Friday, July 20, 2012

Follow-up Quickies: Bosons and ninjas!

OK, so my last post was kind of bullshit.  Here are a couple other interesting things to jam between yesterday and tomorrow.

National Geographic tackles Ninjutsu, hiring Glen Levy to put his skills to the test.  Please try to ignore his introductory banter; it pains me to listen to it, and I can all but guarantee that he was somehow contractually obligated to say that "journey to your own destruction" crap.  Pay attention to the bit on the vagus nerve, though, and check out the force he's able to deliver with a single punch:

That dummy needs shorts 'cuz it can't decide

In case you skipped it, I'll give you the TL;DR version:  this man is able to punch with the force of a shotgun.  No joke.  OK, it's a police shotgun firing a rubber bullet, but still.  You'd be hard-pressed to hit that hard with a baseball bat.  Yes, you.  Yes, baseball bat.  Glen Levy hits harder.

As for bosons, there was a reason I didn't trot out any of the goofy analogies that other writers have given for the Higgs field:  they don't explain where the mass comes from.  Passing through a sheet of molasses, and the molasses sticks to you?  Fine, but why is the molasses massive?  Walking through a crowded room and all your fans flock to you?  Fine, but why are the groupies massive?  Minute Physics to the rescue:

Physics in a minute.  Fifty-eight videos.  You could watch all his
stuff in an hour, and experience at least six flavors of enlightenment.

The TL;DR version here is that the mass is more or less resistance that comes from moving through the Higgs field all the time always.  In a kinda-sorta way, but it's closer.  Still don't get it?  OK, it's time to talk about the shape of the Universe.

Fortunately, Quarthex does translate to math, and souls don't exist.

It's been said that the Universe is "saddle-shaped."  Like if you took a square sheet of paper, and folded one set of opposite corners up, and the other set down.  Like so:

See?  Like a saddle on a fucked up horse!  (Is it weird that
draw the shape of the Universe better than a horsey?)

Except - and here's the kicker - instead of starting with a flat thing and curving it around, you start with a tiny curled-up thing and blow it up so big it just looks flat.  Bam!  Now I bet you'll have a better understanding of this article, and this key image:

All of those circles, at every point of everywhere, are one other dimension.

All the "extra" dimensions are like that:  tiny and curled up, but existing at every point in spacetime.  Incidentally, this is also why I have never ever made fun of anyone for proposing that time is circular - because, son of a bitch, it's actually kinda-sorta plausible.  Now do that over and over until you get all the dimensions, and bam!  There you have it.  Is the Lorentz factor making a little more sense now?

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