Friday, December 21, 2012

FF - The Elegant Universe and More

The Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos are excellent books by American theoretical physicist, Brian Greene.  They've been turned into two series of documentaries.  The documentaries are far from boring, and even people without a background in physics will appreciate them.  The universe is big and brilliant and beautiful, and flooded with startling phenomena.  In the wise words of The Doctor:

But this is one corner… of one country, in one continent, on one planet that’s a corner of a galaxy that’s a corner of a universe that is forever growing and shrinking and creating and destroying, and never remaining the same for a single millisecond. And there is so much, so much to see. 

The first of each series:

More to explore:
The Particle Adventure -- an excellent virtual tour of particle physics
This quantum world

Picture: TARDIS in flight by Hilson97 on deviantART

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Interesting Prophecies about 'The End'

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." 
-  Douglas Adams

Considering the hype behind December 21, 2012, I figured I'd look up interesting prophecies about the end of the world, just for fun.  My favourites:

1. An asteroid, according to Zoroastrianism -- The asteroid, called Gochihr, will melt all metals and minerals when it strikes the Earth.  The resulting metal flood will flow over the surface and purge wrongdoers of their sins.  The righteous will not have to suffer; they will feel as if they're moving through warm milk.

2. A flood, according to ancient Vedic predictions -- Dark clouds will cover the sky, and the ensuing downpour will flood the Earth for seven years. Humanity will be destroyed.  The few who survive will be the progenitors for the next age. (The age we're currently said to be living in -- Kali Yuga -- is predicted to last over 400,000 years.  And it apparently began in 3102 BC.)

3. Total collapse and chaos, yet an opportunity to return to old wisdom during the new age, according to the Mayans -- What we're experiencing now is described to be total chaos due to disharmony of the spirit.  What will happen after December 21 is not, contrary to popular belief, the end of the world, but the end of the age we're in, and it will come to an end through calamity.  The new age will apparently bring the return of spirituality and wisdom.  A fresh start, after catastrophe.

4. Appearance of seven suns, according to the Buddha -- Each subsequent sun will bring new calamity in its wake: drying up vegetation, evaporating rivers and lakes and oceans, baking the earth, etc. The planet will then be swallowed by an inferno.

5. And last but not least: Running out of coffee, according to me -- yeah, coffee makes the world go round.  If we run out, we're doomed. ^_^

Friday, December 7, 2012

FF - Hangout with CERN

Last night I attended a Google hangout hosted by CERN: "Hot stuff - the early universe".

It was awesome, especially since they focused on the ALICE experiment in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).  ALICE is an acronym for A Large Ian Collider Experiment, and its focus is the quark gluon plasma -- a soup of particles called 'quarks' and 'gluons' that existed for a short period of time in the early universe.  I've had the amazing opportunity to work for people who are part of ALICE, so I was even more excited!

They explained things in laymen's terms, and addressed questions like:

What does the LHC do?
What is the quark gluon plasma?
What happened at the beginning of the universe?
The universe is expanding, but what is the universe expanding into?
And, of course, many more.

Here's the full video of the hangout. Enjoy!