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Pertinent Posts from the On Being Blog

Would the Higgs boson exist without our thinking it existed in the first place. Is it possible that by thinking differently – about ourselves, about others, about our universe – we might begin to see things differently?

With the important news about the the Higgs boson particle, this excellent video explainer with comic sketches may even help us understand it one day!

Writing script explaining string theory isn't so easy. Thankfully, Brian Greene's TED talk provided just the right language. A revelatory video that will excite your imagination.

Krista Tippett reflects on her conversation with John Polkinghorne on quarks, creation, and God.

Put an astrobiologist and a mechanical engineer on the same stage and what do you get? One heck of an exciting conversation about how quantum physics realm holds sway and plays a pivotal role in our everyday experiences — in everything from bird navigation to our sense of smell.

Our interview with physicist and author brought about this fun and wide-ranging set of time-shift tweets. He brings an infectious excitement to the conversation about the frontiers of modern physics and how vital science is to understanding the nature of life and reality.

Of all the ideas Janna Levin presents, the most provocative and disturbing, perhaps, is her doubt that there is free will in human existence at all. She cannot be sure that we are not utterly determined by brilliant principles of physics and biology. Yet she cleaves more fiercely in the face of this belief to the reality of her love of her children and her hopes and dreams for them.

Listen to these sounds of black holes merging and falling into one another and the "white noise" of the Big Bang. A TED Talk with Janna Levin that stirs the mind.

Physicists have long sought to describe the universe in terms of equations. Now, James Gates explains how research on a class of geometric symbols known as adinkras could lead to fresh insights into the theory of supersymmetry — and perhaps even the very nature of reality.

Watch Steve Martin with the Steep Canyon Rangers sing a special song, since they say atheists don’t have any.

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Twin spires on the Navajo Trail Road in Arizona.

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I have something in common with Brian Green, I am a graduate of Columbia School of Social Work. As an RC interested in all religious and philosophic thought, I share my belief.

In relation to "time". I believe everything happened at once, the big bang was a solitary encounter of everything that is. Jesus said "I am the Alpha and the Omega". God is the beginning and end, and is enmeshed in our time, reconciling us to our original state in the Garden of Eden - where time first was experienced by our original parents - who separated themselves in some way from God. Time is a human invention. Everything comes out of this understanding, the Incarnation, the redemption and salvation. Many of the hints of this reality show up in some way in other faiths. I think the infant in utero is, perhaps, a better example than the fish. As my four year old granddaughter said when speaking of the name of her baby (to my response that I hope I'll be there). "I know, we are all in God's belly." I had compared death with birth. Mariology shows up in different conceptualizations everywhere. Of course what Adam and Eve represent is in question as well as many other accounts in the Hebrew and Christian scripture. There's much more, but I found the tape validating.

Also, I disagree that "free will is the sensation of choice". If everything happened at once, all of the zillions of choices we are presented with and do, but - at the same "time" everything happened at once, in a sense it has happened but it also includes choice. In addition, God intervening can be understood in just the same way. All happened at once (in the sense that we are speaking of human time and creation....God's creation) The Word/The Incarnation "in" time is enmeshed and intervening in the rupture at the same time that they are happening. "for to those who love God and are called in God's plan everything works out to the good." So, in my view, the speaker is missing the context for creation and time.

I find the dialogue fascinating. It will take a great deal of humility to "hear" one another. As a scientist to find an entire world outside of your discipline uninteresting isn't surprising if you cannot allow another discipline to enhance, inform, or modify your science. The same applies to spiritual, philosophic, or religious thought.

So are we holograms, or are we living in a time that is and was and will be. Does deja vu disclose this to us? Is fruitful intuition the consciousness of our unity in one body, not just our perception of our unity? Lots of fascinating questions.

Great conversation. Dr. Thérèse M. Craine Bertsch, DSW

Re: free will - in the future, will the justice system cease to exist? Courts are already beginning to incorporate diagnoses into the definitions of innocence and guilt. If the very notion of decision making is debunked, won't the debunking of "fault" immediately follow?

Isn't that Elephant's Feet Utah? Or somewhere there-a-bouts? Been there several times on my travels. I love the desert...really one of my favorite places to be. Thanks for the beautiful photography. The Universe is an amazing thought continuum, wouldn't you agree?

But what about all those mutations? I believe in this conversation that free will is a mutation of universal laws.

Earlier I submitted a comment, but I would appreciate it if you would erase it and not consider it for publication. I started to submit a revised version, and unfortunately the revisions got lost. It was a wonderful interview!

it seems to me that people who don,t understand math or maybe they just don,t want to take the time to Learn math physics they always revert back to that dreaded 3 Letter word God" something that has never been seen heard or in fact proven at all at all EVER in the History of human beings" but they always go back to it and it makes me very mad ..not because they want to believe in some god" because I really don,t care...the thing is it makes me mad because god and all the religion that go,s with that word makes people forget all about science and instead of going forward in their Learning"- their going backwards to where NOTHING Can be Learned or proven once again ...I really Like Brian because he doesn,t want to hurt anyones Feelings about their beliefs".. but he is an incredible physicist - he believes in the Nature of things and the physics of how it all works whats creating all that we see and all we haven,t seen yet' ./..and this is how my mind works or at least how I want it to work ...I Look at Life Like if I was making a stew or cooking anything which has lots of ingrediants in them and when its all done it taste Delicious! but in nature the only difference to me is that Nature has been working a very Long time and it has been trying or at least mixing ingrediants throughout space until something comes together that is Fantastic in this case I,m of course talking of Life.. this to me is better than forcing my mind to believe that theres an invisible man in the sky watching us at all times making everything happen this not only sounds irrational but it is"! any case even if it turned out that there was such a creator?...I,m sure that it would be aliens far advanced than we are ..instead of some magical one great super man who Runs the Whole Show. ..../Thank you Brian I could Listen to you talk for on and on., Mike,

Jan 30 2014 Broadcast

Reimagining the Cosmos with Brian Greene

This was the first on being episode that I have listened to. It was right on the front page with a cool picture of a starry background. I was quite surprised that the topic was about the best topic I would want to listen to. A famous theoretical physicist that also talks very philosophical, my favorite.

He talks about many interesting topics, one of them was time. How it is relative to the person observing it. We all run along our own path of time. What he talks about is more that the speed of time changes based on the motion, gravity and other forces that are acting on it.

So if a twin leaves his sibling and travels in space at very very fast speed and then returns to Earth. His watch would be far behind the twin, by an order of many years. This is something that has been experimentally shown. By taking radioactive particles with a known half life and putting them in a particle accelerator. After accelerating them very fast, the particles took longer to decay. A human is a little different than a radioactive particle though, so I don't know if I'd quite reach that conclusion yet.

I like thinking of time as relative because we all precieve it to take so long. If your enjoying an activity, it seems to go by much more quickly. During a dream it seems like we accomplish so much, when in reality it was only 10-15 minutes.

So the time that we keep is really just a measure of either how for the earth has moved around the sun if your talking years, or a measure of how much the earth has rotated if your talking seconds or hours.

Wow this really got away from the total concepts of the show, because there is so much science that he explains quite simply. If you have any interest in what theoretical scince means or entails, this is a great broadcast.

Thanks for reading,

Shane Feld - NHCC

This episode was really hard to follow. Brian Greene discussed many scientific findings that I was unfamiliar with, such as String theory and the Higgs field. Even after he explained some of these ideas further, I'm still don't feel like I get it. It was as if I was watching an episode of my favorite show, but in another language. So rather then get into details about these scientific ideas, I'll just share some things that grabbed my attention.

I like how he views science as one of the greatest adventure stories. You can really get a sense of how much he enjoys his line of work. He even goes as far as comparing what he does to that which a artist does. He claims his work helps us find our place in this world and reveals knowledge of our deepest questions.
A couple things that blew my mind was when he explains that complex ideas can be reduced to simple mathematical equations, and that every outcome allowed by the quantum laws of physics is played out in parallel universes. To me much of this seemed more science fiction, but It also intrigued me to learn more. After listening to this I spend a good hour or so doing my own online research to understand his ideas better.
Lastly, I wanted to get some opinions about where religion can play into these ideas. While I was listening to this, I couldn't help to notice that there was really no room for religious ideas in Brian's scientific studies of the cosmos. Where do you place "god" or religious views in this???


Voices on the Radio

is a professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University. He is also co-founder of the World Science Festival. His books include The Elegant Universe, The Fabric of the Cosmos and The Hidden Reality.

Production Credits

Host/Executive Producer: Krista Tippett

Head of Content: Trent Gilliss

Technical Director: Chris Heagle

Senior Producer: Lily Percy

Associate Producer: Mariah Helgeson