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Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?

"What I like most in science is science-fiction"
Unknown from the web.

Schrödinger's cat is probably one of the most famous pets in history, right beside Cerberus and Pegasus. I must confess that quantum computing remains largely a mystery, and while researching the subject I could not but notice the lack of any concrete information about what it really entails.
Take the concept of qubit. It has mathematically been defined, and, as far as I can see, mathematicians agree on the definition. Which is certainly good enough for me. But then I wonder, how would a quantum gate or circuit look like?
Well, if you ask this question on the Internet, you get treated to more mathematical formulas.
A very intriguing concept is that of superposition. I have great difficulty in grasping the reality behind it. Let us assume that a bit can be both 1 and 0 at the same time. What good will it do to us if we are not able to get a clear answer after reading it? In other words, imagine reading a binary word like 11111111. In quantum bits it could represent anything from all 0's to all 1's. And if we find a way of reading the value in an unambiguous way, then where is the quantum uncertainty in all that?
You will excuse me if I do not stand still by Hadamard, Pauli, Tofoli and what-not-gates. The reason is simple. They may be mathematically meaningful, but nowhere is there an indication of how they could be materially implemented. At least, I could find none.
So, my questions are really simple. 
1) Are there any material implementations of quantum computing?
2) How can you turn quantum uncertainty into mechanical certainty?

As you can see, you only need to answer one of both questions.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Look at for a list of implementations.Also note the joint venture Quantum AI Lab between Google, NASA and USRA  which they recently upgraded from a 512 to a 1000 qubit DWave machine.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Reply to John Hodgson
It seems to me that your link, like all sources I have referenced, tells of a mathematical lullaby where concepts like superposed states, probabilities and such are woven tightly together. I do not doubt the validity of the mathematical models, still, I wonder, how would you realize, materially, a qubit? Do we know of any material that would do with quantum computers as , say, silicon, does for classical computers?
I am genuinely interested in the answer because I think it would represent a miracle. Back to the simple example of 11111111, again, I will believe mathematicians on their word if they tell me that there are formulas to diminish the uncertainty of interpretation of such data. But first, you have to implement it in a material substrate, a permanent one. And be able to read it off that substrate. Where is Heisenberg's  Principle in all this? In one of the references indicated by your link, "Linear optical quantum computing", the author presents a very dense argumentation based on the simple properties of mirrors. But in the end, it all comes down to the possibility of implementation of quantum gates, which is a pure mathematical construction. Also, there are many references elsewhere to quantum effects and how it is possible to distinguish between the two states of ,say, a photon. I certainly do not doubt this possibility. Otherwise even the existence of two quantum states should be relegated to the trash bin of the history of science. The whole point is, superposition is allegedly a natural state, and what we need is an artificial one which we can manipulate at will.
Please enlighten me.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Is a Mathematical Model of Time Travel Possible?
I am of course not referring to works of fiction, nor do I expect anyone to be able to build a time machine before I take him seriously. What I am interested in is in fact the (absence of) limits of mathematical models. Non-Euclidean geometry for instance professes the possibility of more than 3 (or 4) dimensions. We have no idea what it would take for nature to produce such multi-dimensional space, but Mathematics say they are conceivable.
The same can be said of Time Travel. Maybe Hawkins and Penrose could create such a model. I must admit that I do not understand their technical articles, and must do with their popularized versions.
Philosophically, even without knowing anything worthwhile about the Einsteinian formulas, I would say that I am convinced that Time Travel is impossible.
But then, I also know that what philosophers deem impossible, or evident, cannot always be taken literally. Kant believed, just like Newton and others before him, in an absolute space. The 19th century destroyed this belief and turned it into a mere prejudice.
Still, no one has ever experienced non-Euclidean space. Which means that our everyday space is still the only space we really know about.
If we now take Quantum Computing, I would also say that it is philosophically impossible. If you can turn Uncertainty into Certainty, then it was not Uncertainty in the first place.
Quantum Computing, if possible, would be the definite answer to the metaphysical debate between Einstein and the Copenhagen School. But then, who would be right? Non-deterministic machines are an oxymoron. If Quantum computing is possible, then God plays no dice. And if He does not then quantum superposition is an illusion. Choices, choices.
It is curious that there are still so many scientists that strongly believe that you can resolve metaphysical questions with formulas. But then, many people believe that the existence of God is a scientific fact. 
Time Travel, non-Euclidean space, the Continuum, Quantum Computing. So many metaphysical issues, and so much certitude that Science, or at least Mathematics, can resolve those pesky problems.
Faith is grand.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Is Superposition a Scientific Concept?

"D'amour vos yeux mourir me font". 
Moliere, "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme", 1682.

"In fact, chemists, who have used NMR for decades to study complicated molecules, have been doing quantum computing all along without realizing it."
Neil Gershenfeld and Isaac L. Chuang "Quantum Computing with Molecules", 1998.

Reading Niels Bohr's "Discussion With Einstein on Epistemological Problems in Atomic Physics" (1949) one realizes how far the current views on quantum theory have evolved. What was first a critical analysis of classical physics and its limits has degenerated into a brainless dogma on the nature of quantum objects. Bohr argues, against Einstein, for a unity of Knowledge and its object, and the necessity to take into consideration the effect of the research apparatus on the object studied.  
Since it is not possible to separate the object from the means of knowledge, one can say that any view of the object will be necessarily partial. In fact, when one re-formulates the issue in general terms one comes to the following picture:
We are part of the world, so describing the world without us being in it is a principled impossibility. That tells me that the principle of superposition cannot be a scientific concept. We have no way of knowing what objects are independently of our measurements. And our measurements only give us one value at a time. The idea of superposition is therefore an arbitrary, metaphysical assumption. We could, with just as much right, argue that a photon has no determinate value at all before being measured.
The two slit experiment could likewise be interpreted. A photon without the experimental apparatus, behaves differently than a photon within this or an other apparatus. What the photon is without our attempts to measure it could be equaled with the Kantian noumen.
It does not really matter whether we have one or two slits, a fixed or mobile support, the fact is, the photon is itself part of the apparatus, and, just like Bohr argued, any action of the measuring apparatus has an effect on the object measured.
To think that a photon, before measurement, has both values at the same time, is nowhere proven nor provable. We know that there are two possible values that can result from our measurements. That does not mean that those values also exist outside of the measuring frame.
To put it even more clearly, quantum superposition is not a scientific fact. That does not mean of course that it is not true. But then, the same can be said of the existence of God.
What does that tell us about quantum computing? You tell me, I am not a believer, so anything I could say would be considered as biased.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Quantum entanglement
We need an explanation for the fact that knowing the spin of one photon is immediately knowing the spin of the twin photons, whatever the distance between the two.
I found the following time-line very instructive (I hope I will be forgiven for such an extensive quote):

"1935: Physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen publish a paper in Physical Review asking “Can quantum-mechanical description of physical reality be considered complete?” Their answer: no.
The same year, in the journal Naturwissenschaften, Erwin Schrödinger coins the term Verschränkung, meaning “entanglement,” and develops his famous thought experiment of a cat that exists simultaneously in a state of being alive and dead.
1952: Building on earlier work by French physicist Louis de Broglie, theoretical physicist David Bohm suggests a deterministic interpretation of quantum theory that incorporates “hidden variables.” He claims that the initial state of a system, like a particle’s position, can determine its future evolution.
1964: Irish physicist John Bell proposes his inequality, which lays out math that would allow researchers to experimentally rule out any hidden variables operating locally to determine quantum entanglement outcomes. If the inequality holds, then entanglement could be explained through purely local effects. If violated, some amount of nonlocality must be occurring, as standard quantum mechanics would predict.
1972: Berkeley researchers Stuart Freedman and John Clauser experimentally test Bell’s theorem by measuring the polarizations of a pair of photons. Though the team found that the inequality is indeed violated, some loopholes exist in the experiment.
1982: French physicist Alain Aspect performs an even stronger test of entanglement, confirming that nonlocal effects do exist.
1984: Charles Bennett and Gilles Brassard propose a theoretical system for quantum cryptography, which would use photons in a superposition of states to create a secure key.
1990: Bennett and colleagues report the first experimental quantum key distribution.
1993: Bennett and collaborators propose that entanglement can, in principle, be used to teleport a particle’s quantum information from one place to another.
1997: Austrian quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger and colleagues report in Nature the first experimental verification of quantum teleportation.
2007: Zeilinger and colleagues set a distance record by sending entangled photons across 144 kilometers, between two of the Canary Islands. Chao-Yang Lu and colleagues also entangle six photons, a record number.
2010: Researchers observe new kinds of entanglement when linking multiple objects quantumly, quantum information is teleported a record 16 kilometers and teams find better ways to create and control entangled objects."
BY Alexandra Witze 
Science News: Vol. 178 #11, November 20, 2010, p. 25

Please note that all these views and experiments share a common assumption: quantum superposition.

Let me first conclude that the factor distance is apparently irrelevant: we have the same effect whether both photons are close to each other or separated by long distances. We could call this effect  "spooky action at a distance", but that would be already admitting the frame of reference that makes such an action possible.
I prefer therefore to say that the relation between both photons exist before they are separated from each other. The idea that their values are indeterminate, and therefore only come to life when observed is what I have tried to defend in the entries above. But can the same be said of photons that have been parts of the same whole?
Let us stand still by the question for a moment.
1) We do not and cannot know what the value is of a photon before measurement.
2) when confronted with two photons that came from the same "womb", knowing the value of one is knowing the value of the other, whatever the distance put between them after their birth.

Let us now look at the famous two-slits experiment again. We could reasonably say that once the photon has passed the diaphragms, its value has been determined. The fact that we need a mirror, a vapor chamber or a photographic plate to see and show the result is not essential. What is really fundamental is the question whether the photon has already acquired its final value.
Put this way, we quickly realize that we have no way of answering this question without measurement. In other words, not the value of the photon before it passes the slit(s), nor its value during its voyage, but only the one showed by the final measuring instruments, is, and can be, known to us.
At the same time, it is reasonable to assume that the final value has been determined by our instruments long before they could show us the final result. The same way, when dealing with more than one photon, we are entitled to say that, even though we have no way of knowing it before measurement, our experimental setup has already determined the value each element will show in the end.
Applied to twin photons, we are justified in seeing them as the equivalent of a single particle, or of a coin with two faces. Understood this way, there is nothing spooky about the fact that seeing one face is knowing what the other face will be.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
"the magic of quantum mechanics" as Gershenfeld and Chuang (1998) put it is what it is all about. [For those who still wonder about Moliere's quote, Monsieur Jourdain was happily surprised to learn that he had used prose all his life, without realizing it, just like the chemists were using quantum computing.]
I find it really exciting to see scientists who worship rationality above all, press themselves in all kinds of shapes to account for what can only be described as the antithesis of Reason. What I find less amusing is their blind arrogance that makes them think they can make us believe anything as long as they can dazzle us with their formulas.
What about their experiments then, all those smart contraceptions used in the list compiled by Alexandra Witze? By the way, and I hope she will forgive me as I certainly mean no disrespect, "Witze" means "joke" in German. And that is exactly the value I attribute to all these so-called experiments. Once you reject the ground assumption of quantum superposition, you realize that they only reinforce this metaphysical prejudice by making you believe what they have already assumed as being above any discussion.
If history can teach us anything, then it is that scientists, just like philosophers, are far from infallible. In "World War Z", one Israeli spook speaks of the rule of the tenth man, a lesson he says, they have learned from underestimating the Egyptian army in the 70's. I would find it extremely useful to keep this rule in mind when dealing with scientific theories: always have a tenth man look at the facts and theories everybody considers above any doubt. You just might find some zombies hiding under your bed.
Scientists are only humans, which means that they can lie and cheat, or at least err like everybody else. Their beliefs can blind them to alternative solutions and flaws in their own reasonings. I think I have given more than enough examples in my threads in Cognitive Sciences. Still, I would like to point at a famous duo whose articles are considered as practically sacred in cognitive sciences, Hubel and Wiesel. In I have tried to show that in fact all the experiments mentioned only confirmed what the researchers already believed: that experience was shaped by the brain. The problem was of course that no other outcome was possible from these experiences, and that they therefore were utterly useless.
I am convinced that the same can be said of all the experiments which assume the validity of quantum superposition, or of the attempts to come to terms with the incredible and irrational consequences of such an assumption.
What I cannot do is present my arguments in elegant formulas to prove that I am right. But then, I console myself with the idea that there are no formulas for metaphysical positions. This allows me to say that I have no reason to doubt of the formal validity of all the formulas presented in quantum experiments, but I certainly do not believe in their absolute truth either.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Quantum entanglement (2)
Maybe the following clarification is necessary. I am not trying to refer to locality principles, or hidden variables. These concepts only make sense, as far as I can see, within the context of quantum superposition. I reject this metaphysical assumption, and do not accept the idea that one and the same element can have two values or be at two different locations at the same time. I claim a different metaphysical approach, and that is that the value of quantum elements is determined by the whole of the object itself and the instruments used to measure it. The simplest example that I can think of would be, if we make abstraction of frequencies and other properties of light, to say that Blue becomes Green when mixed with Yellow. We know Green, because that is the result we are getting, and we know Yellow, because that is the variable we are using. But we have no way of knowing Blue without mixing it with another color and getting a specific result. Speculating about the nature of Blue would be, pardon the pun, something out of the blue.
It does not mean that we cannot perfect our instruments and get to know more things about the object, but whatever the results, they will never be independent of the means.
Back to quantum entanglement, any elements that are part of an experiment form a whole with the instruments, and that is why the result does not change with distance. Within the frame of the (two) slit experiment, it would simply mean that it does not matter how close or how far the sensitive panel stands that shows the end result.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
From Absolute Reality to Divine Observer
Einstein et al (1935) is a philosophical gem for two reasons. First, it is relatively clear even for an ignorant layman like me, since all you have to do is skip the incomprehensible formulas to get to the gist of the matter. Second, it shows the metaphysical conceptions behind all those formulas.
Einstein and his colleagues are eager to prove that there is a reality that is independent of our measures, which we shall call absolute reality for lack of a better term.
This is how the authors start:
"Any serious consideration of a physical theory must take into account the distinction between the objective reality, which is independent of any theory, and the physical concepts with which the theory operates."
This is how they justify it:
"The elements of the physical reality cannot be determined by a priori philosophical considerations, but must be found by an appeal to results of experiments and measurements."
It seems like reality cannot be dependent of any specific theory, but that, somehow, it is defined by experiments and measurements. A very plausible view within the classical frame, but certainly less evident when we consider the fact that quantum elements can themselves be seen as theoretical constructs. But the illustrious authors are not philosophers and their discourse has a very delimited field: quantum theory. The issue therefore becomes that of the reality of momentum and location of a particle.
Bohr's critique [see previous entries] has unveiled the main weakness of the argumentation which is based on the assumption that the experiment apparatus has no effect on what is known. Or, as the writers put it, "without disturbing the system".
The debate, even if Bohr is generally considered as the historical winner, degenerated later into a "do not - do too" teenagers conflict where it seems that one has to choose between an independent reality, or one created by the mind.
Schrödinger's thought experiment ("Die gegenwärtige Situation in der Quantenmechanik", 1935, translated almost half a century later in English by John D. Trimmer in 1980: "The Present Status of Quantum Mechanics") was intended as an argument in favor of the Copenhagen's view of quantum processes, but maybe no scientific article has been so often and so badly popularized. Schrödinger's cat has become a common place and the perfect example of how quantum theory turned science into magic, and vice versa: a cat that is dead and alive at the same time. It certainly beats undead vampires!
Here is the quote that should vanquish all myths:
"Imagine a cat locked up in a room of steel together with the following hellish machine (which has to be secured from direct attack by the cat): A tiny amount of radioactive material is placed inside a Geiger counter, so tiny that during one hour perhaps one of its atoms decays, but equally likely none. If it does decay then the counter is triggered and activates, via a relais, a little hammer which breaks a container of prussic acid. After this system has been left alone for one hour, one can say that the cat is still alive provided [original emphasis] no atom has decayed in the mean time. The first decay of an atom would have poisoned the cat. In terms of the psy-function of the entire system this is expressed as a mixture of a living and a dead cat."
The rest of the text makes it clear that the question whether the cat is dead or alive cannot be known until we have opened the box.
This is a crucial moment that that has also contributed to the quantum mythology, and Schrödinger's obscure  and ambiguous presentation, camouflaged behind an easy going writing style,  has certainly not helped matters along.
At least concerning this point, Schrödinger is very clear: he certainly did not claim that the cat was both dead and alive at the same time. Only that we could not know it without first opening the box.
Understood this way, the wave function becomes what he calls a "Catalogue of Expectations". In layman terms, it refers to all the probabilities that are offered at the same time  by a quantum formula.
Quantum superposition is, as far as I understood the text, not something that Schrödinger considered at all (not in this article, at least). That made his concept of entanglement somewhat fuzzy, and also somehow understandable that so many people understood it as meaning that an element could have more than one value at the same time. I personally do not think that he really defended this position, but it would take more than a general analysis of the text to argue for my interpretation. I will therefore confine myself to what I think is a flagrant violation of his thoughts. 
As the cat example makes it clear, he considers our knowledge of quantum processes unfinished until it has been completed by experiment and observation. This appeal has been interpreted in a subjectivist frame of mind whereby the observer decides of the ultimate value of a particle. This is particularly obvious in this video, where only looking at an atom excites it, or cools it down. That is also the approach taken by Julia Cramer and her colleagues in another video presentation:

George: she is diabolically cute. And I love her southern accent.
Shaito san grunts.
George: smart too.
me: is there a point to all this?
George: too bad already Cleopatra found you too old.
me: I hate you.

Anyway, the idea that the values taken by a particle depend on whether or not they are perceived by an observer is certainly wrong as far as the determination of the value goes. In other words, we cannot, just by looking at the cat, kill it or keep it alive. Still, Schrödinger is somewhat of a purist when it comes to empirical knowledge: "the psy-function is a sum of knowledge, and knowledge that nobody knows is no knowledge." I think it is this extreme position that made the slope so slippery from his position, you need observation to get knowledge, to the popular interpretation, our knowledge determines reality.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
First of all I want to give you the hint that I am no Philosopher - I use Philosophy as instrument to get mental cooperation.  

I can agree to all your arguments. I was thinking in a similar way till some month ago.

The moment of understanding - or even feeling of that - was for me the following to actual real existing "Quantum Circuits". They seem to be these real objects you are searching.

You are right that Quantum Gates are only mathematical formulas or formulations. But they are necessary to make the next step : searching or create that artificial circuit which does that what in the gate-theory is proposed. So a new scientific race was opened worldwide in last year to construct that artificial circuit. An assisting word to search can be "nano-circuits".

What I can say after a half year study is that we can be sure that we can't find an "Ideal or Common Quantum Computer" because we would have to reconstruct all our already found facts of subatomar relations (Quantum Physics). Then we would build a Perpetuum Mobile on Quantum Level - that's not possible.

PS: Your example of a digital word "IIIIIIIIII" as a string of binary ones can be answered in that way that the input to Quantum Gates can be done by one Qubit. That means that your word is given in one "One" by the next. It's the result of the mathematical matrix theory that f. i. the "Hadamard-Matrix" is giving a predefined result to the output of that gate. 

The open problem for me is, that after measuring that all inputs collapse, so a new next input has to be given or as we say a new "state" has to be created.

So the disturbing superposition of all states (like it is in an real atom) gets into background.    

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Bell's Theorem for Dummies or the Collapse of the Wave Function
Take two unmixable elements, try to mix them, then measure each one of them as they leave the mixing area. You will see that they are still the same.
Now do the same thing with two mixable elements, and measure each one of them after they have left the mixing area. You will see that you will need only to measure one of them to know the measure of the other.
Wait, that's not what I meant. In quantum theory you can of course never have 100% certainty, but only probabilities. Still, the idea is valid. Oh, wait again! The results are certain: if one is up, the other will be down. There is nothing probable about this.
But then we are speaking of a deterministic relation, otherwise even hidden variables would make no sense.

Suppose, as is often told, we have as a result of the mixing, the so-called entanglement, an electron and a positron. Both have two states. We have therefore a total of four states. But now it seems like our results only explain two: any time you measure one, you get the opposite of the other. One explanation is that somehow both particles communicate with each other.

Elektra: things are looking up, here, how about you?
Positra: eh, I think I'm feeling kind of down.

And the most remarkable thing is that they chat each other up faster than the light travels. That is why distances between the different parts of the experiment are so essential.
Einstein's gang, the EPR Hood (for Expats, Pollacks and Russians), did not really like the idea. They preferred a neutral boss overseeing the whole thing, like Nature. So they imagined that she had to have spies all over the place. And because a known spy is a dead spy, these little guys preferred to remain hidden.
There was another point of dissension: suppose the whole gang went to see a football match (remember "The Warriors"?). Did their turf still exist while they were gone? EPR's found the whole idea ridiculous, but the BG's (Bohr's Gang) were convinced that at that moment there was no turf at all, so it was all right to create one in the same place and make it their own. That was asking for trouble of course.

Here is how I see it.
Neither the EPR's nor the BG's  could swear on their respective mothers' graves about the state in which both particles were right before they were so cruelly separated. In other words, the lovers could have been both weeping, ecstatic, or just faking it either way.
The only thing that everybody knew for sure was what they saw when they opened the door and looked at one of them.
In other words, what is surprising is that both gangs should be surprised at the results at all.
Try to turn the things around: anytime one is up, the other is down.
And now try to explain it without making a fool out of yourself.
Saying that it should be possible for them to be both up or both down is admitting that your first theory, the classical theory, is not applicable to this case. Unless of course, there was no other way for the particles to be.
Here is now the problem: you will never know, and neither will your counterpart. Even though the EPR's stand a better chance. They believe in an independent reality which they hope one day to uncover, while the BG's  are convinced that it is all in their mind. That means that they do not really need experiments to tell them what to think. They just need to dream them. After all, there is not a single experiment that could prove them wrong.
Like I said, it is all a matter of faith.
Not convinced? Think about it. The only way to prove that the BG's  are wrong, would be to get results that do not comply with the predictions. And that is exactly what everybody agrees about. However you organize the experiment, you will always get the same results. Even the EPR's concede this essential point.
What we need is another kind of test to find out if the theory is any good. Like quantum computing (but see above Is a Mathematical Model of Time Travel Possible?). IBM's spokesmen promise results in the following ten years (see their new public project, "IBM Quantum Experience"). If I am still alive then, and they succeed, I will buy a chocolate hat and eat it! It's the thought that counts, right? Anyway, I don't think they can make recipes for hats.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Particles and Waves
While the motions of the latter can be calculated (more or less) accurately, with the first we have to be satisfied with probabilities. Waves are relatively easy to understand, they can be in many places at the same time. Particles though can only be understood if they behave as such. 
The difficulty particles represent is obvious in the choice of words Feyman ("Feynman Lectures on Physics: Quantum Mechanics") uses to describe a gun shooting bullets, or a heated wire emitting electrons. They do no not behave like we would expect guns to behave rationally, but more like an automatic weapon out of control. In fact, guns behave just like waves, even if they shoot single bullets: "It is not a very good gun, in that it sprays the bullets (randomly) over a fairly large angular spread".
Which makes me say: the problem is not with the bullets, but with the gun! The nicely short and beautifully clear review by Gieorgio Matteuci ("Interference with electrons- from thoughts to real experiments", 2013) reinforces my conviction. He confirms Feyman's perspicacity with the two-slit experiment, but also adds this fundamental precision: interference patterns are built up not only from thousands of electrons, thereby reinforcing the wave-view, but also from the successive impacts of single electrons. The latter being an experimental proof of the particle character of electrons.

We arrive at the following, apparently contradictory remarks. The particle-gun has to be interpreted as a wave-gun, but waves themselves appear to be the product of successive or simultaneous particle impacts. This seems to give much more credibility to the image of a gun that shoots bullets in a wide range. That could mean that not the properties of the electron are essential, but the way each electron is emitted, and its subsequent trajectory (it could be of course that the properties determine the trajectory, but I will leave that to the scientists]. The dichotomy particle-wave would, more than ever, be a false one: individual electrons are particles, but as a group they behave like a wave, just like spectators in a sport arena.

The first image therefore, that of an automatic weapon slightly out of control, would seem to be very accurate. We could even find a very simple explanation for its behavior. Just like the hand of a shooter is never completely still, so is any source of emission of electrons forever trilling in the quantum dimension. Those oscillations would then explain why electrons seem to behave more like a wave than like particles.
Very simple, and therefore probably quite wrong. Better hear it from the experts.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Particles and Waves
While the motions of the latter can be calculated (more or less) accurately, with the first we have to be satisfied with probabilities. Waves are relatively easy to understand, they can be in many places at the same time. Particles though can only be understood if they behave as such. 
The difficulty particles represent is obvious in the choice of words Feyman ("Feynman Lectures on Physics: Quantum Mechanics") uses to describe a gun shooting bullets, or a heated wire emitting electrons. They do no not behave like we would expect guns to behave rationally, but more like an automatic weapon out of control. In fact, guns behave just like waves, even if they shoot single bullets: "It is not a very good gun, in that it sprays the bullets (randomly) over a fairly large angular spread".
Which makes me say: the problem is not with the bullets, but with the gun! The nicely short and beautifully clear review by Giorgio Matteuci ("Interference with electrons- from thoughts to real experiments", 2013) reinforces my conviction. He confirms Feyman's perspicacity with the two-slit experiment, but also adds this fundamental precision: interference patterns are built up not only from thousands of electrons, thereby reinforcing the wave-view, but also from the successive impacts of single electrons. The latter being an experimental proof of the particle character of electrons.

We arrive at the following, apparently contradictory remarks. The particle-gun has to be interpreted as a wave-gun, but waves themselves appear to be the product of successive or simultaneous particle impacts. This seems to give much more credibility to the image of a gun that shoots bullets in a wide range. That could mean that not the properties of the electron are essential, but the way each electron is emitted, and its subsequent trajectory (it could be of course that the properties determine the trajectory, but I will leave that to the scientists]. The dichotomy particle-wave would, more than ever, be a false one: individual electrons are particles, but as a group they behave like a wave, just like spectators in a sports arena.

The first image therefore, that of an automatic weapon slightly out of control, would seem to be very accurate. We could even find a very simple explanation for its behavior. Just like the hand of a shooter is never completely still, so is any source of emission of electrons forever trilling in the quantum dimension. Those oscillations would then explain why electrons seem to behave more like a wave than like particles.
Very simple, and therefore probably quite wrong. Better hear it from the experts. 

[How easily myths can be created can be seen by the following affirmation in Wikipedia: "A well-known thought experiment [in Feynman op.cit] predicts that if particle detectors are positioned at the slits, showing through which slit a photon goes, the interference pattern will disappear".
I looked for any indication that could confirm this, but could find none. This is, I think, born from the conviction that just looking at quantum processes changes them. This probably sells papers and books better than dry calculations.]

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Particles and Waves (2)

First a correction: Feynman does mention a light source that makes it possible for an observer to see whether an electron has passed by hole 1 or hole 2. The flashes produced by the detection of electrons flattens the differences between minima and maxima, with, indeed, as a consequence, that interference patterns disappear. Also, Feynman plays a while on the ambiguity of "seeing", or act of observation, and the physical effect of photons on the other electrons. He makes it clear though that it is those effects that make the interference patterns vanish, and not our watching or seeing.

How can we explain the fact that working with electrons instead of bullets, we get the same results as with waves?
Of course, electrons interact with each other in ways that bullets cannot: the latter can only bump into each other and recoil, while electrons can attract and repel each other also. But for that, they must be close to each other, which is impossible when the firing rate is too low.
Maybe the analogy of particles and bullets is not correct. After all, if we had only the measurements of waves and of the electron-gun, we would have no trouble with our interpretation: a wave would be a multitude of particles firing more or less simultaneously, or a multitude of single firings spread in time, while an electron firing could be seen as a single happening. 
We could therefore simply conclude: particles are not bullets!
That would allow us to consider waves as built from particles, which is physically quite plausible, without having to look for mysterious explanations.
There remains the question of what is the distinction between a particle and a bullet. Feynman gives a very plausible answer: the same interference patterns should be present as by electrons and waves, but the differences are too minimal to be registered, so that the picture we get is a "smoothed" pattern of a ragged line. Understood this way there is no reason to oppose "particle" to "wave", and the latter can easily be understood in terms of the former.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Thank you for your comments. If I understand you correctly, you now believe in the reality of qubits and quantum superposition. As I have tried to make clear, I think those are metaphysical conceptions that can therefore not be considered as scientific facts upon which a theory, or experiments, can blindly be built.
On a happier note, I might find myself in the same position as Stanley Laurel who had to eat Ollie's hat. Apparently, it was made of licorice, so my promise of a chocolate hat should not be considered too negatively.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Let us assume that Einstein was wrong, and that it is possible to go beyond, faster than the speed of light. Let us therefore start our warp drive and boldly go where no philosopher has gone before. Or so we hope.

Imagine we are talking together, you and I.
You: what are we talking about?
me: ahem.
George: I am asking you to throw the ball back to me.
You: which ball?
George: this ball.
You: oh, okay. Here you go.
George: your turn, kid.
me: kid? I thought I was too old even for Cleopatra.
George: what's your point?
me: never mind. So, I fly away in my warp-ship while you guys play ball. Let us say it takes the ball 1 second each time to reach one of you. In one second I will have traveled... very far indeed.
George: you land on a planet in a galaxy far far away. And find a cute scientist there waiting for you.
me: please don't start again.
You: does she have a girl friend? I mean, a friend who happens to be be a girl. Not...
me: we got it! Ask George, he seems to know everything!
You (hopeful): George?
George: sure. Why not?
You: can she be blond?
me: before we get all carried away? You and me are hanging out with these gorgeous creatures, while he is at the same time throwing and catching balls with you?
You: cool! I think I understand now what they mean by time paradox!
George: a lot can happen in a short time.
me: yeah. They call it premature ejaculation. Wait, I see what you mean! In the time it takes the ball to reach You, he and me have already landed on the other planet where another space-time continuum reigns. He could even make out with his blond, and be back on time to catch the ball.
You (makes a pulling gesture): Yes!

Let us stop right here before we destroy You's illusions.
We seem to have two distinct space-time frames. The warp engine allows us to ignore the distance between them and the time it would take a conventional space ship to cross it.
Allow me to simplify the example by simply cloning George and You on the distant planet.

You: he can't do that, can he?
George: just wait until he is AFK.
You: what? (his eyes get suddenly big and a wide grin splits his face). Right!

Now You and George can play ping-pong on two planets at the same time (if we make abstraction of the time it takes to board and leave the ship). In fact, they will be playing two completely different games in which for instance You can hit the ball on Earth, and then again on Far-Earth.

You: awesome!

The question now is what happens while they are traveling. That might not be so important though. At least, not as long as the trip takes less than a second in both directions. 
In such a situation, we might as well dispense with the other galaxy, and put everybody back on Earth. We would then have two Georges and two Yous playing ping-pong next to each other, each team playing its own game.
Once we have done that, we realize we do not need to clone our friends at all, and may as well involve two other distinct persons to be the second team.

George: what about "another space-time continuum"?
me: yeah, that's the whole problem. It does not make any sense at all, really.
George: you's gonna be mighty sick, eatin' all them chocolate hats.
me: not if I can prove that there are no time paradoxes.
George: prove?
me: yeah, that might be a little bit too strong.

Last, let us now replace all the players by two different clocks, and have one moving relatively to the other one. Experiments show that both clocks will show a different time, one being slower than the other. A cosmic jet lag, as it were.

But then, what do we mean exactly when we say that clock A is slower than clock B? How and who is allowed to determine the difference?
According to these experiments, we could limit ourselves to one player who could hit the ball, hop in the space ship and then orbit at warp speed around the earth. He would then be able to disembark, which takes no time in our examples, pick up the same ball he has hit earlier, and then hit it a second time. He could do that indefinitely, each time creating a new ball out of nothing. 
Meanwhile, a second player would wait for the first ball, hit it back, and start on his own warp journey. By timing it right, he could be back in time to return all the balls the first player had thrown his way. To avoid an infinite regress, we can simply have the second player direct the balls to a receiving area.
So, the idea of a different time measured by each clock leads to absurdities. Are the experiments then faulty? Or is it their interpretation that needs to be revised?
Let us assume that the experiments have been correctly set up, and that the result, both clocks running at a different speed, is undeniable. Remember the black holes? Our experiment with warp ships amounts to the same thing: physical effects on clock speed, and therefore, on time measurements. The fact that in one case gravity is involved, while in the other velocity is the culprit, is I think irrelevant, except for physicists.
Can we imagine other physical causes that might slow down a clock? Cold would seem to be a very good candidate. We can certainly imagine a thought experiment where one clock would be cooled down to the null point, while the other would be kept at room temperature. Readings from both clocks, would, I surmise, have to be different, the cold clock emitting less electrons to trigger the counter than the warm clock. It is a thought experiment, which means, luckily for me, that I am allowed to gloss over the technical details.
The important thing is that both clocks would seem to point at a different time. But do they, really?
The only way we could be justified to draw such a conclusion would be if we had the guarantee that none of the clocks had been tempered with by physical laws beyond our control. And that we cannot do. Which means that we are not allowed to speak of different speeds of Time, for the simple reason that we cannot trust our measuring instruments.
Back to the question of who would be allowed to determine the difference between the time on the ship and the time on Earth? If your are a believer, God would seem to be the only candidate, otherwise you will just have to admit that the function will remain for ever vacant. In both cases, Einstein and his fans are out of the loop.
Does the difference between both clocks not mean anything at all? I would certainly not go that far. It certainly is a very clear indication of the effects of speed, gravity or cold on physical processes, and as such, a very valuable tool. Only not as a time measuring tool.
What I have said about the trip inside a black hole can certainly be applied to warp speed travel. If we find a way of neutralizing the physical effects of speed then there would be no reason to expect that Time would flow differently for us than for the people we left behind on Earth. We would just need new conventions to tell the time on Andromeda or any other galaxy, something like 12:00 UT + Warp 9.
This also means that we do not need the speed of light to be constant. At least, not  to salvage Rationality.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
How Fast Are You Moving When You Are Sitting Still? is the title of a very interesting website.
( My only regret is that the author did not try to put a final figure to our speed while sitting still. I do not know if I am allowed to multiply the different speeds by each other, and whether my impression that it would be much higher than the speed of light is correct. One thing is certain, nature has found a way of achieving dizzying speeds without affecting living creatures. Who knows? Maybe Man will be able to do the same one day, even if in a less extreme way.

George: kryptonite.
me: pardon?
George: you need to put the clock in a kryptonite casing, to keep it from being influenced by speed and other natural effects. This way, you could compare both clocks without prejudice.
me: kryptonite, you say.
George: yup. That, or give the clock its own atmosphere.
me: I don't follow.
George: you just read that Earth moves around the sun, which moves around the center of the Milky Way, etc. And you are never aware of all these motions at any moment in time. So, if you could give the clock its own atmosphere, or gravity, just like any other planet, you would be able to synchronize it with another clock on Earth.
me: I will start looking for kryptonite right away.
George: what if they're right? What if the speed of light is a constant?
me: no problem. I think it really is.
George: explain.
me: in a video course on calculus the teacher gave the example of a policeman taking snapshots of a speeding driver to prove his guilt. For that, he had to take pictures of ever smaller time frames. The moral of the story was that even if there were no final proof, however small the time frame was, the policeman could take a picture of it.
George: a little bit silly, methinks.
me: well, it got the message across of the derivative.
George: okay, now the speed of light.
me: imagine running at very high speed towards a light source. Let us picture this light source as some device that emits photons one after the other. These photons form of course a continuous stream, but nothing stops us from considering them as following each other all with the same speed.
George: okay, with you so far.
me: we are holding a cosmic speedometer in our hands and moving at a speed close to that of the light itself.
George: yes.
me: the first photon has a registered speed of 'c', the speed of light. Normally, because we are moving towards them, the following photons should register at a much higher speed.
George: but they don't.
me: well, somehow they do.
George: now you lost me. I thought you thought the speed of light was a constant.
me: and it is, probably, maybe. Let us say we started at 1 km from the light source when we registered the first photon. We then register the following photon at say, 500m. 
George: still the same speed.
me: not exactly. The second photon took half the amount of time with us running towards it, and half the distance between us.
George: which makes it slower than it should be. It does not make sense.
me: remember the policeman with the camera? Whether he is himself moving or standing still, the camera can only register a fixed moment in time, as small as the shutter or the flash will allow it.
George: so, you always get the same ratio of time and distance, and therefore speed.
me: imagine now the inside of a speedometer. It has to react to two consecutive impacts following each other with the speed of light, or even higher.
George: it would have to be light quick!
me: or even faster. 
George: so, no speedometer slower than the speed of light can measure the speed of light? Even when large distances are involved?
me: that's what I think. And, philosophically, it would make perfect sense. You can measure anything that is (made) slower than your measuring device. But if it is faster than your instrument can react, you will just miss all that goes beyond its speed. So, even if an object could reach 3 times the speed of light, your instrument would only register the maximum it can, and miss 2 photons out of 3.
George: so light  can go faster.
me: nope. Not necessarily. Just like meeting a train head on when both of you are going 100km/h does not make the train go faster, even if you both will meet at 200km/h.
George: but since my speedometer can never go beyond 100km/h, that is the maximum speed I register. But what about the reverse situation, when I am running away from the source?
me: the train will still be going 100km/h, and that is what your speedometer will indicate.
George: so, the idea of spacetime?
me: is another version of the ether.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
A la recherche du temps perdu

"The views of space and time which I wish to lay before you have sprung from the soil of experimental physics, and therein lies their strength. They are radical. Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality."
Hermann Minkowski ("Space and Time", 1908)

The question whether a tree falling in a forest makes any noise if there is no living being around, has, as far I am concerned, a much more interesting analog in the following question:
Do physical processes need Time to deploy? Do particles and atoms move around in a temporal flow?
Take incubation for instance. It seems like the factor time is indispensable for chemical processes to arrive at a certain result. But is it really? Do cells somehow hold their breath until their neighbors are ready for further interaction, until some trigger has been ... triggered?
Most scientists would probably admit that this is a rather anthropomorphic view of physical and chemical processes. But then, what are we supposed to think of concepts like space-time that are so central to one of the most important theories of our era?
What to think then of Relativity Theory?
The variable 'time' is essential in all sciences, and that is what makes them human forms of knowledge, not to say, "human sciences". They represent Man's intellectual struggle in controlling his natural environment. To say, as Minkowski does ("Space and Time", 1923), that space cannot be properly understood without the 4rth dimension is perfectly understandable, as long as we realize that we are not talking about Nature, but about what Nature means to Man.
Let me give a simple example to show that the presence of a time variable in any mathematical equation or scientific formula, can be seen as a sign that we are still unable to understand, or unwilling to explain a process without referring it to our own human experience.
Let us take an arbitrary disease with an incubation time of 30 days. What does this temporal variable mean in chemical terms? The number of divisions by cancerous cells maybe? And do we really need to know that exact number? Surely not. As long as we realize that the time variable is for our convenience only and could be replaces by more concrete figures if necessary.
A very modern example is found in a completely different field, electronics, and concerns the life expectancy, the endurance, of Solid State drives. There have been quite a few debates on the number of bits put in each cell, and the negative consequences on the drives' endurance. What interests me is how this endurance is calculated. Obviously, the best way to test a drive is to have a program continuously read and write to the drive, until it cries uncle. Manufacturers speak of Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF), which is expressed in hours. But such an anthropomorphic concept is easily replaced by the number of read-writes, also known as program/erase (P/E) cycles.
Imagine now if our physicists found a way of expressing concepts like speed and velocity in non-anthropomorphic terms. That would not be too difficult for, say, earth revolutions. Even the concept of hour could easily be replaced by a number of pulses of cesium, or whatever the flavor of the century might be, and we would have a formula that would not need Time as a variable.
How about the speed of light? Could we express this cosmological constant in "un-human" terms? I supposed we could. The big question would be, are we sure we want to do that?
Let us analyze the consequences, shall we?

One fundamental tenet of Relativity Theory is, paradoxically, the independence of physical laws from individual observers. The same laws are valid for all. Especially, the speed of light is the same constant for all. Objects may look different, shorter or longer, to different observers; people may experience the same event as having taken place in different times relative to another event, and still Nature's Laws hold. What keeps Relativity Theory from turning into a psychological theory is precisely this emphasis on the universality of physical laws, or so all scientists hope.
Imagine now Physics without a time variable in any of its formulas. Not very practical I'm sure, but certainly not an impossibility.
We would have to replace all human observers by machines for which concepts like time, long or short, fast or slow, do not hold any meaning.
What would your own preference be? How would you vote? Do you think it would be possible (at least in principle)? Or not?
What if I told you that, whatever you choose, Relativity Theory becomes a psychological theory?

George: you really must love chocolate!
You : may I play? I think chocolate and ice-cream are the best things ever!
George (with a shrug): just say he's right.
You (to me, jumping up and down): you're right! Your're right! Oh, you're so right!
me: Thanks, You. Here, go buy yourself something sweet.

The Time variable can be replaced and computers can be observers
If that is the case then it is no wonder that physical laws are the same everywhere. In fact, it would be really strange if that were not the case. To make sure that it is so, we would only need to swap machines between different locations.

The Time variable cannot be replaced and computers cannot be observers:
This is really a tough one. What makes humans irreplaceable? A very interesting question, to which I'm afraid I have no final answer.
But what does it say about Relativity Theory, and especially, about the space-time concept? Does it mean that we could not conclude to the universality of laws, unless we have humans behind the machines? Do we need them to experience speed, dilatation of time, or the shrinking of objects? Couldn't the machines do that, or would those phenomena only take place for humans? 

Fascinating themes to be sure.

So, you see, whatever your answer is, it just shows that Relativity Theory, in its actual form, can only be considered as a psychological theory where the effects on humans of speed and relative motion become apparent.

I certainly do not know the answers to all those questions, if there are any, but it seems to me that they all depend on one fundamental question: is Time an objective phenomenon, or is it closer to what Kant thought Time and space to be, conditions of possibility of human knowledge? Whether we agree with Kant or not, and I usually do not, the question remains: do physical laws need the (human) mind?

I personally vote No. Like Einstein does, when he is not contradicting himself.
By the way, I could have of course also used Space as anthropomorphic concept. I find Time on itself confusing enough. Also, I will shamefully admit that I never have been able to finish a book by Marcel Proust. He has the dubious privilege of being the only author whom I wanted to read but could not. God, what a bore! Give me Einstein anytime!

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Science and Time
To understand the meaning of time as an anthropomorphic variable, let us adapt the classical examples of moving trains, lightening flash and stationary observers in a train station. Let us speak instead of comets, planets and novas. A nova happening in a far away galaxy, a comet flying in its direction, and another comet flying in the opposite direction. Also, we could imagine a "stationary" rock somewhere in the middle of all this. We can ask ourselves whether the light rays from the nova would reach one comet BEFORE the other, or AFTER it has reached the rock. We could also imagine some kind of chemical process on all three objects, that would react to light in a very specific manner, and at a certain rate. We could certainly conclude, on the basis of the respective size of each chemical compound, which was reached first, second, and last.
And now, look at it from the side of Nature and the chemical processes: what do they care?

Before you protest, let me replace the chemical compounds by man-made computers. After the event has taken place, experts start analyzing the different machines, hoping to get a clear answer to the question which computer reacted first, etc.

Let us again change the scenery, and replace the computers by human beings. Einstein claims that one observer would see the lightening before, and the other after some time trigger. How is he to know? He had already established that synchronizing clocks that are moving relative to each other is far from simple. In fact, we would have to say that it is impossible, otherwise we would be back to Newton's absolute time. What does then, in this context 'before' or 'after' mean? Einstein has created for himself a paradox: either he declares himself capable, by analytical means, to solve the problem of clocks synchronization, making it therefore possible to answer questions of before and after, or he has to live forever with the hangover of the day after. More respectfully, there is no way of knowing who will experience what at any time.
That means that our observers on the comets and rock would have no way of deciding who "saw the light" first. And if we think that c, as the constant of the speed of light, could give the answer then we are taking a God's view in which we can see all participants at the same time, as well as the trajectory in space and time of the light rays. Just like we are able, the day after, to look at the chemical compounds or the computers and decide the order of activation. Something we cannot do with human beings.
Still, Einstein is very clear on the conditions in which the thought experiment takes place. It all happens in a straight line, so the concepts of before and after would seem to be very reasonable. Except that reasonable assumptions do not always lead to the truth in Einstein's world, in which, although everything happens in a straight line, two different observers experience two different temporal sequences.
When we look at the history of the theory, then we are not surprised to learn that Lorentz' Transformations, which are used by Einstein to explain the shrinking phenomena, were in fact used by their author to justify the existence of the luminiferous ether, something Einstein rejected very early in his career.
We are also not shocked by the simplicity of Minkowski's argumentation when he unashamedly orates about the nature of Time and Space on the basis of calculations he seems to have drawn out of his assistant's ears, like a good magician.

Also, we must not forget the quantum dilemma: the impossibility of determining at the same time location and velocity of a photon. That makes the concept of a constant speed of light somewhat problematic. 

The problem is in fact quite simple: either we are allowed to infer from our position and the velocity of the other observer what will happen, and how he will experience the world, or we are not. Einstein makes it impossible for us to compare both experiences. When you are on the train, everything looks normal to you, just like it looks normal to the one on the ground, until he looks at you. Swapping place does no good, since you cannot relive that feeling of strangeness you had when you looked at the passing train. In other words, Einstein seems to be chasing a nightmare and wanting to explain reality on the basis of what looks like optical illusions!

Last but not least, if it is possible on the basis of the constant speed of light to answer all these questions, shouldn't it then be possible to define a common time frame to all future observers? And if it is possible, how would such a time frame be any different from Newtonian time?We would only be left with the wrong convictions of the observer who would, naively, judge an event as having happened "before" while they know, rationally, that it in fact happened "after". Just like you know, when sitting in a stationary train, that the feeling of motion you get when seeing the other train move is simply an illusion.

In summary, Relativity Theory will undoubtedly remain a milestone in scientific history, and I am in no position to judge of the validity of its purely scientific theorems and calculations, but I am certainly justified in refusing to consider blatant metaphysical claims as scientific truths.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Is the Aether for ever banned?
I don't think so. It is certainly firmly established that any assumption of motion of this medium has been unaccounted for by experimental facts. But then, why should it move at all? Of course, we would still have to explain its existence in vacuum. As Lorentz said already in "Attempt of a Theory of Electrical and Optical Phenomena in Moving Bodies", (1895): "One hardly will assume, that this medium could suffer a compression, without giving resistance to it."
I find it by the way strange that such an argument was not sufficient for Lorentz to make him doubt of the existence of the Aether. But, then, I, myself, am trying to argue for the endurance of such a concept when adequately presented.
Imagine the Aether just like the concept of Space. You can compress it, move objects through it, shine light from one end to the other at a constant speed. In other words, Space does everything the aether wanted to do but was not allowed to. The aether was a very bad personification of Space, and had to be fired for misrepresentation.
But let us pose the same questions to Space as we did to the Aether.
Where does it go when we move an object through it? How come we are able to go from one side of Space in the other, assuming the Space between stars and planets is a vacuum? Of course, maybe it is not, and then we would be referred to the last costume the Aether has donned, Black Matter.
So maybe even the concept of Vacuum is just another word for the Aether.
Back to Space. Does it really exist? What happens when an object move from A to B? What is there left in A, and where is what was in B now? Saying that there was nothing before in B, and nothing left in A, only seems like an answer. If there was nothing, between A and B, then both points would be one and a single point.
Nothing, or Vacuum, sounds as meaningful as the Aether was at one time. It seems to make sense, but it really does not. In man-made vacuum, all objects are glued to each other. And where there seems to be some air left, like the famous half metal balls that where used in fairs in the 19th century, you could say that no method had been found to overcome the resistance of the metal and flatten it in two thick plates. In a book of Tintin, I have no idea which one, it was such a long time ago, Tintin wants to get rid of a piece of band-aid around his finger. The author makes us then follow the journey of this piece of band-aid that seems to jump from one person to the other, and even ends up blinding a pilot on a plane, who then has to use a parachute and jump... well you can imagine how it went further.
Space somehow looks like this piece of band-aid. Whatever you do, you can't really get rid of it, but only pass it on to your unsuspecting neighbor.
James Overduin, "The Experimental Verdict on Spacetime from Gravity Probe B" (in "Space, Time, and Spacetime", edited by Vesselin Petkov, 2010), offers a brief historical review of the "relational" and the "absolute" conception of Space. I find some of his remarks quite interesting. He speaks of "dragging effects" and of the fact that "No gravitational waves have been detected to date", both facts reminding me strongly of the case of the luminiferous aether. This remark is of course void of any scientific pretension. I am simply remarking on the similitude between two concepts that are considered as miles apart by contemporary science. Still, I cannot escape the impression of the strong conviction Lorentz felt and expressed about how his equations justified the existence of the aether. That makes me quite skeptical concerning the experimental proofs presented by Overduin. But that is something for contemporary scientists and posterity to decide.
I must specify that my skepticism only concerns concepts with an obvious metaphysical flavor. Let me just say that priests, as a generic term applicable to any religion, prove the existence of God everyday to their parish. The same can be said of some so-called scientific theories and the experiments that go with them.
The idea of Spacetime falls certainly under my definition of a metaphysical concept. Which means that any so-called proof should be considered with extreme caution.
Back to Space and the Aether. It would seem that where one is absent, the other one must be present at all cost. Take an atom with all its core elements and orbiting electrons. Is there Space between them? Really? What about the Big Bang, when all matter was so condensed that it formed a singularity (a favorite of Hawking and Penrose) where even the concepts of Space and Time had no meaning?
Was that cosmic point all matter, with no Space between its elements? Let us say it was, and that it was surrounded by a Nothing that was neither Space nor Time. We have to start somewhere, don't we?
So the Nothing becomes Space, or maybe it just remains Nothing, a medium, just like the Aether.
Einstein's General Relativity gives substance to Space, by taking it away from Gravity, which becomes just a name for the effect of Matter on Space, and the payback of Space on Matter. But what is the difference with such a conception of Space and that of the Aether? You can haggle about their respective properties, but at the end of the day, they are both nothing but the medium in which everything happens.
I suppose, my question would be, do we need Space, when we already have the Nothing? If there was neither Space nor Time before the Big Bang, why create it afterwards? Of course, nothing prevents us from renaming Nothing as Space. In fact, it would make much more sense. This way, when the Big bang occurs, we do not have to wonder about the medium in which the universe is said to expand: it is simply Space, another word for Nothing.
That would mean that what we call Vacuum, is just returning the Nothing that was temporarily used by Matter. Not that nature abhors vacuum, as is often thought. In fact, I think that nature cannot get enough of it. You have to actively make Matter approach Matter. Otherwise, it just leaves the Nothing alone.

In the end, maybe you will believe me, but I expect you will probably prefer to stick with Einstein and Minkowski. No offense taken. They have been around much longer. Just remember: I might be right, and there is no way for you to prove that I am not.
Let me also reassure those who would like to believe me but dare not: in last instance, it does not really matter whether Einstein is right, or me. Concerning this issue, they are all only words.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Particles and Waves (3)
Sound in Space is impossible. That seems to be a well established fact. The reason: sound is made of waves, propagated through a medium, the air. There is no air in space, ergo, no sound.
What happens in the ear? I would like to refer the reader to my thread Hearing, but it has been abusively deleted, so allow me to be more concise than I would normally be if I had not already treated of the subject.
Sound goes into the ear, whatever its trajectory, moves a little bone-hammer that hits a membrane. The pressure differences in the inner ear move a carpet-like membrane that activates neurons beneath it. Neurons are of course discrete organs. Which means that what we call sound is made of discrete units, however continuous and harmonic we may experience it.
The idea of sound as a wave seems therefore only correct up to the neurons. From there on, it is all particles.
In fact, we are allowed to go one step back, to the entrance to the inner ear, the bone hitting on the membrane. Also a discrete organ. This should remind us of the principle of Brownian motions, minus their randomness. The hammer will be moved by a wave, but then, what is a wave more than a multitude of particles moving in a more or less synchronized fashion?
What seems undeniable is the necessity of a medium. But then, whoever says medium says wave. A very disturbing dilemma as far as I am concerned. 
Still, the inner ear is not filled with air but with an organic fluid, the endolymph, which, as a liquid, can be considered as being made of particles, just like water. It is the points of contact between the endolymph and the membrane that activate the neurons the latter comes in contact with (by moving cilia, but that is irrelevant for our discussion).
Since the air can also be considered as made of particles, we could reasonably say that there is no reason why the propagation of sound could not be thought to be corpuscular, just like light.

The problem of course, is outer space. "The universe was a silent place." That should be the Epitaph of the End of the Universe. 
The idea that there is no sound without medium has been considered as a well established fact for a very long time. I honestly do not know if it has ever been tested in space in a plausible manner. First, radio waves exist and are used by satellites and spacecrafts on a daily basis. Second, astronauts can hardly be expected to take off their helmets to find out if they can hear anything.

What is of course certain is that our hearing is a product of evolution, and is therefore adapted to Earth conditions. The fact that an astronaut wandering in space can communicate with his colleagues in the space station (I'm assuming it is possible, at least in principle), with the right devices, does not mean that he would hear any sound at all without those devices.
We must of course realize that such a consideration says a lot about the biological aspect of hearing, and nothing about the physical properties of sound.

All in all, the idea that sound is a wave phenomenon should not be taken as evident.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Science and Time (2)

"It is curious that in [...] two rival theories somewhat the same mathematical artifices may be used."
H.A. Lorentz, Stoke's Theory of Aberration in the Supposition of a Variable Density of the Aether, in:
KNAW, Proceedings, 1, 1898-1899, Amsterdam, 1899, pp. 443-448

"Good theories are flexible. Those which have a rigid form and which can not change that form without collapsing really have too little vitality. But if a theory is solid, then it can be cast in diverse forms, it resists all attacks, and its essential meaning remains unaffected." 
Henri Poincaré "The Theory of Lorentz and The Principle of Reaction", 1900.

Imagine now that those comets had gone further in space carrying the seeds of new civilizations in their chemical compounds, that would only see the light of day after some billions of years. The time difference, form a divine perspective, would seem quite negligible, but then, who knows how long a few nanoseconds mean for a supreme creature. Like Commander Data once said, 0.8 seconds is an eternity for an Android.
More important is the fact that the effects of light on the genesis of those civilizations were as real in all cases. The fact that light might have reached one comet before the other is in fact irrelevant, unless both events are taking place in the same time frame.

Let us change Einstein's experiment somewhat, and instead of two simultaneous strikes of lightening, we have 2 man-made light events, each with a different color. We will abstract from any shift phenomenon and assume that both observers will see one light as blue and the other as red, or whatever strikes your fancy.
Let the traveler come back from his epic journey and compare notes with his colleague back home. It will be obvious, according to Einstein, that their views will be opposite. One will have seen red before blue, and the other one exactly the reverse.
Not discouraged by these results, both opt for a following experiment, in all aspects identical to the first, but this time they will try to find out exactly when each act of perception took place. They then synchronize their clocks. Aha! How would they do that? Einstein thinks it should be possible to do that when the moving observer passes a landmark. To avoid misunderstanding, and because our imagination is king, let us imagine a very long cable that links boxes that would each trigger a different colored event. We only need one operator to hit a button that would activate the current simultaneously in both directions. This way, we have an objective time frame from which to judge each of the observers' reaction.
We could of course go back to our previous example, and have each observer, on the rock and the two comets, travel to a rendez-vous location after they have noted the dimensions and other properties of the chemical compounds, after a certain time, agreed upon previously, has passed. This way, they would not need to take into account the effects of warp speed on those compounds. Comparing all three data sets would be child's play.
But what would the observers learn from such a comparison? No much really. After all, according to the relativity principle, all three compounds will have reached the same size.
Okay, so they need to take the compounds with them? Where to? A place equidistant from the rock and the two comets to eliminate differences in time travel effects. How do they determine such a location? They need a fourth location from which they can predict the movements of the comets and the relative position of the rock. This fourth location cannot be the rendez-vous point!
Good, we're getting somewhere!

George: I have a little chocolate hat right here. You want it now or later?
You: may I have it, please?
George (disabused): sure kid, here you go.

Wait! How will they know, when to leave their own position? Not really a problem. We just need a fifth location from which they all depart to their respective position (the rock and the comets). We can also calculate where this location must be from our fourth location.

George: I thought the events were simultaneous and instantaneous.
me: they don't need to be instantaneous. Whether you register a single photon, or a continuous stream is here irrelevant.
George okay, what about simultaneous?
me : that's really tricky. But not impossible. We would need a sixth and 7th location...
You: George, do you have another hat?
George: maybe later, I might then have a whole bag of them.
You: wow! I love you, man!
me : well, now that I think of it. The events do not need to be simultaneous either.
George: let me go to the candy store. I'll be right back.
me: wait! Hear me out!
You: please, let him go to the candy store?
me: I will do it myself anyway, promise! Just let me speak before I forget.
You: okay, go ahead. I'm gonna watch tv.
me: the 6th and 7th locations are calculated from the 4rth one, and need to be the same distance from the rock and the two comets when the observers will land on them. As soon as they get there the operators start their own light event.
You (from the couch, half turning his head): you need Shaito San.
me (haggard): i guess we do. (Mumbling) Where is a djinn when you need one?
George: okay, let us assume that all those computations are feasible within the same time-frame.
me (smiling beatifically): well, then the problem is solved, isn't it?
George: how?
You: duh! Because that was the whole point. If you know how to get to the candy store, and your friends know you are going to be there sooner or later, it does not matter where they are, when they leave, or how fast they travel, they will get there eventually, and all they have to do is wait for you to show up. And then you can ask them how long it took them to find you.
me: I'm going to the candy store.
George: I'll have some questions for you when you're back. Hopefully. Unless you go with the speed of light. In which case I can't promise I will be here... yet...  Get me that bag!

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Science and Time (4)
In his seminal paper of 1905, "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies", Einstein gives a definition of simultaneity on which his whole system is based. Unluckily for him, his definition is flawed. I will not attempt to draw the consequences of such an error, and will simply present his argumentation and what I consider as an inconsistency in the reasoning.

The idea is as simple as it seems obvious. First we must accept two fundamental assumptions (which form in fact only one):
1) Light has a constant speed.
2) Its speed is constant in all directions.

The following step is to have two clocks indicating the same time: the problem of synchronization.
The procedure also cannot be any simpler: we project a ray of light from A to B, which is then reflected from B to A, which we then call t'A to distinguish the start from the end time.
The final equation hopes to speak for itself:

tB - tA = t'A - tB 

There is a slight problem though, but one with big, as yet unknown consequences. We have no guarantee that both clocks will react the same way: imagine that the A-clock in fact is imperceptibly slower than the B clock. The equation would still be valid, and as long as we are using the double time interval t'A-tA, or the same time cut in half, or any other ratio, we would be using the same value each time. What we could not do is consider the values given by each clock separately as being identical to each other, since the A-clock would be systematically slower.

I do not have the impression that such a discrepancy could be excluded from more modern devices. We can of course always make use of a third clock, more accurate that the previous ones. Still, the question will keep arising: how do we synchronize our new clock with another one of the same make? The halving of the time it takes light to go back and forth seems to be the only objective way. Which would bring us back to square one.

If I am right, the problem of simultaneity or clock synchronization is theoretically, and practically insoluble. I am not really surprised, since the possibility of a solution would presuppose the presence of a neutral, objective party that would look upon both clocks and declare them synchronized: a relativistic version of the perennial "Let it be light."  But then it would have to be "Let it be right." 

As I said, I cannot really judge of the theoretical, nor practical, consequences of this metaphysical glitch, but it certainly seems to confirm my own analysis concerning the God's view Relativity Theory relies upon.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Science and Time (3)
Let us take again the example given by Einstein of two simultaneous events and the different conclusions drawn by different observers.
Let us look at it purely from a physiological point of view.
It will be obvious that light will, at its own leisure, reach the eye of each observer and induce a visual reaction. This is a real event, comparable in nature to the reactions in the chemical compounds on the comets. It has therefore nothing to do with the subsequent evaluation and analysis by the same observers about the meaning of this event, and its relationship to other events.
As I said before, each observer could begins his own history and civilization based on his initial experience. To raise the stakes, imagine a sadistic game where the initial input would start a self-destruct sequence in the other systems while disabling one's own. Only one of the observers would survive. It cannot get anymore real than this!
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that it is completely irrelevant whether another observer would be of the opinion that the survivor only thought to have seen event A before B, while they were in fact simultaneous, or in the opposite order. In fact, this critical observer would most certainly be among the casualties and would therefore have no more room to complain.
This shows, as far as I am concerned, how biased Einstein's model is. It relies on one view that has been promoted to the universal standpoint, but the only way for the representant of this view to survive his position is to be, literally, above all parties concerned, just like God would be.
This also shows how useless the premise of different time-frames is. A fact that is acknowledged by Einstein in his efforts to secure a common spacetime in which everything falls in place. For that, he thinks he needs a constant  speed of light to keep paradoxes from entering his building. But such an argument is only valid if we turn Time into something substantial that exists continuously. Time where the past and the future are as real as the present. Time therefore that would be Space.
We are reminded of Bergson's critique of this conception, and his defense of the ineffable "durée". [Should I remind the reader that Bergson, just like Einstein, was also a Nobel Prize laurate?]
Once we refuse to consider Time as more than an (human) abstraction, then the speed of light becomes just one natural phenomenon among others. Its constancy is no more peculiar or special than that of other physical processes. The biological and chemical processes in a human or animal's body are the perfect example of the consistency and constancy of those laws. Instead of Cesium, or light, I am sure that biologists could find examples of processes that, even if less practical, could be used to accurately measure distances, speed, and time.
After all, how could we survive in a world where physical laws would change at a whim?
Einstein's analysis certainly represented a change of paradigm in the physical sciences. The accuracy of his predictions have turned his theory into a dogma, and people have apparently no choice but accept everything he says as true, even if it violates every rational fiber in our being. In fact, it is exactly this rejection of everyday intuition that has become so highly praised. As is the case with Quantum Theory. Einstein and Bohr have been turned into prophets by their academic sycophants and the media in search of sensational news. Everybody knows Einstein. Just like every Christian knows the Bible, or every Muslim the Koran. The Theory of Relativity is now just one of the Holy Books, with its own caste of television preachers.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Einstein and the Village People: Why mc E?
I remember reading a short story many years ago about some strange phenomenon happening to sun-light. Every time someone, or something, walked through sun-lit space, they left a dark trace behind, obliterating the photons in their wake permanently, and making the world darker and darker. I cannot remember how it ended up, but it now makes me childishly wonder at a peculiar property of light on Earth: while light-rays can survive for billions of years across Space, and can thus be considered as (quasi) eternal, light on Earth has even a shorter life span than a mayfly.
Shouldn't this discrepancy work through in the mathematical equations used by physicists? What does E=mc² mean on Earth if light has to be renewed continuously?
I know, it is supposed to be a constant. But that is exactly the issue, right?

We all know that the biggest hurdle in starting a car whose battery is dead is overcoming the initial inertia of the vehicle. In fact, after a while the car starts moving faster than we are and we have to accelerate our own speed just to keep up. I am not, as you certainly noticed, aiming for scientific correctness, but simply thinking aloud. Remember the old lady that said to Bertrand Russell that a turtle carried the universe on its back? Well, she didn't say it quite right. In fact, what the Turtle does [see Stephen (Haw)King for more details, or the couple's alias Ilona Andrews] is burp one universe after the other. Do you think She really cares about the speed of light?

Back to E=mc², or, more correctly, as put by Einstein, m=E/c².
First, let me put forward my main claim:
If it takes you 1 second to get to the center of the Milky Way, and 1 second to be back on Earth, you will find out that Earth has aged with exactly 2 seconds, not more and not less. How is that possible?

I will tell you a secret I have just discovered myself, so, if you do not tell it further, you and I will be the only ones in possession of this very dangerous piece of information. The Hood and the BG's will do everything in their power to prevent this from becoming public knowledge, so consider yourself warned. If you are a member of an academic faculty, I fear you will be even more vulnerable. My advice to you: do not tell it to your colleagues directly under any circumstances, even in the form of a gossip, but try to let non-professionals, like me, start the rumors.

Anyway, our story begins not with Newton or one of those old guys, but someone quite younger: Maxwell. This shrewd Scott did not really discover anything new himself, but his equations made it possible for him to calculate the speed of electro-magnetic waves. And Lo and Behold, it was exactly that of the speed of light. The identity was quickly performed and light became henceforth known as an electromagnetic wave. That it also behaved as a particle will not worry us for now.

Now, here is my question: when Einstein affirms that E=mc², what does c refer to? Light? I have no trouble understanding the identity, except that I do not really get it. Take the universe before the Big Bang, was there motion involved? That would mean dissipation of energy even before the party started. Still, that little ball had a whole lot of mass and/or energy contained in itself. But enough cosmological mysteries. Let us go back to firmer ground. The equation expressed a relationship between mass and the radiation of particles with a certain speed, which we will keep calling c, but only for historical reasons. This speed of emission can be considered as an empirical (not necessarily cosmological) constant, and helps us calculate the energy produced, and the mass lost.
As far as I am concerned, and I am glad I did not have to experience Hiroshima or Nagasaki to start believing it, E=mc² is beyond any doubt.

But what does that have to do with light? And does it really matter if the equation referred to electromagnetic waves instead of to light proper? It is still the same speed, right?

Yes, but does it mean the same thing? As it is now understood, c has to remain constant, otherwise we could have infinite energy or mass, which everybody thinks, (even I do, and I do not even understand it), should be impossible.
Anyway, imagine that we are not allowed to take c as meaning the speed of light, but that of the speed or quantity by which the electromagnetic forces are holding a mass together and spewing energy and particles, even if they are both identical?
Light would still be a constant, but because it would not be related directly to mass, nor to energy (except in a mathematical way. Energy can become mass, and vice versa, and for that they need a certain speed, but speed, as abstract concept, cannot itself become energy or mass), moving mass at a certain speed would mean a higher level of energy, and this speed has a limit (beyond which this effect ceases and turns into an unknown), which is the equivalent of the speed of light.

George: that took you a long time. Why didn't you just look it up in any textbook?
me: because I'm not finished?
George: I won't be holding my breath.
me: okay wise guy, here it comes: you cannot create more mass or energy by raising speed indefinitely . What you see is what you get. It is the whole package or nothing. But since the speed of light, or more precisely, the speed of motion in general, is not part of the equation, it cannot have any influence on it either!
George: huh, I wonder what the experts will say.
me: I won't tell if you won't.
George: my lips are sealed. I like it here.

Okay, what does that mean exactly? For one, that there is no reason why we could not go faster than the speed of light, except our lack of knowledge. Second, and that is the most important: when two objects collide, their speed certainly plays a role in the energy released, but just like the experiments in colliders show, there is a limit to the energy released. Until now it was thought that was because particles, counter-intuitively (a polite word for illogically), together could not go beyond the speed of light. But imagine that they could? Wouldn't they completely annihilate each other, turn into heat and finally dissipate would leaving any remnants? The fact that they leave sub-particles after their collision shows that not all their mass has been converted into energy. So maybe they do collide with almost twice the speed of light, and still do not get completely destroyed in the process. The energy released would be then limited by the electromagnetic forces necessary to create sub-particles. Matter cannot un-create itself, a rule worthy of the principle of conservation of energy.

I am aware of how pretentious that sounds coming from a non-scientist, and I certainly would not dare claim that my explanations are entirely, or even partially correct.  I do stand though by my conviction that we should distinguish between the speed of emission by electromagnetic forces, and the speed of objects not falling under this equation.That means of course that Einstein, following Maxwell and everybody else, confused the identity of two variables, the speed of electromagnetic emission, with the speed of objects in general. 

George: there are some men in white just outside the door.
me: you did not call them, did you?
George: no, but one of them is carrying a very big chocolate hat. So maybe you can negotiate with them.
You: I'll go talk to them. I'll let them know you were just kidding.
me: wait! I don't...
George: don't ever come between You and chocolate!

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Faster than the speed of light?

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 
Shakespeare, "Hamlet" (± 1600)

George: I might have another reason why that is not possible.
me: pray tell.
George: you said that the ratio mass and energy is in fact a constant, and that speed is the means through which one is converted into the other.
me: did I say that? Wow! It sounds really smart coming out of your mouth.
George: pay attention, kid.
me: yessir!
George: if you are right, and I am not saying you are...
me: you never do.
George: stop whining. If you're right, then as soon as the speed limit is reached... Then I fear that the mass would explode.
me: uhm, I see what you mean. A mass can only contain so much potential energy before it bursts, just like a balloon!
You: bummer! I looked forward to trips to the Milky Way.
George: you know that has nothing to do with candy bars, right?
You: no? Andromeda then. Just for fun.
me: but then, maybe, just maybe, it would be possible to harness that energy, right before if destroys the ship, and use it to go beyond the limit!
You: yeah! Beam me up, Scotty.
George: the kid has a point. This is pure fiction.
me: yup, but it is still fun, though.
You. I don't think it's crazy. It would be just like putting more and more electricity in a wire while it has nowhere to go, and then you plug it to something and vhoo!
George: vhoo?
me: I like that. Vhoo!

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Is Space Real?

"I have a horse bridled by and for wisdom لفرس للحلم بالحلم ملجم
and a horse saddled by and for ignorance ولي فرس للجهل بالجهل مسرج
if you want me to be straight, I will be straight فمن شاء تقويمي فاني مقوم
and if you want me to be crooked, I will be crooked ومن شاء تعويجي فاني معوج

[pre-Islamic Arab poet. I might have wisdom and ignorance placed wrong, but unless it is one and the same horse, it wouldn't matter much. And even if it were, it wouldn't make me any more wise or ignorant, straight or crooked. What does this all mean? Your guess is as good as mine. I thought I could do with some oriental impenetrability].

If you are a gazelle being chased by a cheetah, then the answer would be a resounding yes!
But then, Time must also be real, right?
What about Speed?
Take two cogwheels, one having smaller teeth, closer to each other than those of the other cogwheel, which can also be larger.
Animals of course do not have any cogwheels in their body, but the biological and chemical analogs are certainly there that make one animal faster than the other.
We therefore do not need the concepts of time to explain speed. In fact, we do not even need the concept of speed to explain speed itself. Cogwheels and their biological equivalents are more than enough.
But what about the Newtonian concept of "force"? Photons, as far as we know, have no cogwheels, biological nor mechanical. And still, photons move through space and an incredible speed.
Take a race bike. You have to start with the largest cogwheel to overcome inertia, but each time you gain speed, you need to use a smaller cogwheel to keep up and be able to accelerate the main wheel.
Maybe we should go back to inertia, but then in Space. If we understand the latter as the Nothing, then a photon could be considered as being stationary in this Nothing, and it would be the rest of the universe that is moving relative to this photon. That of course does not make much sense to us, but it might help us understand Nothing better.
As long as are speaking of Space, then we have to feign understanding what an object is moving to, and in what it is moving in. It is the farce of the Aether all over again. That is what makes us grasp to mysterious ideas like Force, Speed or Gravity. They give the wrong assurance that we know what we are talking about when we are considering objects in Space and their relations.
If we admit to ourselves that the Nothing exists, however contradictory that may sounds, then we will not be expected to give up our Logic and Intuition as the Theory of relativity (and Quantum Theory) wants us to.
When an object is moving through empty Space, it does not matter at all where it is as long as we make abstraction of other objects. Any place is like any other, which is why the concept of motion is utterly useless in such a case. Remember pacman? imagine that little guy on a very large screen where pacman would be the only thing moving. You wouldn't know it was moving unless you saw it slowly approach the edge of the screen. But a smart programmer would have no problem with keeping it at the same screen location while a counter is taking care of the distance it is supposed to have moved relative to other objects outside of our view.
We do not need a smart programmer, but can be satisfied with the idea that our object, just like pacman, is eating a lot of Nothing without getting any fatter. 
What is really nice about the concept of Nothing is the flexibility it affords us in our analysis. An expanding Universe? Absolutely no problem. We can deliver as much Nothing as you can consume! Two objects separated by a distance? It is nothing at all. Or as much as you want it to be. Just choose a unit of length (or volume). The time it takes to travel the distance? Just go back to the different cogwheels we mentioned earlier. (see also the first paragraphs in Maxwell "A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism", 1873, vol.1, and how all measures can be reduced to three fundamental unit of length, mass and time).
And now Gravitation? Shall we vote for the Newtonian instantaneous action at a distance, or for the Einsteinian deformation of Space?
Not much of a choice, is there? Gravity is certainly not instantaneous, but is there something like Space that could be deformed?
In "The Evolution of Physics"  by Einstein and Infeld, the authors concentrate their fire on the ether which even becomes a dirty word, only to be mentioned as e__r, just like the N or the L words. They are convinced it must be replaced by the "field" concept which suddenly seems to overcome all difficulties created by the ether, sorry, I mean the e__r. 
Allow me to avoid the discussion of fields, waves and particles altogether. I know I have tried to show that both the last concepts could probably be reduced to the latter, but that is not really important right now.
Whether Matter makes use of fields (electrical, magnetic or otherwise), and waves, or whether it all should be reduced to particles (and energy), may be irrelevant as long we do not have a clear concept of Space. 
Allow me to assume the validity of the idea that Space (and Time) only came into being after the Big Bang. We are immediately confronted with the same difficulties that philosophers and scientists had to face with the concept of the ether.
Still, anyone will agree that Matter needs some kind of support. How to reconcile such contradictory expectations except by jettisoning Logic and Intuition?
Unless of course we radically reject the idea of any form of support for Matter. But what of Space?
Nothing stops us from continuing to use such a concept in everyday life, or even in Science. As long as we realize that it is no more than a useful, even necessary, fiction. On Earth, and anywhere where Matter is, we are stepping from Matter over Matter to Matter. So calling this experience Space would certainly not get us in trouble with the gazelles nor the cheetahs.
But what if there is no matter within our reach? I would say, what is the difference between my saying "eat Nothing" and your saying "move through empty space"? Is your position any more rational than mine? Or does it only sound like it is?
Okay, says you, I will grant you that, but how would you explain gravity?
This is were my proposal of postponing the discussion about waves, particles and fields may come handy. Let us call them all manifestations of Matter, defined as Mass, alias Energy. I would like to quote Einstein and Infeld: "The electric and magnetic field or, in short, the electromagnetic field is, in Maxwell's theory, something real."(p.151). We are confronted a little further with a surprising admission: "The electromagnetic wave spreads in empty space." (p.155).
That makes me wonder, can Space be empty? And if it can, how could it ever be deformed or curved? Wouldn't it be simpler, once we have accepted the reality of the fields, to let them become deformed and curved? Why add a parent of the ether when we had just gotten rid of the brat?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Vicissitudes of Synchronization
Einstein, in his classical example of a very long train running at a very high speed, a fraction to that of light, asks us to believe it is, at least in principle, possible to set both clocks to 0, the one moving, and the one at the station, when the moving train passes the observer.
Let us grant him this possibility and procrastinate no further.
This is how the procedure is supposed to go:

1) We start with two stationary systems, and say, two marks on the train, and on the platform, separated by a distance equal to a measuring rod. (Einstein speaks also of rods instead of markings, but that only adds to the obscurity of the explanation).
2) We take the measuring rod with us on the train and start again from the beginning of the circuit.
3) Measuring the distance between the markings on the train gives no surprises. Everything seems to be as it should be.
4) We start again once more, and this time we want to compare the distance between the markings on the moving train, with the distance between the markings on the platform.
5) we put one observer and one clock at each marking on the platform. The clocks have been synchronized with each other.
6) The same way, we have an observer and a clock (synchronized with those on the platform) at each marking on the train.

This is where it gets a little bit tricky, so please pay attention.

7) Let us call the first marking, in the direction of the moving train, Ap (for platform), and the other Bp. We then get At and Bt on the train.
8) We have now a light ray going from A to B, and back. This ray takes place on the platform (very important!), but since we have observers on both the platform and in the moving train, and since all clocks have been synchronized, we can make sure that the ray is emitted at the right time, when the points A on the platform and the train are at the same level.
9) The observers on the train measure the time it takes the ray of light to reach B, and then again A and stop the clocks accordingly.
This is very important so let it be clear. When the observer at point B on the train is at the same level as the observer and the mark B on the platform, he stops the clock or does whatever is necessary to record the time.

I know how it sounds, but hey, don't look at me, it's Einstein we are talking about!

10) What about the first observer At? He is supposed to register the time it takes the light to go back from B to A. But he cannot do that, can he? He has already passed A, and the best he could do would be to measure the time it takes the train to reach B, which would not be of much use since we can assume as known the velocity of the train.
11) Now that we think of it, we realize that the moving observer at point B cannot even measure the velocity of the train from A to B. Assuming that the ray of light has started at A, this means that he was already stationed at a position equal or close to that of his counterpart on the platform. He would also be long gone from that position when the light ray finally reaches B on the platform.

Uhm, how about we swap the order on the train? We let Bt correspond to Ap, and At to Bp. Let us see if that works out better.

12) The light starts at Ap, is registered at the same time by the clock At on the train. At the point Bp... What happens then? Since the train is slower than light itself, the ray would already have started his trip back before the observer At got there. All that can be measured is the time it has taken the train to go from A to B. In other words, we would again only measure the velocity of the train.
As far as Bt is concerned, he would have passed Ap before the light was reflected back to A, and he would be unable to record anything at all!

13) The only solution would seem to be a greater, if not an indefinite number of observers and clocks on the train. But how many observers would we need? Also, the original distance between A and B must be respected. So, we cannot have more than one observer and one clock at each point.

What Einstein seems to have done is stopped time and measured everything at his leisure with the help of abstract mathematical formulas. On paper he gets in one direction c-v (c being the speed of light and v being the train velocity), while in the other c+v is determinant, and so the calculations for both parts of the trip (from A to B and back) can never be equivalent.
In practice, this difference doesn't seem to play any role at all, because the problems start already in the first half of the trip.

It appears that even if we grant Einstein a perfect synchronization of his clocks (a metaphysical and practical impossibility), it still does not help him in his measurements.
The conclusion seems to be inevitable: there is no way to measure accurately, from a moving train, the time it takes light to travel from A to B on a stationary platform. And this, even if we make abstraction of the practical difficulties for observers to react to events taking place with the speed of light.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Voyage to the End of the Universe

You: hey, Me!
me: yes?
You: I was thinking...
George: oh oh.
You (looks down at George with feigned contempt): if Space is in fact Nothing. What happens if you reach the end of the universe? Do you just fall off, or keep going forever?
George (sarcastic): yeah, oh wise one! Enlighten us, we mere Immortals!
me (defiant): well, it depends whether there is light shining in the direction you are going.
George: what does that have to do with anything?
You: because where light is, is matter. And as long as light goes on, there is no end. Right?
me : exactly. Remember that short story I told you about?
You: the one where earth got darker and darker because people, and cars and stuff kept putting sunlight out?
me : yes, that one. Well, imagine you are somewhere at the edge of the universe where there is no matter but the rays of light shining in you direction.
You: spooky, but go on.
me : you now build a huge wall along the edge, that absorbs and reflects all light shining towards it.
You: you could build the end of the universe!
George: this is ridiculous! First, that is impossible. Second, how do you know there would be nothing beyond that wall?
You: because we said so?
me : he's right, you know. That was one of the original assumptions.
George: okay, so, if I shine a torch over the wall?
me : you are expanding the universe.
You: I like that.
George: yeah, I suppose I do too. I wonder what Shaito san would say.
You (confident): Oh, he would just climb over the wall. From the outside.
George: my man! 

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Particles and Waves (4): The Mystery of Waves
It will be obvious to anyone having the luck of not being born blind, that waves exist. We are also immediately confronted with the question of the nature of those waves. A fisher knows that his floater will just bob up and down if a boat speeds along, and hardly change its position. So what it is that we are seeing moving? Could it be a simple optical illusion? We could certainly have held on to this conception before the discovery of radio-waves, and their motion in empty space. But now we know that there is definitely something moving along with the wave. What it is then?
Let me run by you a very crazy thought. What if the particles moving up and down were indeed water elements being moved by the stone thrown in the pond, and that they themselves moved those near them? The up and down movement would then be a reaction specific of fluids to an object thrown in them, or to the gravitation pull of a moon.
Such a phenomenon would of course require the existence of a fluid in the first place. That is evidently nothing new.
The misconception would have been born the moment scientists tried to explain what could only amount to an optical illusion: the impression that something was not only moving up and down, but also in an ever growing line.
Take the existence of radio-waves in space. What is their medium? And if we admit, like Einstein did, that they do not need any, why call them waves?
Water waves are real, the movement up and down is propagated in ever growing circles. This movement is a reaction to another physical event (stone, gravitation...).
The same way, sound, as living creatures experience it, has the same effect on air molecules as a stone in the pound. Which means that sound waves would definitely seem to need a medium. But sound is also a biological phenomenon. Rid of that aspect, nothing distinguishes sound from radio-waves. And radio-waves do not need any medium.
It seems to me that modern science still is clinging to a correlation that happens to be purely accidental, or rather empirical: the effect of sound on air molecules, or gravitation on water. The concept of the ether has reinforced this conception, and justified the view of light as a wave. Now that we have abandoned the ether, maybe it is time to abandon all media, including those which do react to physical phenomena, like air or water. We must either stop speaking of radio-waves, or stop speaking of air or water waves. I know what my choice would be. The last two are real, the first are a theoretical construction.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Universe as a dark Place

You: Me? Can I talk to you for a second?
me: you think that would be long enough?
You: ra ra! Seriously, remember what you said over the universe? That it was a silent place?
me: yes?
You: well, I was just thinking, shouldn't it also be a dark place?
me: what do you mean?
You: take a nova, something happening billions of lightyears away.
me: okay, I'll take it.
You: light stops when it meets something, right? And all those billion years away, and it still gets to us on Earth? Shouldn't there be so many obstacles on its way that eventually it would all be put out?
me: uhm, George?
George: it does look like there is always some kind of free passage however far away the source is. But don't they say that there is not enough matter in the universe?
You: enough for what?
George: beats me, kid.
You: reminds of that movie with the funny guy and the big smile? Where his whole life is a television show, and he is the only one who does not know it?
me: yeah, I remember that one. I preferred The Mask though.
You: okay, but what if all those lights...
George: don't go there, kid.
me: remember the men in white.
You: yeah, they could have just said no. And why keep the hat?
me: still, I like the idea of a dark universe.
You: yeah? how so?
me: imagine we were bats. 
You: didn't you tell this one already? [What is it like to be a rewired ferret?
me: yeah, that was before your time.
You: uh uh, I've been around for quite some time now.
me: anyway. I was thinking about sound, and how we cannot hear it in Space. Blind people cannot see light from stars or novas. It does not mean its's not there, right?
George: so what? There is sound after all in Space? 
You: The Sounds of Silence? Hey! I made a joke!
George: it's alive!
me: don't be mean, grump-dad.
George: you're right, sorry kiddo.
You: it's okay, I loved that robot. (stretches his arms in front of him, and makes rigid walking and turning motions) Input. Input.
George: okay, Cyberstein. (to me) Imagine we were bats?
me: oh, well, that was it, really.
George: you kept me from As the World Turn for that?
me(weakly): it's just an old rerun?
George: nah! I know you, you're holding something back. Come out with it!
me: okay, but don't say I didn't warn you!
George: I'm waiting.
me: well, what I thought was, what kind of Physics would we have if we were blind, and had sonars like bats?
George: you think we'd have Physics?
me: you think we wouldn't?
George: Oh no, it's all yours, baby!
me: well, that's just it really. Eventually, we would find out about electromagnetic waves, and therefore about light, even if we wouldn't call it this way. So we could end up with the same Physics after all. 
You: our universe would be dark and we wouldn't even know it!
me: exactly.
You: that's sad.
George: or, it could mean, that however we describe it, it is still the same universe.
You: that is certainly worth a chocolate hat! Anybody wants one?
me: I was thinking about what you said last time.
You: me?
me: yeah. But let me order my thoughts first.
George: I'm gonna watch Dynasty.
You: sounds good to me. Let me get the chocolate first.
The Vicissitudes of Simultaneity

George: okay, let us assume that all those computations are feasible within the same time-frame.
me (smiling beatifically): well, then the problem is solved, isn't it?
George: how?
You: duh! Because that was the whole point. If you know how to get to the candy store, and your friends know you are going to be there sooner or later, it does not matter where they are, when they leave, or how fast they travel, they will get there eventually, and all they have to do is wait for you to show up. And then you can ask them how long it took them to find you.

1) Again we have a stationary platform and very long moving object which we will imagine as a train. We have a measuring rod and clocks along the trajectory on the train and the platform. So, nothing new relative to last time. Let us pretend it it somehow possible to measure distances from one system to the other, even if one is moving at very high speeds. (see above)
2) Using the moving rod, respectively the stationary rod, we measure the distance between 2 points on both systems.
3) We want to calculate the relation between both distances. Hoe do they relate to each other? Last time we tried to determine the speed of the light ray between A and B on the platform, this while on the train. So it is not the same thing.
4) It would seem obvious that to a position on the platform would correspond a position on the moving train, and taking into account the velocity of the train we could say that any point at a distance x' from its own origin, corresponding to a stationary point x, would have moved the same distance as between the initial origin and x, minus the distance that the train would have moved during that time. We get therefore the equation: x'=x-vt.
5) A simple everyday example would be setting your odometer to zero, and driving for 1 hour with velocity/speed v, then you could say that any object in your car has also traveled the same distance. 
Wait! That doesn't sound right, does it? Oh, I got it! Imagine that at time t', somebody throws a ball in your car. Then you can say that the ball has traveled a certain distance, equal to the distance traveled by the car, minus the distance that the car had traveled from the start until the moment the ball was thrown in the car. And that would be vt. Phew! Almost blew it!
6) Notice that we have the same Time and Space coordinates for the train/car, and the platform/road. That can't be right, can it? We would still be dealing with the same spatial dimensions, only different locations. Nope, must of done sumpthin' wrong again.
7) Or maybe not? Both coordinate systems are supposed to have parallel Y and Z axes, and one system is moving along the X axis of the stationary system. Well, in my book, that makes them both part of the same spatial dimensions, even if they have different origins!
So, the only issue here is whether it is possible to measure the distance on one system, from another system, when they are moving relative to each other.
8) I said we would pretend that it is somehow possible. Let us see how far we get with this counterfactual assumption.
9) The idea is that both system of coordinates can be related to each other, in such a way that, knowing their relative velocities, we could translate one group of coordinates into another one.
Well, that certainly does not sound strange to my ears. They are after all part of the same spatial dimensions. So, I would say, It is just a matter of agreeing on a common initial time and origin and then we would have our solution.
10) Why wouldn't that be right? That would be a Newtonian solution, one in which an absolute Time and Space would hold for all systems.
But isn't that exactly what Einstein is trying to achieve?
11) Yes and no. What Einstein wants to prove is that you cannot use the same time and space coordinates, since they change from one system to the other. But we can calculate how much they change, and make therefore the translation from one coordinate system to the other.
12) But how? He says that to each point x in one system corresponds a point x' in the other. That seems quite obvious. But how are we supposed to understand the equation x'=x-vt? How did we get that equation? The only source at our disposal is the information coming from the stationary system, from which we are able to determine the velocity of the train as it passes through our different markings.
13) Also, x'=x-vt is a snapshot in time. It is just like the expression "now". It is always true, but also always false. So we have to give it a rigid meaning. 
14) Einstein has a simple way of guaranteeing the rigid meaning of x'=x-vt. He has some kind of absolute time after all. Remember the clocks he had synchronized at the beginning of this adventure? The stationary clocks which reflected light to each other and defined the constant speed of light? Well, these clocks will help us express time relationships on the train in terms of "stationary" time coordinates.
14) Einstein is convinced he is allowed to do that because the clocks have been synchronized with those on the ground, and on the train. We will use for the train as time variable not t, but the Greek letter tau,τ.
15) the question now is, how to express τ in terms of t? In a Newton system, both would be equivalent and we would have no problem at all with the conversion. That is of course not the case here.
16) Why? Why aren't we allowed to use the same time coordinates?
If we measure the time light needs on the train to go from one point τ0 to the other τ1 and then back to τ2, we get the following equation which reminds us of the way we synchronized our clocks on the platform:
1/2 (τ0 + τ2) = τ1.
We can even assume that it all starts with t00.
17) Still, we are now facing the problem that τ1=c-v, and τ2=c+v, a problem we did not have with the stationary clocks for which both directions could be considered as equivalent.
18) The solution seems obvious, we have to use those new values when determining the coordinates of our moving ray in terms of the stationary system. The calculations are not really interesting, except for mathematicians, the point being that we have found a way of expressing one system of coordinates in terms of another. And since none of the systems can claim the title of absolute stationary system, since any one of them can be considered as moving relatively to the other, we have a "neutral" way of expressing space and time coordinates.
19) It looks like we have all the advantages of an absolute coordinate system, without the disadvantages of the Newtonian doctrine! How justified is this hope?
20) I must say that until now the results are rather disappointing. All we have achieved is what anybody could have predicted, that is that the coordinates of an event as seen from the perspective of the train, are different from the coordinates of the same event as seen from the ground. And even the common coordinates to both perspectives are not really something to write home about. Imagine telling your parents that you have found out that the distance between your home town and the capital is the same whether measured with a clock and calculator in your car, or with the odometer! I am sure they would be very proud of you!
21) The only thing that could make all these efforts worthwhile, would be some unexpected result, like the fact that both measurements, of the same distance, yield different figures even though both are correct. And that is exactly what Einstein wants us to believe.
22) He wants us to believe that the same time-interval, and the same distance not only look but are different seen through a stationary or a moving observer. The question is, how can we know that?
23) Synchronization is the magic word again. But first we get treated to some very old arguments already presented by Galileo. Imagine somebody throwing an object from the top of the mast on a ship sailing very quietly on a calm sea. The object will, surprisingly, or not, fall directly at the foot of the mast. Somebody standing on the shore and watching the boat go by, would describe the motion of the object not as a straight line, but rather as a curve. 
24) Imagine now that this stationary observer could suddenly produce a large sheet of paper with the coordinates as seen from the boat, and as seen from the shore. He would then be able to draw the trajectory of the falling object in both cases.
25) Asked if he could also produce a common equation for both the cases, he would surely answer: but of course my dear man!
And that is the whole secret really. The anti-Newton revolution turns out to be more of a modest reform. The Newtonian Time and Space are thrown out the door, and let in through the window in the form of the common space and time dimensions mentioned at point 18.
26) The idea that both systems are synchronized at t=0 and x=0, seems very reasonable. But it is also already the long sought for solution. Because both coordinates systems can be considered as being part of one and the same system, the translation of one into the other becomes something obvious. But can it be that simple?
27) Let us first assume that the whole analysis is correct. That means that we do not need to have an observer or a clock on the moving system, since we would be able to describe any motion happening in that system from behind our computer back on earth.
28) Imagine now that Time and Space become so strange on a moving system that we could not find any logical explanation for the way events played out on such a system. Something like an Alice World.
29) We have now the general limit to our equation: it needs a common time and space system. Just like the Newtonian system. When we speak of tau, we in fact mean just a variation on t. But is that a problem?
30) Well, look at it this way. To be able to arrive at a common equation, you must be able to judge of the ways things are happening in both systems. And that is exactly the problem the equation is supposed to solve, isn't it? If we had no idea what was happening in the moving system and if we had no way of communication from one system to the other, then we would not be able to say anything meaningful about the relation between a stationary and a moving system.
31) Our only experiences are based on what we know of slow moving trains and planes or rockets, and clocks we assume are synchronized enough for practical purposes. But Einstein is asking us to judge of a situation which is, humanly speaking, beyond our reach. How can he do that?
32) That reminds me of an old commercial that went something like that: "How do you make bugles? (some kind of exotic dish). Very easy, you take a big mama, and she makes the bugles". So, who is Einstein's big mama?
33) To find that out I propose to look at Fig.37.6 of "University Physics" by Young et al (2015). There you see a stationary observer, Stanley, who is watching an adventurous colleague, Marv, who is on a fast moving train, performing the same experiment that Stanley had performed a while ago on the ground: A light ray is projected from point A on the ground, to a mirror B on the ceiling, and then back to A. [We will leave the question of the other axes than the x axis alone for now). On the train, the same setup is used, but because the train is moving, what Marv sees and what Stanley sees are completely different. Stanley sees (do not ask me how) the light ray going up from A in an oblique line to an also moving mirror, and from there, down, obliquely, to B, forming what has to be an isosceles triangle since light speed is a constant. 
34) The conclusion, as proposed by the authors, and in accordance with Einstein's theory, seems unavoidable. The distance run by light in both cases is not the same. With Stanley, it was simply up and down, while with Marv we have to pull some mathematical tricks to understand what is going on. Luckily Pythagoras is here for the rescue. Let us jump immediately to the result without further delay: the distance that light has to go in Marv's system is longer than the distance in Stanley's.
35) Buckle up boy'n girls, here comes the big trick y'all were waiting for. Stanley has to calculate this distance for us. Why not Marv? That would not help us any, since for Marv the experiment is exactly the same as it appeared to Stanley on the ground: the ray went from A, hit the mirror B and went obediently back to A. 
36) Okay, Stanley is our man. But how is he supposed to do it? But first, what are we really talking about? Is Marv being deluded, or is Stanley seeing things? That is a question that Einstein, nor any of his followers, ever ask. So I will just let you ponder it.
37) The next step is crucial. Stanley has now a very clear picture of the situation. It is also obvious that he cannot jump on the train and try to solve the problem in situ. No, he has to take it home, as it were. We have therefore Stanley on the ground who is looking at a schema of the situation as it is supposed to have played on the train, and he must find a solution to the difference between both distances.
38) Stop right there! Can't you feel something is wrong with the whole setup? Stanley is transposing Marv'situation to his own coordinate system, and applying mathematical rules to the new problem. Because let us not kid ourselves. The situation on the train and its sketch on the ground are two completely different things. No? Not convinced? First, the situation as sketched exists only in Stanley's experience. Second... Sorry, I don't have a second.
39) More importantly, Stanley is acting like he can take what he saw on the train, and pretend it happened on the ground. Once he has done that, it is very simple to analyze both situation and distill common equations for both.
40) And now the big question. So what? Well, nothing, no problem at all. There is no reason at all why he shouldn't be allowed to do that. Only, we must be very clear about the consequences. What Stanley, or rather, Einstein, shows, is what you have to do to explain what happens on a moving system, when you are allowed to transpose that moving system to a stationary one in your own coordinates system. 
Please don't ask me to repeat that?
Conclusion: there is only one system, Stanley's, and he imagines what it would be like to be on a moving train, and how he would solve any problem he would encounter while on the train with what he has learned on the ground. That means that the speed of the train is actually irrelevant, at least, as long as it is greater than zero. Just look at the formula Stanley is using:

l = √{d² + (u▲t/2)²}

l (for length), being the distance between A and B, as seen by Stanley, d the perpendicular, u the velocity and t the time needed. Even with u=c, the speed of light, we would still be respecting Einstein's postulates. In fact, Stanley could run along the train and be witness to the whole situation. Not that that would make any difference. The way Einstein sketches the problem it would seem that events that happen with the speed of light can still be observed without any problem by us humans. I suppose that it is allowed in a thought experiment, but, or so I would say, only if the assumption does not radically change the situation. I am not sure that is the case with all of Einstein's creations.

It is therefore no wonder that Einstein seems to be able to calculate what is happening both in a stationary and a moving system. When you have reduced the second to the first, there is not anything left to stop you from finding common factors and celebrating the advent of Spacetime.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Vicissitudes of Simultaneity (2)
Allow me to go back on a point that seems quite obvious, but which denotes a very specific state of mind: that of a scientist looking at reality through mathematical glasses.
It concerns the venerable example of an object falling from the top of the mast of a uniformly moving ship. Galileo's view is that the objects describes a curve, maybe even a parabola. But think about it, have you ever seen a falling object move like that? In the absence of a strong wind?
The curve is a mathematical reconstruction of an optical event that looks completely different. It is the result of the bringing together of two different systems, that of the ship, and that of a stationary observer, as seen through the mathematical eyes of the stationary observer.
Just like Relativity Theory. Could we trust it to apprise us of the different rules reigning in a moving system, knowing its bias?
Maybe we should go back to Newton after all.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Vicissitudes of Simultaneity (3)
Back to Stanley and Marv. [It is in fact Mavis, but let us stick with Marv to avoid any confusion.]
The only way for the figure mentioned earlier (p.1224 in the 14th edition), to be a triangle, is for the upper part of the train, with the mirror, first to go faster than the lower part, and then the reverse, that is the lower part has then to be faster than the upper part.
Remember, the mirror, as seen by Stanley, hangs midway between the initial position of point A, and its final position, that is what makes both distances equal. But how is that possible if A and B (the mirror) were initially on the same perpendicular line relative to the lower and upper part of the train? Shouldn't Stanley see a series of perpendicular lines, or at least a series of points at different heights, but each time between A and B, and always on the same (invisible) perpendicular line?
Assuming that the light ray moves faster than A and B would not help, and in fact, would not make much sense, since neither the mirror nor the ground point could ever hope to catch up with the beam.
The origin of this grave mistake lies according to me in the assumption that Stanley in fact only sees the main highlights of the trajectory traveled by the light ray: the start at A, the arrival at B when the mirror is already a distance away from its initial position, and then the final position at A again, as far from B as the first time, but then in the other direction.
Just like when you play a fast game of ping pong, and only react to a limited number of positions of the ball which inform you of its trajectory. 
The triangle is then doubly a mathematical construct.
The artificial character of this construction would appear even more clearly if we put Marv directly behind the line the light ray is supposed to travel. Just like an object falling from the mast in Galileo's time. In both cases, the trajectory would be parallel to the mast and Marv's body-line respectively (assuming he is standing or sitting straight).
There would be therefore no difference between what Stanley sees, and what Marv experiences.
In fact, when you think about it, even without disturbing Marv, how could the light ray appear closer or farther from her if she is moving as fast through space as the points A and B? Not to mention the light ray which cannot be said to be influenced by the train velocity?
This also shows that Einstein is actually calculating the trajectory of the light with everything around it being abstracted away. Just imagine photoshopping the movie of Stanley and Marv, and keeping only the predicted trajectory in space as seen by Stanley, the stationary observer.
Or, to go back to Galileo's example, you are standing on the shore, the boat goes by and the sailor drops his hammer from the top of the mast. Now stop the tape, and erase the whole ship and the whole crew, and everything else, from all shots, keeping only the hammer in isolation. You may now rewind the tape and run it, and observe the trajectory of the hammer in all its splendor. It can of course only be a parabola!
Now you understand what Einstein did with the moving train. He simply used his imagination and abstracted away with everything except the motion of the light ray., as seen mathematically from his stationary position. Afterwards, he then just put everything and everybody back in, as if nothing happened.

It doesn't look too good for Einstein, does it?
Unless of course it is all the fault of Young and Freedman. Poor students!

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Einstein and Gps
If you google the title you will come across very interesting sites which will all tell you the same thing: clocks on satellites in orbit around the Earth are a little bit faster than the clocks on earth. The solution is then very simple once you know exactly how much faster (38 microseconds). An information which the General Relativity is happy to provide.
Let us now transfer the Gps problem to that of Stanley and Marv. If we can, because we must realize that they are not exactly the same.
We are now talking about a light ray that is originating outside of Marv's train/satellite, on the platform/Earth. We can of course make abstraction of this complication. After all, we will do away even with Marv in a little while, so that won't be any more trouble.
This is therefore how it is supposed to look, from Stanley's perspective. A light ray is sent directly up to the satellite just like in the old example. The results as seen by Marv seem to indicate that her clock will be running slower (by 7 microseconds) than Stanley's, but the difference is more than compensated by the lesser curvature of spacetime in which the satellites are running, and which makes the clocks run faster by 45 microseconds a day, 38 microseconds being the end figure.
So, what is really happening here? You understand that it wouldn't make any sense to put into question these calculations. If they were wrong our cell phones would not work, and drone attacks would be hopelessly inaccurate.
So first let us put the confirmed facts in a row:
- there is a delay for signals reaching up to satellites,
- satellites...
Uh, maybe we can do with only the first point. After all, that is what it is all about, the fact that signals between Earth and satellites in orbit are not instantaneous. Whatever the reasons the fundamental question is, how do we find out?

Let us first look at the first delay. The analysis of Stanley's and Marv's experiences has showed us the following: we can make abstraction of what happens in the train/satellite, and look at the whole situation as involving an external observer and a moving object. Assuming we can, for now, ignore the effects of spacetime curvature, all we need to know is the time it takes a signal from earth to reach a moving object and then reflect the signal back to another object on earth. Whether the clocks on the satellites are moving faster or slower is completely irrelevant in such a situation in which a satellite is nothing more than a reflecting mirror.
Suppose you are the proud owner of the first ever Gps device in all its grandiose simplicity.
You need at least three satellites to determine your position... relative to what? Well, relative to another Gps device of course!
What is obvious to me in my mathematical naiveté, is that the satellites can be simple mirrors which reflect the signals I send them. Ah, but how do I get the signals of the other guy, the other proud owner?
We obviously need a third guy, one whose position is known to us both. Mm, that seems rather inconvenient, old chap. Wouldn't it be simpler to have a satellite [or Einstein's big mama?] do that for you?
Sure, but somebody has to program that satellite, right?
In fact, we don't even need a third guy, but we do have to meet with our counterpart somewhere where the signals sent by our respective devices can cross a straight line from one device to the other. From there, it is a simple matter of geometry to determine our respective positions relative to each other, however we move around.
We would still need satellites, in case there are too many obstacles between both devices for a good reception. More satellites will make the job even easier, but it is still a matter of Euclidean geometry really.
Which means that we do not need Einstein to make our Gps devices work. We can ignore completely what happens on the train/satellite, after all that is exactly what Einstein does!

Okay, what about the curving of spacetime?
Don't worry. We'll get to that.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
This Newtonian principle seems unattackable even if a little mystifying. How about this: 
"When you fall from a diving board into a swimming pool, the entire earth rises up to meet you! (You don’t notice this because the earth’s mass is greater than yours by a factor of about 1023. Hence the earth’s acceleration is only 10-23 as great as yours.)" (Young and Freedman, 2015, p.399)
Don't you feel you should put a tin-foil hat on, or at least a witchy pointy one?
How are we supposed to take this seriously?
Let us go back to a much simpler example: your cup of coffee is exerting the same force on the sturdy table as the table is exerting on the cup. You know why? If Ft was less than Fc, then the cup would fall through the table. Inversely, if Ft was more than Fc, then the cup would fly off the table. Makes sense, doesn't it?
But is it true?
Let me first admit that it doesn't really matter. Physical results seem to give reason to such ludicrous statements. So, denying them would be like a fool's errand.
Still, my question remains, are those statements true?
First, we need them to be true, because that is the only we can make sense of the laws we have discovered. Allow me to stick with the example of the cup and the table. Anything more complicated and I run the risk of straining a brain muscle.
Let us put a heavy book, much heavier than the cup of coffee that should be empty by now, on the same table. And now a very naive question: how does the table know which force to use for which object? It does not matter how close they are to each other, they will still remain at their place. In fact, we could fill the whole surface of the table with objects of different weight, and they will all stay very politely put. The only way to change the reaction of the table would be to lay on it an object so heavy that its legs would collapse, or its flat surface would break.
That should make us realize that the rule action=reaction is not necessarily a natural law, but something we need to assume for the sake of our calculations. Since objects react as if the rule were valid, and that was why we chose it in the first place, then there is no reason for us to doubt its validity. Because, let's be honest, what would we put back in its place?
I am therefore a fanatic supporter of the rule action=reaction, even though I am convinced that it is not true! Please don't ask me to prove it, because if I could, I would not be supporting the rule anymore. Another tragic Brexit!
You understand now how skeptical I am concerning the example of the guy diving in the pool. There are not enough zeros in the world (for the negative exponent) to make it sound plausible to my ears that the earth is rising to meet the diver! I guess you will just have to forgive me my prejudices.
Will we ever find a better explanation? I don't know, and as long as it doesn't seem necessary, why bother? This kind of rules do not change anything in the way Nature behaves, and as long as they help us understand her better, or at least give us the illusion that we do, then we should be satisfied. 
As long as we do not get it in our head that our scientific rules somehow are laws that Nature has to follow. It is a very ironic reminder of the fact that it is just the other way around.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Einstein and Gps (2)
I had promised you an answer to the question concerning the role of General Relativity and the curvature of space. Let me say right away: this is not it. I still need to polish my arguments before presenting them here.
Still, I would like to offer a point of reflexion which struck me just a few moment ago. Something like an epiphany, and therefore to look at very critically. Here it is, for whatever it might be worth.

Einstein replaces gravity with space curvature. But what makes bodies follow this curvature? Imagine a planet orbiting the sun. The latter is said to curb space and make the planet fall down to the sun, and orbit it. Just like a biker on a cross-country circuit. He goes up if the hill goes up, and then down along the slope. He does not have a choice. But what makes his bike stick to the ground? Aha!

So even Einstein's curved spacetime seems in need of gravity. Who would've thunk it?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Mess of Mass and Weight: May the Force be with you
Do you wonder why the Newtonian language (The Principia was written originally in Latin, the Lingua Franca of that time) has two words for the same idea: weight and mass? If you, like almost everybody else, have difficulty in keeping them apart, don't feel bad, it's not your fault.
Take the famous equation about the relation Force, mass, and acceleration:


When you realize that the force of gravity is nothing else but the weight of an object, and that it is hardly possible to speak of mass without speaking somehow of weight, then you will understand how important it was to have different words for the same idea. A matter of perspective, kind of.
The above equation means something like this:
It takes a certain effort to move an object from its place. We will call this motion acceleration because we want it to concern not only the case where the object already has a certain velocity, but also the initial case where it goes from standing still, velocity=0, to a certain velocity.
We have now explained two concepts, weight, as force of gravity expressed in newtons, and acceleration expressed in meters per second. Anyway, we had only weight and acceleration at our disposal, and now we can define mass as the result of the force it takes to accelerate an object by a unity.
They say, Force of gravity = mass times acceleration of gravity.
I say, if Force of gravity is just another expression of weight, then this equation cannot be right. We would still need to define mass. And, how was it again? The mass of an object is the force it takes to accelerate that object by one unit whatever it is. So now, we have a force, let say the muscles of young Schwarzenegger pushing or pulling a heavy object. Or you could use scales and see how low one side gets relative to the other.
 After all, that is how it went historically long before one knew about gravity. You measure the weight (or is it mass?) of an object with some kind of scales, and you use kilograms or some some other unit to express that mass (or is it weight?).
Then scientists learned that weight can differ not only from one location to the other on earth, but also on other planets. And they needed something they could trust. So weight went out, kind of, and the mess (pun intended) started.
What is confusing for non-physicists, is that all three concepts, force of gravity, mass, weight, refer to the same experience: how heavy is something?
But then it seems that when you are speaking of moving that thing, you have to call it mass, and when Earth does the moving, you call it weight. Earth does it with gravitational force (or is it force of gravitation?) which is nothing else but weight. So, no wonder everybody gets confused, and reading the explanations given by textbooks, or myself, only adds to this confusion.
This confusion is not psychological, that's what I meant by it's not your fault, but conceptual. Mass, weight and force of gravity define each other in a circular fashion, even if that circle is not necessarily vicious, but just plain mean.
After they have gone a few rounds, and the dust has settled, physicists like to act as if all that happened was absolutely normal, and that students who do not get it right away just are not doing their darnedest best.
But we know now better.
Still, what does that all mean for physics? I am not sure really, the way definitions come to pass does not say much about their usefulness. And all three concepts of force, weight and mass are much too useful to be discarded because of they way they were conceived.
There is a point though that certainly deserves our attention.
By defining weight as proportional to mass, we have convinced ourselves that we have explained why gravity works the same for all objects, whatever their weight or mass.
Let us forget now about weight, mass, force and all this, and stick with our own naive judgment of how heavy something feels. Now we are ready to do what Galileo is said to have done: let us go up the Pisa Tower (I've never been there, so that would be a nice opportunity), and throw some things, each of a different weight, mass, or whatever you wanna call it, down to the ground below, making sure they all drop at the same time, and nobody is down there waiting to be crushed.
Okay, let us now assume we have done it and that the result is as expected by us, and unexpected by Galileo and friends.
We have now to explain this wondrous fact that seems to go against all logic and experience. If a thing is heavier than another thing, we feel it press more on our muscles, and it takes much more effort to move it than the lighter object. How come this does not work for gravity?
This is in fact what all those quasi-scholastic distinctions of force, weight and mass are supposed to explain.
That makes you wonder: is there a thing such as Gravity? 
I know how foolish that sounds, but please bear with me a little bit longer.
Bodies attract each other, and this attraction can be quantified and helps us explain the seemingly random motions of stars, planet and suns billions of light years away. Those are results I wouldn't dream of rejecting, and I simply couldn't, even if i would. Which I don't. No, really, I do not! Satisfied?
That does not mean I cannot doubt the validity of the concept of gravity, even if it has proved its usefulness over and over again.
If you think about it, it is just another version of the action=reaction rule. Earth, in our examples, exerts just enough attraction on an object to make it fall at a certain speed and rate of acceleration.
The physicists' explanation? Weight is proportional to mass, and the constant we need is g. But wasn't that exactly what we needed to explain?
Einstein has tried later in his career to unify all of Nature's Forces, but in vain. Maybe we shouldn't be surprised by his defeat for the simple reason that there was nothing to unify.
Gravity might just be the case where good enough is just not good enough. The concept is certainly useful, and I wouldn't know what to replace it with, but it might at the same time constitute an obstacle to further progress.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Gravity as a stream which moves everything at the same speed?
What about the table supporting the cup? Could it be functioning like a dam? This way we wouldn't need to attribute, except for our calculations, strange distinguishing powers to the table. It does not need to know how to react to every object. It just cuts off the stream of gravity, making it possible for any object not too heavy to rest on the table. That does not mean that gravity ceases to exist for the objects on the table, just that for them, the surface of the table functions as the surface of the earth. The same way a mountain or a hill does.
It also means that when we are measuring the speed of objects falling down, we are in fact measuring the speed of the stream itself. Which would explain why we get the same result whatever the objects are.
I would certainly not advocate changing our Physics on the basis of these abstract considerations. But they might help us get a better understanding of the processes involved. Even if they turn out to be wrong.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The male cow excrement of spacetime
Who will know where London was a million years from now? And where and when did Man first make fire without stealing it from a natural fire? 
In the first case, we are taking about spatial coordinates which have very definite meanings for modern readers (maybe not so much for a hunter in the Amazon forest, and by the way, where is Atlantis?). The same way, the invention of fire can be considered as a definite event in time, even if it happened many times in history, but to which we can attribute no concrete meaning.
I do not cease to be amazed, and angered, by the number of intelligent writers (too many to count) that come to the defense of Minkowski in his hallucinations about space and time. Apparently, throwing some formulas around is all it takes to make a ridiculous statement sound plausible.
The idea that you can have absolute coordinates if you just add time to the three known dimensions is too stupid for words. Still, Relativity Theory is based on it and people take this theory very seriously. Which means that people take Minkowski seriously.
This is something that, I confess, is beyond my comprehension. Could somebody, please, explain it to me?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Does space really have three dimensions?

George: are you out of your mind!
You: no, let him talk. I also find it quite strange. After all, what more can you do in space but go up or down, or forward and backward?
George: left and right?
You: for that, you only need to turn, then go forward or backward.
George: but you have to turn first!
You: so?
George: I give up. This is really too stupid.
You: come on! Explain it to me!
George: okay, take a cube for instance. Can't you see it's 3D?
You: nope. I can walk on the upper surface any way I want to. Only one dimension.
George: and if you want to get in the cube?
You: I walk down, then walk around. That's two dimensions
George: now you want to walk on the sides. Without moving the cube!
You: that's mean! Let's see. I go up or down, forward or backward, and then I can reach any point on the sides.
George: ha! But you could walk on the side, if it were not for gravity!
You: That's easy. I walk until the edge, then I go down, and then I walk forward until the next edge, where I go down again.
George: okay, okay! I got the picture! You guys are hopeless!

You must be making some mistake somewhere, will be the reader's first reaction. But where?
Take the Cartesian coordinates. They would seem to confirm unequivocally the 3D view of the world. Or of just any room. You can look at the wall and locate an object on it. The same way you do for something on the floor or on the ceiling.
Now you want to be able to describe to somebody else, not in the room, where everything is without the risk of misunderstandings.
You divide all surfaces in Cartesian coordinates.
You realize very soon that you need coordinates for at least two surfaces, the wall and the ground. You call the line where both meet, the X-axis. The line separating one wall from an other, you call the Y-axis. With these two lines, you can localize any point on the wall. But you still need to do the same for the ground.
You already have the X-axis, might as well use it. Now you see that you can use the line separating the side wall and the ground. Let's call it the Z-axis.
We are now ready to localize any point on the ground as well. In fact, the same procedure can be repeated for every combination of wall and floor/ceiling.
But what about points that are floating between walls and touch neither the floor nor the ceiling? Those are exactly the points that we are said to be able to reach with the third axis, the Z-axis. How?
X-Z coordinates, just like X-Y coordinates, refer to points either on a wall or on the floor/ceiling.
Let us change the room into a huge parking tower with an infinite number of levels. You have forgotten where you left your car and ask one of the attendants who happily seem to keep track of everything. One of those embarrassing moments where you are glad your privacy is for grab. You get from him the level number, as well as the precise location of your car on that level.
Then you realize, along with You, that you are indeed only experiencing two dimensions, or more precisely, two planes, of space. Even though you need three axes to navigate these two planes. The X and Y axes are needed for one single plane, the X and Z axes for the second plane. Calling the surface of a floor or wall two-dimensional is an abuse of terminology. They refer to one and the same dimension on which you can move freely around.

So, yes, space is two-dimensional. Sue me.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Why did Mathematicians invent a Third Dimension?
Assuming it was not just to torture their poor students, I suppose they really thought they were doing the right thing. It is also a mistake which can be easily justified.
It is obvious that you cannot be content with one variable to localize an object on a surface, if it is not something that immediately stands out. There is nothing wrong with telling a tourist looking for Big Ben, or the red lamps district in Amsterdam, "walk straight ahead, you can't miss it". That wouldn't work for an obscure alley in the old center.
Let us keep it simple and go back to our room in the previous post and look at the ground or the wall. We need an X and a Y axis. But we must realize that they are mere landmarks. They could have simply been spots on the wallpaper or the carpet. Likewise, the Z-axis is just a way of imagining we are floating above the ground. The landmark is concretely bound to a location on the ground below [and to the wall], but then from a certain height. We could just as easily imagine a rising floor, an elevator or a tower.
The problem is when you want to depict all that on a flat piece of paper, all at the same time. It becomes much easier to consider each part independently, and from there, it seems completely natural to attribute to each part an independent existence.
And it works beautifully! There doesn't seem to be any reason to distinguish between a very convenient fiction and reality. When a mathematician, or a physicist, calculates the position of an object in three-dimensions, the fact that Space really has only two does not seem relevant at all. And why should it? All they have done is introduce a third landmark that makes it much easier to locate objects not only directly on the ground, but also floating above it. The fact they call it a third-dimension is merely a matter of semantics.
This so-called dimension becomes essential when scientists are doing more than simply using convenient landmarks or coordinate systems.
Take Minkowski for instance. He claims that spacetime is four-dimensional. That is of course somewhat problematic if Space has only two dimensions. I will leave further discussion of this very complex topic for another time, but it should be obvious that we cannot just say that it is simply a matter of terminology. Space coordinates or Space dimensions, the question is certainly not trivial.
One thing we must not lose sight of, though: we need landmarks to navigate Space. A third dimension would not have been invented if we did not need what it had to offer. To give it independent existence feels somehow like betraying its origin. Like an attempt to describe natural phenomena as if there were no humans around. A science without a subject. An ambition that seems never to lose its attraction.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Do circles and Curves exist?
Imagine drawing a circle with a compass. It would seem that we would have a continuous curve. Until we start magnifying it to a very large extent, beyond human vision acuity. That would surely reveal blanks between the dots. There is of course a limit to this magnifying process, and this limit is set by light rays and how far then can be curbed. Beyond this limit, even our theoretically most advanced devices cannot show us any image. We are for ever stuck with dots and blanks.
Imagine now the center of the circle. It is supposed to be at an equal distance of all points on the circle. We soon realize that we are facing the same problem. We cannot realistically assume that all the points on the periphery could be linked to the same center, each with its own line. We wouldn't have a point as a center anymore, but a "rond-point" or traffic circle within the circle.
But then, what the Ancient Greeks and Chinese, Newton and Leibniz in the 17th century, and Gauss in the 19th, attempted to do was to do justice to a human idiosyncrasy: we are unable to see beyond a certain resolution, and dot and blanks appear to us as continuous. We see circles and curves where there are none.
Understood this way, curves are a form of qualia, and every mathematical effort has been directed towards neutralizing them. Derivatives are in fact the ultimate tool used to go beyond our biological shortcomings. They are the mathematical negation of curves.
Imagine if we treated curves the way we treated other qualia in science: something to be quantified and then put aside for being too inconvenient to handle directly. Would we still still need derivatives and integrals? What would be the sense of π in such a vision? Would we still speak of real numbers?
Let us go back to the method of exhaustion of the Ancient Greeks. What if a circle was indeed a polygon that our biological vision shows us as a circle? What are we then doing when we try to define a circle? Are we practicing mathematics, or psychology?
But then we produce so many round things, from drink glasses to digital disks. Are these object in fact not really round, and not as smooth as we think and feel they are?
Well, think of mirrors used in telescopes. Even faulty ones would feel smooth under our fingers. So our sense of touch, no more than our sense of vision, could not be trusted to give us clear-cut criteria of roundness or smoothness.
Maybe we should just give up, in mathematics at least, and maybe in physics as well, the idea that there are such things as circles and curves. So, instead of thinking of our equations as approaching infinitely near to some ideal figure, we should start thinking of those ideal figures as being a mere indication of the finite processes underlying them.
Looking at a polygon from a distance, we would see it as a perfect circle. Why then believe that the equations describing this polygon are pointing to some ungraspable rest, however small?
That certainly does not mean that qualia are not real. But is it the task of mathematics and physics to measure them, instead of looking at what causes them?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Curvature of Space: My Kingdom for a Saddle!

What I find really interesting in Karl Friedrich Gauss "General Investigations of Curved Surfaces", 1825/1827) is not so much what has become part and parcel of mathematical knowledge, but the way it has been interpreted by those who came after him. By the way, the same thing could be said of Riemann's "On the Hypotheses which lie at the Bases of Geometry" published posthumously in 1858. While Riemann  considered Space a special case of "extended manifolds of n dimensions", namely, a "tripled extended manifold", already Helmholz ("Ueber die Thatsachen, die der Geometrie zum Grunde liegen" , 1868) had started speaking of a Space of more than 3 dimensions. A mathematical concept had metamorphosed into a cosmological principle.
The same way, while Gauss, in my humble opinion, is, as indicated by the title, investigating the curvature of surfaces, his followers, and among not the least of them Einstein himself, found that his calculations gave them the right to jump from surface to Space.
Gauss makes use of trigonometry and differential calculus to calculate the curvature of different surfaces, coming to the famous saddle we see in every textbook.
I have of course no intention of putting his methods and results to the question.
Just this: Gauss' calculations do not justify, as far as I can see, the idea that Space, (he didn't know about Spacetime), itself can be curved. Only that objects can have different degrees of curvature.
By the way, he didn't even prove the existence of curves. In fact, quite the contrary. He turned them into a dispensable fiction.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
From Stevin to Einstein
This is not a historical review so you will pardon me if I get immediately to the point I would like to make: did Einstein make an error concerning gravitation?

Stevin is famous, for, among other things, his example of a triangular wedge (a right triangle) with two weights hanging from the perpendicular and the inclined hypotenuse. The most important result is the relation between weights and the length of the cord or chain holding the weights. In fact, we can make abstraction of the weights altogether, and keep only the chain.
It is possible to achieve an equilibrium in which the chain does not slide from any direction. The ratio length/weight of the chain is in itself not important, but the (simple) result of empirical regularities. What is important is that both values have to be proportional: add weight, decrease length, or vice-versa.

Einstein, in the second part of his popular book "Relativity", concerning general Relativity, comes, as far as I can see, to a completely different result: the equality of gravitational and inertial mass. This is the final equation:

(acceleration)= ((gravitational mass)/(inertial mass)) x (intensity of the gravitational field)

And since the ratio gravitation to inertial mass can be set to 1, we have 
acceleration = intensity of the gravitational field.

If I try to translate this equation in Stevin's terms, I come to the following sketch: the combinations of weight and length on each side must give the same result for one side to accelerate!
That certainly does not sound right, does it?
Let us change Stevin's figure and move the hypotenuse up until it is completely horizontal, and perpendicular to the other side from which the second weight is hanging. Something like having a weight on the table, attached by a string to another weight which is kept hanging on the side. Again, we will not bother with the right length of string nor the correct weight on either side. We will just assume that we have found the right combination.
Anyway we look at it, the only way we can get the whole thing to accelerate would be to change the ratios length/weight on each side.
The last thing we need is have the gravitational mass equal to the inertial mass.
What is certain is that however we change the ratio's, the weight (whatever it is) hanging from the table will accelerate the same way.
In other words, gravitational and inertial mass play no role in the acceleration!
I am not really surprised by the conclusion, since it seems to confirm my idea of gravity as a stream with its own speed, independent of the objects that get caught into it. 
Still, I find it difficult to believe that Einstein could make such a mistake, and even if he did, that it went undiscovered until I came along! I must certainly be doing something wrong! But what?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
How to Hide Behind the Light
Einstein uses the constancy of the speed of light to navigate between what he considers different dimensions, symbolized by different coordinate systems. He interprets Lorentz' approach of the alleged difference in velocity of light relative to the direction of motion of the ether in a very creative way: there is no ether, and there are no differences in velocity: the speed of light is the same in all directions. Still, Lorentz' equations are correct! How is that possible?
In the first Appendix to "Relativity", Einstein sums the problem up like this:
we have two coordinate systems, one stationary, the other having a continuous motion relative to the other. We will indicate a point in the first system by its spatial coordinates x, y and z, and the temporal coordinate t. The question now is, how do we find the coordinates x', y', z' and t' of the corresponding point in the moving coordinate system? It is essential hereby to realize that we are talking about one and the same event, once indicated by certain coordinates, and then by others.
The God-like view is immediately obvious even for non-critical readers. There are three very distinct perspectives at the same time:
- the observer on the stationary system,
- his counterpart on the moving system,
- the Einsteinian God supervising the whole.

Understood this way, x'y'z't' can be expressed as xyzt times a constant. Both coordinate systems are seen as proportional. If we succeed in defining this constant, we will have found a way of translating one system of coordinates into another.
Mathematically not very difficult, and therefore absolutely not interesting philosophically.
Also not very original. Long before Lorentz, Huygens considered the problem of the center of gravity of an object as seen from two different coordinate systems. This is what Ernst Mach says in his "Science of Mechanics", of 1919:
"We [...] obtain the coordinates of the new centre of gravity, by simply transforming the coordinates of the first centre to the new axes. The centre of gravity remains therefore the self-same point."
More importantly, I find this affirmation  a few lines earlier essential: "in this is contained the very kernel of the doctrine of the lever and the center of gravity". According to Mach, it all turns around the principle of equilibrium in different configurations, with one or multiple weights, in one one or different coordinate systems.
Here is what Lorentz says about the device used by Michelson in his attempts to measure the influence of the ether on the speed of light:
"the phase differences expected by the theory might also arise if, when the apparatus is revolved, first the one arm and then the other arm were the longer." Michelson's Interference Experiment" in "The Principle of relativity").
The parallel between both argumentations is striking. In one case we are talking about the speed of light, in the other about the point of equilibrium, but the way of calculating them are each time the same: they are both the product of distance and the main value, weight in one case, light in the other.
There is a major difference though in the way both values are treated. No one says that weight should be treated as a constant, while Einstein's whole edifice is based on the principle of the constancy of the speed of light.
I realize this is certainly not a knock-out argument against Einstein's conception. Especially since I am convinced, just like he is, of the constancy of the speed of light. It seems quite logical to me to assume that "waves" produced by explosions would somehow end up having all the same speed. What I cannot accept is the mystical belief that Logic loses its foothold on reality when dealing with the speed of light: I therefore reject the idea that when two objects meet move towards each other, that they never can go beyond the speed of light. This is where Einstein leaves the realm of Physics and enters his own metaphysical dream world.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Can you draw a curve with vertical motions?
Well, yes. Easily. All you would need is a moving sheet of paper plus moving drawing pens. Seismographs, and old printers, depend on this principle, so there is nothing mysterious about that.
What about then the motion of a falling object on a moving ship as seen from the shore by Galileo or Einstein? Wouldn't it be based on the same principle. And if that is the case, who is moving the sheet? Also, where is that sheet located?
What is certain is that we do not need two systems to contemplate this possibility. Both the seismograph and the printing sheet are part of the same, relatively, stationary system: earth. Stanley and Marv do not need to go on a flying mission after all. We only need them to become small enough for one to mount the drawing pen, while the other rides the sheet! Let us be kind to our fearless adventurers and let them choose how they want to risk their lives.
I wonder where Einstein would stand in all this?
Anyway what does that tell us? Can we seriously claim, simply because of speed, that Time flows differently for the pen as it does for the sheet? Let us emulate Einstein and come up with our own thought-experiment where the printer, with all its moving parts, plus the sheet of paper, become infinitely large. And let us, as gods, look upon this immense device and the motions of the pen and that of the paper. We can immediately see the result of the paper motion on the trajectory of the drawing. A vertical drawing motion by the pen becomes a curve. Light, whatever its speed, does not seem to play any role in this anti-climatic drama. It is all mechanics wherever you turn. What could possibly shrink the dimensions of anything, or slow, or accelerate the clocks? I wouldn't know.
And if you still think that light would have such effects, how would you explain it when all that we see can be explained mechanically?

Light as a Form of Matter
This is probably the most fertile result of relativity Theory. It is also what in last instance may well prove that the theory in its metaphysical implications, can and should be superseded.
Imagining the trajectory of light in a moving system, as seen from a stationary perspective, Einstein cannot but conclude to the equivalence of behavior between a falling object and a ray of light. Both have to draw a parabola in space. Logic, in this case, compels Einstein to this wonderful insight: light is susceptible to gravitational forces. It will be shamelessly used as an argument in favor of the Theory of Relativity. 
We must not forget though that such a fact does not need the Theory of relativity, even if the theory depends on it. It brings the concept of light, which has always had mystical connotations, to the same level as any other physical process. When light passes near a large gravitational system like the sun, the photons are attracted by it like any comet is.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Myth of Relative Motion
Since Galileo, the question of the motion made by an object falling to the ground on a moving vessel, as seen from the shore, has been central to any explanation concerning motion.

Let us take once again the example of a matrix printer or seismograph. It will be obvious to everybody that the print-head, attached as it is to a metal bar, has no freedom of motion worth mentioning. It can just go left or right, or seen from another perspective, up or down.
In case we make the printer move and the sheet stationary, the situation will be the same. Except that this time, the bar, with the print-head attached to it, will be also moving through space.

This should show beyond any reasonable doubt, that the movement of the print-head is not affected by the movement of the printer, nor by that of the paper.
But what can be said of the bar can be said of any imaginary line we could draw between extremities of the printer. We would then be led to the apparently paradoxical conclusion that the printer as a whole is not influenced in any way by its motion or by that of the paper.

I claim that the paradox is only apparent because once you start considering Space as a Nothing, you quickly realize that there is literally nothing that could influence any part of the printer.
The problem is of course different in a non-empty space where friction and gravitational forces all can interfere with the free motions of an object.

In other words, light, nor its speed, cannot play any role in vacuo, because when two systems like the printer and the sheet of paper interact, they still keep their relative independence.
That doesn't mean of course that they cannot interfere with each other, just that they can do that only there where both systems meet.
We can of course imagine all kinds of malfunctions a printing system may experience, and try to find corresponding analogies for other physical systems, but maybe the following question will be more interesting.

It is all good and well to speak of systems moving in the Nothing, but what about more realistic situations like the ship, the hammer and the shore?
Can we really consider what happens on the ship the same way we do the motions of a print-head? Let us try it.
Imagine a printer in the form of a ship with you on the shore. The inside of the printer is bare so you have a direct look at the now vertical bar of the print-head. Has anything changed for the print-head? A stormy weather would obviously have a negative impact on the printer, but that is to be expected in any theory.
What is for you essential is whether the print head would be seen as moving up and down or in a parabola.
The answer seems obvious: the print head does not care how you see it.
Anyway you look at it, Galileo and Einstein's analysis of the situation is erroneous. The presence of water, wind and gravitation, has no fundamental influence on the movement of the print-head: an up and down motion cannot be turned into a parabola. Unless the elements of course are close enough to make a difference.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Einstein's Impossible Split

Sound, as a biological phenomenon, is apparently dependent on propagation through air waves. As I stated before, that is quite a dilemma. Sound can be propagated through empty space, even if we are unable to hear it. Our hearing needs the movement of air molecules to activate it.
The question whether sound is more than moving air molecules is for us irrelevant. We wouldn't hear it anyway. But it has to be there, otherwise there would be no communication possible with astronauts. We therefore have to make the part of the indirect effect of sound on air molecules, what we can hear, and sound which can be captured by other devices, even if it has to be, eventually, put in a biologically compatible form.
The universe would therefore remain silent for us, just like it would remain dark for the blind. Other beings with other hearing organs would no doubt experience it differently.
Understood this way, there seems to be no contradiction with representing sound as both a wave and as a corpuscular phenomenon. As biological creatures, we need its effect on air and liquids, but as an independent, physical process, sound needs neither air nor water.
That leaves us still the matter of water waves. Can they be understood independently of sound? Are there soundless waves? If that is the case, then there is no reason why something should be traveling in straight lines away from the source. We could be satisfied with the up and down motions of the water molecules. If not, then there will always be sound lines accompanying the waves. As an epiphenomenon, as it were.
So, we could consider sound as an opportunist, piggybacking on air or water waves to get our attention. But to consider sound as a wave simpliciter is to confuse the phenomenon itself with its secondary effects.

The following question would be:

Is there a Sound Doppler-Effect in Space?
Sound emitted by a human made device can be captured by another device. The data would then have to be translated in movements of speakers membranes, and ultimately of our own inner ear membranes. 
Let us look now at the data as it is received from another device. Would it make any difference if we were moving, or if the device were?
There are no air waves whose frequency could be increased or decreased. Whatever is sent by the device would be received, after a delay, by the receiving device which would then translate it for our ears.
Imagine then a galactic ambulance with a digital siren once approaching us, the other time getting away from us. I dare say that we would not experience the same sound patterns as with an ambulance on earth, but would hear the siren just as if we were both stationary. ( It would be like hearing a recording made in the vehicle while the siren was on). The receiving device would be getting data faster or slower, depending on its relative velocity to the source, but that wouldn't change the nature of the data. [We are talking here of relative velocity of two objects within the same coordinates system, there is therefore no "myth" involved.]

This shows the weakness of Christian Doppler's argumentation ("On the Coloured Light of the Double Stars and Certain Other Stars of the Heavens", 1842), which was based on the idea of waves propagating through the ether. But what happens then when neither waves nor ether are present to carry his arguments?

Light Doppler-Effect
Einstein could not choose between light as a particle and light as a wave, so he decided that they were both true. Which is of course quite possible. We will not worry about that for now and concentrate on Light in Space, where the concept of wave is much harder to sustain than on earth. Unless of course there is an Ether everywhere, in which case talking of waves remains meaningful. 
The idea of a ubiquitous medium has not been abandoned by everyone (see with a bibliography of researchers who think that the Ether still can be saved). 
I must admit that I have no knock-out arguments for or against the existence of the Ether, except what I have brought forward concerning Space and the Nothing. My position is therefore more philosophical and metaphysical than it is a scientific one.
But then, since I am not a scientist, I suppose I can be forgiven for that. Besides, the idea of a medium is a metaphysical concept, since it represents the ultimate support of all Matter. And what is more metaphysical than a First Principle?

If we apply the same reasoning to light as we used with sound, something Doppler would heartily agree with, we have to admit that the idea of frequencies being received in an accelerated or, on the contrary, delayed fashion, and therefore changing their nature, is not really tenable in a medium-free environment. In such a case, we would need to reach to the corpuscular notion of Light, and try to find an explanation for a much needed effect, since without Doppler, we have no way of proving that the universe is expanding.
That explains also immediately why Einstein was so eager to keep both conceptions of light as acceptable. Like he so beautifully said, none on itself could explain the natural phenomena, but together they could do an admirable job.
But I am afraid that his opportunism is the perfect example of the desire to have your cake and eat it too.
The idea that our perception of light rays changes with the motion of objects approaching us, or traveling further away from us, only makes sense with light as a wave. As particles, photons will remain unchanged through their voyage, even if we accept Lorentz' wonderful contraction of molecules. After all, this strange, and unseen, phenomenon does not stretch beyond composed elements. Nowhere does the Lorentz Transformation hint at a contraction of the elementary particles themselves.
That means that, even in a stretched spacetime, photons keep their usual properties. They are sent in all directions as quanta of energy, and will arrive, unscathed, at their destination.
This is where the alleged double nature of Light comes very handy. It allows Einstein to speak of one aspect, particles, while suggesting a behavior only seen by waves. The distortion of spacetime supposedly creates different distances between the frequencies, and so changes the way we see them. That is why we are able to conclude that a far away star is receding from us, or flying in our direction.
That is why we are able to affirm that the Universe is expanding.
So, you see, Einstein really needs both aspect of Light. The question is, can he get away with it?
My answer is of course a resounding no: even the distortion of spacetime does not explain changed frequencies or wave lengths, at least, not without a medium. In other words, the only way to salvage Einstein's view would be to reintroduce the concept of Ether in all its glory.
Maybe that is why so many thinkers who have contributed unwillingly to the success of Relativity theory, like Lorentz and Ives (famous for the Ives-Stilwell experiments between 1937 and 1941), to name but a few, were still clinging to the concept of the Ether. They must have felt somehow that Einstein's approach just didn't cut it.
Too bad they did not get any further than vague premonitions which could easily be put away as prejudices.

At the end of day, it seems that, unless there is something like the Ether, we cannot say anything about the expansion of the universe, and Doppler's effects can be kept on Earth where they belong.
I am afraid therefore that the choice is between the Ether and the Nothing.

I am so sorry, I really did not mean to spoil your day.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Scientists Make Lousy Hit Men
 Take  . In the introduction the author, who, to my delight likes to combine criticism with wit, gives two humorous examples of the use of the Lorentz Transformation.
Let us take a look at the first example, where a hit man tries to hit a stationary target who stands behind the only opening of an otherwise continuous wall. If Bernard Burchell had asked advice of professionals beforehand [I am afraid I did not either, but I have seen many movies], he would have been told right away that the only sure way to hit the target was the Al Capone Method. Just keep shooting right before and while passing the opening. At least one of the bullets will hit home.
But, being a scientist 'n all, B.B [in France those initials still refer to Brigitte Bardot] prefers to put his faith in Pythagoras and trigonometry. This just shows you how estranged from reality intellectuals can become.

Let's start with Pythagoras. How could he ever help us with our problem? Easy, all you have to do is ask, in a very friendly voice, the target to remain in his place, and his own body guards to hold their fire, while you measure the distance between the target and you on a line perpendicular to the direction of your vehicle. Afterwards it is really a simple matter of calculating the angle at which you have to ... angle your gun, knowing your own velocity, to be able to hit the target.
You can of course make use of the training compounds used by the authorities and hit men alike. That would probably be much safer.

Okay, let us say you did and you now have an elegant [did you notice how elegant every experiment ever made was?] Pythagorean schema with a right angle and a hypotenuse which is nicely the sum of the squares of both sides. Will that tell you when to start shooting?
Well, yes of course. That would be at the point of the perpendicular running from the target to your (moving) vehicle (can't you see it? It's right there in front of you!). Just don't forget to angle your gun in a line parallel to the hypotenuse (you know how to do that, don't you?).

There is a slight complication though. The Pythagorean schema points at geometrical ratio's. We know since Galileo that it is alright to represent velocities by geometrical lines and surfaces, but sometimes it gives strange results.

What are we really dealing with here? We want our bullet to reach the target. To keep in character with Relativistic expectations, we are using a laser gun firing highly energized particles, whatever that means. What is really important to us is the direction the bullet takes once it has left the vehicle. Will it be still moving in the same direction, as well as towards the target?
As you can see, this is a fundamental variation of the case of the sailor dropping his hammer from the top of the mast. The hammer remained in the same coordinate system all the time. The bullet, on the contrary, once it leaves the vehicle, is not bound any more by the motions of the latter, but only by the propulsing force of the gun. The same way a stone shoots forward when released by a sling.

In other words, assuming no shot is possible before the perpendicular, you can either start shooting long before you reach the opening (from a point symmetrical to the start of the hypotenuse would be a good bet), but holding your gun straight! Or you can pass up this first opportunity and be ready for the second and last one. And this time, angle your gun!

Your velocity will allow you only these two possibilities.

This teaches us that maybe Trigonometry would be also useful in this case, since we need to calculate the angle of the gun as well as the distance between the start of the perpendicular, and that of the hypotenuse. Notice that in both cases the length of the perpendicular, the distance of the target when the vehicle is right ahead, is of no use at all. Except of course for the preliminary calculations. Only the point at which the bullet leaves the vehicle and the angle at which the gun is held play a role here. In one scenario the bullet flies straight ahead from the car, in the other it follows an angular trajectory.
In fact, the target could be moving in a straight line towards the entrance, and the first shooting opportunity would still remain unchanged. The same could be said of the second shooting stance, if the target obligingly moves obliquely along the hypotenuse.

This shows the weakness of Burchell's critique, his analysis accepts blindly Einstein's assumptions of relative motion. He judges the light reaching the target as obeying its system of origin, as seen from the outside. In other words, he expects a stone on a sling to keep rotating even after it has been released.

Once we reject this view, which is in flagrant contradiction with Newton's first law of motion, we have no difficulty in accepting the fact that light moves with a constant velocity. We do not even need to assume a non-empty space in which all kinds of gazes and particles would slow down light propagation. We can accept a constant light velocity without rejecting the principle of relativity (equivalence of physical laws in all systems of reference), and without rejecting logic and intuition. For that, we only need to reject the relativity of motion and acknowledge the emancipation of the stone from the sling. 
The fact that the distance from the target is completely irrelevant to the velocity of the bullet tells me that all the variations on Lorentz transformation are really, still,  missing their target. They are measuring distances that play no role at all neither in the way an observer experiences light events, nor in the way light behaves.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
A Stone, a Sling and a Photon walked into a bar.
"I bet, said Photon after enough shots to get an elephant drunk, that you can throw me as hard as you can against the wall, I would still re-bounce on my feet, no harm done.
So it had been said, and so it was done. Stone, who did his name proud, did not want to stay behind, but alas, Sling knew no mercy, and Stone crashed against the wall with such strength that the rest of the story has to go on without him.
- What's your secret, asked Sling after having paid off the bet with an impressive amount of alcohol. Photon, feeling somewhat mollified after his libations murmured: 
- Beats me. It has always been this way as far as I can remember!
- surely you must have an idea, slurred Sling.
- I think it comes because I am never really part of anything else. See when you hold Stone in your hands, just before you throw him, he becomes somehow a part of you. While I am always already moving when you throw me away. You just determine in which direction I go, not how fast.
- so, the story with the gun?
- look at it this way. It is the gun which is moving with the vehicle, not me. I only come into existence after the gun has been fired. I have nothing to do with what the gun did before, or what was done to him. So, if you would be able to determine the exact moment I come into life, you would see that I immediately reach my natural velocity.
- so the mistake is to try to pin the past on you.
- you got my drift, buddy! Didn't you owe me a drink?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Sea Battle Against Pirates: Einstein's Sinking Ship
Imagine pirates shooting their cannon at a ship while both vessels are moving. Let me assume that the cannon ball, once it leaves the cannon, and the ship, goes in a straight line towards the merchant ship. Instead of hitting the hulk, it heads straight for the captain's hut. let us now stop the tape for an instant. The cannon-ball is now part of the ship, the movements of the latter will be communicated somehow to the projectile. In a Galilean or Einsteinian analysis, we would say that the ball is drawing a curve in space. It is moving with the ship, and at the same time towards the hut. That brings I'm afraid no consolation to the captain, his quarters are doomed anyway.
Let us look now from the perspective of the evil pirate leader who is eager to humiliate his enemy. Taking the motion of both his ship and his prey into consideration, he has his people aim at the front of the target ship [I'm sure it has a special name] to make sure the hut is destroyed. It takes a certain time for the fuse to trigger the cannon, as it also takes a certain time for his command to reach his crew and for them to react accordingly. A good captain knows that and includes it in his estimations.
But once all details have been worked out, the only important factors are the time of departure from the ship, and its time of arrival at the target. Not the hut mind you, but the moment the cannon-ball is adopted by the merchant ship. Let us say once it crosses the railing.
As you see, this situation is very similar to that of the clumsy hit man, but I have hopes, or fears, that the evil pirate would be more successful in his nefarious endeavors.
We can of course make the situation slightly more complicated by having a moving instead of a stationary target. That would not change anything to the principle that the trajectory of the bullet will never deviate from its course once it has been calculated.

The problem becomes of course entirely of a different order when, just like with GPS, a position on earth must be calculated based on that of moving satellites and gravitational effects.

Acceleration or Time Dilation.
With a limited number of satellites, we could be satisfied with the somehow simplistic schema of mirrors in space and Euclidean geometry.
Such a position becomes quickly untenable when the number of satellites is such that we need to keep track of their position relative to a point, or more, on earth. But more importantly, we have to take into account the relativistic effects on orbiting satellites, and their clocks.
Here again, I have the impression that B.B's analysis concedes too much to really form an interesting alternative to the Einsteinian model.
The question that interests me most is this: how come the difference in time registered by clocks on earth and on satellites, does not get any bigger? Imagine clock A running at speed sa, and another clock B running at speed sb. Normally you would expect the difference to keep growing with time, the same way you expect a car passing you with 120km/h, while you are riding at a sedate 100km/h, to get farther and farther from you. If it does not, then it can only mean that it has decelerated to your own speed, and is now keeping constant the distance between you.

But how can gravitational effects be a one-time-event? We have a very familiar reply to this puzzle: when we are running very fast and want to stop abruptly, we are moved forward, and then back, whether we are on our feet, on a horse, a stage coach, a car, or a plane.
Also, we are pushed backward when our mount or vehicle is accelerating. 
This is an effect of matter on matter. Why should clocks be immune to it?
This could be a very simple explanation why clocks on earth and in orbit show a constant difference. Relativistic effects would only be credible if the difference would be seen to grow with time.

GPS as a proof of General Relativity? Pulease!

By the way, acceleration is very often hailed as the magical solution to the Twin Paradox. Traveling Twin keeps younger not because of the the length of his trip, but because of the accelerations at the start and end of it. But please note that even if Roaming Twin would survive such a continuous onslaught on his biological functions, it would not necessarily make him any younger compared to his sedentary brother.

Let us imagine such an accelerating space ship. Light rays would still keep their constant velocity because they are not affected by what has and by where they have been created. They simply keep their natural velocity. Although, once they are created, photons come under the direct influence of forces acting in the space they are traversing. In a moving cabin, the rays, like anything else, would be pressed against the wall opposite to the direction of the acceleration.
But for how long?
We all know of the jerk at the start of an acceleration, but we also know that we jerk back and then keep our position even if the vehicle is still accelerating, at least, if it is accelerating uniformly. We can see that very easily on a train, where at the start the locomotive jerks the wagons forward, but then keeps on pulling them very smoothly all the time it is accelerating.
If that is true, then Tripping Twin would at most experience a time dilation in the short times of abrupt transition. 
Botox would be a better solution to his aging problem.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
At The Einsteinian Shooting Range
We all know the moving ducks would-be heroes like to shoot in a fair. Their sedate pace is only a challenge to people like me who have never fired a real gun in their life. Let us turn them into something like the giant cowboy you sometimes see in movies, wherever he maybe situated [I just looked it up, he's in Vegas, folks!]. Let this cowboy drop his gun in a basket at his feet, while he is himself being moved around. As expected, the gun will fall in the basket. We now need a professional basketball player to try and shoot a ball in that same moving basket. This Magic Smithson will need to aim right above the basket in such a way that the ball will move sideways with it while dropping into it at the same time. But Smithson knows that he does not have to worry about that complicated pattern. He aims as if the basket was not moving at all, but already at the location he is aiming at. Just like he would do in a fair with the poor little ducks and an air gun.
I do not need to reiterate the same analysis as with the hit man and the pirate, even though it concerns now a cowboy, which is an entirely different movie altogether, but would like to stand still by

The Mystery of the Ball That Was
How does the "adoption" of a moving object by the receiving coordinate system work? The idea of a Galilean-Einsteinian parabola comes very naturally to mind when one first thinks about the relation between both coordinate systems. But let us replace the moving vessels, or cowboy, by a single point. Shooting at that point, we can declare that we have put another point in its place, or, and that would amount to the same thing, that nothing has happened at all, and that the original point is simply happily continuing its trip.
Imagine the giant cowboy being transported by another merchant ship, sailing in a direction opposite to that of the poor captain, who, luckily for him, happened to have a protecting angel that made the pirate, or his crew, or all of them, hesitate just long enough for the cannon ball to miss the hut, cross the whole ship in its width, and land right on the giant cowboy.
The first merchant ship might as well not have been there!

What can we learn from both situations?

While being less picturesque, the first scenario, the reduction of a moving vessel to a moving point, is conceptually much clearer.
If we reduce the projectile to a point also, then it would seem that nothing has happened. But we know better, and it is highly implausible that the replacement of one point by another would be as uneventful physically as it would geometrically.
Assuming it is not, and that there are therefore physical consequences to leaving a system and entering a new one, the question is, what would be those consequences if not something similar to what happens to an object drawn into a gravitational field?
At the same time, the fact that the projectile can cross the ship and appear on approximately the same line on the other side, shows that it can easily free itself from the horizontal dragging motion. But maybe the key word here is indeed "approximately".
Let us make the ship wider and wider. Is it not conceivable that the bullet would really describe a horizontal curve, and, finally drop on deck at a much wider angle from its origin than it would in a ship with normal dimensions?
But if that is the case, couldn't Earth be that wide ship?
Except that in such a case, we would have to contend with, at least, these forces:
- pull of gravity towards the center of the earth,
- rotating movement of the planet,
- the trajectory of the bullet.
- air friction and other atmospheric irregularities.

Please allow me to test my sailor legs. I think I would have more luck on the open sea than I would in space.

One thing seems certain to me. We cannot just equate gravitational and inertial mass since they are perpendicular to each other.
If they were equivalent, we could just ignore them and take only the horizontal movement of the ship in consideration. The bullet would fall on the deck, or keep floating above it, while moving with the ship.
This is exactly the kind of nonsense one can read on the Internet: "If you shoot the bullet off the back of the train, the bullet will still be moving away from you and the gun at 1,000 mph, but now the speed of the train will subtract from the speed of the bullet. Relative to the ground, the bullet will not be moving at all, and it will drop straight to the ground."

What Einstein did not predict was that his conception of a constant speed of light, independently of the velocity of its source, could not be sustained while at the same time rejecting it for other projectiles. After all, light is simply a form of matter, so why should there be special laws for it, which are not applicable to other forms of matter?
Simply put, it would mean that a bullet fired from a moving gun will have the same velocity as one fired by a shooter standing still. This seems to me the only way of avoiding absurdities like the one just mentioned, of a bullet falling directly to the ground.
The advantage of such a conception is that it is much more easily testable then any affirmation about light. Sound speed is after all something we already have reasonably under control.
You know what? That reminds me of shooting Indians on a horse. The poor guys never stood a chance. They might as well have been standing still!
Also, wouldn't the military all over the world have found out about the advantage of throwing grenades from running horses, instead of using heavy and unyielding cannons? But then, maybe it 's better not to give them any ideas.

Back to a point replacing a point and what it costs in energy.
The simplest example is stepping on moving stairs. One leg is immediately stationary, while the rest of the body is struggling to keep up with it. It would seem that the smaller the projectile is, the easier the transition becomes. Speed would of course also play a role. I will leave the equations to the experts.
At the limit, there would be only infinitesimal costs to the transition, and the participation of the object to the movement of the vessel would appear to us as instantaneous. And any object that would be too long, or not fast enough, would simply be cut in half.

Is that costly enough for you? Do you really need those strange relativistic effects still?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Do Sonic Booms Exist?
This sounds really like a stupid question, right? But think about it. Sound, just like light, is said to have a limit velocity beyond which it cannot go. The supersonic jet is known to produce sound, but the jet is never there where the sound has just been produced.
The boom is supposed to happen because sound waves are somehow squeezed together. How is that even possible if there is a speed limit?
So, imagine sound coming from the jet and propagating forward at its natural speed. The sound gets overtaken by the jet that pushes the air forward and to the sides. That air does not carry any sound yet, which is now behind the jet. As soon as the jet passes, the air takes its place back in, and the sound can propagate further.
It seems to me that we are hearing is the sound of air reclaiming space, and not a sonic boom. The continuous noise would be that of the jet engines, and the boom that of the air.
Therefore, if I am right, there are no sonic booms.
This is more than just a curious fact. It would fit rightly with the idea of a constant speed of light and of bullets. It would also mean that the special place given to light by Relativity Theory is wrong.
I would almost say that this forms somehow a revenge for Aristotle. Things may not know their natural place, but they sure seem to know their natural velocity.

But what about the familiar Doppler effect of ambulance sounds? Maybe it is the same effect that we get when we play an old record at different speeds. Here again, air waves would not be involved at all. After all, the fact that we can reproduce the effect in movies, and digitally, shows that we do not need the air medium to justify them.

Oh well, another reason to reintroduce the Ether down the drain.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
action=reaction (2)
Let me first reiterate the position I expressed in the first part: I have no ambition of reforming Physics, and do not therefore advocate a different attitude relative to this principle. It would disturb too many calculations to try and change it, for very doubtful results.
Still, it remains very interesting philosophically to investigate the validity of such a principle. Allow me to present you with a very simple alternative that takes into consideration other scientific results and conventions.
Vectors are said to be opposite to each other, negative to positive, when their directions are opposite. Since we do not know how to subtract one vector from the other, we have decided that adding a negative to a positive is the same as subtracting one vector from the other. Both vectors certainly do not need to be equivalent, otherwise vector arithmetic would be very boring.
Transpose vector thinking to the action/reaction principle. Do I need say more?
At least we would be freed of the absurd image of Earth rising up to meet a diver! We could simply assume that the attraction of the diver on the planet is eliminated by the attraction of the much bigger earth, which will be charged for the negative attraction it is receiving. Earth will still not really feel anything, but physicists will be able to look at themselves in the mirror again without shame.
Also, we won't have to wonder whether our kitchen table is much too smart for what we use it for. It's surface could simply represent a certain vector which would neutralize other vectors created by the objects we put on it.
At least, that is what we could say to ourselves and our students. Meanwhile, we would simply keep the fictional principle of action and reaction, because that is the practical thing to do.

I really do not know what the ramifications could be of representing gravity as a vector, and whether that would be possible in all situations. At least it shows that not all so-called laws are physical imperatives, but that they depend essentially on how we look at Nature.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Newton's First Law and The Secret of Flying 
According to the Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the trick is to let yourself fall to the ground, and, at the last moment, to miss it. It takes of course some time to get the method under control, but success is guaranteed for the hardheaded.
This is exactly what a satellite is supposed to be doing: it keeps falling to the Earth, while at the same time desperately trying to fly straight, but, because of the rotation, and the circular form of the planet, the satellite keeps missing the ground.
This is also the paradigm of a rotational motion that is used by all Physics textbooks I have consulted [no more than a handful I'm afraid]: a circular motion at a constant speed is said to be accelerated because the direction of the velocity keeps changing.
That sounds very plausible, with the following remark: when you are driving a car and speeding along a curve, you are the one who has to keep giving more gas to keep a constant speed. If you don't, friction will reduce your speed automatically. In other words, acceleration as a technical term, a change in speed and/or direction, is certainly correct, but not in combination with the idea that this acceleration is directed toward the center of the circle, like all authors would like us to believe. That is certainly the case if one considers earth and its satellites, but not a man-made vehicle like a car that is dependent on an engine and a driver. In such a situation the acceleration would most certainly either not take place, the car continuing in the same direction and leaving the curve, or it would happen in a line which the driver will want to keep as close as possible to one of the sides of the curve or curb. In fact, it would be a really bad idea to steer the vehicle toward the center of the track, especially if you are rounding a canyon or a lake.
The image of an acceleration directed toward the center stems, besides the planet model already given, from the experience of controlling a rotating stone with a rope or a sling, or using a compass to draw a circle. Pulling on the rope is effectively accelerating the stone, at least in a technical sense, and will of course always be directed toward the center.
The distinction between a car and a planet would certainly be trivial and void of interest if not for the following:
Imagine the circle as a polygon with an infinite number of sides, making it appear as a circle to our eyes. We can imagine a miniaturized vehicle, a simple point, having to follow each side until the end, and then change abruptly direction to keep on track on the next. Paradoxically, the greater the number of sides, the more the polygon would look like a circle, but also the sharper the changes in direction would be. Our point-vehicle would need a very good driver to survive the trip. It would be much easier if the polygon would loose some of its smoothness! That explains why race tracks must be wide enough to allow some maneuvering to the drivers.
That explains maybe also why orbits can never be perfect circles. The satellite is continuously changing direction under the influence of gravity, like cattle trying to escape the rancher's prod.
We all know what would happen if the pull ever stopped, but apparently nobody wonders why the object would then keep flying in a straight line. Newton's First Law seems so obvious that no explanation or justification seems needed. That might have been in the case until the end of the 19th century, but since Einstein claimed that Space itself is curved, then this First Law does not seem so obvious anymore. Why would an object, released from gravity or a sling, not keep its rotating movement?
The only reasonable answer I can come up with is that it was never moving in a circle anyway, so why start now? [see also ]
I claim that Newton's First Law only makes sense if straight movements are the only movements allowed by natural laws. The stone, once released, flies away in a straight line, just as it had been doing the whole time, but now, it is does not have to change directions anymore.
If that is the case, Newton's First Law would in itself be enough to put to rest all the wondrous claims of Minkowski and Einstein. After all, how can they speak of a curved spacetime when there are no curves at all, but only straight lines?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Restaurant at the End of the Logical Universe
The great majority of physicists is somehow convinced that our logic and intuition have to be put on hold when we are dealing with sub-atomic processes. This is already obvious in the treatment of electromagnetic phenomena in Classical Physics as shown by the following statement concerning the rotational movement of a proton in a magnetic field. We are still far from Relativity or Quantum theories, but already their influence starts to impose itself:
"the period is independent of the particle’s speed and orbital radius" (Wolfson "Essential University Physics", p.442)
What we see is that some variables are quantitatively equivalent to other variables which are more convenient for further calculations.
Cyclotron motion, scientists agree is really a remarkable result, but it is nevertheless considered as beyond doubt. The caveat that it is only valid for very small values only reinforces the conviction that at this level normal logical rational rules do not apply, paving the way for Relativity and Quantum theories which let go of of Logic without second thoughts.
But what is really happening here?
Here is the somewhat pompous intro: "Following Newton’s law, the magnetic force deflects charged particles from their otherwise straight-line paths. Magnetic forces “steer” charged particles in a host of practical devices ranging from microwave ovens to giant particle accelerators, and they shape particle trajectories throughout the astrophysical universe." (p.441)
So, it concerns the rotational movement of charged particles in magnetic field. I will not attempt to explain in detail the mathematical and physical analysis of this complex phenomena, and hope that the reader will be satisfied with these succinct explanations:
The particle has a constant speed, but is continuously steered in another direction, perpendicular to the magnetic field. Somehow like the moon relative to Earth. The question now is what the different ratios are between its velocity and the distance traveled, the orbit, compared to the time needed to complete a whole revolution.
Normally, there is a linear relationship between these different factors: the greater the orbit or distance, the greater the time needed to cross it, or the greater the velocity has to be. Which sounds perfectly logical to us.
But where it comes to electromagnetic forces, the game rules are suddenly changed.
The first variable to disappear is the radius of the orbit r because of the equation:

(1) r=mv/qB 

[r=radius, m=mass, v=velocity, q is the electric charge and B the magnetic field.] This equation states that the radius is proportional to the product of mass and velocity on one hand, and that of the electric charge and the magnetic field on the other hand. In other words, it appears to be simply a way of calculating how big the orbit is. We will take the experts word for it. For now.
This equivalence means that we are allowed to replace the distance variable by the more complex formula on the right side. The question is of course what that means for the concept of distance in this operation. Can we say, because we are not using r anymore that distance, in the form of radius, has stopped playing in a role in the physical process?
Before we answer this question let us look at what happens with the factor velocity.

[T is the period or time necessary for a whole revolution)
(2) T=(2π/v)(mv/qB)=(2πm)/(qB).

Don't worry about all the details, what you should remember is that the radius r, as we have already seen, is taken out of the loop, followed by the cancellation of the velocity factor. What is important is that the disappearance of both the radius of the circle (a space factor), and of velocity (a time factor) are pure mathematical necessities that do not in any way prejudge of the way physical processes take place.
Space and Time have not suddenly stopped being relevant to the movement of the particles, as many would like us to believe, but are simply expressed indirectly in the values of other variables.

This analysis is reinforced by the fact that Wolfson's conclusion is simply wrong. And this is why.
Wolfson is perfectly conscious of the fact that it would be impossible for the particle to travel a longer distance in the same amount of time without changing its speed, or vice versa. He states explicitly: "The higher the speed v, the larger the radius r and hence the circumference. So a faster particle describes a larger circle and ends up taking the same amount of time to go around.". That is completely conform to everyday logic. So why then declare that radius and speed are irrelevant to period and frequency? It sounds like suddenly Wolfson has become another person with a completely different set of beliefs. Something you see each time a rational scientist tries to convince himself and others of how great and well-founded Relativity or Quantum Theory are. Listening to them always reminds me of the Ramadan conferences on Moroccan television where respected theologians are explaining to their audience some obscure passage of the Holy Book. Not that theologians are not rational, on the contrary, they are usually able to present in a very clear and lucid way spiritual principles that do not let themselves be limited by human reason. A good theologian turns the Irrational into a rational belief. Just like our scientists when dealing with those two theories. Just like Richard Wolfson or Michio Kaku.

So, what are we really dealing with here?
Let us first look at the way r is defined: instead of a constant, or a variable which would ultimately yield a constant, r appears to be a ratio of mass and velocity on one hand, and charge and magnetic field on the other. It is therefore right from the beginning a dynamic quantity. No wonder that we can arrive at the seemingly paradox conclusion that the period of an orbit is independent of the speed and the radius. It is like changing the rules of the game each time the player's feet leave the ground. The result is never what he thought it would be. 
[Wikipedia offers very nice moving schemas that illustrate the fact that the orbit, and therefore the distance traveled, is constantly changing while the time taken from one revolution to the other seems to remain the same.
For a clear and short introduction to cyclotrons see ]

Not only the radius is a changing quantity, accelerating the particle seems to be the way to get it to go to a higher orbit, with as a result that it still takes the same amount of time for the particle to finish one revolution.
All this is supposed to create cheap high-energy particles which are used in industry and in health care (PET scans). I cannot judge of this alleged efficiency, nor can I explain it, and so I will just assume that it is the way the experts say it is.
What I refuse to take for granted is the idea that space and time somehow have become irrelevant. Each revolution still obeys the rule that to cross a larger distance you have to raise your velocity if you want to keep the same frequency. Or lower the distance, take a smaller orbit, if you can't.
When you are dealing with electromagnetic fields you have two other possibilities, which can be clearly deduced from equation (1): you can either augment the electrical charge, and/or raise the magnetic field to compensate for the need of a larger radius.
You have to imagine a race driver wanting to go faster and faster without crashing. He would have to take sharper and shaper turns, unless we allow him the luxury of immensely wide race tracks where he simply would take wider turns not to lose control of his vehicle. Because of his higher speed, he will still be able to finish the longer round in the same time as before.
But race tracks have always a non-variable length and curve, so at some point our pilot will need to show his driving skills at ever higher speeds. It would then help if he could activate some magnets along the track that would keep his vehicle on the road. And that is exactly what a particle accelerator does: make higher speeds possible within the same dimensions.

In conclusion, radius and speed are as ever present at every step, and the only thing we can say is that the period or frequency of a revolution does not depend on a definite speed or radius, but on a combination of both, and also on electrical charge and magnetic field.
The assertion "the period is independent of the particle’s speed and orbital radius" is therefore an illicit metaphysical interpretation of perfectly sound mathematical and physical procedures.

By the way, I think it was Tycho Brahe that presented the idea of a point moving along the circumference of a circle at an infinite speed. His conclusion was that the point could at the same time be considered as stationary, since whenever and wherever we looked, there it was! And that was before Galileo, not to mention Einstein and friends.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Vicissitudes of Simultaneity (4)
Let us take the example of Stanley and Mavis again. The lightning strikes twice, and Stanley sees both bolts at the same time. Mavis, who is on a moving train, sees one before the other. Ha! How is that possible! Who are they kidding?
Oh wait, the speed of light. I had completely forgotten about that. So Mavis sees the bolt that struck ahead of the train sooner than the one that struck behind.
The following precision will certainly not be superfluous: "Stanley is stationary on the ground at 0, midway between A and B. Mavis is moving with the train at 0' in the middle of the passenger car; midway between A' and B'."
Let us take a flash-picture of the exact moment that both bolts struck. And, to avoid misunderstandings, let us replace our friends with some automated sensors we know will react to the bolts instead of to every ray of light. At time t0 the lightening strikes (double), and at time t1 both sensors on the ground have registered the double event, and both bolts appear to be simultaneous. 
What about the sensors on the train? This is were the selective logic of Einsteinians is at its best. They all seem to agree on the fact that Stanley and Mavis will disagree. But why would they do that, or more precisely, why would the sensors on the train come to another conclusion that those on the ground? Because the train is moving? What does that have to do with anything? Everybody also agrees that light on a moving train has the same speed, c, as light on the ground. The sensors on the train will register the moment the lightning enters the train. The light rays will immediately start moving with their normal velocity in the train, as if the latter were stationary. There is therefore no reason for the sensors to come to any other conclusion than the simultaneity of both bolts.
The question whether they will at the same time register the rays on the ground is irrelevant, and even if they did, that would not change anything to their first conclusion.
In other words, both the sensors on the ground, and those on the train, come to the same conclusion: the lightening bolts at each end are simultaneous.
Back to Mavis, she will see, just like Stanley, not two, but four strikes of lightning. Two on the train simultaneously, and two happening on the ground reaching her at different times. The mistake of the authors is to confuse between both pairs of events. And that is why they rightly say that Stanley and Mavis come to two different conclusions. That is also why they are right to say "Whether or not two events at different x-axis locations are simultaneous depends on the state of motion of the observer". The problem is that there is nothing "relativistic" to such an observation. Once we have accepted that time events can be perceived with such accuracy as in the example given, then it is absolutely normal that both Stanley and Mavis evaluate the simultaneity of the events on the ground and those on the train quite differently. In fact, whether c is a constant or not would be completely irrelevant. In both cases we are speaking of two distinct events A and A' on one end, and two other distinct events B and B' on the other end. Even with a constant speed of light Mavis (on the train) could only decide of the simultaneity of the events on the ground if she knew exactly how fast her train was moving. (And it would be the same if light had a different speed on the train than it had on the ground.) Otherwise she can only confirm her perception of the fact that B (not B') appears to her before A (not A') does. And, all things being equal, the same could be said of Stanley. 
So, what can we conclude concerning simultaneity of events?  Either both the stationary and the moving observer can rely on the same coordinate system, in which case it would be no problem to calculate whether two events are simultaneous or not. Or, and that is the more interesting case, each has his or her own coordinate system, and then no one can say anything about simultaneity in the other system.  
Still, as I have tried to show, neither Stanley nor Mavis could say anything about how the other experiences the two pair of events without sufficient knowledge concerning the train velocity. Only then could they reconstruct the way their colleague would experience those events. But that would also mean that they should be able find common criteria that would make possible a judgment on the simultaneity of A/B and A'/B'. 
Meanwhile, they are both evaluating a different pair of events than their counter part: Stanley considers A and B as simultaneous, while Mavis thinks the same about A' and B'.

In other words, this is really a bad example to found Relativity Theory on.
[By the way, all textbook writers base their stories on Section 9 of Einstein' s "Relativity", "The Relativity of Simultaneity", p.29 ff.]

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Vicissitudes of Simultaneity (5)
The analysis of the case of a double lightening strike on Mavis' train brings up the question whether it is at all possible to have one and the same event presented to Stanley and Mavis. It would be of course no problem if the velocity is low enough, but then high velocities are what make Relativity Theory interesting.
This is therefore the problem: present a single event to both a stationary and a (fast) moving observer, and compare their respective experiences.
What we have learned from the previous example is that a lightening bolt that hits the ground and the train at the same time must in fact be considered as two separate events. Something like two runners, one on the train, and the other on the ground, racing each other, however implausible that may sound.
Since we are dealing with the speed of light, and since any event has to be carried by light rays, I would say that it is simply impossible to have a separate event on the ground that would not be reflected and transported on the train. At least, not if we want to compare the way both observers look at it.
That would mean that the concept of simultaneity in such cases is an ill-posed problem. Since each observer is evaluating a different event, nothing meaningful can apparently be said about the concept of simultaneity in high-speed situations.
This has serious consequences.
Let us take Stanley for instance. He is standing on the platform while the train passes him by. Then he sees from the corner of his eyes a double flash, one from each side, indicating that lightening has hit at two places at once. A moment later, he sees a third flash coming from the direction of A and seemingly carried by the train, followed thereafter by a fourth flash in the same situation, but this time coming from the other side.
Meanwhile, where is Mavis in all this? There is a good chance that her experience will be completely symmetrical to Stanley's, meaning that for her the bolts on the train will appear as simultaneous, while she will perceive B before A. 
A perfect inverse image of Stanley's view.
Here is the problem: since their positions also can be said to be inverse of one another, we could in fact conclude that their experiences are one and the same, and that there are therefore no differences in their experience of simultaneity.
For Stanley, A' is approaching while B' is receding, while for Mavis, A is receding while B is approaching. If we make abstraction of any labels we get the following picture:
- the approaching object is experienced before the receding one,
- each pair of stationary events is experienced as simultaneous by its respective observer.

The conclusion seems inescapable: if we take into consideration their inverse positions, we have to say that both observers experience simultaneity in the same way.
I don't think that helps Relativity Theory at all.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Rise and Fall of the Muon Empire: a Self-fulfilling Prophecy
Muons are particles that are supposed to decay a short time after they have entered earth atmosphere. Muons in rest decay at a certain rate, while accelerated muons keep apparently a different decay rate that is perfectly explained by Relativity Theory: they decay more slowly, and their longer half-life can be calculated on the basis of Einstein's principle of the dilation of time: their "inner clock" runs more slowly that their stationary counterparts.
Their case appears to be mathematically analogous to the one we have already encountered, where Stanley watches Mavis as she passes by in a moving train. She is looking at a light ray that is directed to the ceiling and bounced back to the floor. For her the movement is a simple vertical motion back and forth, while for Stanley the light ray describes a much wider triangle, whose dimensions are dependent on the train's velocity.
We can therefore replace Stanley by a stationary muon while Mavis' role is taken by a muon falling to earth in a uniformly accelerated motion.
Let us look a little bit closely at the equations Einstein borrowed from Lorentz.
Muons, because of time dilation and space contraction, as seen from the ground, experience a much shorter period and distance when entering the earth. Since the same rules apply to them, they must keep the same shelf life as their stationary friends, measured by time and distance units specific to their own frame of reference.
In other words, the particles live longer than their stationary counter parts. An evident case of the Twin Paradox: the travelers are better off that those who stayed behind.

Let us analyze the Twin Paradox more closely. 
It comes also down to the case of Stanley and Mavis where the distance traveled by the light ray up and down according to Mavis is simply 2L, the distance to the ceiling and back, while for Stanley it is much longer, being equal to the two diagonals of the triangle formed by the moving particle trajectory.
Let us not forget that for Stanley the same motion up and down on the ground would also be of distance 2L.
Einstein's solution sounds very sensible: if we admit that the velocity of light is constant and equal in both frames of reference, then something has to to give. The only thing we can change are the time and space measurements. 
The question then is, which one shall we adjust, time or distance? Let us say
Any change in a or b will change the value of c. If that is not allowed, then we have to say that it is the ratio that has to say the same, not necessarily a or b.
This should remind us of the cyclotron, c taking the role of T, or the period of a revolution of a particle.
Just like by the cyclotron, one of the factors, or both, has to change. Our equation is therefore:
There is one possibility only:  space shrinks, allowing the particle to travel in a shorter period of time, but that would change the value of time, which means that its value also needs to diminish accordingly. A very simple example will show the validity of the reasoning
1) 12/3=4
2) 6/1,5=4
We cannot change the numerator without changing the denominator accordingly. That is why the rate of time dilation is the same as that of space contraction. The same equation can be used for both. At least, that is the result obtained by Lorenz and Einstein. Other ratios would be theoretically possible, but that is the most simple one, and it is the one that has been retained.

We understand immediately why Lorentz Transformations, à la Einstein, explain the decay of muons so beautifully. We can keep the same time of decay on Earth, and the same time measurements as usual, while attributing to the particles a longer time period combined with a shrunken space. The best of both worlds!
But does that confirm Einstein's analysis? Normally, with any other theory, the answer would be straightforward. If you have a theory that can predict physical events, then there is no reason to doubt of the validity of that theory. Why should it be any different with Relativity?
I admit that this is a very tricky matter. It certainly stems from the fact that what Einstein is asking of us is so counter-intuitive, that I, personally, have the feeling that I have to believe the theory first before I can accept the proof, while normally, the proof should be enough to convince me of the well-foundedness of the theory. 
This is what I mean.
You have to believe, beforehand, that the speed of light is constant no matter what [except in the passage from one medium into the other, and even then, it remains constant in each medium, and never higher than c] and that therefore Space and Time have to be variable.
That is quite a quantum leap, pardon the pun.
This negative attitude is therefore, as far as I am concerned, understandable when we consider that Relativity and Quantum Theory demand of us a leap of faith. Such a metaphysical engagement comes to us (more) naturally when dealing with the Newtonian view of the universe. I think that, for this reason, we can be more demanding when it comes to proofs for these "revolutionary" theories.

Let us go back to the muons. Nobody will deny, least of all me, that they decay less rapidly than expected. Does that mean that their space is contracted, and time dilated, just like it is supposed to be for Mavis? Since I miss the necessary expertise to analyze the muon situation in details, I will have to make do with the story of Stanley and Mavis. I really feel like I know them very well by now, just as if they were family!

We will take this time the example of the two lightening strikes and the train.

The Vicissitudes of Simultaneity (6)
By the way, shouldn't Stanley see the bolt on the train (A') sooner than bolt A on the ground?
The official answer of the Vatican's Office for Time and Space Affairs would be a clear resounding NO. Light speed is a constant, and seen that both A and A' are simultaneous, they will reach Stanley, who stands at the same distance from both when lightening hits, at the same time.
Hmm, So A and A' are running at the same relative velocity to each other? Okay, what about the same A and A' seen from the perspective of Mavis? Shouldn't she perceive them as simultaneous also? And while we're at it, shouldn't the same reasoning apply to B and B'?
Uh, it now looks like Stanley and Mavis should experience the same thing without any distinction between what happens on the ground or on the train!
You cannot claim that Mavis would experience B' before A and at the same time believe that the speed/velocity of light is independent of its source. This last principle makes the train motion irrelevant. Therefore, either Mavis sees both pairs at the same time, or, if we say that she does not, then we must accept the fact that the speed of light on the ground is different from that on the train.

Nooo! Time Dilation and Space Contraction, remember? That is why light can still keep its constant velocity, distance/time=c.  What about the relative speed of A and A'? Here again, Lorentz and Einstein come to the rescue. They are both running at speed c, but then measured differently depending on whether you are on the ground or on the train.
In other words, the speed of light is not a constant! I don't care how you try to sell it, but if it means two different things it not the same thing! You may claim that in both cases we have distance/time=speed of light, but it is each time another unit of distance and time interval. You cannot claim the relativity of distance and time intervals while at the same time advocating the universality of speed light. It just does not compute! Not in my head!
The problem is that once you reject the universality of the speed of light, you apparently also reject the relativity principle, which would open the floodgates. More on that later.

Something else. The train is moving at less than the speed of light, which means that the part in which the lightening hit will lag behind the ray of light A on the ground, which will have therefore to reach Stanley sooner than A'. But then, if the light ray on the train is to keep up with its friend on the ground, it will have to leave that part of the train behind. Which does not make sense either.
Sorry, that doesn't sound quite right. Of course the light ray, every single photon of it, will distance itself from its point of departure. Let us call it D' to distinguish it from A'. But while the distance between D' and B' (both on the train) will remain constant, the distance between D' on the train and B on the ground will be diminishing. Which would mean that the light ray on the train would have to travel an ever shrinking distance, even if at the same speed.
Isn't that what Einstein was saying all along? Isn't that what space contraction is all about?
Well, no. We do not need to assume that measuring rods have become suddenly shorter, or that clocks are now slowing down. The distance between D' and B is diminishing both for Mavis and for Stanley. It is therefore normal that, even if we still want c to be constant, that the time of travel left will diminish the longer the train has been moving. If it did not, we would be caught in another old paradox, that of Zeno and the tortoise.

What if [promise, this is the last one!], the light ray on the train does move faster than its friend. That is, what if [it's the same one!], even though it is moving at speed c on the train, we could add velocities and have c+v or c-v without any contradiction?
How? I am so glad you asked.
Light can never go faster than c... on its own!
Have you ever wondered how you can listen to music on a plane, or the dialogues of the movie,  without being confronted with incomprehensible garble, even if the sounds on the plane are moving as fast as the plane itself in space? Don't worry, Einstein has an explanation for everything. Everything is contracted, including sound, and of course your hearing! In fact, even your breathing and heart rate, to name but a few biological functions, are all slowed down! Talking about miracles! [By the way, for those interested in the problem of consciousness, Relativity is really a jewel. It proves, if true, that consciousness at least does not depend on the speed of brain processes. Isn't that grand?]

Here is an alternative explanation.
By entering the train, bolts A' and B', just like the sailor's hammer, have become part of it, and the motion of the train has become their motion also. So, saying that it should be added to c would not make sense for Mavis. Light does not go faster on the train than on the ground. 
Still, claiming that the ray on the ground can keep up with the ray on the train is certainly asking for trouble, as we have seen. It would mean that that it does not matter how fast you are going, A' will reach the end destination, O, at the same time as A. Which is of course ridiculous since it would mean that it does not matter at all that light ray B is being transported by the train. But at each moment, a photon of B is at the same level as a point on the train, and that point is moving relative not only to the ground, but also to the light ray AB, or the other way around.
The only way out of this quandary would seem to accept that light can, under certain circumstances, go faster than c.
Light emitted by, say, a double star, is not thrown in a moving medium or space, but in the same one the star is moving in. There is therefore no reason for that light to go beyond its natural velocity. But light which is moving in and relative to an already moving object should be seen as moving at a speed higher than c. This, in complete accordance with the principle of relativity. The same laws remain valid in both frames of reference. And it is because they do that c+v or c-v cannot possibly be equal to c!

Okay, did I prove Einstein wrong? Alas, I'm afraid it would be like proving the (in)existence of God. I do not think it is possible to refute Einstein on logical grounds. It would be like proving that you did not hate your father and loved your mother. Tell that to Freud and see how he will respond! The only viable strategy is to show that there other explanations possible that also take care of empirical facts, without the metaphysical baggage.

Which brings us to our beloved muons.
How can we explain that they seem to live longer than they should?
First, I will assume that this is the case, and that there is therefore a discrepancy between their half-life on earth and while falling through the atmosphere.
I am sure I will be accused of heresy, or even worse, ignored as one more fool who dares doubt the Truth, but that is a chance I am willing to take. Let's just say that I am glad I have no career to worry about.

Is the Speed of Light a constant?
Yes! I have never measured it, but I have no trouble believing it because it fits perfectly with all that I know or think. We are after all talking about my beliefs, and since I am not a scientist, I do not need to pretend like anything I say is based on direct knowledge.
Is light that is moving relative to a moving object, a light ray in a moving starship, as fast as a light ray moving in the same direction alongside the ship?
Yes and no. For those on the ship the speed is simply c, while for the external light ray, the internal light ray, for as long as it lasts, is faster. Don't bother to ask, no, I cannot prove it.
But that helps me explain why muons live longer.

Since light can move faster than c when aided, we have to rethink the way it reacts to gravity. If light rays can be diverted from their direction by massive bodies like the sun, there is no reason to believe that these bodies cannot do that in the same direction the photons are moving. In both cases, it would be a gravitational effect.
I do not know enough of the different experiments that have given us the current result of the speed of light, (around 300.000 km/s), and to which extent we can trust the current estimations, but it seems evident to me that, however precise current science is, there is always room for improvement. My claim, easily falsified, is that the longer decay rate of muons can be explained by different estimations of light speed for particles falling to the earth and those already on the surface.
Obviously, any measurement that would rely on Relativity being true, or on the speed of light as it is known now, would not be acceptable as refutation. That is, by the way, the reason why I do not trust the so-called experimental proofs that are said to confirm Relativity theory. I suspect them of assuming that what they are supposed to prove, which is the perfect definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Or circular reasoning if you prefer.
I think I have given enough examples in my various threads of such occurrences that I may feel justified in believing in such a possibility also in the case of Relativity Theory.

I am afraid that is the best I can do for now.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Mystery of the Gamma Factor (A cosmological Thriller)
Did you ever wonder how Einstein was able to calculate the difference between time and space on earth and on a moving object? How is the speed of a moving object, say a space ship, related to the way things happen on the ship? How did Einstein get the factor of time dilation and space contraction? After all, nobody has ever been on a ship moving at such phenomenal speed, and according to Einstein, even if it happened, they wouldn't notice anything out of the ordinary. For them, it would be just like on earth. And since the stationary observer is a pure fiction that would never be able to observe first hand what happens on the ship, it remains for ever hidden from us, and we have to look for confirmation elsewhere. Like the decay rate of muons when they enter the earth atmosphere.
But that does not answer the question: why this specific gamma factor? What makes it so special that Lorentz thought it could explain why the Ether remained hidden from all our calculations, and Einstein adopted it to explain what happens on a very fast ship?
Let us look at how Lorentz interpreted the Michelson-Morely experiment

Lorentz Transformation:
First we must describe the apparatus used by M&M, and retained by Lorentz for his calculations. Without entering into details, we could describe it as a right triangle with two arms perpendicular to each other, and which indicated the trajectory of the light rays used by the experimenters. The hope was to find a difference between the arrival times of both rays according to the position of the device relative to the earth motion. As we all know, no difference was found by M&M, and because Lorentz still believed in the ether he tried to salvage the situation.
Here is the result he found: "The displacement would naturally bring about this disposition of the molecules of its own accord, and thus effect a shortening in the direction of motion in the proportion of 1 to √(1- v2/c2)" ("Michelson's Interference experiment", 1895). We will find the same result very soon, so it is worth noting its origin. For Lorentz, it expresses the ratio between the y and the z-components of the force exerted on molecules, and which has a (temporary) shortening of its length as a result.
All this is common knowledge among Einstein aficionados, but what I find more important is this. This ratio was supposed to explain the existence of something that nowadays is considered as a fiction. It was used by Einstein to justify what I consider also as fiction: time dilation/space contraction (they are two faces of the same coin). 

Harald Fritzsch presented in his famous book "An Equation That Changed the World: Newton, Einstein and the Theory of Relativity", (1988 for the original German edition), a charmingly simple proof of the so-called gamma factor or time dilation. While all textbooks give complex calculations that are beyond laymen with no mathematical background, confirming the exotic character of the theory, Fritzsch settles for a simple application of the Pythagorean theorem. He has Newton, miraculously resuscitated in the story, reconstruct Einstein's approach, also back from the dead. He takes the example of a satellite orbiting earth and sending a light ray to it, all the while observed by a space ship. The light ray, seen from a stationary post, travels directly to earth, forming the perpendicular side of a right triangle. Seen from the perspective of the ship, both the satellite and earth travel a distance B in the time it takes the light ray to reach earth. Also, the same light ray is seen, from the ship, as crossing a distance equal to the hypotenuse of the triangle. The Pythagorean theorem allows us to very easily calculate the ration C/A, the distance traveled by the light ray according to the observer on the ship, and that of the same light ray according to a stationary observer. Nothing new so far.

Here is how it goes, without skipping any step to make it clear for everyone:

1) A²+B²=C². That is, the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides.
Carpenters very often use a 3-4-5 triangle to simplify their measurements. 3²+4²=5²; 9+16=25.

2) We divide everything by C, which gives us
 (A/C)²+(B/C)²=(C/C)², which gives us simply 
 (A/C)²+(B/C)²=(C/C)²= 1.
Why this division? It is a mathematical trick, to get a simple result, in this case 1, to make everything easier. We have now created a numerical value where there was none! Simple, but very powerful.

3) We can now find the (algebraic) value of A/C (distance traveled by the light ray as seen by a stationary observer, divided by the distance as seen by the moving observer):
 A/C = √(1-B²/C²). How did we get that? Simple, A²+B²=C² is the same as A² = C²-B². If we divide this last expression, C²-B², by C² we get 1-B²/C². Why did we do that? No reason really, except that it gives us a result which we desperately want. In other words, there is no mathematical of physical necessity to such a step, it just makes the argumentation easier. It is an interesting step in that it shows how important it is for a mathematician never to lose sight of what he wants to accomplish. The same value or equation can be expressed in many different forms, and not all forms help you get where you want. It is up to you to choose the most convenient path. Also do not forget that we need to get rid of the square in A² and C², and that is where the square root of the whole expression is coming from.
Notice that this result is exactly equivalent to that of Lorentz, and that is of course what we wanted! The contraction of the molecules can apparently be explained very simply by the ratio of two sides of a right triangle, the hypotenuse and its opposite side. 

4) Now we are ready for the finale. We need C/A, and not A/C. It becomes a simple inversion, and that gives us 
C/A = 1/√(1-B²/C²)

5) And voilà! Houston, we have our gamma factor! And we did not even need to know the velocity of either the light ray, the satellite, earth or the ship!

6) Note that this reasoning is valid for any velocity. It is therefore also valid in a Newtonian frame, even though the differences between the hypotenuse and the perpendicular will be so small as to be imperceptible, and therefore easily ignored.
What is important here is that we do not need any relativistic effects to explain the difference between the distance traveled by a light ray as seen by a stationary observer, and the same from the perspective of a moving observer. To be even more explicit: we do not need to assume any time dilation or space contraction, already Galileo could have obtained the same result in his analysis of the motion of the hammer dropped by the sailor.

Lorentz needed this ratio to justify the existence of the ether. Einstein needed it to justify his theory of the constancy of light. Time dilation  and space contraction do not logically follow from the analysis of motion of objects, they are added to the analysis for extraneous reasons. The gamma factor is independent of Relativity Theory! [No wonder it was calculated by Lorenz a few years before Einstein hijacked it for his own purposes. But since the original idea was Galileo's anyway, who is going to complain?]
That is certainly not the meaning of Douglas C. Giancoli in "Physics and Applications", (2014), who has no problem asserting: "This remarkable result is an inevitable outcome of the two postulates of the special theory of relativity." (p.772). 
And herein lies in a nutshell the core of the problem I have with Relativity fans. Not only are the postulates accepted at face value, they seem to justify everything Einstein says.
The constancy of the speed of light can be secured without having to appeal to such strange phenomena as time dilation and space contraction. All Einstein needed to do was to accept the fact that an object can (seem to) go faster than c when measured from a different frame, while it will always be less or equal to c when measured in the same frame it is actually moving in. Like the example of the sailor's hammer, a speed higher than c, attained by an object or a ray of light moving within a moving vessel, would have no physical impact whatsoever outside its own frame of reference.
In other words, accepting that objects in such situations can go faster than c would be physically neutral, and mathematically as justified.
It would also fit much better with the principle of relativity: the speed of light is constant in any reference frame, not between, and for that we do not need to leave the boundaries of logic and intuition.

Furthermore, all this only makes sense if we assume that it is legitimate to compare the motion of an object in two different reference frames, one being stationary, the other not.
Back then to Galileo. Does he have the right to consider the trajectory of the hammer dropped by the sailor as a parabola, while it is evident for everybody on the ship that it falls in a straight line to the deck? Where would Galileo get the right to do that? The description of the parabola would be completely gratuitous and arbitrary. The hammer can only interact with objects (arriving) on the ship, unless it leaves the ship altogether. The parabola fulfills therefore no physical function whatsoever, but merely represent a subjective view of the ship's world as seen from the shore.
Can we say the same about the light ray leaving earth for the satellite or inversely? Does Einstein have the right to consider the distance traversed by a light ray as longer when seen by a stationary observer? That would only make sense if the ray of light could be said to behave as an internal ray of light, that is, as Galileo's hammer. If, therefore, the ray of light leaving earth or the satellite would move in two directions at once, towards its objective, and also in the same direction as the earth or the satellite are moving. 
Imagine the sailor throwing his hammer over board. Would it describe a parabola for the people on the ship or those on the shore?
It is after all the same situation as the one in which the sailor is on top of the mast. We could now imagine the sailor holding his arm stretched over the railing, or even better, Elisabeth Swann holding the pirate medallion over the railing and threatening to let it go. Where would the medallion fall? Straight in the water, or would it describe a parabola first?
Remember our own pirate? What is the trajectory of his cannon balls? Does he have to angle the cannon, like the hit man had to angle his gun, or is it enough to start shooting a certain amount of time before his target is in line with the cannon? In both cases, we are dealing with a right triangle. If the parabola has any physical significance, the pirate will need to start firing at the beginning of the hypotenuse, and at a distance from the target equal to the base of the right triangle formed with the target. Without angling the cannon! Otherwise, because of the curved motion of the ball, it would miss its target. No, the cannon has to be kept straight. 
But what if the parabola has no physical significance? Then the pirate has only to take into consideration the time that he needs to give the command to his cannoneer, and the time the latter needs to execute the order. The ball has to leave the ship when the cannon mouth is in a straight line with the target, or a little time before that if the target is also moving. The small jerking motion of the bullet when it leaves the influence of the ship into the free air can easily be discarded.

We have therefore a very easy way of confirming, or infirming, Relativity Theory. If it is possible to shoot a target from a moving vehicle without having to take into account a paraboloid motion, but just by anticipating the right moment to fire straight at the target, then we would know for sure that all relativistic descriptions are simply worthless. They may be mathematically correct, but remain void of any physical relevance.
By the way, (pirate) vessels were built in such a way that (the heavy) cannons could not be moved around to follow the target, like it can be done with a handgun. So we already know the answer, don't we?

The idea of a hit man was not so useless after all!

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Rise and Fall of the Muon Empire (2): Turmoil at the Outer Borders
The way the muon problem is presented is sometimes very different from one textbook to the other. The different versions allow us to get a grip on an apparent paradox that only Relativity is then able to solve.
The first version has to do with distance. Let us call it the natural version since it involves observing muons entering the atmosphere and decaying after having reached a certain distance. This distance is much higher than expected. With the average decay rate on earth a muon should enter the atmosphere no deeper than, say, 600 m. They appear to reach much lower altitudes and therefore travel much longer. Applying the gamma factor to the 600 m we get something like 4800 m. And that is also the distance observed in real life. This longer distance can, according to scientists, only be explained by allowing them a much longer lifetime, the normal 2.2 microseconds multiplied by the gamma factor, which gives us 16 microseconds.
The second version is the laboratory Version. Muons are brought to a high speed close to that of light, and the results appear to be the same as that of the natural occurrences. The same explanation can be applied and Relativity Theory is again confirmed.
In short, muons, because they are moving at a speed close to that of light, experience a time dilation. Their clock being slower they can travel much farther in a same amount of time.
Do you feel already a little uncertain? And well you should, after all it is not given to everybody to understand Relativity. Remember what Eddington said when a journalist asked him how it felt to be one of the three persons that understood Relativity? He couldn't for the life of him come up with the third name besides Einstein and himself! So don't feel too bad, you are in good company. You are perfectly normal.
This example is usually compared to that of Stanley and Mavis, where Mavis sees a light ray going up and down, while Stanley sees it moving a much larger distance. I find it a very bad comparison because Stanley has nothing to compare the distance traveled by the train with. We would need... No, no way. I won't even try. It is already confusing enough as it is. Let me take the example of the twins instead, Muone and Muona. Muone (ends with e just like Earth starts with e) stays home and dies a swift death, while Muona (a of astronaut) lived happily ever after. Well, kind of.
Let us take a God's view allowing us to look neutrally at both twins. After all, that is what Einstein is doing also, otherwise he would only be able to speak on behalf of one side, for ever.
Normally, our traveling twin should have covered a much shorter distance before expiring. But shorter compared to what? To the distance that her brother would have covered in the same time? But it is not the same time. Isn't one second for her shorter than one second for Muone, And aren't her measuring rods also shorter?
So, either you calculate Muona's lifetime with the units that are available to her, or you use her brother's. And if you do, there is no reason to grant her a longer life. She only lives longer if you count her decay rate in shortened seconds. The same way, the distance covered only looks longer when measured in shortened meters.
But, would the fans object, that is not what is happening! Sinful Muona (she is after all a falling particle), is traveling a longer distance as measured by God and country. In other words, the meters used to measure her trip are longer than the ones she uses while traveling at almost the speed of light. The same holds for her rate of decay. It is measured by us, just like God would have done.

So, what does that tell us really? Certainly nothing about the moving frame of reference, since all our calculations are done from the outside. We calculate the lifetime of a stationary muon, and then that of a moving one, to finally try to understand the change in decay rate. We will of course assume that there is in fact a change in decay rate. 
The only obvious difference between both situations is that one time muons are moving very fast, the other time they are stationary. Relativity explains that by time dilation. We have no way of proving that such a phenomenon exist. If we do not believe in such a possibility then we need an alternative explanation. That is the dilemma facing all skeptics. Is there hope for them, and for me?

One external factor we have to work with is distance. What is worth noting is that we have no way of defining the distance that a stationary muon would travel during its lifetime, simply because it is not moving at all. All we have is the decay time.
For moving muons we have not only the decay time, but the distance traveled. We think we can compare both decay times, (which we can't, as I hope to show shortly), but what about the distance?
The solution is to assume, in a reductio kind of way, that Relativity is false and compute the distance a muon would normally cross at the same velocity but without time dilation. It is a simple application of the equation distance=velocity/time. In fact, we do not even need to look further than the factor time, since in this view it expresses perfectly the rate of decay.
Or so, it would seem.
After all, we still have no explanation for the normal decay rate. What makes muons decay? And why does it take so long (or so little time)? Unless we do, we have no right to assume that it is the motion of the muons that creates a difference. Maybe electromagnetic factors play a role which are present both in the natural and the laboratory version. In which case, Time Dilation would be a non-issue.

Let us seen how far we can get in our search for an alternative explanation.

We have two equations (d is distance, v velocity and t time):

1) d1/v1=t1 for stationary muons
2) d2/v2=t2  for moving muons.

The problem is the first equation: for a stationary muon the equation is undefined since v1=0. We have therefore to assume a fictive value, the distance that a muon would travel without time dilation effects. To show that the solution found in all textbooks is not evident at all, let us express the lifetime of a muon in heartbeats (of the muon itself, not of the observer!), set it to 1000, and assume that

3) d1/v1= 1000 heartbeats ( or the electromagnetic equivalent).

What would equation (2) look like, expressed in heartbeats?

4) d2/v2= γ(1000) beats?

What if it were simply

5) d2/v2= 1000 heartbeats?

In such a case the muon would, with the same number of heartbeats, cover a much longer distance in the same amount of time. After all, we have no idea what the lifetime of a muon means, only how long it lasts in microseconds in each situation. And that is not the same, since the lifetime in microseconds of a moving muon does not necessarily mean a greater number of heartbeats.
Isn't that a form of time dilation, but then relative to an internal clock? Yes, if this analysis were correct. But, by the same token, it could be the other way around, and speed could mean that the number of heartbeats is raised, and therefore the longevity also.
In both cases, we would not need a metaphysical change in the time flow which only makes sense if such a time flow can be considered as an objective phenomenon. Time could remain a conventional means of measurement of fundamental physical processes, instead of functioning as a closet-Newtonian concept.
Remember, the distance a stationary muon would cover is a fictive value. It is the result of an extrapolation which we have no way of examining. To assume that it would give a lower value than that given by a moving muon according to Relativity is to assume that which has to be proven.

Just to be clear. I certainly do not pretend that my analysis of the decay rate of muons is correct. That is an empirical matter that can only be determined by physicists. Nevertheless, I think I have shown that the relativistic interpretation of this phenomenon is certainly biased, and that therefore muon decay cannot be automatically taken as a confirmation of relativity theory.
In fact, the decay rate of moving muons can only be considered as a confirmation of Relativity if we already believe in this theory. A self-fulfilling prophecy indeed.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Meaning of Acceleration
We have no problem believing that a moving vehicle or vessel is stationary until it starts accelerating (gaining or losing speed, changing direction). Then we realize that we have been moving all the time, literally transported by our vehicle.
At that moment of acceleration we are as it were thrown back on earth with the velocity of the vehicle. Tragic cases of passengers flying through the windshield are the sad but perfect example.
The event is understandable if we consider that we were moving relative to earth, and that the change in velocity of the vehicle could not be passed on to us immediately. That is why cars and planes, however smooth their engines, experience vibrations of their different parts which are adjusting to the new speed one (group) after the other.
What would happen in "absolute" empty space? Would acceleration have the same consequences on objects or persons being transported at high velocities by a space ship? But that would mean that they then should be considered as also moving relative to space! That would breathe new life in the ether's concept.
Maybe the concept of inertia is enough to dispel such a possibility. A passenger would keep moving forward when the ship decelerates until his body catches up with the new speed. The speed of information, in this case, the change of velocity, can never be instantaneous, can it?
Let us take another example.
We have two points attached to each other and they are therefore, after an initial jerk whereby the first one pulls the second point along, moving at the same speed.
About that initial jerking movement. Why did that happen again? Inertia, right. In empty space? How are we supposed to understand that? When applied to objects on earth we are dealing with gravity and friction, both absent or at least negligible, or so the the theory goes, away from everything. The object would have to create its own resistance, because of its mass. It should therefore be more difficult to change the direction of a massive object than of a puny one. Just like on Earth. Of course a massive object creates its own gravitational field and would attract/pull the "pusher" instead of just reacting to the push.
That sounds like a good explanation to me. The passenger on the spaceship is subject to gravitational forces created by the motion of the ship. When the ship accelerates, the change is not instantaneous, and therefore the passenger, just like anybody on a train or a car, keeps moving forward until stopped by another object.
The passenger is therefore moving relative to the ship, and not relative to a hypothetical ether.
But what if the vessel and the passenger have the same mass? Something like an escape pod for one. If the passenger still moves forward when the pod decelerates, what would that mean?
Let us go back to the points attached to each other, maybe that will make the problem easier to analyze.
Let us say the Siamese points approach a denser medium in such a way that one point is hindered by the medium while the one above it is not. We can even imagine that it is one and the same object which collides with the medium halfway. Like wanting to jump a wall and not quite making it. In this case the speed of information would seem to be irrelevant. The lower part, unable to follow immediately the upper part would make it over the wall with a delay because it has to climb over it first.
That still does not solve our problem. A wall is a compact obstacle, while acceleration is much more elusive. Assuming that one part of the body is moving faster than the other part is exactly what we wish to explain. Why does that happen? Why does not the whole object stop instead of tumbling about its axis? 
We can equate deceleration with colliding with a more or less elastic object. The distinction we make about the vessel and the passenger is an anthropomorphic bias. As far as Physics are concerned, the passenger is a bundle of atoms just like the vessel. Since not all atoms are as strongly anchored to each other, they will react differently to a collision or acceleration.
That must be it. Except that it would change the way we look at acceleration on Earth, if that were true. 
Stragglers are always moving in the previous direction the forward atoms were moving in.
That, apparently, does not prevent trains from derailing. Or maybe that is why they can be derailed. I would assume that if the locomotive can take the curve, the rest would follow with no problem, unless they are made of lesser material, or the information does not reach them on time. [I am using the term information because it is verbally convenient. I certainly wouldn't want to suggest that we need Shannon to explain to us why trains get derailed. In fact, I would think it is the other way around. Understanding what makes trains derail would help us understand information theory better.]
This brings us to a seemingly different question, even if still closely related to our subject.
Why is there a limit to the speed an object can have in changing direction? Again, inertia. Good, we have given a name to the problem, now all we need to do is solve it.
Doesn't that mean by the way that particles in a linear accelerator would go much faster than the same kind of particles in a circular one? Imagine such a linear accelerator of infinite length. What could then stop the particles from going faster than c when they are already approaching c in an accelerator with a radius of just a few kilometers? Let us put this point aside for the moment.
Back to the previous question, the one leading to derailment. It is easier to take a large turn than a sharp one. Why is that? Why can't a speeding car take a 90º turn without tumbling about? We have seen that in a cyclotron higher speeds mean larger orbits. Talking about energy wouldn't be much help, we would just exchange one mystery for the other.
Let us play a computer game. A very simple one I'm afraid. I remember one of the first "apps" I had ever programmed myself. It consisted in a simple pixel moving in a horizontal line on my monochromatic 12" screen, on a very modern pc running at 4,7 MHz. Making the pixel suddenly change direction, let us say move vertically, would not have been very difficult. In fact, as far as the computer was concerned, it would take as many cycles to execute any of the (group of) instructions. Nature apparently does not work that way. She needs more "cycles" to have an object moving in a straight line, and suddenly change direction. She also needs more juice to do that.
Why? I know, science only cares about the how, or at least that's what everybody wants us to believe. In fact, scientists usually have already answered the why for themselves and therefore do not think that it is still relevant to the discussion. So, I will ask again. Why? Why should it be more difficult to make a sharp turn at high than at low velocities? It would be very tempting to speak of resistance. But what is doing the resisting? A kind of ether? How would that be a solution? We would still have to answer the same question: why is changing direction so difficult?
A particle has to move from one position to the other, followed by all other particles being part of the same atom. Instead of a train, we have a merry-go-round we want to move from one place to the other, without stopping it from rotating first. Certainly no easy matter, but why should it be more difficult to move it in one direction than the other? I have no idea, and I do not think our revered scientists have an answer either.
Here is a very speculative answer, just to give you an appetite. Imagine each particle, however small, is carried by a piece of the ether. Except, this ether of mine is not like a medium, everywhere present, but only there where there is matter. So, we have simply transfered the difficulty to this ether. It's his fault that particles do not want to change direction without a fight! Let's banish this ether once and for all! He is stealing our bread and seducing our women! Death to the ether! 
But whom shall we blame after he is gone? No, I don't want the ether back. I am just saying that it is not that simple. 
What about space? We could blame space, couldn't we? Hang space! I always knew he was a no good! Cut his ugly head!
Oh, I give up. You guys are so unreasonable. There is no talking to you.
Okay, one last time. Space curvature explains why a body would fall prey to gravity, but it would not explain why changing direction in the absence of massive objects should be an issue. What do you mean, maybe it isn't? Do you mean what I think you mean? That an object, away from any other massive body would have no problem changing abruptly its direction, even at very high speed?
That would certainly solve our problem. But how would that work?
When an object is moving in a straight line, according to Newton, no force is necessary to keep it moving, only to change its velocity. But that is where the troubles start. If the only force present is the one needed for a change of direction, then it shouldn't be any problem. So, maybe any object in the vicinity of other objects is subject to all kind of forces that sum up to an inertial field. Yes! That's it. It's gotta be it! In empty space there is no inertial field, therefore an object, or at least a particle, would be able to make a 90º or even a volte-face or turn-about, go in the opposite direction without stopping first. Just like my ancient computer pixel!
But is that true? How would I know? I have never been in outer space where no massive objects are present. I do not think such a place, if it even exists, has ever been observed by Hubble or any other human-made device.
The practical use of such a knowledge, if it can be called that, is highly questionable. Still, if it is true then it is an important piece of information.
For one, the fact that relative motion does not depend on another reference frame. To go back to our first example of an accelerating vehicle, the passenger does not keep moving forward because he is moving relative to earth, but relative to his vehicle. It keeps the idea intact that motions in a frame are physically neutral when considered from another frame. The passenger crashing to the windshield notwithstanding. He is leaving one reference frame and entering, rather brutally, another. Just like jumping from a moving train or sailing ship.
For two, spaceships away from massive stars should be more easily handled even at high speeds. But that's for later generations to worry about.
For three... I'll have to get back to you on that one. I think I'm going to take a nap first.

George: you do that, old man.
me: who you calling old? You can remember the Neanderthals!
George (sigh): it still feels like yesterday! But then, looking at you, nothing much has changed!
me: humph! And I know now what I wanted to say.
You: for three? For real?
me:  yes, for three. And of course for real. Oh wait. I forgot again.
George: ha!

It's because it is so difficult to remember the Nothing. If there is no ether, and no space, one direction is as good as another, and there is no reason for an object, except for the conditions it creates by its own presence, not to be able to change direction at any moment, and at any angle. These auto-generated conditions could put a serious limitation on the maneuverability of objects in empty space, but I will leave that to the experts to investigate further.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
From F=ma to ma=mg
The Newtonian formulas for gravity are sometimes used to justify the fact that gravity works the same for all objects, regardless of their mass. 
Here is the mathematical reasoning:

1) F    = ma
2) ma = mg 
3) F    = GMm/R²
4) ma = GMm/R²
5) a    = GM/R² = g

This way the mass of the objects being pulled by the earth becomes irrelevant.
Is that a valid reasoning?
In (1), F is a force while ma is the quantity attributed to that force. But neither m, mass, nor a, acceleration, can be considered as a force. So what does (2) mean? Both the quantities are equal. Here is the big question: is g a force? That would be quite strange, because that would mean that we have two forces of gravitation, g, and G. Or maybe even three, if we count F as we should.
In fact, only F can be considered as a force, G and g being the values F can have depending on our perspective.
(2) would therefore be the same as

20) 4 times 9 = 4 times 3². 

Which would be of course right. We would be then justified in positing

21) 9 = 3²

We have gotten rid of the value of the mass. But did we get rid of the mass itself? Did we explain why gravity works the same for all masses? Or did we just express mathematically what we had found out empirically? The values of all factors concerned, m, a, g, G and R, are all empirical. It is therefore not surprising that our calculations give the same result we had already established empirically. Otherwise we would have had serious reasons to doubt the validity of these calculations.
But now, this mathematical reasoning is getting a life of its own. It seems to sanctify our empirical experience with the blessing of mathematical logic. More importantly, it reinforces us in our false conviction that we have found the ultimate reason behind the workings of gravity. In fact, all we have done is express an empirical fact mathematically, without explaining it any further. Newtonians still owe us an explanation as to why gravity does not care about the mass of an object. Empiricists might not be interested in this why question, but it is certainly a fundamental one for cosmologists.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Mystery of Gravity: Information in the Cloud
What if gravity and the electromagnetic force (EM) were actually one and the same thing? Gravity is said to be always attractive,  but how do we know that? After all, we do not know of any massive object that would be negatively or positively charged. If, starting from a certain size, all objects become electrically neutral, then they will always fall under what we call gravity.
Take hot and cold air. It is funny how the explanations, at least on the Internet, all make beautiful Aristotelian sense: hot air rises because it has less density, while cold air has more density. More density means more weight, and therefore cold air falls down, pushing hot air up.
But didn't gravity work the same for all objects, irrespective of their masses? So there is no reason for cold air to fall any faster that hot air. Also, if you throw a load full of heavy objects on lighter objects, the latter will just get buried under the heavier ones.
But then, we have the example of water where less dense objects float while denser one sink. The principle of buoyancy would seem to apply not only to water but also to air.
Also, our every day experiences do suggest such an explanation. After all, boiling water produces steam which definitely floats in the air, and only falls back down once it has cooled enough.
All in all, this does not seem to have to do much with gravity. Except of course that all these processes are allowed by gravity.
Buoyancy seems to be a force on its own, opposite to gravity, of which it can also apparently easily win. Which is a good thing since otherwise birds would not be able to fly and we wouldn't have planes. That does not mean that these familiar processes do not need a more elaborate explanation.
Why buoyancy? Pressure is not an explanation but the description, however abstract, of what we can experience directly: less dense objects tend to float in the air or water, and heavier ones to sink to the ground. By calling this phenomenon by its own name, pressure, we indicate that it has to be distinguished from gravity.
It would be of course very difficult to claim that less dense objects become somehow electrically charged, and are therefore repelled by the mass of the earth. On the other hand, it would help us get rid of a very annoying concept for which we cannot seem to find an acceptable explanation. Equating gravity with the EM force would be a very welcome solution to many problems. As it would, I am sure, create many others.
The meaning of these lines lies not in the validity of the claim, but in the possibility of an alternative explanation. We do not necessarily have to consider gravity as distinct from EM. Maybe it is just a matter of the right definition of both forces.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Mystery of Gravity (3): Kepler's problem
Let us forget all the beautiful formulas for a while, and concentrate on the phenomenology of orbits and gravity.
Orbits are elliptical. No need to argue about that. But what about the explanation given? The model, as I have noted previously, is that of a sling or a weight attached to a rope being rotated uniformly.
The problem with such a model is that it is more Copernican than Newtonian. The motion described is perfectly circular while orbits are, once again, elliptical.
A perfectly circular orbit would by the way make much more sense logically. Here is why.
In an elliptical orbit, the satellite gets first further and further from Earth, and then starts approaching earth again, describing what we see as an ellipse.
My question is: what makes it come back? 
Gravity is supposed to diminish by the square of the distance, so Earth would have no way of recalling an object to a nearer distance, while the straight line dictated by inertia should get the satellite even farther away from Earth. There is therefore no reason for the satellite to finish its orbit, or for the moon to keep rotating around earth, or earth around the sun...  But they all do. Something is not right here, and it is called gravity.
Let us remember that the elliptical orbit is an empirical fact born out of the tedious and meticulous observations of Tycho Brahe who himself thought that the heavenly bodies were moved by an internal force, or pushed by it as it were. Newton externalized this force in the form we know as gravity. He also offered a geometrical explanation of this phenomenon, using his own calculus or fluxions.
Observations came first, mathematics later. 
It happens that the elliptical orbit can be easily explained by the existence of two foci. If you take a string with both ends attached, and put the string over two nails driven on a board a certain distance from each other, and around a pencil, you will be able to draw an eliptical shape containing both nails, and the total distance from one nail to any point, plus the distance from the other nail to any other point on the ellipse, will be constant. Which is not surprising really, since it is the same string we are using each time. Newton, just like Kepler, was probably inspired by this fact when he built his geometrical model. The area described by the motion of the earth around the sun remains constant all along its orbit.
This image is not really helpful though. Where would we get our second focus when dealing with suns, planets and satellites? That is where mathematical imagination comes to the rescue. Turn the second focus into an abstract point, or, if dealing with big objects, put it in the object itself, making the latter the carrier of two foci, the center of gravity being one of the two.
Our string drawing an ellipse was constrained by two very real nails, and the ellipse therefore was seen as the direct result of the pen's motion under those conditions. This seems quite natural to us, just like we are not surprised when our compass draws a perfect circle on paper. But imagine drawing an ellipse with a single nail, and hearing from mathematicians that it is completely understandable. After all, the fact that the second nail was an abstract nail should not be problem, we just have to look over the fact that it is not really there, in the flesh as it were.
It becomes even more surprising when we are shown two objects rotating elliptically around such a non-existent center, while at the same time describing each it own elipsis.
Here is a very appropriate quote by Kepler: "A mathematical point, whether or not it is the centre of the world, can neither effect the motion of heavy bodies nor act as an object towards which they tend. Let the physicists prove that this force is in a point which neither is a body nor is grasped otherwise than through mere relation." Johannes Kepler "New Astronomy", p.54)
If Kepler had wanted to be consistent, he would have asked himself what physical part played the role of the second focus. Apparently he did not, and in fact Newton didn't either. Even better, nobody until now, as far as I know, has ever stood still by the question what this second focus could be.
I see two reasons for that. First, Newton did a great job in interpreting mathematically Kepler's results. And that seemed enough to justify this approach. Second, the principle of the conservation of energy was introduced, as conservation of momentum in the Principia, later in its more general form of the First Law of Thermodynamics.
Suddenly, the fact that orbiting planets returned to their source was not strange anymore. Unless a satellite reached a certain speed, the escape velocity, it would always come back to its origin. Which was exactly what we could see happening in the sky. Even comets with incredibly large orbits, like comet Haley, return periodically back to the vicinity of the Earth.

I must admit that I find the argumentation still not really convincing. First we learn that the horizontal and the vertical components of motion are independent of each other: the sun attracts more strongly earth when both are close to each other, making it fall faster toward the sun, without changing its horizontal speed. At least, that is what is supposed to happen. But Kepler and Newton teach us that earth at that moment is moving faster than before. In fact, because it is covering the same area at any moment in time, it has to move faster when close to the sun because of the elongated shape of the area in those moments. This is in complete accordance with the idea of the speed of the pen, and the shape of the string as shown by an ellipse with two nails or foci.
But where is the second focus? Without it logic is gone and all we have is a very rational principle that seems to be magically invoked to make the whole more palatable. What makes orbits fall under the group of conservative motions even without a second focus to explain not only the difference in speed, but also the fact that a satellite always resumes its orbit?
No reason is given, or at least, I could find none. We are expected to be satisfied with the blind application of Newton's mathematical description and the First Law of Thermodynamics.
We certainly could do worse since after all they seem to do a very good job at predicting orbits and other physical processes on earth and in space. But then, Ptolemy's astronomy did also a very good job for more than 15 centuries.

Dark Matter Matters
Dark matter would be an ideal candidate for the second focus. Unluckily for us, it seems that there is none to find within the solar system, since it is said to be concentrated mostly around galaxies or cluster of galaxies. Which is too bad. I find the idea suspiciously like that of an improved ether, but it would have presented a rational alternative to the problem of the second focus.
Who knows, maybe physicists will come up with an even more extraordinary invention in the years to come. After all, imagination has never been more appreciated as since Einstein.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Einstein and Gps (3)

The web site, recently updated, states the following:
"The combination of these two relativistic effects means that the clocks on-board each satellite should tick faster than identical clocks on the ground by about 38 microseconds per day (45-7=38)! This sounds small, but the high-precision required of the GPS system requires nanosecond accuracy, and 38 microseconds is 38,000 nanoseconds. If these effects were not properly taken into account, a navigational fix based on the GPS constellation would be false after only 2 minutes, and errors in global positions would continue to accumulate at a rate of about 10 kilometers each day!"

This is quite different from I had claimed, that the difference between earth-bound and satellites clock was a one-time affair. So apparently, I was wrong. But in what way? here is another quote from the same page:
"The engineers who designed the GPS system included these relativistic effects when they designed and deployed the system. For example, to counteract the General Relativistic effect once on orbit, they slowed down the ticking frequency of the atomic clocks before they were launched so that once they were in their proper orbit stations their clocks would appear to tick at the correct rate as compared to the reference atomic clocks at the GPS ground stations."
How are we to understand that? After all, this sounds more like a regular difference between clocks, and therefore a one-time deal. Set the satellite clocks lower, and you are done, at least for this part of the operation.
Here is my problem. Why would those slower clocks not get slowed down again once they are in orbit? In other words, what is the use of slowing them on earth? Assuming this is not a completely useless operation then I have to conclude that the relativistic effects have nothing to do with gravity, and that time dilation effects can be anticipated and taken into account.
Very strange indeed. Why do I have the impressions that the engineers started from the idea that Relativity Theory was correct, and built the whole system around this assumption?
Still, the question has to be asked: how well do these engineers understand Relativity Theory? But then, a better question should be: how reliable is this website?
Navigation systems are either military, or proprietary, and so information is not always publicly available. It would not serve any purpose to advocate some obscure conspiracy theory since, by definition, we wouldn't know whether that was the case or not, so let us just assume that the information on this website, from a known university, is reliable enough for our purpose. And that indeed, satellites clocks are made to run slower than earth clocks.
Paradoxically, the given solution would prove the theory wrong. Once again, if the relativistic effects were real, it would not help to make the clocks slower or faster beforehand. On the contrary, it would make the problem only worse. Since not only it does not, but it seems to work out real well, then I must conclude that the difference is a one time affair, and cannot therefore be attributed to time dilation.

Unless of course they have figured it out all wrong out there in Ohio.
Of course, I might be the one who's got it completely wrong.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Physical and Metaphysical Meaning of Time Dilation

Let us start first with the Physical Meaning
Clocks belong to the family of oscillating objects which we can use to measure time. Time itself is a complex concept that has divided thinkers since the beginnings of... Time.
Clocks do not necessarily need to be considered as instruments of time measurement. A mechanical clock for instance works by virtue of its different wheels, each having a different diameter and a different number of teeth. The fact that we use those mechanical properties to measure time will be considered, for now  at least, as irrelevant.
What does time dilation mean for such a device? We would need for that to go back to Lorentz' idea that matter contracts in the direction of motion. Applied to our mechanical device, that would mean that, although the number of teeth of each wheel remains the same, the rotation speed of each wheel will be less. How can we make that possible? 
Remember, the end result has to be that the hands of the clock move more slowly relative to a stationary clock. 
To achieve this result we can make all wheels turn more slowly either by putting larger distances between the teeth, which would be contrary to the assumption of contraction, or having the spring that moves the wheels uncoil more slowly.
It would seem that the role of the wheels is somehow irrelevant. It all comes down to the spring.
We need therefore to explain how space contraction influences the functioning of the spring in such a way that the hands of the clock will turn more slowly.
Let us shrink the molecules of the spring by a factor gamma. Maybe that will be sufficient to lower the uncoiling speed of the spring, and this way give the desired result. [Notice the unavoidable circularity of the argument: speed is distance/time.]
But what happens if the whole clock is shrunk by the same factor? Wouldn't it be a simple case of miniaturization with no effect whatsoever on the proper function of the device? 
Maybe an atomic clock would be more helpful. Instead of a spring, we have atomic oscillations that are translated electro-mechanically.
Shrinking the whole device will not necessarily influence the number of oscillations in a given time [there it goes again!]. In fact, they could take place completely independently from each other. Electrons could shrink the distance between them and the nucleus without necessarily changing their speed, and photons or other particles could be radiated at a different rate. There is only one condition: the changes must not be proportional to each other, otherwise we would be confronted with the same situation as with the mechanical clock. The changes will all cancel out and there will be no net change in the speed of the clock.
But how can we do that? How can we apply space contraction in such a selective manner?
Well, space contraction is already selective in that it it is supposed to shrink objects only in the direction of the motion. So, maybe if our devices were so constructed that some parts came under the influence of space contraction, while others did not, we could have a selective effect on the speed of the clock. I honestly wouldn't know how to build such a device, but then I wouldn't know how to build a "normal" device either.

The only way we can say that time in a moving vessel flows differently from time on earth is in fact by applying double standards: we measure time with two clocks at the same location, one subject to relativistic effects while the other is not. We imagine that matter and distances are contracted, but we measure them with our non-contracted instruments.

But what about the fact that atomic clocks which have been on a fast moving plane give another time that clocks that have remained stationary? I have already indicated that this could be interpreted differently once we reject the hypothesis of time dilation. But to tell you the truth, I cannot explain this difference. That does not mean that Relativity Theory can.

About the Metaphysical Meaning of Time. Well, I do not believe in an Absolute Time, as Newton honestly does, and Einstein in a very sneaky way. So I find it very difficult to accept the idea that something that does not really exist can be dilated. Let us leave it at that.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Light and Knowledge
Allow me to to look at the relation in a rather ahistorical manner, and concentrate on the developments since the advent of Relativity and Quantum theories.
Light, in Einstein's system, is not only a physical constant, it the the privileged means of measure of Time and Space. Without the constancy of light speed there would be no Relativity theory. Why? What makes light so special in the universe?
I had, very superficially, broached the subject of other beings not dotted with vision, and asked myself if they would develop the same Physics as we have. My preliminary conclusion was that there was no reason why they should not.
Still, we must not ignore the role that light plays in how we consider reality. We cannot take the perspective of a blind observer because he will have been brought up in a visual culture. Such a position would be therefore far from comparable to other beings for whom light would simply be some form of electromagnetic waves not different in status from ultra-red, ultra-violet, Rontgen or gamma rays.
Would such a species discover the equivalent of Heisenberg's principle? Would they worry about the fact that to be able to observe a particle a photon must be used that would inevitably influence the object of research?
You would think that whatever their Physics, these aliens would stumble upon the (theoretical) limit of their instruments, and therefore of their (technical) knowledge. But then, imagine them dotted with a specific perception organ that enables them to feel electromagnetic waves, including gravity, the way we see objects. Vision, unless you are Schroedinger's cat, is not obtrusive, and looks neither kill adversaries nor impregnate women, whatever the (unspoken) wishes of male beholders. Likewise, such an organ would not have to change anything to the speed or direction of the particle observed.
But then, if such a species could exist, why couldn't we emulate their perception apparatus, the way we emulate bats and other animals with our sonars?
A device that would be able to sense EM waves would not be subject to the limitations known under Relativity or Quantum theory. More importantly, it would make knowledge completely independent of Light as a carrier of information.
I wonder what concept of Time such beings would develop? Could we then still speak of the finite speed of information? What would it mean to be submersed in a sea of EM fields? Would they feel the pull of the moon and the distant galaxies just by "looking" at them? Would they feel the difference between their attraction power the way we see that one star is brighter than the other? How far would such an electro-magnetic organ reach? As far as gravity itself does?
Compared to us, such beings would be like gods, but then, is it not a little the position of people with a functional sight relative to the (nearly) blind? Since nobody nowadays would agree to such a qualification, why think of those aliens as possessing divine powers? Who knows what wondrous devices humans will be able to invent if they survive a few million years longer?
Of course, even an EM organ would have its limitations. Existing fields would be felt as "instantly" as we see objects all around us. But changes to these fields by the actions of other objects or beings would be propagated with a finite speed, the equivalent of "our" speed of light. There is therefore no reason to deify such beings.
But what about Time as we know it? Would Einstein's conception make any sense to those aliens? Would they have the equivalent of a Twin Paradox? How would that work for them?
Let us imagine that Mavis and Stanley, whose real names would be unpronounceable, are in fact such aliens.
Stanley "looks" at the ray of light on the passing ship, for him and Mavis a regular electromagnetic phenomenon, and what does he "see"?
Well, we can assume that he will feel the passage of the ship, the motion of the beam, and the (EM?) field emanating from Mavis. But would he have any reason to attribute to the ray a special status apart from the other objects on the ship, including Mavis?
Why would he do that? They are all moving at the same velocity relative to him. If at that moment Mavis dropped her pen, it would describe the same horizontal trajectory as the beam. In fact, the pen would be as fast as the light beam in their common direction.
I really could not imagine for the life of me why Stanley would ever think that Mavis would come back younger than him. The Twin Paradox, it would seem, would not make any sense to our alien friends.
Why would it make sense to us then? Because we can see the light?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Sound and Knowledge
Let me start with a preposterous question. Does Sound exist?

George: sure, why not. While you're at it, why not ask if I exist?
me: all the time.
You: what about me? Do I exist?
me: I hope you do, kid.
You: Oh, I'm sure I exist.
George (falsely uninterested): why is that?
You: People who don't exist don't watch television. I watch television, therefore I am.
George: lol... I'm gonna watch Angel.
You: can we watch Buffy instead? I think she's hot.

[One thing for sure. Vampires exist. Ask Blade.]

Think about it. How do we know sound exists? All our devices need air to register and emit sound. What about all those cosmic events our satellites and space telescope observe? Shouldn't we hear at least some faint echo of them? Maybe the so-called big-bang background echo is just that, the remnants of all those cosmic events. That does not prove the existence of Sound. We wouldn't hear it if we did not filter it through human devices. It would of course concern moving particles that can vibrate the membrane of a microphone the way air molecules move our ear drums. But do we need to postulate the existence of an extra physical process to explain hearing? I think air does suffice.

Back to the title. How does that affect our view of (human) knowledge if not only light, but also sound are anthropomorphic, or at least, biological, factors that do not necessarily point at fundamental properties of (inanimate) matter?
This view would make the Doppler effect much more comprehensible. Sound is then nothing else but the vibration of air molecules, and we know for sure that air moves. We would be rid of the puzzle how sound waves can be compressed or elongated since we already know that air itself is easily compressible and that it also can expand. [see ]
The difference between light and sound is, among others, the fact that we can distinguish between different forms of waves and radiation, and maybe more importantly in this context, that those waves do not need us to exist like sound does. The same way, radiation can be lethal exactly when we are not aware of its presence. The way some waves appear to us in the form of light is definitely a biological fact, but it still points at an objective phenomenon. In the case of sound, the only objective phenomenon we can point at is the medium itself. The rest, Sound, seems to be the product of a fertile scientific imagination. Maybe it belongs with the ether and the phlogiston.

What I find particularly exciting is the fact that we do not even need to postulate the existence of an alien species to get rid of Sound as a physical factor. Another major difference with Light.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Physical and Metaphysical Meaning of Time Dilation (2)
Walter Levin, in his courses, available on Utube, and in "for the Love of Physics", (in collaboration with Warren Goldstein), presents, in his enjoyable way, a test which, he says, goes back to his grandmother: objects are longer in the horizontal position than in the vertical. He starts with an aluminum bar which he indeed shows to be shorter by a small amount, a couple of millimeters, when laid down flat, than when measured standing.
It seems like the perfect illustration to Lorentz' idea that objects can change dimensions in one direction and not the other. The problem of course, is that this change is independent of motion, and is therefore not really usable for Relativity Theory. It does not seem by the way to ever be mentioned in the same breath as Einstein. 
Could we apply grandma's principle to clocks? Could such a clock, if laid down on its back, somehow expand in one dimension and not others? If that is the case, we would understand that it could run more slowly when set straight up, even if we cannot explain it in detail. It would be a direct effect of gravity, and no relativistic factors need be invoked.
It would be therefore quite plausible if motion did exacerbate such an effect, with as a result that a clock, after having been moved around on a plane, seems to have lost a few nanoseconds on its stationary counterpart.
But how could Einstein have made such precise predictions? That I do not know. What I do know is that many of his arguments are somehow based on the Pythagorean theorem, a ubiquitous principle that shows up in almost every mathematical calculations of physical processes.
If we then remember Kepler's analysis of the Ptolemaic and Copernican models, which shows that they are practically equivalent in many of their predictions, then the idea that Relativity Theory could very well have it right in quite a few points, does not necessarily mean that it is correct over the whole line.
That is of course a very weak argument. As long as Relativity Theory does such a good job on predictions, then it would be foolish to reject it on metaphysical and abstract grounds.
At the same time, it would also be foolish to ignore all the logical and metaphysical inconsistencies of the theory on the simple ground of its efficiency. As I said before, the fact that Ptolemy's astronomy was the dominant theory for so long was not really surprising. There were after all no contenders, and even Copernicus' approach was not without its weak points, which explains that it did not conquer the majority of the scientific minds right away.
I must admit to a certain embarrassment when I read of other critical literature about Relativity. I still have to find convincing arguments in them why the theory should be rejected. Which means I'm afraid, that I have to come up with my own justifications. 
That is the purpose of all my posts on the subject, and I realize that it is a work in progress. 

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Mystery of Parallax and Astronomy
[I was inspired to this post by the following books:
- Alan W. Hirshfeld "Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos", 2002.
- Andrea Wulfe "Chasing Venus : The Race to Measure the Heavens", 2013.]

The idea of stereopsis is still firmly anchored in the minds of psychologists and physicists alike, even though it is quite an implausible theory. It is based on the conviction that the brain is able to compute the distance between the body and the object based on the position of the eyes in their orbit. Somehow, information about the extent to which the muscles of each eye are strained is passed on to the brain which magically can determine the distance of an object, if not numerically, at least relatively to other objects. This is the basis of what is called depth-perception, and it is supposed to be a characteristic of binocular vision. Birds for instance are believed to have developed their own strategies to compensate for the lack of depth by bobbing their heads while looking at an object. I have no idea why that would help, but apparently many scientists believe in this nonsense.
The argumentation is quite simple and is based on two known facts.
1) Objects switch sides when looked at through one eye, then the other.
2) The simultaneous viewing of two identical pictures, one being slightly displaced relative to the other, gives a 3D impression.

The conclusion has therefore always been that 3D perception is the combined effect of two eye-views. 
[I have already analyzed critically this conception in my thread Eye movements. See the second part starting from: 14 Binocular vision and its myths.] 

Measurement on the basis of parallax starts from the idea that an object, when viewed from a different position, jumps left or right relative to the initial position it was seen at.
Applying this principle should therefore make it possible to measure the distance from the object to us, just the way our brain does unconsciously.
The problem with such an interpretation is it that it presupposes that we have the right brain theory.
Apparently, practical instruments like a range finder support this view. The principle is the same. Look through a viewer and manipulate the device until you get a clear image. Then look through another viewer and bring the image you see to cover the first one. Technical details differ from one device to the other, but the same principle is applied in all: the two images have to coincide, and the degree to which one image has to be moved relative to the other can be used to calculate the distance of the object. A simple trigonometrical application.
But why do we need stereopsis? Imagine that the dominant brain and vision theories are wrong, that our brain cannot computer distance or any other factor. That it cannot magically fuse what it sees through each eye the way our devices can. That would certainly not mean the end of the trigonometrical approach sketched above. We would still be justified in using the data given by the angles and the distance between our two vantage points. Wouldn't we?

Well, that is just the question, isn't it?

Parallax as a perceptual phenomenon depends on, among others, a very simple condition.
From the same vantage point, we observe the difference in position, relative to a fixed object, of our target when seen through the left or the right eye. The question therefore is: where is the object really? 
Imagine two one-eyed snipers (snipers always close on eye anyway, or completely ignore its input), one with only the right eye, and the other with the left. Let them use the same rifle which has been fastened to a stationary support, allowing them to move the rifle sideways or up and down without leaving their position. They will both see the object in a different location. Still, if they are skilled enough, they will be both able to hit the target. How is that possible?
Simple enough, you will say, their respective axis of vision is different. But remember, we are searching for the real position of the target, and as far as we are concerned, we have no reason to declare the position one sniper targets as more or less real than the one indicated by his partner. So, once again, where is the real position of the target?
Ah, in the intersection of both views. That makes sense. We have now three locations, two of which are apparent, and one is real.
Let us now add another location, from a known distance from the first one, and install an identical sniping system. We let Stanley and Mavis, (they certainly can do with a change of scenery, especially if the loss of one eye is purely symbolic), fire at the target from the new location. Again, we will assume that their aim was true.
So, we have now at least 5 locations, if not six, of which at most one can be true. How do we choose?
Let us replace the rifles with instant cameras with a telephoto-lens to see the results immediately. We should get at least four clear pictures of the target in the center, and hopefully, enough information for us to deduce its location relative to the other objects caught by the camera. Can we now say where the real location of the object is?
Let us first analyze the principle on which range finding is based more closely.
One image is taken as the original, which is reflected by a fixed mirror, while another mobile mirror reflects the second image, slightly off-center relative to the first one. The first devices relied on the user to make both images correspond, and mechanical dials indicated the angle, or rather the distance, that the first ray had to traverse to be congruent with the original. What we had in fact was a very ingenious, mechanical, trigonometrical computer! That is of course what makes auto-focus cameras possible.
Here is the problem: we are still dealing with two locations, and have no reason to accept one as being more "real" than the other.
Look at it this way. If you take two different cameras that happen to be symmetric to each other where mirrors are concerned (the fixed mirror of one is the mobile mirror of the other), and take a shot with each of them from exactly the same location, you will be witness to the same effect we have when we look at the same object with a different eye each time. You will therefore still not be able to indicate the "real" location of your target, but only the apparent one.
That has of course no practical consequences, not only because the distances are so small, but mostly because you are effectively targeting the same object each time, even if from a slightly different perspective.
Can we say the same regarding the position of distant stars?   
Honestly? I wouldn't know. I will leave that to mathematicians. What I do find disturbing is the following:
The image of an object jumps relative to another fixed object which is either closer or farther than the first one. We could of course say just the opposite: that the fixed object changes its position each time. What is then its real position? And since this fixed object was what made it possible for us to center on our target... Oh, I give up. I always hated geometry anyway.

[Just this. Anybody can draw  a triangle, straight lines from one point to two other points, and declare the problem solved: there is only one location geometrically. But remember, the drawing shows the perspective of the "drawer", it has therefore the same value as the view from respectively the right or the left eye.]

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Light: Wave or Particle?
Well, according to Einstein, it is both. Which means that, with a little bit of exaggeration, everything goes. You just choose what is the most convenient for your calculations.
Thinking about Sound, and how maybe it points at a non-existing physical phenomenon, I wonder if we shouldn't look more critically at the so-called duality of Light.
Here is something I would like to propose to the reader, with as important caveat that it concerns a pure speculative approach the validity of which I have no way of proving.
It is based on the following points:
Light in a vacuum is invisible, unless you stand in its way or it is reflected by particles of matter. It is also believed to behave as a particle in vacuum.
Once it starts interacting with matter, it becomes a wave.
The question is whether we are still talking about the same phenomenon. Can we speak of Light in both cases? shouldn't we make the distinction between Light as such on one hand, and its effect on other particles of matter on the other? Maybe, just like with sound, we do not need to assume the presence of a second phenomenon besides the medium itself. Even if the assumption in this case would seem more than reasonable.
What if we are in fact observing the behavior of matter as it is hit by photons? Refraction, diffraction and all other known effects should, in this perspective, not be looked at as the behavior of light, but that of "enlightened" matter.
Take for instance the breaking index of water relative to air. The first reaction when we consider light beams, is to explain the phenomenon as pertaining to the nature of light itself. It is light that behaves differently in air and in water.
I wonder what the explanations would look like if we looked at it from the perspective of air and water molecules that have been hit by photons. If we therefore applied the idea that it is the behavior of those molecules that changes, the change in light direction being just a side effect.
Just as by Sound, we would be spared the puzzle of how light waves can be compressed or elongated. We could simply blame the water or air molecules, or even the electrons in diamonds and other hard material.

In other words, we would be freed from the (meta)physical schizophrenia that Einstein has imposed on us. We could go back to Newton and say that he was right, but also to Huygens and congratulate him also. After all, they were both talking of two different things, and that is why they both can be right at the same time.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
When Psychology Meets Physics
The problem of a neural code is what separates science of matter, and human sciences. We can afford, nay, we must objectify nature to be able to describe its processes with precision, even if for that we have to invent our own constants which do not necessarily have to be Nature's own. But when dealing with matters of the mind, things become suddenly murkier: we are also what we want to analyze, and a purely objective attitude has proven to be very limiting.
This difficulty translates not only in the analysis of psychological relations between humans, but also at the level of more material aspects of our biological makeup. I have in my thread The Brain: some problematic concepts attempted to show the difficulties that arise when we assume that the brain somehow has to use some kind of code to store and decipher his own data, just like a computer. So allow me to refer to the thread [looking for "neural code" will get you sooner to the relevant posts. See also

The way we understand memory, it is a copy of the input. Same input, same sensation. But what if the sensation itself was stored, and not the way it came about? But how do you store sensations in the brain, if not by the neurons involved?
say you want to store a certain sensation of blue, let us call it Blue1. We have no idea how to do that outside of a discrete system where each input, in the form of a neuron, has a specific value. But there are too many possible values for each factor, more than the brain could ever encompass. Even if we limited the number of sensations we could feel, the system would be much too complex to be viable.
Let us then assume the existence of a supra-material dimension (which could itself be a form of matter). Both dimensions have to cooperate. Since we have no idea what the other dimension looks like, let's treat it as a black box and concentrate on what our brain would need from it to be able to function in this world.
Evidently, the first priority would be a way of storing and retrieving sensations. We need two systems that have to be independent of each other, otherwise it wouldn't work.
Discrete units, neurons, create a sensation which is then stored in the brain. The same sensation could have been created by other groups of neurons. But also, the same groups of neurons could have created a different sensation.
The problem is not that each sensation could not be uniquely identified by its combination of physical or chemical factors, but that such all the possible combinations cannot be stored in the brain without overtaxing it.
Sensations are the solution to this combinatorial explosion. [Please do not read any teleology in this. Or, if you do, know that it is your own responsibility.]
The memory of sensation functions like a dimmed down input for the brain. It could be traced back to the neurons that have given it existence. But since the same neurons could have given existence to another sensation, we need a way to distinguish between the two.

This is where we would need a magic wand in the form of a shadow storage system that would make it possible for us to distinguish between both sensations.
The simplest example would be being the subject of a laboratory experiment where single photons are fired in our eye at a single neuron, and we want to remember the different visual sensations created by those stimuli. Imagine that the same optic neuron, when fired at with different stimuli, can give all kind of visual sensations. Obviously, this neuron will have to have links with other neurons up or down the brain, and each sensation will have to find at least a temporary storage location. The biological details are not important, all that matters is the logical principle.
We want, in principle, the memory of those sensations to be as discriminative as the sensations themselves. That means that the location(s) of each memory will somehow recreate the original sensations. We will have a memory of a visual sensation of red or blue at the right location(s), even though nothing in the location(s) could betray its or their content to an external observer, since they could be the memory of many different sensations.
That is the most difficult point for any scientist to accept. Still, unless science can show that it is able to solve this puzzle, we will have to look for unorthodox solutions.
When we look at it this way the problem seems much more amenable. We need two storage systems each following its own rules. It is much too early, not to say presumptive, to try and explain the rules followed by the shadow system in the supra-dimension. We concentrate exclusively on our own dimension and on the human brain as we understand them.
So, say you get a visual stimulus that involves certain groups of neurons. The sensation created in you is stored in your brain with a supra link which will make it possible for you to retrieve it. You will remember that bananas are yellow for instance, even if there is no trace of "yellow" in your brain.
The problem of course is that there is no way of linking both dimensions with elements of our own. If that were the case, we would simply have two brains, instead of only two hemispheres. 
So, the supra-dimension, as well as the link to it, both belong in the black box.
Speaking of two brains. We now know what should be present in our shadow brain: a copy of every possible sensation we could ever experience. Not what we have already experienced, mind you, our normal brain is supposed to take care of that on its own. But of the potential unique sensations made possible by our neuronal and genetic heritage.
Again, we do not need to speculate about how such a shadow brain has to be organized, since it is, by definition, something completely different from our own dimension.
It may sound preposterous, but in fact physicists make use of the same idea when they speak of energy, force or field. You may use those terms instead of the expression supra-dimension, it that makes you more comfortable.
To avoid any metaphysical derailments, we will appeal to scientific sobriety in the creation of non-material elements. They have to fulfill a purpose in our analysis, and never claim the leading role in it.
This is how it looks until now: each organism creates its own "field" which helps it keep track of its experiences in the normal dimension without taxing the brain.

If that is all we need to have a rational explanation of brain processes, them we should consider ourselves very lucky. Science needs many more mysterious concepts to function properly, and keeps inventing new ones at each revolution.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Light revisited
I imagine myself standing in front of a mirror. I can see my image in the mirror, and it is not upside down. I build now dark walls around the mirror and put a small hole in the one facing it. Suddenly my image is upside down. Or so I will assume. How is that possible?
First, every point is reflected by the mirror in all directions, but the same can be said of any reflecting surface, even a normal wall. Apparently it is all a matter of smoothness, allowing all rays, or as many rays as possible, to leave the reflecting surface at the same angle they hit it.
Also, there should be an upside image of me on the mirror somewhere. The problem is that I cannot see it. But it has to be there, doesn't it?
How is it now possible that the inverted image is the only image that is left of me on the mirror once I use only the pinhole?
It looks like the dream of a homunculus come true.

George: leave me out of it, will you?
me: sorry.
You: what do you mean exactly?
me: well, it's like we are looking at our retinal image.
You: oh. So it should be turned right up again, right?
me: well, yes, we never see images upside down!
You: wait, what if the retinal image is not upside down?
me: kid, you're a genius!
You: Oh, I know. May I have your last chocolate?

The only rays that are not cut off are the ones facing the pinhole.
Imagine a big letter P in front of the pinhole. Draw two straight lines from the top and the bottom of the letter, and touching each side of the hole respectively. But instead of having the lines touch the opposite side, up to down and vice versa, they keep going on the same level. You have then formed a rectangular window between the letter and the pinhole. Only horizontal rays get into the camera obscura. Replace the wall facing the pinhole by our retina, and you get a straight retinal image, which means that we will see it inverted!
By the way, if you do it the traditional way, lines crossing each other from down to up and up to down, you will have drawn the limits within which the object is confined, and all the other points between those limits will fall on the outside edges of the whole and will not penetrate the dark room!

Oh boy! And I thought that my idea about the retinal dark spot was revolutionary! I think the psychologists are gonna shoot me on sight!

See my first thread ever on Philpapers: Retinal image and black spot.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Light revisited (2) Concave Mirrors

These mirrors offer us the same puzzle as the reversed image of the camera obscura. If we accept the principle that the only way we can see an inverted image is if the object forms a straight object on our retina, then we have to reconsider the way the images formed by concave (and convex) mirrors are formed.
The official explanation is that we see the image is inversed because the rays coming from the object and reflected by the mirror build such an inverse image.
We know now that it cannot be true, which means that somehow the rays coming from an object are reflected exactly like the object stands, and that is why we see it upside down.
I will not attempt to show the different trajectories each ray is supposed to take to deliver us an inversed or straight up image. All the experts have to remember is that a retinal image is always inversed. The rest they can do better than me.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Do Photons exist?
Or are they something like sound? An imaginary particle that expresses the effect matter has on our perception organs?
It would be much neater if they did not exist. What are particles with zero mass? Or take this affirmation by Graham -Smith et al in "Optics and Photonics", 2007: "Unlike electrons, photons are not conserved and can be created or destroyed in encounters with material particles" (p.3). That is certainly mysterious, isn't it?
Also, do we really need photons? After all, we already have EM waves and electrons, and what-not. We are trying to explain a sensation, light, by a specific particle. Just like we did with sound. But why couldn't this sensation be created by other phenomena which machines we build to measure light for us actually react to? Do these devices really react to light? How could they? They have no sensations. 
Still, we are certainly entitled to say that when a light meter shows a certain number, we see a certain color.
Psychologists very often try to emulate the methods of Physics, but apparently the emulation goes both ways. Physics has still not emancipated itself from Psychology. The problem is that it does not know it.
Maybe we do not need to assume the existence of Aliens to imagine a new Physics. Maybe all we need is, gradually, and where necessary, rid Physics of its anthropomorphic assumptions. Starting with light might be a very good idea. But far from easy.
I can at most present examples of cases where the interference of psychology with physical processes is very flagrant. But I am afraid that it is really up to the physicists themselves to incorporate the new approach, if it turns out to be viable, in their methods and theories.
I will therefore certainly come back to the subject of light.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
What are waves?
Excluding sound, since its very existence is in doubt, we know only of air (gazes) and water (liquids) waves, because we can see them or feel them.
What about the idea found in many textbooks that waves concern transport of energy and not matter?
Then apparently, to define wave, we first need to define energy, which would takes us to "work", and from there, after many detours, back to wave and energy.
What about this: let us follow the modern scientific approach and simply look for what something does, and how it does it, instead of trying to define it in an abstract way.
What does energy do then? Well, it depends on what you are talking about. Okay. what does the energy stored or transported by a wave do?
Hmm. Move the wave along? Of course, at the end, it might do something else, like turning a wheel. But that is just one (secondary) possibility among many others.
The distinction between a wave and its energy seems more verbal than anything else: the energy is taking the form of a wave, or the wave is its own energy. Your choice.

Interference is the name of the game. It is apparently the ultimate proof that a physical phenomenon is related to or controlled by waves.
Have you ever seen or experienced negative interference? They say that two waves that have opposite phases, one at its highest when the other is at its lowest, cancel each other. I wonder what they mean. In a graph it looks quite evident, 1+(-1)=0.
So 0 would be like a calm sea, -1 would be like water getting lower and lower, before getting higher and higher.
I can understand -1 when on the beach. It would be with the waves retreating from the shore. But what could it possibly mean on the open sea? It seems to me that your only choice would be between no wave, high waves, and even higher waves. 
Okay, may be destructive interference would happen when a high wave meets an even higher wave, and the result becomes no wave. I could live with that. No, that's constructive interference, you just get highest waves. Destructive interference would rather mean that you get no waves at all.
It is known that waves climb over each other, but why would a high wave, when coming to a place where there is no wave go even lower?
After all, those are the only possibilities: 
- no wave
- high waves
- higher waves. 
Try as I may, I cannot figure out what it would mean for a wave to be negative.
Let's take a bathtub. It is certainly possible for the water to move violently to one side, lowering the height of the water on the other side it moved away from. That would be our -1? But then the water has to come back, right? And it will be higher, but first it has to compensate for the loss in height before it can rise again. Would that be our level zero? And the wave right after than would make up the +1?
Anyway, waves can destruct each other. Independently of the fact that I have never seen it happen, there is no reason to doubt the experts word for it. 
But what do they mean exactly? Certainly not that both waves, because they are out of sync, suddenly go poof. Bye waves! That destructive is therefore all relative: there is no wave there where there was one. It does not mean that water has vaporized and left an empty hole in its place.
But that is exactly what we are told to believe regarding light waves. Destructive interference means literally that the light is gone and has been replaced by darkness, or at least emptiness.
It is strange that the only "real", concrete case of waves we know, water waves, are to be understood symbolically, while more abstract waves nobody has ever seen must be taken literally.
Okay, what about anti-noise? Well, the theory is very simple, and it seems to work in a controllable environment, which makes it a very strong argument in favor of the wave theory of sound.
Why couldn't light then be canceled out just like sound is? Until now, no reason has been given against wave theory, only vague insinuations.
First, however impractical, sound cancellation apparently works. You can cancel individual, regular sounds. As far as light is concerned, the evidence is much thinner. Yes, we have interference fringes, but nowhere anything spectacular like canceling a light beam with another one, as it seems possible with sound. The theory is there, why can't we make it work? 
The answer is coherence. Only two exactly identical beams can interfere with each other. This is in fact the same rule as for sounds. That is why the practical applications of the broad principle of anti-noise or anti-light are so few and so limited.

Could we then interpret the existence of interference fringes outside of wave theory? Everybody seems to think that that would not be possible. I wonder why.

Light Waves
We have for a wave the Period T (or frequency f), the wave length L (for lambda), and the speed v. That is many things for a  single phenomenon, and I didn't even mention the amplitude yet.

Well, as Otis Redding would say: 
"sitting on the dock of the bay 
watching time go away"

You see a wave crest coming and you time its arrival. That is the wave length, (or is it the period?) and it is supposed to explain color.
I wonder how that works. 
Again, I see the crest coming, but since light can also be analyzed as a particle, I will consider it as such. Some particle impinges on my retina and I see light. Okay, where is the wave length? For that I need at least two particles since it is a matter of time and distance between the two. Which is just another way of describing speed. Depending on its speed I will see blue or green. I might even see red if I read much more of this nonsense I am writing right now.
Didn't light, with all its frequencies, travel at the same speed?
Ah, c=Lv. Colors travel all at the same speed, but each in its own way. A longer wave length is compensated by a higher speed and it will therefore travel as fast as a lower wave length which has a much shorter distance to go between one crest and the other, going at a proportionally lower speed.
Now I understand. But how does that make me see colors if the end result is the same for all frequencies? The eye would need some timing mechanism to differentiate between one frequency, color, and the other. As far as we know, there are no such clocks in the eye.
So, whatever the merits of the wave theory of light, it does not explain the existence of color. And neither does the corpuscular theory. Unless we assume the existence of a distinct particle for each color.
T'is mighty complicated 'n all.

Of course, we could imagine that the eye reacts to the relative speed of colors. That would explain why one and the same optic nerve can convey all possible color sensations. It would be nigh impossible, and biologically highly improbable, to devise a system which would react exclusively to one speed and not also to lower speeds.
Okay, that or a limited number of particles each with its own properties would give the same result. We would never know the difference.
We therefore have to choose between on one hand one and the same particle that creates different effects in us in the form of distinct colors, and this solely by its speed (how it gets that speed is biologically irrelevant); on the other hand, different particles with different effects. In the second case we would need maybe at least three, corresponding to the three kinds of photo-receptors in our eyes.
Once again. it does not really matter what we choose since our eyes would react indifferently to both forms. We have to look for our justifications elsewhere.

A double slit experiment: the twin camera obscura
let us put two slits instead on one in our wall, and see what my image would now look like in the mirror inside the dark room. What would an observer inside the room see projected on the wall? There have been luckily many such experiments which have been documented on the Internet, so that I don't need to speculate. Here is what I have learned.
Pinholes provide a  wide-angle view, and of course, that the images are inversed. Which they are not.
The wide-angle matter is much more interesting here. It shows that light rays from a diffuse source come also from oblique directions, just like with a mirror. If you move a little bit, you see different things. Of course a wall is not a mirror, and moving around would not help very much. But the idea is very important. It shows how a blind spot, like an object hidden by the separation between the two holes, still can be reproduced on the wall. We do not need a wave for that. It also explains how one and the same spot can be lit by different ray from both holes, making them look brighter.
That still does not explain destructive interference. For that we need a coherent source of light going through two slits. Our pinpoint camera is much too crude an instrument for that.
Still, we have now accounted for the wide distribution of light spots on the wall, and the difference in brightness. Now the last point.
How do we explain the fact that two light rays cancel each other out, creating a dark fringe?
Well, for starter, I am not sure there is such a dark fringe. When I look at the experiment, and for that I gladly refer to the excellent video course by our own Richard Wolfson, I see the dots representing the conjunction of one, two or more rays, and between them what seems to be empty spaces reflecting the color of the screen. Of course, the absence of a red spot, because a red light was used, could be interpreted such that there would have been a red spot if the rays had not destructively interfered with each other.
But that is the whole point, isn't it? What was supposed to be the proof of interference has become an act of faith. You have to believe that it is not there because of interference!
What if there was another reason for the spacing of the dots? The fact that we currently have no idea what it could be does not mean that the idea is wrong. So, however probable and plausible the interference hypothesis may sound, it still remains an unproven conjecture.
Let me give you an alternative explanation of which I certainly cannot say anything else but that it may be possible.
Imagine magnifying a light beam a few billion times. It is certainly conceivable that we would see empty spaces between its different constituents, the individual rays. By forcing light through small slits we lower the number of rays that can go through the slits significantly, and making the empty spaces between them more prominent. The bright spots could well be the results of converging rays while the empty spaces would simply be the empty spaces between the rays. We can add to all that our imperfect sight and the imperfect reflection of the screen. 
Also, because we are dealing with, mostly, monochromatic light, the existence of empty spaces between rays is far from implausible.
After all the same principle is used for spectrography whereby, with the help of a very large number of splits, light can be broken into all its colors, like a super rainbow. It would therefore sound very plausible to say that monochromatic light is something like Swiss cheese, full of holes.

Have I proven that the interference hypothesis is wrong? Certainly not. But if I succeeded in showing that it is still merely a hypothesis, then I will be happy.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Doppler Effect revisited
A particular drawing by Wolfson  concerning this effect attracted my attention. He was explaining the mathematics of a simple experiment he had just performed, whirling a microphone over his head sending a monotonic sound. We could hear very clearly the difference between the sound when the microphone was moving away from us, from when it was approaching us. A simple but effective demonstration.
The troubles start with the mathematical interpretation.
We see many concentric circles which are off center, something like the Ptolemaic equant or Keplerian focus. This represent the situation as experienced by two different observers A, approaching, and B, receding from the center. Evidently the distance between each circle is much smaller for A than for B, and that is supposed to explain the famous Doppler effect.
If that is true, then Doppler should be recognized as the inventor of relativity theory, about half a century before Einstein. It looks like space itself contracts between the waves for A, while it expands for B. 
This is certainly much more complex than Einstein's theory which predicts a contraction for a moving observer, but nowhere mentions that the same space, seen from the perspective of an observer moving in the opposite direction is in fact expanding.
What is of course interesting is that a neutral observer at the center of the phenomenon, like Wolfson whirling the microphone, remains in an unchanging space, and therefore experiences no Doppler effect.
So, what is really happening here, and is there a way to unify all three perspectives?

Let us be hard-core Newtonians and hold on to the conviction that space is immutable, and therefore the same for all three participants. In such a case we have only one circle, the one we see Wolfson describe so graciously in the air, and two other observers moving in different directions.
In fact, let us stick to the actual situation and keep only one static observer, with an orbiting sound source.
The same sound is not experienced differently when it is coming from a stationary position at the front, or at the rear. That we know from everyday experience. What makes us hear it differently is the fact that it is moving, either towards us, or else away from us. 
Since we are assuming a stationary center of orbit, all concentric circles will be the same, only the location of the source will change with time.
It looks like we have to reach to Ptolemy's epicycles here. At each location the microphone will, according to wave theory, produce a small circle that will propagate in every direction, getting larger and larger. Since we have already established that the difference in distance, within reasonable margins, does not affect the sound we hear, the motion itself will be needed for an explanation.
Could we obtain the same effect by shaking our head left and right while the sound source is kept stationary? We should get the same results as with an alternating sound source, relativistically speaking. Here is a very simple experiment anybody can do at home: put some music on, and shake your head left and right, or up and down. No don't start housing, keep your body still! If, like me, you are using your in-built speakers, I am afraid you will just get a little dizzy for all your trouble.
By the way, imagine a number of identical sound sources standing in the same circle as the orbit of our microphone. Would we get the same acoustic impressions? Probably not, since each source would have to produce a short burst, let's say a whole period, before shutting up and letting the next one take over. We would therefore probably hear the same sound going in a circle.
But in the time it takes for a period of sound to reach our ears, many things have happened that cannot be represented by a simple variable. Sounds are usually complex. So, to model the effect of the circling microphone, we would have to cut a sound in its constituting frequencies, and have each source produce only a part of a period.
Since the orbiting speed can in this case be considered as constant, we only have the variables time and distance to account for the different sensations.
In other words, we would hear the same sound spread within different periods of time. Mind you, if we stood in the center of the circle, we would just hear the normal sound. This empirical fact is fundamental because it proves that there has not been any compression or expansion of the original frequencies.
Again, relativistically speaking, a receding observer would not experience an expansion of wave length, as much as each wave length will take a longer time to reach him. We must therefore not confuse the distance between the observer and a wave and the distance between each wave.
What happens then when the observer is stationary and the source is receding? Again, each part of the sound is sent from a varying distance and the overall sensation would be very different from that of the central observer.
In other words Doppler's argumentation is built on the fundamental metaphysical assumption that sound itself is affected by the motion, and an observer is just the passive receiver of the changed frequency. But frequency, just like rhythm, is all about the timing of sensations. A song sounds differently when played at different speeds, and the same way, a sound sounds different at different speeds.

The problem is that air, being the preferred medium for sound, allows for many interpretations. By compressing air, or diluting it, we change the way sounds reach us. The perfect example being the inhaling of helium and the funny voices that ensue. But if we think about it, maybe we would see that we have not compressed the frequency itself as much as the space in which it could expand. In other words, we did not change a rectangle into a square, but a bigger square into a smaller one. Let us not fall into Lorentz trap by thinking that the contraction happens only in one direction. So, even if the proportions remain the same, the smaller square produces another sensation than the bigger one, just like they differ visually.
We must not therefore make the mistake of confusing the change in spatial dimensions of sound with a change of the dimensions of space itself. It is simply like putting smaller marbles in the same box. That does not make the box bigger, even if the smaller marbles would disagree.
Further, the fact that the different parts of a sound reach our ears at a different time is more than enough to account for the so-called Doppler effect.

[For the consequences of confusing physical and psychological effects see also my thread Hearing .]

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Is the Universe Expanding?
How would I know? I just hope cosmologists are basing their assumption on more than the Doppler effect.
Let us assume that the wave theory of light is correct, that colors are just the perceptual aspect of wave lengths. By amplifying or on the contrary narrowing the wavelength, we get different colors.
We must therefore ask ourselves if the Doppler effect is valid for light waves.
If my analysis is correct, the motion of the observer and/or the sound source does not have any influence on the distance between waves. Which would answer our question immediately. At least, we hope so.
Nobody can deny the perceptual aspect of the Doppler effect. Sounds are perceived differently according to their relative direction, so why not light?
But let us not forget that the reason why sounds change with motion is that the time it takes a part of a sound to reach our ear is either shorter or longer, and that is, I said, what the effect amounts to. We cannot therefore deduce much about the location of the source itself. The further the source is the faster the sound would have to go to keep its nature from being changed. Since there is a limit to how fast sound can go we need to know either its original wavelength or its frequency, and lacking that, its exact distance from us. And that is the whole point. There are many combinations of wavelength and frequency possible, depending on the distance, and therefore the time it takes sounds to reach our ears or devices. The constant speed of sound is not much help here, in fact it makes it impossible for us to reconstruct the original wavelength. It is only by knowing the exact distance that we would be able to deduce that original wavelength. 

Applying that to light, that means that a star that looks blue to us might as well be blue, or emitting blue rays. We have no way of knowing what its original wavelength was.
An approximation is not enough since we need to divide that distance by the perceived wavelength to get the original one. Once we know the original wavelength we would be able to find out if the star is moving closer or further from us.

So, is the universe expanding? I have no idea, and neither did Doppler.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Dear Hachem,I think I have the correct answer about lifetime of muons or anything moving at least within the SR abstraction. The answer is not yet formally proven.
There is an absolute rest frame. Any motion relative to it causes moving objects to evolve slower than in absolute rest. Conversly when the object slows down it comes down to its maximum evolution rate. Since most likely our solar system moves only about 300 km/s relative to the common rest it does not quite matter for fast muons or other fast particles in which direction for example the earth moves. In any case systems on earth evolve faster, and fast system are slower in terms of heartbits. Relative aging is only in comparison with something else. But a person from childhood to death in his 90s requires about 2.8x10beats no matter how fast is the trip.

The idea of absolute reference frame is coming back with measurements of cosmic background radiation, yet it is still a blasphemy in relativity even though no one can prove it does not exist. Special Relativity is a clever workaround the problem of not knowing how to pinpoint that frame. SR does not need the absolute frame. Relative motion between moving objects is sufficient. But this is because of the length contraction and lifetime dilation seem to be true for unknown as yet reason.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Vicissitudes of Simultaneity (7)
Let us once more analyze Einstein's example of two simultaneous lightening strikes seen by a stationary observer, Stanley, and by another, Mavis, riding on a very fast train.
Einstein's argument can be summed up as follows: the passenger experiences both strikes as happening at different time intervals, the one ahead of him appearing sooner than the one behind him.
This is supposed to prove that the concept of simultaneity is relative. That certainly makes sense. What does not make sense are the conclusions Einstein feels justified in drawing based on this thought experiment, the most outrageous being that Time itself is relative, even if a concrete and material phenomenon .
First, Einstein himself does not really believe this since it would negate his deep convictions concerning reality and the idea that "God does not play dice". Both observers must share the same reality, otherwise the relativity principle would not make any sense.
It would seem therefore that the relativity of simultaneity cannot form a material basis of reality itself, but only of the way it appears to each observer. We have have left the realm of Physics for the murky waters of Psychology.
Nevertheless, that is obviously not what Einstein aims to prove. We may have uncovered a contradiction in his thinking, but that is hardly an argument against his analysis. Maybe the contradiction is seated in reality itself, and Einstein has simply expressed a mysterious state of affairs.
Why does Mavis see one lightning strike before, or after, the other?
I have already argued that that in fact is not necessarily the case, whatever Einstein's claim to the contrary might be.
Allow me a Sophist's attitude for a while, and let me assume that Einstein was right, that the passenger does indeed experience a delay between both strikes.
The only way that could be the case was if the speed of the train, v, could be added to that of the light rays outside of the train. In other words, we would have c+v in one case, and c-v in the other.
Ah, but that is exactly what Einstein wanted. His second postulate states that light speed is a constant, and that therefore for the passenger there is also only one speed of light, c.
This is where it gets really confusing. If Mavis sees one lightening strike before the other, that can mean one of two things.
a) as already stated, the speed of the train has to be added to that of the light rays, but that is unacceptable by the first and second postulates.
b) Mavis is caught in a time and space contraction loop that makes her experience and measure the same speed of light as Stanley does. But then, there is no reason for her to experience simultaneity any differently than Stanley.
Let us forget about simultaneity for a moment and ask of Mavis to measure the speed of the light ray coming from the back of the train, and that of the one coming from the front.
Again, we have only two possibilities: either both speeds are the same, or they are different.
If they are the same then there is no reason why they should not appear to be simultaneous to her as they do to Stanley.
If they are different, then we know that the speed of the train should be added to or subtracted from the speed of light.
In both cases Einstein proves to be wrong.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
The Mystery of Gravity (4): Kepler's problem revisited
[Don't look for (2), it does not exist. I sometimes have problems with counting.]

There is a very simple counter-argument to my claim that there is no logical reason why a heavenly body would come back to its "attractor". Gravity is said to diminish by the square of the distance, but all it needs to do to call an object back is pull it back to the previous distance, and then to the one before that, until it is back there where it started from. The conservative property does not need to be applied directly from the the first to the last position.

Would that work? Let us take as example the paradigm of conservative forces, the spring. This device is such that the more you stretch it, the more force has to be applied to stretch it further, and the harder it would spring back. Gravity works quite differently. In fact it is the exact opposite of a spring since the object goes back at first as slowly at it went in the opposite direction, and then gains speed the closer it gets to its attractor. 
We cannot therefore use spring behavior as a model for gravity. In fact, speaking of conservative property for such different forces (or conservative force for such different properties), is a little bit misleading, except there where they both go back to where they came from, even though the way they do it is completely different.

The fact therefore remains that we have no explanation as to how gravity could make an object come back. The first explanation given above, incremental recovery, would only make sense if there are no no stronger bodies in the trajectory of, say, the comet, which would divert it from its goal.
I do not know much about comets so I will make use of a hypothetical example to make my case.
Imagine comet C going around the sun and then traveling in the direction of the last planet in our solar system, Pluto, after which it slowly turns back in the direction of the sun. How strong has the attraction of the sun have to be to cancel the influence of Pluto? And if the sun can call C back from such a distance, why couldn't it do the same for Pluto or the nearer planets and pull them out of their orbit? After all, gravity is independent of mass they all say.
We seem to be caught in a chicken and egg dilemma. Is the resistance of all the other planets greater than that of the comet? Is that why C has to go back while the others keep to their own orbits? C is of course also keeping to its orbit. But it seems that gravity alone cannot explain this phenomenon.
Oh my God! [Or should I say, Allah Akbar?] Could Newton also be wrong? Just like Einstein?

me: George!
George: you rang?
me: quick! Call the men in white!
George: I thought you'd never ask.
You: calm down, Me! It can't be that bad!
me: I just found out that both Newton and Einstein are wrong!
You: Oh man! You're on your own this time. I will bring you oranges. Or do you prefer chocolate?

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Reply to Andrew Wutke
I find your approach quite refreshing. You are trying to reform RT from the inside. I am afraid that in this case I am playing the role of the bad cop, or the radical intent on overthrowing the whole system. I still look forward to the formal proof though. It is something that is certainly beyond my reach.
[By the way, I tried to read your articles, but I am afraid that I didn't get very far. It became too technical for me very fast.]

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
action=reaction (3): The Horse and Cart Dilemma
 I find it hilarious, but also sad and very often irritating, how intelligent people can act so strange when they feel they have to justify at all costs some rule they consider sacred. Take this site for example:

I really get a headache trying to follow the argumentation which is supposed to explain why the horse is able to pull the cart against all Newtonian odds.
Let me sum up the reasoning:
The Third Law, action=reaction, states that whatever the horse does to the cart, the cart does to the horse. The equivalent of the Kantian moral imperative: don't do to others what you do not want them to do to you.
Also, the horse is pushing on the earth as hard as the earth is pulling on it. Again a stalemate.
How can we break it and get the darn cart moving!
Let met jump directly to the end because I am not sure I can follow all the subtleties involved in the application of all three Newtonian laws at the same time. The horse pulls the cart and moves forward! Hip hip! Hurray!
So, somehow, one of the forces was stronger than the counter force applied to it.
Here is the sophistry: it concerns another force! The force that moves the cart is different than the force that prevents the cart from moving.
But the only way this can work is:
a) there is an uneven number of forces, to the advantage of the horse;
b) one of the forces is stronger than its counter-force.

You can beat around the bush all night long, but the second solution is the only one that makes sense. Only, the justification seems to be that they both act on another object, keeping Newton's laws pristine and innocent.
Here is how the site puts it very dramatically:
"So what has changed? The friction on the horse's feet is now greater than the friction on the cart's wheels. The friction on the cart's wheels is rolling resistance, and is primarily dependent on the size of the cart's load, and not on its speed. So it hasn't changed much. But, because it is accelerating, the force the horse exerts on the cart has increased. By Newton's third law, the force of the cart on the horse has increased by the same amount. But the horse is also accelerating, so the friction of the ground on its hooves must be larger than the force the cart exerts on the horse. The friction between hooves and ground is static (not sliding or rolling) friction, and can increase as necessary (up to a limit, when slipping might occur, as on a slippery mud surface or loose gravel)."
Notice how fast the writer jumps to the fact that the cart is accelerating without having explained in any way how it came to move. The fact that "The friction on the horse's feet is now greater than the friction on the cart's wheels" is certainly not good enough since both forces should have been canceled by their respective counterparts. It is Zeno's paradox all over again, the cart and the horse are condemned to remain frozen in place for all eternity, and never will Achilles take over the turtle. The only way to break the stalemate is to infringe on one of the holy laws, in this case, the third one. The cart moves because in the end the force exerted by the horse is greater than the counter-forces of the earth and the cart combined. The Third Law is a useful fiction when it comes to calculations, but to give it physical reality is to invite Sophistry at Logic's table.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
How to Cancel Gravity
We know that astronauts in the International Space Station are not living in a gravitation-free environment, but are in fact free-falling, and therefore weightless. Gravity seems ubiquitous and invincible.
Unless you are an oil drop.
Millikan's experiments in the years 1908-1911 showed that it is possible to cancel the effect of gravity on a small scale. He was able to make oil drops float in the air instead of falling down, which made it possible for him to measure the electric charge of an electron. That is also how posterity remembers him.
Personally I think that he deserves a second award for having proven that it is possible to cancel the effects of gravity. Theoretically it should be possible to surround the earth with the same apparatus as Millikan used, with everything and everyone on the surface taking the role of an oil drop, floating in space.
Of course, such a gigantic device would succumb under its own weight, but that is a trivial matter we will not worry about.
What is important is that we would be finally free of the chains of gravity. Isn't that something worth a little bit of pain? Freedom, after all, never comes cheap.
Also, it shows how closely gravity and electromagnetic forces are related to each other. They must be at least cousins.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
I am not sure if I understand conclusions derived from quantum mechanics. What is wrong with saying that the probability that cat is dead or alive is anywhere between 0 and 1 rather it is both. That does not contradict the common sense. And I always wonder how the concepts applicable to particles become transposed in an identical form to macroscopic objects. But again I know quantum mechanics on a superficial level.

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
Everything is possible in the model, but whether the model reflect the reality is another matter. Also when the model partially reflect the reality is not a good model. The time travel is impossible simply because because there is no time. The logic of time travel is so flawed that it raises eyebrows how anyone can degrade himself maintaining it is a possibility. 
I mean seriously, I am going back to the past of my own history and stand next to my previous self like in "Back to the future". Let say it is just one hour back. How most of the atoms in m body duplicated?. Was there any state before that I was standing next to my future self?But in science no one respects logic. Flawed models replace it.
Paralell universes and infinity of those yess..........

We are I o admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both 

true and sufficient to explain their appearances. 

To this purpose the philosophers say that Nature does nothing in vain, 
and more is in vain when less will serve ; for Nature is pleased with sim 
plicity, and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes. 
Isaac Newton
But this is old-fassioned no longer applicable
Any contradiction can be resolved by either adding a new dimension or expanding into complex number domain

Quantum Computing: Myth or Reality?
"Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.
"Anyone who is shocked by quantum theory has understood it.