Interlude 2: This week in science

I don’t pretend to fully understand what this means, but this week a bunch of links went out about gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein, finally showing up and offering the fabled smoking gun for the Big Bang theory.

An object of sufficient density will cause a dimple in – I’m just going to go ahead and say it – the very fabric of space-time itself, and the denser the object, the more measurable that dimple will be, at a distance and over time.

I’m not sure I’ve gotten this right, but it seems as though these gravitational waves had never really been found before, as given off by planets or stars or whatever. But the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics did manage to find a signal from the big one: possibly the ripples left in space-time after the rapid expansion of the universe right after the Big Bang. Because that’d be some density, right there.

When I saw this article, I was moved to lyricism:

I just ... had to ... sing!

Ad-libbed hilarity (if I do say so myself). It’s not perfect, nor is it the entire song, but I was rather proud of it considering the time-scale by which I was operating. Which, unlike the gravitational waves of cosmic inflation, was quite short.

Well, the article I linked describes cosmic microwave background radiation as “the comic fog that fills the universe and represents the earliest detectable radiation”. I felt I should do my part to add to that, in my own small way.

Stay tuned as the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (Advanced LIGO, although I personally would have been happier if they’d found some way of making it be “Advanced LEGO”) plans to check out black holes colliding, and all sorts of other serious shit.

In the meantime, bills to pay and nappies to change.

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13 Responses to Interlude 2: This week in science

  1. stchucky says:

    When I read this article, I was struck by its similarity to either Pratchett’s or Adams’s story about the religious order who were trying to hear the mythical First Words with which the Creator made the universe (or possibly The Great Clearing Of The Throat that came before that) by studying the latent reverberations still extant in the cosmos.

    Life imitates art. Again.

  2. dreameling says:

    You are the very soul of science poetry, sir. Awesome. 🙂

    It needs to be said, though, that given all the differently flavored stuff you throw out there, it’s hard to sometimes pin down where exactly you’re coming from. Not that you need to be pinned down necessarily — insert obvious joke here — but clear and precise definitions and categories are nice. As you should know!

    And this was indeed an interesting piece of news, as far as I understood it. The inflation theory is a big thing, and we finally have actual evidence to back it up, so it all amounts to a very big thing. But definitely one of those science news that you can properly appreciate only if you really really really really understand the physics involved (which I for one definitely do not). Probably not something that’s easy to sell to the larger public as a major breakthrough.

    • stchucky says:

      It needs to be said, though, that given all the differently flavored stuff you throw out there, it’s hard to sometimes pin down where exactly you’re coming from.

      Then I have written this blog perfectly. I reject absolutely the idea that a person needs to have a fixed set of characteristics into which he or she can be tidily and lazily pigeonholed.

      As for having a consistent philosophy, I agree that this is important. And I do have one: consciousness is marvellous.

    • stchucky says:

      But definitely one of those science news that you can properly appreciate only if you really really really really understand the physics involved (which I for one definitely do not). Probably not something that’s easy to sell to the larger public as a major breakthrough.

      And exactly so. I put this into my folder along with the Higgs Boson, as part of the “we’re so Goddamn awesome for figuring this out and I believe that it does answer important questions about the universe, but I have absolutely no hope of understanding the questions, let alone the answers, so in the meantime where’s my hoverboard?” series.

    • dreameling says:

      I reject absolutely the idea that a person needs to have a fixed set of characteristics into which he or she can be tidily and lazily pigeonholed.

      Some technical writer you are, man.

      But I agree. Irrespective of whether you actually could fully define and categorize a person, attempting to do so would be a disservice to both them and you. However, there is a difference between trying to understand a person and pigeonholing them. Categorizes and characteristics — generalizations of one type or another — are not inherently bad. In fact, they’re pretty much the only way we can understand anything at all.

      As for having a consistent philosophy, I agree that this is important. And I do have one: consciousness is marvellous.

      Indeed. And we’re not even sure what exactly it is or whether it’s actually there.

      Paging Müllick.

      • stchucky says:

        Categorizes and characteristics — generalizations of one type or another — are not inherently bad. In fact, they’re pretty much the only way we can understand anything at all.

        And some people are more comfortable knowing they don’t understand stuff than others.

        Paging Müllick.

        Oh, you ref’d me. I think I just had a brogasm.

      • dreameling says:

        And some people are more comfortable knowing they don’t understand stuff than others.

        While others are too comfortable with not understanding stuff, or too lazy to commit to understanding stuff, or… We could go on forever, man.

        Oh, you ref’d me. I think I just had a brogasm.

        Think? Must rim harder.

        (One of these days, one of us is going to take this too far and say something that’s gonna make it oh so awkward the next time we sit side-by-side in the movie theater.)

      • stchucky says:

        Oh, you ref’d me. I think I just had a brogasm.

        Think? Must rim harder.

        I’m afraid rimming me is just a horrible waste of everyone’s time, since I have no nerves there anymore. On the plus side, my “rim” is around the front these days so you can do it in a movie theatre and I won’t even need to stand up. Also, there’s always Little Yul if you feel like you need some variety.

        (One of these days, one of us is going to take this too far and say something that’s gonna make it oh so awkward the next time we sit side-by-side in the movie theater.)

        How ’bout now?

      • dreameling says:

        How ’bout now?

        Nah, not there yet. However, rather than explicitly force the moment, how about we let it build and blossom organically over time? ‘Twill be all the more awkward, I think.

        And apologies, should’ve realized rimming was wasted on you. One takes for granted the various erogenous zones one is born with.

      • stchucky says:

        You’re so insensitive.

        No wait, I am.

        Now that’s confusing.

      • dreameling says:

        If it’s any consolation — although I’m pretty sure it’s not — the only erogenous action my rim ever sees is the occasional chili-flavored, almost-too-large-to-fit log on its way to freedom. And even that feeling is usually cancelled out by the aroma that follows.

        PS. I’m sure I will regret writing the above the moment I click Post Comment.

      • stchucky says:

        This reminds me of a homophobe debate of which I stood on the sidelines many a year ago. The bigoted moron side of the debate declared that buttsex was pointless because there wasn’t even pleasure involved, on account of there being no nerves in the butt.

        The side of the debate centred on planet Earth was just like, “not a big chili eater, huh?”.

      • dreameling says:

        Yup.

        Love this blog.

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