Monday, March 27, 2017

Paul McCartney

I think one the biggest mysteries in the history of music is to explain Paul McCartney unabashed brilliancy with the Beatles and his astounding mediocrity afterwards.

My opinion is that he never overcame the sense of guilt that it was that very brilliancy his band mates could not handle to disrupt the band cohesion and cause its demise.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


The 20th century will be forever remembered for the birth of two new fundamental theories of physics, namely Relavity e Quantum Mechanics.

Special Relavity and Quantum Mechanics have been merged into the highly successful Standard Model of Particle Physics, which describes the building blocks of our world at the microscopic scale up to a millionth of a billionth of a meter.

Instead, General Relativity, which with a comparable success describes gravity and what happens at the astronomical scale, has remained a theory by itself and has stubbornly refused to be unified in a common theoretical framework with Quantum Mechanics.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was build to investigate the question further but has hitherto failed to provide new clues, beyond confirming the existence of the Higgs boson, the 'fog' particle responsible for 'slowing down' many others, giving them mass in the process.

I have a degree in Physics, though I gave up studying it after graduation.

I bet that further advances will be made along two lines.

On the one hand one striking difference between the Standard Model and General Relativity is that the geometrical space and the simmetries that characterize the former are complex while the those that inform the latter are real. Complex and real here refer the kind of mathematical numbers in use in the physical description. So it must be that complex mathematics is linked to the quantum description, while real mathematics describes reality at a classical level.

Since complex numbers are characterized by an amplitude and a phase, the amplitude being the 'real' part, and  the phase the aspect unique to complex numbers, it must be that the transition from the quantum microscopic world to the classical macroscopic one is described mathematically by a sort of phase 'freeze', so that mathematically the complex description is replaced by the real description as the quantum behaviour fades into the more familiar classical one.

One the other hand another striking difference between the Standard Model and General Relativity is that in the latter there is a local simmetry (Lorentz simmetry) which acts on a space that is a local linearization of the geometry of the underlying manifold, while in the former the local simmetry (Yang-Mills simmetry) lacks a similar underlying manifold but istead rests as a 'guest' simmetry upon the very same manifold described by General Relativity.

So my bet is that, to mimic mathematically General Relativity, a complex manifold space underlying the Standard Model should be introduced , while General Relativiy, to mimic mathematically the Standard Model, should be reformulated using complex mathematics to include a quantum description that is currently lacking. While these are very general and broad guidelines, maybe obvious to most physicists, I don't find them often clearly stated.

It will become clear that the forces described by the Standard Model are a macroscopic consequence of these hidden dimensions whose existence I'm taking for granted. Also the relationship between complex numbers and quantum mathematics will become clearer.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Nice movies, bad for women

I would like to draw a comparison between two great movies, namely Hichcock's Vertigo and David Lynch's Lost Highway. The analogies are so strict that it's difficult to imagine Lynch did not deliberately reference the Master of Thriller's masterpiece.

In Vertigo there are two women, a blond irresistible woman that turns out to be a deception, and and a real humble woman with brown hair. The latter woman's death is due to the lack of self assurance of the man she loves. The blonde woman appears in the first part of the movie, in which the deception unfolds, the brunette woman in the second part of the movie.

In Lost Highway the situation is similar but reversed. The real brunette woman appears in the first part of the movie at the end of which she's killed by the man she lives with because he cannot deal with his jealousy. In the second part of the movie a dreamlike blond woman appears, but the desception ends with the final distruction of the male character.

In both movies both women, the blonde and the brunette, are impersonated by the same actress.

Both movies deal with male insecurities and are fine artistic representation of how personal imbalance, immaturity and lack of psychological stability (recall that Hichcock's movie title is Vertigo!) can be harmful to other people and to the person itself.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Light speed

Often it's said that Relativity doesn't allow any information to travel faster than the speed of light.

That's exaggerate and not true.

It's been shown that quantum entanglement allows information to travel faster than the speed of light. If a system is entangled, meaning it's a superposition of two states, when an interaction causes the system to fall into one of those two states, that happens instantly everywhere irrespective of how big the system is.

So, for example, if two photons get entangled and then one of them is sent to a nearby galaxy, afterwards the system comprising the two photons stretches from our galaxy to the nearby one, and, irrespective of that, an interaction with the local photon can cause an instant change in the distant one located in the another galaxy.

So information can move instantly whatever the distance.

I think, but I'm not going to prove it, that the limitation due to the speed of light regards only energy and momentum, not information.

That is not surprising, because it can be shown that the fact the laws of physics are the same everywhere causes energy and momentum to be conserved during the evolution of a system. So energy and momentum are deeply connected with the structure and geometry of spacetime, in a way that their transfer is subject to the geometrical laws of spacetime (of which the speed of light is just an aspect).

Information instead, and who knows what else, can move instantly.

In the above example, sending the photon to the nearby galaxy is a transfer of energy, that's why it's subject to the speed of light limit. But once energy is in place, that limit doesn't apply to information transfer.

So, if I may end on a sci-fi note, one may imagine harvesting photons entangled from the beginning of the universe to send information instantly to every corner of it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

New Horizons getting to Pluto

The New Horizons spacecraft will get to the Pluto-Charon system next July. How does Pluto and the Sun look from Charon? I tried to picture it using Celestia:

For comparison, here's how the Earth and the Sun look from the Moon:

So from Charon Pluto looks quite bigger than the Earth from the Moon, and it must be quite a spectacle. The Sun instead looks not much larger than a pin from Pluto. From the Moon it isn't so big either. In fact as it is well known it's about half a degree in angular size, the same angular size as the light disc a few millimeters across in the picture above seen from a few decimeters far.

I personally perceive the the Sun much bigger than this, but it must be just a psychological illusion.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I'm very fond of Lucio Battisti last records.  I think they mark the greatest achievement
in his musical career.

I was curious about the creative process behind these songs. We know pretty well how Lucio worked with Pasquale Panella. In the last records the lyrics were composed before the music.

Instead, we know less about how the songs came to take the form we can listen to now. So, I tried to ask Robyn Smith, who arranged "Don Giovanni" and "L'Apparenza" and he was so kind to reply:

Ciao Carlo, 

I have not listened to the album for a while now. I just did - oh, it is so magical. The harmonies are mainly all Lucio’s. He demoed the songs with a very simple keyboard with his voice. What was so wonderful was that he just let me arrange everything as I wanted and he seemed to like everything. 

The relationship of the sound and the atmosphere relevant to the lyrics and the meaning was most important. At that time drum machines were widely used and the use of rhythmic keyboards gave it this feeling of almost unemotion. This is what he wanted - the empty change… the appearance. 

It was so easy and so enjoyable to make. I had already arranged Don Giovanni so I knew how Lucio worked and he knew how I worked. It was great and he is greatly missed.

Many thanks for bringing back such wonderful memories. 


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Curiosity Rover Navigation Pics

I created a Python script to make movies out of the NASA Curiosity Rover navigation camera pictures. Here's the script and a sample movie: