In 2015 scientists at LIGO observed a wave of gravitation—a distortion of space itself that came from two black holes colliding more than a billion light years away. LIGO is a gravity telescope of exquisite sensitivity. Its observation shaped up as the top science story of the century. In record time, this week it nailed […]
Tag Archives: universe
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 […]
Stephen Hawking’s recipe for the universe may be good religion but it’s bad physics
Stephen Hawking says he has a deep belief. He calls it nothing. He says this is good physics. I say it it is not. He says it is real. I say it is only an idea. Explaining his own curiosity he says, ‘I wanted to understand how the universe began.’ Many physicists see this as […]
Out of this world: Are the laws of physics different in other parts of the universe?
Inflationary theories say the laws of physics should be different in other parts of the universe. Some have claimed to have observed evidence of variation. Now, in a high-precision study using a giant telescope (Arecibo; it’s the one James Bond and Natalya Simonova discover in GoldenEye), scientists observed no variation. But the universe may be […]
The Empire Strikes Back: The battle about how the universe began
More and more physicists are starting to ask: How did the universe begin? Now a battle is breaking out among them. It is about “The Force” that some say flattened out the universe before the Big Bang. This force is called cosmological inflation. The establishment (dare I call it Empire?) claims it is ‘the dominant […]
Things that go bump in the night: What happens when BIG black holes collide
Fifty years ago black holes were science fiction. Today they are observational physics and what we see is stranger than fiction. They send us messages about space and time. Black holes form when the matter of a star more massive than our Sun collapses under its own gravity. Other black holes may have formed in […]
Physics has long been confused about the concept of ‘now’. New insights show that it is fundamental.
A sense of Now is the universal human experience. Yet modern physics cannot handle the concept of the present moment. Indeed relativity—our great theory of space and time—insisted on embedding it within a time dimension and then crossbreeding this dimension with three space dimensions to make spacetime. This was a blunder. It blocks progress. Physics […]
Are we alone? Winston Churchill penned a scientific answer almost 80 years ago. New discoveries show he was right.
Is there life out there? has long been an issue. Recently the issue has been shifting to: How many planets harbour life? Winston Churchill (with whom I’m proud to share a publisher) was among the first to ask this question. In 1939—shortly before he became Prime Minister of Britain—he penned an unpublished work of careful […]