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Relativity, Black Holes and Big Bang



Relativity, Black Holes and Big Bang

Albert Einstein.jpg

Relativity, Black Holes and Big Bang

Once upon a time there were two students sitting in your classroom, unaware that love was about to strike. Off they drove into the sunset after their wedding to start their lives together.


Love is a harsh taskmaster, 

and soon after the birth of their triplets, the lovely bride sets off on a voyage around the galaxy, leaving Mr. Mom at home with the three charming children.

She returns in time, in a relative way, to her relatives, to discover that Einstein has done terrible things to them while she was gone.

She was still young and beautiful, and they were old, wizened, and bitter.

The End.

Many physicists, including Einstein himself, were also bitter to discover that the universe was not infinite at all, but extremely finite in time and space.


Quantum Weirdnes

Quantum weirdness

Quantum Weirdnes

Quantum weirdness


Quantum Physics


...had not even really gotten comfortable with space and time warping, the universe having a starting point, and all of that relativistic confusion before Quantum Weirdness arrived on the scene. Einstein, finally comfortable with his own discoveries, spent much of his life pretty aggravated over quantum mechanics.

Sadly for him, but good for us, he was (how to say this nicely?) completely wrong. In a really intelligent way, of course.

There were particles going through two holes at the same time.

Cats neither alive nor dead unless somebody looked at them.

Particles not only knowing when someone was looking at them, but changing their little particle minds back in time, just to tick us off.

Particles not bouncing off lead walls, and not going through lead walls, but just...skipping the walls altogether.

And the entire universe starting up from a tiny little particle that only would have given us a universe to look at if someone had been there, before time and space existed, just to look at the tiny little particle.

Not so much the Big Bang as the Big Look.

And then they tell us that if we think we understand all of this, well, then we just haven't thought about it enough yet.

Einstein wondered, "Does God play dice with the universe?"

Yup. In a manner of speaking.

And so the universe is not purely deterministic, since things happen without a cause all the time at the quantum level.

And it is not purely reductionistic, since when we take things apart to the smallest level, not only don't we understand them better, we don't understand them at all.

Isn't that comforting?


Chaos Theory

Chaos theory

Chaos Theory

Chaos theory


Chaos Theory...

...tells us that sometimes things just fall completely apart for no apparent reason.

That sometimes things happen, and nothing happens, and sometimes the same things happen (more or less), and all hell breaks loose.

Like the Challenger Space Shuttle.

One tiny rubber ring gets a little bit cold, and boom.

It wasn't pretty.

But Chaos also tells us that sometimes, unpredictably and wonderfully, we get order out of chaos.

Like fractals.

And maybe even life itself.

Chaos out of order. Order out of Chaos. Makes about as much sense as particles knowing that you are looking at them.

Good science seems to work that way. The universe may be a machine, but it's unpredictable and prone to collapsing into chaos.

You'd think that in the computer age, we'd have no problem with that.


Complexity Theory

Complexity theory

Complexity Theory

Complexity theory


Complexity Theory

Chaos Theory...

...tells us that sometimes we get order out of chaos.

Complexity Theory tells that we get order for nothing.

That the universe seems compelled to order itself spontaneously.

It's unpredictable. It's complicated. It's interdependent.

That the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts.

The question becomes, where does the complicated, unpredictable, fascinating compulsion to higher order come from?

As Stephen Hawking wondered, "Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?"



A Brief History of the Universe

A Brief History of the Universe

A Brief History of the Universe

A Brief History of the Universe


A Brief History of the Universe

The Anthropic Principle...

...presented to the physics world by physicist Brandon Carter and championed by Princeton’s John Wheeler (who gave Black Holes their name), postulates that not only is the universe precisely balanced so as to produce life, it also states that the universe needs intelligent observers living in it to give it a real existence.

Because, as Quantum Mechanics insists, nothing happens in nature without an observation.

Does it all come down to this then?

Unless we are here to look at the universe, it wouldn't exist?

And who looked at it in the first place, back before time and space, to bring it into existence at all, and to keep it running until we arrived on the scene?

“Copernicus may have dislodged man from the center of the universe, but the Anthropic Principle seems to restore him to that privileged position.

“Many physicists despise it; one has depicted it as a ‘virus’ infecting the minds of his fellow theorists.

“Others accept the Anthropic Principle, but in a spirit of gloom.

“Still others seem to take perverse pleasure in it.

“The controversy among these factions has been likened to ‘a high-school-cafeteria food fight.’”

And if you thought that was controversy, wait till you hear about the Multiverse.


Science Links

Science links

Science Links

Science links

Black holes, fractals, squids in love, and more fractals

Brainless learning by slime molds, pea pods, potted mimosas, and sea slugs, but not politicians:

A solar mass black hole would live for about 10⁶⁷ years before evaporating, but the black hole at the center of our galaxy would live for 10²⁰ times as long before decaying. The crazy thing about it all is that right up until the final fraction-of-a-second, the black hole still has an event horizon. Once you form a singularity, you remain a singularity — and you retain an event horizon — right up until the moment your mass goes to zero.

Bad language but very funny alert. Quantum Mechanics explained in 5 minutes -

Is Matter Conscious? -

The Laniakea Supercluster (actually kind of the mega super dooper supercluster), the Virgo Supercluster, and our place in it: 

Materialism is out and the Quantum is in:

Lamarck is back? - Radical, paradigm-shattering evolving evolution - 

Moons over Jupiter - first time ever to see moons rotating around a planet - 

The very funny (bad language alert) Theory of Everything -

The largest galaxy in the universe - 

Voyage into a black hole - 

Watch the sun burn for 30 minutes - 

The Two-Slit Experiment with molecules instead of just photons - 

Reality, relativity, causality or free will? Take quantum theory at face value and at least one of them is an illusion:

Our supercluster of galaxies in 3D: 

Nature is made of math, and it is so cool -

Space and Time - one of them has to go? (from Science of the Day page, 28 Aug 2014)

The Fermi Paradox - Where is Everyone? Why haven’t we found any aliens yet, or why haven’t they found us? 

Watch the ocean currents flow:

Watch the winds blow:

North American Wind flow in real-time:

The Zombie Ant: 

String theory deftly explained by, um, Queen? Queen-ish. Brilliant.

The Atlas of the Universe - from our neighborhood to the Local Group to the Virgo Supercluster and beyond - 

The sound that Big Bang made, the sound of the universe coming into being: 

A journey through the universe at an unimaginably large scale -  

 The emergence of a galaxy - 14 billion years in a minute or two -

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field - 

Taking a tour of Orion -

Quantum Mechanics explained, again, sort of - 

Quantum Levitation - 

Going at light speed -

Science put to music - 

Star size comparison -

Power of Ten - from the largest to the smallest -

From the founder of fractals, everything is fractals -

African fractals -

Seeing Saturn - 

Brian Green on String Theory - 

From quantum foam to the edge of everything, the size of everything - or here 

How long is a piece of string? All of humanity fits into a sugar cube? - check it out on the BBC - 

Water Drop at 2000 Frames per Second -

Jet smashes into concrete wall at 500 mph - 

Water balloon burst at 2000 frames/second - 

Lamarck is back - evolution happens outside of random mutation - 

Can fractals make sense out of quantum mechanics?

Metal bits self-assemble into snakes:

The inner life of cells, from Harvard: 

The magical version with cool music: 

The academic version with inscrutable biological language: 

Anatomy of a Black Hole (animated):

Fractal Recursions:

Squid Dating:

Blue Oyster Fractal Spiral Zoom:

Evidence for Big Bang: 

Astronomy Picture of the Day: 

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The Following... a partial bibliography of the resources used to develop the seminars. 

The Best Books by Topic:

Relativity/Big Bang/Black Holes

Relativity, Albert Einstein, pub Crown; Big Bang, Simon Singh, Fourth Estate/HarperCollins; Einstein: His Life and Universe, Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster; The Edge of Infinity, Paul Davies; The Empire of the Stars, Arthur I. Miller, pub Abacus

Quantum Mechanics

Einstein Defiant, Edmund Blair Bolles, Joseph Henry Press; Quantum Enigma, Rosenblum/Kuttner, pub Oxford; Entanglement: The Greatest Mystery in Physics, Amir Aczel, pub Four Walls Eight Windows NY


Chaos, James Gleick, pub Viking


Complexity, M. Mitchell Waldrop, pub Touchstone/Simon & Schuster; Emergence, Steven Johnson, pub Touchstone/Simon & Schuster; At Home in the Universe, Stuart Kauffman, pub Oxford; The Cosmic Blueprint, Paul Davies

The Anthropic Principle/Fine-Tuning/Multiverse

The Goldilocks Enigma/Cosmic Jackpot, Paul Davies; The Fingerprint of God, pub Promise Pub., Hugh Ross; Alone in the Universe, pub Wiley, John Gribbin


The Physics of Time, Richard Muller, pub WW Norton & Co.

Other Books. The best and most useful are in boldface and listed first.

Superforce, God and the New Physics, The Mind of God, About Time, The Accidental Universe, The Last Three Minutes, pub Touchstone/Simon & Schuster,  pub Houghton Mifflin - Paul Davies

Schroedinger’s Kittens.. Pub Little/Brown, Q is for Quantum, Pub Free Press, The Search for Superstrings, Symmetry, and the Theory of Everything, Pub Little Brown & Co., The Origins of the Future, pub Yale, Annus Mirabilis, pub Chamberlain Bros, John Gribbon

A Brief History of Time, Black Holes & Baby Universes, pub Bantam, The Theory of Everything, pub New Millennium, Stephen Hawking 

The Science of God..., Pub Free Press, The Hidden Face of God, Pub Simon & Schuster - by Gerald L. Schroeder

The Elegant Universe, Pub Vintage, The Fabric of the Cosmos, Pub Knopf, Brian Greene

The Evolutionists, Richard Morris, pub Owl Books

The Genius Within, Frank Vertosick, Jr., pub Harcourt

A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson, pub Broadway

The Emergence of Everything, Harold Mororwitz, pub Oxford

The Fire in the Equations, Kitty Ferguson, Templeton Foundation Press

Fractal Cosmos, Jeff Berkowitz, Pub Amber Lotus/Lifesmith  

How the universe got its spots, Janna Levin, Phoenix/Orion Ltd.

Just Six Numbers, Martin Rees, Basic Books

God's Equation, Amir D. Aczel, MJF Books/Fine Communications

Origins of Existence, Fred Adams, Free Press

Infinite in all Directions, Freeman Dyson, pub Harper & Row  

In Search of Deep Time, Henry Gee, Comstock/Cornell

A World without Time, Palle Yourgrau, pub Basic Books

The Dependent Gene, David Moore, pub Times

There is a God, How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, Antony Flew, pub HarperOne

The Language of God, Francis Collins, pub Free Press

Albert Einstein’s Vision, Barry Parker, pub Prometheus

Creation and Time,  Beyond the Cosmos,  Creator and the Cosmos, pub Navpress - Hugh Ross  

Investigations, Stuart Kauffman, pub Oxford

Death by Black Hole, Neil deGrasse Tyson, pub Norton

Faster than the Speed of Light, Joao Magueijo, pub Perseus

The End of Time, Julian Barbour, pub Oxford

Einstein’s Universe, Calder, pub Nigel/Wings Books  

The First Three Minutes, Steven Weinberg, pub Basic Books  

Coming of Age in the Milky Way, pub Morrow , The Whole Shebang, pub Simon & Schuster, Timothy Ferris

Cosmic Coincidences, John Gribbon & Martin Rees, Pub Bantam  

The God Particle, Leon Lederman, pub Houghton Mifflin

The God Experiment, Russell Stannard, pub Hidden Spring

The Matter Myth, Paul Davies/John Gribbon, pub Simon & Schuster

Superstrings, Peat, pub Contempory Books  

Wrinkles in Time,  Smoot & Davidson, pub Morrow  

Einstein, Ronald Clark, pub Avon

Fuzzy Thinking, Bart Kosko, pub Hyperion

Vital Dust, Christian de Duve, pub Basic Books

Cosmic Code, Heinz Pagels, Pub Simon & Schuster

Alice in QuantumLand, Robert Gilmore, Pub Copernicus  

The Moment of Creation, James Trefil, Pub Collier  

Shadow of the Mind, Pub Oxford, The Large, the Small, and the Human Mind, Pub Cambridge, Roger Penrose  

African Exodus, Christopher Stringer & Robin McKie, Pub Henry Holt  

The Quark and the Jaguar, Murray Gell-Man, Pub WH Freeman

Quantum Questions, edited by Ken Wilber, Pub Shanbhala,

Finding God in Physics, Roy Masters, Pub Foundation of Human Understanding

God and the Astronomers, Robert Jastrow, Pub Warner

The Collapse of Chaos, Jack Cohen/Ian Stewart, Pub Viking

Conscious Mind in the Physical World, Euan Squires, Pub Adam Hilger

Quarks, Chaos, & Christianity, Pub Crossroads; Belief in God in an Age of Science, John Polkinghorne, Pub Yale

Beyond the Quantum, Pub Bantam, The Holographic Universe, Pub Harper Perennial, Michael Talbot

Our Cosmic Habitat, Martin Rees, Pub Princeton University Press

Chaos and Complexity, Russell/Murphey/Peacocke, pub Vatican Observatory/Center for Theology and Natural Sciences, Berkeley CA

Where does the weirdness go?, David Lindley, pub Basic Books

A Shortcut through Time, George Johnson, pub Knopf

Nature's Chaos, Gleick/Porter, pub Little/Brown

Sudden Origins, Jeffrey Schwartz, pub Wiley & Sons

The Quantum Brain, Jeffrey Satinover, pub Wiley & Sons

Fragments of Infinity, Ivars Peterson, pub Wiley & Sons

Atom, Lawrence Krauss, pub Little/Brown

The End of Certainty, Ilya Prigogine, pub Free Press

The Garden in the Machine, Claus Emmeche, Pub Princeton

Quantum Theology, Diarmuid O’Murchu, Pub Crossroad

Rock of Ages, Stephen Jay Gould, Ballantine

The Bigger Bang, James Lidsey, Cambridge 

Liars, Lovers, and Heroes, Steven Quartz/Terrence Sejnowski, William Morrow/Harper Collins

Signs of Life, Richard Sole/Brian Goodwin, Basic Books

The Third Culture, John Brockman, Touchstone/Simon & Schuster

Why God won't go away, Newburg/D'Aquili/Rause, Ballantine

Origins, Neil deGrasse Tyson/Donald Goldsmith, Norton

God at the speed of light, T.Lee Baumann, ARE Press

The Meaning of it all, Richard Feynman, Helix/Perseus Books

The Big Bang, Joseph Silk, WH Freeman & Co.

A Shortcut through Time, George Johnson, Knopf

Quantum: a Guide for the Perplexed, Jim Al-Khalili

Cosmos, Bios, Theos, Margenau & Varghese

Setting Sail for the Universe, Donald Fernie, pub Rutgers University Press

Alpha & Omega The Search for the Beginning and the End of the Universe, Charles Seife, pub Viking

Of Moths and Men, Judith Hooper, pub Norton

A Different Universe, Robert B. Laughlin, pub Basic Books

The Measure of God, Larry Witham, pub Harper SF

The Genius Within, Frank Vertosick Jr, pub Harcourt

Challenging Nature, Lee Silver, pub HarperCollins


Magazines/Newspaper Articles/Websites

Beyond Einstein issue, Scientific American September 2004

From the Big Bang to Fridge Magnets, Paul Davies, IB World Magazine December 1997

Science Sees the Light, by Gregg Easterbrook, The New Republic Magazine, Oct 12 1998

The New Convergence, by Gregg Easterbrook, Wired Magazine Dec 2002

Science Finds God, Newsweek, July 20 1998

Beyond Physics - Renowned Scientists contemplate the evidence for God, Scientific American website

Science Finds God, The Saturday Evening Post, Jan/Feb 1999

Reaching to the stars -- and beyond, James Gleick, from The New York Times in the San Jose Mercury News, date?

Physics Coup: Atom in 2 Places, Denver Post, Feb 22, 2000

Quantum Wizardry, Dallas Morning News, July 30 2001

Schroedinger's Cat,

Team discovers way to put brakes on the speed of light, San Jose Mercury News, Feb 18, 1999

Scientists tackle 'Schroedinger's Cat' paradox,

Quantum computing with molecules, Scientific American website

Life, the universe, and everything, Time, Feb 22 1993

Wasp uses spider..., Denver Post Dec 3 2000

The Mimic Octopus, Asian Diver,

many others