Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

05 May 2011

Crash Course: Dark Matter, the Universe, What We Know (and Mostly Don't)

Some exciting things happened in the last few days. Scientists at CERN managed to trap antimatter for a record-breaking 17 minutes, availing new opportunities to study its properties. (If you have ever read the Golden Compass series by Philip Pullman, you are hopefully as excited as I am, even if antimatter doesn't turn out to be able to produce self-awareness, communicate via iChat, or invest certain items with "intentions.")

Secondly, research has turned up confirming a handful of Einstein's theories of the expanding universe, black holes and relativity in general:
Einstein’s theory relates gravity to the sagging of cosmic geometry under the influence of matter and energy, the way a sleeper makes a mattress sag. One consequence is that a massive spinning object like Earth should spin up the empty space around it, the way twirling the straw in a Frappuccino sets the drink and the whole Venti-size cup spinning around with it, an effect called frame dragging. Astronomers think this effect, although minuscule for Earth, could play a role in the black hole dynamos that power quasars.
Watch the handy-dandy video above for an entertaining overview of where we are in terms of understanding the universe (almost nowhere! But that is changing as we speak!).

I like this idea that we're at a turning-point in our education about the origins of things and the composition of everything. I also like that two perfectly respectable worldviews at complete odds are forced to meet eventually, forced to acknowledge their connectedness and ultimately shared interest. That is a universally applicable lesson.

What does this have to do with advertising? Well, nothing.

In recent discussion, my friend Len Kendall of The 3six5 Project talked to me about a book called The Medici Effect, which posits that exposing ourselves to a variety of knowledge sets and experiences fuels our core creative endeavors.

"So instead of going to seminars about actionable things that we can do in our industry, we should be learning about totally unrelated things," Len concluded. This isn't to say that learning about actionable industry things are bad (au contraire), but we shouldn't let the other things we wonder about go idly by either.

I may never merit employment at CERN, but the universe has always been a topic of especially passionate interest. Once I got over the idea that spending time learning about things I could never master would be time lost on "my profession," I discovered that thinking about this stuff does affect how I think about the industry, my place here, where people are going, and to what degree our relationship with technology is complicated (but is a relationship and an intimate one).

This gives my life a meaning it would otherwise lack. To read what I'm learning day by day (or week by week, as the case may be), follow my page on Theoretical Physics. It's where I curate material of ongoing interest related to this topic.

Special thanks to my friend Atif Chaudhry for sending the video over. He always packs the neat shit. I just wish he had a blog so I could show you the videos he makes of his walking robots.

1 comment:

Howeezy said...

That is wayyyy cool