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Picture – Beautiful and rhizomatic (let me add) neutrino track events photo taken by LNS at MIT (The Conrad Research Group, link).

We are very much astonished by this result, but a result is never a discovery until other people confirm it. When you get such a result you want to make sure you made no mistakes, that there are no nasty things going on you didn’t think of. We spent months and months doing checks and we have not been able to find any errors. If there is a problem, it must be a tough, nasty effect, because trivial things we are clever enough to rule out.” ~ Antonio Ereditato, coordinator of the Opera project (Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus), Guardian (link), UK, 22 Sept. 2011.

It is sometimes said that we should never believe a scientific theory until it is verified by experiment. But a famous astronomer has also stated that we should never believe an observation until it is confirmed by a theory.” ~ João Magueijo, Faster Than the Speed of Light, Penguin books, Feb. 2004 (early published in 2003).

So …, you and me -we all now- can change (e.g.) emails at 299.798,454 meters per second (warning: “suddenly ongoing” number hypotheses by a ‘clever‘ science team coordinator). That’s roughly a fraction of 20 parts per million more than last week (as the standard light speed stands for 299.792,458 m/s); i.e. 6 Km/s more (six, not … let us say nine Km more, still buzzes me for other reasons). Not -by all means-, reaching this amazing speed, I decided to depict (above) two different quotes for their stark contrast (all those underlined parts, made me smile a little, having in mind all the rest in context).

Surprised?! Don’t be. Science, fortunately moves on precisely this way. If a paradigmatic change occurs, that’s a healthy signal, not the contrary. My concern here today is not about change (along with their implications and applications, which could be huge), but rather -instead- when that change happened and to tribute those who have made that paradigm shift possible, creating an entire new research field possible to be exploited, Albert Einstein included. Ironically, the Ereditato OPERA et al. team paper starts on page 1 (image below) with a stream of no less than more than 100 authors, and it ends (conclusions, page 22) with an – at least – “enigmatic” phrase: We deliberately do not attempt any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of the results (the full 24 pages work could be retrieved from arXiv). Having this in mind, I wonder if this recent paper did not forgot to mention someone.Superluminal theory or commonly know as Faster-than-light (FTL) communications and travel refer to the propagation of information or matter faster than the speed of light, a field with an enormous potential. Under the special theory of relativity (Wikipedia link), a particle (that has mass) with subluminal velocity needs infinite energy to accelerate to the speed of light, although special relativity does not forbid the existence of particles that travel faster than light at all times.

The “world” however seems to forget a paper done in 1998 by João Magueijo (Imperial College, London) on the Varying speed of light (VSL) theory of cosmology, proposing precisely that light speed was much higher in the early universe, by 60 orders of magnitude faster than its present value. João, was in fact the pioneer of VSL (along with John Moffat‘s early works). Their work starts like this (abstract):

We consider the cosmological implications of light traveling faster in the early Universe. We propose a prescription for deriving corrections to the cosmological evolution equations while the speed of light c is changing. We then show how the horizon, flatness, and cosmological constant problems may be solved. We also study cosmological perturbations in this scenario and show how one may solve the homogeneity and isotropy problems. As it stands, our scenario appears to most easily produce extreme homogeneity, requiring structure to be produced in the Standard Big Bang epoch. Producing significant perturbations during the earlier epoch would require a rather careful design of the function c(t). The large entropy inside the horizon nowadays can also be accounted for in this scenario. “, in Andreas Albrecht and João Magueijo; “A time varying speed of light as a solution to cosmological puzzles“, Physical Review D, Phys.Rev.D59:043516,1999 (the full 14 pages work published later in 1999 could be retrieved from arXiv).

João MagueijoPicture – João Magueijo (Imperial College, London).

A major work, onto which all his energies were necessary. Andreas and João fighted for years for their publication to pass the main journals, like Nature and Science. Later on, Magueijo decides to discuss his personal struggles pursuing VSL in his 2003 book, Faster Than The Speed of Light, The Story of a Scientific Speculation. For those who have actually read the book (not many let me say), do know that he spends most of its pages discussing, not VSL, but rather the counter aspect of conservationism and reductionism in Science, Academia and research. He does not spare Portugal also. Born in Évora (Alentejo, southern Portugal) in 1967, he mentions over several passages: I will never return. I now agree with him. Back in 2000 I spoke with several foreign as well as Portuguese physicists. No one knew him, or his work. Or if they did (yes, some did), nobody cared. They still do. For them, it was a sacrilege to open a little variation on Einstein‘s theory.

For what I have seen these days on newspapers and TV, the same conservationism keeps ruling, even if the media keeps inviting the most prominent commentators on the field, … the same as usual. Independently from the variation, they keep saying the same, or being skeptic. But I keep wondering if what they have is really a pure genuine scientific skepticism. Not surprised at all, let me add. Over my life, I have met mathematicians that do not know what a Voronoi tessellation is. Increasingly, the same goes on for a Johnson-Mehl. Or Portuguese physicists who have never heard about Per Bak‘s selforganized criticality. A massive mass-media delivered oblivion. Now gone worldwide, it seems.

Being skeptic is crucial (at some point). It’s one of the key ingredients in Science. Not however, when much before this present 2011 buzz OPERA paper, a small team on the other side of the planet,  in Australia, verified experimentally that Magueijo was right, a few months after his 1999 work (funny, … Einstein‘s theory was experimentally proved on São Tomé and Príncipe, also abroad, near the Equator). I do remember the news back then, but … hey, after one decade now, I do not have the link anymore – sorry, I’m not a physicist. Neither a mathematician. With patience, one of these days I will google it out. My memory is not what it was.

Fortunately, Magueijo‘s memory is not like ours. He knows where the right guys are. Or if he – by one good reason- misses them (as it was the case here), he goes after them. Not happy with Faster than Light,  in 2009, he decided to publish a second book: A Brilliant Darkness, an impressive account of the life and science of the vanished Italian physicist Ettore Majorana. For that, he random-walks the entire Italy, from one point to another, during months, even taking boats back and forth, grasping Majorana memoirs and the “fatal” accident and disappearance, still unsolved. Now that, I absolutely recommend as a good reading  for some Italian science team coordinators.

Back in 2001, living in a cheap hotel, for several weeks, in Kensington Road, while working daily at the Imperial College for a project aiming for new types of Neural Networks for Pollution control and forecasting, while the cold rain shuffled the windows outside, several times my thoughts went on what are the 10 key features present in a good scientist. I will spare you what I consider to be my 10 list (mail me one day if you feel curiosity about them) – anyway here are my first three: (3) honesty, (2) imagination and (1) courage. João, as I believe, had it all, namely the first one in tremendous proportions. 30 meters away from the Queen’s tower, daily on a cave, at the Imperial College main pub by 5 P.M, I had a couple of pints. Everyday I wished he was there, joining me: he do loves a good beer too. But he was definitively elsewhere on the campus, probably over another nearby pub at that hour. Never saw him. Never thought of climbing from my lab to his, in order to say hello. After one month, I left London.

For his amazing work and courage, as I said earlier last week over Twitter (link): “João Magueijo rocks! Neutrinos too. Both can travel faster than light. :-)“. Above all, those erratic neutrinos should be smiling now. Probably, by 60 orders of magnitude faster than its present value.

Yes, the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter has is own day also. It’s Pi Day. March 14th. Created by physicist Larry Shaw, Pi Day is a holiday commemorating the mathematical constant π (pi). There is a reason for this date. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 (or 3/14 in month/day date format), since 3, 1 and 4 are the three most significant digits of π in the decimal form. If you want to check it out, here are the first one million digits of π. Ironically, this is also the date when Albert Einstein was born. So, how about some good music along with that, to celebrate it?!

Picture – Albert Einstein standing on a rock stepping-stone, enjoying grabbing some sun at the sea shore (1945). Oh! … the sea shore. By the way, Mr. Einstein, what lovely sexy shoes you have!

[…] Einstein always appeared to have a clear view of the problems of physics and the determination to solve them. He had a strategy of his own and was able to visualize the main stages on the way to his goal. He regarded his major achievements as mere stepping-stones for the next advance. […] In his early days in Berlin, Einstein postulated that the correct interpretation of the special theory of relativity must also furnish a theory of gravitation and in 1916 he published his paper on the general theory of relativity. During this time he also contributed to the problems of the theory of radiation and statistical mechanics. […] After his retirement he continued to work towards the unification of the basic concepts of physics, taking the opposite approach, geometrisation, to the majority of physicists. […] (source Nobel prize org.)

Einstein on the Beach : Philip Glass / Robert Wilson, 1976.

[…] Einstein on the Beach (1976) is a pivotal work in the oeuvre of Philip Glass. It is the first, longest, and most famous of the composer’s operas, yet it is in almost every way unrepresentative of them. Einstein was, by design, a glorious “one-shot” – a work that invented its context, form and language, and then explored them so exhaustively that further development would have been redundant. But, by its own radical example, Einstein prepared the way – it gave permission – for much of what has happened in music theater since its premiere. Einstein broke all the rules of opera. It was in four interconnected acts and five hours long, with no intermissions (the audience was invited to wander in and out at liberty during performances). The acts were intersticed by what Glass and Wilson called “knee plays” – brief interludes that also provided time for scenery changes. The text consisted of numbers, solfege syllables and some cryptic poems by Christopher Knowles, a young, neurologically-impaired man with whom Wilson had worked as an instructor of disturbed children for the New York public schools. To this were added short texts by choreographer Lucinda Childs and Samuel M. Johnson, an actor who played the Judge in the “Trial” scenes and the bus driver in the finale. There were references to the trial of Patricia Hearst (which was underway during the creation of the opera); to the mid-’70s radio lineup on New York’s WABC; to the popular song “Mr. Bojangles”; to the Beatles and to teen idol David Cassidy. Einstein sometimes seemed a study in sensory overload, meaning everything and nothing…  […] (continues) [source ]

KNEE 5 | KNEE PLAY CHARACTER 1 : Numbers and Mr Bojangles /  KNEE PLAY CHARACTER 2 : Text from Knee Play 1 / BUS DRIVER : Lovers on a Park Bench

1,2,3,4… 1,2,3,4,5,6, …,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,… 1,2,3,4… 1,2,3,4,5,6, …,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,… 1,2,3,4… 1,2,3,4,5,6, … 2,3,4, … 1,2,3,4, … 1,6 …

Two lovers sat on a park bench with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight. There was silence between them. So profound was their love for each other, they needed no words to express it. And so they sat in silence, on a park bench, with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight. Finally she spoke. “Do you love me, John ?” she asked. “You know I love you. darling,” he replied. “I love you more than tongue can tell. You are the light of my life. my sun. moon and stars. You are my everything. Without you I have no reason for being.” Again there was silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench, their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight. Once more she spoke. “How much do you love me, John ?” she asked. He answered : “How’ much do I love you ? Count the stars in the sky. Measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon. Number the grains of sand on the sea shore. Impossible, you say? “, (text by Samuel Johnson).

Figure – My first Swarm Painting SP0016 (Jan. 2002). This was done attaching the following algorithm into a robotic drawing arm. In order to do it however, pheromone distribution by the overall ant colony were carefully coded into different kinds of colors and several robotic pencils (check “The MC2 Project [Machines of Collective Conscience]“, 2001, and “On the Implicit and on the Artificial“, 2002). On the same year when the computational model appeared (2000) the concept was already extended into photography (check original paper) – using the pheromone distribution as photograms (“Einstein to Map” in the original article along with works like “Kafka to Red Ants” as well as subsequent newspaper articles). Meanwhile, in 2003, I was invited to give an invited talk over these at the 1st Art & Science Symposium in Bilbao (below). Even if I was already aware of Jeffrey Ventrella outstanding work as well as Ezequiel Di Paolo, it was there where we first met physically.

[] Vitorino Ramos, Self-Organizing the Abstract: Canvas as a Swarm Habitat for Collective Memory, Perception and Cooperative Distributed Creativity, in 1st Art & Science Symposium – Models to Know Reality, J. Rekalde, R. Ibáñez and Á. Simó (Eds.), pp. 59, Facultad de Bellas Artes EHU/UPV, Universidad del País Vasco, 11-12 Dec., Bilbao, Spain, 2003.

Many animals can produce very complex intricate architectures that fulfil numerous functional and adaptive requirements (protection from predators, thermal regulation, substrate of social life and reproductive activities, etc). Among them, social insects are capable of generating amazingly complex functional patterns in space and time, although they have limited individual abilities and their behaviour exhibits some degree of randomness. Among all activities by social insects, nest building, cemetery organization and collective sorting, is undoubtedly the most spectacular, as it demonstrates the greatest difference between individual and collective levels. Trying to answer how insects in a colony coordinate their behaviour in order to build these highly complex architectures, scientists assumed a first hypothesis, anthropomorphism, i.e., individual insects were assumed to possess a representation of the global structure to be produced and to make decisions on the basis of that representation. Nest complexity would then result from the complexity of the insect’s behaviour. Insect societies, however, are organized in a way that departs radically from the anthropomorphic model in which there is a direct causal relationship between nest complexity and behavioural complexity. Recent works suggests that a social insect colony is a decentralized system composed of cooperative, autonomous units that are distributed in the environment, exhibit simple probabilistic stimulus-response behaviour, and have only access to local information. According to these studies at least two low-level mechanisms play a role in the building activities of social insects: Self-organization and discrete Stigmergy, being the latter a kind of indirect and environmental synergy. Based on past and present stigmergic models, and on the underlying scientific research on Artificial Ant Systems and Swarm Intelligence, while being systems capable of emerging a form of collective intelligence, perception and Artificial Life, done by Vitorino Ramos, and on further experiences in collaboration with the plastic artist Leonel Moura, we will show results facing the possibility of considering as “art”, as well, the resulting visual expression of these systems. Past experiences under the designation of “Swarm Paintings” conducted in 2001, not only confirmed the possibility of realizing an artificial art (thus non-human), as introduced into the process the questioning of creative migration, specifically from the computer monitors to the canvas via a robotic harm. In more recent self-organized based research we seek to develop and profound the initial ideas by using a swarm of autonomous robots (ARTsBOT project 2002-03), that “live” avoiding the purpose of being merely a simple perpetrator of order streams coming from an external computer, but instead, that actually co-evolve within the canvas space, acting (that is, laying ink) according to simple inner threshold stimulus response functions, reacting simultaneously to the chromatic stimulus present in the canvas environment done by the passage of their team-mates, as well as by the distributed feedback, affecting their future collective behaviour. In parallel, and in what respects to certain types of collective systems, we seek to confirm, in a physically embedded way, that the emergence of order (even as a concept) seems to be found at a lower level of complexity, based on simple and basic interchange of information, and on the local dynamic of parts, who, by self-organizing mechanisms tend to form an lived whole, innovative and adapting, allowing for emergent open-ended creative and distributed production.

[...] People should learn how to play Lego with their minds. Concepts are building bricks [...] V. Ramos, 2002.

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