Atoms are composed of electrons moving around a central nucleus they are bound to. The electrons can also be torn away, overcoming the confining force of their nucleus, using the powerful electric field of a laser. Half a century ago, the theorist Walter Henneberger wondered if it was possible to free an electron from its atom with the laser field, but still make it stay around the nucleus. Many scientists considered this hypothesis to be impossible. However, it was recently successfully confirmed by physicists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, and the Max Born Institute (MBI) in Berlin, Germany. For the first time, they managed to control the shape of the laser pulse to keep an electron both free and bound to its nucleus, and were at the same time able to regulate the electronic structure of this atom dressed by the laser. What’s more, they also made these unusual states amplify laser light. They also identified a no-go area. In this area nicknamed “Death Valley,” physicists lose all their power over the electron. These results shatter the usual concepts related to the ionisation of matter. The results have been published in the journal Nature Physics. (1)
Made free. Only to be controlled
Liberated. Only to be enslaved.
Be careful of the big promises of the Devil.
No, you are not a free man.
You are free because someone gave you
You are not entitled to anything.
Unless someone gives you the right to
The worm cannot claim the earth.
And at the very moment it thinks it
can, the car comes along and crushes it…
Stay enslaved. And you will be
liberated. In your nature. In your own self.
Bali’s famous rice terraces, when seen from above, look like colorful mosaics because some farmers plant synchronously, while others plant at different times. The resulting fractal patterns are rare for human-made systems and lead to optimal harvests without global planning.
To understand how Balinese rice farmers make their decisions for planting, a team of scientists led by Stephen Lansing (Nanyang Technological University) and Stefan Thurner (Medical University of Vienna, Complexity Science Hub Vienna, IIASA, SFI), both external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute, modeled two variables: water availability and pest damage. Farmers that live upstream have the advantage of always having water; while those downstream have to adapt their planning on the schedules of the upstream farmers.
Here, pests enter the scene. When farmers are planting at different times, pests can move from one field to another, but when farmers plant in synchrony, pests drown and the pest load is reduced. So upstream farmers have an incentive to share water so that synchronous planting can happen. However, water resources are limited and there is not enough water for everybody to plant at the same time. As a result of this constraint, fractal planting patterns emerge, which yield close to maximal harvests.
“The remarkable finding is that this optimal situation arises without central planners or coordination. Farmers interact locally and take local individual free decisions, which they believe will optimize their own harvest. And yet the global system works optimally,” says Lansing. “What is exciting scientifically is that this is in contrast to the tragedy of the commons, where the global optimum is not reached because everyone is maximizing his individual profit. This is what we are experiencing typically when egoistic people are using a limited resource on the planet, everyone optimizes the individual payoff and never reach an optimum for all,” he says.
The scientists find that under these assumptions, the planting patterns become fractal, which is indeed the case as they confirm with satellite imagery. “The system becomes remarkably stable, again without any planning — stability is the outcome of a remarkably simple but efficient self-organized process” Thurner says. (1)
We believe that everything needs planning. We believe that we need to analyze things, to reach logical conclusions, to plan and then to re-plan in order to reach an optimum effect.
But these farmers did not plan anything and yet it seems that they managed to reach to a state where crops grew in an optimum way. (Unless of course you name the “I want to plant now in my field” as “planning”. The choice of words is always important for our civilization and it seems that we tend to name everything based on our view of the cosmos) But looking more closely, we will see that they did not actually manage anything. The system simply evolved as it is meant to evolve. Planning too much simply disrupts this natural evolution of things. Fractals emerge only to show the obvious; everything is the same everywhere. It is just your distinct perspective that creates the illusion of difference (and change).
All systems have the natural tendency to reach a balance.
And humans have the tendency to always be impressed by that simple fact.
But what we fail to see is that all processes at the end reach that balance.
Because the cosmos is not under our control.
We are under the control of the cosmos.
Let go1. Grow the crops without planning.
And it will seem2 like you have planned everything.
Harmonia Philosophical Explanatory Notes
1 “Let go” not in the sense of “Be lazy and do nothing because the crops will grow on their own” but in the sense of “Accept the nature’s cycles and trust the cosmos. Plan only when and at the extent required. Try not to change and control the cosmos”…
2 It seems cynical, but isn’t that what it is all about after all? At least for the western civilization? Appearances? We all care so much about the phenomena, that we have forgotten the simple fact that phenomena are a cloak which conceals the truth, even though nature continuously reminds us of our illusion. On the other hand, when something looks as if it is planned (even though it is not), wouldn’t that mean that is simply… is? A weird place the cosmos is. (and philosophy is actually a much weirder place)
Scientists have set up the world’s most precise ‘metronome’ for a kilometer-wide network. The timing system synchronizes a 4.7-kilometer-long laser-microwave network with 950 attoseconds precision. An attosecond is a millionth of a millionth of a millionth of a second. (1)
Impressive. Or so it seems.
Because the problem is not synchronization per se.
Everything is already synchronized. In their own frequencies, according to their own preferences. The problem is that we want to synchronize things as we wish fit. We want to exert control. We do not care about how nature is already synchronized. All we care is to make our machine work.
But How would we progress? someone might ask…
Sure. Making a laser and achieving state of the art synchronization is ‘progress’. But after doing that just wonder: What if that synchronization is at the expense of another more valuable synchronization? What if you disrupted something much more fundamental in order to make this laser network work? Yes, it now works. However I have the sense that we are not more happy or more complete as humans because of this ‘achievement’.
Somehow I have the feeling that a river somewhere stopped flowing…
Conventional memories used in today’s computers only differentiate between the bit values 0 and 1. In quantum physics, however, arbitrary superpositions of these two states are possible. Most of the ideas for new quantum technology devices rely on this “Superposition Principle”. One of the main challenges in using such states is that they are usually short-lived. Only for a short period of time can information be read out of quantum memories reliably, after that it is irrecoverable.
A research team at TU Wien has now taken an important step forward in the development of new quantum storage concepts. In cooperation with the Japanese telecommunication giant NTT, the Viennese researchers lead by Johannes Majer are working on quantum memories based on nitrogen atoms and microwaves. The nitrogen atoms have slightly different properties, which quickly leads to the loss of the quantum state. By specifically changing a small portion of the atoms, one can bring the remaining atoms into a new quantum state, with a lifetime enhancement of more than a factor of ten. These results have been published in the journal “Nature Photonics”. (1)
The atoms are everywhere. Changing all the time. But we want them to be somewhere. In order to control them. In order to keep information there.
Because we want to create memories.
In an ever changing world, we want to find stability. Even though everything changes all the time, we want them to follow stable rules, patterns, certain paths. Inside everything, we need something. We seek constancy in an ever turbulent cosmos.
Because we need to be able to remember. To know.
And the weird thing is that we do know. Even though it seems we cannot find stability, we somehow find it. Because we do remember. Because we Are. Something we do not fully grasp now. And yet, we feel it. The world is not what it seems to be. The world can stop moving. The world can stop changing. The world can come to a halt.