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Does Gravity Require Extra Dimensions?


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Hosted by Matt O'Dowd
Written by Katie McCormick & Matt O'Dowd
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#space #astrophysics #gravity

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Mapping the Multiverse


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This is a map of the multiverse. Or in physics-ese, it’s the maximally extended Penrose diagram of a Kerr spacetime. And in english: when you solve Einstein’s equations of general relativity for a rotating black hole, the universe does not come to an abrupt halt at the bottom of the gravitational pit. Instead, a path can be traced out again but you do not end up in the universe that you started in. Like I said, it’s a map of the multiverse.

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How Luminiferous Aether Led to Relativity


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As the 19th century came to a close, physicists were feeling pretty satisfied with the state of their science. The great edifice of physical theory seemed complete. A few minor experiments remained to verify everything. Little did those physicists know that one of those experiments would bring the entire structure crashing down paving the way for the physics revolution of the 20th century.

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#space #astrophysics #sciencehistory

A Special Note from writer Sarah Wells:

Sarah Wells would like to dedicate the writing and inspiration for this episode to Louis Colonna-Romano, a Clark University physics instructor who told the story of Albert Michelson's fantastic "failure" to generations of physics freshmen. Lou's kind mentorship and infectious enthusiasm for physics inspired every student who came into his office, including this video's writer.

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How We Know The Universe is Ancient


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The universe is precisely 13.8 billion year old - or so our best scientific methods tell us. But how do you learn the age of the universe when there’s no trace left of its beginnings?

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Space Time Livestream: Ask Matt Anything


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Will Wormholes Allow Fast Interstellar Travel?


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From Stargate to Interstellar, wormholes are our favorite method for traveling across fictional universes. But they are also a very serious field of study for some of our greatest minds over the last century. So what’s the holdup? When do we get to wormhole ourselves out of here?

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#space #astrophysics #interstellar

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Was the Milky Way a Quasar?


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The Milky Way galaxy is relatively calm by the destructive standards of the rest of the Universe, and compared to its own very violent past. But just recently we discovered that its violent past was much more recent than we thought - and could even happen again.

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How We Know The Earth Is Ancient


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In astronomy we talk about billions of years like it’s no big deal. But how can we be sure about timescales so far beyond the capacity for human intuition? Our discovery of what we now call deep time is very recent - as recent as our discovery of the true spatial vastness of our universe. And it came as scientists tried to measure the age of the Earth. What they found was as shocking and humbling as anything seen through the telescope.

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What’s On The Other Side Of A Black Hole?


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Normal maps are useless inside black holes. At the event horizon - the ultimate point of no return as you approach a black hole - time and space themselves change their character. We need new coordinate systems to trace paths into the black hole interior. But the maps we draw using those coordinates reveal something unexpected - they don’t simply end inside the black hole, but continue beyond. In these maps, black holes become wormholes, and new universes lie on the other side.

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How Black Holes Spin Space Time


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If there’s one thing cooler than a black hole it’s a rotating black hole. Why? Because we can use them as futuristic power generators, galactic-scale bombs, and portals to other universes.

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Black holes are self-sustaining holes in the fabric of spacetime. Space at the event horizon cascades downwards, dragging more space behind it, sort of like how water drags itself near the edge of a waterfall. In a Kerr black hole, space above the event horizon is dragged around in a circle - so less waterfall and more whirlpool. Water spiraling down a drain in a flat sink doesn’t know about the hole - it only knows about the motion of the water around it. In fact it’s possible to construct a black hole in general relativity rotating or otherwise - without any mass. Warp spacetime so it looks like the exterior of a black hole, and that warping will persist. So what is rotating? Spacetime is rotating.

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How Do Quantum States Manifest In The Classical World?


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This episode of space time is brought to you by the information flowing through an impossibly complex network of quantum entanglement, that just happens to mutually agree that you and I exist inside it. Oh, and Schrodinger’s cat is in here too.

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In quantum world things are routinely in multiple states at once - what we call a “superposition” of states. But in the classical world of large scales, things are either this or that. The famous thought experiment is Schrodinger’s cat - in which a cat is in an opaque box with a vial of deadly poison that’s released on the radioactive decay of an atom. Quantum mechanics tells us that the atom’s wavefunction can be in a superposition of states - simultaneously decayed or not decayed. So is the cat’s wavefunction also in a superposition of both dead and alive.

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Does Quantum Immortality Save Schrödinger's Cat?


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To quote eminent scientist Tyler Durden: "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." Actually… not necessarily true. If the quantum multiverse is real there may be a version of you that lives forever.

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If we can’t ever peer into these other realities that are used to explain quantum mechanics, how do we know they exist? In order to understand what happens to those different branches, and to understand why we find ourselves in one of them, we need to embrace one of the interpretations of quantum mechanics. For example the Copenhagen interpretation, which says that the wavefunction branches that we don’t observe somehow vanish at the moment of measurement. Or the Many Worlds interpretation, which states that those other branches are just as valid as ours - implying that reality may split and multiply in all possible ways. In that case we only see one branch because we live in that branch, and the others are rendered inaccessible by decoherence. But today I’m going to offer a test. Admittedly NOT a very useful one - but one that’s fun to think about. We’ll call this test quantum immortality. It’s based on the famous Schrodinger’s cat thought experiment.

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How Decoherence Splits The Quantum Multiverse


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Why is it that we can see these multiple histories play out on the quantum scale, and why do lose sight of them on our macroscopic scale? Many physicists believe that the answer lies in a process known as quantum decoherence.

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Written by Matt O'Dowd
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Does conscious observation of a quantum system cause the wavefunction to collapse? The upshot is that more and more physicists think that consciousness - and even measurement - doesn’t directly cause wavefunction collapse. In fact probably there IS no clear Heisenberg cut. The collapse itself may be an illusion, and the alternate histories that the wavefunction represents may continue forever. The question then becomes: why is it that we can see these multiple histories play out on the quantum scale, and why do lose sight of them on our macroscopic scale? Many physicists believe that the answer lies in a process known as quantum decoherence.

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#space #quantummechanics #astrophysics

Does Consciousness Influence Quantum Mechanics?


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It’s not surprising that the profound weirdness of the quantum world has inspired some outlandish explanations - nor that these have strayed into the realm of what we might call mysticism. One particularly pervasive notion is the idea that consciousness can directly influence quantum systems - and so influence reality. Today we’re going to see where this idea comes from, and whether quantum theory really supports it.

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The behavior of the quantum world is beyond weird. Objects being in multiple places at once, communicating faster than light, or simultaneously experiencing multiple entire timelines ... that then talk to each other. The rules governing the tiny quantum world of atoms and photons seem alien. And yet we have a set of rules that give us incredible power in predicting the behavior of quantum system - rules encapsulated in the mathematics of quantum mechanics. Despite its stunning success, we’re now nearly a century past the foundation of quantum mechanics and physicists are still debating how to interpret its equations and the weirdness they represent.

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Are Axions Dark Matter?


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What does the strong nuclear force, the fundamental symmetries of nature, and a laundry detergent have in common? They’re all important parts of the tale of the axion - a tale whose end may take us beyond the standard model and solve one of the most vexing mysteries in astrophysics.

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The story of the axion is a classic physics tale: intrepid scientists delve deep into trackless mathematics in search of answers to a mystery. And there, against all expectations, they find the hint of a completely new and unexpected denizen of the natural world. In this case the mystery was a subtle inconsistency in the behavior of the fundamental forces. And the unexpected discovery? A brand new particle - the axion - which, while not proven to exist, may explain a much more famous conundrum. The axion may explain dark matter.

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