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Scientists have discovered new TYPE of Superconductor

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Summary

Researchers over at Cornell University accidentally created previously unknown type of superconductor. Our current knowledge before this was of 2 types, and theorized third kind which the scientists attempted to create.  The experiment to create the third kind turned out to be failure, sort of. Instead of creating the theorized third (also new) kind of superconductor something unexpected happened and they discovered previously completely new 4th kind of superconductor.

 

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The team was actually looking for another type of superconductor that only exists as a hypothesis for now: the p-wave superconductor. Scientists think this could be a 'spin-triplet' where paired electrons have the same spin direction, creating anangular momentum of 1 – somewhere between s-wave and the more exotic d-wave.

Instead of finding p-wave superconductivity, they found a different kind of angular momentum altogether.

 

My thoughts

I'm excited about any new discoveries like this, as they advance other technologies using superconductors which benefits all of us in so many ways. 

And as added bonus we get to hear new carbon nanotube joke from Riley out of these. Maybe.

 

Sources

https://www.sciencealert.com/researchers-have-discovered-a-brand-new-type-of-superconductor

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It must be buried in the laws of thermodynamics someplace, but I don't think we'll ever get room temperature (or better yet, ambient temp) superconductivity. 😔

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Mmmm....  maybe.  They were apparently doing testing using sound waves to look for an aspect of superconductivity. That’s a pretty removed system.  It might be more accurate to say they discovered what might be evidence of a new type of super conductivity, or at least what looks like it using the test performed.  This may say more about the test than it does about an actual superconductor.  
 

It’s a bit like that clouds of gas on Venus thing.  It implies but it isn’t definitive.
 

Definitely one of those “more tests needed” things. 


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1 hour ago, Bombastinator said:

Mmmm....  maybe.  They were apparently doing testing using sound waves to look for an aspect of superconductivity. That’s a pretty removed system.  

Gonna have to disagree with you on this. Saying that they were using sound waves to look at this is like saying a nuclear fusion experiment is using light to try and recreate the sun. Technically correct, but very much misrepresenting what's actually happening.

Quote

It might be more accurate to say they discovered what might be evidence of a new type of super conductivity, or at least what looks like it using the test performed.  This may say more about the test than it does about an actual superconductor. 

 

Sort of? Having read the paper (available here to anyone with institutional access) I'll try and give a summary:

 

The technique they used is called resonant ultrasound spectroscopy (RUS), which is a technique used to measure the elastic tensor of a material - this is a property of a material that tells us how it deforms when stretched.

 

Now it turns out that there's a mathematical link (through representation theory) between the elastic tensor (in particular from a derived quantity of this known as strain) and another quantity known as an order parameter, which measures the degree of order across a boundary in a phase transition. You've probably heard of phase transitions in the context of changes between states of matter eg. liquid/gas, but not all phase transitions are like this: a metal being chilled to become a superconductor also undergoes a phase transition, and therefore the properties of that transition may be defined using an order parameter.

 

This process has been applied to most superconductors we've seen, and have allowed us to categorise them into two groups: s-wave and d-wave. The order parameters of these superconductors are simple, depending on only one variable (they are single-component order parameters). The superconductor involved in this paper - Sr2RuO4 - doesn't fit into either of these categories though: analysis of the RUS results makes it apparent that the order parameter for Sr2RuO4 has two components.

 

For the last 26 years it has been believed that Sr2RuO4 would fit into a theoretical third category of superconductors: p-wave superconductors, which can have a two-component order parameter, but other recent experiments have suggested that two-component order parameters that fit this category would not be correct either. As such, the paper gives two other candidates for the order parameter of Sr2RuO4, which fit inside a fourth category of g-wave superconductors.

 

My thoughts: As you said, they haven't conclusively found anything here. They've suggested two candidate order parameters for the material, but we don't know that either of them is correct. And as they said in the paper, more experiments are required here. We also haven't found a new superconductor. This material doesn't have particularly useful properties for anything - it's superconducting phase transition occurs at ~1 Kelvin (-272 C) and as such is more interesting for it's status as an unconventional superconductor than anything else.


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3 minutes ago, tim0901 said:

Gonna have to disagree with you on this. Saying that they were using sound waves to look at this is like saying a nuclear fusion experiment is using light to try and recreate the sun. Technically correct, but very much misrepresenting what's actually happening.

 

The best kind of correct

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35 minutes ago, tim0901 said:

Gonna have to disagree with you on this. Saying that they were using sound waves to look at this is like saying a nuclear fusion experiment is using light to try and recreate the sun. Technically correct, but very much misrepresenting what's actually happening.

 

Sort of? Having read the paper (available here to anyone with institutional access) I'll try and give a summary:

 

The technique they used is called resonant ultrasound spectroscopy (RUS), which is a technique used to measure the elastic tensor of a material - this is a property of a material that tells us how it deforms when stretched.

 

Now it turns out that there's a mathematical link (through representation theory) between the elastic tensor (in particular from a derived quantity of this known as strain) and another quantity known as an order parameter, which measures the degree of order across a boundary in a phase transition. You've probably heard of phase transitions in the context of changes between states of matter eg. liquid/gas, but not all phase transitions are like this: a metal being chilled to become a superconductor also undergoes a phase transition, and therefore the properties of that transition may be defined using an order parameter.

 

This process has been applied to most superconductors we've seen, and have allowed us to categorise them into two groups: s-wave and d-wave. The order parameters of these superconductors are simple, depending on only one variable (they are single-component order parameters). The superconductor involved in this paper - Sr2RuO4 - doesn't fit into either of these categories though: analysis of the RUS results makes it apparent that the order parameter for Sr2RuO4 has two components.

 

For the last 26 years it has been believed that Sr2RuO4 would fit into a theoretical third category of superconductors: p-wave superconductors, which can have a two-component order parameter, but other recent experiments have suggested that two-component order parameters that fit this category would not be correct either. As such, the paper gives two other candidates for the order parameter of Sr2RuO4, which fit inside a fourth category of g-wave superconductors.

 

My thoughts: As you said, they haven't conclusively found anything here. They've suggested two candidate order parameters for the material, but we don't know that either of them is correct. And as they said in the paper, more experiments are required here. We also haven't found a new superconductor. This material doesn't have particularly useful properties for anything - it's superconducting phase transition occurs at ~1 Kelvin (-272 C) and as such is more interesting for it's status as an unconventional superconductor than anything else.

I’ll happily take that I got what they were doing wrong.  I could barely understand even the dumbed down version.  
The part I was interested in was not the particulars of what they were doing though.  The impression I got was that it was a removed test. They’re using something to look for an indicator that a different thing is happening.


Is that part wrong? I’m honestly asking. 


If it’s not, This is still absolutely an indicator that something interesting happened but there are what amount to levers and gears between the action and the phenomena. It MIGHT mean that that is what happened. The problem though is that the claim was that that was what DID happen.  That is my issue.


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12 hours ago, StDragon said:

It must be buried in the laws of thermodynamics someplace, but I don't think we'll ever get room temperature (or better yet, ambient temp) superconductivity. 😔

Room temp and ambient temp are the same thing AFAIK


Please quote my post, or put @paddy-stone if you want me to respond to you.

https://www.dictionary.com/  is good for helping with spelling, if you care.

 

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8 minutes ago, paddy-stone said:

Room temp and ambient temp are the same thing AFAIK

Depends on the definitions used.


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1 minute ago, Bombastinator said:

Depends on the definitions used.

In the terms that the quoted guy used I mean... as he said room temp, or better yet ambient temp. Room temp is just another way of saying ambient temp of a room.


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32 minutes ago, paddy-stone said:

Room temp and ambient temp are the same thing AFAIK

Incorrect.

 

Room temp is the range of temperature that people are comfortable with within a building; though based on ambient. Ambient temperature relates to the immediate surrounding of something. For example, the highest ambient temperature recorded is 134 °F (56.7 °C) in the Death Valley desert. That is not comfortable. Further more, you're not going to be be running superconducting transmission lines through there.

 

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2 minutes ago, StDragon said:

Incorrect.

 

Room temp is the range of temperature that people are comfortable with within a building; though based on ambient. Ambient temperature relates to the immediate surrounding of something. For example, the highest ambient temperature recorded is 134 °F (56.7 °C) in the Death Valley desert. That is not comfortable. Further more, you're not going to be be running superconducting transmission lines through there.

 

And even then, "room temperature" dates back to medieval times for temperature of rooms in castles. It's why "wine at room temperature" doesn't apply anymore because 22°C certainly isn't a temperature at which you can have a wine that would be good to drink. 16°C on the other hand is. And around that's what used to be considered room temperature.

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14 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

And even then, "room temperature" dates back to medieval times for temperature of rooms in castles. It's why "wine at room temperature" doesn't apply anymore because 22°C certainly isn't a temperature at which you can have a wine that would be good to drink. 16°C on the other hand is. And around that's what used to be considered room temperature.

Within the scientific community, you wouldn't see documented surface temperatures of Venus (430+ C) as "room temperature". It would be ambient.

 

My point is that *at best*, we might get lucky and have viable superconducting materials at room temperature (as in, within a specific range comfortable for indoor living). But to have superconducting materials operate in a wider range, or any range for that matter would be revolutionary.

 

Currently the "warmest" superconducting material known has to operate at -23 C or lower.

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57 minutes ago, StDragon said:

Incorrect.

 

Room temp is the range of temperature that people are comfortable with within a building; though based on ambient. Ambient temperature relates to the immediate surrounding of something. For example, the highest ambient temperature recorded is 134 °F (56.7 °C) in the Death Valley desert. That is not comfortable. Further more, you're not going to be be running superconducting transmission lines through there.

 

I was specifically referring to the use of your use of the terms below

 

Quote

I don't think we'll ever get room temperature (or better yet, ambient temp) superconductivity

I thought you mean that ambient temp inside a room was better than room temp. So that's why I said they are the same thing, meaning inside a room. For example if asking someone what their ambient temp is with regard to a computer temp problem, you're asking what the room temp is... not what the ambient temp of the outside air is.


Please quote my post, or put @paddy-stone if you want me to respond to you.

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On 9/24/2020 at 1:18 PM, StDragon said:

Incorrect.

 

Room temp is the range of temperature that people are comfortable with within a building; though based on ambient. Ambient temperature relates to the immediate surrounding of something. For example, the highest ambient temperature recorded is 134 °F (56.7 °C) in the Death Valley desert. That is not comfortable. Further more, you're not going to be be running superconducting transmission lines through there.

 

When talking about superconductors, 'room-temperature' actually just means 'above 0°C'. 0°C isn't room temperature (unless you live in the arctic circle) but the idea is that if we can find a material that's superconductive above 0°C, then keeping it below that temperature is pretty trivial.

 

Also, we're probably not gonna be building transmission lines out of this stuff when we find one. For one, superconductors aren't lossless when carrying the AC current that most distribution lines carry and wwitching to DC power distribution would be a monumental undertaking that almost certainly wouldn't be worth the investment. Secondly, superconductors are expensive, using metals like silver and niobium, which would be key targets for theft, and the superconductors themselves require complex procedures to create. Superconductors, at least for the forseeable future, will be restricted to scientific and medical applications, even if we can find a room temperature one.

 

You mentioned a -23°C superconductor, which does exist, except you also need to keep it under extremely high pressure (~1.5 million atmospheres) for it to be superconductive... Imo that's not the point of finding such a material as you're just replacing one annoying requirement with another. At atmospheric pressure, the record is still at -135°C.


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“Room” and “ambient” aren’t temperatures.  They’re fuzzy ranges who’s definition is going to change by specialty. It’s real hard to be right or wrong about those unless the numbers are way way out of range.


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On 9/24/2020 at 3:19 AM, Bombastinator said:

I’ll happily take that I got what they were doing wrong.  I could barely understand even the dumbed down version.  
The part I was interested in was not the particulars of what they were doing though.  The impression I got was that it was a removed test. They’re using something to look for an indicator that a different thing is happening.


Is that part wrong? I’m honestly asking. 


If it’s not, This is still absolutely an indicator that something interesting happened but there are what amount to levers and gears between the action and the phenomena. It MIGHT mean that that is what happened. The problem though is that the claim was that that was what DID happen.  That is my issue.

Ish? I get what you mean - we're not directly measuring the value we're looking at - but this isn't at all uncommon in physics and doesn't necessarily mean that we can't conclude that that's what's happening, especially if the maths adds up.

 

The picture of a black hole taken last year? We didn't see the black hole itself (that's impossible) so we looked for the swirl of superheated gases spiraling into it - an indicator that a black hole is there. Same with the gravitational waves we detected at LIGO. We can't measure the waves themselves, so instead we look for the impact they will cause as they pass by us. LIGO uses a 4km long interferometer to measure distance, detecting changes that are thousandths of the size of the nucleus; as the gravitational wave moves by, the distance changes, which we can watch come out just like a seismograph.

 

The Higgs boson is another prime example. The Higgs has a lifetime of 10-22 seconds, meaning it's impossible to observe directly. It can't make it from the point of creation in the centre of the particle accelerator into our detectors, even at the speed of light. So instead we calculated what particles it could decay into and looked for those instead. In theory they could be created by different particles decaying as well, but we can correct for that using statistics.


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11 minutes ago, tim0901 said:

Ish? I get what you mean - we're not directly measuring the value we're looking at - but this isn't at all uncommon in physics and doesn't necessarily mean that we can't conclude that that's what's happening, especially if the maths adds up.

 

The picture of a black hole taken last year? We didn't see the black hole itself (that's impossible) so we looked for the swirl of superheated gases spiraling into it - an indicator that a black hole is there. Same with the gravitational waves we detected at LIGO. We can't measure the waves themselves, so instead we look for the impact they will cause as they pass by us. LIGO uses a 4km long interferometer to measure distance, detecting changes that are thousandths of the size of the nucleus; as the gravitational wave moves by, the distance changes, which we can watch come out just like a seismograph.

 

The Higgs boson is another prime example. The Higgs has a lifetime of 10-22 seconds, meaning it's impossible to observe directly. It can't make it from the point of creation in the centre of the particle accelerator into our detectors, even at the speed of light. So instead we calculated what particles it could decay into and looked for those instead. In theory they could be created by different particles decaying as well, but we can correct for that using statistics.

The solution it would seem, to all of this, would be to find better ways of detecting and observing things.

 

I honestly believe that to be the solution to the alleged light speed limit of the universe. I've always believed that we simply lack the ability to observe or notice anything traveling faster than light. Which makes more sense to me than the alternative. That being that traveling faster than light requires infinite energy, which makes no sense specifically because it involves infinity, which is, as far as I am aware, a completely irrational concept in and of itself.


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42 minutes ago, Trik'Stari said:

I honestly believe that to be the solution to the alleged light speed limit of the universe. I've always believed that we simply lack the ability to observe or notice anything traveling faster than light. Which makes more sense to me than the alternative. That being that traveling faster than light requires infinite energy, which makes no sense specifically because it involves infinity, which is, as far as I am aware, a completely irrational concept in and of itself.

Albert Einstein was a freak of nature, that's how intelligent he was. Every time someone comes along to disprove him, his own work gives them the middle finger in return.

 

Trying to grasp relativity is not easy as when you get to the extremes, concepts start to break down. It's mind bending.

 

That said, my limited understanding is that it's not that the speed of light has a limit, rather that the speed of light is intrinsically infinite. The fact it travels at 299792458 meters per second is just an arbitrary number. Essentially, the fact it even has a speed (not observed as infinite) is an intrinsic property of time, or the passage through it. And BTW, I could have that completely wrong. 

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33 minutes ago, tim0901 said:

Ish? I get what you mean - we're not directly measuring the value we're looking at - but this isn't at all uncommon in physics and doesn't necessarily mean that we can't conclude that that's what's happening, especially if the maths adds up.

 

The picture of a black hole taken last year? We didn't see the black hole itself (that's impossible) so we looked for the swirl of superheated gases spiraling into it - an indicator that a black hole is there. Same with the gravitational waves we detected at LIGO. We can't measure the waves themselves, so instead we look for the impact they will cause as they pass by us. LIGO uses a 4km long interferometer to measure distance, detecting changes that are thousandths of the size of the nucleus; as the gravitational wave moves by, the distance changes, which we can watch come out just like a seismograph.

 

The Higgs boson is another prime example. The Higgs has a lifetime of 10-22 seconds, meaning it's impossible to observe directly. It can't make it from the point of creation in the centre of the particle accelerator into our detectors, even at the speed of light. So instead we calculated what particles it could decay into and looked for those instead. In theory they could be created by different particles decaying as well, but we can correct for that using statistics.

Higgs boson is a good example. I once heard a description of physicists (by a physicist) as “mathematicians that like to play with toys”. There’s a pretty compelling reason to do a removed test for the Higgs boson, and to be even as sure as we are that what happened happened it takes thousands of people and years of work and thousands of tests. And that’s just the actual test.  Is Higgs even still alive? People looked at his calculations for decades.  Super conductors are a bit easier to observe though generally.   This is one test, and it didn’t confirm/deny something the maths for which had already been poured over for a generation. It found something unexpected. People poured over data FROM the test and found something that might explain it.  That’s not Higgs boson, that’s cold fusion.  The people who did the pouring over COULD be right. It’s way too early I think to say “IS” though. This is not to say that it wasn’t important.  Now that there is something to look for other tests can be designed.  To compare to the germ theory of disease.  It took something like 20 years after the first tests that implied its existence for the swan neck bottle to be developed. 


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9 minutes ago, Trik'Stari said:

The solution it would seem, to all of this, would be to find better ways of detecting and observing things.

If you can find such a solution, then you will single handedly rewrite our entire understanding of modern physics. You would become the new Einstein overnight. That's how revolutionary a solution you're asking for here.

 

How do you directly observe an object whose gravity is so strong that nothng, not even light, can escape it? The only medium you could use is gravity, and you can't directly measure that from afar. How do you measure a particle that exists for such a small period of time that nothing can touch it? It lasts about as long as it takes light to travel the diameter of the atomic nucleus!

 

I understand the desire to observe everything directly, it would make science a lot easier if we could, but unfortunately the universe just doesn't work that way.

 

Quote

I've always believed that we simply lack the ability to observe or notice anything traveling faster than light.

Unfortunately no, it's not that simple. The universal constant (which just so happens to be equal to the speed of light in a vacuum) is hard baked into the mathematics of spacetime, the very fabric of the universe. If you can go faster than light, then you break everything. Suddenly energy can be created or destroyed. The concept of causality breaks down - you would be able to hit the ball before you swing the bat to do so - and so reverse time travel would become possible. Some theories predict negative matter (matter with negative mass) would have to exist to balance out the instabilities caused. Physics as a field has thought about this a lot and has, as a whole, come to a conclusion: herein lies madness.

 

At the end of the day, physics is not nature. Physics is a description of nature. If we can't observe it, directly or indirectly, then it isn't physics. We've never observed anything that can travel faster than the speed of light, therefore such a possibilty does not exist in physics today. But boy would we love to be proved wrong.

 

Quote

That being that traveling faster than light requires infinite energy, which makes so sense specifically because it involves infinity, which is, as far as I am aware, a completely irrational concept in and of itself.

The field of mathematics would most certainly disagree on that one! The existence of infinity is taken as an axiom - the axiom of infinity - and there are entire fields of mathematics that rely on this axiom being correct (including set theory and, by extension, group theory, upon which most of modern physics is reliant).

 

Accelerating an object to the speed of light would require infinite energy, so logically yes moving beyond that would require even more. This is why most FTL solutions like the Alcubierre drive work by warping spacetime instead - you need a lot less energy. Granted you might need more than exists in the entire solar system to move a small ship, but hey that's still an improvement over infinity.


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Zotac GTX 780

Corsair Carbide 300R

Samsung 840 250GB, 3TB Seagate Barracuda

 

Timothy II - In Progress:

Xeon E5 1650 V1

16GB ECC Memory

Quadro 2000

2TB Seagate Barracuda

 

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1 hour ago, tim0901 said:

If you can find such a solution, then you will single handedly rewrite our entire understanding of modern physics. You would become the new Einstein overnight. That's how revolutionary a solution you're asking for here.

 

How do you directly observe an object whose gravity is so strong that nothng, not even light, can escape it? The only medium you could use is gravity, and you can't directly measure that from afar. How do you measure a particle that exists for such a small period of time that nothing can touch it? It lasts about as long as it takes light to travel the diameter of the atomic nucleus!

 

I understand the desire to observe everything directly, it would make science a lot easier if we could, but unfortunately the universe just doesn't work that way.

 

Unfortunately no, it's not that simple. The universal constant (which just so happens to be equal to the speed of light in a vacuum) is hard baked into the mathematics of spacetime, the very fabric of the universe. If you can go faster than light, then you break everything. Suddenly energy can be created or destroyed. The concept of causality breaks down - you would be able to hit the ball before you swing the bat to do so - and so reverse time travel would become possible. Some theories predict negative matter (matter with negative mass) would have to exist to balance out the instabilities caused. Physics as a field has thought about this a lot and has, as a whole, come to a conclusion: herein lies madness.

 

At the end of the day, physics is not nature. Physics is a description of nature. If we can't observe it, directly or indirectly, then it isn't physics. We've never observed anything that can travel faster than the speed of light, therefore such a possibilty does not exist in physics today. But boy would we love to be proved wrong.

 

The field of mathematics would most certainly disagree on that one! The existence of infinity is taken as an axiom - the axiom of infinity - and there are entire fields of mathematics that rely on this axiom being correct (including set theory and, by extension, group theory, upon which most of modern physics is reliant).

 

Accelerating an object to the speed of light would require infinite energy, so logically yes moving beyond that would require even more. This is why most FTL solutions like the Alcubierre drive work by warping spacetime instead - you need a lot less energy. Granted you might need more than exists in the entire solar system to move a small ship, but hey that's still an improvement over infinity.

Again, I would argue our understanding of physics is inherently flawed if our mathematics result in infinite energy as any form of answer.

 

Mainly because infinity is irrational and cannot be proven to exist. As you point out, it is considered axiomatically true, which means "assumed to be true for the sake of argument". That to me, says our understanding and technology are seriously flawed, not "it's impossible".

 

The universe is just too strange a place for it to be otherwise. I would argue that if your mathematics result in a completely irrational answer, then your understanding of the problem is inherently flawed in some way.

 

That and I honestly just hate the very concept that life would evolve in such a way that we can never travel to other stars and planets.

 

Just to point out, I understand none of the math behind any of this. I just think it's completely absurd that the physics community seemingly accepts an answer as irrational and insane as infinity, for the answer to any problem.

 

As for what we can and cannot observe. Our inability to observe something does not mean it does not exist. How many things have existed for eons that humanity only recently became aware of?

 

I dislike this sort of thinking as I believe it stifles the imagination, and thus limits our scientific progress. I would greatly prefer we approach things from a "we haven't figured that out yet" point of view, rather than "it's not possible".


Ketchup is better than mustard.

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2 hours ago, StDragon said:

Albert Einstein was a freak of nature, that's how intelligent he was. Every time someone comes along to disprove him, his own work gives them the middle finger in return.

 

Trying to grasp relativity is not easy as when you get to the extremes, concepts start to break down. It's mind bending.

 

That said, my limited understanding is that it's not that the speed of light has a limit, rather that the speed of light is intrinsically infinite. The fact it travels at 299792458 meters per second is just an arbitrary number. Essentially, the fact it even has a speed (not observed as infinite) is an intrinsic property of time, or the passage through it. And BTW, I could have that completely wrong. 

I've tried to comprehend relatively and special relativity as concepts, and it just seems non-sensical to me. It seems more likely to me that our ability to comprehend, observe, detect, and measure the universe, is just too limited at this point in time.

 

It's more of a "I can't understand it, yet" point of view rather than "I can't understand it, it must be magic!" point of view.


Ketchup is better than mustard.

GUI is better than Command Line Interface.

Dubs are better than subs

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1 hour ago, Trik'Stari said:

I've tried to comprehend relatively and special relativity as concepts, and it just seems non-sensical to me. It seems more likely to me that our ability to comprehend, observe, detect, and measure the universe, is just too limited at this point in time.

 

It's more of a "I can't understand it, yet" point of view rather than "I can't understand it, it must be magic!" point of view.

1.5 kg. That's the average weight of the human brain.

 

I think we need to reflect with some humility here. The universe is pretty damn vast with an understanding that frankly eludes humanity. I would not be surprised in the slightest if advanced AI discovers and starts exploiting the laws of the universe in ways we never dreamed of. Only later to find out it has only scratched the surface in understanding. Something of a frightening revelation that would be IMHO.

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