Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A long read

Clare and Nigel in Greece: 2007
A pointless holiday snap: we were travelling with the Andante archaeological travel company visiting Athens, Delphi, Corinth, Sparta and the site of the ancient Olympics at Olympia.

Terry Pratchett's humour doesn't really agree with me, although I respect his evident intelligence, wisdom and all-round national treasure status blah, blah, blah. I had therefore avoided "The Long X" sequence, X ∈ {Earth, War, Mars, ..., ...} on the grounds of anticipated boredom. Co-authorship with Stephen Baxter, big science and poor characterisation, did nothing to mitigate my fears.

A visit to the library and I weakened, bringing home {Earth, Mars}. The critics are right: nothing much happens for hundreds of pages. I quite like the idea of a countable (possibly countably-infinite) number of parallel universes accessible by 'stepping' -  a Euclidean fifth large dimension. That seems to have been where their joint imagination ran out.

But could the universe be even stranger? It would be soooo cool if the spacetime of our common-sense reality were an emergent property of some high-dimensional Hilbert space. Now wouldn't that be something!*


* I don't pretend to understand this paper, but I like the authors' aim:

" ... a new approach to the problem of unification of quantum theory with general relativity theory. Its key idea is to “general relativise quantum theory” instead of “quantising general relativity” ...".