Off-topic, via Fred Singer: Weak Lensing Contest: Participate in the "great challenge" where you should design algorithms decoding weak lensing ("unwarping images of millions of galaxies") and show you're better than the experts; NASA quiz example (I did it right LOL); Science Daily. Ends in April 2014. Winner gets $3,000 in hardware.Someone started a YouTube project of recording 2-minute interviews with famous physicists about a theory of everything,
facebook.com/toemovie (FB home page)So far, there seem to be eight videos in the channel.
TOEmovie YouTube channel (videos)
First, pedestrians near MIT are asked what a theory of everything is.
They start with silence. Then they offer you a louder answer, namely əəəəəəəə. Finally, all of them reveal that they have at least some idea.
Ken Olum of Tufts is asked whether we live in the Matrix.
He is an atheist but he finds an overlord plausible. It should be considered, he thinks. Can we find out we are simulated?
Max Tegmark of MIT attracted the highest number of viewers by his question: How weird is reality?
Tegmark suggests that it is "hard" to construct physics theories that only contain the things we are seeing. (I agree with that but it doesn't necessarily imply that we have to incude "everything" that can exist, either.) We must study things that are weird as well, otherwise we have no chance to find the truth.
Andy Strominger of Harvard says that the fun is only starting to emerge now.
He compares the situation of the 20th century with the situation now. He summarizes the 20th century breakthroughs as well as the recent ones and the confusion that remains in the fog. He is a cheerleader of a sort here but I do tend to agree that the situation is more interesting now when the physics is already more mature than 100 years ago.
Paul Steinhardt of Princeton, a co-co-inventor and hater of cosmic inflation, tries to clarify what the Big Bang really was.
He compares the Big Bang with an ordinary explosion. The Big Bang should be called Big Stretch which is a terminological stretch. ;-)
Historian of science Peter Galison of Harvard (yup, I know him rather well, too) talks about how technology shapes scientific ideas. Note that he's been enthusiastic about the idea that Einstein's patent work for the railways was important for relativity, a meme I don't really share.
Similarly, Poincaré measured the longitude. Peter thinks that they found it important to study the spacetime issues to help practical problems. I don't believe that. It was clear to them that most of the relativistic corrections would be unmeasurable at their time. The situation wasn't "qualitatively" different from our research of branes or strings or black hole interior today.
Historian David Kaiser of MIT focuses on conceptual revolutions.
He thinks it's more interesting to start with the people before Einstein who were very good at calcuations (better than most of us today, I totally agree with that) who were thinking about the aether. They were working on the detailed properties of the aether, a project whose importance was treated as unquestionable, before someone finally pointed out that maybe, there's no aether. ;-)
Alan Guth talks about the inflating size of our universe – he is uncertain about the existence of the multiverse.
He says that we are small geometrically but we are still important for us, from our perspective. I totally agree with that.
Too bad that so few people are watching these videos. This blog post may very well double the visitor counts.