Author of forty books on such topics as mathematics, black holes, and alien life, Cliff Pickover, discussed his latest work, The Physics Book, which presents 250 milestones in the history of physics. The milestones include thought provoking topics such as parallel universes, dark energy, and "quantum immortality," as well as some fascinating curiosities. Quantum immortality, he explained, is based on the idea that in subatomic physics, two different choices are simultaneously possible, thus creating an infinite number of worlds. So, in this 'many worlds' paradigm, you might seem to live forever because there'd always be one reality where you didn't die. Another topic he addressed was the 'Big Rip,' which suggests that the universe is rapidly expanding, and that our solar system could eventually rip apart.
One of the curiosities he spoke about was Dyson Spheres-- a hypothetical proposal by the physicist Freeman Dyson, in which an advanced civilization could make a sphere that surrounds our sun to capture all its energy. Pickover also talked about unusual ancient technology such as the Baghdad Battery and the Antikythera Mechanism, as well as a kind of natural nuclear reactor created two billion years ago.
First hour guest, actor and musician Bill Mumy joined George in the studio, to reminisce about his roles in Twilight Zone and Lost in Space, as well as Babylon 5 in the 1990s, where he had to undergo hours-long physical transformations in which foam rubber was glued to his head in order to play the alien, Lennier. Writer Marc Zicree joined the latter part of the conversation, and he & Mumy praised Rod Serling's singular and enduring vision for the Twilight Zone series. Mumy also talked about his new CD, Until the Big Bang Whimpers, and several of the tracks were played as bumper music.
The final half hour featured George's rendition of H.G. Wells' "The Story of the Inexperienced Ghost."
In tandem with his 11/17/11 appearance, Dr. Cliff Pickover shares two images featured in his new work, The Physics Book: From the Big Bang to Quantum Resurrection. He describes the photos:
(left image) The spaceships on Star Trek are powered by antimatter drives, but antimatter, a kind of mirror form of matter, is real -- and it’s even possible that worlds made entirely of antimatter exist in the universe. Antimatter-matter reactions have practical medical applications today in the form of positron emission tomography (PET), which employs positron-emitting atoms. In the 1960s, researchers at Brookhaven National Laboratory used detectors, such as this, for studying brain tumors that absorbed injected radioactive material. Breakthroughs led to the more practical PET machines of today. (Courtesy of Brookhaven National Laboratory.)
(right Image): Artistic rendition of Laplace’s Demon observing particles (represented here as bright specks) at a particular instant in time. In 1814, French mathematician Pierre Laplace described an entity that was capable of calculating and determining all future events, provided that the demon was given the positions, masses, and velocities of every atom in the universe and the various known formulas of motion. In a universe with Laplace’s Demon, would free will be an illusion? (Image by Solvod.)
Click on photos to view larger.
Bumper music from Thursday November 17, 2011