At this point, I think there’s been a paper averaging almost every day for the past 12 years with theorists of physics trying out different ideas for what could be the explanation. If you ask almost any of them, ‘Do you stand behind your theory? Is this the answer?’ I think almost every one would say, ‘No, no no. I’m just trying to expand the range of possibilities.’ We really don’t know what’s going on.
— A Nobel Prize-winning physicist says if you’re puzzled by what dark energy is, you’re in good company.
From our point of view, the most exciting thing would be if we discovered something really fundamental in our understanding was just off a bit — and that now we have a chance to revisit it. That would be our favorite thing, if we could take a whole new crack at the problem — and a new way of understanding it. In physics, it seems like whenever we get a completely new understanding … it somehow subsumes the previous understandings and it … adds an extra level of sophistication.
— Saul Perlmutter, on his (shared) discovery that the universe’s expansion is speeding up and not slowing down, as previously thought.
(They were actually firing a kind of “guide star” that is used to target and correct ground-based telescopes when this shot happened. Nature is still not impressed)
(via Short Sharp Science)
John Powers reviews Nostalgia for the Light, Patricio Guzman’s tribute to the Atacama Desert — the driest place on Earth, and home to both sophisticated observatories and the sober memories of a military regime’s abuses: ”Watching Nostalgia for the Light, I suddenly remembered visiting the memorial to the Jewish heroes who fought the Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto. I was surrounded by an Israeli school group, whose teachers, moved to tears by what struck them as sacred ground, were aghast to see their students giggling, horsing around and flirting — in short, being teenagers. And though my brain sympathized with the adults who honored the memory of those blood-stained cobblestones, my body was on the side of the kids, who were living, breathing, exuberant proof that life goes on.”
Audio is now up for Dave Davies’ interview with Marc Kaufman about astrobiology and the search for life in the universe. Enjoy!