The God Equation

mickyates Ideas, Personal, Science, Time Leave a Comment

Well, that was a good afternoon’s read! There are four fundamental forces of physics at work in the universe: the strong (nuclear) force, the weak force, the electromagnetic force, and the gravitational force.

So far no one has been able to unify the mathematics governing these four forces. It was Albert Einstein that started the search for a ‘theory of everything’ and it was Douglas Adams who said the answer was 42

String Theory is one possible solution. However it is so far untestable and is controversial in some circles. The theory dates in its earliest form to 1968 as described by Gabriele Veneziano at CERN. It is the idea that the fundamental particles of the universe are not point-like dots, but rather tiny elastic strings. String Theory predicts that there are ten dimensions, although we only experience four. Think of it as though we are living in a  two dimensional surface like a hologram, which can create a three dimensional space although we cannot experience it. The theory also predicts that there are many multiverses.

Michio Kaku’s book, The God Equation, suggests that it could all boil down to this equation.

L = Φ† [∂−] Φ + Φ† ∗ Φ ∗ Φ

Neither his own explanations nor my understanding of maths can confirm this!

That said, Kaku’s book reads like a thriller, with a lucid history of the discoveries of physics from Newton then Maxwell, Faraday and Einstein, via Dirac and Schrödinger and onto Stephen Hawkins.

Fascinating stuff!

Early Indians

mickyates Anthropology, Culture, History, Ideas, Mick's Photo Blog, Politics, Race, Science Leave a Comment

Continuing my Easter reading binge – this book by Tony Joseph is fascinating. It combines DNA research with archaeology and linguistics to trace the roots of modern India – with some very surprising results. Short version: isn’t immigration wonderful, and today’s pop-nationalism a pain!

India’s first Homo Sapiens came from Africa (65,000 BCE, just like the rest of the world). The Harappa civilisation (3500 BCE – 1400 BCE approx) combining these ‘first Indians’ with people of what is now Iran, was one of history’s most profound accomplishments, larger in scale at its height than Egypt and Mesopotamia combined.

This ancient (and fundamental) northern civilization had a language not yet decoded, but likely shares characteristics with Elamite and Mesopotamia. As the civilisation declined (weather?) these people moved south and this seems to have led to the Dravidian language family.

Today, in northern India, the Indo-European languages prevail. This language family includes Sanskrit and German, English as well as the Romance languages (Basque is the one exception). Yet its people originated in the Steppes, not Harappa, moving south into modern India.

They are likely the genetic source for ‘Vedic Aryans’, and they moved across Europe, mixing with indigenous peoples.

In a delicious twist, apparently the earliest ancient DNA samples representing people using this Indo-European language family was found in … Ukraine, dating to 5000 BCE-3500 BCE.

A quote towards the end of the book notes ‘The truth is that India is composed of a large number of small populations’.

When you have Talvin’s classic album playing at the same time, there is real joy in multi-source civilisational mixing.