It occurs to me that if you really want your brain baked, you need to search out some before-he-was-famous Cox. Specifically if you can find the episode of Horizon titled "What Time Is It?". They go into a great explanation of how the finite speed of light makes the usual trope of "we're seeing the sun as it was 8 mintues ago" quite meaningless, if not a little wrong - it's like our concept of "now" also extends from us at light speed because no information can travel faster than that. If you can wrap your head around that, you have relativity in the bag. I don't know why I suddenly thought of it just now, it just popped in there.
I LOVED that show. I didn't like "how long is a peice of string", but the time show was teh first I saw Cox in, and one of my first BBC shows. we'd JUST found mvgroup.org. I found Attenbourgh at that time as well.
Excellent. It really was good, wasn't it.
If by some miracle I end up presenting my own episode of Horizon in the future, I'll send you a signed copy so you don't need to scour the internet for it!
Oh, excellent. And likewise, if i'm every featured on US's Discovery Channel, i'll give you a copy to burn! ;-)
The thing about "now" that was fun is the idea (which makes sense, but i'd never thought of it) that you are never ever able to expereince "now", cause it takes time (granted, time so short it's irrelevant), for the light (and sound, but again, less relevant) to get to you.
My dresser, 2 meters infront of me, is 2 meters worth of time BEHIND me in the "now". so really, it could be blown up and flattened, and I'd not know it for .000000000000000000000000002 seconds, or some such. ;-)
I like looking at the sun (seriously, by the way) and knowing that it could be gone, and I'd not know that. Course, I also like looking at the sun and just trying to fathem how fucking bright it is, that it can look so big at sunrise, but be out in the deep blackness of space shining on, you crazy diamond.
None of my re-interest in science (including the stuff on cognition) would have come, had it not been for the internet and BBC. I do not want my MTV, i want my BBC. ;-)
That was horrible, cause now I'm lost. If something is close in time, it must be father in space?
- this is why I am a specialist in religion not science. my head would have exploded*
Think of a place, which is actually in 4 dimensions so it also has a time too. It has its X, Y and Z position (say, my house) but it also has its time dimension (which is a little awkward but call it 12:00 GMT, Janurary 8th). "Near" and "far" are basically a measure of "how difficult it is to get there" - as he puts it in the minute-physics video. So if you try to get to my house from your house (and it's X Y and Z) now, that is, 15:15 GMT December 30th, it would be relatively easy. If you left it until 11:55 GMT, January 8th to leave, it would be considerably difficult. You have to work much harder in that latter case - and if you left it until 12:00 GMT to get here at 12:00 GMT it would be impossible, you'd have to expend infinite energy to do that. I.e., go at the speed of light (and that's where we come back to the whole "now" thing from above).
In four dimensions, and the four dimensions is the key, the distance between my house at 12:00 GMT on January 8th and your house today is less than the distance between my house at 12:00 GMT on January 8th and your house with 5 minutes to get here.
Often, when working in relativity and 4D the terminology changes a little bit to avoid a conceptual roadblock and to force you to think of what it means - just like how Minute Phyiscs tries to describe distance as "how hard it is to get somewhere" rather than in metres or yards. So instead of a "location" (which implies just X, Y and Z) it's an "event" (which has X, Y, Z and T) - and of course we're used to "events" having a time associated with them, right? And instead of "distance" (which again implies only X, Y, and Z) it's called an "interval", and we're used to intervals consisting of time.
So suppose you set off and drove across town; the interval between your start and finish might be 4 miles and 10 minutes, or if you're briskly walking it might be 4 miles and a full hour. If you need to move faster, you have to plow more energy into doing so - and as walking is slower than driving, it's "easier" get across town in an hour than in 10 minutes. The interval is smaller, even thought the time is longer.
Ohhhhh... so it's about the amount of energy needed to get somewhere. And that's not just "intuitive", its' actually mathematically correct?
One thing the cox "lecture for the stars" or whatever, helped me finally understand is they say "all electrons everywhere are connected". I don't really *get* it, but at least it doesn't sound as out of the ass as it did before. all electrons, everywhere must operate as a different energy level (this is the part I didn't get -- why??) so if i change the energy level of one, the entire universe's must shift, at least fractionally, in response.
i'm not sure I "buy" it, cause why must everything, everywhere hum at a different frequency, but at least it has a theory i can say "ah." to. rather than just hearing Al-Khalili say "QM is freaky, every election is connected to every other one - communicating" which just sounded way too magical and wooie.
I suppose you could say it's about the energy. I wouldn't quote me on that, but it's probably a fair thing to say. If you speed up close to the speed of light you need to apply more and more energy - eventually to move at the speed of light you either need infinite energy or ZERO mass (like photons, although Cox likes to explain it as photons must travel at the speed of light because they have no mass). So by the above token of "now" being something that extends from us at the speed of light, to get anywhere "now" you need infinite energy - to get anywhere in "a bit from now" you need finite energy. And using less energy is means its easier to get there from here.
As for electrons, I wouldn't worry too much about the "connected to the whole universe" thing if you can't quite get it. It takes you to interesting conjectures like the thought that there's only really one electron and it's moving back and forward through time along different paths and that is what makes the universe - crazy, unfalsifiable, but interesting nonetheless. The exclusion principle makes more sense if you just consider energy levels around an isolated atom and that they fill up one by one... BUT there's no such thing as an isolated atom. If you actually look at the equations that govern what an electron's wavefunction is like, it actually never reaches zero anywhere (apart from nodes, but those don't count for this), it actually goes on to infinity.
Now, in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, which just says that this wave stuff is just a probability distribution, this means that an object could, just randomly, jump anywhere - and you saw Jonathan Ross try to work that out for the diamond. The further away, the less likely it is to do so because that function tails off so much. If you go by the visualization I tend to use because I work in chemistry and not particle physics, which is that the wave is electron density, then that means the electron is more like a distributed cloud that doesn't really end at all, it just thins out to zero density only at infinite distance. So the electrons in my fingers hovering a few centimetres above the keys on this laptop are still actually touching the electrons on the keys. And worse still, they're also touching you - albeit very very gently :P. You know that whole "not touching can't get angry!" move? Quantum physics says otherwise. So yeah, while you might only think it makes sense when you isolate an atom and look at the energy levels in isolation, in the real world they really do extend to infinity and take into account all the electrons in the universe.
That's not as big a leap as you might think. Imagine we have the electron around a hydrogen atom (and it's the only atom in the universe), then we have one energy level. Next add another hydrogen and an oxygen. Now we have just under a dozen of them, all interacting in a water molecule, which is the only molecule in this hypothetical universe. Now add another water molecule and you wouldn't have much trouble thinking that perhaps one molecule interacts with the other - indeed they do because there's an electrostatic interaction among other things. But then add another molecule, then another, and another... they all still interact, with the interactions gradually getting weaker with distance but never actually to ZERO. In fact, in solids there's an approximation called wp:band theory that does just this and models all the interacting electrons as continuous bands of energy rather than discrete energy levels (for simplicity), precisely because they all interact on some level and pack tightly to form what looks like a continuum - the individual levels are still there in reality, of course, but we'd be damned if we can separate them out easily. While band structure is just a model for working with a solid, but the principle behind it actually applies to the entire universe, all the electrons are interacting in some way, however small. They're all jostling for their place in this great big band of energy because no two can occupy the same space.
As for why they can't occupy the same space, that's just a Law of Nature. I can tell you that if it didn't exist that the universe would simply collapse in on itself and nothing interesting would happen, but that doesn't explain "why" as such.
It fully makes sense that you can't occupy the same space, if only cause that one makes sense in our real world. My cat wants to sleep on my bed - I move for her. But i'm not sure why that means they all must have slightly different energy levels. energy is space?
Also, i *think* either one of the BBC horizin shows, or even BC himself on his talk tried to explain the one electron thing. those are moments when I just shake my head, and wonder how insane physicists are.
Well, bosons can occupy the same quantum state. That's how lasers can build up their intensity. And also how deuterium behaves very differently to hydrogen (protium) - as do the main isotopes of helium, where only one exhibits superfluidity.
That's not really the same as "same space", though. Different atomic orbitals overlap significantly in space, but won't necessarily have the same state or energy.
Best quote from him was just on the Big Fat Quiz of the Year
“”Now, I know you all think that science is just fast cars and hot women... well, it is for me at the moment
I actually spat a beer at the TV.
Ohhh, i stoppped watching 1/2 way through. i must have missed the good/ juicy bit.
I did enjoy him on QI. the entire session of Ewok jokes had me giggeling like a 13 year old girl.
Heh! Maybe this time they won't have clouds. It was funny last year when they were just hopeful to see *anything* they'd planned on showing. :-)
It's actually quite clear across the entire country tonight. You can tell because, as the idiom goes, you could freeze the balls off a brass monkey outside.
You all have strange idioms. I'm hoping that something illegal will happen and I will break the law and watch this. but we will see.
You know I would never advocate anything illegal, but the pirated versions have 23 minutes of extras that were shown on a different channel (I don't know the Brit system) the next day.
Yeah, there's the extended Back To Earth discussions where people phone or web-cam in with comments and questions. Like where one of them asks "How do we unlock the secrets of time travel". Twerp.
Actually I think you'll find that those are the 'Back to Earth' programmes which were broadcast immediately afterwards on the same channel and consisted of just entertaining studio chat. They are still available on iPlayer if you can use a UK proxy. If you need any other 'assistance' let me know and I'll see what I can do. ;)
Ok, I hate admitting things like this, but i don't quite understadn how to setup/use proxys. I know what they are, but...
I'm sure there are a load of geeks who could explain how to use proxies and set up your browser but I prefer to use a commercial VPN service as it is simple and more reliable. I use this service which costs me $48 a year and gives me an IP in both the US and UK. Using the US VPN means I can buy stuff in the US without incurring 20% EU sales tax so it almost pays for itself. It also means that I can access the BBC TV from anywhere in the world and also US TV sites from which I would normally be barred. There are free alternatives but as everyone uses them you are bandwidth limited. Setting up a VPN was fairly simple on both my iPad and Windows 7 laptop and it only takes a few seconds to turn it off or on.
Ohhh.... I can do that, i think. It would likely help Husband, who can't get lots of his French news/tv streams due to location.
Ohhh.... I can do that, i think. It would likely help Husband, who can't get lots of his French news/tv streams due to location.
France doesn't seem to be on their list, you might want to verify beforehand if it's important.
Favorite comment I've read about Brian Cox: "His show is aces but does rather look like a music video for The Verve or something. Basically he could present it from inside a well lit box and it would be the same."