I watched BBC Horizon some time ago and was gutted to find out that Stephen Hawking admitted he’d been wrong all the time about his theory that anything dropped into a black hole would be immediately annihilated. It appears his mistake was assuming there was only one universe, when there are in fact millions of them, and not all of them contain black holes.
If you think that weird, the man who spotted his mistake said Hawking couldn’t be right because regardless of what happens to particles, they can always be restored by reversing time. What? I can’t wait to use that one next time I deliver my software late or buggy! (Which I never do anyway, by the way. Well, sometimes.)
Some other guy went on to say that if a person dropped into a black hole then although we would see them ripped into atoms the person themselves would not notice anything out of the ordinary. This was followed by mathematical proof that you can be alive and dead at the same time. I’ve actually worked with people like that.
I’m never sure what these Quantum Physicists are on. It seems that if your computer suddenly disappears and then materializes in another room, then that’s ok, because why shouldn’t it? You try telling that to the police.
However, the Laws of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) are regarded as the most accurate theories ever devised and their predications have always been observed as 100% correct.
Even simple things are strange in QED. Like light reflecting back off a mirror; it doesn’t actually reflect all the light but some goes through, up, down, left, right and anywhere: it’s just easier for the light to reflect back. It’s a bit like driving to work; most people go by the shortest/quicker route, although they don’t have to.
It gets weirder. A phenomenon called Quantum Entanglement allows remote particles to have some sort of strange communication link which makes state teleportation possible. If you think this is unreal and too much like Star Trek then see the IBM teleportation research site (honest!). There are other practical uses of this in cryptography because if a message is transmitted in this way you can tell if someone has read it before you received it.
The one I like is how the Universe started. Where did all the matter come from? Well one famous physicist proved mathematically that you can create everything from nothing. (I’m expected to that often). But the latest thinking is that there was a time warp in the early life of the Universe which took all the matter in the young Universe back to the beginning of the Universe (which had no matter) and that’s where the matter came from – itself!
It’s reckoned that there are only about two dozen people in the world that are clever enough to understand the mathematics of these proofs. (That must put me at number 25 or below). I know these people are incredibly talented, but you try telling these fantastic theories in the bar tonight and you may find the barman refusing to serve you any more alcohol.