Monday, December 16, 2013

Reality Catches Up To The Hidden Frontier

     One of the premises of my I Work On A Starship yarns is that the "Edgers," the somewhat anarchic refugee refuseniks who stumbled into a Lukewarm War with Earth* have better stardrive tech than any Earth nation, apparently as a result of picking up some [spoiler omitted] tech and their own further work.  Another premise is that the whole notion of the FTL or "Jump" drive as Earth forces know it developed from some notion that Richard Feynman dreamed up half-idly as the Manhattan Project wound down, and (unbeknownst to him) was developed by others

     Fast-forward to this Wired article, which ledes with, "Physicists reported this week the discovery of a jewel-like geometric object that dramatically simplifies calculations of particle interactions and challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental components of reality."  But wait, there's more!  "...the traditional machinery of quantum field theory, involving hundreds of Feynman diagrams worth thousands of mathematical terms, was obfuscating something much simpler. 'The number of Feynman diagrams is so explosively large that even computations of really simple processes weren’t done until the age of computers,' became apparent that Feynman’s apparatus was a Rube Goldberg machine."

     That's a bit rearranged but nevertheless, there you have it: two different ways of describing/predicting very basic interactions, one enormously simpler/faster than the other.  And it's Feynman. 

     And yet some people still doubt that the Hidden Frontier might be real....  ;)
* Or at least the U.S. and in-the-know NATO allies, and, separately and a lot lower-key, the USSR.


Tango Juliet said...

Oh I know it's real.

Alan said...

The future catches up with you quick these days.

Jim said...

Thank you, even though you added stress to my family.

One of my young heirs and assigns is studying to get into the astrophysics racket, so I sent him your "Wired" link. He responded:

"...incredibly interesting (but) frustrating because I'm about to take a test over those large multiple-term descriptions that they are trying to simplify and make obsolete."


Roberta X remotely said...

Jim, Feynman was undaunted by complexity. His stories of trouble-shooting at the gaseous-diffusion plant at Oak Ridge make interesting reading.

The simplification is probably a few years away from being in textbooks -- assuming it pans out.