Burning Man 2017

Long ago, Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist was two guys sitting around in the desert talking to strangers about whatever came to mind.  It’s been a while, but we’re heading back to Burning Man for more of the same!

If you happen to find yourself in the desert, have a question, and/or want to waste time with a Mathematician and a Physicist, you can find us here

There!  12-4 on Thursday.

from 12:00 to 4:00 on Thursday the 31st.  According to the official schedule we’re a gathering or party in a red tent between center camp and the Man.  That same schedule goes on to say:

“Ask a Mathematician / Ask a Physicist is two people sitting in the desert talking to other people in the desert. Ever wonder about the universe?  Entanglement?  The nature of logic?  Got a nagging question that’s been bothering you for years or just want to hang out and listen to other people’s questions?  We can help!”

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8 Responses to Burning Man 2017

  1. PJ London says:

    Sorry that I can’t be there, but if I were then I would ask :
    “Assuming that the thousands of man-hours and the billions of dollars spent, do support the Higgs Boson hypothesis, so what?
    What practical use can be put to the knowledge or is it just as amazingly interesting as the information that 20,000 angels can in fact dance on the head of a pin?”
    I am not decrying basic research and am sure that over time, maybe eons, we will be able to derive some benefit. Just querying whether anyone has identified anything to date.
    For instance QED, I believe, gave immediate breakthroughs in our understanding of chemistry.
    Many thanks

  2. Michelle says:

    I was wondering if it is possible that what we observe as an expanding universe is actually a universe in rotation around something else even larger just like of all of nature from the smallest thing to literally the largest thing.

  3. The Physicist The Physicist says:

    @PJ London
    So far the discovery of the Higgs hasn’t produced anything that we can build or sell. The Higgs particle only produces direct, detectable effects at very high energies, so when it does start to be useful, it’s likely to do so in a very indirect way. For example, ancient Greeks studied certain types of fish for their possible healing properties, yada yada yada, and now we have the internet.

  4. The Physicist The Physicist says:

    The universe is expanding uniformly in every direction, in every location. Rotation on the other hand acts differently in different directions. For example, if you’re on a merry-go-round, you’ll always feel a push out to the sides and never straight up. There are a lot of things we don’t understand yet about the expansion of the universe, but we can at least rule out rotation.

  5. Robert Reed says:

    OK this is probably not original but it’s my take on how the universe is structured and would nicely explain dark matter and dark energy. Let’s say that the universe is constructed of four spatial dimensions plus time. The universe is grainy, not smooth. Each grain or pixel is incredibly tiny, at the Planck length, about 1.6 x 10 to the minus 35 meters, much, much smaller than any atomic particle. Analogous to a computer monitor made up 2D pixels, our perception of this 4D universe is through the 3D pixel world we experience. These pixels are so small that our universe appears to be smooth and continuous.
    OK then, where is this fourth dimension? Let’s look at another analogy. Hold a needle up. You can see the whole thing. Now close one eye and point the needle at your open eye. all you will see is the tip of the needle(a 3D pixel). The rest of the needle seems to have disappeared. Such is the fourth dimension, hiding behind all of the 3D pixels that make up our visible universe and occupying positions in parallel universes.
    As a simplified math analogy, each of our 3D pixels, all jammed together like a wall, would have a line of pixels behind it in a Euclidian manner which would be blocked out of our perceived universe. More correctly, each of our 3D pixels would be the end of an infinite number of infinitely long lines each composed of strings of 3D pixels that are excluded from our universe. Therefore this infinite universe we think we know is actually even infinitely larger than that. Think infinity squared if that makes any sense.
    How does this differ from other multiverse theories? Mathematically I’m not sure, however all the visual diagrams I have seen show each universe like ours as a round balloon floating next to other balloons(parallel universes) leading the viewer to perceive these parallel universes as the result of separate big bangs but at extremely far distances from each other. Supposedly, then, the outer edges would some day start overlapping as each universe continues to expand. What I am saying in my conception is that all of these parallel universes are actually superimposed over each other and yet remain separate because of their planck membranes that form almost impermeable third dimensions. I say almost impermeable because gravity might operate unfettered throughout the fourth dimension. Also probably black holes can penetrate these membranes directly.
    If gravity is the only force that can traverse all four dimensions perhaps that is why it is so much weaker than the other three physical forces; it’s diluted. This also implies that matter adjacent to our universe could be attracted to our matter, stars, galaxies etc. Perhaps dark matter is simply matter in an adjacent 3D universe that is attracted to our matter and manifests as the attraction across the 3D pixel boundary that separates us.
    This is all just very simplified food for thought and may or may not be a description of the true reality. It makes no attempt to explain why there is anything in the universe… which is the only theory(obviously disproven) that makes any sense.

  6. George says:

    Is mathematics based upon logic?
    IS math even possible without Logic?
    Why do some deny these obvious truths?

  7. Ernie says:

    I can’t be at Burning Man, but just wanted to say I’m glad you two guys decided to do this site. I always enjoy it.

  8. msiDelicious says:

    People came to the desert because the stars were in the desert, and the stars had yet to be corrupted by man… The stars, it seemed, would crush man in a scenic, gravitational panorama before man would ever corrupt the stars

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