February 6, 2004



So Andrea, Jon and I hit up an educational program at the Carnegie Institution last night - Wendy Freedman, depressingly super-smart woman, discussing 'Exploring the Universe in the New Millennium'. She started with a pretty basic overview, reminding us of the fundamentals of space knowledge (9 planets, Einstein's theory of relativity, etc.); then explained the strides in technology in the 20th Century that have allowed scientists to better prove the Big Bang theory and the age of the universe and subsequently move on to bigger questions. She had some fascinating pics of cosmic microwave background radiation (the remnant heat from the Big Bang), and a cool 'before & after' series of early 20th Century shots of the sky vs. a picture taken by the Hubble Telescope (a pic taken of a 'black' spot in the sky revealed dozens of galaxies - see above).

Mind-blowing stuff. Andrea and I decided that the best piece of knowledge to come out of the lecture was during the Q&A session, when someone asked a Big Bang question, and Dr. Freedman was trying to explain the difficulty in comprehending it, since it happened on a 4-D plane, which the human mind cannot visualize. She said a problem was that people thought of the Big Bang as an instantaneous bomb-like explosion, starting from a center point - but in 4-D, there is no center point. Her analogy was to think of it instead like a physical change in substance, like ice instantly turning to water.

Why did no one ever bother to say that before, we asked eath other? To me, it felt like a rush of cool wind blowing away the fog of confusion as I tried to comprehend four dimensions. It leaves bigger questions (as always)...

Posted by zippy at February 6, 2004 11:30 AM