Friday, April 23, 2010


Here we go... this is Miami... You may have seen my recent April Fool's day blog when I talked about my home grown red cucumber. You may not know that there is a reason for that incomprehensible rambling April's 1st joke... I received a great gift, a crystal, and I promised it will get to my blog. So here's the crystal! Promise kept! My dilemma is what does it have to do with Miami? But it does plenty... Bear with me. You want to talk physics? Not that I know a lot, but this has to do with physics and the universe, and that comprises Miami. Don't laugh, there's more...

This crystal is the work of what I think is a great artist. She does many things in art and some are related to biology, mathematics and physics. This crystal is her canvas to showcase what the geeks in computational physics call the Calabi-Yau manifold. Calabi-Yau is the mathematical description of what could be the shape of the hidden 6 extra dimensions of the physical universe in which we only can perceive three spatial dimensions out of a total of nine. There is no way any of us can see the hidden dimensions, so clever scientists (not the mad ones) figured out how to find a way for us mortal to have a sense of what they are talking about. This crystal displays a three-dimensional section across the unimaginably small and complex 6 dimensional Calabi-Yau structure. The laser rendering is a wire frame representation of the simplified mathematical equation. It's simply beautiful and allows a person (me) to peer into the Planck scale of the universe in awe. If ever I can't sleep, which does not happen too often, I turn on the light in the base, look at this beautiful thing and will fall asleep in a nanosecond.

I did a quick and dirty calculation to justify this object's place in Miami. The Calabi-Yau manifolds occupy every single space available of the universe, filling all the void between atoms and smaller particles of matter. So there are many many many of these fellows surrounding all of us. How many? There are 60,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Calabi-Yau (give or take a few) in our known universe. In case you wonder, there are 61 zeros in the number above; and these are my hands holding the crystal in the Miami air. This photograph is uncharacteristically of much higher quality than my usual "crabby" photos. It is taken by my pal "astrologer the talented photographer" Gabrielle. Come to think, now that I have shown my hands, she probably will say I have a short life span. But what are a few years when we talk about Calabi-Yau, I am asking you? Please don't ask me to talk about time, the tenth dimension.

Errata: I was thinking more about the 61 zeros above, and realized that that quick and dirty calculation was too quick and too dirty. Therefore, a correction is in order. A revised less quick and less dirty estimation now says that we are surrounded by a "2" followed by 115 zeros Calabi-Yau manifolds. That's more like it.



Alex Shaw said...

Actually its closer to 2 with 500 zeroes behind it.... but its a huge number nonetheless

Lan said...

Actually, you may be also right, depending on many factors being used in this estimation. Another author here:

estimated that 10^186 (ten followed by 186 zeros) Planck cubes into a spherical universe with a diameter of 10^26 km (that is a universe as we know it today.) My second revised estimate of 115 zeros is low compared to his. His is mid point and yours is a bit too high in comparison. This author later revised his estimates to account for a spherical Calabi-Yau shape instead of a cube as he used in his first estimate. Cheers!