Tag: time

Time warp takes a jump to the left on common sense

Boffins are becoming increasingly bewildered by some of the antics of time including one which means that time is getting fuzzier as clocks become more precise

A team of physicists from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Sciences have applied quantum mechanics and general relativity to argue that increasing the precision of measurements on clocks in the same space warps time.

But while the theories are both supported by experiments, they usually do not play well together, forcing physicists to consider a new theory that will allow them both to be correct at the same time.

Now the boffins are working on a theory which suggests that the act of measuring time in greater detail needs the possibility of increasing amounts of energy into time makes any clocks less precise.

Researcher Esteban Castro said the findings suggest that itĀ needs to re-examine itsĀ ideas about the nature of time when both quantum mechanics and general relativity are considered.

It also means that the universe doesn’t have a master clock which it runs to and it can never make spaceships run on time.

Yahoo thinking of flogging the family silver


Arthur DaleyTroubled search outfit
Yahoo is exploring the sale of $1 billion to $3 billion of patents, property and other “non-core assets”.

Yahoo chief financial officer Ken Goldman told the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecom Conference that a committee created to explore alternatives to the company’s plan to spin off its core business is looking at quick sales of assets.

Goldman said patents, land, property and “non-core units or businesses” are all on the table for potential sale, and the company has sold or licensed more than $600 million in patents over the last three years.

Yahoo faces increasing pressure from shareholders and investors to sell its core business instead of going through a spinoff that would separate the company from its multibillion-dollar stakes in Yahoo Japan and Alibaba Group Holding.

Time, Verizon Communications and several other suitors have emerged as potential buyers.

Goldman did not confirm the reports but said the committee is “aligned to see what best creates shareholder value.”

Searching the internet for time travellers

Two physicists at Michigan Technological University have been carrying out a project to search the world wide wibble for evidence of time travel.

In a paper, the pair say that the idea of time travel has captured the public imagination for much of the past century, but little has been done to actually search for time travellers.

It describes three implementations of Internet searches for time travellers which require a prescient mention of information not previously available.

Obviously, there is the search for prescient content placed on the Internet, highlighted by a search for specific terms in tweets on Twitter. Using this method, we worked out that Techeye, with its tendency to spot the news before it happens is staffed by time travellers. In the case of Mike Magee it is someone whose time machine was locked in the 1970s and whose life depends on a leaked Intel roadmap dated 2020. William Berridge was a homeopathic doctor and sex pest who escaped the 1890s.

The second technique involves looking at prescient inquiries submitted to a search engine, highlighted by a comprehensive search for specific search terms submitted to a popular astronomy web site.

The third search involved a request for a direct Internet communication, either by email or tweet, pre-dating to the time of the inquiry. Given practical verifiability concerns, only time travellers from the future were investigated.

Unfortunately for Michigan Technological University, they do not seem to have looked at TechEye and have ruled out the possibly of time travellers using the net.

Negative results do not disprove time travel, given the great reach of the Internet, this search is perhaps the most comprehensive to date, the report said. 

Time travellers invited to a party

Top boffin Stephen Hawking has decided to host a party for time travellers. The only problem is that he has actually held the party four years ago at Cambridge university in 2009 and no one showed up.

Hawking has created a new invitation which will survive for many thousands of years.

“Maybe one day someone in the future will find the information and use a wormhole time machine to come back to my party, proving time travel will, one day, be possible,” Hawking said.

The fact that the event has now happened and no one attended would be a fixed point in time. Therefore, if a future time traveller does see the invite now and travels back they will have to change the past.

This act will require a rewriting of physics, because current thinking is that you cannot change the past. It would be possible that some time travellers did see the invite and attend the party and create a parallel universe where this event happened. It would also mean that it would be very difficult for us to prove this every happened.

People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, “it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly… timey-wimey… stuff”, someone else once said. [That is enough leading edge physics.Ed] 

CBS blackout leads to piracy spike

While Big Content claims that thieving pirates do so for fun and profit, an interesting look into the psychology of P2P took place in the US that suggests an alternative theory. Simply put, people pirate when the content is otherwise unavailable.

Since Friday, more than three million Time Warner customers throughout the United States lost access to CBS programming. According to Torrent Freak, the percentage of unauthorised downloads from affected regions rose pretty dramatically.

The piracy rates of the popular show “Under The Dome” shot up 34 percent over the weekend, while official ratings fell.

This means that one of the main reasons people pirate material is availability. If they cannot get the content they want in the format they want it, when they want it, they will pirate it.

Take Game of Thrones – network quibbling about regional rights meant many international audiences just torrented the show instead.

CBS blacked out in some regions when Time Warner Cable dropped the former, after the companies failed to reach a broadcasting agreement.

Under The Dome is one of the most pirated TV shows at the moment with 10.9 percent of downloaders coming from the blackout regions. But this increased to 14.6 percent for Monday’s episode.

New York saw its relative piracy rate more than double, from 1.3 percent of all US downloads to three percent for the episode that aired after the blackout.

While piracy spiked official ratings took a large hit. Under The Dome fell to a season low, with only 10.49 million viewers compared to 11.41 million the week before.

Once again it appears that while Time Warner and CBS are having a spat with each other, they are losing legitimate customers to piracy.

The blame then is not on P2P and piracy generally, but because customers do not want to wait for Big Content to stop playing silly buggers. 

BBC a poor Time Lord

The BBC is in trouble for setting up its website so that it read the time on the user’s computer rather than telling them the truth.

The BBC Trust has upheld a complaint that the clock on the BBC homepage was “inaccurate and misleading”.

An unknown time pedant, who perhaps emerged from a blue phone box, complained that while readers assume that the clock is correct, it really only reproduces the time on the user’s computer.

If this is off, then using the BBC’s website to set your clocks, or configure your Time Machine could be dangerously off.

The Trust said having a clock which does not state it derives its time from a user’s computer is not consistent with BBC guidelines on accuracy.

A BBC spokesperson said the clock would be removed “in an upcoming update” because the BBC takes accuracy “very seriously”.

Apparently it takes huge amounts of technology to set up an alternative central clock, and the fact that most users already have a clock on their computer screen means it is easier to remove the clock.

The technical issues involve dramatically slowing down the loading of the BBC homepage which was a problem. If the site moved to a format in which users across the world accessed the same homepage, irrespective of whichever country they were in, it would be “impossible to offer a single zonally-accurate clock”.

We are not sure that is right as programming a time-zone clock is the sort of thing they give programmers at school.

However the BBC had asked its product management team to investigate the problem and it had reported back to the committee that it would take about 100 staffing days to make the changes involved in switching to an independent clock. Less if they can get the sonic screwdriver to work. 

Time managed what the RIAA couldn't

While the RIAA has been trying for years to get Pirate Bay offline, it seems that the weekend’s leap second fiasco managed it.

Over the weekend a number of key sites went tits up because they were not programmed to cope with the leap second.

In Pirate Bay’s case it was due to a bug in the NTP daemon, which caused crashes of Debian based Linux machines all over the world.

TPB posted a note that it would be back as soon as it could find a sober admin to fix the problem and it assured users that it was not a DDOS attack or a raid of any kind after all.

The reason this is done is because the atomic clock standard we use has a slightly different rate than the rotation-of-the-Earth based Coordinated Universal Time system. Since these two years  are so out of whack, humanity has to compensate by throwing in the odd leap second.

Last time there was a leap second there were a few problems for systems admins. This time people like Red Hat  released a few patches to make sure that nothing went tits up. However there are reports of other companies having similar problems. 

Space and time combine to overpower the human brain

A VP from Synopsys said today that by the middle of this century, computing power will exceed the thinking capacity of all the humans beings on the planet.

Rich Goldman made some compelling comparisons between the development of the microprocessor and space exploration, and showed how computing power had assisted the ability for everyone to go boldly forwards.

By 2050, Goldman said, computing power would have the capability to match the thinking power of all the human beings there are in the world, while right now it only represents one percent of the power of a human brain.

These slides from his presentation sum up the thread of his argument and show what we can continue to expect in the future, provided we don’t all blow ourselves up or we’re all laid waste by global warming.

For example, Goldman said, a 1982 Intel 80286 was 28 times more powerful than computers on the Voyagers 1 and 2, launched in 1977.   Sputnik computers were capable of only 2,000 instructions per second.  And a 2010 Apple iPad is 689 times more powerful than the onboard computers on the Columbia space shuttle, first launched in 1981.  

The Hubble telescope was launched in 1990 and the first CCD based commercial digital camera arrived in 1991. “CCDs are a big reason for later developments in astronomy,” said Goldman. They’ve made extremely powerful telescopes at a fraction of the cost.

Sicily is 15 minutes ahead of the world

Italian scientists are baffled boffins and are trying to figure out why time in Sicily is different from the rest of the country.

While many in the North feel that the South is backward, they are finding it hard to work out why digital clocks are actually running 15 minutes faster on the island.

RIA Novosti reports that in Palermo digital clocks and watches in Sicily are complicating the lives of their owners by running more than 15 minutes fast.

It means of course that the local hoods are robbing the banks 15 minutes too early or shooting the wrong person because they showed up too early to hit the right gangster.

Two locals have set up a Facebook page calling for those affected to come forward. Francesco Nicosia has complained that he realised something was wrong when  he started getting to work earlier.

After some investigation he  noticed that he wasn’t the only one who was on time, which is quite rare in Sicily. In fact many people do not have to show up for work at all as it is just a front to give them an alibi for their” family business”.

There have been several theories ranging from aliens and poltergeists. The most credible is that there is an electrical disturbance caused by underwater cables, although volcanic activity on Mount Etna and solar explosions have been mooted.

The problems have not hit anywhere else in the country, although I did sleep in for an extra 15 minutes this morning because I forgot to turn on the phone. 

Scientists close to creating time travel

US researchers from Vanderbilt University believe they are one step closer to creating time travel.

The team think that they may be able to use the Large Hadron Collider, to send a type of matter called the Higgs singlet into the past.

This means that it would be possible to send future lottery numbers to themselves in the past so that they can buy the right tickets.

It all sounds brilliant, but the downside to the cunning plan is that they are unsure if the Higgs singlet actually exists and whether the machine can produce it. A Higgs Singlet is not, as you would think, a quantum string vest which is worn by a “”God Particle” when it is sunbathing.

According to a report by APthe  Large Hadron Collider is supposed to create the Higgs boson. If it does the Higgs singlet may also appear. The God Particle is never supposed to go out without its Singlet.

The scientists think that the Singlet may be able to jump through space and time, travel through a hidden dimension, and then re-enter our dimension forward or backward in time. This makes it like Higgs socks, which normally travel in pairs. When placed into a washing machine the pair will separate with one disappearing into a hidden dimension never to be seen again.

Scientists Professor Thomas Weiler and graduate fellow Chui Man say that using a Singlet to travel through time is that it avoids all the big paradoxes.

These paradoxes include things such as is it possible to travel through time and kill your grandmother, or can Dr Who cross his own timeline.

Weiler said that because time travel is limited to these special particles, it is not possible for a man to travel back in time and murder one of his parents before he himself is born.

But if scientists could control the production of Higgs Singlets, they might be able to send SMS messages to the past or future.

However, we would have thought that he does not manage to do that. If he had, surely all he needs to do is get his future self to send him a message from the future to explain how he did it.

Maybe that is the problem. He has to build a machine to send receive the message first. We wonder what the first message will be? Lottery numbers, or “beware Daleks”, or “put some trousers on, Pond.”