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A remarkable discovery has emerged in astrophysics: key properties of the universe have just the right values to make life possible. Most scientists prefer to explain away this uniqueness, insisting that a number of unseen universes must therefore exist, each randomly different. Astrophysicist Bernard Haisch joined George Knapp in the first half of the show to propose the alternative—that the special properties of our universe reflect an underlying intelligent consciousness.

In the second half of the program, veteran journalist Chris Taylor talked about how the Star Wars franchise has conquered our culture with a sense of lightness and exuberance, while remaining serious enough to influence politics, and spread a spirituality that appeals to religious groups and atheists alike.

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Spotlight on: Brookhaven

Spotlight on: Brookhaven

Tonight's guest, Wade Gordon, has written about his involvement in a secretive project at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Brookhaven, which is located on Long Island, was built in 1947 to house a nuclear reactor. Over the years the lab expanded its facilities and research machines and now employs over 3,000 people. Some of their unclassified experiments such as a recent atom smashing that produced conditions similar to the Big Bang, are almost as fascinating as the black project contentions. Here is a rundown of some of their machinery and facilities:

  • The Cosmotron-- Brookhaven's first particle accelerator was used to propel protons to almost the speed of light and then smash them into set targets. The resulting subatomic fragments yielded clues about the structure of matter.
  • Relativity Heavy Iron Collider-- The RHIC is the world's newest and biggest particle accelerator and was used in the recent experiment to create Big Bang-like conditions. The collision produced a temperature "tens of thousands of times hotter than the core of the hottest star, a thermodynamic pinnacle unmatched since microseconds after the Big Bang," writes Richard Stenger in a CNN article.
  • The National Synchrotron Light Source-- At its core is a giant magnetic ring, around the size of a baseball diamond, which circulates highly accelerated electrons. It provides very intense x-rays and other wavelengths of electromagnetic energy, which have proven useful in the study of macromolecules.
  • Tandem Van de Graaff-- One of the world's largest electrostatic accelerators it can provide beams of more than 40 different types of ions (atoms stripped of their electrons). Consisting of two 15 million volt accelerators, it's been used to test circuit chips under heavy bombardment, such as those in the Mars Pathfinder.


--L.L.

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