Ideas of Frank Close, by Theme

[British, fl. 1983, At the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire.]

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27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 2. Thermodynamics / b. Heat
Work degrades into heat, but not vice versa
     Full Idea: William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, declared (in 1865) the second law of thermodynamics: mechanical work inevitably tends to degrade into heat, but not vice versa.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Perpetual')
     A reaction: The basis of entropy, which makes time an essential part of physics. Might this be the single most important fact about the physical world?
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 2. Thermodynamics / c. Conservation of energy
First Law: energy can change form, but is conserved overall
     Full Idea: The first law of thermodynamics : energy can be changed from one form to another, but is always conserved overall.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Perpetual')
     A reaction: So we have no idea what energy is, but we know it's conserved. (Daniel Bernoulli showed the greater the mean energy, the higher the temperature. James Joule showed the quantitative equivalence of heat and work p.26-7)
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 2. Thermodynamics / d. Entropy
Third Law: total order and minimum entropy only occurs at absolute zero
     Full Idea: The third law of thermodynamics says that a hypothetical state of total order and minimum entropy can be attained only at the absolute zero temperature, minus 273 degrees Celsius.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Arrow')
     A reaction: If temperature is energetic movement of atoms (or whatever), then obviously zero movement is the coldest it can get. So is absolute zero an energy state, or an absence of energy? I have no idea what 'total order' means.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 1. Relativity / a. Special relativity
All motions are relative and ambiguous, but acceleration is the same in all inertial frames
     Full Idea: There is no absolute state of rest; only relative motions are unambiguous. Contrast this with acceleration, however, which has the same magnitude in all inertial frames.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Newton's')
     A reaction: It seems important to remember this, before we start trumpeting about the whole of physics being relative. ....But see Idea 20634!
The electric and magnetic are tightly linked, and viewed according to your own motion
     Full Idea: Electric and magnetic phenomena are profoundly intertwined; what you interpret as electric or magnetic thus depends on your own motion.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: This sounds like an earlier version of special relativity.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 1. Relativity / b. General relativity
The general relativity equations relate curvature in space-time to density of energy-momentum
     Full Idea: The essence of general relativity relates 'curvature in space-time' on one side of the equation to the 'density of momentum and energy' on the other. ...In full, Einstein required ten equations of this type.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 5 'Gravity')
     A reaction: Momentum involves mass, and energy is equivalent to mass (e=mc^2).
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / a. Electrodynamics
Electro-magnetic waves travel at light speed - so light is electromagnetism!
     Full Idea: Faradays' measurements predicted the speed of electro-magnetic waves, which happened to be the speed of light, so Maxwell made an inspired leap: light is an electromagnetic wave!
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: Put that way, it doesn't sound like an 'inspired' leap, because travelling at exactly the same speed seems a pretty good indication that they are the same sort of thing. (But I'm not denying that Maxwell was a special guy!)
In QED, electro-magnetism exists in quantum states, emitting and absorbing electrons
     Full Idea: Dirac created quantum electrodynamics (QED): the universal electro-magnetic field can exist in discreet states of energy (with photons appearing and disappearing by energy excitations. This combined classical ideas, quantum theory and special relativity.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: Close says this is the theory of everything in atomic structure, but not in nuclei (which needs QCD and QFD). So if there are lots of other 'fields' (e.g. gravitational, weak, strong, Higgs), how do they all fit together? Do they talk to one another?
Electric fields have four basic laws (two by Gauss, one by Ampère, one by Faraday)
     Full Idea: Four basic laws of electric and magnetic fields: Gauss's Law (about the flux produced by a field), Gauss's law of magnets (there can be no monopoles), Ampère's Law (fields on surfaces), and Farday's Law (accelerated magnets produce fields).
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: [Highly compressed, for an overview. Close explains them]
Light isn't just emitted in quanta called photons - light is photons
     Full Idea: Planck had assumed that light is emitted in quanta called photons. Einstein went further - light is photons.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: The point is that light travels as entities which are photons, rather than the emissions being quantized packets of some other stuff.
In general relativity the energy and momentum of photons subjects them to gravity
     Full Idea: In Einstein's general theory, gravity acts also on energy and momentum, not simply on mass. For example, massless photons of light feel the gravitational attraction of the Sun and can be deflected.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 5 'Planck')
     A reaction: Ah, a puzzle solved. How come massless photons are bent by gravity?
Photon exchange drives the electro-magnetic force
     Full Idea: The exchange of photons drives the electro-magnetic force.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Superstrings')
     A reaction: So light, which we just think of as what is visible, is a mere side-effect of the engine room of nature - the core mechanism of the whole electro-magnetic field.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / b. Fields
Quantum fields contain continual rapid creation and disappearance
     Full Idea: Quantum field theory implies that the vacuum of space is filled with particles and antiparticles which bubble in and out of existence on faster and faster timescales over shorter and shorter distances.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Intro')
     A reaction: Ponder this sentence until you head aches. Existence, but not as we know it, Jim. Close says calculations in QED about the electron confirm this.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / c. Electrons
Dirac showed how electrons conform to special relativity
     Full Idea: In 1928 Paul Dirac discovered the quantum equation that describes the electron and conforms to the requirements special relativity theory.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Light!')
     A reaction: This sounds like a major step in the unification of physics. Quantum theory and General relativity remain irreconcilable.
Electrons get their mass by interaction with the Higgs field
     Full Idea: The electron gets its mass by interaction with the ubiquitous Higgs field.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Hierarchy')
     A reaction: I thought I understood mass until I read this. Is it just wrong to say the mass of a table is the 'amount of stuff' in it?
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / a. Concept of matter
Modern theories of matter are grounded in heat, work and energy
     Full Idea: The link between temperature, heat, work and energy is at the root of our historical ability to construct theories of matter, such as Newton's dynamics, while ignoring, and indeed being ignorant of - atomic dimensions.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 3 'Arrow')
     A reaction: That is, presumably, that even when you fill in the atoms, and the standard model of physics, these aspects of matter do the main explaiining (of the behaviour, rather than of the structure).
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 5. Unified Models / a. Electro-weak unity
The Higgs field is an electroweak plasma - but we don't know what stuff it consists of
     Full Idea: In 2012 it was confirmed that we are immersed in an electroweak plasma - the Higgs field. We curently have no knowledge of what this stuff might consist of.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 4 'Higgs')
     A reaction: The second sentence has my full attention. So we don't understand a field properly until we understand the 'stuff' it is made of? So what are all the familiar fields made of? Tell me more!
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 3. Space-Time
Space-time is indeterminate foam over short distances
     Full Idea: At very short distances, space-time itself becomes some indeterminate foam.
     From: Frank Close (Theories of Everything [2017], 6 'Intro')
     A reaction: [see Close for a bit more detail of this weird idea]