The Elegant Universe

Discussion in 'Community' started by G5orbust, Nov 4, 2003.

  1. G5orbust macrumors 65816

    G5orbust

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    #1
    Wow! Talk about one awesome PBS special. I just got done watching it and it was simply amazing.

    For those who don't know, The Elegant Universe is a new PBS special that acts as kind of an 'Idiot's Guide to Theoretical Physics' and is narrorated by Brian Greene, a professor of Physics at Colombia University. NOVA, the organization behind many, many science based films, created this masterpiece. The show, I believe, is based on a book of the same title written by Mr. Greene.

    Here is the PBS link for the Elegant Universe.
     
  2. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #2
    I've caught parts of it on PBS, it is very well done. The graphics that go along with the narration are very helpful, and the whole thing is very accessible, even to those who don't think they can handle science.
     
  3. Gabriel macrumors member

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    #3
    I read the book a little while ago - it was really interesting though more than a bit over my head. GRR I don't get PBS here :(
     
  4. G5orbust thread starter macrumors 65816

    G5orbust

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    #4
    Yes, I agree. The visuals were fantastic in conveying the topic and presenting it in a fashion that would actually keep someone who isnt a physicist interested. The interviews with all those different researchers and professors added such a great amount to the show as well.
     
  5. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #5
    Damn, missed that - but it looks like you can see it online today. Might have to download it tonight.

    But I doubt the quality will be all that great. I might just have to wait until they rerun the thing. Hopefully that will be soon.

    D
     
  6. kaosfere macrumors member

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    #6
    The book is excellent, and I highly recommend it if you're into that sort of thing. It's a bit of a dense read, but he does his best to make it easy to grok. If you have a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts of modern particle physics it shouldn't be too hard.
     
  7. Gabriel macrumors member

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  8. Geetar macrumors regular

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    #8
    Just watched the first hour of it, c/o Quicktime on our TiBk 500. The quality was OK, but the program itself was captivating.

    Broadband is a godsend for stuff like this. I can't wait until all my documentary/music/film "fixes" are available like this.

    Conventional broadcasting= old technology whose days are, mercifully, numbered.
     
  9. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

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    Oct 20, 2002
    #9
    I always enjoy the programs that NOVA produces.

    It reminds me of the milestone by Voyager 1 today. After 26 years of faithful service. It has travel into space that no manmade object has traveled. Congratulations to Voyager 1 and NASA.

    http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/
     
  10. kevin49093 macrumors regular

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    #10
    I just watched this last night online. What a great program!
    I tell you though, it sure is hard not including this stuff in my lessons today. (I'm teaching 6th grade astronomy right now.) I did tell them that Newton had an 'embarrassing secret'. They think it is pretty cool that they learn that their text books don't always tell the full truth!
     
  11. krossfyter macrumors 601

    krossfyter

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    #11
  12. jayscheuerle macrumors 68020

    jayscheuerle

    #12
    I was disappointed

    Too much fluff and recap, not enough editing. I never got the sense that anybody really knew how to explain what they were talking about... "There are these 'vibrating strings' see...."

    Of course, it's entertainment, so I shouldn't expect it to have the depth of a book.

    Theatre is art.
    Film is entertainment.
    Television is furniture.
     
  13. krossfyter macrumors 601

    krossfyter

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    #13
    of course its not in depth. its just a summerization of whats going on in the science world i guess.

    i have a question on the first part.... chapter2 i believe. now bare with me im not versed in science or physics so this is a basic question that problem has a blantent basic obvious answer.


    when they talk about gravity they mention that newton discovered or articulated the force but he didnt know how it worked... it says that newton believed that gravity is/was instentanous . they gave the analogy (not sure whos it was) that if the sun were to vaporize that the earth would instentanously fly off orbit. okay einsten comes along studies light and in that study buts heads with newtons laws. einsten says that light is faster then gravity etc. they give the analogy of the sun vaporizing again and then mention a problem. im not quite sure what the problem is. can someone explain this to me? whats the big deal? i mean okay the sun vaporize the lights shut off on earth FIRST then we fly off oribit (they didnt mention this in the program). you know a matter of sequence of events. im not sure what the issue is here so if anyone can please clarify this for me or state the obvious or whatever i would appreciate it. sorry if this post seems so elementry for you but again im not versed in this jazz but i do have a huge appreciation for it. thanks.
     
  14. G5orbust thread starter macrumors 65816

    G5orbust

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    #14
    Re: I was disappointed

    Well, unless you are currently hold or are studying to hold a degree in physics, your chances of understanding anything beyond "vibrating strings" are probably not very good, especially since that explanation would be a mathematical one instead of an indepth physical description. You have to understand that scientists really do not know much about the physical properties of the things they speak about, such as the strings, but can infer their existance through the complex series of mathematical equations and predictions collectively called String Theory. The physical properties of the things predicted by the String theory are calculated within that series of complex mathematical formulas and provide more to the actual function of the element (example: elongated strings versus closed ring) instead of being that which to act as a graphical representation.
     
  15. Gabriel macrumors member

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    #15
    Okay, I'm about as qualified to explain this as a Muppet, so I might be very wrong, but what I believe they were saying was that Newton believed that gravity acted instantaneously, in other words, if the sun exploded the Earth would fly out of orbit instantaneously. What Einstein discovered was that the speed of light is a constant, it takes (I think) 8 minutes for light from the sun to reach the Earth. Oddly, gravity works the same way, if the sun were to explode than gravity waves would travel at the same speed as light and "push" the Earth out of orbit, so instead of veering off into the cosmos 8 minutes before we saw the sun explode the two things would happen at exactly the same time. What's important is that the speed of light is a speed limit, nothing can possibly go fater, therefore forces like gravity simply can't have instantaneous effects. Of course this all goes to hell when you start talking about tachyons and quantum mechanics but someone else will have to explain that.
     
  16. krossfyter macrumors 601

    krossfyter

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    #16
    string theory can be calculated in mathmatics? okay so it can be calculated but it cant be verified right... which is why its a theory at the moment... correct?
     
  17. krossfyter macrumors 601

    krossfyter

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    #17


    ah okay thanks for that explanation i think i got it now. let me verify it with you.... so what you are saying is that...
    the problem arose because
    newton said gravity was instantanous and einsten said that was impossible because it takes light some time to travel to the earth and light is the fastest force (whatever) in the universe etc. so thus from his conclusion gravity actually had a speed limit. i think i got it... cool. thanks again.
     
  18. Gabriel macrumors member

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    #18
    Re: I was disappointed

    Yeah, they brushed over an incredible amount of material in an hour and there was a log of simplification but overall I think they did a great job. The target audience isn't physicists, its average people who just want to understand science. There's such a gap between scientists and everyone else these days its kind of sad. I went to the Einstein exhibit at the Museum of Natural History a little while ago and there was something like an hour line to get in, but even at an exhibit on the life of Einstein the number of people who were asking for explanations of relativity was breathtaking. Its not because people are stupid, its because somehow physics got really complicated. You can't expect people to sit in front of a TV for 12 hours and learn exactly how the math proves that time is relative, but maybe you can give them three hours of cool graphics and simple explanations that will provide an overview of the work currently going on and will make them want to learn more.
     
  19. krossfyter macrumors 601

    krossfyter

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    #19
    Re: Re: I was disappointed

    exactly! this is a laymans show. attempting to try and remedy the rift some.

    i am no scientist...obviously... and i need something like this to aid me. training wheels i know but i need them for this.
     
  20. jayscheuerle macrumors 68020

    jayscheuerle

    #20
    Re: Re: I was disappointed

    Well, they should have explained a bit more because they didn't even scratch the surface of the theory other than to point out that they may or may not exist. What do we learn from that as viewers? It ends up being a show that's more about the personalities involved instead of creating an understanding of what they're so jazzed about.

    Interesting stuff.
    Uninteresting show. ;)
     
  21. kevin49093 macrumors regular

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    #21
    Of course they didn't cover everything...

    I can't even begin to imagine a tv show that could do justice in explaining string theory to the general viewing public. It is just way too complicated to explain to most people, even more so when the scientists haven't figured it all out themselves...
     
  22. krossfyter macrumors 601

    krossfyter

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    #22
    this show is not for seasoned vets you know. its for people like me. actually it is helping me out. i didn't know sh*t now i know a little even if its not explaining it well as you others say. i mean to you all im sure its hogwash or what elementry bullsh*t. i can understand. a show trying to explain the arts today to a layman would probably piss me off too... because as an artist i have had enough education in this area. its just a matter of who this program is intended for. it helps bridge the gap a little between the ignorant and the seasoned.
     
  23. jayscheuerle macrumors 68020

    jayscheuerle

    #23
    Re: Of course they didn't cover everything...

    It's not that they didn't cover everything, it's that they didn't cover anything. Other than a paragraph or two about strings, everything else has been covered on NOVA during the past 2 decades! Oooooh, a giant grid with the sun making a dimple in it! The only thing that was better than what was shown on NOVA in '82 was the graphics...
     
  24. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

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    #24
    Re: Re: I was disappointed

    But I think it might be more than that - in the first part of the first hour - they had a physicist explaining the equations to a dog - won't work, the dog isn't capable. And they followed with the question 'are humans capable of understanding it as well?' Maybe in this case it is so complicated that only a certain number of people can actually go and figure it all out - that's why it takes Einsteins to find the answers.

    The rest of us are just smarter dogs ;)

    That might be over simplification, but its also somewhat profound. I understand the basics, but the real meat of it and the high level equations are a little much for me. In order to get the answers you need to have a lot of mathematical and physics background.

    I've had high level math, differential equations and a little more than that, plus a good amount of physics and I deal with the stuff almost every day at work. But the ideas they're presenting are so much more complicated, I think its great that they've managed to present it so well.

    D
     
  25. krossfyter macrumors 601

    krossfyter

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    #25
    man i have to watch the end again. my friend came over with a bottle of rum and it was all down hill (or up hill) from there. ;)
    i dont remember the last part... hah.
    i told my significant other what happened and she called me a damn alcoholic! i responded "but you see im not because i wasnt drinking liqour and watching espn sports like all other alcoholics... i was watching a show on string theory... thats not a sign of alcoholism! she agreed and i was let off the hook for now!


    string theory to the rescue!!!!!!!
     

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