Physics Is Far Stranger Than You Think Jim AlKhalili Modern Wisdom Podcast 471


Video Creator’s Channel Chris Williamson

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99 of the volume of the atom is just empty space So when I slam my hand down on my desk. The reason it comes to a stop is not because solid matter has hit solid matter. It’s because the electrons in the atoms on the surface of my hand are feeling the electric repulsion negative charge of the electrons in the atoms in the surface of the desk and it’s electromagnetic repulsion that is giving matter. This sense of solidity that’s why you can’t walk through brick walls.

What Was Keatss Problem With Newton

he didn’t I mean I guess he didn’t like science he didn’t like that Newton had destroyed the beauty of the rainbow. He said you’ve reduced it to its prismatic colors. You know Newton’s work on you know the prism and all the different colors of the rainbow so as far as keeps was concerned. The rainbow was beautiful in and of itself, but if you try and explain it scientifically somehow that makes it cold and rational or hard and no longer beautiful and of course keeps was wrong Is there not an element of that the mystery and suspense and a lack of understanding about something that sort of adds a bit of magic or do you think that understanding it enhances it even more well. No I know I agree I mean absolutely it’s it’s you know the anticipating what you’ve got for Christmas as a kid.

You Know And The Presents Have Yet To

be unwrapped once you’ve unwrapped them Yeah, you know you’re happy you’ve got what you wanted, but it’s sort of from then on it’s sort of downhill right so so yeah the mystery the anticipation is you know part part of the the pleasures of of life. But you get that in science as well you know even in science the the the excitement the the the pleasure that we derive in doing scientific research is the journey. It’s the it’s the trying to solve the mystery. Once we’ve solved the mystery. Once we’ve discovered you know the Higgs Boson or gravitational waves.

  • atoms
  • atom
  • matter
  • physics
  • newton

Yeah Okay Tick That Box Move

on to something else so I think it applies in science as well as not inside science isn’t about reducing everything to cold, hard facts and then you know that’s it the hard rationalism is no longer no I mean science can be spiritual science can be uplifting and wondrous as well. I noticed that you’ve sort of hinted there at a scientific version of hedonic adaptation where you are chasing after the Higgs Boson and you’re chasing after it and chasing after it and you build this. Big thing and it’s underneath Switzerland and somewhere else and then you find it and then you go right okay We’ve done that now what are we going to discover next scientific adaptation. It is a bit like that. I mean I should say of course, those scientists and engineers who built the large hadron collider and and and spent decades you know designing and preparing for this experiment and finally you know getting the data of course they wanted to find the higgs Boson otherwise you know they’re you know what you’ve spent how many billions of dollars building this thing and so they want, but for the rest of us it would have been more exciting had they not discovered it because that would have meant there’s new stuff to discover our current theory is is is missing something back to the drawing boards potential nobel prizes we.

Dont Want We Try To Find The Answers.

We try to seek the truth, but we sort of don’t want it to come to. An end is dark matter and dark energy. At the moment a a big element of that that we have this stuff that kind of theoretically needs to be there and yet no one can find any evidence for it. Yeah well.

I Mean Its Probably Not Fair

to say we don’t have evidence for it. We have evidence so we know it’s there we just don’t understand its origin what it’s made of and so on um there’s. There was a um an article written by Stephen Hawking, about 40 years ago, where he said you know is the end in sight for theoretical physics so he was suggesting that you just need to dotsomize cross some t’s and we’ll have a theory of. everything explaining all physical phenomena in the universe at the time they were just starting to think about super string theory. This new mathematically powerful theory that describes all the the forces of nature and they thought they were nearly there, and of course it turns out wow not that string theory is wrong, but there’s there’s plenty more we have yet to understand we’re further away from a theory of everything than we thought dark matter we know is there we we can see its gravitational pull it’s in I mean a better name for the before it would have been invisible matter or transparent matter.

We Know Its There Because It Has A

gravitational pull like all types of matter it it can attract things towards it. It holds galaxies together and so on you just don’t know what it’s made of and that’s frustrating it’s a fun. kind of frustration, but it’s a frustration. Nevertheless dark energy is similarly, it’s something that’s making the universe making space expand ever more quickly. So we know that’s happening because you can see distant galaxies moving away faster and faster and faster, but we don’t know what it is that’s causing that anti-gravity push of everything away from from everything else.

So Were A Long Way From Having All

the answers and that’s good that keeps us in work am I right in saying that the ratio of dark matter to physical matter is actually in the it’s swayed toward dark matter as well. Yeah I think instead of something like five to one or something like that. I think yeah there’s there’s much more dark matter than invisible Myself. You can’t interact with it’s so wild. I read um the five stages of the universe, which is the really.

Interesting Book, And They Said That !

During the Big Bang there were almost exactly equal parts of Mata and Antimatter. I think it was um one million to one million and one in the particles, but the one was Mata rather than Antimatter, and that one out of every one million versus one million and one ratio Yeah is that’s all the matter that’s left in the universe dude that blew my mind because everything else cancels out exactly but you think okay so how much more matter could there have been well a million times more yeah well. You can start you could probably work out how much more matters because that matter and Antimatter annihilated to form energy and and so we can measure the the how much energy there is in in the in the universe as well. But the the real puzzle is why was. it a million and one versus a million why weren’t? They exactly balanced equal and opposite that asymmetry, but the imbalance between them that’s another big outstanding puzzle in physics? What’s your thoughts about the fine-tuned universe? You’ve mentioned there about dark energy and I think is that the cosmological constant is that what dark energy causes yes that’s that’s the the consensus is growing that that’s what dark energy is okay and that is so fine the the the amount of of push that that causes for galaxies to move apart ever so slightly and I think the fine tune universe theory is that you have all of these different constants and the strong and weak forces and any one of them a knife edge either way would completely ruin the rest of them and wouldn’t permit Mata to exist the way it does what’s your what’s your thoughts.

  • repulsion giving matter sense
  • theoretical physics suggesting just need
  • reduced prismatic colors know newton
  • rainbow beautiful try explain scientifically
  • reason comes stop solid matter

The Fine-Tuned Universe Well I I Mean

obviously we there could be an underlying reason why these physical quantities have the values that they do. I mean it’s thank goodness they do or we wouldn’t be here talking about it um the the lazy explanation but is still sort of appealing for most people is that our universe isn’t unique that our universe is just a bubble within a higher dimensional multiverse in which every possible universe exists and so there’ll be lots of other universes in which the constants of physics have different values and those universes won’t have evolved to develop galaxies and stars and planets and and life in in at least one place and so we are the lottery ticket winners you know it’s not fine-tuned just that one universe had to have the right combination of constants to give rise to the structure that. So it’s not surprising you know there’s a lot to be taken how it’s so unlikely. You know that I’ve won the ticket well Somebody had to win it and it’s you you know it’s us is that the is that called the observation selection effect. I think that’s the reason.

I Think I Think Yes I Think Its

it’s it’s people talk about it as being the anthropic principle, but yes the observation selection. I think I’ve I’ve vaguely heard of that. I think that that’s I think that’s right because the the point is um. The only universe in which you could consider the fact that you were lucky to have been in a fine-tuned universe is the one that was fine-tuned for you anyway so you kind of it’s kind of like begging the question a little bit.

I Suppose Its Its A Circular

argument how you know yes how else how could it have been anything else otherwise we wouldn’t be here to to talk about it. Yes precisely so it seems to me that science has gotten a bit of a bad rap. Over the last few years. There’s pretty much no subject area where scientists and researchers aren’t treated with um aggressive skepticism.

If Not Outright Contempt At Least By Some

areas of the general public have you noticed this trend recently as well. I think there’s always been anti-science sentiments from people either who are suspicious of it for whatever ideological reason. Cultural reason or religious reason? and then there’s you know people who you know you you have your own biases and your own world view and you don’t like anything that goes against that and of course this this as humans we’ve always had this problem. This issue but of course, been amplified by the Internet and social media and so that that’s democratized the voices of everyone on the planet and therefore you know we are hearing every possible argument for or against.

I Dont Know Whether There Are

more people who are anti–science now I just think they tend to shout more loudly and and they do have a voice now. Whereas in the past maybe they didn’t so we tend to think things are worse than they probably are yeah isn’t that interesting that no one would no one would criticize the fact that everyone’s. to talk online to communicate their ideas you know universal good pretty much everybody would would probably say that but the problem is um in the past, the only people that were able to get a platform to be able to reach a million people Instantly were those that had very slowly over time proven their worth of being somebody that could reach a million people, whereas now you know you take the right video of your cat and yeah There you go there’s a million views yeah.


Keats’s problem with Newton was that he didn’t like science . He said Newton’s work on the prism and all the different colors of the rainbow . Keats: “If you try and explain it scientifically somehow that makes it cold and rational or hard and no longer beautiful and of course keeps was wrong” The excitement of scientific research is the journey, the excitement and suspense, the pleasure that we derive in doing scientific research . Once we’ve discovered you know the Higgs Boson or gravitational waves, it’s sort of from then on it’s kind of downhill right so yeah the mystery the anticipation is you know part of the the pleasures of of life.& But you get that in science as well you know even in science the the excitement the excitement of the journey is the the journey. It’s the thrill of being able to find out what you have yet to be unwrapped once you’ve got for Christmas as a kid. Once you’ve found the mystery, the joy of…. Click here to read more and watch the full video