Literature and Terrorism In an age of terror, how does literature help us transcend our reality, lend perspective to our confusion by pulling us into the past and other cultures, and give expression to our anguish and fear through catharsis? They survived it; so can we.
The subject was cosmology, and Einstein was poised to make one of the more momentous statements in the history of science. With his theories of relativity and gravity long confirmed and his Nobel Prize ten years old, he was by far the most famous scientist in the world.
Photographs by Thomas Allen For years Einstein had insisted, like Aristotle and Newton before him, that the universe was a magnificent and immortal cathedral, fixed for all eternity. In this picture, time runs from the infinite past to the infinite future, and little changes in between.
Perhaps even more convincing, his mathematical model for a static universe had been shown to be like a pencil balanced on its point: When he arrived in Pasadena, Einstein was ready to acknowledge a cosmos in flux.
What arose from the shards of that hammerblow was the cosmology of the Big Bang: According to current data, our universe will keep expanding forever. He is also one of a small platoon of physicists who call themselves quantum cosmologists.
He wants to know what happened at the very first moment of the Big Bang, whether time or anything else existed before it, and how we can tell the future from the past. Such bedrock questions in physics, which have been seriously posed only recently, might be likened to Descartes asking for proof of his existence.
Quantum cosmology is speculative work, but Carroll explained its allure: Nevertheless, some of the sharpest minds in physics, including Stephen Hawking, Andrei Linde, and Alexander Vilenkin, have pondered the subject.
It is a tiny field, not for the timid. An understanding of the very beginning of the universe also requires an understanding of so-called quantum gravity: Most physicists believe that in this quantum era, the entire observable universe was roughly a million billion billion times smaller than a single atom.
The temperature was nearly a million billion billion billion degrees.
Time and space churned like boiling water. Of course, such things are unimaginable. But theoretical physicists try to imagine them in mathematical form, with pencil and paper. Somehow, time as we know it emerged in that fantastically dense nugget.
Physicists hope that within the next fifty years or so, string theory or other new theoretical work will provide a good understanding of quantum gravity, including an explanation of how the universe began.
Until then, the quantum cosmologists will de- bate their hypotheses, each backed up with pages of calculations. Previous Page Next Page 1 of 4 You are currently viewing this article as a guest.About Us.
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With kind permission from Alan Lightman, I present here one of his essays form the Dance for Two, Smile: Alan Lightman John E. Burchard Professor. Physics, Creative Writing. Winner of the Association of American Publishers award for physical science. Runnerup in the Boston Globe's Winship Award. Homeboyz by Alan Sitomer Essay - Alan Sitomer’s newest fast paced novel Homeboyz is a hardcore suspense story that will immediately put readers on the edge and leave them breathless in the end. Literature Study Guides for all your favorite books! Get chapter summaries, in-depth analysis, and visual learning guides for hundreds of English Literary Classics.
Homeboyz by Alan Sitomer Essay - Alan Sitomer’s newest fast paced novel Homeboyz is a hardcore suspense story that will immediately put readers on the edge and leave them breathless in the end.