Your sense of 'space'...

As you know, I'm fascinated with the Centriole and other similar cylindrical protein structures (microtubules), and believe that they are quite likely to be a structure that has sufficient isolation to allow coherent interference (quantum) and thus act as as some type of processor. Following on from this I'm quite wedded to the idea that their architecture somehow reflects something vital about the nature of the reality I experience.

1. Cross section of the highly conserved centriole, showing excellent details of the 9 microtubule triplets.

Stephen Wright recently mentioned Tononi's ideas on integrated information. I've heard of them before, but never actually read anything about them. So I thought I would grab one of his papers "The Geometry of Integrated Information", and although I was somewhat mystified with the maths, the diagrams illustrating degrees of freedom hit a chord with me (see below).

2. Tononi's geometry of integrated information (showing degrees of freedom as a quadrant).

Anyway, they've been going round and round in my head for the last week or so... and I've since become interested in another idea about these cylindrical protein structures, which I think fits rather nicely with my earlier ideas about the internal--->body<---external all being different perceptions of the same thing....

It sounds rather obvious, but I suddenly realised that a cylindrical structure has both an 'inside', and an 'outside'. In the case of microtubules, the space inside them is very small, and the space outside of them is massive. Here's a quick picture to illustrate the point...

3. Microtubules, like any small cylindrical structure, have a very small internal space, and a massive external space.
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Max seeing this headline made me think of your ideas, though apologies if it's utterly irrelevant:

“Time crystals” latest quantum weirdness

Crystals are common to our normal understanding of nature. Time crystals aren’t. In fact, it was only recently that anyone even hypothesized they might exist.

Their atoms operate in a sort of time-array, as opposed to a physical array. The time crystal created by Lukin’s team was a synthetic black diamond, meaning that it was a diamond with a million or so “nitrogen vacancy” impurities — so many they made it appear black.

The electrons in these impurities have spins: they can react to electromagnetic pulses by flipping 180 degrees, analogous to what happens to nuclei in the human body during magnetic resonance imaging.

Normally, you would expect the spins to flip back and forth in synchronisation with the pulse. But that is not what happened. Instead, when Lukin’s team tried it with their black diamond, the spins flipped only once for every two or three pulses.

Shivaji Sondhi, a theoretical physicist at Princeton University in New Jersey, who was part of the team that in 2015 first theorised that such crystals might be possible, compares the effect to repeatedly squeezing on a sponge.

“When you release the sponge, you expect it to resume its shape,” he says. “Imagine that it only resumes its shape every second squeeze, even though you are applying the same force each time.”

In the second study, a team lead by the Christopher Monroe, physicist at the University of Maryland, used a chain of 14 charged ytterbium ions, but got essentially the same result.

Furthermore, the scientists found, varying the incoming electromagnetic pulse didn’t particularly alter the response. In other words, the time crystal’s response was stable, not strongly affected by variances that would normally scramble it and rapidly lead to disorder.

Applications are up in the air. “It’s very early days,” says Nayak. “I think applications will become more clear as we expand the contexts in which we can create time crystals.”

One possibility is that this might be used in futuristic quantum computers. “What a time crystal is doing is manipulating quantum information in a period manner,” says Nayak. “That’s potentially useful for quantum information processing.”

Lukin says that another potential application is in developing sensing instruments capable of working on very small scales. These instruments could be designed with numerous tiny time crystals, tightly packed.

The crystals would react to electrical or magnetic impulses in their local environment, but would not be easily perturbed by whatever is going on nearby. “We believe these will enable new approaches for [what are] basically quantum sensors,” Lukin says.


Another one for you Max, relating in part to the aforementioned Time Crystals:

The strange topology that is reshaping physics

In the strange world of quantum physics, an electron can also be represented as a wavefunction that encodes information about the particle, such as the probability of finding it in a particular spin state. Counterintuitively, a 360° rotation actually shifts the phase of the wavefunction, so that the wave’s crests become troughs and vice versa. It takes another full 360° turn to finally bring the electron and its wavefunction back to their starting states.

This is exactly what happens in one of mathematicians’ favourite topological oddities: the Möbius strip, formed by giving a ribbon a single twist and then gluing its ends together. If an ant crawled one full loop of the ribbon, it would find itself on the opposite side from where it started. It must make another full circuit before it can return to its initial position.

The ant’s situation is not just an analogy for what happens to the electron’s wavefunction — it actually occurs within an abstract geometric space made of quantum waves. It’s as if each electron contains a tiny Möbius strip that carries a little bit of interesting topology. All kinds of particles that share this property, including quarks and neutrinos, are known as fermions; those that do not, such as photons, are bosons.

Most physicists study quantum concepts such as spin without worrying about their topological meaning. But in the 1980s, theorists such as David Thouless of the University of Washington in Seattle began to suspect that topology might be responsible for a surprising phenomenon called the quantum Hall effect, which had just been discovered. This effect sees the electrical resistance in a single-atom-thick layer of a crystal jump in discrete steps when the material is placed in magnetic fields of different intensities. Crucially, the resistance remains unchanged by fluctuations in temperature, or by impurities in the crystal. Such robustness was unheard of, says Hasan, and it is one of the key attributes of topological states that physicists are now eager to exploit.