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Saturday, February 1, 2014

wherever we go, there we are !

“Life on earth is a whole, yet it expresses itself in unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. So there can be no one place to be. There can be no one way to be, no one way to practice, no one way to learn, no one way to love, no one way to grow or to heal, no one way to live, no one way to feel, no one thing to know or be known. The particulars count.”-Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever You Go, There You Are

Came across this quote today, wow I thought, this is amazing. Tries to sum up all of knowledge , all of reality and made simple. Makes me step back and think about this. I had a bartender tell me last night that I don't get philosophy. Totally random conversation followed ...

Life on earth is part of reality (I want to believe we are real and not some dream or matrix or whatever)
and its wrapped itself in as Jon Kabat above, unique time-bound bodies, microscopic or visible, plant or animal, extinct or living. beautifully expresses to me that how amazing our universe is (by universe I mean reality, be it multi verse or bubble universe or infinite inflation or any of dozens of theories) . I have lately taken a lot of interest in cosmology.

Cosmology from Wikipedia :

Physical cosmology is studied by scientists, such as astronomers, and theoretical physicists; and academic philosophers, such as metaphysicians,philosophers of physics, and philosophers of space and time. Modern cosmology is dominated by the Big Bang theory, which attempts to bring together observational astronomy and particle physics.                                                                                                              

I thought I shall let the collective brains of the authors on Wikipedia authors to describe who all do this.So basically a lot of smart people at universities of funded by private companies or government. There is a reason I want to bring that up because, I want to make sure I raise the bar before I write about my experience with studying cosmology. So I started my study like an average internet user, watching documentaries, YouTube channels like sci show, veritasium, and vsauce (really recommend them) , to get you started if you re interested try this video to start it off and get familiar a video of each of them in one play list, seriously hit the hyper link and lean back, in fact the series is called #leanback ! its amazing bunch of em.

Anywhoo so yeah I realized the moment you begin to dive in , Einstein's theory of relativities are thrown in the mix, which is pretty much the best understanding of reality we have thrown into several techniques used in the pursuit to ties the world of the big (like us, the stars) and the world of the small (think mesons and electrons) and these 2 worlds play by different rules of nature. It got to a point that I had to sit down and try and really understand what 4-d space-time curvature really f**king means. If you are beginning to lose me, I'd suggest you Google a bit to get up to speed with the videos out there trying to explain the theory.To better explain Einstein's theory let me attempt to use one of the examples written by an author from India from the Kodaikanal Observatory.Consider a sheet of paper being all of space a universe we are observing and consider there is an ant roaming on the surface. So this 2-d space we can say have multiple slices of different snapshots of  now.So sequentially we are stacking up moments of now as one big 3-d cube of stacked up pictures of the position of the ant on this 2-d space. Now imagine this 3-d cube structure the space time (the 3 dimensions of reality for a universe which has only 2 axes in space like the surface of paper for a fly). Now imagine taking a camera and taking a picture of every action of the ant runs around. Now if you stack em up then you can visualize the movement of the ant on the surface of the paper but at different time instants, now if the camera was rotated to make it appear the ant is doing stunts, its done by either rotating the camera along the x and y axis, i.e. the perpendicular axis on the surface, and turning the camera along perpendicular axis to the surface of paper (time) makes it change time. Of course one can argue that you can distort the motion of ant by simply distorting this stack of photos anyway, right ? think about it, if you distort this 3-d space like squeezing a soft spongy cube of a 2-d universe and having time as a 3rd dimension, then you can make it appear to change movements of the ants and make it appear as if it did a different type of movement than what it is doing, Now that you get this example and you agree that this 3d version of reality can have a shape when distorted changes the motion of the stuff in it, you can begin to understand our version of this 3-d space time, which is 4-d for us because the space we live in is 3d(ie has breadth, length and a height) and time is the 4th dimension for us. So what the example is showing here is that all events for any matter in a space time 3-d space is just a point in this space and the motion can be constructed by looking along the time axis and distorting space can affect how matter moves through space and time.

But on the other hand its awfully challenging to grasp the idea of a 3-d space and time a 4th dimension because we as humans simply don't have the physical intuition of what a 4-D object would like) And the the reason im talking all this (if you are still reading) is that Einstein's theory deals with tying together these theories of gravitation, electromagnetism space and time and relative motion between objects by crafting a nice equation where on the left side we have the curvature of our space and on the right we have energy and motion, and on the shoulders of his theory so many other theories are are based of. Remember Einstein was not some crazy scientist who sat and predicted stuff, right out of his brain and wrote the theory, If you bother to study the history, you will learn he was a guy relied on the math of tensors to prove the theory mathematically and also had to rely on real physical experiments done (for example the Michelson and Morely experiments that showed light seemed to have the same speed no matter which direction we test it in, contrary to popular beliefs at that time where researches expected to find the absolute motion of earth through this thing we refer to as ether, which is basically the medium through which everything flows). So yeah this theory also explained certain anomalies like the perihelion of mercury and its peculiar advance movement which was more than predicted by Newton, which had given rise to the Myth of the Vulcun planet (a small planetary body close to the orbit influencing the shift, but later proven by Einstein's theory of relativity). Einstein also made an amazing prediction on how much the sun would make the light rays coming from its sides bend and shift the apparent position of stars close to the sun, now this can't be observed because they couldn't see the stars in the day because the sun shines too brightly and its impossible unless its the total solar eclipse (yes Einstein theory was only taken seriously in 1919 after data coming from the telescopes that took pictures of the total solar eclipse to measure the shift in the position of the stars and see if Einstein's theory holds up, and guess what it did)
So yeah this guy really was a genius, I read a nice book written by James Malcom Bird (its about a bunch of essays written by a lot of guys attempting to explain theory of relativity for non physicists ) very very enlightening. I know so much now that its really mind blowing, thinking about how little I used to know about the universe and the understanding of what these guys are talking about when you say things like the universe is flat , (an amazing talk on youtube that I must say you have to watch if you want to check out something really really insightful and cool) anyway, so yeah this book is a great read and it really does a decent job, I mean it never really goes too much into the details of the kind of math or what a tensor is or how differential equations explain a curvature of a geometry of space time and show how space is curved. The reason I mention the Lawrence Krauss video is simply because  I started my journey with his book, A Universe From Nothing, Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing. highly recommend again if you are reading till here and interested in what I've been rambling about above. Anyway coming back to Einstein and the theory of relativity I can say (well there are 2 theories, one special theory of relativity and one general theory of relativity) , it has been really great to be able to claw at the surface of what the theory is about and how it explains so many observed phenomena. Like Lawrence says, its not knowing that's everything, but to test what you know and ascertain that you are right is everything. So after reading about a dozen essays, 2 books and multiple videos, I can safely say I understand the basic assumptions made by Einstein and also the idea of what curvature really means for a 4d space time. I still have some questions, like for instance how does negative gravity work ?, how space expands in itself, how does it maintain the same density, so more reading to follow...

I plan to come back to this post, keep it like a running article with updates, to come back post little tit bits summarizing my journey and keep this as a log of summary or any good examples summarizing the understanding in concise fashion. I continue to look for interesting topics to research in cosmology, but I am now going to read about gravitation lensing , black holes, supernovas, the science behind the cosmos, the world of the big.The world of the small. I hope its also a good journal for notes on the topic for me to come back and refresh.

I want to conclude from the famous quote by Luise Bogan that I probably should have begun with..

The initial mystery that attends any journey is: how did the traveller reach his starting point in the first place?

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