Posts tagged with "History":

A Brief History of the Universe, Part II

So, a year and some change ago I did an absurdly wordy post that may have had slightly too many run-on sentances about the early history of the universe (If you didn't read it, here's A Brief History of the Universe, Part I). I then promised to follow it up with more history up until present day or so, and never did. Until now. And while you may think it took me a long time to follow up with a part II to that post, that time span is just peanuts to the universe. In fact, it's been around for about thirteen billion times longer than the wait between the first part of this series and this follow-up. So, cosmologically speaking, the delay was perfectly acceptable. Now, let's get on with it.

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Kepler Compendium

Today on Fizzix Phriday, it's time for some physics phistory (the p is silent). Let's take a jaunt back in time to the year 1571. Nicolaus Copernicus (born Mikolaj Kopernik) had published his revolutionary work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (in English: On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres) just 23 years ago, where he described, mathematically, a universe where the Earth was not the center, and all the planets revolved around the Sun, rather than the Earth. While this was a revolutionary idea, it was largely seen as incorrect or ignored, due in no small part to Copernicus's death around the time of its publication, and being therefore unable to defend his work from criticisms that arose from going against the established ideas in science and religion. Even worse, a note was prepended to his work before publication that basically said "everything in here about the Earth revolving around the sun and not the other way around is just a neat mathematical exercise..."

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A Brief History of the Universe, Part I

Time is a tricky thing. The idea of the Big Bang has become common knowledge, but a question many still have as to the birth of the universe is what came "before" it, or indeed what was the "cause" of the Big Bang. While one might answer these questions with "nothing," that's not really correct, because the answer is actually much simpler and at the same time so much harder to grasp in any intuitive sense. The answer, which I understand intellectually but still makes no sense to me in an intuitive way, is that there was no before, nor a cause, because time itself, which the idea of before and causation is predicated upon, began its existence synchronously with the Big Bang. I find this nearly impossible to grasp in a fundamental way, because our entire existence is based around and upon a notion of time as a strict linear progression of one thing to another, with every event having a causation and time preceding it.

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Some Light Reading

Light is maybe one of the more important things in the universe (though this is debateable—some sensible people rank chocolate above it). It also has a rich history of people not really knowing what it was, how fast it moves, or even how it moves. So, in order to better understand it, let's turn back time, and cover a bit of light history (these puns never get old).

For a very long time, people believed light to be instantaneous, and for good reason. When is the last time you could see light move from place to place? Some folks disagreed, including a man born on February 15th in 1564 by the name of Galileo Galilei. Galileo attempted to measure the speed of light much like one might measure the speed of sound. In fact, you and another person could get a rudimentary measurement of the speed of sound using this method, so let's cover the sound applications first:

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