamiltonian... no, you cannot really answer the question "WHERE is the energy?"  How could that be? Because Hamiltonians are only well-defined to WITHIN A NULL FORM. Whenever you write down a Hamiltonian, there is an infinite set of OTHER Hamiltonians which are mathematically equivalent in terms of anything one can predict in classical field theory -- the possible solutions for the fields over space-time or any specific thing which depends on them. A null form is just a function of the fields whose integral over space is guaranteed to be zero. (Remember integration by parts?)

This is somewhat embarrassing for gravity. Even if decide you agree with general relativity exactly, and you decide to couple gravity with the New Standard Model by using the well-known classical coupling defined by folks like Moshe Carmelli... even then, it suddenly MATTERS which of the equivalent Hamiltonians you use! And no, pure reason cannot tell you which one is right; even trying to do it that way is like the worst of medieval theology. It's an empirical issue.

For zitterbewegung, we do not know which is right of the equivalent Hamiltonians. What matters is the actual behavior, and the equivalent Hamiltonians work like alternative coordinate systems, all valid. If your intuition starts telling you the phenomenon makes sense in one frame but not another, that suggests a hole in your intuition. Certainly it is that way for the "radius" of a simple topological soliton like BPS, where we can SEE some paradoxes for intuition in a well-defined family of solutions. So perhaps the energy is more in the core for one frame, and more in the "pilot" (the envelope) in another. Move from 3D space to stochastic Fock space, and it gets even less trivial.

Still, if things vary by a factor of a billion, some of the usual expectations of how electrons behave may be off by a billionth. If we ask IN GENERAL what kinds of solitions give rise to interference behavior... the mathematics probably allow situations with less contrast between levels...


Also, re Alfred's work... it is WAY too early for any of us to be dogmatic about what he is REALLY measuring and seeing and why. It may well be a MIX of things, and a situation where disentangling the measurement device and what is measured will take a lot of time. It may also be interesting to compare, say, how it looks at 5 femtoseconds versus half a femtosecond, to help us guess the truth at even shorter time scales. What we DO see, however, is that things do not look the same at those time scales, and we should not be constrained by imagining that they do.


Added 7/21/2015:

Change of plans.

Lately I have often compared the photon to the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, or to a rabbit in general. I compare the electron... more to Sonic the Hedgehog (for many reasons, from ziterbewegung to Skyrme though it is not a skyrmion)... and I now feel some reverance for the little plastic figure on Sonic which Luda has been putting on our coffee maker for years
to give signals about cleaning.  Sonic (and Stitch of Lilo and Stitch) are still nice metaphors and part of our reality, from microscopic to macroscopic.. and Alfred's crystals should never be neglected...
How much is studying the electron's behavior like getting past Alice's rabbit to reaching the Mad Hatter? If I ever get to the real nucleus, will it be a Red Queen? We know whose cat is in this story.

But as of today, I have made a resolution for myself to go back to chasing rabbits until they are tamed further in some respects. No study of electron behavior until certain issues in photon behavior are further clarified at a basic level. I need to get into more detail of HOW people have generated three-photon entanglement (linked to all four key groups, the groups of Yanhua Shih, Zeilinger, Zeilinger's student and Fuli Li potentially). The roles of interference in fibers in Zeilinger's group and of beam splitters, certainly call for more modeling. And I also need to look for utterly nonclassical David-Deutsch style formulations for my time-symmetric triphoton example. And I even need to look closely again at Shih's Popper experiment, and its more recent versions -- which might actually be a lot more radical than triphoton!! Maybe. These are what we need most of all in the theory domain for real progress in nongravitational basic physics. Gravity is something else, not my specialty or karma as yet.

When do I go back to chasing electrons? Depends on progress with photons. Could be years from now, or hours.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

musings about where we all are

It was less than a year ago that I had "an epiphany" (well, more a eureka kind of experience, not the way I usually make breakthroughs)... about "where we exist," where our consciousness actually lies in the greater physical universe we inhabit.

Until then... I was grounded in a kind of "common sense," like almost everyone else on earth. I long ago gave up the "common sense" which says that"down is down" and thus that the world is flat.
I had outgrown the kind of "common sense" which is unable to accept the idea that time is just another physical dimension. But I still tacitly assumed the idea that "we," our consciousness," is basically just a pattern or form of the matter which comprises our universe. Crudely, "yeah, we are just globs in the universe, mainly occupying some volume of that universe." I later realized that there are more kinds of matter and life than I noticed at first, but the basic principle was still there. It's like the Rosicrucians who say: "We do not believe in anything supernatural. It's just that the laws of nature are a bit bigger than most of you seem to recognize as yet."

That's where I was. I knew about the many-worlds theories of quantum mechanics, which say that
 the cosmos or multiverse is infinite dimensional, made up of more universes co-existing in parallel than our universe has stars. But I didn't believe them. I knew we could explain what we see in physics in an ultraconservative model, a model so simple even Einstein might accept it (maybe, if he doesn't mind the possibility of just a few dice in there).

BUT THEN: this past year, as I worked out how such an ultraconservative model actually plays out, in some simple experiments in optics ("what does a photon do when it goes through your sunglasses?"), the shock came. In a string of thought... comparing that photon in a polarizer to me in the polarizing environment of the US government at the time...  I realized that CONSCIOUSNESS is a pattern or form pertaining to SCENARIOS within that universe, not to ultimate outcomes as such.

Thus IN PRACTICE, we humans get to live in a world of parallel universes -- really, parallel SCENARIOS -- rather than the one true objective reality.  I am still assimilating what this really means for our lives.

My immediate responses: Plato's idea that we are like shadows projected onto the walls of a cave is a lot closer to truth than I expected. "Changing the past" was totally impossible, inherently, in the old view of consciousness; the old view was like "the Oxford standard theory of time travel" in the novels Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis, or like the theory implicit in the novel Chronoliths.
There is lots of science fiction about changing the past, but it is mostly ... not so clear in its assumptions. The new story reminded me more of a chapter by Poul Anderson in the Far Futures collection (maybe sci fi, maybe imaginative futurism). It also reminded me of Zelazny's Amber series, and a few threads in the Dune sequence. Another cosmos altogether from what I had assumed.

Yet old habits die hard. When we talk about survival of the human species, I have agonized a lot about "what is the probability that we go extinct within a few thousand years?" That's a complicated theme in itself... but... it ignores the fact that the future of our timeline is not the same as the future of humanity. What if we start thinking of our timeline as just one of the threads in a larger system, like a thread within a quantum computer as conceived by David Deutsch?

Before last year, ever so much of my life revolved around elaboration and understanding of two mathematical objects, which I call J and lambda. There are important English and Chinese words which partially translate key aspects of these central mathematical objects -- words like hope and fear, qi, prana, cathexis, charisma, values, prices, whatever.  Knowing the mathematical core is very important in many spheres, to making correct decisions among other things. But decisions today are so ignorant and scary that the issue of extinction is quite serious. (Shelby doesn't quite get it that he is actually murdering his own grandchildren as he displays his unquestionable power to do so.)

But now, there is another "simple" scalar object, the Z term in the new physics, which might be translated as the "destiny" or "judgment" term. It appears in my article recently published in International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos, and in the article submitted to QIP. Just as my lambda in ADP can be described as an extension or generalization of old lambda vectors very familiar in linear programming and microeconomics, this new Z is an extension of things very familiar in thermodynamics (but no, not so much like the Z of Feynmann path physics).

Does it "feel like" Anderson's story? Will our suicidal actions end up dialing down the Z of our timeline, to he point where information exchanged with other timelines is our main useful product here?

I wonder.

I wonder in some detail, but there are limits even to my willingness to go too far in print.

Best of luck,


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Where the hydrogen fuel cell car came from -- and is it gone forever?

You may recall the Clinton-Gore Partnership for a Next Generation Vehicle, and the belief that hydrogen fuel cell cars are our best hope for a sustainable future.  Some folks in Congress have ideas for how to get that back on track. I recently wrote to one of them, on the real story of where that idea came from... and on what hopes we now have. Slightly sanitized:

I apologize for not reaching out to you more, for a quiet private discussion of what we really know on the issue of hydrogen fuel cells. I have lived the issue for more than 30 years, and have a voluminous electronic library on that subject, with many documents that never made it to publication.

When I was lead analyst for transportation at EIA, basically no one had ever heard of PEM fuel cells. There was a review report on fuel cells funded by Jordy's group at DOE basic energy sciences; the chapter on PEM, by Appleby, emphasized several basic show-stoppers that would have to be answered by breakthroughs to make them potentially useful. As the money for PEM fuel cells expanded, Appleby became more active on them, but I still remember his relatively late talk at National Hydrogen Association (which he pioneered behind the scenes) arguing that a different type of fuel cell, the alkaline fuel cell, which virtually got lost in the big government funding efforts, had far more hope to be useful.

I was one of the three people who actually led the way in bringing PEM fuels out of obscurity, when they were a small program in obscurity at Los Alamos, into the national limelight. I was an incredible learning experience for me at the front lines of this to see how legitimate good intentions, harnessed to a huge national interest, can get modified by today's big donor and stakeholder system, in a way that gets negative value for money, defeats the original objectives, and can even become obsolete due to new opportunities elsewhere. 

Ironically, I learned of the small Los Alamos effort from the "first new conference on return to the Moon," about 1980. The folks who designed the Apollo moon buggy had a section on new small and efficient steam reformer for methanol they had developed, and on how it opens up the door to using methanol as a carrier of hydrogen for PEM fuel cell cars on earth. That was basically part of a $1 million per year earmark program out of another part of DOE, closer to Phil Patterson, who was then a friend in the DOE EERE section.

After I learned more, I wrote a paper for the SAE session led by Barry McNutt (of the DOE policy office), which was important in stimulating initial interest in many quarters, as well as intense opposition form a certain oil company consulting operation. The three people who lifted this idea out of its initial obscurity were me, Al Sobey (Then Division Director for Advanced Products at GM), and Father George of Georgetown, who got an earmark for a PEM fuel cell bus. The initial paper was enough to arouse the interest of Bob Williams, for example (who cited it for a long time, acknowledging what got his group started), but also was the platform for my later efforts involving GM, the Reagan/Bush White Houses, and then later some friends in Tennessee who contacted Gore's group and played a crucial role in the PNGV initiative (for which I was one of the speakers at the White House inaugural event).

The Ballard company of Canada plays a crucial role in most stories of how PEM fuel cells could become useful in cars, but Ballard himself was deeply disappointed when the politrics under Gore started pulling things off track, away from reality and away from economic sense.

One of the biggest problems was the political pressure to shift away from methanol as a hydrogen carrier to hydrogen or natural gas, under very heavy political and ideological pressure, which Gore caved into. the fuel problem was an inconvenient truth of the first magnitude.

Back when LANL proposed a true steam reformer, with only 15 percent energy loss from methanol to hydrogen on board a car, that was one thing. But when the natural gas lobby sold him on the idea that "a reformer isn't really a reformer, that's just a semantic problem we will will be happy to correct for you", and then Gore touted a natural gas combustion-to-hydrogen system with 40 percent losses as the great scientific breakthrough of the century,  the doom of PNGV became inevitable. (Though I ran the small NSF branch of the PNGV initiative, under very different terms, through SBIR,  far more successful for far less money.)  Would it really be a great breakthrough for energy efficiency and sustainability to just add 40% to the energy losses in vehicles? What's next? An even greater breakthrough which triples energy losses, enriching favored stakeholders?

But wouldn't it be just great if prominent experts hired by those stakeholders told you not to worry your pretty little head about such technicalities, just trust THEM? (And enrich them.)

Hydrogen was another phenomenon. I have to admit that I was blind-sided by the political success (for many years) of the hydrogen PEM car movement. That's because working at EIA I had access on data on the cost of making fuels (hydrogen is always MADE on earth), and couldn't imagine people fighting to pay ten times as much per btu or per mile. If you start from coal or natural gas or biomass, it's crystal clear that you get a lot more methanol, more cheaply, with less environmental degradation, than taking it by way of hydrogen. I have seen the demos of those bright creative ideas for converting wind energy to hydrogen, and from there back to electricity... losing half the energy in the process, when a simple battery costing less loses only about 10%. What's the environmental imperative to waste energy?   

Of course, methanol has a chicken and egg challenge, but hydrogen has far worse, so what could possess people to support hydrogen?

Many folks I know came around to the belief that the oil industry decided to support the hydrogen+PEM mantra, because it was a good way to get troublemakers sent off to hydrogen monasteries where it would always be "tomorrow" and "demos" but never get in the way of the real world of hard core gasoline. Many chief economists of oil companies said that methanol would be a better way, but the PR people and the international political operations people are far more visible in Washington than the real economists. It may not be a coincidence that the DC folk decided that the Exxon Reston people should be shipped away to a place less visible in this area. (Some were my friends back in EIA days, though I left DOE for good in 1989.)

Romm of the DOE hydrogen effort did a great job in exposing something that really cried out to be exposed. 

There was one other serious problem with PEM fuel cells. I get part of the blame myself for not catching it earlier. I was really new to government back when this started. I read the LANL reports, and noticed a problem with hydrogen peroxide formation. "Don't worry," said the guy from LANL, "That's a pretty straightforward technical problem, and we think we have ways we can solve it, if we are funded to do so." Best information available to me now says they still haven't solved it. There is a kind of "abstract true efficiency" of maybe 60% for these fuel cells, versus a "present whole systems efficiency of 35%." 

That 35% is what you should actually compare to the Atkins engine in the Prius, or the Volt equivalent -- just over 30%. The PEM offers maybe 4 points more efficiency... but only versus pure hydrogen; all hydrogen carrying systems ever developed would have losses large enough to make PEM fuel cell cars WORSE than existing PHEVs like Volt and Prius, even just considering efficiency from gas station to wheels. (Sobey's current wells to wheels calculations show PEM cars as far worse.")

Note what I am saying here: existing cheaper hybrid cars give more miles per BTU of fuel from the gas station, for a wide variety of cheaper fuels at the gas station.

What of CO2? Carbon neutral biofuels (such as algae fuel) do just as well as hydrogen based systems by that criterion as well.

We have enough really pressing challenges already to shift the cars to viable sustainable technology, without wasting scarce money and energy on things which would make the problems worse!

At NSF, I did my best to be "above the fray" on these issues, subject to not totally throwing money away. So the last thing I did with fuel cells was fund a project at Penn State, under Sen and Irquidi-MacDonald demonstrating a path to creating a carbon-tolerant ALKALINE fuel cell, with REAL efficiency of 60%. (Their final report is posted at If that works, then, combined with the LANL steam reformer, it really could get almost double the miles per gallon of methanol as a Prius operating on liquid fuel. If anyone in Congressa wants to do something with fuel cells in transportation with a real chance of being useful someday,  THAT would be the best starting point. Risky, hard but possible.

By the way, as I walked out of the White House grounds for the PNGV inauguration, Henry Kelley gave me a quiet "word to the wise" or "sad feedback". Roughly, "You have to understand that our goal is to sell this program. Talking about the unmet technical challenges is not part of that. We need supporters here, for this program." At NSF, we did fund work aimed at unsolved technical problems here, but in all fairness the fundamental problems in batteries (which we also funded) turned out to be more tractable, at least in the political environment. 

Later, when I informed a colleague at NSF of the (limited by encouraging) success at Penn State, he replied, "But you don't understand. The money of for PEM fuel cells. That's been decided at higher levels. I can't do alkalines just because they WORK." Unfortunately, technical mismanagement by micromanagement became much worse than that after that, and that guy retired in response.

Sadly, the best technical option to do what PEM was supposed to do, but better, is a kind of advanced Stirling engine, which Sobey is very much on top of, even though he retired from GM. He has asked me to visit Michigan, Kettering, at their expense, to discuss it. 

There is a clear path to 50-55 percent efficiency, but combined with incredible fuel flexibility and immediate manufacturability in existing underutilized engine factories. But the inventor is very deeply pissed off at the immoral things DOE tried to do to him earlier (trying to steal his technology and give it to big stakeholders who didn't understand it) that it will be hard to actually get it. The technical reality is very clear, and his past inventions and patent prove that to my satisfaction and to that of Sobey, but making up for past DOE arrogance may or may not be an unsurmountable problem.

It's a v ery good thing that Secretary Paul Chu cancelled the big hydrogen initiative, as it was, under Obama.

Anyway, I am sorry this is so long.

I would be happy to come visit any time, and listen quietly to your questions. I have fond memories of that coffee place I went to every day, along the corridor from Dirksen to Hart at ground level, back when I worked for Specter's office.

Perrsonally, I am much more worried about climate change than anyone else you have met (and I know that is a strong statement), but I don't see hydrogen PEM as a way to address the urgency and size of the problem. 

Best regards,



Additional comment: in September 2007, I worked with MIT to organize a workshop on a new approach to accelerating development of new batteries, using new methods which might have had a chance to revisit some of the key technical issues of PEM fuel cells with more hope of success.  But when it came time in 2009 to actually implement a new battery initiative... a certainly friendly guy from DOE helped out in a pinch, and moved things in a radically different direction, not unlike what infuriated Johansson.   He also made sure that DOE treated the inventor of the first rechargeable lithium-air battery (which passed cycling tests at Argonne for more than 100 cycles, with a clear path to do more) was treated the same way that Johansson was. (For more on that battery, see


Another additional comment: news from Greece is very worrisome, and logically connected to the concerns above.  Six days ago, I posted a comment on this to the Energy Consensus group which addresses issues of energy security in the US, above all:

Will we be able to develop any of the technologies we need soon enough, completely enough, to prevent the nasty kind of supercrash that folks like Forrester envisioned years ago -- complicated by nuclear and environmental things which would turn it into an extinction event?

I try hard not to be pessimistic, but our chances of survival will be a lot less if we don't face up to how tough the situation really is. And it mostly seems to keep getting worse; it still reminds me of a science fiction novel, The City at the End of Time, by Bear, in which one rampart falls after another, but by bit. Events in the Middle East are part of it, but certainly not the whole main event in themselves.

One piece of bad news --  it does not look as if China will be pointing the way to transportation energy security after all. Yes, the BYD Qin and its siblings has real potential to make huge inroads versus GM and Ford, through another :sudden tipping point in the market, but even so it will take a long time before PHEVs take up half of the new car market in the US, and twenty years more before the auto fleet turns over. A few little things will be happening in the world before then...

But in China: Methanol Policy Forum 2014 has an update which is much less encouraging than the talks in the previous forum were.

In the previous forum, it was noted that new cars can have GEM60 flexibility at VERY little cost -- only the choice of hoses and gaskets, not other changes in engines or even controls.  If an entire NATION could get 60% of its liquid fuels from corrosive sources (flexibly), the immediate benefits to energy security would be huge. Brazil shifted from circa 1/4 GE fuel flexibility to circa 3/4 in just a year or tw0, showing how quick and easy and painless the transition can be, if there is a decision to do it. Plainly, there was not such a resolve in China. The new administration under Xi Jinping (with NDRC guidance) has also cut back on China's version of renewable fuel standards and incenives for electrification.

Why? That's hard to know. The previous number two guy, Li, was a great supporter of... his own name... and maybe it is as simple as loss of a champion, for electricity. But what of coal and methanol? Don't they have some clout in China?

What of the military in China? Clancy's novel Threat Vector has major limitations, but I hope some of those people are smart enough to read it. I assume they note the point that China's biggest vulnerability in a conflict with the US is the ease of anyone cutting off the straits of Malacca and blocking the oil which China is hopelessly dependent on still. Don't they appreciate the externalities here, just for their national security? Or are they weaker in China than we imagine?

But a lot may be simply mindset. The presentation for China was very positive in its rhetoric (as is habitual in government propaganda worldwide). They say they are expanding many-fold the early successful test demos using methanol fuel.  But when you start with just a few thousand vehicle,s it takes a lot more than a couple of doublings to amount to anything. It reminds me of the ways in which the Electrification Coalition plans for us to spend billions in nice politically correct demo projects in urban areas, making lots of connections with local pols, and how they even fooled Fred Smith into supporting their ambitions...  when Brazil showed how the real auto industry could move a whole lot faster without any of the waste, the barnacles, of such politicized approaches. So maybe the mindset in China favors such approaches, and maybe the Chinese military does never understand that they could actually move as fats as Brazil on GEM60 flexibility if they simply chose to.  Some people call the OPen Fuel Standard bills which came to our Congress a "socialist style mandate" but they are no more socialist than standards for digital TV; they would allow a vast market-based approach, to move us ahead by decades in any area where we desperately need to buy more time... and so market-based that China does not seem to see what a great option it would be even for them. Natoinwide GEM60 flexibility would be a huge boon to folks ready to sell a broad range of alternate fuels, on a competitive market-based basis.

In the face of governments screwing up all over the world, I certainly have remembered the "good parts" of Atlas Shrugged, which suggests a different pathway to trying to save something. Saving a small economy in the Rockies really wouldn't save even that valley from the H2S pollution coming our way, but at least SOME of the critical new technology might come on line... the sooner the better.

I was very amused a couple of years ago to see how the positive parts of Atlas Shrugged might possible be as realistic concretely as the bad real parts about the agents of ruthless corporate welfare in Washington. More precisely -- a new engine developed in part as a spinoff of a guy who was former division director for advanced products at GM, which could be used in time to fund more radical technologies 'way beyond the government's appetite for risk. It's a real-life story, and I have given lots of slides on the main high-level details. But at the end of the day -- the most crucial player, a guy named Lennart Johansson, reminds me of the stories I have heard about Albert Einstein; folks I have met who knew Einstein well say he was of course as brilliant and unique as we imagine, but also downright autistic. It's something about dominance of the right side of the brain  giving great powers of visualization and science, but absolute insanity in human relations. I am convinced he could demonstrate a manufacturable 50-to-55 percent efficient Stirling engine in less than three years, as he claims,  and I know the basics of how he would do it (lots of due diligence), but it seems unlikely that he would accept anything less than a total gift of $10 million in exchange for almost nothing. Properly led, the technology could make him a billionaire (which he could be well on track to being by now, based on deals he was offered) -- but I guess I can console myself with the thought that his personality is ever so similar to that of the Koch brother's father, and maybe it's just as well that we don't double that particular empire. Also, while this engine would allow us to cut in half the cost of electricity form large solar farms, it might also delay the ultimate dominance of electrification, by providing a high efficiency alternative, similar in a way to diesel but with much less environmental issues and absolute fuel flexibility.  

So what has been lost?

The news this week is not so encouraging for the world economy. Many say that the predicted crash of banks in Greece may only be a few days away now. So many people fantasize that this is only about Greece or only about the euro, but employment in Spain is already a nonsustainable sitruation, France is hurting, and the real issue is continent-wide aggregate demand and depression. 

 **IF** a new Stirling engine had allowed solar electricity from large solar farms at an unsubsized cot of 10 cents per kwh or less, and if there had then been more reason to push the options decsribed in,, then the risk of depression in the EU wuld be far less, euro or no euro (though it's a lot easier to save with a euro in place). So many self-proclaimed grand statesmen of the economy fail to understand how huge an impact could come form more profitable investment in just one sector, energy. If feed-in tariffs at 15 cents per kwh (and higher tariffs abolished) kicked in AND if the new 10 cents or less technology became available, the private sector could move very quickly to invest many billions, and create the jobs which are urgently needed in southern Europe WITHOUT sending more money to governments like that of Greece. But alas... because of one autistic old guy... and the pride of the world in not accommodating him... well, it doesn't look good in the near-term for the EU economy either.

Or for China. The new measures announced there sound a lot like trying to imitate what the Fed did for the US over the past few years. Maybe their failure to move efficiently on fuel flexibility is due to the old syndrome of having too much faith in folks slavishly following what they learned in schools in the US, without as much creativity as the stated policy calls for.

And then here... some on the right are saying our economic problems are all due to the failures of the fed.  But the Fed has been clear for a long time that they have only limited ability to prevent depression when fiscal policy itself is screwed up. As sequestration starts to loom very large... and none of the really plausible, sustainable paths to prevent it seem politically feasible (closing those nonproductive tax loopholes most coveted by vested interests, or deeper cuts in cost per value in medical expenses)... of course we should not assume the fed can save us. Maybe vast new private energy investments beyond the existing limited fracking kinds of stuff could so it... again like but only if we develop the requisite technology, which also does not seem in the cards. Even improving the technology per dollar ratio for agencies like NASA seems to be anathema to very powerful vested interests, and if we don't make massive changes in such areas soon..

Well, who knows?

Though some hope still exists, and I try to follow up on some of them... the most optimistic movie I have seen this year was Interstellar...

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

another very different connection between quantum physics and the soul in operation

The opening up of the soul -- seeing through the eyes of the soul, hearing through the ears of the soul, and so on -- is one of the really fundamental but difficult challenges in human potential.  Or, as some would say, "learning to really listen to the voice of God."

For many millennia, teachers would warn:"Once you start learning to listen, be careful. That voice you hear may be the voice of a nearby crazy axe murderer," And so, a fundamental challenge which goes with the first challenge is... well, some Quakers use the term "spiritual discernment," making sense of which voice is which. How can an individual KNOW which kind of voice he or she is listening to?

I should say a lot more about that important question (maybe another day) , but first let me mention ONE of my personal responses to the question. "Hey, if it's a local drunk, he wouldn't be able to explain intricacies of quantum physics to me, intricacies which I can be reasonably sure neither I nor anyone else on earth understands as yet." My personal reality test. Authentic but misdirected mystics who become lackeys of local axe murderers (like many jihadis or devotees of US fundamentalist "Christian" madressas) don't know much about higher math or empirical physics (a true reality test), and feel moved to reject them, because they threaten their habits of living in slavery. But those of us who want to know what's really going on will naturally embrace this reality test whole-heartedly -- not as an act of devotion, really, but as an act of reality testing, of devotion to truth. Any higher intelligence worthy of our respect, whether omniscient or not, should support and assist this. That's true on the mystical plane (in the noosphere) and in everyday life and politics as well. Any priest king or imam or commissar TV demagogue who discourages you from thinking, feeling and growing independently yourself should be treated with the highest mistrust you are capable of.  (Lately when I think of the words "commissar" or "gestapo," I think of a friend who said "don't just say they are minions of the Koch brothers and of their enterprises like Heritage; such oversimplifications are dangerous, and many of those guys want to be part of the solution." OK. Will be careful.)

And so, it was really neat for me to wake up last night, from the last of many dreams, to a memory of something quite interesting in quantum physics, which I hadn't even been thinking about at a normal conscious level for days, not even when going to bed the night before. Most of the time, if I get enough sleep, the very last dream tends to have a major "assumption" or "astral" core to it. In technical terms, this one was "assumption" -- a kind of guided visit to another very intelligent mind, working through the kinds of commutators which exist in real mathematics, in real transform operators and not just the usual stuff of canonical quantum field theory.   It was interesting enough, though incomplete in my memory, that I dove deeper into what I remembered, in something a bit like trance, to try to see/remember/obtain more of it... More on actual physics below...

A few days ago, I told a young serious mathematics graduate student (main author of my next paper in Automatica) "I am under too much justified pressure right now. I will have to put this F+P stuff on the back burner, for now." But, as Luda reminds me, I didn't really explain what my "back burner is." It's not a dustbin, an attic or a thrift store. It's part of the stove, where things really do get cooked somehow -- for me especially. It allows an interesting kind of experience where one remembers things, typically the next morning, which weren't in the mind at all the previous day.

A really serious parapsychologist, like Bierman, might immediately say: "Hey, this reality test is still not conclusive. For example, how do you know that you are not just tuning into your own FUTURE self, or some future physicist, or some kind of benevolent space alien?" That's a valid point, but all of those are better than a local axe-murderer or other types of "left hand path," which gets some people to inject self-destructive messages (like "kill them all") into the noosphere itself.

Because "Bierman" has a valid point, I don't organize ALL my efforts around this particular reality test, but I do organize a lot of them that way. I also try to remember and respect folks who can't use that test... though Yeshua himself certainly seems to appreciate the importance of this challenge.


More thoughts about the basic question here:

Many, many years ago, I still have SOME vivid photographic memories of a lunch at the Cosmos Club in the 1970's, with a serious old Taoist teacher with books out on the real meaning of Taoism, who was also a serious professor of technology at MIT. Among those memories... he said:
"There are all those people out there saying that it takes so many years for them to learn to reach enlightenment, and they think that the difficulty in what we are teaching is all the difficulty in reaching enlightenment. It is not true at all. Real teachers (like me) could bring almost anyone to enlightenment in an instant. The purpose of all the training is to enable them to SURVIVE after that. When energy starts to flow with great intensity, if the channels are not properly exercised and prepared,  the effects are very bad, maybe worse than death."

Most (perhaps all) serious psychotropic drugs do real damage to the brain, very large even when subtle. Yet there is discussion sometimes about whether they might force open the eyes of the soul (more precisely the mind part of nearby noosphere one is currently adapted to link to), and have some value in the right context for spiritual growth. (Indeed, a lot of the truly spiritual but insane people leading some movements may owe their relatively easy development to various drugs, which are a heavy net negative to true spiritual development but capable of impressing and deluding their naive listeners. Especially in the Middle East.)

During a lunch break in Udaipur in India, when I could not eat because of a lingering stomach issue, Luda showed me an article about the move to allow experiments with Psilocybin  in the US medical establishment. I said -- this is a typical case where both extreme positions show ignorance of what is going on. To her and to "the other Paul" on the tour I mentioned a book by Annie Besant, where she described the many hazards of trying to open the channels of the soul before one is ready. "If you work on becoming ready, through the right kind of sensitivity and energy, the channels will open by themselves, naturally, without that kind of external assist. The artificial means are always harmful on balance, sometimes lethally so." I also mentioned Besant's role as both political and spiritual teacher to Ghandi in his "quiet years," for which I have documentation in a book at home. (We actually bought our house from the inheritor of the aryuveda practice which treated Ghandi, another channel of information.) Luda has always wondered how far to believe that, though not so much that she would look at the book on Besant in our house (which I picked up for free long ago somewhere when I was a poor student). In Mumbai, she say not only the Annie Besant street, but the various books by Annie Besant in a key place in Ghandi's personal library, along with other interesting books we have discussed. In my previous blog, I posted one of our high resolution photographs of that library.

But note: drugs are external. The will to understand and strategic thinking of one's self are not. Even strategic thinking for self-development and spiritual attunement can have bad results at time, if they are neurotic and crude (just like bad travel plans), but we are called to do the best we can, WITHOUT drugs. (OK, I take an alcoholic drink or even one coffee sometimes  in proper social circumstances, but only under a variety of very strict constraints. It took years before I felt I knew enough about aspirin to use it on occasion, but never advil or tylenol.   I was one of about two kids in a class of about 200 in prep school who never once touched marijuana, and I would keep it that way... even though I remember two otherwise very interesting women who wanted me to join me that way back in  grad school days.  Long stories).

One of the most important science fiction novels which has haunted me since I read it is "City at the End of Timne" by Greg Bear.  Quick summary... lack of deep response to feedback can kill you...


By now, this is so long that only the self-selected few should get this far. So this far, it is OK for me to post something new in quantum physics which I ask not to bring to the attention of folks too immature to get positive value from it.

Last month, I had the great honor to get a glimpse into the REAL cutting edge of the very best real thinking about the real foundations of quantum physics in the world and in the noosphere today. It is not baby stuff. For me, it was an exhilirating experience of letting all parts of my mind flow and be challenged to their utmost. It gives a new window into some important things which will not be fully understood for centuries, at the present rate of progress. Nor do I claim to fully understand them all myself.   Still, not something which should be lost......


An email sent just after the conference:

To: Luda, Robert, Eshua
Subject: Brain dump form  Princeton physics meeting

Good morning, folks!

There are times when I try hard to be clear and focused in an email really written just for you. Please forgive that this is not one of those.  The conference which I just returned from at Princeton (last Wednesday through yesterday, Friday) was incredibly rich in important information. I want to get it down on paper, in legible form, before I forget important things. Some will be of interest to you, some not. Last year’s Princeton conference was also of great interest; I kept some notes scrawled on the little book of conference abstracts last year, as this year, but I begin to remember really important threads I have largely lost because I did NOT do this brain dump exercise. I may or may not follow up on any of the “action items” (possibilities for action), given the complexities of life and given that I am retired, but at least the information is here.

Some of this will be extremely confidential. Most is not, but please use common sense and be careful. Above all, we need to build relations with as many of these people as possible, and avoid embarrassments.

I will begin with stream of consciousness memory, which will be long (*and easiest to lose if I don’t write it down). Then I will decode my notes on the abstracts book, which begins with a very long “priority to do list” (which I wouldn’t be able to read a month from now!).

Ia. Memories of Discussion Involving the New Triphoton Experiment (Time)

My number one hope for this workshop, at one point, was to nail down the story on the triphoton experiment I proposed, which seemed to be like a new Michelson-Morley experiment, decisive in refuting the specific concept of metaphysical observers which has dominated physics for a century, and leaving time-symmetric physics as I have framed it as the only theory still consistent with experiment.

The previous physics conference I went to, in April, was SPIE/DSS, which I told you a lot about already. I gave two talks, and I sent you slides and papers. To prepare this time, I did a google scholar search on Werbos 2015, and was amused to see papers already available on the web which I had thought were inaccessible so far.

At SPIE, Yanhua Shih and his student Tao Peng came to the session for my first talk, on the history of neural networks, led by Harold Szu. I had been focused on the session, but then they passed me two pieces of paper, showing plots of the results of the first triphoton expeiments, EXACTLY the variation which I had proposed at SPIE in 2014. In these experiments, they said, they produced exactly the |0>|0>|1>+|1>|1>|0> GHZ state (three entangled photons) I asked for,
and the specific choice of polarizer angles θa and θb. I left the session room (puzzling everyone) and went to sit with Yanhua and Tao to discuss the results further. I had a printout of my new SPIE quantum slides (2015) with me, and pointed to the one which had two equations – one giving the predictions of time-symmetric  physics and the other of collapse of the wave function, for R3/R0 as a function of θa, θb and θc (for the case where the “c” photons arrives last at its polarizer). (R3 is the rate at which photons are detected at the end of all three channles, and R0 is the rate at which three entangled photons are produced. You can think of this ratio as the percentage of complete survival..) I asked Yanhua which predictions the results fit. He said “this one,’ pointing to the equation for the symmetric physics. I asked: “But are they consistent with the other also, so far?” He said “I don’t know, we haven’t checked.”

That was a very exciting moment for me. When I came back to the session room, still before my talk, they wondered why I had left, and missed a special important talk. I apologized to everyone, and said this was a special exciting moment, maybe historic – new experimental results as important in my view as Michelson and Morley.

In fact, we had been building up to that exciting moment for almost a year. In the 2014 Princeton meeting, Shih and Peng presented their joint work with Scully, published in Physical Review Letters, about how they used processed thermal light to generate true entangled states – true Bell states, with the correct R2/R0 curves – and done complicated experiments, like delayed choice eraser experiments, proving that they are real. At that conference, Shih said that this new technique is much cheaper than the current standard method SPDC. It could easily be scaled to entangle 100 photons, and make optical quantum computing feasible – but he had no funds to actually do it. At that conference, I asked him more questions, and offered him an NSF EAGER award, which allows quick funding without external review. Back at NSF, I discussed it with John Zavada, who handled photons; we agreed jointly to sponsor the EAGER, and it was signed off on. NSF awards are legally in the public domain, so this one is posted on the NSF web page. The proposal said they would study the results with three entangled photons, as a test of interest in itself, a step towards the 100 photon goal. Shih assured me many times that he could produce the |(0>|0>|1>+|1>|1>|0>)/sqrt(2) GHz state, and that he would do the triphoton experiment. By the way, he also said several times he wanted me to be a coauthor of the paper, as I suggested the experiment, but I told him always that NSF rules forbid that, and it was not really necessary.

After I retired from NSF (which I had not planned for 2015 back when I funded the EAGER!), I could no longer invoke that rule, but I assured Yanhua that I would follow his decision either way.

At SPIE this year, Yanhua could not come to my quantum talk, because Tao was registered but he was not, and guards were especially vigilant. I was careful to say that we need to check some things, but preliminary results were encouraging, and asked Tao to stand up. Luda later suggested that praising and encouraging people TOO much can get them scared and upset , and I see I need to be careful about that. In our discussions outside session rooms, Yanyhua agreed he would take the lead but insisted I be part of it and take the lead in writing the part I am closest to. He said in one week, he would begin, based on some further checking, and he would take the lead in submitting a joint first paper to PRL.

When I returned from SPIE this year, I constructed an Excel spreadsheet which, for any choice of qa and qb, gives the curve of predicted R3/R0 as a function of qc, for the two alternative prediction formulas (time-symmetric and collapse). It seemed clear that it agreed with time-symmetric but disagreed with collapse. That was the most exciting, optimistic moment for me. I emailed Shih and Tao with that spreadsheet as an attachment. Yanhua said – OK, but let’s wait another week. Tao has a lot of work to do, and we should not distract him.

*** “GHOSTS”: ANOTHER TOPIC: At SPIE, Tao and Yanhua and I had l lunch just after my quantum talk, at a little place across the street, where I had a hamburger and a beer and crab soup, Yanhua had something vegetarian, and Tao was intermediate. I asked whether astronomers and NASA are really using the best kind of interferometry for things like exoplanets (citing Hyland). He said he found it hard to imagine they would not be using the best established inteferometry (Twiss), but there is somehitng much better coming. He mentioned he had another student, a woman from Alabama, working on ghost imaging, which, he felt, could give us another factor of ten improvement in resolution for things lpike exoplanets and stars in other galaxies. He promised to send me her paper. If we get a real chance to collaborate more with astronomers (especially Chile, or Hawaii), there could be important opportunities there. After SPIE, Yanhua never sent that paper – understandably, since the thermal light experiments became so challenging, but I did some followup which we need to discuss further. A major line of opportunity.

-- Back to thermal light experiments: after a week, Yanhua baiscally said “we have some problems. Please wait more.” I waited and waited. But then I had to prepare for my talk at Princeton this week, and Marlan encouraged me to focus on the topics related to the new Shih experiments. I emailed Yanhua to say I needed to decide what to say, and really needed to know just where things stand right now.

A day or two later, Yanhua sent an email and draft paper which seemed to say that they had real troubles. The draft paper (by Shih and Peng) said that the triphoton results are consistent with “quantum tehory” (defined as collapse of the wave function), but in the email Yanhua said the fit was not very good and they needed to work on it more. There was no mention in the draft of time-symmetric physics (though I did not look at citation list). A little before that, Yanhua said Peng was having some problems with definitions of angles, and wanted to be sure he was mapping it correctly.

Seeing that paper, I requested to Marlan and to Yanhua that I not speak at the conference at all, and that Yanhua take my slot, to present his own results however he chose. I almost cancelled my hotel rservation, but decided to wait a few days. Yanhua urged us not to remove me from the program, and offered to come and present a poster on his results in addition to my talking. In the end, the conference scheduled us both to speak – me in a 25 minute slot, after Yanhua 40 minutes.

THEN THIS WEDNESDAY: The old roller coaster. (In the back of my mind, I kept hearing the song “all we are is dust in the wind..”. I resist many Buddhist ideas – except maybe half of the high Tibetan mindfulness effort to act like boddisattva – but there are times when that is a good way to behave, very compelling.) Two or three very brief conversations with Yanhua and Tao, brief but VERY high emotional bandwidth, enough to invoke huge quick bandwidth in my mind, which almost everyone seems to underestimate.  Three major inputs – one good, two bad. First input: all the experiments so far with the GHz state I proposed are consistent with time-symmetric physics, and inconsistent with collapse of the wave function. So even if it is like backpropagation, where I end up being a lonely hermit for decades (for all my lifetime this time?), I will have the consolation of knowing for sure that I am the one person on earth who really knows what the truth of it is. But Tao is totally terrified of what happens to his career if he is coauthor of a paper which “tries to overturn quantum mechanics.” Like the assistant professors at Tsinghua introduced to me by Prof. Sun in July 2014, it seems he is very worried about his reliable funding, and wants to avoid anything which could make waves. (As Luda warned.) He does not want visible praise or any connection with controversy. He tried hard to find different results, but could not. But since he “owns” this, and Yanhua feels personal obligation towards Tao, the results of the experiment can not be published! At lunch in SPIE, I noted that Mao, like Tao, came from rural Hunan, and he could also become famous for a major revolution; as Luda later said, that was probably a mistake. If only the spirit of Mao could help straighten the guy out! (I thought of trying such a thing...after some brandy in an evening... but of course never did anything like it.)

As they groped for ways to cope with this, including Yanhua’s conflict between promises he gave to me, his own high scientific honor, versus obligation and promises to Tao, Yanhua first posed this to me as follows in Princeton:  please forgive, but we cannot really verify your calculation of the predictions. Thus we cannot publish this. I pointed out that the test which realy matters most is the comparison between the results of the triphoton experiment and the predictions of the standard collapse of the wave function. That seemed standard enough (about half a page of very straightforward complete calculation posted on the web), but if they felt discomfort, I could respect that, as part of the moral highground of truth. I proposed a simple solution: “Let me talk to Marlan. Certainly he knows these collapse calculations. (I saw it when scanning his famous book, Quantum Optics, with Zubairy, before this conference.) If he agrees with the arithmetic, and would put his name on the PRL (as he did with your previous PRL on thermal light), would you agree?” Yanhua said “yes,” I wanted to talk to Marlan immediately, but Dana Anderson basically pulled him a way for all his free time that day, so it had to wait.

Later Wednesday, before I spoke to Marlan, Yanhua said: “It is very important that we also have another problem. We did not REALLY generate Bell states or GHZ states. We only said we generated SIMULATED states. The actual sources are sources of a COMBINATION of things, not just Bell states but other cross states, see? So that is another reason why we cannot publish this. See... here are powerpoint images of all the crossterms which confuse this.

“Because we do need to publish SOMETHING, we will publish something on the other GHz state, the symmetrical one, (|0>|0>|0>+|1>|1>|1>)/sqrt(2), where the cross terms are easier to analyze, and the results generally agree with quantum mechanics. Then we can send the data to you on what we saw from the asymmetrical simulated GHz state, and you can send this wherever you choose, but not with us.”  But he did suggest that we switch places on Friday, for order of talks.

This was a huge challenge to me. I asked: “Why did I come anyway? I cannot really say all THIS in the public talk! But anything less is very embarrassing. Maybe I should go back to the orginal plan, and just go home by train tonight, and skip the talk. Why not? After all, I am retired, and if the physics thread dies, it dies, no sense putting god money after bad.” But I felt no – as a matter of honor, Scully invited me and committed to pay expenses, and I was on the program. So as a matter of honor, I would have to stay and make the best of the situation. But what to say? First, to Scully everything. Next – well, I would select what to say in the talk based on the two key principles of honor and honesty, simply taking the moral highground (with respect for needs of Yanhua and Peng and needs for good feelings). But I was emotionally thrashing all day, and it felt as if I did not sleep at all that night, considering all kinds of extreme possibilities for where it might go, and yes, wondering “what does God want here?” (That’s just a shorthamd, but serious.)
I also did have a few thoughts about how Tao was misunderstanding what this is all about, and about how to change my talk, since it clearly needed some changing.

I was especially upset by the contradiction between what was said earlier about “real Bell states and real GHZ states,” versus what was said later, and oscillations in the story. I can understand that noise terms do require serious discussion, as part of the moral highground of truth, but whenever there is the kind of noise which would invalidate these results, it should prevent the appearance of zeroes in the R2/R0 and R3/R0 functions ; I did not see that in any of the experimental data, and the zeroes by themselves should be enough to be decisive. Yes, we need to work this all out in all detail, but that should not be an excuse for avoiding what is most important here (not only to this theoretical point but to a huge stream of possible technologies). At one time “We do not even have an idea how to get the real states, to get rid of the noise ones.” Another time, “Here are perfect entangled states for quantum computing.” Why is it so context-dependent?

It is amusing just how incredibly intense the thunderstorm was which broke out that afternoon – but, despite the forecast, no more rain after that even through this moment.

Thursday morning, in the wee hours, after maybe a very tiny bit of sleep and meditative state... my mind did not at all start to records recommendations or ideas about how to handle the larger dilemmas here. But ir gravitated a lot to the issue of what I might say, concretely. My draft slides mainly had two parts, the exact same slides I used at SPIE this year: a computing part (from analog quantum computing to implementation options) and a basic physics part – the experiment to do the test. I realized I could ditch the computer part. (Scully did say “keep it simple,” which is why I said nothing about new work on distribution functions, work which I would have paid for in blood to have access to ten or twenty years ago!) I added many new slides, to explain what IS time-symmetric physics, and why it is NOT an alternative to quantum mechanics, in its modern form. I WISH I HAD MADE the obvious analogy: just as special relativity can be used EITHER with classical field theory OR with quantum mechanics, time-symmetric physics – a STRONGER FORM OF SPECIAL RELATIVITY ITSELF (treating time as just another dimension) – so too can time-symmetric physics. OK, Einstein and I had personal views about PDE, but THIS IS NOT ABOUT PERSONALITIES OR EVENABOUT PDE! It is about a symmetry group, and about the exploitation of that symmetry group. So folks really need to understand that this experiment is NOT an attack on quantum mechanics as such, and they should stop being so scared.

So on Thursday, I was much less scared myself. Maybe I was like a good soldier going into battle, still concerned about possibilities for being killed, but aware of what I had to do, and calm, and able to relax enough not to be tense or cold that day. (Late Wednesday it was a bit harder!) Thursday morning began

On the whole first day, there was just one talk which I found truly memorable, the talk by Alfred Leitensdorfer of Universitat Konstanz, who also happened to be at the same hotel I was at. More on that later. It is a great example of the benefits of this kind of small conference (about 50 people).

Thursday began with two extremely memorable talks, first by Zubairy on a new method for lithography, and another by Fuli Li of Tian Jiatong University on ghost imaging and thermal light. (Also some very interesting other talks that day.) Fuli’s talk was VERY relevant to the Shih experiment. Both Yanhua and I spoke with Fuli further, and I received his card. Maybe I should send him email from Memphis email, since Xi Jinping seems to be ordering blocking of all gmail to China, It is interesting that Jerry (Zhi) Tian, who worked with me in ECCS and left just a little before (and is now in George Mason) has strong ties to that university; I never visited her after my retirement, but maybe I should make a point of doing it soon. As Fuli spoke, I could even recognize the same accent as her, different from the Beijing accent of some other people I  recognize!

His talk was about ghost imaging, but he used thermal light as the source of entangled photons, and cited the work of Yanhua. Before coming to Princeton, I did some web search, and found three important papers on ghost imaging, intended to support our collaboration with Chile (or perhaps Hawaii if Chile is more focused on other things), I found a paper on the web by Strekalov, Yanhua’s former PhD student, now at a US lab (JPL I think), which gave more detail on all the tings Ynahua spoke about over lunch at SPIE. I could recognize similar things in Fuli’s talk. Fuli did not really explain why the ghost imaging design is as it is (though he had a clear picture of WHAT it is), but his explanation of entanglement from thermal light through a beam splitter seemed much clearer to me than last year, where I took a lot on faith and feeling form Marlan and Yanhua. He had similar problems with undesired cross terms, and had no way to eliminate them – but he could reduce them by an order of magnitude or so by injecting squeezed light into the beam splitter. He showed good results in ghost imaging using that technique.

Later, Yanhua had some questions about how he might use that technique, to try to suppress noise. “But where can I find squeezed light, and how should I inject it?” For the first part – yes, we will both try to stay in touch with Fuli. But I told him – one of the three most famous people who developed squeezed light in the first place, Dagenais, is a professor at University of Maryland College Park! Maybe we should meet together some day at College Park? At NSF, I worked very closely at times with his wife. Dominique.

I did get to speak very briefly with Marlan Scully later on Thursday, and gradually started thinking more and more about the possibility of doing decisive triphoton experiments from OTHER sources besides thermal light – like SPDC or other platforms discussed at the conference or in other work I know. (I FORGOT TO ASK ALFRED – has anyone done Bell experiments on

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other platforms, which he knows well, or would they be able?) I asked Ynahua and Tao at ne point: “Is it still true that there are only three groups in the world who have entangled three or more photons enough for the simple true |1>/|0> GHZ states – you, Zeilinger and Zeilnger’s student now in Sichuan?” He said yes. I asked whether other groups COULF or MIGHT have done that. He said – some groups might say they COULD, but I think they do not understand the difficulty. To do that again in SPDC would be very difficult and expensive. It takes many months to accumulate enough data and be careful and get significant enough results.

By the way, Luda pointed me to the web page of the IOP “oral history” interview with Yanhua, circa 2001, which is really amazing, and says things I did know before even after years. He was truly the pioneer of using SPDC to generate entangled photons, the standard method now, because the older method of using two-photon decay was much noisier and led to far less accurate results. But his great success relied very heavily on the theoretical work of Klyshko, who came for a long time here to visit and collaborate. The Klyshko models they used are a variety of time-symmetric physics!!!

For Thursday dinner... Alfred, whom I was sitting with, had to leave early to catch a train and airplane, which he explained and apologized for several times. He actually paid for a taxi, so that I could stay a little longer there with Hue Xia, who drive me back to the hotel. Marlan began a realy interesting “trade of stories” session over dinner, but I had to sneak out, to get back in time to write a whole new set of slides. (I had sketched out a few possibilities Thursday morning, between 5:30AM and 6:30 AM, but needed to think more and actually go into powerpoint.) Back at Extended State America, at 7PN, it was very hard for me to focus on the great challenge of rewriting these slides, to try to really explain time-symmetric physics. I played solitaire a few times on my Kindle Fire as I tried to focus my mind, and then focused a bit on the key communication problems, and finally got up and faced up to the task.

I had almost decided not to bring my bulky new laptop (with Windows 8 and hypersensitivuty, which endlessly frustrate me) to Princeton – but since I was traveling and had no airplane check-in issues, I decided “why not try?” I was very frustrated when I arrived Tuesday night, that I couldn’t get the much-advertized free wifi in this place to work, and had put the laptop back in the suitcase in the closet – but then I pulled it out, put it on the table, and adjusted the chair to be more usable than that first frustrating night, Tuesday. The chair adjusted up... but in five seconds collapsed back, so I was struggling with the laptop at a very awkward height. (Both tables in the room were the same). OK... just keep going.

By 9PM, I had done a reasonable job – much better than ever before in explaining this, though I could still improve a bit. I copied the new slides to the flash memory I had brought (thank God!). I went to clean up. But when I came back to the hall I heard a strange noise. It sounded like rush of water. I ran to the bathroom, to the toilet where the noise came from, and opened the usual lid. There was nothing solid there, no obstruction, but it was flooding very quickly anyway. (My guess is that a part of the flushing apparatus just broke through old age.) Within second after I arrives, it overflowed, and got to a half inch or so of depth very quickly. I ran to the telephone, looked quickly at the choices, and hit “0” for front desk. (There was also an “emergency” button, but it was just 911, and this was not for the local fire station.) The front desk guy said: “I’m sorry, but we do not have any maintenance after hours. I can put you in another room, but that’s all. Any repairs will have to wait for tomorrow.” Me: “You don’t understand. The water is rising at a rate of about an inch per minute. If no one does anything until tomorrow, your hotel will be flooded, and there will be major damage. “ Him: “I’m sorry, but we cannot do anyting about maintenance until after hours.” Me: “I am not a plumber, but it seems the only choice you give me is to try to learn VERY fast.”

Of course, Luda could have done better, since she knows more about many, many things, but I did the best I could, in my ignorance. I raced back, and saw that it was up to two inches, in a wooden floor. Triage: I focused first on trying to stop the flood of new watre. Of course, I tried jiggling the handle even before I called the front desk. I lifted the lid, and played ignorantly with various parts which were half-familiar to me. Chains and flaps... tried but couldn’t do anything useful with them. Lifted a high black cylinder (“the float, dummy” said Luda later), and that worked. Ah, so much relief! No need to call for Noah instantly. But now what? Do I spend the day holding this instead of giving my talk the next day? If it is in the right position now, can I let go or prop up one of the other things in here somehow? No, that didn’t work. OK, can I insert something in there under the cylinder to prop it up? Like what? Looking around... towels were close enough that I could use them, and grab with one hand while keeping the cylinder up with another. I pushed the towel in and let go... well,  not quite, still spurting. Try again, another position. Not quite. Eventually I found a position that worked. I breathed a second sigh of relief and relaxed a bit.

Meanwhile... I am standing in two inches of (clear) water, in wet socks and so on. I grab the nearest trash can, and use it sideways to scoop up water and toss it into the bathtub... just like the old days, bailing bilge water on my grandfather’s boat. After a bit of bilging, I called Luda...with good news and bad news... and said I did not plan to talk to that front desk guy again about changing rooms. Too late already and I needed sleep for tomorrow. I went back to bilging... after removing the little plastic bag from the trash can. It took a long, long time, but I got the water depth down to maybe an eighth of an inch at the deepest part, and had two very wet towels. I resolved not to drink anything until I got back to Princeton.

What kind of sign was THIS about the situation I was in? And when would I have the pleasure of writing a one-star review for Extended Stay America, which also had an HVAC system and refrigerator in the room which sounded like airplanes taking off in the room all night and a grossly incompetent outsourced reservation line for the chain? (If you call a local hotel, never press “1”!) By the way, no little tea/coffee maker in the room, no glass glasses, and extreme hassle to anyone who tries to collect on their promise to provide pots if asked (as I saw with folks ahead of me in check-in). No new soap or shampoo after the first day. They said “no problem”  having a wakeup call each of the three days – but it only came on one of the three. The clock radio had no radio stations on any band – just really awful noise. (Still, I use those things only because they help me sleep better. I have never failed to wake up just before the alarm, in any hotel I have stayed in.)

But on Friday morning, after good sleep and shower (yes, still in that bathroom, much drier after a night of evaporation), check-out was very pleasant. Probably it was good practice for me that I had to tell this story in clear and colorful terms, twice, to the checkout clerks. I emphasized: “I already just checked out. I am not telling you this to complain, but to warn you, because I am worried about what might happen to the poor cleaning person why might come in, and remove the dirty towel from the toilet... and then feel a bomb went off in her face!” And of course I explained how I saved their hotel.  So they were friendly and thankful, and at 8AM we were all clam and happy as I met my ride to Princeton.

Before I forget... while I was waiting for my ride (I checked out almost an hour before 8AM, in part to feel safe), an oriental looking US-sounding woman approached me and asked about “that group of you talking about quantum stuff.” It turns out she was a biologist visiting from Chicago. I asked her a few questions about her work, and regretted later that I did not ask more. She was studying acid/base balance control in the kidney “which controls the balance for the entire body.” I could use a bit better understanding of that system... but came 8AM, when Gerald Diebold of Brown showed up, and drove us both to campus. (Gerald knows Leon Cooper somewhat, and says Leon is still active, more in brain stuff. He never knew Marc Bear or Jim Anderson.)

I was a bit uncomfortable about speaking in the SECOND session, at 11:25, since I am a morning person, since I really needed to communicate well, and since intermediate talks might dull my “great communicator” skills such as they are. But fortunately, the first two talks were very interesting and clear. I will discuss all those later. At the break, the guy who owned the “conference laptop” (Anatoly) was actually surprised I could figure out his new fancy laptop well enough to get my first slide to display right without help... but when I tried to go to slide two, it took a strange song and dance, reminding me of how the newer and fancier laptops seem ever less usable for humans.

At slide two, I intended to give two examples (not on the slides) of how phyiscs had difficulties in moving on, in the past, when basic issues like this came into play. I only remembered to give the first example... thanking Wolfgang Schleich (of Ulm) for taking us on Thursday after lunch to the room where Einstein and Von Neumann and department had meetings... rmeinding me of all the incredible emotional opposition Einstein faced to the assertion that time is just another dimension. It violated so many people’s “common sense” about how time is so different, to which Einstein replied: “common sense is just a collection of prejudices acquired before the age of 18.” I said that time-symmetric physics has been held back by two major things, partly these kinds of crazy emotions, and partly due to some reasonable questions I would get to on the next slide. Olga of Texas A&M asked for some examples (and so I forgot to compare mention people who killed anyone who proposed that the earth was round, who felt their sense of “down” must be universal), I did not name names... but mentioned a leading physicsit who said his brian could not adapt to such a thing... but I invoked the Hebb award and brian scinece to say, yes, we CAN adapt if we choose to do so... I forgot to mention recurrent networks and Goldman-Rakic... but may do so on a later occasion.

Beyond that, it is almost all on my slides. I mentioned Duerr in my discussion of square measurement. Germans broke in – they know him, but he may be dead or in China now. ‘I last saw him in 2008.”

Actually, I started by thanking Marlan profusely for a chance to learn all this great stuff, whiich I wish I had learned earlier. And for his advice – this time “to keep it simple.” I said I deleted the first half of the talk – “but if you are interested in those topics, my page in the abstract book gives URLs with lots of detail.” I reviewed last year’s experienced... and reported I was vey sad that getting to 100 entangled photons seems a lot harder now than I did before. I left NSF, but NSF asked me to develop the options here before I left.  Now that we know quantum computing with photonics is harder than it seemed it would be a year ago (part of the normal ups-and-downs of real science), I agree with them that other application areas – like imaging, communications, energy – seem closer at hand than quantum computing in any form. But the science if very important...

And then, yes, I followed the slides, which I need to copy over.

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In the question period, Marlan urged me to look at his joint papers with Schwinger. “We already found a continuous time model based on Stern-Gerlach which reproduced collapse of the wave function. We need to get together on this and do something together.” I thanked him, noted the reference, but said: “Of course, I only worked out the predictions for this experiment for two classes of model. I cannot yet say what your model or analysis would predict before I study it.” Him “Oh, that’s easy. It just gives what quantum mechanics gives.” Me: “The key thing is that we need to let our theories be driven by experiment, and the experiment needs to be performed.” Him: “Oh, that’s easy. The experiment has already been done, and it confirms quantum mechanics.” Me: “This is not about testing whether quantum mechanics fits something. It’s about trying to learn which VERSION of quantum mechanics fits.” Then he got up and shook hands with me.

In retrospect, I probably should have emphasized what is new and essential about the specific triphoton experiment which I proposed – about the ability to DISCRIMINATE between two classes of theory. That requires that the predictions be worked out for BOTH classes of theory. We knew long ago that collapse fits SOME experiments – the Bell experiments, which ALSO fits time-symmetric theory. I doubt anyone else has previously suggested an experiment which tests BOTH (although I suppose I should look over recent work by Aharonov, and there was “Popper” work by Shih which may prove the point in a very implicit hidden way which could not change anyone’s mind).

I left hoping that a few people would be bright enough to see this crucial point, even though I did not emphasize it, as the new ideas “sink in.” In fact, as I sat at the Trenton train station, Marlan called, and asked that yes, we should collaborate and follow up – more detail when I am in a less noisy environment! There is hope.

After my talk, Yanhua and Peng first presented theory very similar to what they presented last year. They said nothing about “that asymmetric GHz state, which is much more difficult” (except for that brief comment itself), but seemed to suggest perfect Bell and quantum computing states, and a model CNOT system.

It was amusing that the speaker after Yanhua/Peng, Kulkarni of CUNY, began by saying: “we have been entangling something totally different – not photons, but qubits.”

At the final stage, Marlan suggested that he, Yanhua, Peng, Suhail Zubairy and I sit together in one side of the room, eating the box lunch. (Not nearly so luxurious as the lunch the previous day... ah, the great Korean flank steak sandwich!) Fuli Li joined us, and other quiet people at the far side. Marlan was thinking about some intense questions about off-diagonal terms... which Suhail started to explain, becoming really the entire focus of discussion. Marlan also talked about 2-point and 3-point correlation functions (across time), and I began to wonder whether 3-point correlation functions might be a venue for testing ideas linked to triphoton effects or my new distribution functions.

I was starting to think... a Martian might characterize the 20th and 21st centuries, IF we make progress (very unclear), as the time when humans finally learned, how to count, first from one to two, and then form two to three. I thought of the song I sang to my little grand daughter Evelyn last summer (soon after her birth): “One little two little three little photons....(repeat three times).. can change all of the world.”  Throughout the conference, many leading experimenters found more and more instances of quantum entanglement, almost the whole basis (together with coherence and distribution functions) of modern quantum optics... in effect, Bell states everywhere, once they all understood them and knew how to look for them... so what could we be able to do, in these venues, when we learn better how to UNDERSTAND and LOOK FOR  states like |0>|0>|1>+|1>|1>|0>? THOSE are the triphoton entangled states, really, not |0>|0>|0>|+|1>|1>|1>, which is basically just an old style coherent state.  As Kulkarni talked about how his group generated Bell states by “things which happen” in connected cavities, I found myself thinking: “maybe we can do something similar, to get new ways to generate triphoton RNTANGLED states (again, not just coherent), maybe by having three cavities and something like that pi switch plate that Marlan discussed in his talk about superradiance. Something of that flavor. Yes, we need to fight the photon wars, but maybe those warns are a sign that it is not too early to think more about other platforms.

During my talk, when I mentioned the three groups, I noted that Zeilinger;s student had actually entangled MORE photons (8) than the other two, mainly because he (in Sichuan) got lots of money from China. (Who in China? I did not discuss.) Over dinner, Yanhua casually mentioned that he had huge money problems, that he likes Fuli, so maybe HE should go to China to get money and do what he wants to do. Clearly, international collaboration is a crucial way to get funds and new teams in this area, as events in NSF and Congress and other “translational;” places in the US make it more difficult here. I have higher hopes for Ulm/Austria/Konstanz right now, but we must play by ear, and think hard about what specific hardware capabilities are needed and possible, where.

The last thought I can remember (without checking notes) on this specific topic came to me this morning. Already, when I was writing about how get to the AQC technology, I admitted that we will ALSO need time-symmetric models (lumped or continuous) of OTHER important circuit elements, sooner or later, like beam splitters. Perhaps it becomes sooner. Thermal light is a lot about beam splitters. Maybe I need to build new models explicitly for them, allowing to get deeper into the actual physics of the thermal light experiments as such, getting into the physics of “the source” and not just the physics of the polarizer. So maybe I could bypass the noise issues, and perhaps even come up with a simpler decisive experiment. Maybe. This will not be immediate, and with my life and social context as they are, maybe I will never have time or context even to start. But maybe. We will see. I remember studying a lot of the papers by Zeilinger about how HE generated GHz states with SPDC, and that was already complicated. I need to ask – how can we do this in a way which might require months of set up and research (or even years) but NOT require expensive months of data collection to get the results? That is a challenge to experiment design, may a bit more for me and Scully than Yanhua, but who knows?


Ib – from memory, other issues, from physical to technical

Ib.1 Beforehand: re-scanning the classic Quantum Optics by Scully and Zubairy

To prepare a bit, I first pulled out Scully and Zubairy, Quantum Optics, which I respected but never really studied (as I had other sources which were easier in a way for folks trying first to really understand the math). As I did so, I felt bad I had not studied the book a lot more before, and cited it. For example, It TOO talks a lot about distribution functions, and cites a very important classic review by Wigner, Hillery, O’Connell and Scully.

In general, Walls/Milburn and Carmichael are clearer about the axiomatic side of what they discuss, but Scully is a lot clearer about what it really means, and about the interface with the real world. Scully did “write the book” (with Sargent etc) explaining the laser, but two chapters here give an excellent account, bridging the wo0rld of thoeyr and the world of experiment. At the conference, I heard people saying: “It is scary how MANY really important papers and new tecnologies Scully is part of. I guess that is what happens when you are a good enough theorist, and can work with many applications and experiments.” I can resonate with part of that, but the CONNECTION between theory and experiment and application is what makes Scully so incredibly unique. And also, of course, his ability to work with people. We did get a fairly deep confidential discussion one of those days, and I learned lots of interesting things I would not have guessed about his background. For example, he even studied a lot about law over a couple of years, and beat out some professional firms in reasonably high-level cases.

Some topics in the book we need to follow up on – e.g. interferometry. I need to study Hyland’s exoplanet paper carefully, compare with VLBI activities and Scully... to see just how much near-term improvement is possible in imaging objects in space, even before we get to higher-order quantum effects, which I also hope we have time to get with. I have ideas about POSSIBLE add-ons to regular telescopes “to see the sun as it will be eight minutes in the future, and distant galaxies billions of years” .. AFTER the triphoton stuff is ready, and IF we navigate through the next set of challenges. But there is  a market and a very nice empirical test possible, and a guy in Hawaii we met. Xian is one obvious place to add to collaborations if so.

I note from Scully’s book that the main benefit of Twiss inteferometry over simpler stuff seems to be about canceling atmospheric noise terms. Yet Hyland said his HBT based constellation optics design would give much better resolution for constellations of satellites in space looking out, where atmospheric turbulence is not a problem. I need to nail down what is going on here.

Scanning Marlan’s book, I also saw a VERY clear section on “lasing without inversion” (LWI) which was the basis for HIS new work funded by NSF in 2013 – but the book was ever so much clearer and simpler than any of what I saw at NSF! Such a simple idea... we do not need more excited states than ground states, if we engineer ground states somehow so that they do not absorb much energy, so that emission from the excited states dominates the output.

Ib2. Travel and Meeting Alfred of Konstanz

I left for Princeton on Tuesday, with two copies each of the Amtrak tickets (one to go, one to come back, separate) printed from the Amtrak website. At 2:30 or 3PM, Luda dropped me off at Ballston metro. At 4PM, had sausage and peppers at Sbarro’s in Union Statrion. At 5, boarded the train. At 7:30, got off at Princeton junction.

Wednesday morning, Alfred and I met, both half an hour for our 8AM ride with Hui Xia from Suckewer’s laser lab at Princeton (which I funded years before, for an EAGER on new technology to address the orbital debris problem). Alfred described how close they are to Switzerland, how he guides mountain tours for his school, and how Wolfgang leads a great network of collaboration in that area. He had to fly back late Thursday, to attend his son’s wedding, which they could not reschedule because the current Catholic priest in his area is relatively liberal and is being replaced by a new one whom they fear might be a problem. Maybe his son’s new wife was Protestant? I forget.)

Ib3. Background and Start of the Workshop

At the start of the workshop... Marlan thanked Wolfgang and Leon Cohen for their great work in helping organize the conference. There were many people from Germany, probably due a lot to Wolfgang’s efforts. It seemed to be US-Germany-China to a great degree. They noted that this was one in a long continuous string of meetings, including ne which featured a Wigner-Wheeler debate. Glauber was very active last year, giving a tutorial on distribution functions (mainly his “P” type) and a long after dinner speech showing pictures from the Manhattan Project, talking about Von Neumann, Teller, Bohr, Oppenheimer and many others, with pictures. I have the impression that just two of the folks this year were Nobelists (Fred Lee and Herschbach), but that’s just an impression.

Ib4. Memories Hour by Hour as I look at the one-page schedule -- Wednesday

Ib4a. Talks on “revivals” – more later

Wednesday morning (I look at the schedule now) was a lot about “revivals,” which pose questions Wolfgang is trying to understand. More later. Alexander Kaplan talked about light pressure in cosmology (more later), but people did not understand it all.

Ib4b. Talk by Alfred – measuring “electric vacuum fluctuations”, discussion and implications

Alfred – an experimentalist and condensed matter guy, reaching out in collaboration to Wolfgang discussed an ultrafast technology for measuring electric fields. It is so fast, he reported, that he has measured the vacuum fluctuations of the electric field, a subject dear to the heart of ZPE and Casimir enthusiasts, whom he did not discuss. “And yet,” he said in conversation, with no prodding at all from me, “it all seems to follow straight Maxwell’s Laws.”In conversation, I mentioned that last year’s Princeton conference focused a lot on the question: “where does the noise come from anyway?” It turns out that the Feynman version of quantum field theory (FQFT) and the Copenhagen canonical version (KQFT) really have important differences – most important being about vacuum fluctuations. In KQFT, the noise basically comes from initial conditions; the dynamics follow “the normal form Hamiltonian,” which has no noise. In FQFT, the “Fulll” Hamiltonian is used which contains zero point energy terms – in effect, noise which comes from the dynamics of the universe, from “God throwing the dice again and again everywhere.” In KQFT, spontaneous emission is predicted by using the “Fermi Golden Rule,” which seems to me to be every bit as ad hoc as the collapse assumption. In FQFT and today’s Cavity QED (CQED), sponatenous emission is predicted by considering interactions with the background vacuum field, just like FQFT. I said to Alfred: “It would be nice of we could find a decisive experiment for this choice too, also allowing my own alternative, a third view. In my view, the spontaneous emission is due to a KIND of interaction with actual fluctuations, but not with local dice – rather due to convolution of probabilities with RECEIVING reservoirs in the future, with what I call Pr+ in my continuous time MRF equations. I do hope we can think of ways to test this kind of thing.

Still, being wrong on this point would not bother me nearly as much as the collapse of the wave function!! Alfred calculated vacuum energy (measured field fluctuations) worth about 10 watts per cubic centimeter. **IF** that should turn out to be real, I have an appendix at the end of my 2015 paper in IJBC... and extracting it probably would be possible, and that’s a LOT of energy folks, supposed to be available even in space! It reminds me of the Book of Revelations. But again, my interest would be in developing experiments to FIND OUT which teoyr is right, and what is real, not to prove any preferred outcome. I have more notes on his talk... to come.. One audience member (Andrei Ruckenstein, recently Dean at BU whom I talked with over coffee earlier) asked whether this had anything to do with Casimir; Alfred said he did not connect with that thread. (Ruckenstein was Grossberg’s dean , and had developed the key linearized models discussed with a lot of the revival stuff. He complained about Grossberg ignoring or rejecting experiments which did not confirm his (G’s) theories.)

Ib4c. Dana Anderson talk on atomtronics, Bose-Einstein on a chip

Next spoke Dana Anderson. Martin said: “This guy has a company selling Bose-Eintsein condensates on a chip. Or so they tell me. Is it true, and how much do they cost?” “750K,” said Dana.  Dana gave a very tutorial talk about “atomtronics,” trying to use whole atoms instead of electrons to do the same kind of job. (He didn’t say much to motivate it that I could see.) He discussed how chemical potential (marginal system energy per addition of an atom) plays the same role as voltage in electronics. And at certain boundaries, Bose-Einstein. Marlan seemed interested mainly because of the interesting application of Bose-Einstein math, and Dana really wanted ro work with Marlan to nail down that subject. Wolfgang asked if this was a kind of Maxwell’s Demon (as it sounded at several points); Dana said no, he never gets close to such thing. (At coffee, he said his wife – Popovic --  famous for a paper in IEEE/MTT on amorphous electromagnetic energy scavenging, is doing well.)

Ib4d. Diebold talk on interference of DeBroglie waves, and discussions of international science

Gerald Diebold (who also stayed at extended stay and took us to and from campus a few times) gave a talk on a kind interference and entanglement effect with “De Broglie waves,” building on similar work by Vigier et al. It sounded about the same as Bell type work in the bottom line, but on a different platform. He does more work on photoacoustics, and we talked about life and science in general a lot to and from the campus. Alfred and Olga (of TAMU, not at the hotel) told us at various times about ups and downs of science in Germany, EU and Russia. Olga says her collabortaors at Kazan now have a better lab than she does now, that science was starting to recover a few years again Russia, but went back down due to the economic problems. Her main collaborators are with the institute of physical sciences near (at?) Moscow, Germany is much better than the US now, but fears of bad news in euroeconomy hang over us all.

Ib4e Free electron laser

Giese of Ulm gave a talk on free electron laser, which seemed extremely solid and useful, but not my area. (Maybe more notes later, maybe not.)

Ib4f. “Bohr atom” and interpolation to calculate spectrum of helium

Herschbach gave a clear talk on how to use “dimensional interpolation” get a very accurate but quick and dirty calculation of the spectrum of helium. This seems to be “Bohr atom” thread which Marlan has been so excited by lately. But dimensional interpolation is so clearly nonphysical... that I am not so interested myself. I saw earlier “Bohr” papers which made me wonder: could these be a bridge in some ways to my different picture of the atom? But nothing like that here in any way.

Ib4g. Leon Cohen on finding “quantum” formulas in proper probability theory

Leon Cohen gave a talk on deriving quantum looking formulas from straight probability theory. He was nice and clear, as mathematicians can sometimes be more than physicists usually are. But it was all one variable, and he said “this only works in one dimension.” I raised my hand to explain that it can be – and has been – extend to more, and started to give SOME of the kinks to P distribution functions, but the chair rules we were out of time. (Before me, there were many intense questions by folks a little freaked out.)  BEFORE his talk, from his abstract, I was curious; I asked if he really knew about operator field algebra and distribution functions, and he said yes for sure. I said we might discuss some possible collaboration (I was thinking of my new F map), but after this talk... well, I had other priorities to attend to.) But who knows? I made a point of saying good things about probability theory in my own talk Friday, and should perhaps beef that up even re if I ever go through this again.

Ib4h. Late Wednesday: O’Connell didn’t make it, talks not in my core interests

At the last session on Wednesday... O’Connell didn’t make it. (He later emailed to say that it was the fault of American Airlines, and he was upset they didn’t announce that to everyone.) A guy named Bondar gave a talk on “deriving our models from data not theories,”, citing Schwinger a lot , which sounded good to experimental people – but as he spoke it became really clear that this was effective but false advertizing. I compared it to medieval hermeneutic proving the existence of god... but... no, not to more than one person.  Efremov of Ulm had a very elegant talk on how tell when quantum beam is nonGaussian, but it was unclear why. One questioner asked: “Aren’t you trying to find out whether it is nonclassical state?” No, it was just about being Gaussian or not. I forget the talk by Ben-Benjamin, but probably have notes.

Ib5. Memories Hour by Hour as I look at the one-page schedule --Thursday

Ib4a. Zubairy – a new breakthrough in lithography

On Thursday morning, Zubairy’s talk on lithography was impressive, clear and exciting. He began by saying that the electronics industry (and other folks who need lithography like integrated photonics) were still running into problems with the diffraction limit, which requires ever higher frequencies to get even smaller frequencies, despite the academic and laboratory work on subwavelength lithography ( a kind of superresolution). I wondered how this fit with the work of Eli Yablonovich, my former classmate, whom I often cited as having broken the diffraction limit problem! Then, on his first literature review slide, he listed about six papers, starting with a first paper by Eli, which he very much acknowledged. “This is great work, but none of it  has reached industrial strength yet. Before me, it was based on entangled photons, which birngs in the questoins of how we make them at affordable cost and so on. But my new method uses CLASSICAL light with Rabi oscillations only... here are the papers,. Includng a new one which actually applied it to lithography, and demonstrated fabrication with resolution nine times smaller than the diffr5action limit says is possible. The math says that we can reduce feature size a million fold this way; nine was just a first crude proof of principle.

That was truly great, but Alfred – who is closer to the real industry – raise his hand and said,”The situation out there is not as bleak as you described. Industry has already been exploiting threshold effects, a new way to get subdiffraction, which buys another factor of two or four. Have you looked into COMBINING the now-standard threshold techniques with your methods?” (Suddenly I remembered that it was THRESHOLD effects that Eli was emphasizing in the NSF QMHP workshop – my story was exactly true, still, but could use details to make it clear,)  Zubairy said no, that a million fold is already good enough improvement and did not need boosters. We discussed this further over coffee; I said, given the uncertainties, than an optimal development program would probably include PARALLEL efforts to push Zubairy’s stuff to a million-fold real-world improvement, ALONG with efforts to develop a hybrid method in case that work out better. But yes, who wuld pay and who would do the work?

Ib5b. Fuli Li – ghost imaging using thermal light squeezed

Fuli Li I already mentioned (Ia). He began his talk with beautiful pictures of Xian – three of places we have visited and were deeply impressed by. Again, the ghost imaging is an important opportunity.  See also my notes from the book of abstracts.

Ib5c. Olga and collaborator – X ray lasers and shaping pulse for quantum memories

Next on Thursday was Olga of TAMU. We talked a lot over coffee, and I certainly mentioned Luda.  Olga’s talk was about developing higher power X ray lasers, to stimulate atomic nuclei... to try to create quantum memories based on 100 Mev Mossbauer transitions. Naturally, I also thought of other coherent/nucleon work, but we all mostly avoided that subject. It really isn’t such highpower – just high power per photon, aimed at delicate quantum computing things. Suckewer of Princeton noted that the whole approach has major limits in power intensity, as is needed in many other applications. Notes to follow? A follow-on talk by Zhang of TAMU described more about the quantum memory design. Quantum memory is a key part of the goal of building “quantum networks,” as he said, but I mentioned over coffee that my main interest for now is with obstacles to having anything worth networking.

From Olga and from Hui Xia (Suckewer’s coworker) I learned that LWI, and EIT (Electronically Induced Transparency, a way to get LWI) are crucial to their work on X ray lasers, simply because dissipation and opaqueness problems at high frequencies are a fundamental barrier to making X ray lasers by conventional approaches.

In her talk, Olga also gave a list of emerging critical component technologies for Xray lasers.

Ib5d. Phil Hemmer on Biosensing and Making Tiny Diamonds

The second Thursday morning session began by a talk with Philip Hemmer of TAMU, whom I got  to talk to a lot.

----------------- ACTION ITEM

Philip has been pursuing biosensing passionately for decades, and I promised to send him my talk and slides on sensing the brain, which we discussed. His own main emphasis is on using Ni or Si vacancies in diamond for developing sensors of exquisite sensitivity, able to “See” protein structure for the first time, and small enough to be inserted into cells. He did review other ways to address protein conformation, in vivo and in vitro; he noted that X-ray crystallography lies behind 90% of the protein molecules we actually know, but is very expensive and thus is applied only to a few, and is only in vitro. His small new diamonds have shown great success, but still are a bit far from application, in part because issues of systems design beyong just development and injection of the sensor itself.

Ib5e. Superradiance talks and revisiting how spontaneous emission really works

Then began a whole series of talks on “superradiance” and Dicke states, which was new to me, but shouldn’t have been. It seems that it too is in Marlan’s book, but I never heard of it. Dicke’s theoretical breakthrough was all applied to marginal issues in NMR, but Scully extended the method/model to be useful in quantum optics, where it is big stuff now. In essence, the idea is that “spontaneous emission” (which may be in response to just one foreign photon coming down the line) is actually a COLLECTIVE effect, strengthen by a factor of N (not the expected random independent sqrt(N)) when there are lots of excited atoms in the line, close enough. This is a big emphasis for Marlan, and I have lots of scrawled notes. One interesting aspect: Marlam mentioned a critic who said “This is still all just Fermi’s golden rule for spontaneous emission.” Scully had a mathematical/empirical reply showing it is NOT. So what is it? Is this something to add to the discussion with Alfred about CQED testing or CQEDII? It all fits beautifully with my images of how light quantization actually works... but new experiments and devices are always critical to look for.

Ib5f. From superradiance to new more poiwerful types of lasers or QASER, laser II

After lunch, this continued, and built up to a talk on the QASER, a new more general post-laser design from Marlan. But the presenter, a woman named Luojia Wang, spoke a lot like young very scared but nice young woman I once knew from very south China. (Yet another accent becoming familiar!) It was not so clear, and not incisive at all. Perhaps Marlan thought the graphs speak for themselves, and perhaps they did for some people.
Assorted further talk on Thursday... more notes to come. Suckewer talked about lasers like 10**18 watts per square centimeter, but Hui warned this gets diluted when they use it for harmonics applications... more later.

Ib6. Memories Hour by Hour as I look at the one-page schedule --Thursday

Then Friday morning, the most important one for me, as I already discussed (Ia).

Ib6a. Sprangle on high powered pulsed lasers, applications and pulse propagation

The first talk by Sprangle of NRL and UMCP, was one of the most exciting of the conference, and Scully appeared to conclude that as well. Sprangle gave a very nice high-level overview of REAL high powered lasers, talking about a number of applications I look at a lot when I think about things of real importance to the real world. I will have notes. For now – high level stuff. Sprangle had told us at dinner the night before that he had spent more than four hours driving form Great Falls Virginia to Princeton, and was ever so frustrated by traffic. He said he planned to drive back Wednesday in time for rush hour. Marlan pushed very hard for him to stay, and try to get home after rush hour. “Hey, we will pay for you to stay in a hotel tonight, and for your dinner with us. We have SO much to talk about...”  Part was about propagation of high energy beams through the atmosphere, part about driving plasmas to drive electrons. A key person in the audience was Richard Miles, of Mech and AEro Princeton, whom I had funded for years on pasma hypersonics (via Ray Chase and ANSER). I talked to Miles briefly, and apologized I had no time Thursday evening to talk to Stengel (a great guy I wanted to talk to again, but my schedule was mission impossible). Miles said he hand;t form or about Chase for years, but was still in touch with Mark Lewis and would send me informatoin about the coming ASF SAB meeting in DC which he will go to. I told hima about my IEEE roles (but what do I really do this year?)

Sprangle “laughed” at millions of dollars spent to coherently combine laser beams (match phases) to try to augment delivered power. “Our noncoherent combination is much easier, cheaper an better...and through the atmosphere is JUST as good as any coherent beam of the same power! That’s due to atmospheric propagation effects” (which he described in great detai, noting howe local turbulence causes “fuzzing” while larger-scale turbulence causes “wandering” off target.)

Sprangle discussed his work for DTRA, to develop a method to detect nuclear materials which emit gamma rays from some distance away.  He used Cobalt60, as might be used for a “dirty bomb”  ( a bomb which does not explode but emits radioactivity), as test target. Materials like that ionize a lot of the air near them, so that lasers can be used to sweep the area and look for patches of high ionization. He ran through the basic ideas and a few numbers.


ACTION ITEM: follow up with Miles..

After Sprangle’s talk, I wanted to discuss how Sprangle’s findings might affect the effective length of a plasma accelerator, a key issue in Miles’ earlier work, by quantum principles that NASA failed to accounting for in previous discussions.  But no time... and who should I discuss that with anyway?

Ib6b. Dogariu on Lasing in Air (making the atmosphere be a laser)

After Sprangle spoke Dogariu of Prinecton, part of Miles’ group, talking about lasing in air – a very clear and important talk, even though overshaowed a bit by Sprnagle.
It’s neat that dissociatoin AND ecitatoin of Ni2 in air can be achieved by a single well-tuned frueqency, in the range of what Ti-sapphire lasers produce... which makes me wonder how that might affect propagation of THOSE beams in atmosphere.  Another question for later, osisbly even useful.

Ib6c. Another attosecond talk, and discussions of nuclear stuff and time

Edwards of Princeton then talked about attosecond pulses from crystals.. not so different form what Olga was discussing, but it gains some clarity to have it discussed form another vantage point. Yes, important new technologies, with nuclear implications. When people asked my views of some nuclear things, in off-the-record discussions, I generally compared  it to sex – a subject of great interest to me but potentially explosive and hard to talk about, especially in public. But I then noted that the four-letter word “time” also raises intense emotions, and I couldn’t avoid the need to talk about it here; I had to face up and address it. (At SPIE I had just cited papers which cited an old paper, and the painful lesson to me on Wednesday was that this was not enough. )

This reminds me – that over coffee, talking with Ruckenstein of BU, who was very critical of Grossberg. I acknowledged the problem with Grossberg. “In fact, I am at the center of the OTHER group in neural networks, which pursues a different type of model. But it seems better not to get into conflict, to seek good relations with the other part of the field, even though our approach is quite different. When we see that Grossberg is doing something silly, we are called first to see whether we ourselves might be doing something similar that we need to work on, pursuing theory in a way which does not open up to empirical reality. For example, there are those superstring people, and even a lot of QCD.” Him: “Yes... superstring people, but how could there be any of that with QCD (the standard theory today of strong nuclear reactions). To him, or to a third person who entered... I said: “I was a student of Schwinger. Schwinger had a different theory of what protons and neutrons are made of. A few years back, I looked up the literature to try to see what is known about the choice between these two theories. I was aghast to find that there was no really decisive experiment yet done to resolve this important question, even though the limited empirical work so far seemed to favor Schwinger’s more than QCD.” I vaguely remember Diebold at a later occasion giving another example of theorists arguing violently when a simple experiment might have resolved the issue. (Of course, I was also thinking of  Wednesday.)

Ib6d. Two talks before mine

The last talk before mine (and before the break) ... maybe THAT was the one with chambers I might like to generalize to make entangled triphoton.... but it was hard to focus knowing the challenge soon to come for me.

And in the bitter end.. last two talks... both were extremely coherent and clear, but more notes to come. Nothing to change the story above.

Ib6e. Discussions after my talk and Return Home – mainly Scully, Zubairy

At the final box lunch... I already mentioned that. At 1:30 PM, I told Hui Xia I would prefer to be safe, to leave at 2PM for Princeton train station to catch a NJ transit train to Trenton, where I had a 5:02 POM ticket on Amtrak to get back to DC. Just before we sat down with Marlan, Suhail Zubairy smiled a big smile and said... he did not realize beforehand who I was with neural networks and what I was doing... and he would very much like to talk more and collaborate. I said “for sure,” and then sat down with him and Marlan and Yanhua and Fuli and Tao...

I hoped to do a lot of this brain dumping on my laptop on Amtrak, but the geometry was not so easy. Maybe if I had prepared better to fit the small (though > airline) space? So I mainly did “sumo” sudoku. At Union Station, I did stop by Sbarro’s, thinking to check teh pizza and steak sandwich, and maybe buy both, eat two pieces of pizza, take the rest home as I did before with Three Brothers in Maryland. One pizza looked really great to me.. but $26 for the pie, smaller than Three Brothers, so I passed.

II. Reviewing/Explaining/Deciphering My Notes on the Book of Abstarcts

That’s all I remember form off the top of my head, first by memory and then stimulated by looking at the one-page schedule. Next come my scrawled notes on the book of abstracts.

IIa. My “Priority” List on the Inside First Pages

On the front inside cover... the “priority to do list” became ever so large.

One item: upgrade Princeton slides to show equation of the specific GHz state I propose. (Impoartnat as |0>|0>|1> +|1>\1>|0> is ever so different from |1>|1>|1>+|0>|0||0> !)

Do study the Scully-Schwinger papers (use GS) and evaluate, as we discussed.

Figure out how Scully’s semiclassical laser chapter mainly relies on magnetic dipoole effects and dipole approximation, versus Zubairy mainly using e- effects to model and cretae Rabi oscillations. (Just get the math straight, in part to pare for new work on my new F mapping for fermions.)

Do send Hemmer cc Scully my brain sensing slides and paper. They could improve the truly noninvasive sensing part, maybe!

Note how Marlan emphasized NUMBER states as what to look for when looking for nonclassical states (by P or by W?).

Follow up on what Alfred said about the great Keldysh, whom he colaborated with in close proximity awhile, who “ did thermodyanmics WITHOUT the constraints of Boltzmann being true.’ With some relation to O’Connell’s 80’s relatavisttic quantum Langevin work.
(More small talk at the hotel...)

Think about CQED II and building on empirical work of Alfres, Scully/superradiance and ESR. Especially Alfred. And do gfo back to that circuit CQED stuff discussed at Princeton last year!

Remember to use Memphis email to China... especiallly Fuli Li.

Maybe look up Kaplan’s stuff to see if it can make more sense... but think about how to link that and Scully’s comments on cosmology to stuff like Alfven (more magnetic efefcts), Wheeler (his thermodynamicsof cosmos) Wo9lff and other stuff. Of course Moffat and tehories mentioned in Scully’s book and conformal ideas of those new Einstein people also on the map, if we ver gbet into real cosmology.

Back to Uzi and israel and Aharanov on experiments an even other stuff? Of course, Zeilinger too and such.

Ask Alfred and others about Bell in OTHER hardware platforms, and ways to get to entangled triphoton... as above. Lots of actions suggested above. What about Nikonov, on this and/or AQC?

Also probe Yanhua and SPDC generation, as discussed above.

Scully to (Yanua): se Pound-Rebka for critical foundations for the thermal light. (How track tihs down myself?)

Can Zubairy’s superresolutoin ideas impact astronomy?

Tell Mark (Lewis?) about ... which? Bad handwriting... EU and Zubairy?

ASK ALFRED about the new NASA “warp drive,” and how that fits our vacuum ideas.

IIb. ITEM BY ITEM, abstracts in alphabetic order in the book. Some no more than above..

Anderson: see above. “gate shows gain if..” (Demon?” Matter osciallator... think how THAT might be, maybe...

*** Bordyuh Princeton:
FERMIONIZATION, a really important mathematical trick to explore, in a very nicely foimrulated setup! He also cites CIRCUIT QED, and clear (Bose-Hubbard) model.  Five nice refs in the book of abstracts.

 Han Cai and Scully...  “Lamb shift” in superradiance is just frequency shoft (VERSUS JUST amplitude shift) due to superradiance, no quantuk self-energy stuff. Use of Wigner-Weisskopf to model the interactions, the key to it all.

Goong Chen: formal stuff to support Herschbach calculationsm but not hustificatoin, just consistency kinds of stuff. A mathematician at TAMU. Yet he shandles energy minimization with polar modes, in a way which could fill in some of the gaps we have seen in soliton stability work. Soliton stability sounds scary to me, but he is good n studying energy minimization, respects our presence in optimization, and might possibly be a possible collaborator in that niche.

Len Cohen: see above. He cites Khinchin or Khinchine (1931) for important work oin characteristic functoins, related to wave functionbs for ann classical states. Very clear stuff.

Diebold: see above. Prior work was Vigier, Garnger, Aspects (aspex?)... discusses De Broglie waves, but not a new link really.

Doragliu: see above, lasing in air. Was funded to cause remote lasing near a target, just to get better sensing data back, but lots of nice citations, including in abstract. Studied  remote lasing in O2, Ni2, Xenon and recently argon, all relatively simple... but xenon and argon, being atomic gasses do not require a dissociation pulse. Folks asked about ratio of forwards versus backwards stimulated emission; he showed graphs, more backwards at 1 atmosphere, more forwards at high pressures. Theworetically, it is neat how a vey sharp pulse can stimulate xenon, for a two=photon excitation, even though very sharp opulses are supposed to be braod and thus not efficient; there seems to be a “smart channel” effect (as in time symmetric physics!) which makes this work despite that usual conventionbal wisdom.

Hemmer: see above. He also said this approach could be great for quantum computig “if I could find the right molecule.”

Herschbach; see above. I forgot to mention his dinner talk on Wednesday, very witty and yet informative about chemical synthesis. How he accidentally found a method which a colleague then used for all the great new molecular synthesis (like isotoxin?)... how to insert a methyl group where you want it. And relation to hormones, sex.  (No joke. He showed the cover of “Sex and the Single Girl.” He gave Merryl Streep some award, as part of his Nobel organization activities, and has her on tape,,... syaing she felt like changinh=g her namer to “Methyl Streep.”

Kaplan was no Cato. On his first text slide, he noted... the background radiation pressure of the universe would not be enough to bring the electrons to equilibrium even in many times the age of the universe, so we need to consider other mechanisms for how the universe is turning out. (Even Marlan didn’t catch that at first. I think I got it first, then Wolfgang.) He said things about how one CAN get electrons to a thermodynamic equilibrium in conditions in the middle of a star, but what did he say of real interest? Anything? It was hard for people to get an idea of what, if anything. 

Vagizov: Olga’s first author (see above). For real fast pulses, shape (concentrate) initially powerful; and narrow pulses from a natural Mossbauer source, but how? Usual pulse-shaping stuff breaks down at high unit or total energies. Thus they developed a new technology, using a superfast piezo layer tuned by RF to MODULATE the initial signal, and various clever shaping tricks to really get it to attosecoind pulses. Of course, we might ask about laser fusion. Some discussion of that in the hallways, probably closest to what Sprangle knows. Sprangle was going to review that, but time ran out. Reolevant of course to even higher energies.  Olga gave lots of importanjt new figures of merit, and their accomplishments, with citatoins in the as=bstract,

Kulkarni: see above. Lots of hopping, entanglement by hopping. Three citations. Yes, I wonder about triphoton extensions?

David Lee: LOTS of notes, but also citations. Discusiosn of seminal prior work by Scully (some in Scully and Zubairy) on the baisc matrh of reviavl phenomena, a kind of osciullatory behavior... with bursts and volleys,,, which SOUND like stuff familiar from cortical pyramid neurons... but their own math. He looked for it in He3/He4 mixtures. He discussed how liquid (colder) He is much more easily magnetized (big spin) than gaseous, and he has experiments on interfaces and how spin propagates, with revivals.

Alfred: see above. He used EUX, an electrioptic cru=ystal, like chi 2 but otical WITH electrical, for the measurement, in clever geometry he gave in detail, with citatoins in the abstracft.

Fuli Li: see above. Also mentioned  relation to HBT (Hanbury Brown Twiss) correlations.

Paolo Longo: previous superradiance work all used cavities no larger than the wavelength. He studied the possibility of superradiance in extended systems. In one dimension, one can extend it very far, but in two and three, it is damped down to something like the size of a wavelength area as a fraction of the cavity area – a very big dampening.

Malik: a way to simulate time dependent effets in complicated laser.s Finding: with riisng power, light does focus on a base frequency, but at lower power they can predict it splits tio=o multimode output. Based on Maxwell-Bloch, like classical, but it works.  Questiner: “your model works with inhomogeneous broadening, but what about homogenbeous?” A” “I don’t know, at least not yet.”  He first solves for tings at space, to make it easier to do the time-marching. Some sounds a bit like self-consistency renormalization, raising questons about eigenstuff,maybe.

Mizxra: whether theer is “Fanbo coupling” ofr not in superrasdiance deopends on what basis functoins we use to represent superradiant states. The usual ones show no effect. The Timne-Delayed Dicke States (TDS) are a nonorthognal but highly useful basis, and we dosee Fano coupling there. (Reminds me of how coherent states are nonorthogonal too.)  Discussed efefcts... in abstract.

Wolfgang, revivals, see above. Lots of citations to great classical work, like Eberly PRL 1980 with a beuatiful simple hamiltonian and decaying oscillatory solution. Citations in the abstract. Linearized versions (Andrei) misses some key effects.

Scully: see above. Again, neat picture of atoms along a line, with a phase shifter in the middle to create a balance and stabilizing the system.

Peng and Shih: see above. He showed images of slits, versus beam splitters, Need to look more closely.

Sprangle: see above. Cited funding from DTRA, DEEC, others we know. Scully asked about DEEC – defense education... a way to get university R&D support. IN discussing power beaming applications, he described >50% efficient PVs. “That’s easy here. This is not the sun! Let me show you how we match bands, laser to PV.” Nice storied of plasma channels for power, with pressure in the middle but also power, and a lens effect, tailored to balance overfocusing and diffusion effects, to get the propagation you want... in channels or in air. In air, nice pictures of a plasma filament following after an optical pulse, steering it like a rudder.  It wants about 3 GW per pulse; with more power, the signal breaks into 3GW filaments.

Anatoly Svidzinsky (with Scully): reviewed (classical) Maxwell Bloch. Goes back to quantum basics, rederives Maxwell Bloch, ends up with small looking (but sometimes important) cvhange to Maxwell-Bloch, e.g. for superradiance predictions. Equation in abstract.

Tyryshkin, coupling between a spin ensemble and microwave resonator. Puts a small crystal into a box, and sees what wave come in and out. Says he is unique in getting to the strong coupling regime.

Hui Xia: see above. He is first author with lots of people in the first superradiance paper. Due to nice tutorial start, Marlan picked it to be first talk in that group. A few citations in the abstract, but the talk explained earlier seminal papers, like Dicke himself and Scully’s extension.

Zubairy: see above.  He published a review in 2012 (at least of these types of methods, not of threshold technique, I think.) Yablonoich et al 1999, Dowling et al 2000, agarwal 2002... Big demo is by Ruij Jiang, with Zhao, in arxiv 2015. I wonder how the Rabi methods he discusses relate to surface polaritons and density of states. The key to his method is that the RECEIVED (Rabi) wave is not the same as the primary free space light; l effective on the surface equals l of the incoming free wave over cosine theta (angle of approach) over WR times T. (Or close).

That’s all for this round.


Data from business cards:

Hui Xia (P.U.) 650-996-9759

Marlan 979-204-3013

Sbarro is Sbarro #298

Prof. Dr. Alfred Leitenstorfer
Chair of Experimental Physics
Dept of Physics
University of Konstanz
Box 695, 78457 Konstanz, Germany
49(0)75 31/88-38 18

Prof. Fuli Li, PhD
Xian Jiaotong University
Dean, School of Science
Tel 86-29-82668118
Cell: 13186140409
No. 28, Xianning West Road, Xian, China 710049