In 1969, my brother-in-law who is an astrophysicist generously and patiently spent a long afternoon trying to explain black holes to me. After four hours I had a headache, but also a faint understanding of what these huge gravitational sinkholes might be.
Hey there! If you missed the most recent edition of my weekly On Being newsletter, here's the blog version of what you might have missed. Catch up right here with Parker Palmer's advice on the writing life, Sarah Blanton's "thin places" in Tennessee, a Nigerian novelist's superb TED Talk on the danger of a single narrative, the cosmic microwaves of the universe's origins, and so much more. If you'd like to receive it in your email inbox, sign up here.
A thrilling, mind-bending view of the cosmos and of the human adventure of modern science. In a conversation ranging from free will to the meaning of the Higgs boson particle, physicist Brian Greene suggests the deepest scientific realities are hidden from human senses and often defy our best intuition.
Space. Patches of complete black, void of light. We see nothing. And yet, our species peers more deeply and seeks for what it cannot see. Our curiosity is a springboard, a launching pad for that leap of faith into the unknown.
One of the values of science is to make us uncomfortable says Lawrence Krauss. The particle physicist explains why we should all care about dark energy and the Higgs Boson particle. Science literacy matters, and, more importantly, he suggests we should take joy in science — just as we cultivate enjoyment of arts we may not completely comprehend.
Our interview with Natalie Batalha resulted in a wonderful set of time-shift tweets. We compile them for your pleasure.
Watch this fabulous talk on Hubble and Rembrandt, Casablanca in psychological terms, how stars actually "evolve," and why Malala Yousafzai's bravery is "the best example of the power of curiosity."
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.
Are we in the matrix? Physicist James Gates reveals why string theory stretches our imaginations about the nature of reality. Also, how failure makes us more complete, and imagination makes us more knowledgeable.
Parallel realities and the deep structure of space-time sound like science fiction. These are matters of real scientific inquiry. Lord Martin Rees is an astrophysicist and self-professed atheist who paints a fascinating picture of how we might be changed by what we do not yet know.