2 weeks, 5 days ago

This is an era of imaginative explosion. A large number of excellent sci-fi works have portrayed the possibilities of technological development in the next few centuries. The progress of science frontiers is “beyond imagination” and seems to have never been so difficult.

Since the beginning of the sci-fi literature more than a hundred years ago, science and visionaries have been introducing the most amazing brains in the scientific world with great efficiency.

When Rowell discovered the geological features of the grooves on Mars, "Martians" became the object of science fiction novels;

When relativity and quantum mechanics become the manifestation of modern physics, time travel and parallel universe have become important tools for constructing science fiction plots;

When space technology is in the ascendant, humans who have just entered space have begun to fantasize about the endless alien civilization in the vast universe.



Some people say that the threshold of "stunned" has been greatly improved in our generation.

But in fact, we have not lost the sensitive touch on the progress of the real science front because of the full deduction of literary works.

When the brains that seem to have been numb by the novelist see scientists turning the concepts of "science fiction" into reality little by little, we feel a different kind of mind shock.

We have been hoping for a gravitational wave of uninterested years. When it was directly detected by the Laser Interference Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in 2017, astronomers all over the world were immersed in the excitement of a New Year's carnival.

A high-power laser that reciprocates hundreds of times in a vacuum chamber up to 4km, forming a huge ruler for measuring time and space.



If its interference light spot is dark, the tremor of the car on the whole continent, the sea breeze that is stroking the atmosphere, the thunderstorm thousands of kilometers away, and even the tiny deformation of the mirror when it is irradiated by laser... This real physical world Everything is uneasy, trying to engulf the tiny signals brought by gravitational waves -

That is less than one-thousandth of the proton diameter of the space-time expansion.



Gravitational waves are not hard to imagine. It is hard to imagine that we can overcome various technical challenges and truly detect weak signals that are almost impossible to detect.

Similarly, a large number of physicists represented by Hawking have theoretically made a full deduction of the various properties of black holes in the 1960s and 1970s. Although people have not seen the true meaning of black holes, But black holes have long been the "default" setting in astrophysics.

But until the world's top millimeter-wave telescopes from Hawaii to Spain, from Greenland to the South Pole, and from the Rocky Mountains to the Andes, they formed a "view telescope" that spans the Earth's diameter.



Taking the "aura" formed by the extremely distorted time-space photons around the tens of millions of light years beyond the supermassive black hole, we finally have the self-confidence of "seeing is believing", in the true sense of the black hole from a kind The "hypothesis" has become "facts."

Black hole halo numerical simulation Andrew Chael

The black hole itself is already an outstanding representative of “unimaginable”, and the enormous technical challenges it has overcome to see the black hole are even more unimaginable.

Not only are these major scientific advances made us feel "unimaginable", but in many cases, in order to further promote the acquisition of scientific discoveries, the scientific community will put forward very extreme technical needs, those that are either grand or unexpected brain holes, We feel "unimaginable."

The square-square array (SKA) telescope, considered to be the 21st century astronomical "century project", is an excellent example.

The SKA telescope, consisting of tens of thousands of small antennas, will stretch thousands of kilometers from the western deserts of Western Australia and the South African plateau, with a total receiving area of ​​1 square kilometer - the world's largest single-caliber radio telescope, 500 14 times the diameter of the Guizhou FAST telescope.



The simultaneous flood of data generated by countless small antennas allows SKA's first-phase project to generate up to 300PB of data per year—the equivalent of half of the entire Internet traffic today.



And its huge receiving area will bring us an unparalleled sensitivity. When the first phase of the SKA project is completed, we will be able to search and monitor the signal source equivalent to the airport radar intensity within tens of light years around the sun.

If luck is good enough, this may be the real beginning of the "time-to-space contact" between humans and extraterrestrial civilizations.

Some astronomers have greater ambitions, and only earth-sized telescopes can't satisfy them.

In order to directly image the extraterrestrial planets, an astronomer team proposed an unusually large brain hole [1]: using the entire sun as a gravitational lens to form a star-shaped "telescope."

The telescope, which spans the solar system, has 650 astronomical units. The "back-end equipment" of the telescope needs to be launched into the solar system's frontier beyond the Kuiper Belt to complete the observation.



If it does, the preparation and launch cycle of the telescope will last for decades and the life cycle will be calculated on a century-by-century basis.

It will help us to complete the glimpse of the new home of mankind in the distant future.

In the international competition of large scientific installations, the "foundational madness" China was not absent.

The High-energy Physics Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has proposed the controversial "Cycle-Positive Electron-Negative Collider" (CEPC) program: the enviromental strongest accelerator in this scenario has a circumference of about 100 kilometers and can accelerate electrons to 250 GeV, resulting in a large number of The "Higgs particle", which is still unclear in the particle physics standard model, lays the foundation for tamping the standard model of particle physics and even creating new breakthroughs.



Of course, even if CEPC and its upgraded version of the Super Proton Collider (SPPC) are built, we are still far away from finding the "big unified theory" of physics. At present, it is more promising to be the verification of the "string theory" of the grand unified theory.



The energy of the order of Joule - that would be nearly 40 orders of magnitude higher than the highest energy that SPPC can produce.

To say that something is really unimaginable, I am afraid that this frontier of science is a dynamic span of dozens of orders of magnitude. This kind of cognitive gap away from human beings is the weakness of our universe. The weak brain of biology has to face a barrier that is difficult to overcome.

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