Tag Archives: metric

What are the quanta in quantum gravity? A hundred years ago Einstein said “space”. So where are we now?

Quantum gravity is all the rage in physics these days. There are books about it but none say what quantum gravity is. And none report real progress. We should be upset about this. Really! Quantum gravity tries to reconcile our two immensely successful—but mutually inconsistent—theories about the world: quantum theory and relativity. A quantum theory […]

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 […]

What’s In a Metric? More Than You Might Think

For more than a hundred years a metric has been seen as a good thing. Turns out it’s not; indeed it’s definitely bad.  First, what’s a metric? That gets complicated; it’s an assumed property of space. It’s like a ruler science uses to make measurements of many kinds, like lengths of lines (both straight and […]

The Shifting Shape

Reader Stevo asks a deep question: ‘If space is granular and Planck size is the shortest “length” then what geometric “shape” is a single Planck “thingie”?’ Geometry studies size and shape. Last week we saw Bernhard Riemann in 1856 divining how to do geometry in either of two different kinds of space: continuous space and […]

Einstein’s Funhouse Mirror

Physics beat out chemistry to become the Senior Science in the second physics revolution starting around 1900. A hundred years ago this revolution held huge promise. Now historians of science call it the Unfinished Revolution. What went wrong? It is a strange but, in the end, illuminating five-part story. Part One: In 1851 mathematician Bernhard […]