Off-topic: Czech police claims to have found the culprits behind the methanol scandal which killed 25 people in recent weeks (and led the government to impose temporary prohibition). The two men have fully confessed and face up to life sentences. A company legally using methanol to produce windshield washers was selling the methanol to the black market. The two criminals knew that they were producing a deadly mixtures of ethanol and methanol – to make profit, regardless of people's lives. I assure everyone that none of this business has ever compromised the safety of Czech exported beverages, especially not those produced near Pilsen, the opposite side of the country, so discrimination against Czech alcohol would be a sign of someone's misunderstanding of the details.If you haven't watched this BBC2 Horizon program named How small is the universe? four weeks ago, here is the 60-minute video:
Is the narrator speaking in conventional British English?
It's about Nature at very short distance scales and topics such as the string theory landscape, tiny black holes, the Planck length, quasiparticles, MAGIC cosmic rays telescope, and many more things.
The visual effects are pretty good. They probably got much cheaper than a few years ago. Michael Green grows a new universe out of a blue seed in his palm – and many vibrating strings are everywhere, of course. He and others are playing with matryoshka dolls, too.
Well, there are some people I have never heard of, like Joachim Meyer, sorry ;-), despite his cool PICO (or TITAN?) electron microscope which sees individual atoms, rather sharply. They have also been to a cathedral in Aachen. Around 7:00, they start to magnify the matter.
To see inside the atom, they get to the LHC. Andy Parker of ATLAS who "co-built" the device is the guide. He throws some cute old cuckoo clocks from a tower to find out its internal architecture; I was doing similar experiments when I was 7, poor clock. The documentary already treats the Higgs boson discovery as a historical fact. Parker says that his main interest is beyond the higgs, however.
Jeroen van den Brink of Dresden is a solid physicist but he presents his work as looking inside the electron. Well, if you need an example of squalid state physicists' parasiting on the depth of high-energy physics, here you have another one. ;-) So they switch to some X-ray sources that van den Brink, the theorist, doesn't understand, as he admits. At any rate, they create spinons, orbitons, holons, and so on. I am afraid that they deliberately mislead the viewer into thinking that they're observing the splitting of the "fundamental particle". They are just observing an emergent, low-energy effect that "looks like" the particle is being split.
Around 26:40, we return to Parker who wants to create black holes at the LHC so he starts to speak French: impressive. Black holes may only be accessible if there are extra dimensions and gravity is fundamentally stronger than it looks in our superficially 3+1-dimensional world: gravity is leaking into extra dimensions. Parker is driven by his desire to win 3 Nobel prizes – for black holes in the lab, extra dimensions, and falsification of normal GR. ;-)
Michael Green and string theory get to the stage – well, to a French boat – at 33:50. Green's head dissolves into strings. Usual comments about the music of strings. Strings are too small. Strings, if real, are the smallest ones, and at their scale, the notions of big and small turn upside down. 38:00, many solutions, the landscape. The solutions are the peaks, maxima, not minima, in their conventions.
At 41:20, a not-so-physicist is finally given some room. He is not a surfer but a motorbiker. Giovanni Amelino-Camelia tells us that the spacetime is the spacetime. Very interesting. ;-) He says that the BBC viewers are the worst because they think they know a lot but they know nothing: completely nothing. That's still better than Amelino-Camelia's knowledge which is negative. A few vague comments about a discontinuous spacetime at the Planck scale. This babbling by an average Italian in the cafés of Rome made me bored rather quickly.
Hopeless and unjustifiable attempts to find violations of proper relativity via distance gamma ray bursts.
It was an OK program but I would still say that some of the other Horizon episodes discussed on this blog have been better, more informative, based on more special sources, more exciting.