The goal of The Biggest Ideas in the Universe is to bridge the gap between popular-science treatments of modern physics and true expert knowledge. This is the real stuff — equations and all — presented in a way that presumes no prior knowledge other than high-school algebra. Readers will come up to speed about exactly what professional physicists are talking about, with an emphasis on established knowledge rather than speculation.
Volume One, Space, Time, and Motion, covers the domain of classical physics, from Newton to Einstein. We get introduced to Spherical Cow Philosophy, in which complications are stripped away to reveal the essence of a system, and the Laplacian Paradigm, in which the laws of physics take us from initial conditions into the future by marching through time. We learn the basic ideas of calculus, where we can calculate rates of change and how much of a quantity has accumulated. We think about the nature of space and time, separately and together. Finally we are introduced to the mysteries of non-Riemannian geometry and Einstein’s theory of curved spacetime, culminating into a dive into black holes.
The Standard Model of particle physics is the most successful scientific theory of all time. It describes how everything in the universe is made of 12 different types of matter particles, interacting with 3 forces, all bound together by a rather special particle called the Higgs boson. It’s the pinnacle of 400 years of science, and gives the correct answer to hundreds of thousands of experiments. In this explainer, Cambridge physicist David Tong creates the model, piece by piece, to provide some intuition for how all of the parts fit together to create the fundamental building blocks of our universe. At the end of the video, he also points out what’s missing from the model, and what work is left to do in order to complete the Theory of Everything.
Quantum computers aren’t the next generation of supercomputers—they’re something else entirely. Before we can even begin to talk about their potential applications, we need to understand the fundamental physics that drives the theory of quantum computing. (Featuring Scott Aaronson, John Preskill, and Dorit Aharonov.) For more, read “Why Quantum Computers Are So Hard to Explain”: https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-is…
“Declaring something impossible leads to more things being possible,” writes the physicist Chiara Marletto. “Bizarre as it may seem, it is commonplace in quantum physics.”
Chiara Marletto is trying to build a master theory — a set of ideas so fundamental that all other theories would spring from it. Her first step: Invoke the impossible.
Constructor Theory is a new approach to formulating fundamental laws in physics. Instead of describing the world in terms of trajectories, initial conditions and dynamical laws, in constructor theory laws are about which physical transformations are possible and which are impossible, and why. This powerful switch has the potential to bring all sorts of interesting fields, currently regarded as inherently approximative, into fundamental physics. These include the theories of information, knowledge, thermodynamics, and life.
It took seven days, heavy machinery and an international team of salvage workers, but it the end it was a force of nature – rising tides – that helped finally free the #Ever #Given cargo ship a week after it got stuck in the #Suez #Canal and blocked one of the world’s busiest waterways.