Tag Archives: Universe

Wanna Make a Name for Yourself: Answer One of These Questions

In The Guardian today, there’s an article that lists “20 big questions in science.” If you want to be famous (at least in some circles), answer one of the questions. Of course, there are some ‘answers’ to the questions already. Or maybe it’d be more accurate to say that there are some hypotheses or that there is some ‘general knowledge’ in the domain of the question. However, there don’t seem to be any definitive answers, yet.

Here are the questions with a few thoughts after some of them:

1. What is the universe made of?

2. How did life begin?

3. Are we alone in the universe?

If pressed to give an answer on number three, I’d probably say something to the effect of: given how big the universe is, mathematically speaking, isn’t it more likely that there is other life out there somewhere than isn’t?

4. What makes us human?

5. What is consciousness?

On number five, I remember reading a very intriguing article in The Atlantic this past winter that explored the question: what does it mean to be conscious? It approached this question in the context of anesthesia. If this question interests you, this is one way to delve into the topic.

6. Why do we dream?

While there are many theories on why we dream, one of my favorite ways for interpreting dreams is through Jeremy Taylor’s method. This method also outside the context of dreaming.

7. Why is there stuff?

8. Are there other universes?

9. Where do we put all the carbon?

10. How do we get more energy from the sun?

Number ten, while also making you famous, would likely also make you extremely wealthy unless you went the route of Jonas Salk and polio.

11. What’s so weird about prime numbers?

12. How do we beat bacteria?

13. Can computers keep getting faster?

14. Will we ever cure cancer?

15. When can I have a robot butler?

16. What’s at the bottom of the ocean?

On number sixteen: when you realize that 95% of the ocean is unexplored, it sort of gets you curious about what might be down there. More than that, 99% of the Earth is water. There’s a lot we don’t know about the planet we inhabit.

17. What’s at the bottom of a black hole?

18. Can we live for ever?

19. How do we solve the population problem?

20. Is time travel possible?

On number twenty: if this turns out to be true, that would make for some interesting ethical and moral dilemmas.

Morgan Freeman Explains Physics to The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart

A few nights ago, Morgan Freeman was on The Daily Show promoting his new movie that comes out next week, “Now You See Me.” There’s a science-fiction part to the movie, but that’s not how we ended up with Morgan Freeman explaining physics to Jon Stewart. Morgan Freeman is also a narrator for “Through the Wormhole” on the Discovery Channel. As a result, Freeman knows (at least a little!) about science. I remember getting pretty psyched when I was watching the show live a few nights ago and Freeman says, “It’s easy, I’ll explain it to you,” when referring to concepts from physics. Anyhow, I tried to embed the clip below, but it seems you can’t embed Comedy Central clips on WordPress, so I found a version of the interview on YouTube. It’ll be here until it, invariably, gets taken down from YouTube.

I wanted to talk briefly about one of the examples that Freeman used: the balloon. Several years ago, I saw some videos of a physicist — Nassim Haramein — and they were captivating, to say the least. The way that he presents the material makes it seem very logical, but my scientific literacy isn’t such that I’d be able to say he was right or he was wrong. I know that Haramein’s partnered with one of the big names in science, but like I said, I don’t have the scientific literacy to debunk anything.

From looking on the internet, it seems that a number of people don’t think that Haramein has stumbled onto anything and a number of people do think that he’s stumbled onto something. Like I said, I really don’t know, but I do remember Haramein using the same balloon example that Freeman used in talking to Jon Stewart. You’ve seen the Freeman clip above, so I’ll embed a clip of Haramein talking about the balloon. This video has more in it than just the balloon, so I’ve set the video to start at the time when Haramein begins to talk about the balloon (short intro into it). You can probably stop watching around 37:30 to get the gist of the point I’m making.

Pretty cool, eh?

When I lived on Kauai, I did have the chance to meet with Haramein a few times and he certainly seems like a nice guy. We never chewed on science concepts, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to keep up for too long. If you’re interested in Haramein’s work, I’d urge you to look into his new website: The Resonance Project. It looks like he’s got a new movie coming out called: The Connected Universe. He also has a couple of other movies: Crossing the Event Horizon and Black Whole. If you watched the clip above, you saw a short snippet of Crossing the Event Horizon. There are 4 DVDs in the set. If you don’t have that kind of time, you might want to start with Black Whole — it’s only about an hour and a half.