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Taft Midway Driller - Taft, CA
  • Local physicist earns grant

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  • It may not be often that everyday people ask the question, "Is quantum knowability subject to spacetime warping?", but one Siskiyou County man is looking outward at the universe to see if it is possible to find an answer with a cosmic-scale experiment.
    College of the Siskiyous adjunct professor David Carico, along with partners Laurance Doyle and Gerry Harp of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., recently received a $25,000 grant from the from the Foundational Questions Institute of Decatur, Ga. in order to determine whether it will be possible to bounce a split electromagnetic wave off of two planets and then observe what happens when the wave recombines.
    Carico has a Ph.D in physics, and he has studied astronomy, a background that he uses to teach at both Shasta College and COS. "I want to understand the nature of the universe and of reality," Carico said in an interview Friday, explaining his love of physics and his drive to research alongside his teaching roles.
    Carico's knowledge and training, as well as that of his colleagues, will be put to the test when performing the mathematics required to see if the experiment will even work, a daunting task even for astrophysicists.
    "It's very complicated," Carico said, noting all of the variables that must be taken into account for the experiment to work. He and his team will have to account for the distances to Mars and Mercury, the velocities of each of the three planets, the Earth's rotation, the effects of the sun's gravity on the radar beam and numerous other details that must all come together for the experiment to work.
    If the team can show that it can be done, they may be heading to the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek as early as January to start the process. The experiment aims to turn the Mars-Mercury-Earth system into a giant interferometer by using the ATA, which is owned by the SETI Institute, to bounce a split radar beam off of Mars and Mercury and then collect the beam back at its initial point.
    "We believe this experiment can address a profound question about the nature of information in the universe," Carico said.
    The question relates to the inherent inability to know with any certainty both a particle's exact energy and the precise time at which it has that energy, an uncertainty that is observable at the atomic level where gravity does not play a significant role.
    If the experiment can be done and it is executed successfully, according to Carico, the team will be able to determine if information and uncertainty are subject to gravitational effects – something that has not been done before.
    "It's very exciting," he said.
    Carico has been teaching at COS since 2006, which he said was when he and his wife fell in love with the area.
    Page 2 of 2 - Information on FQXi and the team's proposal can be found at fqxi.org. 
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