The Account of a Lifetime

July 5, 2008

Relativistic Crystallography

Filed under: Physics,Tea. Earl Grey. Hot — xisor @ 11:03 pm

This last couple of weeks, since contacting an old tutor about the possibility of a summer project or even just study for the summer, my mind has been idly running over what it knows of crystallography. It’s been over a year properly since I did my Solid State Physics course, and even then I only really remember the crystallography parts (the models, the band-gaps…they all pale compared to face-centred-cubes…).

Curiously, however, I felt I’d also done abysmally in my General Relativity exams this past semester. It turned out I didn’t, I got a 12.3 (which is a secure 2;2 grade, not brilliant, but considering I felt I’d failed and had my first ever ‘mental block’ during an exam I must’ve remembered something of use!).

Anyhow, as I say: recently despite not doingvery much physics, I’ve been puzzling over it thematically at least. No equations, no facts or experiments, just puzzling over ideas and possibilities. So, all that combined with last semester’s Gravitational Dynamics and some recent news about matter-filaments that seem to have their intersections coinciding with galaxies…well, it all got me thinking. That and the bottle of Midori I’ve been imbibing!

At this point declare interludeand thus explain some recent circumstances. Summary: Promotion to management assistant, perpetual feeling of incompetence, resentment to superiors re: poor training and a general sense of uselessness. Add to that a few good friends whom I hope I’ll remain friends with and something which I think I’ve erroneously scapegoated as ‘catholic guilt’ have led me to where I am today. Physics PC Classroom, bottle of lemonade, bottle of Midori, blues radio on t’interwebz (KKJZ) and a terrible lack of sleep. Instead of having a quick drink last night with my summer-housemates and neighbours I did, instead, drink three cans of relentless and a litre of tea, earl grey, hot before then watching “Cracker” and finally getting to sleep at some time well past four in the morning…to get up for an 8AM shift at DRA. So, that behind me, a bit of internetting and then a spot of messing about in a house before watching “Journey’s End”, a highly frustrating episode of Doctor Who, I later ended up here, in physics, as previously described. Confused Interlude Ends.

So, my thinking, Grav. Dynamics, G.R. and Solid State Physics (plus Dr. Pickard’s First Principles Crystallography work)  and then a dollop of relatively recent research findings all combined to yield a highly intriguing thought. Surely something that’ll lead precisely nowhere and is highly likely to be a very poorly thought out idea (if it can be called that!).

Anyway. The speculation/idea is as follows. That galactic (or other structure) placement on a cosmological scale will correspond to a rough crystallographic description. The idea comes about with the idea of optimal stacking conditions (early ideas in crystallography there!). If we are to organise the galaxies with a sortof account for dark energy (and lumping dark matter in with the normal matter setting, unless there’s a decent reason not to [which there likely is, it’s just I don’t know it]) and gravitational potential (plus all our other relative kinetic stuff) then can we yield an optimal stacking…structure. Essentially a crystal structure.

Continuing: the idea is then that any of our conditions for ‘setting up’ can be obtained, that we could really represent a cosmological structure using the basic ideas behind a crystal lattice then all we’d have to do to start forming the structure would be to then account for GR terms in placement. But that might not work as the universes’ structure is highly likely to be dynamic (i.e. non-linear [flashes back to silly attempt to claim chaos from linear systems in Computational Physics viva…shudders]). I did study galactic dynamics as well, and that was anything if linear. But even then, assume that we can obtain some sort of irregular dynamic crystal structure (crystal really ought to be omitted by this point) to the universe, then I imagine that we’ll find that structure by applying similar techniques to those used in searchs for irregular (optimal) crystal stacking structures.

Hmm. This is a disaster. I’m explaining things horribly and making horrific mistakes as I go. I pray ye forgive me! It’s a curious idea, and highly likely a failure, but I’ll keep thinking about it for a day or two until I get that Martin textbook on electronic structure from where I can get back to Dr Pickard with some intelligence behind me. Perhaps, even, I might be able to figure out a good way to ask about how complexity of a system is measured…


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