Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. – Sagan

Monday, October 31, 2011

“Fabric of the Cosmos” on PBS this Wednesday

NOVA has a fascinating program airing this Wednesday at 9:00 PM that attempts to tackle the mind blowing theories and experiments that aim to unravel the nature of the cosmos and even time itself. This will be a four part series starting with “What is Space?”, followed by “The Illusion of Time”, “Quantum Leap”, and finishing the series with “Universe or Multiverse”.

Set your DVRs so you don’t miss any of it.

Program Description
“The Fabric of the Cosmos,” a four-hour series based on the book by renowned physicist and author Brian Greene, takes us to the frontiers of physics to see how scientists are piecing together the most complete picture yet of space, time, and the universe. With each step, audiences will discover that just beneath the surface of our everyday experience lies a world we’d hardly recognize—a startling world far stranger and more wondrous than anyone expected.

Brian Greene is going to let you in on a secret: We’ve all been deceived. Our perceptions of time and space have led us astray. Much of what we thought we knew about our universe—that the past has already happened and the future is yet to be, that space is just an empty void, that our universe is the only universe that exists—just might be wrong.

Interweaving provocative theories, experiments, and stories with crystal-clear explanations and imaginative metaphors like those that defined the groundbreaking and highly acclaimed series “The Elegant Universe,” “The Fabric of the Cosmos” aims to be the most compelling, visual, and comprehensive picture of modern physics ever seen on television.

Airing November 2nd, 9th, 16th and the 23rd, at 9:00 PM on PBS.

Tony’s note: Just got around to watching this last night on my DVR. Very well done and no expenses spared with visual effects. Probably one of the best visual explanations of what space is and how it behaves when it interacts with matter. For the uninitiated, they get a good idea why gravity behaves the way it does. Also, they delved into topics like the Casimir effect and Higgs’ idea about matter interaction and the search for the Higgs’ boson. Can’t wait for next week’s topic on time.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Warp Drives – Science Fiction or Science Fact?

Warp drive has been a staple of science fiction books, television, and films. It’s typically invoked when faster than light travel in needed as a plot device or to move the story along at a quicker pace. It’s a concept born in science fiction and continues to thrive in science fiction.

Credit: Tryingtofly @ Deviantart

The general idea behind warp drive is that space is being “warped”, or bent, in a fashion that allows a spacecraft to ride in the altered space at superluminal speeds. Typically what a warp drive engine would do to achieve this is compress the fabric of space-time ahead of it, and expand space-time behind it, thus creating a bubble of normal space-time in the middle. The compression ahead of the bubble, in effect, pulls the bubble of normal space-time (and whatever object or objects are occupying space in the bubble) forward. The expansion behind the bubble fills in the space appropriately so you don’t have a tear in the fabric of space-time.

But is the concept of warp drive grounded in reality, or will it always be fiction?

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