Posts Tagged ‘Physics’

Physics Nobel goes to Perlmutter, Schmidt and Riess

October 4, 2011

Staffan Normark has just announced that the Physics Nobel has been awarded half to Prof. Saul Perlmutter and half to Prof. Brian P Schmidt and Prof. Adam G Riess for work on the universe and supernovae. They discovered separately that the expansion of the universe was accelerating and not slowing down.

The Press release is here:

“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…” *
What will be the final destiny of the Universe? Probably it will end in ice, if we are to believe this year’s Nobel Laureates in Physics. They have studied several dozen exploding stars, called supernovae, and discovered that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate. The discovery came as a complete surprise even to the Laureates themselves.

In 1998, cosmology was shaken at its foundations as two research teams presented their findings. Headed by Saul Perlmutter, one of the teams had set to work in 1988. Brian Schmidt headed another team, launched at the end of 1994, where Adam Riess was to play a crucial role. ….. All in all, the two research teams found over 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected – this was a sign that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating. The potential pitfalls had been numerous, and the scientists found reassurance in the fact that both groups had reached the same astonishing conclusion.

…. For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up the Universe will end in ice.

The acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma – perhaps the greatest in physics today. What is known is that dark energy constitutes about three quarters of the Universe. Therefore the findings of the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physics have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science. And everything is possible again.

None of the winners were among the Thomson Reuters predictions.

Next week is Nobel week: My layman forecasts

October 1, 2010

This week I won a $10 prize in a lottery and my belief in my crystal ball is high (but I ignore the fact that the lottery tickets cost me $30).

Nobel Prize® medal - registered trademark of the Nobel Foundation

Nobel prize medal

Next week is Nobel week and the winners for Medicine will be announced on Monday 4th, for Physics on Tuesday 5th and for Chemistry on Wednesday 6th. I pass over the Literature, Economics and Peace prizes in silence but address my crystal ball as to the areas of research that will be honoured.

Medicine: The 2 areas that spring to mind are stem cells and genetic cancer research. To choose one I go for stem cells with Dr. Yamanaka included in there somewhere.

Physics: The 2 areas I see as most likely are either quantum physics or the expanding universe. To choose one I plump for the universe and Prof. Perlmutter among the recipients.

Chemistry: I am fascinated by new materials and with graphene being the flavour of the decade I choose work related to graphene as being the winner. To name a name it would be just if the first person to discover graphene received recognition and so I hope that Hanns-Peter Boehm is on the list.

In spite of my lottery win, I put the probability of being right on one count at no more than 1%, on two counts at 0.1% and being right on all 3 at 0.01%.

Add your favourites if you have any.

Hawking, God, creation and gravity

September 2, 2010

There have been headlines today regarding Stephen Hawking’s new book The Grand Design (co-written by US physicist Leonard Mlodinow) to be published on 9th September.


Defense Meteorological Satellite Program

Image via Wikipedia


“God did not create the Universe”

is the BBC headline.

Citing the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun, he said: “That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings.” He adds: “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. ….Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist…..It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

But if The Big Bang and  all the subsequent creation events flow naturally and inevitably from the law of gravity, what still remains is to explain where the law of gravity came from or from what it flows naturally and inevitably……….

No matter how much more is discovered by science we will still have the space of the “unknown unknowns” (a la Rumsfeld) where we do not even know what questions are feasible – let alone what question to ask.

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