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About the Lecture
Perhaps the universe is not so much strange as brimming with lovely paradox. The search for such beauty seems to lie at the heart of Frank Wilczek’s work. Twentieth century physics, from Einstein through Wilczek’s own Nobel Prize-winning efforts, involves demonstrating the existence of a topsy-turvy reality: for instance, that such sub-atomic particles as quarks and gluons, which have little or no mass, “orchestrate themselves into not just protons and neutrons but you and me,” according to Wilczek. “How is it possible to construct heavy objects out of objects that weigh nothing?,” he asks. Only by “creating mass out of pure energy.” These particles are essentially “excitations in otherwise empty space.” Says Wilczek: “That suggests something …beautiful and poetic: the masses of particles are not like, or similar to or metaphorically suggested by—they are the tones or frequencies of vibration patterns in dynamical voids.” The theory of quarks and gluons and the strong interaction accounts quantitatively for “the mass of protons, neutrons and ultimately you and me and everything around us.” But physics has not yet squared away all aspects of the universe. Wilzcek says that “in cosmology, we meet our match, and don’t know what’s going on.” This is because scientists can’t account for much of the mass in the cosmos. 70% of this mass is in “dark energy,” which is pushing the universe apart. Wilczek hopes that explanations for the dark stuff will emerge through improving equations, unifying theories of different interactions and extending their symmetries. “Beautifying equations leads not to ugly consequences but beautiful surprises,” he concludes.
NOTE: pdf link for transparencies-
Probably not everyones cup of tea. A clip from a lecture by John Baez in conjunction with the LOOPS 'O5 series by the Max Planck Institute of Gravitation (Albert Einstein Institute) regarding a proposal for quantum gravity (the clip appears to start at page 14 of the transparencies). Date- 11th Oct 05. Source- http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/loops05/
LOOPS '05- http://loops05.aei.mpg.de/
'Spin foam models include several different classes of physical theories: lattice gauge theories, dynamical triangulation models of quantum gravity, "chain mail" quantum field theories, and topological string theories. Is there a spin foam model of quantum gravity in 4 dimensions? To address this question, we review recent work on causal dynamical triangulations and the renormalization group. This suggests that quantum gravity is a well-defined theory with the curious property that spacetime is effectively 4-dimensional at large distance scales, but 2-dimensional at very short distance scales. This is just what one might expect from a spin foam model, since spacetime is fundamentally 2-dimensional in these theories. We discuss properties a spin foam model should have in order to approximate general relativity at large distance scales.'
"Stephen Hawking: Master of the Universe" (2008)
Part 1: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=YxxbXgo7IVw
Part 2: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=c8ShC9VBQCs
Part 3: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=To1rQNk08jo
Part 4: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=3gox8PpNOPY
Part 5: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=U8kmY6yvG4o
Part 6: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=puXIw_bEqmU
Part 7: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=7zxBdm1bNGw
Part 8: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=iejh5fgcvyc
Part 9: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=hLSu3dCpYr8
Part 10: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=MT5vR5Xm5eA
Stephen Hawking is the most famous scientist on the planet. In his post as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, he counts Sir Isaac Newton (1642--1727) amongst his predecessors. And he was born 300 years to the day after the avant-garde astronomer, Galileo Galilei (1564--1642).
Following a devastating diagnosis of motor neurone disease in 1963, Hawking was given two years to live. Yet 44 years later, he still hopes to solve the big problem of physics, that of unifying quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of relativity. Doing so will produce a set of laws that will explain everything in the universe, including how it all began - a breakthrough aptly dubbed the 'Theory of Everything'.
Hawking felt that he was on the brink of this breakthrough a long time ago. When he published his surprising best-seller 'A Brief History of Time' in 1988, he expressed a certainty that the Theory of Everything was imminent. However, twenty years later, it still eludes Hawking and the scientific community.
Frustratingly, Hawking's condition is worsening. His only way of communicating now is through one cheek muscle. Will he find the theory before it is too late?
This two-episode documentary from the UK's Channel 4 is both a portrait of Hawking and an attempt to explain his work to non-scientific types. It conveys the basics of quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity in an easy-to-understand manner and does very well to acquaint viewers with Hawking's extraordinary life and character. A thoroughly enjoyable, inspiring and enlightening series!