90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Lisa Randall: Physics, Science, And The Universe

With Anthony Brooks in for Tom Ashbrook.

Top flight physicist Lisa Randall on understanding the universe, from particles to the cosmos.

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix nebula, a cosmic starlet often photographed by amateur astronomers for its vivid colors and eerie resemblance to a giant eye.  (NASA)

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix nebula, a cosmic starlet often photographed by amateur astronomers for its vivid colors and eerie resemblance to a giant eye. (NASA)

If you care about the big questions of the physical world, then Lisa Randall would be great company at a dinner party.  Over drinks, the Harvard physicist could tell you what we know and don’t know about particle physics and cosmology.

During dinner she’d use poetry to describe the Large Hadron Collider – the biggest machine ever built – and the mysteries it could soon reveal.  And with dessert — a passionate argument for the value of scientific thinking and what we lose when we put faith over logic.

This hour, On Point: Knocking on Heaven’s Door with Lisa Randall.

-Anthony Brooks

Guests

Lisa Randall, professor at Harvard University, studies theoretical particle physics and cosmology. Her new book is Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World. Read an excerpt.

From The Reading List

The Harvard Crimson “Though Randall’s professional prowess lies in the sciences, she became interested in the arts when she was invited to write the libretto for “Hypermusic Prologue: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes” after Spanish composer Hector Parra read her book “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions.””

Symmetry Magazine “The noted theorist and author is on tour with her new book, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: How Physics and Scientific Thinking Illuminate the Universe and the Modern World.” Randall says that scales of measurement are the critical factor in studying the universe, the quantum world and our everyday experiences: We must be able to make measurements “on the scale that is most useful to what we want to see and what we want to know,” she says.”

Live Science “What is the nature of time and space? How did the universe begin, and how will it end? These are existential questions for most people, but they’re all in a day’s work for physicist Lisa Randall. The Harvard university scientist has researched particle physics, string theory, and the possibility of extra dimensions.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Anonymous

    Does causality depend upon infinity? Without infinity there has to be a first cause but does that not contradict the premise of causality? Similarly if the law of conseravation of energy is inviolate, does it also depend upon infinity to hold true? How do physicists working at the edge of theory reconcile these dilemas when they wake up in the morning and begin their day? Acceptance, acquiescence or just a sense of exciting awe? :^)

    • Anonymous

      Time is a consequence of there being a universe.   It doesn’t make sense to use words like “first” when talking about the origins of that universe.  Without an arrow of time, how can there be a first?

      • Yourhep

        Eric that is circular reasoning. But you are right, God did make this place outside of time.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

    Our Milkyway galaxy is only a drop in the cosmic ocean. Billions of galaxies out there. it is impossible that we are alone.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

    Discussions about the nature of existence always bring to mind the concept of “God” and how to scientifically quantify “God”. The one way I have found (all be it through Science Fiction!) that I find peace with is the concept that as the universe expands, stretching out and diffusing over trillions of years to the point where all is uniform and equal, thoughts could have potentially infinite power. In such a situation, I imagine all it would take is someone to notice the darkness and think “There really should be light.”

    • Anonymous

      Why would thoughts have potentially infinite power in an expanding universe?  What are thoughts?  A bit of electrical and chemical activity in the brain.  Why should thoughts have any more influence on the cosmos than any other bit of electrical or chemical activity?

      Where is God in this view?  Well, to quote the astronomer LaPlace to Napoleon, “Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là” – “I had no need of that hypothesis.”

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

        So I know pretty much nothing about theoretical physics and really just like to hear people say big words and then maybe explain them afterwards. Sue me. But allow me to better explain how I see it, or rather here is how the comic I read saw it: The universe is expanding, yes? Ok. So as the universe expands over “time” it becomes more diffuse, eventually becoming a cold, dark, static and empty place. Were some being to exist at this time, whether through technology or will or something else, with the universe in such a state perhaps all it would take is a single thought, a burst of energy if you will, to spark a new big bang and start the universe over again. Would that being not then be “God”? Perhaps the universe in which we exist is just one in an infinite loop of death and rebirth and “God” is just the person, being, demiurge what have you that lights the spark each cycle?

        • Thomas P.

          It seems that trying to link to “God” or define as “God” concepts from the physical universe, as explained through physics or mathematics, requires you to first define what you mean by “God.” Is this Yahweh, the Abrahamic god of Jews, Christians, or Muslims (variously known as Jehovah, God or Allah)? Is this the Brahman of Hinduism? The Tao of Taoism? “God” seems to be a fuzzy concept that varies widely here on Earth, depending on who you talk to. There are many gods on our little planet at the edge of the galaxy. Which “God” is the one to which you refer?

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

            Though I’m not quite sure to which view I subscribe yet, let’s go with the concept of “God” as a universal architect or if not an architect than the one that got the ball rolling. If we’re going to go all physics and stuff on this then I’ll call “God” the action that lead to the reaction of the Big Bang. But then that brings in causality and all that other stuff that I admittedly do not understand. Just trying to bring a little philosophy into the discussion with an idea different from the academic concepts already put forth. For the laymen listening to/reading this discussion, topics such as the creation of the universe and our place in it go hand in hand with philosophy.

          • Anonymous

            Well, ultimately we just don’t know what caused the Big Bang, if indeed “cause” is a relevant concept when talking about the Big Bang.  I don’t find God to be a useful placeholder for our areas of ignorance.  It’s confusing, ill-defined, and doesn’t actually do anything to increase our understanding.  Leave God to the fiction stories.  The universe as it actually appears to be is so much more interesting and rewarding.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

            No, we do not. It does not mean we cannot dream of all the possibilities, however outlandish they may seem. Scientific thinking does not preclude thoughts beyond/outside science.

          • Anonymous

            I’m all for wild speculations, but if we are to speculate about the nature of the universe outside of fictional stories, then eventually those speculations have to be grounded in empiricism.  Also, before we lose ourselves too much in the wilder side of speculation, it’s good to have a grasp of what we do know.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

            True. No argument with that. Though losing ourselves some times can be very helpful in understanding exactly where we stand. For example, I started my comment chain with a funky idea from a comic book. I’ve come out of it with some new ideas I wouldn’t have had if not for kicking the nest a bit. All that equates to good times for me on a Monday morning. Thanks for the indulgence!

          • Drew You Too

            I’ve always been fascinated by Daoist philosophy. Some reading you may find interesting Dan Trindade can be found here: http://www.iep.utm.edu/daoism/

            As far as understanding “God” is concerned, we are Finite and can therefore not comprehend the Infinite. The problem with someone “defining” what they believe to be God is that it is “their definition”, nothing more. Also, once you settle on one definition of the indefinable you severely limit your perception in favor of a false sense of security. Interesting comment and replies, much better than the typical Monday morning rants that have lately been the norm. Something I ponder frequently is: EveryThing is NoThing and NoThing is EveryThing.

          • Thomas P.

            That sounds most like Yahweh, the creator-god of Jews, Christians, and Muslims. The idea of god as architect and creator is a very Western concept. The Eastern concepts actually mesh much better with modern physics, especially many of the concepts of Buddhism, where, technically speaking, there are no gods. In the West, we tend to think that if a thing happened it must have had a cause, but the eastern traditions are much more in tune with the “just happened” concept. I think it scares us to think that there is no method to the madness. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1816544 Dan Trindade

            Deep man. I will contemplate this. Thanks for hitting me with some knowledge.

          • Misteryboss

            Well said Thomas. The west tends to buy heavily into a patriarchal creation myth. That any one can possibly ascribe a gender upon a concept as grandiose as God, is sure proof they these folks have not truly thought their ideas through. Thanks for sharing.

          • nj

            “My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.”

            —Albert Einstein

  • Bruce

    Lisa, Love your book ‘Warped Passages”… understand maybe 10 percent but still find modern physics great fun.  But sometimes I do wonder if the mathematics, which seems to me is modern physics, is contrived, eg a product of the mathematical imagination rather then observation and testable hypotheses.   Could you and Tom address that? 

    • Tina

      I’ve wondered the same thing about the mathematics (because of understanding, to some degree, OTHER “imaginations”:  the visual imagination, the verbal imagination, the historical imagination, the social imagination, etc.

  • Richard

    I am always delighted to hear Prof, Randall on NPR.I hope that today she will address the questions of the Higgs boson, or Higgs field as it is sometimes called, and the reports of super-luminal – c-plus – neutrinos by CERN with possible corroboration by labs in the U.S. and Japan.

  • Anonymous

    I sometimes wish black holes never existed.  Outside of super novas, when I read about a new extreme event observed, I can almost be assured that within a years that astromers will find the black hole responsible.  It’s almost boring.  So not only matter and light get sucked into a black hole, but so does a wide-open imagination!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Logic, reason, and evidence don’t trump faith; they address a different field of enquiry.

    • Anonymous

      What field of inquiry does faith adequately address?  What questions can it actually answer?  What progress in any field has faith ever given us?

      “Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.” -Mark Twain

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        What is the purpose of our existence?  How should we live our lives?  Besides, look at the world of art and literature and music that various religions have given us.

        • Anonymous

          Religion makes a lot of claims about the purpose of our existence or how to live our lives but of answers, I see none.

          Art and literature are not fields of enquiry.  Also, do you think we would not have art and literature without religion and faith?

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            I didn’t say that, but we do have a lot of art and literature due to religion.  Besides, if religion didn’t have a value, we wouldn’t devote so much energy to it.

          • Anonymous

            What do you mean by value?  Religion is good at creating a sense of community and shared culture.  People find that valuable, but it has nothing to do with whether religious claims about the universe are true.

          • Yourhep

            Eric, How do you explain the origin of this something we call the universe out of nothing. Our universe seems to come from something outside of space and time. I believe in the scientific exploration of the physical world. I see it as finding deeper ways of understanding the world that was created by God. God is the original creator and scientist. God made the universe and the laws it works by.

          • Anonymous

            I don’t explain it.  We have no answers for that at this time and I’m happy to live with uncertainty.  I’m not going to posit an explanation without evidence or proof out of some misplaced need to have an answer, any answer, regardless of the truth.

          • Yourhep

            Check out the book by Josh McDowell, Evidence demands a verdict. Are you willing to make a rational exploration of the possibility that Jesus existed was the Son of God. Hope you base your rejection of the spiritual part of your life based on a full exploration and not on a philosophical view of what you see as valid.

          • Anonymous

            I base my rejection of religious claims purely on the evidence.

            Here’s a chapter by chapter refutation of McDowell’s nonsense, er, book.
            http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/

          • Anonymous

            Even if he existed, Jesus was not the son of a god that doesn’t exist.

          • Anonymous

            So you think God created the universe at the same time you state that you believe in the scientific process. This does not make any sense. The whole idea of science is to use logic and to test theories.
            Religion is the opposite, it deals with absolutes or uses myths to describe unknown phenomenon. Show me some proof other than blind faith that God or some other mythical creature made the known universe.

          • Jaka279

            open your eyes and look at the order in the universe.  

          • Misteryboss

            If one concedes God made the Universe, then who made God? It is a conundrum, is it not?

            It is worth noting that the current idea of a monotheistic God came at the expense of numerous gods before it. Animism is/was a belief to most indigenous populations and it predates the Judeo/Christian God myth by many thousands of years.

            Science, such as anthropology have shown that humankind has been around long before the timeline given in the Bible.

            Too many people claim to believe something that they have not taken the time to adequately study.

            I study theology, religion, psychology, sociology, anthropology, nature and filter them through my perceptual experience. I have faith in the sun and the earth for I know I would not exist without them.

            If one takes time to examine the development of religions they would come to realize that most religions are derivative of Animism and Sun/Earth worship. Note the rise of religion as it corresponds with the agricultural revolution.

            Someone earlier mentioned something like, Religions assist in building community. I say it builds factions that ultimately end up killing in their God’s name.

            In reference to why religion comes up in scientific conversations, social science is the study of human social behavior. Science has a place for Religion (to be studied/dissected/understood). Religion has no place for science as it is irrational and illogical.

            The relationship you have with any entity is merely the reflection of the relationship you have with yourself, as we are all connected, independence is an illusion.

            Misteryboss

          • Anonymous

            I said that religion builds community.  Factions killing are a dark side of community, but that is not limited to religion.  Secular communities commit violence as well.  Religion has the downside of mixing a sense of righteousness and infallibility with their community, along with their myths of the struggle between Good and Evil, which I would wager makes it particularly susceptible to violent expressions.  But any group that places ideology over reason or that tries to subsume the individual into “something greater” be it god or the state, runs the same risks.

          • Random

            “How do you explain the origin of this something we call the universe out of nothing.”
            You state this as if it’s a fact. How do you know the universe came out of nothing?

            This is the problem with religion. It’s based on a lot of assumptions.
            “If the universe came out of nothing, it means the universe could not have come about on it’s own. Something else must have caused the universe to come into being. God!”

        • Cmsalvaje

          The purpose of our existence is for the universe to know that it exists.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            ?Como que huh?

  • Pete

    What’s the deal with Hawking radiation on the event horizon of a black hole? How does that work?
    Also, please explain dark matter and dark energy.
    Thanks!

  • Dismal Troll

    the universe is a sphere

    • Anonymous

      Great name!

      • Modavations

        Please explain to me the fascination with the word “Troll”.In three months I’ve heard the term used in every way imaginable.There are 50 guys, in this forum, named Troll,or a derivative there of.Freudianly speaking,you guys suffer from “Troll Envy”.

    • Heaviest Cat

      jury’s still out on that one, Troll: )

  • Pete

    Also, is it true that scientists at University of Groningen in Holland explained the “faster than light” neutrinos reported this summer as a failure to account for motion of the GPS satellites used for timing?

    • Modavations

      Tachyons(hypothetical) may go faster then light.I have doubts.There are zillions of planets and I suppose ,zillions of life forms.We haven’t run into any,because you can’t go faster then the speed of light.It’s ten light years(?) to the closest planet.Light travels at 186000 miles per second.When the shuttle leaves earth,it’s traveling at 25,000MPH(not seconds).It running speed, after leaving orbit, is 15,000MPH(or vice versa.I learned this stuff back in High School) 

  • TB

    Please tell me your thoughts on the shortcomings of Science and the hubris of Scientists.

  • Tina

    Sadly, the guest speaks way too fast and too impenetrably for me to understand what she is expressing.  

  • Anonymous

    Why does religion have to be brought up any time the topic is science?  When the topic is religion, a scientist isn’t brought on to demonstrate that the fairy tales aren’t true. 

    • Anonymous

      A pity too.  It’d be great if every time religion was mentioned, there was a disclaimer noting the absence of any sort of evidence for the claims.

      • brsdasa

        does lack of evidence mean disproof?

        • Anonymous

          No, it means there’s no justification to believe.  There are an infinite number of things that we have no evidence for.  I don’t go around having faith in them all.  It also means there’s no criteria to choose one competing religion over another, or one particular denomination over another, or one particular conception of God(ess) over another.

          • brsdasa

            it likewise means there no justification to not believe.

          • Anonymous

            The principle is that belief should be proportional to the evidence.  By your argument, to be consistent, I would have to believe in everything.  Which would be both contradictory and exhausting.

          • brsdasa

            i didn’t mean to hit ‘like’. i meant to hit ‘reply’.

            anyway here’s my reply:

            my point is that without evidence we have no more authority/reason  to deny as to accept.

            so one could say, “the principle is that disbelief should be proportional to the evidence”. and there’s no evidence. so no disbelief.

          • Anonymous

            So you advocate believing in everything that has no evidence?  Do you believe in Zeus and unicorns and a race of chartreuse space bears ruling over the Adromeda galaxy?  By what criteria do you ever decide that one thing is more likely to be true than another?  I have a lovely elixir I just made here, it can cure any disease instantly.  Don’t worry if there’s no evidence for it.  Only $20 a bottle.  And if you don’t see an effect immediately, trust that it’s working in the spiritual realm.

          • brsdasa

            it doesn’t matter what i believe or don’t believe. you are not addressing the question.

          • Anonymous

            How am I not addressing the question? I’m pointing out some practical reasons why we should not believe in the absence of evidence. You’re correct that we are not justified in declaring absolutely the non-existence of a thing based on lack of evidence, but that is not my claim. We are simply not epistemically justified in believing in something without evidence. We cannot know. What you can say in regards to many claims is that, based on auxiliary knowledge, something is more or less likely to be true. I cannot know that there aren’t space bears ruling the Adromeda Galaxy, but given what I do know about the nature of bears, life in general, and the universe, I can confidently assert there is a very low probability this claim is true.

          • brsdasa

            you’re not addressing the following: when there is no evidence, does one have any more reason to believe than to disbelieve?

            and i had brought this up: so one could say, “the principle is that disbelief should be proportional to the evidence”. and there’s no evidence. so no disbelief.     

            “We are simply not epistemically justified in believing in something without evidence.” yes science work like that. i think i’m understanding you. but isn’t it like the whole ‘god idea’ — i.e. don’t scientists accept that they, for lack of the ability to study it or lack of evidence, say can not comment on whether it exists or not?

            also i think i can say that when one can only confidently assert, it is then understood that one does not know.

          • Anonymous

            When there is absolutely no evidence, direct or indirect, then there is no reason to believe or disbelieve.  But that is almost never the case.  As with the space bears example, because of other things we are confident we know, the claim is very improbable and we can say it is probably not true.

            You cannot absolutely say God in some form does not exist, but you can debunk specific claims about God interacting in the world, or claims about how God set up the universe.  For example, the Christian Adam and Eve story we know cannot be literally true from genetics – there was never a bottleneck of just 2 people in human history.

            One can never do more than confidently assert.  All knowledge is provisional and there is always the possibility of being wrong.  I could be wrong in my belief that I’m sitting here typing this, though I can confidently assert that I am indeed doing so.

          • brsdasa

            yes, now we seem to see eye to eye.
            i may have a comment later. not sure if i’ll have time tonight tho.
            thanks.

  • Karin

    I wish we didn’t always feel the need to mention RELIGION every time we discuss interesting science…..  

  • Heaviest Cat

    THis is incredible. I’ve read much of Ms Randall’s “Warped Passages but I can’t reconcile the idea that “Planck’s constant” has to do with the strength of gravity(sic?) when subatomic particles are largely  unaffected
    by it.Does this question make sense ?

  • Drew You Too

    Yes, thank you for asking about Dark Matter caller.

  • Yourhep

    Science is the exploration of a physical world. This is not what religion is for. Science is limited, as is religion. Both faith and science fit together perfectly for me in exploring my full human experience in this world.

    • Anonymous

      So what is religion for?  You just made claims about the nature of the physical world by claiming that God created it.

      • Yourhep

        I see religion is for the relationship between God and his creation. As a human being you have relationship with others and the world that occurs outside a scientific dissection of it.

        • Anonymous

          Depends on what you mean by “outside a scientific dissection of it”. If you mean, we don’t generally apply scientific reasoning to our relationships, sure.  But of course, we could use science to determine that the person we are having a relationship with actually exists.  Science is a codification of common sense, a system that helps us avoid fooling ourselves, and as the physicist Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself,
          and you are the easiest person to fool.”

          • Anonymous

            I generally agree with the direction of your argument, but find your use of the term, “common sense,” troubling. I say this because it is often used to invoke the common understandings of the culture or society, not the empirical evidence that science requires.

            An example from the realm of economics (maybe not as much a scientific field as might be desired) is the current public attitude that what the individual (person or family unit) should do in a depression should also be done by the government, is taken as “common sense.” But, since the rise of societies where individuals specialize in economic activities and no longer do all the parts of supplying their needs for life (food, shelter and clothing) creates an interdependence that this extension of what is good for an individual no longer works. In this economy, one person’s spending is another’s income. so the reduction of a person’s spending reduces other persons’ income. If no one increases their spending everyone’s income will continue to spiral down. The one entity that can take responsibility for the group and create the spending that is necessary to restore the economy so that everyone has sufficient income to spend and create the demand for the output of all persons who need/want to work, so they will have businesses willing to employ them.

            Sorry for the long exposition, but a fuller description of the problem of common sense not always reflecting empirical evidence is the “Tragedy of the Commons.” See Garrett Harden:

            http://www.garretthardinsociety.org/articles/art_tragedy_of_the_commons.html

            It starts off fairly slow, but gets down to brass tacks at the section on “Tragedy of Freedom in a Commons,” and builds an increasingly strong and more robust case from there.

        • Roy Mac

          Follow this direct line:  superstition, cult, sect, religion.  The only difference is the tax decuctions.

          • Karin

            Amen to that!  :-))  

  • Modavations

    Big Bang,Big Smang.From whenst the first particle.I’m with Camus and Sartre(one is a rightie and one a lefty).There ain’t no meaning to anything.Nothing but chemicals and random chance

    • Anonymous

      So.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_C2STBLZJK4VKQBV27DVQX3I6CU FAX68

        SO??? i laughed. is that your answer/reaction whatever Modavation’s comments?

        • Anonymous

          For the most part yes. Why give this chap more than a word.

          • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

            Both you guys gave me a laugh. Thanks. 

  • Mark_brown

    The scientific method in my view is still the most powerful tool devised for analyzing and solving problems in the natural world.

    This is an interesting site by the way that provides daily updates of popular science books: http://twitter.com/popsciencebooks

  • Doug

    http://www.cigtheory.com

    Dr. Randall is the best.  I have asked her for comments on the above theory. She will know more about it than I will, even though I wrote the theory! 

  • http://twitter.com/tomstee Tom Tresser

    Tom & Karen -

    This is a segment pitch. I’m an activist and educator in Chicago who has
    been fighting privatization and defending the commons. I’m working to
    establish a public bank in Illinois along the lines of the Bank of North
    Dakota (over 90 years old). It’s a great way for a state (or a county
    or city) to take control of their own money and make it work for the
    people, not against them. Would you be interested in doing a story on
    why and how citizens here have been fighting insider deals like the
    parking meter scam and other bad deals for citizens that essentially
    transfers the assets of the many into the pockets of the few…

    tom@tresser.comhttp://www.illinoispublicbanking.org

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Irrelevancy alarm!

  • Paul, Boston MA

    All the superstition, magical thinking and lack of scientific knowlege among the callers was really depressing.

    I wonder how many of the callers know that the earth goes around the sun?

  • Richard

    The point at the end about relativity and neutrinos was interesting because of the questions it raises about scientific truth values.  Was Newton wrong?  Could Einstein be wrong?  Saying that a physical theory is not wrong because it’s accurate for a range of phenomena is an evasion.  Ptolemaic astronomy is highly accurate for a range of phenomena, and it could be made arbitrarily accurate using modern mathematical tools, but that does not mean that it is right in any reasonable sense.  The same is true of theories of caloric, phlogiston, and so on.

    • Random

      Richard,

      This depends on what you mean by wrong. The best theories in science (those with the most evidence behind them such as Relativity) never give a complete picture. They’re are highly successful approximations that may be improved upon in the future with new evidence.

      I think Asimov put it better:
      http://chem.tufts.edu/AnswersInScience/RelativityofWrong.htm

  • GMG

    Very interesting discussion.  I would highly recommend Dr. Raia’s lectures on Science, Magic and Religion for an illuminating perspective on these models of the world came about and how they relate to each other today, psychologically and socially:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3Zx-qcNZf4

    • GMG

      PS: 12:28 to 16:08 is particularly eloquent with regard to the importance of science in the public sphere.

  • Sanity

    NPR and PBS what keeps some semblance of a reasonable and intellectual discourse in this country that is full of desperate housewives and dancing stars and Jersey Shore neanderthals. Thanks.
    By the way your link is broken, when I press Listen to the Show, it taks me to a page where whenI hit the play button, it downloads some nuance movie  stuff.

    And WHY dont you hav a BLACKBERRY app for podcast etc? Why do you say get Android and Ituines only, why have you njoined th media cicus of bashing Blackberry?

    • Slipstream

      I’m not a Blackberry user, but can’t you just go to the website?  Why do you need a special application?

  • richardhigh

    Maybe no such dark energy exists. You know what? When you throw something, like stone. In the begining, it will go in an accelerating way until its speed reachs the maximum, and then it will slow down for gravity. If you believes the theory of big bang, the universe is pretty young with the age of 14 billion years. It is just like you throw a stone. The supernovae is still in the stage of speeding up. Maybe 1000 billions years later, it will reach its maximum of velocity and then slown down.  

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/PH5DAXNODVE27LTMRKGO4JG4L4 g

    This story was updated at 6:20 p.m. EDT. Nothing goes faster than the speed of light. At least, we didn’t think so.
    New results from the CERN laboratory in Switzerland seem to break this cardinal rule of physics, calling into question one of the most trusted laws discovered by Albert Einstein.

    Physicists have found that tiny particles called neutrinos are making a 454-mile (730-kilometer) underground trip faster than they should — more quickly, in fact, than light could do. If the results are confirmed, they could throw much of modern physics into upheaval.
    “The consequences would be absolutely revolutionary and very profound,” said physicist Robert Plunkett of the Fermilab laboratory in Batavia, Ill., who was not involved in the new study. “That’s why such a claim should be treated very carefully and validated as many ways as you can.”
    Rewriting the rules
    The OPERA experiment at the CERN physics laboratory in Geneva sends tiny particles called neutrinos vast distances to study their properties. New findings suggest the particles may even travel faster than light.CREDIT: CERNView full size image
    The results come from the OPERA experiment, which sends sprays of neutrinos from CERN in Geneva to the INFN Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy. Neutrinos don’t interact with normal atoms, so they simply pass through the Earth as if it were a vacuum.
    After analyzing the results from 15,000 particles, it seems the neutrinos are crossing the distance at a velocity 20 parts per million faster than the speed of light. By making use of advanced GPS systems and atomic clocks, the researchers were able to determine this speed to an accuracy of less than 10 nanoseconds (.00000001 seconds). [Countdown: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature]
    “According to relativity, it takes an infinite amount of energy to make anything go faster than light,” Plunkett told LiveScience. “If these things are going faster than light, then these rules would have to be rewritten.”
    Previous studies have found that certain materials can travel faster than light through a medium. For example, certain particles are able to move more swiftly than light when travelling through water or oil. However, nothing should be able to move faster than light through a vacuum.
    “It’s really thought to be an absolute speed limit,” said Michael Peskin, a theoretical physicist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, Calif. “Quantum field theory, the mathematical theory on which basically all results in particle physics are based, has the property that signals cannot travel faster than the speed of light through a vacuum. It’s really an absolute prohibition.”
    Backbone of physics
    This cosmic speed limit, 299,792,458 meters per second (about 700 million miles an hour), forms the backbone of Einstein’s seminal Theory of Special Relativity, published in 1905. To rewrite this law would have broad-ranging implications, including even the possibility of time travel.
    And the findings aren’t just in conflict with existing theory, but other measurements as well. For example, a famous study from the Kamiokande II experiment in Japan of the supernova SN1987A, which lies about 168,000 light years from Earthin the Large Magellanic Cloud, found that light and neutrinos that departed this exploded star arrived at Earth within hours of each other. This measurement was used to prove that neutrinos travel within 1 part in 100,000,000 of the optical speed of light.
    Yet the new OPERA discovery suggests that neutrinos actually surpass the speed of light by 60 nanoseconds over 730 kilometers, which corresponds to 2 parts in 100,000, “which exceeds the SN1987A limit by a factor of more than 2,000!” astronomer Derek Fox of Pennsylvania State University wrote in an email. “So the observation is in dramatic conflict with the SN1987A result (which is not in doubt).”
    But this doesn’t mean that the OPERA results are wrong, Fox said. He suggested some theoretical solution, perhaps even involving string theory, could reconcile the two measurements.
    Inviting skepticism
    Realizing full well how scandalous the results will be if they are borne out, the scientists behind OPERA, led by Antonio Ereditato of the University of Bern, have decided to make their data public, in hopes of inviting scrutiny that could make sense of such radical findings. The scientists also intend to gather more data and further analyze their measurements in order to establish them more fully, or refute them. Their results will be published Friday (Sept. 23) on the physics preprint site ArXiv.
    One of the best hopes to verify or disprove the findings comes from Fermilab’s MINOS experiment, which also sends neutrinos flying underground over a similar distance to end up at the Soudan mine in Minnesota. In 2007, MINOS researchers found a trend in their data that suggested neutrinos might be arriving early, as they do in the new CERN data. However, the experiment at the time did not have enough precision to rule out the possibility that the results were a statistical fluke. [Gallery of Mysterious Lights]
    “There was something that could have been a fluctuation in the direction of things arriving early, but it didn’t have enough significance for us to make such a claim,” said Plunkett, who is a co-spokesperson for MINOS. “Obviously, the hunt is on and we’ll be upgrading that previous measurement and also implementing something we already had in the works, which is a plan to make improvements so we can reduce our errors. One of our next objectives is going to be trying to verify or disprove this result as hard as we can.”
    CERN plans to discuss the findings Friday during a public seminar that will be broadcast at http://webcast.cern.ch.

    st

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/PH5DAXNODVE27LTMRKGO4JG4L4 g

      My question to Dr. Lisa Randall is about the interview she had with Host Mr. Charlie Rose in the internet.
      He did asked her- “if something elsee”, in this case would be “neutrinos” tiny particles, that are “supposably” traveling faster then light…
       This would change science whole concept causeing time travel…
      These test were made in CERN in Geneva and sended to the INFN Gran Sasso Laborators in Italy.
      These tests were made at her “favorite” testing place that she makes so much advertisement. Wouldn´t she know about this?! Or she is not teling us the whole truth…
      Would someone have the guts to do so, please?!

ONPOINT
TODAY
Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

RECENT
SHOWS
Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

 
Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

More »
2 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: August 15, 2014
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

More »
Comment
 
Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

More »
Comment