Where in a universe is the cosmologist studying the universe? Consider a painter who paints a picture of his studio. The painter stands within the studio and yet does not include himself within the picture in the act of painting the picture. An attempt to portray the act of painting leads to the absurdity of… Read More Reflections in Cosmology 11: More on Containment, Multiverses and Free Will
Like many others, I was deeply affected by the movie Avatar. The lush beauty of Pandora’s glow-in-the-dark forests and floating mountains, coupled with the interconnected relationships between the Navi and the planet along with its myriad of inhabitants, evokes in us a sense of longing to be a part of it all. How many of… Read More Yearning for Pandora?
What, then, is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain what it is to him who asks me, I do not know. ~ Saint Ausgustine of Hippo Newton avoided the issue entirely when formulating his laws of motion, writing: I do not define time, space, place… Read More Reflections in Cosmology 10: Time and Its Arrow
Scientific cosmology is slowly revealing a universe that is incredibly fine-tuned. We are beginning to realize that fundamental constants in our universe – the unexplained numbers that seem to occur in nature for no particular reason e.g. the speed of light, the charge of the electron and the gravitational constant – are all ideal for… Read More Reflections in Cosmology 9: On Cosmic Fine-Tuning, Anthropic Principles and Multiverses
This Al-Jazeera report/interview provides a good overview of the situation back home in Malaysia. What’s interesting about it is that all three interviewees – Khalid Samad (the Shah Alam MP and PAS politician), Marina Mahathir (a social activist and daughter of our former Prime Minister), and Yusri Muhammad (from the Malaysian islamic Youth Movement) –… Read More An Update on the ‘Allah’ Issue
According to Edward Harrison, ‘the Containment Principle of the physical universe states: the physical universe contains everything that is physical and nothing else‘. Here, the word ‘physical’ is sweeping, and it includes all forms of matter and energy (shown to be the same thing by Einstein), from quarks to galaxies, cells to organisms and electromagnetic… Read More Reflections in Cosmology 8: The Principle of Containment
This morning, I had the opportunity to witness the Australian education system at work. A group of high school students paid our research group a visit, and they were treated to a couple of talks by the academics and postgraduate students here. They were also introduced to the wonderful and mysterious world of astronomy, as… Read More Lessons from Australian Education
There is a misconception that while religion is faith-based, science is based solely on fact. This is not always the case, as there are elements of ‘faith’ to be found in science as well. A good example of this is in the underlying assumption behind all of modern scientific cosmology – the cosmological principle. This… Read More Reflections in Cosmology 7: On Faith and the Cosmological Principle
While most of us were away for the Christmas and New Year holidays, very industrious Australians toiled through the heat of summer (above 40 degrees everyday!) to ensure that the first dish of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP) was installed at the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory (MRO) on schedule. The ASKAP is designed to… Read More While We Were Away…
Early Aristotelian universes were finite in extent, formed by concentric spheres that ended at the sphere of fixed stars. In contrast, the Stoic universe was a finite universe with an exterior void that was infinite. Simultaneously, ideas concerning God and the universe became increasingly grand and inflated. Medieval theology developed far-reaching concepts concerning the nature… Read More Reflections in Cosmology 6: Finite or Infinite Universe?