VII. Pedia Sapiens: A Genesis Future on Earth and in the Heavens
1. Mind Over Matter: A Quantum, Atomic, Chemical Materiality
Bainbridge, William Sims. Nanoconvergence: The Unity of Nanoscience, Biotechnology, Information Technology, and Cognitive Science. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2007. A National Science Foundation sociologist gathers and considers the august potentials of these four areas of novel human abilities to take up a new creation. A worthwhile entry to this subject literature broadly under the ‘nano’ banner.
Balakrishnan, Janaki and B. V. Sreekantan, eds. Nature’s Longest Threads: New Frontiers in the Mathematics and Physics of Information in Biology. Singapore: World Scientific, 2014. Scientists and scholars from India wonder at apparent connections and unities between quantum spontaneities and life’s emergent complexity and consciousness. A typical paper might be Knowledge: its Hierarchy and its Direction by Apoorva Patel, an Indian Institute of Science physicist, which contains a summary of universe to human evolution as Hardware (bodily phenotypes) is recycled, while software (generative coding) is improved. So from our retro vista could the developmental course of cosmic genesis be appreciated as the ascendant passage and breakthrough unto our phase of a natural genome?
Organisms endowed with life show a sense of awareness, interacting with and learning from the universe in and around them. Each level of interaction involves transfer of information of various kinds, and at different levels. Each thread of information is interlinked with the other, and woven together, these constitute the universe — both the internal self and the external world — as we perceive it. They are, figuratively speaking, Nature's longest threads. (Publisher)
Ball, Philip. A New Kind of Alchemy. New Scientist. April 16, 2005. Chemists are finding that clusters of atoms, a “super-atom,” composed on a certain number, such as 8, 20, 40, 58, or 92 atoms for aluminum, which completes the filling of its electron shell, takes on unique properties that are different from the original element.
Biamonte, Jacob, et al. Quantum Machine Learning. Nature. 549/195, 2017. In a special Quantum Software segment, JB, now at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Moscow, Peter Wittek, Institute of Photonic Sciences, Barcelona, Nicola Pancotti, MPI Quantum Optics, Patrick Rebentrost, Seth Lloyd, MIT and Nathan Wiebe, Microsoft, press the frontiers of how to program this basic realm to properly access a computational prowess far beyond conventional devices. This advance involves a novel synthesis of recurrent neural nets which possess algorithmic, complex dynamic system, information processing affinities with perceived quantum phenomena. (An earlier version of this paper is at arXiv:1611.09347, noted in Quantum Complex Systems.) Some other issue entries are Programming Languages and Compiler Design for Realistic Quantum Hardware by Frederic Chong, et al, and Quantum Computational Supremacy by Aram Harrow and Ashley Montanaro, each Abstract next.
Fuelled by increasing computer power and algorithmic advances, machine learning techniques have become powerful tools for finding patterns in data. Quantum systems produce atypical patterns that classical systems are thought not to produce efficiently, so it is reasonable to postulate that quantum computers may outperform classical computers on machine learning tasks. The field of quantum machine learning explores how to devise and implement quantum software that could enable machine learning that is faster than that of classical computers. Recent work has produced quantum algorithms that could act as the building blocks of machine learning programs, but the hardware and software challenges are still considerable. (Biamonte Abstract)
Bonacci, Walter, et al. Modularity of a Carbon-Fixing Protein Organelle. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109/478, 2012. Among myriad such biochemical advances, we cite this paper by systems biologists from Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley. Of special notice could be not only the employ of biomolecules but also these common, formative, network interrelations between them. By which may respectfully commence, on appearances, a second intentional genesis creation.
Bacterial microcompartments are proteinaceous complexes that catalyze metabolic pathways in a manner reminiscent of organelles. Although microcompartment structure is well understood, much less is known about their assembly and function in vivo. We show here that carboxysomes, CO2-fixing microcompartments encoded by 10 genes, can be heterologously produced in Escherichia coli. In vivo, the complexes were capable of both assembling with carboxysomal proteins and fixing CO2. Characterization of purified synthetic carboxysomes indicated that they were well formed in structure, contained the expected molecular components, and were capable of fixing CO2 in vitro. In doing so, we lay the groundwork for understanding these elaborate protein complexes and for the synthetic biological engineering of self-assembling molecular structures. (478)
Bose, S. K., et al. Evolution of a Designless Nanoparticle Network into Reconfigurable Boolean Logic. Nature Nanotechnology. 10/12, 2015. We cite as another instance among many this entry by University of Twente, Netherlands researchers of future potentials just opening for human avail by way as an intentional continuance of nature’s procreative complex network systems.
Natural computers exploit the emergent properties and massive parallelism of interconnected networks of locally active components. Evolution has resulted in systems that compute quickly and that use energy efficiently, utilizing whatever physical properties are exploitable. Man-made computers, on the other hand, are based on circuits of functional units that follow given design rules. Hence, potentially exploitable physical processes, such as capacitive crosstalk, to solve a problem are left out. Until now, designless nanoscale networks of inanimate matter that exhibit robust computational functionality had not been realized.
Braga, Dario. Crystal Engineering. Chemical Communications. 22/2751, 2003. In this regard a professor at the University of Bologna envisions the “bottom-up construction of functional materials from molecular or ionic building blocks.”
Canfield, Paul. New Materials Physics. Reports on Progress in Physics. 83/016001, 2020. The DOE Ames (Iowa) Laboratory senior condensed matter physicist introduces and surveys this open frontier of the historic transfiguration of cosmic substance from its long, contingent phase to a radically intentional, informed, sustainable, biocreative futurity. As a spokesperson for this national and global research community, a new era of material recreation and enhancement beckons whence all manner of formulations can be beneficially made anew.
This review presents a survey of, and guide to, New Materials Physics research. It begins with an overview of the goals of New Materials Physics and then presents important ideas and techniques for the design and growth of new materials. An emphasis is placed on the use of compositional phase diagrams to inform and motivate solution growth of single crystals. The second half of this review focuses on the vital process of generating actionable ideas for the growth and discovery of new materials and ground states. Motivations ranging from (1) wanting a specific compound, to (2) wanting a specific ground state to (3) wanting to explore for known and unknown unknowns, will be discussed and illustrated with abundant examples. The goal of this review is to inform, inspire, an even entertain, as many practitioners of this field as possible. (Abstract)
Cao, Shan Cecilia, et al. Nature-Inspired Hierarchical Steels. Nature Scientific Reports. 8/5088, 2018. A seven person team from UC Berkeley, City University of Hong Kong, Zhejiang University, Virginia Tech, and MIT describe an imaginative, biomimetic combine of nature’s strongest organic materials with a 21st century steel metallurgy to achieve much improved qualities. The clever project is seen to augur for a new range of extra-superalloys.
Materials can be made strong, but as such they are often brittle and prone to fracture when under stress. Inspired by the exceptionally strong and ductile structure of byssal threads found in certain mussels, we have designed and manufactured a multi-hierarchical steel, based on an inexpensive austenitic stainless steel, which defeats this “conflict” by possessing both superior strength and ductility. These excellent mechanical properties are realized by structurally introducing sandwich structures at both the macro- and nano-scales. Our experiments and micromechanics simulation results reveal a synergy of mechanisms underlying such exceptional properties. This synergy is key to the development of vastly superior mechanical properties, and may provide a unique strategy for the future development of new super strong and tough, lightweight and inexpensive structural materials. (Abstract excerpt)
Carrasquilla, Juan and Roger Melko. Machine Learning Phases of Matter. Nature Physics. 13/5, 2018. Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics researchers conceive a meld of physical principles, cerebral architectures and computational acumen as an effective way to venture upon a new era of intentional material procreation.
Condensed-matter physics is the study of the collective behaviour of infinitely complex assemblies of electrons, nuclei, magnetic moments, atoms or qubits. Here, we show that modern machine learning architectures, such as fully connected and convolutional neural networks, can identify phases and phase transitions in a variety of condensed-matter Hamiltonians. Readily programmable through modern software libraries, neural networks can be trained to detect multiple types of order parameter, as well as highly non-trivial states with no conventional order, directly from raw state configurations sampled with Monte Carlo. (Abstract excerpt)
Ceder, Gerbrand and Kristin Persson. The Stuff of Dreams. Scientific American. December, 2013. MIT and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory materials scientists write of awesome quantum and computational capabilities so as to create anew nature’s chemical substances for a better life, world and future. For a technical report, see The Materials Project by Anubhav Jain, et al, including Gerbrand and Persson, in the new online journal APL Materials (1/1, 2013), where it is dubbed a “materials genome approach.”
Engineered materials such as chip-grade silicon and fiber-optic glass underpin the modern world. Yet designing new materials has historically involved a frustrating and inefficient amount of guesswork. Streamlined versions of the equations of quantum mechanics – along with supercomputers that, using those equations, virtually test thousands of materials at a time – are eliminating much of that guesswork. Researchers are now using this method, called high-throughput computational material design, to develop new batteries, solar cells, fuel cells, computer chips, and other technologies. (Summary)
Cheng, Ji, et al. Stability of Ar(H2)2 to 358 GPa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 114/3596, 2017. An international team of geophysicists with shared postings at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Carneige Institution of Washington progress toward the laboratory preparation of metallic Hydrogen. This extreme form was conjectured to only be present in the compressed cores of gas giant planets. (GPa stands for gigaPascals, after Blaise, whence 1 GPa is ~ 145,000 pounds per square inch.) Into the 21st century, who are we peoples that whose instrumental, collaborative prowess can advance nature’s deepest material realms?
Pressure-induced metallization of solid hydrogen is a problem of certain prominence in high-pressure physics. However, it is extremely challenging to be achieved experimentally. It was proposed that “chemical precompression” (introducing impurity atoms or molecules into hydrogen) may facilitate metallization under pressure. In this paper, we selected Ar(H2)2 as a model system and explored the intermolecular interactions of H2 molecules and the metallization of hydrogen in the presence of a weakly bound impurity (Ar). Combining our experimental data and theoretical calculations, we found that Ar does not facilitate the molecular dissociation and bandgap closure of H2, moreover it works in the opposite direction. Our work provides a solid basis for future searches of hydrogen-rich materials which facilitate metallization of hydrogen. (Significance)