Dartmouth astrophysicist Marcelo Gleiser discussed origins of the universe, of matter, and of life, as well as their asymmetrical properties. Current physics works with two main branches-- the physics of the very big-- built around Einstein's theory of relativity dealing with the universe, and quantum mechanics-- the physics of the very small, which studies atoms and the particles they are composed of. The Big Bang, he explained, suggests that the universe was once a very tiny point that exploded in such a way that space itself was stretched out and expanded.
"When you're very close to the beginning of time, the universe was so small," that physicists have to use quantum mechanics to describe what was going on, essentially marrying the physics of the very small with the physics of the very large. These "theory of everything" attempts such as superstring theory (which supposes there are 10 dimensions) fall flat because they don't represent the truth of all science, he commented.
He said there are three grand asymmetrical forces in the universe, and the irregular nature of them shapes creation and our existence. He delineated time (it moves forward instead of backward), matter (matter predominates over antimatter), and life (molecular chains are dissimilar) as the three forces. Gleiser is one of the contributors to the NPR blog 13.7, which deals with the intersection of science and culture.
Last hour guest, psychologist Dr. Laurie Ann Levin reacted to a recent account of a clinically dead three-year-old boy who saw his "granny in heaven," before he was revived. Near-death experiencers are often met by a single relative who tell them that their time is not up and they must go back, she noted. But when people actually die, they are typically met by a larger contingent of relations who help them crossover to the Other Side, she added.
NASA's new space telescope WISE recently photographed a hidden spiral galaxy that is usually shrouded behind our own Milky Way. Check out a larger image and further details at Space.com.
Bumper music from Wednesday April 21, 2010