Time travel makes regular appearances in popular culture, with innumerable time travel storylines in movies, television and literature. But it is a surprisingly old idea: one can argue that the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex, written by Sophocles over 2,500 years ago, is the first time travel story.
But is time travel in fact possible? Given the popularity of the concept, this is a legitimate question. As a theoretical physicist, I find that there are several possible answers to this question, not all of which are contradictory.
The simplest answer is that time travel cannot be possible because if it was, we would already be doing it. One can argue that it is forbidden by the laws of physics, like the second law of thermodynamics or relativity. There are also technical challenges: it might be possible but would involve vast amounts of energy.
There is also the matter of time-travel paradoxes; we can — hypothetically — resolve these if free will is an illusion, if many worlds exist or if the past can only be witnessed but not experienced. Perhaps time travel is impossible simply because time must flow in a linear manner and we have no control over it, or perhaps time is an illusion and time travel is irrelevant.
Laws of physics
Since Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity — which describes the nature of time, space and gravity — is our most profound theory of time, we would like to think that time travel is forbidden by relativity. Unfortunately, one of his colleagues from the Institute for Advanced Study, Kurt Gödel, invented a universe in which time travel was not just possible, but the past and future were inextricably tangled.
We can actually design time machines, but most of these (in principle) successful proposals require negative energy, or negative mass, which does not seem to exist in our universe. If you drop a tennis ball of negative mass, it will fall upwards. This argument is rather unsatisfactory, since it explains why we cannot time travel in practice only by involving another idea — that of negative energy or mass — that we do not really understand.
Mathematical physicist Frank Tipler conceptualized a time machine that does not involve negative mass, but requires more energy than exists in the universe.
Time travel also violates the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy or randomness must always increase. Time can only move in one direction — in other words, you cannot unscramble an egg. More specifically, by travelling into the past we are going from now (a high entropy state) into the past, which must have lower entropy.
This argument originated with the English cosmologist Arthur Eddington, and is at best incomplete. Perhaps it stops you travelling into the past, but it says nothing about time travel into the future. In practice, it is just as hard for me to travel to next Thursday as it is to travel to last Thursday.
There is no doubt that if we could time travel freely, we run into the paradoxes. The best known is the “grandfather paradox”: one could hypothetically use a time machine to travel to the past and murder their grandfather before their father’s conception, thereby eliminating the possibility of their own birth. Logically, you cannot both exist and not exist.
Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel Slaughterhouse-Five, published in 1969, describes how to evade the grandfather paradox. If free will simply does not exist, it is not possible to kill one’s grandfather in the past, since he was not killed in the past. The novel’s protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, can only travel to other points on his world line (the timeline he exists in), but not to any other point in space-time, so he could not even contemplate killing his grandfather.
The universe in Slaughterhouse-Five is consistent with everything we know. The second law of thermodynamics works perfectly well within it and there is no conflict with relativity. But it is inconsistent with some things we believe in, like free will — you can observe the past, like watching a movie, but you cannot interfere with the actions of people in it.
Could we allow for actual modifications of the past, so that we could go back and murder our grandfather — or Hitler? There are several multiverse theories that suppose that there are many timelines for different universes. This is also an old idea: in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebeneezer Scrooge experiences two alternative timelines, one of which leads to a shameful death and the other to happiness.
Time is a river
Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote that:
“Time is like a river made up of the events which happen, and a violent stream; for as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place, and this will be carried away too.”
We can imagine that time does flow past every point in the universe, like a river around a rock. But it is difficult to make the idea precise. A flow is a rate of change — the flow of a river is the amount of water that passes a specific length in a given time. Hence if time is a flow, it is at the rate of one second per second, which is not a very useful insight.
Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking suggested that a “chronology protection conjecture” must exist, an as-yet-unknown physical principle that forbids time travel. Hawking’s concept originates from the idea that we cannot know what goes on inside a black hole, because we cannot get information out of it. But this argument is redundant: we cannot time travel because we cannot time travel!
Researchers are investigating a more fundamental theory, where time and space “emerge” from something else. This is referred to as quantum gravity, but unfortunately it does not exist yet.
So is time travel possible? Probably not, but we don’t know for sure!
Quebec-area game devs are worrying about impact of new language laws – Game Developer
A recently-passed law in the Canadian province of Quebec called “Bill 96” is starting to worry those in the local game development community. As several of them explain to the CBC, the law’s restrictions on access to English-language government resources might hurt development studios trying to hire international talent.
If you haven’t heard yet, Bill 96 is a piece of legislation that aims to mandate the use of the French language when accessing government services (with the exception of healthcare).
Enforcement of the bill is complicated, because there are two groups of Quebec residents (“historic” English-speakers who were educated in English, and immigrants who’ve been in Quebec for less than six months) who are still allowed to access English-speaking services.
That means that on paper, game developers headed to Quebec from other regions or countries will have six months to get caught up on la langue Française after moving to the area. That’s not an easy task, made harder if they have to do so while helping build games with primarily English-speaking teams.
Bidding Quebec adieu
Some developers (like an anonymous one named “Remy”) told the CBC that they accepted employment at Quebec-area studios because they were told that learning French was “optional,” and that their coworkers would mostly be speaking English. He says that he knows several developers making plans to abandon the region.
Unity senior partner relations manager Osama Dorias (formerly of WB Games Montréal) explained that he’s been advising colleagues only to take jobs in the area if they speak French. “It’s like night and day. I shifted from being an advocate for people to move here, to warning people away,” he stated.
Even though many game developers pass through Montréal’s university system, Dorias says that they’re likely to leave the city if they get better offers from developers in the United States or Sweden.
The Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec, a nonprofit organization representing Canadian studios, says that it supports the spirit of Bill 96 but is also worried about its impact. Representative Christopher Chancey told the CDC that the organization fears the bill’s passing will send a message to international game developers that other cultures aren’t welcome in the province.
It’s worth noting that Quebec-area game studios appear to have not previously emphasized the need to learn French among international hirees. Part of the issue being faced by game studios may be that they have not built up any services to help developers learn French despite it being the official business language of Quebec since 1977.
The repercussions of Bill 96 are causing headaches for Quebec residents in all walks of life, as the bill also changes the rules for filing contracts, access to 311 services, and more.
Developers not familiar with Quebec or other Francophone countries may not be aware of the cultural conflict that surrounds the French language. In both France and Quebec, many French speakers take extreme effort to allow the language to be overtaken by English language usage. These actions range from specialized language for video game industry terms (mostly harmless, also charming) to public condemnations of multiculturalism (possibly harmful, tacking too closely toward xenophobia).
Part of this conflict even manifested during revelations about allegations of abuse at Ubisoft’s Canadian studios. In 2020, associate producer Stephane Mehay was accused of refusing to speak English to some colleagues in order to exclude them from conversations. He even would allegedly insult them in French, thinking that they could not understand his words.
It isn’t fair to cast the English language as a victim in this scenario, (it’s still the most-spoken language in the world, only rivaled by Mandarin and Hindi). However, Canada’s game development boom over the last decade has been partly centered in the Montréal area, and such growth could be impacted if the region is unable to attract English-speaking talent.
The Guilde du jeu vidéo du Québec and other developers hope that the government will recognize the potential damage, and are open to the idea of extending the timeline for new immigrants to learn the French language. Hopefully the architects of Bill 96 will heed their warnings and work to adjust the impact on immigrants, rather than dictate a six-month timeline to learn a whole new language.
Sony introduces two Inzone gaming monitors (4K 144Hz and FHD 240Hz), three headphones too – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com
Today Sony unveiled a new series of gaming hardware – Inzone. The launch products are two monitors and three headsets. Inzone products are designed for an immersive gaming experience be it on PC or on a PlayStation 5.
Sony Inzone M9 and M3 gaming monitors
Both are 27” gaming monitors with IPS LCD panels. The Inzone M9 has 4K resolution and 144Hz refresh rate (120Hz over HDMI). For improved dynamic contrast, it uses Full Array Local Dimming. It peaks at 600 nits brightness and has a VESA DisplayHDR 600 certification. Additionally, this monitor has 95% DCI-P3 coverage.
The Sony Inzone M3 drops down to 1080p resolution, but increases the refresh rate to 240Hz (including over HDMI). The panel is edge lit and has a peak brightness of 400 nits (DisplayHDR 400). This display offers 99% sRGB coverage.
Both displays are calibrated at the factory to hit their color accuracy goals. They also support HDR10 and HLG types of HDR. As for the refresh rate, they support G-Sync and HDMI 2.1 VRR for variable refresh rate (24Hz minimum). They also boast 1ms gray-to-gray transition times.
Both monitors are equipped with two HDMI inputs, one DisplayPort 1.4. Additionally, they have a built-in USB hub – one Type-B goes in, three USB Type-A come out. These are perfect for connecting keyboards, mice and controllers as the built-in KVM functionality will switch the USB connection along to follow the video input.
This will allow you to connect both a PC and a PlayStation 5. There are some PS5 specific features like Auto HDR tone mapping and automatic genre picture mode (e.g. switching to Cinema mode when you put on a movie). There are PC features too, like dedicated PC software that lets you tweak every setting of the monitor.
The stands of both monitors let you adjust the height and tilt for maximum comfort. The central pillar works as a cable channel to keep things neat. The M9 also has an RGB LED strip on the back to match your lighting setup.
The Sony Inzone M9 is available for pre-order at $900/€1,100/£1,000 (coming this summer). The Inzone M3 will launch by the end of this year with a price of $530.
Sony Inzone H9, H7 and H3 gaming headphones
These three share the same external design, but offer different capabilities to match your needs and budget. The first two are wireless, the H3 is a wired headset.
When you heard “wireless” you may have winced and while the H9 and H7 do support Bluetooth, they are best used with the included USB dongle that enables low-latency connection over 2.4GHz. The headphones can be connected to both the dongle and your smartphone (over Bluetooth), so you can easily answer an incoming call.
The boom mic offers great audio quality for voice chats in game and is easy to control – flip it down to talk, flip it up to mute. There is a hardware button that changes the audio balance between game audio and voice chat.
All three headphones support 360 Spatial Sound. This can be activated by the Inzone Hub PC software, which also includes algorithms to turn 2 channel stereo into 7.1 channel surround sound. There is a 360 Spatial Sound Personalizer app for smartphones.
The Sony Inzone H9 supports Active Noise Cancellation and have a dedicated button to toggle Ambient sound mode (100Hz-8,000Hz). With ANC off, the headphones can last for 32 hours of play time.
The Inzone H7 do not have ANC. On the plus side, they have longer battery life of 40 hours. Both the H9 and H7 feature 40mm drivers (EDCCA Voice coil with neodymium magnets) and 5Hz-20,000Hz frequency response.
The Inzone H3 don’t have to worry about batteries. These headphones also have 40mm drivers (CCAW Voice coil with neodymium magnets, 35Ohm impedance) with 10Hz-20,000Hz frequency response.
All three headsets are available for pre-order now, you can find them on Sony’s official site, Amazon and Best Buy. The Inzone H9 cost $300/€300/£270, the H7 are $230/€230/£200 and the H3 are $100/€100/£90.
Here is a showcase of the new Inzone product line and more details about the monitors and headphones:
The Xiaomi 12S Ultra Smartphone Will Use a Full Sony 1-Inch Sensor – PetaPixel
Xiaomi has announced that it’s upcoming 12S Ultra will use the full size of Sony’s IMX989 1-inch sensor. The phone, which is also co-developed with Leica, will be announced on July 4.
Xiaomi made the announcement on its Weibo account, which was spotted by Android Authority. The company says that its new 12S Ultra will use Sony’s largest mobile phone sensor that it currently offers resulting in better low light performance, faster focusing, and better dynamic range than is expected of the small form factor of smartphones.
This isn’t the first smartphone to use a 1-inch sensor. Last year, Sony announced the Xperia Pro-I, which was the first smartphone to feature a 1-inch phase-detection-equipped sensor. But in that case, the phone doesn’t actually use the full size of the sensor and is instead a center crop of it.
While this does result in better quality since the sensor is larger, it felt like a stretch to say it was using a 1-inch sensor when it really couldn’t take advantage of it due to the physical restrictions Sony was dealing with when it comes to the thinness of a smartphone, the size of the sensor, and optics.
But Xiaomi’s Lei Jun says that the 1-inch sensor that is coming to the 12S Ultra, crucially, won’t be cropped. How the company plans to deal with physical issues Sony came up against in its phone isn’t clear.
Jun also says that Xiaomi didn’t just buy the sensor, but that it was co-developed between the two companies with a total investment cost of $15 million split evenly between them. The fruits of this development will first come to the 12S Ultra before being made available to other smartphone manufacturers, so it’s not exclusive to Xiaomi forever.
Of note, only the 12S Ultra will feature a 1-inch sensor while the 12S and 12S Pro will feature the Sony IMX707 instead.
That means that the Xiaomi 12S Ultra is co-developed with both Leica and Sony in some capacity. The German camera manufacturer struck a deal with the Chinese smartphone company is May and promised a long-term strategic partnership.
Other than the promise of a one-inch sensor, the only other details of the Xiaomi 12S series are that it will use the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 processor.
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