Science Seen

Time One author Colin Gillespie helps you understand the physics of your world.

At last an answer: What happened at the Big Bang

What exactly happened when the universe was born? What happened at the Big Bang? is the title of last summer’s popular science exhibition sponsored by six leading British universities and the Royal Society in London. Amid much fascinating information, the exhibition’s answer was: We don’t know. Yet, as Science Seen’s readers will recall, that answer […]

Until recently our cosmic neighborhood was growing faster than the speed of light. Now it’s run into a roadblock.

“From a physical point of view everything that is outside our neighborhood is pure extrapolation.” – Willem de Sitter (1932) Physics is coming up against two fundamental limits: It can never observe the biggest and the smallest things that it needs to study. Some seem satisfied this is the end of our search for ultimate […]

An amazing birthday present: a universe that allows time travel and helps us understand our existence

In 1949 Austrian-American logician Kurt Gödel gave a friend a strange birthday present: a rotating universe. Gödel is widely regarded as the world’s greatest logician. Albert Einstein, the greatest physicist, was his best friend. For years they walked home from the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study almost every day. The present—for Einstein’s 70th birthday—dealt with […]

What is Planck-scale physics and why does it matter?

The Planck-scale physics story begins long ago. In 1901 German physicist Max Planck publishes an explanation for strange properties of radiant heat. He says its energy is quantized. In other words, it radiates in distinct little bits. He sees this as a mathematical convenience and doesn’t really believe it. His math requires a constant he […]