Time, Space and Nature of Reality through the Lens of Quantum Theory with Dr Carlo Rovelli

What is time? Is time real or just an illusion? Time is an enigma, a mystery that never ceases to perplex us. Philosophers, poets, painters and thinkers have long debated its significance, while scientists have discovered that its structure differs from our intuitive understanding of it. Our view of time has changed dramatically throughout the years, from Boltzmann to quantum theory, and from Einstein to loop quantum gravity. In the huge cosmos, time moves at various speeds in different places, the past and future differ considerably less than we might assume, and the whole concept of the present vanishes. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I discuss with Dr Carlo Rovelli the nature of time, the nature of space, and the fundamental nature of reality through the lens of quantum mechanics.

Carlo Rovelli is professor of physics at Aix-Marseille University, where he is director of the quantum gravity group at the Center for Theoretical Physics. He is one of the founders of loop quantum gravity theory and is one of the world’s biggest experts in this field.

In his books and in his presentations Rovelli says time is not what we think it is. He also says that space is not what we think it is. I open our conversation by asking him to unpack these statements for us. We then discuss the “impossibility of now”. In physics, from one moment to the next, the only concept that gives some notion of continuity is the flow of heat; it is the concept of entropy. We discuss how entropy plays an important role in this perceived continuity. Along the way we touch upon the concepts of past, present and future that we hold in our minds. Dr Rovelli’s new book, Helgoland begins with a detailed description of the development of quantum theory in 1925; we discuss the main observations and discoveries that led to the development of quantum theory. We then discuss the fundamental nature of reality by unpacking the statement in one of his books “if the backdrop of space has disappeared, time has disappeared, classic particles have disappeared, along with the class fields, so then what is the world made of?” And finally we discuss the efforts to develop models and theories to reconcile general relativity with quantum theory. We discuss how loop quantum gravity theory attempts to reconcile general relativity with quantum theory.

Complement this conversion with fascinating discussion with Dr Katie Mack on “The End of Everything” and then list to at: Dr Dan Hooper on “Our Universe’s First Few Seconds”

By |June 13th, 2021|Cosmology, Physics, Podcasts|

“Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds” with Dr Dan Hooper

Scientists now have a good understanding of how our universe evolved over the past 13.8 billion years, but we know very little about what happened in the first few seconds after the Big Bang. Dr Dan Hooper, a senior scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Lab and a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, emphasises that understanding the earliest moments of the universe is vital to tackle, and to decipher mysteries such as dark matter and dark energy. In his book “At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds” Hooper outlines four foundational questions as puzzles that we must solve and the key to solving these puzzles is in understanding what happened at the very beginning of our universe.

In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with Dr Dan Hooper. We discuss intriguing questions and fascinating research that he presents in the book “At the Edge of Time: Exploring the Mysteries of Our Universe’s First Seconds”. At the start of the book Hooper gives a thorough description of the timeline of how we got here where we are now from the Big Bang to the present day and how did our universe evolve over the past 13.8 billion years; he presents this narrative backwards, from the present time to the Big Bang. I open our conversation by asking him to describe this timeline and this journey from the present day to the Big Bang. We then discuss the four puzzles that Hooper outlines in the book and examine that understanding what happened in the first few seconds after the Big Bang holds the key to solving these puzzles. We also discuss the progress that is being made in developing a theory of everything, gravitational waves and his views on the multi universe theory. This has been a fascinating discussion with a very passionate researcher.

Compliment Professor Hooper’s insights with equally fascinating discussion with Dr Katie Mack “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking”, and then listen to discussion with Nasa’s Spitzer project scientist Michael Werner “Spitzer Space Telescope: Discovering “More Things in the Heavens”.

By |September 20th, 2020|Cosmology, Physics, Podcasts|

“The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)” with Dr Katie Mack

Throughout history philosophers, poets and explorers have been pondering upon and debating the question that what the long term future of our universe would be. The focus has been on two intriguing perspectives: would the universe continue to exist forever or would it end at some point in time in future. Modern scientists seem to be in agreement that in the distant future the world will end; our universe will die. At that time, humanity might still exist in many unrecognizable spinoff forms, venturing out to distant space, finding new homes and building new civilizations. But the death of the universe if final. It is hard to contemplate that a time will come when, all that we care about, all that we have imagined and built, that all will end. It is equally hard to address the question that how our universe will end. In her latest book “The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)”, Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack outlines five different ways the universe could end, and discusses in detail the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important concepts in physics. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Dr Katie Mack about her research and about these possible endings of our universe.

Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist who studies a range of questions in cosmology, the study of the universe from beginning to end. She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University, where she is also a member of the Leadership in Public Science Cluster. Throughout her career she has studied dark matter, the early universe, galaxy formation, black holes, cosmic strings, and the ultimate fate of the cosmos. Alongside her academic research, she is an active science communicator and has been published in a number of popular publications such as Scientific American, The New York Times, Slate, Sky & Telescope, and Cosmos Magazine, where she is a columnist.

We start our conversation by discussing with Dr Katie Mack the beginning of the universe; we then discuss nature and the large scale structure of the observable universe. We discuss cutting-edge research on two important unknowns that we are faced with: Dark Matter and Dark Energy. In the book Dr Katie Mack outlines a number of ways in which this universe could end. We discuss in detail two of these possibilities. Finally we discuss the models and theories that we presently use to study the cosmos and how might a “theory of everything” enhance our ability to understand the true nature of reality. This has been a fascinating discussion with one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics.

By |August 27th, 2020|Cosmology, Physics, Podcasts|