UNIVERSE

Shut Up and Measure

Topic: 

  • UNIVERSE
https://vimeo.com/229124300

What is fascinating to me is that we are now hoping, with modern measurements, to probe the early Universe. In doing so, we’re encountering deep questions about the scientific method and questions about what is fundamental to physics. When we look out on the Universe, we’re looking through this dirty window, literally a dusty window. We look out through dust in our galaxy. And what is that dust? I like to call it nano planets, tiny grains of iron and carbon and silicon—all these things that are the matter of our solar system.

Shut Up and Measure

[10.20.17]

What is fascinating to me is that we are now hoping, with modern measurements, to probe the early Universe. In doing so, we’re encountering deep questions about the scientific method and questions about what is fundamental to physics. When we look out on the Universe, we’re looking through this dirty window, literally a dusty window. We look out through dust in our galaxy. And what is that dust? I like to call it nanoplanets, tiny grains of iron and carbon and silicon—all these things that are the matter of our solar system. They’re the very matter that Galileo was looking through when he first glimpsed the Pleiades and the stars beyond the solar system for the first time.

When we look out our telescopes, we never see just what we're looking for. We have to contend with everything in the foreground. And thank goodness for that dust in the foreground, for without it, we would not be here.

Professor BRIAN KEATING is an astrophysicist with the University of California San Diego’s Department of Physics. He and his team develop instrumentation to study the early universe at radio, microwave, and infrared wavelengths. He is the author of over 100 scientific publications and holds two U.S. patents.  Brian Keating's Edge Bio page

Curtains For Us All?

Topic: 

  • UNIVERSE
https://vimeo.com/214719867

Here on Earth, I suspect that we are going to want to regulate the application of genetic modification and cyborg techniques on grounds of ethics and prudence. This links with another topic I want to come to later, which is the risks of new technology. If we imagine these people living as pioneers on Mars, they are out of range of any terrestrial regulation. Moreover, they've got a far higher incentive to modify themselves or their descendants to adapt to this very alien and hostile environment.                                 

Curtains For Us All?

[5.31.17]
Here on Earth, I suspect that we are going to want to regulate the application of genetic modification and cyborg techniques on grounds of ethics and prudence. This links with another topic I want to come to later about the risks of new technology. If we imagine these people living as pioneers on Mars, they are out of range of any terrestrial regulation. Moreover, they've got a far higher incentive to modify themselves or their descendants to adapt to this very alien and hostile environment.                                 
 
They will use all the techniques of genetic modification, cyborg techniques, maybe even linking or downloading themselves into machines, which, fifty years from now, will be far more powerful than they are today. The posthuman era is probably not going to start here on Earth; it will be spearheaded by these communities on Mars. 
 
LORD MARTIN REES is a Fellow of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is the UK's Astronomer Royal and a Past President of the Royal Society. Martin Rees's Edge Bio Page

Quantum Hanky-Panky

Topic: 

  • UNIVERSE
https://vimeo.com/155828770

Thinking about the future of quantum computing, I have no idea if we're going to have a quantum computer in every smart phone, or if we're going to have quantum apps or quapps, that would allow us to communicate securely and find funky stuff using our quantum computers; that's a tall order. It's very likely that we're going to have quantum microprocessors in our computers and smart phones that are performing specific tasks.

Sounds of the Skies

Hear the Spacetime Ringing
[3.23.16]

The effect of these gravitational waves is to squeeze and stretch space. If you were floating near these black holes, you would literally be squeezed and stretched. If you were close enough, you would feel the difference between the squeezing and stretching on your face or your feet. We’ve even conjectured that your eardrum could ring in response, like a resonant membrane, so that you would literally hear the wave, hear it even in the absence of a medium like air. Even though we think that empty space is silent, in these circumstances you would hear the black holes collide but you wouldn’t see them; it would happen in complete darkness. The two black holes would be completely dark, and your only evidence of their collision would be to hear the spacetime ringing.

JANNA LEVIN is a professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. She is the author of How the Universe Got Its Spots; A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines; and most recently, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer SpaceJanna Levin's Edge Bio Page 

Sounds of the Skies

Topic: 

  • UNIVERSE
https://vimeo.com/158402092

The effect of these gravitational waves is to squeeze and stretch space. If you were floating near these black holes, you would literally be squeezed and stretched. If you were close enough, you would feel the difference between the squeezing and stretching on your face or your feet. We’ve even conjectured that your eardrum could ring in response, like a resonant membrane, so that you would literally hear the wave, hear it even in the absence of a medium like air.

THE UNIVERSE

[3.10.16]


  Best Sellers

   March 27, 2016

  E-BOOK NONFICTION

  • #9 UNIVERSE, by John Brockman. (Harper Perennial.) Physicists and science writers explain the universe.

Cover
[click to buy]

 
CONTENTS: A Golden Age of Cosmology Alan Guth  The Cyclic Universe Paul Steinhardt  A Balloon Producing Balloons Producing Balloons Andrei Linde  Theories of the Brane Lisa Randall  The Cyclic Universe Neil Turok  Why Does the Universe Look the Way It Does? Sean Carroll  In the Matrix Martin Rees  Think About Nature Lee Smolin  The Landscape Leonard Susskind  Smolin vs. Susskind: The Anthropic Principle Lee Smolin, Leonard Susskind  Science Is Not About Certainty Carlo Rovelli  The Energy of Empty Space That Isn't Zero Lawrence Krauss  Einstein: An Edge Symposium Brian Greene, Walter Isaacson, Paul Steinhardt  Einstein and Poincaré  Peter Galison  Thinking About the Universe on the Larger Scales Raphael Bousso Quantum Monkeys Seth Lloyd  The Nobel Prize and After Frank Wilczek  Who Cares About Fireflies? Steven Strogatz  Constructor Theory David Deutsch  A Theory of Roughness Benoit Mandelbrot (with an introduction by John Brockman)   

Quantum Hanky-Panky

[8.22.16]

Thinking about the future of quantum computing, I have no idea if we're going to have a quantum computer in every smart phone, or if we're going to have quantum apps or quapps, that would allow us to communicate securely and find funky stuff using our quantum computers; that's a tall order. It's very likely that we're going to have quantum microprocessors in our computers and smart phones that are performing specific tasks.

This is simply for the reason that this is where the actual technology inside our devices is heading anyway. If there are advantages to be had from quantum mechanics, then we'll take advantage of them, just in the same way that energy is moving around in a quantum mechanical kind of way in photosynthesis. If there are advantages to be had from some quantum hanky-panky, then quantum hanky‑panky it is. 

SETH LLOYD, Professor, Quantum Mechanical Engineering, MIT; Principal Investigator, Research Laboratory of Electronics; Author, Programming the UniverseSeth Lloyd's Edge Bio Page

The Exquisite Role of Dark Matter

[6.10.15]

It is definitely the golden age in cosmology because of this unique confluence of ideas and instruments. We live in a very peculiar universe—one that is dominated by dark matter and dark energy—the true nature of both of these remains elusive. Dark matter does not emit radiation in any wavelength and its presence is inferred by its gravitational influence on the motions of stars and gas in its vicinity. Dark Energy, discovered in 1998, meanwhile is believed to be powering the accelerated expansion of the universe. Despite not knowing what the dark matter particle is or what dark energy really is, we still have a very successful theory of how galaxies form and evolve in a universe with these mysterious and invisible dominant components. Technology has made possible the testing of our cosmological theories at a level that was unprecedented before. All of these experiments have delivered very exciting results, even if they're null results. For example, the LHC, with the discovery of the Higgs, has given us a lot more comfort in the standard model. The Planck and WMAP satellites probing the leftover hiss from the Big Bang—the cosmic microwave background radiation—have shown us that our theoretical understanding of how the early fluctuations in the universe grew and formed the late universe that we see is pretty secure. Our current theory, despite the embarrassing gap of not knowing the true nature of dark matter or dark energy, has been tested to a pretty high degree of precision.                      

It's also consequential that the dark matter direct detection experiments have not found anything. That's interesting too, because that's telling us that all these experiments are reaching the limits of their sensitivity, what they were planned for, and they're still not finding anything. This suggests paradoxically that while the overall theory might be consistent with observational data, something is still fundamentally off and possibly awry in our understanding. The challenge in the next decade is to figure out which old pieces don't fit. Is there a pattern that emerges that would tell us, is it a fundamentally new theory of gravity that's needed, or is it a complete rethink of some aspects of particle physics that are needed? Those are the big open questions.

PRIYAMVADA NATARAJAN is a professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, whose research is focused on exotica in the universe—dark matter, dark energy, and black holes. Priyamvada Natarajan's Edge Bio Page 


THE EXQUISITE ROLE OF DARK MATTER

I'm a theoretical astrophysicist, working on what I think are some of the most exciting, open and challenging questions. The first is trying to understand the nature of dark matter, and the second question pertains to the physics of black holes. Part of my interest in these two questions, aside from the fact that we now have an enormous amount of data that can help us understand these very enigmatic objects in the universe, is that we have a standard theory—a theoretical model—that works extremely well.

This is a model of structure formation in which dark matter, which is the dominant matter component in the universe, is in the driving seat. It's the scaffolding in which all the first galaxies form, the first stars form, and so on. While we have this exquisite inventory and role for dark matter, we do not know what it is, what it's composed of, what kind of particle it is, when it was created in the universe, and so on and so forth. Similarly, with black holes; we know that they exist. They are real. There is one in the center of our galaxy, which is a few million times the mass of the sun. The one in the center of our galaxy is a dormant black hole. It's not doing very much at present, it was likely active in the past. We see in the early universe that there are massive black holes that are 1000 times, 10,000 times more massive than the one in the center of the galaxy that play a very important role in shaping the properties of the galaxy which hosts them.

What is the life-story of a black hole? How do they grow? How do they form, evolve, and then end up as dead black holes? This is an open question because we know that black holes feed on gas, but what we don't understand is precisely how the gas makes it onto this peculiar surface that all black holes have called the "event horizon." The physics, the astrophysics, if you will, or the details of the flow, are very poorly understood. Once again, these are both problems where we have a good, in fact, a rather specialized, detailed broad-brush understanding; however, the very nature of these objects remains unknown. The situation is very similar to that of dark matter that appears to be ubiquitous.

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