Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I can follow the volcano post...!

Indeed I can...if I can remember what this programme was all about.

Michio Kaku, a Japanese-American professor talked about Time. I only caught the last 20 minutes, however. I've seen his episode on Aging and enjoyed it, I like his style.

He talked about the infinity of the universe (Buddhism), also the fact that it had a beginning and will have an end (Christianity).
Both beliefs have been borne out by scientific evidence.

In 1919 (ish) Edwin Hubble used the fandangled telescope at the new observatory above Los Angeles to peer farther into space than any man had before. He saw a speck in one of the nebulae and realised it was a star. (Another sun probably (and the sun is a star).) This made clear that other galaxies existed other than our own. We were not the centre of the universe.

Oh, I diverged. I meant to get right to the point that jumped out for me, and that was the Ages of the Universe. Did you ever hear that scientists once thought the universe's expansion rate was slowing down prior to a collapse?

Well, now they find it is speeding up! I figure this must mean we are still closer to the beginning than the end. They ask, "Where are we going?"

[Admittedly, I missed a lot while I fixed my computer and argued with my mother on the phone (more later).]

The Universe has Five Ages.
The First was, well, self-explanatory.
We are in the Second Age.
In the Third, I assume we will start slowing down and planets will die (I missed that bit).
In the Fourth, only black holes will remain to absorb everything that existed, even themselves. (Scary!)
This is the bit that made me go "wow" and want to share it with you:
In the Fifth Age, all that will exist are PHOTONS! Yes, particles of light moving in random directions: chaos.

WOW, right???

The professor put forth a sparkling summation, but I seem to have forgotten it, even though in the middle I had an epiphany about...something...crap, must be this headache.

I want to see this programme again. In the meantime, have you ever read Prof. Greene's Theory of Everything, or heard of his String Theory? You should watch Elegant Universe. I blogged about it last year but can't find it. The Prof talks about various awesome things.

But seriously, if I try to imagine the area taken up by these photons in the 5th Age...
The mind boggles. You see, if the universe is expanding, into what space is it expanding? Our minds are so finite that they keep putting up walls, creating rooms, insisting on a boundary for the edge of the universe to bump into.

Oops. It would have been such a concise post if I'd stopped at the photons in chaos....!


P.S. Good heavens! You can watch the entire Elegant Universe on the PBS website! For blimming free!

7 comments:

Prerona said...

going home to india sweets - end of march. going through moinf packing nightmare - selling tv and misc other stuff - packing and sending off books - ugh!

Rebecca said...

In what stage are Kubrick's starchildren?

Have you ever read Roger Scruton? He is a philisopher, so his views on time are less scientific than philosophical, but interesting.

Steliano Ponticos said...

Olivia THANK YOU. You have just written a post on cosmology, one of my favourite topics...actually the universe expands mean this:

if I am standing here and you are standing there then in time we will become further from each other, even if we don't move. The distance between us stretches.

That's the word: the universe is not in anything else, its in itself but stretching.

I like the book the elegant universe but its so long...

Olivia said...

Prerona - what, leaving beloved Edinburgh? Are you going back for good???

Rebecca - oh dear, I don't know about K's starchildren, and I haven't read Scruton. I am behind on lots of contemporary reading...!

Steli - De rien, mon ami.
Thanks for trying to explain the expansion but again - the human mind is finite - we live in a world of containment and limits. To say that the universe is not in anything but itself is, to me, shedding logic, and adopting a very philosophical mindset. I see it as akin to stopping thought and starting meditation. Such ideas to us are apart from reality. One must sort of allow oneself to stop thinking and just fall into the concept. A leap of faith, so to speak.

Can you believe I said that out loud as I typed it? It comes out so differently that way...

M. said...

I haven't watched the exact program, but I've heard of all of the things you've mentioned. Mind boggling but I'm too tired to be wowed right now, but normally I love this stuff. :)

And because I'm so tired, I kept thinking, "Why is this post not about volcanoes?" Then I read your previous post. Equally fascinating. I swear I'm not blasé...just need a nap.

-merserene

Olivia said...

mers - I hope you get some proper rest, dearie. Sorry you couldn't take in all the info, I don't usually do two serious posts in a row!

M. said...

No, no, they were really interesting! It's just that the fatigue make me feel more like a . than a !! when I read them. If that makes sense.

-merserene