An important referendum will take place on December 4th in Italy. We will have to express our opinion on a general modification of the Constitution, the first one of this kind after almost 70 years. The proposal is to transform the Senate into a Chamber of the Autonomies (Regions and Towns), reducing the number of Senators from 315 to 100 and differentiating its functions from the Chamber of the Deputies, that will be the only Chamber to express a vote of confidence on the government. Also, the reform will make it easier for referendums to pass the quorum, introduce consultive referendums, force laws proposed by the public to be discussed witihin a certain date, abolish the intermediate bodies known as Province, bring back to the State some strategic functions exercised by the Regions, and a few other minor things. The general idea is to make the government more stable (Italy had sixty governments in sixty years!) and the legislation procedure quicker. At the same time, a new electoral law will also contribute to greater stability. The traditional organs that provide “checks and balances”, that is the Constitutional Court, the judiciary, the President of the Republic, are unchanged. Also the Prime Minister will not have new powers. The Italian Republic will remain a Parliamentary Republic as it has been ever since WWII.
I am in favor of this reform. A democracy that does not guarantee to whoever wins the election the tools to implement the program, of course providing sufficient balances, is the contrary of a democracy. When government after government built on fragile coalitions breaks down after a short time, amidst unproductive, neverending discussions, people lose all hope and dangerous, antidemocratic movements grow wildly, especially of course in times of crisis and uncertainty. After 30 years of wasted discussions on a Constitutional reform, that everybody says is necessary, finally we have a real chance to make our democracy work and do away with instability.
This is why I will vote Yes to the referendum (pdf text in Italian).
There are fundamental principles in physics that some conservative physicists think should never be questioned. One of these principles is the principle of locality, which says that a physical event at some particular point of the space-time is directly affected only by events in its immediate surrounding. In the opposite case, when a physical event at some point will be directly influenced not only by its local surroundings but also by the whole history of the system before that instant and far away, we say that system exhibits some non-local behaviour. A non-locally formulated fundamental theory will be plagued by the so-called acausal solutions which break the standard sequence of the physical events, from a cause to a consequence, by reversing it. In particularly, it means that some process occurring now will be the consequence of an event which will happen only in the future. Sounds quite crazy, doesn’t it?
All these problems appear when we try to construct a fundamental theory in a non-local way. Luckily, there is a special case, the so-called effective field theory limit of a fundamental local theory, where non-local terms don’t create conceptual issues and lead to an interesting physics. One of these non-local models, proposed by Michele Maggiore and collaborators in Geneva, which amazingly satisfy all the existing experimental constraints, was built on several assumptions. In our work, we have relaxed one of them, which is related to the choice of initial conditions and found that the phase space of the model’s solutions is much richer than it was thought earlier. One attractor solution (i.e. a solution to which a large set of initial conditions leads to) which we have discovered predicts an intriguing future for the universe, namely it tells us that in the future all the dark energy will behave as a relativistic fluid, as if in a radiation bath. We leave it to the fantasy of the reader to imagine the future of a human civilization in this type of radiation boiler…