Tuesday 25 December 2012
Photo, above: A vision of a Grand Design network
JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW
Hawking, the renowned Cambridge mathematician, teams up with Mlodinow, a physicist at Caltech, for a brief introduction to "the grand design" of the universe. If this project seems ambitious for a four and a half–hour audio production, it is; however, even general readers will be able to follow along as the authors guide us through M-theories, quantum mechanics, general and special relativity, and other mind-blowing cosmological discoveries of the last century. The goal of all these journeys through the history of science is to answer some basic questions: why is there a universe in the first place? What other universes may in fact be possible, given Richard Feynman's theory of multiple histories? The audio version of this book is simple and scaled down. Despite an engaging and capable performance by West End stage actor Steve West, some listeners might long for more content—diagrams or video tracks to accompany and augment the lecture. A Bantam hardcover. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"The universe exists because of spontaneous creation" --Stephen Hawking In The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking and the Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow suggest that physics and metaphysics (and religion) are merging. The grand design that we've taken for granted since Newton is more complex than anything we ever dreamed of. Models of the universe are changing radically; many physicists doubt the reality of a Big Bang. We live in a world in which many physicists have come to believe there are not merely three dimensions plus time, but 10, or possibly 11 -- a new world view world that encompasses black holes, supermassive black holes, galaxy-mass black holes, dark matter, dark energy, string theory, M-theory, alternate pasts and alternate futures. The universe began with the Big Bang, which "simply followed the inevitable law of physics," Hawking writes. "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going. The universe didn't need a God to begin; it was quite capable of launching its existence on its own."
Tuesday 1005P (705P Pacific Time): Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe by Roger Penrose;1 of 4
Tuesday 1020P (720P Pacific Time): Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe by Roger Penrose; 2 of 4
New York Journal of Books “Of interest to anyone who is interested in the world, how it works, and how it got here. . . . The best thing to do is to take a deep breath, grab a copy of this fascinating book, and plunge right in.”
Science “We must understand why the universe began in an incredibly special state, so well ordered that 14 billion years later, the universe still has not reached maximum disorder. Penrose is at his best when he explains this deep and beautiful mystery, and the book may be worth reading for this chapter alone.”
Tuesday 1035P (735P Pacific Time): Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe by Roger Penrose; 3 of 4
Tuesday 1050P (750P Pacific Time): Cycles of Time: An Extraordinary New View of the Universe by Roger Penrose; 4 of 4
Tuesday 1105P (805P Pacific Time): The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by F. E. Close; 1 of 5
Tuesday 1120P (820P Pacific Time): The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by F. E. Close; 2 of 5
Nature “[A] fascinating book. . . . [A] compelling history and sociology of modern particle theory. We discover the motivations and achievements of a rich cast of brilliant individuals, and get enough of the science to grasp what they were trying to do. Where Close really shines is in exposing the fraught process of recognition in science. . . . Close’s history of the field is engaging and gives insight into how great theories are created.”
New Scientist “[A] thoroughly researched and well-crafted narrative. . . . [Close] focuses on the triumphs and failures of the physicists behind the equations, providing a realistic view of how theoretical physics really progresses – the all-too-human endeavour fraught with personal ambitions, rivalries, alliances, errors and plain historical accident. . . . It’s refreshing to read a popular physics book that doesn’t revisit the same well-trodden ground of so many before it.”
Tuesday 1135P (835P Pacific Time): The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by F. E. Close; 3 of 5
Tuesday 1150P (850P Pacific Time): The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by F. E. Close; 4 of 5
www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/research/hep/research Quantum field theory is the language in which all of modern physics is formulated. It represents the marriage of quantum mechanics with special relativity and provides the mathematical framework in which to describe the creation and destruction of hoards of particles as they pop in and out of their ethereal existence and interact. Whether you want to understand the collisions of protons at the LHC, how electrons co-operate inside solids, or how black holes evaporate, you need to work with quantum field theory. Moreover, it has also proven to be a remarkably subtle and rich subject for mathematicians, providing insights into many new areas of mathematics.
When the interactions between particles are weak, quantum field theory can be well understood using perturbative techniques of Feynman diagrams. However, when the interactions between particles become strong, these methods no longer work and one must develop new mathematical tools and techniques. Such tools are necessary to understand phenomena such as the confinement of quarks inside protons and neutrons, or the fractionalization of electrons in the quantum Hall effect. Members of DAMTP are actively engaged in understanding various aspects of strongly coupled field theories through lattice field theory, supersymmetry, integrability, gauge/gravity duality and other techniques.
Tuesday/Wed 1205A (905 Pacific Time): The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by F. E. Close; 5 of 5
Tuesday/Wed 1220A (920 Pacific Time): Ken Croswell on, The Infinity Puzzle: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe by F. E. Close
Tuesday/Wed 1235A (935P Pacific Time): The Quantum Universe (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw; 1 of 2
New York Journal of Books, 2/15/12 “Understanding the quantum world in the deep and satisfying way that we’d like to is not at all necessary to describe its workings with exquisite precision. It is this astonishingly accurate mathematical description of the consequences of a set of rules that, as strange as they may seem, actually work, that is the focus of Professors Cox and Forshaw’s brief excursion . . . The Quantum Universe may not demystify quantum theory, but it does give the reader an idea of the size of the mountain the book is trying to climb—and a toe-hold or two to help get us started on our own ascent.”
Tuesday/Wed 1250A (950P Pacific Time): Exeunt. The Quantum Universe (And Why Anything That Can Happen, Does) by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw; 2 of 2