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Pondering the infinitely small and large

So, after viewing some documentaries on modern physics and reading some books by “rock stars” in the field (see below), I felt a need to revisit my past musings, review topics and terminology, and organize all the “wow!” and “huh?” moments in my exploration.

Recent media experiences:

Everything and Nothing, two linked TV documentaries on Cosmology (Everything about astrophysics and the big bang, and Nothing about quantum physics and the vacuum) for BBC4, 2011

The Secrets of Quantum Physics, two-part TV documentary for BBC in 2014 (Episode 1: quantum entanglement; Episode 2: quantum biology — quantum bird, quantum nose, quantum frog, quantum tree)

2017 Edition of Stephen Hawking’s book A Brief History of Time. When I finished reading it, the material seemed all too familiar; so, I likely read an earlier edition of the book years ago.

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself (May 10, 2016) by Sean Carroll


3 thoughts on “Pondering the infinitely small and large

  1. When did I start taking it for granted that there are billions of galaxies? When I was growing up? Well, at least after I purchased my first set of Hale Observatory slides. I need to remember that it was only after Edwin Hubble’s observations in the 1920’s that consensus developed that there were indeed other galaxies beyond our Milky Way. With each generation of more powerful telescopes, empty patches of space resolved to vast starscapes and fuzzy objects resolved to cosmic wonders. Mind-boggling galaxies with trillions of stars!

  2. Group Exercise:

    1. Experience: What’s the smallest thing you’ve ever seen? The largest?
    2. Knowledge: What’s the smallest thing that exists? The largest?
    3. Imagination: What’s the smallest thing you can think of? The largest?

    The subatomic scale is daunting enough. If a proton is scaled to the size of the Earth — as a spheroid with a diameter of 12,742 km, then a millimeter-sized ball is only on the order of 10^-10 in comparison. Another 10^-10 reduction in size is needed to get a sense of the Planck scale. That is, the relative size of a proton to the Planck length.

    How big is our galaxy, the Milky Way? How about other notable galaxies? How many galaxies are there in the universe?

  3. 2-19-2014

    Whether we ever will “grasp” subatomic or Planck-level realities, related technology probably will advance. Imagine advanced mathematical models, virtual reality, and “3d” printing combined in a device which assembles objects from atoms. Such technology was dramatized in the TV series Stargate SG-1 as a device to build Merlin’s weapon against the Ori [cite]. Or consider the virtual reality “pssi” tech portrayed in The Atopia Chronicles novels [cite] extended to nano manufacturing.

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