I’ve always been fascinated by the secret spaces in cities – the abandoned tube stations in London, or the catacombs in Paris which I wrote about in The Scar-Crow Men and Lord of Silence.
Turns out it wasn’t 88mph after all. A team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has completed a successful experiment with quantum time travel.
Seth Lloyd and his collaborators “have identified a new approach to the problem that opens up the strange world of time travel to experiments,” according to a report in New Scientist magazine.
What is so tantalising about time travel is that there seems to be nothing to prevent it. As far as the laws of physics are concerned, time can run forwards or backwards. But time travel of the kind that Marty McFly gets up to in the movie Back to the Future is a different kettle of fish. It requires an object to go back in time while everything else keeps creeping forward. Still, there is no shortage of ideas about how this might happen.
Even more fascinating, the MiT team sent a photon back to “kill” itself.
The magazine says, ‘When this experiment is done, something interesting happens: every single time the time travel works, the gun fails to go off. And when time travel fails, the gun works. To put this in the language of the grandfather paradox, as long as there is some chance of your gun misfiring and the assassination failing, time travel may work. “You can point the gun but you can’t pull the trigger,” says Lloyd.’
In Southwark, not far from the resurrected Globe Theatre, the BFI and many of London’s arts establishments, lies Cross Bones cemetery. The graveyard is set aside for “outcasts” – prostitutes and paupers – and was in use for hundreds of years from Medieval times.
It was original the burial place for the Winchester Geese, the London prostitutes licenced by the Bishop of Winchester mentioned in The Sword of Albion.
I’m a sucker for stories like this.
Of course, we all did know this, right?
(I didn’t make this, btw: the video on the progression of information technology was researched by Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and Jeff Bronman. Google them to find out more of their work.)
The brain is a strange and wonderful thing, and we know relatively little about it.
And I should point out that the Incredible Shrinking Pain aligns very neatly with some Eastern spiritual teachings about how the mind can control the body’s responses.
“The presence of the extra-universal matter suggests that our universe is part of something biggerâ€”a multiverseâ€”and that whatever is out there is very different from the universe we know, according to study leader Alexander Kashlinsky, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. “
Something on the edge of the universe pulling us inexorably toward it? Possible proof of the multiverse? And National Geographic wrap it up in a page…
Just back from a few days in Paris where I’ve been doing research for a new project, and I was struck by how much better the French capital is than our own stinky, slow-moving London. Not so much in the cutting-edge abstracts of ideas – the two cities are pretty equal on that front – but in the basic, bricks and mortar structures. Paris feels like a capital city, grand and weighty with a rich, powerful history. Looking up the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe from the Place de la Concorde, you get a sense of awe that London never really evokes. It’s there throughout the city. The French have held on to their history well, but wtihout letting it get in the way of modernity and innovation.
The Pompidou Centre is head and shoulders above Tate Modern in my view. The design of the building matches form with function so much better, and the exhibitions just seem so much better curated.
And then there’s the Louvre. London has nothing like this. A temple to art and history that is as big as a village. With that great glass pyramid surrounded by those grand, ancient buildings, this is the point that shows up where the French are best at moving forward while holding on to the power of the past. The Louvre itself is just breath-taking in design and function. The big downside, as I’m sure others have mentioned, is that it’s a victim of its own success. So many people swarm through the warren of rooms that it’s impossible to appreciate the art and artefacts. Hot, sweaty, constant, blinding camera flashes… Seeing the Mona Lisa is like standing just before the stage at a gig, swept back and forth by the crowd and fighting to get close enough to get a glimpse. Dan Brown Tom Hanks and Ron Howard got to film here at night, and were allowed to wander through the rooms at will while making The Da Vinci Code movie. I envy them.
But still…good food, good wine and an abundance of surliness – what more could you want when you’re travelling?
I sometimes think scientists sit around all day reading pulp SF novels from the fifties while they’re looking for the next big thing to work on.
Not saying it isn’t a good idea, but I’m still waiting for ray guns and Lensmen.